Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Am Hungry

I've been reading the BBC website comments about Palestine and Israel. It is so sad to witness the polarised views banging back and forth; but the media and government bias is clearly and with very few exceptions pro-Israel. The sign on his belly reads: I am hungry.

These people are already denied international aid, and the taxes they are due, because they dared to elect Hamas - which means doctors nurses and teachers go unpaid, and families everywhere are hungry. Now the power is turned off, after the Israelis destroyed the electrical infrastructure, so that 60% of Gaza is without power, and the fuel supply has been cut off, which means water will not be pumped, sewage will not be processed.

This is collective punishment of the kind witnessed by Europeans under the heel of the Gestapo. It never ceases to amaze me that the people who suffered most under Nazism are the most active modern proponents of its methods. As Peter Ustinov once said, the Jews were the first victims of the Nazis, the Palestinians the last. Do you remember that only a couple of weeks ago, an entire Palestinian family was shelled to death on a beach? No matter the denials, as all the forensic evidence showed, it was certainly a shell fired from an Israeli gunboat.

What many people fail to realise is that the war inflicted upon Palestine is constant, and that with or without the kidnappings of uniformed soldiers, there are daily incarcerations, sonic booms overhead, and the bullets and the shells never cease to rain down on this trapped population.

Read also: The Violinist
Palestinian Boy Aged 10 Shot in Street
Europe Steps In To Aid Palestine
Make the World a Better Place (Richard Silverstein)

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ashley Slater Spotted In Soho

Met this shady character in Dean Street, Soho yesterday. He was playing the first of two nights in the Pizza Express Jazz Club - which is actually more like a jazz club and less like a pizza joint. Great sound, intimate venue. Tickets left for this evening's performance - well worth checking out.

Ashley and his band played a selection from his haunting new album Cellophane as well as some old faves from the olden days. The song I am singing this morning is a track he wrote with trumpeter Guy Barker which has the most beautful Cole Porter-ish melody.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cotopaxi - Volcano Of Reverse Psychology

Epithet after epithet was found too weak to convey to those who have not visited the intertropical regions, the sensations of delight which the mind experiences. - Charles Darwin.

Cotopaxi (0.7S 78.4W) is a stratovolcano with a summit elevation of 19,388 feet (5,911 m). It has erupted 50 times since 1738. The 1877 eruption melted snow and ice on the summit, which produced mudflows that traveled 60 miles (100 km) from the volcano. The most recent eruption of Cotopaxi ended in 1904. Reports of an eruption in 1942 have not been confirmed. The most recent activity was an increase in steam emissions, melting snow, and small earthquakes from 1975-1976.

Ecuador's anthem is another example of a "Latin American epic anthem". The lyrics were written in 1865 (the author, Juan León Mera, later served as president of the Ecuadoran senate) and set to music the following year. Except in formal occassions (where the second verse is performed, followed by the third verse and the the second verse is repeated), the second verse is the verse that's sung out of the seven verses of the poem (six of which make up the complete lyrics of the anthem.)

"Salve, Oh Patria!" (We Salute You Our Homeland) Words by: Juan León Mera, music by: Antonio Neumane. Adopted: 1886


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Friday, June 23, 2006

John Wadlow and Seal: Reliable and Modest

I see that my old chums John Wadlow and Seal have been subject to a high court ruling, which means Seal will have to part with a minimum £500,000 in unpaid commission.

"Mr Justice Gray was only asked to deal with the question of liability during the trial, not to assess the sum owed, and ordered Seal to make an interim payment of £500,000 and £175,000 costs. The full amount to be paid to Mr Wadlow will be decided at a future court hearing." (BBC)

However what I found most interesting was the Judge's assessment of the two men's reliability as witnesses.

"He said he found Seal an "impressive witness" who felt betrayed by Mr Wadlow. "His answers in cross-examination were thoughtful, modest and fluently expressed," he said. "It appeared to me that, at least in the early years of his career as an artist, he had little interest in its financial aspects and preferred to concentrate on his music."

Judge Gray added: "I found Mr Wadlow to be a reliable witness. His recollection of events, whilst far from perfect, was for understandable reasons better than that of Seal. I suspect that his involvement in the music business came about as a result of his love of music rather than a desire to make money."

He added that Mr Wadlow had "felt himself entitled" to share in Seal's success once he became an international star.

Mr Justice Gray ruled that in relation to the 1990 management agreement Mr Wadlow had "misused his influence over Seal". But the March 1995 agreement was "plainly not procured by undue influence".

John's "undue influence" was to a certain extent reciprocal. Seal was and no doubt is an immensely charming man who could persuade you of his rectitude with a compelling combination of passion, wild analogy and twisted logic. John in fact was one of the few people in his life who was strong minded enough to resist.

At one point, John and his partner Julian had invested thousands of pounds of studio time in this gifted singer and performer, who promptly buggered off to Thailand for six months "in order to find himself" which pissed them off not a little bit. When Seal got arrested and made a pleading phone call for them to bail or bribe him out, John decided this was the perfect opportunity to teach him a lesson and kept him languishing there for two weeks in order to make him more appreciative.

One day I'll write the book...

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Midsummer 2006

Hampstead Heath, June 21st 2006.

First I went to the men's bathing pool. The men's pool has a relaxed feel, no lockers necessary, a small area for nude sunbathing. The water was delicious, clear into green, just slightly cooler than the warm day. It's so nice to swim in clean fresh water, no chlorine, no salt. I swam around as ducks and coots chased one another around, competing for nest space.

After fifteen or twenty minutes, breaststroke, crawl, backstroke, I dried, dressed, and wandered up the hill slowly, feeling slightly light-headed, realising I was still not completely well after my course of medication and the tooth extraction. The sun warmed me and I lay down in the long grass of Hampstead's grass meadow. Small bugs jumped all over my half-length trousers, and I felt my heart racing. I concentrated on my breath, and worried about my heart. It was the fact I have been ill, I told myself, insisting on calm, until she took my mind and body and smoothed the moment.

Further up the hill, the stand of pines on a oval rise, encircled by low black-spiked railings. This is named Boadicea's Mound and is thought to be a pagan site. I jumped over the railings cautiously, throwing my bag with swimming gear and water ahead of me. As I passed up onto the top of the mound, it was approaching midday on the longest day, and I felt elated. I was in a sublimely positive mood, for having given myself the time to find the place.

At the top, I found a brass bowl, foxgloves, a piece of red wool.. someone had been there at daybreak, I surmised. I felt the old year drop away and so I spent some time out of time there, taking photographs, feeling the breeze, smiling. I sat on the log and felt the spell of the place. Somehow the precious object seemed to require something of me.. I only had water, so I half-filled the bowl, watching in the water surface the reflection of the tree-tops above me.. I was transported. I drank water from the bottle, floated a pine cone and watched the wind blow it around and around. The sun came and went, but the day stayed warm.

It was time to go after a time, and so I went. I was hungry. I walked calmly the ten minutes to the cafe, sat in the sun, watched the rooks eating scraps, and enjoyed a latte and a cherry cake. I was having the thoughts that only come with time given to yourself, inspired by the pilgrimage and the pond to think of less, of doing less of the things that keep me from being empty, from being free.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Happy Midsummer

We've waited six long months for this time, and here again is the return of the Sun King, climactic at the height of his powers, midsummer solstice, the beginning of the fading of the light.

Exalt in the long day, stay up the short night, burn incense, make love emboldened under the stars. Watch the first rays of the midsummer sun arrive over the far horizon, make a wish, make it twice, and wait to see what striking image first occurs in the dawn...

Happy New Year Everyone!

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Spot The Might Boosh

Spotted two of my favourite comedy geniuses lunching in London this afternoon. I went and shook their hands. I think they had just surfaced from a comedy orgy - they seemed tired but they were very mellow. I forgot my pain.

This review I wrote about them is the second most-read article in Blog of Funk.

I feel special now...

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Tenacious Roots

Thirty six years that tooth was there... Readers may remember that I sold this tooth on Ebay to Jim Driver late last year. The conditions were that I would provide it in a gift box. However, I may have to provide seven and a half gift boxes as the tooth came out in that many pieces. The twenty pounds Jim successfully bid will slightly offset the three hundred pound cost of the dental surgery.

I am very bruised and have a mouth full of sutures. Apparently my roots are long and tenacious.

I will now compose a reggae album called "Tenacious Roots" in memory of my extracted tooth.

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Monday, June 19, 2006


As a child, I was a cheerful, yet morbid, always trying to follow my imagination to the furthest extent it would go. I would concoct scenarios which saw me damaged (blind, deaf, amputee) tortured (held captive by humans, or attacked by animals, insects) or decaying. When I was ten I decided one day, watching the news about young Kennedy, that I had bone cancer. The fear plagued me for years. Then I met Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, and I found my salvation. I read this book fourteen times.

Yossarian the lead character develops a perfectly rational fear of death after his comrade Snowden dies in his arms on a bombing raid. In the chapter, The Soldier In White he runs through all the different ways he could die.
There were lymph glands that might do him in. There were kidneys, nerve sheaths and corpuscles. There were tumors of the brain. There was Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There were fertile red meadows of epithelial tissue to catch and coddle a cancer cell. There were diseases of the skin, diseases of the bone, diseases of the lung, diseases of the stomach, diseases of the heart, blood and arteries. There were even diseases of the feet. There were billions of conscientious body cells oxidating away day and night like dumb animals at their complicated job of keeping him alive and healthy, and every one was a potential traitor and foe. There were so many diseases that it took a truly diseased mind to even think about them as often as he and Hungry Joe did.

Fnding Catch 22 confirmed my position on health and my philosophy on life. I have good reason to be wary of doctors (and dentists, where I go this afternoon) since I was drugged by the former and brutalised by the latter. However, as the body starts to show its age, I find myself re-appraising Yossarian's resentment, even as I reach for the pills, and check into hospital at the end of this month to have cameras shoved down my throat to inspect the workings of my vocal chords, now showing strain after 20 years of tea, coffee, beer, wine, cognac and rock and roll.

I actually do have something wrong with me - aside from a painful tooth - and it has a name, Odynophonia. Speaking, especially at the end of a busy day, hurts quite a bit, and this probably means I'll have to change the way I work, as well as other aspects of my lifestyle. So, cutting down on coffee and black tea, less telephone, less Skype, lots of steam inhalations, lots of water, and shutting up will be the order of the day.

Podcasting and blogging may be the only way I will be able to communicate...

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

WIPO Podcast Petition

Wouldn't normally get political on a Sunday with Brazil playing Australia, but here is a petition which aims to prevent broadcasters taking over podcasters' rights.

Podcasting is now more established, but legislation is still in its infancy. With 300+ UK podcasters producing thousands of hours of original content each week, in March we formed the UK Podcasters Association to represent our interests and protect our rights.

The United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization has called a last-minute meeting on June 21 in Barcelona, out of the normal diplomatic venues to try to push through the Broadcasting Treaty. This treaty gives broadcasters (not creators or copyright holders) the right to tie up the use of audiovisual material for 50 years after broadcasting it, even if the programs are in the public domain, Creative Commons licensed, or not copyrightable.

The Barcelona meeting brings together lots of Latin American broadcasters - who no doubt love the idea of a new monopoly right that they get for free merely for broadcasting a work. Bringing these broadcasters in is a way of undermining the effective opposition to the treaty that has come from countries like Brazil and Chile. This meeting is especially deadly, because it looks like they're trying to sneak podcasting back into the treaty, after agreeing to take it out at the last big meeting in Geneva.

The most important issues for us here are:

- Broadcaster copyright cannot overrule podcast copyright or other licence

- Podcasting is not broadcasting and the two must not be conflated (forced together)

- The wishes of the creator regarding their rights in their work must be respected

- Creative Commons licences, GPU licences, "free forever" licences (in whatever form) are legitimate and must be upheld in perpetuity.

Here's the EFF take on the Broadcasting Treaty:

With the Irish and the German podcast groups, we have set up a petition here which we will be presenting to WIPO in Barcalona this Wednesday, June 21st.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

World Cup Fatness

Public health doctors Dr Jeff Collin, of Edinburgh University's Centre for International Public Health Policy, and Dr Ross MacKenzie, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, writing in the esteemed medical publication The Lancet have criticised the World Cup organisers FIFA for picking unhealthy sponsors like McDonalds, Coca-Cola and even relaxing their anti-tobacco stance - the ban on smoking in stadiums has been dropped and branded lighters and ashtrays are among official merchandise.

"The presence among FIFA's current official partners of Budweiser beer, McDonald's and Coca-Cola illustrates the tensions that exist between international sport and health promotion. This tension highlights the need for sports organisations to reassess their relations with sponsors and for governments to reassess both the scope of existing regulation and the terms of public investment in elite sport."

The last World Cup attracted a cumulative audience of 28.8 billion viewers across 213 countries. For this competition, 15 global brands have each paid an estimated $40m for the sponsorship opportunities linked to being an Official Partner. The Lancet paper's authors also note that FIFA, the English Football Association (FA) and the 2012 London Olympic Games have McDonald's as one of their official corporate partners.

Bring on the Chav Olympics!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Teen Buzz

New York kids have downloaded a sound devised to drive them from malls and other commercial areas where they are not wanted - "Teen Repellent" - and repurposed it for their ringtones and text message alerts.

The sound is extremely high pitched and can only be heard by youths who have not suffered the hearing loss that accompanies adulthood, when the ceiling for sound perception drops from around 20khz to 16khz. This means that their mobile phones can ring undetected under the very noses - um, ears - of teachers who have of course banned such uses of technology in the classroom.

The cleverness of this subterfuge has even impressed the Welsh company responsble for developing the sound who have made an MP3 available on their website.

The anti-teen use of noise and music has a history. In Sydney, Australia, they have been using Barry Manilow to drive kids away. In Saskatoon, Canada it's classical music. But I think this marks a turning point. Inventor Howard Stapleton has hit on something far more profound than just a sound which teenagers can hear and adults cannot. In our misguided efforts to control the present by excluding the future (children), we have unwittingly opened up a new front in the wars of perception, in which teenagers have instantly gained and can easily maintain the edge, for the simple reason that teenagers will always be far quicker, more inventive and more adaptable than their elders.

It won't stop at sound, either. There are many differences between adults and teenagers, physical, emotional, perceptual, moral, all of which are now open to exploitation. And, now that this war has been declared, you can expect teenagers to take the initiative and start to win on a regular basis.

Copacobana coming soon to a mobile phone near you...

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Nude Cyclists' Global Protest

Delightful story of unclothed cyclists in many nations (including Britain) protesting against oil evil. Note the tasteful cropping in this exquisite BBC report.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go...

From Gazza *England 4 World Cup* 8 Jun 2006 17:18 RE: What do you think of our video? Lmfao that is some good shit.....I used to live in Germany and I got chased a few times for wearing my England top haha but yeah.....Don't mention the war HAHA great video and song :D

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Is This The End Of The World As We Know It?

Just because I didn't wake up dead yesterday doesn't mean I have stopped worrying about imminent disaster. That dream I had was unmistakable.

So, now I am looking at three things: one, I have something wrong with me which is very dreadful, which the medics have yet to find - at present, they say I have Odynophonia and if it is just that, then I am probably going to be OK but I really do have to shut up more; two, the world economy is in fact far more near to collapse than anyone realises (see Japanese stock market, a regular barometer of the failure of capitalism); or three, the Indonesian volcano Mount Merapi, now weakened by the recent earthquake, is about to blow, plunging us all into deadly cold and causing global crop failure and terrible starvation everywhere.

As this carefully worded explanation of the consequences of a serious volcanic eruption explains, "we may be smart enough to escape from the lava and the ash, dodge the acid rains, survive the nuclear winter and protect ourselves against the killer solar radiation afterwards. But plants and animals definitely are not. We'd find ourselves in an increasingly empty world, as one species after another goes extinct. In the end, even the toughest survivalist would starve to death. In fact, 74,000 years ago, humanity almost did. In those days, a supervolcano erupted in Toba, Sumatra. Quite a lot of scientists believe this is what pushed humanity to the brink of extinction: it is a well-established fact that in those days, humanity suddenly was reduced to a slim total of some ten thousands of men."

Now for the World Cup. But I'll have to avoid shouting at the TV.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Feel Fine

On the left, Britain's oldest man, 110 year old Henry Allingham, shaking the hand of America's Most Feared Politician, Gordon "Cheerful" Brown.

Henry has put his longevity down to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women".

On the right, smiling with Ringo Starr, 59 year old Billy Preston, who sadly died yesterday in Arizona. Billy's beautiful musicality is one of the reasons I play keyboards.. hearing "Get Back" by the Beatles being one of the most formative moments of my childhood.

News in this household is: I woke up and went for a run. Still here, apparently.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I've been dreading this day, 6.6.6, for about ten months, after a dream I had, in which I entered a supermarket in order to buy provisions. It was late afternoon, maybe early evening. It reminded me of Stroud, or perhaps Purley - modern construction surrounded by mature green trees.

For some reason, the main entrance doors were closed, but I found another way, sneaking in through the exit. It didn't help me though, as I realised I couldn't buy anything since the cashiers were ringing up the tills.

I left the supermarket with a strange dream-non-dream feeling. This is a feeling I get from time to time - once I had it for the entire month before Diana died. I was depressed at the time, which meant I misinterpreted the dream-non-dream feeling as my own, imminent, physical death. In my defense, I did wake up with the resounding phrase as if spoken to me in my mind. "I have not got long to live." A month later, she died, and I was so relieved.

These dream-non-dream feelings can be dreams, can be feelings. They are like dreams in that they appear as visions or auditory experiences which I am actually living in that pseudo-life way, which is convincing until you awake. They leave behind an unmistakable feeling of portent - I am being allowed a glimpse into the future, the fabric of usual time is torn, and some chink of the light to come shines through for a moment.

Having left the supermarket, in the dream I was thinking about my bad timing - I had not been able to take what I wanted because I'd got there after the tills were closed, despite being in the shop. I could have taken things from the shelves and ran, of course, but even in my dreams I am essentially honest. I recall being in the evening car park, a few solitary vehicles spotting the supermarket tarmac.

I left this place with a feeling of perturbation, and walking, found myself shortly at a long veranda adjacent to single storey wooden building, looking out onto a garden and a rural view beyond, where three grey haired women sat on chairs in the evening light, facing the sunset. I asked them what they were waiting for. "Six," one of them replied. The response felt much more meaningful than just a number or a time.

The next morning, I could not get this dream out of my head, and many times considered and reconsidered the meaning of the dream in the days and weeks that followed. I put the supermarket and their warning together and came up with a dream-non-dream interpretation. I decided that the biggest meaning was - if I wanted something, some resource, I must not delay, or else I might get there, be surrounded by the things I want, and yet for the reason of arriving past the point where my money is spendable, fail to buy.

The three women (witches, clearly) were warning me not to waste time - there would be a cut-off point after which my money (energy) was useless. Six - well, in the dream that meant maybe six p.m. But in reality it meant six months, or maybe 2006 (I had the dream in 2005) or maybe, June, the sixth month. Or maybe, the ominous date, 6.6.6. But it was definitely six something and I had to bear this in mind.

Well, here we are, 6.6.6. I have worked incredibly hard since that dream, never shaking that dream-non-dream feeling, warning anyone that will listen that the stable economy we have enjoyed in Britain will not last. Ten months ago, I looked ahead and saw that the USA was going into bankruptcy because of Iraq. Sure enough, the dollar is now perilously weak and Bush has practically exhausted the richest nation in the world. When America slides, we all fall.

I have always been like this. I don't dare disregard my occasional clairvoyance, but I only ever make partial interpretations, and I am forced to wait and see. I kind of wish I was a practical type, not susceptible to suggestion, who never read a Lyall Watson book, but then, I wouldn't have composed, made art, or written a single word of fiction.

I saw the line of women when I went to see the west end show,The Producers. I had a mild shock of recognition at that point - not only the grey hair, but the place in the theatre from which I was seeing the show obscured all but three of the women, and the angle was perfect. It was ironic. "Springtime for Hitler, and Germany..." Mel Brooks kind of helped me deal with the more morbid side of the dream-non-dream feeling. On the plus side, I have worked hard on my health since the dream, financial of course, but also physical - I don't drink anymore. I'd say I was happier in general. If I survive today, I'll keep my head down until July 1st, and then we'll see how the rest of 2006 pans out.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Shut Up

I used to find it difficult to stop talking. When I was young I got constantly into trouble for talking when I should be working / quiet / sleeping / listening / praying / obeying random adult dictats. From a young age, at school I had the capacity to finish my work in half the time the other children required, at which point boredom and my innate sociability would kick in and I'd begin to assist anyone that needed it. Teachers, sensing competition, ordinarily at this point attempted to contain me but invariably failed. One of the first reports I received states: "Deek has the ability to complete his own work whilst putting everybody off theirs." Rubbish!

I was cursed with a "reading age" (whatever THAT means) of 16 by the time I was 7 years old, which meant that the solutions offered even by the most well-meaning of supervisory adults were incredibly inappropriate.

I remember once taking a reading test, of the English type favoured in the 1960s and 1970s which consisted of reading through a list of words which grew progressively more difficult. The assumption was if you could pronounce it, the word was in your vocabulary. I waltzed through the first fifty or so. Then I came to "enigma" which I pronounced correctly. The teacher paused me there.

"Do you know what that means?" he asked, looking at me over his half-moon reading glasses.

I looked at him. "It's a mystery," I quipped, straight-faced.

"Thank you, that'll do," he said, and beckoned the next child to come forward.

"But..." I could see dozens more words that I knew cascading down the sheet. "I know what it means," I protested. "It means.."

He glared at me, and brusquely dismissed me with a haughty, flicking hand gesture. "That will DO!" he snapped, not letting me finish my correction of his error.

Aghast that he was rebuking me despite the fact that I had clearly done better than any other child in the class, I returned smarting to my seat, knowing that I had once again been undervalued, my intelligence scorned and my ego publicly crushed.

The lesson I learned from that was not nobody loves a smart-arse or even just do the test and don't screw it up by being funny - rather it was the certain knowledge that until I was in a similar position of authority, I was not going to be able to be myself; and with that came the determination to be myself, regardless of recognition from "on high", and the assumption that being told to shut up probably meant that I was onto something.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Two Year Blogiversary Present

Tomorrow is my Blogiversary. That's about the first time in two years I've not posted for an entire week. I have the perfect excuse: I've been producing this video for the footie song, which despite our amazing press is still beyond the radar of the national TV and radio stations who seem to mostly be opting for a depressing bunch of was-beens - Tony Christie? Jimmy Pursey? Crazy Frog? I mean COME ON!!

Been looking at YouTube. Decided to join in. Remains to be seen whether this will fire us into the top left hand corner, but still, it's been huge. What do you reckon?

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