Having received a cassette tape of 7″ singles through the post recently (“You got a what of what through the what?” – The Youth), I decided to set myself one of those implausible, fiddly personal projects that some people pitch to publishers and get paid money for.

You know the sort of thing: Are You Dave Gorman?, Yes Man, Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, Round Ireland with a Fridge, Six Stickers, Flipping a World Record Stack of Beermats with Half-arsed Ideas for Travelogue Pot Boilers Written On, etc.

Flipping fiddling! Here’s a cassette box:


It’s chock full of tapes that I’ve never quite brought myself round to getting rid of. I hold on to them because… well, I’m of that age, y’know?

“I remember when all this were stuff you could hold, look at, skin up on, not just carry on a chip on your phone,” sort of grumbly dad dude duding thing. While I dig a great many innovations of the digital now, you can’t walk into a room full of mp3s and ebooks. Not yet, anyway, and I expect it won’t be the same when we can, somehow.

Additionally, I have a bit of an e-bee in the virtual bonnet about a culture that thinks it’s OK for people’s record collections to consist of 130 folders with a single track in each. (Without problematising the matter by questioning the notion of “record collections”, obvs). The devil take them, and your stereo.


I’m of that age. Nostalgia… I was born and mostly grew up in the 20th century, where we had hopes for the tabula rasa of the 21st. Well, I did. Look what they’ve done to my dream, as Freddie Mercury once implored. This century currently frequently gives me a headache with its shallowness. Faux personal contact touchscreen ‘likes’, bland entreaties to ‘join the debate on twitter’, po-mo e-capitalism gone berserk, a blithe continuing acceptance of perpetual war and the arms trade…

Perhaps it is a headache from unvented fuming. >kaff!<

Yeah, yeah, and they were saying all this in 1913 as well, I’m sure, and 1813, and so on. Looking through the tapes, it becomes clear that, far more than semi-articulated vaguely socio-political motivations, it is basic personal attachment. I am hoarding ageing media because many of them were gifted compilations. The mix tape was a thing of beauty fair. This box contains examples from friends, family, former lovers…


Here are tapes as intriguing time capsules, telling stories with music and pictures about simple (and not-so-simple) lives intertwining. [beat] As well as being relics to sustain a sentimental soul as the world gallops forth.

Thus, in short, do I commit to working my way through said box of cassette tapes, sharing what goodies and possible baddies I might find therein!

But first, this:

About nearly 10 years ago, probably, I, the author of this piece, was editor of a zine called Thingy.

One of the reasons Thingy came grinding to a halt as a means of expression was because it seemed an inadequate and facile means to address the Great Problem of that time – “post-9/11”, the Coalition of the Willing’s attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, post-modern colonialism, post, and so on. Cutting and pasting pictures of bands, making sarcastic comments about Leonardo DiCaprio, just didn’t seem to have any sort of bearing on the intolerable wrongness of “Blair’s Britain”.

Maybe my perspective was just off. Actually, there were a couple of anti-war edition Thingys in 2003, but these were just brief pamphlets, really. Certainly, later zines never approached anything like the 50-odd page splurge of stoned readers’ digest for the pop-loving word hound that Thingy was in its rather uncomfortably worn pomp.

Another reason Thingy came grinding to a halt was an unfinished, and unfinishable, somewhat tendentious, article regarding Franz Ferdinand. In an almost – nay! actual – comical fashion, after Alvy Singer in Annie Hall, unable to come to terms with the Warren Commission, I could not understand or accept the band’s massive success.


How I hated them! Blast! Their ubiquity, their absurd self-reflexivity, their paint-by-numbers scenemusic and annoying use of German!

My reactionary flailing at their unfathomable triumph led to a series of closely-read, reworked and increasingly ill-tempered versions of an anti-Franz Ferdinand diatribe, each pouring distaste upon disgust upon dislike to form an EU lake of surplus bile and semi-digested ranting.

One particularly splenetic draft ran to 270,000 words and, in a parallel dimension, has become the seminal text of an all-controlling crypto fascist cabal, at war with this world for allowing the four horse students of the Franz Ferdinand apocalypse to have rent the cawl and grown to wreak their pop-funk-punk atrocities upon the populace of the multiverse.

“Bring me four pairs of handcuffs, a teleportation device, a laser scalpel… and a raspberry Danish.”

Of course, I got over it. I recognised eventually that, in fact, it was not them, it was me. I was not in love with pop music any more. Well, not the radio, pop industrial, chart show thing I had grown up with and adored. I had lost my faith, simply: that moment kneeling at the altar when you realise it’s also just some bits of wood and a guy mumbling.

I’ve kind of got my poplove back, a bit, but you can imagine my untrammelled joy, I am sure, on hearing that after a not-lengthy-enough hiatus Franz are back – BACK! – with a New Single. ‘Right Action’ is enjoying endless and apparently compulsory rotation on BBC 6 Music, who today have even accorded them “Album of the Day Plus!” status, as if “Album of the Day” was not sufficient an accolade.

‘Right Action’ continues the band’s remorseless exploration of contrivance.

‘Right Thoughts
Right Wor-ords
Right Action!’

With a boingy bass line. Where to even continue? It sounds like the theme to a semi-educational programme for kids, one where the presenter will later turn out to have roundly abused his position and a succession of teenage girls. Designed to fit breakfast shows – Good morning! – Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, and anywhere else it can be shoehorned in before it’s used to advertise mobile phones, while wafting at a higher spiritual truth several bubillion miles from being approached, ‘Right shower Action’ is an awful set of checked boxes, none of them mine.

I mean, I wouldn’t mind if they were making cock-twangling, panty moistening POP I could hate-but-love for its insouciance, its casual throwaway joy, but they’re not. They’re making horrid, gloopy, ‘Would you like to see, and buy, some puppies?’ jingles. Waitrose rock.

It is a cacaphony – a shitracket – in every sense of the term racket – catchy as Hep C, and as welcome. The only thing to have momentarily dislodged the viral annoyance from my brain has been writing this bollocks.

Do we owe them a living? Of course we fucking don’t.

Fantastic – it’s a sunny morning in east London, not a single cloud in the sky, West End Girls on the radio, lovely breeze wafting in from the balcony…

the view

the view

Up absurdly early, for a Saturday, but it’s the Bank Holiday weekend and so excitement reigns. Plotting shopping lists of herbs and spices and brown rice and shopping trollies and sex toys and quinoa and pots for plants on the balcony and EVERYTHING. Excitement reigns

[tedious music commentary]
Listening to 6 Music through the freeview box, and Iyare was playing some interesting music, as well as the new Arctic Monkeys song Crying Lightning, which sounds kind of entirely like Space, sorry Monkeys, but there it is, and announcing that Noel Gallagher has quit Oasis with great relief (not as great as ours, Noel, let me assure you, seeing as it was all finished when the career full stop of ‘Acquiesce’ was made) then, joy of joys, Adam and Joe are finally back off holiday to save us from hopeless twunt Danny Wallace. It’s all very schmindie, but schmindie has at least got a bit of ein groovybeat ja on now, in places, you know, like robot electropop from 1984? So yeah.

Enjoy Boggins! Wuzza.
[/tedious music commentary]

It’s THE BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND, and excitement reigns.