By John Lane
Aye, the following individual is never, ever to be classified as a “guilty pleasure,” understood? Yes, one could use the expression that he is an “acquired taste,” but goodness knows not all acquired tastes are meant to pass the taste test of everyone.
Robert Wyatt is an English creation, one that could’ve only been born of and thrived in England (albeit in a quiet, genteel way), as he has done professionally for over 40 years.
It wasn’t the Beatles; despite Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and select songs from the White Album, I could hardly tell they had accents. And it wasn’t David Bowie because he wasn’t even from Earth, never mind the UK. I should probably blame Julie Andrews, since it was surely my obsession with The Sound Of Music and Mary Poppins that started it.
By Matt Keeley
Perhaps the oddest thing about comedian and writer/director Chris Morris’s lack of popularity outside of the UK is that he’s peripherally involved in things that ended up being quite huge in the States.
By Emily Carney
Before alcoholism, various drugs, loose women, and cigarettes took their toll, Peter Cook was perhaps one of the most gorgeous, sought-after men of his generation (oh yeah, he was also exceedingly witty).
By Margaret Cross
Being a huge fan of Brit flicks, the BBC, Brit writing, and of course, Brit gangsters, I have been in the thrall of so-called “Cockney Rhyming Slang” for close to two decades now. I’ve been an avid student, doing my best to understand the riddle that is rhyming slang. Here, for you Popshifters, I break it down in the easiest way I am able. These are some clever Brits!
By James Thurston Davis
I first encountered XTC around 1982, probably their English Settlement album, probably in my friend Marc’s tiny bedroom with the Roger Dean posters on the wall and the cedar chest stuffed with vinyl. I like to think the first thing I remember about that album was Andy Partridge’s snarling vocals on “No Thugs in Our House,” or the aural explosion of “Jason and the Argonauts,” but what really struck me immediately was the overwhelming sense of Englishness that came over me the moment the needle dropped on “Runaways.”
By Jimmy Ether
To misappropriate one of my favorite quotes, writing about comedy is like dancing about architecture. It’s difficult to articulate what it is about something that really makes us laugh. Like music, humor touches us deep down at the core. It reaches into our baser instincts where fear, sexual desire, and the cravings for candy reside. On paper, a skit appears to be trite silliness. The analysis obscures the subversive nature of great comedy in which it fights to acknowledge the world and our lives as a ridiculous, nonsensical mess—and then laugh at it.
By Noreen Sobczyk
I’ve always had a tradition of becoming obsessed with something. Not obsessed in the peeping-around-in-someone’s-bushes way, nor by writing famous people letters, or boiling some guy’s bunny, but becoming deeply engrossed in one particular thing. Be it music, film, or a book, there’s always something that strikes me and becomes my most prized form of entertainment.
When VCRs were first released I would rent the same videos over and over, never tiring of them. One of the first movies I watched ad nauseum was The Who documentary, The Kids Are Alright. Something about the movie had me hooked, and I particularly enjoyed the early clips, fast forwarding through the fringed Woodstock period.
One word kept getting tossed about: Mods.
By Chelsea Spear
For a land-locked American knitter, London seems like a fairyland of the fiber arts. Enterprising crafters hold impromptu knitting circles at pubs, on the Tube, and even at special cinema matinées where theatre owners keep the lights on for them (a practice poo-pooh’d by Alison Goldfrapp in a recent issue of Bust). Waggish knit-bloggers post self-written patterns for unusual objects from slices of cake to hand grenades to (blush) anatomically correct genitalia. While the cost of a round-trip plane ticket to Old Blighty could keep one in cashmere for a year, many of England’s finest yarn manufacturers make their products available to crafty Yanks with an Anglophilic streak.