Enough Already! Riots in London August 2011


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

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

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

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

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

But to any young person reading this I say :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cat Stevens  ( BBC Theatre 1971).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Born2rant


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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

Yey! The Students Are Revolting Again.


Hello Good people who might come across this blog or have read it in the past…

( this post is still being edited!)

Back in the seventies a common “joke” usually made by tittering Times readers was ” the students are revolting” as a comment on both their frequent protests and the state of their physical hygiene.

In 2010 I would say that the personal hygiene of young students is excessively fussy and over-sanitised compared to that of their lecturers who were revolting students back in the seventies. But nevermind the hygiene, the important thing is that  the students are moving, speaking, having protests. At last we have the beginnings of a new counterculture that is not based simply on wearing certain clothes. Finally we have a young generation that is ready to go out and say what they believe , even when they know they could in theory be beaten up, locked up or even killed by random batoning policemen.

I won’t venture to say that this will last forever.

Two weeks ago when a group of  “students” ( some were definitely not students but belonging to revolutionary political groups) decided to take a detour to Millbank Tower , my initial reaction was two-fold. Firstly total joy to see some true student rebellion after all these years. Secondly thinking of the people working in the building, many of whom were unconnected to the Conservative party, and how it must have stopped being fun for them as soon as the students started to set fire to things and throwing things off the roof.

However I admit, rightly or wrongly, my main emotion towards the initial student protest was total euphoria. As I am typing this I am amused as on the BBC News channel, they are telling the general public, assumed to be stupid without their godlike guidance, how they can protect themselves against snow by wearing bright jackets and being very careful. We’ve had decades of being told by the media how everything is so dangerous and how we have to be so very very very afraid of illnesses and bombs and a bit of snow. However, regardless of growing up in this state of perpetual paranoia, and in spite of seeing how protesters can be treated, these brave young people  came out and protested mostly peacefully. Even those who ended up rioting at Millbank Tower,while knowing they were constantly on camera, made no attempt to mask their faces, which was either an act of fearlessness or stupidity.

I wanted to put some music here and the obvious choice was Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing”, but this song was more interesting, it’s  a Syd Barrett song protesting against protest songs , and more particularly Dylan protest songs.

Syd Barrett- Bob Dylan Blues (slight apology to Dylan fans)

The very limited police reaction to the first student protest was obviously a political decision. They could have used riot police, cs gas, water cannons, tanks, it’s central London for God’s sake. The place is crawling with armed police officers, S.A.S. and the Royal Cavalry.

If  politicians/police chiefs had wanted to do so, they could have flattened every student there within half an hour. They decided to let them carry on and have their day, probably because David Cameron was in China and wanted to demonstrate that the British way was not to run over students with tanks as in  Tiananmen Square 1989. Here is a video focussing  not on the massacre but on the brave tank man, who has disappeared ever since.

The protesters were perhaps more confident on Wednesday, thinking that since they had been treated with kid gloves two weeks ago, that they could go out and protest peacefully, or some riot, without being batoned to death again yesterday. However, the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred after a month of protests in China in various locations, where the police and army had been restrained. I firmly believe that the government is allowing students to ” let off steam” and that if the protests grow and are prolonged, that the army and riot police will soon make examples of a few rioters by severe injury, maybe a death, and severe prison sentences. However anyone actually setting fire to buildings etc…is kind of asking to be arrested at the very least. I am a peaceful anarchist, there are many ways of redistributing power.

A musical interlude in my ranting:

When I first started this blog there was far less footage available for me to post. Luckily this is up here now. My old friends Treatment ,who changed the course of my life,playing two contrasting songs in 1983 at The Greyhound in London. Like many similar bands their rehearsal time was sometimes live on stage playing to an audience, which allowed for some improvisation, part of the “Treatment sound” was due to the live psychedelic mixing.

Treatment- Stamp Out Mutants/Love is Getting Nowhere ( live 1983)

I do hope that our new coalition government continues to be restrained, but once they think they might lose control of their power and position altogether, we may see a totally different side to the police and armed forces.

Things have changed so quickly, even a year or two ago, I never thought we would ever see students protesting and showing their anger against authority ever again. Let me re-state that I am a pacifist and that I believe that violence leads to more violence, just as war leads to more wars.

Along with this new phase of student politicisation ( is that a real expression or one I just made up from too much studying?), I have sensed in the past year, that there are less jokes about “hippies” who express themselves freely, who challenge some of the more detrimental decisions made by those in power, or who complain about the inequalities in society or the treatment of our animals and environment.

In the past two years, young people have witnessed politicians using tax-payer’s money for duck houses and moats, they have seen how bankers have payed themselves billions and continue to do so,while a whole generation is told that they will have to pay for the gluttony of city finance-dealers, not just now but for a decade or more to come, young people have seen the dreams of their future careers and studies evaporate and it has left them empty hearted with nothing to lose through public protest.

But most of all I think that the news media, showing the protests in Greece, France, and other parts of Europe, have influenced the students and the public in the UK to think, “well if the French are protesting so much about the pension age going up to 62, why aren’t we protesting a lot more for all the damage and pressure we are under?”.

Ten years ago , you couldn’t force or bribe your average student to go and protest at the introduction of ever rising University fees. In 2000 most students were young Business Studies orientated hopefuls. They were born under the astrological constellation of Thatcher and brainwashed by social reinforcement from all directions , derived from  American business ethics, they believed that anyone who wanted to , could start their own business, or go to University, dress nicely, work hard and earn enough money to buy their designer clothes/cars/music/hair à la “Hollyoaks” or other soap opera full of glamourous-looking  young people. As long as they could get well pissed at the weekends and have a snort of coke when work needed to be done, there was no need to debase themselves by getting involved in shabby student politics.

Anyway I think I have ranted enough for now. I am glad to see protesting students, although hypocritically I have not been on the protests myself due to other reasons. But I’ll be on the next one, shying away from violence, but still protesting enough to walk down the middle of London streets. There has not been a majority of politically-motivated students for decades and I feel they need to be aware that the authorities may decide to crush them at any point.However the media-wise Prime Minister , and bumbling Boris, are well aware that whoever looks like the “good-guy”on TV holds the real power, and therefore some protesting may be allowed for some time!

Hawkwind- You Shouldn’t Do That (Brock/Turner 1971)sorry I think I’ve put this up before, it’s just a bit more direct than a Dylan protest song.

In the meantime, let’s see a bit of people power. In a democracy, politicians are meant to be our servants. Instead it seems, the people are the servants to a few well-connected, obscenely rich and over-priviledged business people and aristocrats who have temporarily lost control of the economy and who have been exposed for the liars and greedy people that they are. It’s not a good time for a Royal Wedding, I suggest they have it down the register office with a few sandwiches and dips in the living room afterwards.

Sometimes angry but still wishing you all:Love and Peace

Born2rant


Guilfest 2009 delayed review of a mishmash festival


Hello Good People who read this blog…

I’ve been away some more and then was ill and then was in hospital with pipes up my nose and much more horrible places, but I am making it all sound far more dramatic and less conventional than it is…

However it provides a bloody good excuse for not having promptly written a review of Guilfest 2009 .

Why write a review of Guilfest anyway? After all it’s not a hippie festival! I hear you cry ( in my imagination that imagines that someone out there in cyberspace apart from MI5 and MI6 reads this).

Well two reasons:

1. I was there ( see previous entry for reason I was there)

2. I talked to Alice Armstrong ( see end of this entry for some footage in “The Laundry”..not a club but really in laundry) to ask her for her name for  a review. Both her and her guitarist were very enthusiastic and wanted the address of my blog , so now for them,because I like to keep to my word, rather than to gratify Lemmy or anyone else, I will write a review of my impressions of the festival and intersperse it with some of the music.

On the first evening, I missed Eat Static as I couldn’t find the dance tent hidden away in a corner of the festival, but I heard The Stranglers from my tent. I was resting preparing myself for Motorhead .I had a headache followed by a cough. There was a bloke at the gate,selling T-shirts saying “ I’ve got swine flu” with a big pink pig on it. I thought of buying one but didn’t.

By then I had realised that the festival was basically a gig in a field complete with modern Britain’s  fascist rules and regulations . To go into the main site, you had to endure young people randomly grabbing and tugging  at your wristband without warning , followed by the “customs” inspection, having everything in your bag, opened, sniffed, even tasted. I’m surprised they stopped short of a cavity search.But the British public, like apathetic sheep, just seemed to succumb to this kind of treatment without fuss. I don’t think ID cards will be hard to bring in, that’s nothing!

The reason for this behaviour was to stop people bringing in alcohol, drugs, and re-selling tickets and wristbands. However within sight and earshot of this procedure about ten ticket touts were relentlessly buying and selling tickets and wristbands. In the camping field several hundred under 16s and their “flu friends” were drinking hundreds of cans of beer , bottles of spirits and taking nitrous oxide, in full view of the same stewards so anxious to check everything in your bag. What a farce!

Entering into the main festival site was always a bit like going into a  strange concentration camp with no human rights or freedoms but with lots of good music and where  you could still smoke at a live gig.


Friday night :Motorhead as viewed from the position of adoring fans “Ace of Spades” Guilfest 2009

some Motorhead  choreography

Motorhead did a blinding gig, sometimes their energy waned for a minute or two but then they were back on form. Lemmy threatened to stop at one point because so many things ( mainly frisbees) were being thrown on stage . There was even a spectacular stage invasion. There was some excellent lead guitar playing, though I can never hear Lemmy’s lyrics and I got bored during the drum solo ( time to get a beer). Lemmy’s son, Paul ,came and played guitar on some songs with Lemmy on harmonica ,they did some acoustic blues. All in all a great gig with lots of energy and variety.

Motorhead with Fire-eaters on stage Guilfest

After Motorhead my second favourite gig came as a surprise to me . It was these guys , The Charlatans, far more psychedelic than I expected, also very dynamic and energetic.I liked all of their songs and they were “in the zone” performance-wise.
Saturday night:The Charlatans at Guilfest

The Only One I know

The Charlatans again (includes vibrant keyboard part):

They were followed by Brian Wilson who I missed due to monsoon type rain, poor guy playing sunny music in the dark with everyone running for cover. Good Vibrations ( note pools of water on the front of the stage)

Another one of my gripes about this festival was that there was nowhere you could sit indoors and have a cup of coffee, the cafes were grim and not run by hippies . Since it rained a lot, sitting indoors was important, a lot of people brought their own chairs and giant umbrellas, gazebos etc… but being ecologically minded ( and without enough dosh to run a car) I bring the bare minimum to  festivals. At other festivals I go to there are hippie run cafes under big tarpaulins where there are old sofas, carpets, or at least bales of hay to sit on while you drink and eat out of the rain.

Also the programmes which cost £5 , a lot of money when you have none, was the only way of finding out who was on stage when.

At the information point when I asked who was on stage, they deliberately hid the programme from me as they gave out information, like I was some kind of free-loading thief, explaining to me that I had to buy a programme if I wanted to know anything more. I paid £120 including postage for a bloody ticket, I don’t want to have to be  robbed of another fiver to know who is performing. Pah! I say in disgust!

Plus the real ale I bought there was the worst pint I have ever drunk in my life and their measures of vodka seemed to be very mean. There were no showers on site, these were some distance off the site at a swimming pool. No one I talked to could be bothered to walk there.

Anyway at least there was some good music.

During the daytime around the festival I spotted Fezheads in a tent not just dancing but playing some excellent surf music with their band. Highly entertaining although a couple of young blokes pulled up behind me and watched them  saying that they were crap as they were making mistakes with their dance steps. I think they missed the point.

Surrey University was one of the sponsors. The head of Popular Music there used to be my lecturer years ago and created some very interesting courses , he didn’t mind my writing essays on the Ozric Tentacles and Stonehenge. (I have a sneaky feeling that the Prof. in question could be the person with long red hair lurking at the back of the stage on the Motorhead and Charlatan clips but I may be totally mistaken).

However the Uni produced a brochure with some truly horrific pictures of Jimmy Page and George Martin.I had to throw the brochure away as I was so freaked out by a photo of Jimmy Page grinning with extra-whitened teeth,wearing full graduate garb including silly hat ,looking like King Henry the VIII’s skinny cousin.
Whatever happened to your tight satin snake trousers Jimmy???

I saw quite a bit of music on Sunday, having sussed out my camping situation and accepting that there would be no sleep till Notting Hill ( i. e. in my own bed) due to the loud tent/bar next to me running all Saturday night, Sunday morning and well into the afternoon when they left . This large tent run by some of the younger attendees, was stacked with big amps, lights, and a big bar. At four a.m. I heard about a hundred people sing “woo-hoo” along to Blur , and shortly afterwards they all shouted repeatedly ” Naked Bar!” and could hear them stripping .Their music was often louder than the main stage, most people moved their tents away after the first night but I have ear-plugs and have camped next to 24 dance music stages.
On Sunday morning I got up and saw The Rock Choir, the less I say about them the better.There were so many of them, that they were performing on both main stages simultaneously, another strange decision made probably by either by a crazy fan or a committee. Committees should NEVER run a festival ( I speak from experience) leave it to a couple of driven individuals who know what they are doing.( arrogant opinionated ranting from me but that’s what I’m here for! )
Motorhead and Will Young headlining at the same festival?????What were they thinking? ( Ker-ching  ££££££ let’s maximise our audience possibly).

I watched the Rock Choir, on both stages but had to leave urgently, as two terribly nice young white boys backed by about two hundred white suburban housewives sang a rap song to Jesus in a very earnest fashion. ( just as well Lemmy wasn’t around).

Later, fortunately I caught The Hamsters, who initially seemed a bit jaded, but warmed up nicely and soon attracted a large crowd when playing Hendrix and AC/DC covers and their usual antics of swapping instruments went down well.

The Hamsters are one of my favourite live bands, who I go to see once or twice a year.So even though I can’t find Guilfest footage of them I have to put up a clip of them anyway.The Hamsters play Purple Haze ( but not at Guilfest!) Rock Against Ageism!

Later that evening,The Happy Mondays were pretty boring after a couple of songs although they had a fab female vocalist with twenty times the singing ability of Shaun Ryder ( bet there are some interesting ego clashes backstage!).

Bez ,clearly no longer on the wagon, addressed the audience like some demented mute traffic cop. He threw a maraca to a member of the audience close to me and then gesticulated madly that the wrong person had caught it, then indicated he wanted it back, then once it was thrown back to him on stage, he delivered it to the person who was meant to receive it ( or at least this is what I understood at the time  but who knows what motivates him?)
Here he is when he still had both maracas.( but possibly not all of his marbles).

Earlier in the day I’d seen “Goldie Looking Chain” and realised that  I was going to see two ex-Big Brother contestants in one day ( Bez and Maggot, whatever happened to “street cred”?).
“Goldie Looking Chain” are a great  bawdy leaping hip-hop act, very entertaining but so inapropriate to bill them on a Sunday afternoon full of families with young children, many of them waiting to see Will Young in the evening.

There were lots of little girls looking quite puzzled and disturbed when GLC explained in great detail the basis for their song ” Can I F*** your sister?“,  thereby making some lads laugh but traumatising parents and daughters alike.

Apart from Motorhead, the band I saw most beloved by the crowds, including families and people of all ages and backgrounds, were “The Wailers“. The dancing  audience knew all the words and the vibe was fantastic.
Amazingly I can’t find any Guilfest footage of The Wailers even though they were hugely popular, so here’s a clip of them in Saint-Petersburg earlier in the year, imagine the same scenario but in blazing sunshine with a couple of thousand people dancing and singing along .

But the reason why I wrote this entry was after talking to one young woman from Guilford and her guitarist friend in the acoustic lounge. She has a stunning big powerful blues/soul voice. Her name is Alice Armstrong and she was accompanied by American guitarist Jack Kristiansen. They did a couple of interesting jointly-written songs including “Roll-Up” ( i.e. “Skin-Up”) on Sunday. Her stage presence and that big and mature-sounding voice of hers is begging for a big band behind her. I asked for her name, and the name of their act which is simply “Alice Armstrong” . They were definitely the best act on compared to the other stages at that point. I was dismayed to find no trace of her music on the net.

In the late sixties or early seventies, Alice’s voice would have been ideal for a loud raunchy rock or blues band but musical fashions change,  she has a great voice  and I  hope she finds her niche.
It’s a big shame that I cannot find her singing  online but here are some pictures of her from her myspace profile and hopefully, she may be persuaded to record herself or film herself ,so it can go online. But Alice, my advice is to develop your own style, don’t copy anyone else, trust your instincts!

I will email her to check she doesn’t mind me using these photos . ( note the troll behind the window)

Alice Armstrong from Guildfordalice amrstrong 1

alice armstrong2

Anyway got to go now…my next project awaits my attention…

UPDATE! 27/07/09 Alice has uploaded a couple of home vids on youtube, however I’m not sure they do her or her voice justice, she still could do with a band and an attentive audience, however you can hear the essence of her voice on the youtube clips at the following address:http://www.youtube.com/alicearmstrong

( I quite like the one in the laundry with beer) …so I’ll put it up here.

Alice Armstrong with Jack Kristiansen “Roll-up”

Will do another unusual blog entry soon.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. 19/7/09 A lot of  Will Young fans are coming to read this review. Sorry there is no Will Young here, you need to write your own review and ranting  from  a Will Young fan point of view!




The Police harasses some terribly nice middle-class white English people in possession of terrorist crayons.


Hello Good People who read this blog ( this is a revised version of earlier entries. I do this sometimes when I think of extra things…sorry if it is irritating)

To begin some more meditative music to generate peace in the world

I forgot how completely amazing this piece of music was until  I just listened to it again:

Yes it’s got to be Steve Hillage “the Glorious Om Riff” from the “Green” album ( 1978) , quite appropriate for this post. (If you listen to this wearing headphones you get the full ping-pong  synth effect .)

Om!

My son sent me this film ( below this little rant) showing the police trying to disrupt an environmental climate camp which is organised totally legally.

I don’t think the police should meddle in politics. I think they should just be there if the public needs them in an emergency, when they are being violated, robbed, burgled etc..

Who is instructing the police to violate, rob, burgle and occasionally kill the public?

Once the police start to harrass people for their politics isn’t that what a police state is?

This is how Wikipedia defines a police state:

“The term police state describes a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.

The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement. Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state.[1]”

Here is the little film my son sent me :  “Investigating the Police” from the Kingsnorth Climate Camp last August. Crayons, felt-tip pens and chalk sticks are confiscated as dangerous weapons that could be used for writing political messages on banners.You may find some of the images of police violence in the second half of this film disturbing.

In many way it is reminiscent of the Battle of the Beanfield and other incidents of police violence. I heard many accounts of police violence over the years from friends being taken in the back of the van and given a “good kicking” for being alternative .

All the private “kickings” were illegal but now there is legalised harassment and violence against the public evident in this film. (if you can’t see this film and you have “No Script” on your computer, enable “blip.tv”)

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1878593&dest=-1]

They have given the police way too much power and surprise, surprise,  they are abusing it. In this film the police can legally force someone to be searched who is not wearing anything suspicious or behaving in a suspicious or agressive way.

If you refuse to be physically searched then they can legally, make you lie on the ground and set seven police officers on top of you and legally press your pressure points to inflict pain.

Some of the scenes in this film are of innocent people being violated legally by the police. Can you honestly say that the nice protesters in this film were a threat to anyone?

If the actions of the police were illegal then at least we could put a stop to it.

Compare and Contrast the wikipedia definition and the film clip!

What do you think?..Do you think? or do you just party?

A musical interlude:

Here & Now another band from the Gong rock family tree. I saw this band 10 trillion times in the late seventies and throughout the eighties. The first time I saw them was at Meanwhile Gardens with “Blank Space”and possibly  “The Androids of Mü”, Grant Showbiz was doing the desk.

Here is Here & Now with “Floating Anarchy Radio”

Here’s Here & Now playing in 2005. In the foreground on synth, Joie Hinton ( ex-Eat Static/Ozrics/O’Roonies etc…I was once told that he played for Steve Hillage as a teenager..not sure about this).

Today I am also a bit concerned about the police deciding about whether or not MPs should be arrested for fiddling their expenses.

Of course I think the MPs should pay back the money they fiddled and made to live on a council estate for a year with only income support and housing benefit to live on.

However I don’t agree with the principle that the police can arrest the democratically elected government. That really would make us  a police state.

It would be better for democracy if the government itself forced every single dodgy MP to resign and pay back the money and be fined.

I don’t see that happening because the ones at the top are the dodgy ones!

Some more excellent music. I love Egg.

Weird difficult and complex music is never boring or pretentious as long  as you can either tap your foot to it or sing a bit of the tune in the bath.

This track is one of my favourites and  has some of those appetizing complex bits!

According to Wikipedia ( my font of all knowledge for today) Steve Hillage plays on this track:

“Wring out the Ground” from “Civil Surface” by Egg (1974) …yep a couple of minutes in, that’s got to be Steve Hillage!

Love and Peace

Born2rant ( voting Green in European Elections ..will stop editing and revising this post now promise! 16/5/09)




You Can’t Kill The Spirit (but we have!)


Hello Good People who read this blog…

I was just online ambling through youtube and ended up writing this   …Calling  out to all the sons and daughters of this world, on Hippie Mother Earth Day ( getting  carried away with my ranting as usual)

Gong’s “Flying Teapot” with film edits from Timothy Leary’s
How to Operate Your Brain” courtesy of LSDCoatedBrain

I don’t have an LSD coated Brain but can still appreciate a great artistic combination and relate to the old hippie ideals and strong communities.
I feel very strongly that you don’t need to take drugs to be a hippie because to me being a hippie is a philosophy and a positive way of life that doesn’t rely on extremes of religion or drug-taking.
Of course I have taken some hallucinogens but I liked Gong and Hendrix and other “drug” associated music and wanted to look at the world of new social possibilities before I’d ever tried any type of drug.

One of the many ways the hippie movement is put down and ridiculed is by categorizing them as just a load of addicts.

To me the drugs are peripheral and not necessary to access the world of creative imagination and feeling connected to a positive non-materialistic ideology and actively implementing this in  many directions.

.
Once upon a time we were building new worlds, and travelling to new worlds, experimenting with new ways of living and now laws and apathy discourage today’s youth from ever trying anything without wearing a crash helmet, taking a degree in it and getting official permission  first…
One hippie proverb used to be “You Can’t Kill The Spirit”. Anyone remember where that came from?

Through TV and advertising, violent computer games and extreme internet porn, You CAN Kill the Spirit
By making women feel they are getting old and are therefore unlovable and worthless in their twenties and need the latest miracle potion, surgery, clothes, make-up,You CAN kill the Spirit.
A million money making enterprises disempower you and then sell you things to make you feel partly in control again, appealing to the most basic of urges.
In London we are shattered into hundreds of  fragmented communities who never manage to spontaneously link up or work together.
Instead people walk into eachother and glare at eachother in the street and we allow the powers that be to supervise us on camera as we feel too weak to deal with things in person.


Our sense of community and identity is broken in our society and sectarianism is on the increase.

I preferred the world of jamming experimenting collaborative individuals. i.e. Hippies.

Spontaneous, unfunded, grassroots events like the free gigs in Meanwhile Gardens in Notting Hill kept our spirits up. Now even folk clubs can’t function without being given permission by the council and being regularly inspected.

Our Universities are no longer places where you can express opinions instead we are encouraged NOT to think for ourselves but to be content to quote the “Great and the Good” . Only “official” and “certified” thinkers are allowed.

UK Universities are not places of learning but places of earning. They are not places of free and evolutionary thought but places for worshipping the academic élite.

They are not places where new political ideologies are being created but student politics are increasingly reflecting, and are over-powered by,  religious sectarianism and global tensions between nations.

In my experience there is no free speech in a higher educational institution, on any level , without getting into trouble. If you want to express an opinion it had better be one that has been sanctioned by those in charge, be it academic, or student’s union ( anyone from my Uni who claims otherwise is basically trying to save face).

£££££££££££££££$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$%%%%%%%%%%%%

“You Can’t Kill The Spirit “, I remember now… I was involved in running one of the stages at The Fordham Park Free Festival in the nineties “You Can’t Kill The Spirit” was the slogan… I still have the T-Shirt…( and am writing the book, well the blog).

“You Can’t Kill the Spirit” was also a slogan and a song from the Women of Greenham Common. I never went to Greenham Common but joined another anti-Nuclear organisation and protested. Nothing is perfect and I didn’t agree with some of the over-the-top man-hating philosophies that a minority of the Greenham women had. But they were terribly brave , they risked their lives for their cause and they had spirit.

They also were non-violent and were prepared to live in terrible conditions for Peace and a better world.

for a whole load more go to this website:

http://www.yourgreenham.co.uk/

greenham1



borrowed from a site with loads of photos of Greenham Commonhttp://www.fredsakademiet.dk/abase/sange/greenham/sigrid.htm

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Getting back to opposing factions..I believe that sectarianism is wrong ( I am being all moral…well I am Born2rant after all) . I can only see sectarianism leading to more and more misunderstanding and violence.

I don’t believe in “Us and Them” underneath I think we are all the same but here I get stuck because sometimes you have to fight for your basic rights so this inevitably leads to a split .

I don’t believe in factions who all blame and hate one another so I am not keen on groups. But I get stuck again because we all need to feel a sense of identity and a sense of belonging , where birds of a feather flock together etc… I think we need to belong to a community, to feel alive and worthwhile and to know that other people like the same things , share the same ideas etc… But the problem is when people become a bit too clingy to their own group and isolated from the rest, some can become paranoid and polarised, then some kind of craziness is bound to  ensue (see Daily Mail for details…).

But anyhoo…
It’s hard to find anyone under forty in London who is not totally apathetic about  fighting the system to make this world a free place where individuals can do something positive and feel they have some basic control over their lives.

Here is a bit of footage from the Fordham Park Free Festival in London Deptford in 1991. They also had the slogan “You can’t Kill The Spirit”

By the 90s well we were already quite tame, the local council threatened to sue us for vast amounts of money  if the music continued a minute past 10pm , I seem to remember.

I was in charge of my stage at 10pm,  a bit of a nightmare as the band just wouldn’t stop doing encores. I tried to pull the plug so we didn’t get fined but the band  had cleverly rigged up their own secret secondary generator and even when we pulled the plug on that they carried on with their frenetic set acoustically  and the crowd danced wildly. I was getting people screaming at me but there was nothing I could do. The power of  youthful and collective anarchy ( plus musician’s egos and drunken dancing audience)  is  too great for one hippie to stop.
If I could go back in time I wouldn’t have pulled the plug on them at all. Now you can’t have live music without a licence, the world has gone mad.
If you are a rebel, join with others and do not be put off by the authorities!

Love and Peace from a grumpy old hippie Mum, dismayed yet understanding of the apathy of youth…


Born2rant
Here’s “Electric Gypsies” with Steve Hillage
starts with what sounds to me like some Tibetan Horns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarian