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English Eccentricity

Well, it has been a year or more since I regularly wrote a blog. I wrote about pop music history, about my music project, and now band Village Green Machine, and about vintage British comedy especially that emanating from the 1970s. It rather petered out as I felt it was establishing a following independant from my music. Which feels wrong, to drop it for that reason. But I did, however I would like to write a blog again. Maybe one maybe more, as I thought I would write on the subject of eccentricity, a subject which surely can be explored beyond the bounds of a single blog.
 
 
Eccentricity. I am as I write wearing a boating blazer and flared purple corduorys, which looks eccentric I suppose. What concerns me is the apparent demise of the eccentric, and, well, overwhelmed by all sorts of strange manifestations it seems eccentricity of the old kind may be doomed, if one does not make something of an effort to keep it alive. In a world governed by conformity, particularly to fashion, (in terms of thinking, lifestyle, and supposed appropriate outlook and general values) one marvels at the idiosyncratic choices made by those who determine a place entirely their own, amidst the miasma of predictability. Some choose their own identity amidst the overwhelming oppression of today's prevailing paradigm.
 
Obviously I wouldn't dream of using a blog to blatantly promote the music of Village Green Machine, (fantastic retro 60s style complimentary downloads and LP available at http://villagegreenmachine.com/ ) but there is a (Monkees influenced) song on the next LP called Mister, which tells brother Keith's story. He cakes his face 6 times a day in moisturiser, which uncannily evaporates over a period of a few minutes, so he believes into the pores of his skin. I have witnessed this ritual. He also always publicly extinguishes his cigarette in his drink, the ashes floating to the bottom of the glass, which he says is good for his bowels. More recently, he has needed a colostomy bag. (I didn't intend that as a joke but talk about irony).
 
If only all this weren't true, but it is. Keith regularly visits Symphony Hall, where fortunately the bag did not explode this time at the Welsh male voice choir concert, where he had a front row seat. He also has a collection of "Coshes", ie lead weapons,  which I tremblingly admit were made for him by the Fewtrels, (Birmingham England's answer to London gangland rulers of the mid 60's The Krays), and the hard men who saw the forementioned villains off Brummie turf in the 60s. Keith, when out in his wheelchair he has been known to carry very believable artificial guns, in holsters, which were inclined to fall out. We had to put a stop to this, before police marksmen did.
 
When seeking the hand in marriage of one young lady, he got down on his knees. To the young lady's father. I had to explain to him that the custom was to do this to the prospective bride. When a taxi driver, he was astonished one morning to look out of the window of his flat, to see his taxi underneath his bedroom window. Having drunken a great many Drambuies, he had driven over the landscaped gardens to gain more immediate access to his flat.
 
If you find all this extraordinary, you really haven't heard the half of it, and I am afraid I am going to have to tell the truth about all sorts of people's eccentricities, after all they are qualifications, marks of personal distinction in an increasingly homogenised world, where conservative codes of behaviour masquerade as funky liberal freedom- pah.
 
And so, these tales of personal oddity will be more in the spirit of a tribute to their perpetrators than an exercise in mockery. These days an alternative conformity, every bit as restrictive and censorious as old fashioned conservatism, defines the age. One cannot step out of line because of the expectations of others, without enduring censure, rejection and ostracisation. So I take my hat off and doff my cap to those who are themselves, and who colour the world by their indifference to the petty expectations of those trapped in the spirit of our age. Some of us are free, and intend to continue being so. More later ...x

Mark Lemon

Village Green Machine
 


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