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MacGowan’s gone

And as his obit makes clear, no one thought he’d last this long.

But here’s the big surprise:

Shane MacGowan, singer and songwriter, was born on December 25, 1957. He died of viral encephalitis on November 30, 2023, aged 65

The booze and the drugs won’t have helpe4d, obviously. But they didn’t get him – an infectious disease did, one that could get any one of us, any day.

As to Fairytale, yes, we’re all bored shitless of it, obviously. But it is an absolute masterpiece of a song.

24 thoughts on “MacGowan’s gone”

  1. You’re a scumbag
    You’re a maggot
    You’re a cheap lousy faggot.
    Happy Christmas, your arse
    I pray God it’s our last.

  2. I use it for my alarm. It starts off nice and gently so no harsh, rude awakening, but should the first few bars not wake me, it gets louder until I have to respond.

  3. OT but from another of the dissolute & anti-social, alas still amongst the quick.

    From Jug Ears: King warns Cop28 that we are ‘becoming immune’ to broken climate records

    Since climate records being broken are a statistical certainty, immune to them is what any sensible person should be. (Did I say sensible? When was the current head of the House of Windsor ever sensible? Did someone mention the word Tampax?)
    It’s trends are important, not records. And current long term trends are showing little to get excited about.
    To paraphrase the Bard “Will someone rid us of this meddlesome monarch? “

  4. The lucky one came in at 10 to 1.
    (I hope Shane is chuckling at all the gambling know nothings who sing eighteen to one on the covers)

  5. Kirsty would be a similar age today -0 a couple of years younger I think.

    The Pogues were a right laugh though.

  6. Dennis, Gold Medalist In Unnecessary Snark

    Shane McGowan was when septics realized wogs didn’t understand the concept of dentistry.

  7. To the tune of Fairytale of New York

    Shane MacGowan was the same age as me……
    And apart from a few months, Richard Murphee…

  8. I always thought that the lucky one came in eighteen to one as well. I’m curious as to why a simple misheard lyric makes me a know nothing.

  9. I’m curious as to why a simple misheard lyric makes me a know nothing.

    Macaroni makes the Mamba
    Listen to the radio
    Don’t you remember?
    We built this city.
    We built this city on sausage rolls.

  10. Steve

    I don’t think Hamas or the partisans of Net Zero will Allow us the pleasures of a sausage roll – or even a sausage unless it’s from behind by a Hamas torturer.

    They really are the most ghastly people …

  11. Had to interfere with the whole Fairytale thing this morning.

    If you’re going to properly mourn mcGowan you do it with silly string and “Fiesta” at volume 11…

  12. Stonyground: It doesn’t make you a know-nothing, it’s just that 18/1 is an odd SP for a horse. Anyone who follows racing would automatically hear “ten to one”.

    The technical bit: in the old days, double-figure odds were generally expressed in terms of the stake needed to win £100. So, between 10/1 and 20/1, you got 100/9, 100/8, 100/7 and 100/6. Then, about 50 years ago, the off-course bookmakers demanded that the starting-price reporters returned these horses at 11/1. 12/1, 14/1 and 16/1 instead. Their excuse was that this would make settling a bet of, say, £5 a lot simpler. It was just pure coincidence that these new, simplified priced were slightly smaller than the old ones, with a consequent boost to bookmaker profits.

    You’ll notice that there is no need for a gap between 16/1 (or 100 to 6) and 20/1 (100 to 5). Which is why 18/1 would be an odd price for a horse to be returned at. The only time you would maybe see it is in a a very big betting ring at a major meeting, where a horse might be on offer at 20s at one end, yet still be being laid to decent money at 16s at the other. The starting price returner might have split the difference and returned the horse at 18s. That’s how Kribensis came to be returned at 95/40 after winning the 1990 Champion Hurdle: at the off, layers on the rails were fielding bets of £9,000 to £4,000, but if you’d elbowed your way through the crowds to the smaller, boards bookmakers, there were plenty at Cheltenham that day who would have laid you a £2,500 to £1,000. So, the saintly and incorruptible chief SP returner at Cheltenham that afternoon, the late John “Wormwood” Stubbs, returned the horse at 95/40, even though that was a price that not one single bookmaker on the track was offering. And all around the country thousands of betting shop settlers cursed his name as they wrestled with calculating punters’ winnings.

    Sidenote: if you’re at the track, and you see a bookmaker offering any price from 11/2 upwards, always ask for the “fractions” or the “bits”: don’t ask for £20 at 11/2, ask for £100 to £18; if it’s 6s, ask for £100 to £16, and so on. Most of them will lay you the bigger price.

    This also explains why prices go 20/1, 25/1, 33/1, 50/1, 66/1 and 100/1: they’re the equivalent of £1,000 to £50, £1,000 to £40, £1,000 to £30, £1,000 to £20, £1,000 to £15 and £1,000 to £10. Just a bit smaller, so always ask for the fractions if you want to back a rag at these prices.

  13. @Paul …. fascinating… shame nobody learns rational maths anymore… even my poor brain can manage 100/18 vs 5:1 but 95/40 is harsh… thinking of it as 475/200 gets slightly easier but still….

    If asked to compare ratios where the bases don’t have a common factor (eg 3/16 compared to 1/4 is easy) I’ll be honest I struggle…. we were robbed by decimalisation!

  14. Line Noise: So many times I’ve stood in front of bookmakers, and had a racegoer stand beside me asking: “What’s bigger? 6/4 or 11/8?” or something similar.

    There was a time when I used to ask the question back: “If you had £8 on the horse, how much would you prefer to win: £12 at 6/4 or £11 at 11/8?” To which the reply would be “Yeah, but what’s bigger, 6/4 or 11/8?” In the end, I’d just tell them 11/8.

    I know it sounds mean and penny-pinching to insist that you should ask an on-course bookmaker for £100 to £18 rather than offer him a score at the 11/2 on his board, but honestly, that is the difference between ending up in front in the long run and not.

    Nearly all the action nowadays takes place off-course and online, sadly, at decimal prices (6.5 rather than 11/2, for instance). But in the years up to 2000, when I was betting against men’s opinions at the track, getting £1,000 to £80 about a 12/1 winner was what kept me in front. That £40 used to pay the exes, and a few quid on top. All right, you’ve got to do the work to notice that the 12/1 shot does have some sort of chance of winning the race, but the price you get about it is what makes it a profitable bet, not the fact that it happened to win.

    Remember, you’re never trying to find the winner of the race; you’re looking for a price bigger than what you think is the chance of that horse winning.

    I know bugger all about Warren Buffet’s methods, but I’m confident that he always bought for a tick or two below the market price, or sold for a tick or two above. Do that regularly enough for long enough, and you’ll find yourself in front. Settle for the same price which everyone else is playing at, and you’ll struggle, however well-informed you are.

  15. Thank you Paul, Somerset.
    The @ ‘at’ ‘ate’ and ‘eight’, so confusing.
    But Shane McGowan was singing about a winning bet on the nags where he accepted the Starting Price.

    Interest in horse racing off course is way down now compared to when that song was written – fair play to the lottery and the football who have innovated and taken much of that market but i still miss when the racing results would get on the ITV Saturday sports results and you could see if it was a good day for the favourites or being typically British you felt pleased if the outsiders had done well.

  16. If you want to do your bit to keep one of the few areas of freedom, fun and risk-taking alive, please sign the petition against the Gambling Commission’s proposed affordability checks for punters. This has been triggered by a White Paper outlining how anyone losing a grand in a day or £2,000 over three months must submit evidence of employment and income to their betting operator. This will include P60s, bank statements and evidence of outgoings at a minimum. Only income from employment will be counted – any savings and assets will be excluded from what you can “afford”.

    Smaller losses will trigger affordability checks based on job title and postcode.

    The Gambling Commission is an out-of-control quango hijacked by prohibitionists. We’ve got over 100,000 signatures already, but more will help.


  17. I dreamt we were standing
    By the banks of the Thames
    Where the cold grey waters ripple
    In the misty morning light
    Held a match to your cigarette
    Watched the smoke curl in the mist
    Your eyes, blue as the ocean between us
    Smiling at me

  18. The phenomenon of a misheard lyric is called a Mondegreen. My personal favourite is the blokes in Abba singing ‘Jackie Chan’ as the backing in the chorus of Take a Chance On me.

  19. Fascinating stuff, Paul.

    Though I do wonder what triggered the change fifty years ago – decimalisation? TV hitting critical mass? Grandstand? Some combination?

  20. Probably bookmakers noting the way decimilization had enabled retailers to increased the price of something from 7d to 3p overnight, and thinking, we’ll have a piece of that action: reduce the starting price from 100/8 (12.5 to 1) to 12/1.

    Same excuse as decimilization too: simplify things for the consumer, even if, as with decimilization, not one consumer had ever complained about it.

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