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Politics & Current Affairs

Kittens Led By Donkeys

Incredibly, Dominic Cummings and his charge, Boris Johnson, the putative Prime Minister, still have their defenders. My own MP here in Broxtowe, Darren Henry, slavishly trotted out the party line he’d been given following a Zoom conference for backbench grunts yesterday. As anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the gutless, near-invisible and entirely useless Henry might imagine, he fell unquestioningly into line behind Cummings. As instructed by his party capos. If an independent thought ever found its way into the seemingly infinite chasm that exists between Henry’s ears it would surely die of loneliness. Emily Maitlis he is not. Which is not a particularly high bar.

Readers may recall the temporarily embarrassed Newsnight host enthusiastically leading a charge against Jeremy Corbyn, set against a mocked-up background of the Kremlin; all lurid reds and agitprop imagery, in an infamous episode of the BBC’s current affairs program. Ridiculously, even the cap Corbyn had sported in the image had been altered to emphasise its Lenin-like qualities. To no one’s surprise, such treatment of the Leader of the Opposition breached no BBC impartiality rules. Unlike Maitlis’s opening monologue addressing the Cummings affair, which drew the fire of the government and resulted in her replacement by the, one presumes, Tory-approved Katie Razzall.

So far so predictable. Less understandable, however, are the strident defenders of Cummings amongst the wider public. As if we should all just uncomplainingly accept this ongoing clown car-crash of hubris, criminal negligence and staggering incompetence. It is, apparently, time to move on.

Any democracy worth a damn, even the tawdry, patronage-ridden, class-dominated embarrassment that is Britain, needs a questioning and fearless press to speak truth to power and hold governments to account.

That anyone could be indignant at the toothless, Tory-dominated public relations courtiers that pass for real journalists in this servile nation is just another mark of how low we’ve sunk; how little we value ourselves and how eagerly we kiss the boots that kick us.

It isn’t the job of real journalists to uncritically relay government press releases. It isn’t their job to be sycophantic cheerleaders for the establishment. It is their job to unflinchingly tell the truth to the public. That a rare example of a British broadcast journalist doing just that can excite such ire is an appalling indictment of us all. We are kittens led by donkeys. The furious public backlash against Cummings and Johnson, however, points to our capacity to become lions. Given the next four years will see the establishment seek to recoup their recent losses and balance the books on the backs of the rest of us, that feline metamorphosis now assumes even greater urgency.

Categories
Music

Office Soundtrack: The Hub of Hubbard

This is a simply ferocious session. The incendiary brace of Without a Song and the pedal-to-the-metal death-driver Just One of Those Things must surely comprise one of the most uncompromising openings to any hard-bop date ever recorded. One can only imagine what Cole Porter would have made of Hubbard’s scorching assault on his material.

Freddie was in Germany when he cut this session, straight off the back of intensive road-work and the resulting tightness of the quintet is a joy to hear.

From 1969 It’s fascinating, too, as he stands at the junction of the hard-bop he would soon leave behind and the electro-jazz funk he would embrace in barely a year’s time. The band barely pay lip service to the heads of each take before tearing them off and then reconstructing their charts in a white-hot blaze of unrestrained passion.

Freddie, himself, lays down at least three of the greatest solos he ever recorded and, frankly, they are worth the price alone. Add to that the self-penned Blues for Duane (Hubbard’s son), featuring a mellow and lyrical Daniels solo, and everything else is a bonus. That your buck is banged to beyond the max by Richard Davis on bass, Roland Hanna on keys and the too-little heard Louis Hayes on drums, means The Hub of Hubbard is both essential and, at under a tenner on CD, grand theft audio.

Go get it and thank me later.

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Politics & Current Affairs

Protection Racket

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I’ve just watched a report on Sky about the current PPE scandal. I watched doctors and nurses cutting up binbags and other assorted crap to fashion their own.

I cannot even imagine the sheer guts, the humanity, the selflessness of these people.

Imagine going to work, exposed, unprotected and risking your life to save many of those responsible for voting you into this horrowshow in the first place.

Watching patients die, watching your colleagues die, clocking off spent and shattered, wondering if you now have a Corona time-bomb ticking away inside you.

And then being told the time to discuss a wage you can actually live on is not now; being patronised on the correct use of the PPE you don’t have by a Tory Health Secretary even worse than Jeremy Hunt; watching the media fawn over a Prime Minister whose staggering hubris and incompetence led to his own infection after he and his mates cheered when they blocked your payrise.

Watching your foreign-born colleagues hounded and bullied from the country they thought was home by empathy-free racists masquerading as a government.

And still you turn up to work. Still you do your duty. Day after day, shift after shift.

I don’t know how you do it. I really don’t. I only know that this nasty little rock doesn’t deserve you.

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Politics & Current Affairs

The Great British Death Cult

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Eventually, Boris Johnson resumes ‘work.’

Thanks to him and his fellow Eton Rifle eugenicists, UK’s death toll is the highest in Europe.

No need for all that mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine nonsense. We’re British. We know better.

Urged on by Sir Kier Starmer an ‘Exit Strategy’ is formulated; we’re all forced back to work early to die for The Economy.

Starmer continues to be ‘constructive’ and act ‘in the national interest.’ i.e. he doesn’t call for a public enquiry, he doesn’t demand Johnson and Hancock’s resignations but he is ‘deeply sad’ so many have died. So that’s OK.

Johnson introduces Austerity V2 to recoup his mates’ losses for them. Rachel Reeves thinks the measures don’t go far enough.

The bootlickers vote the Tories back in for a second term.

Austerity V2 kills another couple of hundred thousand people.

Bootlickers go ‘ah but how much worse would it have been with Corbyn in charge?’ There are some racist non-sequiturs about Diane Abbott, flags and assorted drivel.

Hundreds of thousands leave the Labour Party, it reduces to an England-only rump of middle-management centrists.

Unemployment, homelessness and poverty reach even greater levels.

The NHS continues its Tory-driven death spiral. Salami-slicing privitisation continues apace.

The servile electorate, face down, eagerly lapping Etonian shoe-leather, pauses only to denounce opposition voices as ‘traitors’ ‘communists’ & ‘snowflakes.’

Repeat to fade.

If you want a vision of the future, picture a Union Jack-boot stamping on the face of an NHS nurse. Forever.

Welcome to The Great British Death Cult.

Categories
Life Politics & Current Affairs

Boris Johnson: a Life Less Honourable

Boris Johnson; a man who has lived his entire life recklessly, selfishly, irresponsibly; without any regard for the consequences. Because he’s never needed to. His enormous privilege has protected him from any repercussions.

He is a proven pathological liar, swaggering through the years with no empathy or concern for anyone but himself. Indeed, recently bragging about shaking hands with Corona virus patients. As if it was just another laugh; a jape; just another moment in a life less honourable.

There is a grim irony to him finally, in this manner, being confronted by the consequences of his behaviour. Even he can’t lie and bluster his way out of this mess.

One can only hope that the Prime Minister, as he languishes in intensive care, courtesy of the NHS that he and his party have done so much to destroy, deeply regrets the cheering & jeering doled out to nurses by he and his colleagues; when they voted down a pay-rise for those heroes. If he’s lucky he’ll now be finding out exactly how valuable these people are.

My brother, sadly, wasn’t lucky. On March 28th, Jas, 54, died of Covid-19 in Nottingham’s Queens Medical Centre. Unlike the Prime Minister, Jas was denied a ventilator. ‘Operation: Last Gasp’, right, Prime Minister?

I then stood on an empty street, shouting to be heard over the wind, no privacy, no dignity, to tell an old man on a doorstep his child had died. The most indescribably awful duty I’ve ever had to carry out.

There will, of course, be those idiots, those hypocrites, those bootlickers, who will condemn me for ‘politicising’ both my own loss & Boris Johnson’s condition; those who can’t grasp that politicians making political decisions and political choices impact people’s lives. And sometimes end them. As Jas found out.

Do I wish Johnson dead? No. Do I wish dead the selfish, the greedy and the stupid who voted for him and still, even now, support him? Those who were perfectly happy to ignore the systematic destruction of the NHS while they were all right Jack? Again, no.

My sympathy, however, remains with the terrified & heartbroken victims of this crisis. The appalling & callous mishandling of which is unavoidably the responsibility of Boris Johnson.

It would be nice to think that lessons will be learned; that, individually and collectively, we will discover our self-respect and grasp that governments only ever treat us the way we allow; that, when this is over, an enormous reorganisation of the nation’s priorities will be undertaken, by both the politicians and the electorate; that, finally, people  will concern themselves with the value of others and much less with the cost of things.

If Boris Johnson, in any way, might be that catalyst then he will have done at least one noble thing in his life.

My breath, however, remains unheld.

Categories
Politics & Current Affairs

Bad Medicine

Screenshot_20200327-091517_FacebookClapping for the NHS on our street was… interesting. I was thinking of my daughter and her fella, NHS nurses, risking their lives to save others. While choking on the rage and contempt induced by Tory-voting neighbours having the brass neck to join in. These people are morally and materially responsible for the NHS sagging on its knees and my daughter, Lorna, and her partner, Ben, facing increased danger, stress and exhaustion. If any of them were struck down Lorna and Ben would give them 100%. Because they’ve got humanity to spare. Me? Take a wild guess…

Next week, stay the hell inside.

And then there was the Prime Minister. A Conservative Prime Minister. Clapping on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street. On the same day that his government had rejected an opportunity to quickly procure desperately needed ventilators. Because it didn’t fit with their anti-E.U. dogma and denied one of their nom-dom backers the opportunity to make a few quid. An act of brazen and shameless hypocrisy, breathtaking even by the standards of the Conservative Party. These are the people who cheered and jeered and celebrated when nurses were denied a pay rise; whose previous leader, Theresa May, sneered at a desperate nurse “There is no magic money-tree.” Well, as we’ve seen, when it comes to helping the rich there is a veritable orchard at the back of 10 Downing Street. The money is there. It’s always there. The only thing required is the moral will to spend it for the benefit of us all. NHS staff, however, can wear bin-bags and risk death in lieu of the correct PPE. It makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it?

And then there are the sanctimonious fools who tell us that we shouldn’t make the NHS political. The NHS is political and always will be because it is the battlefield on which two radically opposed ideologies fight. The Tories despise the NHS; they hate it. They voted against its creation every step of the way and it’s why they’ve sliced-and-diced and privatised and underfunded it at every opportunity since. Because it is an affront to everything that is fundamental to the Tory party; that everything, even our very lives, should only ever be an opportunity for someone to make a profit.

It was created and should be defended ferociously for the simple moral truth that the right to be alive should not be allocated according to the depth of people’s pockets. It’s the most meaningless and stupid thing to say it shouldn’t be politicised. Yes, the Tories would love that, wouldn’t they? To reduce the NHS to purely a question of affordability; to strip it of its totemic power as a signpost to an entirely different way for humanity to organise itself; common ownership based on the needs of the many, not the profit of a few.

Sadly, England is stuffed with spiteful and terminally stupid forelock-tuggers. People who, consistently at every opportunity, prefer to bite the hand that feeds them but lick the boots that kick them. If Boris Johnson wrapped COVID-19 in a Union Jack, England’s bootlickers would slurp it up off a toilet seat in Wuhan fishmarket faster than they’d vote for taxing their beloved masters properly to fund the NHS.

So clap all you like, Tory stooges. Indulge in your insincere virtue-signalling and your shallow and meaningless public displays but let’s leave the last word to Ben, a community nurse from Nottingham: “Appreciate the applause but if we could all vote for a political party that properly funds the NHS that would be an even better show of appreciation…”

 

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Politics & Current Affairs

Sinking To the Occasion

So after a weekend featuring morons cramming seaside resorts to bursting point, pub-bores breaking the pub ban & selfish dullards filling National Trust sites like tourists on a Bank Holiday [breathes] BoJo is spaffing ink and paper to “ask” 1.5 million at-risk citizens to “as far as possible stay at home.” Meanwhile, a WHO bod has pointed out the infections in the UK are doubling every three days. He and his arrogant, privileged chums told us we had no need of experts. They’ve spent years sneering at ‘liberal’ academics and ‘left-wing’ scientists in every area from climate change to economics and guess what? We now have an arrogant sneering populace who pay no heed to experts and think they know best. They say we get the government we deserve. Well, Johnson and his Eton Rifles are finding out the hard way they’ve got the electorate they deserve.

This cowardly, criminally-negligent bungler is simply not capable of doing the job. Even if he wanted to. And the blustering bullshit/sulky resentment combo he exudes tells us he doesn’t.

This isn’t what he signed up for, you see. It was supposed to be a doss. A laugh. Like everything else in his contemptible, irresponsible & entitled life. Leave the wonks and the Civil Service to do the graft; tip a few quid to his pals in the City; rip-off the poor a bit more and then retire to the Lords. To ride another gravy-train free from accountability &andresponsibility.

He’s staggering to witness. Almost incomprehensible. Even for a Tory PM. He genuinely doesn’t give a damn how many die. And the narcissistic bungler doesn’t even have the humanity to fake it.

Mind you, I suppose if we’re all dead we really will have left the E.U. In the most decisive manner possible.

Pity you didn’t pick the other bloke and his fully-funded-fully-staffed-magic-moneytree NHS, eh?

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Politics & Current Affairs

Bootlicker Ballad

Don’t go to pubs (the posh boys drink elsewhere anyway) but keep the schools open because the peasants can’t miss work just to care for the apprentice-peasants. Gotta keep on keepin’ on for The Man, right?

And you actually voted for this filth. Because the burning need to see your demented hatred of foreigners assume institutional expression was more important than saving the NHS.

Stabbing in the dark here but I reckon when you end up looking at the world over the top of an oxygen mask – if you’re lucky – from a hospital bed – if you can find one – you won’t be too fussed what colour the hands that wipe your arse are.

Have you any idea at all of the complexity, the logistics, the sheer amount of zeros tacked onto the end of the number required to incinerate Iraq?

The zeros tacked onto the number required to bail out the banks?

Whatever it was, and it can barely be counted or measured, such was its almost infinite nature, they did it. They did it in a heartbeat. But the people you voted for consider your kids, your parents, your grandparents just so much disposable detritus. Where’s your bail-out?

My desires now couldn’t be more modest. Couldn’t be any more reduced. I have abandoned any expectation, even the wildest dream, of humanity realising its revolutionary potential & acting in concord as we lift each other toward the stars. I’d settle, in an instant, right now, for you to just stop licking the boots that kick us. Just that.

I could go on for hours & I probably will but I’d sooner put some joy back into this…

 

Categories
Music

Office Soundtrack: Search For The New Land

Morgan’s commercial success with The Sidewinder means that this date, recorded before but released immediately afterwards, is too often overlooked.

Morgan is in expansive and relaxed form and perfectly in sync with a flawless rhythm section comprising Billy Higgins and Reggie Workman.

By now, the world knew he could tear it up plenty, when the mood took him. But here, he mostly eschews the incendiary feats of virtuosity and, instead, swings and swaggers with a lyrical gusto. Almost reminiscent of the great Harry James.

Where most musicians induce tension via harmonic means, Higgins and Workman ramp it up by stretching the rubato to snapping point. Most obviously on Mr. Kenyatta, arguably the stand-out cut against seriously stiff competition.

No filler, all killer and one of Morgan’s greatest sessions.

Categories
Music

Office Soundtrack: The Colour Of Spring

Japan and David Sylvian blew my mind. I used to listen to Obscure Alternatives, an album I disliked intensely, just so I could then play Gentlemen Take Polaroids and sit and wonder how the fuck they got from there to here. With just the stepping stone of Quiet Life between the two.

Bowie, at least in any serious way, was still a year or two down the line for me. Bryan Ferry, too. And Lou Reed and Eno as well. Maybe if I’d arrived at Japan and Sylvian chronologically they wouldn’t have seemed so other worldly. Who knows? Who cares…

But all my retrospection had been duly done by the time this came my way and still it hammered me. Like something from the great architect of the musical universe himself. It was something that shattered expectations, conventions and understandings.

And even the music itself, eerie & aching with all the yearning of one soul reaching out towards the rest of us, was still less than the sum of its parts. Not since Miles Davis did a musician understand the power of absence like Mark Hollis; the devastating impact of emptiness and the transforming force of the note unwritten; the note unplayed; the note unheard but always felt. But it had to be that way. Those big, haunting spaces made room for all the humanity he crammed in.

R.I.P. Mark Hollis. The world just got that little bit darker.