Saturday, 26 December 2015


I watch a lot of cartoons. The crappier they are, the more I like them. One of the things I most look out for are the transitional drawings that appear for a split second before something or someone else is superimposed upon them, or for a moment just after something happens: the landscapes and interiors and backdrops to the action. Some are pleasingly abstract, others almost surreal. They are art without a subject, a void waiting to be filled - usually with inanity. For what it's worth, these come from the 1970/71 Hanna-Barbera series, Josie and the Pussycats.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


SUSPIRIA, d. Dario Argento (1977)
Suspiria is a ghost train of a film. It also looks gorgeous, even when it’s showing us extremely ugly things. The plot can be summarised in one short line ('woman discovers witches'), but the pleasure of the film is in its atmosphere and its design and it’s full on, balls out, bonkers bombast, a surreal nightmare in Technicolor with a deafening soundtrack. It’s the sort of film where a young woman frantically crawls through a tiny window to escape a killer, only to fall into a room full of razor wire. It’s a wonder, and a hell of a ride.     

Thursday, 10 December 2015


As you may know, I’m from Essex. It’s a big place, a multi-faceted area that is largely rural, but also sits on the right hand of London, making big parts of the county a sort of avalanche into a black hole, if such a thing could exist. Forget all the tired new and tired old signifiers: Ford cars, blond highlights, white stilettos, decorated vaginas, inarticulate cretins with big white teeth. These clich├ęs simply do not reflect the diverse social and cultural landscape of Essex.
That said, the people of this wondrous county have always loved a slice of soul music and, when I was growing up there in the 80s, it seemed to blare from every house, from every pub, from every car, from every transistor radio. This wasn’t rough and ready soul with a growl or a choke in its voice, but the smooth soul stuff, the sort of music that accompanies heavy petting in a darkened room. I never liked it much, but what can you do? If you live in Slovakia, you’d better learn to polka.
As a boy, I used to attend a club called The Embassy Suite which claimed to ‘put the beat in your feet’ with a constant barrage of Benson, Vandross, Pendergrass and British born rubbish like Shakatak and Level 42.  The music was formulaic, very professional, and very bland. But there were girls there, and there was Shalamar, a US band who had a period of British superstardom following the release of their superb album Friends in early 1982.
The record is choc-full of hits, but my favourite has always been I Can Make You Feel Good. You just can’t go far wrong with a great song performed by talented people in knee length boots. It’s brilliantly produced and has no rough edges, yet it isn’t bland or anodyne. The lyrics are considered and complex, and don’t reference getting down on the floor or making sweet love. Instead, it’s about someone offering to pick up the pieces, an offer of love and long-term loyalty in a world of wolves. It’s hopeful, and joyful, and sincere. It sounds like they mean it, and that makes it a real soul record, not just a facsimile.
It is a song that reconnects me to a long gone time and place, and temporarily charges me with the energy and optimism of youth. And, yes, that makes me feel good, really good.   

Sunday, 6 December 2015


A small selection of some of the many lovely subtitles from the bizarre Convent Of The Holy Beast

Friday, 4 December 2015


CONVENT OF THE HOLY BEAST, d. Noribumi Suzuki (1974)

A young woman goes Nun-derecover© at a creepy convent to find the people who murdered her mother and put her up for adoption. She uncovers the usual lesbianism, hoarding of pornography, sausage stealing, topless whippings, punishment by rose and non-stop masturbation, but also a horrible secret about her own birth and the hypocrisy of those supposedly serving God. 

I would call it sleazy and dirty, because it is, but it's not disgusting and filthy, so I can justify enjoying it.