Archive for May, 2007

A Song Was Born


21 years ago a song came out that, whilst I didn’t know it immediately, was to have a profound effect on me both short-term and long-term. I was aware of The The in 1986 when a friend got into the album ‘Soul Mining’ which had ben released 3 years earlier. Soul Mining had the perfect mix of pain-ridden angst and intelligence and I felt, somewhat pretentiously, that here was someone who knew what I, a dispossed, detached 14 year old, was going through.

When I first heard Heartland in 1987 that feeling of solidarity was only confirmed because I was growing into a properly angry disenfranchised young man caught in a world I neither understood nor fit into where I saw inequality and priviledge and where patronage not merit was the way to progress. Heartland and songs like Angel Of Deception captured the more adult feelings of angst and disengagement and utter disgust at the state of the world at just the time when I needed a way to express them without myself having the erudition to do so.

When I found out it was the 20th anniversary of Heartland it seemed something that needed to be commemorated. It was the song that first identified me as a being with political dissidence rather than just teenage rebellion. It is a song that despite being written during some of the worst times of a rampant Conservative government still has so much resonance today which says a great deal about the lack of real progress made by 10 years of a Labour gvernment.

HEARTLAND (Matt Johnson 1986)

Beneath the old iron bridges
Across the Victorian parks
And all the frightened people
Running home before dark
Past the Saturday morning cinema
That lies crumbling to the ground
And the piss stinking shopping centre
In the new side of town

I’ve come to smell the seasons change
And watch the city as the sun goes down again

Here comes another winter
Of long shadows and high hopes
Here comes another winter
Waitin’ for Utopia
Waitin’ for hell to freeze over

This is the land where nothing changes
The land of red buses and blue blooded babies
This is the place where pensioners are raped
And the hearts are being cut from the welfare state
Let the poor drink the milk
While the rich eat the honey
Let the bums count their blessings
While they count the money

So many people can’t express what’s on their minds
Nobody knows them, nobody ever will
Until their backs are broken, their dreams are stolen
And they can’t get what they want
Then they’re gonna get angry
Well, it ain’t written in the papers
But it’s written on the walls
The way this country’s dividing to fall
So the cranes are moving on the skyline
Tryin’ to knock down … this town
But the stains on the heartland
Can never be removed
From this country that’s sick, sad and confused

Here comes another winter
Of long shadows and high hopes
Here comes another winter
Waitin’ for Utopia
Waitin’ for hell to freeze over

The ammunition’s been passed
And the Lord’s been praised
But the wars on the televisions
Will never be explained
All the bankers gettin’ sweaty
Beneath their white collars
As the pound in our pocket
Turns into a dollar


Song Of The Day ~ The The – Heartland

Ding Dong, The Bliar’s Gone

So Tone has finally agreed to fall on his sword. A magnanimous gesture I’m sure everyone will agree. One could assert that it is perhaps 10 years too late for many Afghans, Iraqis and the poverty-striken, ill or ill-educated of this country, but bitter, me, no, come come you know me by now! After all he could have stayed until the bitter end and continued to preside over a widening divide in poverty, multi-culturalism and social cohesion. He could have stayed and continued to wash his hands of an invasion that is leaving more Iraqi civilians dead by the day and eating taxpayers money by the second.

“Believe one thing, if nothing else, I did what I thought was right for our country.”

Bliar is lucky really, because the “I did what was right” defence hasn’t always worked out to be a classic in methods of exoneratory tactics. Leaving aside the obvious examples of Hitler (and most of the high profile Nuernberg trial defendants) and Stalin amongst so many other misunderstood historical figures. The example of Saddam shows that in fact a head of state is not immune from prosecution despite this defence and as in this case sometimes facing the ultimate penalty. Bliar in front of the firing squad, no I really musn’t, I’m against capital punishment wholeheatedly but it is testing my resolve somewhat. “Cigarette, Mr Bush?!”

Of course one must not make the mistake of thinking that ordinary minions and functionaries may use such a lofty defence of actions. In the recent case of the civil servant and the MPs researcher, which you can read in full on the BBC news site the defence that it was to reveal the truth in the national interest was not sufficient to keep the 2 men from being found guilty under the Official Secrets Act, a well over-used piece of draconian legislation.

“It was claimed in court that publication of the document could have cost British lives.”

I grant you the irony and incredulity of that quote might be amusing were it not for the lives of so many others that have seemed so dispensible.

The trouble is that Bliar, like his master across the water, and like those he attempts to portray as terrorists, is a religious zealot. He believes that God is on his side and therefore anyone else who claims God is on theirs must be lying. (It might in the fantasy world be refreshing to see of a country behaving barbarically or imperialistically and saying, well we know God will punish us in the end but hey, we’ll take our chances with the money and power now.)

In most professions or trials to claim that ‘the voices made me do it’ as a defence would result either in an accusation of lying or a spell in the funny farm. It appears that like the ‘I did it for my country’ gambit that the ‘voices’ approach works equally well in the justification of imperialism and practical genocide. I’d dearly love to know where the line can be drawn. Is it the nature of the crime or the position of the person that makes all the difference? I mean I’m pretty sure if I decided to go to my local Conservative Party HQ and gunned down all the reactionary nimbys and claimed in my defence that I had the voice of Vlad, Freddie and Karl in my head and in addition that I was doing it for the country in which I live as a social service that I would find myself in Broadmoor maximum security mental institution fairly swiftly.

It is interesting too when one remembers something once said by the man recently voted the greatest ever Briton, Winston Churchill, who quoted from EM Forster’s essay ‘Two Cheers For Democracy’

“”If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.””

It is clear that such laudable statements only tend to be made by people who are never put in such a morally questionable position where they would be forced to choose, or at least people of such little morality as for them never to be aware that the question exists in the first place. After all if you look at some earlier Churchill quotes such as in 1911 when he was a Home Office Minister you can see that Churchill was in fact a fan of eugenics who felt that the mentally ill should not be allowed to reproduce.

How will Bliar be remembered? Well those who study History will know that usually events are determined by the victors, for it is their version of events that goes unchallenged. Only time will tell how that pans out. Those lovers of Orwell will point out that

“He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”

but the man who shares his name with Tony, Eric Arthur Blair, has more than one aposite quote for the occasion.

“Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

I can’t better that.

Song Of The Day ~ Turin Brakes – Blue Hour

ballot paper
On Thursday I went to vote. Now those who have known me for some time will probably be aware that I treat the democratic process in this country with a degree of scorn and derision. In fact I used to have a quote from Jello Biafra on my old blog at the top which said “If voting really changed anything they’d have made it illegal.” Call me cynical if you like but you see my point.

I have spoken to people in person and written about the sham of the secret ballot in this country before. I suspect this is not the only country that behaves thus neither in the Western World nor other parts of the globe, it would be ridiculously naive to believe it were, and equally naive to think that it is only poorer less stable countries that would do so, however in terms of personal experience this is the only one I have direct knowledge of. At previous elections I have highlighted the process by which it is easily possible for the establishment to find out what any individual has voted should it ever wish to do so. I have not made any specific judgement as to whether or not it goes on, I do not need to, the very fact that it would be possible should be enough to worry anyone that does not wish to live in a totalitarian state.

If it isn’t enough that our emails, websearches, mobile phone calls etc. are key searched and logged accordingly. Menwith Hill, the FBI, MI5 having over 400,000 files on UK citizens, it’s enough to make any genuine lefty feel they’re out to get you. (It isn’t paranoia if they really are out to get you!)

I have seen this system at every vote I have attended but never so blatant and so technological as it is now. I will detail the chronology and what I saw and leave you to make up your own minds, but if this is what is going on elsewhere then it is a very worrying trend indeed.

I am used to the polling card having a number on it – this number being essentially your ID tag, it identifies you at your address, the number is unique. So you turn up at the polling station with your card and usualy your name is checked on the list of eligible voters followed by you being issued with a voting slip. The voting slip is traditionally torn from like a raffle ticket book ie it is in 2 parts, the part you get, and the part you don’t, the counterfoil which remains in the book.

This time it seems that this system was a little too arbitrary, a little too arcane for the current establishment it needed an overhaul, a technological solution for a 21st centrury surveilance state. And by Christ they’ve cracked it. When I arrived my name was ticked off as usual but then a more random sounding number was read out and written against my name in the electoral list. Upon closer inspection of my ballot paper I found that on the back was not only an elaborate serial number (the number that had obviously been read out upon my being handed the paper) but also a bloody bar code. Time was when the number on the back of the ballot paper was small and in the corner, almost embarrassed to be there. Now it is all there bold as brass ready to be scanned into a database of insurgence.

The information on what the barcode process is supposed to be used for is detailed by the government here.

What I find somewhat incredulous is that if you run a Google search for Ballot Paper barcodes there appears to be no article concerning worries about the sanctity of the secret ballot. I mean even about the most elaborate conspiracy theory you get some stuff, but on this one the country at large appears unmoved.

Thus the ballot paper is now genuinely unique, your dissidence captured for all time just in case. Who’s to say they’ll use it, this lot, or even the next lot, but how sure are you, are you willing to place your complete trust in them that they won’t? If so, then you’re a more trusting soul than I am, but then I’m a cynic aren’t I?

Song Of The Day ~Maximo Park – The Unshockable


Jimmy Jenson – Understand Your’e Swede… – And therefore allowed, nay obliged to make grammatical mistakes. Jimmy’s returned home, don’t ask what he’s got in the bag, but the family are a child  down!

The Addicts Sing – Lively bunch of lads the addicts, make sure you pay them for their time or things might get nasty!

pooh man

Pooh-Man (MC Pooh) – Funky As I Wanna Be – I’m getting the distinct impression that MC Pooh is not so named on account of his great love for AA Milne. That being said since he does look like he’s being born again literally, anything is possible. That has to hurt though he’s a big lad!


Herbie Mann – Push Push – Ah now, if Herbie speaks to MC Pooh there I get the feeling he may well be able to push push that flute somewhere inventive.


The Love And Terror Cult – Lie – Those of a nervous disposition look away now, bugger too late. Now would I be right in thinking that there’s a great deal more terror in the cult, the lie in question therefore being the love in the title of the group, someone call Trading Standards, don’t look into the eyes seriously  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!


The Best Of The Singing Postman – Thank Christ this is the best of, can you even imagine what we might have had to listen to on Postie’s debut album?


Mike Adkins – Thank You For The Dove – Yeah thanks for the sodding dove, it shat everywhere, here you can have it back now. Peace, I’ll give it a fecking piece of something. Pull!


David Ingles – Satan Has Been Paralysed – David aka “The Horned One” doesn’t appear to recognise the irony of his own set design, either that or he’s currently too paralysed to do anything about it.


The Amason Twins – Hallelujah – The Lord’s Coming Again – Halle-bloody-lujah, you’re joking those are the shittest Amazons I’ve ever seen, I mean there’s no attention to detail at all. It’s like looking at the Fat Proclaimers. If I were the Lord I’d be coming to shut Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee up once and for all.


Little David And Family – I Feel Like Travelling On – You can’t really blame Little David for dying to get out, look what the fuckers have done to his hair, he appears to be attempting to violate the little girl in the last vain hope that they might at least send him to borstal.


Red Foxx – Wash Your Ass – Leaving aside the obvious question of how Redd imagines the cow is going to wash its arse what I want to know is why he wants the cow to wash it, what the fuck has he got planned for it that requires that level of sanitation…? Oh sweet diddly fuck no, not that…

Song Of The Day ~My Bloody Valentine – Only Shallow