Thursday, October 13, 2005

Today is John Peel Day

Today is John Peel Day, a Britain-wide tribute to the man himself. I assume the BBC have chosen the 13th of October as John Peel Day because he died last year on the, erm, 25th of October. Go figure, as those nice Americans are wont to say.
If you don't know who John Peel was, then you might be excused from reading any further. If, though, you know who the White Stripes are, or Joy Division, or Nirvana, or Supergrass, or Bloc Party, or Blur, or Laura Cantrell, or Misty in Roots, or Pulp, or the Undertones, or Napalm Death, or Johnny Cash, or Nick Cave, or the Faces, or Rod Stewart; Tom Waits, Half-Man Half-Biscuit, the Wedding Present, Libertines, Shane McGowan, Ivor Cutler - especially Ivor Cutler; the Who, Led Zeppelin, (also Genesis, ELP, the Pink Floyd, Simple Minds - let's face it, he wasn't perfect) the Jam, Dead Kennedys, Spizz Oil, Spizz Energi and Athletico Spizz 80, the Clash, the Pistols, Sham 69, the Not-Sensibles, Magazine, Buzzcocks, Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, REM, Ash, Mogwai, Manic Street Preachers, Ahnrefn, countless Welsh language bands, Pixies, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Visitors (a personal favourite of mine), Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Arab Strap, Festive Fifties, John on Top of The Pops, the BBC Glastonbury coverage, Hawkwind (who are still cool, people), Television, Young Marble Giants, Belgian Techno, Einsturzende Neubaten, Die Toten Hosen, the Cure, Super Furry Animals, 60ft Dolls, the Cramps, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Sugarcubes and every other good Icelandic band, Public Image Ltd when no-one else recognised that John Lydon was much more than Malcolm McLaren's public image, Wah!, Echo & the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, the Specials, Madness, the Beat, New York Dolls, the Sensational Alex Harvey band, Lonnie Donegan, Bauhaus, the Sisters of Mercy, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr, Theatre of Hate - even New Model Army, astonishingly. I rather like NMA myself. A lot of clogs and sincerity. Like Terrorvision in that sense.
Clearly, I could go on. And on. I haven't even touched a fraction of the bands that John Peel loved and brought to the nation's airwaves.
There was a question earlier, on Radio1 - has John Peel affected your record collection? Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. He defined it. He played me stuff I never knew existed, which I would then go out and buy.
Basically, his enthusiasm was infectious. He loved new stuff, and he made me search it out, although he was always braver than me at making his own mind up.

I love these quotes:

"John Peel's death was mourned by teenagers, their parents and even their grandparents."

"Peel often spoke wryly of his eventual death. He once said: "I've always imagined I'd die by driving into the back of a truck while trying to read the name on a cassette, and people would say, 'he would have wanted to go that way.' Well, I want them to know that I wouldn't.""

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Let's bomb Iran!

As yet another suicide bomber blows up his car in Iraq, I'd like to congratulate the UK and the US for achieving something unique. Not only have they managed to re-create the Vietnam war, they've also managed to re-create the Northern Irish war amongst muslims. To bring about a situation in which two groups from the same religion hate each other, and hate us equally, is surely an achievement of some note. Well done, everyone. Especially when you consider that one of our war aims was to free the Shia from Sunni hegemony. After we'd dealt with the clear and current threat of the weapons of mass destruction, obviously.
To pretend that this has nothing to do with the London Tube bombings is priceless.
Iraq seems to be descending into a sectarian civil war that we cannot fully understand. Clearly the Sunni and the Shia have always had issues, but they are not issues that we have ever been aware of or engaged in. Except maybe, some time ago, as colonial powers.
As I remember it, we supported Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war; we were scared of the new Iran, and we sent Iraq lots of lovely weapons. And so we consider Iran to belong to the axis of evil along with North Korea and Zimbabwe- and, in George W's mind, Russia.
Apparently, we learn today, Iran is 'directly' responsible for the deaths of every British soldier killed in this conflict. So what are we going to do? Invade?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Heretical View of Taxation

One interesting quote from today, from a delegate at the Tory party conference (sorry, I mean representative):
"The best leader of the Conservative party would be Sir Alex Ferguson. I know he's a socialist, but he's the man we need."
It's an extraordinary aspiration. This ordinary Tory delegate, presumably elected by his local Conservative association - and voted the necessary funds to attend conference if he needed them - believes that a socialist is the best leader of the Tory Party. A socialist who loves racehorses, who by all accounts loves his champagne, who earns a vast amount of money. Who pays tax on that money, without complaint.
I listened to Kenneth Clarke's speech today, for the first time in my life entertaining the possibility of voting for such a man. But he doesn't understand fundamental stuff. He does understand that the war in Iraq was a monumental fuck-up, for which I give him many points. He doesn't, though, understand that taxation policy is not all about the businessman. His emphasis on entrepreneurs creating wealth tells only a part of the story. It is good to have entrepreneurs, but it also worth recognising how little they can value the people who work for them. For every useful entrepreneur there is another one with a case-load of redundancies, screwed-up families, people without money or some promise of money, to deal with.
Freedom for business from legislation means a freedom for businessmen to treat ordinary workers in any way they please. People who just want to go to work, do a good job for eight hours, earn a reasonable wage, go home to spend time with their children, are treated like losers who don't value the company or its shareholders. Businessmen need to recognise that the aims of the business are not necessarily the aims of the employees. In almost every case the employee wants to do a good job and be recognised for it. I'm not convinced there are many employers who are prepared to give that recognition.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hello World. And what a scary world you are.
I've been struck by two things today.
Gordon Mclean has been pondering the nature of blogging - what kind of writers do this and should they make money from writing on the web?
Also, Turkey is about to be graciously allowed to have preliminary talks about preliminary talks about thinking about perhaps one day joining the European Union. If they behave themselves in a nice Muslim way and don't piss off the white christian Austrians, that is.
And the Tories are trying to choose a leader. Again. Bless.
That's three things.
As Dr Rob astutely observed, "plus I have, like zillions of us bloggers re-incarneted My Novel". As I have, in my mind anyway. The point being, I think, that we write for fun - and not for profit necessarily - but we are all frustrated would-like-to-be-paid writers. Discuss.
To address the other two things - we need Turkey and Turkey needs us.
And it won't matter who wins the Tory leadership. It's a pointless contest in an irrelevant party.