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Archive for the ‘Roddy Doyle’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GOBLIN COCK-Necronomidonkeykongimicon (2016).

Goblin Cock is the hilariously inappropriate name of a heavy metal side project from Rob Crow of the band Pinback.  The album sounds very literally like a heavy cousin to Pinback with a similar (just much heavier) songwriting style.

The band members are: Lord Phallus (Rob Crow)-guitar and vocals; Lick Myheart-guitar; Tinnitus Island-bass; Mylar Grinninstein-drums.  (Probably pseudonyms).

Necronomidonkeykongimicon was the band’s first album in almost ten years after two albums in the early 2000s.  And Joyful Noise records had this to say about it:

Goblin Cock is a band from beyond time, beyond space, beyond your naive concept of dimension in METAL. Since before your pathetic “god” had supposedly “created” you and your kind, Lord Phallus was hunkered in a cybertimeship/fun-dungeon skating the layers of what was considered “true metal” in all societies and in all generations. Eventually His Majesty realized that he really didn’t care and launched a full-scale war against bland metal with an emphasis on ACTUALLY HAVING A GOOD TIME!

The album has 13 songs in 36 minutes–this is not an epic recording or anything.  But despite their brevity, these aren’t blistering punk songs either.  Rather, the songs work primarily in some of the heaviest metal styles (Slayer comes to mind) but also add some really alt-metal sounds (like Tool) in the bridges and choruses.

The first song, “Something Haunted” starts with a classic doom sound.  A distorted, vibrating series of notes–old school metal, including a heavy chugging riff. When he starts singing he sound a bit like Ozzy, but more like an alt-rock Ozzy (with a better voice).  When the bridge comes in, it feels more like Tool than dark metal.  The chorus soars to unexpected alt rock highs and somehow segues tightly back to that opening heavy riffage.  The song is three and a half minutes and is one of the longest songs on the album.

The second song, “Montrossor” starts so quickly, I initially thought it was still part of the first song.  It opens with fast double bass drums and equally fast riffage.  The bridge is a super fast followed by a slower melody (complete with crashing cymbals) that ends abruptly after two and a half minutes.  It ends abruptly and shifts gears into “Stewpot’s Package” which has that same old school style heavy deep opening riffs.  But again, it’s followed by a shift to more Tool-like sound for the bridge.  The chorus shifts gears and sounds almost like an XTC chorus.

“Youth Pastoral” is an instrumental with a practically heavy jazz riff.  The middle grooves all over the place as it shifts gears and style but fits perfectly together.

“Flume” opens with a slow menacing riff and Crow’s clipped singing until the much heavier chorus.  But, really, the most amazing thing about this song is that at the 1 minute mark, he sings the word “hey” for a full twenty-six seconds. It’s astonishing how long he holds that note.  The rest of the song is sung much more quietly, which seems fitting.

“Bothered” is heavy grooving with some excellent back and forth on the guitar parts. A shouting chorus is followed by a kind of guitar solo (more like an instrumental break than a solo proper).  A slow, heavy Soundgarden-esque riff opens “Your Watch.”  The chorus stays in that style, which never sounds like a Soundgarden song (the vocals are very different), but would fit comfortably on their playlist.  It’s followed by “The Undeer” a fast heavy chugging song that’s over in 90 seconds but only after a kind of mocking “la la la” vocal in the middle.

“Struth” opens with a slow drum fill followed by a n old school Black Sabbath-y riff.  The quietest part of the record occurs near the end of this song with a cool-sounding guitar melody (and effects) as the song slows to a pretty end.  But “The Dorse” resumes the heaviness with some intense double bass drum and pummelling guitars. This is another instrumental, but much heavier with some relentless pounding guitar and bass and an almost victorious guitar melody on top.

“World is Moving” is a quiet song that almost doesn’t fit on this record.  It opens with a complex guitar melody and some off-kilter time signatures.  The vocals are quiet and hushed for most of the song until it starts building up by the end.

“Island, Island” returns to the heaviness with a an intense riff and loud crashing drums.  It’s li e classic metal song with lots of drums taking the fore. There’s a catchy melodic middle that is bookended by ferociously heavy chugging guitars.  The middle of the song is about as heavy as this album gets with the thumping guitars and drums all in double time.

“Buck” ends the disc with the longest song–almost four minutes.  It’s slow and grooving and has a feeling of an 80’s sci fi film as the end adds a swirling synth sound.

Despite the band’s name, which will certainly turn off some, this album isn’t silly or overly vulgar.  It’s just some great songwriting in a bunch of heavier styles.

[READ: October 20, 2020] “Life Without Children”

Here’s the third story about COVID that I’ve read.  I’m not going to continue keeping track, but I am marvelling at how many have been published already.

This one is from a different perspective than I’m used to.

In it, Alan, an Irish man in his sixties, is in England on business.  His wife back home in Dublin tells him about all of the quarantining going on in Ireland.

Social distancing is a phrase that everyone understands. It’s like gender fluidity and sustainable development.  They’re using the words as if they’d been translated from Irish, in the air since before the English invaded.

Where he is in Newcastle, it’s like nothing has happened.  He is very careful about what he touches.  He cleans everything.  He envisions the particles floating in the air between the drunk men in the Hawaii-Five-0 shirts.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BENNY SINGS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #50 (July 14, 2020).

I watched a Benny Sings Tiny Desk Concert back in 2016.  I wasn’t that impressed.  I thought it sounded fine, describing him as a slower Elton John.  Since then, he has apparently gone on to bigger things (and must have many fans).

I’ve never come across a moderate Benny Sings fan. The Dutch singer-songwriter and producer has maintained a cult following for over 15 years and performed in the United States for the very first time at the Tiny Desk back in 2016.

Benny and his band play three songs.

Recorded at his studio in Amsterdam, the set list reads like an inventory of quarantine essentials, opening with “Apartment” from last year’s Free Nationals LP (shout out to Anderson .Paak).

As with all of the songs, the music is lightly R&B with some disco flavors.  Each song has a loud low end from  Bram Wassink’s bass and crisp drums from Colin Lee.  The songs are gentle and catchy.  “Apartment” is less than three minutes long.

“Sunny Afternoon” was written with PJ Morton and is a bit catchier (and sweeter).  There’s a nice backing vocal “oooh” solo from June Fermie while Adam Bar Pereg play s anice piano solo.

The set ends with “Music.”  Honestly I can’t imagine a worse title for a song than “Music,” but it is about music.  And the blurb admires the sentiment:

The hook reminds me that I’m not the only one who continues to seek refuge in song. He sings, “Music help me through this / I can’t do this on my own / But music help me through this / Whenever I’m down.”

I will not be an immoderate Benny Sings fan.  His music is pleasant, but forgettable.  Although he seems like a very nice fella.

[READ: July 20, 2020] “The Dinner”

As the United States roils with protests about institutional racism and out immoral leaders conduct illegal schemes of violence against citizens, it was an very charged time to read this story about racism in Ireland.

As Roddy Doyle stories tend to do, this story has a lot of heart and humor in it.  It begins by introducing Larry Linnane and his family.  He loves his family.  He loves his girls (he and his wife have four) and his son.

But he especially loved hearing his intelligent girls as they talked about everything at the dinner table.  And, as usual, Doyle’s ear for dialogue is spot on.  Larry is a pretty open minded guy, he doesn’t even mind hearing his daughters talking about their love lives.  Nothing they said or did ever shocked him.

Until Stephanie brought home the black fella. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DAVID O’DOHERTY-“Florence Falls” (2012).

Back in 2012, Cathy Davey said she’d “been trying to figure out how to raise awareness for homeless dogs without it becoming a negative campaign.”  She says she “wondered how many songwriters would be interested in writing songs about dogs they have loved. It turns out nearly everyone I approached had a story to tell…”

So Davey and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy curated this album.  Proceeds from the album go to the Dublin-based Dogs In Distress.

The album features new recordings from fourteen artists, including Lisa Hannigan.  When the album came out Hannigan tweeted: “A dog is for life, this album is for Christmas” playing on the Humane Society’s “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” which is designed to discourage giving pets as holiday gifts if they can’t be cared for.  Sharon Shannon and David Gray both contribute instrumentals).  And of course, The Divine Comedy.

I was planning  to write about The Divine Comedy song, but my favorite track turned out to be this one from David O’Doherty, an Irish comedian.  I don’t know anything about O’Doherty, but the delivery of this bittersweet song was top notch.

Musically, the song is simple, just a keyboard playing a nice melody.  The story starts somewhat sweetly as Florence’s owner returns home.

As my key went in the door I’d call your name, you’d start to growl
And move menacingly across the floor
And as you’d thundered down the stairs
Snarling angrily
I’d wonder why I liked you so much
And you always hated me

The details of how bad Florence was are really hilarious.

In the winter you’d curl up by the fire at home
I’d go off to get your chew-chew
And then you’d eat my mobile phone

Then we realize just how bad Florence was

The first time that you nipped me people said you were just young
And the second time it was the heat
And the third you were only having fun (ha ha ha ha ha)
And the fourth time I actually needed Tetanus and you got neutered at the vet
She said that it would calm you down
And then you bit me on the leg

And since Christmas is coming, there’s a Christmas verse too:

I remember one time at Christmas
When you opened all the stuff
I put you out into the garden
And you were furious
You cried so much at this great injustice
I had to let you back in
And then you were good for an hour


Then you licked the turkey

Florence was truly a terrible dog.  A terrible pet.  And yet the ending reveals the truth:

Oh, Florence, there was nothing good about you I can’t think of anything
But I wish that you were still at home … hating me again.
You were a rubbish dog
But a rubbish dog is better than no dog

And even though this song is sweet and might make you a little teary-eyed, the phrase “rubbish dog” will always make me laugh.

[READ: November 30, 2019] “The Curfew”

I have loved Roddy Doyle’s stories for years.  His early stuff was very funny, but it has been a pretty long time since he has written anything genuinely funny.  But no matter, because what he writes is always good and very real.

The curfew in this story is in place because ex-Hurricane Ophelia is heading towards Dublin.

The protagonist is heading home, with a half hour to spare before the curfew.  His wife is dismissive of the curfew–“Do they think it’s a civil war?  It’s only a bit of weather,” but he likes the drama of it.  He felt like he was helping to stave of a catastrophe–it was doing him good.  It almost kept his mind off the medical news.

A couple of wees ago he’d had a checkup.  All he could remember was the prostate exam.  He smiled to himself thinking he could now address his daughter’s lectures about gender: “I know what you’re talking about, he’d be tempted to say.  A woman doctor had her finger up my arse and she was thoroughly professional.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] And And And

When I saw the band that was opening for Built to Spill was called And And And, I knew it sounded familiar.  I knew it was from some work of fiction.  And then it finally came to me that it was from The Commitments. Roddy Doyle’s hilarious book that inspired the movie.

The band is mentioned here:

Jimmy Rabbitte: What do you call yourselves?
Derek: “And And And.”
Jimmy Rabbitte: “And And fuckin’ And?”
Derek: Well, Ray’s thinking of putting an exclamation mark after the second “and.” Says it’d look deadly on the posters.
Jimmy Rabbitte: Psshh…
Outspan Foster: You don’t like it? You think it should go at the end?
Jimmy Rabbitte: I think it should go up his arse.

Excellent.

I instantly loved this band from Portland who were so bold as to take this name (no exclamation points). (more…)

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CV1_TNY_04_14_14Blitt.inddSOUNDTRACK: SIMONE DINNERSTEIN-Tiny Desk Concert #362 (June 2, 2014).

simoneSimone Dinnerstein plays several of Bach’s two-part inventions.  And my jaw hits the floor.

I like Bach–I like his elaborate arrangements and the way he makes the piano (or harpsichord) sing.  But I never really thought about how hard these pieces are.  Watching Dinnerstein play these–simply watching the amazingness of her fingers–has blown me way.  And if I may say, her fingers aren’t long slender graceful things, they look a lot like mine.  So she doesn’t seem to have that advantage of an octave and a half reach or anything.  I am amazed that her two hands can work so independently.  And it sounds beautiful.

She groups them together into three segments and between each segment she talks a little about Bach and about playing these difficult pieces.  Her story about learning these as a child and then teaching them to children is really fascinating (and funny).

I have no idea how many Inventions Back wrote, but this set list is: Inventions Nos. 1, 6, 8, then Inventions Nos. 9, 10, and finally Inventions Nos. 12, 13, 14.

Check this out.

[READ: June 3, 2104] “Box Sets”

How can Roddy Doyle, who does funny so well, also do domestic unhappiness with such verisimilitude?

In this brief story, just as Ireland is getting through the worst of the economic depression and Sam and his wife Emer are feeling like they can exhale, Sam is let go from his job.  Now he’s been on the dole for three months.  And he is miserable.  The only good thing is that he has been watching box set seasons of all of the really good TV that everyone’s been talking about.  He feels foolish watching it all after the fuss about them has ended, but he’s still glad to watch it.  And Emer is great through the whole thing, always cheerful, always trying to make him feel better.  Always with a smile.  But Sam is getting darker and darker.

Then one night when Emer says they’re going to a friend’s house on Friday, Sam says he’d rather not.  He reminds her that at their last get together he was stumped when someone asked him what he did.  He just doesn’t want to go out anymore.  Emer tries to comfort him but fails.  He just gets madder until he throws a coffee mug and it shatters.  He takes the dog for a walk down to the seaside to cool off. (more…)

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Two-Pints-Doyle-Roddy-9780224097819 SOUNDTRACK: BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY-LIve on Mountain Stage (April 11, 2013).

bpbI saw Bonnie “Prince” Billy several years ago when he opened for Godspeed You Back Emperor.  His set was really good.  And yet I have never bought any of his music (his back catalog is just too intimidating to want to jump into).  But i still enjoy his music, and this Mountain Stage appearance shows off his songs and his between set humor.

He plays four songs here: “Oh How I Enjoy The Light,” “We Love Our Hole,” “Screaming Issue” and “You Remind Me Of Something (The Glory Goes).”

“We Love Our Hole” is from an Australian movie about surfing (and features some great baking vocals from Emmett Kelly and especially Cheyenne Marie Mize.  And “Screaming Issue” is a Loudon Wainwright song (it seems funny to me that he has so many songs but he chose to do a cover) and he does a great job of it.  “You Remind Me of Something” may be my favorite song of the set.

One of these days I’ll have to dive into his recorded work.  But, oh where to start?

[READ: September 19, 2013] Two Pints

Two Pints is a delightful, short book that shows just how funny Roddy Doyle is.  I’m not sure how easy it is to find in the States, but if you’re a fan of Doyle’s humor, this is worth tracking down.

It is a series of conversations between two mates at the pub.  Each entry is dated starting with 24-5-11 (May 24, 2011 for us Americans) and ending 4-9-12 (September 9, 2012).  At first I thought that they were regular meetings, but they aren’t.  Some come weekly some more frequently.  But in each visit, the two men meet at their local with a pint to discuss the events of the day (often quite reluctantly).

Of course they also talk about their wives and kids and grand kids (the one crazy piece of nonsense is that one man (neither are named) keeps talking about buying wild animals for his kids (polar bears, hyenas and the lot).  It’s so strangely far-fetched for something that is otherwise down to earth, that I’m just not sure if Doyle was making a point or just being goofy.

But otherwise, one man begins talking and the other joins in.

They talk about Gaddafi (one of them thinks he’s the guy at the chipper, the other one is sure he’s spotted him working at the airport—the perfect hiding place).  They talk a lot about the Queen (it’s okay to hate the Brits again, phew) and The Pope (the mean German pope, not the nice new pope).  They talk about politics and voting.  They even talk about Anthony Weiner. (more…)

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wilderSOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live from Mountain Stage (May 16, 2012).

whitehorseWhitehorse is opening for Barenaked Ladies on the current leg of their tour (we’re going to see them in October).  I hadn’t heard of them.  Turns out Whitehorse is the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.  They are from Canada, which may be why they are touring with BNL–because they’re not very funny or very upbeat.

They play four songs in this Mountain Stage show.  I really like “Killing Time” which has a very alt-country feel—McClelland’s harmony vocals are great on the chorus, which has a very low down dirty feel.  I particularly like the lines:

Pimms in the cooler and daughter in the yard Playing California strip croquet

And

Tongue is a sharpened razor Little miss know it some But get her alone she cries I wanna go home Oh, this little piggy plays dumb.

They have some good stories too, like the one about “Emerald Isle” which is about Luke running a marathon in Ireland.  His Irish mother, who had never been to Ireland, flew out to meet him at the finish line and his wife, Melissa, flew in from Australia as well.  There are more great harmonies in this song which, while mournful has a wonderfully uplifting feel.  “Night Owls” is a very slow ballad which, while lyrically interesting, is a little too slow for my tastes.

For the final song, Melissa explains that the two of them had been playing solo and then they got married and still played solo.  And then they decided to join forces. “Broken One” was a song that Luke wrote for his ex-girlfriend (and it is mean); Melissa says that she fixed it for Whitehorse.  It’s a pretty standard country song with a honky tonk feel.  It has a great blow off line: “You gotta have a heart to have a broken one.”

There’s something about Canadian Country music that I like so much more than American country music.  I wonder what that is.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Wilderness

I recently stumbled upon this book at the library.  I was only vaguely aware that Doyle had written a children’s novel, but there it was on the shelf.  This is not a young child’s book, which is kind of a shame.  I know my son would love half of the book, but I didn’t think he was ready for the other half.

The two parts of the story are about different members of the same family.  The father, Frank, is the same.  He married a woman quite young and they had a daughter.  When the daughter was about 4 years old, the father and mother realized they could no longer live together.  After some fights, the mother left for America.  Where she stayed.  Gráinne, the daughter, is now 18 and she is a sullen, angry teenager.  Her dad is still okay, but most of the time she wants to treat him like he’s not.  But he seems okay with that and gives her space.  The crux of her story is that her mother has decided to come back after all these years.  And Gráinne now has to deal with that.

Her story is a little mature, (especially for my 8 year old son), and she has some pretty harsh things to say about her parents, (which I hope he doesn’t have yet).

The other half of the story concerns her half brothers, and I know my son would love this part.  Conveniently, the two stories are easy to demarcate–the ones with the boys are named Chapter 1 etc, the one with Gráinne are named things like The Bedroom, The Bus etc.  So I did consider telling him to read just those parts.  But maybe I’ll just wait.  Anyway, her half brothers, Johnny and Tom, belong to her dad and her stepmom, Sandra.  Sandra loves her boys and her husband and even Gráinne–most of the time.  But lately Gráinne has been a little much.  And Frank has encouraged Sandra to take the boys and go on a trip, just with them.  That will let her focus on the boys and give him some time with Gráinne. (more…)

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xmasSOUNDTRACK: BARENAKED LADIES-Live from Mountain Stage (Jan 19, 1995).

barenakedladiesThis is wonderful show from 1995 (it was recorded on Super Bowl Sunday, which explains the football jokes…including the Baltimore football team that played in the CFL for literally one year). Having seen BNL recently (and enjoyed them), I forgot how much more bouncey and fun their earlier shows were (as their earlier songs were in general more bouncey and fun).  This show is also interesting because Andy Creeggan is still in the band.  Andy is Tim (bass) Creeggan’s brother.  And I have to wonder if he is doing some of the great harmonies (especially on “Alternative Girlfriend,” which I’ve never heard anywhere else).

I love each of the four songs they play here: “Life in a Nutshell,” “Jane” (a song where their harmonies are absolutely wonderful).  “Great Provider” slows things down but allows for Tim’s great bass work.  The set ends with one of my favorite songs “Alternative Girlfriend.”  They disingenuously announce that they will be playing the Mountain Stage theme song and I think everyone is a little bummed that they didn’t.  But I was just as happy to hear “Alternative Girlfriend and this is where those great unexpected harmonies come in.  They even throw in a smidgen of “My Sharona” for fun.

I’ll be seeing BNL again in a month.  After seeing them this summer, I wanted to tell them to dig deep into their catalog for some of their middle albums tracks (like the ones here).  Since most people who see them are die hards, we’d all love some of these older tracks!

Enjoy the set here.  Sadly, you only get to see Steven Page’s glorious mustache in this photo.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Not Just for Christmas

In addition to writing a lot of novels, Roddy Doyle has written a number of smaller books.  Like this one.  This was actually written for The Open Door series which is a series of six books by different authors that are designed to help adult readers who have trouble reading.  The stories are meant to be short, engaging and relatively easy to read.

I wasn’t conscious of this story being easy to read, but it is certainly simple.  It is 77 pages with big print and probably counts more like a short story, although I think it gets classified as a novella.

Simplicity aside, the story is a very good one.  Danny and Jimmy Murphy are brothers.  But they haven’t seen each other in twenty years.    When they were younger, they were inseparable and, although they were a year apart, people assumed they were twins.  We see a few instances from their childhood where they finished each others’ sentences and had a kind of psychic connection. (more…)

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[WATCHED: August 19, 2013] New Boy

new boyWikipedia leads me to find things about authors that I don’t know.  Some things lead you to unfindable items (see yesterday’s Douglas Coupland post).  But this time, the post about Roddy Doyle has led me to a number of things I wouldn’t have otherwise known about,

Like this short film.

New Boy is based on his short story “New Boy.”  I read the story a while ago.  I remembered the basic premise, but not the details.  And I was delighted by this short film.  It is about 11 minutes long and it really captures the story very well.

The story is about Joseph, an African refugee, who is starting school in Ireland.  He is not the only black student, but he really does stand out.  And when the mean boy behind his calls him “Live Aid” you know that things aren’t going to go all that well.

But then we flash back to the boy’s past (in an unnamed African country).  We see him in school there and then we see why he is a refugee (there’s nothing explicit either visually or narratively, but a lot is hinted at). (more…)

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vanSOUNDTRACK: FRANK TURNER-Tiny Desk Concert #287 (July 13, 2013).

turnertinydeskNPR introduced me to Frank Turner and I’m pretty delighted that they did.  I really enjoyed his set at the Newport Folk Festival.  And here’s another live recording (a Tiny Desk Concert).

In this brief set, Frank and mandolin player Matt Nasir (he’s only been playing it for 6 months) blast through 3 of his rockingest folk songs.  “Recovery,” “The Way I Tend to Be,” (with a very funny lead story) and a rousing mandolin solo-filled and a (reluctant) NPR audience singalong. of the great “Photosynthesis.”  I imagine it was quite loud in their offices that day.

Turner is fantastic live—he’s personable and funny and even more so in this intimate setting.  It’s a wonderful set.

Check it out.

[READ: August 23, 2013] The Van

This is the final book in the “Barrytown Trilogy” (except for the new one coming out next year).  Whereas The Snapper was tied to The Commitments by virtue of it being the same family, The Van is tied to The Snapper because it follows the same guy—Jimmy Rabbitte Sr.

It’s 1990 (a few years after The Snapper because the baby from that book is now talking and mobile) and like many older people in Ireland, Jimmy Sr. has been laid off.  The first third of the book looks at life on the dole in Ireland—skimpy Christmas presents and getting handouts from your son.  And yet there’s always money for a pint or two—so Jimmy still gets to hang out with his mates at the pub a few nights a week.  He also goes out with the baby from time to time and occupies himself in various ways (pitch n putt).  There’s a lot of humor and silliness in this section–especially within the family when the twin girls start getting older and even cheekier.  And the focal point is the World Cup—because Ireland is actually going to be in it this year—Italia ’90!

And the Jimmy’s mate Bimbo gets laid off.  And that’s where the titular van comes in (over 100 pages into the story).  Bimbo is crushed to be laid off, but Jimmy is a little pleased.  He’s not happy that Bimbo is laid off, but he is happy that he has someone to waste the day with.  They go golfing together (and win a prize or two) and they do their best trying to stay happy.  But they’ve noticed that the fish and chips van that used to be parked outside of the bar is no longer there.  It’s a sad state of affairs when you’re drunk and hungry at midnight and can’t get a fish n chips.

And that’s when their friend Bertie (who can get anything for anyone) comes through on Bimbo’s half serious question–could Bertie get him a chipper van?  Bertie finds one—an unholy filthy mess of a thing with no engine.  And Bimbo uses his redundancy money, £800, to buy the mess.  Jimmy is appalled until Bimbo starts talking about the two of them being partners—working together to makes some money and sell chips to their drunken mates and—even better—to the punters who are enjoying the World Cup!  And suddenly it seems like a real idea. (more…)

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