Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Professional Wurzel

posted by Brit

Enough of America for now (but plenty later, I expect).

Darkness has fallen on Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night/Fireworks Day (so odd they named it thrice) and already the neighbourhood is lit up and banging away like a bad dream of Baghdad (how the hell do they afford it? Fireworks are £20 a pop aren't they? Talk about bang for your buck...)

Nige reckons the Britons don't do Guy Fawkes these days, but obviously that news hasn't reached Bristol yet. Mind you, we are a bit behind here in the West Country, can't keep up with those fancy modern London-types with their baguettes and fax machines and EU-lites and new-fangled ways. We're basically hicks here: Bristolians (didn't) vote for McCain.

When I tell people I live in Bristol, they naturally assume I spend my days drinking cider and listening to The Wurzels. This is only half true: I can't abide cider. I do however seem to cross paths with The Wurzels quite frequently, and not often deliberately. Yes, they're still going; the Wurzel juggernaut keeps chugging along, trailer-load of silage in tow, with a Butlins show here and an ironic youth festival gig there. They've only got three memorable songs, and here's the kicker: they play I've got a Brand New Combine Harvester twice. Twice! Once near the beginning and again for an encore.

Think about that for a moment, and consider just how many times they must have played the bloody song since they released it in 1976. Which brings me at last to the point of this post... I'm often troubled by performers who have to do the same thing over and over again. How can they bear to do it? How can Mick Jagger possibly face the prospect of singing Satisfaction for the zillionth time? Apparently the worst one is playing in the orchestra in a long-running West End musical - there's a real problem with flautists falling asleep in matinees mid-tune. Even guided tours bother me because I worry that the poor sod has had to crack the same mild joke ten times today already and he's not even got to his elevenses. Yes, I know most jobs are repetitive and mundane but somehow public performance ones are much more depressing in this respect.

The only thing that can keep them going, of course, is professionalism. It's a sad, sad thing. You can see it in the singer's eyes as he counts in Combine Harvester yet again... this is your life son, you're a Professional Wurzel. This is all you can do, and so you must keep doing it again and again until, at last, the blessed relief of death and the peace of the grave.

Good grief, these arguments against immortality pop up in the strangest places, don't they?


  1. Keith Richards is proof transhumans walk among us. Give cider a chance, Brit. Cloudier the better - never drink anything you can see through.

  2. Give pear cider a chance. Its nice.

    My mum constantly tells me that "I cant get no satisfaction" was number one when I was born. (work the age out) I tell her she should have stayed away from pub car parks in her youth.

  3. Here Brit, me old fruit, I saw them once in a pub in Bradford Abbas, thats Devon, you know, they were brilliant. I shall clarify that remark. After several pints of Guinness, misc whiskeys and a tad more Guinness they were brilliant.
    At least I think it was the Wurzels, or was it Maddy Prior singing all around my sodding hat, excuse me while I go away and cogitate, over a whiskey.
    The Germans brew cider, the only difference is they use obst.
    That was a joke by the way.

    I have never, ever been able to fathom out why there is a regular rail service between Edinburgh Waverley and Bristol Templemead, what on earth do they have in common, porridge scoffers and carrot crunchers.

  4. How can they bear to do it?

    Buckaroonies. Poundolas. Eurothingies. Persuaders of all denominations.

  5. Reminds me of the violinist who dreamed it was Christmass and he was playing in Messiah. He woke up and found that it was, and he was.

  6. Malty:

    I have never, ever been able to fathom out why there is a regular rail service between Edinburgh Waverley and Bristol Templemead, what on earth do they have in common

    Traffic congestion and a pair of useless football teams each are all that spring immediately to mind, but I think they justify the rail line by all the stops it makes in between.

  7. Keeping on keeping on? Well, I guess in Mick's case it's two things. I never bought all that brain/LSE stuff, and met him a couple of times in Erin years ago, and he struck me as self-centred and dull. I think that if you are a bit thick, it must help. The other is the lucre.
    Even though he is at an age where he can travel free on public transport in London, the touring that the Stones still do is incredibly profitable, and the knowledge he has as a lover of moolah, that several more noughts will be added to his current account as he tries to persuade us yet again that he can't get any satisfaction, must make going through the motions just that little bit easier.
    Saw him again at the ROH the other evening with a woman roughly twice as tall as he was - two women in one, you could say - and no, I didn't see the bus pass sticking out of his pocket

  8. She may have been twice as tall Mahlerman, but I'll bet a week old pasty to a flagon of Weston's scrumpy that she was at least half his age.

    The secret of Cider is never to drink any that comes in bottles larger than a pint. Or that has artificial sweeteners in it. Yes, I'm talking to you Mr Bulmer.

  9. Well Recusant,'er indoors tells me that his partner is in her early 40's and at 6'4'' has 3' on me, never mind Mick.
    Any idea why such an Amazonian would rejoice in the name L'Wren? This is one for you Nige, but the L'Wren that pops up in our garden about now looks about 3' long, bill to tail? And I bet his partner is about the same size

  10. Brit, mein gott, SHEFFIELD, BIRMINGHAM.

  11. Friend of mine has played the clarinet in the West End production of Phantom of the Opera since it opened in 1986. That's three or four nights a week every week for 22 years. He says the music doesn't seem to get any better but at least Lord LW has paid his mortgage for him.

    As a Somerset boy myself I find something weirdly consoling in the way the Wurzels just go twanging on. Actually, they've never been much cop since the great Adge Cutler died in 1974. Other people go on about Diana or Kennedy but for some reason I can remember exactly where I was when I heard about Adge's car crash (outside the old municipal swimming baths in Yeovil; chilly Friday morning in May).

    And Bradford Abbas is in Dorset.