Pride Glasgow 2018
I was an enthusiastic participant in the original Pussy march in London on 21 January 2017, along with an estimated 5 million people worldwide – there were over 400 anti-Trump marches in cities across the world that day. It was unlike any other protest march I had previously joined, both in its organisation and its atmosphere; it had been entirely planned via social media which made it feel somehow ‘word of mouth’, organic and democratic. Although there was an organising committee and co-sponsors, it felt like a really populist (in the best sense of that word) occasion, and it is the first march I have ever been on which didn’t feature ubiquitous identikit SWP placards. All the banners and signs I saw that day were home-made, original and overwhelmingly witty; this felt like it was a march of mainly engaged, confident and articulate people. The atmosphere was positive, inclusive, good humoured and warm, despite the freezing winter weather. At that point, Trump’s election as president felt unreal and absurd, like part of the plot of a far-fetched dystopian sci fi film which had somehow bled off the screen and into real life, but there was also such an optimistic spirit in evidence that day that it also felt fixable.
My assumption at that point was that, once Trump was actually installed in the White House, the grown-ups would take charge. I’m just about old enough to remember Reagan, who was also something of an iconoclastic loose cannon on the campaign trail, but whose worst excesses seemed a little tamed once he took office. He was regressive, divisive and, quite frankly, dim, but there was always a sense that there were experienced advisors around him. The fear of nuclear war was very real during his presidency but I always assumed that there were cooler heads around the president and that their wiser counsel would eventually prevail.
However, as far as I can tell – and it is difficult to keep up with the rapid personnel changes around the president – Trump has fired all the grown-ups and either not replaced them at all, or replaced them with his own minions. First rate sycophants with fourth rate minds. He does not listen, he will not take advice which differs in any way from what he already thinks (although I use the word ‘thinks’ advisedly) and he takes capriciousness all the way to the point of perilousness and beyond. The Trump Blimp is absolutely spot on – here is a petulant baby, full of hot air and trapped in the day glo orange body of a dangerous and powerful world leader. On any given day, literally anything could happen in his world which could result in extreme danger to ours.
There were actually two marches in London today; one organised by Women’s March London, who were behind the January 2017 march and another hosted by Owen Jones and organised by Stop Trump. I was drawn to the first, which was titled Bring The Noise: as they explained:
Bring pots and pans; bring drums; bring musical instruments; bring your voices. We’re taking pots and pans from the domestic space of home into the public space of politics – their purpose transformed for participation, engagement and joyful noise as we bring Cacerolazo
– ‘Casserole protest’ – to the heart of the city.
For someone who was born and bred in London, I am spectacularly bad at Londoning. I’m scared of the entire underground system, and I’m not great in crowds so it took me a while to walk across the city to find the march. By the time I did, it was well formed, joyous and noisy; there were plenty of home-made placards, plenty of wit, plenty of focused anger and plenty of pots and pans. Rather than join the front or middle, I stood at the side of the road to wait for the tail. It took 23 minutes for everyone to pass me, which gives some idea of just how many people there were (later estimates suggest that around 250 000 people were protesting in London today). I’m glad, in retrospect, that I had the chance to do this; in January 2017 I was in the middle of the group and so didn’t get the chance to appreciate the scale, or see all the banners. The march finished in Parliament Square, home of the glorious Trump Blimp and I am really glad that I will be able to tell my as yet unborn grandchildren that I witnessed it in all its orange magnificence. I listened to some moving speeches and poems (although I couldn’t see much, being a small woman at the back of a big gathering) before having to leave in search of shade and water.
The overall mood of the day seemed to me to be as positive, enabling and inclusive as last year, but this was an angrier march too, with a more focused, more determined undercurrent. There were representatives from many organisations (yes, I did see SWP placards this time); if nothing else, Trump has succeeded in uniting a lot of people. There was, of course, a heavy police presence – plenty of helicopters and blue lights – but it was not heavy handed at all, as far as I could see. The officers were mainly observing passively, and giving directions to bewildered tourists, and seemed good natured and relaxed. I like to think that this is because they agree with the aims of the march, but of course I have nothing other than my sunny and/or feckless sense of optimism as evidence for this belief.
I know the PM has few people other than herself and her government to blame here, but I couldn’t help but have a pang of pity for her. We were on the streets, in the beautiful sunshine, venting our displeasure clearly, cleverly and with cacerolazo, while she has to be in the same room and breathing the same fetid air as this monstrous, maggoty excuse for a man. She has to witness his boorish buffoonery at close quarters, and remain civil and welcoming. I guess this proves that you reap what you sow. I guess this is karma for insulting your 27 closest allies and putting all your eggs in a tangerine, shit shaped basket. I guess this is how her future will look, presiding over the break-up and break down of the increasingly ironically named United Kingdom. Bowing, scraping begging. Humiliating.
There isn’t, apparently, an old Chinese curse which says ‘May you live in interesting times’ – there is no equivalent idiom in Chinese and the phrase was first recorded in the 1930s. It is a saying which has often puzzled me – I’m easily bored, why wouldn’t I want to live in interesting times? – but these last few years have helped me understand more profoundly the meaning; I would now quite like to have a few calm years with no alarms and no surprises. Please.
As Martin Luther King said, light always drives out darkness, and this current darkness will end, but there may be a lot of pain for a lot of people before dawn comes. Meanwhile, I hope Theresa May is extremely unhappy in living through interesting times, though. I hope Trump’s life is nothing but extremely interesting for the rest of his days. I hope they, and the other right-wing enablers who have unleashed the current darkness, intolerance, hatred and fear across the world never have a peaceful day again.
The STUC organised #dumptrump Anti-Trump Rally in George Square, Glasgow was a colourful and enjoyable affair.
I suppose the good weather helped but there was a party atmosphere. Many different groups (there were three I’m a part of) there under the one cause of being against the racist, misogynistic, ruthless capitalist… you know the rest, “The Donald” Trump.
There were Trade Unions (GMB, Unite, EIS and others), pressure groups (like Global Justice Now & Stand Up to Racism), political parties (Scottish Greens, Scottish Labour, Scottish Socialist Party) and ordinary members of the public.
There was a large diversity in those attending. Age; there was a baby in a papoose, who really didn’t have a say whether to attend or not but there were a number of young people from 5 upwards, there, happy and having fun brandishing their homemade placards opposing the presence of the current incumbent of a great office. Also ethnicity (biggest ethnic diversity I’ve seen at a rally), social background (I hate the word ‘class’) – posh folk and ordinary folk like me. And a wide range of politics, albeit all on the left.
As you will see in the pictures there were many home made placards deriding Trump and people were only too pleased to pose with them for my (and many others) pictures. This shows that they didn’t only want their hatred/disdain/etc of Trump to be noticed today at a rally but were happy for it to be shown worldwide, as people know that’s what happens to photographs these days. And everyone with a smile or pose for the camera. I hadn’t intended taking so many shots of banners & placards but they were fascinating, just wish I could have got them all.
If only the left could unite on all causes like it did today. All there, all for one cause, happy, sharing stories, praising each other’s placards/banners and most importantly engaging the normally non-politically active members of the public.
If we could do that, austerity wouldn’t have a chance! Bring it on.
Walking my dog this morning in a suburban Scottish park, I got into an argument about the UK visit of the President of the United States. How fascism spreads – it seems to hit the middle class dog owners first.
The person I argued with is usually affable. They usually nod in agreement at my disgust at whatever political storm is brewing here in Scotland, in the UK or in the world.
Today was no different until we started talking about Trump. We spoke about how the SNP were doing (we are both pro- Scottish independence and a bit cynical at times, over how the SNP are doing). WE spoke briefly about what was happening in Northern Ireland – always an obvious topic because of my accent, and then we got on to Trump. And this is how it went.
Me: Good to see so many people protesting Trump today.
Her: Oh, I don’t know. He’s honest at least.
Me: (silence for an uncomfortable moment) The man is a fascist. Mussolini was “honest!”
Her: Maybe that’s what we need. A bit of fascism. The world is out of control at the minute.
Me: (silence and facial expression, and stuttering to show my disbelief – then composed myself) Have you heard the Sun tape this morning?
Her: I have. And it sounded as if he was right. I mean, May is a terrible Prime Minister. Boris would at least be a new broom sweeping clean. If we had him negotiating Brexit, we’d be out by now.
Me: (Stopping walking, turns to face her with incredulous look on my face) You voted Remain!
Her: Yes, but we are where we are. May is going to crash our trade.
Me: He’s a racist! He is a misogynist! He has already started a trade war with us that is costing jobs here at the very least!
Her: He’s broken no laws.
Me: Mussolini broke no laws. The Nuremburg Race Laws were not broken by the Nazi’s…
Her: You are being ridiculous. Trump isn’t Hitler.
Me: You are right. But he has passed anti-muslim laws, and has separated children from their families…
Her: They shouldn’t be there! Immigrants shouldn’t cross borders…
Me: That is just ridiculous..!
Her: He’s right… Europe isn’t like it was when I was young. The culture is being changed by these people flooding in…
Me: You mean brown people…
Her: Exactly. Even here [suburban, middle class, 99% white] I see a real change. The fabric of Bearsden is being changed. We are losing our culture…
Me: (it’s before breakfast… I am stunned by this!) Our culture..?
Her: Yes. I mean, I live near the local primary school. The amount of people in hijabs…
Me: I cant believe you are saying that! A few years ago, people used to say the same about Irish people… I would have been accused of “changing the fabric of Bearsden…!”
Her: Yes, but that’s different. That was wrong. But they are changing our laws…
Me: (realising I am talking to the nouveau-raciste) The only laws that have changed are ones that target people of colour… I wonder how many Windrush folk in Scotland were deported, or threatened with deportation? How many of those hijab wearing womrn have been spat at or shouted at?
Her: Ack, that doesn’t happen!
Me: Really? As a white, middle aged man with an irish accent, I’ve been shouted at and called names countless times by those who are full of Bearsden Culture… I cant imagine how those of colour have been attacked…
Her: Well we aren’t going to agree. Trump is good for Scotland. Look at the business he has brought here…
Me: He’s squashing business here! He has imposed import taxes on lots of our products! He is costing us business.
Her: He protects his country. That’s the sort of leader we need. We need a Trump here.
Me: (losing is a bit) Like Tommy Robinson? Farage? Boris?
Her: Exactly. That’s what Scotland needs.
At this point I was on the verge of shouting. It was 8am. I needed to get away. So I hitched my dog on to its lead to walk off, with the parting words,
“You’ve given me the fear. I really am scared by what you’ve said. I wasn’t going to go to the protest against the racist, proto-fascist misogynist today in Glasgow, but I know I need to.”
Her: We should be welcoming him.
I shook my head and walked off.
Mussolini talked about changing society to a fascist one, not by sending in the jackboots. To paraphrase him, he said a chicken will scream if you pluck it a handful of feathers at a time. But pluck it feather by feather, it won’t notice until it is too late.
I noticed the mottled pink, scarred, flesh showing through this morning in suburbia.
See you on the streets.
BREXIT DEBATE. CHEQUERS. FRIDAY 6th JULY 2018
(There is general hubbub and conversation around the table)
PM Yes thank you everyone, thank you for coming.
(The conversation and hubbub continues unabated)
PM: If we could just….
(The conversation continues)
PM: For the sake of the country I think it is imperative that we get this meeting underway
(The Ministers continue chatting)
(Everyone abruptly stops talking and turns to Boris. Boris points to the PRIME MINISTER)
PM: Thank you Boris. — (Clears her throat) Now if we can begin…. Firstly we thought it would be a good idea to put everyone into little factions.
LIZ TRUSS interjects
AR ‘Factions’ Prime Minister?
LT Groups. I meant to say groups. Thank you Liz.
GAVIN WILLIAMSON interjects
GW (adopting a mock-creepy voice) Oooh yes, thank-you Liz.
LT: Oh piss off Gavin.
LIAM FOX turns to GW
LF: Maybe the right honourable minister for South Staffordshire should (adopting a high-pitched child-voice) ‘Just shut up and go away’.
GW folds his arms, sulkily.
PM: Please, I have called this meeting for purposes of unity. So if we can just-
BJ: Prime Minister before we …. before we no doubt commence with um… with great enthusiasm armed with a fiery commitment toward this, toward this absolutely vital, vital matter in hand … as it were … I do have one question I’d like to ask. If you would be … if you would be good enough – nay kind, kind enough to indulge me on this one interjection. As it were.
PM: – Are you saying you’d like to ask a question Boris? …
BJ I am indeed Prime Minister.
PM Well, I was hoping to push on with the exercises, but providing it doesn’t delay us for too long –
BJ I am indebted to you, as always
THERESA MAY smiles thinly.
BJ And in that spirit, the question I would like to ask, indeed I think we would all like to ask at this crucial time, is this.
(He stands, and with his hands resting on the table, he looks around at his colleagues, with a Churchillian bearing)
— When so few among us have given so much….
The question – nay the burning question. Is this ….
-Where the hell is David Davis’s trifle?
PM …‘trifle’ Boris?
BJ Indeed, trifle. The agreement was that David Davis was going to bring a trifle. -Am I wrong on that? Was I somehow misinformed?
Amidst much shaking of heads, all heads turn to DAVID DAVIS
PM (Sighing) – David would you mind -briefly, and succinctly explaining to Boris the ‘trifle situation’. -And then, hopefully we can push on with somewhat urgent affairs of state.
DD: No, that’s a fair question, the Foreign Secretary makes a very fair and valid point. And indeed, as my honourable colleague has made clear, at the Downing Street briefing it was agreed that I was – indeed – allocated the task of bringing along a trifle – just as Govey would fetch the finger sandwiches – which if I may say, are delicious as usual by the way, Michael.
MICHAEL nods demurely.
DD To that end, the ingredients were purchased and the original recipe was initially agreed upon (in principle) with my, as I like to call her, better half – but as the execution of the recipe proceeded, there arose – how best to put it — some disagreement over a few – shall we say ‘trifling’ issues
DD chuckles to himself and looks around at the stone-faces of the unsympathetic gathering.
He clears his throat and hurriedly removes, then chews upon the arm of his glasses
DD: To clarify: the sticking point, as far I see it was – at the negotiating stage – the age-old sherry problem. Essentially, Prime Minister, it boils down to two options, and the options are these: sherry or no sherry; there was a clear division of opinion on this. One that couldn’t be bridged. Unfortunately.
MICHAEL GOVE interjects.
MG It’s just a bloody trifle David, we don’t need impact assessments.
LIAM FOX: (Mutters) – Neither did he, apparently.
BJ: This is precisely the point. -Why is it everything *sooo* bloody torturous with you Davis? – I mean, Gove made the sandwiches: I supplied the Eton Mess without any undue fuss or hullabaloo.
DOMINIC RAAB mutters under his breath
DR: Boris Supplied an Eton mess. – No change there then.
BJ: Fuck you Dom, I heard that
The PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY climbs to her feet.
PM: Now, now – please! This is exactly what I’m talking about. We need a unified, collective face.
BORIS: That’s a grotesque image.
PM – All this bickering and back-biting is getting us nowhere…
MICHAEL GOVE stands up
MG I would like to add another question Prime Minister
PM (Sitting back down, issuing forth and exasperated sigh) — Yes, alright. -Go on Michael.
MG Will we be claiming back the ingredients and associated travel on expenses?
(There is unanimous and enthusiastic roar of encouragement upon this point)
PM: As always Michael, all food and transport is claimable on expenses.
(A good natured cheer erupts from the assembled ministers)
PM: (Under her breath) We await your Fortnum and Mason bill…
(The Cheering eventually dies down)
PM: — Now, moving on to matters at hand if we may. -David, I believe you have been exploring options for the Irish border..
(Some groans and eye-rolling from various ministers)
DD Well as you know Prime Minister – we have of course prioritised the ‘Irish question’ -for want of a better term – and have actioned this prioritisation by immediately putting – what I believe is a workable solution – out to consultation.
(There is a pause as The PM and Ministers await further elaboration.
DD takes off his glasses, folds them up and places them in his breast pocket. He sits back, hands behind head)
PM –And this workable solution is — ?
DD looks around at his colleagues, before realising it is he who is expected to respond.
DD Oh I beg your pardon I didn’t realise you expected a full-analysis….
PM: I think that would be rather helpful at this stage, yes.
He replaces his glasses and lifts a briefcase onto the table. After some struggling with the combination he opens the case and takes out a sheath of papers. He immediately sets them to one side
DD Ignore those, they’re bollocks…
DAVID DAVIS scrabbles around in the case. He pulls out a aluminium-foil wrapped sandwich….
DD: …That needs throwing.
There are impatient sighs and groans from around the table as he continues scrambling around in the case. He removes an FHM magazine, followed by a flask…
DD I’m very sorry about this Prime Minister, I know for certain it’s in here. I distinctly recall putting it in here myself .….
BORIS JOHNSON lets forth with an exaggerated yawn. There is some giggling.
Eventually DD pulls out a napkin and carefully unfolds it
DD –And, voila! (To BJ) – You see! – Have faith Boris, have faith.
PM -A napkin, David?
DD –Prime Minister, discussions went on deep into the night, culminating in a late supper, at an all-night Salsa bar in Ladbroke Grove ….. Let’s put it this way, as morning loomed, things got a little – shall we say, ‘interesting’
DAVID DAVIS winks at a visibly unamused ANDREA LEADSOM
BJ Cut to the fucking chase David -.
MG: -That would make a refreshing change.
DD OK, sure. -Well, we were throwing a few ideas around – batting to and forth so to speak – seeing what stuck… the drink was flowing, and the music became frightfully loud … they started removing all the tables for the dancing, so I ended up scribbling the conclusions on a napkin. Well, conclusion, singular, to be exact.
PM (Sighing audibly) – And the conclusion was?
DD Yes, i’m just trying to decipher what was written… but there seems to be a slight sauce stain on here – maybe red wine – hard to determine ….
(He leans in close to scrutinise) ….. bear with me a moment….. I’m having a little trouble making that particular word out –
DAVIS shows the napkin to SAJID JAVID.
DD Have a look at that Saj, does that say ‘turntables’?
SJ (Leaning in close to read it) It says ‘turnstiles’.
DD Oh yes, of course, yes, well that makes sense in the context of – er – of determining the – er – the Irish border question, as it were.
PM O for God’s sake David what does it bloody say?
DD …Well …..
SAJID JAVID impatiently interjects.
SJ It says, and I quote: “100 foot-high turnstiles shall be manned by dwarves”
DAVIS takes off his glasses and chews upon the arm.
DD That’s pretty much the gist.
-At this early stage.
(There is a protracted and stunned silence).
PM ….. ‘Dwarves’ – David?
DD nods. The PRIME MINISTER sinks back down into her chair and sighs loudly.
DD ……. Yes. (He chews nervously on an imaginary toffee) — dwarves. Not necessarily dwarves obviously – I rather think the MJB guys were using -er – artistic licence there… We like to call it ‘blue-sky-thinking’… the consultation process will refine it further, obviously.
DD looks around at the shocked, open-mouthed expressions of his colleagues. Some shake their heads pitifully.
DD I’m sorry …, is ‘dwarves’ not the correct term these days? –
There is a few moments of hostile silence – until BORIS JOHNSON leans across the table.
BJ Have you completely lost the plot David? — Or, maybe you tumbled into a sodding Lewis Carroll novel?
MICHAEL GOVE interjects
MG Actually I’m beginning to think a hookah-smoking caterpillar would be preferable as Brexit Secretary
SAJID JAVID interjects
SJ – How would that even work David? – A hundred foot-high-turnstiles on the Irish border? —Just on a practical level, you’d need giants to guard those surely, not dwarves.
GAVIN WILLIAMSON interjects
GW Davis is *such* a twanger!
DOMINIC RAAB interjects
DR I think prick is the word you’re looking for Gav. -. You’re an absolute prick Davis.
DD Leaps to his feet, he bunches up the napkin and throws it at Raab
DD Tell you what ‘Mr Workhouses-for-the-poor’ – why don’t you spend up to 2 hours a day, 3 days a week trying to unravel the shit we’re in?
DR Is that an offer?
DD I’d like to see you trying to please both factions of this bloody party
DR Just say the word Mr. Impact Assessment.
PM Now come on David, why don’t you sit down …
DD No, sod it. In fact, bugger it. I’ve had enough of all this snickering and name-calling and – this, this – endless whining about trifles … and hard-borders and impact assessments and all the endless, relentless SHIT.
BJ: Getting very red-faced isn’t he?
MG: Positively puce I’d say.
DD: Give the job to that smug fucker (POINTS TO DOMINIC RAAB) – see how well he does. Tell you what, I tell you what Prime Minister, you can deny him his own private jet as well. -See how he likes travelling to Brussels by train.
PM Your objections have been noted David, now if you will just take a seat.
DD No. No Prime Minister I will not. On point of principle, I resign.
Much eye-rolling and groaning around the table
BJ: God spare us, he’s threatening to resign again
MG: Quelle surprise.
DD: I mean it. You will have my resignation letter in the morning.
He leans across and picks up the screwed-up napkin, puts it in his case.
MG: Golly, I think he actually means it this time.
BJ: Bugger it: he’s pushed the button
MG: The nuclear option
PM Are you saying you are actually resigning David?
DD I am Prime Minister. I’m afraid I am left with no other option but to resign.
PM This could trigger a general election David, please consider your position
BJ: (whispers to MG) -Or a leadership election (MG nods sagely)
DD I understand that, but my position is untenable. I could handle the trifle gags and all that public school silliness, but the level of abuse I have had to suffer
PM Please David, wait. We’ll …. We’ll have a reshuffle — (Hurriedly) you can have Boris’s job.
PM No, not Boris’s job, sorry – I’m a bit ….
BJ If someone takes my job it’ll be on my say-so
PM I meant to say, Andrea’s job, you can have Andrea Leadsom’s job.
AL (Looks up from her phone) Wait…what? —
DD I don’t want her shitty job. (POINTS AT JOHNSON) I don’t want his shitty job, (POINTS AT JAVID) or his shitty job, I don’t even want your shitty job Prime Minister, respectfully – which I can tell you makes me a rare beast amongst this … nest of vipers. No – that’s it, I’m done. -I’m out of here (DD GATHERS UP HIS CASE AND PAPERS) — Thank you for everything
DOMINIC RAAB sitting back, smiling, calls after him –
DR Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out David!
DAVID DAVIS pauses at the door and walks back in.
DD Before I go – I’d just like to wish you the very best of luck in your new position Dom
DD angrily gives DOMINIC RAAB the finger, right up to his face, before turning on his heel and heading to the door
The door slams behind him as DAVID DAVIS exits the room.
A stunned silence fills the room.
In disbelief Ministers look around at each other.
THE PRIME MINISTER lets out a low protracted moan; rests her elbows on the table; cradles her head in her hands.
ANDREA LEADSOM appears to be weeping.
BORIS JOHNSON stands and casually walks to the corner of the room. Seemingly unconcerned, he piles finger sandwiches onto his plate.
Eventually MICHAEL GOVE speaks:
As laughter fills the room, amidst the collective jollity, unnoticed, Gove’s smile slowly fades, his gerbil-eyes gradually narrow as he sets his steely gaze upon the Prime Minister’s bowed head.
Standing beside the food- table BORIS JOHNSON chews on a finger-sandwich, and narrows his eyes as he fixes his steely gaze upon MICHAEL GOVE.
-Outside a big black cloud passes over the sun and the room momentarily darkens.
Want to carry a super cool protest sign for when the orange menace visits the UK, but you aren’t very artsy? We’ve got you covered. Our art department (the brilliant Red Raiph and Debra Torrance) have created a whole range of Dump the Trump posters that you can download and print off to use absolutely free. After all, he deserves an appropriate welcome.
We’ve got full colour, black and white for cheaper printing, images to scrawl your own slogans on, have a scroll through and take as many as you like:
Again, you are welcome to download as many of these images as you like to use for your own protest signs, give them to friends, use them as posters, share them online, whatever you like, absolutely free, but if you’d like to make a donation, you can find our collection tin at paypal.me/ungaggedleft
Admitting you were wrong is pretty difficult, especially when society is so judgemental and in turn individuals at a personal level feel judged by friends, family and peers. So, I’m going to write a wee series of blogs on “when I’ve been wrong.” Please, judge me all you like. I’m 52 and know I’ve made mistakes. Many. I’ve said shit things, thought shit things, done shit things and been an unbearable shit to some people. Not all the time, I don’t think, but I’m going to offer apologies to those I’ve hurt, or criticised when I have been wrong. I can’t ask for forgiveness, and I suppose, on one level, I don’t want it, because being wrong has helped me learn, because when people shout an alternative world view at you when you are shouting your view, it does sometimes register.
I perceive myself as politically left, and I think if anything, the political left should be about one thing- analysing society, and perhaps shifting their world view as well as others, in order to stop society sliding into a massive shit hole of creeping Conservative right wing inequalities. Challenging our own view should not be seen as confrontation, but should be welcomed. We should be open to it. The world can only get better if we keep an open mind to change both personally and societally.
Anyway, my first apology is not about politics, well, partly so, but only partly. Though that will come I’m sure. My first apology is about music, and at a guess as I write more of these, my apologies will be about other aspects and choices regarding music.
Teenage boys can be introspective en extremis. I was no different to many others, and as I discovered music, I thought, “I’d love to share this feeling, this deep, emotion, with other people,” so the stereo was cranked up in the bedroom and when I went to Paula’s house, I brought my Joy Division tapes with me. Unknown Pleasures on one side, with a few fillers like Japan’s “Night Porter, “ and then their other album, “Closer, “ on the other side with a few fillers like “Love will tear us apart,” “These Days,” and The Beatles “Let it Be,” sang by St Paul’s boys choir.
Cheery, and what every girlfriend would love.
Paula wrote all over the cassette, “boring! Snore..!” and other less than enthusiastic words. Although she was of course wrong, it made me think that perhaps my perspective on music might not be everyone’s. What touched me, didn’t always register with other people’s life experiences.
My music taste did develop, though Joy Division and New Order stayed with me. As I became more aware of what went on outside me, I began to love music that dealt with political themes. The Fun Boy Three, and “The More that I see,” about Northern Ireland, The Police “Invisible Sun,” about the same theme, and then stadium music that dealt with Steve Biko, Mandela, Martin Luther King, poverty, starvation etc became the big theme of the eighties and selfish, introspection was out. And I loved to find the roots of the music I loved, the influences etc, so I became a fan of New York punk, and in turn, the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Western US pre punk rock bands like The Doors. I loved the music that influenced my modern day heroes, Echo and the Bunnymen and other northern English bands; The Associates, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and other Scottish bands.
And here comes the main apology:
Morrissey did write some scathing political songs in the eighties, but his own reordering of his thoughts have now set him firmly in the category Rock against Racism was set up to counter. I bought The Smiths first album, and although I did like some tracks on it, that was it. The Smiths to me, created some good songs, sometimes in spite of Morrissey’s whiney, “look at me, I’m so your new Dylan, Byron hero thing that the artistic press seek every ten years or so.” Some amazing, sparing singles. Johnny Marr and the others made The Smiths. Morrissey in my opinion, made them unfollowable.
Smith, at a glance, seemed the same. And for me, again, there were songs I liked. But my mistake was I mistook his introspection and shyness as a Byronic feyness ala Morrissey. I appreciate now, I was wrong.
My other gripe about Smith and his music persona, “The Cure,” was that he seemed to follow groups, and imitate them. I remember reading an interview with him in which he said his favourite track was Joy Division’s The Eternal. So, I started hearing The Eternal in everything he did, and his song The Walk, was quite obviously his take on New Order’s “Blue Monday.” Having said all of that, one of my favourite tapes I bought during the eighties was a “best of” The Cure’s early stuff. (I bought stuff on tape I thought was disposable – if I wanted a lasting copy, I bought vinyl and taped the vinyl). I wasn’t wrong in his listening to good stuff and using some of the same techniques, but I was wrong to make this something to diss what was amazing stuff, almost entirely created by Smith himself. Smith, I realise, was a magpie. While his peers applied modern musical instrumentation to what they learned from The Velvet Underground, Bowie, The, Doors, The MC5, unlike his peers, he also picked out what he liked about what his peers were inventing.
Listen to Disintegration and you’ll hear The Bunnymen, New Order, Bowie, the anthemic stadium sound of the time, and even classical influences. But what is clear is it is about Smith, his disintegration, his depression,, his realisation that the joyous, self conscious, certain world he inhabited in his teens and twenties were coming to an end. Friendships and the need to be in a gang, were less certain, but love and commitment and respect were. His emotions, unlike so much that was “indie”at the time, are laid out on this amazing construction.
And mental health, addiction and depression created a joyous, anthemic, beautiful piece of work I had dismissed as a copy.
Toby says this is late night listening. Perhaps. But the current heatwave, the claustrophobia of the heat and slowing down of life, makes this apt, appropriate.
Unlike those who found it at the time, it will remind me of the incredible weather of summer 2018. My memories of 1989 are of The Doors, Australian rock and crashing my dad’s car driving to meet Sharon, one of The Cure’s greatest fans.
In this episode, introduced by Neil Scott, we have news, views and analysis from; Debra Torrance, on the journey to Scottish independence and what that might look like, Em Dehaney on sexism within the music industry, Damanvir Kaur with updates on jailed Scot Jagtar Singh Johal and Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, Laura Lundahl, on what happens when there no body to bury, Thomas Morris on ethical travel, Red Raiph on school holidays and mini-beasts Mhairi Hunter gives us an update on her work at Glasgow City council, Sandra Webster, talks about how it’s the journey that matters, Teresa Durran shares a poem, and we’ll be hearing from Chuck Hamilton. Our theme for this episode was “on the road again” and, as always, the collective have taken that theme in all sorts of different directions.
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