Eclectic Blue

Music Shuffle #2 (18/8)

0 Comments 18 August 2017

Self-indulgence personified, to take my mind away from the troubles in the world, I’m playing non-stop music this afternoon, so why shouldn’t I inflict some of it on you, by way of a second music shuffle of the day?

So, welcome back my friends to the show that never ends:

1. Sundown Sundown by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. A greatly underrated duo we Lee and Nancy. Sundown was so good they named it twice on this record.

2. Through With You by Maroon 5. From their first and still their best long player Songs About Jane. Gotta love pretty boy Adam.

3. Agent 00 Soul by Alex Harvey. The Sensational One doesn’t sound like himself on this one, which appears very early sixties, with just the slightest Scottish twang.

4. Bamako by Youssou N’Dour. From his wonderful Lion album, here the greatest Senegalese musician of them all sings about the capital of Mali.

5. Hold the Line by Toto. One of my very least favourite Toto tunes, barely rescued by Steve Lukather’s lead guitar and Jeff Porcaro’s stellar drumming.

6. Leaf and Stream by Wishbone Ash. One for the kids, here, a little Prog Rock from the Argus LP.

7. Colorado Song by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Wonderful southern country rock here sweet melodies and gorgeous harmonies. Thanks to the Old Grey Whistle Test for introducing me to the Ozarks around a thousand years ago.

8. No Le Metos Mano by Los Amigos Invisibles. From their brilliant Arepa 3000 album, Venezuela’s finest in action.

9. Times Like These by Jack Johnson. Some dual tracked vocals from our Jack from his LP On and On. Surprisingly nice.

10. Naked Eye by the Who. A bonus track on the 1995 reissue of the Who’s finest album Who’s Next.

That’s all, folks.

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (18/8)

0 Comments 18 August 2017

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. Despite public demand, it’s time to let loose the now obsolete iPod and set it to shuffle.

Live from my Man Cave, here is some random music.

1. Cabin Essence by the Beach Boys. This tune, originally written for the Smile album, first appeared on the Beach Boys 20/20 album. This version, from the Smile Sessions album, is as beautiful as it is weird, devoid of the entire vocal track.

2. (You Caught Me) Smilin’ by Sly and the Family Stone. From old Sly’s stellar and essential There’s a Riot Goin’ On record. Old school funk and soul.

3. Oh Baby, Don’t You Loose Your Lip On me by James Taylor. Some elaborate blues from the Sweet Baby James album.

4. Sex Machine by James Brown. Not the version you might think, this comes from Tom Middleton’s brilliant record The Trip 2.

5. End of a Century by Blur. A superb live performance of a Blur classic.

6. Outstanding by the Gap Band. And it is.

7. Flight Tonight by the Avalanches. A moment of sheer wonder from the mighty Avalanches from the sublime Since I Left You record.

8. Night Song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. From their highly underrated American Dream record, this features Stephen Stills on lead vocals.

9. Saturday’s Child by the Monkees. From 1966, this was one of my favourite and most played tracks from their first album, the Monkees. A cracker, written by David Gates, he of Bread fame.

10. Barefoot Children by Jimmy Buffett. Buffett’s Barometer Soup album is a strange triumph of pop, country and Caribbean music.

That’s all, folks!

Eclectic Blue

We’re not going to give in

0 Comments 18 August 2017

Contrast the words of Lionel Messi with those of the Sun newspaper. First, Messi: “I want to send condolences and all my support to the families and friends of the victims of the terrible attack on our beloved Barcelona. We want to live in a world of peace, without hate and where people live together in respect and tolerance. We are more than them, and we’re not going to give in.” Then the Sun: “Barcelona Bastards”. I know the reaction that more closely resembles my own and it isn’t the one that comes from Rupert Murdoch’s sleazy organ.

Of course, there is going to be anger, and lots of it, at the heinous acts of psychopathic islamic fascists. We have, after all, been here many times before. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get it out of my head, the sight, yet again, of decent, ordinary people going about their lives being killed and maimed. And even though Barcelona is on the other side of Europe, it is curiously close to home. I know people who live and work in the area and many more who have visited the city, some recently. That’s when the “what ifs” begin. What if my friends had been there, what if they had been caught up in it, what if…let’s not go there.

A three year old girl has perished in this senseless terrorist act. A three year old girl. The Islamic State fanatics would certainly know that their barbaric act would kill innocents and there could be young children amongst them. And they still did it. Perhaps the Sun was right after all?

I prefer Lionel Messi’s calm and measured comments. They capture the madness, they capture the distress, they capture our unwillingness to be cowed by fascists who want to change the way we live our lives, the capture our determination to continue to be free. And it shows we are better than these pitiful little men, whose empty worthless lives and whose names will soon be forgotten, deservedly so.

There is a place for anger, of course there is. But there is a place for humanity too. The populist Sun can swear angrily and the rest of us can show our love and determination to carry on. As ever, I suppose I only wish there was a hell for them to go to.

Eclectic Blue

A public service announcement

0 Comments 17 August 2017

To my loyal reader,

Please note that all opinions on this blog, even the sensible ones, are mine and mine only and have nothing whatsoever to my Bristol Rovers programme column of the same name and certainly nothing to do with the Rovers, so please don’t bother them about it.

Many thanks!

Eclectic Blue

Blood lines

0 Comments 17 August 2017

I wonder what my paternal grandfather would have made of Britain today. He died in 1994, well into his nineties, having come to Britain as a young boy from Norway to work well into his seventies, in a working life that saw him never take a day’s sick leave. Similarly, my mother, who came to Britain in the 1950s from the Netherlands to marry my father, who worked until she dropped, almost literally, again never taking a day’s sick leave. Britain welcomed them and they repaid that welcome many times over as they worked hard and played fair. In Britain today, I have the feeling that neither of them would be welcome.

Because I am a mongrel, with more “foreign” blood than British, I suspect I feel the current antagonism and even hatred for foreigners more than most. I am proud of my Norwegian and Dutch heritage, both of which define me as a citizen of the world, as well as a proud Englishman. Theresa May has decreed that as I am a citizen of the world, I am a citizen of nowhere. Sadly, so many people seem to agree with her.

I went out for a social evening last night, which included those of Irish, Ukrainian, Scottish, Norwegian and Dutch extraction, as well as someone who is an immigrant to another country, France. I can honestly say that I really don’t care where someone comes from so long as they accept the rule of law, adapt to the culture of a country and demand no special privileges. For the life of me, I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t feel that way. Just because someone comes from, say, Poland or Germany, doesn’t make them any different to me, apart from speaking a different language. And anyway, like my grandfather and mother, they usually speak better English than we do.

Now, the country is “going to the dogs” because European people are coming to work in the UK, often to do the shit jobs Brits don’t want to do, to bring particular skills and/or to fill gaps in the employment market. I am no economist – far from it – but for the life of me, I can’t see the objections. Does it really matter if the person in Costa who prepares your Latte is from Spain? Do you honestly fret if your cancer surgeon is French? And are you appalled when the bloke who cleans your car is not British by birth, or in any other way? What is the difference between any of us? The language we speak? Is that all?

Our increasingly chaotic departure from the EU, founded in part by widespread public opposition to immigration, has stoked up anger that threatens to grow out of control. The hard right, led by the likes of Nigel Farage, has exploited societal divisions that still threaten to boil over. In the wake of last year’s EU referendum, there was a major spike in racist hate crimes and it is not a coincidence that the purveyors of hate have a message that is getting through. We mock and condemn Donald Trump for his extreme right wing rhetoric but his allies include the aforementioned Farage and that large section of the Tory Party that wants to cut us off from the rest of the world.

My mother’s ashes were left at South Bristol crematorium in 1999, my grandfather’s were scattered at Battery Point in Portishead, where they were joined in 2011 by my father’s. I am wondering whether, given the sad slide of this country into bigotry and xenophobia that perhaps the government should launch a search for their ashes and seek to repatriate them. “Bloody dead foreign people, having their ashes scattered all over the place: who do they think they are? Send them home now. Bloody dead parasites, hogging spaces where the ashes of dead British people could be scattered.”

My grandfather was a good man who always worked and never claimed benefits. My mother was a good woman who always worked and never claimed benefits. Both became loyal British subjects, even though my mother kept her Dutch accent until her dying day. As we turn into Little Britain and eventually Little England as the country breaks apart, I fear for the future. It used to be black people and Asian people who were regarded as unwanted by many but now it’s everyone who is a foreigner and perhaps even their children. We know, from history, what happens if we leave things unchecked. My fear is that as we turn inward and raise the drawbridge to Europe and the rest of the world, the hatred that has been fomented by hard (and not so hard) right wing politicians and their populist allies in the media.

Does it really matter than my blood is only 3/8ths British? I’m afraid to say that to many people in our divided country, it probably does.

Eclectic Blue

Tell the truth

0 Comments 16 August 2017

Sarah Champion MP is a disgrace. Not for what she has written about the countless instances of British Pakistani men raping and abusing white girls, but where she wrote it: in the filthy dirty Sun newspaper.

Ms Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, was shadow equalities minister until she wrote a piece about the grooming of young girls by mainly British Pakistani men. She wrote: “Britain has a problem with British-Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is? These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.” Can anyone tell me what is wrong with that? It’s a matter of fact. In her resignation letter to Jeremy Corbyn, she apologised for her “extremely poor choice of words” and, it goes without saying Corbyn accepted it. Here we go again, closing our eyes to a disturbing aspect of life in Britan today.

No one is saying that all British Pakistani men are rapists and abusers but what people are saying is that there is a problem with regard to a number of British Pakistani men and our answer, as a society, is to close our eyes and pretend there is no problem, or dress it up as if to say there is a problem with a certain number of men, but pretend they are not of Pakistani origin. How on earth can that be remotely logical? If people are frightened of acknowledging the truth, then we have another problem.

I have no idea why bit is that there is a particular problem with British Pakistani men, but the worst way of dealing with it is to pretend there is no problem at all. I’m far more offended that ms Champion wrote it for Rupert Murdoch’s vile newspaper.

Eclectic Blue

Travelling Banned

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I walked by our local unofficial travellers’ site in Stoke Gifford just yesterday. Situated on what is effectively our nature reserve, Forty Acres, the travellers have set up camp. Today even more of them turned up.

I did not venture into the very heart of where the travellers have rocked up, but I could smell it before I saw it. The stench of excrement was overwhelming and it was human excrement, unless of course they have been wiping the arses of the dogs and now horses with toilet paper.

Something like twenty vans are present, maybe more, and parts of Forty Acres are becoming out of bounds to local people. Dog walkers, understandably, are walking their dogs elsewhere, huge 4X4s are rolling in and out of the site at all hours, along with transit vans and other vehicles relating to their businesses. Why does it take so long to oust these people and why are they allowed to leave where they stay in a mess, with local people having to pick up the tab?

I am not a NIMBY: I don’t want these people living in my back yard or yours. They seem to enjoy the travellers’ lifestyle but don’t want to pay for it like the rest of us pay for our services. I doubt very much whether the businesses they operate are known to HMRC, so far as I can tell they don’t make any kind of payment for staying on our land. Yet somehow, they manage to buy brand new cars and other vehicles. And when the local council wants them out, they can drag things out for as long as they like. Is this fair?

When travellers move in, why can’t we have laws whereby they are immediately booted off? All that’s happened in the Gifford is that they have been asked to leave. “We continue to liaise with the police and Stoke Gifford Parish Council in order to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, in line with our established procedures,” said a council suit. “Our established procedures?” This means leaving the bottom gate permanently open so the travellers can move in and out to their heart’s content, unstaffed, no police, no council officials.

How about impounding their vehicles as a first step? Or, if they move away leaving a mess, then confiscate their assets to pay for it? Our council is having terrible trouble providing adequate care for vulnerable people. Should we really be diverting vital funds to deal the consequences of a bunch of travellers?

Inept, complacent, out of touch with the local community, that’s South Glos Council and the local Parish Council. I do not know anyone around here who isn’t livid at both the illegal occupation and the lumpen reaction of officials. And if the council say it’s national politicians who are to blame, then what the hell is Jack “Shagger” Lopresti up to, our local MP who has been AWOL every since he was first elected?

Eclectic Blue

Death of a hero

Comments Off on Death of a hero 14 August 2017

The death of Bernard Kenny will probably not be noted by many people, but in a world dominated by grim news on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, it really should. Mr Kenny was a very special man who should give us hope that maybe, just maybe, good can triumph over evil.

You don’t know the name? No, I’d forgotten it, too. I claim no superior knowledge to you or anyone else, but when the BBC news reminded me of who he was, I knew instantly. Mr Kenny, who has died aged 79, tried to save the life of Jo Cox, the MP, as she was being attacked in Birstall, West Yorkshire, by the fascist terrorist Thomas Mair. With no thoughts of his own safety, he rushed across to help only to be stabbed himself. It is said that he never fully recovered from his injuries. The people of this country ensured that he was properly thanked for his supreme courage. He was awarded the George Medal.

Mair attacked Jo Cox with a gun and a knife and even when she was being attacked she had the presence of mind to tell her staff to leave the scene for their own safety. Mr Kenny saw only one thing: a young woman being attacked by a fanatic. He tried to save her.

For every heinous act by a crazed extremist, there are an infinite number of people doing good things. We saw this in recent atrocities at Borough Market, we saw it at the Manchester MEN Arena. The low life cowardly scum who took innocent lives did so with weapons and bombs. Bernard Kenny had only his inner strength, courage way beyond the imaginings of the rest of us, heroism well beyond the call of duty.

Jo Cox’s killer will hopefully spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars and never again see freedom, but then, why should he? He took away the lives of two amazing people and ruined the lives of those who surrounded them.

RIP Bernard Kenny. You were not a knight of the realm, or the Lord of something or other. You were more, much more than that. You were a hero, a true British hero and you will be remembered by those who knew you and by man who never knew you for ever.

Eclectic Blue

Racism returns?

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I was very pleased to read on the Bristol Rovers website today the clear condemnation of a couple of instances of racial abuse at our first two league games. Here are the comments of safety officer Dave Parker:

“It is with regret that as the Safety Officer that I write this article.

“Sadly at Charlton there was an allegation made against one of our travelling fans relating to racist behaviour.

“At our first home match I received a couple of independent complaints concerning racist abuse. One stated that it was aimed at a Posh player and the other against one of our own players.

‘I and my fellow Rovers colleagues, plus no doubt 99.9% of our brilliant supporters, are appalled by these incidents. Not only is it illegal and could cost us a points deduction and/or a fine, it does nothing to support our family club image.

“I know that emotions run high but it is not acceptable behaviour and does not set a good example to our Young Pirates.

“Please, if you witness any such incidents, I would ask you to report them immediately to me and my team via the email below.”

Let us not get carried away here. If there were a “couple of independent complaints” at the Peterborough game, this in the context of some 9700 supporters in attendance. You do not need me to point out that this is a tiny minority but nonetheless I applaud the swift actions of the football club in addressing these complaints. Zero tolerance and all that. But I don’t think it goes far enough.

I am assuming that neither those who made the complaints or the football club know who it was who made racist comments, which is probably why the police do not appear to be taking action. That’s fair enough. I do not know whether the reports were made to stewards at the time or were made to Mr Parker at a later stage. Further action, or the lack of it, would largely depend on whether the miscreants were known. I suspect from Mr Parker’s statement that they were not known. In which case, why do I have an issue with the statement?

It is true that racial abuse is illegal, that it could cost the club a points dedication and/or a fine, that is does nothing to “support our family club image” (whatever that is supposed to mean) that it is not acceptable behaviour and sets a poor example to young fans. What is missing is a clear statement that those who are found guilty of racist abuse will be banned from the Memorial Stadium.

The ultimate sanction should be a banning order and possible sectioning, too. Who in their right mind would racially abuse one of “one of our own players?” In the bad old days, racist morons would attempt to justify racially abusing opposition players by saying it was just “banter” to try and put off those players from their normal game, in the same way if they were ginger-haired or fat. Why, in these apparently enlightened times, would anyone abuse someone who wears the shirt they are supposed to support? What’s the thought process going on here? “I know what I’ll do to make X play better for us and score some goals: I’ll shout racist abuse at him. You watch those goals fly in then!”

Nine out of ten for Bristol Rovers. Well done for reacting quickly and positively, not so well done for failing to back up fine words by stating that if you use racist language at the football, you can’t come to games anymore.

Eclectic Blue

Trumped again

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It’s 1939 and Germany has invaded Poland, leaving many civilians dead. US President Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides”. Okay, not really. President Roosevelt effectively sat on the fence and urged the governments of Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland not to launch attacks on civilians. That went well then, particularly with relation to Hitler’s Germany. Fast forward to 2017 and the words above, which were Trump’s, related to an act of terrorism by armed neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan fascists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Republican senator Cory Gardner said: “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

It is hardly a surprise that, at a time of crisis, Donald Trump has been found wanting yet again. Why on earth could he not bring himself to make an open, unequivocal attack on white supremacists? This was not some minor fracas. This was the largest gathering of white supremacists in the USA for decades and hundreds of fascists were openly putting their arms in the air to make Nazi salutes.

I am not comparing Trump with Hitler because that would be plain stupid. Hitler appeared to know what he was doing, something which hardly excused the pure evil he inflicted on the world, including mass murder and genocide. Trump, the supreme narcissist, preens and poses, making things up as he goes along, by way of twitter and by making up back of a fag packet policy as he goes along, without ever consulting anyone. In the last week or so, the most powerful man on earth – Trump, the most powerful man on earth. Just think about that for a moment – has threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation and now blithely condemns a violent fascist rally by having a pop at “many sides”. What is it about politicians that they can come out with such nonsense? Jeremy Corbyn, the hapless and hopeless leader of the Labour Party in Britain, condemned “both sides” in Venezuela, as if to say the victims of oppression and violence were also the fault of those being oppressed and attacked. This is not leadership: it is prevarication.

But this is about Trump, who has been President of the USA for a lot less than a year, a few months during which the entire world order has been disturbed and not in a good way. Nuclear war, fascist marches – whatever next for the unstable Trump? How far can he steer the world to oblivion before his past catches up with him and drives him from office?

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