It Was 28 Years Ago Today…

…that The Stone Roses legendary Spike Island gig happened.

I wasn’t there.

I didn’t see the Roses until they toured The Second Coming album, by which time I’d heard Ian Brown’s live vocals and, frankly, I was reluctant to go. Had it not been for The Bluetones supporting them (at the Newport Centre, in case you’re interested) then I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

But stone the crows, when the Roses came on, they performed the first half of their beautiful debut album (“..Adored” through to “Waterfall”), and Brown was spot on.

So, in honour of that day, here’s a little something, one of those often over-looked singles from that difficult six-year between albums period:

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The Stone Roses – One Love

I’ve always suspected that lyrically they tried to rely on the ethos of this a little too much when they reformed a few years ago. Hence “All For One” (and, erm, what was that other thing they released…? Nope, me neither.) being absolutely terrible.

More soon.

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Freedom of Choice

Quite a heavy subject today, but not one that I could avoid commenting on…..you’ve been warned.

Many years ago, when I was at college and standing for election for the position of Social Secretary, I had to take part in a hustings.

Hustings, for those unfamiliar with the term, is kind of like a press conference, where the candidates face questions from the floor, so that voters have the opportunity to grill them on any topic that tickled their fancy. Think Question Time but with less questions about Brexit.

I’d anticipated, therefore, questions of an order such as “What sort of bands to you want to book?”, “What do you plan to do to increase inclusivity at the Student Union’s social events?” and, since I was in Wales, “What concessions can you offer the Rugby team?”

I dunno, what do you want? A designated area where you can shave each others eyebrows off and drink your own piss?

The questions were not of a “Who’s your favourite band?” nature.

I remember at the time thinking it was a bit of a waste of time, since the role I was standing for wasn’t exactly one where my political position had any relevance. That said, it did give voters the chance to see who the candidates were, and afterwards at least one person came up to me and told me they didn’t realise it was me that was standing, they had assumed it was a different Jez, who they went on to describe as being “a bit of a twat”.

One of the questions we were asked has always haunted me, or rather my answer to it has, not because I regret the words I spoke, but because I always felt that I sounded like a posh toff when delivering them.

The question in question had been about abortion and, if I recall correctly, what we thought men’s role in the decision to terminate should be.

My answer had been that it very much depended on the relationship between the people involved in making the decision (I mumbled something about hoping there would be a dialogue between mother and father, assuming the father was still on the scene which, in cases involving, say, rape, seemed unlikely), but that ultimately it was the woman’s decision to make, as it was her body in which the foetus would grow and it would be her who gave birth and who, most likely, would have to raise the child.

Looking back, whilst the manner in which I projected myself in answering that may have given me unwarranted cause for concern, the actual answer I gave, as a twenty-year old with no real experience or knowledge of such matters, remains, I think, fundamentally correct.

I’ve often wondered why we were asked this question at the hustings, and it only occurred to me over the weekend that the chap who was running against me was Irish, and now I can’t help but wonder if it was asked by a supporter of mine in an effort to trip him up.

No matter; you’ll probably be aware that last week there was a vote in Ireland to see if there was a consensus to change their somewhat archaic laws on abortion.

The question – and forgive me for applauding the specific nature of a question, which as far as I can see leaves no room for further dispute about what had been asked – was this:

Do you approve of the proposal to amend the constitution? The amended text would read: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”

Prior to this vote, the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution had effectively prohibited abortion in all bar exceptional circumstances.

If you followed the build up to the vote on Twitter (or elsewhere) you can’t have been anything but moved by some of the stories that came out – brave women refusing to be cowed into shame for what had happened to them, the choices they made or were unable to make, and the consequences of those choices – and which helped lead the vote to the outcome which was announced yesterday. A landslide victory for the “Yes” vote.

You’ve no idea how wonderful it is to finally have a vote go the way you want it to.

The “No” vote relied on some frankly, archaic views, chief amongst them being that by making abortions more easily available, women would use them glibly, as a form of contraception.

This is a view which I find utterly horrifying, patronising and misogynistic. I’ve known two women who have had terminations, and I’ve witnessed first hand the psychological trauma they went through, both before and after the procedure itself was done. I know that it was not a decision that either person took lightly. I know that it’s a decision that they continue to carry with them to this day. The idea that they made the decision to terminate because they decided not to use birth control at the conception is just plain offensive. Anyone who thinks they, or anyone woman, took the decision lightly, is a fucking idiot.

But I also know that it was a decision that was for them and them alone to make. It’s not a decision that I would ever wish to be in a position to have to make. Us men have it easy, thankfully.

It’s a decision which to this day I applaud, love and admire them for having the courage to make, in the same was as I applaud, love and admire those who had the courage to speak of their experiences in the build up to last week’s vote.

What the “No” voters failed to grasp is that for those people who remain of the opinion that terminations are morally wrong, they don’t have to have one. But for the majority of women who don’t think this, they will now have the power to control what happens to their own bodies. At last.

Ireland well done, you’ve caught up with the 20 year old me.

At the risk of trivialising this momentous occasion, here’s a song which seems appropriate:

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Devo – Freedom of Choice

More soon.

Thunder, Lightning

I was woken at around 3am today by a flasher in my bedroom.

Further investigation revealed that the flashing thing was some serious lightning going on outside.

This was some proper horror film stuff, where it would be accompanied by a soundtrack designed to heighten the feeling of dread.

Instead, I, like many other people who witness thunder, lightning, or indeed a way of loving somebody which can be construed as “frightening” (subtext: back off buddy!), found I had this tune bouncing off the insides of my brain.

Many of you will know the Eddie Floyd version, or perhaps the Amii Stewart one, but if I have to choose, give me this version every time:

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Archie Bell & The Drells – Knock On Wood

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This morning, another tune from that album by The Carter Family I posted about just after Christmas.

I could write more, but you really don’t need me to tell you how immense and influential they were, do you?

Here’s the title track from the record in question:

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The Carter Family – Travellin’ Minstrel Band

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I’m quite a happy drunk, I think.

Generally, when I get a bit squiffy, at some point or other I will probably sing, in that way that drunks do when they suddenly believe they’re much more talented than they actually are.

Luckily for most people, and unluckily for others (such as my neighbours, or former flatmates), I generally reserve such behaviour from when I’m at home. I’m not a show-off.

About twenty years ago,  I house-shared with a chap I knew from college and his girlfriend. She was the same as me, and Friday and/or Saturday nights would generally end up with us turning up the stereo and caterwauling along to a few tunes.

We both had a song which when we played it meant it was the end of the night, apart from the other’s song which would immediately follow. Mine was Costello’s version of Good Year for the Roses, which came on my iPod earlier today, reminding me of those nights, and of her song.

Which was this:

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The Velvet Underground – Candy Says

More soon.

I’m Not Interested in Anything

It’s a big weekend in the UK.

Firstly, it’s the FA Cup Final, Manchester United v Chelsea.

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Yawn. I won’t be watching.

And yes, I am bitter, before you ask.

I was at Wembley with my old mate Richie last weekend for Tottenham’s last “home” game of the season, against former Champions Leicester. It was a quiet, uneventful game:

Final Score

We have contacts at the club (hello, and thank you Ray!) so at half time we were ushered into the Members and Sponsors Reception Room; a room which punters pay a lot of money to be in at the same time as some ex-players. I needed to go to the Gents, and found myself stood at the urinal between Pat Jennings and Ricky Villa. I’m still not sure if I actually “went” or not – certainly there was stage-fright on my part (but probably not theirs). I suspect that I just nerd-perspired all of the excess liquid that needed to be expunged from my body.

After the match Richie and I were allowed back into the same Reception Room, for Man of the Match and various sponsor presentations. We – having been told it was perfectly okay to do so – spent a happy couple of hours getting photos of us with Spurs legends. As a result, I now have some photos I’ll cherish to the grave: me (and Richie) with Robbie Keane, Pat Jennings, Gary Mabbutt (he’s diabetic, you know) and Ricky Villa, who,  when we were posing for the photo, I must have told about eight times  that he’s the reason I support Spurs (or, more specifically, because of that goal in the 1981 FA Cup Replay against some up and coming whipper-snappers called Manchester City).

What do you mean, what goal? This one:

Anyway, there were a few other ex-players (legends, if you will) that we didn’t approach for photos (Graham Roberts, Micky Hazard, Alan Mullary, Cliff Jones), one that Richie got a selfie with that I was totally gutted on missing out on (Dimitar Berbatov, who looked cool as flip), one who was at the stadium but didn’t come into the reception area we were in or we would have (Gazza, obviously), and the one who got away, the one that we both really wanted a photo of/with, who we asked and who said he’d be back in a moment, but didn’t: Ossie Ardiles. Maybe next time.

I can guarantee you that the FA Cup Final today will have nowhere near as many goals as we saw last weekend. My prediction – with apologies to London Lee if he’s reading this – is 2-1 to United.

I should stress at this point that I have never correctly predicted a score and if you decide to place a bet based on that last statement that’s entirely up to you. Nowt to do with me, guv.

Here’s a record that sums up how I feel about the game today:

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Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care

The other big event of the weekend here in the UK is the trifling matter of a Royal Wedding.

You’ll probably have guessed from previous posts that I’m no fan of the Royals (the family, not the cigarette brand):

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Lorde – Royals

It’s another major event that I won’t be watching.

Throughout the week, the media has been obsessed with whether or not Meghan Markle’s father would be at the wedding and whether he would escort her down the aisle and give her away.

Dropping my feminist dungarees and putting aside my thoughts on what “giving the bride away” says about the patriarchal society we live in and the concept of ownership of women within it, with the news that her father will not be in attendance, I made the following observation at work earlier today:

It seems perfectly fair that Meghan’s father isn’t there. After all, Harry’s father hasn’t been invited either.

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I think I upset somebody at work with this throwaway quip, for I was informed that a) somebody on Diana’s side of the family has red hair (I’m not sure how that adds anything to the discussion), and b) these days Harry has developed many of the same gestures and mannerisms of Charles, so he must be his son. I decided to let this slide, rather than point out that by that logic Mike Yarwood is his son too.

A tune, I think:

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Elastica – Never Here

I’m sort of DJ’ing (I’ll explain the “sort of” later, if I can be bothered) at a friend’s 40th birthday tonight, so that’ll do for now.

More soon.