Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Wednesday 9 January 2013

We can steal time.

THERE are some things that shouldn't be allowed.

Adding dried fruit to chocolate bars, for example, should be punishable by death. If I wanted manky fruit I'd eat some, but I don't, and worse still you've removed chocolate in order to give me grapes that have been on the floor. To the wall with you quick-smart, and no moaning.

Then there's people who just stand there. Whether they've got a pram or bags of shopping or just nowhere they need to be, they stand in doorways, at the tops of stairs, on the left of escalators and lurk against corners in order to catch people unawares. They have no idea of the people they block, they're having a nice natter or a gaze off into the middle distance oblivious to the bottlenecks they are creating in the normal ebb and flow of life.

These people should firstly be regularly kettled in order to save the human race from the effects of the low-grade frustration and anger they cause, and secondly they should never be allowed to drive.

But even worse than these things is a crime against the soul, such as when you turn on the telly and see Iggy Pop selling car insurance.

The most dangerous, dodgy, dirty, mostly-naked man in the world, the most interesting drummer there has ever been, urging teenagers to spend their savings on insurance? You might as well just give up, change your name back to James Newell Osterberg Junior and admit the whole thing was a farce.

Semi-naked protopunks taking their trousers off while bawling out Lust for Life do not do insurance. The man who said "If I don't terrorise, I am not Pop" does not give an arse for third party, fire and theft.

The angry, insecure and bookish teenager inside me may never have been able to be like Iggy but my adolescence was more bearable because there was an Iggy, somewhere, doing Iggy things that were exciting and edgy and different.

Seeing him sell car insurance is like visiting your childhood home and seeing it's smaller than you remember. It's looking at the massive hill you used to scream down on your bike and realising it's a gentle slope. It's like suddenly being told you were adopted - it makes you wonder what, exactly, you can still hold on to.

The Sex Pistols? Sid's long gone and Johnny sells butter. The Beatles? Best ones have karked it and Macca's done nothing I want to listen to since 1973. The Stones? They want every last penny your possess, but at least they're not flogging stairlifts.


It's our fault, of course. As teenagers we invest our hopes and dreams in the people who make the soundtrack of our lives, so that song at the school dance, that hit which keeps playing on the radio while you dither at second base, the star you read about in the music press, becomes part of your personal playlist.

The song might be rubbish, it might have three chord changes and the lyrics were dashed off on the back of an envelope because their A&R man said "you owe your drug dealer", the people behind it might be utterly horrible, but teens don't care about that.

It's about the music, and the moment, and when something years later happens to tarnish that memory we have to face the fact we're grown up now, and if sleeve notes weren't a thing of the past we'd need glasses to read them.

They say don't meet your heroes, but they should add that your heroes should have the grace not to come and find you later. Some things improve with age, like wine (and writers, ha!) but singers always fade, artists run out of ideas, and David Bowie, I'm afraid, has got boring.

Yesterday his birthday coincided with the release of his first single in a decade, an event so momentous it needed to be covered by the Today programme, the BBC 10 o'clock news, and virtually every other bulletin in the Western world.

This is the man who changed the face of pop. He almost invented celebrity, gave the PR rules a good kicking, he had his own cult and just because its members are now, well, older than they were they are no less fervent in their worship of him.

And the song was pants.

The voice is thin, these days. The lyrics are as daft as ever, but for an innovative musician whose every creation is treated with the reverence of tablets of stone carved by God his first song in ages should blast us away, and instead we got a self-indulgent 4mins 34secs of mournful wail about Berlin.

All he has innovated this time is boredom, disappointment, and the sad realisation that he was more interesting when he was off his bonce on coke and smack. The cult won't like anyone saying it, any more than Scientologists let us laugh about lizard people and Tom Cruise, but had that dirge been produced by anyone else it would be laughed out of town.

Still, let's not be down. It's just the first single of a new album and there might be something amazing on the rest of it. There might be a song about frogs, or butter, or car insurance...

And even if that's rubbish too, well, we've still got everything else. All the songs we grew up with, snogged to, argued over, treasured, or turned up louder every time dad yelled at us to turn it down.

When you listen to the music that mattered to you then, you can steal back time and return to your youth, when they were heroes rather than faded old men whose mortality makes you feel cheated out of something.

Heroes simply shouldn't be allowed to get old, or sell out, or produce music that no-one can be bothered to ban any more.

Few people ever point it out, but heroes are just for one day.

 Car insurance lasts longer.