Welcome to Edinburgh, the city of road works. Apparently (the locals may be able to clarify this), they are putting in a tram system. I was informed that the old city tram system was dug out in the 1960s, so it just proves the cyclical nature of life. I am one of those sort of people (you can guess the rest), who sets himself goals each year and I thought that this year, one personal target would be to try to go through a whole Biscuit season with 100% attendance. However, what constitutes a 'season'? Logic would say that with the HMHB football roots, it should mirror the footie season. That gets trickier all the time, as when does one season end and another begin these days? I took it as a calendar year and as such, have effectively done the tricky ones in Cornbury and the Liquid Room. Home leg next in London and a relatively easy run in thereafter. In theory.
The Liquid Room is a tried and tested venue. It has not changed much, it is still small, hot, crowded, and has (for me) poor acoustics. It still has over-zealous staff, keen to rush you off the dance floor at an absurdly early hour; to facilitate another function. They also decided that in keeping with the erratic weather patterns in this country, the gig would be played in fog. An effusive dry ice system that more than amply compensated for the Primark sound system. But, from opinion to fact and a start at the very important set-list: -
Joy Division Oven Gloves
Took Problem Chimp To The Ideal Home Show
Blue Badge Abuser
Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo
Used To Be In Evil Gazebo
Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
Give Us Bubblewrap
Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
Ode To Joyce
We Built This Village On A Trad. Arr. Tune
Look Dad No Tunes
Tending The Wrong Grave For 23 Years
Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
The Trumpton Riots
Sunday Morning (Velvets cover)
National Shite Day
A fine collection, methinks? Nice to hear 'Joyce' getting a run-out and some C&W twanging on the guitar from Ken, there. Problem Chimp is definitely a crowd favourite and it was nice to hear Evil Gazebo again.
Nigel was sparing but pertinent in terms of banter this evening. There is the customary shouts from the pit for favourite tunes; "That's one of ours", being the time-honoured rejoinder from the stage. Despite the exhortation by text from Taylor, I couldn't bring myself to raise a shout for Brenda Blethyn's M*i*nge. Which is a shame, because the comic timing would have been perfect - the text arrived in the gap between 'Joyce' and 'Trad Arr Tune'? Sorry, Phil - another day; maybe? Neil was busy stroking his lacquered neck at one point (you had to be there - his guitar neck), minding his own business, when Nigel points and comments; "He's got CDO Syndrome. It's the same as OCD Syndrome but with the letters in the correct order".
The mosh-pit was a strange one, too. It was extremely effete for the first few songs and then livened up a bit. As is now becoming customary, there was some pushing, posturing and some potential deferred aggro. After that, and the apparent ejection of one of the combatants, it livened up a bit. Exxmouth was doing a fine job, although practically single-handedly for some time.
Out of interest, I'm sure that 'Nancy Kaplinsky' popped up in 'Vitas G', which sounds like a weird amalgam of the possibly DNA-linked Kominsky and Kaplinsky. One to ruminate. I am reminded of the sagacious words of the claret-addled Peter Alliss when commentating on the British Masters; "I was watching Carol Vorderman on Countdown the other day and I got aroused. Not bad, seven letters for a boy who left school at the age of 15".
A few other snippets were enunciated by the Poet Blackwell for our delectation. "This is a song about life an old people's home", to introduce 'Bubblewrap'. He wrote 'Blue Badge Abuser' "in between rolling my eyes at Gok Wan acolytes". There is a short refrain about "the wrong things in the wrong bins on the wrong day". Carnage in the alley-way due to the perilous nature of eco-sensitivity. I'm not sure if it was an invitation or an encouragement, but due to the early finish, the locals would have had the opportunity to see "The Innocents" on the Classics Channel at 10:50 p.m. Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, etc. If you didn't live locally, you could catch it again at 2:40 a.m.
'Wrong Grave' was prefaced with the statement that "this is a true story; it happened in Whitstable". Also, during the middle section, a brilliant and heartfelt soliloquy from Nigel; "I saw all the posters up around town, advertising a fun day in the park; bric-a-brac, bouncy castle, beat the goalie, face-painting, jumble, live bands, tombola and much, much more. I rang the Council to enquire what the 'much, much more' consisted of and was greeted with an awkward silence. They'd lied; lied to me and lied to the Borough".
One final cautionary tale, maybe even a warning. Two miles before the Harthill Services on the M8, there is a yellow AA sign stating; "Temporary Queues Likely". Our interlocutor suggested that we look out for it tomorrow because it is spelt wrongly. The astounding thing is that it is not 'queues' that is spelt incorrectly. The journey had been predictable apart from that. In response to a question from the audience, they had stopped at Tebay; "You do, anyway. It's not equidistant, but............it's not, I just wanted to say equidistant. God, I love those ducks".
Finally, then I will shut up. Through the fog, through the struggling sound system, a shining light; almost like Monty Python's stream of bat's piss (Python 'Oscar Wilde' I merely meant, Your Majesty, that you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark).
National Shite Day is an immense song. An instant 'classic' that defines the feeling that we all have at times (some more than others) that the microcosm, that is our life, is being replicated throughout the wider community. It is cathartic; an accolade that is so oft used but rarely, in my opinion, justified.
This song is that Premier League player that your club (supporters of the big 5, generally; oh, and Spurs) have just bought for Euro 30 million and looks pretty good on first viewing; but then after a few weeks, is absolutely stunning. There are a few. Messrs Veron and Pizzaro may be considered unlikely members of that club.
In my view, it is a song that should be pre-loaded onto every Ppod. It is there to enjoy, but also to deflect the suffering of a bad day at the office, ground, etc. It just gives that reality check that we all need to inlay a little bit of perspective.
It was stunning when it was given a live debut at Nottingham, but at Edinburgh, it just seemed even better. Perhaps it was because of the incessant drum and bass beat booming out through the fog, the fact that last Friday was one of the worst days of my life for a long time, or just because it is such an incredible reflection of the way that life can annoy you in such a complex manner; almost by stealth and only when distilled into this song, does it allow you to rationalise it and shrug it off as, 'that's the way it is'?
Enough already. Roll on London. I would expect true Biscuit-lovers to arrange a pre-gig meet at The Falcon in Camden. Well, maybe not. I think it is now derelict. Perhaps the Hawley Arms for a pint or two with the Winehouse? Oh, hang on, that was gutted by fire as well, I think? Don't worry, there are boozers galore. It is also cruel to expect an Ipswich fan to have to go to Norwich in November, but I will grin and bear it. A plea to the band - NSD to be installed as a staple on the set-list. Inked in, like Cantona would be. Fin.