It is exactly a year to the day since I last posted anything in this series, which was supposed to be me picking 50 acts that I hated when I first heard them, but now rather like.
The idea was to post all 50 before my 50th birthday.
Later this year, I turn 53, which tells you all you need to know about how good I am at hitting self-set targets.
I’m prompted into this one by the news of the very sad death of Andy Fletcher, founding member of Depeche Mode.
Now, back in the early 1980s when they first emerged, Depeche Mode were the very antithesis of all that I loved: they played keyboards and nothing but electronica, I still, stupidly (and it took me a long time to shake this off) wanted “proper” music, by which I meant “songs with guitars on them”.
But I noticed them, how could you not? From the playful pop riff of Just Can’t Get Enough to the S&M overtones of Master & Servant, I knew they were there. But not for me.
At the time, I’d never heard a record so dark, so scathing. I remember poring over the lyrics printed on Smash Hits and being blown away that somebody would write about such a subject. Years later, it occurs to me that the first verse is She’s Leaving Home, rewritten as a suicide note.
But did I buy it? Nope.
The years progressed, and the band continued to release dark and moody electronica, such as this absolute beauty:
Still I resisted, until the Greatest Hits albums came out, a mix of wonderfully upbeat pop singles, becoming increasingly dark and menacing, which I finally succumbed to and admitted I needed some DMs in my life.
RIP Andy Fletcher. Sorry I didn’t buy your brilliant, ground-breaking records sooner.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to pop The Chain back into hibernation again.
I just wanted to thank you all, again, for the suggestions which have come flooding in this week.
Moreover, I didn’t want you to think that I was ignoring your suggestion (if you’ve made one) just because I haven’t responded or commented on what you have posted.
This is a deliberate decision on my part, and there are two reasons for it:
Like a professional comedian on Twitter (that’s where the analogy ends), I worry that I might use up the few jokes I think of to pop into the next edition of The Chain
As most of the replies come in during office hours, and as Kay sits right opposite me at work and is well aware of why I might be looking at my phone a lot on a Thursday, it’s impossible for me to respond as they come in without some questions being asked.
So, I will go through them all at the weekend, and will respond to any that I need a clarification on, any that I can’t trace or (and hopefully there won’t be any of these) any that I have to disqualify.
What I’m trying to say is that for the time being….
So the plan was this: every week, I’d post a round-up of the events from the week on the campaign trail, coupled with a scathing yet entirely impartial *ahem* review, and an appropriate song or two.
There are two flaws in that plan. Firstly, I was away last weekend, so I now have two weeks to catch up on.
I love Twitter, and some of you know and follow me on there, but there is a danger with that social media platform: because of the very nature of the beast, I find I’ve reacted to something or retweeted it there, long before I’ve written anything here.
So when it comes to time to write here, I’m frankly a little worried I may be accidentally using a joke or a point I’ve already read, and probably retweeted, on Twitter.
In other words, forgive me if I accidentally repeat something which I don’t credit to the original source. (In other words, I’m saying that all you are about to read is my take on the General Election, and if it anyway chimes with something on Twitter that I may or may not have read, that’s entirely coincidental.)
Where shall we start? Here: sometime in the last couple of weeks, Theresa May announced she would not take part in televised debates with the leaders of her opponents parties. The BBC and ITV announced that they would “empty chair” her, which means they’d have a chair for her to sit in, and when any question was asked, they would cut to the empty chair and the answer it wasn’t giving.
And they say the BBC is biased….
At this, many of us pricked up our ears, and rubbed our hands together.
Surely this is an open goal for Jeremy Corbyn, one even he can’t mess up? An opportunity to put his views and his vision out to the electorate, pretty much unchallenged.
And then he announced that if Theresa May wasn’t going to participate in the live TV debates, then neither was he.
Nice one, Jeremy. For why would you want to monopolise on such an opportunity? It’s almost like he doesn’t want to win…
And apart from that, nothing has happened in the past couple of weeks.
Ah yes. There was the Diane Abbott incident.
I quite like Diane. Of course, she ticks a lot of PC boxes.
Managed to regularly sit on a couch with Michael Portillo without punching him in the balls? Tick.
Absolute Liability with a microphone anywhere near her? Sadly, tick, tick, tick.
I’m not going to post the link here, as I’m sure you’ve already seen/heard it, but she did an utterly excruciating telephone interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari, where she discussed Labour’s plans to increase funding for the police. It’s fair to say, she made a right hash of the figures: the sound of her frantically flicking through her notes was more evident than any coherent message from Abbott.
Her explanation later was that the interview was her sixth of the day and she was tired.
That’s not really good enough, is it? For a start, if I’d done essentially the same interview, being asked the same questions, five times previously, I’d like to think that a) I’d have learnt the details before the first interview, and b) that having trotted the figures out five times already, they might have sunk in a bit by the time of the sixth interview.
The idea, of course, is to portray a picture of someone who is determined, resolute, and doesn’t waiver or change their mind.
So let’s not forget that this election is happening as a result of May changing her mind, and backtracking on previous pledges:
But then, she has a history of this, doesn’t she?
So, irrespective of whether you voted to remain or leave the EU last year, bear in mind that, if the Tories win the forthcoming election, then the negotiations will be led by someone who doesn’t believe we should be leaving at all.
And just think for a moment who she appointed into her cabinet. Foreign Secretary: Boris Johnson. I don’t have time to list all of the countries that Johnson has managed to offend, before or after the EU vote, but there are lots. And that’s before we even start on the amount of cities in the UK that he’s managed to piss off with his bumbling Eton toff routine.
But it’s okay, for David Davis is the minister charged with negotiating the Brexit deal, and he’s already admitted that there is no plan in place should the UK not get a deal which is favourable to leaving, so we all know how competent he is.
But, what he can do is get t-shirts printed with an exruciatingly bad joke emblazoned on them, and then persuade “curvaceous lovelies” to wear them:
But okay, fine. If you’re happy with Benny Hill negotiating the biggest and most important trade deal in the last 50 fifty years, then fill your boots:
Now. You know how we all scoffed at Donald Trump’s baseless, unfounded allegations that his presidential campaign had been wire-tapped by the Obama administration? The rantings of a deranged, parnoid loon (with something to cover up), right?
So this week, Theresa May went into full-on Trump mode.
Following a dinner with senior EU negotiating bods, May made a staement that there had been “European threats against Britain, deliberately timed to affect the election”
Whoa. Wait a minute, wait a minute. You mean, those people that we’ve told to fuck off have taken it badly, and want us to honour the agreement we previously signed off on?
And, unless I’m very much mistaken Mrs May, you called the election, not them.
And – hang on, I must be missing something here – since you didn’t want to Leave in the first place and clearly have all of the negotiating prowess of a potato in a sock with a face drawn on it, why would they want you to be replaced?
Oh wait – unless this was a deliberate ploy to make sure that all who voted to Leave last year turned out again for you in June? But that kind of scaremongering has no place in modern politics, does it?
It’s not strong and stable, it’s fucking deranged. She can’t even eat chips without looking like she’s from another realm. Seriously, it comes to something when Ed Miliband is able to call you out on how to eat in public:
And don’t even get me started on May’s response to a perfectly reasonable question about the NHS, about nurses, and their increased dependency on food banks:
That’s right, Theresa. There are many complex reasons why nurses might be going to food banks. I’ll list them for you:
That appears to be it.
But it’s okay, there’s always the European health workers (who you refuse to guarantee the safety of, post Brexit) to step in and take over.
Oh, and then there’s the small issue of the proposed increase in tax and National Insurance contributions which they tried to bring in under the last budget, before ditching it when (finally, after trying to defend and justify it for a few days, claiming it was our fault for misunderstanding everything, because we’re all THAT stupid) they had to accept it was in direct contradiction of their last manifesto pledge, and which May now refuses to confirm won’t happen should they be re-elected.
Look, I know there’s an obesity probem in the UK, I’m living proof of it, but surely the way to address that isn’t by making sure that the working (and a large chunk of the middle) classes can’t afford to eat?
So, anyway, let me just leave this here for you to think about:
And then there were the local elections on Thursday. I can’t pretend these went well for a cardigan-wearing leftie like me. There were Conservative gains, of course, many in traditionally Labour heartland. This cannot be considered to be encouraging. Areas of Wales, Scotland, and Birmingham, all went to the Tories.
Wales: I love you but you should hang your heads in shame that you’ve voted for the party that decimated the economic output of your community.
The only thing I can cling to here is the massive losses suffered by UKIP, who ended up with just one seat.
And why did UKIP only manage to secure one seat? From the results, it certainly isn’t the case that UKIP voters switched to Labour, is it?
So ask yourself this: if you’ve never voted UKIP before, because you recognise them as the racist fuckwits we know they are, then why would you vote for a political party which has – as Real Ale and fags raconteur, the man with a face you’d never get tired of punching, Nigel Farage acknowledged this week – absorbed their policies?
If you continue, or are considering, voting Tory in the forthcoming election, but think that UKIP are a bunch of whackos, then you need to take a fucking long look in the mirror, for you are now just UKIP under a different name.