(I forgot to put in a picture last week, so here’s an extra one to make up for that)
So, we’re now three days into our relaxed lockdown and if I’m honest, it has gone better than I expected. When I heard that pubs would be allowed to open from 6am last Saturday I feared the worst, but despite several reports of throngs of people ignoring social distancing rules and getting drunk things have been relatively quiet. The proof of the pudding will come in a couple of weeks, when we will know if there has been a spike in infections: already there are reports of three pubs having to close again having just reopened, due to customers testing positive for the virus – that doesn’t bode well, but hopefully they aren’t the start of a wider trend.
Reading the Sunday paper to get a glimpse of what had happened on the first day of relative freedom, my eye was caught by a piece headed ‘The world is laughing, and Britain is the big joke.’ Well, it would, wouldn’t it? This was a less than scientific or comprehensive trawl through newspaper coverage in several countries, but it was good to get a view on how others see us: after all, the rabid right wing press here is much given to demonising citizens of other nations so it is only fair that they get their own back. It was enlightening: I learned that Germans call us ‘Inselaffen,’ which translates as ‘island apes,’ and refer to our Prime Minister as ‘Grossmaul’ – ‘bigmouth.’ Seems fair to me. And then there was Spain: they have long had a word ‘balconing’ to describe the habit of drunken British tourists of risking their lives by jumping from hotel balconies into the pool, but they have now added ‘coronaviring’ to their vocabulary, to describe our habit of risking our lives by flocking in huge numbers to crowded beaches ( I mentioned this mass suicide attempt last week). There were several examples from other countries, but these should give you the gist. They also gave me this week’s theme for my tunes, taken from the headline: joke.
This week’s first tune is probably an obvious choice, given the theme, but as it reminds me of good times I was never going to leave it out:
That was released in 1973, and was part of the soundtrack to my uni days. It was the title track of the Steve Miller Band’s eighth studio album, and was a US #1 at the time, though not here in the UK. But, weirdly, it did top our charts in 1990 after being re-released to tie in with being featured in a Levi ad. Go figure!
My second tune also dates from the 70s, and goes back to the days when I thought this guy was good:
That was from Rod’s eighth album, Footloose And Fancy Free, and if I’m honest I think that was around the time that, to my eyes, he moved from being a rock musician into the pop mainstream, and his later releases haven’t been as much to my taste. His next album was Blondes Have More Fun, when he got caught up in the disco craze, and kind of invalidated himself for me! From the late 60s on he made a string of great albums, and then ‘showbiz’ got to him. FAFF reached #3 in the UK albums chart, after his five previous albums were all #1s – I rest my case!
As I have done a couple of times before, I wanted to include a bonus track for you this week, in addition to the ‘official’ two. This one is much more recent, and is by a singer-songwriter I really rate. This is beautiful, and incredibly powerful:
That is from Brandi Carlile’s 2018 album By The Way, I Forgive You. She isn’t the most prolific of artists, but has six very good solo albums to her name, as well as her recent collaboration with Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemsby and Maren Morris to form The Highwomen. If you need an introduction to them, I strongly recommend the YouTube video of their version of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain on the Howard Stern show: it is stunningly good.
That’s about it for now. I’ve managed to badmouth drunks, the British press and Rod Stewart, so I think my work is done for another week. I’m hoping that things here will, in the main, continue to be restrained and that all the good we’ve done by being in lockdown isn’t undone by a minority of idiots – covidiots, as they’re known here. Stay safe, keep well, and take care. ‘Bye until next time 👋