The UK election. Is it a watershed moment?


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When Theresa May called a snap election in the spring one could only assume a single outcome.

A massive Tory landslide victory.

Assuredly that the ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ hypocrite, that didn’t want anything to do with Brexit, would march imperiously into power as, meanwhile, the bumbling idiot, that Jeremy Corbyn was portrayed as, made a total fool of himself. (Allied by his hapless henchman in Scotland.)

Nicola Sturgeon’s second independence vote campaigning (stuck record out of tune with the electorate for now at least) wasn’t helping in Scotland.  It gave ammo to the force of nature that is Ruth Davidson and although it wouldn’t fuel a Labour revival it might also help a pathetic Lib Dem campaign in a few key seats (mine included) up here.

However…

Things have changed.

Jeremy Corbyn has proven to be a passionate and believable campaigner for real issues that people believe in.  His Manifesto touched a lot of nerves.

(I accept he wasn’t good on Woman’s Hour)

Sturgeon has (bravely in my opinion) dropped the second independence call in the SNP manifesto.

May has revealed herself to be more bumbling and inept than Corbyn and actually just a bit shit at being a Prime Minister.

And so we see this.

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Not a landslide.

Not even a victory of sorts.

Now, of course, we all now know that the pollsters are more inept at their job than Jeremy Paxman last night but maybe we are seeing a realisation that with UKIP’s job done, and the Brexit vote being extremely narrow, and the Tories being inept, and Corbyn being a man of principle, and Sturgeon calling the independence dogs off, and neoliberalism taking one up the arse that there’s a possibility;

  • SNP will recover their strength in Scotland
  • Labour UKIP voters will return to Labour because they see May has no grip on Brexit negotiation
  • (and that they regret being described as racists)
  • The Tories will end up losing, not gaining, seats
  • Brexit will be fucked

I sincerely hope Brexit will be fucked and that this country will resume a degree of Social democracy that befits it.

A better denunciation of the most powerful man in the world than I could ever write.


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“The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence.”

Thus speaks Rebecca Solnit in her piece in The Literary Hub that completely destroys Donald Trump with her pen.  The central theme of her piece is the old Russian (ironic, huh) fable of the old man and the Golden Fish.  It is a beautiful fable with a strong moral.

But Donald Trump is not the old man.  He is the greedy, vile, egotistical wife whose desire for power has no end.

This is a long, dense but completely compelling piece.

I hope it predicts the downfall of an evil dictator-to-be.

Schadenfreude, were it to have been invented in Roman times, would probably be one of the 8 vices.

But you know what I can cope with that.

Completely remarkable writing and thank you to Dan Rebellato for sharing it on Twitter.

Read it here.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. (50th Anniversary Edition.)


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Listen to Martin Freeman’s outstanding two part documentary on BBC Radio 2 (iPlayer) called Sgt. Pepper Forever to hear a really interesting insight into the creation of what many believe to be the greatest record ever produced.

I’m listening to Giles Martin’s remix of his late father’s masterpiece and it does sound zingier, cleaner, crisper and yet deeper.  It’s recorded in stereo of course which adds a dimension that purists may not appreciate but I feel adds quality.

And it is quite incredible source material pushing the limits of sound technology absolutely MILES past anything else that had been recorded by 1967.

It introduced completely new compositional facets to pop music (some drawn from classical repertoire) and now we have the benefit of 50 years’ later’s technology to further emphasise its brilliance.

Of course, the songs are what makes it and there’s only 39 minutes 52 seconds of them.

Top of the pile for me are She’s leaving home and the absolve;ute masterpiece Life in a Day.  The story behind the recording of this in Martin Freeman’s documentary is fascinating.

Amazingly (and possibly rarely) all four Beatles have songwriting credits including Ringo who penned “With a Little Help From my Friends.”

Enjoy this spectacular new take on a five star classic.

 

 

 

Glasto Lite.


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Having  been unable to get tickets for Glastonbury for a few years now I am about to experience the Catalonian equivalent with a cheeky wee trip to Barcelona for Primavera Sound.

Top of my list of, and possible, just about, ‘to see’ are…

  • Solange
  • Bon Iver
  • Kate Tempest
  • Aphex Twin
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
  • Sinkane
  • Magnetic Fields (Playing the ED Fest in August)
  • Arab Strap
  • the xx
  • Sleaford Mods
  • Jamie XX
  • Songhoy Blues
  • Van Morrison
  • Metronomy
  • Teenage Fanclub
  • Grace Jones
  • Arcade Fire
  • Wild Beasts
  • Japandroids

Of these my number one pick is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  Check out Gamma Knife, their best song.  They have many best songs.

Jane Eyre: National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic on tour. Review.


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My wife and I were not in the right frame of mind today and so a trip to the theatre this afternoon was neither top of our priorities nor particularly anticipated; but we’d bought the tickets.

I have two theatre mind sets.  Amateur and professional.  And it always disappoints me that professional theatre doesn’t get the emotional response that Amateur does.

That changed today with a standing ovation at The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh.

For this is a show that astounds in every way.  Sound, light, scenery, performance, music, movement and, above all else, direction.

We have a new superstar in British theatrical direction.

She is named Sally Cookson and she is miraculous.

Well, I say new, she’s been directing for Bristol Old Vic for over a decade.  But I knew her not.

This production is mouthwatering.  It’s eyeballing.  It is superb.

It brings a degree of women’s lib to a book (that I have not read) that is compelling and meaningful.  Maybe Bronte meant it that way Maybe Cookson just saw it that way.  Anyway it’s fucking brilliant.

Three hours that pass in a nanosecond.

The music, which draws from Penguin Cafe sequence style at one moment, to jazz at another and pop in a third is gobsmacking.

The sound design helps.

I wept at the the last line.  “It’s a girl.” Five times.

That is not a spoiler, but when you see it I hope you too are reduced to pulp.

My wife and I agree on much, disagree on many things, but both of us said (in a state of heightened emotion as we left the Festival Theatre) “that was the best experience I have ever had in a (professional) theatre.”

Theatrical perfection.

We will be going again to see it in Glasgow and I urge you to do likewise.

Recent Listening: Penguin Cafe, The Imperfect Sea.


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Not to be confused with The Penguin Cafe Orchestra that disbanded upon the untimely death of its leader Simon Jeffes in 2007, the Penguin Cafe is actually a different band, although it includes some of the previous members and is led by Simon Jeffes’ son, Arthur.

Live, The Penguin Cafe play many of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s favourite pieces and it has been my privilege to enjoy them live twice (Usher Hall, Edinburgh and Glastonbury) but they record in their own right and The Imperfect Sea is their third, and best, album.

I read that Arthur was concerned that this latest recording was taking them to new places and ran the risk of disaffecting long term PCO fans.  I can reassure you Arthur that you have done no such thing.

It’s a bobbydazzler.  It really is.

It’s far from imperfect.

The sound, as my good friend and long term PCO aficionado, Jon Stevenson, said to me the other day lacks some of the humour of the PCO and he is right. The Penguin Cafe are a more serious bunch of musicians and their output is perhaps more orchestral than the PCO which was more folky in totality, but this matters not a jot when the quality is so high.

I’ve listened to The Imperfect Sea 5 or 6 times in the last few days and there is nary an off note.  Sure, the first time I listened I was riding my bike and the constant ‘ping’ of cycle bell on Cantorum was a mite discombobulating, but it’s endearing also and hearkens back towards the PCO’s playfulness.  (It has a small debt to pay to the mighty Telephone and Rubber Band).

Ricecar, the opener, is a classic of sequenced music and is certainly of the PCO school.

Overall this is a mighty addition to the PC/PCO canon.

Fully operational hi-fi.


To regain full use of one’s hi-fi is a first world delight.

My turntable has been operating on a semi-functional basis for some time until I bit the bullet and took it to Hi Fi Repairs – a one man operation on Clarke St in Edinburgh.

£48 later.

The man is a genius.

He can repair anything; including my 30 year old Castle speakers and now my 30 year old Ariston Q Deck. (It seems it does go on and on and on and Ariston.)

So I have christened it with Talking Heads, Remain in Light.

Not a bad choice.  Please enjoy with me.

 

 

Alien Covenant: Movie Review.


 

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In which a young Michael Fassbender utters the immortal line to his older brother, also played by Michael Fassbender, as he teaches him how to play a penny whistle, “I’ll do the fingering.”

Stop.

Stop right there.

That was silly right?

Alien:Covenant is Ridley Scott being let loose on his wildest fantasies and this time it’s almost all about religion.  He’s apparently in thrall with the notion that Aliens are gods or some such claptrap.

The name of the ship is ‘Covenant’, the name of the ‘Synthetic’ that was on Prometheus but has met its fate and who forms a big part of this movie’s plotline was David (Michael Fassbender) and David has lured his ten year the junior ‘brother’ Walter (also Fassbender) to Prometheus and to seek the fate of the 2,000 ‘covenanters’ on board ship.

Although Walter is a more advanced model he is more deeply flawed and has had his emotional intelligence reduced as it became apparent that David was too advanced.

Meanwhile, because this is 2017 rather than 1979 special effects, we get to see much more Alien action, which is in itself good (and creepy) but it’s OTT and the Aliens as organisms appear less developed because, remember, this is a prequel to Alien and in the time between the two movies the Aliens have evolved.

It starts great (but slow) the sets are miraculous and the acting largely decent (Katherine Waterston as Daniels is commendable) but the religious theme becomes more and more overbearing and the relationship between Fassbender and Fassbender is preposterous (although well acted).

Although the SFX are great they are just too much and the whole movie descends into a disappointing silly pet project that needs much more script supervision.

Not great I’m afraid.