Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Whistling: top 5 songs

September 14, 2016

I learnt to whistle over the summer, and accomplishment of which I’m much prouder than it really merits.

I don’t mean whistling a tune.  I’ve been able to do that since I was very little.  (My Gran would say, “Oh, it’s Whistling Rufus again!” which I assumed to be some performer but I’ve just looked it up and it’s the name of a song.)

No, I mean whistling through my fingers: the loud shriek used by everyone, it seems, but me. Over the years I had tried and tried but could only summon a pathetic rasp of air.

Then my son learnt to do it and I gave it another go – to no avail.  “No, dad,” he said, “Put your fingers like this,” and he showed me.  “Shove them further in your mouth.”

The result was instant!  I could do it.  I laughed with delight and did it again and again until everyone told me to shut up, including my son. They didn’t realise I had nearly fifty years of whistling to catch up on.

As for whistling tunes, well I’ve always loved a song with whistling in it.  Seriously, who doesn’t?  There are more than you might think.

Rolling Stone Magazine has produce a list of the fifteen best whistling songs of all time except it’s rubbish and doesn’t include the best whistling song ever (see below) so I’ve decided to make my own top 5.

5.  Lazy Song by Bruno Mars

There’s not all that much whistling in this, really -only three notes.  But, the whistling bit  was added for the single release after the album track was recorded, so there is a version without it.  It sounds completely wrong.

4  Bridge On The River Kwai Theme

There are loads of versions of this, but this is the full whistling one.


3. Magic Moments by Perry Como

There are crisper recordings of this song on YouTube, but this is the only live version that I could find.


2.  Jealous Guy by John Lennon

You’ve got to wait a bit for the whistling in this one.  It comes about halfway through, which makes me think he was stuck for a middle eight, so just whistled the main melody instead.  Works a treat!

  1.  I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman by Whistling Jack Smith

The finest whistling record ever, if you ask me, and it comes with some added trivia.  “Whistling Jack Smith” was in fact a performer called John O’Neill, who recorded it for a set fee and received no royalties.  It’s not even him on the video.  That’s an actor called Coby Well who was hired for Top Of The Pops.  John O’Neill also did the whistling bit in the theme for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Give this a few seconds…

October 9, 2015

…and when the penny drops, you’ll LOL.  Proper LOL as well, not what LOL usually means which is “I smiled inside a bit”.

It’s funny all the way through as well.

PS I have been practising “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a piano solo for, ooh, twenty years now.  I can do it with the music in front of me, but where’s the fun in that?  It’s not actually all that difficult, though the guitar solo towards the end is fiddly on the piano (probably even harder on the guitar, but it’s Brian May so it’s probably a piece of cake for him).  It’s remembering all the different chords and tricky bits that’s hard.

It’s six minutes long, don’t be harsh.

Geordie Haka

October 5, 2015

Apologies if I am late to the party and you’ve already seen this…

There are some great Geordie expressions included in it, my personal favourite being “geet fat knacka” which my brother and I used to call each other.  (Who am I kidding with the “used to”?)

Incidentally, for some reason this inserted video has now been deleted three times.  I have no idea why.  If it doesn’t play, just go to Youtube and search for “Geordie Haka”.

And according to my sister (who wrote a short piece in the Guardian about it yonks ago) the “Wheese keys are these keys” bit is/was used as a jibe against Sunderland supporters, apparently mocking their slightly different pronunciation.  Tsk.  Mackems, eh?

(By the way – shameless and loosely-connected plug alert – There is quite a bit of Geordie in my new book “Time Travelling With A Hamster” (Harper Collins, Spring 2016) which is set in the north-east, but none of it as broad as this.  I wanted to give a flavour of the accent, rather than go all Irvine Welsh and transcribe a whole dialect.)

If you want to, you can pre-order it at Amazon.  Just saying.


The internet has eaten itself

September 9, 2015

There was a time, before internet shopping took off, before Ebay, before YouTube, before FaceBook became cool and then uncool, when the main purpose of the internet seemed to be the dissemination of intermittently amusing short films and animations.  (Well, that and porn, obviously.  Apparently.)


I even had a job compiling hundreds of these clips into two series of a television programme called “Totally Viral” with an “amusing” commentary by the glorious Donald Sinden.

There was a vaguely anarchic, stick-it-to-the-man quality about many of them, as the process of making and disseminating filmed daftness suddenly bypassed restrictions of budget, TV commissioners, taste and – often – humour itself.  You just couldn’t tell which of these things would “go viral” and become hugely popular.  People would send them to one another in emails and newsletters…remember?

And then YouTube happened. providing a “respectable” showcase.

And now, in 2015, this happened.

A huge corporation, Delta Airlines, has made a safety video containing loads of internet memes (as they became known).  It’s sort of clever without being very funny.  It’s way too long.  And for some reason, it’s ever so slightly sad, like watching an old man on a Segway.