Monday, May 23, 2016

On the referendum

If you are thinking of voting to leave the EU, I would be interested to know your reasons why.

The Leave campaign has characterised the Remain campaign as being 'Project Fear' - although Leave were the ones to release early on a list of fifty serious crimes that happened to be committed by foreigners. This was to presumably illustrate the perceived loss of border control. And to hit the ground running with dog whistling. Although is it really a dog whistle when everyone can hear it? A dog megaphone?

So there are apparently hundreds, nay thousands, nay even millions of foreigners in Britain - Leave would have you think they all walked in, unquestioned. But consider the last time you came back to the UK after a holiday abroad. Just before you trudged to the luggage carousel, you would have shown your passport to either the local police or other officer. That is definitely a Britain in control of her borders.

And on holidays, where would you like to go in the golden days of a Britain that has left the EU? Europe itself? Yes, there'll still be flights, but how much is it going to cost? You do not need a visa today to travel - a Britain outside the EU could be punitively charged, be it individually or on top of air travel fees. Don't think it could happen? Speak to anyone who ventured abroad before the 1960s.

Say you have now managed to get yourself to France, Spain or elsewhere. Why not call home and let them know you've arrived - or better still post a picture on Facebook? Just whip out your mobile... and pay excessively once more. The EU has capped roaming charges. 'But my network provider doesn't charge me for roaming!' you protest. Free of those rules, have you ever known capitalism do something for your benefit?

I have forgotten that it is quite silly of me to assume you actually have any time off for a holiday. The EU has driven a whole raft of rights for workers. These will not magically be retained in the event of Leave. Unbound by the EU, the Gove-rnment (because that's who it will be, or heaven forbid Bullshitting Boris Johnson) will be able to repeal various acts of Parliament not so much burning red tape as burning your right to go to work without being exploited. You may argue that the EU should have no say over how many hours a week you can work, but I don't want to be on your coach as you career off the M62 flyover at Goole during your third day without sleep.

Sorry, what was that you were saying about sovereignty? The EU may make recommendations, but individual countries have to enact legislation for these. Remember the rounds of referenda that held up various treaties? Ireland in particular had a penchant for voting No a few times - and coincidentally abortion still remains illegal here, despite pressure from other countries and what the anti-abortionists would spread during each such referendum. Does a campaign of misleading fearful propoganda sound familiar? (I know Remain are hardly covering themselves in glory here either, but this nonsense sells papers.)

The most pernicious argument propounded by Leave is that the EU is undemocratic. That would be the EU Parliament, voted on by about one-fifth of the population every five years. It used to be true that it was unelected - but this has not been the case since 1979. And who has benefited from the public reluctance to embrace European democracy? UKIP, whose primary argument is that Brussels is undemocratic. Brussels has actually helped fund their cynicism - thanks to creative use of expenses by the part-time UKIP MEPs.

Yes, the EU has its flaws, but surely it is better to be in and have a chance to steer the ship to calmer waters than be outside on a liferaft without a say. Or something about tents and pissing. Interestingly, Leave cannot get their post-EU Utopia agreed - some wish to be like Norway: access to the market, still has to pay contributions, has no say on setting the rules. Others wish to be like Switzerland: secret, offshore havens, don't like tax... hang on. Or Canada: currently on fire, and climate change probably means the Scottish Highlands will soon be a year-round tinderbox.

Finally, if you still cannot make up your mind, think about Rupert. Rupert is a four-times married Australian, scion of a publisher father, cruelly forced to adopt US citizenship so he could spend more time with his money. Rupert is so generous, Dennis Potter named his cancer tumour after him. This quote is from Anthony Hilton:

I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. 'That’s easy,' he replied. 'When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.'

Now think about what has done more damage to the UK since the late 1960s: the EU or News International. Who's telling you that the UK is full? (It isn't - fly on a plane from Dublin to London, it's nothing but green fields.) Who's telling you that migrants are only here on the take? Who's telling you that South Yorkshire Police are a fine, upstanding police force who wouldn't collude to smear innocent victims of their incompetence?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dig Your Own Hole

I have started to make use of Spotify's offline feature, to give me something to listen to on the ride to and from work.

This week I downloaded The Chemical Brothers' "Dig Your Own Hole" - a favourite of mine at university. Listening to it today generated these random thoughts:

The album is almost 20 years old. How? *whimpers at aging*

The trouble with music today is that you can hear the words. Even the two tracks with actual singers ("Setting Sun", "Where Do I Begin") dispense with the vocals being entirely audible. Noel Gallagher sounds like he's trapped in a well with an erratic motorbike engine.

Noel would do well to make something else as one-tenth as adventurous as "Setting Sun". The next thing he did with Oasis was acknowledged cocaine blizzard "Be Here Now". Did this one track annihilate whatever creativity Oasis had? (And in any case, "Whatever" was written by Neil Innes, supreme Beatles pasticher.)

"Setting Sun" is ideal for cycling fast.

Beth Orton. Wonderful voice. *sigh*

It's an absolute racket in places, but what a glorious racket. Although the whistle on the title track can get lost.

"The Private Psychedelic Reel" is one of the best album closers.

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 20, 2015 at 02:04AM

What's this DO Note recipe do then? And why on earth am I not going to sleep?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Question Time

There was a rumble on last night's Question Time, as populist right wing character - and QT regular - Nigel Farage, was a guest alongside popular comedian/activist/florid purveyor of lexicon Russell Brand.

The main thing anyone seemingly will remember from the set-to is Brand denouncing Farage as a "pound shop Enoch Powell." On the face of it, some zinger. Until you think about UKIP more closely.

The main financial backers of UKIP are lapsed Tories, worshippers at the font of Thatcher, who you suspect would be in the "Enoch was right" camp.

The target audience of UKIP, being bombarded with propaganda that all Britain's ills are due to foreigners - either politicians, bureaucrats or immigrants - are, due to the current economic mess, worsened by ideological austerity, people can only afford the pound shop, if they can afford anything at all. UKIP pretend that they are the answer to their problems, not bothering to say that their solution is basically the Tory party with absolutely no compassion.

Forty years of relentless lies and distortion, coupled with politicians too cowardly to confront these lies, and Britain ends up with a political party leader who could have been the antagonist in a George Formby film? Turned out shite again.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott @ The Academy

I blogged here a while ago about my first gig, The Beautiful South at Leeds Town & Country Club in 1994.

Last night was a reunion of sorts, twenty years on and 200 miles west, in a different country.

Since that first gig, I've seen Paul Heaton numerous times, either with The Beautiful South or solo. Various small and large venues across the UK and Ireland, football stadia, fields in Somerset, even a café in Manhattan.

But this promised something different, albeit familiar. No longer solo, Jacqui Abbott would be back on stage alongside him. And they had a fantastic new album to show off, which they did from the start.

The crashing opening of "Some Dancing To Do" brought the band on stage, followed by Paul and Jacqui. And then Jacqui sang and I was suddenly years younger. One of the best female voices of recent pop has lost nothing in it's absence. I once read a review about Eddi Reader saying she could sing the telephone directory and it would still sound fantastic - the same applies to Jacqui.

But there was Heaton's back catalogue to be plundered, and each song brought a flood of memories.

"Old Red Eyes Is Back" triggered the memory of being tossed around the floor at that first gig like flotsam in a human sea.

I had forgotten just how good "Prettiest Eyes" was - I don't recall ever hearing it live. (Maybe one in a big shed somewhere?) It also resonated with me much more than it did in my single days.

"Rotterdam" - I was still word perfect after all these years. Naturally "Irish stout" got a huge cheer. (This also brought to mind the single's B-side "Pollard". Do look for it online.)

"Dream A Little Dream" (yes, not a Heaton original) - Christ, I spent seven quid of my student loan on an import CD of that!

"I'll Sail This Ship Alone" was my highlight of "Welcome To The Beautiful South" - and here it was being sung in front of me.

And from further back in time, gems from The Housemartins' brief burst of glory - including my first sight of P.D.Heaton on noisy guitar for a splendid "Me And The Farmer".

As usual, Paul had plenty of entertainment between songs: the dichotomy of Tayto crisps in the thirty two counties, a tale of a Battle of the Bands competition that involved Gary Glitter, an art competition...

One of the best gigs I've been to in ages. New songs fitting perfectly alongside old songs - some of which I'd never heard live or never thought I'd hear again.

All in all, brilliant.

And welcome back Jacqui! (The blokes stood behind me were certainly happy to see you.)

Set list:
Some Dancing To Do
Old Red Eyes Is Back
Costa Del Sombre
Prettiest Eyes
Moulding Of A Fool
We're Not Deep
The Snowman
When It Was Ours
Dream A Little Dream
Don't Marry Her
The Right In Me
Good As Gold
Happy Hour
I'll Sail This Ship Alone
Me And The Farmer
Loving Arms
Caravan Of Love