Media coverage of strike…


Hello Good People who read this blog….

I just want to write a little thing,because I am so furious and shocked about the media coverage on the imminent strike in the UK for people working in  public services. I just saw that great educationalist, role model for good behaviour and well-known feminist, James Whale ( please realise I writing with extreme sarcasm!), and to my shock  and horror Miriam Stoppard, both criticising the strike, and teachers in particular,in no uncertain terms for striking and depriving children of their education.

I am so furious with them and the media coverage I have seen so far.

I will just speak about the teachers as education is something I know about. First of all , correct me if I am wrong, but by the end of June all the essential teaching, main exams, have been done and dusted and frankly the last 3 or 4 weeks of the summer term, are taken up with end of year tasks, days out, sports days, school concerts, award ceremonies etc. Many children disappear on cheap holidays with their families at this time. You can more or less write off the last three weeks of the school year in terms of serious academic work . Also most private schools are either closed or closing by the start of July while the state schools run for another couple of weeks. If you wanted to close a school for one day this is not a bad time. In fact I hope all young people will support their teachers and join the march.

Secondly in the past, successive governments have totally disrupted the entire state education system in several ways.The government has closed down schools not for one,but many days during term-time, for years now in order to re-train teachers.Originally called “Baker days” teachers have been constantly forced to change the way they teach , what they teach, how they teach in order to please successive governments , and this has meant many days when schools were closed down.In terms of working parents, frankly there is very little consideration or help at any time of year to cope with school hours, school holidays etc., so an extra day of trying to find childcare for a good cause to will ensure quality of education for one’s children, is no big sacrifice.

The government’s implementation of the National Curriculum , league tables, and adding more and more non-academic responsibilities to the work of teachers, has been far more disruptive to children’s education that one day’s strike, at the end of the school year.

The teachers I know get up at 6. a.m. and sometimes work into the evening planning lessons, they also work at the weekends and holidays correcting work and planning lessons. The lessons planning becoming increasingly ludicrous with the ever-changing  demands of the National Curriculum.

For example one primary school teacher I know, who teaches in a very “rough” area of London, explained how she had to create a lesson teaching the painting technique of “Pointillism” , illustrated with famous paintings by Seurat which included rivers, sea and pools of water, so that this could also double-up as a science lesson on water.

I like creative  education, and I am all for teaching art in schools, but considering many of these children do not have books at home, and come from very economically deprived backgrounds, I think maybe Seurat would not be my  priority  if I were in charge of my own teaching.

Getting back to my point, this teacher retired at 60. But even though she worked tremendously long-hours, she loved her job so much,that she decided to stay on beyond 60 as a supply teacher within the same school.  However by the age of 62, she found her energy level were just too low to keep it up indefinitely, and  even though she is incredibly fit and energetic, at 62 she is forced to retire altogether at the end of this term. She can because she has a pension!

Teaching is demanding physically, emotionally, spiritually and one can expect to work a 60 hour week. It requires great commitment to children and to the future of society. Teachers are under-valued and their teaching is constantly disrupted with each changing government’s new policy, no matter which one is elected.

Therefore I am furious at the media coverage that seems to criticise teachers for wanting to retire before the age of 68  and  who expect to have a good pension to live on.

If I were not a hippie, and I was a dictator who ruled  Britain ( which I can be  in my blog), I would seize the private assets of  bankers and politicians, and their power-mad fantasies, and make them do community service: a couple of years of teaching for free in state schools, also forcing  all their children to attend the schools they work in. If they failed their OFSTED inspections then they would have to try and claim benefits and see how far they got before they would almost inevitably give up!

I would also not allow such bias in the news and other media coverage against the strike. Maybe all these critical media people could do worse than spend a couple of years working in a state school as well and then see if they thought they could still do it at 50 let alone 60 or 68.

I feel this government is trying to re-create class differences in the UK  and prohibit social mobility by creating two types of education. I doubt if private schools would employ full-time 68 year old teachers! If the teachers did not strike it would show that they didn’t understand the nature of their job and that they did not care about the quality of education for children.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

( will be joining protests soon in support of them. I had both a private and a state education, my best school  teachers were without question from the comprehensive I attended.)

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Too busy living to blog or watch TV, plus a teeny bit about Solfest 2010


Hello Good People who evidently still read this blog…

I keep trying to give up this blog for good but it’s up there in cyberspace without me, just like the millions of  photographs of teenagers on Facebook,  who may at some time, rue the day they allowed photos of, and  information about themselves, to be handed over to various companies and intelligence agencies who rule the net. My blog will outlive my initial enthusiasm for bi-weekly blogging ,and like many a dead rock star’s music, will probably outlive me.

I did go to Solfest this year , and I guess that by the number of hits on the day it ended, many will have to checked in to see if I have done a review like I have done the three previous years.

In a word  “no”, and I’m not really going to. It is still the greatest UK hippie festival that I have experienced this millennium,although a few less punters this year and slightly more zealous security. Well actually, I mean specifically one guy. A young security steward who wore large sunglasses day or night , wore a “security hat”, and obviously took his job extremely seriously. He questioned and scrutinised people at the gates of Solfest as if they were non-EU citizens of “Asian” origin trying to get through passport control at Heathrow. It was only one enthusiastic Nazi  in the whole organisation, but one too many, plus he never seemed to go off duty. Maybe he dreams of being head of all security services one day…in which case, don’t work at a hippie festival, run by hippies.

Backstage the air of hippiedom was also occasionally marred by the odd territorial argument over which loo one could use .One group of people in particular, got hysterical if other members of crew used “their” portaloo and shouted to me “don’t fill our loo up or we can’t use it”, which I found mildly insulting. There was also by the end of the weekend, a row over who could have access to my nearest water supply. Various people started to attach their own personal pipes,to the general standpipe going directly to their tent or caravan, leaving no access to water for the humble camper without extra water-pipe fixtures, and a trickle of water to all trying to get their direct private supply, due to low pressure. It was exemplary of the follies and injustices of  Capitalism, which I hoped to get away from completely during my stay at Solfest. I am hoping that the hippie spirit of sharing resources over and above stupid claims to exclusive access to basic amenities will return next year in the backstage area.

I have not written a review of Solfest, why ? Because I am not often here.

I’ve turned my back on blogging, Myspace, Facebook, hotmail, Googlemail, all mainstream TV news, most TV programmes, and most Radio programmes. I do still use youtube quite a lot, especially if I want to hear music from the other side of the world. I mainly watch TV if I have visitors who want to watch it or if I am just too tired or ill to think of anything else I can do. I read newspapers if I find them lying on the tube, and yet without the internet or the media intruding in my life as much, I am not suffering from any withdrawal symptoms. Quite the opposite, I actually talk to real people face-to-face,  go to real places, and don’t feel like my life is over because my hair is dull or I don’t have a car, or I don’t know what David deCameron said today, and I haven’t suffered any more patriotic military propaganda passing for news on a daily basis.

However I will entwine this rant against second hand communication and experiences with a bit of music from Solfest.

In spite of my previous negative comments, Solfest  is still friendly, creative, and the happiest weekend of the year for me. I always meet great people, have long rambling conversations, dance to loud music even though I feel I am too old to do so, laugh at the inventiveness of fancy dress costumes, discover new  music, see amazing landscapes, feel hopeful that there is a little bit of the year that is not cynical and under surveillance but is creative and flourishing. I love going up north, can’t cope with southern festivals ever since my first Solfest. Ironically it has now become a yearly gathering point for people I know from London, Brighton and South Wales.

Every ageing hippie seems to have their favourite yearly festival, the one where they will see their old friends again and maybe have a little smoke even if they gave up on New Year’s day 2000, laugh like teenagers again, and show their kids how to power generators by pedalling like crazy, how to make things out of wood, and basically introduce them to various degrees of alternative living.

Some of my favourite musicians at Solfest 2010.

Here is John Fairhurst playing sitar music on the guitar. I saw him on the main stage on Saturday, strumming hard and fast, blending slide guitar with flamenco and ragas, very impressive. Unfortunately there is no footage of him playing at Solfest, so here he is playing in 2008 at an album launch party.

John Fairhurst , a sublime creative guitarist. Here he  starts quietly and gradually builds up momentum, then later explodes into a raucous manifestation of  many guitar genres peeping out from one another to say a brief  hello. Are you following me? Good, if not, don’t read any more, have a cup of tea instead.

My favourite Drystone stage act at Solfest was Richard Barry and The Chaps from Manchester. Maybe I am biased, I met Richard at a residential songwriting workshop in 1999. His sense of humour, charm and excellent musicianship make him always worth catching. Yet again, there is no Solfest footage his performance. It was pouring down with rain when he started but he still gathered a crowd, and then the sun came out!

Richard Barry and The Chaps – Please Don’t Ration My Fags.

I spent a lot more time in the Dance Tent than I intended to, especially on Saturday night where I danced to Eat Static, now a solo act, but still doing “his”/ “their” thing, and this guy DJ Adsorb who did an interesting set. Well I enjoyed it but I am frankly not an expert in dance music at all!  I’m more of an acoustic guitar person myself. I just liked Adsorb’s set because there was plenty of variety.

Now maybe it’s because I have never taken the right drugs , or possibly because I haven’t taken the correct amount of drugs, or more likely because I don’t even know by what  acronyms the drugs I’d have to take, and ask for,  from someone  two decades or more younger than me, leads me to find the brain-shaking tones of “doofff-doofff-doofff-da-da-dooff-dooff-doofff etc…” looped for an hour, and somehow so loud that they obliterate any other sounds in the mix…..B.O.R.I.N.G..

However this Solfest having spent much time talking to DJs in the Chill-Out tent who had taken the correct drugs, with their abbreviated names, in the right amounts, to like every type of  Dance Music,  I was  re-assured  that what I was referring to, was music that was  “relentless”.

You can actually pretend to like it, then when in the company of those you truly trust, complain that in fact it was “relentless” possibly shaking your head to demonstrate just how relentless it was.

So now I can blend in with people who know and appreciate all types of dance music by saying  ” God, that was  relentless!” and show the punishment I endured with a little  downwards shake of the head.

But as you can tell I don’t pretend to be anyone but the anonymous person I am pretending to be.

I cannot find much footage of Solfest 2010 itself!

But here is some footage from the Dance tent, I don’t know which DJ this is but I am sure someone will tell me, it could very well be DJ Adsorb, this is then contrasted with the Dogs in Space ( Chill-Out) tent, where you will see a few seconds of an amazing trio driven by the jazz beats of the Van Der Graaf Generator drummer: Guy Evans, along with psychedelic guitarist, Nigel Mazlyn Jones and flautist/guitarist Jim Nield. I caught the end of their set and they created a sound as colourful and ambient as the décor and lightshow of the Dogs in Space tent itself, shame there are only a few seconds of this available to show. I thoroughly enjoyed their mesmerizing set of jazz drumming and psychedelia.

The Damned played but I didn’t go to see them, the youtube clips are pretty poor quality soundwise.

Another act who played twice in the Dogs in Space tent and performed in cafés all over the site were the excellent Marley Chingus, from Liverpool,played rich bebop jazz covers as well as their own compositions, their long-haired and bearded trumpet player was particularly outstanding although all of them are very highly skilled musicians. Again no footage of them at Solfest but here they are with one of their own compositions, no trumpet player but a great sax player instead.

Marley Chingus -Neolithic Chant.

Well I’m off now to make some tea and maybe listen to some music. In the meantime I asked a DJ who came to visit my place last night what his favourite Gong tune was. He told me this one because of the electronics in it, the synths were played  by Tim Blake. It’s a fantabulous track beginning with synths, echo and tabla and building up nicely into a freeform jazz jam with psychedelic lead guitar, slide “glissando” guitar, with other sounds and many instruments thrown in for good measure.

So, I’ll leave you with the brilliant and mind-awakening : Gong – A Sprinkling of Clouds (1974)


Love and Peace to all of you

and remember hippies are cool, superficial people are… well …superficial

Born2rant

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