Comic Relief update

March 19, 2013

It’s all over. Isn’t it?

Well, just three more thank you’s. Thank you to Jen, Ranj, and Tracy.

£2210 for #twitter million Team @tracey_thorn and Comic Relief. That’s amazing. Thank you all. xxx

And, as a thank you from Comic Relief, they sent me another treat video. I’d already had one thank you from them, a video thank you from One Direction. So, to be absolutely frank, to be honest, I didn’t really want another.

This was a video thank you from someone called Pixie Lott. I can’t be sure but I think she may be a character in the Harry Potter films.

The video also urges me to carry on getting sponsors. I feel a little bad doing that but hey… one last mention in case anyone really feels the urge. You can sponsor me here.

Since Comic Relief sent me a thank you video from a pixie I am going to be just as random with today’s thank you to you. Here’s Sparks with Lighten Up Morrissey.

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Comic Relief thank you

March 16, 2013

Over the past 12 days I have been part of Team @tracey_thorn, raising money for Comic Relief. The challenge I set myself wasn’t too hard. I’ve not been running or swimming or sitting in a bath of eels. I’ve been listening to the songs of Everything But The Girl and I’ve been writing about them. Not even all their songs. I have more in storage, on vinyl, but the only CD’s I’ve had to hand are Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Love Not Money (the 2 disc special editions). Apologies to those who sponsored me and asked for songs from Idlewild, or Eden, or songs by Marine Girls. Maybe next year.

An enjoyable challenge. The hard part was reaching the ridiculous target I set for myself; £1986, in honour of the release year for Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. At a push I was prepared to lower my target to £1985 for Love Not Money.

Ten days of pestering had raised about £600. That amazed me. But I started Friday off aware that I would not reach my target.

And who can explain what happened on Friday night? Yes, I kept pestering on Twitter, and bit by bit money came in, but surely I would never reach my target?

Before too long I was at 50%. Then I had over £1000.

It seemed like it could be possible.

I wanted £1986. By the end of the night 104 sponsors had donated £2145.

Unbelievable.

Comic Relief has broken all records in this its 25th year, raising over £75m. And you’ve helped. You can find out about all of the charity’s work here.

I’m staggered and astonished.

A big thank you to you all.

Thank you to Rhada, Charlotte, Peter, Clare, Ian, Tony, Zoe, Kirsten, Paul, Belinda, Jim, Ben, Sophie, Ian, Andy, Janetta, Gerald, David, Clare, Simon, Matt, Lisa, Mark, Frank, Karen, Ian, Andrea, Paul, Siobhan, Hannah, Glenn, Helen, Zoe, Robin, Vicky, Veena, Simon, Naomi, Gill, Trev, Louise, Christian, Kirsty, Caroline, Steven, Vince, Amanda, Jacqueline, Pia, Kate, Melanie, Adrian, Kindle, Catherine, Glenn, Kathryn, Jonathan, Frazer, Anita, Robert, C, Will, Chris, Jake, Fiona, Richard, Karyn, Mark, Clare, Lisa, Rob, Helen, Paul, Jim, Mark, Robin, Jane, Olly, Lindsey, Roger, Jill, David, Matthew, Mark, Anne, Ian, Jon, Toyoko, Ben, Samantha, Gary, Andrew, Ed, Nick, Craig, Jonathan, Kevin, Yvonne, Kathryn, Etta, and Andrea.

This morning I had an email from The Red Nose Team. It encouraged me to get more sponsors even though Red Nose Day is over. It’s admirable to pester me as much as I’ve pestered you. But no. We’ve done what we set out to do. We’ve done better than could be expected.

Besides, they are offering me a special treat if I get one more sponsor before Tuesday morning. My last treat was a One Direction video. Please, I beg you, no more sponsoring.

I hope I’ve thanked everybody. I’ve not put surnames as some of you wanted to be anonymous (I’ve already half compromised that!) And I’ve used the names from all my emails, which, in some instances, are different from the ones on my sponsorship page. Some names appear twice; sometimes you’ve sponsored me more than once, other times there’s just two or three of you.

A special mention for Wonky. I don’t know which one of you is Wonky, but Wonky, you pushed me over the finish line.

And even then you all carried on giving.

And thank you to my team leader, Tracey Thorn, for being so supportive and for not minding my EBTG ramblings, which you can read here.

Here’s my drunken thank you filmed late last night by Zoe. I started the evening with a big martini. Then some beers. And here I am draining the bar with my last martini.

Thank you all. You overwhelmed me. And you’ve taken part in something that changes lives for the better. xxx

Well yes, to a degree.

Tonight is Red Nose Day Night. It starts in an hour. It’s most probably on as you read this. And you’re being battered with demands for money. And I’m still on at you. Am I trying to be funny?

Ok. I get it. Comic Relief. You’re after jokes.

Tracey and Ben are in a restaurant. Ben has poached quail eggs for a starter and Tracey has a bowl of tomato soup. It’s a huge bowl of soup! There’s Ben with his small quail eggs, and Tracey has what must be a few gallons of soup. So much soup she has to ask Ben to help her finish. He leans over to take a spoon or two, but the bowl is so big he falls into it. Tracey calls the waiter over and says; “Waiter, waiter, there’s a buzzin’ fly in my soup!”  And the waiter says; “Shush madam, or I’ll pop a cap in yo’ ass.”

Ok, it’s not a good joke. It’s not even a joke. It’s a play on a joke, with references to Ben’s solo career.

It’s the end of a long week. And today I have been at a writer’s meeting all day. It’s possibly the first time this year I’ve left the house. Tonight is Red Nose Day Night and I need a drink.

You have all been fantastic. I’ve just looked and I am almost at £1000. Astonishing.

Over the weekend I will thank you all. I will write some more too, because I know this is hurried and is maybe letting Team @tracey_thorn down. You can read all my challenges here.

This song, Are You Trying To Be Funny?, is from Love Not Money. Tonight though, well, money will be best. Money please. Not trying to be funny. I’ll leave that to all the people who are going to entertain us in 20 minutes time.

If you can sponsor me, if you will allow me to still pester, you can do so here.

I am overwhelmed by how generous you have all been.

Enjoy Comic Relief tonight, and enjoy Everything But The Girl performing Are You Trying To Be Funny?

With only two days to go it looks like I’ll run out of time to write about all the songs on Baby, The Stars Shine Bright… or maybe not. Am I allowed to carry on reaching my target beyond Friday night? Yes? I will have to. Come hell or high water I will reach my target of £1986 for Comic Relief.

If you’re new to this challenge just take a look over the past ten days and you will find out why £1986.

It’s for Comic Relief. I’m part of #twittermillion Team @tracey_thorn. We’re going to raise a million. Just you see.

In the build up to Big Red Nose Day tomorrow the BBC is showing Comic Relief: Through Hell And High Water tonight (BBC1, 8pm). In it Jack Dee wrestles with a hippopotamus. Maybe.

And guess what? Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt wrote a song called Come Hell Or High Water for Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. How could I not listen and learn to that one today?

But what does it mean, come hell or high water? Well, someone called Kitt writes: “This phrase appears to have been coined in the late 1800s to describe trail drives bringing cattle to the railroads. They had to cross the rivers even if they were flooding and the summer sun made the open prairies unbearably hot. The trail from Texas to Kansas went through hell AND high water.”

Ok. That sounds about right. It’s like Starship singing Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. Singing it whilst Jack Dee hippo wrestles. Maybe. In mud.

Come Hell Or High Water (EBTG style) is, like yesterday’s A Country Mile, a country and western affair of sorts; a lush Patsy Cline-like ballad of drinking and singing and selfishness and charm; of staying “off the rails”,  of not quite walking the line.

Come hell or high water/ You never will be/ A goddess or a genius/ A drunkard at twenty three/ And all that you yearn for/ Is attention I guess/ Come hell or high water/ You deserve nothing less

And, selfishly on my part, seeking attention no doubt, I’m using these posts as an excuse to play some of my other favourite tracks that, obliquely, connect to EBTG. This one reminds me of (I’d Be) A Legend In My Time, as sung by Patsy Cline. I can’t find that on YouTube (which is a shame, as it’s the arrangement that makes me link the songs together).

I could play you the Johnny Cash version, but I won’t. Do give it a listen though.

A voice straight from heaven/ So you like to believe

Please enjoy lloyd Horlick singing (I’d Be) A Legend In My Time.

I think that’s just become my new favourite YouTube find of all time. For now.

Here’s Tracey singing Come Hell Or High Water… with some kind of desert island theme… hey, that’s YouTube for you, don’t blame me.

You can blame me for Lloyd if you like.

And if you can sponsor me, if you can help me reach my target, then you would be a legend in this time. You can sponsor me here.

Only two days to go! Tomorrow is Comic Relief’s Big Red Nose Day! And I am at a whopping £575 thanks to the immense generosity of all those who have donated. Big thanks and lots of love to yesterday’s lot; Zoe, Robin, Vicky, Veena, Simon, and Naomi. x

£575. I’m astonished. And, if you’re wondering what £575 can do for Comic Relief you can find out about all the people and issues they support here.

A just world free from poverty.

It sounds impossible doesn’t it. But look what happened yesterday! The new Pope is black, and a woman. No? Oh.

But he does travel everywhere by public transport (so they say) and he does shop at Primark and Lidl and he does support the poor and he does give all clothes back to the children who made them and he does believe in gay marriage and he doesn’t  necessarily, always, every day, believe in God.

Not all of the above is true. He does champion the poor I’m told.

A just world free from poverty.

Well, bit by bit.

And there’s no harm in trying.

And you lot are definitely playing your part.

But, for the last two days, I will try your patience by seeing if I can get more of you to give.

See, I set myself an unattainable target of £1986, in honour of the 1986 release of Everything But The Girl’s 1986 album, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. £575 is truly amazing, but it turns out to be 28% of my target.

I’m persistent and stubborn and mad. I would love to get to £1986.

Yesterday, Comic Relief sent me an email with some tips on how to raise more money. (This email was an improvement on the one from the day before, where they sent me a bizarre treat as a thank you for the money raised so far). This is part of the email:

Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Chase everyone who promised to sponsor you but hasn’t done it yet with our reminder email.
  • Offer a prize for the person who sponsors you the most.
  • Tell everyone you’ll do or wear something silly (preferably, embarrassing) if they help you reach your target.
  • Download our sweepstake poster for an easy way to raise an extra 30 quid.
  • Hold a bake sale, a quiz night or set up a swear box at work to add to your total.
  • Download our old-school sponsorship form, put on a big smile and ask people in person.

Here’s my response. No. No. Ok. No. No. No.

I’m full of Big Nose fun me.

Here’s my reasons: I’m not Duncan Norvelle (odd 80’s style reference); I could offer a prize, but in the name of a just world free from poverty, I would offer everyone one; I have said that if we reach 50% of the target me and Zoe will recreate the cover artwork of Baby, The Stars Shine Bright (for 100% we’ll even do Love Not Money); sounds tricky; I work alone, I can’t bake, I already watch Pointless every night, I have more swear words than I have pounds; ask people in person? I haven’t done that since I was in the Cubs.

There’s my reasons. I always do my best to say yes, so I am a little ashamed of myself.

But not ashamed enough to say, if you can, please donate here.

Quick update: In the time it’s taken me to write this the total has gone up to £610! Fucking amazing… see? I told you I could swear. I feel positively Geldofian. Thank you Gill and anon. x

Only three more days to go of my Comic Relief team @tracey_thorn Challenge. And my challenge is… well, it’s not much of a challenge at all really. I am listening to tracks from two EBTG albums, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Love Not Money and then I am writing about them. Why those two albums? Because they’re the two I have.

And my plan is to raise £1986, in honour of the release year of Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. If I can’t reach my target I will settle for £1985, the release year of Love Not Money.

People have been incredibly generous and kind, and, at the time of writing, my total is £540. That truly astounds me. Thank you all.

But I have set myself a ridiculously high target and, truth is, I am a country mile off reaching it. And so, as we reach the last few days of campaigning, I am going to try and cover some of that huge distance by writing about a track from Baby, The Stars Shine Bright  called, hey, A Country Mile.

A Country Mile isn’t an out and out country song but it does have a bit of torch and twang about it. And Ben Watt’s gorgeous orchestration makes me think of Owen Bradley and the great work he did late on in his career with k. d. lang. And then there’s Tracey Thorn’s soaring vocals, that would make any man, woman, or member of One Direction, swoon. And so, a breather before the song. Time to enjoy a bit of Kathryn Dawn.

And each time you smile/ I know I would follow you a country mile/ For all that I’m chasing is worthless and vile

I’ve looked online for information about country miles. This is my favourite find; Robin Hood shot a full mile; and, according to his bard, a north-country mile was equal to two statute ones.

If you are going to follow someone for a country mile, it’s not going to be easy. it’ll take time and the chances are you’ll stand in a cow pat.

Oh… that reminds me. Some folk have been surprised that these blog posts aren’t just jokes. It never occurred to me that I should be using the songs of EBTG as a basis for jokes, but if there’s the demand I’ll do my best to provide.

Here’s a joke my grandpa used to tell me. He told me of walking home drunk from the pub. He took a short cut through the local cow field. His cap fell off. He tried on 24 before he found his.

That’s the joke.

Another from my grandpa; the first joke I ever heard. It’s more of a riddle to be honest, but I was all of four, I’d laugh at anything.

Here it is:

What goes under the water and over the water but never touches the water?

I’ll tell you the answer at the end, give you time to think about it.

But when you smile/ I swear I would follow you a country mile/ Please save me before I do things that aren’t worth my while

This was one of Zoe’s choices but in the end she went for Don’t Leave Me behind. So I dedicate the lines above to her for saving me.

Oh, give me a break. I’m allowed some indulgence here. What? More jokes?

Why was Ben and Tracey’s barbecue a washout?

Because they remembered everything but the grill.

Right, can I get back to the songs now please?

There’s lots of Country Mile’s out there. Rory Gallagher, Clinic, Slim Dusty. Or how about this one from The Ink Spots.

But you’d have to go a further country mile to match this:

Three days to go to Red Nose Day. If you can spare a pound or two please sponsor me here.

Oh, and did you get it?

The answer is; an egg in a duck’s belly.

Blimey! Only two days to go. I’ve raised a fantastic £455 so far. Big thank you’s to my latest sponsors, Siobhan, Hannah, Glenn, and Helen. x

And today I must try and rid myself of the horrors of yesterday when Comic Relief gave me the most disturbing treat of my life- a video of thanks from One Direction. It’s disturbing and a little odd. Do Comic Relief think only children are trying to raise money for them? You can read of my trauma here.

I’m sure yesterday’s trauma must have led to my slightly gloomy take on the generally perky When All’s Well yesterday too. By the time I’d written that I’d had two cans of cheap lager and a packet of fake pork scratchings. Imagine pork scratchings where all of the good bits have been replaced by air. Thanks Bobby!

And so I managed to equate a jolly 80’s pop song to the end of Vertigo. Just because of bells. There’s bells in It’s A Wonderful Life and Elf, just to try and strike some sort of a balance.

I’m not sure what today’s song is going to be but I’ll try to aim for something a little more fun.

In the meantime, if you can, please sponsor me here. I’m aiming for £1986, in honour of EBTG’s 1986 album, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright.

It’s going to be a push, but what in life isn’t?

You can read yesterday’s ravings here.

Ok, my rant is out of the way and all is well again. Which brings us to:

Today’s choice. And it is from @AndreaMann. It’s When All’s Well from Love Not Money.

Here’s what I do. I listen to it. I write about it. It’s for Comic Relief. I’m part of Team @tracey_thorn and our aim is to raise a million pounds for Comic Relief through Twitter. If you enjoy this post, or even if you don’t but are just feeling kind-hearted, please sponsor me here.

When All’s Well is, on the surface, an uplifting song of love.

When all’s well/ my love is like cathedral bells

But most of the video takes place underground. Tracey is trapped in an upturned cathedral bell. Ben tries to rescue her. The video cuts of early. I like to think, in his failure to elicit an escape, that right at the end, when the youtube stops, he jumps into the bell to be with Tracey.

It’s a jolly sounding song, like lots on Love Not Money. It makes me think of The Smiths again. In a good way. But listen to those opening words:

We are not true/ We are not pure/ We are not right

You wouldn’t get One Direction singing that.

O but still I’ll steal to you at night/ Too selfish by half/ Too ugly by far/ But when your songs have been sung, come to me

It is a love song. but…

Rumours are rife/ And the winter blows cold/ Reminds me of such wretched times

And we’re back. In hard times. Today it makes me think of the lying former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change who saved the planet by speeding. Would many sing this of him?

And yet all the same? I will never deign/ To think ill of you, when all’s well/ My love is like cathedral bells

We’re back in a song of love and forgiveness. And the beauty, and the love, are found, not just in the joyous melody (that you should dance around the lounge to), but also in the downbeat and upbeat last verse:

Amongst all the dross/ And the lies and the grief/ There are so many things you just wouldn’t believe/ But amongst all the dross/ And the lies and the grief/ When all’s well, my love is like cathedral bells

Cathedral bells. I can’t help but think of Batman and The Joker.Or Judy and Scottie.

But let’s focus on the positives; this film has Ben and Tracey messing with bells. Here’s a line from someone else, but it wouldn’t be out of place in this song:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars

Have a dance, and if you can please give some money to Comic Relief here.

I’m livid today. Very angry with Comic Relief. But we’ll come to that.

Firstly an update. I’m up to £405! 20% off my target for team @tracey_thorn #twittermillion challenge.  I might not get to the £1986 100% mark but I’m going to keep on keeping on. Spurred on by Karen, and Ian, and Andrea, and Paul. Thank you all for your generosity. x

But I forget! I’m livid! With bloody Comic Relief!

I know I shouldn’t be. it’s Comic Relief after all. But really. For crying out loud!

I had an email from them today; a thank you for my fund raising, and, as part of the thank you, a treat. That’s nice.

They said:

“If we were standing next to you, we’d throw our arms around you and smother you in kisses for adding to your fundraising total. Unfortunately, we’re not. So, as promised, here’s a little treat instead.”

So the treat was instead of lots of kisses. The treat was a video. I had to click on it to get my treat.

And my treat was…

A message from One Direction.

Yes, you’ve read that right. A message from One Direction.

One Direction.

Have Comic Relief gone mad?

One Direction?

I’m 50 for fuck’s sake! 50!

One bloody Direction? A treat? What one earth do you think I am, Comic Relief?

Even if they’d said Trick or Treat, One Direction wouldn’t fit the bill.

I don’t even know who they are, Comic Relief! I’m 50! 50!

I’m so furious.

Now this would have been a treat:

I click on the link. Morrissey is there. He sings Teenage Kicks. And as he sings, One Direction skip past and he kicks each one of them in the head.

And as each One Directioner staggers away they bump into Tracey Thorn singing Kiss You. She kisses them better (Hey, it’s for Comic Relief. I cannot wish real harm on them).

As they walk away, swooning from the kisses, they walk past Ben Watt and Stewart Lee, both sitting on high bar stools, wearing big 80’s jackets. And they throw crisps at the children.

And Tracey joins them and throws crisps too.

And they’re salt and vinegar, and they sting a little.

But even though they sting, Harry tries to catch them in his mouth like a wind-up musical toy borne of Oliver and Russell Brand.

That’s a treat.

After a lull yesterday I am back listening to Everything But The Girl and learning from them to help raise money for Comic Relief. I am part of Team @tracey_thorn, aiming for a #twittermillion. I have set myself a target of £1986, in honour of EBTG’s 1986 album, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. So far I am 17% there, with £350.

I have two EBTG albums to pick tracks from, and today’s choice, Ballad Of The Times, comes from 1985’s Love Not Money. (Struggling to reach my target I may have to lower my aim to £1985).

Frank, aka @eph_bee, picked this one. He also made a donation to Comic Relief, for which I say a big thank you. x

Ballad Of The Times is the first song choice to be solely written by Ben Watt (that’s the first thing I’ve learned).

It sounds jolly, and, like a lot of Love Not Money, it makes me think of the jangly guitar sounds of The Smiths (which I mean as a good thing). And, also like The Smiths, behind the joyful sounds there’s a sadness.

The times it ballads are, I guess, the early to mid 80’s; Thatcher at her best. It could be a song swinging between the end of The Falkands War and the beginning of the Miners’ Strike.

Then again, it could be a song about now.

Because Billy has gone off to war/ And God knows what he’s fighting for/ But wartime will make him a man/ Work that one out if you can

It’s also about hard times when promises were not enough to pay for shoes. And in hard times we can turn inwards too:

Narrow streets breed narrow minds/ And care for kin but not for kind

The 80’s? Or now, Mr Nigel Farage?

What am I learning? What am I on about? All I know is good songs can affect us way beyond the times in which they were written. Perhaps it’s a Ballad Of Times.

It reminds me of another 80’s song of war and hard times; Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello.

Is it worth it?/ a new winter coat and shoes for the wife

That’s Elvis. But it resonates with Ben’s line:

When did a promise ever pay for shoes?

And that makes me think of Comic Relief with its mission to “tackle the root causes of poverty and social injustice”.

If you can give to Comic Relief please do. You can sponsor me here.

At first I couldn’t find Ballad Of The Times on youtube and so I made my own video, looking out from our flat. Since then I’ve found a live version. Let’s have both.

Here’s the live version, with some Morrissey-like dancing from Tracey and a big jacket from Ben:

And here’s my home made thing: