The Quintessence of Ladbroke Grove, Glastonbury Fayre 1971, Meanwhile Gardens, Here & Now and alternative community spirit


Hello Good People who read this blog….

If you like this post please could you rate it with stars or add a nice comment, thanks!

My friend and mentor Brian R. Banks sent me a link to a wonderful piece about the band Quintessence  from the ezine It’s Psychedelic Baby, to celebrate the release of their complete Island Records recordings.  In his article Brian describes the vibe of creativity at the time in the Ladbroke Grove area. He also has a very interesting interview with former Quintessence band member Raja Ram a.k.a. Ronald Rothfield who also depicts ‘the Grove‘ or Ladbroke Grove area, filled with musicians, squatters, and people living alternative lifestyles. Please follow this link to read Brian’s excellent article: http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2017/06/raja-ram-quintessences-complete-island.html

If you are wondering what Quintessence sound like, below here there is a film of them playing at Glastonbury 46 years ago.

They sing :

‘If you want a life that is free

If you want a life full of happiness

You’ve got to turn your back on fear and shame

Leave it, Leave it all behind you

Have no fear,

You’ve got to turn your back on Fortune and Fame

You’ve got to leave it all behind you

You’ve got  to leave it all behind you, ever free.’

Of course the Glastonbury Fayre was free to ‘get into’ , or rather walk into, in 1971. Others performing at this festival included a young David Bowie, Gong, Hawkwind, Traffic, Melanie, and Fairport Convention.

If you don’t like the music of Glastonbury 2017 and like me, could not afford to go there anyway, you can watch a documentary about  the free festival of Glastonbury Fayre (1971) here. To listen to Quintessence, play this video from exactly one hour onwards:

Today I walked down Portobello Road market, I found tucked away under the Westway in Acklam Road  there were residents and friends of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, selling cakes, clothes and a variety of things where the money goes directly to those affected. It’s going on tomorrow (Sunday 25th) as well, a bit hard to find but worth going to. I gave them a small donation and wished them good luck, but they really appreciated my modest  contribution. I was glad they organised something, just wish it was in the middle on Portobello Road and took up the whole market and wished they’d opened up the little ampitheatre in Meanwhile Gardens where bands used to play Saturday evenings for free, they could have passed the hat around and done a great benefit gig. Today so many rules and regulations and they are ignored by companies in terms of fire protection but if a few people want to gather and have a free gig , is that allowed? I hope someone does run a free gig there for the community to remember and not let it be only a grand  Simon ‘Chimney Brush-head’ Cowell production.

If you are wondering what I am talking about here is a documentary about Meanwhile Gardens from 1981; Music performance @ 20-23 mins, and in view of recent events, a rather disturbing giant Guy Fawkes Bonfire (30mins in):

 

I went to many gigs at Meanwhile Gardens including probably this one:

I was going to write about other alternative lifestyle things in Notting Hill but have to go now. I will leave you with more wonderful Here & Now from 1978 (Careful with that effects pedal Steffe). On the youtube video below there are some great photos. I recognise people, marquees, The Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, etc……I wish I could find my old photos…people at free festivals didn’t want to be photographed a lot of the time. There are also photos of alternative lifestyles in Latimer Road with tower blocks from the estate in the background, possibly Grenfell Tower or tower blocks still standing nearby.

 

 

‘You’ll plot and scheme to get your way,

but you haven’t the got guts to do it yourself,

so you make an alliance with somebody else,

A thousand years it’s been the same,

political parties in power again,

if you’re listening man, I’d like to say,

Floating Anarchy is a better way!’  (Here & Now ‘What You See….Is What You Are’ 1978).

This is really great music and spirited musical performance..Please listen to this before bed and/or play it to your children and grandchildren instead of a bedtime story.

So wishing you Love & Peace, sending good wishes and hugs to all those affected by the Grenfell Fire disaster, let us rebuild a free creative community spirit where and when we can.

 

 

 

 

To the residents of Grenfell Tower: this never should have happened to you, ‘got to make or save money, you see’; you may be in the hands of dishonest or simply incompetent people


Hello Good people who still read this blog…. (written in haste and may need editing!)

I just wanted to say how sad I was to find out about the destruction of Grenfell Tower by a fire that went very quickly out of control.

We await investigations, but my heart goes out to all the residents, their friends and family. I live in the area but coincidentally was locked out of my flat and had to go and stay elsewhere so did not hear the sirens or smell the smoke. Spare a thought for the victims but also those who heard the screams for help and the agony of those trapped by smoke and heat.

Someone said on the news that these days tenants in social housing are treated like vermin.

DSCN0068

I have certainly witnessed this on many occasions, and so many uncaring builders, lying surveyors, and incompetent contractors, some companies with famous names, coming to renovate buildings. Some trash the place, they charge housing associations a big sum, spout nonsense about health and safety but leave the place dangerous while their company is doing very nicely thank you very much and perhaps a bribe or two to various housing association surveyors and environmental health officers. Or perhaps they are just the cheapest deal and the council or housing associations cannot afford to have safe contractors, architects, surveyors who do the job properly.

I have witnessed this many times, and my own life and my family’s life was put at risk. But when you reproach them you get bullied or ignored. Lots of cash at stake you see. A veil of health and safety regulation speech and what lies behind it is absolute hypocrisy. People without jobs who live in central London are hated, and are definitely treated like vermin by MANY contractors and SOME housing officers ( not all I assure you). 

I will give you an example. A good friend of mine with a Notting Hill Housing trust flat close by to Grenfell tower, complained because the external fire escape on her old house needed some maintenance. It had been bolted to the outside walls of two adjacent buildings but these bolts had come loose, plus some contractors were storing a ton of wooden decking there for over a year on the fire escape stairs and she could not persuade her neighbours to move it. A health and safety surveyor from the Notting Hill Housing Trust came round for a special meeting after she’d been complaining for over a year about this. He got very irritated and said that the safest thing to do was to remove the fire escape and dismantle it completely to meet ‘health and safety regulations’. She explained that she was on the top floor (no lift) and that the single internal staircase was made of wood, therefore the external fire escape was her only safe means of escape. He got annoyed, and spouted health and safety regulations, a housing officer present also pleaded with him to fix the old iron fire escape that would lead my friend and her neighbours to safety in case of a fire. But he just got louder and more aggressive, then he wrote a report in front of them saying the fire escape had to be dismantled and removed immediately rather than simply re-attaching it with bolts in the walls.  DSCN0071

So in memory of all those people who died, were injured or  whose lives were torn apart, I say YOU ARE IMPORTANT, it’s time to confront the petty minded corrupt ‘health and safety’ officials in Housing Associations, working for Kensington and Chelsea Council and also to say to all those who write hateful articles about poor people living London that your spreading of hatred and prejudice needs to end. You successful journalists who write with prejudice and resentment today could be jobless and living in council housing on the dole tomorrow. Although it is very unlikely you could get either benefits or social housing!  

Now before I get angrier, let me wish everyone Love and Peace. Love and empathy always wins. Using your anger to find constructive solutions is always stronger, more intelligent, more durable but harder than destructive anger or revenge. If I am right in my assumptions, let’s make our revenge one which improves services for poor people in London, let there be an independent person that social housing tenants can take their stories to when they feel in danger, let’s sack the corrupt surveyors, the corrupt health and safety officers, the corrupt environmental health officers and bring in good people, who actually do good quality work and who deserve their pay.

Some Neil Young ‘After the Gold Rush’ don’t know why,  it just felt right, his voice always sounds mournful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e3m_T-NMOs

 

 

They don’t answer my emails because they don’t know I am the Messiah


Hello Good People who read this blog…

Yes I am still alive, very alive, so alive I cannot sleep on this night under the full moon of Friday the 13th. I felt wired remembering the stressful trifles of today, I wish they were sherry trifles, and I wish that when I said ‘trifles’ I could convince myself that they were relatively insignificant things that I worried about too much and that I was therefore to blame, but no these ‘trifles’ are big  hairy scary angry monsters.

I never read the book ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’. The title tells me all I need to know, someone condescending telling me to pull myself together and to ‘Calm down dear!’ The thing is it’s not so much the  unanswered emails to important requests which drive me crazy in themselves, it’s the daily ageism, sexism and being treated like I am totally insignificant as a human being and that nothing I ever have to say or do is of any importance. It’s not two unanswered emails, after all my dear kind friends know how useless I am at answering their lovely emails myself when I am too busy, but it’s the 1000th and 1000 and 1th unanswered emails to urgent and important things that are driving me crazy.

Here is some music to give the atmosphere of how I was feeling as I walked out under the full moon on a clear cold winter’s night for a walk at 1.30 am with a rock in my pocket.

Led Zeppelin- No Quarter. This  one might be a semitone higher than usual but wanted to have the film in. Get the film ‘The song remains the same’ .

 

The rock I had in my pocket was important because I wanted to hold it up to the full moon and enthuse it with Moon Goddess spells, chanting things like ‘Please let me accepted and no longer be ignored and let people want to answer my emails for important things and realise that I actually matter enough for a reply regardless of outcome”.

Actually I said that quite a few times!

Why don’t you write me –Simon and Garfunkel

And I also asked the Moon or the Goddess or the cosmos to ‘Let me do good in the world, let people notice me but not for my beauty or age or some trivial superficial thing but let them accept me because I  want to do something important to bring peace in the world!’ Ok so now I have visions of dear departed Rik Mayal in this clip in Bottom:

We should never take ourselves too seriously but I also I could be the Messiah! Who knows? Then everyone would answer my important emails and text messages instead of ignoring me and my checking all my stupid devices all the time! Technology makes me feel so stressed and insignificant I can’t understand why people Twitter. I think Donal Trump must be the ultimate twat Twitterer and an advertisement for stupid people to Tweet or worse still ‘reTweet’ nonsense.

Speaking of Trump, let’s sit by the fire and listen to some anti-Trump music. Earlier while struggling to sleep I kept hearing the lyrics to this song, pure poetry, and just a great expansive song, like you start with the details of the streets and the everyday/every night experiences mixed into poetry and then it expands and expands into 10 thousand people maybe more… etc. Sheer brilliance, don’t know what it is about but it makes me feel good and I love hearing it. My subconscious seems to be tuning into Paul Simon tonight and I do not know  why, perhaps he will be the next classic pop musician to die or perhaps I am the messiah and Paul Simon and perhaps  Garfunkel will appear on my doorstep.

I also asked my rock, while I went out for a walk under the full moon for a lot of world peace a lot of the time. I thought about different aspects of politics.

 I realised the other day after thinking a while that Socialism is not the same as being anti-materialistic. All the ageing socialists I  know have bought their council flat, own a car, and  go for bloody good long holidays and have a pension, and drink smoothies made with their overpriced ‘bullets’. I am sure that drinking smoothies is good for you but they make me feel like I want to puke.

Plus I cannot cope with this obsession with hemp seeds. Plant them and they make very big pretty plants in your living room, which look like cannabis plants. Your neighbours and other official people dropping by will believe you are growing your own, even if you try to hide them behind the curtains they have a habit of  popping out and waving their instantly recognisable leaves to all and sundry. The reason why I spent £3.99 on a big bag of  hemp seeds was because a friend told me he  felt so much better after taking a herbal remedy called CBD and he told me  how much calmer he felt. I went to my health food shop and found 1. CBD was made of hemp seeds, 2. CBD cost over £20, 3. a bloody big bag of  Hemp seeds cost only £3.99. (Sorry I feel like I need to say bloody a lot tonight but since I am possibly the messiah it’s OK).

Now I am not a socialist who respects myself enough to have a reasonably paid job, no,  instead I  am the idiot who chose to be a non-materialistic hippie creative intellectual all my life, so I had to buy the bag of cheap hemp seeds. They look great, it takes me back. If you put them in a folded bit of paper with a bit of dried oregano, then it looks like the  Jamaican grass deals of the old days when we thought smoking dope cured asthma, didn’t risk turning you into a paranoid schizophrenic, and made you look cool. Instead it just made us make bloody good music and invent stories and make great art, and sit drinking cups of tea listening to Gong, Hendrix, Hawkwind, Steve Hillage and Here & Now, Pink Floyd  and  basically my entire vinyl collection which I still own but have no record player to play them on. So instead I’ll play a little now.

Gong:

My rock hasn’t saved the world, I am not the Messiah, my important emails remain unanswered, the nightmares of Donald Trump, Marine le Pen, Nigel Farage, Putin, Islamic extremism, all politics of hatred, Global Warming, poor people coming here and ending up on the streets at 2am in the freezing cold in London remain. But now I feel at peace with myself and so send this out to you. This is my ultimate unanswered email. Let the Moon Goddess if she exists, bring power to the kind-hearted people of this world, and let the bullies fight amongst themselves and leave the rest of us to live in a peaceful world where everyone has a decent life materially but where materialism and achievement are not the most important things in the world. Sometimes apologising and being humble is a sign of deep strength.

Imagine:

Leaving you with another tune,

Love and Peace

Born2rant

She’s Gone!


Hello Good people who read this blog….

I just looked at the news about an hour ago and found Mrs.Thatcher, also known as Lady had died. Then I looked at various sites such as Anarchist News, The Morning Star, and The Socialist Worker website and nothing up there.

Of course I am absolutely gutted and saddened about this. So I asked my friend for advice for a song that would adequately represent the feelings of the nation at this time. He suggested this one.
Love and Peace ( well maybe a bit vindictive and giving myself bad Karma as well)
Born2rant

P.S. Just wanted to say apologies for some of the images in this youtube video, especially the ones with the woman, I don’t like Thatcher but not because she is a woman. I think some people went into mother hatred overdrive when it comes to Thatcher but I feel pretty much the same about the present prime-minister…..and Boris…..does that mean I will be arrested now for having an opinion????

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

 

Media coverage of strike…


Hello Good People who read this blog….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and Peace

Born2rant

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and now for the other side of it all:

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


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

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

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

Bob Marley – Burnin’ & a Looting

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Marley again

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

So as always

Love and Peace

Born2rant