The Blog Of Eternal Stench

If I am honest, the recent death of David Bowie, whilst extremely sad, didn’t affect me as much as it has clearly affected some people.

This is not meant to be disrespectful in the slightest, far from it, and I fully appreciate the huge impact he has had on the world of music, it’s just that I didn’t really grow up listening to his songs, and I am (perhaps to my shame) a little ignorant of his back catalogue. With the exception of some of his more well-known songs, such as ‘Heroes’, ‘Starman’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Life on Mars?’ and a handful of others, his music has largely passed me by.

Bowie fans shouldn’t be offended by this, as there are plenty of well-known bands and artists that I have never really listened to, much in the same way there are lots of ‘classic’ films I have never watched (Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Sharknado 3….)

I know I am not alone here, as many people are clearly now rectifying their ignorance by buying David Bowie albums in their thousands, and I am no exception, having recently invested in ‘Best of Bowie’ – which seemed, after all, a good place to start. I know that makes me come across a little Alan Partridge (“What’s your favourite Beatles album then?”, “Tough one. I think I’d have to say…. ‘The Best of the Beatles’”), but I thought it might help me narrow down which period of Bowie’s considerable – and varied – career I like the best.

Strangely, although his death is undoubtedly a huge loss to the world of music, it was his acting which first brought David Bowie to my attention, and when I heard of his passing, it was 1980s fantasy film Labyrinth which immediately sprang to mind.

Two things then struck me – firstly, I hadn’t seen Labyrinth in years; and secondly, I had never got around to owning the soundtrack. These have both been rectified in the last week or so, thanks to a good friend of mine who sent me a copy of the soundtrack, and Channel 5 who showed the film on Sunday.

Having played some of the soundtrack to Ollie in the car, he was enjoying the songs and was keen to see the film, so we sat down on Sunday evening and had a ‘cinema night’.

I have to admit, when I watched Labyrinth again for the first time in years, I was relieved to find that it was still distinctly watchable, despite ageing quite badly. This is in contrast to The NeverEnding Story, which I re-watched a few months ago for the first time since childhood, and discovered to my dismay that it is, largely, shit. Thank God the title isn’t literal, and it does actually end.

Anyway, as I sat with Ollie and re-watched Labyrinth, there were a few things I noticed which had clearly passed me by when I was younger. Here they are, in no particular order.

David Bowie’s crotch

Ok, it’s not like I was staring or anything, but how could you fail to spot it? He might as well have had a flashing neon sign on his stomach pointing downwards. I mean, look at the damn thing:

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Poor Hoggle is at a dangerous height there. It would only take Bowie to trip and fall forwards, and Hoggle is getting a face full of premium ‘80s todger.

The ‘romance’ element

In the film, Bowie’s character (Jareth, the ‘Goblin King’), is trying to keep Jennifer Connelly’s character (Sarah) in the Labyrinth forever, by getting her to fall in love with him. Sarah is supposed to be sixteen in the film (and Connelly was actually fifteen when the film was released), whereas Bowie and his gloriously protruding man-sausage were a few weeks off turning 40. That’s really not ok by anyone’s standards.

Besides, I was hardly a hit with the ladies throughout my teens, but even I knew that the way to seduce a girl was not to kidnap her baby brother, lock her up in a giant maze, and then frighten the shit out of her by putting make-up and a pair of tight jeggings on.

Ludo

I’d never noticed this before, but how much does Ludo look like Neil from The Young Ones?

It’s uncanny.

The questionable lyrics

As a child of the 1980s, there are two sets of lyrics that my generation all know off by heart – the opening sequence to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the introductory rhyme from ‘Magic Dance’ (you know, the “You remind me of the babe”, “What babe?”, “Babe with the power” bit). I can only assume we were taught these as part of the National Curriculum, as there is no other explanation for the fact that everyone in their thirties can, without exception, recite them in full.

I must have switched off after the intro though, because I had never previously noticed the line “Put that magic jump on me, slap that baby make him free”. Really? It’s bad enough that Bowie’s character is enslaving and grooming underage girls, but now he’s beating up infants too. Still, dodgy lyrics aside, it was nice to hear ‘Magic Dance’ again after all this time, and it gave me a warm feeling inside that only a few things can (nostalgia, Ready Brek, Jagerbombs…), so I decided to turn a blind eye.

However, things got really weird when we reached the song performed by those little red fire creatures in the woods. By this point, I had started to pay attention to the lyrics (or, at least, what I perceived the lyrics to be), and had to rewind back a few times in case my ears were deceiving me. After a while, this started to piss Ollie off, so I decided I would have to listen to the soundtrack instead, in my own time, to try and work out what the words actually are.

Now, before I go on, I know I don’t have the lyrics correct – they don’t make any sense for starters –  but they are honestly what I picked out from multiple plays of the song, and I have written them down without checking to see how close I am to the actual words. It’s a bit like the lyrics round on Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

I can only assume that the characters Jimmy Dowel and Dick Small (the latter sounding like the sort of part – excuse the pun – that Leslie Nielsen might have played), were cut from the final edit of Labyrinth, due to their apparent experimentation with alcohol, magic mushrooms and other stronger narcotics (possibly to help ease their arthritis). Not to mention the fact that they are clearly embroiled in some kind of love triangle with Anna Reeling (I’m not sure who she is, but she appears to have unusual breasts), whilst working as musicians in a nudist nightclub / soup kitchen.

Don’t believe me? Ok, here’s the song in full – from the soundtrack – for you to listen along as you read what I believe the lyrics to be:

When the sun goes down (when the sun goes down)

And the bands are back to front (and the bands are back)

The brother’s gone brown (the brother’s gone brown)

I get out of my dirty pants (my dirty pants)

I shake my pretty little head (shake my pretty little head)

Tap my pretty little feet (tap my pretty little feet)

It’s brighter than sunlight

Louder than thunder

Dancing like a yo-yo

 

Don’t have no problems (no problems)

Ain’t got no soup face (no soup face)

Ain’t got no clothes to worry about (no clothes to worry about)

Ain’t got no real snake or jewellery on my exterior

There’s snow in my hair

We’re the cheeriest bunch in the land

They don’t know much

They can’t go to jail

They positively grow blow

 

Jimmy Dowel with the fungus

Dick Small with the fungus

Bad hip, let me focus

When you think its fog

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (hey, I’m a wild child)

Act tall with the fungi (oh, walk tall)

Looked up, bad boobs (yeah)

When you think its wine

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel.

 

Driving crazy, pretty lazy

Eye rolling, fungus throwing

Ball playing, hips swaying

Trouble making, booty shaking

Dripping, passing, dropping, bouncing

Dryin’, stylin’, creeping, pouncing

Shouting, screaming, double-dealing

Rock ‘n’ roll and Anna Reeling

With the knackered sex appeal

Can you think I’m groovy? Feel it.

 

So when things get too tough (get too tough)

And your chick is dragging on the ground (dragging on the ground)

And your granddad looks up (gran looks up)

Bad luck! (Ha ha ha ha)

We can show you a good time (show you a good time)

And we don’t charge, nuttin’ (nuttin’ at all)

Just stretch your nasty stuff

Wriggle in your middle, yeah

Get it down, talking fine. Dang.

 

Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (Dick Small)

Dick Small with the fungus (bad hip)

Bad hips, let me focus (hey, listen up)

When you think its fog

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (ah, shake your pretty little leg)

Act tall with the fungi (tap your booty like a bee)

Looked up, bad boobs (come on, come on)

When you think its wine

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (whooo?)

Dick Small with the fungus (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

Bad hip, let me focus…

(instrumental to fade)

Now, tell me I’m wrong.

So, in conclusion, Labyrinth (and its accompanying soundtrack) remains entertaining, extremely camp and, above all else, utterly bonkers.

It’s exactly what David Bowie would have wanted.

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You Remind Me Of The Blog

Apologies if this latest entry seems a little rushed, but I honestly didn’t think I would be able to post anything at all this week. You see, last Sunday my wife decided we should all go to Ikea in Warrington… we only made it out yesterday (and very nearly not at all). As a result, I’ve had to compile this piece rather hastily, in order to warn you all against making the same mistake we did.

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This was only our second visit to an Ikea store ever, the last one being six or seven years ago, which I assume is the amount of time it takes to forget what a soul-destroying and harrowing experience it can be. Had I recalled our last visit, I would almost certainly have refused to go, and would have suggested we spend the day doing something more fun – like counting the blades of grass in the front lawn, or playing ‘punch Daddy in the throat’ (which happens to be Isaac’s favourite game of late).

I know some people really like shopping at Ikea, and go there regularly, but frankly I think these people are sadistic imbeciles. I cannot envisage a time when I will ever want to go there again, especially since we had to fight for our lives to escape in the first place.

I should have realised something was amiss when I tried to get us a trolley shortly after we’d entered the maze. At that point, as I bounced from one clueless staff member to the next, none of whom had any idea where the ‘tro-lleys?’ (they repeated the word like I was searching for unicorn shit) could be found, I could still see daylight and should have got the family out of there while I had the chance. Foolishly, having asked a sixth ‘assistant’ (the term being used ironically, it would seem) for help, and having been informed that he might have seen a trolley roughly half a mile away the week before, I decided to go in search of it rather than save my family. This mistake almost proved fatal.

Having done my best Last of The Mohicans impression, by telling my wife and the boys “You stay alive, no matter what occurs. I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you”, I wandered off in search of the last remaining trolley in Warrington.

My trek took me down an escalator, back up it, back down it, past a restaurant (twice), through an air vent, down a lift shaft, across a river, and finally through somewhere that looked suspiciously like Runcorn, but eventually I found a solitary trolley (along with some Inca gold and an instruction manual for a Sinclair ZX Spectrum).

However, I then realised to my dismay that I hadn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs, or some string, in order to find my way back, and I was horrendously lost. I was annoyed with myself, as the first thing they taught us in the Scouts was to ‘be prepared’, and I didn’t even have a Swiss army knife or distress flare with me. I was woefully under-equipped, especially for survival in somewhere as dangerous as Runcorn.

destroyed-old-city-of-Aleppo

Runcorn

It took me what felt like hours to get back to my family, and I have never been so relieved to see them, nor felt so heroic at having been able to provide for them. I had returned with the trolley I had promised. I learned that they had managed to stay alive by building a shelter from some deckchairs and cushions, and a kindly family had given them a packet of biscuits as they passed on their own crusade into the depths of the store.

The problem, was that I found my wife and the boys in a slightly different place to where I had left them, and the days I had spent in the wilderness had disorientated me, so I could no longer work out which way the exit was. We had no choice but to continue onwards into the unknown, as this other family had done earlier. We strapped Isaac into the trolley, harnessed Ollie to the side of it, and pressed on with reckless abandon.

Soon afterwards, and by pure chance, we stumbled across what we had gone there for in the first place – a wooden storage unit for the kitchen. Unfamiliar with the complex ordering system, we had a look at the label for clues. The price was clear enough, and was in a range we could afford, but there was no indication of how we should go about purchasing one.

I found a ‘shopping list’ and pencil nearby, and began to write down whatever information I could glean from the label. In normal stores, the name of the product is usually a good starting point, but herein lies the problem with Ikea – every product has some weird Swedish name. I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought the Swedish for ‘plate’ actually was ‘splunk’, or a table was known throughout the country as a ‘kräppel’, but I personally believe they’re just føkking with us. I bet they’re all driving around in Volvos, listening to Abba, and pissing themselves that we’ve fallen for it for so long.

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Anyway, I wrote down what information I could (not knowing if any of it was actually relevant), and shortly afterwards tracked down a kind of Sherpa in a yellow t-shirt who helped us to order one. We were then told, however, that even if we did make it out of the maze alive, we would have to drive somewhere else to collect it. Seemingly, despite designing a store so vast it is twinned with Belgium, Ikea didn’t think there was any need to include some storage space as well.

I was therefore keen to try and make some progress at this stage, as I was wary that nightfall would come soon and all manner of unspeakable beasts could be waiting in the shadows, but when a woman has commenced shopping, not even the fear of being eaten alive will prevent her from searching out more bargains. For when a woman is shopping, there is not a more powerful hunter on Earth.

And so it began. Endless pieces of colourful crap were presented to me for (dis)approval, most of which we did not need, but I wearily nodded at what I felt was the appropriate times just to appease her – anything to keep the troop moving forwards. After a while though, I reached breaking-point over one item and snapped “but what does it even do?!”, only to be given the answer “I have no idea, but look how pretty it is.” It was then that I knew delirium was setting in, and we had to get out of there or we’d never leave.

But by this point we had become further disorientated by the lack of daylight and fresh air, not to mention the mountains of colourful crap as far as the eye could see. Ollie tried to help by sniffing his way out like a dog (genuinely), but to no avail. We didn’t know which way to turn. Had we gone left at the display of Grønkells earlier, or was it right? Hadn’t we seen those Schinkempafers before? The more you try to work out the right path, the more confused you become.

The normal rules of space and time do not apply in Ikea. Time has been known to stand still, or even reverse, within those yellow and blue prison walls. At one point, we reached an area we knew we hadn’t yet visited, only to find something of Ollie’s on the floor ahead of us. He had obviously dropped it at some point, that much was clear, but it had managed to advance further around the store than we had. Shortly afterwards, Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers trotted past us on Shergar.

Gradually, as the madness took hold of my mind, I began to believe that I was in the film Labyrinth, and half-expected to hear David Bowie singing Magic Dance or Underground at any moment. I hoped we might encounter Hoggle, but unfortunately a ‘Höggle’ in Ikea is a type of desk lamp, and that wasn’t much use to anyone at this juncture.

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Just as all seemed lost, we made it to the ‘Market Hall’, which we knew from the map at the start was about half way. I asked a fellow traveler, and they told us that they believed it to be Tuesday, but could not be certain without access to the sun or any kind of functioning timepiece (the hands on my watch were spinning wildly by now).

I was determined that my family would not perish. I spurred us on, scooping a child under each arm, and letting my wife rest in the trolley as I pushed it slowly onward. Through the warehouse, past the bog of eternal stench, and then, finally, we spotted it in the distance: the ‘restaurant’. For a few miles I feared it was simply a mirage, but as we got nearer and nearer I let my heart believe it was real.

And it was.

If you make it to the end, and very few have, they reward you with all sorts of delicacies, like Swedish meatballs and pastries. But as you gorge yourself on these treats, ravenous from days in the crypt, you cannot help but feel a heavy heart for those families who were not so fortunate. Those who fell by the wayside, and who would never see their loved ones again.

Those who do manage to leave Ikea alive, blinking as their eyes acclimatise to the daylight like Chilean miners, are the only people in the world who are ever happy to see Warrington. Even the poor bastards that live in Warrington aren’t happy to see it.

As I held my family close to me, tears of joy stinging my eyes, I realised that some good had come from our ordeal. We would be stronger as a family from now on. We wouldn’t let little things bother us anymore. And, best of all, I’d amassed 37,000 steps on my Fitbit. Get in.

Had it been worth it? No. We had nearly lost everything, including our lives, and all we had to show for our ordeal was the storage unit, a crocodile bathmat and a stuffed rat.

Sorry, a ‘Gumpleshpuk’, a ‘Flängen’ and a ‘Bøllokk’.

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