Despair !!!!

Sunday 15th July

Occasionally I have been at the point of despair; once or twice in my private life I have seen no way out – although clearly there was indeed a way out.

But  – at the moment I almost despair of the Political situation we find ourselves in.  We have a Government which is almost at the point of paralysis, falling apart before our very eyes.  Brexit, which was the worst decision (to even grant the referendum, let alone to lose it) this country has made, probably since the War.  Almost every Prime Minister since 1945 has favoured European Co-operation.  Churchill (who even Boris admires), Macmillan, Harold Wilson and Callaghan, Heath, even Thatcher for most of her reign (she was one of the architects of the Single market) Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron all supported being a member of the EU.  And….even Theresa May was a Remainer.  And yet, we are in the deepest of dark holes, and all we seem to be doing is digging ourselves deeper.

And, this saddens me too, my own party – Labour, are just as hopeless.  I understand their problem, and incidentally that of every single M.P.  Many Labour Constituencies voted for Brexit, as did many Tory ones.  But a lot voted Remain.

And this is at the heart of the problem.  Whatever happens now – Mrs. May’s compromise, a hard Brexit a la Boris, a slightly softer one posited by Keir Starmer, a continuation of the Customs union, or even the Single Market.  Or, worst scenario of all – a No Deal (which incidentally means no transition either and harsh reality on 30th March next year), the arguments will continue.

We will never resolve this satisfactorily.  The Anti-Immigration Rabbit has jumped out of the top hat, and no conjurer can possibly induce it back in.  I can see nobody being happy with any result.  Both Remainers and Leavers will feel cheated, and any bad economic news in the future will be blamed by both sides on a Bad Brexit.

If only there were some real leadership; both Theresa and Jeremy are trying desperately to come up with a compromise which holds most of their party together.  No-one is really leading.  No-one is trying to come up with the best deal for the whole country.  No-one is even certain of the next few days, let alone the next few years.

And, even another referendum will really sort anything either.

But we must not despair – maybe the EU itself will actually save us from ourselves.  Maybe they will give us more time, time to come up with a better deal, time to even have an election, time to change our minds…

I doubt it, but in the end, ironically, the EU may be our only hope.

My Record Collection 31

Beck-Ola – an album by the Jeff Beck group, released in 1969 but mostly recorded a year earlier.  Jeff beck had been in The Yardbirds (see Y) but left in the mid-sixties (to be replaced by Eric Clapton).  Now, to tell the truth I only bought this because the lead singer was not Jeff (he was the guitarists) but one Rod Stewart.  It was here that Rod learnt his trade and also where he met Ronnie Wood…the rest they say is History.  The album is okay, but a bit rough – quite bluesy; it was apparently much admired by the newly formed Led Zeppelin.  Hey Ho. Anyway Rod’s singing is brilliant as usual.

The Bee-Gees – well, I loved the early singles, and even many of the later ones.  I have a Greatest Hits collection.  Nice to hear occasionally, and part of the Sixties (and beyond0 legacy..

Bjork – burst on the scene in the late 80’s, as the singer with Icelandic band The Sugar Cubes.  Her solo debut simply called Debut came out in 1993.  I did not buy it.  I quite liked the single ‘Human Behaviour’ and the Christmas single ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, but I didn’t realise what a star she would become.  Other songs on this record are okay, I like ‘Venus As A Boy’ too.  I did buy Post, her second album; this seems a much more assured record, as if she now knows exactly what she wants to sound like.  But I am still not sure if, great as she is, that I really like her that muh, which may seem strange – but you almost have to be in the mood for Bjork as she tends to assault your senses rather.  Best songs are ‘Army of Me’ and ‘Possibly Maybe’ and the final track ‘Headphones’.

Homogenic came out in 1997.  I like this much better, from opening track ‘Hunter’ to closer ‘All Is Full Of Love’ the album seems to hold your attention.  Full of modern dance beats, industrial sounds and strange rhythms, it is Bjorks voice which captivates, hovering above everything with a strange haunting beauty – and sounding like nothing else at all.   Hard to pick favourite songs as it all seems of one piece really.

She followed this with Vespertine.  Incidentally it is almost worth buying Bjork albums for the incredible costumes she wears on the covers – this time she becomes a swan).  Another very good record, but again I am never sure if I really like her.  And although the voice is incredible I struggle to hear the words; there is also the question of inflection – lots of people criticised Dylan because ‘he couldn’t sing’, but it is the inflection, the emphasis, the meaning, the emotion he puts into the words that is the reason we love him.  And with Bjork, as I struggle to understand (or even hear) a lot of the words =, something is missing.  Medulla came out in 2004;  I was only buying Bjork in Second-hand shops by now and got this one quite recently.  It is actually very good, the arrangements are excellent, a lot of stacked vocals and a few slower songs.  I also have a freebie Sunday paper greatest hits which is okay too.  And still I am unsure of Bjork, an undoubted genius but sometimes I find the music, let us say – challenging

Medúlla

A Week Is A Long Time In Politics

Tuesday 9th July

And a day is even longer – it would seem.  Within the space of 24 hours we had two Cabinet Ministers, and not just any old ministers either, resigning, along with a handful of Junior advisors.  Yesterday I posted about Brexit being a roller-coaster ride, but even I was gobsmacked by the days unfolding events.

We went from relative calm, as it appeared that Theresa may had kept her fractious Cabinet together on the ‘awayday’ at Chequers on Friday.  Then David Davis resigned very late on Sunday evening (too late for most of the papers morning editions).  By lunchtime No. 10 had announced that Dominic Raab, a pretty nasty piece of work, had got the job of Brexit Secretary.  Mrs. May was preparing to speak to Parliament at three.  Then Downing Street announced that Boris had resigned as Foreign Secretary.  Apparently, he hadn’t even officially resigned as yet; so this was more a sacking than anything.

But, in the way of these things, the Tories sort-of rallied round, and May escaped a direct challenge.  By this morning it was all sunny uplands again.

But of course, this is not the end of things at all.  The biggest question for me is why on earth did Mrs may appoint Boris and Davis (and Liam Fox and snake Gove) in the first place.  They have been trouble all along, and have delayed a ‘sensible’ Brexit (mind you that sentence is nonsense – sensible and Brexit in the same sentence….durghhh)

And now they wont just go away and sulk.  They will jibe from the sidelines, especially as when the Eu begin to unravel May’s new Customs Arrangement compromises will have to be made.  I still think a ‘planned’ walk-out is a strong possibility.  And then Boris will strike….

 

The Beginning Of The End?

Monday 8th July

Well.  The roller-coaster of Brexit continues in its tortuous and vertiginous ride.   Just where it will end up we still do not know.  Will it crash off the tracks or grind to a slow halt through sheer exhaustion?  But, as predicted bits of the car are falling off daily.  What we did not realise was, that when David Cameron pressed the start button and reminded us to close the safety bar; this was not for our safety – but to ensure that we would not be able to stop the thing, or get off in any fit state until we were well and truly shaken to bits.

And now David Davis, the ever-smiling buffoon has finally resigned.  No great loss – did I hear you mutter.  But really – how on earth can we carry on when our chief negotiator, and two of his senior team, are walking away.  No doubt Gove will replace him.  And the good ship May will sail on for a few more months.  But what a shambles.  The final policy was unbelievably only agreed on Friday, 18 months into the process.

I almost despair – which is everyone’s response.  All Theresa May is interested in is keeping the Conservative Party together – united only their hatred of Labour – they almost hate each other with as much bitterness.

And yet, Brexit is all about the country’s future….

One thing is for certain, there are many more twists and turns before the ride is over.  hang on tight folks – this is only the beginning of the end,

My Record Collection 30

Saturday 6th July

The Beautiful South – Miaow was the next album and again a very accomplished record, their sound seemed to be expanding too, a bit more brass, a fuller sound.  And Jacqui’s vocals are so languid, so gorgeous, especially on ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ (Which was originally a hit for Harry Nilsson).  There is almost a country twang to her voice – simply lovely.  Other great songs are ‘Good as Gold’, ‘Hold On To What’ and ‘Mini-Correct’ and ‘Prettiest Eyes’.   – though really, not a bad song on the record.  This was the most professional record to date.

They followed it up quickly with a greatest hits collection ‘Carry On Up The Charts’ which collected all their singles.  It was a massive hit (Number 1 album) and sold over a million copies.  But the real treasure was disc 2 (in the deluxe package), which was all the ‘B’ sides.  It is here that the treasure lay; those tracks made to fill up the space on CD singles, tracks too bizarre to go on an album but revealing the group in a more adventurous and innovative style.

1996 saw Blue Is The Colour, a more assured and varied record.  A massive hit album with ‘Rotterdam’ the very rude ‘Don’t Marry Her’, ‘Blackbird on the Wire’ and almost my favourite the ode to alcohol from Paul Heaton – ‘Liars Bar’, sung in a growl.  Quench followed this; maybe their best album – who knows; I like it anyway.  Every song is good, but especially ‘Perfect 10’  ‘The lure of the Sea’ and my favourite ‘The Slide’.   They had really hit their stride – and yet, at least I felt – there was no real progression.  Musically they were a bit more varied, but most of these songs could have been on their first album and vice versa.  In the Sixties and Seventies, bands progressed, each record surpassing the previous one.  That all seems to have stopped now, an Artist stays in the grove they have sold well in – until someone else comes along I suppose.  Oh Well.

Painting It Red – Quite poor actually, don’t know what happened to the group but a poor album.  Gaze was much better, but you could almost hear the sound of water being trodden;.  I have just listened to (on Youtube) and ordered Goldiggas, Headnoddas and Pholk songs – an album of covers which, tired of the band I neglected to buy when it came out in 2004.  It is really quite good so looking forward to playing it.  Their last album was Superbi.  Again it is okay, but I felt the band wasn’t really going anywhere.  Their best days were behind them, their audience had moved on, or just wanted to hear the old songs.  A very common problem for bands.  And so in 1997 the band broke up.  Paul Heaton (see H) still continues and has recently teamed up with Jacqui Abbott to tour the old stuff.   My trouble is that I am a completist – I have to have everything if I really like someone.  But, no regrets.  The Beautiful South were a breath of fresh air at the time.

A Little Time