Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

War On Terror Causes Terror.

According to a report released today by the US Government and reported on here, the war on terror has increased the possibility of terrorist attacks on US interests.

Should we be surprised at this? I think not. Okay I admit I did not support the invasion of Iraq. I still believe very strongly that there was no justification for it. I also believe however, that there are many people out there that have an equally strong belief in the opposite view. Whilst I'll disagree with them vermently I cannot argue with their conviction.

I do not however understand how George Bush can still stand up and say that:

"I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offence against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe."

I can understand he may believe that he should go on the offence, although I don't agree with him. But I don't think he should be burying his head in the sand. The suicide bombings in Iraq and for that matter, Afghanistan, are directly linked to the US/NATO troops being there in the first place. I don't believe that the attack on the Underground in London would have happened if we hadn't been involved in Iraq either. However large or small the threat from Islamic terrorism is, and I'm at odds at the perceived scale of this too, the demonisation of a peaceful religion is an outrage, it has been increased by the 'War On Terror'.

This is totally obvious to me. In wars people tend to fight back. Terrorists are just going to roll over and give up, I wish they would but it ain't going to happen. The threat is greater than before the 'War On Terror' began. And in my opinion it is greater because of it rather than despite it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mogwai Live. Royal Albert Hall 22nd September 2006

Emmy in her fantastic Fangirl blog mentioned that when she saw Mogwai on 20th July in Australia that they were a little disappointing. She mentioned that it hadn't felt like a truck being driven through your chest as it had on previous ocassions. I had reason to disagree with her as I had seen them in Cambridge and London earlier in the year and they had, as usual, blown me away.

Therefore I was hoping for big things at The Royal Albert Hall on Friday. As a venue it is pretty spectacular. A place of great history and somewhere that bands aspire to play in. It should have been the best Mogwai gig I have ever seen, shouldn't it? Well like Emmy I was a bit disappointed. It wasn't the vicious onslaught I was hoping for. I'm afraid that Mogwai are in danger of descending into pretencious noodling Prog Rock band.

Maybe it was the choice of set list that gave me this impression. I'm used to being slammed against the wall by their massive noise. On Friday I found myself drifting off, not in some blissed out way, knowing that soon the hairs on the back of my neck would be standing up on end and that the sound would thump into my chest like the truck that Emmy mentioned, but this time I found myself wondering just how many times I had been to see The Wedding Present (10 by the way). In short, at times, I was a bit bored.

It wasn't a bad gig, just not as edgy as usual. It all seemed a bit too safe. Maybe it was the surroundings that did it. Even Mogwai Fears Satan, a track that earlier in the year had made my mate Charlie's trousers move because it was so splendidly loud was a bit off. It didn't make me jump out of my seat or hold my hands over my ears begging for mercy.

I love Mogwai, and this is the time that I have been disappointed after seeing them. It was the third time I've seen them this year and I know that they have been touring the latest album Mr Beast for ages and that they maybe gigged out. I just hope that we haven't seen their best years and that they can come back and blow our collective socks off again, like they used to.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager

Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly. Live at Chinnery's Southend on Sea - 18th September 2006.

You might not read it here first, but Sam Duckworth is going to be HUGE. This was a home town gig for Southend born Sam under his alter-ego Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly after an extensive tour which has included both the Carling Festivals in Leeds and Reading and Bestival on the Isle of Wight. It was also the day his first album, The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager was realeased. Get Cape have been gigging extensively for the last 2 years or so and according to manager Paul Bonham, Duckworth is one of the hardest working men in the business. Just one look at his previous gigs this year alone proves this to be true. Only the week before Duckworth's first single from his album was released and he played no less than four gigs in the day, including a in store performance and signing session at the HMV store in Southend.

There was decent support from Boom In The Diamond Industry and the excellent Cardiff band Adequet 7 and then Get Cape hit the stage armed with an acoustic guitar and a laptop, and it is this that sets Duckworth apart from his counterparts. He is an excellent guitarist and this is aided by some fantastic beats laid down by the laptop. It is hard to catagorise but if I had to pigeonhole him I'd include him in the 'Folktronica' scene that include such bands as It's Jo And Danny. It's was obvious to all that this was a special gig, the kind that, as a regular gig goer, come along only once in a while. A cynic might say that, as this was a home town gig, with an audience that has been with him since that start and included all his mates and his Mum and Dad (who were standing next to me and Jock Pop), he could do no wrong, but despite this the performance that Duckworth gave was nothing short of briliant. For a man of only 20 years old his confidence on stage is phenomenal. He played most of the album including Glasshouses, I-Spy, The Lighthousekeeper, War Of The Worlds and Once More With Feeling and the crowd sang along with every song.

There is a fashion at the moment for the singer-songwriter and although this is a welcome change from the manufactured dross of most of the charts, it can be a little bit boring and samey. Get Cape are something different, Duckworth's songs mean something for a start. He sings about the need to stand up and fight racism and homophobia in Glasshouses, and the threat about globalisation in Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly which conatins the lyric "You don't have to be a coathanger for a corporation in a market that has lost the plot". He also writes about the being wrongly perceived because of what you do, maintaining that "You are not your job and you are not the clothes you wear. You are the words that leave your mouth so speak up, speak up loud" in Call Me Ishmael. There is a whole lot more to Get Cape than the usual "I love you" drival.

The highlight of the gig was a crowdsurf by Sam whilst playing his guitar during the final song. He admitted that he had never done anything quite like that before and you got the impression that he loved every second of the night and it was a totally spontaneous action to hurl himself into the crowd, although he did ask just before he did it if people would catch him.

Watch out for Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly and go and buy either the album or the single of the same name. If you get a chance to see him live do so without hesitation. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Man Booker Prize.

I was lucky enough to be invited, along with members of my library reading group, to a party at the London Library that launched the short list for this years Man Booker Prize.

The list is as follows:

The Inheritance Of Men by Kirin Desai
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland
In The Country Of Men by Matar Hisham
Mothers Milk by Edward St Aubyn
The Nightwatch by Sarah Waters.

I'm honoured to have be chosen by my group to contribute to a blog that is being run by the Man Booker official website. You can read all about the evening mentioned above and reviews of the books here. My group is called The Gallery Book Club.

I'm really looking forward to reading these books. I read the St Aubyn over the weekend and it was a very good read, providing you took some of the characterisation with a pinch of salt. There are a number of very precocious children in it who speak like university lecturers despite being only 5 years old. Some might find this deeply annoying, however, in my view, St Aubyn has a quality reminisant of Evelyn Waugh and I'm sure he is merely parodying such children and their equally repugnant parents.

I am currently reading Maria Hyland's Carry Me Down and finding it hard to put down. It is brilliantly written and from what I've heard from other book groups taking part in this years Booker, is a big favourite. Hyalnd's characters are far more believable and likeable and you can really imagine being in 1970's Ireland where the novel is set.

It is far too early to choose a winner just yet, although I imagine the judges may have already made up there minds. That's the way these things usually work.

Friday, September 15, 2006

An End Of An Era.

Tomorrow is a sad day in the life of Marmiteboy. The record shop I have been buying my music from since I was 14 years old is closing down for good. The Golden Disc has been a constant in Queens Road in Southend for as long as I can remember. I bought some shocking old shite in there when I didn't know any better, but then buying crap records is part of anyones musical upbringing, isn't it?

I bought some hum-dingers though. I bought Movement by New Order the day it came out. I remember having to order Life's A Riot by Billy Bragg because at the time it wasn't being properly distributed in the shops. And I probably bought all The Smiths singles on 12 inch, apart form You Handsome Devil ( because there wasn't a 12 inch) there too.

Over the years The Golden Disc has changed its modus operandi. With the advent of the big two (Virgin and HMV) hitting town in the 1990's, Golden Disc changed from the usual outlet selling new releases, chart stuff and so on, to a second hand store. This is where they came into their own. If ever a bargain was to be had it was in Golden Disc. Over the last 15 years or so I have spent an absolute fortune in this shop. In fact me and several of my mates have probably kept them afloat. I reckon on a good third of my 800+ cd's have come from there. This does not include all the vinyl I bought in the old days either.

In the last 3 weeks, as they been having a closing down sale, I have bought about 20 albums from them. Only today I bought Woman's Gotta Have It by Cornershop, Whites Off Earth Now by The Cowboy Junkies and Let Me Come Over by Buffalo Tom all for under 11 quid!! Bargain or what. Last week I forked out for Get Behind Me Satan by The White Stripes for a fiver, a couple of Arab Strap albums for 4 quid each and an early Afghan Whigs cd for 3 quid.

Unfortunately for me and thankfully for my bank balance, tomorrow it all stops. Lunchtime will never be the same again as my and Jock Pop wouild often trawl through the racks looking for new stock. Farewell the Golden Disc and good luck John in whatever you choose to do next. It's been an expensive blast.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I'd Like To Drop My Trousers To The Queen.

Morrissey said that in 'Nowhere Fast' and I'm inclined to agree with him at the moment. Why? I here you collectively ask. Well I'm sure you'll be joining me in a mass Republican moon after I divulge some information that has come my way regarding the shocking money making schemes that Buckingham Palace are involved with.

Now you maybe aware that a friend of mine has recently been awarded a Royal Badge in the Birthday Honours List. This is richly deserved, whatever your views of the honours system are. The date for the palatial visit has been set for November and my friend has been given further information about the souvenirs she can purchase to remind her of the day. Now I must admit to being surprised that you have to purchase these items. Surely, as a person who has been rewarded by the Queen one could expect that the items would be given to you. It seems not. However, what is a couple of quid for a photograph of you and Her Madge and a nice 30 minute DVD to mark the ocassion?

If only it was a couple of quid. If you want a photo of the moment they will set you back £17.50 a pop!! How outrageous is that? Not as outrageous as the cost of the DVD. The cost of this is a staggering £147.00 for a 30 minute DVD!!! That is bloody daylight robbery! How dare they charge this type of money for a flipping DVD!!

To a highly paid sports star, or an actor or captain of industry who has bought his peerge, this kind of money is a drop in the ocean. Probably a cost of a bottle of wine at The Ivy. However, isn't the Honours system meant to be for the 'ordinary' people of this country. For instance a Lollypop lady who has helped children across the road for 30 years and who earns minimum wage or a charity worker who has devoted their life to the cause for no recompense. How are they meant to afford £147 for a DVD? They will probably scrape the money together too as they will want some kind of memory of the day. It will go past in a blur otherwise and they won't be able to remember it all.

I think Buckingham Palace should be ashamed of itself. They aren't short of a few bob after all and this is a licence to print money. I have never been a Royalist, quite the opposite in fact, and this has only strenghtened my resolve that the sooner we get rid of them the better.

Friday, September 08, 2006

To pierce, or not to pierce, that is the question?

Alright, I'll admit it. I'm 41 and vainly battling the onset of middle-age. I'm not doing too badlyI think. I still have a vaguely trendy wardrobe, I shave my hair (none of which is gray), I'm still down with the kids musically, I go to gigs, I go to festivals as a steward (a young mans game surely), I wear Converse All-Stars and I don't own a cardigan. I really am quite a whipper-snapper.

Recently however I have hit upon an idea that might just be pushing things to far. You see, I want to get my nose pierced. I have been pierced before. I had three earrings at one stage (not worn these days) and about 6 years ago I had my left nipple done. This lasted about 9 months until it grew out (don't ask, it wasn't pleasant) and I had to remove it with a pair of my Uncle's pliers. So why the reticence this time? Well, I am 41 years old. Surely I should have grown up a bit now? I'm not worried about the pain, having four tattoo's has shown that. I dress in a way that will probably carry it off. I don't wear casual shirts and slacks for a start. But will having my nose pierced ( I want a nose ring as opposed to a stud) just make me look like a sad old twat?

There is of course only one answer to this. Have it done and be damned. Then if I look ridiculous I can take it out. And that is what I'm going to do once the sniffles have cleared up. I don't thing nose rings and snot really works together very well.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I've got a bad leg!!!

So what were the facilities like this year at Reading? After the feedback that festival goers gave Attitude Is Everything last year, that we dutifully passed on to the organisers, was there any improvement?

Well the main stage disabled viewing platform was increased by some 30 % and was much better. Last year, although I didn't personally go on it, it wasn't nearly big enough and quite a few times disabled people couldn't get on it for lack of space. The viewing platform at the Lock Up stage was also bigger than last year. It had been tiny, with only enough space for maybe three wheelchair users and their pa's, but this year we were able to accommodate everyone who wanted to use it. The NME/Radio 1 stage actually looked smaller this year, which is odd because it is one of the most popular stages at the festival. There was the added problem of the sound crew storing equipment on there too. It isn't for you guys, sorry, go put your big fuck off crates somewhere else!!! The Carling stage has never been an issue really. It is adequet for needs and was as big as last year. Strangely the viewing platform at the Comedy tent was got rid of completely. Maybe us crips never laugh and don't need it because we wouldn't want to go there!!! One very positive note though. Last year the ramps at the stages were very steep and almost impossoble to navigate for some people. It was much better this year and our feedback was taken note of. Cheers.

Each viewing platform has its own disabled loo, which is a good thing. This year the main stage had two, which went down well with the punters, and the one at the NME stage was actually situated within the curtilige of the platform which made it far easier to police. We had the usual problem of having to explain to non-disabled people that they couldn't use it. I had two 'discussions' with punters, one who called me stupid because I wouldn't let him use it. I did explain to him that in the 10 minutes he stood arguing with me about using it he could have walked over to the non-disabled loos and used them. On another occassion a group of lads thought that my guardianship of the loo would be swayed if they put on limps and went about screaming that they had bad legs. Unfortunately if you take the piss you get fuck all but a flea in your ear. Mark and I did have reports that when we were not on duty other people stewarding the stage were letting everyone use the loos. This will be addressed for next year as it will be reported to Oxfam and hopefully their will be some 'education' in place for 2007.

We had the usual comments from festival goers that the access around the site was poor. I must say that if you tried to get to the main stage or the NME stage at busy times it was very difficult. On two occcassions I happened to be walking past the NME stage and had to don my steward's tabbard in order to get wheelchair users through as people were just lying in the way not taking any notice that someone was trying to get through. I can understand though that this is a difficult problem to solve.

All in all I think this year the access was better than last year. There will always be room for improvement of course and there are things we need to report to The Mean Fiddler. Things are getting better for disabled people attending festivals and although we aren't quite being treated equally yet things are on the up. Lets hope this continues.