One thought on “Presidential Pastimes


    Being in a band whose primary raison d’etre is to record the complete works of Anton Webern in bizarre arrangements for a variety of saxophones from soprano down to contra-bass (a formidable undertaking by any stretch of the imagination), you might appreciate that persuading any record shops to stock copies of our albums is virtually impossible, especially as our cantankerous little group is led with an iron fist and unspeakable sarcasm by the infamous Vietnamese saxophonist Thanh ‘Crusher’ Nguyen. He remains the only known band leader who, rather than fire members whose technical abilities prove insufficient to be able to perform strict serialism, instead eats them. I can attest to the veracity of this fact for 2 years ago, whilst desperately striving to avoid doubling at the octave (that most heinous of musical crimes as any student of strict serialism will confirm), I played a Bb instead of a B. To this day you can still see on my right forearm the dreadful teeth marks that sooner or later mark the skin of most members of this beleaguered ensemble.

    In a neurotic fit of frustration (or perhaps sheer malice), Thanh demanded that before our next concert appearance (a benefit for the victims of people addicted to twaddle on Radio 4), we were required to raise no less than £500 each to finance our next album, ‘I Eat History’, arguably Thanh’s most controversial opus yet in which, taking a temporary diversion from Anton Webern and that whole 2nd Viennese School farrago, he has selected 15 of the most popular dance tunes of 1920s bandleader Fletcher Henderson and reworked them as 12 tone serial compositions arranged for 16 saxophones electronically manipulated by a whole bank of potentiometers and ring modulators. Unable to secure employment in any haberdashers, milliners, blacksmiths, tanning yard or software programmers, I chanced upon an advertisement in the grimy window of the local tobacconist which read ‘Free! Free! Free! Make Lists! Make Money! All inquiries to P J’.

    Subsequently I was directed to a small, squalid basement in Shadwell that strangely smelt strongly of rabbits. P J Pelican, the choleric proprietor of this dubious establishment, beckoned me down a short flight of stone steps spattered with what appeared to be blood. I entered the stale, musty office and tried to pretend not to be shocked or indeed offended by the huge swastika flags hung on the walls but, despite my most sterling intentions, even my determined resolve crumbled once my gaze alighted upon the full size poster of what would have been Adolf Hitler except that from underneath that famous peaked cap, instead of the familiar stern visage and piercing stare that one normally associates with the Führer, was the bland, faintly disquieting face of a rabbit. From this moment I gradually became aware of just what kind of twisted ne’er-do-well would own, nay, actually display a gigantic poster of the most famous dictator the world has ever known with its face replaced by that of a white bunny. You will no doubt appreciate that I became sufficiently fearful for my own immediate safety to decide there and then to obey P J Pelican at all times and without question.

    “Young man, I’m paying you to make lists, not stare at my mentor, magnetic, awesome and inspiring though he may be.” said Pelican with a voice like sandpaper rubbing against gravel. Thus it was soon explained to me that my odious assignment was to list, using only an ancient Remington typewriter made in 1910, all the multitudinous personnel changes that informed the troubled career of notorious neo-nazi rock group Skrewdriver from Grinton (1977) all the way through to Mushy (1993) and this in strict chronological order. To say I approached this onerous task with less than a bare modicum of enthusiasm would be to understatements what emperor swans are to gadflies. In truth, I would rather have been buggered by badgers in a ditch and I said so, quite petulantly.

    Text: Andy Martin 2007.

    See what your programmes have done to my already discombobulated brain? I used to be a semi-respectable political essayist, too. Have you no shame?

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