On the way to a gig in south London, a guy comes up to me twice and asks me for change. The first time, I’m staring out my phone trying to find the venue and hardly notice him. The next time I clock what he’s saying, put my hand in my pocket and hand him what I have
“Do you write your own songs?” he asks, pointing at my guitar.
“Yeah, in a manner of speaking I suppose,” I reply. “What about you?”
He tells me he does a little, and that his dad was the main songwriter in a group that appropriated a TV theme from a popular show back in the day and turned it into a hit.
“No way!” I exclaim. I’d just been googling the band the other night. What are the chances? I burst into the song and he joins me.
“Come down to the show!” I say. “It’s free.” He seems quite taken with the idea, but I don’t see him again.
The show is at a place called waterintobeer, which sounds like my kind of alchemy. It’s an off-license and people wander in and out while I’m playing to purchase from the wide range of beer they have in stock. I end up dedicating a song about LSD to one of the punters. He seems to take it in his stride and leaves smiling.
Given there is such a thing as non-league football, I must exist in the world of non-league rock ‘n’ roll. A kind of Vauxhall conference singer-songwriter where it’s more about the people and the music than the money and the pizzazz and the bullshit. Thank fuck.
But what kind of musical and political wisdom can you drop in the mix these days, when anarchism seems a distant dream, the whole country is obsessed with Brexit and Corbynism is supposedly the best radical change we can hope for?
I don’t know. Apathetic bloody planet. I’ve no sympathy at all. I’ve been bleating on about radical alternatives to capitalism necessitated by global warming for yonks. The UN have just told us we have 12 years to prevent runaway runaway climate change. And what are people getting excited about? Brexit! And what does everyone have an opinion on? Brexit! And what is everyone happy making a sacrifice to achieve? Not a fairer, sustainable society – but Brexit!
We must live on an island populated by twats. It’s like someone has trailed dog shit into the house. Everything stinks and everyone is arguing. Meanwhile the bailiffs and drug squad are at the door but all we do is talk shit.
The British state and British capitalism have had a ruck, and they’ve dragged us into it. We’ve fallen for the scam, and now we see everything through the prism of their bloody referendum. It was supposed to give us control. But it is in fact a way of transferring power between different elites. All it’s done is to create a spectacle that leaves us powerless under its spell. We each have our preferences but all those do is give us a social identity. And this makes us feel SOOOO important! We are leavers or remainers. We are the left behind or the liberal metropolitan elite. We wish they’d just get on with getting out, or have another referendum. We even now see class war refracted through a construct of the right.
Personally, I always try to correct people and tell them I’m anarchist metropolitan elite. I still know what’s best for you – I’m just not like those liberal fuckers, believe me. And if anyone tells me I’m working class, I correct them again: I’m shirking class and proud. Even at this advanced age, the prospect of a day’s graft seriously disturbs me.
I do need to be careful about what I’m saying, however. The more we spout about this subject on social media, the more we are tracked and monitored and split into subgroups that can further be monitored and manipulated into furthering further agendas. As it were. You are now your data trail, apparently. Ooo, I’m so important! It’s no wonder our politics have shifted to the right when the online spaces we spend our time on are run by corporations seemingly more powerful than governments.
NEVERTHELESS – not content with limiting our access to housing, healthcare and so on, the state now has the power through its beloved Brexit to split families, political alliances, friendships and intimate relationships. They’ve probably not had this sort of power since – I dunno – the Reformation? Or at least since religion held more sway over the land that it does now. It keeps us permanently on edge, and at a point where they can do some proper mischief. A good day to bury bad news? This is a whole period to bury anything they want – including people. Just ask the Grenfell tower survivors. Or the victims of austerity. And so on.
And you can bet whichever side of the “debate” they’re on, the state’s representatives are lapping up the power and the attention. But is more state and more party politics what we need in the long term?
At the gig, I’m just glad to be amongst friends and like-minded people from different parts of the world. It’s been a while since I’ve done regular shows and it still feels like a novelty when I go out to play music. Give me a morning debrief with my host Martin over a room in the Hilton any day.
I’ve seen first hand the harm this whole business we are caught up in right now is doing. Even down to the racism that has come my way for the first time in my life ever due to being some variant of a Scots-Hungario estuary English-spouting, Wales-dwelling mongrel – for fuck’s sake! We need to tune it all out, however, and focus on what we all need to get better. The state and capital will not give it to us, even if we ask nicely. They’re caught up in games over which they’ve lost control. This hyper-anxiety is the new normal, and no doubt there are those amongst them who are planning the next dose of it to fry our brains and further the reach of their wallets. The problem for them is, if enough of us refuse to play their game and fry their heads first, they can’t. And the problem for us is, if we carry on the way we are then #VogonBrexit is inevitable.
Energise the demolition beams, and enjoy the ride motherfuckers….