First of all, a little explanation as to the background of this blog and how my thought process delivered it for your delectation. In a weeks time from today, I will be feeling rather sore (if things progress as I expect) and I'll be recovering from a prostate biopsy, which is a most unpleasant thing to recover from. Not painful, but the side effects are not particularly enjoyable. In three weeks time, I'll learn the results, and what path my ongoing battle with prostate cancer is taking. So as you can imagine, at such times, one tends to do a stock take on all of those things we do in life.
My mind turned to what happens when we depart this mortal coil (not something I'm anticipating any time soon, I must add, but who knows what the future holds). I was rasised in a tradition, where we believe in a final judgement. We were told that they added up all the good things you did and all the bad things, and if your bad things were in the larger pile, you went off to the fires of Hades. If they didn't you were given a harp and got to sit on a cloud playing it. I recently came to the consclusion that it was more complicated than this, but it got me thinking about what talents I have and whether I've wasted them. I started to contemplate what I may have achieved, had I actually had proper skills, talents and a brain that functions properly, instead of being dyslexic. This lead me to think of the people who's skills I'd most like.
1. Football. Until recently I'd played football all my life. I currently have an injury and I am starting to wonder whether I'll ever return to the game. I was a very average player. I carved out a niche as a bit of lunking defender. But in a perfect world, I'd love to score the winning goal in a World Cup Final. I used to dream of the scenario as a kid. Now, we'd need 75% of the population of the planet to die or become incapacitated and if I did score, it would probably be because a more talented player shot and it cannoned in off my backside as I tried to get out of the way. But who would I want to be? This is a hard one. It would have to be a defender. It would have to be a Manchester City player. The one who I'd most like to steal the talent from would be Vincent Kompany, inspirational centre half and captain. I loved the way Vinnie played. He's down to earth. Not for me the silky skills of Messi or the lightening speed and finishing of Ronaldo. Vinny didn't score many goals but the ones he did were defining and he lifted the Premiership trophy, that would do! Here is his finest!
2. Playing guitar. This was a really hard one. There are so many. Like my football skills, I am a very average rythme guitarist, who by a lucky accident happens to have a half decent band and people seem to like us. I've often wondered who I'd most like to nick the talent off. I hate showey players like Brian May. I find the smoothness of Clapton dull (and he's a racist so that puts him off the menu). I was veering towards Punk, I loved the melancholic wail of the guitar playing of Johnny Thunders, but that isn't really me either. I thought about Nile Rodgers, I love his rythmes and the hypnotic way he plays, but I'm not sure disco would really float my boat. In the end, I decided it had to be Lynval Golding of the Specials. That is the sound I want, the sort of stuff I want to play and the sort of gigs I want to do.
3. Singing. Now in the last two years, I've started singing with the band. My wife describes me as "an awful singer who is redeemed by being highly entertaining". Imagine if I wasn't an awful singer? Imagine if I'd actually been quite good? But who'd voice would I nick? My first thought was Otis Redding. I'd love to be able to sing like that and I am 100% sure that he'd be able to do the Dots material justice in a way I could only dream about. But he is slightly melancholic. I would not want a showy singer. I went through a list. Freddie Mercury, no - too operatic. Rod Stewart - Not got my cheek, so probably wouldn't work for the Dots. Then a light bulb came on. It has to be Stevie Marriott of The Small Faces. He could do everything I want to do vocally, but a 100 times better. If ever I get asked to do Karaoke, which I am not keen on, here is my song of choice (done properly).
4. Songwriting. Of all of my musical talents, I think this is actually my strongest. But there is one weakness. I think I write great lyrics and good basic tunes, but if I had a better comprehension of the way to layer songs and build them, I'd be the real deal. It got me thinking long and hard. Eventually, I settled on David Bowie. His songs have a subtlty and strangeness about them that most songwriters can only dream of. This is worth a look.
5. Authors. I write a blog, I've had work published. But I don't really think I am very good. Sure some of what I write is entertaining, but when I look at some of the greats, I realise just how far I have to go. In truth, their is only one choice for me. He wrote fiction and fact. It is, of course, George Orwell. Nearly 80 years ago, he wasn't too wide of the mark, was he?
6. Acting. My very first job was as a child model/actor aged 4. I was very good at it. One of the commercials I appeared in won a prestigious award. But when my mum developed cancer when I was nine, that was that. I hindsight, I wish I'd gone to acting school and made that my career. I feel like I've been acting all of my life, pretending to be a normal human being (whatever that is), when in truth I am completely bonkers. I've concealed this pretty well. But had the stars aligned in a different way, who's talent would I want. If you read my blog from Thursday, you'd have a clue. Patrick McGoohan was a man who's work was immense. He always commanded the stage or screen. He had presence, there really could be no other choice.
7. Music Production. The producer is often the most important person on a record and most people never even hear of them. George Martin was the man who made the music of the Beatles into what stormed the world. As someone who produces music and is familiar with the process, I listen very carefully for the tricks of the trade. I consider myself OK, but I'd love to be up there. So who's talent would I nick. It has to be Glyn Johns, who worked with The Rolling Stones, Joan Armatrading, The Eagles and The Steve Miller band to name a few. His work, to me is unsurpassed. His technique for mic'ing of drums is unsurpassed. Here is how it is done.
8. Painter. I have no artistic ability at all when it comes to visual arts. How I wish I did. I can barely draw and have little eye for colour, but I can appreciate the work of others. This was a close toss up between a Dutchman and a Belgian. The work of Vincent Van Gough is amazing. His use of colour is unique and unsurpassed. When he painted flowers or the night sky, the energy in the paint was something that us mere mortals can only admire. But the man I'd choose to nick his talent would be surrealist Belgian Rene Magritte. How work fascinates me. I love the surreal images he created and how he transposes the extraordinary onto the ordinary.
9. Architect. There is a part of me that would like to design buildings. When I see it done well, I love it. I like the work of Norman Foster, who is the best of the current crop. But who would I most like to steal the talent from? It's quite easy, it would be William Barlow who designed the shed of St Pancras train station. We are not talking about the gothic front piece of Scott, which was the hotel, we are talking the bit where the trains live. The huge expanse under a single iron arched design. I love it's simplicty and function, combined with its elegance and beauty. It does what it says on the tin and does it very well. I think this video is a testament to the quality of his work
10. TV Producer. Now this is a very hard but very easy choice. There have been all manner of amazing shows. I'd love to make one, mine would be about music and being in an unsuccessful band. It would be based on the formation of The False Dots, to our first gig, but I'd end it with the band breaking up. Once bands become successful, it all becomes very tedious. Excess is in reality rather dull. There is a painting of Hades, where all manner of debauchery is featured, but all the devils look bored out of their mind. But if I wanted real talent, who's would I nick. I t would have to be Gerry Anderson. I loved all of his 1960's and early 1970's output. I'd love to do an updated feature film of UFO. I think the premise is wonderful. I liked the idea that Shado were based in a film studio, so if anyone saw anything dodgy, they could pass it off as part of a movie. Can't beat a bit of Lt Ellis in UFO.