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

 

Enough Already! Riots in London August 2011


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

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

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

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

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

But to any young person reading this I say :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cat Stevens  ( BBC Theatre 1971).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Born2rant


Psychic Unrest: Forces Defending Human Rights and Forces of Destruction.


Hello Good People who read this blog ( and thanks for still reading)

I find myself in a curious state of mind at the moment, as a result of the protest against the excessive rise in students fees/education cuts in London on Thursday, which resulted in destructive and strange events that burst out amid a background of peaceful and reasonable protest.

More than that,on a personal note I find that as well as the continuing student protests there are other things such as panic for my future, the future of relatives and friends that all seem to be pressing upon me and disturbing my psychic equilibrium. I am sure most people are also experiencing this on some level, so much change has occurred, with ordinary people and politicians behaving in forceful ways.

I think a lot of these forces that have laid dormant for a long time are on the one hand very creative and liberating and on the other, especially those illustrated in the news coverage, very destructive but undeniably powerful.

Before I carry on , some music, and in order to maybe bring about a bit of equilibrium I will find something peaceful. This is a song about how winter changes our frame of mind. Joni Mitchell “Urge for Going”

This unusually cold winter in the UK is another factor to affect the psyche here, violent protests usually happen in the heat of summer, but for those thousands of young people to come out in sub-zero temperatures and to keep coming back and protesting even though they know they may be kettled by police for eight hours or more, that’s the depth of feeling and determination among them. If the police used water cannons, the water would turn to ice after so many hours, but the enthusiasm of youth cannot be frozen so easily, their anger blazes like the bonfires they make to keep warm when hemmed in, at least for the time being.

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My experience of the protest. Although I am a student I hadn’t managed to get to a protest until last Thursday due to other commitments, but when our lecturers were emailing us to go for the future of our own courses, and knowing it was the date of the vote in the House of Commons, I decided to get there somehow. Unfortunately I was delayed, so I was only able to join the demo around 3 pm and missed the march. I carried no water or food in case I got kettled but went anyway. I had no idea of the route of the march but for some reason I was convinced it was to finish inParliament Square. It was hard to get there, Westminster tube station was closed so I went to Embankment, Trafalgar Square was unusually empty, I resisted a strong urge to go to the National Gallery and look at the Impressionist paintings. One of the many strange things that day, I later found out that there had been a student “sit-in” at that very gallery and if I’d followed my instincts I could have joined in.

Whitelhall and  other main roads leading off from Trafalgar Square were all sealed off by police. I took  a  little side-street  I knew and walked almost intuitively towards St. Jame’s Park, ending up in Victoria Street. I walked past sixty or so riot police, but I felt safe in spite of that and carried on until I reached the “kettling” police line that surrounded Parliament Square. To get a better view I went up onto a piece of grass in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. Along with other buildings in the area it was full of police.

Where I was, everyone seemed very calm, cheerful, holding their placards, some chanting gently,news reporters and  ordinary people taking photgraphs. From where I was standing, the events in Parliament Square sounded and looked fairly peaceful.I was there for two hours and apart from two fireworks going off, it seemed calm, with a party atmosphere.

I saw a woman around my age who was standing on her own behind me, she was holding up a notepad on which she had simply written in biro :” Parents Against Student Debt”. I stood with her and we chatted for a long time. Many other young people took photos of us.It was such a simple thing she had written, but effective and drew lots of attention.

I don’t go on many demos, but whenever I do, I meet wonderful people and it’s the only time in London where you can go up to a stranger and make amazing friends as you have an instant rapport through supporting the same cause. She worked in adoption and had two children,one about to go to Uni and the other already having to pay a substantial student debt from their studies.  We both were pretty passionate about education and the future of our society. We talked about how education is the route out of poverty. I said how much confidence in myself my first degree gave me, otherwise my life would have been quite different. My father came from a very poor background but worked hard at school and managed to get a degree and a very good job unlike the rest of his family.

Due to my “Arts and Humanities” University  education, I am able to express myself and have confidence in my thoughts. I believe that education, partlicularly education in the arts, is crucial to our society. Science is profitable and the arts and humanities seen as a logical waste of money, but to be able to express yourself and come up with new philosophies,  new points of view, and to understand the ethics and processes of other writers, artists, musicians,philosophers,cultures and historical events, that is as important as science. Of course you can do all those things without a degree but I cannot emphasise enough that without mine, this blog would never have been written.

Scene from Parliament Square. Most people seemed cheerful even though they were being “kettled”.

We talked at length about various issues in education,society and politics and I will not go into them all. I guess one of our most basic points, having experienced  parenthood and life’s various expenses, was that it was fundamentally wrong for a young person who might, for instance, one day want to get married, buy a house, have children, for which they would need a well paid job, which would then require a degree, to start their lives in a massive amount of debt. However they rephrase it with ” oh well , you only have to pay £7 a week” etc.. the bottom line is that you will start your adult life in debt and may finish your adult life in debt, unless you come from an over-priviledged family.For parents who have their children at Eton, at nearly £10 000 per term, University fees will not seem that bad,  for a parent with their child in private education in general, it won’t be a huge step to pay £9000 per year. But for an average family, who struggle to pay their rent or their mortgage, and fuel bills, food, council tax, TV license, water bills, internet bill etc…how could they possibly allow themselves or their children to borrow that amount of money and pay it back with interest? Since employers require a degree for many basic jobs, young people are in fact “kettled” within the system.

As we discussed these issues, on our patch of grass overlooking Parliament Square, a smartly dressed woman  came up to us and said in a well-spoken voice and in a terribly British way :”Excuse me , would you like these mince pies? We brought them with us in case we got “kettled””. Looking around me there were many similar women,it was a bit like being at a Women’s Institute fête, to which the mothers had brought along many smiling, chanting, teenage children holding placards with witty slogans, few made made by socialist worker for a change. It was very white, middle-class, British and “terribly nice” at our end. Apart from being kettled out of Parliament Square, and the heavy police presence, the atmosphere was calm and party-like.

As it got to five past five o’clock ( according to Big Ben) , we decided to leave as the vibe changed, I speculated that as we got closer to the six o’clock news, that some more militant protesters might do something to get on TV. Although there was lots of space around us, and we felt very safe,we saw a group of maybe 60 people come out of nowhere, dressed in black carrying a black flag running towards a police line and trying to get into the square. I guessed they were anarchists who had been playing cat and mouse games with the police all afternoon. I didn’t see that much of a scuffle between them and the police but it was a sign that things could get agitated.

So in a boring way, I went home , saw no trouble and was anxious to watch the remainder of the protest and the vote on TV.The demo I saw was peaceful but the protest was hemmed in with people unable to leave in single or other numbers.

Next some more Joni, this time a song she wrote about lying politicians. Well have you ever met an honest one?

” The Way It Is ” Joni Mitchell ( I can’t embed this click on it then to link)

This is her  performance live on TV New Year’s Eve 1968 (I think, please correct me if I am wrong), a coded political song, but hauntingly effective:

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and now for the other side of it all:

(apologies for advertising! for using a news channel but at least there is no commentary, just footage)


Once I got home and turned on the news, I was expecting some level of trouble as the evening drew in, partly because it was there were bound to be some people wanting to cause a ruck , and  because all those trapped there would be wanting to get home. But I didn’t expect so much chaos across central London.

How did this transformation of British Youth happen so rapidly? Of course there will always be some more extreme political groups and within them, some people who want to riot, but the majority were peaceful protesters. What I am slightly susrprised by is the turn around in the thinking of young people in such a short time.

Leaving the rioters to one side for now, let’s talk about the newly politically motivated hippies…When I started my University course back in 2008, the head of our  Student’s Union gave a talk where hippies were completely ridiculed. Now the president of our student’s union has long hair and seems like a hippie to me. I am very happy with this, but such a turnaround in so short a time! There were so many long haired young men on the protest, that I wondered how I missed the announcement that being a hippie was cool again.How did they get the time to grow their hair so long? Until recently “Cheech and Chong” was how most students mentally represented hippies, but this seems to be replaced now with the cooler image of “Che Guevara”.

Bob Marley – Burnin’ & a Looting

The worst casualty Alfie Meadows, looks to me like a peaceful hippie from this photo, and not a violent thug. Also he is a philosophy student who was protesting with his lecturer mum, and we all know just how violent they are! There was probably no reason at all for his injuries apart from being forced to stay in the same place and someone hitting him with something over the head, somehow,whoever they might be. It should be on camera somewhere, the place was filmed from every possible angle.

There are many stories to be told within that one day of protesting and rioting, from different points of view but whatever pespective you take, it will be a day remembered in history. Not so long ago I was trying to encourage young people to protest as is their democratic right, but I never meant for anyone to be injured or any violence of any kind to occur. My heart goes out to anyone who was injured especially Alfie.

Once I was watching the news events unfolded that seemed weirder by the minute.What kind of constellation was present to cause even the royal family to blythely drive into the middle of  the protest? I can’t help but think it was fate aiding and abetting a bit more chaos.

A few months ago I was encouraging young people to go on protests and was dismayed at their political apathy. Now I would implore some calm. Smashing things up violently is couter-productive and  in the long-term, the violence and aggression will rebound on those who caused it, whoever’s side they are on.It’s one thing to smash down the Berlin wall, it’s another to go on the rampage and just smash things because they are there. In the end it’s like smashing up your own home, your own future, there’s got to be a better way to demonstrate, and there’s got to be a better way to police the demonstrations. There’s also get to be a better way of dealing with any problems in our education system. If they have to cut down the number of students, why not raise the academic entry level but make it free, and why not create  jobs that don’t require a degree?

Students have been a nice little earner for the banks lending them money for too long.

Bob Marley again

I have worn myself out now from ranting and no doubt the reader too.

So as always

Love and Peace

Born2rant

The Banning of Free Festivals, not by locals,but by the police…again.


Hello Good People who still might read this blog

I have become lazy in writing and today is no exception however I had to share this rather bad news.

The Strawberry Fair due to run on June 5th 2010 has been cancelled due to police objections. I have personally attended many Strawberry Fairs and thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing and friendly atmosphere, the entertainment, featuring local bands rather than those elected by the music business, encouraging local performing arts , local traders and alternative people to gather publicly for one day . This historic Cambridge  free festival which has been running for 37 years was due to run until this recent decision.

They were awarded a license by Cambridge County Council on March the 2nd.However, according to the Strawberry Fair website: “At the licence hearing that the police spent a great deal of time and money attempting to get the fair closed down, employing a London-based law firm and barrister to present the evidence they had gathered at significant cost to the tax payer.”

When the license was granted the police appealed and as a voluntary group the Strawberry Fair organisers cannot afford  the same kind of legal representation. On their site they write “It is going to be a very tough task for us to prepare for the appeal hearing both in time and money, we hope that the people of Cambridge will support us in our mission to secure the fair for 2011 and onwards and give generously whilst not doing anything to exasperate the situation unnecessarily and damage the future of the fair.” ( http://www.strawberry-fair.org.uk/)

Here is a youtube clip of Strawberry Fair 2007, I was there somewhere! Nice pictures sorry about ads at beginning!

Here are some alternative people with dangerous bubble making equipment at Strawberry Fair. I hope they don’t mind me broadcasting their dangerous bubbles on my blog.

If the police keep banning festivals which organisers have taken great pains to organise legally and safely in conjunction with the local community, then the alternative is to go back to random unchartered free festivals that are not legal, not properly organised and not safe!

You can’t stop similar minded people from gathering and celebrating together. It’s a basic human need.

Love and Peace

Born2rant


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


Hello Good People who read this blog

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

Across the purple sky, all the birds are leaving…

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the predictions made by scientists were very misguided.

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

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

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

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

Poor kids today!

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

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

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

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

Is this the future of music?

Building Steam with a Grain of Salt  by  DJ Shadow.

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

Another PS!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year 2010,

May the next decade bring us Wisdom and Peace

Born2rant

The Big Green Dispersion and Solfest 2009


Hello Good People who read this blog ,

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

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

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

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

Here is the notice from the BGG website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

from the Solfest website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and Peace

Born2rant

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

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

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

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



I am on a lonely road and I am travelling, travelling, travelling…


Hello Good People who read this blog in my absence

(This blog entry was written after listening to hours of Joni Mitchell on my travels…)

I thought of you all on Solstice morning . The light was shining through the curtains of my guest room not long past 4 a.m. , unable to sleep I looked out the window and in the pale light I saw the sea, the birds and some drunken young revellers still ambling loudly on the beach from the night before with beer bottles in hand. They weren’t celebrating the Solstice, they were simply on holiday. Yes, I was in England but I don’t have a laptop or a mobile and was in a seaside town without internet access.

But I thought of you all out there somewhere. I felt bad for not writing about the Solstice, for this blog has become a commitment, although I don’t need any commitments right now.

I am on my own personal journey, this blog started with bits of my past, that others could relate to, then as I wrote various forces and choices transformed my present.

The same thing used to happen when I wrote many songs,  when I did art and wrote silly stories,the creative process subsequently changed my life.

Some people always stay in the same place all their lives, they like the same things, wear the same clothes, do the same job, love the same people and live with the same friends, family and neighbourhood. Although they still gently change and age, they are content with their stability.But people like me find this stability impossible and in spite of ourselves we need to transform, re-generate especially at times when the world too is changing fast( and we clash with our kin).

Joni Mitchell”California” 1970

So as a result of my blog I started to study again a subject which turned out to be just right for me in many ways, and also as a result of writing about protests and rights and looking at inequalities in relationships between people I mounted my own protest with  my nearest and dearest. Not fun, not fun at all but revolutionary. Not sure where it will end.

Also I foolishly mentioned to some that I had an anonymous blog and know that others observe me and can see into my private writings, I have to just live with that, but it has also put me off . A bit like having your parents or your teacher look over your shoulder while writing your private diary about the same said parent or teacher.

Joni Mitchell live 1974 “all i want”

Anyway I have been travelling and dealing with shit, just came back from a place in Eastern Europe that is amazing. I don’t want to tell you where it is! Because there are so few British and American tourists there at present. I may be going back there soon, just to say that people are nice there, much much nicer than in London, and that I left  a bag with my money , passport , debit card on a bench surrounded by at least a hundred people at the side of the biggest outdoor swimming pool I have ever seen and left it there for a couple of hours and no one took it.

But really coming back to London is so bad , as soon as I got here I was robbed in the street of only a few quid, still it was meant to be my week’s food money, without violence or even my noticing. I told the community police, they said there was nothing they could do but were sympathetic.

So  I called the real police, they were really nice but I soon felt like I was in a Monty Python sketch, the one with the restaurant where a diner complains about a dirty fork. In the end all the staff apologise and I think at least one stabs themselves to death.

They called me again today and asked for a description of the people hanging around me in the street when the money was taken. They chatted and laughed with me and were really nice so I thought I’d write about that.

But at lunchtime I had to walk past the same spot where I think my money was taken. There were two police vans , three police cars and about thirty police officers and community police people all standing guard around the place and stopping young people in the street asking them for ID. They didn’t stop me as I am too old.

I suddenly felt really guilty wondering if  maybe my calling them had somehow contributed to this operation.I am not being too specific here for obvious reasons. I didn’t feel good about it. I went back about four hours later and there were still around 15 police officers there stopping young people.

So on the one hand for a change I’d like to state that the police really can be very helpful and on the other , if this police presence really was in response to my complaint then we are living in a  scary place.

In the tremendously cultured , beautiful , historic, progressive , very friendly and poor town in eastern Europe I have been recently been to, they only have one or two CCTV cameras. Eco-conscious weasels break into parked cars at night and chew through the electrical wiring.There are tons of young people there, little or no health and safety rules, no Body Shop, no Starbucks etc..and the locals don’t speak English.

Apparently they had put a CCTV camera outside a building where journalists worked. The journalists complained that they should not be filmed and it was taken down. Also there was a smoking ban and bar owners who smoked complained that they would have to go outside for a smoke at their place of work, so they allow some restaurants and bars to have a major smoking section and a small non-smoking section. I’m not saying smoking is good for you but I think their approach is a little saner.

Here is a collection of Joni Mitchell songs starting with “Come to the Sunshine” with a great guitar riff with bended strings, performed live in 1967 at  the Couriers Folk Club Leicester. This song is definitely my current favourite of hers. If this plays correctly this should be a series of songs including a very expressive version of “Both Sides Now“. Joni Mitchell’s early live stuff is really her at her best in my humble opinion. If you can’t hear the others double-click onto youtube to find the rest. There are remastered (clearer) versions of some of these songs on one of a couple of live bootlegs called2nd Frets  1966-1968″ and “Live at Club 47″ ( 1968).

I think Joni should release this song again, it’s a definite hit, the version on “Live at Club 47” , unfortunately a bootleg, is louder on the guitar and more confident but the words and structure of this song are fantastic, it’s a gem of an undiscovered song. (maybe the sexual connotations kept it hidden!)

(for a complete list of Joni’s 37  unreleased early songs with lyrics go to jonimitchell.com)

Back to my travel tales in a cultured town in Eastern Europe….

I was sitting outside alone at three a.m. one night, smoking a fag and I asked a local if I was in danger of getting mugged. He told me that the only crime in their town was ” Street Demolition” which made me laugh.

I asked him what that was, it turns out it means graffiti and other small acts of vandalism like the odd beer bottle being smashed. There was lots of graffiti, but most of it was art which was much cleverer and skilled than your average “Banksy”.

I also went to an outside swimming pool there which was the size of Belgium, it even had waves without a wave machine. There was no chlorine in it, no shallow end,the lifeguard was in his own room about a million miles away and was fully clothed. It was bloody scary but no one drowned and everyone looked like they were having fun. Families chain smoked on the grass and under tress after a good swim.

The young people there seem so much more responsible and organised about their lives. They all drink  beer but  I was in this major town for ten days, I never saw a police car or a police officer.

Everyone in the street, in shops, everywhere was smiling and friendly even though I couldn’t speak the language , they were patient and entertained by my ” charade” miming skills. I didn’t have a phrase book though:

London and the UK are so over-rated, in just ain’t the same as in the times of Monty Python. Comedy is censured now so that no one gets upset. Would that sketch upset Hungarians?  It depends how people are represented. Freedom is good, travel broadens the mind if you allow it to, or if you are going a bit crazy it can cure depression or a nervous breakdown better than Prozac or dyamtholintoolitisticholum ( random name of prescribed drug I invented). If travel is better than anti-depressants then I will also say that music is also better than religion . Will I get comments? I doubt it, I’m not John Lennon.

That’s why I haven’t been here, but I am thinking of all of you. Going to Guilfest tomorrow, never been, I will writing again when I can like a  lost alternative Auntie. I’m going to Guilfest for an odd reason, my friend wants to go and see Motorhead somewhere he can smoke. Simples, squeak. Heavy rain is forecast.

I am going through a Joni Mitchell phase who wrote many songs about her travels but this is her famous ecological one.

“Big Yellow Taxi” 1970

Love and Peace

Born2rant

(I really should be packing and other stuff..excuse any typos!)

17/7/09 P.S. Clue for those who can be bothered to Google: the town I was referring to is home to a place where in the past , two dictators gave public speeches  from its main balcony,that was at the Blue Elephant Hotel. If you go there don’t take lager lout friends or hen parties with you,  the place is almost free of foreign tourists due to its location and history. Actually it’s not blue just Elephant Hotel, I must have put a colour in there with my imagination. You’ll probably read this after Googling “Blue Elephant Hotel” ten times, but I have to make it possible but hard for you to find, so only the determined will succeed, like the swimmers determined to survive a length without drowning at the swimming pool there.



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