Relax….this is a Brexitelection-free zone. Nostalgia is not what it was, but some names will live on.
What seems now like a lifetime ago, I was listening to the car radio while driving up the M6 to Lancashire, gingerly overtaking lorries that spurted out filth from their gigantic wheels onto my windscreen. It was one of those truly awful drizzling, grey days of which one gets far too many in the north west of England, and it matched the selection of disks being played by some anodyne transatlantic DJ or other. So I skipped to a local station, and with clinical timing a track began with this lyric:
After six rain-drenched summers/he still had an eye for me
kissed me each evening/and told me he’d die for me
but he ran off the road/full of whisky and irony
He always meant what he said.
The voice had a purity that, for some unknown reason, is easier to find among Scottish women; but it was way bigger in range and captivation than anything I’d experienced since first hearing Joni Mitchell in the late 1960s. It belongs to a lady called Karine Polwart, and she is a genius. There’s a fair chance you’ve never heard of her. If so, it’s time you did.
You know when you hear a track and immediately turn the sound up in the prayed-for hope that the DJ will give you the artist’s name? It was one of those moments. Thankfully, the jockey supplied an identity, and the name of her new album, Faultlines. On arrival in Manchester, I walked into a record store and bought it. I’ve been playing it ever since.
That was fifteen years ago.
She has a new album out, and you can read more about it (and her) here. Her politics aren’t mine, but then neither were Mitchell’s: and Polwart is no celeb airhead. She has 1st and 2nd degrees in politics and philosophical enquiry. But what she mainly has is talent…and so long as people know how to be, they will always get both my vote and my admiration. She’s had a life of turmoil and tragedy, but triumphed over it by focusing on primary senses and compassion devoid of virtue signals.
Fine, I feel a strong sense of commonality with her: she’s had depression and addiction, was a politics student at Uni, and had the good taste to call her second daughter Rosa – which happens to be the name of my second granddaughter. But her mind is wide open, and her lyrics project that reality. Lang may her lum reek.
Whatever happened, you probably don’t ask, to David Coleman, the BBC sports presenter who made his name as the launch anchor of Grandstand from 1958 onwards? By the time of his retirement in 2000, Coleman had become the Voice of Sport on British television.
Well, the short answer is, he’s dead. I must confess, the event passed me by: but he died in 2013 aged 87 after a brief illness. ‘Brief’ is the kind of illness I’d like to die from: as in, like, maybe seven hours or less, with the minimum of pain, but cannabis on hand for assistance if necessary.
He was legendary for his ability to say very odd things in his commentaries. Speaking about one black Olympic athlete in the 1980s, he observed, “This man is opening his legs and showing his class”. The habit spawned a series of Private Eye pisstakes called Colemanballs, but what very few people know is that David actually invented the term and suggested it to the Eye.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about David Coleman was his near-infinite armoury of soccer facts. 4.40pm on the BBC on Saturdays was the moment he turned to the technological miracle known as the teleprinter, and began to commentate on the scores coming in. One would see the following announcement being ticker-tapped out:
Albion Rovers 2 Inverkocayleekie Wanderers 1
Without David’s colouring in, such news really would have been the art of watching paint dry. But he animated every result.
“And yes, that’s the third time in a row Rovers have beaten Inverkocalleekie in consecutive seasons, and the winning goal there by Hamish McCarbre – his seventh since joining the club and a fine way to celebrate the birth of his second child in Dunfermline General Hospital this morning, a bouncing girl who weighed in at 8 pounds six ounces….”
I used to sit staring at the telly in 43 St Margaret’s Road Prestwich, aged eleven, and ask myself, ‘How does he know this shit? What is he, CIA?’
He only had one wife and produced six talented kids. He was a purveyor of information wonderfully devoid of spin bollocks. Imagine for a second that the teleprinter had survived into the current era, and Owen Jones was the anchor:
Borisconi Ballboys 3 Corbyn Momentum 2
“And yes, that is of course the third election in a row that the progressive Islamic LGBTQ army of antifascist Truth has been swindled out of a result by disgraceful scumbigotracist refereeing decisions eg the equaliser by Uzra Imran Khantona which was judged offside – a silly rule that nobody I know has ever been able to understand.”
Tomorrow is another day. Treasure it.