The Prince Is Dead

TV was a bit crap in the UK yesterday, wasn’t it?

Bruce Springsteen – 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

In the past, when a momentous occasion took place, a standard question as to where you were when you heard the news would circulate.

“Where were you when you heard that Kennedy had been assassinated?” they would ask of Vox-Poppers, or “Where were you when the moon landings happened?”. Folks would trip over themselves to try and outdo each other as to what flamboyant act they were engaged in when they heard the news, a bit like the competing Yorkshiremen in that old Monty Python sketch:

(And yes, before any of you get in touch, I’m perfectly aware that the sketch actually pre-dates Monty Python, having first been performed on At Last The 1948 Show.)

This is a question which I think we will see being asked less and less as time goes on, for the answer will almost always be: I was at home, same place as I’ve been for the last XX years.

For the record, I was at home, same place as I’ve been for the last 12 months, when I heard the news. I’d been in what we still feel obliged to refer to as a “virtual meeting” all morning which had, as is the norm, over-ran by an hour or so, and so I was already in a bit of a bad mood as this meant I had missed the TV show which has become my lunchtime staple viewing – Bargain Hunt – and I was pretty sure that meant that it would have inevitably been hosted on this occasion by my favourite presenter (and I suspect also the favourite of many other housebound gentlemen), the lovely posh-but-twinkly Christina Trevillian (*sighs*), as it almost always is when I manage to miss most/all of it (as opposed to the occasions when I catch it from the start and it’s hosted – always – by Anita bloody Manning, who, as with Julia Roberts and Keifer Sutherland, I simply cannot stand to watch. She reminds me of a particularly annoying Little Britain character:)

Anyway. My lunch break was at such a late hour that I realised it would actually correlate with my favourite afternoon TV quiz show, Impossible, which – and you read it here first – I’m pretty sure will one day replace Pointless in the prime, just before the news slot.

But no. There it was: all channels showing what appeared to be the longest news broadcast since Wills and Kate (but not Harry and Meghan, oh no) last dropped a sprog, with everything else for the rest of the day cancelled, unless you wanted to venture onto some of the more unpleasant reality/fly-on-the-wall TV shows, like Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!, which you can tell just from the name is a Channel 5 show. It follows bailiffs High Court Enforcement Officers as they go about their jolly day, catching up with people who haven’t been able to pay a debt, or evicting people from rented properties because the landlord has decided to put the rent up and they can no longer afford to live there.

I was stopped once by a shop assistant in my local supermarket and asked if I was one of said Court Enforcement Officers from the show; I said I wasn’t and had never seen the programme, but caught a bit of it one Sunday afternoon when there was nothing else on. Let’s just say I was not flattered.

But anyway, I digress. Prince Phillip, the Duke Of Edinburgh died yesterday, and we’re all supposed to be in mourning.

Although, the Prince’s favourite show, Babestation, aired as usual, only with the models wearing black armbands as a tribute, I noted when I checked for…er…research purposes.

And of course, whilst it’s very sad that a family has lost a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, it’s news which I think many of us had been expecting for a goodly while now. He was 99 years old, he’d just had an extended stay in hospital after some kind of heart surgery, and, let’s face it, he didn’t look well when he was taken home. This was not exactly a surprise.

Not that I think that knowing someone is likely to pass makes it any easier to deal with their actual passing. I know from my own recent, brutal, experience that no matter how prepared, how steeled you might think you are, when the news comes through it still hits you like a juggernaut and you’re still shattered. There is no escape from grief.

Now, I’m no Royalist, but were we to get a day off work for the funeral then I will happily dress in black and weep into a hanky for as long as it takes. But I imagine they’ll do what they did when Diana was murdered died: pop the funeral on a weekend so the national economy isn’t affected, but the Union Jack and florist industries flourish.

I was living in Cardiff back in 1997, when Diana died, still working in Boots The Chemist selling tights, tampons and panty-liners to the capital’s finest. The funeral was on a Saturday, and we were given the morning off to watch the ceremony and pay our respects. I didn’t watch it, I enjoyed a couple of extra hours in bed.

I actually had the opportunity to meet Diana several years earlier. At the time I was at college, and serving on the Student Union Executive, in my utterly non-political role as Social Secretary. Because my role was non-political, I gained a reputation for fence-sitting or abstaining when it came to votes of a political nature. As far as I saw it, I had not been elected on the basis of any political views I may or may not have held, I was elected on the basis of my ability to organise a good night out for the students. So, I didn’t think it right that my political views should have any bearing on matters.

And then one day the news came in: Diana was going to be visiting the college, to open the recently completed Princess of Wales Sports Centre. Truly the famous quote from Field of Dreams applies here: If you build it, they will come. The Executive were all invited and expected to attend and meet the Princess. And, much to my mother’s horror when I told her many years later, I declined. And I was the only one from the entire, predominantly left-wing, anti-monarchy Student Union Executive to do so. I gained more political traction from that act, as a man who stood by his principles, than I ever wanted, expected, or indeed anything else I did again. Suddenly, I was a hero. For the rest of their time in position, my Executive colleagues had to answer awkward questions about why they went when I didn’t, were they really in their jobs to work for the students, or to promote themselves and further their own careers? It was quite delicious for a while.

Anyway: on the day of Diana’s funeral, my route to work took me through the Roath and Cathays areas of Cardiff where I lived, traditionally quite a studenty area, and as this was late August/early September, there weren’t too many of those youngsters around. In fact, I remember thinking how quiet it was as I walked to work, and I assumed this was because everyone was at home, watching the TV coverage.

My route took me across the usually busy City Road, and then down an alleyway adjacent to a working men’s club. And I swear, no word of a lie, as I walked down that alleyway, I heard this record booming from an open window of the club:

Kool & The Gang – Celebration

A nation in mourning, my arse.

There will, of course, be a funeral. It will, of course, be paid for by you and I, the British taxpayer. It’s not a two-way deal, of course. Don’t expect Her Maj to break open the massive whiskey bottle containing one and two pence shrapnel so she can chip in for your funeral, because that simply won’t happen.

But who should organise it? Well, I think the Royal Family should take a leaf out of the British Government’s Covid-19 Handbook, and see if there are any posh toffs who could do it for them. A cursory look over Dido Harding’s CV shows she has absolutely no experience whatsoever of arranging funerals, so she seems ideally placed to do it, for just several billion pounds over the amount one could realistically expect to be spent on such a showcase event.

Needless to say, there is never a good time for any family to go through the pain and suffering that a bereavement inevitably brings. But it occurred to me that this one could have come at a worse time for the Windsors. For a start, Prince Andrew must be feeling strangely conflicted right now, sad that his father has died, but at the same time relieved there will be an extended period now where nobody accuses him of being a paedophile. I wonder if, since he was withdrawn from public appearances after his disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis, he’ll be allowed to attend the funeral?

But also, you’ll recall the recent Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan, where there was an allegation that a member of the royal family made racist comments about the likely skin colour of the couple’s offspring. From a PR point of view, Philip’s death presents an opportunity to the very least put some more distance between those allegations and any response – today’s newspapers are, after all, tomorrow’s fish’n’chips wrapping. But it also affords the Royals the chance to, for want of a better term, throw somebody under the bus, for many people felt the racist comment could probably be attributed to Philip, solely on the basis that, well, he had form for saying things which could be described as inappropriate at best.

As I mentioned when I wrote about the interview in a previous post, I don’t buy that it was Philip; sure he has a history of gaffes but – and I say this not to condone any of his comments, but to offer an explanation of them – generally when he said something wrong it was intended in jest, or as an “ice-breaker” intended to put a member of the public at rest. That doesn’t make it right, that makes it an old man getting it wrong and saying something inappropriate, and I think we all know someone like that.

The comment mentioned in the Oprah interview came from a much more savage, hurtful place, and my money remains where it did when I wrote that last piece.

*Pops tongue back in cheek*

But there is something racist, something with a whiff of cancel culture about the timing of Prince Philip’s death which will inevitably lead some of the more gullible to seek some kind of conspiracy. And it is this: forever more, when you type “Prince died April” into Google (other search engines are available), you will be faced with a screen or three full of references to Philip. You will need to scroll down quite some way to find any mention of The Greatest Prince, who also died in April – April 21st 2016, to be precise.

This Prince:

Prince & The Revolution – I Would Die 4 U

Equilibrium restored.

*****

Since I drew a comparison with the death of Diana earlier, I can’t resist posting this bit of comedy genius from Stewart Lee:

*****

To sum up: of course I feel empathy for the Royal Family as they mourn the loss of a beloved family member. But do you know who I empathise with more? The South Pacific tribe on the tiny island of Tanna in the Vanuatu archipelago, who saw Prince Philip as a living god. Who should they follow now?

I have a suggestion:

Faithless – God Is a DJ

In completely unrelated news, my latest Friday Night Music Club mix remains available to stream and download over at Soundcloud.

More soon.

Rant

I had hoped I’d last slightly longer than the second weekend of the year without having a rant, but events this week haven’t exactly worked out that way.

Let’s start with the events in America this week. I don’t think there can be many of us who weren’t shocked at the scenes from Washington DC, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an effort to overthrow the legitimate result of the Presidential election in November, as it was being verified.

Shocked, yes, but surprised? Honestly, not really. This has been building up since before the election. You’ll doubtless recall this exchange in one of the Presidential debates, when Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, specifically The Proud Boys. This was his response:

No criticism of them, just “Stand back and stand by.”

Post-election, when he wasn’t playing golf, attempting to get the election result overturned by the Courts (and having each of the 60 attempts thrown out on the grounds that no evidence had been submitted to support his claims), or watching Rudy Giuliani’s paint-job run at a particularly hot press conference (presumably the heat coming from a nearby sex shop), he was sending out further dog-whistles via his now-suspended Twitter account:

Twitter was a fascinating place to be on Wednesday/Thursday, not only watching the whole thing as it happened, not for the righteous outrage and indignation that bubbled and boiled, but for the concerted effort from many to identify those who had participated in the storming of the buildings and to pass that information on to the law enforcement agencies (presumably not the same ones who assisted the mob with access to the building, that is).

At the same time, many right-wingers tried to claim the attack was totally spontaneous and not pre-planned and that Trump had nothing to do with it. Oh yeh? Then how comes they’d printed up their own merchandise?

And that’s not even the cheap, unofficial shite you usually find spread out on the pavements when you leave a gig (ah…gigs…remember them?). No, that is your bona fide, 100% authentic mail-order MAGA merch, right there.

And this one even turned up with what, in the hands of your average honest-as-the- day-is-long electrician is merely a bunch of cable ties, but in this scenario can only have been brought for one purpose: to restrain and tether people:

Spontaneous, my arse.

Luckily, identifying many of them did not prove too arduous a task since, for as one would perhaps expect from such a baying mob, many of them wunt too cleverest.

If I was running a course on how to start a revolution, then Day 1 Lesson 1 of Revolutionary School would go something like this:

1. Keep your identity secret when trying to over-throw the government, at least until you have gained power.

But no. For a start, as devout Trump-followers, and thus by definition the hard-of-thinking, most of them were also Covid-deniers, and so refused to wear face masks.

If that wasn’t dumb enough, many decided to take pictures of themselves in various poses within the Capitol Building, and then post the snaps on their own social media, which were of course, open to the public to view.

And have a look at this one man tribute to the film Deliverance:

This one is so smart that he’s wearing his work lanyard. Needless to say, his now former employers were none too impressed:

It would appear that this knuckle-dragger was part of The Proud Boys, the group that Trump told to “Stand back and stand by.” Here’s a group shot of some of the leading lights taken on the day:

I mean, if I’d paid good money to see a Village People tribute act, and this is what waltzed out on stage, I think I might suggest storming the parapets too. Just saying.

Incidentally, is it just me or doesn’t the name The Proud Boys sound just a little bit….camp? Like a dance troupe of buff but exceedingly gay male strippers, dripping in baby oil? No? Just me then.

And then there’s this chap, who provided perhaps one of the most famous images from the day:

Now I don’t know about you, but I think that Robbie Savage should be free to do whatever he likes with his down-time. In fact, anything that keeps him away from “commentating” or football punditry in general is to be encouraged and is absolutely fine by me.

He may have less than two weeks to go until he has to begrudgingly hand over power to Biden, but there has to be consequences to Trump for his part in all of this. Hopefully he’ll end up wearing a boiler suit the same colour as his skin, but I can see a scenario where he gets off scot-free, and it’s one floated by Television’s Richard Osman on The Late Leg a few weeks ago. And it runs like this: Vice President Mike Pence relieves Trump of his duties for the final stage of his presidency, and in that time issues a pardon to him, in the same way as we have seen Trump issue pardons to all of his imprisoned cohorts over the past few weeks.

Thankfully, Pence – presumably with one eye on the next election – does appear to be distancing himself from Trump over the past couple of days, so maybe I’m being a little pessimistic.

What’s absolutely stark here is the difference between Trump’s handling of the BLM protests – call in the National Guard and the armed forces, shoot them – and his refusal to do the same when his buddies were doing the same when democracy itself was under threat. Hmm. I wonder white that might be….

Anyway, time for a tune, and I’ll start off by making the same joke as I did when I last posted this tune back in 2017: I wish it had the letters “Im” at the start of the song title, and then this would be perfect:

But it doesn’t, so it’s not.

See, the problem with most of the songs I have about uprisings or revolutions is this: they’re generally performed from the perspective of those rising up, with whom we, the listener, have empathy. So, not especially appropriate to post now.

And then I thought of this, a record more angry than any other, which builds and builds into a furious explosion about the antics when in power of Romanian leader Nicolae Ceau»ôescu. I’m not going to draw too many parallels, but….this is magnificent in it’s fury and outraged anger, which should, frankly, be our default position right now:

*****

What all of this does bring into question is the matter of freedom of speech, and the platforms afforded to those who invoke it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that – finally – various social media providers, such as Twitter, Facebook and their ilk have decided to ban Trump, The Proud Boys, QAnon and many others from their platforms in the wake of this week’s events.

However, it happened far too late. This should have been done years ago, in which case we may not have even had Trump as President. But the revenue streams brought to those providers were too great to resist, and so these people have been allowed a place to spew their bile in the name of balance.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with the BBC. The problem the BBC has is that, publicly funded body as it is, it is obliged to appear impartial. So for every view point that they wish to give some airtime to, they have to provide an equivalent amount of airtime to somebody who wishes to present a counter argument.

It’s the reason why, say, during a by-election, they may focus on the main parties, but then have to list all of the other candidates from other parties, standing in the same constituency.

The problem is that where one position is sound, knowledgeable and appropriately given a platform, but where the opposite position is half-baked and usually wrong, both voices have to be allowed to be heard, no matter how ill-informed or – and I hate to use this term, but it has entered the common vernacular – Fake News it may be.

(NB: as a general rule of thumb, when somebody uses the phrase “Fake News” as an argument against something they disagree with, you can immediately discount them from the conversation, because they are clearly an idiot. It’s like when online arguments liken someone’s stance to Hitler.)

This topic reared its ugly head this week when YouTube removed from its platform all of the content from Talk Radio, on the grounds that many of the clips were promoting Covid as a hoax, or anti-lockdown/mask propaganda. The BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight, invited voices from either side of the fence on to the show to discuss the topic. This is how it went:

Twitter, as you would expect, was ablaze after that was broadcast. Many of those in my liberal bubble were bemoaning that Young had been given a platform at all, whilst you only have to read the comments on YouTube under that clip to see that many thought Young came out the better in that exchange, even though it was proven in that clip that his own position had changed from one previously expressed.

Here’s what I think: I don’t like or agree with what the likes of Young, Hartley-Brewer, Burchill and (God help us) Hopkins say, but if you refuse them the platform to talk their horse-shit, then this will only serve to feed the bottom-feeders, who simply seem incapable of rational thought and blindly seek out conspiracy theories.

Moreover, it adds fuel to the fire for those who claim they have been “cancelled”.

If “cancelled” isn’t the new word of the year according to the Oxford English Dictionary, then I’ll buy a hat and eat it*. It means ‘to be ignored’, or, more specifically, ‘to be prevented from airing your views’.

So the way forward is surely to allow these dunderheads one shot to present their argument and whatever evidence they have to support it. And then, to meticulously dissect everything they say so that their position is exposed as flawed. You then no longer have to invite them on to your show, or give them column inches, because their views have been discredited. End of story.

“We’ve listened to you once. You said nothing of any substance. We’re not listening to you again. Good bye”.

Take Suzanne Moore. I can’t profess that I followed her story all that closely, but I gather she is a former Guardian journalist, who was sacked quit her job because her views on trans matters did not chime with those of her employers.

The reason she came to my attention was because she was suddenly appeared everywhere, complaining that she had been “cancelled”.

Which she hadn’t been, because if she had, then I’d never have heard of her.

What had actually happened was that one platform listened, published, gave voice to her views, decided they thought she was talking utter codswallop, and decided not to be associated with her anymore.

And that’s what The Mail Online is there for: to hoover up all of the dislodged, jilted rhetoric, and publish it all in one place where we all know that everything that appears on its pages is bullshit, and that anyone who ever reads it or comments on it can be safely ignored.

I had a similar conversation with somebody at work recently. We get on very well, and often enjoy a good laugh and a conversation with each other. But in one conversation towards the end of last year, Trump’s name came up. I can’t remember precisely how, or why, the orange coloured one made an appearance, but he did and I made a disparaging comment about him. My colleague chastised me:

“Oi!”, he said (he literally did, I didn’t think anyone outside of The Beano said “Oi!” anymore). “Don’t go slagging Trump off!”

The schoolboy within me wanted to snigger at the proximity of the words ‘Trump’ and ‘off’, but I resisted. Composing myself, I retorted:

“What, you’re a fan are you?”

“Yes I am,” came the proud, chest-puffing reply.

“You’ll be telling me you think Brexit’s a good idea next”, I quipped, a comment which was met with a stony silence.

And so he was added to the list of people I know that there’s just no point in discussing politics with.

Here’s Stewart Lee, to further illustrate my point:

Stewart Lee – Cab Driver

On the matter of Covid, the Government has finally introduced some rules about people coming into the country. They come into force next week; basically anyone arriving on our shores now has to provide documentation to prove that they had a Covid test within 72 hours of travelling, and that the test was negative.

This is good news, right? Of course it is.

But it’s January 2021.Why wasn’t this done in March 2020? The UK is an island, and therefore is almost uniquely placed (apart from other islands) to control who comes in to our country, and thereby potentially reduce the risk of further Covid-carriers coming into the country.

I haven’t seen it yet, but if it hasn’t been already appeared then it’s only a matter of time before it is posited that EU Regulations prevented us from doing this earlier. And that, dear reader, is horse shit.

We’ve always had control of our borders, we have just chosen not to enforce it because it was too costly.

When the mutant strain of Covid was identified in the UK in December, several EU countries – but, crucially, not all of them – decided that they would not allow flights from the UK to land in their territories. Not all of the EU, some/most of them. A perfect illustration, if you will, that we had control of our borders when we were in the EU, and that anyone who says that we didn’t is flat out lying to you.

In unrelated news, here’s a picture of Nigel Farage having a pint.

Often, finding an appropriate picture is difficult. But go to Google Images, type in the words “Nigel Farage pint” and see how many results you get.

Lots, right?

He’s quite determined that you accept his image as an ordinary man who likes a pint, isn’t he? Odd that, isn’t it?

*****

Anyway, Brexit. I seem to have stumbled upon it, so I may as well finish off with it.

It’s happened now, hasn’t it? And contrary to everything I thought would happen, Boris managed to get a deal with the EU. And, much as I didn’t want to leave, getting a deal with the EU is much better than not getting a deal with the EU, and us crashing out with No Deal and having to trade under WTO terms. So I’m sort of happy – happy that the worst case scenario isn’t going to happen, but still angry that the next “best” thing is.

The problem is that to get a deal with the EU, Boris pretty much had to agree to all of their stipulations, and give up ours. He didn’t negotiate a great deal, as promised, he capitulated rather than be branded the PM who forced us into a No Deal/WTO situation.

“We hold all the cards…”….”We’re not planning for No Deal because we’re going to get a good deal….”…”The deal is oven ready”…blah blah blah. Such was the rhetoric before and after the referendum and now them chickens are coming home to roost.

Chickens is probably not the best analogy here, maybe fish is more appropriate.

For this week, our proud UK fishermen have found that to export their daily catch to the EU is not as easy as promised. Indeed, many of them are finding that by the time they have completed all of the documentation required to allow them to export to the EU, then them fish ain’t as fresh as promised and nobody wants to buy them.

The flip side of this is that I have read many examples of companies within the EU who have seen the amount of red tape and bureaucracy now required to export goods to the UK, weighed that up against the amount of profit they will make, and decided: nah. Actually, they probably gave a Gallic shrug. They can export elsewhere and make more money with less form-filling in.

Still, as long as (Remainer) Liz Truss is opening those pork markets:

But then there’s the cheese problem:

What this fails to acknowledge is that many of those cheesy products she refers to had EU Protected Status. This meant that you could not, for example, make Stilton Cheese – the King of all Cheeses – and call it Stilton Cheese unless you were making it in the home of the Stilton Cheese, Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire (not Cambridgeshire where the village of Stilton is. Long story, which I’ll explain sometime. Maybe.)

Now, we are no longer in the EU, and so those EU Protected Status tags have been removed from our yummy products, meaning that anyone, anywhere can now make mouldy old delicious cheese and call it Stilton. And so now, they no longer need to import it from us.

The flipside is that we can now produce our equivalent of EU products, such as Brie. Hurrah! And then you taste Lymeswold and think…it’s not as good, is it?

Too late! Brie producers in the EU have no intention or need to sell to the UK, because their protected status market is too good, and the paperwork to do so is too time-consuming.

And nobody wants to buy our Brie-replicant, because they have a deal with France which means they can buy as much of the authentic runniness as they like, complete with its valuable EU protected status.

We’re nine days in, and already our supply and demand chains are being throttled by the deal Boris signed off.

It’s not Boris’ fault though. This was always and forever how it was going to be.

And we’re now signed into this for the long-haul: various aspects of the Trade Agreement will be reviewed every five years, at which point they may be removed but, on the balance of probabilities, will be extended. Meaning we’re just as tied in as we were before, only now we have no say whatsoever, no voice at the table, and with more red tape and bureaucracy – the very things Brexit was supposed to bring us escape from.

Well done, 52%. Give yourselves a pat on the back, you fricking legends.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the day when they have to announce that the Covid vaccine can no longer be imported. Which will be down to those pesky EU rules (which we’ve agreed to).

The other good thing, of course, is that for the past nine days, ¬£350 million pounds per day has been pumped back into the NHS, just as was promised in the referendum. Right? No……?

Anyway, what I mean to say is this: everything is just fine. No need to worry.

More soon.

*No, I won’t.

Rant O’Clock

Back when the last Labour leadership battle was on, I tried to officially join the party, for the princely sum of £3, so that I could vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

I say “tried” because they rejected my application on the grounds that they didn’t think I was a registered voter at my current address, despite me having been for a few years prior to the vote; indeed since living at my current address I’d voted in a General Election, in the EU Referendum, various council elections, and the vote about proportional representation. But, hey, if he didn’t want my support, no big shakes.

In a way – in fact, in three ways – this was a blessing in disguise.

  1. I was £3.00 richer
  2. My conscience is clear now that my support for Corbyn is utterly revoked, and
  3. I would have had to make a confession which would undoubtedly have led to me being expelled from the party.

For in the recent EU elections, for the first time in my life, I didn’t vote Labour. I voted Lib Dem, purely on the basis that they were one of the parties whose position on Brexit is explicitly clear.

Of course, Alistair Campbell – former “spin doctor” for Tony Blair, and a fully paid-up member of the Labour Party – wasn’t quite so lucky. He announced that he had voted the same way as I, and was promptly ejected from the party.

Now, this is a bit rich, isn’t it? Especially when you have the likes of Kate Hoey practically joined at the hip with Nigel Farage, who are allowed to (ironically) remain. Or that a blind eye is turned to the oh-so many Labour members who have been accused of anti-Semitism.

There were – you’ll be surprised to learn – a couple of other things which annoyed me about the media coverage and analysis of the EU elections and the council elections a couple of weeks earler.

Firstly, that my vote for the Lib Dems was a “protest vote”. No, it wasn’t. It was a vote for a political party with whom I agree on the matter of Brexit. If Labour had said that they opposed the idea, instead of trying to keep a foot in each camp and appease all, then I wouldn’t have switched allegiances.

Secondly, the council elections – where the Tories lost 1269 seats (but, admittedly, still held the majority), and where Labour lost 63, UKIP lost 36, but the Lib Dems (+676), the Greens (+185) – was portrayed as the electorate telling the government to “get on with Brexit”. No it wasn’t. It showed a clear resurgance in the two parties who have categorically stated that they’re against Brexit happening at all.

Thirdly, the EU election results being described as “a massive surge” towards The Brexit Party. No it wasn’t. Sure, they won the most seats, with the highest percentage of the vote. But: look at UKIP’s share. For whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote – 29 seats – whilst UKIP lost 24.2% – 24 seats. I think it’s safe to say the other 7.4% are more likely to have swapped allegiances from Conservative to Brexit Party than to have come from anywhere else.

So, it’s fairly safe to say that there hasn’t been a massive swing towards The Brexit Party – it was their first election, so whatever happened was going to be an improvement on last time – rather all of UKIPs voters deserted them and a few Tories shifted their allegiance.

And then look at the two parties who explicitly oppose Brexit: the Lib Dems (20.34% of the vote, up 13.4%) and the Greens (12.1% of the vote, up 4.2%). Add those two percentages together: 32.44%. So that’s more support for the two Remain parties combined than for the one Brexit Party (for I don’t think you can call Labour or the Conservatives one or the other…at the moment…Tory leader elections pending…but more of that another time.)

So looking at the EU elections – which, traditionally, I accept, is the time when protest votes are likely as they’re not really considered to be important (which is half the problem, but never mind) – what we can say is that there was a resurgance in the two obviously Remain parties, and that The Brexit Party stole all of UKIP’s votes and a few others from here and there.

The other thing we can say is that yes, whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote, the turnout was very low: 37% of the UK population bothered to vote, which is quite some way down from the 72.2% who voted in the referendum back in 2016. And what that means is that in the referendum, Leave got 17,410,742 votes, and in the EU elections considerably less (I’ll admit, I’ve tried to find this figure, but my head is swimming with numbers, but it’s less, right…?). Which isn’t quite the same, now is it?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Revolution (rebranded).

These are all, of course, statistics and facts. And I, more than anyone, knows that these are to be mistrusted. For I used the following quote in pretty much every essay I ever wrote when I was at college:

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics – Mark Twain

Or, to put it another way:

The other thing that we can say is this: people vote for Nigel Farage, no matter what. Unless it’s for him being an MP, of course (*coughs* defeated seven times *coughs*.)

And I find this utterly baffling.

See, to me, Farage is nothing more than an opportunistic ex-banker bully boy, spouting vile rhetoric supposedly in the name of a love of his country.

And then you look at the detail, and it doesn’t take too long because there is no detail.

The Brexit Party has no manifesto. So other than “We must leave the EU” it has no other policies. Nothing. Zip. Which means that in the unthinkable event that he ever gets anywhere near anything even slightly resembling power, he can do whatever he wants, because he never promised anything.

And, although it calls itself The Brexit Party, it’s not a political party. You can’t join it. But what you can do is support it, by giving Farage ¬£25.

And I say Farage gets the £25 rather than The Brexit Party because Farage is the self-appointed leader, the sole beneficiary.

And as an unelected leader, he has already said that he can’t be got rid of.

We used to have a word for people like that.

And, whilst we’re on the matter of funding, let’s not forget that Farage is already being investigated by the EU Commission for the financial arrangements he has with Aaron Banks. Financial arrangements which Farage initially denied existed, then back-tracked when Banks confirmed they did, and which Farage then claimed he didn’t have to declare to the EU (which he did; under the (ART4) MEP’s Code of Conduct, he must declare support for political activity, or (ART5) gifts above 150 euros within 30 days). Not that it matters, because if found guilty, it’ll likely end up in either a fine – which Banks will pay – or a ban from EU – which, given he never turns up anyway, won’t be that much of a choker either.

The man is a cad, a bounder, a charlatan, a liar. And those are the nicest words I could choose.

And so it was with some trepidation that I awaited the local election results from my hometown of Peterborough this week. I can’t say I held out much hope: until very recently it’s been Tory through and through, and the one time in living memory (ok, in my memory) that it votes Labour, the MP in question goes and gets herself imprisoned for lying about who was driving her car when it got some speeding points, kicked out of the party, instigating the election.

Things did not look promising.

And to my delight – yes, even though I voted Lib Dem in the EU elections – Labour won, narrowly beating the Brexit Party candidate into second place. I would have been so sad if the town where I grew up had gifted the country with it’s first Brexit Party MP.

Want some stats? I got ’em:

  • in the 2016 referendum, Peterborough voted Leave, 61% to 39%
  • this time, Labour got 31% of the vote, whilst second-placed Brexit Party got 29%
  • the turnout was 48.4%, down from 67.5% in the 2017 General Election
  • in that election, Labour beat the Conservatives by 607 votes
  • on Thursday, they won by 683 votes
  • that’s an increased share of a lessened turn-out

I’ll make no bones about it, I think that Donald Trump waddling into the UK this week and announcing that post-Brexit negotiations would have to have the NHS “on the table” had an effect. Those who trust Trump in the UK are in the minority, and those who see Farage cosying up to him really should be alarmed by this.

For Farage, lest we forget, doesn’t agree with the NHS. No, he wants to scrap it with an insurance based system, like…oh, oh, coincidence alert…like they have in the USA!

Have a look at this, courtesy of our friends over at @LedByDonkeys.

Strange, isn’t it, how Farage is getting financial backing from a man who owns insurance companies….?

And if you need an illustration as to quite what switching to private helathcare means, read this, written after 2018’s Manchester bombings (and try not to let the writer describing themselves as a “social injustice warrior” detract from the point they make):

What was funny, though, was when it looked like The Brexit Party was going to win, Farage turned up in Peterborough to give his gloating speech to the cameras, only to arrive and find things not going entirely to plan….

Which reminded me of this GIF:

Anyway. I’ve ranted patiently explained enough. Here’s some tunes:

The Long Blondes – Peterborough

And yes, I know I only posted this under similar circumstances recently, but nothing’s changed (by which I mean: I’ve not thought of anything more pertinent to post):

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype

Here endeth the sermon.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all. Welcome back to this week’s selections.

For once, I’ve got a fairly busy social life this weekend, starting with a night out with some old friends on Friday Night, so this week’s choices feel a little strange to me, since¬†I’m actually writing this in the middle of the week, and not on Friday as I normally do. This shouldn’t have much of an impact, or so you’d think, but I wonder…

For a start, I don’t have that Friday night, no work for a couple of days,¬†vibe. More importantly, I have a strict “no drinking on a school night” rule, so this is being written stone cold sober. Let’s see how it pans out shall we?

So, much the same as when we went loud at the start of the year to shake off those post-Christmas blues, I thought I’d do much the same after last week’s Country choices, if for no other reason than to prove I haven’t forgotten that this series is supposed to be, well, fun.

So where better place to start than with this:

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105. Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

The lead single from what sadly turned out to be their last album, 2011’s¬†“Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”, I was surprised¬†when writing this to find out that this didn’t even chart in the UK. In fact, none of the singles from the album did. I was of the opinion that the Beasties were a little more popular on this side of the pond, but I guess I was wrong about that.

Released in April 2011, it was soon over-shadowed by the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch in May 2012. The world is a poorer place with no new records by the Beastie Boys, in my book.

Anyway, this is supposed to be cheering us up and straight away I seem to be back talking about dead musicians. That’s the last one for this week, I promise.

*Scans the rest of the week’s selections*

Okay, maybe not quite the last one.

This lot, for example, may only have made one decent record (that I know of anyway) but they’re thankfully all still on this mortal coil. I think. Haven’t checked, if I’m honest.

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106. The Mooney Suzuki – Alive And Amplified

This record has a special memory for me. Before I moved to London eight or so years ago, I came up for New Year’s Eve one year, a night which started out with a few drinks, then moved to¬†The Garage, an indie club and venue¬†in Highbury where¬†two of our friends, Spencer and Ruth, had managed to bag themselves a DJ slot (if my memory serves, the¬† prestigious “over midnight” one, although I’m open to correction on that).

This was the first record they played, and the two of them bounced all over the stage like two excited Tiggers throughout.

After their set, they came and joined us on the dancefloor, and I interrupted Ruth to give her a big hug, planted a¬†kiss on her cheek and told her how¬†ace I thought they’d been, how much fun I’d had and how proud I was of them. Ruth gave me what I can only describe as a look of happiness, a little embarrassment, more than a little¬†confusion, and no small amount of terror.

It was only afterwards that I realised that when I referred to them earlier as being “our friends”, that wasn’t entirely accurate; they were friends of my friends, and I’d never actually met either of them before. I had managed to forget this teensy bit of information. Yes, I was that battered.

Anyway,¬†I managed to explain, and eventually she told security that they didn’t need to pin me to the floor and sit on my head anymore, and we all saw the funny side.

This next song was also in their set that night, and is a¬†staple of the very¬†occasional DJ’ing gigs I get these days:

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107. Andrew W.K. – Party Hard

Ever wondered what the “W.K.” stands for? Well I have it on good authority that it stands for “Wildebeest King”. Apparently, as a young man Andrew became a bit obsessed with wildebeest, after he read that they are noisy creatures;¬†bulls have an array of loud vocalizations, from moans to explosive snorts, not unlike Andrew’s own repertoire.

So obsessed is Andrew, that every May he travels to the mineral-rich grasses of the southern Serengeti (you know, where Kilimanjaro rises up like Mount Olympus) to witness the wildebeest mating season, and to feast his eyes on their annual displays of  showmanship, cavorting, standoffs, and the odd head to head tussle. Often he will don a set of curved plastic horns, smear his face with mud, and roll around in wildebeest dung so that he becomes infused with their odour, their very essence. Then, from as close but as safe a distance as he dare get, he will mimic their actions, ideally from behind a bush, until he has them as accurate as possible. He then tries to incorporate these movements into his energetic stage performances.

Connochaetes_taurinus_-Kruger_National_Park-8

(above: Andrew Wildebeest King, The Serengeti, May 2012)

Okay, I made all that up. In reality, his full name is Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier,¬†but since that’s the least rock’n’roll name in the history of rock’n’roll names, you can’t really blame him for changing it. Or me for trying.

“Party Hard” has had a new lease of life recently, after it featured in the ad campaign for Google and Android. According to The Wildebeest King’s Mr W.K.’s¬†website: “The song highlights the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying featured in the ad.” which sounds like¬†a load of old PR-bollocks to me.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t post a link to an advert on here, but I think on this occasion I’ll make an exception. Watch this and then tell me if you think the ad demonstrates “the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying” or if it’s actually just a collection of clips of people pretending to be normal and who wouldn’t know an Andrew W.K. record if it walked up¬†to them and introduced itself to them with the words “Hello. I am an Andrew W. K. record. Apparently you like to play and have fun with me”.

Far more entertaining, is the fact that “Party Hard” is used as the walk-on music for professional darts player Steve Hine. Not heard of him? Well, his track record of impressive appearances at the PDC World Championship speaks for itself. Look:

  • In 2006, he got knocked out in the¬†1st Round by Chris “Mace the Ace” Mason
  • In 2007, he didn’t qualify
  • In 2008, he got knocked out in the¬†1st Round by Mark “Flash” Dudbridge
  • In 2009, he didn’t qualify
  • In 2010, he got to the¬†2nd Round, where he got beaten 4-0 by Phil “The Power” Taylor
  • Normality was restored in¬†2011, though, when¬†he got knocked out in the first round by¬†Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld

Now. I don’t profess to be either a darts fan or expert (I do know that both Phil “The Power” Taylor and Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld are a bit good at darts – by which I mean I’ve heard of them –¬†so maybe I shouldn’t take the piss), but I think I know what Steve’s problem is.

You’ll have noticed that all of the above have Darts Player Nicknames. Steve Hine has one too. His¬†is Steve “The Muffin Man” Hine, and he is well known for bringing muffins and tossing them to the crowd during his walk-on.

I¬†imagine that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of his opponents.

Anyway, I digress. Time for some more loudness:

black-rebel-motorcycle-club-whatever-happened-to-my-rock-n-roll-punk-song-album-version-virgin-america

108. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Whatever Happened To My Rock’n’Roll (Punk Song)

It’s not a punk song, now is it, boys?

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were originally called The Elements, until they realised that a) that’s not a very good name for a band, and, more pertinently, b) there already was a band called The Elements, so they changed it, naming themselves after Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in the 1953 movie “The Wild One” which, needless to say, is a waaay cooler name.

Although, had they kept their original science-y nerdo name, it would have made it a lot easier for me to link it to the next record:

R-412563-1109964650_jpg

109. Placebo – Nancy Boy

According to Wikipedia, Placebo are a “British alternative rock band”. I always thought they were American, but it turns our that they¬†formed after lead singer Brian Molko met bassist/guitarist Stefan Olsdal by chance outside South Kensington tube station.

Molko, however, was born in¬†Brussels¬†to a Scottish Catholic mother and an American father of French-Italian descent, and lived at various points in his youth in Dundee (which, admittedly, he refers to as “where I grew up”), Liberia, Lebanon and Belgium. He attended The European School of Luxembourg¬†and the International School of Luxembourg. You don’t get much more British than that, right?

I suspect the band were worried about losing some of their more UKIP-y fans if they announced their true roots.

In the words of Stewart Lee: “If you’ve not seen me before,¬†I don’t think that. I think the opposite of that.” (I’m not Morrissey, for fuck’s sake) He delivers it may better than me though:

Please do not watch that if you are easily offended. Or if you’re American (although the pay-off might pleasantly surprise you). Plenty of swears, and as you will gather from the title of it, it’s not exactly Light Entertainment.

Back to the music:

Pearl+Jam+Do+The+Evolution+262028

110. Pearl Jam – Do the Evolution

Sacrilege time. I don’t really like¬†Pearl Jam much. Friends of mine border on being obsessed by them, but I’ve always found Eddie Vedder’s voice a little grating, and have always thought the band¬†were one of many far less talented groups who hung onto the plaid shirt-tails of Nirvana. I appreciate this is not a common opinion. Each to their own, eh?

That said, “Do The Evolution” has a groove about it that I’ve never noticed in any other records by them, and is well worth a listen if you don’t know it, or even if you do.

Another band who seemed to arrive on our shores at around the same time¬†are the next lot, although they do have a lot more tunes that I love. This is from their 1991 debut album “Gish”, and I don’t think they’ve ever bettered it:

Smashing-Pumpkins-SivaWindow-Paine-109287

111. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siva

Ah well, since I mentioned Nirvana in passing, I’d be rude, bordering on ignorant, not to post something by them, right? Here then is the first record¬†I ever heard by them. It is¬† 1990, my buddy Keith and I are in Cardiff Student Union’s Hanging Gardens club. Fuelled by Snakebite, we¬†had ventured on to the dancefloor as they were playing R.E.M.’s rather wonderful version of The Clique’s “Superman”, which the DJ¬†followed up with this:

nirvana-usa-sliver-sub-pop

112. Nirvana – Sliver

The place went mental, Keith and I were blown away and desperate to know what they hell had just been played, but did not want to get negative cool points equity by actually asking anyone, so we shuffled towards the DJ booth (which was in a kind of shed at the side of the dancefloor) and tried to look inconspicuously through the open window to try and catch a glimpse of the sleeve which, as you can see from the above, offered little in the way of clues.

Kurt Cobain happily (well, as happy as he ever was, anyway) conceded that the next band were a massive influence on him, and you can’t help but thinking that they must have had a similar effect on The Smashing Pumpkins’ main man Billy Corgan too, so effectively does “Siva” fit the loud-QUIET-loud¬†template that they if didn’t invent then¬†they certainly reinvigorated.

I speak of course of Pixies. Here’s a bit of a rarity for you, their appearance on The Word to promote their 1990 “Bossanova” album:

and here is a lovely MP3 of the same thing.

113. Pixies – Cecilia Ann/Allison

“Bossanova” often gets a bad rap, but then anything they released after the holy trinity of “Come On Pilgrim”, “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle” was always going to struggle in comparison. Personally, I think it’s a massively under-rated album; for example neither of¬†those tracks were released as singles, probably due to their brevity.

Next, another album track, but another belter. This band first came to my attention back in 1994 when¬†they appeared on Episode 4, Series 3 (I had to look that up, I admit it) of Later…with Jools Holland¬†performing their single¬†“Low” which is on their 1993 album “Kerosene Hat” which I rushed out to buy. “Low” is a fine record, similar in tone and angst to Buffalo Tom’s masterpiece “Taillights Fade”, but since we’re trying to be cheery, here’s the more up-tempo second track on the album, a charming ditty about a female actor who crashes her car and gets decapitated. It’s better than I’ve just made that sound, honest:

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114. Cracker – Movie Star

Ok, let’s round things off for another week with two songs so utterly wonderful they are bound to raise a smile.

Pork_and_beans

115. Weezer – Pork and Beans

I love that tune, especially when the guitar crunches back in for the chorus, and I love the video even more. I could have sworn I had already posted it somewhere on here, but it seems not, or rather if I did it was before I embedded video clips so I probably didn’t tag it. So, here it is, gently poking fun at the cult of celebrity in general and internet sensations in particular (all of whom seem to join in a self-deprecating way):

Fucking joyous, that.

So to the final tune of the night, and this is just, well, dumb. Glorious,¬†but dumb. And it’s another tune which reminds me of Ruth and Spencer, although I can’t quite rememberwhy (both are glorious, neither are dumb, before you say it):

Swords_of_a_Thousand_Men

116. Tenpole Tudor – Swords of a Thousand Men

That’ll do yer.

I’ll be back at some point over the weekend, have a good one in the meantime.

Or to put it another way: more soon.