Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lily Gently Blessed Wednesday



Lily Allen is the pop star I wish I’d been – not that I ever was one, I hasten to add. I admit the sight of the refreshingly curvy fashion rebel in strapless fuchsia at Glastonbury on Saturday had me racing for the hairbrush. Yes, that was me quaffing Beaujolais whilst glued to BBC3, singing along to Smile. They don’t do live coverage of my living room so you’ll have to imagine. I warn you, it won’t be pretty.

I love Lily. She’s a genuine London gel with a right proper London accent (i.e. not one of these obscene trans-Atlantic drawls that kids have even if they don’t live within light years of the Trans-Atlantic – hello Sydney). It’s as if someone took thirty years of quintessential London sounds, threw them into a great big grubby old lentil-stained pot from a squat, sprinkled in a generous pinch of bouquet anarchy, had Bob Marley himself stir it up - and served it chilled. That's Lily.

I spent Sunday dancing around my study to YouTube clips of Lily at Glastonbury. Yes, she really was smoking on stage and drinking from a can of cider. How that took me back. Yes, she really did sing Gangster with Terry Hall and Lynval Golding. Terry’s worn well. He looks much better than he did in 1982 when I saw Fun Boy Three at The Venue. I remembered how much I’d liked The Specials for all the reasons I never took to Madness. There is brass and there is brass, jah get me?

By Monday, it was clear there was only one thing for it. At approximately 12.53 and 32 seconds, I exited HMV in Ilford with The Devil Wears Prada DVD – I had no choice, it was only £7 - and a copy of Lily Allen’s Alright, Still. I should have bought it as soon as I realised I was walking along the street singing along to Smile when it first came out. How thrilled London’s coolest gel would be at the thought of a badly aging matron such as moi-self purchasing her CD along with a Meryl Streep film and Pan’s Labyrinth (also £7 – telephone Mark Kermode at one’s adored BBC for explanation), I cannot imagine. My conscience is slightly assuaged by the sight of adolescents wearing T-shirts with Jimi Hendrix’s face stencilled on them. Cross-generational consternation can go either way, you know.

But how can I, or anyone for that matter, ignore a songwriter with the inventiveness to rhyme Tesco with al fresco, as Lily does in LDN,

There was a little old lady, who was walking down the road
She was struggling with bags from Tesco
There were people from the city having lunch in the park
I believe that it's called al fresco

Then a kid came along to offer a hand
But before she had time to accept it
hits her over the head, doesn't care if she's dead
Cause he's got all her jewellery and wallet

(In the London vernacular ‘accept it’ and ‘wallet’ are a perfect rhyme)

You might laugh you might frown
walking round London town

Sun is in the sky oh why oh why
Would I wanna be anywhere else
?

I hear that and I know that I will moan for at least two years about my estrangement from London when I relocate to rural Australia any minute now. This is what I will miss – not the little old ladies being mugged, obviously, but the inherent understanding and acceptance that London is and always has been a cruel city and that is what makes the rebellious amongst us so potent. A friend said to me today, ‘if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space’. That’s LDN.

I love it. I’ll miss it more than I can even imagine right now…


Photo of Lily Allen at Glastonbury from www.stuff.co.nz

29 comments:

Reading the Signs said...

me, I ran away from it, couldn't hack it, but still, at least I live on the edge - of a forest. Does that count?

I did miss it, yes, for about two years - mainly faces in Chatsworth Road, though.

Pants, when and where are you going? You won't be leaving "us", will you?

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

Yeah - I think two years is the generally accepted withdrawal period. Chatsworth Road, Gawd we must have lived close to each other. I might have been one of those faces you missed. Sigh.

No dear, I shall be haunting you, very likely for all eternity.


xxx

Pants

Quink said...

I wish I had a can of cider...

Great idea to choose Lily.

That's so pants said...

Hi Quinkie

Thanks. A good role model for young women I think.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

She's moving to Gippsland, Eastern Victoria: hundreds of square miles, of which my sister owns half. And she is mad.

But it has mountains, and coastline, with real sand -not pommy gravel. And it has calm. Anyone tired of London is tired of stench. Definitely. And of panic, overcrowding; Jake and Julee's latest renovation, "Wooh!- we're colonising the slums!"

That's so pants said...

Hi RH

Who's mad - me or your sister?

It's true that I'm a bit tired of stench - someone has deposited some rubbish bags up the street which the binmen won't take away because they're not in front of anyone's house. I can't walk past them now. I'd throw up. It is the pileup of fridges, washing machines and mattresses in the street that do my head in though.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

It's my sister, she's mad.

I tell her, and she laughs (very strangely).

That's so pants said...

Not strange at all R.H. Mad people throw their heads back and laugh - everyone knows that.

xxx

Pants

Anonymous said...

Just Great album! By the way, here is some useful
website devoted to the
Alright Still album: Here!

That's so pants said...

Lily! Nice of you to drop by. I take it you don't mind old fogies liking your stuff then. You ARE cool.

Laters

Pants

Anna MR said...

Hei Ms Pants, came here to shyly say hi for the first time, I think...and find you moving out of London. I lived in London for three-ish years (late 80s, early 90s) and shhh...never tell anyone, but I didn't like it, London's too big for me to handle. Yet it feels somehow sad, even to me, that you should be leaving, when it obviously has suited you well. Something strange about that.

Best

A xx

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Pants, does that mean you have sold your flat then? Yay! Well done. Please do keep haunting us though, won't you, from the back of beyond?

That's so pants said...

Hi anna mr and a very great welcome to you.

It's a long story and one you can be sure I will milk for all it's worth. I've lived in London longer than I've lived anywhere in my life. The wrench will be enormous. But I'm one of those people who can love and hate wherever they are (mentally, physically and emotionally),in equal measure. For me, it's a matter of what's going to suit in the long term future. One thing I do know and trust is that I will like what I choose much more than I hate it. But I will still moan for two years (at least).


Hi Ms Melancholy

Yes. It was all quite painless in the end and I can safely report that my home has gone to someone who is worthy of it - a musician!
I know he'll be happy here because the walls are full of music. We musicians can always hear the music left behind by others.

Wisewebwoman said...

I spent lots of time in London in the sixties and loved it, I've been back a few times since, last time about 4 years ago and I felt queasy all the time I was there. Yes, queasy is the word, off balance, a little dizzy even, couldn't hardly wait to leave. Nothing physically wrong, psychically, yes. I don't want to go back, it was too surreal even for me....still can't figure it all out and get that feeling even thinking about it....
I could be barking mad. It has been suggested....
Where are you going, Pants? You'll keep in touch, right????

That's so pants said...

Hi WWW

Somewhere pretty and quiet is my destination of choice. I've been saying for years that I'm a recluse - now's the time to actually be one.

I might archive this blog and start a new one. I don't know yet.

xxx

Pants

Bwca said...

"when I relocate to rural Australia any minute now"

you might wanna check 'Gippsland' in weather news, as it is underwater due to King Tide.

Very attractive real-estate prices soon, so all you have to do is build house on pylons.

That's so pants said...

Hi bwca

Don't worry - I've been following. I'm thinking buy high!

xxx

Pants

Anna MR said...

Hei Ms Pants -

(you have welcomed me here now so you've only yourself to blame if I get chatty...)

I went and followed your Lily link (you must here be told I am woefully out of touch) and lo, I wasn't quite as out of touch as I'd thought I was (I have two teenage sons, after all, and only one of them is a Goth) because I had seen (my younger son watch) this video on MTV. The song is catchy in itself, I agree with you, and the lass is young and bonnie with that charming unpretentious feel about her, but but but...are you sure about this good role model thing, esteemed Ms Pants? I mean, she is clearly in with a bunch of yobos who mug her ex-boyfriend and thrash his flat - and to top it off, she herself slips laxatives in his drink. I don't have daughters, but I don't think I'd like them behaving like this towards other people's sons (and I hope other people's daughters don't behave like this towards my sons, even if they have (which really is within the realms of possibility) behaved like wankers).

I realise that this may make me sound like a humourless old fogey. That may in part be because, well, I am a bit of an old fogey. But I'm serious, Ms Pants - don't you think girls are getting a funny message here?

Not meaning to argue, just discuss, yes

Oh - feeling all silly about waffling on like this. Hope you don't find my waffles too annoying.

xx

R.H. said...

I agree with you Miss anna, it's all a bum steer; an example of how low commerce will scrape to make money.
The pop music industry is run by pimps. Young folk with brains eventually realise it, but some get tied to the wagon.

That's so pants said...

Hi Anna

Yes - you are of course still welcome. I was aware of the content of the video and I have to say I always really liked the idea of the snivelling little tosser getting his comeuppance in this way. My best friend trashed the house of an unfaithful lover once and I found that enormously satisfying too. Perhaps I've got a Lorine Bobbitt side to my multi-faceted personality. I'd rather girls don't think of themselves as doormats and subservients to male desire.

Hi RH

Pimps? There may be a little too much P Diddy in your diet. I think the whole point about Lily Allen is that she's the antidote to that whole commercial thing. Her profile is almost entirely due to her own initial efforts on MySpace. Her album sounds and looks homemade and she plays with North London ska musicians rather than hooking up with Elton John. She writes about her home town and everyday events like losing her driver's licence rather than her aspirations to own more jewellery.

xxx

Pants

Anna MR said...

But Ms Pants,

I am not suggesting girls consider themselves doormats either! I think people should treat each other with respect, regardless of gender. I wouldn't condone a bloke thrashing an unfaithful girl's home, and consequently can't find it in me to ok it just because the perpetrator is a woman...and in this (alleged) era of date rape drugs, slipping something into other people's drinks shouldn't be portrayed as funny. I think.

"Men are people too" might be my motto here.

Anyway, Ms Pants, I have not come to argue at your house, honestly.

xx

That's so pants said...

Hi Anna

You're all right. House of Pants is, I hope, a virtual front room where all opinion is welcome. Sometimes I get stupid comments - I just don't publish those ones - but mostly people disagree quite reasonably, as you have and I find that stimulating - so you are always welcome.

I know this is my fault for bringing a real life event experienced by me into play and blurring the boundaries but the Lily Allen clip is a work of fiction. In that sense it's a revenge drama. Shakespeare wrote revenge drama.

I seriously doubt that the message conveyed in this dramatisation is going to do any more damage than, say the KLF clip where they burn £1m. Both are subversive - I think in a good way. Others might think not.

I have to say I'm really pleased to have been an adolescent at the age I was because my parents never knew where I was at any given time. Their lives were completely separate to those of us kids. Believe me, this is preferable. The nearest my parents came to encroaching on my musical interests was to buy a George Benson album. Whereas I pillaged in their territory at will. This is the correct balance.

I realise I may appear to have contradicted myself very badly but I would point out that I am a) not a parent and therefore not likely to cause psychological damage to any young people by wearing Arctic Monkeys t-shirts and b) I am a musician with work still in (admittedly extremely limited) circulation, and there's a rule - albeit made up by me - that we get to express professional opinions about current music regardless of age or cringivity. I made that word up (I think) - a prerogative I invoke by right of this being my blog. I hope these rules aren't too unfair (not).

xxx

Pants

Anna MR said...

Dearest Ms Pants,

Cringivity is a fine word and will be duly stolen and put to use by yours truly.

May I also say how nice it is to be so warmly welcomed to come and disagree at the fine House of Pants. Also, your Shakespeare analogy was a good blow to my arguments. I am floored, but only momentarily. I will be back for more, on some topic if not this one.

xx

(Loved the skull post, by the way.)

R.H. said...

Shakespeare's tragedies are tragedies. Audiences are intended to be appalled by bad behaviour, not admiring of it. Smug revenge, and other humiliations -cooked up as entertainment by shrewd old heads as a surefire way of flogging wares to young people, are nothing new. But they're getting worse.

R.H. said...

And it's no use saying there's something wrong with me. Because all I find is a community condemning slut behaviour, while entertained by it every night on TV.

Just decide: what do you want? I don't care -but make it one or the other.

That's so pants said...

Hi Anna,

It's been a pleasure having you at House of Pants. Drop in anytime.

xxx

Pants.

Hi RH

I disagree - now there's a surprise. There is plenty of petty vengefulness in Shakespearean heroes - i.e. the people with whom we are supposed to align our sympathies - Othello and Hamlet to name but two of the most prolific offenders. The dramatic balance is that there is motivation. These are human people with human failings and pressures greater than reason can bear. Who has the greatest claim to the moral highground - the Montagues or the Capulets? (Memo to Lily - I hope you appreciate that I'm comparing you to the bard here!)

I don't think there is anything wrong with you btw and I'm sure I never inferred that. You should know that I enjoy a good scrap.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Getting even with someone who kills your father and marries your mother -or wanting to murder your wife for cuckolding you, is not petty. Othello and Hamlet are very nice people otherwise, but brought down by tragic flaws in their character. That's what's terrifying. On the other hand, the villianous act of sneaking something in your pa-a-a-rtners drink -or gleefully having his belongings destroyed, definitely lacks nobility. If she'd just shot the bloke instead she'd get sympathy. But women anyway have always preferred poison to guns and knives. Which is considered very sneaky indeed. But then a lot of women are. Meanwhile the corrupting images peddled by capitalist dogs to seduce young people into buying their useless products is never prosecuted. Polluting young minds is never prosecuted. Because anything is a fair go when it comes to making a sale.

Othello was told capitalist lies by a weasel advertiser, that's all.
And it wasn't Hamlet who contaminated the wine (only a scab would do that). He even had a long think about whether getting revenge was the right thing anyway.
At least he hesitated.

R.H. said...

I'm accustomed to personal insult, which is why I'm so good at it myself, and so I don't know who P Diddy is, but am sure your comparison of him with me would not be complimentary.

Thanks.
-Robert.

That's so pants said...

Hi RH

On this day when every Lear jet owning pop poppet on the planet is lining up to lecture us mere low energy mortals on climate change, I can't help but agree with you about the grossness of capitalism.

I plan to spend the day in a state of complete carbon neutrality. I will offset the energy I use watching Wimbledon by planting seeds of doubt on the Olympic site - to which I will walk as it's only across the road.

xxx

Pants