Jul 26, 2011
In Christopher Brookmyre’s 1997 novel, Country of the Blind one Donald Lafferty is asked whether he knows the source of a government leak.
“I haven’t really had time to c-catch up on developments at this end of the arena. It’s not as if I’ve been sitting around listening to my favourite music, though I think a lot more people should.”
It was, as another character notes, a very curious remark. It takes investigative journalist Jack Parlabane — a boyhood friend of Lafferty — another 60 pages to work it out.
“Skids had a song called Arena. Donald loved it. We both did.”
So did I. In fact I loved and still love the whole LP, The Absolute Game. So I knew exactly what Parlabane knew; The Becster, having never been a Skids fan, was clueless until the song’s closing refrain was revealed a page later.
“The lyrics were among the most excruciatingly pompous, pretentious and downright stupid that Richard Jobson ever wrote — and believe me, that’s saying something,” Parlabane says and he’s not wrong.
The same is true for the rest of the LP, but with a pre-Big Country Stuart Adamson doing his best ever work, Jobson’s pomposity sounds almost poetic.
1980 is the strongest year yet in this song-from-each-year-of-my-life odyssey, with iTunes racking up 38 5-star ratings, this song included. It’s not my favourite song of the year, that would come from my all time favourite LP of all time, but never did gobbledygook sound so good.
The Skids :: Arena
After Parlabane plays the record and the message becomes clear, another character says that if that wasn’t what Lafferty meant, then it’s a “hell of a coincidence”.
“Yeah, either that or I’ve picked the wrong song and someone called Albert Tatlock is getting away with murder,” Parlabane replies.
“What?,” says Nicole.
“Never mind, Skids joke.”
Even if you hated Arena — and I can quite understand why you would — you’ll love this.
The Skids: TV Stars