My stupid Manchester United autograph hunt


By Dan Poole

Premiership football in the mid-Nineties was played upon hallowed turf. It was a time of glorious convergence, when TV money and foreign flair hadn’t yet saturated the English game with a tsunami of cynicism but, rather, added a subtle sheen to a sport still rooted in Bovril and bobbly pitches. Players’ shirts were still baggy, football boots were black and advertising hoardings were analogue. Players such as Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola and Juninho were rubbing shoulders with Darren Peacock, Neil Ruddock and Carlton Palmer; like pineapple and cheese on a stick, it was a clash of tastes but by God it was delicious.

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Donald Trump is not amused: the illustrations of Stanley Chow

Unless you have broom handles for legs, it’s become practically impossible to buy jeans in Britain. “Skinny” is now the nation’s regular fit, while “Regular”, well… you have to assume every pair has been dragged from the shelves of the high street and taken to the nearest incinerator. All of a sudden, everyone’s starting to look like Max Wall.

One location that’s stubbornly impervious to the enforced narrowing of fashion is Manchester. Here men, on the whole, still dress like they’re off to see Oasis at Maine Road. Perhaps it was an act of black magic conjured in the bowels of the Factory Records office one long night in 1989, but it’s like a spell has been cast on the city, meaning that the width of jeans will forever provide legs with much-needed space. It certainly pays to visit Manchester in the sales and stock up on wide-fitting denim.

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A nation divided: Frank Field MP on Brexit

Two weeks on from the referendum and the dust is far from settling. Some people are a few friends lighter while others are feverishly posting messages about loopholes that might prevent the UK’s break from the EU. Facebook, once home to throwaway banter and pictures of slap-up breakfasts, has transformed into a political shooting alley. Leave voters tread with extreme caution on social media or have stopped using sites altogether. Right now, there seems no end to it, although the ever-reliable Billy Bragg made a valuable point on his Facebook page earlier this week, telling his 273,000 followers: “Though it may be painful for the Remainers, democracy must prevail. The alternative is unthinkable.”

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Vinyl demand: Tim Burgess puts the needle on the record

Bloomsbury, London: the heart of British literature and not a shop selling vinyl records for, oof, at least half a mile. Tim Burgess, frontman of The Charlatans, is sitting in a stupendously sunlit room in the offices of Faber & Faber, publisher of his new tome Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul To San Francisco. Part paean to LPs and part autobiography, it features a cast of 54 contributors including Ian Rankin, Lauren Laverne, Andrew Weatherall, Bob Stanley and David Lynch, with each naming an album that deserves closer inspection.

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Sympathy for the DVLA: the private plates of Pimlico Plumbers

While too many plumbers create havoc for ordinary families with Barney Bodger pipework, spur-of-the-moment joints and wedged-in 4×2 – all nefariously hidden behind a bath panel – there are some, like Pimlico Plumbers, who take the job seriously and have clearly prospered as a result. Londoners will be familiar with the distinctive red, white and blue of Pimlico Plumbers vans but they’ll probably be more aware of the fleet’s private registrations, a creative toilet humour that pulls the chains of both young and old.

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Getting shirty: Historical Football Kits, the definitive archive

When a new Admiral England kit was launched in 1980, the one with red, white and blue panels on the shoulder, such was its popularity with English children that every junior school and comprehensive from Carlisle to Lizard could have adopted it as their school-team colours. Apologies to inhabitants of other UK countries but there was something about that England shirt that made the wearer feel, well, not a million dollars but a million pounds sterling. For many, a lifelong fascination with football kits started with that Admiral masterpiece.

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Jamming: a 1979 fanzine interview with The Fall

By Tony Fletcher

As surely befits The Fall’s longevity, my 1979 interview with Mark E Smith and Marc Riley seems more relevant – and certainly more prescient – than it did when first published back in Jamming! issue 9. In fact, it seems more relevant and prescient than almost any other interview I’ve ever conducted.

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Birds of Snowdonia

Illustrations Edwyn Collins  Words Lee Gale

In 2005, Edwyn Collins suffered two strokes, the result of brain haemorrhages caused by high blood pressure. To begin his rebuilding process, Edwyn picked up a pencil and pad and began drawing birds.

As a child, Edwyn was a keen twitcher and even reared an abandoned fledgling greenfinch in his Dundee bedroom, feeding it a watery mix of wild-bird food Swoop. The female greenfinch, named Tweety Pie, would start its sweet song at 5am, waking the household up in the process. Tweety Pie later made a nest in the garden and, if Edwyn left his bedroom window open, would call in.

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Is there a Mr Hodges in the house? [2000 interview with Mike Hodges, film director]

The man who made Get Carter in 1971 is not in the best of moods. Mike Hodges’ journey from Dorset to London has been dogged by train-company failures. Spur-of-the-moment timetable changes mean that Hodges’ nerves are rattled and as it’s 10.30am, it’s too early to go to the pub. If the man who brought Jack Carter to life is hacked off, we’d better be careful. We don’t want to be thrown out of the window of this Leicester Square hotel like Alf Roberts was at that Gateshead car park.

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