Bloc Festival 2012 what really happened


Hello Good People who read this blog

After my last personal review of what happened, here is the story behind what really went on.

This is what I have been told, I cannot certify that it is true.

It is rumoured that : “The Pleasure Gardens run by the Shangri-la people were rented from Newham Council . The council lent them some of the money to pay them rent for the land.

What they didn’t mention before then was that there was asbestos on the site. Newham Council rented the land out knowing that there was asbestos there beforehand but did not remove it.The Shangri-la people then had to find another million or so pounds to have the asbestos removed from the site themselves.

This delayed the renovations of the main venue on the site , an old warehouse, which was not fixed in time for the big opening the previous weekend .It is currently still covered up and has scaffolding around it. They also did not decorate the site and were unable to do other works beforehand, and a whole part of the site was closed off leaving less room.

The Bloc festival people , who are separate from the Shangri-la people, sold tickets on the basis that they were running a festival on the entire site including the warehouse. The capacity of the entire site with the warehouse renovated would have been 15 000, the event sold out, but the warehouse with an estimated capacity of 5000 people was still out of bounds.

The main venue then became a circus tent placed in a corner of the festival not far from another big tent where Steve Reich played, and the ship. But putting up a circus tent meant there was less land available as free space for people to circulate, land surrounded by deep water, the festival being situated at a dockside.

The layout was poorly thought out in terms of people circulating from one venue to another, so that there was not enough room.”

I also heard that later “there was a confrontation between the crowd locked outside and the police and that cement blocks were thrown. (I cannot certify that this is true!)

“Also both the Pleasure Gardens and the Bloc Festival have gone bust.”

Ok well that’s the end of the rumour, it still leaves many unanswered questions for me such as why they were not letting people into venues while the acts were on and leaving us to queue outside when the tents were virtually empty , thereby creating a crowd outside, why no one could help me find the exit etc..

Got to go now…please see my previous post for a more embellished poetic version of my experiences.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

Enough Already! Riots in London August 2011


Hello Good People who read this blog…. ( this was written between around 10pm and 2 a.m.on the night of the London-wide riots)

If you are like me, living in London, what a night! I am in a relatively peaceful area but there’s been a strong smell of smoke coming into my living room since early evening, sirens, the odd scream. I don’t think there is much going on my way but hearing about Ealing and now Camden, well it could all “kick off” here too, it could “kick off” anywhere  in any disillusioned British town.

I am not at all surprised at the riots, no matter what the media people and politicians say, it is not purely due to just looting or just about one guy killed by the police. I do not think this rioting and looting would have happened if it wasn’t for many factors, including school holidays. How can they not expect trouble sooner or later? After all  we have had the politicians ripping us off with their expenses, the bankers ripping us off  massively and throwing us into a global recession while most of them still live a life of luxury, the entire global economy has collapsed since Thursday again..and then all the scandal about Rupert Murdoch’s  media empire and corrupt policemen, corrupt politicians….ridiculously expensive University fees suddenly imposed on a whole generation, massive cuts suddenly imposed on a whole generation without warning…well I am not surprised, why would anyone be surprised that we are having riots.

What do these rioters have to lose? They are already being punished before they even started to cause trouble. Prison is probably not that much of a threat compared to a life of poverty for many young people, having been brought up with the idea that materialism is everything.

Meanwhile all those moneyed politicians were quite happy to stay on their posh holidays and it’s only now that the crisis is absolutely Londonwide that they are moving their arses, pathetic lot!

But to any young person reading this I say :

“Enough already, you are  burning your own town, your are hurting your own people, destroying the homes of your friends, families, and neighbours. You may feel disconnected from everything but you are not, everything is cause and effect . You are special but  you need to change things to make things better not worse!”

British society is just f****d. I don’t like capitalism,or conventional lifestyles, but …use your brains! This is going to ruin us all, who is going to want to come here and employ you next summer?

I saw Ken Livingstone speak on the BBC News and I have to say that I agree with the things that he said. Ken will always be a hero for trying to abolish fares on public transport and for being a pain in the neck to Margaret Thatcher, even though I also remember seeing Ken promising the London Irish Community that if they elected him as mayor that he would make St. Patrick’s day a national Holiday,which I found very weird at the time,  much like Boris saying he’d get rid of bendy buses. If you don’t come from London none of this will mean anything to you.

But although I am just another alienated urban dweller, I do feel that this is my town, and I don’t like to see it go up in smoke.

Hippie ideals were political, were/are rebellious but at the heart of it all was collaboration, love and peace, simple.

You can achieve so much more by not wrecking things but by creating things.

But I feel that this is just part of the chaos going on generally and on this I will do one of my personal rants:

Last Thursday and Friday before the rioting, I experienced a series of strange incidents that demonstrated how stressed, angry and impatient Londoners were. For instance, on Friday I nearly got run over by a large Tesco truck who was reversing round a corner, on the pavement. He saw me but reckoned I could probably jump out of the way. I did but only just.

Later I was in a catholic church, yes a church, I know this may sound weird but I had my reasons, and during the mass these two women of a ripe old age were having a loud row, claiming one of them had pinched her seat while at communion, well they were kind of shouting in loud whispers, at the back of the church. But I have never seen a row in a church like this while a mass was taking place.I put it down to the heat, the economic cuts and general stress.

The next day in the afternoon before the riots started,  I was in a Tesco supermarket (yes bad me, how ironic after nearly getting killed by one of their trucks ) ,I was calmly minding my own business when a woman tried to pick a fight with me. She was not crazy, but was deliberately standing in the middle of a limited space and was stopping people from getting past her, i.e. me. I said “sorry” no less than three times to get her to move but she didn’t budge, so I ever so gently, edged my way past her, and she started to pick a fight with me. She shouted to me that:

“English people say ‘excuse me’  not ‘sorry’  if they want someone to move.” I soon left the shop after I realised she was determined to have a row with me, she probably thought I was a tourist. I decided to go home because everyone seemed so stressed, and then I witnessed three more incidents on my way home.

OK, so  it was crowded and it’s summer, but I could really sense that there was more tension in London than usual. One of the next incidents was in a little garden/children’s area. A young man was shouting aggressively at this two year old boy, who he didn’t know, and then the man burst into tears, leaving the toddler and his mother bewildered and upset. I  then saw the man sitting on a bench rocking  slightly to and fro, his girlfriend was rubbing his back and consoling him. He also did not look like he was mentally ill, he looked like an average “respectable” bloke, but maybe everyone is just cracking up under all the global economy meltdown and so many changes and strange events worldwide. As he  was being consoled by his girlfriend, the mother and toddler were left to themselves, clearly shaken and distressed.

So I think these riots that are taking over London and perhaps the country are part of this general chaotic reaction to many stressful and oppressive events.

How is it that people are surprised that there are a load of young people miserable, willing to go to jail, and going  mad?This is how people are feeling after being told they won’t get an education, or a job, or a pension, that their library will close down that everything will be harder and harder. But also young people have had 20 or 30 years of being brainwashed that all that matters is money, sex, what you look like and in particular what objects you can buy that will get you ahead in life or make you feel better about life. 

You only have to look at the T4 presenters on Channel 4 , to know that a whole generation have nothing  but shallow, trite, crap to aspire to.

The police implore “know where your children are and ask them to come home” , but why the hell don’t you know what your children are doing anyway???? Don’t you ever spend time with your children or talk to them?

Some music now, something peaceful, not a typical piece of hippie music, but a modest example of how some popular 70s idealism helped to change mindsets. I think first you have to change your mindset, if you are strong  enough, and then put it into action to change the world.

Cat Stevens  ( BBC Theatre 1971).

I  hope that London can be rebuilt, not just the homes, the shops, the streets, but a soul , a collective heart, a willingness to care for one another, to leave behind our  screens and desks and to face one another honestly.

I think we are going to see a lot more  protest of one sort or another , we have so much monitoring, self-monitoring, outside monitoring, and rules and more rules to make everything in life that might be free or good, complicated and exhausting. Everything in our British  society in 2011 seems to assume, that everyone is a criminal. A criminal before proven innocent. I’d like to be able to go somewhere and help tomorrow, help someone, another Londoner who I don’t know, but I can’t because I don’t have a recent CRB check. I might be a pervert or I might be doing voluntary work when also claiming benefits, or I might be this or that……………..It p*****s me off because most of us are not criminals yet all of us are treated that way, it makes everything ten times more complicated than it needs to be and everything ten times less satisfying to do.

If you treat teenagers like they cannot be trusted and have to be monitored all the time, guess what? They’ll prove you right and start playing up and rebelling and doing all the things you dread. As citizens we are not treated like responsible adults able to make responsible and useful acts and decisions. Don’t get me started!!!!

I am almost sure we will have a curfew soon, except the  government will want to look good and not oppressive, so maybe they won’t bring in a curfew. Even as a hippie I actually would be scared if we had a curfew because I want to feel that I am not living under siege, but I could also understand that if parents really don’t know where their children are,  and London is going is going to be burnt to the ground that a temporary curfew might be a good thing until people calmed down a bit. I never thought I would write that!

So let’s hope somehow young people can find another way, collaborate with one another, but still kick up a fuss.

We are in a terrible financial situation and this society needs to totally reinvent itself. Labour is f****d ,the Conservatives are f****d, the other ones are also f****d.

These stupid political parties are so intent on looking good that their leaders are ineffectual insipid thunderbird puppets, and not in any way credible as leaders with brains ( I don’t mean “brains” the thunderbird puppet). As a slightly older person I see these political leaders as being students at suburban comprehensive secondary school, like the one I went to in south London, which is probably being burnt to the ground as I speak, or write.

Ed Milliband is the harmless naive, gormless first year student, in his school blazer, he still doesn’t know how to knot his tie. Ed’s mother bought his school uniform from John Lewis, it is two sizes too big,  she hopes that he might grow into it one day. His big brother doesn’t want to be seen with Ed in the playground during break time , but sometimes he comes to Ed’s rescue when he is being bullied for his lunch money.

Nick Clegg is the student teacher in English, he gulps with tension,  as he faces his class for the first time, with a sweaty forehead and clammy palms. The head of the English department always gives student teachers the most difficult classes to teach. No one ever listens to poor young Clegg. Maybe once he went into teaching with high ideals to change the world and educate all, but he soon found himself towing the line, having to follow the national curriculum, thinking about the league tables, regardless of their usefulness in children’s real education.

Lastly we have the Head Boy,such a good boy, David Cameron.

Cue music…Kevin Coyne Good Boy ( 1973 from the album Marjorie Razorblade).

David ( Cameron)  the head boy , likes to earn points for his house. His mother’s au pair, gives him a fresh hankerchief  and irons his tie every morning and if it isn’t done properly the au pair is reprimanded, she also has to make him a fresh organic packed lunch so that he doesn’t have to sit with the poorer pupils with dribbling noses who get school dinners. David knows he is better than the rest. He is in Clegg’s class but intimidates him. David  and his best friend the dim but jovial “Bozo” Boris, sit in the back of the class, sniggering while  exchanging little notes about Clegg  written in Latin. They both know that they do not belong with the masses in this comprehensive school, and will help one another up the social ladder once at University.

But who is the headteacher??? Or should I say who is the Head Mistress of this school? It is of course Theresa May, in her imagination,  she likes to pretend she is Supreme Commander Servalan  of Blakes 7 , as she rules. She has the brains and the gravitas to put all these silly little boys in their place.

Servalan ( Theresa May’s role model ) and Blakes 7

Anyway…on a more serious note , I dread to see how much damage there will be in London once the smoke clears and the sun comes up.  All the time I have been typing this, I have had the BBC News in the background, it’s windy outside and the smokey air is still blowing in through my living room window, sirens are heard in the distance from time to time. I’m not sure 24 hour news coverage is helping matters, young people want to be famous, it is encouraged in every way by endless reality TV shows, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them relish seeing themselves on TV.

Before I go I’d like to leave you with some music from my good friend Frobischer Neck. He has done a wonderful cover of this track by the German band Neu! with some great Mellotron arrangements. Enjoy!

I wish all of you in London ( and elsewhere) Peace and Safety, hoping some inner wisdom could gently guide the next generation in a better way and inspire them to hope and  build an alternative world  instead of  just destroying the old one.

Born2rant


Yey! The Students Are Revolting Again.


Hello Good people who might come across this blog or have read it in the past…

( this post is still being edited!)

Back in the seventies a common “joke” usually made by tittering Times readers was ” the students are revolting” as a comment on both their frequent protests and the state of their physical hygiene.

In 2010 I would say that the personal hygiene of young students is excessively fussy and over-sanitised compared to that of their lecturers who were revolting students back in the seventies. But nevermind the hygiene, the important thing is that  the students are moving, speaking, having protests. At last we have the beginnings of a new counterculture that is not based simply on wearing certain clothes. Finally we have a young generation that is ready to go out and say what they believe , even when they know they could in theory be beaten up, locked up or even killed by random batoning policemen.

I won’t venture to say that this will last forever.

Two weeks ago when a group of  “students” ( some were definitely not students but belonging to revolutionary political groups) decided to take a detour to Millbank Tower , my initial reaction was two-fold. Firstly total joy to see some true student rebellion after all these years. Secondly thinking of the people working in the building, many of whom were unconnected to the Conservative party, and how it must have stopped being fun for them as soon as the students started to set fire to things and throwing things off the roof.

However I admit, rightly or wrongly, my main emotion towards the initial student protest was total euphoria. As I am typing this I am amused as on the BBC News channel, they are telling the general public, assumed to be stupid without their godlike guidance, how they can protect themselves against snow by wearing bright jackets and being very careful. We’ve had decades of being told by the media how everything is so dangerous and how we have to be so very very very afraid of illnesses and bombs and a bit of snow. However, regardless of growing up in this state of perpetual paranoia, and in spite of seeing how protesters can be treated, these brave young people  came out and protested mostly peacefully. Even those who ended up rioting at Millbank Tower,while knowing they were constantly on camera, made no attempt to mask their faces, which was either an act of fearlessness or stupidity.

I wanted to put some music here and the obvious choice was Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing”, but this song was more interesting, it’s  a Syd Barrett song protesting against protest songs , and more particularly Dylan protest songs.

Syd Barrett- Bob Dylan Blues (slight apology to Dylan fans)

The very limited police reaction to the first student protest was obviously a political decision. They could have used riot police, cs gas, water cannons, tanks, it’s central London for God’s sake. The place is crawling with armed police officers, S.A.S. and the Royal Cavalry.

If  politicians/police chiefs had wanted to do so, they could have flattened every student there within half an hour. They decided to let them carry on and have their day, probably because David Cameron was in China and wanted to demonstrate that the British way was not to run over students with tanks as in  Tiananmen Square 1989. Here is a video focussing  not on the massacre but on the brave tank man, who has disappeared ever since.

The protesters were perhaps more confident on Wednesday, thinking that since they had been treated with kid gloves two weeks ago, that they could go out and protest peacefully, or some riot, without being batoned to death again yesterday. However, the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred after a month of protests in China in various locations, where the police and army had been restrained. I firmly believe that the government is allowing students to ” let off steam” and that if the protests grow and are prolonged, that the army and riot police will soon make examples of a few rioters by severe injury, maybe a death, and severe prison sentences. However anyone actually setting fire to buildings etc…is kind of asking to be arrested at the very least. I am a peaceful anarchist, there are many ways of redistributing power.

A musical interlude in my ranting:

When I first started this blog there was far less footage available for me to post. Luckily this is up here now. My old friends Treatment ,who changed the course of my life,playing two contrasting songs in 1983 at The Greyhound in London. Like many similar bands their rehearsal time was sometimes live on stage playing to an audience, which allowed for some improvisation, part of the “Treatment sound” was due to the live psychedelic mixing.

Treatment- Stamp Out Mutants/Love is Getting Nowhere ( live 1983)

I do hope that our new coalition government continues to be restrained, but once they think they might lose control of their power and position altogether, we may see a totally different side to the police and armed forces.

Things have changed so quickly, even a year or two ago, I never thought we would ever see students protesting and showing their anger against authority ever again. Let me re-state that I am a pacifist and that I believe that violence leads to more violence, just as war leads to more wars.

Along with this new phase of student politicisation ( is that a real expression or one I just made up from too much studying?), I have sensed in the past year, that there are less jokes about “hippies” who express themselves freely, who challenge some of the more detrimental decisions made by those in power, or who complain about the inequalities in society or the treatment of our animals and environment.

In the past two years, young people have witnessed politicians using tax-payer’s money for duck houses and moats, they have seen how bankers have payed themselves billions and continue to do so,while a whole generation is told that they will have to pay for the gluttony of city finance-dealers, not just now but for a decade or more to come, young people have seen the dreams of their future careers and studies evaporate and it has left them empty hearted with nothing to lose through public protest.

But most of all I think that the news media, showing the protests in Greece, France, and other parts of Europe, have influenced the students and the public in the UK to think, “well if the French are protesting so much about the pension age going up to 62, why aren’t we protesting a lot more for all the damage and pressure we are under?”.

Ten years ago , you couldn’t force or bribe your average student to go and protest at the introduction of ever rising University fees. In 2000 most students were young Business Studies orientated hopefuls. They were born under the astrological constellation of Thatcher and brainwashed by social reinforcement from all directions , derived from  American business ethics, they believed that anyone who wanted to , could start their own business, or go to University, dress nicely, work hard and earn enough money to buy their designer clothes/cars/music/hair à la “Hollyoaks” or other soap opera full of glamourous-looking  young people. As long as they could get well pissed at the weekends and have a snort of coke when work needed to be done, there was no need to debase themselves by getting involved in shabby student politics.

Anyway I think I have ranted enough for now. I am glad to see protesting students, although hypocritically I have not been on the protests myself due to other reasons. But I’ll be on the next one, shying away from violence, but still protesting enough to walk down the middle of London streets. There has not been a majority of politically-motivated students for decades and I feel they need to be aware that the authorities may decide to crush them at any point.However the media-wise Prime Minister , and bumbling Boris, are well aware that whoever looks like the “good-guy”on TV holds the real power, and therefore some protesting may be allowed for some time!

Hawkwind- You Shouldn’t Do That (Brock/Turner 1971)sorry I think I’ve put this up before, it’s just a bit more direct than a Dylan protest song.

In the meantime, let’s see a bit of people power. In a democracy, politicians are meant to be our servants. Instead it seems, the people are the servants to a few well-connected, obscenely rich and over-priviledged business people and aristocrats who have temporarily lost control of the economy and who have been exposed for the liars and greedy people that they are. It’s not a good time for a Royal Wedding, I suggest they have it down the register office with a few sandwiches and dips in the living room afterwards.

Sometimes angry but still wishing you all:Love and Peace

Born2rant


From the Sixties to the End of the Noughties..did it match up to expectations?


Hello Good People who read this blog

I am listening to music over the headphones while I write this, to keep me focussed and calm,so I might as well start by sharing what I am listening to. Some English sixties folk, Sandy Denny with an acoustic home recorded demo version of Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Across the purple sky, all the birds are leaving…

Well everyone on TV and radio seems to be reviewing the noughties. I can’t believe a decade has gone by.

I feel a sense of foreboding in broaching the subject of the “noughties” as I think for me it was a decade that started with high hopes and ends in doubt, fear and disappointment. In my personal life that is not the case but in terms of an alternative type of person living in London, it has not been a great decade.

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I guess for me this decade started in the sixties. As a child, the year 2000 seemed like an impossibly long time away. I wondered if I actually would live to be that old.

In 1968 , this is what we thought could be happening in 2001:

At school in the sixties,one of the favourite essay topics of teachers, was to ask us write about how the world would be in the year 2000. We all wrote about world peace, wearing silver suits, having robots to do all our housework, going for holidays in outer space, an absence of disease, poverty and famine and extraordinary futuristic and sophisticated pop music,together with the occasional time machine and transporter room ( in the style of Star Trek). It is hardly surprising that we were so optimistic, the sixties was an amazing time of progress, with the peace movement, breaking down of many prejudices,new fashions made of new synthetic materials, amazing ground-breaking pop music, advances in medicine and the proliferation of science fiction which speculated on how new technology would affect us all in the future.

Some of the predictions made by scientists were very misguided.

Tomorrow’s World (BBC)  in the late 60s

At other times the predictions were petty spot on. Here is a clip I found called Britain of the Future . It features mobile phones, CCTV in banks, luxury short plane journeys to Sydney, computers and the internet, how we will select our children for mathematical ability, flatscreen TVs  and more.If you play it 5 minutes in, you will find some predictions for 2000. The population figures quoted must be for Britain only. In fact according to the National Statistics office the UK population in 2008 was 61 million and not quite the 65 million that they anticipated for 2000.

It is hardly surprising that in the sixties, a time of great creativity, invention and hope, that we looked to the future with great excitement. Could we say the same now? How do we see the future in these fearful times where every TV programme seems to warn us about some threat : climate change,  terrorist attack, or timeless pleasures that are a danger to our health, as well as the possibility of financial ruin or new diseases that will wipe us all out unless we wash our hands 20 times a day.

Do you know any teachers who ask their class to write an essay about how exciting life will be in the year 2050?

Poor kids today!

In 1969, western consciousness was full of hope. Everyone with access to a TV,remembers the day when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  The music of The Beatles, Hendrix and others was so new, young and exciting , we hoped that with new technology  we would be creating the most amazing music ever by 2010…OOPS! We didn’t account for those forces that kill creativity: trying to make money by trying to appeal to all, trying to look perfect, marketing, advertising, selling your soul to Satan Cowell etc..

I remember sitting with some friends back in the eighties, after listening to all four “sides” of  Electric Ladyland and saying:  “Just imagine what music Hendrix would make if he’d survived until the year 2000 , with all that technology!” and others agreeing and imagining this amazing music with  new synthesizers and effects and even computers.

Now I think:”Yep…if Hendrix had survived, I bet his record company would be re-issuing all his old stuff. Maybe having gone through a brief “Unplugged” tour during the nineties.” Cynical me…

But technology has brought some interesting new music, even if it is sometimes rehashed old music from the sixties. Recently this was recommended to me by two people in their twenties. DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing” ,first released in 1996 and re-issued in 2005.This album is created entirely out of samples. D.J Shadow combines these skillfully to make a totally new, and some would say,genius, classic album.

Is this the future of music?

Building Steam with a Grain of Salt  by  DJ Shadow.

I like it, but I prefer Dark Side of The Moon which uses samples of speech but where  the music is less repetitive and  the lyrics have a message.( Or do I have a case of middle-aged “They just don’t write tunes like they used to and don’t police officers look young”etc.?)P.S. 3/1/2010 However this track has definitely “grown on me” in the past few days. I find a lot of good music plays that trick.

Another PS!!!!

I recently interviewed Andy Leung for another  little radio documentary, he is the keyboard player from the band “Introducing” a nine piece band who play “Endtroducing” live at gigs and festivals. Now  this has become one of my fav tracks , here they are playing “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” and other tracks for the album at the Skylarkin, Carling Academy Oxford in December 2008. What do you think?

I hope that the future of music in 2010 and beyond goes back to live performance, more thought-provoking contents, and originality. Unlike in previous decades, the music business is no longer the only way for independent minded musicians to get their music aired. The internet has liberated us and trapped us at the same time.

As far as file sharing goes, my feelings are mixed. The musicians I know,mostly don’t mind file sharing, they also like using open source materials and all the free things on the internet to help them, from myspace, to music lessons on youtube. But the musicians I know don’t make a whole lot of money. Internet file sharing is nothing new, ever heard of cassette recorders and photocopying machines? As a child/teenager I had very little pocket money. We used to record the entire chart show on Radio One on an old reel to reel recorder. I still have the tapes!

Here is Kraftwerk being futuristic in 1978.Will music in the coming decade be progressive or retrogressive? It all depends on what our collective consciousness or fashion dictate.

The Robots ( nevermind playing synthesizers, will they design robots to do the bloody housework next decade?)

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Like the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, there have been some moments in life, commonly shared with others, where I remember where I was and who I was with, and every feeling and thought impressed  up there in my memory.Preceeding the beginning of the nougthies, there was the eclipse which I saw on Hampstead Heath in London, together with several hundred others.Each one of us forwarned eternally by the media not to look straight up at the sun. It was a special and spiritual moment, I spoke to many Londoners who I didn’t know there, and strangely I bumped into all sorts of music people I knew,but who were equally surprised to see me there. The eclipse reminded us that day, that we were only on a small, rather vulnerable planet, I felt united with others, but for some reason it made me feel sad too.

New Year’s Eve 2000 itself was also a strange time for me personally,  I remember having ventured alone into Central London around the Thames surrounded by thousands of others.I have never felt so lonely! London can be like that. Luckily I went to a friend’s place later.

I guess the main events from the Noughties that affected everything else in our daily lives in London, was September the 11th 2001 followed by the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Both events completely changed the London I knew into a place where CCTV and police apparently took over. I also remember the bus and tube bombings of July 2005 and the further aborted bombings a couple of weeks later. My entire neighbourhood was cordoned off that day, and a friend had to stay at my place because the police wouldn’t let him go home.

Immediately after September the 11th , I was very interested to hear all the “ins and outs” of why the “plane crashes”  could have  happened.

I knew both Americans and Lebanese people at that time, who knew a lot about politics. Before the full story broke out in the news, it was pretty obvious from my conversations with them, that it was bound to be a group from the middle-east over Palestine.

The protest march against the invasion of Iraq in February 2003 was another day I will never forget. I have been on a quite a few protest marches, but this was exceptional. The political apathy of the British public was dispelled for once and to take part in the march was amazing. It was freezing cold and slow, but I was so pleased to see others of all ages and backgrounds united in not wanting a war.

I had written a detailed letter to my MP at the time, Michael Portilo, a month or two beforehand, giving him five well-thought out reasons why we should not invade Iraq. One of my main points was that London would become a target for terrorists if we got involved in America’s attack. I stated that we were still regarded as neutral until we committed to invading Iraq. I wrote that I thought that central London would become a less friendly, and more dangerous place with armed police, and that there would be a threat of terrorist attacks on the tubes.

To my surprise, and to his credit, Portilo wrote back me ( or maybe someone in his office wrote it for him) . It was a long letter, replying to each one of my five points in detail. The letter is somewhere up in my attic I think, I could not find it to quote here unfortunately ( I may add it later).

Portilo assured me that if we did not invade Iraq, that London would become a terrorist target and a dangerous place to live. Although a conservative MP, he  fully supported the labour government’s actions. I might have sounded hysterical in my letter,but I was right.  Our tubes were bombed and London did become a far more paranoid and fearful place, with new detention laws and the police, at times taking over tube stations with an aggressive and intimidating presence,compounded by stories of police torture at Scotland Yard, police brutality at recent climate change protests etc…

I have subsequently met Kurdish refugees from Iraq and Turkey, living here in London, who were extremely happy to see Saddam go. One guy I knew lost not only his family, but all his friends,school teachers and everyone he ever met in his entire life, through one of Saddam’s mass gas attacks of the Kurds.

I am still a pacifist and think we were wrong to invade Iraq, but these things are never entirely black and white.

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I guess my main worry for the next decade is the impact of climate change, I do think life for people will have to change whether we plan for it or not.

On a positive note, I am a great believer in Mother Earth. Before all the patriarchal religions ( and yes I know I will upset many by writing this!) there were religions in most parts of the world based on the concept of the great mother, the giver of life. The planet and all living things , and sometimes non-living things such land,rocks and hills etc. were sacred and respected.

If we don’t adopt a better attitude, then the forces of nature which are stronger than the forces of man, will take over.I believe the planet will be self-regulating. This is a very harsh image and of course I don’t want anyone to die or suffer. If we think of the planet as a kind of living being under threat (from billions of  little human parasites), then I believe that it could rebel and kill enough people so that it can restore itself back to health.

Well let’s see if we can prevent any great tragedy from happening by using  less, and thinking more about the way we treat our planet within this gigantic, wonderful and mysterious Universe. We must choose to either plunder or to care for this beautiful, delicate, live-giving planet Earth.

Happy New Year 2010,

May the next decade bring us Wisdom and Peace

Born2rant

Is Everything OK?


Hello Good People who read this blog just a little entry today. Thanks to all the people who contacted me by various means about the little documentary I made, cheers for all your kind and generous comments.

I came across this video montage via the Organ fanzine myspace site and wanted to share it with you.

It shows a couple of guys out in London with a megaphone shouting some very sensible things about freedom, capitalism and fear. It’s quite entertaining and it’s always good to (peacefully) challenge the system as long as you don’t get killed, tortured or arrested in the process.

This clip includes several scenes in different London locations, my favourite is him hugging security guards at Canary Wharf who he calls “fake policemen” because they have copied the uniform of the Met. When he is asked to stop filming in a train station , he asks them to stop filming him on CCTV. Great!

Enjoy!

I haven’t done much freedom fighting recently,been going through a hedonistic phase but I’ll be back!

Here’s some music to brighten your day.

Steve Hillage from the Live Herald album ( 1977-1978) a track fusing musical styles well before its time “Searching for the Spark

Remember these are all live musicians, playing together through various changes in unison.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

P.S. I’ve felt for the past 5 years, or maybe even 8  years, that there should be a sign at every tube station saying “Please leave all your human rights at street level and abandon all sense of self before entering the tube station”,  ear-plugs are recommended if you don’t want to be deafened  by daft announcements that kill your soul . So I was very glad to find this little film, I defy you to watch it all the way through and not smile!

The Big Green Dispersion and Solfest 2009


Hello Good People who read this blog ,

(to anyone who read my Guilfest post, I have just added a video clip of Alice Armstrong at the end of it)

Just a note to say  that I just got an email from my son telling me that “The Big Green Gathering“, probably the official festival most like the older style alternative free festivals of the eighties , has been cancelled.

The Big Green Gathering really does represent  alternative hippie counterculture in all its creative and political forms, so it’s very sad.

Some footage of the Big Green Gathering one of many clips to be found on youtube but this one is particularly well put together.

Here is the notice from the BGG website:

Welcome to
The Big Green Gathering
The world’s premier and award winning Green Festival
Attitude Is Everything – Bronze Level Award
July 29th – 2nd August 2009
urgent message

Dear Friends,
following threatened injunction proceedings in High Court by Mendip District Council supported by Somerset & Avon Police and having taken extensive advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers, the directors of the Big Green Gathering have been left with no other option than to voluntarily surrender the license for the Big Green Gathering 2009. The event will now not take place and the directors’ advice and request is that no one intending to attend the event should attempt to do so, as the site is now closed and they are likely to be turned away by Somerset Police. It is our intention to avoid any form of confrontation or public disorder in regard to this and it is our earnest hope that all those involved will follow this advice. It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all those concerned. The Directors of The Big Green Gathering

This is a very last minute decision. I don’t fully understand why the festival has been banned by the local council and police.

According to the BBC , the festival is cancelled for safety reasons as well as crime. Is this the whole reason? Or is it to stop political subversives from meeting in large quantities?

see BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/8169477.stm

is it really that dangerous that it must be closed down?

It looks like a great way to socialise kids and help them to build for the future when the world will change through our abuse of it.

Here are some more highly dangerous and criminal activities at the BGG.Young people making their own films of the festival. These are fantastic.

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Meanwhile I should be going to Solfest in Cumbria at the end of August( 28th -30th) ,after going to Hawkwind’s 40th Anniversary gig at Porchester Halls in London the night before.

It’s a long way from London but still my favourite festival, the atmosphere is much friendlier than festivals in the south and people go there not to see any particular band but for the festival experience.Everyone is co-operative and creates a good atmosphere, Saturday is “Fancy Dress” day,which is always spectacular and inventive.

I recommend it for any hippies out there who can no longer go to The Big Green Gathering, but get your tickets early.

It only costs £85 for the weekend  including camping  and car with very limited tickets. You can get there easily from Carlisle by train and minibus.

from the Solfest website:

“Tickets for Solfest 2009 will be available from the following outlets:

  • The Carnegie Theatre, Workington, 01900 602122 (telephone and counter sales, cash and cards accepted)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Aspatria (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Wigton (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Silloth (over the counter cash sales only)

For Solfest 2009 there will be a total of 6500 adult tickets available. There will also be a total of 750 children’s tickets and 750 Young people’s tickets. When they are gone, they are gone!”

Although I said that it isn’t the bands that matter, the line-up includes The Charlatans who I saw do a great live gig at Guilfest. Other acts include The Orb, Kula Shaker, Adrian Edmonson and the Bad Shepherds, The Beat ( who I was told did a great set at Guilfest too), The Buzzcocks, the  Blockheads, Nerina Pallot, and many more.

Solfest has all the things lacking at Guilfest in terms of quality of festival-going experience.

A sample from last year’s Solfest , as part of the goings-on in the all night Dogs in Space chill out tent featuring a bit of  Tetchi who are billed to play again there this year (this film makes the tent look a lot darker than in real life, it was actually fairly bright in there).

Any comments on why you think The Big Gathering was cancelled?

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. thanks to the UK Hippie Forum, I have found this update about what to do if you have a ticket.Is there a UK Beatnik Forum? and a UK Crusty Forum? and if not why not?

Next time a radio show I made about the songwriting communities of Open Mic clubs in London.

From BGG website ( note that Gong are playing the Big Chill keep referring to the BGG website for news, the Big Chill is a good place if you want a holiday but it’s nothing like the BGG experience in terms of  green anarchy, still I think  it’s good that they’ve done this, better that than leave people totally stranded)

Several other festivals have already approached us, offering to accept BIg Green Gathering tickets for their events. Some have placed no limit on the number of our ticket holders they will accept. Others have offered us a quota… and have told us that they will announce, on their websites, how many they can accomodate and how many places for BGG ticket holders they still have left. So far, if you have paid for a ticket (whether full price or concession) you will find it is definitely good for full admission to SUNRISE 2010 (late May 2010, Somerset) See website for details of how their BGG swap quota is standing and we are hoping, soon, to announce similar swap options for several festivals. Watch this space please.
ALSO
If you are willing to pay an extra £20, you can swap your Big Green Gathering ticket for a ticket to the BIG CHILL. All you have to do is turn up at the gate of the Big Chill with your BGG ticket and your extra £20. We’ll have a stall there, and some of the same speakers who were on our bill (including Jonathan Cainer) will be in their Words In Motion tent. Also on the Big Chill bill are Max Romeo, Gong, Pharoah Sanders and Music from the Penguin Cafe, plus comedy from Noel Fielding, Tim Minchin, John Hegley, Josie Long and Rob Deering.
Click here for the link. Please note; the Big Chill is not yet a Green event but they do have a long history of supporting honourable causes including Amnesty International… and they are now starting to use more solar and wind power. Solar Aid have a presence there this year.
OR
If you really want to make a gesture of faith and support… you can hold on to your ticket and we will honour it at the next Big Green Gathering, wherever and whenever it will be.
If we can avoid having to give too many straight refunds, it will help us survive. And if you are feeling extra-ordinarily generous, you can simply write to us telling us that you are ‘donating’ your ticket towards our survival fund.



Behind the Mask or Perfectionism leads to Carnage (+Satan Cowell)


Hello Good People who read this blog

This is another personal rant written during a phase of insomnia due to my own troubled waters and smog over London city both keeping me awake. This is not about hippie counterculture but being one of the last surviving hippies living close to the roots of London’s alternative counterculture maybe you can forgive me for ranting again…

I feel that I am being swept along in a tide of collective consciousness where revelations and sudden change are both liberating and confusing many people.

Many people are unsettling the status quo by revelation after revelation from the unlikeliest of sources, The Daily Telegraph for instance, not my first point of call for a revolution.

The bankers are outed as overpaid greedy manipulative thieves , then the bankers or “someone” want the focus taken off them in the spirit of  “if we’re going down then our old allies who dare to criticise us are going down too” , suddenly the government and its main opposition are in pieces, scandal after scandal of  greedy little secrets are revealed.

The mighty do not fall easily and defend themselves but are not believed. Even minor offences are unforgiven.

Then we have the great god of reality TV . People famous and influential by selection, seems like a dream come true for the attention and money hungry, but Jade dies, Susan has a nervous breakdown.

I always thought Satan Cowell was the Anti-Christ with Ant and Dec as his cackling demonic imps from the underworld. If Simon ever goes into politics he must be stopped at all costs, has no one learnt anything  from The Omen and Damien I , II,III, MMMMMMMMM?

Arthur Brown

Did no one else sense the soul-torturing evil of ” 2  Grand” and “Veruca Salt” ? (sorry I meant Hollie Steel).

Here I must add:

1. Yes I am being very mean (and silly)

2. I only watched the final of “Britain’s got Talent” to keep up with the times but I am sure there were more dastardly acts throughout the series which were invited to audition venturing up from Simon’s Cowell’s secret lurid stairwell from the depths of  Hades…

3. This is the land of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, The Sex Pistols etc…so pretty poor turn-out as far as British Talent goes…

What more proof  do you need that Simon Cowell really is the Anti-Christ?  (“ye shall know him from his fruits” etc…)

A bit of music now..not sure how long this rant will be up here, it may disappear in smoke soon. I have put this clip somewhere else in this blog, I do apologise but  it’s my favourite Hawkwind song (listen to Lemmy’s  bass that drives the piece)

and speaking of people selling their souls to Simon to be on TV here’s some Faust on Germany’s Got Talent , another reason not to vote UKIP ( the Libertarian Racist party).

(p.s. that might be confusing., let me clarify …Faust are good, today’s Germany is politically progressive, UKIP is retrogressive and  if elected will stop us from having touring bands like Faust unless they have three ID cards, special performing papers and then will have rotten tomatoes thrown at them for not being British).

…actually even stranger than that , this is Faust playing at  the humble Amersham Arms with excessive strobe lighting plus frogs, electric drill,accordion and heavy space rock mayhem…

The more perfect society tries to be the greater the mask is required.

The heavier the mask, the harder it is to carry.

People are not perfect, that’s the truth, they never will be perfect and in their quest to be Holier than Thou or Purer than Pure, better than the rest, genocide or at least an eating disorder arises.

No one group of people is perfect, I have known horrible capitalist hippies and psychologically violent Buddhists.

The best we can do is to work with the imperfections we have got.

How ironic it is when the government and media and educational establishments keep telling people off for eating too much , drinking, smoking that in fact more people are getting ill from over-indulgence.(am flitting about about a bit here subjectwise, writing after no sleep has this effect).

How about starting with self-respect, less advertising and more personal freedom?

How about starting with allowing people to build their own lives and be part of something, in control of something, that they create from a young age?

We don’t need the “product” to make us complete.

If everyone gives up smoking some will resort to cream cakes and I am not sure what is worse.

Just to prove that even music in the 60s was not perfect here is a band called “The Cake” in 1969.The singer on the left (Jeanette Jacobs) is perhaps too out of it or too p***** off  to do much and actually she is totally cool, that’s what I would do given the circumstances!

( after watching other clips it seems that looking stoned while the others dance around is her general role and image in this girl band,sadly she died young at the age of 30)

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The mask is slipping for those in power, this is good but let’s just face it, if any large group of human beings was given carte blanche for expenses, how many would be on the fiddle, even the purer than pure ones?

The completely and totally utterly imperfect and sometimes quite vile ( almost evil)

Born2rant

( Love and Peace with Brass Knobs on..not always) Voting Green