Kinky Kricket

A quick plug before we move onto Britishness, strokes, and pile-driving Aussie rock:
Nerd Bait will be premiering their latest short-form musical, Wrong Word Write Time (the fictional life story of a pilot suffering from aphasia) as part of Illicit Ink’s Underground night at Edinburgh’s Bongo Club on Sunday, 4 May.
Please come, tell your friends, and please share and tweet these links: 1, 2. Thanks!

It's gonna be face-meltingly good.
No! A car crash! It’s going to be a *car* crash!

One of the things that I quite like about the campaign for a “Yes” vote in the Scottish independence referendum is that, notwithstanding Better Together’s attempts to cast it otherwise, it has a nicely inclusive feel. Certainly in the bits with which I’m most involved. I often find myself clarifying that “I like England. I love The Kinks, and I love cricket.” And loving cricket’s not easy in Scotland:

(Kricket and the Kinks notwithstanding, National Collective’s Gav Prentice does a good job of debunking the very idea of “British values” here.)

"I have always looked upon cricket as organised loafing." — William Temple
The Kinks take loafing in the outfield to new extremes.

Pre-stroke, in 2011, Mrs Stroke Bloke and I went to see Ray Davies of The Kinks play The Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It’s a proper theatrical venue, all vertiginous tiers and 30 ft Greek goddesses flanking proscenium arches. Originally designed for vaudeville (and cinema), The Beacon is the perfect setting for a performance by the leader of Britain’s greatest music-hall-influenced band. The ex-Mr Chrissie Hynde was on great form, belying his reputation as a bit of a grump with thoughtful and amusing between-song banter.

As I sidled up to my early-Clooneys, it was inspiring to see this skinny, balding, guitar-toting (then) 67-year-old throwing scissor kicks. Particularly after Davies was shot in the leg chasing thieves in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 2004, and suffered resulting health complications.

The Muswell Hill chapter of the Jerry Sadowitz Appreciation Society
You’re looking a little peaky, Mr Davies.

It’s axiomatic that much of the character of The Kinks lay in the tension between Ray and his brother, Dave. Although, in researching this post, I was disappointed to find that it was not Ray, but drummer Mick Avery, who knocked Dave unconscious with a hi-hat stand during a gig in Cardiff…

…before fleeing from the scene, fearing that he had killed his bandmate. Davies was taken to Cardiff Royal Infirmary, where he received 16 stitches to his head.

For me, the zenith of creativity engendered by these tensions was 1970’s incredible Lola Versus the Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, which is comprised of eleven of Ray’s best tracks, as well as Dave’s  Strangers and Rats. To get an idea, check out the trailer for The Darjeeling Express, which towards its end splices together Ray’s This Time Tomorrow and Strangers. Go ahead. I’ll wait….

Strangers and Rats are chock-full of lyrics like… oh god, just read Rats here. If having your face chewed off in Room 101 while trying to read La Peste is your idea of fun, you’ll be laughing your ass arse off. So, it was a surprise to read about Dave channeling Stroke Bloke and being all relentless positivity on The Facey Book this week. What happened to him? You guessed it.

Suddenly the right hand side of my body seized up and I couldn’t move my arm or leg. Although I didn’t lose consciousness, I couldn’t speak. Luckily my son Christian and my publicist were there, so they carried me outside and called an ambulance.

This week, Dave wrote about the best way to battle stroke: Never give up. Part of the healing process is convincing the brain and MIND that it is capable of anything…. Positive thoughts and encouraging support of others are paramount in the healing process. Never were truer words spoken. They’re great advice to anyone affected by stroke. In this case, they had added resonance for me, because they were directed to Malcolm Young, AC/DC’s co-songwriter and rhythm guitarist. He’s rumoured to have suffered a stroke.

Sorry, Malcolm. Terrible song, but I couldn't resist.
Forever [Malcolm] Young
Many of my most purely joyous moments listening to music were hearing AC/DC songs for the first time — If You Want Blood, Highway To Hell, Back In Black, anything off the international version of High Voltage. There’s every possibility you’ve heard a bunch of them. And you may well know AC/DC are Australian. So, returning to the opening, er, riff, why does Stroke Bloke claim them as his favourite Scottish band? If your answer is, “He’s a bit of a dick,” that’s fair enough. But extra points if you know that Malcom, like his brother, co-songwriter and lead-guitarist Angus, was born in Glasgow. Original lead singer Bon Scott was a properly-trained bagpipe player; he was born in Forfar and suffered a classically Scottish death by (probably) acute alcohol poisoning or pulmonary aspiration of vomit while sleeping one off in a Renault 5.

...and apply in all situations
Excellent work, Mrs Stroke Bloke

So, I’ll add my voice to the throat-splitting chorus of good wishes for — not just Malcolm, but all my fellow stroke survivors and their loved ones. Just like AC/DC, we can chug along in the face of adversity, pedal to the metal, balls to the wall, twelve bars to the blues.

Let there be sound, light, drums, guitar, ROCK!
For Those Who Will Rock Again (We Salute You)
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8 thoughts on “Kinky Kricket

  1. As always, subscribers to the Tiny Letter distribution (https://tinyletter.com/apoplectic_me) get added content and discussion points. I’ll join in again this week:

    1. I’ve just read Damon’s latest (post-Q brouhaha) interview, and now I want to punch me in the face. Damon Albarn of Blur is the latter day Ray Davies — discuss.
    2. The Boss is the obvious answer, right? Though the interminable late-period Rock’n’rollrevivalistpreacher schtick is getting real old. Gawd, maybe it’s Eddie Vedder. Seems like every American rocker sings in that ridiculous voice these days. Who’s the quintessential American rocker?
    3. Sorry, it’s not for me to say. I didn’t even notice that The Treacherous Brain was about humanism. What’s Wrong Word Write Time gonna be about, do you think?
    4. Pizza in a miniature Gothic castle? Fun, but… nah. You’ll have to sign up for the Tiny Letter to find out. What’s the most fun thing you’ve done this week?

  2. 1: daft punk is the greatest French product since WWII – discuss

    2: yes the answer is Springsteen.

    3: breakfast foods

    4 the face melting video for the end of wwwt, or learning “let it go” with the family.

    1. 1. Honorable mention to Charlotte Gainsbourg’s The Operation, but it *is* a bit lacking on the “crackin’ bit of disco” front.
      2. Yeah, but if it’s all about authenticity, he’s got to hush a bit. Tunnel Of Love‘s the album that does it for me.
      3. Ahhhh. Makes sense.
      4. I’m glad that’s an “or”. But you could do some family McCoy-era Doctor Who watching. Cover all your bases: Scottish Doctors: scary

  3. I’m a big fan of the Darjeeling Express, mainly just for the scenery and aesthetics. I’ve never been to Rajasthan and it’s way, way, way up at the top of my travel list.

    Also, looking forward to one day seeing a live performance of one of Nerd Bait’s short form musicals… Where else would I get to hear your brain operatically serenading you about trepination?

    1. Yes, the scenery and aesthetics. Running after a Rajasthan train in slow motion, in a well-tailored suit, is on my (bucket) list. Nerd Bait’s first official promo will have to be on location.

      Speaking of, I’m sure Prof Polymath and The Lady Scientist could make it to your ‘hood for a show. But to answer your question, the only other place is in my head. And I’d have to tidy up.

  4. 1. Who’s-it-what’s-it?
    2. Quintessential would be Springsteen. My personal Americana, though, comes from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
    3. Synesthesia??
    4. Dinner with friends, trying new nachos.

    1. 1. This = This. Yes? No?
      2. Yeah, I nearly went for Petty. But I’m still holding a grudge about that Winwood thing.
      3. Excellent guess. There is a piece called Synesthesia, but it’s looking for a home.
      4. Natch.

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