The near-forgotten glory of the Hitman and Her

Back in the days of the late 80’s and early 90’s the idea of late night television was still fresh but TV companies weren’t too clued up on what to schedule so ITV in particular would be a Russian Roulette of anything remotely watchable to anyone. Of course the people most likely to be watching telly at 2am were either the unemployed or people staggering back from clubbing.

Which leads me nicely into one of ITV’s stalwart bits of programming in their Golden Age of late night telly (1987-1993), The Hitman and Her. The ”Hitman” was Pete Waterman, then riding incredible levels of success from his PWR record label who released works from the likes of Kylie Minogue. The ‘Her’ was Michaela Strachan, a TV presenter now best known for her work on the BBC’s wildlife programming bu from 1988 to 1992 could be seen each week standing near Darren from Mansfield as he spilled Fosters down his new chinos as he drunkenly tried to dance at clubs like the Ritzy in Nottingham.

Or the horror that was the Black Orchid.

Or yet another Ritzy, this time in Leeds.

Or astonishingly at Manchester’s famous Hacienda.

Or at any dodgy club where people would drunkenly attempt to pull, sort themselves out a knee-trembler down an alley before staggering home with a kebab and a fungal infection as you collapse on your sofa just as Darren from Mansfield is seen dancing in the backed trying not to look at Strachan’s arse. The Hitman and Her acted as a mirror upon people’s lives at a time when clubs were trying to still be neon-clad hellholes that attracted your average lad and lass, as well as the new, alternative rave scene with both often colliding onscreen in all the messy glory you’d expect.

Late night telly in 2017 is a depressing mess of quiz shows designed to rip the drunk/stupid/desperate or repeats with signing because programmers think the deaf never sleep. The Hitman and Her is a reminder of a simpler age when youth culture wasn’t so cynical and late night telly could throw up simple joys such as this. The past really is another country, and revisiting these grainy YouTube videos while sober brings back the days of staggering home, sticking the telly on and falling asleep laughing at Waterman and Strachan’s ludicrous antics. But Waterman may be many things but he loved and knew his music, even rave, and Strachan was just fun but we’ll never see anything like this on TV ever again and that’s a pity.

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A pessimist is never disappointed

A year ago I was given a cautious nod that I was fit enough to travel and my cancer was nearly in remission. Today, just over a year later I’m in Glasgow having moved up from Bristol, have a job and my own place again. I’m also still recovering after sort of fooling myself that I’m just peachy when in fact I’m still not with the post-stroke recovery being something that’ll never end and my remission something dangling with a Damoclean sword hanging over me.

So with this cheery air of pessimism hanging over me I chipped off to the Beatson today for another check and to ensure my neck is still healing. I needed not to worry though a word of caution has been thrown my way in regards blood pressure, iron levels (I’m slightly anaemic), calcium levels, and whether I’ve taken on more than I can chew. This is actually a pretty good outcome as I’ve learned to go into these appointments expecting to come out diagnosed with Ebola or the plague.

The next appointment is January, but til then I’ve to just make sure I don’t do anything stupid which is easier said than done!

Blood and Iron

I’ve been waiting to get test results back which has put me somewhat on edge the last few days, and the results are in! I have anaemia. This for someone still essentially recovering from a stroke is not good, so here comes the science bit.

Anaemia for most folk isn’t a huge problem. It’s easily treated by changing diet, or taking supplements, but I’ve had a stroke, and I’m recovering from that and thyroid cancer so not only is my body fighting all that, it now has this to deal with. What anaemia does is make the blood ‘sticky’, which essentially makes my blood more likely to clot and that isn’t good for someone like me who as I get older would be at more at risk of having a stroke anyhow. So I’ve leaped from medium to low risk back to high risk and now have to pump iron into my body like Popeye on crack.

So back to the doctor in a couple of weeks to see if things have changed. If it looks like it hasn’t then we’ll get to that step when it comes, but right now I will at one with my greens to try to push me back over the line into relative safety.

The Obstacle Course

Today was a trip to the doctors on a damp bank holiday Monday, and rather than walking out into the shining pathway of joy and happiness, I’ve taken the ‘hmm, there’s something potentially scary at the end of this path‘ route.

So I’m now playing a waiting game for various tests to come back, and as has been the case since having my stroke, I await results with the eagerness of someone opening a council tax letter, or cleaning a cat’s litter tray after they’ve eaten a curry.

I’m hoping this is all a bit of a fright rather than a blip or worse but remember, things could be worse. I could be locked in a room with Nigel Farage and a bucket of sewage, though to be fair, me and the sewage would just be fine after we’ve beaten the crap out of Farage…

Today’s Reading Festival is a big pile of shit

I spent years going to the Reading Festival. I used to utterly love it. Then it became the place where middle class kids celebrated exam results by taking shit drugs, drinking shit beer and watching shit bands.

Don’t believe me about the shit bands? Here’s this year’s line-up.

You need thigh-high waders to walk through this line-up. Sure, there’s the odd decent act, but the entire weekend is full of fading stars and just shite Indie. I suppose this is mourning the death of the festival for me, but a few hundred quid for this?

Reading used to be a weekend of debauchery and great bands. Now it’s just an extended episode of Love Island with a shitter soundtrack.

And this I suppose is me finally entering Grumpy Old Man mode…

Princess Diana has risen from the grave

20 years ago Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris and the UK lost it’s tiny little mind for what seems like a lifetime, but it is only 20 since the ‘people’s princess’ speech from a then, fresh-faced Tony Blair which really helped the lunacy kick into gear.

The week before was the Reading Festival and the dregs of Britpop died a death then, but waking up on that warm August Sunday morning 20 years ago to face wall-to-wall media enforced grief imposed upon a people who somehow mainly became infected with something that wasn’t just normal human responses to the death of someone famous, but something almost hysterical in it’s response.

Then there was the conspiracy theories. Oh god, the theories! I went to my local that Sunday night (I was living in Leicester at the time) and even in those early days of the internet there were people talking of what they’ve read online. As for the funeral it was a ridiculously mawkish display from a people who’d lost all sense as they were all driven forward as driven on by some memetic infection as everyone had to shown to pay respects and be stricken with grief about someone many of them were sneering at or lapping up Sunday tabloid headlines the week before her death.

The lunacy took years to die down. It even affected comics as writer Pete Milligan and artist Mike Alldred were planning to use Diana in the pages of X-Statix, an X-Men spin-off title, in 2002. That was until the press got hold of the plan.

And after a Daily Mail/Express fuelled outrage, Marvel changed the storyline from it being about Diana to a nondescript ‘pop star’.

It didn’t have anything like the same impact even if reading the story it was clearly Diana, the faux outrage neutered the story. Thankfully things started retreating into the pages of hysterical tabloids as people woke up from what was a feverish dream, or nightmare depending on your point of view.

And now here we are in 2017 facing the 20th anniversary of her death and those that canonised her in death (but mocked/hated her in life) are now flooding back into the media like a burst sewer telling us of how sad, upset and tearful we all were. Well, we weren’t. On the day of her funeral I went to the pub, and with others, played pool and stuck the Sex Pistols on the jukebox til the whole thing washed over us. Two decades on and I’m a different person to the one I was on that warm late summer’s day, but I again treat the oncoming storm of Diana programming and articles with suspicion. After all, Diana can now be used as this immortal figurehead of a Britain that doesn’t exist except in the heads of people who see the British identity as a superior one, and her ‘sacrifice’ gives these people a martyr to rally behind.

So I suggest over the next few weeks retreating to the pub to ignore this. Even if you, like me, no longer drink. It’s the only way to maintain sanity.

Attack of the pub singer

Many of us at some point have encountered a pub where a pub singer is in full flow and been amazed at the beautiful awfulness of them. Vic Reeves used to make pub singing part of his act as the good pub/club singer is that rough diamond where the terribleness of them becomes transcendent and becomes something so glorious it becomes the best thing you’ve ever heard.

The other week standing by the statue of Donald Dewar in Glasgow I heard the greatest, most transcendent pub singer I’ve heard doing a version of the theme from Flashdance.

Yes, I managed to get ‘Donald Dewar’ and Flashdance into a sentence…

Anyhow, this is the greatest thing you will hear. I wish I could have recorded more but I was busy giggling like a loon so wandered off before the singer realised I was recording him, but seriously, this is genius!

Enjoy.