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

Hippie ‘flu or Hypochondria-UK Swine Flu cases double in five days


Hello Good people who read this blog I am writing about another random thing.

We all know about the media hypochondria, there was the “Millenium Bug” in 1999 where all our computers and civilisation as we know it was meant to be destroyed by a computer virus.They even had some kind of drama on mainstream TV showing how all the traffic would crash into one another due to traffic lights not working and then the crash victims taken to hospitals without electricity or staff unable to get to work, and total mayhem, chaos, HORROR! etc..

What really happened was a rather disappointing fireworks display over the Thames and lots of people with massive hangovers on January 1st 2000…and they put the tube fares up a couple of days later.

Or let us look at the panic surrounding “Avian ‘flu“, every bird was a suspect, and we were all going to die, GPs surgeries were packed full of people demanding ‘flu jabs even though these did not immunise anyone against Avian ‘flu. There was general panic , not just here but in the media around other parts of Europe and the world until one day they found some other story to focus on and Avian ‘flu suddenly flew off into the sunset.

Silly paranoia of foreigners importing avian flu on a U.S. radio show. The woman sounds like she wholly believes what she is saying , but it’s obvious bullshit , which is why we should always question everything.

Initially in the Uk,we have also had a lot of paranoia and over-reporting on swine flu, now given the catchy name:”A(H1N1)”. No wonder they still call it swine flu!

Of course if you get Alien Flu this might be you:

But what  I am about to write is probably going to come as a surprise:

I think the swine flu epidemic is being under-reported in the UK …no I don’t say panic, I don’t buy into the paranoia,  but still , if you have flu stay home , whatever kind it is.

Of course it’s not a media black-out , today the main story was of a woman who died in Scotland as I am sure you all know.

However what is not reported is the current spread of the disease in the UK.

Why am I writing about this?

Well since Friday I have had a very sore throat, cough , fatigue, nausea  etc.. Today four days later I have a temperature and feel a bit worse. It was only today that , maybe because I have too much time on my hands and am a bit incapacitated,  I decided to look up swine ‘flu on the net.

I almost certainly have just an upper respiratory infection, cough and sinusitis and I haven’t been to the doctor’s. However I couldn’t help remembering that last Wednesday I went to a gig where there were  a couple of hundred Americans, maybe thirty or fifty of them had just flown in to London a couple of days previously. We all had a post-gig drink and party in the pub and an American boy I know, sitting at my table, was suddenly feeling very unwell with a fever and had to get a taxi home.

Until today I never thought about it.

I have a very weak immune system and I catch absolutely every virus going ,to quote the 1970s Martini adverts “Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere”  I can catch a cold or ‘flu. It doesn’t have to be winter.

But anyway having some spare time on my hands I thought I look up the numbers of cases online of  swine ‘flu on the World Health Organisation website.(http://www.who.int/feeds/entity/csr/disease/swineflu/en/rss.xml)

I am totally shocked! and although this is a hippie hypochondriac blogging I feel I need to share this with you and urge you to stay home of you have flu symptoms.

In the UK  5 days ago ( 10/06/09) there were 666 confirmed cases ( possibly linked to the anti-christ…Satan Cowell must have  brought some germs over with his constant transatlantic travelling)

3 days ago (12/06/09) there were 822 confirmed cases so almost a third more in 2 days.

Today ( 15/06/09) there are 1226 onfirmed cases in the UK. ( see World Health Organisation website)

So between now and last Wednesday, the confirmed cases of swine flu have DOUBLED in the UK!

Why is this not reported? We certainly heard a lot about it when we had the first couple of cases.

5 days ago in the United States there were 13217 cases with 27 deaths

Today in the United States there are 17855 cases with 45 deaths

So in the United States the known cases have increased by 4638 cases, that’s a 25% rise in 5 days.

Also the deaths by swine flu in the U.S. have risen by 60% in the past 5 days.

Ok so let’s get it in perpective, it’s flu, not the plague, but still I find it puzzling that no one, on the TV news at least, has pointed out that UK cases of swine ‘flu have doubled in 5 days.

If you do get this flu, you might have to wear silly masks, take Lemsip and go on TV ( these people don’t look very ill to me!):

or in the worse case scenario…we will get a virus like this one together with martial law

“The Crazies” ( 1973) …note the military guy peeling an orange and the other one eating a sandwich , followed by man in nylon wig, plus an edited mad granny stabbing people with knitting needles..no idea why these things amuse me:


So that’s all! A bit boring but still, maybe thinking I could have a mild version of swine flu isn’t such a weird thing after all.

Here’s some Gong to help me and you get better.

and some Pink Floyd

Keep Well everyone

Love and Peace

Born2rant