Never Go Back

To some extent we are all stuck in the past. I suspect this intensifies the older we get. For most of us our childhood, teens and early adulthood evoke special memories. The days before responsibility and having to stand on your own two feet. We associate the “best days of our lives” with our favourite cultural reference points. It’s one of the reasons why there is so much television time based around nostalgia. You know the sort of stuff. Basically, Stuart Maconie waxing lyrical about stuff he remembers.

We all reminisce about the past, largely focusing on the best bits, quite naturally – and perhaps transforming the reality of what we remember into something far greater than the actual sum of the parts. Sometimes, we crave a return to those special times. Maybe a reunion, a visit to a particular place or a concert featuring Rick Astley.

Memories can be built on until they become the stuff of legend. They can reach a height that can never be attained again or frankly wasn’t attained in the first place. It is for this reason the phrase, “never go back” was invented. The memory of something and the subsequent hype around it becomes greater than the reality; an unachievable and unrealistic outpost clouded by our rose-tinted view of days gone by. Never go back.

Last week saw the much hyped return of Channel 4’s TFI Friday. During the 90’s it was much watch telly, featuring Chris Evans at the height of his powers, just before he went a bit loopy. It was irreverent, different, always felt a bit dangerous and was a fun way to get your weekend started on a Friday evening. – Or at least that’s how I remember it.

The much lauded comeback, one-off, special, celebration, whatever it was – it certainly wasn’t how I remembered it or how I want to remember it. It was all a bit dull, a bit too long, a bit rough around the edges and something that was probably left best alone.

Chris Evans himself is just too sane and long in the tooth these days to carry that kind of show off. Blur’s rendition of Coffee and TV was just too out of tune and unlistenable, Lewis Hamilton (the main guest of the evening, no less!) was just to boring and wooden. He makes Nigel Mansell seem positively enthusiastic. He makes watching paint dry seem an enjoyable way of passing time. He makes snooker seem like an extreme sport. Of all the guests you could have chosen to embody the spirit of TFI Friday’s golden years, Lewis Hamilton shouldn’t have made the shortlist, the long-list or within 50 miles of any list being drawn up by Channel 4.

As for Evans himself, well he’s just taken up the mantle of new Top Gear presenter following the departure of the rumbly-tummied, loose-fisted racist. He stated that the future of TFI was now in the hands of Channel 4 and seemingly passed the torch onto Radio 1’s Nick “Grimmy” Grimshaw, who promptly fluffed his lines when invited to try his hand at introducing a band on the show. An ominous moment for him.

He should never go back.

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3 Queens? I’ll pass on that thanks!

This weekend in Liverpool will see thousands of people line the iconic waterfront for the arrival of Cunard Line’s “3 Queens”. The cruise liners Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will visit the River Mersey to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Cunard. Apparently, this is a huge event. Liverpool will be jammed with people trying to get a glimpse of the 3 ships over the next few days in numbers akin to the visit of the “Giant Spectacular” last summer.

I however, won’t be one of them. Here’s why.

Firstly, I’m not a “spotter”. I’m not a plane spotter, a bus spotter, a train spotter and I’m not a boat spotter. That’s essentially what you’re doing by going down to watch this event isn’t it? Boat spotting? It’s 3 big boats slowly coming in, stopping for a bit and slowly going out again.

Secondly, as a staunch republican I can’t support any notion of reverence to the Royal Family. Maybe if they were renamed after Queen? The Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor perhaps would be more of a sight to see. Then again maybe other queens should be celebrated across the cultural spectrum? I’m thinking Queen Latifah, Queen of the South (to keep the Scots happy) and of course Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Let’s face it though, whatever their names it’s just 3 big boats slowly coming in, stopping for a bit and slowly going out again.

Maybe I’d go if there was some jeopardy to the whole thing. Couldn’t there be a Queens battle royal? They could have the 3 liners ramming into each other until there was only 1 left floating. Perhaps they could be hunted down by warships or submarines or try to negotiate a tough course of strategically placed mines? The whole thing could even be hosted by Grimmy or some such fella.

Finally, if you go down and stand on the coastline or quayside, you’ll be there standing, waiting for the big boats to slowly come in. It will probably be hours before you see anything dependent on the weather and the tides. When they do slowly come in and stop for a bit you might find yourself waving at the people on board. Nothing wrong with that you say except that those people on board, some of them maybe even waving back, are looking at you on the shoreline and thinking just one thing. “Look at them,” they say, “all those people waving at us as we slowly come in and stop for a bit. They’ll probably be still there waving when we slowly go out again. Take a good look at them waving at us, they’ll never be able to afford to stand here waving back!” That’s the big rub isn’t it really? Thousands upon thousands of people turning up to celebrate the super rich lording it over us all. Well not for me thanks. I can sit in the relative comfort of my own home, turn on the TV and watch the super rich lord it over me and when you truly stop to think about it…

It’s just 3 big boats, slowly coming in, stopping for a bit and slowly going out again.