You know how the Pulp song goes… “If we get through this alive, I’ll meet you next week, same place, same time…

What if the song went: “If we get through this alive, I’ll meet you in TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS’ TIME…

My friends Mike and Pete are two of the most original thinkers I’ve met. To know them is to constantly have to think about the world and the progression of life a little differently. The project they’ve just launched is absolutely no exception to the rule – in fact, it’s the epitome.

They’ve started to plan a party. That’s not very original, you might think. But let me tell you: this party will be taking place in 2269. Not this century, not next century, but the one after – and then some.

Why?

A massive proportion of activities we’re involved with today constantly references the past. And I’m not just talking about stately homes and history programmes. Everything, from commerce to music to sport and film, envisages the past and celebrates it, often tries to emulate it. Nodding to the past, and especially, how long ago the particular product or organisation was established, has become the ultimate quality mark.

There is nothing wrong with all that. But wouldn’t it be cool, fun, creative, innovative and – most important of all – OPTIMISTIC to create something that, by its very definition, only looks to the future?

This isn’t just planning a party. This is planning for something that will only come to fruition if we powerfully visualise, and protect, the future. Think of what could occur in the next 250 years if we think big, and positively. It’s not all about hoverboards and AI. It’s about sustainability, inclusivity, and protecting the one world we’ve been given. Not just celebrating the old ways – there’s enough of that already, and rightly so. This is about picturing an event that will happen with a whole new world (don’t break into song please) built around it. What will it look like?

This is only the very start of the project, and it all starts with the invitation to the party: the ultimate forward-looking line in the sand. How many times have you looked through old stuff in an attic, or old pictures or maps on people’s walls? Imagine, in place of seeing something on those walls describing something that happened long ago, seeing something which gazes forward to an event that hasn’t happened yet, and for which we’ll spend the next couple of hundred years planning – with all the collaborations and innovations that will bring?

Have a look at Mike and Pete’s Kickstarter page. Yes, it’s bonkers. Yes, it requires a little imagination. But yes – it’s an original message of optimism and hope.

I, for one, am IN.

To bastardise a Trainspotting quote: take the worst quality mp3 you’ve ever heard, multiply it by a thousand and you’re still nowhere near it.

Of all the cultural aspects of a 1970s or 1980s childhood I have to patiently explain to the younger generation – and believe me, the list is long – perhaps the most challenging is medium-wave radio, or as it’s generally termed nowadays, AM (amplitude modulation). The notion of having to enjoy music via such a lo-fi format – and I’m not talking “cool” lo-fi – is as baffling to anyone born after 1995 as the concept of missing your favourite television programme. It is also, unlike mixtapes and visiting the video rental shop, not something looked back on with fondness even by those who experienced it. In fact, having to suffer AM radio at all seems to have been largely forgotten.

Until about 1990, most popular music radio stations in the UK were flung out to the public on AM. Consequently, almost every pop song I heard until I was 16 first reached my ears sounding like someone had wrapped the speakers in a 12 tog duvet. I’m sure this is why I’ve never been remotely moved to debate the sound quality of an mp3, because next to AM radio, listening to even the most compressed of streaming services is like having Nick Drake perform a private concert while Vashti Bunyan gives you a foot massage. But despite its crapness, AM radio had two slightly dubious advantages.

One: when you eventually managed to buy that single you’d heard for weeks on Radio 1, it sounded much more awesome than you’d anticipated, even if your hi-fi was the cheapest Saisho model in the Dixons catalogue. It’s a little remarked-upon fact that after the superior FM (frequency modulation) took over the airwaves in the 90s, your records, cassettes and CDs ceased to sound dramatically better than the versions you’d heard on the wireless, and I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons music’s physical sales began to decline.

Two: the ridiculously muffled sound rendered many of the songs’ words indecipherable, thus giving birth to the great Twisted Lyric game.

Oh, consider the fun we had! Scratchy radios around the country burbled out the hits of the era, and we wandered around haplessly singing the completely wrong lyrics to everything. BBC Radio 1 DJ Bruno Brookes dedicated an entire, nightly, ten-minute feature to the concept, and even had a weekly Twisted Lyric chart. Let us pause briefly to remind ourselves of some corkers:

⁃ The title line in Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face sounded like “how’s about a date”

⁃ The Pointer Sisters’ Jump featured the rather saucy line “if you wanna feel my kisses in the night, dear” – but in my school playground we were definitely singing “if you wannit mate, I’ll give you ’til the 19th”

⁃ “You can feel it all over” from Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke inexplicably became “Mick and Phyllis were lovers”

⁃ Lipps Inc. kicked off their classic Funky Town with the line “gotta make a move to atomic rice pudding”

⁃ In the chorus of Whitney’s How Will I Know, she confusingly told her confidante “I’m asking you ‘cos you know about bee stings”

⁃ The grand double champion was Mr Mister’s 1985 smash Broken Wings, on which not only did the verse feature the line “Baby, I don’t understand why we can’t just hop along into each other’s pants”, but the chorus – “Take these broken wings” – was an absolute dead ringer for “Jake has broken wind”.

But these days, the fun is all over. Download or stream any of the above (playlist below), and the woefully pristine sound quality will reveal the perfectly annunciated, infinitely more boring real lyrics. However, all is not lost. I’m happy to report that some twisters do stand the test of time, and there are even some new entries from beyond the AM radio era. Here are some of my personal favourites:

⁃ Robert Plant continues to open the final section of Stairway To Heaven by telling us “and there’s a wino down the road”

⁃ Desmond Dekker is certainly singing “me Israelites” on his 1969 hit, but I can’t hear anything other than “me ears are alight”

⁃ Olivia Newton-John, making one of her rare technological predictions, sings “I took you to an internet restaurant” halfway through the first verse of Physical

⁃ As pointed out by Lauren Laverne, rapper Ivy distinguishes her guest appearance on Tricky’s 2015 track Beijing To Berlin with the line “knock knock knock on me Chalfonts”, in an unlikely nod to the clutch of Buckinghamshire villages

⁃ Seek out the closing track on Eurythmics’ 1983 album Touch, and hear Annie Lennox sing “Paint a rumour… pass the colours, Fred”

⁃ Bryan Ferry wraps up the final verse of his John Lennon tribute Jealous Guy by singing “I was swallowing my pen”

⁃ Three-time Mercury nominees Everything Everything claim that the lyrics of their debut single Suffragette Suffragette are “cos you’re gonna sit on the fence when I’m gone”, but I’m almost certain they’re really singing “who’s a-gonna sit on your face when I’m gone”.

Hearing the genuine lyrics? Overrated. May those heroically mumbling singers continue to be gloriously misunderstood.

Every book I write begins with a playlist. Not to listen to while I write, but – using the technical term – to get the right vibe. Each song doesn’t have to be historically appropriate, it just has to contain something that informs the writing I’m about to do. Naturally I add to, and subtract from, the list as I go.

Since my first novel The Alternative Hero was written, creating playlists has become a somewhat easier task. Now I can make lists that are six hours long without having to leave my seat. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is moot; there was a commitment level to which one had to subscribe in the old days, ripping music off CDs, sometimes recording off vinyl, downloading bits and pieces. Recipients of my Felix Romsey’s Back To Mine mix”tape” may have noticed a few of these methods creeping in (a necessity: Spotify doesn’t have everything!) but in general I can’t deny that streaming has sped and smoothed the process. Here, then, in (almost) full, is the music that inspired Felix Romsey’s Afterparty. And before anyone says anything: yes, I’m happy to say that many of these artists are alive and well.

Enjoy this and please share with as many people as you like.

x

So my third novel Felix Romsey’s Afterparty was officially launched last night at the very wonderful Mario’s Cafe in London’s famous Kentish Town. Many thanks to all who came down, especially to my awesome readers Damian Samuels, Jan Hewitt, Nick Coates, Guy Whittaker and of course our MC Michael Ogden.

I might have finished with a song or two…

The book is now out and can be bought from:

AMAZON

HIVE

BLACKWELL’S

Thanks to Nick Coates for the pic.

In this Instagram-fuelled, selfie-driven world in which we live, the publication of a book can be somewhat lacking in funky assets. There are no action-packed photos of gigs or festival appearances, no phone snaps of ker-rayzee tour bus antics, no fascinating, intimate behind-the-scenes footage of recording studio creation.

All you get in bookland, if you’re lucky, is the occasional rubbish picture of a computer, with Word open at some unfinished page of text (usually accompanied by the hashtag #amwriting).

So it gives me great pleasure to finally have something to take a photo of. Through the door this morning came a box of THIS, and frankly I’m gonna enjoy myself.

Those who supported the campaign – THANK YOU – and you should be receiving/have received your books right about now…

The book can be bought HERE.

AMAZON

HIVE

BLACKWELL’S

Tim pix by C.M.F. Thornton