Still Funky Down Portobello Rd (Saturday after Manchester bomb)


Hello Good People who read this blog….. I have returned from a place of deep virtuous austerity where music and dance are still allowed, but not always, to a place where young people and their families are blown up for going to a gig…..Has it really come to this?

I thought I would go out the door yesterday and see what it is really like out there, searching partly as an ethnomusicologist and partly as an old hippie musician, looking for hope through music performed in public. Here are some snapshots of what I found on one  short walk down Portobello Road (27/5/2017). Glad to see Notting Hill is still funky and creative. Keep it going and let your music, dance, art, performance, and all verbal and non-verbal expression blossom further.   Love and Peace and lots of Music (was disappointed not to find any dance)

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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

 

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


Is Everything OK?


Hello Good People who read this blog just a little entry today. Thanks to all the people who contacted me by various means about the little documentary I made, cheers for all your kind and generous comments.

I came across this video montage via the Organ fanzine myspace site and wanted to share it with you.

It shows a couple of guys out in London with a megaphone shouting some very sensible things about freedom, capitalism and fear. It’s quite entertaining and it’s always good to (peacefully) challenge the system as long as you don’t get killed, tortured or arrested in the process.

This clip includes several scenes in different London locations, my favourite is him hugging security guards at Canary Wharf who he calls “fake policemen” because they have copied the uniform of the Met. When he is asked to stop filming in a train station , he asks them to stop filming him on CCTV. Great!

Enjoy!

I haven’t done much freedom fighting recently,been going through a hedonistic phase but I’ll be back!

Here’s some music to brighten your day.

Steve Hillage from the Live Herald album ( 1977-1978) a track fusing musical styles well before its time “Searching for the Spark

Remember these are all live musicians, playing together through various changes in unison.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

P.S. I’ve felt for the past 5 years, or maybe even 8  years, that there should be a sign at every tube station saying “Please leave all your human rights at street level and abandon all sense of self before entering the tube station”,  ear-plugs are recommended if you don’t want to be deafened  by daft announcements that kill your soul . So I was very glad to find this little film, I defy you to watch it all the way through and not smile!

AWOL


Hello Good People who read this blog, I just wanted to say that I am sorry I haven’t managed to put my little radio prog up here yet. It means a few hours work putting it up on youtube with photos and captions and I am just too busy to do it at the mo.

To all those at The Big Chill I hope you have a great time time and that the weather holds up. Enjoy Gong on my behalf!

I have many people to see and many travels to make but will bring you my rant on the London Open Mic scene soon.

I wish you all in the meantime: Peace, Freedom to be an individual and do things differently without harassment, Understanding,and don’t forget what makes the world go round…LOVE!

A clip from my favourite Steve Hillage album “Green” (1978) -way ahead of its time like so  much creative “hippie” music. This is “Ether Ships”.

(more) Love 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.



“Political Intelligence” versus sitting around to watch the world end.


Hello Good People who read this blog

I make no apologies for this entry being political.  This is THE most important time to think about politics.

I went on the Put People First G20 March on Saturday.

I had such a great time. I joined the Oxfam group rather than march alone. I have done quite a lot of work for Oxfam so it seemed the right group to join.

Lots of friendly people there who were very knowledgeable about politics in this country, in Europe and the World. They put me to shame! They were telling me for instance about the recent general strike in France and I knew nothing about it and about many protest marches going on across Europe. People from Oxfam and other organisations club together and get a coach to go and march there. Now that’s dedication!

They all commented how apathetic British people are about politics and are lagging behind all the other countries politically.

A few years ago someone in the self-help trade coined the phrase “emotional intelligence” and I’d like to modify this to “political intelligence” , the people in Britain have very little “Political Intelligence” the British mainstream news media have very little “Political Intelligence” too, they like to make headlines that scare or shock people like the worst tabloid front pages. But they don’t report much on what is happening outside the UK unless it is a terrorist attack or some other horror story.

In television news reports, people who take an interest in what is going on and who is in charge of our daily lives , are labelled as terrorists and trouble makers.

But there are lot of people who actually want to take part in their democratic rights without being violent or wanting to kill people!

I am a bit worried about the demonstrations on Wednesday because I do think both sides plan on a bit of a ruck, that’s what the media will focus on and that will make more and more people “politically stupid” and less likely to come on the peaceful marches.

However I learnt some very important things on Saturday.On the down side there were only a pitiful  35 000 people who were concerned enough about the environment and the economy and world inequalities to come to the march. Also successive governments have ignored unions and peaceful protests following their arrogant policy which started with “this lady is not for turning” and later extending this to “not giving into terrorists” and eventually to  “not giving into the public who disagrees with the way things are run and have constructive advice to give to the government“.

However I had a wonderful time so here’s some reasons for going on a peaceful march

1. You will meet great people, make friends maybe even find love. These are people who care about things in depth, these are free thinking people, these are intelligent people. Would you rather be friends with those who just lead their little selfish consumer lives? I don’t!

2. You will get leaflets and hear about events about loads of different political organisations and events you may never hear about anywhere else. There’s lots and lots going on but there’s a media black-out on these things and they are not necessarily online. There are some extreme groups but then there are far more who are not.

3. Going on a protest march is great fun, it’s like a party .We still have some , but not much, freedom to protest publically so I say USE it. What a great feeling it was to walk down the middle of Park Lane shouting out slogans and singing and laughing.We felt powerful and united and not just sitting around waiting for the world to end.

When I used to go on protests a few decades ago we actually could march up to the front doot of 10 Downing Street ( there would be a decorative  bobby on the doorstep, this was during all the IRA bombings incidentally) and post a petition through the door, times have changed but we still have the freedom to march peacefully and be heard. I just wish some of the news coverage hadn’t been so inane, I think some of these TV news people are more interested in their hair than what is going on.

4. The speeches in Hyde park were fantastic and you will hear stuff in person that you will never hear or read anywhere else. There were the unions, world charities,religious groups and environmental groups with lots of positive alternatives to the kind of capitalism that we have now. If we don’t start to live collaboratively with eachother as people and with the rest of the natural world then things are very bleak indeed.

No one much believes in our government and there is very little in the way of opposition , the main parties are very  weak. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO GET INVOLVED POLITICALLY.


So I urge you to become “Politically Intelligent” don’t rely on news bulletins, find out the truth.

If you don’t want to join a political party then join a pressure group or a charity and please support PEACEFUL protest and PEACEFUL political action so that those of us who still want to change the world are not labelled terrorists.

I know a lot of people are angry about what is going on in the world and in their lives but put your your anger into positive and creative actions. You wouldn’t bring up a child with violence and hatred and I don’t believe we can create a new system with violence and hatred either.

WE NEED A COLLABORATIVE SYSTEM BASED ON UNITY. OUR SOCIETY HAS ENCOURAGED COMPETITION AND BEING SELFISH AND STUPID FOR TOO LONG.

Woodstock was not primarily about music or fashion or drugs  it was about people coming together because they didn’t want another world war.They wanted their say to solve the world’s problems through PEACE and INTELLIGENT ACTION,  finding  alternatives to mainstream greed, not through war or violence that generates more war and violence.



Love and Peace

Born2rant

Peaceful Protest (we hope) G20 London


This morning it’s time to prove hippies still want to change the world.

“On 28th March thousands will march through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20, ahead of their 2nd April summit on the global financial crisis.
Even before the banking collapse, the world suffered poverty, inequality and the threat of climate chaos. The world has followed a financial model that has created an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental.
Our future depends on creating an economy based on fair distribution of wealth, decent jobs for all and a low carbon future.
There can be no going back to business as usual.
People from all over the country will join the march on March 28.
Be one of them.”

from “Put People First” website  http://www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk/

On the BBC News Website they have  helpfully put a map and more details.
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7968721.stm)

It starts at Midday ( in two hours).

“The assembly point for the march is now confirmed. People should gather from 11am on Victoria Embankment by Temple tube station on March 28th. The postcode is WC2R 2 PP.” ( from Put People First Website)

The march will start on Victoria Embankment and move past Trafalgar Square and Green Park to Hyde Park, where there will be a mass rally.

If you don’t read this in time for the march then do go to Hyde Park for the rally in the afternoon.

I’d like to wish the lovely people at “Born to Go” in Hitchin a great  psychedelic evening tonight and also to Steve Hillage and Miquette who are playing this evening in London.

However I may not be there as I am going on the march in a second.

The media is speculating that there will all kinds of violence and anarchic nastiness at this march but let’s prove them wrong. Let’s keep our dignity

and protest peacefully and also keep away from any charging policemen.

We are the people of this country, we are entitled to a voice and the police are meant to serve us and the government is elected by us so we need to make a peaceful noise and

also if the police DO attack us it would be good if someone could take some footage of it and hand it in to sympathetic  media people!
Love and Peace

Born2rant
Here is a clip of Woodstock to get me out the door and marching:

A (relatively peaceful) Revolution!


Hello Good people who read this blog.

I am still here, excuse my absence due to hard work, change and constant illness.

Today is both Maggie Thatcher’s birthday ( don’t ask me how I know this) and the death of Thatcher’s vision.

I am not sure of what state of mind or coherence she is in due to illness but I am sure she would not have wished to hear that three of the main high street banks have been ” nationalised” or at least necessitated being rescued by tax payer’s money.

I went to my bank earlier today, oblivious of the latest news . The staff were unusually rude and unhelpful and I ended up having to make my transitions over the phone as the staff at my local branch were unable to do fairly simple processes. But as I was leaving annoyed and frustrated they suddenly asked me if I wanted a new credit card and managed to say this politely.

When I just  watched the evening news I realised the reason for their incredibly unhelpful behaviour was possibly shock. Whoever would have thought Lloyds and Barclays would need rescuing?

and what’s happening about Coutts ? The bank for truly posh people…

a bit of Thin Lizzy ( not exactly a hippie band but this version of the song “It’s Only Money”  has a great edge to it I think you’ll agree. I think the original was written by Rod Argent of rock band Argent ( argent being “money” in French …Bizzarre!) … no doubt someone will cover it during this recession and cash in….

Gordon Brown assures us in fatherly tones that he will guarantee our money is safe and also that the money lost in Icelandic bank accounts will be safe…. but how can he possibly make such guarantees?

The Icelandic bank thing was weird. I never saw that one coming. It’s a bit like hearing that Bjork is in fact the messiah and the second coming of Christ ( plus the significant other of all world religions and belief systems)  and that we were never notified of this fact up until now.

I’m sorry but I , like the majority of people in the UK up until now,  am obviously completely ignorant of what is really going on in the world of international banking.

I know it’s a bit of a strange concept for a hippie to write about money but money is important to everyone especially for those who long for a less materialistic world.

and now for something complete different…from Eric Idle ( excuse the subtitles it was the only clip  of this I found that didn’t link up to some business site)

This society and this world we live in has been turning a blind eye to corruption and unsavoury business practices for a long-time. Now we have our wake up call, out “Tower card” in tarot terms and our ” Number 51 The Arousing/Shock..thunder and lighting ” in I Ching terms. A time of sudden unexpected shock which betrays all the built-up faults and  corruption that festered somewhere for so long and Boom! Flash ! Thunder and Lightning! ( Kerpow!) The Ivory Tower of Power is struck down and it falls, everything that was secure is demolished. There is shock and panic and the underlying truths are all revealed. Deception and corruption have had their day.

You’d think we would learn from our mistakes, that now the blinkers would come off and people would say:

“Come on let’s be reasonable and have some common sense. Let’s plan ahead so we have no more disasters, let’s not base everything around money and business because it doesn’t work.

and yet the rest of the day’s news reads like a ” Book of Fables for the truly stupid “ ( if this book has not been written it should be  so you can buy it for people who you don’t really want to give presents to at Christmas) plus “The Concise Encyclopedia of Disasters caused by people with more GREED than actual money” and “ 100 things to do when you are lonely , bored and unemployable, and neither your TV or your computer work and you are living in a tower block that is suddenly hit by an economic crisis“( this isn’t very funny, I need to get well again so I can get more creative!)

So yes I can see a few more crises looming up

worldwide climate change …..action taken by clever UK …build another airport runway!

Increasing crime, alienation of youth, general morale low, people feeling dis-empowered and needing to feel more responsible and taking an active part in creating our society…action taken ……let’s bring in the 42 day detention bill , then everyone will know that they  can safely be thrown into a cell for 6 weeks with no reason given at all and also let’s have cells in secondary schools to get them in training
Can’t afford to build houses, losing jobs oh f*** me we have no money…..action taken by clever UK ……….let’s carry on spending millions for the Olympics and show how great the British are and let’s pay more taxes to bail out the banks

If these banks are nationalised and as the news claims we own the banks, then does that mean when the banks make profits again that we also get them? I think not!

So in fact the people are paying taxes for the bank’s debts. Is Gordon Brown or his successor really going to be able to find all this guaranteed money?  From where exactly? It is a mystery…………

Revolutions are things that have come full circle….

and yet I feel a kind of calm about the future. I am not panicked and many around me seem to be carrying on as usual.

I remember George Harrison when he was ill with cancer talking about it in a very calm way in a TV interview. He said that fans should not worry and that everything come and goes in cycles. His spiritual belief was very strong and gave him strength too.

I think now on Thatcher’s birthday we have also come full circle,  all of a sudden money and business is no longer revered. All the unethical trading is no longer sanctioned under the general premise that all business is good and that the successful business men and women of this world should be looked up to and their luxurious lifestyles are the one thing we should aspire to make you happy.

Because if there’s one thing I have learnt by being an outsider who knows some very very very rich people is that money and business do not make you happy. Many ( but not all) of the richest families are truly dysfunctional .There are so many secrets to be kept , rich businessmen do not make faithful or non-violent husbands, beautiful trophy wives who struggle to look perfect are  frequently  on anti-depressants or other drugs and are often abandoned and lonely in their palatial homes , the children are driven to work so hard in school and with extra lessons in the evenings that they have no time for play or friends and their current nanny or tutors are emotionally closer to them than their parents ever will be.

Being excessively rich is not the dream we were sold. Being poor is no good either but there are many types of poverty.

Before I get even more depressing here is George Harrison who like all the Beatles had a great sense of humour

Now we are clearly in a massive financial crisis leaving alongside world climate change  we all ask one question…

What does the future hold?

The only thing that is certain is CHANGE , BIG CHANGE

Hearing banking experts on the news and journalists criticising banking practices that went on for the past 20- 28 years it makes me laugh from the hypocrisy.

Although bankers are responsible for doing many wreckless things I feel they are to a certain extent being treated like scapegoats because each person who voted for the Tories or New Labour knew they were voting for business, they took out loans which they knew they could not pay back, they bought shares and became mini-business people themselves. They too criticised or ignored those too ill, old or otherwise unable to work. They too criticised single mothers on benefits while knowing that childcare costs about the total sum of their wages. They too invested in savings accounts which in turn helped to keep the business wheels turning involving the  exploitation of the poorest people in the world.

Business is not always a bad thing, we all need to survive, but this society has turned a blind eye for so long to anything else but the “ethics” of making money and spending money. The bankers are responsible but so is everyone who supported the highly materialistic machine of exploitative business.

We have come full circle and now

In the mainstream media which governs our thoughts and ethics more than any other institution we have  woken up from the American dream that we espoused so readily under Thatcher.

But people are still flying , driving , wasting our water, our earth, our air, our energy supplies. We need to wake up to this as well.

High fliers it’s time to come to earth, no more money for cocaine driven dreams.


We need to recreate our society again with different priorities or suffer the consequences.

Hippies created self-sufficient communities and tried to find alternative ways of living without money but with a better quality relationships between people.  We need to do this but in a way that is practical and that can last.

Love and peace

Born2rant

hoping there are not too many mistakes in my free-flow writing…will edit tomorrow…

Leaving you with a musical ray of hope from Steve Hillage’s version of Hurdy-Gurdy man ( Donovan) because without hope and only fear everything goes to pot and not in a good way!

P.S. Ringo doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour at the moment.

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