New Balls

Classic piece on Wimbledon 1999 republished with new introduction. “It’s the only international competition from which you won’t be expelled if traces of grass are found in your urine, though you might well be if traces of your urine are found in the grass. Wimbledon is now the last oasis of green in the blaring orange clay of the Grand Slam: Britain’s chaps aren’t very good on clay, except when it comes to having feet of them” (1,550 words)

Nigel vs The Lunatic Mainstream

Funny, admiring, informative profile of Nigel Farage and the UK Independence Party, who want Britain out of the European Union. “UKIP is keeping certain important, indeed existential questions in play, and it’s not inconceivable that Farage, who regards himself as a member of ‘the Tory family’, could yet engineer a reverse takeover of whatever post-Cameron husk remains half a decade down the road” (3,000 words)

Light My Fire

Ray Manzarek is dead, but Light My Fire lives on. The funny thing is, it lives on mainly in the repertoire of easy-listening singers, though it started life as a psychedelic shouter, and is notably short of lyrics. Memorable cover versions from Shirley Bassey, Jose Feliciano, Julie London. Which is less surprising, when you find that the chord changes are basically the same as those of My Favourite Things, from The Sound Of Music (2,650 words)

Song Of The Week: ‘Waterloo’

Unmoved by Saturday’s songs in Malmö? Then travel back almost 30 years to the peak of Swedish greatness. “After winning Eurovision in 1974 Abba bestrode the world like a colossus — if you can imagine any self-respecting colossus going out in public in velveteen knickerbockers, silver boots, pearl kimono and tricorn hat. And that was just the boys”. Trivia bonus: “Abba was also the name of Sweden’s largest tuna-canning company” (2,120 words)

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