Resistance is Futile


A while ago I wrote that sitting on the bus surrounded by people with smartphones made me feel like I was living in the future. But after a while I’d also started to feel more like the last survivor at the end of a zombie movie; the one person still uninfected by a virus that had swept through humanity causing its victims to constantly stare at their phone and be unable to function when they weren’t connected to the collective.

Then the wife got me an iPhone for Christmas.

Not a big deal I know, millions of people have iPhones, but I’d been proudly and defiantly sticking with my old gas-powered cell in a fit of old-school, anti-modern world rebellion. But the phone was dying and, like an unreliable old friend who never returns your calls because he doesn’t hear them in the first place, it had to go.

Now my new phone sits there beside me with it’s perfect round corners and smooth surfaces, its siren voice urging me to swipe it’s screen, gently tap it’s buttons with my fingertips, and lose myself in the soothing, all-enveloping digital world. It even got me to join that Twitter thing — follow me here!. Soon I shall be a multi-platform brand.

Download: The Lonely Crowd – The Special AKA (mp3)

We’ll Always Have Paris


A while ago I started writing a post about the “retirement” of David Bowie who, since his heart attack in 2004, seemed to have given up the rocking and rolling and was content to live the quiet domestic life in New York – painting, reading, and picking his kid up from school. I thought of him as the stranded alien Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell To Earth who has wearily “had enough” at the end and lives in anonymous seclusion.

Like 99% of the posts I start writing it never got finished, but the point I was going to make was that I was happy for Bowie that he’d retired, and personally didn’t care much if he never made another record because, you know, we’ll always have Paris. He made enough great records and left me with enough good memories that his reputation was golden for the rest of his life, no matter how many average late-career records he made that I didn’t want to buy.

But I suppose he must have had a creative itch he needed to scratch because he’s gone and made another one after a 10-year silence which raises the hype and expectation way higher than it was for Reality or Heathen and all those other albums of his I was never arsed enough about to actually buy (along with everybody else). He’s risking a lot with The Next Day because people are paying attention this time and he could have very publicly fallen flat on his geriatric rocker face with it, but — phew! — it’s actually a very good album. Not Hunky Dory or Low good of course, but almost Lodger or Scary Monsters good. Pulling off this surprise this might be Bowie’s most audacious move in a career that’s been full of them.

Now if only Paul McCartney would bugger off for 10 years.

Download: Valentine’s Day – David Bowie (mp3)

The Big One

It’s my birthday today. I can’t quite bring myself to say out loud how old I am but here’s a clue:



Apparently my wife has some secret things planned to celebrate the big occasion, I hope it includes time for me to go off on my own with a bottle of Scotch and weep in a dark room somewhere.

Download: Old – Dexy’s Midnight Runners (mp3)

Things Fall Apart


I joined a gym last year, that might not seem like hold-the-front-page news to you but it was a big deal for me. I’ve never considered myself a “gym” person — more the “record shop” and “pub” type — and always thought working out was a faintly ridiculous modern habit for the narcissistic, self-absorbed, and neurotic. I didn’t even like running for a bus, it just wasn’t me. To my mind grown ups should be sitting around having erudite conversations over a glass of scotch, not getting sweaty in a room full of strangers.

But the horror of a 50th birthday coming rapidly down the road (just a few weeks away now) and having to keep up with two turbo-charged young kids made even me think that my body needed a tune-up — and probably jumper cables. It can be hard to accept (after the anger and denial) that you aren’t the youth you once were — I liked that guy! — and that your body isn’t the indestructible vessel it once was. Also, I’d found it easy to ignore the fact that I was getting on a bit because I’m still thin and have all my hair in (mostly) its original colour, but that didn’t mean things weren’t falling apart under the hood.

Boozing and late nights are the two most obvious casualties of aging, becoming nostalgic exhibits in The Museum of Youth that you can only look at wistfully from the other side of the glass. I still like a tipple or three but the days when I could sink a skinful and still function the next day are long gone. Staying up late is a thing of the past too, by 11pm I’m wiped out and nodding off on the couch, the only time I see 2am now is if one of the kids wakes up — my dirty little secret is that I’d rather have a quiet night in anyway. On top of all that my knees hurt and my already-poor eyesight is deteriorating so much that I now need reading glasses. When I catch a glimpse of myself with those things perched on the end of my nose it’s like looking at a picture of my dad — not the young, groovy version of my dad either, the old guy.

Visits to the doctor have become more significant too. Thankfully my ticker is in good shape and my blood pressure is low, but my yearly check-ups (another new thing) now end with him sticking his finger up my bum and poking my prostate — a sign that I’m the age now where certain things need to be kept an eye on. The worst thing is the paranoia that sets in about your health, when every cough, every ache and pain, can become a worrying sign of potentially serious trouble — especially for someone like me who smoked ciggies for nearly 30 years. A few months ago I had some symptoms I was almost convinced were cancer (handy hint: never, ever, look up your symptoms on the internet) but when I got to the doctor it just turned out that my ears needed syringing. He had a good laugh about that, I felt like giving him a tearful hug of gratitude.

So I’m pounding the treadmill and pumping the weights about three times a week now, fighting against the dying of the light and trying to make up for past sins — though I would rather have my past sins than not. To my surprise I actually quite enjoy it (oh no, I’ve become one of those people) and, though I’ll probably always look less like Charles Atlas and more like the guy who got sand kicked in his face, it is nice to have a little more muscle on my reedy arms and be able to lift the kids up in the air without my back protesting. Maybe years from now I’ll be one of those spry, tracksuited pensioners running marathons and bungee jumping. Hopefully not, that really isn’t me.

Download: Musclebound (12″ Mix) – Spandau Ballet (mp3)

Ashes To Ashes


Much as I love records I’m not sure I’d want to be memorialized in this way when I die: Having my ashes pressed into a vinyl record. Seems a bit creepy to me (at least it isn’t a picture disk), and I’d probably end up covered in scratches and filed in the wrong place.

Though I guess you could convert it to an mp3 so your loved ones can carry you around on their iPods.

Download: When I’m Dead And Gone – McGuinness Flint (mp3)

New Monday



I have a love-hate relationship with Sleigh Bells. One the one hand I love their catchy tunes, fun image, and cute lead singer, but their records are so brutally, viscerally NOISY — full of shuddering jackhammer beats and screeching metal guitars — that my aging ears can’t handle it so I also hate them for making me feel old. Which I guess is what proper modern pop music should do, ancient farts like me aren’t supposed to like it. So then I sort of love them again for making records I have a hard time with. It’s complicated.

Their latest single “Comeback Kid” is relatively easy listening for them, sounding almost at times like Katy Perry singing with My Bloody Valentine or something, but from what I’ve heard of their new album “Reign of Terror” they’re still a band that make you bang a broom on the ceiling and tell them to turn the bloody racket down. Which is good. And bad.

The Way They Woz



This is wonderful, and a great document of when the King’s Road was an exciting (and a little scary) place to be. When Ann Wobble says “There’s me!” and the camera zooms in on her younger self I found it quite touching too, you can feel the glow of youth reaching across the years. I’m the same age as her and if I saw film of myself from that year I think I’d be more cringing than delighted.

Something for the Weekend



This got to Number One twenty years ago now. Read all about it at Popular and feel (justified and) ancient.

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com

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