The Horror of Hogmanay – Why The Night I Used To Look Forward To All Year Now Fills Me With Dread
I didn’t go out last night. Nothing unusual in that. I don’t go out most nights. But last night – as I’m sure you’re all aware- was New Year’s Eve. Not so very long ago, a team of wild horses couldn’t have dragged me in the direction of my sofa on Hogmanay night. Sick or injured, unemployed or due at work the following morning, I would be out on the town.
I say not so very long ago but I really mean “not so very long ago in my head”. I am of that age where I think that 1990 wasn’t all that long ago. The sort of bloke who was shocked when they re-made Total Recall because, to his thinking, the one starring Sharon Stone and Arnold Schwarzenegger only came out a week last Tuesday.
So, not so very long ago (in my head) I loved going out on New Year’s Eve. I loved the drinking and the noise and the gaggles of scantily clad girls skittering around on their unfeasibly high heels. I loved the fact that there’d always be an entertaining fight to watch. Or, if you were lucky and the amount of booze you’d taken on board had made you feel “tasty” enough, a fight to get involved in yourself. If you got really lucky, of course, there’d be a fight between two of the aforementioned scantily clad ladies. A bewitching flurry of hair pulling, smeared lipstick and flashing knickers. If they happened to be wearing knickers.
When I was in my twenties – which as we have already established was around about a week last Tuesday- I loved all that stuff. Though don’t get me wrong. I haven’t developed an aversion to scantily clad young ladies. It’s just I now prefer to view them in the summer while I sit on the steps of the town library, drinking in the sunshine and eating a sandwich.
I no longer relish the scantily clad ladies lurching at me with amorous intent, reeking of Pernod, puke and cheap perfume. Though I would still watch a catfight if there was one going on.
I no longer wade into bar room brawls. Though this is mildly ironic because I practice lots of martial arts nowadays and as a consequence am considerably better at fighting than I was when I was in my twenties.
I do still get drunk though. I got drunk last night, but I did this on my sofa sitting next to my missus, Hayley. We watched the 1938 version of Robin Hood. The one starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Then we played a game which tested Hayley’s theory that a crucial plot twist always turns up exactly one hour into any film, no matter how long the film is.
Turned out to be a pretty good theory as it happens. Doesn’t work on Stanley Kubrick movies though. They always sort of come in two parts and therefore have a bit of a distorted story arc.
Then we went to bed, having had a far more entertaining evening than we would have done if we’d gone out on the town. I didn’t go out last night, and you know what? I’m really very comfortable with that fact.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015
More Than Words – Why I Can’t Stand What Used To Be One Of My Favourite Songs
If you’re not familiar with it, the above video is for the unexpectedly romantic pseudo-ballad by 1980s rockers Extreme. It’s the most atmospherically evil song ever written. It makes “War Pigs” seem like “A Spoonful Of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down”. Well, it does if you listen to it carefully enough.
When it was released, it came as something of a surprise to fans of the band due to their previous output of cock rock, hair metal. The fans thought that Extreme had sold out, that they weren’t “Rock” anymore. In fact, quite the opposite had happened. Extreme had not only become more “Rock”, they had passed through “Rock” and into “creepy and sinister”. If you examine the lyrics carefully, the song is not romantic no matter how heart-felt the manner it appears to be sung in, it is definitely creepy and sinister.
When this song came out, way back in 1990, I loved it. My girlfriend at the time loved it too. It became “our song”. It perfectly expressed how we felt about each other. The thing is though, the way we felt about each other was mainly expressed in the form of animalistic rutting. We were smugly proud of the quality of our animalistic rutting. We thought it symbolized how much in love we were.
The obvious truth, however – obvious to everyone except us that is – was that most of the time, we fucking hated each other. Except when we were fucking, and there was more than enough of that going on to distract us from the fact that we didn’t really like each other very much. On a good day we didn’t like each other very much. On a bad day, we made spirited but unrealistic attempts to kill each other. This isn’t exceptional. Many a bad relationship has gone on way longer than it should have done because of hatred spilling over into prolonged and angry hardcore screwing.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that “More Than Words” by Extreme is creepy and evil, but not because it reminds me of my mental ex-girlfriend. She wasn’t mental, for one thing. She was a perfectly sweet young lady. We were just one of those couples who were lovely human beings when we weren’t together. When we were together, it was like a supervillain was aiming some sort crazy ray at us. A crazy ray that gave her nymphomania and inflicted priapism on me. You’ve probably all been there at some time or another.
No, what makes the song evil and creepy is, as I’ve already stated, the lyrics. They sound very smoochy and romantic until you consider the tense it’s written in. When I consider that, my inner pedant comes racing to the surface. Not that my inner pedant is terribly well concealed. As inner pedant’s go, he’s not exactly a Ninja.
The tense that the song is written in is all speculative. Well actually, as far as tense goes, the song is all over the bloody place, but the relevant parts a speculative. “You wouldn’t have to say that you love me, ‘cause I’d already know”. This can only mean that “More Than Words” – and we all know what that is – hasn’t happened yet for the young man singing the song. In other words, this young man is trying to convince his young lady to fuck him. In fact, he’s emotionally blackmailing her into fucking him. “What would you say if I took those words away/Then you couldn’t make things new/Just by saying I Love you”. Don’t know what that says to you, but to me it says “Fuck me or I’ll dump you”. Wonder how many unplanned teenage pregnancies this song was responsible for in the early 90s?
Mind you, Extreme aren’t the only musicians guilty of this sort of thing. When Ronan Keating sang “You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All”, what was he actually singing about? Well there are only three occasions when women say nothing at all, if you don’t count them being dead.
Firstly, there’s when they are asleep. This was supposed to be a romantic song, so he couldn’t have meant that. I don’t think he was implying that a girl cuts to the core of a relationship by drooling, snoring and the occasional nocturnal fart. So we can count out sleeping.
The second time a girl says nothing at all is when you’re both at home and she’s really pissed off at you. Again, I hardly think Mr Keating was saying that a girl best expresses her love for you by transmitting a frosty silence, sniffing haughtily every so often and glaring at you when she thinks you’re not looking.
The third occasion when a girl says nothing at all is when she’s giving you a blowjob. That’s got to be what he was talking about. He did miss the mark as far as romance goes if he was. Don’t get me wrong, a blowjob is a wonderful expression of the esteem a lady holds her man in. It’s not romantic though. I’ve never heard a woman say “I gave him a lovely romantic blowjob last night”. The phrase “intimate candlelit blowjob” has yet to establish regular use in the English Language, though perhaps it’s time it did.
Perhaps it’s also time that songwriters thought more carefully about their lyrics. Though there is an outside chance that I’m just a sex obsessed middle aged man who reads fucking and blowjobs into every song he hears. My inner pedant is telling me that is probably a more likely explanation.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014