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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Hello again & Tibetans, Amazonian Indians etc…


Hello Good People who read this blog

Where have I been ? I hear you cry ( actually you don’t exist and neither do I!) Ha, ha I am writing  from the Underworld via the internet.

I am suffering from attacks by many winter dieases…..

You can tell by the beginning of this post that I don’t have an f8888ing clue what I am about to write although I think Tibetans may feature.

One of the many wonderful things that has been in my life recently is a totally different outlook on people from other countries. In our mainstream media there is both a conscious and an unconscious focus on all the negative things in other countries and in bad people from other countries. The news , let’s face it, is never good news so all we hear about from non-Western countries is war, famine, earthquakes, terrorists,  sex slave trading, corrupt dictators, and all kinds of nasty things. In the end we are kind of brainwashed in the West to think of most developing countries as having problems and bad people in them. Either that or we just ignore them altogether.

But I have been reading a lot about the societies and music from other cultures , their belief systems, histories, strange customs etc.. and it is so fascinating and engaging to read about how musicians are treated around the world , how they conceive of music, life, society that my outlook living in Central London is so totally different now.

Each time I go to Tescos, (Tescos features heavily in this blog) I see women from different parts of Asia and Africa at the tills and I wonder which country they come from, what music either they or their ancestors created, their history, their belief system, their mythology, their art, customs etc…and each little bit of information I gather here and there brightens up my day.

So I’ll tell you a teeny bit about some Tibetan Monks and their music.

First of all here is some music from Tibetan Monks

although they also like to play the guitar

even rock guitar ( not a monk but still in Tibet)

We’re all global now!

I am reading a Phd thesis written in 1979 by a bloke who did extensive research on Tibetan Ritual Music.

I am deliberately calling him a bloke and not saying who he is as an attempt to get away from the futile excessive egotism of academia which I am rebelling against!

For the Monks all music is a spiritual offering and there are many wonderful ways in which they think about music .

For example during meditation the monks sometimes visualise a new type of musical instrument, they will then build that instrument according to their visions . He describes a giant lute that needs two people to pick it up as an example, but although it is fully functional they won’t play it,  instead they’ll put it on the altar as an offering.

The monks will have other instruments in their orchestra that are not played, their presence is enough as a spiritual offering.

Another thing they do is to have conceptual instruments.

Their orchestra like ours is subdivieded into various groups:  horns and trumpets,  percussion , vocal section but the string section, which is made up of largely Indian string instruments such as sitars etc..will be conceptual i.e. they don’t actually exist in a physical form. It isn’t that the monks can’t  afford  them, they just prefer a conceptual string section .

This section of the orchestra is played “conceptually” by a group of monks who  sit in the orchestra.  They  meditate visualising the intruments and then  mentally project the music , actually playing the conceptual musical instruments  with their minds. Other monks who have less imagination will meditate to augment the volume and number of instruments that are already present.

I kid you not!

Isn’t that cool?

Here is another example of “conceptual instrument” playing but a bit less cerebral this time from Finland

Meanwhile…..

Deep in the Amazonian forests of Brazil some stories from some researchers who spent thirty years or so in contact with a tribe of Indigenous Brazilian Indians…in fact these  researchers  happen to be Pete Seeger’s nephew and wife. ( if you  are too young to know who Pete Seeger is google him!)

The tribal village  held elaborate ceremonies using singing and dancing dressed as mice, everything in their culture is traditionally based around the animals and plants in their environment.

They sing hundreds of songs. If there are any musicians out there ( and I know there ) think of this…………………….

Here is how they write their songs:::::::::::::If one of them gets ill or injured , while they are recovering they are believed to be living in two places at once. Physically they are still at home but their spirit is living with some animal or plant group and mingling, socialising with them etc..

If they do not die and recover from the affliction, then someone in the village might ask them  the following “You know those mice you were living with while you were ill? What songs did they sing?”

Then the person who has recovered from their illness has to “teach” that person the new song. Each different species has a different song topic associated with it. For example they believe bees abduct human beings , so if you were hanging out with the bees while you were ill you have to be prepared to mentally write songs about bees  kidnapping people. In some cases the song then entirely belongs to the first person it was transmitted to and no one else is allowed to perform it.

This makes copyright complicated! There is far more I could tell you about that tribe but I must go to bed soon.

They got their land back many years after it was taken from them by ranchers . They would not have survived as well if it wasn’t for two charities started by Sting and The Grateful Dead to save Amazonian tribes. Once they got their land and some funding one of the first things they wanted in the middle of their tiny village was a full-sized soccer pitch.

I can’t wait until we meet aliens and start to research their music and customs( how ethnocentric of me) but if you leave America and Europe out of your consciousness, cultures and music become a lot more interesting and you could feel like you are on a whole different planet.

By the way why are we in Afghanistan?

Does anyone know ? Are they about to invade us?

Do they have a secret goldmine we want to get our greedy hands on? Do they have secret weapons of mass destruction?

I am sure MI5 is reading this maybe they know and could leave me a comment.

…or is it MI6 I can’t remember the difference between them…whatever happened to MI 1, 2,3 & 4? and is there an MI7? If there isn’t I declare myself and my little rebellious site to be MI7 home of hippie “intelligence” ..well more home of hippie ranting without that much info…

Here is some Afghani music  featuring a boy playing the role of a woman.

Bring back the women I say!

This film footage is of another strange culture which  is so weird that I cannot even begin to describe the  lengthy set of  annual ceremonies it involves. Months beforehand some of the participants have special secret surgery, some also paint their skin orange.

The musicians are mentored by a  group of elders who have to take various types of hallucinogenic drugs before each ceremony . A lot of fake crying is involved to make the musicians more popular with the other villagers. If too much alcohol or drugs are taken for long periods of time , these musicians and elders  mysteriously disappear to a secret place of healing and retreat where they have to tell stories of childhood to a wise woman who absolves them until they transform themselves with new identities.

Love and Peace

Born2rant       OM!

P.S. each time I try to write or read my blog my internet connection is cutting out if anyone has the same probs let me know…it could be a conspiracy !!!!


My Adolescent Weekend & the Power of Gatherings(Part Deux)


Hello Good People who read this blog

After my last entry which attracted a lot of readers , I thought I’d cheer things up a bit.

In the media the knife crime and violence is taking up every spare moment of our consciousness and although it is obviously important I think I need to brighten things up a bit.

So here we go first of all I will tell you that on a whim, because I happened to have my debit card on me when I went out, I bought a sitar today.

Oh what joy! It’s so cool, I’m making a horrible noise on it but playing the riff from Led Zep’s ” Kashmir” is a doddle. I played for hours and the day’s severe stresses faded into harmonic overtones of OM!

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I wrote an entry originally posted on Sunday night all about my mad weekend and how at my age I probably shouldn’t be enjoying myself so much. In the morning I deleted it because it didn’t follow on from my stories of Notting Hill dodgy places, but what happened is that someone, maybe WordPress somehow translated it into French with one of those daft internet translators that completely distorts the meaning and then linked it to my site so since my petty hedonistic weekend is out there for everyone to read in very strange French I thought I’d re-issue it in English. If you read my blog regularly you’ll notice posts appearing, disappearing, re-edited , translated into Japanese..hmm, it’s got to be done.

I hope you enjoy it. My blog like me likes to flit about from subject to subject and swing from one state of mind to another.

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“My Weekend” by hippie aged 14 (sorry I meant 40 something)

Hello Good People who read this blog!

This blog is getting weirder and more anarchic and spontaneous as time goes on, but that’s ok, that’s what life is like unpredictable , with high and lows, memories and day-to day realities, unexpected joys and nightmares.

I am therefore putting my tales of drug-dealers of the late 70s early eighties in Notting Hill and beyond to one side for now.

I’m going to tell you about my weekend as I am ending it with Glastonbury in the background.

On Friday afternoon having no other commitments I decided on a whim to get a bus up to Speaker’s Corner to go to Nelson Mandela’s birthday party. I didn’t have a ticket of course at £65 pounds a hit well , it’s beyond my budget. But you can sit on the grass and hear it from outside.

At first I went to watch the screens from the gates. You could see the screens clearly, at that point there was Annie Lennox and with an African choir. I have no idea who half the performers I heard or saw were although Eddie Grant got everyone near me dancing and singing “ Give me Hope Joanna!” , Will Smith was great too there were so many performers doing 2 songs each.
There was a great mix of people gathered outside looking at the screens. Wafts of smoke of a fragrant nature, lots of black people of all shades, ages, income brackets, tourists as well as out of town white families with their picnics and dogs, groups of students, all different kinds of people. The crowd was as eclectic as the music..

I couldn’t hear the acts so I moved to a bit of grass closest to the stage where I couldn’t see any screens. Hearing it clearly was more important as was sitting down after a couple of hours.
There were a lot of police and one of the bits of fence nearby was regularly being opened to allow in and out convoys of police escorted black limousines. Naturally we the rabble outside then took the opportunity to get up and crowd around and look inside with the police telling us to move back.

There was this very cheerful pretty black woman in her forties …( actually I’m writing “black” but I have to say I didn’t notice to start with. I know that sounds lame but unless I go out of London for a long time, or someone is extreme in their clothing and “attitude” I often don’t notice what colour people are).
Anyway she was a real laugh and was shouting at the policemen ” Come on give us a smile don’t look so miserable! It’s a birthday party!” and many variations on this.
Later I got talking to her and her friend and we found a gap in a fence to peak through and spent the evening in each other’s company and discussed the artists and politics and had a great time.

At one point another woman who I can only describe as what Amy Winehouse would look like in 25 year’s time with no front teeth, pushed us out of the way , along with her mates all totally off their faces. “I love Amy Winehouse” she shouted and we could tell as she dressed just like her.
Later her boyfriend was arrested and carried away by a couple of police officers. I don’t like to be mean but our evening was slightly improved as a result.

As Amy Winehouse started to sing “ Rehab” her voice was weak and faltering and it was kind of sad and I wondered why on earth someone hasn’t cancelled her gigs yet as she clearly is not well mentally or physically, confirmed by her hitting someone in the audience the following evening at Glastonbury.

I really hope in my dreams that some good people, maybe a bit older who have overcome their own addictions, come to terms with themselves, maybe musicians, could take Amy Winehouse off secretly away from the city, the press, the music biz, the crowds to some calm anonymous cottage by the sea and let her chill out and not be this sad object of fascination for the public. She’s only young, maybe she doesn’t want to go to rehab but she definitely needs rescuing.

Later my new acquaintances managed to succeed in making at least one policeman smile.
We were totally sober but there was a great party atmosphere and it was contagious.

I saw several older black people outside the the fence who were wandering about or sitting on the grass. One woman in her seventies wearing a scarf round her head and the kind of earrings and clothes that to me are characteristically Afro-Caribbean must have made a trip there specially , even though she had trouble walking, Nelson Mandela must have meant a lot to her. I found it very moving to see her there.

Similarly I was standing next to a sharp-suited black gentleman who looked like he was well into his eighties who was smiling to everyone. I don’t think he came to see Queen or Bono.
When Mr. Mandela himself appeared on the stage I got up and rushed to find a screen I could peak at and I found myself quite emotional. He looks so vibrant, he represents hope.

I remember all those years of campaigning, from the “Rock Against Racism” gigs I attended in Brockwell Park to Wembley, years later, people singing “Free Nelson Mandela” . I watched and videoed it at home wishing I’d been in the audience.
That concert made a difference, a political difference and he was freed eventually.

How history and the news was rewritten. Once it was Nelson Mandela the “violent terrorist”, Winnie Mandela the “ever-loyal wife”. I never thought Mandela would ever speak in public again let alone be freed from jail to create a new nation.

I can’t embed this video so here’s the link, copy and paste job . “Free Nelson Mandela” with Amy Winehouse in Hyde park it’s cool.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=tcmGGuwAoJs&feature=related

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Saturday I went to a totally different event. I was invited by a close friend to go an see Brian Wilson at Kenwood , Hampstead Heath. This was the weirdest outdoor gig I have ever been to. I don’t think there was anyone there who hadn’t attended public school. All these people had big sophisticated rugs and groundsheets to mark their territory, with iceboxes and Pringles and stuff.
I went to the Big Chill once, I enjoyed it but its level of middle-class affluence scared me a bit. Who brings a Gazebo and a crate of fine wine to a festival? The organisers provided cocktail bars and “greeters” and even clean loos. It’s just not natural.

Yesterday Brian Wilson and his note-perfect band was great though and a good time was had by all. I enjoyed watching the Japanese couple next to us. They watched drunken groups of young people jumping and jiving about to all the Beach Boys hits in great admiration of their free expression .

The gig seemed to end really fast the music was excellent, the performance and sound improving with our levels of debauchery. Although Brian Wilson did miss out a whole verse of a song, I wouldn’t have realised if he hadn’t said anything.

Before and after the concert and during the intermission there was some guy making a terrible monotone announcement in a public school accent for “Jacques Fruit Cider… the cider with Fruit!”………………

Enjoy Jacque’s fruit cider any time ” etc.. each time he said it everyone laughed and cringed he must have said it 20 times. We were near a free “Jacques cider” tent.
The girls at the Jacque’s taster tent were giving away the stuff by the gallon and we got pretty rat-arsed, none of us drink much and have no resistance to such things, we got through our own bottles of booze and most of Jacque’s cider too. It tasted like very sweet lemonade so it was hard to imagine it was alcoholic.

This made the journey back “interesting.” Standing up was possible but walking was trying, or rather trying to walk involved thought processes close to rocket science.

My friends decided that we wouldn’t leave the conventional way along with everyone else but that we would climb over a fence, with a sign on it saying “Do not on any account climb over this fence” and walk to Hampstead.
We managed the fence, I was proud of myself. We walked a bit more, got more wrecked , watched bats , argued about whether or not they were actually bats, I ranted stupidly telling tales of famous rock stars incoherently and then we found we were actually locked into the grounds of Kenwood House and it was dark.
By this point standing up had become very difficult .We were in our forties behaving like we were fourteen unable to get home. When we eventually found the peripheral gate with 6 foot tall iron fence with rusty menacing spikes on the top , I refused to climb over it although there were several comical attempts to haul me over. They would have been more successful getting a drunken wild horse over that impressive solid iron fence. But once they realised this and gave up, I still couldn’t persuade them to go back to the official exit.

We got out in the end but I am sworn to secrecy how, nothing criminal was done, is all I can say. However we then walked at breakneck speed in pitch dark through woods which was terrifying although I laughed most of the way. The whole thing took about two hours but I guess it was fun since none of us broke any bones in the process.

This is Brian Wilson at Glastonbury 3 years ago( except I can’t embed this one either!) copy and paste this:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=4yMR53VcUSk

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Sunday I felt a bit under the weather and I was going to go back to Hyde Park to hear kt Tunstall and The Police. I went for a short walk to the shops and bumped into someone who I think was Hawkwind’s ex-manager, Doug Smith,( who I recognised from the Hawkwind documentary and have seen many times walking down Pembridge Road but then I thought I saw Dave Brock before and it wasn’t, I see so many famous people in the street round here that I just like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume everyone is just famous, I’m short-sighted so this helps with my confusion ) The guy who may or may not have been Doug Smith looked at me partly because I was looking at him and maybe because I have this habit of singing while I walk down the street. I suddenly wondered if he read my blog and if I should say hello. Then out of the blue a few feet further I saw a songwriter I know from North London in a wheelchair , who was very surprised to see me. She said I was her angel as she needed some assistance buying bananas and couldn’t physically enter the shop. It was so weird bumping into 2 people like that one after another who I recognised ( or who I thought I did). London isn’t usually like this but I felt connected for once.

Later after various important emails and phone calls, my friend Dave Russell came round and I interviewed him again. After writing a bit about The Apollo in All Saints Road last time I wanted more info on this and the Black community in Notting Hill in the 70s and 80s.
I forgot all about going to Hyde Park .
The “interview” was really a rambling unplanned hung-over conversation which I will edit and put up in the blog soon.. We ended up watching the Glastonbury festival on my computer, my favourite bit was The Groove Armada, ( it’s rare that I can remember the name of a band beyond 1979..that’s when I stopped trying to remember them) what a show…… Dave wanted to see Suzanne Vega and Joan Baez but although I stayed up late I didn’t see them …..and well that’s my weekend.

Live music and all its ensuing interrelationships is what makes me feel alive and happy.

But I am allowed to embed a bit of Hawkwind definitely my favourite of the three so that’s OK!

Love and peace

Born2rant

P.S. I hope my little journey cheered you up a bit. I have just found out that I have been accepted on a Masters course in Ethnomusicology and I am over the moon and scared but mainly very pleased. Buying the sitar today wasn’t as crazy as I thought , I’ll be needing it for my course!

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