The Election Section V2.7

Right, let me make it clear; it’s less than a week to go until the General Election, so there’s probably going to be a few of these posts over the next few days. So, if you’re bored with reading my thoughts on what has happened in the run-up to June 8th, you’re more than welcome to come back next week when a miserable normality will have been restored.

Still here? Good.

There was something that I wanted to mention on the back of Wednesday’s “Leader’s Debate”, and that’s this: the not entirely unexpected bleatings from the right about BBC bias.

Much of this has been prompted by the studio audience’s reaction to some of the things (Conservative) Amber Rudd said, compared to things said by her political opponents on the night.

Nowhere is this better summed up than this screenshot someone posted on Twitter; a snatch of one of Rudd’s answers (about the absence of any costings in the Tory manifesto), complete with subtitles:

Ruddy Brill

You don’t need me to tell you why that raised the biggest laugh of the night.

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The Wedding Present – Don’t Laugh

The response, predictably caused outrage amongst the right-wingers. Here’s Nicholas Soames on Twitter:

Soames 2The first thing to say about that is that Soames really hasn’t got the hang of hashtags, has he? Make it snappy, Nicholas, that’s the way to get it trending.

And then, something rare in this Election campaign, rarer even than Theresa May being seen engaging with the public: Boris Johnson was let out of his cage.

Old Shagger Bojo claimed that the audience was “the most left-wing audience I’ve ever seen”. Boris, using words we all understand there, for a change. Not a whiff of mug-wumps or wiff-waff.

See, the thing is, this is a standard trick both of the main parties churn out whenever things don’t really go their way on a BBC programme. The BBC, you see, has to be impartial – as do all of the broadcasters when the purdah rules of an election apply (which, by the way, is why you won’t find any BBC radio station playing Captian Ska’s “Liar Liar”: it hasn’t been banned, but if they are going to play it, then they’d have to be balanced and play a song extolling the virtues of the Conservatives. And can you think of one of those? Me neither.)

I, though, have no such obligation, so here’s the song in question:

Where was I? Ah yes, the biased BBC.

I addressed this on Twitter a good while ago. See, since it’s publicly funded by way of the TV Licence, the BBC is supposed to be impartial all the time, so when prominent voices from both sides of the political spectrum howl in indignation about the BBC being biased (and the left do it too: see their upset about perceived bias of Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, or Nick Robinson), then it seems to me that’s evidence of the BBC doing it’s job: having a go at all sides, not siding with anyone.

If you watched any of the Andrew Neill interviews, you can’t honestly say that he gave anyone a particularly easy ride, now can you? He took down each and every leader who stumbled into his cross-hairs (or should that be his cross hair…?)

Truth be told, the audience at the Leaders’ Debate weren’t biased or loaded in the left wing’s favour at all: they were representative of the country’s current political make-up. The largest share of voters present were Conservatives and Labour, whilst the smaller parties had a proportionally lower number of supporters in the audience, which was also weighted to have a 50:50 split of Remain and Leave voters.

See, the audience had been assembled not by BBC staff but by Comres, a polling company. And here’s what their founder, Andrew Hawkins had to say:

“If you have a panel of people – one from the governing party, one from what’s regarded as a right-wing party [that’s UKIP, by the way] and five from broadly left-wing parties – and you give those speakers equal airtime, it means you’re giving five slots of airtime to the left-wing parties for every two slots to the not-so-left-wing parties…Therefore it’s inevitable that the cheering is going to be skewed in one direction.”

So, Boris, Soamesy: if the audience seemed anti-Tory, it’s for the fairly good reason that  a lot of people just don’t like the Tories very much.

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Electric Light Orchestra – Don’t Bring Me Down

See, here’s your marker. Remember when this happened?

Nigel Farage there, taking the unprecedented step of criticising the audience for being too left wing in the middle of a debate prior to one of the many elections he failed to win a seat in.

Which leads me nicely on to one of the other big stories of the week: that Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” to the FBI in the investigation into links between US President Donald Trump and Russia, and with his association with WikiLeaks founder and Hide & Seek Champion (2012 – Present), Julian Assange.

Really, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, could it? The come-uppance of the oily, frog-faced hypocrite (no, really, I like him!) is long overdue. Maybe it’s about time.

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The Lemonheads – It’s About Time

(Just to be clear: I don’t like him.)

(I wish I could think of a better way to describe Farage than Tory MP Anna Soubry managed – credit where credit’s due – in 2013 when she said: “I always think he looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it.”)

Of course, Farage denies any wrong-doing. In a recent interview with Die Zeit, Farage, having been seen leaving the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange has lived for years, was asked about his relationship with the hiding alleged sexual predator. Farage declared that he had “never received a penny from Russia”, and said he met Assange for “journalistic reasons”.

Which is interesting, since that wasn’t his first answer. Door-stopped by BuzzFeed as he left the embassy, Farage said he “couldn’t remember” what he had been doing in the building.

I’m of the age where, every now and then, I forget why I’ve gone into a room. But I think that even I, were I to be exiting an Embassy, would be able to remember why I was in there.

Asked specifically if he had gone to the Knightsbridge building to meet with Assange, Farage said: “I never discuss where I go or who I see.”

Course you don’t, Nigel, course you don’t.

I’ll just leave this here:

Farage

When pressed on his past meetings with Russian officials, Farage initially denied having had any. Oh, apart from that time he met some Russians (the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, to be precise), in 2013. That, he (finally) admitted.

If that and his meeting with Assange was all above board, why not just say so when asked? S’all rather odd, isn’t it?

*coughs* selective memory *coughs*

Fear of litigation leaves me saying no more. Except, I’m not saying Farage is a conniving liar, but pretty soon we’ll have conclusive proof one way or another.

Oh and this: we all laugh at Trump, because, well, he’s a fucking idiot. We all rub our hands together with glee at the prospect of the FBI uncovering some links between Trump and Russia. And now, it seems, there’s the possibility of Farage being involved too.

That’s Farage, formally of UKIP, who, as I’ve mentioned before, have had many of their policies adopted by the Conservatives. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusion there.

More soon.

They’ll Have to Try Harder Than That

Like many of you, I was stunned, shocked and saddened by the events in Manchester on Monday night.

I have wanted to post something all week, but haven’t been able to think of anything to say which didn’t sound glib or inappropriate.

I mean, what can you say after such an horrific event?

Of course, all of our thoughts are with the families and friends of those whose lives were so needlessly taken. Of course, we stand together with the people of Manchester. Of course, we won’t be beaten, broken or bowed by this or anything else those murderers care to throw at us. If they seriously think that blowing up children is going to win them any friends, or lead us to submit, then they really don’t know us at all.

For in the wake of the terror attack, stories emerged which were truly awe-inspiring: reports of Muslim – that’s real Muslims – and Sikh taxi drivers ferrying people home free of charge; of locals inviting the lost into their homes whilst the melee calmed down; of the homeless tending to the injured until the emergency services arrived.

People of Manchester: I salute you.

So, like Donald Trump after forcing his way to the front of a NATO photo opportunity, we puff out chests, hold our heads up, and get on with our lives just the same as we did before.

Which means, I need to post a tune. And a bloody uplifting one at that.

Fortuitously, this weekend sees that event that every man, woman and child in the UK loves: a bank holiday weekend.

And, remarkably, the weather here has been gorgeous all week and seems set to remain that way all weekend. (See what I mean about not wishing to seem glib?)

So here’s this; oft-posted here before, since it’s not just one of my favourite summer records but one of my favourite records, full stop.

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Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky

Listen to that and remember that everything’s going to be okay.

Although, I have probably just jinxed the weather.

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version (That Summer Feeling #15 – #16)

I would imagine many of you would have been surprised that today’s song didn’t feature in last night summer-themed Friday Night Music Club.

There was a reason for that. I was holding it back. Yes, further evidence of me actually planning what I’m going to write instead of, as it may often seem, simply sitting in front of my laptop, starting to type and see what crap I can get away with.

This is, unquestionably, not just one my favourite summer songs ever, but one of my favourite songs ever. As testimony: after hours at Glastonbury in 2010, Heledd and I wound up in The Silent Disco. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept: all attendees are provided with headphones. The venue has 2 DJs playing simultaneously. You, the headphone-wearing attendee, can flick between channels/DJs and dance and sing-a-long (there is a lot of singing-a-long, so the pretence of it being silent is something of a misnomer) to your hearts content.

It so transpired that at one point, Hel and I had tuned into different DJs, when I felt an urgent tapping on my shoulder. It was Hel, who had worked out from the pace of my amazing dance moves (shush!), and absence of singing, that I was not listening to the same tune as her, a tune she knew I would not want to miss. Which probably means over the years I have bored her senseless about how much I love it.

This one:

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Electric Light Orchestra – Mr Blue Sky

I know of only one band to ever have attempted to recreate the majesty of that song, and to be fair, it’s from a Peel Session, a bold choice and they don’t try that hard to completely recreate the majesty of that song.

They do, however, manage to make quite a good, albeit indie-schmindie, fist of it:

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The Delgados – Mr Blue Sky

Actually, I’ve not listened to their version for a while. S’rather fine.

Oh, and bonus points to them, of course, for being named after Roger Delgado, the actor who originally played The Master in Dr Who (Jon Pertwee era).

More soon.

Apropos of Nothing

As always, not Apropos of Nothing at all, but sparked by something much cheerier than my last couple of posts.

This week it was announced that the Legends Slot at Glastonbury this year is to filled by ELO.

This would be great news if I had a ticket, but never mind, let’s not get all gloomy again.

And without wishing to be all “I Told You So” about it (by which I mean I intend to be all “I Told You So” about it) back in 2014, I tweeted this (please ignore the glorious absence of any retweets or likes, such is my life):

See, a year late, but I’ve still got it!

So in celebration of all things Jeff, here’s something bloody glorious:

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ELO – Sweet Talking Woman

I can think of no finer way to celebrate my 150th post here. Actually I probably could if I really tried…..

Anyway, bring on the Glasto ticket resale, I say.

More soon.

 

A Yankee visits

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Well, hello you! This is becoming quite the habit. Two posts in the space of (just over) a week…who’d have thunk it.??

Anyway, this is where things get a little tricky, as some records came into my life now which I neither bought nor requested, but they were records which I clutched to my bosom, consumed, and then nearly 40 years later decided to share with you, you lucky people.

I have family in the flag-kissing, gun-toting US of A, and I lived there when I was a kid. I don’t really remember anything about it, I was too young, but I’ve seen photos and slides of me trying to elope with Mickey Mouse when we visited Disneyworld, and of me with my head stuck in some railings at a local restaurant we apparently visited regularly called “The Big Banjo”, a joint where men in bowler hats, waist coats, stripy trousers and exotic moustaches twanged away in the background while Yankees stuffed their fat faces with treble quarter pounders followed by waffles and maple syrup and ice cream. As an appetiser.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, I don’t have any specific memory of these events, but I’ve seen photographs and slides which seem to illustrate both of these events happened, and they have become my inherited memories. I certainly wouldn’t want to rule them out as never having happened. I mean, trying to run off with Mickey Mouse and getting my head stuck in railings both kinda sound like the sort of things I’d do…

But I digress. I have family in America, and every now and then when I was growing up they would come over and visit, and on one such occasion my cousin Terri bought a bunch of 7″ singles with her.

Now, I don’t particularly recall when exactly it was that this visit was, but I do remember that when she came over I was allowed to stay up and watch The Sweeney with her. Could’ve been a repeat, no idea. But I remember her being annoyed that at the end, Carter and Regan had failed to catch the criminals, which strikes me now as being a thoroughly British way of ending a cop show. Anyway doubtless at some point, someone said this (isn’t that Howard from Howard’s Way getting busted? Nice to see he changed his ways and went into the reputable world of yachting for his next venture)

So, to the records. I can look at these now and see that they added to my growing hunger for different sounding stuff. Sure, I had the Quo, and The Police, and Shaky, but these added to my palate.

It also occurs to me that three of these singles came out in 1979, the other in 1982. I can’t rule out the possibility that Terri hated the 1979 ones and was just looking for an opportunity to pass them off on someone….well, someone who was more inclined to run off with Mickey Mouse or get his head stuck in railings.

a) “Don’t Bring Me Down” – ELO Now these days, I bloody love a bit of ELO. Mr Blue Sky is a go-to classic feel good record in my book, and I have vague memories of it being on Top of the Pops, a video with some piss-poor special effects which I found amazing at the time and which I can’t seem to source now, so have this instead: Mr Blue Sky Kudos to the perms. Columbia was missing a midfield general the day this was shot.

Buy it here: Bruce!

Actually, whilst I think about it, and since I never actually bought any of their records so they won’t crop up here again, have this, another formative Top Of The Pops memory. Seriously, was nobody else weirded out by Ron Mael’s and his moustache?? (Jesus, that was 1974?? Then, I must confess it must be a later record of there’s that I remember seeing on Top of the Pops. At least, that’s what I’ll be telling my shrink)

b) The Devil Went Down To Georgia – The Charlie Daniels Band I think this one hits the nerve as I was coerced into learning the violin when I was a kid, and the thought of being Johnny and defeating the Devil in a Deilverance/Duelling Banjos scenario (not that I’d seen the film at that point, mind) definitely appealed.

Buy it here: Fiddly Fiddly

c) Jack and Diane – John “Cougar” Mellencamp I have three things to say about this record. 1) It is an incredible description of that age when you’re not quite adult, but too old to consider yourself a kid anymore 2) Diane sucking on a chilli dog was a formative image, and 3) The term “cougar” has really changed over the years, hasn’t it?

Buy it here: Sucking on Chilli Dog

d) My Sharona – The Knack l would hope this needs no introduction or explanation. One of the greatest singles ever made, in my book (please don’t ask me to list my Top 10 favourites, I’m not Nick Hornby, much as I clearly want to be. Arsenal, see? No thanks.) But imagine my delight when this record got sampled/ripped off/call it what you will on this. (By the way, my apologies if having clicked that link you have to endure a car advert urging you to “Go Fun Yourself”. I in no way endorse this product. But did you see what they did there? Fun? Sounds a bit like Fuck? Oh you waggish advertising scamps!)

Buy it here: Wouldn’t Get Away With a Record Sleeve Like That These Days

More surprisingly soon.