Guilfest 2009 delayed review of a mishmash festival


Hello Good People who read this blog…

I’ve been away some more and then was ill and then was in hospital with pipes up my nose and much more horrible places, but I am making it all sound far more dramatic and less conventional than it is…

However it provides a bloody good excuse for not having promptly written a review of Guilfest 2009 .

Why write a review of Guilfest anyway? After all it’s not a hippie festival! I hear you cry ( in my imagination that imagines that someone out there in cyberspace apart from MI5 and MI6 reads this).

Well two reasons:

1. I was there ( see previous entry for reason I was there)

2. I talked to Alice Armstrong ( see end of this entry for some footage in “The Laundry”..not a club but really in laundry) to ask her for her name for  a review. Both her and her guitarist were very enthusiastic and wanted the address of my blog , so now for them,because I like to keep to my word, rather than to gratify Lemmy or anyone else, I will write a review of my impressions of the festival and intersperse it with some of the music.

On the first evening, I missed Eat Static as I couldn’t find the dance tent hidden away in a corner of the festival, but I heard The Stranglers from my tent. I was resting preparing myself for Motorhead .I had a headache followed by a cough. There was a bloke at the gate,selling T-shirts saying “ I’ve got swine flu” with a big pink pig on it. I thought of buying one but didn’t.

By then I had realised that the festival was basically a gig in a field complete with modern Britain’s  fascist rules and regulations . To go into the main site, you had to endure young people randomly grabbing and tugging  at your wristband without warning , followed by the “customs” inspection, having everything in your bag, opened, sniffed, even tasted. I’m surprised they stopped short of a cavity search.But the British public, like apathetic sheep, just seemed to succumb to this kind of treatment without fuss. I don’t think ID cards will be hard to bring in, that’s nothing!

The reason for this behaviour was to stop people bringing in alcohol, drugs, and re-selling tickets and wristbands. However within sight and earshot of this procedure about ten ticket touts were relentlessly buying and selling tickets and wristbands. In the camping field several hundred under 16s and their “flu friends” were drinking hundreds of cans of beer , bottles of spirits and taking nitrous oxide, in full view of the same stewards so anxious to check everything in your bag. What a farce!

Entering into the main festival site was always a bit like going into a  strange concentration camp with no human rights or freedoms but with lots of good music and where  you could still smoke at a live gig.


Friday night :Motorhead as viewed from the position of adoring fans “Ace of Spades” Guilfest 2009

some Motorhead  choreography

Motorhead did a blinding gig, sometimes their energy waned for a minute or two but then they were back on form. Lemmy threatened to stop at one point because so many things ( mainly frisbees) were being thrown on stage . There was even a spectacular stage invasion. There was some excellent lead guitar playing, though I can never hear Lemmy’s lyrics and I got bored during the drum solo ( time to get a beer). Lemmy’s son, Paul ,came and played guitar on some songs with Lemmy on harmonica ,they did some acoustic blues. All in all a great gig with lots of energy and variety.

Motorhead with Fire-eaters on stage Guilfest

After Motorhead my second favourite gig came as a surprise to me . It was these guys , The Charlatans, far more psychedelic than I expected, also very dynamic and energetic.I liked all of their songs and they were “in the zone” performance-wise.
Saturday night:The Charlatans at Guilfest

The Only One I know

The Charlatans again (includes vibrant keyboard part):

They were followed by Brian Wilson who I missed due to monsoon type rain, poor guy playing sunny music in the dark with everyone running for cover. Good Vibrations ( note pools of water on the front of the stage)

Another one of my gripes about this festival was that there was nowhere you could sit indoors and have a cup of coffee, the cafes were grim and not run by hippies . Since it rained a lot, sitting indoors was important, a lot of people brought their own chairs and giant umbrellas, gazebos etc… but being ecologically minded ( and without enough dosh to run a car) I bring the bare minimum to  festivals. At other festivals I go to there are hippie run cafes under big tarpaulins where there are old sofas, carpets, or at least bales of hay to sit on while you drink and eat out of the rain.

Also the programmes which cost £5 , a lot of money when you have none, was the only way of finding out who was on stage when.

At the information point when I asked who was on stage, they deliberately hid the programme from me as they gave out information, like I was some kind of free-loading thief, explaining to me that I had to buy a programme if I wanted to know anything more. I paid £120 including postage for a bloody ticket, I don’t want to have to be  robbed of another fiver to know who is performing. Pah! I say in disgust!

Plus the real ale I bought there was the worst pint I have ever drunk in my life and their measures of vodka seemed to be very mean. There were no showers on site, these were some distance off the site at a swimming pool. No one I talked to could be bothered to walk there.

Anyway at least there was some good music.

During the daytime around the festival I spotted Fezheads in a tent not just dancing but playing some excellent surf music with their band. Highly entertaining although a couple of young blokes pulled up behind me and watched them  saying that they were crap as they were making mistakes with their dance steps. I think they missed the point.

Surrey University was one of the sponsors. The head of Popular Music there used to be my lecturer years ago and created some very interesting courses , he didn’t mind my writing essays on the Ozric Tentacles and Stonehenge. (I have a sneaky feeling that the Prof. in question could be the person with long red hair lurking at the back of the stage on the Motorhead and Charlatan clips but I may be totally mistaken).

However the Uni produced a brochure with some truly horrific pictures of Jimmy Page and George Martin.I had to throw the brochure away as I was so freaked out by a photo of Jimmy Page grinning with extra-whitened teeth,wearing full graduate garb including silly hat ,looking like King Henry the VIII’s skinny cousin.
Whatever happened to your tight satin snake trousers Jimmy???

I saw quite a bit of music on Sunday, having sussed out my camping situation and accepting that there would be no sleep till Notting Hill ( i. e. in my own bed) due to the loud tent/bar next to me running all Saturday night, Sunday morning and well into the afternoon when they left . This large tent run by some of the younger attendees, was stacked with big amps, lights, and a big bar. At four a.m. I heard about a hundred people sing “woo-hoo” along to Blur , and shortly afterwards they all shouted repeatedly ” Naked Bar!” and could hear them stripping .Their music was often louder than the main stage, most people moved their tents away after the first night but I have ear-plugs and have camped next to 24 dance music stages.
On Sunday morning I got up and saw The Rock Choir, the less I say about them the better.There were so many of them, that they were performing on both main stages simultaneously, another strange decision made probably by either by a crazy fan or a committee. Committees should NEVER run a festival ( I speak from experience) leave it to a couple of driven individuals who know what they are doing.( arrogant opinionated ranting from me but that’s what I’m here for! )
Motorhead and Will Young headlining at the same festival?????What were they thinking? ( Ker-ching  ££££££ let’s maximise our audience possibly).

I watched the Rock Choir, on both stages but had to leave urgently, as two terribly nice young white boys backed by about two hundred white suburban housewives sang a rap song to Jesus in a very earnest fashion. ( just as well Lemmy wasn’t around).

Later, fortunately I caught The Hamsters, who initially seemed a bit jaded, but warmed up nicely and soon attracted a large crowd when playing Hendrix and AC/DC covers and their usual antics of swapping instruments went down well.

The Hamsters are one of my favourite live bands, who I go to see once or twice a year.So even though I can’t find Guilfest footage of them I have to put up a clip of them anyway.The Hamsters play Purple Haze ( but not at Guilfest!) Rock Against Ageism!

Later that evening,The Happy Mondays were pretty boring after a couple of songs although they had a fab female vocalist with twenty times the singing ability of Shaun Ryder ( bet there are some interesting ego clashes backstage!).

Bez ,clearly no longer on the wagon, addressed the audience like some demented mute traffic cop. He threw a maraca to a member of the audience close to me and then gesticulated madly that the wrong person had caught it, then indicated he wanted it back, then once it was thrown back to him on stage, he delivered it to the person who was meant to receive it ( or at least this is what I understood at the time  but who knows what motivates him?)
Here he is when he still had both maracas.( but possibly not all of his marbles).

Earlier in the day I’d seen “Goldie Looking Chain” and realised that  I was going to see two ex-Big Brother contestants in one day ( Bez and Maggot, whatever happened to “street cred”?).
“Goldie Looking Chain” are a great  bawdy leaping hip-hop act, very entertaining but so inapropriate to bill them on a Sunday afternoon full of families with young children, many of them waiting to see Will Young in the evening.

There were lots of little girls looking quite puzzled and disturbed when GLC explained in great detail the basis for their song ” Can I F*** your sister?“,  thereby making some lads laugh but traumatising parents and daughters alike.

Apart from Motorhead, the band I saw most beloved by the crowds, including families and people of all ages and backgrounds, were “The Wailers“. The dancing  audience knew all the words and the vibe was fantastic.
Amazingly I can’t find any Guilfest footage of The Wailers even though they were hugely popular, so here’s a clip of them in Saint-Petersburg earlier in the year, imagine the same scenario but in blazing sunshine with a couple of thousand people dancing and singing along .

But the reason why I wrote this entry was after talking to one young woman from Guilford and her guitarist friend in the acoustic lounge. She has a stunning big powerful blues/soul voice. Her name is Alice Armstrong and she was accompanied by American guitarist Jack Kristiansen. They did a couple of interesting jointly-written songs including “Roll-Up” ( i.e. “Skin-Up”) on Sunday. Her stage presence and that big and mature-sounding voice of hers is begging for a big band behind her. I asked for her name, and the name of their act which is simply “Alice Armstrong” . They were definitely the best act on compared to the other stages at that point. I was dismayed to find no trace of her music on the net.

In the late sixties or early seventies, Alice’s voice would have been ideal for a loud raunchy rock or blues band but musical fashions change,  she has a great voice  and I  hope she finds her niche.
It’s a big shame that I cannot find her singing  online but here are some pictures of her from her myspace profile and hopefully, she may be persuaded to record herself or film herself ,so it can go online. But Alice, my advice is to develop your own style, don’t copy anyone else, trust your instincts!

I will email her to check she doesn’t mind me using these photos . ( note the troll behind the window)

Alice Armstrong from Guildfordalice amrstrong 1

alice armstrong2

Anyway got to go now…my next project awaits my attention…

UPDATE! 27/07/09 Alice has uploaded a couple of home vids on youtube, however I’m not sure they do her or her voice justice, she still could do with a band and an attentive audience, however you can hear the essence of her voice on the youtube clips at the following address:http://www.youtube.com/alicearmstrong

( I quite like the one in the laundry with beer) …so I’ll put it up here.

Alice Armstrong with Jack Kristiansen “Roll-up”

Will do another unusual blog entry soon.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. 19/7/09 A lot of  Will Young fans are coming to read this review. Sorry there is no Will Young here, you need to write your own review and ranting  from  a Will Young fan point of view!




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What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)


What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity

Terrorism , paranoia and police state!

I have been quite reticent to write some of the items in the next few stories.
Firstly because I want to protect my old acquaintances and I worry that if MI5 or the FBI or Interpol or someone reads this that they will go berserk and want to find and arrest people.
***So all I will say to all you people who might be from any of those agencies is that all these events happened 23 or so years ago. All the people involved are either now completely law abiding or have had some form of psychiatric treatment. In 2007 we /they are no threat to any government or members of the public or to anyone at all.So calm down!

We are living in strange paranoid times. In the late 60s and 70s the London I grew up in was full of bombs. As a child I used to wake up regularly from some kind of explosion in the middle of the night. There were letter bombs and car bombs and bombs left in plastic bags in London and throughout the country mainly by the IRA but also by the PLO and others.In case the reader is too young to remember , Lord Mountbatten a public figure , famous as a soldier and member of the Royal Family , Prince Charles’ great-uncle and mentor was killed off the Irish coast by a bomb on his boat along with other members of his family and crew. Can you imagine the response if a member of the Royal Family was killed now. They would have to question every Muslim under 30 in the country!
There would be mass panic and 24 hour coverage on the news.
There were countless attacks on Britain by the IRA. The US government were often unsympathetic to these attacks.
Another case in point was the Brighton bombing in 1984 where the government were directly attacked at the Brighton Party conference. Five people died and several permanently disabled as a result, 34 others injured.
Now the daughter of one of the ministers killed in the blast Jo Berry who is an acquaintance of mine campaigns all over the world for peace. She has allied herself with the IRA bomber himself and both now campaign against terrorism and for peace. Whatever your opinion is on this matter , one has to admit it’s quite an achievement and can only inspire other former enemies to find a different way of bringing about change.

However if you watch the news these days you’d think we had never had a terrorist threat before in this country and that somehow we must live with constant surveillance and with extra police powers , and that we must at all times be scared and suspicious.
I understand that possibly the plans of Al-Qaeda are to cause devastation on a much bigger scale than for instance the IRA, and I understand that September the 11th was a terrible crime against humanity. I’m a pacifist and believe that violence just creates retaliation and more violence. I am not on the side of terrorists of any kind however I do think now part of our brainwashing is to leap on and kill anyone subversive in case they could be a terrorist threat. It’s Carte Blanche for the authorities to suppress and destroy any little group of subversives they come across and young people today are therefore not only apathetic about politics but also the ones who do protest put their lives at risk. Maybe that’s always been the case and young people were braver before.
It strikes me that a lot of the protests done by young people I know of is through ” partying” in public places or in ways that are unusual. These are protests but they are not overtly political but it’s certainly better than nothing and less risky to those involved.However the wonderful Circle Line parties , which I was lucky to take part in once, have been stopped because the Spacehijakers were worried about people getting taken for terrorists and harmed by the police. All we were doing was having a drink and a dance on the tube!
(only a few hundred of us on the same train).

My second reservation for telling you the following stories is because I do not want the readers to lose sight of the original message. The Anti-Media message is a vitally important one. It is anti-corporate, anti-advertising, anti-brainwashing to buy products we do not need at a time when the planet can no longer sustain our levels of production and consumption.
The Anti-Media message could almost be equated with Anti-Stupidity and thinking for yourself. However you will read in some of the following stories why I left it all got too extreme for me. However they are still great stories and I love to tell them. We weren’t terrorists , we were only challenging modern culture in our little ways. But still once explosives were involved I had to quit.
Have I mentioned at least three times that I am a pacifist? Good, then I will continue on a lighter note…

Odds and Ends
Some More Anti-media Stories

The Kidnap of Ronald Mac Donald

There was a plan to kidnap Ronald Mac Donald.
At children’s birthday parties at Mac Donald’s they often had a member of staff dressed as Ronald Mac Donald clowning around to entertain the kids. There was an Anti-Media plan to kidnap one and hold him for ransom.
A couple of years ago I bumped into Richard and asked him if this had ever taken place .
He told me there had been an attempt at this. They were a really nice bunch of people and although they often had pretty crazy plans they were too nice to ever do anyone any harm. They had modified their kidnap plan and instead they infiltrated Mac Donald’s and one of them got a job there and volunteered to do the children’s party dressed as Ronald McDonald.
As he was doing the party they pulled up a van outside and bungled him into the back and then sent a letter telling Mac Donald’s of various anti-media demands to be met or they wouldn’t see Ronald again. The plan failed because Mac Donalds ignored the letter and other bunglings. The guy quit but they may have made some kind of film of it somewhere.

The Mess-Age Magnet

Hogan and Howard had asked me if I wanted to contribute something to their Anti-Media magazine ( a contradiction in terms) called the Mess-age Magnet. When I asked them what kind of things they wanted me to write they told me to write anything. I like anarchic organisations of all sorts where you are given trust, freedom and responsibility. It brings out the best in me.
I didn’t know what to write. This must have been in 1985 while we were still doing Anti-Media events.
Every summer myself, Michael and our son would go off to free festivals. That year was particularly interesting as the free festival scene and the country was changing.
The scene had changed because it was growing and Magaret Thatcher was calling us all
” medieval brigands”
although I think the most illegal thing we did on our travels was to sell excellent tea, real coffee and pancakes at a very cheap price from our makeshift cafe without a license . We were even parked on land where it was legal to do so, but the government changed the laws so that The Stonehenge Festival became illegal, and other festivals on sites where there had been traditional fairs, and squatting rights, common land laws etc..were all changed so that our little peaceful free festivals became illegal. As they became illegal the people who went to them changed too. But that’s another story.
In 1985 on our travels from festival to festival we landed at The Cantlin Stone festival. It was one of the happiest times of my life. We were travelling with other groups of hippies in little tribes to deserted places and living off common land, collecting wood, the children who were not wild as they were at some festivals were playing together exploring the hills and countryside around from sunrise to sunset. Every single person I met at Cantlin Stone had interesting tales to tell. Many had come from Hull and other northern towns. Some told us they had been unemployed for several years due to the closing down of different industries and had decided that instead of being on the dole and living in a city full of desolation and junkies that they had chosen to take to the open road, living on buses and in teepees. It was an idyllic lifestyle. I was never lonely, I always felt supported, so happy and so rich in the company of so many benevolent and highly intelligent and colourful interesting people. We were living without TV or newpapers or news and we were very happy.
Therefore it was while I was at Cantlin Stone, perched up on a hill of heather and woods which the forester had shown me was damaged by acid rain, that I wrote about my time there and how our whole sense of selves changed from being away from TV and all sources of news. In fact we probably were in the news if not at that festival then at others we travelled to that summer without our knowledge.
My contribution to the magazine was only 2 pages long. The rest were collages of newspaper and magazine clippings and cartoons with scrawled comments on various issues such as” Is Modern Life Rubbish?“, ” Dress like the pig you are“, “If you think home-taping is killing music you know nothing in either ear.“, ” Love me less, respect me more”.
There were articles about many issues:

” ANTImedia seeks GURLS to contribute to magazine and performances. a GURL regards her environment with contempt and distrust..she is fed up of seeing her contemporaries hanging around with men who are fashion conscious cool and hedonistic….GURLS don’t like the media one bit.”

Another page had a ten step programme ( with 13 steps of course) .They are a bit dated as now it would be computers and computer games and social networking sites and cds and dvds they would avoid as well as TV. Also men with pony tails were quite slimy and trendy at the time and Walkmans were the latest thing…but anyway.

TEN STEPS

1. Turn down the volume on your television during advertisements

2. Turn off altogether

3. Sell television ( and/or all modern conveniences such as expensive hi-fi , or extensive record collection).

4.Cancel standing subscriptions to any daily/weekly/monthly magazines

5.Avoid high neon low life restaurants and take away diners.

6. Avoid high streets and shops bigger than the size of a living room.

7. Allow not your gaze to wander onto street adverts, thus immediately disarming the use of said items.

8. Make a stencil and disfigure the above adverts and invent other creative ideas to occupy yourself positively during your newly found creative life.

9. Tell your friends and discuss anti media ideas with them.

10. Lose them

11. Avoid all modern so called culture.

12. de centralize anti-media by forming your own groups

13. With your new capital from abstaining from bad goods, finance anti-media housing, transport, publications, etc..like buying a pair of garden shears to clear obstacles from underground trains, such as ponytails and walkman leads .
Take the ten steps and your life can only be Improving.”

A flat in Bloomsbury and the Telecom Conspiracy

Hogan had a flat in Bloomsbury and I was invited to come to an anti-media meeting there to discuss various plans.
Hogan used to live there in a media free zone. I remember him telling me he’d met this homeless guy , who I think was an alcoholic and allowed him to move in for a while for free.
Hogan, Richard and Andy were there plus myself and my son.
During the meeting I needed to make a phone call. By the phone there was a window and what I thought was a telescope next to it . However you didn’t need a telescope to see the BT tower. It had been the Post Office Tower but we were living in an era where the Thatcherite government was privatising public companies. The GPO( General Post Office) had split and now we had British Telecom sold off in shares along with British Gas, British Rail etc.. It is hardly surprising that anti-corporate anti-media would have resented the newly renamed Telecom Tower and all the publicity in launching the British Telecom brand.
I saw a jar by the phone which was full of coins and I assumed it was to go towards the phone bill. So I offered to pay for my call and put some money in the jar.
However as I offered to put in ten pence for the bill they told me that each time someone made a call the money was not going to pay British Telecom but to buy explosives to blow up the Telecom Tower. I then looked at the telescope again and I think they were going to use it as some kind of rocket launcher and it was pointed straight up at the Telecom Tower a couple of streets away.

If you haven’t already done so please read my note above ***.

Anyway I rejoined the meeting not sure if this was a joke but my head was swimming and I knew I needed to rethink my involvement with them. Later they gave me and my son a lift home. I have never been so scared in the back of a car. Richard had just learned to drive and had a full license but Andy was driving with a provisional license. The drive was very scary and I seem to remember us going the wrong way up one-way streets and through red lights etc..My son was oblivious and I rediscovered a long-lost belief in God as I prayed we would make it home. After a while Richard said to Andy casually ” So when’s your first driving lesson?”.
After this I reflected and I knew that although my friends were lovely and I agreed with their challenging the media and mass consumerism that somewhere along the line there was a screw loose and marbles gone a-missing.
I still didn’t know if they were joking about the explosives but I knew I would not be part of it anymore. Pooing shit on the TV is one thing( see previous post about crap on the tv), saving up for explosives and my son’s safety were another. It had got too extreme for me.

Exploding Jimmy Tarbuck

About a week or so after that in the rush hour along one of London’s busiest roads they exploded something. There was a huge billboard of Jimmy Tarbuck’s face grinning next to a giant 3 D microwave. In the microwave oven there was a 3D rotating turkey. It was a whole 3D installation, trying to persuade people to roast their turkeys at Christmas in a newly available microwave oven.
They put an incendiary device behind the turkey and it exploded to the amazement of people caught in rush hour traffic. They immediately then called the fire brigade as the billboard was catching fire. No one was hurt, Jimmy Tarbuck’s huge grinning face remained intact.Please see note *** above!

Russell and his explosions

Russell poor lad was one of the anti-media crew I knew less well than the others. I had been out for a drink with him and others once in Hampstead . I barely knew Russell and a couple of others I have not mentioned as they did not perform at the Anti-media Pentameters events or come to Dead Dog promotions /Treatment gigs..( see previous entries in blog for Pentameters events).

When I met him , Russell was shy and quiet, he looked a bit like a young Bob Dylan but wearing some kind of chunky hand-knitted jumper with pictures on it. I thought he looked like the kind of repressed kid who might have been bullied as a child. Russell got a kick from exploding things. Hogan and Richard had told me a few tales about Russell’s behaviour before he finally got psychiatric treatment.
Hogan had left the flat in Bloomsbury and shared a house with Russell for a while. In order to entertain themselves they started to paint furniture and objects in the house, then the carpet was painted. I think Hogan was trying to find something therapeutic for Russell to do as his mental state was clearly worrying. Then Russell took it a stage further and started to set fire to things around the house, he even put lighter fuel on the lawn and set fire to that.
By then Hogan started to realise this was no longer “anti-media art” but simply lunacy and couldn’t live with him anymore. Richard had also told me a story where they were visiting Russell’s parents and he suddenly let off an incendiary device in their living room. He told the others to run and drive off but their car wouldn’t start and eventually being in the middle of a remote part of Scotland and without mobile phones, they had to go back into the parent’s house. They helped them with the damage and then called the AA waiting for them in the family home Russell had just tried to destroy.
Please read note ****

Epilogue

So that is the story of Anti-Media or what I can remember of it.
It went from idealism into anarchy and insanity but the idealism without the insanity is what we need now. We need to counteract the power and morals of the media, advertising and corporate thinking if this planet is ever to have any hope of a future. But not with bombs, explosives or violence but with words and thoughts and hopefully communities collaborating away from media and advertising intervention.

So where are they now?
I bumped into Richard at The Notting Hill Arts Centre where he was DJing. As well as being a DJ and he also set up his own record label and worked for a couple of other independent labels and a music project involving a member of Blur. I asked him if he had talked to anyone from Blur about them using our slogan “Modern Life is Rubbish”. He told me that a few years back they had written to Sony records to complain that they were using our slogan without our permission but didn’t get a reply. He said he might mention it again in the future.

I bumped into Hogan a few years ago in an Oxfam shop in Drury Lane where I was working . He still buys his clothes in Oxfam shops. He had a couple of adoring women in tow. He looked exactly the same and hadn’t changed in 20 years, neither has Richard. Hogan told me he was now working as a documentary maker and had just made a series for the BBC.

I last saw Leonie and Om together as a happy couple at a blues gig at the George Robey opposite The Rainbow in Finsbury Park before Club Dog moved there. He was playing harmonica on stage with a blues/garage band with other friends of mine including Clive and Adam from Treatment. Leonie was expecting a baby.

The other Anti-Media people I have never seen again.
As for me I live in Notting Hill and I write and teach music and recently started writing blogs in response to my son’s request and a guy from Wigan who wanted some stories about completely different things but which involved some of the same community. Next Monday more ranting and a new chapter “The Chainsaw Party” .

Astragone Arglegargle (that’s me that is!)

Modern Life is Rubbish and Harpers and Queen, glossy fashion magazine!(Anti-Media stories part 3)


Now…..Back to the Anti-Media Events

Some further memories of our Anti-Media events at Pentameters.
I remember another film Hogan made which was shown at their events but also at our psychedelic gigs at Club Dog/ Alice in Wonderlands and various venues.

There were 3 bored looking teenage Teddy Boys sitting in a bus shelter. One of the Anti-Media crew had a stencil and a spray can and went up in front of them and started to spray anti-media graffitti. The 3 sullen looking Teds looked on almost interested but then something extraordinary happens. You have to understand that the Anti-media films were of real life nothing was set up. I can’t remember if it was Hogan or Richard doing the graffitti but a police car stopped and he was arrested.
The film continues outside Paddington Green Police station where they hold high security terrorists he walks out released after hours of questioning. He is smiling and looking bemused. It was a great unplanned little story.

Fame through Graffitti

I used to smile each time I came across some Anti-Media graffitti in London , I knew my friends had been there. They had a couple of slogans.
One of them was ” Modern Life is Rubbish” and like” Anti-Media” or “Sierra Scum” ( they had something against people driving new Ford Sierras!) could be found sprayed in numerous locations. One of the last places I saw it was on the outside wall of a big hotel on the Bayswater Road close to Marble Arch. That must have been up there for 15 years at least.
I once heard in an interview I think with Alex James or another member of Blur that they had seen some “hippie” graffitti saying “Modern Life is Rubbish” around London and decided to name their album after it.
We were surprised and a bit gutted that our slogan had been used by Blur and gone into mass production and the mass media.

I just looked up on Wikipedia this snippet according to them:
“When the album was released, Albarn was rumoured to graffiti the album name with a spray paint can to reproduce the title in public places such as toilets in public houses and on walls to raise the profile of the new album.[5] Bassist Alex James said of the graffiti in a 2007 interview, “We got fined by Colchester Council for spraying the title on a wall. There’s probably a frame around it now”.”

Well you can’t trust Wikipedia or the media for accuracy. Although so many people do.
I don’t know about Colchester but it was definitely the Anti-media people who had graffitied “Modern Life is Rubbish” throughout central London in 1983 onwards, I never saw one that looked like it was from a different stencil to ours.There are more links between Anti-Media and Blur but you will have to be patient.
In the meantime I encourage bored teenagers to find places to do political graffitti. Not tags, that’s like dogs peeing to mark their territory, come on if you’re a teenager be a rebel what’s wrong with young people today? Their minds are enslaved! Come on do something political away from CCTV cameras. In fact all of us should get the spray cans out and decorate our cities with witty political slogans. Make them works of art or like me just write a blog and hope the right people find it.
( It’s legal still, just about!)
I remember I was performing at a cabaret night in the Finchley Road one night and got drunk, some of my Anti-media allies came to the night and on the way back home me still in my green slime, I seem to remember climbing up on a roof and spraying “Modern Life is Rubbish” . But that doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing I would do normally…maybe I imagined it while a bit inebriated.

back to some more recollections of our Pentameters events…

(apologies in advance to my son who will read this)

Our son Ben was about 2 and a half or 3 at this time. We decided to do an improvised play (most things were improvised at our shows) with him. We told our son that he had to pretend to be our parent and tell us off if we did anything wrong and that we would pretend to be the babies. Ben thought this was a great idea and though very young he was extremely eloquent and comfortable with groups of adults. So Michael and I and Ben took to the stage with no rehearsal .Ben was the star of the show. Michael was squatting bouncing up and down with a dummy in his mouth and I was doing something, I think I was pretending to cry and teasing Michael.
Ben was a fantastic improv artist alternating in comforting us , talking to us gently and patting us if we were crying and when we were hitting each other or being naughty he was warning us in an authoritative but kind voice, then if we were really naughty he was pointing at us telling us off angrily and spanking us…. I don’t know where he learnt his parenting skills from!
Of course it was fun being the two naughty children but mainly I was stunned at how well our young son could role play.
The audience loved it and so did our son who felt at last he got his rightful place in charge of us parents ( mind you no great change there! Sorry Ben! But everyone thought you were fantastic and it’s the one Anti-Media scene people still remember now).
A photographer took pictures of Ben with one of us in a Nazi helmet ( I think) and these were published in that stylish glossy fashion magazine “Harpers and Queen”. How on earth “Harpers and Queen” got to find out about us is a mystery to me but I was asked along to an interview in Pimlico at the time and since the group wanted to remain anonymous and they had all these political ideas of what we should or should not say I just kept out of it. I was too scared of blabbering on as usual in my uncensored way and upsetting someone.
I have the article somewhere and if I ever find it I might quote bits in a subsequent blog.

I have just found out that Harpers and Queen is now called Harpers Bazaar, isn’t that bizarre?

I suppose it’s like Jif and Cif or Marathon and Snickers.

Next Time more terrible tales of Anti-Media…

There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).