Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (15/12)

No Comments 15 December 2017

It’s Friday, it’s freezing and, pop pickers, I am here in my Man Cave, allowing my iPod to randomly select some tunes in order to compile this week’s random shuffle.

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends!

1. Someday Soon by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. From their highly underrated Looking Forward album. I had this song played at my mum’s funeral, as the coffin departed. Here are some lines from this Graham Nash song which mean so much to me:
Someday soon you will see by the light of day
That someday soon all your worries will fade away
Keep holding on to the love that has made you strong
And someday soon heartache will all be gone

2. Intro (It’s Album Time) by Todd Terje. The intro from the wonderful It’s Album Time record. Continuing the loose family theme, Mr Terje is Norwegian, as per my dad’s side of the family.

3. Do You Like Worms? (Roll Plymouth Rock) by the Beach Boys. An astonishing lyrical and musical journey across the United States from the legendary Smile record, from the founding fathers, through the Red Indians al the way to Hawaii.

4. Walking on the Moon by the Police. Well, it’s brilliant, isn’t it?

5. FDR in Trinidad by Ry Cooder. I take it you have a copy of Into The Purple Valley? If not, why not? Simply magnificent. All about FDR’s trip to Trinidad in 1936.

6. Could Be Love by the Dwight Twilley Band. From his wonderful 1976 record Sincerely, possibly the most underrated rocker America ever produced.

7. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by the Roger Nichols Trio. No, not the Elton song, but instead the vastly superior Burt Bacharach song of the same title.

8. Love Hurts by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. Yes, that Love Hurts and it’s even more beautiful than you could imagine, taken from his posthumous record Grievous Angel.

9. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) by Harpers Bizarre. A lovely cover of the Paul Simon classic. I didn’t realise the band included Ted Templeman who went on to be a great record producer (Doobies, Van Halen, Van Morrison).

10. New York Mining Disaster 1941 by the Bee Gees. From 1967, their debut American single.

That’s all, folks!

Eclectic Blue

How soon we forget

No Comments 15 December 2017

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the richest borough in the sixth richest country on the planet. Six months after the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower, 80% of former residents have still not been rehoused. The numbers include families still living in Bed and Breakfast accommodation, many of whom lost everything, some of whom lost family members and friends. The impending arrival of Christmas concentrates the mind wonderfully and reminds us just how much our country is divided in every single way.

I watched some coverage from yesterday’s service at St Pauls which was attended by the great and the good, as well as politicians from the main political parties. I was pleased that so many royals were present because I believe, perhaps naively, that they understand things like human suffering and sadness. I shed a tear when the camera panned across to mourners who were holding photographs of the dead. If my emotions were a tangled mess, what of those who suffered and still suffer?

I try not to look at the Grenfell tragedy in party political terms because although I disagree profoundly with the principles and policies of the current party of government, I cannot and do not believe that Theresa May, for all her faults and limitations, really doesn’t care. My own politics, which I would describe as mainstream left of centre liberalism, is a kind of philosophy evolved form a life of experience. A country which rewards hard work and is a genuine meritocracy which also has a conscience for the less well off, the sick and the needy and so on. It’s not controversial. Or rather it shouldn’t be.

So much of Kensington and Chelsea remains empty with luxury accommodation left unused by wealthy speculators. I struggle to accept that half a year on from the fire four out of five people from Grenfell have not been rehoused. This is not just wrong: it is a scandal. I shall leave it to the public inquiry to establish culpability but one thing is for sure: the victims were not to blame. Society owes them better than existing within the confines of a B&B. I don’t even like staying in a B&B or even a half decent hotel for more than one night, never mind treating it as home. Imagine being there all the time?

We are more divided than at any other time of my life. We are divided by wealth, we are divided by catastrophic political choices, we are divided because our leaders cannot and do not lead, we are divided because only a small number of elite individuals have any power. The victims of Grenfell have none. And because of the inadequacies of our system, the survivors of Grenfell have been forgotten, which is the biggest national disgrace of them all.

Eclectic Blue

Vote for a personality in SPOTY

No Comments 14 December 2017

“And now on BBC One, we can reveal the shortlist for the 2017 Sports Personality of the Year. They are:

Elise Christie – short track speed skating
Sir Mo Farah – athletics
Chris Froome – cycling
Lewis Hamilton – F1
Anthony Joshua – boxing
Harry Kane – football
Johanna Konta – tennis
Jonnie Peacock – Para-athletics
Adam Peaty – swimming
Jonathan Rea – motorcycling
Anya Shrubsole – cricket
Bianca Walkden – taekwondo.

“We have a shortlist nowadays to stop people voting en masse for an angler or 10 pin bowler and to ensure we get a diverse group for people to choose from.”

Now, I don’t know about you but I can see certain flaws in that group. I am a reasonably keen sports fan but have never heard of Bianca Walkden, Amy Shrubsole, Elise Christie or Jonathan Rea. For all I know, they all have great personalities but given that I have never seen them in action, I will have to take someone else’s word for it. But it’s worse than that.

The show is supposed to be about a “sports personality” which surely excludes others on the list. Set to one side his tiresome mid-Atlantic accent and dubious tax dodging status and ignore for one moment his genius at driving a very fast car very fast, not even his greatest fans could possibly pretend that Lewis Hamilton has any kind of personality at all. His fellow tax dodger Chris Froome certainly deserves recognition for being successful cyclist, although his chances have been somewhat tarnished by him failing a drugs test just before the show is broadcast. And in terms of personality, Bradley Wiggins he ain’t. And Johanna Konta? What is she doing on the list? A reasonably successful Australian tennis import who plays a particularly ugly version of the game and has not won a major tournament yet. Oh, and she’s deadly dull to listen to. Being boring is not the fault of any of these performers but giving them awards for having personalities they don’t have is just silly.

Even Harry Kane, bless him, is far from the most charismatic footballer in the land. I doubt if he has the biggest personality in the Spurs squad and certainly not the England squad. Almost certainly the best English striker, but that does not square with personality. Sorry and all that. This leaves us with four credible candidates.

By contrast, Mo Farah has charisma in bucketloads. And he is a proven winner. So why does he not win? I don’t think it’s anything to do with his Somali background – or at least I hope not – but I do wonder if his close association with coach Alberto Salazar doesn’t install some doubts in people’s minds, what with the questions of performance enhancing drugs that have surrounded him. Jonnie Peacock has been a stellar success in the Paralympics (and on Strictly) so he must have a real chance and from what I have seen about the swimmer Andy Peaty is not only world class but a proper lad. For all their qualities, none of these people will win. There’s a certain boxer who will do that.

Anthony Joshua could be the greatest heavyweight boxer we have ever produced. By defeating Wladimir Klitschko, he wrote himself into the history books. By being himself, he has become an instant role model. And he is the champion of the world. Happily, he has the personality to fit the role of SPOTY and will surely win by a country mile.

Some dullards have won SPOTY, like the aforementioned Hamilton, plus Damon Hill, Nick Faldo, Michael Owen and Nigel Mansell. Sporting achievement is surely another thing altogether. Anyway, if I had been in charge of the nominations, the only name would have been Jermain Defoe who briefly made the world a better place in his all too brief friendship with the inspiring Bradley Lowery.

Eclectic Blue

The Sky is falling in

No Comments 14 December 2017

My loyal reader will know that I am not a great fan of Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch himself did not write the lies about Hillsborough and he didn’t personally hack the mobile phone of a dead girl, but they were published by him, as were countless lies and half truths in his newspapers. Through Sky, he threatened to establish total dominance of TV and up until now was attempting to buy the 61% of the company he did not already own. With Walt Disney buying huge swathes of Murdoch’s empire, soon the Dirty Digger will own none of it. At a stroke, the 86 year old’s empire has been drastically reduced. In every way, the game is almost up for him.

What a relief this all is. I have been wrestling with the conflict of paying a subscription to Sky given Murdoch’s part ownership. If he had managed to buy the lot, I would have had to cancel said subscription. I still might given how bloody expensive it is but the decision will now be made on the grounds of cost rather than conscience.

I yearn for the day when Murdoch sells his newspapers, too, especially the Times which I regard still as a fine publication and one I would definitely buy more often if he pissed off into the sunset. I hope he flogs TalkSport, too, so I can listen to that with a clear conscience as opposed to now (not at all).

The king isn’t literally dead but in terms of influence and power, he’s barely on life support. When he goes, it will be good riddance to bad rubbish, like Thatcher, a fellow evil dictator. As I say, if he did any good in his life, it was more than undone by all the bad he did. I wish him nothing but ill for the future.

Eclectic Blue

Everything I own

No Comments 13 December 2017

In order to counter criticism of my comments about dubious ownership of English football teams, and to deal with possible allegations of hypocrisy, allow me to clarify a few things.

Well, I firmly believe that at any football club, there should be significant and meaningful supporter involvement and, where possible, investment. This rarely happens in England, although there are significant exceptions such as AFC Wimbledon and Exeter City. The various Premier League models, like the Russian oligarch at Chelsea and distant American owners at my Premier League club of choice, Liverpool, are not models I support in any way at all.

In Bristol, we have one club, the City, which is owned and subsidised by a billionaire who chooses to live in the Channel Islands in order to legally avoid tax. For all the usual arguments, I do not support that type of ownership, either. Our other club, my club, the Rovers, is owned by a Jersey-based Jordanian family. Cards on the table: I do not support that method of ownership either. That is not to say that I actively oppose this ownership model or will do anything, ever to change it. I just don’t like it. Before the Jordanians owned the club, it was run by an autocratic multimillionaire businessman who almost took the club into administration. Then, as now, the board of directors includes token directors from the Supporters Club who have never influenced anything.

What have I proved in this blog? Nothing. Just that a huge number of clubs are what is known as financially “doped”, either by using the money of a benefactor or by existing on borrowed money. And that the ownership models in England are largely crap, including the ones in place at the clubs I support. There’s nothing I can do about it, there’s nothing I am going to do about it. I do think the fans deserve a voice but at most clubs they don’t seem to give a toss about it.

Eclectic Blue

I never thought it would happen

No Comments 13 December 2017

I never thought it would happen. I never thought I would ever hear a song that irritated me more than Day trip to Bangor by Fiddler’s Dram, There’s No One Quite Like Grandma by the St Winifred’s School Choir or Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, but finally it has happened. Allow your fingernails to traverse the blackboard and I give you Drink ‘Til We Go Home by someone called Lucy Spraggan.

It’s one of those ghastly songs where the lyrics form a less than delightful story. And here is the basic storyline:

Cause my only wish this Christmas is to walk home in the snow.
And to drink til we go home.
Drink til we go home.
Drink til we go home.
Drink til we go home.

I had the misfortune to hear this song at the tail end of Sarah Cox’s stint standing in today for Chris Evans. Ms Cox seemed very impressed whereas I was overcome by waves of nausea, not just because the song was so cringeworthy but also because I knew I would be hearing it over and over again for the rest of my life.

Ms Spraggon is probably a very nice young lady and talented songstress but why has she inflicted this life-crushing dross upon us? I am urging the BBC to ban it with immediate effect.

Eclectic Blue


No Comments 13 December 2017

First some facts on what happened yesterday in Alabama. A Democrat won a seat in the Senate for the first time in 25 years in a state where votes for the GOP are normally just weighed, not counted. Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore by just 1.5% but, nonetheless, this was a political earthquake. Lest we forget, Moore is a fervent homophobic, a fanatical anti-abortionist and on the end of serious and credible allegations of paedophilia. That Moore still managed to attract over 650k votes is alarming enough. The news that Jones attracted in excess of 671k is a considerable achievement and a big relief.

This result certainly shows some kind of turnaround in Alabama, for in the presidential election Donald Trump carried the state by 28% and was a very public supporter of Moore. What happened in Alabama is that huge swathes of urban voters switched to the Democrat candidate, quite probably as a one-off. This does not mean that the state has turned permanently Democrat because all the available evidence suggests a moderate Republican would have strolled home. However, when confronted by such a flawed and extreme candidate, insufficient numbers of Republican voters could stomach electing Moore.

It bears repeating that Trump so strongly supported the defeated candidate, employing his usual barrage of untruths and outright lies. It proves that whilst you can fool some of the people some of the time, you cannot fool all the people all of the time. With a fascist in the White House, every little victory is one to be savoured.

Eclectic Blue

Listen to the music

No Comments 12 December 2017

First, they came for the Surrey Vaults by complaining about the noise that accompanied, and then followed, live music events. Then, luxury flats were approved near the Thekla and its future became in doubt. Then, new flats were built near the Fleece and just to show whose side Bristol City Council were on they ramped up the pressure on the Fleece by increasing its business rates by over 400%. And finally – well, so far as we know, finally – flats are being built by the Fiddlers in Bedminster which will put its future into real doubt. Has Bristol truly lost its collective mind?

Our new mayor, Marvin Rees, just like our old mayor, George Ferguson, insists that the city will get its new arena. I believe we will get a new arena when I see it fully built, which means I won’t believe it because it probably won’t happen. So, if we Bristolians want to see the X Factor Live or any number of A list popular beat combo outfits, they will need to go somewhere else in the country. Please, Marvin, prove me wrong. Meanwhile, keep your eye on the ball as things are now.

Small halls are where you find much of the talent you will later see in the arenas. In recent decades, the likes of Coldplay, Oasis, Kings of Leon amongst many others have learned their trade in front of hundreds of people. Take away the small halls, and what’s left? Where else would I have seen Delays, Albert Hammond Jr, Songhoy Blues, the Zombies (hardly young and upcoming but so what?) and my current favourite performer Jordan Rakei? The answer is in the small halls of the same cities that also have arenas. This has to stop.

Here’s a thing though. If you choose to buy a home near a music venue, what do you expect? The likelihood is that you will hear some live music and people leaving the venue when the gig is over. This should not come as a shock to you. It is like buying a house next to Bristol Airport and then complaining about aircraft noise. If you do not want to live by a music venue, then live somewhere else. There are many thousands of other people in our fair (or is it unfair?) city who would love the chance to buy a flat pretty well anywhere, never mind in the middle of town. Mr Rees should say now, loud and clear, that these venues will not be forced to close down and actually actively supported and promoted. And as for the Fleece: stop this insane increase in business rates. The venue is a local asset.

Amaze us, Mr Mayor. Build that arena, save the small halls, sod the whingers. It’s only the future of music in Bristol that’s at stake. So not much.

Eclectic Blue

When I’m gone

No Comments 12 December 2017

When I die, hopefully in my sleep at the age of 105 after I’ve jogged home from the pub, the NHS is welcome to have what’s left of me. They can have my vital organs which given I will be dead will no longer be vital to me and they can have whichever bits they like to help others or simply to aid research. I find it amazing that we still need to have a debate about whether or not to have an opt out or opt in system.

Even religious folk, who expect their souls to ascend to heaven, will know that their human form will be of little use when they wander through the Pearly Gates and there is no point in either allowing their organs to rot in a grave or to be burned at the crematorium. Not when other people can benefit from them.

It’s not a nice subject, I know. The idea of a loved one’s body being chopped up whilst we are in the grieving process is not the best one. It would be far better if we didn’t die at all. Alas, that isn’t going to happen. As we are so fond of saying, no one gets out of here alive.

Judging from the experiences of others, the decision to donate organs of the dead is always a positive thing. Knowing that one’s one sadness can at least bring better news to someone else and their family will not make a loss feel any better, but perhaps it will be a little more, well, meaningful, for want of a better word.

And it’s overdue that the assumption is we consent to organ donation and not automatically opt out.

Eclectic Blue

Here are the results of the British jury

No Comments 11 December 2017

And now the results of the latest You Gov poll:

CON 42% (+2)
LAB 41% (nc)
LDEM 7% (nc)

Now this takes some believing if you are part of Jeremy Corbyn’s cult following. The only surprise to me is that the Tories aren’t further ahead. And the reason for this? Oh, Jeremy Corbyn.

Put this poll into context. The NHS in crisis, working age benefits being cut, school funding being slashed and the government hugely divided by the calamity that is Brexit. And this poll was taken straight after Theresa May came back from Brussels with a brand new botched deal with the EU which does little more than kick the real problems down the road. The issue of Ireland, the self-inflicted problems which will be caused by leaving the single market and customs union and, lest we forget, the futures of Brits abroad and EU citizens living in the UK. And that’s before we start the stuff on trade. Labour should be miles ahead.

The electorate is not stupid. Whilst I would argue that many people were duped by the “leavers” in last year’s referendum, they know a real prime minister when they see one. When asked to choose between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, they chose neither. They realised during the election campaign in 2017 that whilst May was out of her depth, Corbyn could be even worse. May tried and failed to be a Pound Shop Thatcher, Corbyn was what he was, not very nice but dim. (I have heard it suggested that Corbyn is nice but dim but nice is not a word that can be attributed to a man who has for so long tolerated anti-Semitic abuse in the Labour Party and spent so much of his political life sucking up to terrorists like Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA. Not nice at all. And let’s not go into this continued support for those fine democrats in Cuba and Venezuela.) So voters look at the current shambles in politics and decide that the Conservatives are a better bet than Labour. Just. How can this be?

It is not just the media influence, although this cannot help. It must surely be that the majority of voters see the Tories not as better than Labour, but less worse. They look at Labour’s front bench and see the likes of Diane Abbott, John McDonnell, Rebecca Long Bailey and Richard Burgon and think that whilst the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are shysters and charlatans and that David Davis is a bone idle chancer, they are still likely to do far worse than the current ruling party. Imagine you are Jeremy Corbyn and you have come to the realisation that the public think someone as hopeless as Theresa May is better than you?

If you saw Corbyn v May in the Commons today, both reading out pre-scripted speeches, neither able to think on their feet, you should have despaired. I know I did. They were both truly terrible, simply the worse PM and opposition leader of my lifetime (Corbyn is even worse than Iain Duncan Smith). Only dear old Vince Cable from the Lib Dems was the only party leader who showed gravitas and understanding of the mess we are in, but until he shows a little contrition for his party propping up a hard right Tory government for five years and indeed apologises for it, we’re in a two party system from the hard left and hard right.

Theresa May will soon be gone and a younger, better Tory PM will be installed. Then that truly will be it for Corbyn and Labour. For the Tories, it is all about winning, for Corbyn and the comrades, it’s about building a social movement. And if a shambles of a Tory Party led by May can be ahead in the polls now, imagine what would happen with anyone half competent in charge?

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