Sunday, 21 July 2013

Academic Viva - Sunday Sample "A,B&E"

What two more exclsuionary roles could there be for women than to be the wife of an Oxbridge academic or the wife of a gangster? Karen Dash the protagonist of the novel "A,B&E" has been both. A strong woman with forthright views, but constrained by these two male milieus. In the sample below, Karen is regaling her Greek poolside audience with her summary of the different academic types.

"My open university dissertation into the closed university world.   

ART HISTORY: Perennial gloating grins smeared across their florid faces. As they glory in the preposterousness that taxpayers actually stump up the funds, for their life of sedentary aesthetic appreciation and extravagance. Only percolated by the occasional obligation of having to deliver a lecture. Affected dandyism in everything they do, except wading into the copious wine vaults, at which they bare their teeth. In ten years’ time, at the present rate of connoisseurship, the brittle venous patina of their skin will need considerable restoration work.

ARCHITECTURE: Would-be art historians, except that their more humble origins entailed parental advice/exhortation to train for a solid profession. Seven years of study, just to end up teaching others and without a building to their name, they have never quite reconciled themselves to the irony. At no time wholly present when conversing with a woman. Preoccupied with lashing their suppressed patricide to a mast, while simultaneously refining their design for a mausoleum.  

ECONOMICS: These permatanned but unshaven young turks, cut a dash amongst their dusty peers. Only, their oblique expressions seem to harbour guilty secrets. Microeconomics is predicated on the rational consumer. Macroeconomics shows us all to be indentured to the world economy and unable to influence our own destiny. Perhaps this explains the shiftiness. They engage themselves in Game Theory in the quest for self-justification, while on the side they supplement their stipend with shrewd stock market investments. The highest turnover of any department, as they soon slink back to the outside world. 

LAW: Lecturers undoubtedly, but academics? I think not. Standing there year after year, boring on about the same landmark judgements. Drilling in case studies and droning about the incontestable facts, only the facts. The fact is they don’t have opinions of their own, only precedents. Despite their limpet-like tenacity, I avoided them to be honest. (Ironic, given my future submersion via Damon). Having a sociologist for a husband aided me in repelling them. The facts, only the facts? They bored me rigid.

HISTORY: The porcine smile of the fanatic. The pedlar of a cause. The only people who truly can ever be said to be making history. All those periods of time, all those events, what rationale do you employ to choose one for study? Apart from it being an undiscovered seam in the market perhaps. You would credit them empathically to enter the historical mind, through chroniclers, clerks, notaries and pamphleteers. Yet where are the testimonies of the yeomen, slaves, footsoldiers and women? They posit either the progression of reform/revolution, or the conservatism of counter-reformation/ revolution, according to their political tastes. It all depends precisely where they establish the datelines for their period of teleology. It’s as maggoty as that. To the victor the spoils. 

CLASSICS: No discernible difference from school Classics teachers. Crumpled corduroy jackets, gowns and chalk dust, like they were emerging from an excavation. Which of course they never were, given that their body of texts was and is never likely going to increase in scope. The language had no new insights to throw up. The philosophy is available in Penguin paperbacks. Dead, dead, dead. Even the lawyers no longer paid lip service to them.  

PHILOSOPHY: Either I didn’t exist, or they didn’t and they could prove it to boot. Never, ever bumped into a philosophy Don. Presumably too cool for school (if I may be so bold as to employ an anachronistic idiom picked up out here), they were off partying with the students. Which is exactly what I myself do now. Though with less inductive justification.

ENGLISH: My pick of the crop. They didn’t look down at me and were all too happy to debate. One-to-one personal supervision. My very own reading group. They gave me pointers that opened my literary vistas up to many wonders. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake. A panorama of human emotion, expression, language and an insight into diverse human periods (eat your hearts out historians). They complained to me how their students never read the original texts. I informed them of the students’ wails that they never had the time to read anything but the literary criticism, such was the welter of literature to plough through. They thanked me for my input, but were then struck down by institutional inertia. That which dictated they only had to sit it out for three years to see off each fresh wave of student dissatisfaction. While they themselves would fall prey to the longer-term predations of time. Ensuring Beowulf would still be studied ahead of Kafka and Beckett, long after they surrendered life’s tenure. Because it had always been thus.

MODERN LANGUAGES: Divided into two camps. Those native speakers, gathered from all points of the compass. Among whom I was welcomed as an honorary member, in some sort of inverse ex-pat community. Conversation rather than discourse. And those English-borne linguists, scowling their way through foreign cultures and literature they evince little interest in. Having drawn the professional short straw, to instruct British youth in the way of the modern world and diminished eminence. The former’s company I felt very comfortable amidst, the latter were simply estranged. They’d love it here in Britain-upon-Ionia. 

MATHS/PHYSICS: Since I could reasonably hold my own within their discipline, much depended on how they reacted to me personally. Those that were happy to spread the gospel of the metaphysical nature of their subject, per the spiritual dimensions of matter that they could not pin down, would blithely indulge me in playing cat’s cradle with their string theory. While those that were affronted by my forwardness and presumption, retreated behind hyper-specialisation and rendered me two-dimensional. The beaming, open demeanour of the former, was more emblematic of proselytising missionaries. Please believe. 

BIOLOGY: Molecular to a man, I think the Department had garnered some Nobel prizes. They always seemed to look at you as if they were decoding your entire DNA. With such complex detail to attend to, they invariably carried an air of distraction. They have taken over from the physicists as the archetypal mad professors. Evolutionary geneticists have developed an interest in Game Theory too. (See Economists).

MUSIC: Pederasts. Organ scholarships in this irreligious day and age? Organ, get it? They certainly did. From the choirboys who sang in the Chapel in the main.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Police & Thieves - 15 songs about cops or robbers

The rock and roll singer, the great outlaw pose. Lyrics and posture defying authority, guitars toted as guns, whipping the crowd up into revolutionary fervour, all the while taking the money to the bank.

From Stagger Lee folk criminal songs, through to "Jailhouse Rock", rock and roll has nailed its colours firmly to the lawlessness mast. The whole of Gangster Rap associates itself with the lethally criminal. Every second song by The Clash seemed to be about cops or robbers, "Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad", "Police On My Back", "Police And Thieves", "Guns of Brixton", "I Fought The Law", "Bankrobber"...

So in rock and roll, the thieves generally get a sympathetic treatment, while the cops are uniformly 'Pigs', party-poopers coming down hard on music that's too loud or clouds of cannabis smoke, with the notable exception of Killdozer's "The Pig Was Cool". Do we have to invoke NWA's infamous "**** The Police" to underline the point? Then of course there was the band The Police with their anaemic white reggae just to apply the coup de grace.

So in a vain attempt to equal the balance, here are 14 songs alternating between the good guys and the bad guys as portrayed in rock and roll and the classic Junior Murvin song at 15.

1) "Sound Of Da Police" - Boogie Down Productions

2) "Thieves Like Us" - New Order

3) "Dream Police" - Cheap Trick

4) "Two Thieves And a Liar" - Gary Clail

5) "Police Truck" - Dead Kennedys

6) "Thick As Thieves" - The Jam

7) "Police And Helicopter" - John Holt

8) "Grand Larceny" - Ice-T

9)  "Cop" - Swans

10) "Thief Of Dreams" - The Bug

11) "Sheriff Fatman" - Carter USM

12) "Hazy Shade Of Criminal - Public Enemy

13) "I Shot The Sheriff' - Bob Marley & The Wailers

14) "Gypsies Tramps And Thieves" - Cher

15) "Police & Thieves" - Junior Murvin

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sunday Sample - A Playlet

My debut novel "A,B&E"  has been described as "experimental", "unconventional" and "radical". I don't think it's for the cocktail recipes that conclude each chapter (referring to the cocktails the protagonist Karen Dash sponges off the people she spins stories to at beach side bars like a down at heel Scheherazade). It might have more to do with the appearance of a small playlet in the middle of the novel.

For Karen Dash is a gangster's moll who had to flee for her life when her husband discovered her infidelity and put a contract out on her. Fortunately the crime under-boss charged with the hit had his own motives for not executing the order and the two of them faked her death and bundled her out of the country. Through her bitterness and the vision from the bottom of one drained cocktail glass after another, Karen composes the scene of the crime under-boss' report to her husband of her successful execution. It is therefore complete fantasy on her part and lets her indulge in all her bile towards her husband and the criminal world that called for her death.

The whole scene is framed at torso level, so the faces are unseen. Enter an ill-fitting chauffeur’s grey suit, the torso threatening to burst out at any one of severalrucks and bulges. This torso narrows the space between itself and an expensively cut suit, the colour of bordello silk, muscularly well filled, but perfectly fitted. TERRY is in the chauffeur’s uniform, DAMON in the silk. The tensing and relaxing of the musculature conveys the emotion that would normally be held by the face. Actions described are through viewed consequence, eg a sip of a drink is discernible by the glass being less full than before when it returns poised in hand at body level.

TERRY I’d like to...

TERRY takes hold of DAMON’s wedding finger and works at the ring.

DAMON Allegiance or forgiveness?

TERRY works off the ring.

TERRY Funny, thought it would be harder to pull off than that

TERRY places ring on floor.

TERRY... for the position you see

DAMON pours himself a drink.

DAMON Refresh my memory. Which position would that be?

TERRY Anterior, posterior, lateral. If the Dutch cap fits-

TERRY removes his peaked cap and punches its heart.

TERRY The position that till recently was being filled every fucking whichway, but has now become suddenly vacant

TERRY peels off leather gloves and drops them into cap. DAMON reaches down to pick up the ring.

DAMON Decree nisi?

TERRY Decree abso-fuckin-lute

TERRY drops the cap to the floor, as his hands manically strum an imaginary lute.

TERRY (as George Formby) When I’m cleanin’ car windows!

Lute playing changes into a mimed chamois wiping, which then abruptly freezes and the fingers curl into a menacing claw.

DAMON Decree’s a passionless word. Too much juris-bloody-prudence. Know what I mean? Legal. Habeas corpus. I tend to find the towelhead term fatwa more copiously delicti

DAMON brings his foot down on the cap.
TERRY’s body flinches.

CHORUS  (unseen)  Oh woe corpus luteum!

DAMON Don’t got no vodka. Scotch do you? Should be champagne really. Didn’t think ahead

TERRY Yeah, well. Whole thing blew up so quick

DAMON Not too quick I hope?

TERRY Scotch’s fine. Ice and water

DAMON Watered down and on the rocks...? That’s not how you usually take it Tel. Oh I get it, very droll. People have drowned for less

DAMON swigs from his glass, so that he ingests the ring. His speech accordingly affected.

DAMON Your hand’s shaking. Sure you want it diluting? Better off  with a stiff one as you always say

DAMON spits ring back into his glass.

TERRY Was she less, or was she more? I trust it was more. It better have been more. To risk everything, for what could have been said with a slap

DAMON What are you, a man or a stuffed scarecrow? Never hit a woman in me life. She was bleedin’ everything to me. So anything less she gave me, meant a complete dereliction

TERRY Alright, alright. Keep your hair on

DAMON Ain’t got none. Number one for number one. Besides, she didn’t show me no respect did she?

TERRY Not gonna get any from six feet under now are you?

DAMON Six feet under? You said you’d burn her body in the Merc. Fucking involuntary suttee, with you to sweep up the ashes for me to piss on-!

TERRY Listen Damon, it’s no way to operate. An overly firm handshake, fair enough. That’s business. That’s the power of suggestion-

DAMON takes swig, again ingests ring.

DAMON Word gets around she’s cheating on me, what’s that going to do for business...? No, okay, you’re right. It weren’t business. Just personal. Very, very personal

TERRY So personal, you got me to do it for you

DAMON Tel, Tel, Tel. She might have pricked my emotions, but I haven’t entirely taken leave of me senses. Bluebottles’ll be over me like a rash. Prime suspect. So how could I be the one to do the deed? They’ll never place you with her now will they? I’d do the same for you. Any one in your personal life you want... chaste-tising, and I’m your man

TERRY I haven’t got a personal life. It’s all devoted to you and the business

DAMON spits ring into his hand and offers it to TERRY in unreciprocated handshake.

DAMON Exactly as it should be. Always has been and always will be, just like brothers. Blood brothers

TERRY Uh-uh. We’re both single children. Orphaned single children

DAMON Jesus Tel! I think you’re starting to lose it mate. Getting a bit flabby around the gills. Bit long in the tooth maybe

TERRY No. I don’t have a taste for doing women if that’s what you mean

DAMON What you complaining about? I gave you the driver an’ all. For symmetry like

TERRY Fuck him! It’s not about him! I done him quick, cos I needed his duds. To get close to her

DAMON Seems to me anyone could get close to her

TERRY You said she’d have to grasp the reason why, from the very nature of her premature ejaculation from this world. So I needed to get close enough to perform it

DAMON You didn’t whip it out, did you Terry? I bet that made you choke more than her. I almost feel sorry for you, you poor bent bastard! Still, there’s a certain piquancy in eliminating her in such a way, that the last overriding stench in her nostrils would be that of elimination. See, you squared the circle. I said you were the man for the job. Find the symmetry in everything you do. Hope you made it linger. Gave her a chance to reflect on the irony of it all

TERRY Don’t be daft. It wasn’t like that

DAMON No, how exactly was it like then?

TERRY I’d seen them at it. In the limo like. She’d be sat turned round in the back, on one of those flip-up seats you reckon establishes status, but to me makes your high-powered limo more of a glorified ‘ackney. Anyway, he’d slide open the partition glass, lean over from the front seat and plant his peaked cap on her head. Then he’d put his arm through and start pawing her neck with the old leather mitt. She’d arch up and back in response, so he’d bring his other arm across her tits. This bothering you?

DAMON Less than you probably

TERRY Well I sees she’s got her eyes shut. Never clocks who’s behind her

DAMON He was fucking her up the shitter? She nev-
(director’s cut)
She had her fuckin’ eyes closed? She nev-
(producer’s preferred option)

TERRY Don’t be stupid! How could he? There was polished leather upholstery between them. It was all going off in her head like. This was just what I believe you handicappers call foreplay. Or is itmatchplay? I can never remember 

DAMON Yeah, I think I got some knock-off of that four-ply down one of the lock-ups

TERRY So that was how I did it. Can’t see nothing from outside with the tint, so she slides into the rear seat all unsuspecting. Dressed in the gear, she only sees the back of my neck and most of that’s cased in the cap. I hear the swish as she vacates the plush leather and the squelch of the cheap seat being flipped down. Now I know she’s got her back to me, so I give her the cap and it’s like I’ve popped her champagne bottle. Made me half jump out of my skin. But she hasn’t cottoned on to me. So I do what I saw Loz do, stroke for stroke, then callous my fingers. She arches back, really into it, like she’s trying to help me finish the job, but when my second hand clamps her throat and not her tits, the eyes flash open

DAMON Oh man, I wish I could have been there

TERRY No you don’t. Those eyes never once showed terror. Damon. At first they were just blazing angry

DAMON She didn’t have no right to be angry!??

TERRY It was only for a split second like. Then I don’t know what they registered. Couldn’t make out nothing written on her face. She weren’t resigned or knowing or anything really. I’d say they were just empty, except for the way she kept them trained on me till the end. I just know she wasn’t afraid

DAMON I didn’t expect her to show fear Tel. I knew she was a good’un when I picked her. I knew she would never crack. That’s what makes what the stupid bitch did even more mystifying. I never thought it would end up me being the one having to try and crack her

TERRY points at himself, before turning his finger to jab at DAMON.

TERRY Me Damon. I was actually the one remember? And I ain’t doing it again for you neither. Rips up the rulebook. People don’t know where they stand if you can do this to your own flesh

DAMON throws up his ring and snatches it out of the air. He then takes TERRY’s finger and addresses the adorning gold signet ring. He swaps them over, so that TERRY has his wedding ring and he wears TERRY’s signet ring. He ends by patting TERRYs hand.

DAMON Yeah, yeah. You got it Tel. Blood’s thicker than water and you and me waded through plenty in our time. You’re my only kin. Let’s go back to exactly how things used to be. See TD, you never went in for this... hollowness. Remained true to yourself. Only have to look at the gold rockface to remember, the heights scaled to get up there. The company seal of disapproval. Twenty-four carat, diamond geezer justice. Branded into the flesh of weaker men. Bosh! How does it feel Tel? It doesn’t quite carry the same weight does it? Unmans yer. She drove me to it Terry, just keep telling yourself that and don’t lose any sleep over it. ‘Rife’ is inlaid in ‘strife’ and ‘riven’ is wholly contained within ‘striven’. Now get out of that ridiculous outfit. You’re starting to come apart at the seams

They exit stage sinister.
BLACKOUT  (from alcohol probably)

CURTAIN FALLS on the person I used to be, the plush life I used to own.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Quality Of Writing Is Strained - Friday Flash

I typed a log entry into/on to my tablet. Then I deleted it and watch it seemingly become snaffled by the roiling plasma. Apposite word that 'tablet'. Harks back to the origins of writing, pieces of flint gouging out marks on stone beneath their sharpened tips. Matter grinding away at matter. Energy transference, heat sparks engendered through the friction. The intaglio letters cupped within the stone. Any natural cleft in the petrous grain, easily confused with a character whose shape it coincidentally approximates. Who can say where the boundary of a character ends and the natural stratum of the stone resumes? The letters utterly interacting with the flow of the grain around them, since one is hewn from the tissue of the other. Letters as impressions in negative space. That stone which was formerly there, now hacked away to leave the fossilised shapes of an alphabet.

Progress to mankind writing on parchment or papyrus with quill or stylus. Two materially different substances, pigment and canvas. The ink licked on to the surface of the fabric, filling its empty plane with characters. Colonising it. Again at the stiff pointed tip, although scribes also used the reedier kalamos to brush the ink on, like drummers who have both drum sticks and brushes for that more jazz vibe. Just as well really, or we'd have to doff our caps at the Freudian imagery of a shaft spilling its liquid seed on to a receptive membrane. The mark of the scribe, being the accidental transference of ink into the whorls of the pads of his fingers.

And it's not just fleshy fingertips. For unlike the carved incisions in stone tablets, here the ink rests upon the host surface, albeit some of the ink will seep and spread into the fibres beneath. In the main the two substances coexist in a space that is not as blended as those characters cut into stone. The inked boundaries of the letters delineate them from a differently coloured paper textile. They sit flush on a plane that is itself flat. The ink does not really have any texture of its own. No raised surfaces. The two do not interact, in the sense that where the ink lies the paper beneath is effaced and where the ink is not, the paper bears sole possession untouched. Once the ink has dried and settled, the two are inert from each other. Of course with illuminated manuscripts, where gold leaf was being applied to the pages, then such calligraphy would have a texture. And while such manuscripts provided an interesting approach to representing the divine light in halos and the illuminated script itself, let's just say the legerdemain of gold leaf doesn't actually represent how light operates. Rather, it more approximates the reflective properties of the moon's light actually originating from the sun. Reflected glories as second-hand light. A paucity of illumination.

Then on to moveable typesetting of the printing press and its personalised version in the form of the typewriter. An embossed letter block, whether placed in a composing stick, or at the end of a typebar, which then punches an impression filled in with ink. An inverted return to carving letters in stone through incision. Directly with hammer rather than chisel. The paper surface is indelibly altered, distorted, beneath the inroad of the press. The letters sit on a plane, but not flush. They are slightly sunken into its weft, a fact you can plainly see were you to view the underside of the paper, with its Braille-like displacements projecting through towards your eye. There is something almost animated by the process of smashing force upon force. Each typebar a metal monolith, with a homunculus letter clinging on for dear life to its surface, being smashed and pounded by the press of a lever launching the typebar like a ballista. Particularly if you used the red half of the ribbon, pressed in blood. Off key and off centre, the type was idiosyncratic. Personal. Die cast stamped with the metallic grain of the writer's force brought down on the keys. 

Of course in time, electronic typewriters and superior printing technologies ironed out these concavities and restored the smooth, unbroken plane of the canvas that houses the letters ranged there in regular blocks of text. The white of the paper merely acting as spacers between words, lines and paragraphs. Typescript orderly ranged across the paper, but more concerned with proportion to itself, so that the paper fades into the background. Print and paper barely having any relationship one to the other.

And now we are come to the present state of affairs. The plasma screen, a curvy sea in which the letters hang seemingly unmoored. Movable to anywhere on the display. The dancing characters which can pirouette and spin across the turbid screen as they are formatted. It is hard to determine which is more vaporous, screen or letters mounted there. The plasma remains indifferent to what it plays host to, yet it utterly determines its nature. In the ineffable coding that remains hidden and unknowable. Somehow, like planets in spacetime, these characters too interact with the curved plasma and the two shape one another. No longer is the screen an inert host. Yet neither letters nor plasma ocean possess significant mass. This is not like the heft of a planet curving proximate space around it. This is more akin to particle physics. Letters like elemental particles, brushed from the keystroke perhaps to become manifest in the plasmatic field. Colliding hard up against their neighbour, expressing their valency. The nature of their charge.

And thus do our letters evanesce and die. Oh they persist in some ghostly form, as hypertext, but they are quickly interred by the next rolling mass of text which too will be overwhelmed and underwritten, or should that be underwhelmed and overwritten? The letters, our letters, have become cast asunder from our fingers. Left to drift and do battle with CEO algorithms in the plasmatic main. The quality of writing has been strained through being shorn of material paper through which to filter it.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Summer Hating - 15 summer songs for the English Rain

Summer, balmy weather, holidays abroad and the concept of the Summer Read for lazing around on deckchairs and not having to engage your brain. All concepts which are pretty anathema to me. I don't holiday anymore, I write, but even when I did I took those books that demanded my full concentration which i could never give them during the daily hurly burley of normal life.

So with that Mr Scrooge in mind, here are some songs not celebrating summer in an overly optimistic way like the Travolta/Newton John song from the film "Grease".

1) "School's Out" - Alice Cooper
Remember when you couldn't wait for your schooldays to end? That last summer before the plunge either into University and overwrought romantic drama after drama and essay crises after essay crisis, or the full  lunge into the workaday world. Either way that's why the carefree, responsibility-free days of school don't seem quite so bad in hindsight "school was the happiest days of my life" etc. And all the time that last extended summer holiday punctuated by the anxiety of waiting for your exam results to determine your fate... I dunno, maybe Alice Cooper wasn't too bothered whether he passed woodwork or business studies exams or not, cos he knew he was headed foe the top anyway.

2) "Summer Wine" - Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood
Summer wine? More like copious narcotics to judge by the lyrical content. But you gotta love it anyway! Not to be confused with the awful cover version by Lana Del Ray and her *Boyfriend In The Band* scenario. He ain't no Lee Hazelwood that's for sure.

3) "Long Hot Summer Night" - Jimi Hendrix
Now Jimi may have been as high as a kite, but his guitar and almost spoken word delivery conjured up a vision of cities in the summer that are totally inhabitable ("Crosstown Traffic" anyone?) Of course the Hippie Summers of the late 60s of festivals and flower children messed things up for all progressive politics and culture ever since, but you can't fault them for trying.

4) "Summer babe" - Pavement
When Pavement came around, everyone was hot about how different and trailblazing they would be. But to me they were the logical extension of West Coast bands from Creedence Clearwater Revival through The Tubes to American Music Club (and today's BlackRebel Motorcycle Club). Maybe it's the vocal delivery. They are to rock what MacSweeneys is to literature. I still like them though! Just think head honcho Stephen Malkamus' solo stuff is way more interesting.

5) "Here Comes The Summer" - The Undertones
Short, stripped down & to the point. The rush of the delivery as you change out of your scholl uniform and into a t-shirt and shorts and pelt out into the garden to the paddling pool. But as with most undertones' songs, you just know that holiday romance is going to end badly. Most of The Undertones' songs invoke the summer somehow, probably because of their indefatigable upbeat optimism in the delivery of the songs.

6) "Hot Fun In The Summertime" - Sly And The Family Stone
This song almost, almost breaks me out of my curmudgeonly carapace and doff the peak of my sun hat in the direction of the bright star in the azure sky. What a fabulous arrangement of the band on stage too. They don't make them like this anymore. Thanks Britain's got talent...

7) "Celebrated Summer" - Husker Du
Husker Du's songs were always a world of pain,so even when singing about the summer their faces were fully grimaced, attacking their guitars with the full fury of those spurned at the beach cos they're in Speedos when everyone else is in Nike.

8) "Indian Summer" - Beat Happening
We'll be lucky to even get an Indian Summer in this rain-soaked season we've had so far (though as I type this today is sunny and warm). Calvin's vocals were always suffused in the it's too hot to really go for it vein, even though I believe they came from Washington State which has very cold winters. REM covered this song, so it must be cool. Beat happening the best band you probably never heard of.

9) "Holiday in Cambodia" - Dead Kennedys
From summer listlessness to its complete obverse. All the rage fuelled punk of the Dead Kennedys singing about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge when at the time most of us struggled to locate Cambodia on a globe, let alone understand what was happening there in the isolationist state.

10) "Long Summer Days" - EMF
This band got lots of stick because they were part of the Madchester dance/rave scene, even though they came from the country bumpkin land of Gloucestershire. I don't care what anyone says, "Unbelievable" was a great song, but yeah it's probably true, to judge by the evidence of this, they took every recognisable element of the scene and stitched it together to form an identikit band. Oh well. They're unbelievable!

11) "Holiday"- Happy Mondays
And so to the real thing! For their latter career, all year round was one long holiday and let's not forget the multi-car-crashing, drug binge stay in Barbados the band had which probably brought their record label Factory to its financial knees. This song just drips holiday from its first notes. But then it turns...

12) "Sunshine" - Mos Def
Over its classic summer sample Def lays his bleak litany of disappointment and cynicism. Wonderful juxtaposition.

13) "Holidays In the Sun" - Sex Pistols
"Cheap holiday in other people's misery" and there we have misery tourism in a nutshell. Do they still offer holidays to drug-fuelled ghettos and active warzones? I find this troubling.

14) "The Holiday song" - Pixies
Kim Deal just left the Pixies recently. Hasn't Black Francis ballooned up? The last band I ever saw live before I retired from moshing.

15) "Summer Jam" - The Cool Kids
See in the US you can probably get away with an outdoor jam, but here in soggy old Britain you've no chance! (Yes I know the band are rehearsing indoors here, but feel that vibe!)