The Quintessence of Ladbroke Grove, Glastonbury Fayre 1971, Meanwhile Gardens, Here & Now and alternative community spirit


Hello Good People who read this blog….

If you like this post please could you rate it with stars or add a nice comment, thanks!

My friend and mentor Brian R. Banks sent me a link to a wonderful piece about the band Quintessence  from the ezine It’s Psychedelic Baby, to celebrate the release of their complete Island Records recordings.  In his article Brian describes the vibe of creativity at the time in the Ladbroke Grove area. He also has a very interesting interview with former Quintessence band member Raja Ram a.k.a. Ronald Rothfield who also depicts ‘the Grove‘ or Ladbroke Grove area, filled with musicians, squatters, and people living alternative lifestyles. Please follow this link to read Brian’s excellent article: http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2017/06/raja-ram-quintessences-complete-island.html

If you are wondering what Quintessence sound like, below here there is a film of them playing at Glastonbury 46 years ago.

They sing :

‘If you want a life that is free

If you want a life full of happiness

You’ve got to turn your back on fear and shame

Leave it, Leave it all behind you

Have no fear,

You’ve got to turn your back on Fortune and Fame

You’ve got to leave it all behind you

You’ve got  to leave it all behind you, ever free.’

Of course the Glastonbury Fayre was free to ‘get into’ , or rather walk into, in 1971. Others performing at this festival included a young David Bowie, Gong, Hawkwind, Traffic, Melanie, and Fairport Convention.

If you don’t like the music of Glastonbury 2017 and like me, could not afford to go there anyway, you can watch a documentary about  the free festival of Glastonbury Fayre (1971) here. To listen to Quintessence, play this video from exactly one hour onwards:

Today I walked down Portobello Road market, I found tucked away under the Westway in Acklam Road  there were residents and friends of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, selling cakes, clothes and a variety of things where the money goes directly to those affected. It’s going on tomorrow (Sunday 25th) as well, a bit hard to find but worth going to. I gave them a small donation and wished them good luck, but they really appreciated my modest  contribution. I was glad they organised something, just wish it was in the middle on Portobello Road and took up the whole market and wished they’d opened up the little ampitheatre in Meanwhile Gardens where bands used to play Saturday evenings for free, they could have passed the hat around and done a great benefit gig. Today so many rules and regulations and they are ignored by companies in terms of fire protection but if a few people want to gather and have a free gig , is that allowed? I hope someone does run a free gig there for the community to remember and not let it be only a grand  Simon ‘Chimney Brush-head’ Cowell production.

If you are wondering what I am talking about here is a documentary about Meanwhile Gardens from 1981; Music performance @ 20-23 mins, and in view of recent events, a rather disturbing giant Guy Fawkes Bonfire (30mins in):

 

I went to many gigs at Meanwhile Gardens including probably this one:

I was going to write about other alternative lifestyle things in Notting Hill but have to go now. I will leave you with more wonderful Here & Now from 1978 (Careful with that effects pedal Steffe). On the youtube video below there are some great photos. I recognise people, marquees, The Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, etc……I wish I could find my old photos…people at free festivals didn’t want to be photographed a lot of the time. There are also photos of alternative lifestyles in Latimer Road with tower blocks from the estate in the background, possibly Grenfell Tower or tower blocks still standing nearby.

 

 

‘You’ll plot and scheme to get your way,

but you haven’t the got guts to do it yourself,

so you make an alliance with somebody else,

A thousand years it’s been the same,

political parties in power again,

if you’re listening man, I’d like to say,

Floating Anarchy is a better way!’  (Here & Now ‘What You See….Is What You Are’ 1978).

This is really great music and spirited musical performance..Please listen to this before bed and/or play it to your children and grandchildren instead of a bedtime story.

So wishing you Love & Peace, sending good wishes and hugs to all those affected by the Grenfell Fire disaster, let us rebuild a free creative community spirit where and when we can.

 

 

 

 

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Twilight Interzone – a Poem about Notting Hill by Dave Russell


 Hello all good  people who read this blog

My old friend, musician and writer, Dave Russell sent me a poem he wrote about Notting Hill. He has been living there since the early sixties. I am re-posting his poem here. This is how Dave describes it:
“I wrote it in 1973; it was my vision of what I felt was the apocalypse of Hippie Notting Hill. I did a sung version of it, using the melody of Martin Carthy’s The Famous Flower of Serving Men.”

Twilight Interzone

They’ve got the damp, they’ve got the mice

In a crumbling, plastered paradise

Where boutiques sprout as fast

As anything you know.

The rich drift in their hardboard pads

Whilst some a cultivated sadness sport

In drooping sheepskin robes.

They’re gathered round to scream it free:

Ensconced in freedom’s poverty;

In cells they’re warmed, united –

Each in a crowd, each all alone

In the famous Twilight Interzone.

There shone some garish graffiti:

We are Gay: We are a Family –

Colville Terrace, number forty-two;

It left them wondering what to do

While Single Mums, with vocal fire

Challenge the Visitor’s desire

All morals above board to keep:

It is the boards whereon they sleep.

And some will play the acolyte,

In robes of yellow, robes of white;

They take their incense as they please

Black Afghan and Green Lebanese.

The groups will play their wah-wah vamps

And shred their eardrums on their amps;

“We’re gonna make it” – that’s their decree:

I wonder just what ‘it’ might be.

Scientologists exploit their plight,

Likewise do the Divine Light;

They hear the Rada Krishna sing;

They drop their trips, they do their thing.

Some preach of Lenin, Mao and Che

And reckon on the Judgement Day,

At their meetings they do not despair

Of the workers who are never there.

A cob of maize with leaves unfurled

Reveals to all the Seventh World;

We’ll contemplate a falling star

From our Mini-Minor Macro Car.

Beware the black alsatian’s roar,

Beware the rattling of your door,

Beware your rotten, creaking stair,

Your landlord did it fast repair.

The speculators have their dreams,

Their credit plans and paper schemes,

Their blatant lust, without disguise;

They rake the bread – they scrape the skies.

So if you think you’re going to be

A bulldozed, rootless refugee

Do not despair, for they do say

There’s space beneath the Motorway.

If you get fed up with this song,

It originates where you belong;

Go take your pills and make your moan

In the famous Twilight Interzone.

David Russell

Notting Hill almost how I remember it…and some odd music videos (with apologies to Mumford & Sons)


Hello Good People who still read this blog…(amazingly)

I haven’t written here for so long, was very put off by the lack of privacy online and prosecutions after the London riots and then so many things happened in my daily life. Last night I stayed up late and watched old music videos with my son and it made me remember how much I enjoyed writing my blog here and ranting, and planting the odd youtube video in between my ranting as backing music.

I just like to rant to people I know these days and life has been so weird since the recession. I think being a hippie is becoming cool again, or far less frowned upon by youth in 2015,than when I first started this blog.Even becoming a Labour supporter is becoming cool again after years of three main parties advocating capitalism. But as I said the other day, we’re all fed up with relentless caterpillars ( my tired play on words). The money never trickles down from the rich to the poor, instead the rich get more maids, probably with a string of “domestic service” qualifications.The superich can pick and choose among the desperate. But even the rich are more insecure since this global economic downturn, with the rise of apocalyptic religious fanaticism, the spread of 24 news channels to scare us all, refugees and the poor arriving in the countries of the wealthy – giving rise to  more servants! and more xenophobia(see Footnote 1) to scare suburban-minded voters whose herd instinct is too strong to use their brains independently of the right-wing media.

We all share this planet, and for a long time the rich countries, and exploited countries were kept far away from one another, but eventually as travel gets easier, it seems not implausible for every country to end up with the same wealth and resources, that means us westerners will become a lot poorer! But then that’s equality. Countries and borders are drawn in sand, we are just animals roving a small planet most trying to find a way to survive while others try to conquer. ( not conker, to fight all our territorial battles with conkers on bits of string in the autumn (“Fall” for Americans) would be far more fun).

An old friend from a psychedelic band sent me a link to this wonderful piece of Hippie history, Notting Hill as it used to be. A short film entitled “Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate”,(1969-“Blissful Company” album) the title of a song by local band Quintessence who jam at the end of the film. Notice how little traffic there is and how many people are black, yes Notting Hill was known as a “West Indian” (Afro-Caribbean) area. Now most residents are white and superrich but also many like me don’t have much but have been living here for a very long time.

This is a link to the short film which was put up online by the lovely people at the British Film Institute:

http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-getting-it-straight-in-notting-hill-gate-1970/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20150812-player-new-britain-on-film&utm_content=20150812-player-new-britain-on-film+CID_36555ab4aae7529e39e04b8809b2ea5e&utm_source=cm&utm_term=WATCH+FOR+FREE

I still live there but feel totally alienated from all the posh residents, I blend in but I remember when Notting Hill was a dangerous and exciting place. I remember each time I walked down certain roads at night on my own, particularly down “All Saints Road”, anyone who spotted me assumed that I was a prostitute or in search of a drug deal. In fact I was more interested in just exploring different ways of being. I’ve never enjoyed danger, but boredom is like death, so sometimes one has to make a compromise and take risks for the sake of avoiding a depressing existence.

Who can afford to live in Notting Hill now? Who can afford to live in London? The prices of houses has got so crazy now that it can’t go on forever, the prices have to stabilise in the next couple of years. There simply aren’t enough millionaires to buy all the houses in London, or rent them. They say that Russian Oligarchs are to blame, but I think they are making them into (rich) scapegoats, after all it is a UK decision not to cap the prices of houses and to keep the “fair rents” at the same level as the going local market cost for rents. Rampant Caterpillars!

I have to put some other music videos up here. They are not hippie videos but are just weird and entertaining. This is the Eurythmics. Here someone is either making fun of the ridiculously extravagant British pop videos of the eighties or this is a genuinely silly pop video.

Great song though! and interesting video, note the cows (why?), the forerunner to the personal computer ( we only had word processors at that time) and obligatory period costume ( see also Boy George Karma Chameleon video and others)

The Eurhythmics – Sweet Dreams 1983 ( I hope this link works!)

Then here’s a great live/not live performance of Radar Love by Golden Earring. Have you ever seen a more bored audience? Note the blonde girl teenagers forced to sit on the stage, frankly I don’t think any of these people like rock music and I think they were all told they would be tortured if they did not sit quietly until the end of the song ( I’d be the same if I had to sit through an Ed Sheeran gig).There’s a very angry looking woman with big glasses in the background, that would be me at a Mumford & Sons gig.Meanwhile the band do a great “stonking” semi-live performance. It looks live they are performing live over a recording, it doesn’t matter, the song is great. I never used to think so but I am old and any music of the 1970s is better than the bland brain death that is Mumford and Sons ( I can get away with saying this because you haven’t heard my own songs).

Golden Earring -Radar Love (1973)(Yey turn it up and dance round the room and ROCK!!!)( Mumford and Sons are so square!)

Now staying on the topic of rock..until last night I never knew who was responsible behind that wonderful song “Black Betty” which used to be played at my school disco right after “Black Knight” (Deep Purple), ” Play that Funky Music” (Wild Cherry), ” You ain’t seen nothing yet” (Bachman Turner Overdrive), and “Jive Talking” (The Bee Gees). But it would seem that all of the dudes performing the aforementioned songs were white and “Ram Jam” who played “Black Betty” looked like this, but hey, as long as you have a Gibson guitar with gold fittings who cares about image?

( I hope this like works!) Black Betty -Ram Jam (1977) Great Glasses!

Today’s “square” and dreary songwriters who find Johnny Cash wildly exciting, and who perceive the music of Mumford and Sons as orgasmic as a Carlos Santana solo, as he melds into one with his instrument, surrendering to a climax of sustained peals of electric sensual screaming guitar ecstasy, will no doubt get very excited by my next music video. ( I can be a dreary songwriter too, and I must get back to my corny song rehearsal later- actually I think perhaps Mumford & Sons have got a bit less dreary recently, but still not as great as my next video).

If you are too young to remember the 1970s then you won’t fully understand the context of the wonderful comedy of “Father Ted“. However this following video will assist you in understanding “the lovely girls competition” and this lovely girl would have won. Dana singing “All Kinds of Everything“. The lyrics start off like Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” but without any of the philosophy. I love the lyrics, totally absurd in places!

“Seagulls and aeroplanes
things of the sky
winds that go howlin’,

Carlos Santana’s orgasmic guitar solos,

breezes that sigh
city sights
neon lights
grey skies or blue
all kinds of everything remind me of you”

( I hope Dana doesn’t read this, I’m sure she’s still a lovely lady)

Dana- All Kinds of Everything (1970)

Love and Peace

Born2rant

Footnote

1. Originally I wrote “Zenophobia” instead of “Xenophobia” . I don’t think the word “Zenophobia” exists, so I have decided that it means the fear someone experiences when realising they are thinking, behaving or dressing like a hippie, or otherwise enjoying hippie music (i.e. most 60s and early 70s guitar based music).Zenophobia afflicts a broad-spectrum of society regardless of religion, economic class, racial background or education. This blog is one of the projects that tries to help people with “Zenophobia” and to re-assure them that it is OK to be a hippie and that once people start to think with their minds, they will realise that rampant caterpillars and Osiris have brainwashed them away from a sensible, peaceful and creatively free way of living on this planet.

She’s Gone!


Hello Good people who read this blog….

I just looked at the news about an hour ago and found Mrs.Thatcher, also known as Lady had died. Then I looked at various sites such as Anarchist News, The Morning Star, and The Socialist Worker website and nothing up there.

Of course I am absolutely gutted and saddened about this. So I asked my friend for advice for a song that would adequately represent the feelings of the nation at this time. He suggested this one.
Love and Peace ( well maybe a bit vindictive and giving myself bad Karma as well)
Born2rant

P.S. Just wanted to say apologies for some of the images in this youtube video, especially the ones with the woman, I don’t like Thatcher but not because she is a woman. I think some people went into mother hatred overdrive when it comes to Thatcher but I feel pretty much the same about the present prime-minister…..and Boris…..does that mean I will be arrested now for having an opinion????

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

Bloc 2012 Festival Review


Bloc Festival Review or why you shouldn’t try to have a good festival in a paranoid London devoid of all common sense.

Hello Good People who might read this blog….


Postscript July 10th 2012: When I wrote this post, it was from a confused punter’s perspective, I’d just experienced the festival ,left early and the next day was trying to make sense of it ( and also review the music in my own daft way). I start off blaming health and safety rules being over the top then get very worried as I leave, due to angry crowds outside and  people being cramped and prevented from going where they wanted inside . Since then I heard a totally different story from the  festival crew, which I wrote on July 7th. I now feel totally differently about the whole thing. If the information which was told to me was correct, then I think that some people  were neglectful of public safety to different degrees and maybe when large sums of money and major investments are involved, we really do need health and safety rules.


It’s been a long time, sorry about that, I did start writing this blog under my real name but it didn’t really work, so here I am back briefly as Born2rant, to write about a festival I went to yesterday that could have been great, but which I decided to leave before it all went to pieces.

This will only be a review of my limited experiences. I guess I arrived at the Bloc festival site at London’s Pleasure Gardens around 4.30pm by 10pm I decided it was sensible to leave but had a lot of difficulty getting out.

I was due to hang out on the ship MS Stubnitz, which has successfully been sailing around Germany as a mobile art installation and general chilling out party place for some time. It takes coming to crazy Britain for the Germans to realise they are far better off back home where things are more liberal, the state has less control, and the general public has not lost its ability to make individual sensible decisions without external legislation. Forget gloating about how great and wonderful the British are when I was trying to leave the Bloc festival, it was like trying to escape from a “psychedelic concentration camp” and that was entirely due to Great Union-Jack waving, right Royal Diamond Jubilee, aren’t we proud to be having the Olympics in London, paranoid British madness.

I arrived at Pontoon Dock around 4.15pm. There seemed to be a lot of stressed out people in orange jackets obstructing the oyster card bleeping machines, so people got confused where to “touch out”. They ushered me to a bridge to cross over the road and immediately my bag was searched, then further on more people in orange jackets asking me for a ticket. Other punters were clutching tickets printed out from the internet, I thought that strange to start with, it might be OK for using a budget airline, but without computers, scanners, ID and a whole big security system how can you tell if a computer print-out is genuine? I asked where the guest entrance was after some confusion I was directed to a gate a few minutes walk away.

At the guest entrance I had my bag searched again, then a sniffer dog climbed up the back of my legs, then my bag was searched AGAIN!!!! I complained politely but complied. They couldn’t find my name on the guest list but gave me a wristband anyway because I was saying all the right names. I had to put the wristband on myself, also a bit strange.

It took me a few minutes to chill out after all the security measures, and dealing with stressed out people, lots of security guards on the site, and mobile CCTV units, but the security man I spoke to was friendly enough and to be fair all the police people I spoke to during the course of the day were polite, but then all the paying public I met at the festival were also extremely patient and polite considering we were treated like dangerous animals throughout the festival, and the people who payed £125 per weekend ticket must have been peeved.

At first I went on the ship, the MS Stubnitz where I had a great time. In Germany they do not have many health and safety regulations, and do not scream announcements to passengers on the tube to say that due to a little drizzle that people are bound to fall over and kill themselves on the potentially slippery floor. Therefore I think the general public were probably quite shocked to be on an actual fishing ship with many steps, some damp from rain, and bits of metal to step over, no warning signs and generally to be in a place where you actually had to take responsibility for yourself and keep yourself sober enough to watch what you did. Also there was a big central hole leading from one deck to another, this had some fencing and chains around it to stop people falling in.  From the all dancing deck below, I could see many punters going to the edge of the hole and testing to see if the fence was secure. I felt like saying “You are at a festival, you are free to enjoy yourselves now, so forget the fences, forget health and security rules and just enjoy the lack of them for once”. I feel that the British public and especially Londoners, are brainwashed at all times to seek fences and rules in order to feel safe. Of course bad things could and do happen, but life is dangerous, you can’t control everything, get over it and try to enjoy life!

People on the ship were having a good time, somehow in spite of sniffer dogs and CCTV everywhere, the odd person was skinning up on the top deck, most sat drinking beer, smiling beneath the warm sun bouncing off their sunglasses. Below many moved to the music whilst taking copious pictures of the ship on their phones. Downstairs there were at least two bars and padded “seating bars” around tables where they used to freeze and chop fish. The ship was an awesome place to have different party rooms, the angular industrial music bounced off the ship’s hull in a suitably sheet metal way.

My only gripe about the ship was the music, I would have preferred dancing to Led Zep’s Immigrant Song, that would have been perfect or some kind of heavy metal version of  the Ride of the Valkyries would have been great.Here is some Led Zeppelin with  The Song Remains the Same just for effect,old fart I am!

But the DJ I heard on the Stubnitz was mixing French café style accordion music with deafening heart-stopping bass and drum music, note I did not write “drum ‘n’ bass”. I am too old and psychedelic to know what type of dance music I was listening to but it was experi and mental. I left the relaxed atmosphere of the MS Stubnitz to go and see Steve Reich around 6pm.

This was another “odd thing” , I noticed that they put some of the biggest crowd-pullers on early on both evenings even though the music ended at 6 a.m. Gary Numan was due to be on at 6pm the following day (today). I started to realise that maybe there were “problems” with the festival. Well to be fair all festivals have problems, they are always a headache to run for the organisers but some are worse than others. You really need to know what you are doing when you run a festival, especially if you plan to run it in a dock full of water and then place barriers so people can’t get out.

I found the hugest biggest queue  zigzagging its way round a small bit of the site, but people were patient and well-behaved, I hardly saw anyone attempt to push in. I must have queued for over 20 minutes, everyone was saying they’d never seen anything like this and we could hear Mr. Reich playing from outside, we could not understand why security did not seem to be letting anyone in.

Once we got in the tent was only a third full and yet he had been playing for over 30 minutes. The sound quality was not good, the audience was pretty thin, so this did not help the general feel of the gig. Many people were waiting for their friends to be allowed in.

While watching Steve Reich there were times when I wanted to sit down or leave, but both options were difficult from where I was standing, once people were allowed in from their long queuing they tended to head into the crowd and stand and the only way out I could see was through the entrance with hundreds and hundreds of people blocking the way. I looked around and saw there was a zip in the side of the tent, if I’d been feeling trapped I thought I could always use it to get the hell out.

As people slowly and steadily dribbled into the tent, while many left, the music livened up a bit. This was when a full rock band ensemble in the form of Bang on a Can, complete with sheet music,  started to play. It was enjoyable but stilted at first. They sounded like ‘Yes’ doing a version of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, in fact I was beginning to wonder if Steve Reich had been listening to the final few minutes of Tubular Bells when he wrote it. I’m sure others must have thought the same as me! But then I decided that perhaps Steve Reich  wrote it first and Mike Oldfield and Yes who copied his style. Playing repeated patterns in unusual time signatures is the link. Steve Reich must be far more influential than I realised and I must listen to more of his stuff.

Here is Bang on a Can playing Steve Reich’s  2x 5 (2008)

( turn the volume up first, sorry about any ads that come up, try AdBlock)

But although Steve Reich is no doubt a genius and influenced Yes,

I’m afraid I much prefer the following clip which sounds remarkably similar,

compare the two introductions!

Perpetual Change by Yes  (1971)

OK I digress but it’s my blog so I can, and hopefully not bore the pants off you

After Steve Reich I couldn’t get back onto the ship because by now there were long queues and barriers preventing people from going on board, this made good sense to me because it was quite crowded and there was only one way on or off, unless you jumped into the water, but I still think that if people were left to their own devices that they could have managed to see it was too crowded before boarding instead of being restrained like stupid sheep.

I went for a walk about but there wasn’t a whole lot else going on, the cheapest Amber Leaf rolling tobacco on site was a staggering £7, so I decided to go to the local shop. I couldn’t find the way out as described on the map, so I went to the main way in. There were by now already hundreds of people stuck outside the entrance, and the security process was slow and they were clearly not in a hurry to let anyone in, I have never seen anything like it before, they allowed just a handful of people in then would let them wait a few minutes before letting in another few people, meanwhile crowds were building up outside.

I asked one security guard if I could go out and come back in again. He said “NO” sternly. I explained that I had a weekend ticket. He just said “You can’t leave till later and when you do leave, you can’t come back in again”. Since there were no camping facilities, I decided he was stressed out and uninformed and I continued to look for the exit but couldn’t find one, I asked another security guard but he didn’t seem to know anything.

Then I looked for the queue to go and watch Amon Tobin on the main stage. Another very long queue, at one point that queue got muddled into the ship queue and no one knew what they were queuing for or where the queues ended. After queuing for 20 minutes in the crowded area outside, I found the main tent almost empty once I got in.

It made no bloody sense at all.

This was a joke, why was everyone queuing outside virtually empty tents in a limited area surrounded by deep water, since the whole festival was in fact at an old dock?

Amon Tobin  came on. The 3D projections were fantastic. They had a big installation of a kind of cube shaped wall, I’d seen similar things at multi-media art installations, but this was huge and exciting to start with. Amon Tobin was inside one of the cubes which was see-through, it was a bit “Spinal Tap” but I’d rather have seen Spinal Tap.  I was bored, maybe if the sound had been better I would have enjoyed it. Like so much music in 2012, the visual element seems to be more creative and interesting than the sound itself. Maybe you disagree, here is a clip, it sounds better than I remember , it was visually stunning but after a while it was repetitive ( sorry Amon,I’m sure you are a nice guy, it’s just not my kind of thing)

While I was watching the show, all around me a load of very drunk vertically challenged girls wearing too much fake tan, too much make-up, with silly hats and no clothing but a few bits of white fur and denim, were hugging each other violently and squealing. They took millions of photos of each other to put online, they disregarded the music which was very loud and hard to ignore. On the side of the stage there was  a guy pointing a camera on the audience in a type of steering-wheel shaped frame, which I thought might be a CCTV camera scanning the few people that were allowed in. I decided it was not worth sacrificing my hearing for this, and being sober and not having a set of friends to hug, I decided to go outside to look for something else to do.

By this time there were a lot more people just hanging around outside trying to get into the various venues, queues here and queues there, it was ridiculous. Then when I walked past the main gate even more people were even more tightly packed and waiting to get in and being processed at a snail’s pace as if they didn’t actually want to let them in. Those waiting outside seemed remarkably patient, I am sure some of them had maybe shelled out £55 just to see Amon Tobin , the festival was sold out, but they were unable to get in, others may have paid £125 for the two days and the last DLR train back home would not leave that late.  I felt very sorry for these people waiting, thinking that they might not get in for more than a hour or two before they’d have to go home again. I went for a walk around the dock like others who got fed up with the queues. Thirty minutes later the crowds trying to get in were chanting and then someone let off a flare, the exiled crowd cheered, I wandered off for a bit enjoying the sunset and beautiful clouds, the weather was fantastic and there were some nice walks around the dock away from everyone.

But when I came back to the entrance the people waiting to get in had disappeared, something had happened. Inside the festival the crowds were growing a bit and all this queuing was taking up a lot of space, although walking around was no problem, but it was a pain to queue up all the time, I decided since it was dark to go home and come back the following afternoon. I still could not find the exit and a security guard suggested I went out through the main gate. Since there were no crowds left on the other side of the main gate, I thought that maybe they had all got in, but I could hear “booing” not far away. There were many metal barriers, in my way and I had to climb and crawl here and there, there were many security people thinking of not letting me out, and then telling me it was OK to leave, none of them directed me to the proper exit, if indeed there was one.

I got to stairs that led into the main road and then I was quite surprised at what I saw. A double police line at the top of the stairs, plus many more security guards and on the steps a huge crowd, well-behaved, but angry and a few shouting. Well wouldn’t you be, if two of the main acts had already been on, and you’d paid £125 for a ticket to get in?

The police were very calm at that point, some stood with their arms crossed smiling, they seemed surprised that I wanted to leave, they also could not tell me of another exit and they were very polite, and helped me to get out. As I went down the steps some man grabbed me and asked me a question and I pulled away and ignored him, then this other woman shouted to me and asked me if there was trouble inside, if it was safe to go in. I said “Yes it’s fine. It’s great!” but afterwards I thought maybe I should have told her about the amount of pointless queuing you had to do to get to see any act.

After I crossed the road to get into the station I turned around and then I realised that things were seriously wrong. I hadn’t realised just how many people were queuing to get in, there were in my rough estimation at least two thousand, booing. It occurred to me then  that either they had sold far too many tickets and had hoped to stagger the crowds by putting the main acts on at 6pm, or perhaps that having a computer print-out had allowed a lot of people to forge tickets. What I couldn’t believe is that there were ticket touts still trying to buy tickets off the queuing punters, it was clearly a nightmare situation by the large crowds unable to get in.

I worried then for my son who was working there and for all the people there because if everyone had got on the site and they continued to deny people access to all the stages, then it would be overcrowded and tempers would flare especially by 6 a.m. The thing is, the tickets were expensive, most people who were going there were well-dressed, calm, extremely patient and mostly seemed  sober and compliant with the law, but we were treated like we were criminals before we even got in. It was a disgrace. It was like being kettled and herded the whole time but at a paying gig. We were not  going to a riot, it wasn’t a political demo, in fact there were no politics in evidence of any kind, not even an Amnesty International stall.

After an anxious night I got a call from my son this morning to say he was fine.

It did get overcrowded and they had to get all the stages and DJs to shut down  the music at midnight, then the police cleared the whole area. There was another big stand-off with the police and a bit of trouble, nothing major that he knew of, none at all on the ship where the good vibe remained throughout.

I wonder now how people managed to get home from the middle of nowhere at Midnight or 1 a.m.. My son stayed there overnight. He seemed to think only one person got hurt with concussion but this whole queuing/kettling technique to deal with the crowds caused a lot of the trouble and people were very angry that they were not allowed to see the artists they had paid to go and see.

I hope there were no further injuries. The rest of the festival is cancelled. I wonder if they’d had no barriers at all,  if  just maybe people would be sensible enough to come and go as they pleased.

In less paranoid times, with an atmosphere of caring for one another and looking where you tread, could a few roadies and stewards, a St. John’s Ambulance, a fire  engine and maybe a few lifebuoys, be more than enough to keep this festival safe?

Will the police be kettling people all through the Olympic games for their own safety?

I need a musical interval, this next song was ringing through my head as I took the DLR home, very worried about my son and everyone left at the festival. In spite of my ranting about health and safety regulations, given the situation and the fact that people couldn’t leave easily, I am glad they stopped everyone from getting in, it could have been a dangerous situation, due to the tensions building up over a number of hours as well as the size of the crowd outside.

The Clash – London Calling (1979)

They should just have removed the barriers so people could leave at least!

The festival was sold out, did they sell too many tickets ? I can’t see that several thousand people would forge tickets.

 If you were there and want to say something please leave a comment.

Gary Numan who was due to play today, Down In the Park

Love and Peace

Born2rant

 

Day Three of my Imaginary Glastonbury


Hello Good People who read this blog….

I thought I would start by telling you that although I smoked lots of imaginary spliffs yesterday, in real life I can’t get away with such behaviour! Dope makes me feel thoroughly ill, especially a couple of days afterwards when I get what I can only describe as “emotionally weak, panicking easily and slightly paranoid”, so these days I can only get away with the very occasional indulgence and then pay dearly for it afterwards. I love the feeling of getting stoned but I also lose keys, money, and cannot function and do all the stuff I like doing normally if I ever indulge! When I was younger I had a better resistance to these things but also grass now is  just so much stronger than the stuff we had twenty, thirty years ago.It’s a different drug these days.

So at my imaginary Glastonbury I wake up Sunday morning feeling also really rough, like a hundred elephants have been stampeding on my head in my sleep. I also get cramp in my left leg!

My Imaginary Sunday at Glastonbury is a bit of a blur, and I have in reality, little time today to write about it. So I will do this briefly( sorry!).

I look for the Healing Field to see if anyone can help me with my dope hang-over but instead find the International Music  field.

I stop and find a Javanese man who speaks no English, he endeavours to show me how to play a Sundanese zither from West Java, to accompany the singing of his beautiful wife.

After this morning’s music lesson, I traipse across the International Music field and go into a large marquee.What I see next is so bizarre that I wonder if I am imagining it all.On a cinema screen they are showing  the Chinese Revolutionary Opera: Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy ( I don’t think you’ll be seeing this at WOMAD! Please note that the singer/dancer is riding an invisible horse whose movements  are portrayed through percussion)

Leaving the International Music Cinema , I stroll around the field and come across a myriad of old friends and we edge our way to the Krautrock and German Electronica tent where we find a serene performance by Klaus Schulze

For the rest of the day, we gather our resources to make a picnic and find a dry piece of ground next to the main stage. We are all recovering from the previous night, the sun is blazing and we want to take it easy and chat about our news and lives.Some of these people I haven’t seen for ten years, a festival is more efficient than a Christmas card to stay in touch. We are all exhausted but cannot resist dancing when the Ozric Tentacles appear on stage.
Domes of G’Bal

After this we can hardly believe our eyes, as a navy blue box with a flashing light on the top,gradually manifests itself on the stage. It’s the tardis!

As if by magic,out comes the original Dr. Who followed by The Beatles ,( and a small dalek groupie wearing a pink feather boa round her neck) .

We just have to get up and sing along as they start to perform  I am The Walrus.

Inevitably we get stoned again and have to eat an entire packet of chocolate biscuits, plus crepes and drink more beer,until Pink Floyd’s set starts with  Careful with that Axe Eugene.

As we reach the final act, the sun has gone and mercifully the air is pleasant and cooler. A well-loved hippie band takes the stage, they must have some kind of secret sacred store of energy after all these years, and all those drugs.I know I can’t really cope with the pace but somehow this group’s energy is infectious and makes us feel 18 again . Yes it’s  Gong,what a great way to end the imaginary Glastonbury festival!

I go home, tired and too exhausted to go into details! I am sad to go home to an urban space where I am not constantly surrounded by live music and many friends, but we have talked about meeting at Solfest towards the end of the festival season and other festivals in between.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

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