Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 21 June 2015
Very often, when someone starts playing a Rolling Stones or Lou Reed or Otis Reading song in the pub for the millionth time, I groan and quietly request something that I have not been listening to on a weekly basis since before they were born. I know it's new to them, but no matter how good the music is, I just cannot bear to hear it over and over again for years. This doesn't apply to good classical music of course, but then that's seldom played in pubs.
About once a month, someone turns to me and asks, "So what kind of music DO you like, if any?" I have the unjustified reputation of someone who hates music.
It is true that I hardly listen to music at all at home, other than in small bouts. Home is a retreat and escape from the ubiquitous piped music that you find everywhere except a couple of traditional pubs here in Bath. The best music played out of context can be exasperatingly irritating to me, and I have almost learned the art of blocking my ears to it when in the pub. Our young lot have stopped exposing us old lot to new music these days, unless it is Gansta Rap. They must be running out of mainstream ideas.
In our pub, any periods of silence which last longer than about 10 seconds cause people to panic. Someone shouts out, "Music!" to the distracted bar staff, and they drop whatever they are doing to rush to the play-list and randomly select tunes which were - in turn - randomly selected by someone else, sometimes years before.
Yesterday I successfully wiped all the music of the previous owner of my iPod and replaced it with the entire three series of On Mardle Fen. I think I can guarantee that I will never, ever, walk down the street listening to music of any kind on it.
I used to play a variety of woodwind instruments up until I was about 25, and really enjoyed it. Then someone said that they could not possibly live without playing or listening to music. I said that they were talking bollocks, and to prove it I put down the clarinet and never picked it up again.
Yesterday, when I was moaning about the music in the pub again, and waiting for everyone to start fucking whistling when it came to the chorus in 'Sitting on the Dock of a Bay', someone who ought to know me better asked me what music I liked, implying that I hated all of it.
"I like all sorts of music," was my reply, but that wasn't good enough for him.
"Name some," came the somewhat aggressive demand.
"Well, there is a lot of good Mozart, but there is a lot of crap Mozart as well, then there are the McGarrigle sisters, then - if I was ever cast away on a desert island I think I would have to take some Beatles, because they are the only pop nostalgia I can tolerate..."
I only listen to talk radio because places like Classic FM are so hit and miss. For every good tune there are about 30 bad ones, and the other stations play the sort of stuff which makes me want to kill the artists. Why should I torture myself? The people who play Radio 1 at work all day do not actually listen to it. I know this because they never used to notice when the old analogue radios went out of tune and just played a blasting, scratchy wall of white noise.
"There is one particular recording of a Mozart Bassoon concerto, played by a little known, Eastern European ensemble which I found by accident on a cheap CD. I'll send you the recording of it. You will love it."
That frightened him. He stopped challenging me after that.
Mick Jagger's brother Chris (above) is playing in our pub this very minute, the poor sod. Fancy having the frontman of the Rolling Stones as a brother when all you want to do is play music in pubs.