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Time to Chuck in the Towel


It comes to all of us at the end. Whether it’s because the state tells you that you’re too old for employment, or when your body isn’t able to carry on – even when your mind thinks it can. Some of us are lucky enough to be in a job which allows us to choose the timing of our retirement. For most of us, the decision is out of our hands.

If you’re a journalist or even a photo editor, you can probably work until your eyes or your liver can take it no more. For some of us, the age of 46 is probably as good an age as any at which to retire; others will go on until they snuff it at their desks/the bar/toilet cubicle. Lots of us can’t wait to go, but there are those who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if not go to work.

If you’re a high court judge you can go on and on until you’re deaf, frail and incontinent. Come to think of it I dunno why I don’t apply. Even politicians seem to go on for as long as they please, though if you stay on too long you risk become a figure of fun as did Michael Foot, Ted Kennedy, or Nicolas Sarkozy.

Boxers are often guilty of staying in the game past their sell-by date. Surrounded by spongers and yes-men, not enough are told not to fight again. Who’d ever tell Mike Tyson “don’t go into the ring again, Champ, or you’ll get a whopping” ? Not me, that’s for sure. Left with cowards and scroungers, Champ decides to have ‘one last fight’ and more often than not suffers the inevitable clobbering.

While we’re on sportsmen, there are those who have the foresight to plan ahead for that time when they no longer compete. Some become successful TV pundits:- John McEnroe, Richie Benaud, Gary Lineker or Michael Johnson spring to mind; Some become fvcking awful ones: Colin Montgomery, Michael Vaughan, Willie Carson. Then there are some who are so desperate to become TV stars they’ll appear on anything, anywhere to further their career: Tessa Sanderson, Matthew Pinsent, Kriss Akabusi but fail even to become children’s entertainers.

Some leave sport altogether and are quite happy to work in the real world, like one of my boyhood heroes, cricketer (and Ashes winner) Chris Old who works in Sainsbury’s supermarket. Not very glamorous but he’s happy.

For some, of course, the end doesn’t come when you want it to. One day, you’re part of office life, getting the tea for everyone and chipping into the Derby sweepstake, the next minute the guvnor calls you in and tells you that the Bell has Tolled for you. Yer outta here. You are surplus to requirements and you are to be replaced with a younger, sleeker (cheaper) version. It’s a horrible and humiliating way to go. And many can’t take it.

Rio Ferdinand is convinced he has still got what it takes to be an international footballer. His boss, or rather, his former boss, or rather the new bloke in the office who doesn’t want to be Rio’s boss disagrees. The new England manager didn’t pick Ferdinand for his squad to compete [sic] in the upcoming European Championship (singular: There is only one Championship being competed for and therefore is spelled Championship. Not Championships. Ok?)

I digress again.

So not only wasn’t he picked for the original squad, but when the bloke who’d replaced him in the team dropped out through injury Rio wasn’t picked then either. In fact it’s probably safe to say that if all 18 original players dropped out, having succumbed to a virulent strain of Green Monkeys Disease, Rio still wouldn’t get selected. He is not wanted. His time has come.

Rio is fuming, He thinks he should play. His agent thinks he should play (shock) and has told the world’s media (well, T’BBCSalford who are the only ones listening) that it’s a disgrace that his man has not been selected. At 34 years of age, Ferdinand knows this will be the last ChampionshiP he had a chance to be selected for. Whether it’s the pulling on of the England shirt again , running out onto the big stage for one last time, or falling asleep half way though the either half (it’d become his party trick), Rio wanted one last chance to show the world what he could do. Sadly, it was never to be.

A combination of his regular attacks of narcolepsy during corner kicks, and the fact that his playing partner is on a charge of racially abusing Rio’s brother means that manager Roy Hodgson was never gonna select both. When a sleepy black bloke is up against a violent, racist, white bloke it seems that whitey will win the day. Thank Allah that John Terry’s court case has been delayed until after the tournament, eh ? What a stroke of luck.

Whatever the reasons behind it, Rio has just got to get on with his young life, and find a new direction in which to channel his…er…talents. Cricketer and legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar has been sworn into the Indian Parliament, making him the first to enter parliament while still playing. Sachin is a humble, personable, brilliant sportsman, regarded as a God in his own country. Rio differs from Tendulkar in just four ways. Though all is not lost for Ferdinand in that respect. If the British Labour party can have Oona King, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng as MPs, Rio may yet be able to find himself as the least self-serving and most appealing black representative the party has had for many a year.

So having said all that, who was it who couldn’t find it in themselves to gather Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Grace Jones and Shirley Bassey together and say “I’m sorry guys, but you can’t sing any more”? One suspects it should have been to Gary Barlow, but you can’t blame him for crumbling in the face of legends. I speak of, of course, of last night’s Jubilee bash. Possibly one of the most diverse concerts I have ever witnessed, both in content and quality. To hear Alfie Moon (no, neither had I before) and Willi.i.am (ditto) knock out a decent tune, only for the joyous atmosphere to be punctuated by the excruciating wailing of these four (and I’m being very kind to Elton John) aged, has-beens. 12 hours later, my toes have only just started uncurling after McCartney’s performance. One presumes he got the gig purely because Lennon and Harrison are dead, but that is surely no excuse for what he gave us last night. He sounded better at Live Aid – and his microphones failed on that occasion.

If Ringo isn’t busy flashing ‘V’ signs, perhaps he could climb off Barbara for a second and tell his old mate that enough is enough. Obviously the irony of Ringo criticising someone else’s musical talent won’t be lost, even on the purple-haired former unidexter-shagger, but someone’s gotta do it.

As for Cliff, Grace and Shirley: Surely they’re talented enough to realise how bad they have become ? Surely, Shirley. It was woeful. You have all been decent at what you do, but now you’re not. Honest. Cliff sounded like me, pissed in a bar on a mic at about 11.30, dancing on the bar and singing Old Shep. Shirley looked and sounded like me. And the hoola-hooping Grace Jones needs sectioning.

And finally, please don’t think this is age-based criticism. It’s talent-based. You had it once, now you haven’t. Simples. You only have to think back to Englebert last week. THAT’S how bad you lot were last night. Everyone’s different, with different bodies and talents. Tom Jones is very old (he knew Elvis, in case he hasn’t mentioned it) but he can still belt out a number like he could 40 years ago. He even remembered his Welsh accent, which some will find nice. So I’m afraid McCartney has got to be told that it’s all over. Although he might try to make the England squad. He’s got a better chance than Rio.

Cover Me, I’m Going In.


Driving along the other day, I was listening to one of those shows which cover the old charts. The Top 20 of 1968, ’78, and ’88 – you know the sort of thing. These crop up, usually on old gits channels – like BBC Radio 2,  Smooth FM, or Magic. Not the sort of thing the under 30s listen to, but then again, no-one under 30 reads this, so who gives a monkeys? Back in the slagheaps of my youth, these were the sort of shows hosted by Ed “Stewpot” Stewart, Tony “Smug and Annoying” Blackburn or, of course Jimmy “Dodgy Bastard implicated  in child abuse, and protection rackets now inexplicably a National Treasure” Savile. He’s gone now, bless him, to jingle-jangle his way around the childrens’ wards of the afterlife. Owsaboutthatthen?

But that’s another story.

One of the chosen highlights of the 1978 chart was the lamentably unforgettable Arthur Mullard and Hylda Baker‘s cringe-worthy version of You’re the One that I Want, originally from Grease and sung by Elton John and Vincent Vega. We’d have never have thought there was a worse version than the original. Hilda and Arthur proved us wrong.

It led my mind to wander down many avenues and alleyways: Was Arthur the worst actor this country has produced ? Probably, (though it was a title cruelly taken from him by Mr and Mrs Law of Lewisham, south London, when they gave birth to their son Jude); should Hylda have been in the film instead of Stockard Channing ? She would have boosted the sex appeal of the movie; And of all the songs the radio station could have chosen to highlight from the top 20 of 1978, why did they decided to choose that one?

Having said that, I’ve always taken an interest in cover versions and the thought behind them. Whoever thought that it’s be a good idea for Bauhaus to cover David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust needs both their head and ears testing, as it is basically the same song, just a different sticker on the vinyl (as it was back then).

A lot depends on the listener. When I was a kid I thought Blondie‘s “Denis Denis” was a wonderfully odd new number, until I discovered the original “Denise” by the beautifully named Randy and the Rainbows. I know kids that think Rolf Harris wrote Stairway to Heaven (even though it’s nowhere near the classic that is Jake the Peg) and got very upset when I played them the original. Come to think of it, I get upset when I hear it too, overrated shite that it is.

I have little time for The Wurzels, but their version of Don’t Look back in Anger has me in stitches every time it’s played. I only wish I see the look of disgust in the pretentious, slap-inducing faces of the John Lennon impersonators who wrote the ‘original’ when they hear it. I use the word ‘original’ under caution. I wait patiently for The Wurzels’ cover of anything by Morrissey. I can die in peace then.

I could go on. The Fugees version of “Killing Me Softly” stands up very well indeed against the Roberta Flack original, whereas Whitney Houston singing George Benson’s “Greatest Love of All” sounds like someone trying to machete to death a wounded ferret. It seems to these old ears that less and less of this sort of thing goes on. I often hear about sampling, rather than covering. I don’t know where one ends and another begins. I do know that “taking a sample” means something completely different now than it did to me when I was a kid. In the same way that whereas today Loverdose is a perfume, in my day it wasn’t something to give to your girlfriend, if you could possible help it.

So there you have it (for today at least). One man’s poison is another man’s Robert Plant classic is another man’s Rolf Glastonbury Anthem. One person’s sweet scent is another’s Loverdose. Ball or Aerosol ?

They Do Though Don’t They Though ?


So, another little road trip beckons. Will wait til the traffic dies down this morning then off to the Wirral for a weekend’s beer and cricket, hopefully more of the former, less of the latter. My achilles is still giving me jip and I’ve optimistically suggested to the skipper I play one or the other of the two games NOT BOTH. I’ll never get away with it. As much as I drone on about the great game, at my age one trot out per week is more than enough I reckon – and I’m far from being the oldest in the squad. Sadly, the skipper is deaf to my moans and graons about my various aches and pains.

They’ve had terrific rain storms up there for the past few days, so here’s hoping the outfield will be under three feet of water by the time we arrive, and we’re forced to play the home teams at darts, pool or other more civilised pleasures (I can’t find my crib board, so I’ll need to stop off half way to purchase a new one, just in case).

We’re staying in the town of Neston, which I’ve never been to but heard much of – an old guvnor of mine at the magazine came from there, though he was a professional Red with a dreadfully grating Ringo Starr/Steven Gerard impression and hopefully that particular art left town with him when he did 40 years ago. I couldn’t bear three days of gutteral banter in the boozer. I may have to fight back with my best Salt of the Earth Cockney, which winds people up down here, let alone up there.

The Eminence Greaves

Whatever the dialects emanating from either side of the bar, I look forward to hearing the dulcet tones of the peerless Bill Greaves (the author of the drinker’s bible, Greaves Rules (see previous posts) who will be guiding the touring party through the difficult process of ‘using a pub properly’. I’ve been a student of his for some years now, and hope to graduate this weekend without too much problem. There aren’t too many skinflints in our team, but if any should hove into view, then I hope to demonstrate to William, the Master, that all those hours of study have paid off. Three days in the bar with Bill is infinitely more appealing than sweating my cobs off on a cricket field.

So wish me luck as I wave you goodbye. Keep your eye on the weather for me and pray for a biblical deluge over the North-West of England. A chewy pint of something warm and flat, a good pie and a lack of comedy accents, and I’ll be as happy as a fat bloke in a nice dark pub.

All rite der laa ?

Course of Life


To paraphrase Baldrick, I don’t have a cunning plan.

As wonderful as June was, as much football and cricket I watched, as much time I spent in the garden, burning me ol’ bald ‘ead and finally laying to rest the myth that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, the time has come to tout myself. All play and no work makes Mike a fat, poor boy. The answer is simple. I need to throw myself at the mercy of the few remaining employers out there and ask for a job. Due to current fiscal restraints, this doesn’t mean I’ll start taking journos and editors out for long liquid lunches, crossing their palms with lager in the hope they’ll drunkenly offer me work, as much as that approach appeals to me. No, I’ll be doing what everyone else ends up having to do: tickling-up the old CV and getting it out there.

Funny thing, a CV. For starters curriculum vitae is one of the few latin phrases I use in everyday speech (along with ad nauseam, et tu, Brute ? and the ever-popular Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant – though I don’t use that one as much as I used to). Curriculum Vitae, as any schoolboy knows, is the Latin phrase for “2 Sides of bullshit written on A4”, or “Résumé ” in American. It’s the document that causes more stress and strife to bored office workers than any other, and one that more office PAs have to type up for their colleagues in return for a cup of coffee and a bun from Starbucks at lunchtime. Statistics prove that in any one working day, 20% of newspaper workers are working on their CV. The other 80% are fiddling their expenses (one for our older readers, there).

I’ve never been one for lying about myself (on a CV anyway). The way I look at it, if I go for a job in the Commandos and my CV says I’ve been a helicopter pilot, a Navy Seal and a Ghurka, I’m likely to get found out sooner rather than later, especially when on my first mission I start crying cos I’m afraid of flying, can’t swim and faint at the sight of blood (especially my own). No, I think the trick is to be completely honest in everything you write down, just leave out all the stuff you don’t want people to find out about.

For instance, I might put down that I picture-edited the definitive newspaper pull-out on the life of Diana, Princess of Wales on the morning after her death, but may leave out the day I stuck in a photo of a Harrow schoolboy for a story lauding the young men of Eton (oh how my Editor laughed when the Headmasters of both Eton and Harrow called up to complain). On the other hand I will mention with pride last year’s Beatles supplements for which I researched and picture edited for The Times. Using many rare or unseen images of Paul, George, Ringo and the other one, these books are real collectors items. They looked fantastic and I was very happy to have worked on them and boasted the same to anyone still awake in the pub. Then again, my contribution to the same publication’s 30 Best Summer Salads will go with me to my grave.

As you get older, you find the other problem is to judge how far back in time you go. Nowadays I don’t list my education or ‘qualifications gained’. I see no possible advantage in bringing up old wounds, or taking the blame at the age of 45 for what I didn’t do at 19. No, let us not dwell on such matters. However, my first real job was at a photographic studio and agency, who’s chief photographer regularly shot Page 3 Girls and Starbirds. Oh how I hated the days I studio-assisted for him. If you’re ever 19 again, offered a similar job in a photo studio, and where you’re in charge of light meters and ice-cubes, grab it with both hands (I know I did). It was often difficult to know where to look. The first words Samantha Fox ever said to me were “Oi ! Stop looking at my fanny!”. We were on a nude shoot for a German magaine. I was quite hurt. As I’d seen every other bit of her in the British press, but never seen her nude, what was I supposed to look at ?

But the question is, although this first flash and exposure to photography obviously aroused my interest (quiet at the back !) in photography, is it relevant to my next post ? Probably not, unless I get very lucky. I had to leave that job in the end as, apart from anything else, I was going a funny shape. The beginnings of the deterioration of my eyesight can be traced back to those three-and-a-half happy years with one hand on the light meter and the other on my ha’penny.

Apart from “Professional Experience”, there’s also the section at the end of a CV which comes with the heading “Outside Interests” . Over the years I’ve realised, having had hundreds of them submitted to me, this is the part of the CV which can reveal all about the candidate, the way of separating the ‘possibles’ from the ‘improbables’.
I once advertised a vacancy on a picture desk, I needed a junior researcher with a little bit of spark and nous. One applicant, having listed her places of work, qualifications gained (cow) and universities (plural) attended listed her ‘Hobbies and Interests’ as: “Taking and developing photographs; going to photo galleries; reading photographic books”.

NO !

I put it to you, that she was either a consummate bullshit artist, or the world’s dullest woman (and I’ve known a few). Possibly both. Why would you do that ? I don’t want to work in a photographic office where the only conversation is “Ooh did you see that documentary on Diane Arbus last night ?”
“No, I was at the Tate for the exhibition of contemporary Slovakian Romany black and white photography”
“Were you ? I wanted to see that, but my Rolleiflex is on the fritz and I had to get it repaired before the deadline to World Press Photo expires”
I tell you, it can get that exciting, I’ve heard them.

Wouldn’t you want to give the impression to your prospective employer that you’re a well-rounded, multi-faceted individual ? Someone who’ll bring a little bit of colour into the office ? Someone WHO HAS A LIFE ??? When I get to this part of the form I’m always tempted to copy Monty Python and list my interests as “golf, masturbation and strangling animals” just to see if anyone actually reads this far down. I know I do, and if I ever saw that sort of entry I would hire that person on the spot, but I suspect most just read the headlines at the top. I haven’t got the balls to test out this theory, of course. I shall probably be pretty vague and put down “Sport, movies and entertaining”. They don’t need to know what I really in my spare time, do they ?

So here I go. A day at my Mac, trying to remember what I did and when, avoiding professional disasters, bigging-up meself, as we like to say down these parts, and spreading the word that I’m back on the market, you lucky, lucky people. And hurry up with those job offers, I’m skint. Carpe Diem !

Now, here’s the job for me ! Who can I put down for a reference ?

Pity it’s in Wales.

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Send Me Victorious, HD and Glorious


I’m back, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. I took the decision based on how much I’d missed. I took the decision because I was missing out. I took it because there’s too much coming up which I didn’t want to miss, and because I was drinking too much. And I took it because I’m a gadget-freak and I believed all the hype and the adverts.

pub

Having fallen out with Sky TV (see Lions, Tigers and Beers previously) over the standard of their service, I’ve had a summer of watching my chosen sporting events from the bar of my local. No great hardship, you might think, supping a cold one as the footy, cricket or rugby is on the box? We’ll yes, and no. If the soccer is on, all four tvs in the pub show the match, sound up high and no-one moving off their stools or in front of the screen. A boozer packed with replica-shirted herberts all ooh-ing and ah-ing in unison is a fun place to be. Rugby matches, especially the internationals, are often accorded the same level of respect and attention as is the round-ball game, except on the whole the fans are bigger, drink more and are much better behaved.
Cricket on the other hand, even though it is the nation’s summer game, is often begrudgingly switched on to a couple of screens with the volume either right down or off altogether (though god help you if Man Utd or Chelsea are on the other channel, then cricket doesn’t get a look-in at all). There’s something distinctly unsatisfactory in watching a England vrs the Aussies to the sound of Puff Diddly or Lady Goo Goo blaring out over the sound system, when all you really want to hear is Botham seething in the comm box, or Bumble laughing at the fancy dress costumes in the crowd. No, unless there’s a packed mob whooping en-masse at an Australian collapse, or multilaterally despairing at the ineptitude of the English bowling display, the pub’s not the place to enjoy the great game. It’s also difficult to concentrate on anything when Dan Dan is looking at you.
So enough is enough, and I’ve gone all Cable TV on your ass. Step forward Lord Branson and his Virgin Media TV. Andy the tv engineer has this morning arrived to install it. I get, movies-on-demand, catch-up tv, recordable, pauseable, fast-forwardable tv AND Sky Sports AND much of it in “Glorious HD”, as the Sky advert would have us believe. And this time it’s not Sky equipment which I have to deal with and which will inevitably go down on me, it’s a Virgin Box. It’s a schoolboy dream, nearly. Fnarr fnarr.

virgin_vbox_epg

So then, HD. How exciting is that? Truth is, I’m not really sure. Yeah yeah, I’m sure sport and movies will be stunningly (or should that be gloriously) enhanced when watched in HD, but surely they can be only as glorious or as stunning as my TV will allow? You’ll be fully aware of my technophobic tendancies and I have no idea how good or bad my telly is. It’s a couple-of-years-old Toshiba and it may well be ( and knowing my luck, it probably is) a bag of old shite, no more likely to give me the full, glorious, HD sensation than one of those wood-clad, 14-inch, 1970’s jobbies on which whole indian villages watch the world cup. Do I need to tramp down to Comet and spend wads of cash on the latest LED/LCD/Plasma box to make my new service worthwhile? Bloody hope not. Maybe I just go and get my eyes tested? I’m long overdue a visit to the opticians and I’m convinced my minces aren’t what they were. Gotta be cheaper than buying a new telly, hasn’t it?

You won’t have missed the fact (especially if you’ve been reading me) that The Beatles back-catalogue has been re-released having been digitally remastered. Will I really notice the difference if I play these CDs on my little mini-system? Granted, if I had a 3 grand, state-of-the-art hi-fi, with speakers the size of Belgium I might well be able to appreciate the cool clean repro on these new discs. But I have a cd player the size of a teasmaid, so I doubt that I’ll feel the benefit. And anyway, my ears need syringing. Poor old sod. Pardon ?

For those of you who feel a bit flush, this new Beatles stereo box set retails at £169.99, mono at a cheeky little £200. That doesn’t Please Please Me either.

Looking down the tv listings, there’s another thing that puzzles me. Do I really care that I now have the capability to watch Friday Night With Jonathan Ross in High Definition? I mean, next week he’s interviewing Ant n Dec. How glorious would HD have to be to make me enjoy that experience?

woss

So while I’ve been tapping away here, Andy the Virgin man has been and gone. I’m hooked up, tuned in and watching a Steven Fry documentary in yes, GLORIOUS HD. It seems (and this will shock you) that I may have to upgrade my subscription if I want to be able to watch all the channels I thought I was getting, but Steven Fry will do for now. He looks pretty good in Hi Def, I suppose. I’m started playing with all the new gadgets and toys on my new cable service because England have just collapsed against the Australians at Lords. HD or LD, they’re still a bunch of wankers.

The Last Night of the Proms is on later. Pomp and Circumstance in crystal clear sound and vision. Try asking to watch that in your local.

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Nowhere Men


I heard the news today, Oh Boy: Oasis, the world’s 4th best Beatles cover band, have split up. Words cannot accurately express how totally underwhelmed I am to hear that. The Gallagher brothers will perform no more together on stage or in the studio, with Noel, or is it Liam, citing irreconcilable differences with his brother Liam, or is it Noel? Expect to see fans crying all over Manchester, floral tributes outside their posh London homes (do they still live down here? dunno, don’t care) and the Man City players wearing black armbands in memory of the gruesome twosome. The brothers will presumably continue to support their beloved City from their seats at opposite ends of the ground, presumably so they don’t have to hear each other’s voice as they sing “who’s the bastard in the black?” Personally I’d want to be a lot further away than 150 yards from either of these two once they start warbling. My kids were in the crowd at the recent V Festival when Oasis decided not to show up to headline the gig. My girls were mortified, though if I’d have known they weren’t going to play I’d have bought a ticket myself.

finger

Nearly 100 years ago two miserable bastards, Burke and Hare stole bodies and went on a two-year rampage of murder, selling the corpses of their victims to the medical profession. When they were found out, Hare confessed all and shopped his partner Burke thus escaping the gallows. Since 1991 these mono-browed Mancunian Brothers Grimm have plied their own miserable trade, stealing ideas and murdering songs, selling the corpses to gullible children, teenagers and, worse, adults. Liam may well shop Noel, or vice versa, but let’s hope no amount of clemency is shown for their crimes against my inner ear. If you’re gonna copy another band, at least have the good grace to look like you’re having fun spending our money and have the courage to admit you haven’t an original idea in your head. Even off-stage, walking around with a face like a slapped arse, flashing V-signs and flipping the bird at all and sundry is hardly ground-breaking rock-n-roll behaviour. The charm of a Panzer division, the wit of Margaret Thatcher.

In the next few weeks magazines and newspapers will be full of features and specials on The Beatles as the AppleCorp machine churns out the re-digitalized versions of the Fab Four’s back catalogue. This will be another chance to fork out several of your hard-earned Quids, Bucks, Yuans or Euros on The White Album or Sergeant Pepper. For those of us who have previously bought these on vinyl, cassette (cartridge anyone?) ,and cd (twice, but that’s divorce for you) it’s a tough ask to splash out all over again, but don’t think that this will be the last time you’re asked to make that call. For starters, this latest issue comes in a choice of stereo or ‘original’ mono versions ( a mate at work has already stated he’s gonna buy both), and further down the line they will be uploaded onto itunes. What a staggering franchise it is. I guess it will help Mr McCartney’s keep up with his alimony payments.

McCartney_Mills

The Beatles industry shows no sign of slowing down. There are hundreds of tribute bands making a healthy living out of mimicking the Mop Tops. Most will struggle to reach the heights of Oasis, but at least they’re honest about it. Normally rolled out during the holiday season for Christmas or New Year parties The Bootleg Beatles, The Paperback Beatles and the like have a more-than-decent stab at reliving the great days of the world’s first true pop phenomena. I once to stood at the back of a crowded club where the Bootleg Beatles were playing and watched with some amount of mirth as kids in the audience sang along to Hey Jude and She Loves You. But who am I to judge? I was a year off being born when Please Please Me was released, and only 6 years old when the band finally split up so I hardly own them myself.

Now that John and George are no longer with us, and Ringo (sorry, Mr Dontcallmebymystagename Starkey) has washed his hands of his legacy (apart from the royalties, of course), none of us will ever get the chance to see the real Beatles perform live (let’s be honest- you wouldn’t go and see McCartney perform, would you?) and the tribute bands are the only way to get anywhere close to the experience. But there’s always the Rutles, of course. I know they no-longer perform, but there’s still great fun to be had watching All You Need is Cash as I did again recently.

The story of The Prefab Four- Dirk, Barry, Stig and Nasty still stands-up as a piece of Eric Idle genius, with as good a selection of Neil Innes Beatles parodies as Oasis’ Definitely Maybe ever was. In a prime example of art-imitating-life the film documents the frosty relationship between the band and their manager, Leggy Mountbatten, a domineering, half-mad, nasty bastard with a wooden leg. Remind you of anyone in Paul’s later life?
There are even Rutles tribute bands, one called Ouch! and another The Mountbattens who, apparently are “Tokyo’s top Rutles tribute band”. So we now have tribute bands’ tribute bands. Check out The Mountbattens on Youtube below, they’re bloody awful, but I’d rather sit through a night of them than having to listen to 2 bars of Wonderwall ever, ever again.

Not mad for it.