… occurs 2 mins and 3 seconds into this track, right after Peter Gabriel sings: ‘the stars come down like a swarm of bees’.
Those who don’t live in Scotland may not be aware that we have a newspaper called ‘The National’. It has a very pro-independence slant (which is fine – most newspapers have a slant), but I’ll admit that I have only bought and read it twice and -on both occasions- found it dismal and hagiographic.
‘The National’ has just, perhaps, taken things to another level with the publication of a speculative piece about how Scotland would look, 50 years after gaining independence. I’ll link to the article in the comments section below. If it had been published in a North Korean newspaper, we’d be sharing it and laughing at it (which is exactly what we should do now). It’s difficult to be polite about an adult who can write something like this and even harder to be polite about a newspaper that publishes it.
Unless there’s a subtle level of parody that I’m missing, this is just all kinds of wrong.
Here’s an extract:
“There have been numerous highlights in the past five decades, but there’s no doubt about Scotland’s finest hour on the international stage, which came early in the life of the newly independent Scotland. The removal » Continue Reading.
Why do they do it?
Raymond on Enjoying the journey, not worrying too much about the destination.
Like many music lovers of my vintage, I’ve spent the last six weeks or so listening to David Bowie CDs and trawling youtube for clips, interviews and rarities. There is plenty I could say about how important Bowie was to me, but plenty of other folk have pontificated on that topic and I’m not in the mood to add to it. All I will say -for now- is that Bowie, an inspirational figure in life, has become an even more inspirational figure in death. The fact that he could produce interesting work as his life was ebbing away seems to be entirely in keeping with his status for my generation. If he can do all of the things that he did while knowing what he knew, then perhaps those of us who undertake artistic pursuits purely for pleasure should get our fingers out and get on with writing that book, painting that picture, making that film, or –in my case- recording that album.
(read more in comments)
Depending on which reviews you read, Michel Houellebecq is either a novelist of ideas and an original thinker, or he’s a blowhard contrarian and polemicist. I know which side of the fence I’m on.
(read more in comments)
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Houllebecq writes good speculative fiction. The fact that it has the power to upset some people says rather a lot about the prevailing intellectual orthodoxy.
One thing you’ve learned
That the future might look a lot like the past.
Was that Eddie Izzard or Angela Merkel presenting that awards thing on the telly?
I’ve got the sound turned down, so it’s hard to tell.
Now that would be a thread and a half.
I wish I had a better justification for this thread, other than the thought that -if only we could establish some kind of connection- it might get loads of comments.
Raymond on Thinking about how we ought to talk about a difficult topic
Such is the degraded nature of our national discourse on the topic of immigration that I feel obliged to start this piece with a statement, or -in modern parlance- a trigger warning.
I am a free-marketeer. I believe that capitalism, while far from perfect, provides the greatest good for the greatest number. I believe this because all of the available evidence leads me to that conclusion. Further, that belief in the free market comes with a belief in the free movement of people, which means that I am in favour of immigration, including economic migration.
(read more in comments)
Tue 05 Liverpool Echo Arena Thu 07 Nottingham Capital FM Arena Sat 09 Leeds First Direct Arena Sun 10 Manchester Arena Tue 12 Glasgow The SSE Hydro Thu 14 Newcastle Metro Radio Arena Sat 16 Birmingham Genting Arena Sun 17 Birmingham Genting Arena Wed 20 London The O2 Fri 22 London The O2
General Sale: Friday 13 November 2015 at 9am GMT
That is all.
The heated discussion over on our latest ‘Beatles’ thread got me thinking about how generations tend to stay loyal to the bands they grew up with.
(read more in comments)
I thought this was a joke, but it’s not.
Mike Watson has been appointed to Jezza’s front bench as education spokesman. That’s Mike Watson, the convicted firestarter.
Who on earth is writing these scripts?
Raymond on How not to write a song for Shania Twain
A few years ago, I was asked to provide some material for an up-and-coming young female country singer. A friend in the business who was familiar with my writing style (I was going to use the phrase ‘writing prowess’ there, but that would have been a bit of an exaggeration) thought that I might have some songs which -given the right treatment- could have worked for this particular vocalist. My name was passed to the singer’s manager, who also happened to be her mother. After a perfunctory phone call (“I’ve been told you write songs. We’re looking for songs”), an appointment was made for us to meet. I packed my guitar and notebook and drove out to a big house in the country, about a mile and half from the middle of nowhere.
(the rest of this article will hopefully follow below)
I was at a presentation this morning given by a woman who was employed by the Scottish Government to talk about various educational initiatives. I’m not going to comment on those initiatives, because I post here under my real name and I’d quite like to keep my job.
Her opening remarks though, are worth passing on. She talked about the various educational links that have been set up between Scotland and Lithuania, because of ‘the similarities between their struggle for independence and our struggle for independence’.
In the last century, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, then the German National Socialists, then the Soviets again from 1944. It is estimated that around 80% of Lithuanian Jews were killed under German occupation. When the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania it did all the things that it did in other occupied countries: it closed down political and religious organisations, arrested so-called ‘dissidents’, sent folk to certain death in Siberian camps and so on. The country did not break away from Soviet rule until 1990.
Educational links have been set up between Scotland and Lithuania, because of ‘the similarities between their struggle for independence and our struggle for independence’.
Raymond on Some advice on how to curate your tragic music collection
A few weeks ago, I got involved in a conversation with some friends about what to do with our old vinyl and CD collections, the assumption being that -in the digital age- nobody really wanted to keep hard copies of anything anymore. I begged to differ, because I’m one of those sad folk who does want to keep hard copies. I like having products to hold, look at, read, smell and –most of all- file. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a sizable music collection will have to devise an efficient filing system. CDs, for instance, should always be displayed in alphabetical order, preferably in the room in which you do your listening. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury for my own collection, which resides in the living room, wherein other members my family are to be found, usually watching something they call ‘the television’. Due to some legal mumbo-jumbo that I don’t understand, I am not allowed into this room without giving written notice, but at least I know that when I fancy listening to an old CD, my meticulously-curated display » Continue Reading.
Libby Purves has performed an important public service. She has given a name to something that needed to be given a name.
“The most savage, bilious, self-righteous rants are from people living affluent self-pleasing lives in comfortable homes, doing lucky and rewarding jobs with like-minded friends. What they are doing (I risk losing a friend or two) is “virtue-signalling”: competing to seem compassionate. Few are notably open-handed: St Matthew would need a rewrite of Chapter 19. “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. So he went on Twitter instead and called Michael Gove a ‘vile reptilian evil tory scumbag’, and linked to a cartoon of Iain Duncan Smith stealing a paralysed woman’s wheelchair. And lo, he felt better and went for a £3.50 caramel macchiato with some mates from the BBC”
Her article is behind a paywall, but it’s quoted here:
Perhaps I’m not best placed to judge because I’m not a Labour supporter, but this article looks to me like it makes some sense:
A couple of days ago I was going through some emails at work, replying to important stuff and kicking some less important stuff into the long grass. It’s a shared workspace and the computer is used by a number of colleagues. I noticed, after a couple of minutes, that it had been left on an ‘auto-correct’ setting and was changing some words as I typed. I’m not keen on that sort of thing; I don’t even use predictive text on my phone, because I don’t like the idea of a piece of software interpreting my intentions, guessing what I’m about to do next (I’m not paranoid, but everyone else thinks I am).
Responding to one particular message, I had to use the phrase ‘his specific requirements’. I typed it, added a sentence or two and was just about to hit the ‘send’ button when I froze in horror. There, on the screen, was an electronic grenade with the pin pulled. The software had corrected my intended ‘specific’ to the (in this case) deadly ‘pacific’. I’m guessing that I had somehow missed out the ‘s’ as I hurriedly composed the message. Accordingly, my email now featured the phrase: ‘his pacific » Continue Reading.
I’m still working on that difficult ‘nobody-is-really-interested-in-this-middle-aged-loser’ album.
This time, I’m turning my attention to ‘revenge’ songs. Have you ever been let down by a friend or a lover? Ever been betrayed or dumped for a younger, richer or more glamorous model? At some point in our lives, most of us will get ditched or double-crossed, pulverised or put down and the chances are that some of us will harbour dark thoughts of revenge. Harbouring those thoughts can be a frustrating way to pass the time, but if you’re a songwriter you can at least even things up a little by writing a revenge song. Your revenge song won’t quite make up for any slights you have suffered, but the process of writing it will be cathartic and, if you get lucky, it might even make you a few bob.
Well-known examples of revenge songs include Carly Simon’s ‘You’re so vain’ (which I think was probably about me), and ‘How do you sleep?’ which was John Lennon’s not-so-sneaky attempt at the character assassination of a fellow Beatle (nice work, John). ‘Goodbye Earl’ by The Dixie Chicks was an otherwise jolly country-pop hit which gleefully advocated the murder » Continue Reading.
Raymond on The science of male grooming is far from being ‘settled’.
During a recent visit to a Turkish barber, I made a startling discovery which I hope may lead to me being recognised as having made a significant contribution to the science of grooming. Like most folk, I believed that the science had been more or less settled since the mid-seventies, when Jorge Silva’s ground-breaking ‘The hermeneutics of grooming’ was published. Silva’s research established that there were six recognisable stages on the ‘male haircut’ continuum:
Passive → Larval → Peacock → Business → Utilitarian → Topiary
The ‘passive’ phase encompasses the childhood years, when the male has no awareness of his hair and all responsibilities for grooming fall upon his mother. The second (or ‘larval’) phase begins when the young male becomes self-conscious and is, as Silva puts it, ‘quite fussy’ about his appearance. Stage three (the peacock phase) has been the subject of most academic attention. Gilligan and Porter’s influential paper on ‘The Hair Delusion’ (Oxford Tonsorial Review, 1991) observed that, during the peacock phase, a young man “may spend as much as one third of his income on hair products and spend as much as one » Continue Reading.
Raymond on Pathologising the intellectual opposition
I’ve just finished reading ‘Eminent Hipsters’, Donald Fagen’s erudite and witty homage to his favourite musicians of the 1950s and ’60s. I’m not going to review the book, but something in it really caught my eye and I’m compelled to pass comment. Some of my friends (particularly those who have, over the years, been bored rigid by my missionary zeal), are aware of my admiration and love for Donald’s work, both as a solo artist and as part of Steely Dan. I was too young to appreciate ‘The Dan’ when they were in their prime; my love affair with their music only started after a friend made me a compilation tape back in 1989. He knew that I was a big fan of the Scottish pop outfit Danny Wilson and, as he handed me the tape, said: “If you like Danny Wilson, just wait until you hear this”. It was the start of a love affair which endures to this day. Indeed, so great is my fan-boy love for this band that when, after a twenty year hiatus, they released their comeback album ‘Two against nature’, I took the day off work just to » Continue Reading.
Back in the days before Twitter allowed us to find out what they were having for breakfast, pop stars could be quite mysterious and there was no act quite as mysterious as Kraftwerk. After they released their albums, they would invariably carry out a perfunctory bit of promotional work (usually, if memory serves, on the TV science show ‘Tomorrow’s World’) and maybe do the odd concert, after which they would retreat to their studios in Dusseldorf (the splendidly named Kling Klang) to start work on their next project, or maybe that should be projekt. When I say they ‘started work’, that would have been a guess. In those days, we had no idea what those mysterious Germans got up to. Years would pass; pop fashions and prime-ministers would come and go, but Kratfwerk wouldn’t even answer the phone. What were they working on? New music? Testing new synthesisers? Building robots? Constructing a time machine? Or perhaps a combination of all of the above? It turns out, according to David Buckley’s biography, that they were quite often goofing around with gizmos, enjoying coffee and pastries or indulging in that most rock and roll of pastimes, cycling. Their imperial phase » Continue Reading.