Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And finally...Welcome!

Yup, finally I've managed to follow instructions and re-directed to here.  The website looked great when Mike Savage did it (pretty much for free) back in 2003 or 2005 or whenever it was.  And it still looked good when Mike updated it a couple of years later (for free again).  But recently it's started to look very old and I'm not clever enough with Dreamweaver to update it or re-invent it properly.  There was a picture of an iPod on it for a start - clearly an early model...The little girl in the picture with her fingers in her ears is now old enough to be embarrassed by it and asked for it to be taken down too.  But generally I couldn't update the layout and whatnot. 

Anyway...So now it's all here on t'blog.  More than you'd ever want to know about JP, self obsessed international recording artiste.  Clearly there's a risk of me putting off music fans with rants about whats in the news or whatever and droning on about things that people will disagree with.  But since the songs aren't really edited with popularity in mind I though bloaters to 'em (as my Dad actually used to say in lieu of more offensive words) and I've put my opinions and the music stuff together in one package - just like it is in my head.  The only odd thing will be if someone comes calling looking for music stuff and I'm going on about the local swimming pool or whatever and they get confused.  Well, let's assume it'll add to the local charm or something.

PS - note to Blogger spellcheck - offensive ain't spelled offencive.  And spelled is a word!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The culture of t'80s

Yeah I know I'm a bit behind the time (by a couple of days at least) here but...I just watched Julia Gillard’s (Australian PM) recent speech on sexism.  Powerful stuff and well worth a look -

There was a bit in the speech referring to a poster saying ‘Ditch the witch’.  The phrase 'ditch the bitch' also came up.  This reminded me of something from way back in the 80s.  These days it’s easy to assume that people on the left of politics are natural allies of feminism and anti-sexism.  But it ain’t necessarily so, certainly not back then.  Thing is that at the same time that young Tories were wearing their ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’ badges, the Socialist Workers (I'm fairly sure it was them) came up with the anti Margaret Thatcher ‘Ditch the Bitch’ badge.  And blimey, did they get into trouble for it!?  Er, yes!  I like to represent this as the public (i.e. private!) schoolboys of the Socialist Workers Student’s Society being put straight by the feminists, though I’m not sure if that’s exactly how it happened.  I guess the lads were shocked to find that not all forms of attack (even on Margaret Thatcher) were acceptable.  I’m pretty sure that those particular badges disappeared quite quickly.

But this also illustrates something about the ‘culture of the 70s and 80s’ as discussed in relation to Jimmy Savile.  That culture of acceptance / connivance that's been talked about in relation to bad behaviour toward women wasn't like that where I was (perhaps because I wasn’t a celebrity back then!)  There was more an atmosphere that to be a heterosexual man was generally to be a bit suspect, a threat to be contained, warned off, told the limits of acceptable behaviour. 

When I first came to Leeds one of the first things I remember was it seeming odd that there were no ‘magazines for men’ in the paper shop at the University (not that I was looking for them of course...)  I guess I was crossing from one culture to another.  In this case small town to university campus.  Nowadays I have no idea where the pendulum is on that subject by the way - with what I see as ‘old fashioned’ sex roles with regards to various things such as children’s toys once again rigidly enforced with very little objection for example. 

But where I was in the 80s there were campaigns for a curfew on men, calls for widespread castration, separate living space for men and women (ironic given the campaign against apartheid going on at the same time) and a general feeling that it was OK to castigate (that’s definitely castigate by the way) an individual man for all the ills of the world for which men (and solely men) were to blame.  Men, in the view of some women, still had one (biological) role but the stuff could be frozen until such time as men could be dispensed with completely.  Less radically, I followed the advice for men about walking home at night so as not to intimidate women and accepted the women’s only minibus which meant if you were a lad your girlfriend got a free lift home and you had to walk on your own – though I think men were sneaked in on occasion (there was also a row I think when men offered to actually drive the bus - I don't think they were allowed as their presence could be intimidating). 

My problem was with the advice being seen as instructions that must be adhered to if a man was to be considered safe enough to be allowed out.  I hated all that 'potential rapist' label and still do.  Feminists were right, of course, in most of the things they were trying to change - but they were a right pain in the arse at the same time - hectoring, judgemental and humourless too much of the time as I recall.

So not only is the past another country but there were different countries within it.  Anyway...I have to go now, I've just been distracted - will you look at the arse on that!

Jimmy Jimmy - oh...

Is there any space in the modern world I wonder to acknowledge that even people who do bad things have a good side?  People may remark jokingly for example that Hitler was kind to his dog.  They don’t therefore think that this somehow balances up everything else – though maybe it should help them remember that even the very worst people are human and in many ways quite ordinary.  And can we acknowledge that good people have a bad side?  Seems Martin Luther King was unfaithful to his wife; does that change the rightness of his civil rights speeches?  But there does seem to be a mood about whereby all nuance is lost.  So all members of the military are ‘heroes’ whatever they’ve done or not done and whatever the circumstances of their deployment.  You can get 10% off a cup of tea in Scarborough for being one of ‘our heroes’ even if you count paperclips in Catterick or wherever.  And if you’re in the police you can’t die on duty due to ugly random bad luck or because you happened to be too close to some nutter or because you made a mistake or whatever,  No, you have to be a hero.  This is partly because of what seems to me a civilized habit of trying to speak well of the dead. 

So now I’m going to move on to the poison territory of Jimmy Savile.  And I worry because we seem to be getting to a state where any opinion that isn’t a straight down the line conventional wisdom ‘evil paedophile’ type condemnation somehow makes the speaker (or writer) immediately suspect.  Anyway…it seems right that victims get to speak if they wish and feel able.  But it seems wrong to me that there’s such a frenzy for the salacious details.  It seems right that things are investigated properly, though to be honest I’d rather the police were investigating sex offenders who aren’t actually dead.  And it seems wrong that an organisation is castigated for being part of the culture of the 70s and 80s back in the er, 70s and 80s. 

It seems right that honours be taken away from people who turn out to be dishonourable, but what makes people think they have any business changing the past?  If someone was honoured in their lifetime (Sir Oswald Mosley anyone?) they were honoured in their lifetime and that’s that.  They shouldn’t have been honoured but they were.  Jimmy Savile was an OBE and a Sir.  And people seem to want to pretend that he wasn't.  And there seems to be a move to expunge anyone who did anything bad from any credit for anything ever.  Or even to erase them from history completely.  Gravestone ground to dust and dumped into landfill anyone?  Ground up so no-one could grab a souvenir maybe?  That would have been a brilliant headline for the tabloids though wouldn’t it?  ‘Sick pervert grabs part of Savile stone as souvenir’? There’s talk about digging him up now – presumably so the corpse can be dismembered and his rotten head put on a spike on a bridge over the river Aire as a warning to others?

Anyway…this is getting rambly, sorry...Thing is that there’s a care home just round the corner from our house.  They used to have summer fairs and whatnot.  Jimmy Savile used to turn up and chat to the old people.  I saw him there a couple of times.  He also used to turn up to events in Roundhay Park and just wander about being pleasant to people.  And as everyone knows he raised loads of money for good causes.  OK, that doesn’t weigh very heavily in the balance against all the other stuff being detailed at great length in the media.  But it did happen and I saw this with my own eyes. 

The thing that worries me is the current rigid enforcement of the conventional wisdom.  If a member of the police is killed and you say ‘one less pig’ on a t-shirt, or if you believe that if you serve in the armed forces in Afghanistan you are condemned to hell, or that an Olympic athlete has let down his recently deceased father you can be arrested and possibly put in jail.  The police currently seem to have a rambling brief to lock up anyone who’s insulted someone famous who’s been in the news recently.  Or to arrest anyone who is deemed by the press to have said something in bad taste.  Law enforcement seems to be about following the ‘outrage’ kicked up (rather than picked up I suspect) by the media - even when the perpetrator of the crime is dead and you have to be outraged at someone else instead.

Anyway, back to Jimmy Savile…So here I am saying that Jimmy Savile did some good things too.  This is clearly true.  To say this though risks all kinds of disapproval or worse.  There’s a climate of intolerance in the air towards a particular kind of what might be described as ‘inappropriateness’.  It’s impolite and not very nice to say bad things about a dead soldier or a police officer killed while on duty - but it shouldn’t be illegal.  Nor should it be a crime to say something positive about Jimmy Savile.  This is perhaps not the right time to say it.  That’s exactly why I’m saying it now.   I’m tempted to spout off a load of bad taste jokes and flippant comments – and why the hell not?  The fact that I’ve had to think about what I’m saying is the thing that worries me.  Self censorship is the first step on the road to the end of free speech.  So good luck to Frankie Boyle in his court action too…

Real Ingredients

I just caught a bit of a telly advert for some stock cube or something.  They seemed very pleased to tell the world that it was made with 'real ingredients'.  Presumably those ingredients include illiteracy, nonsense and utter industrial grade marketing bullshit.  Peersonally, I insist on products containing 100% fantasy or illusory ingredients. 

This advert will have presumably gone through some sort of approval process within the company - and I guess no-one shouted 'stop this, this is meaningless bollocks, please shoot me now as my life is worthless'.   

Ironically I have no idea what the product was actually called. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Well said that man! (Jon Gomm)

Lots of people now know who Jon Gomm is these days.  If you don’t know he’s the ace Leeds based guitar player who plays his guitar like it’s about 4 different instruments and does it superbly well.  Anyway…I just wanted to say a positive word about summat he said on Facebook.  In short he remarked that he found playing his songs like he does really difficult.  I think this is a really good thing to say.  As I suspect most people will agree, there are a lot of people around he seem to think that fame and celebrity come as a result of being just kind of, you know, cool.  The whole being famous for nothing very much thing.  Apologies to Cheryl Cole, but how many people will be playing her records in 20 years time?  There’ll be freely available from your local charity shop if they aren’t already.  And she was at least in a band of sorts.  But on the other side of this are those that hail the apparently innate and easy genius of people who are superbly good at what they do.  A lot of them (the top business people spring to mind) may just be lucky or determined or ruthless or whatever.  But you can’t fake brilliant guitar playing – so hailing is good?  Well, sort of… 

The point I’m groping towards here is that it’s a lot of work to be that good.  I see Jon Gomm and there are bits of his playing where part of me thinks ‘I could do that’ (and some bits where I think ‘I could never do that’ by the way!).  But what I mean is that if I put in a few hours a day I could improve my guitar playing and do some of the things that he does.  But that would be literally hours a day.  For years.  If you can do that sort of stuff it must be tempting to soak up the plaudits (can you soak up plaudits?) and pretend that you’re just some kind of genius and that it’s all pretty easy when you’re gifted.  So good on ‘im to tell people that he finds playing his own songs in the way he does difficult. 

Incidentally I think it’s a shame that the world of clever guitar playing and songwriting are quite separate.  I feel a bit uneasy about those gigs in music shops (or wherever) which are mini-festivals of brilliant guitar playing.  I don’t know whether people go to be inspired in their own guitar playing - to try harder and reach further - or whether it’s just ‘come and look at the clever people who you’ll never be able to complete with’.  I hope it’s the former. 

But that’s another subject… 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Out of poverty and into the black

According to our Dave Cameron, ‘the only way out of poverty is work’.  To be fair this was reported on MSN so it might just be what some bloke in the pub said.  But assuming he did say that…I have a few other ideas to fend off poverty:

  • Have rich parents and inherit a pile of cash
  • Go to a school surrounded by rich kids who can offer you a job through their parents' firm or contacts
  • Fraudulently manipulate inter-bank lending rates and help yourself to the money (though they're thinking of making that illegal at some point.  Possibly)
  • Become 'non-domiciled' and pay no tax
  • Join a gambling ring, gamble with other peoples money and help yourself to big wodges of cash - if the gambling goes wrong?  Help yourself to a big wodge of tax payers cash!
PS - remember not to get a low paid job because this will keep you in poverty

Ooh, Boris

In these over-sensitive times where people get banged up for being beastly on the internet (so long as the victim is famous in some way) how come Boris Johson gets to say 'Jeremy Hunt wanging the bell-end" at a Tory conference.  There seems to be a conspiracy of silence on behalf of the media who seem to be pretending that they don't know what a bell-end refers to.  A hand-bell they'd say.

What a bunch of Jeremys.

This is here (for a couple of days anyway at 2 minutes 10 seconds in by the way.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Hoping for Mediocrity

I passed the big meeting room at my work today.  It was rammed to the gills with people in badges faffing about with post-its (I think they were doing their ‘ice-breaker’) while a PowerPoint slide said ‘Striving for Excellence’.  I think they were something to do with the Council - in which case ‘Hoping for Mediocrity’ would have been more appropriate – but I just felt kind of ill really.  Hundreds of people on reasonable wages wasting all day waiting for the coffee breaks looking at slides about ‘Our Core Values’ and other generic anaemic management speak. 

Like all of these things, their ‘core values’ will be bland stuff about ‘opportunity’ or ‘customer service’ or whatever.  In fact I’ve just cheated.  I Googled the organisation that I think was in there to find that one of their ‘core values’ is ‘Embracing equality and diversity’.  I know it’s a trick people use but it’s a good one – flip it over...Obviously they’re not one of these outfits that rejects equality and diversity then?  I also picked up ‘excellent value for money’, ‘customer led’, ‘open honest and trusted’...It does seem that one’s ‘core values’ are often the opposite of what people really think of your organisation.  The triumph of HR.  The triumph of management speak.  The triumph of going to meetings rather than getting on with some work.  It’s just depressing.  Send them down the sludge works...