The week started off with a bang, but certainly didn’t end with a whimper.
|Jimmy Cagney is Cody Jarrett!!|
The bang was the sudden accidental information I picked up while navigating through my BBC home page, bound for somewhere like The Guardian. The injury-hit Green Bay Packers had mashed up the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome. It sent me into surprising paroxysms of joy. I wanted to simulate Jimmy Cagney at the end of White Heat by climbing out onto our roof and bellowing, ‘Made it Ma! We’re in the NFC Championship Game next Sunday!’ (Then hoping that I wouldn’t be blown to kingdom come by a cataclysmic explosion: VAROOOM!!)
How strange and illogical it is, this business of backing a team. ‘Heaven knows, Mr. Allison’, I’m not even American. Moreover, Green Bay is the capital of Wisconsin, the rural heartland of America. In other words, a place full of bigoted red-neck farmers who soak their crops with poisonous pesticides and rear their ‘beasts’ in batteries. For all I know, the original packers could well have been the packers of animal hides, delivered by cold-hearted, pusillanimous Davy Crocketts, who trapped and skinned their furry victims, oblivious to the agonies of their long, drawn-out, agonising deaths.
Yet there I was sharing my exhilaration with wife, daughter and anyone else who was prepared to humour me – and all because the team wears a natty combination of yellow and green, plays in the frozen north and is publicly owned by a fanatical body of supporters who wear polystyrene cheese-hats on their heads. What’s wrong with me?
Worn out by our respective travails, my wife and I settled down the other evening with a DVD lent to us by friends, who obviously have stronger stomachs than we do. We watched the acclaimed Wolf Creek with an awful feeling of impending carnage. Something appalling was going to happen to those nice young guys ‘n’ gals at the hands of inbred Outback Aussie sheep-shearers, bush-wranglers, wombat-rapists or whatever they were.
As a dad, I couldn’t stop seeing my daughter in the guise of one of those soon-to-be-violated back-packers. We decided to call it an evening and consign the DVD to its box. I remember the case only too well and there seems something morbid and immoral about effectively forcing the parents to confront their tragedies once more in the name of art and commerce.
On Wednesday morning in Brive, my addiction took hold of me once again. I nipped into another multi-media emporium in the town centre while waiting for my daughter to finish her scholastic morning. I found many more musical nuggets, each for the price of a derisory euro. Pick of the bunch was a beautifully packaged set of 80th birthday recordings by the legendary Cuban pianist, Bebo Valdes (father of Chucho, founder of Irakere). The idea of a European octogenarian playing music as gloriously funky as this would be inconceivable.
We must be turning into a sad bunch. Tilley found Dave Marsh’s book of ‘The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made’ and initiated a game where we take turns at picking a song at random. I then have to find it among my records, tapes and CDs, then play it. Easy so far: Harold Melvin’s sublime ‘Wake up Everybody’ and Jimmy Ruffin’s ‘What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?’ Saddest thing of all, perhaps, is that I’ve read the book from cover to cover.
Anyway, despite the pressure of work this week, I went out in the freezing but extraordinarily dry cold on Saturday night – alone because both ‘girls’ were too knackered – to DJ at a party in Beaulieu, further up the river. It was in the same Scottish-owned restaurant where we all celebrated New Year. There was no food this time, it wasn’t so crowded and everyone danced. Much as I love hosting a radio show, you can’t see your (possibly single-figured) audience at the other end of the radio waves. When you’re behind a mixing desk, you can witness the unadulterated joy on people’s faces of dancing to good music. It’s good for the soul and good for the ego.
‘Made it Ma! To the top of the world, Ma!’