heard on the wire

It’s gross this loss of jaded sanity

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

Audio MP3

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

Audio MP3

Tagged: ,

Comments are closed.



heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.


Hear it on the wire, by receiving email notifications of new posts.


All the music on this site is posted to encourage listeners to enjoy it and then rush out and buy as many songs by the artist as they possibly can. Any artist, record label boss, publisher or other rightsholder who doesn't want their works featured here only needs to get in touch and the offending file(s) will be removed at the earliest opportunity.