Sunday, October 31, 2004


I drink to our ruined house,
to the dolour of our lives,
to our loneliness together;
and to you I raise my glass,
to lying lips that have betrayed us,
to dead-cold, pitiless eyes,
and to the harsh realities:
That the world is brutal and coarse,
that God in fact has not saved us.

I'm feeling very Russian today.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


As you may or may not know, I have a fridge dedicated to stocks of Amstel and Stella lager type beers. It is an old one, of possible Soviet ancestry. It shed the door to its freezer compartment long since, the precise calibrations of its thermostat have long been forgotten and its light lit up only as the mood took it but it has, as stalwart as the defenders of Stalingrad, served me faithfully for many a long year.

Unfortunately, the ice around said freezer compartment had become, in the words of the great Don Van Vliet (ask councillor Bob, he'll know), fast and bulbous. A defrosting was in order.

So, making a rather uninformed assumption...the manual was in cyrillic...I depressed the button and waited. 24 hours later, I discerned a swelling pool neath its off-white mass and came to the inescapable conclusion that I had pressed the right button. I opened the door further...such an adventurous life I lead, wouldn't you say...and was faced with just as massive a bulk of ice as I had been heretofore and hitherto. Only this time it had a surface sheen of fresh melt.

Now, maybe I should have elaborated on the geographical position of said fridge but I will do so now. It is wedged at the far, narrow end of my larder/pantry/utility room...a kind of indoor shed if the truth be known...and the water it sheds during defrosting escapes via a pipe extruding from its rear. Under normal circumstances that is. Normal circumstances being obviously those under which less volume of ice has accrued due to the lassissitude of the owner of the aforementioned appliance. Present circumstances were such that water was haemorrhaging, niagara like out of the door cavity and it was only the precipient application of numerous towels that prevented serious warpage of floorboards in the great room.

I, quite understandably I feel given the situation, had a 'bugger this' moment and unearthed a rather large hammer and the biggest fuck off screwdriver in my possession. I was quite happily chiselling away when I became aware of a hissing noise, similar to that of gas escaping under pressure. The state of my mind at the time can best be described by informing you that it occurred to me that I may have inadvertently pierced a bag of the Hungarian equivalent of Birds Eye peas. Wrong.

Anyway, upshot is that I have killed my fridge and am now drinking warm beer. Life is hard.

Maybe I should contact JonnyB about the possibility of acquiring an internet fridge.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Weel eet annoey les americains? Oev corss. Weel tek im.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


A good man.


shit...what's that noise...sounds like dripping water...roof leak in the conservatory...buckets, bowls...someone get a cloth...I can't do anything tonight...I'll have a look in the morning...

okay...let's get that ladder then...up she goes...ouch, rung's rotted away...should keep it in the garage...really must get around to building one...I see the problem...metal run-offs round the sky lights...too small or been pushed down by the weight of the tiles...really should re-tile the roof...but I need a garage...maybe I could just re-tile the extension, leave the original for later...if I increase the angle of the run-offs...maybe bang a few nails in under them...should help keep the flow in...tiles'll be at a crazy angle, though...oh, fuck it...wait for the next rain and pray...shit, is that a mouse...Jesus, three of the little fuckers sat on the window sill of the conservatory...all that junk piled up on the terrace...really should put it in the garage...bugger...okay, start shifting...all this wood...should put it in the wood-pile...I can build one behind the garage...bollocks...who put all these newspapers out here...waaaaaah, another mouse...what's all this...bloody hell...old plaster and cement and polystyrene insulation...and all these tools...maybe I can build a shed inbetween the garage and the wood-pile...shite...anyway, nowhere for the little buggers to hide now...the cats'll get 'em...but what about the dog...oh forget it...hey, I can see the conservatory again...looks, it doesn't...wood looks dry as a bone and needs staining...better do it before winter sets, where did I put those brushes...not in the garage, that's for the pantry...there they are...blast...hard as a bloody rock...wonder what I had on 'em...maybe I could gel my hair with it...never have to wash it any woodstain, then...oh, right...interior use only...where are the bloody car keys...these gates could do with painting an' all...and as for the fence...oh well, least there's a full tank in the car...nowhere to bloody park'll be okay here for a few minutes...yeah, woodstain...pine...I don't fuckin' know...that'll be much...bollocks...of course it's my car...yes, I do know...thank you...and may your crotch be infected by a non-psychedelic fungus...bastard...right...brushes, tin, aha...where's that screwdriver...Christ, this is on tight...oh, fuck...never mind, they're an old pair anyway...this'll take ages...what if I do all the big brush bits today and leave the fiddly bits till tomorrow...sorted...right, where's the turps...oh, no...don't tell me...soapy water it is then...damn and blast...wonder if I can go to work looking like on earth did it get there...

Home owning sucks.


You just couldn't make it up, could you?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Go see.


As a response to Crumb's post yesterday, I thought he might take solace from the fact that I have, at various and sundry times in my life, been likened to the following. In order of frequency...

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

Compared with that lot, I don't think a tubby, equestrian obsessed lesbian is all that bad, really.


I don't suppose anybody could explain why, when I access this blog from my browser and from Blogger dashboard, I get a completely different set of referrers?

I mean, right now, coming in from my browser, Shrub, Ms Jones, Badgergirl, Crumb and Google are but ghosts in the machine.

It also seems to work in reverse whenever I blog hop from here. I would hate anybody to think I am ignoring them.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Smacked by the Zwack or Jaegermeister on Steroids

Over at the Choobies, there seems to be a general consensus among both residents and visitors that one of the national drinks of Hungary is fit only as an application for the unblocking of sinks and drains, and that should one wish to remove the enamel from one's teeth, battery acid may prove to be a slightly more palatable alternative.

Given the almost filial relationship I appear to have with this country, in which I feel at total liberty to criticise it but leap readily to its defence whenever the attacks come from other directions, it would seem to be incumbent upon me to make a few points in its favour.

1. Should you ever find yourself in a position where two or more people are desirous of precisely ascertaining their position on any perceived scale of 'machismo', lining up several shots of Unicum might well prove considerably less of a physical endeavour than arm wrestling, distance spitting or projectile vomiting. Mind you, the latter could just turn out to be an inevitable consequence anyway.

2. When listening to tales of drunken excess and hangovers from hell, those 'in the know' can allow themselves a delicious feeling of smugness secure in the knowledge that nobody but nobody can ever claim to have been truly hammered or even remotely hungover if neither can be attributed to the Zwack smack.

3. If ever you should find yourself barefoot and bladdered in a Hungarian family vineyard and inadvertently step on the sharp edge of a metal boot scraper, thereby opening up a rather nasty gash on the underside of your foot, you will be grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate the full range of your grasp of profanity when the black stuff is applied in lieu of a more conventional antiseptic.

4. It is probably the only drink known to man that cannot reasonably be incorporated into any kind of cocktail whatsoever and therefore will never be succeptible to decoration with sparklers, umbrellas or other assorted frippery. This can only be a Good Thing.

5. My 'mother-in-law' swears by it and, as long as I have a bottle or two handy whenever she comes to visit, this will extend the life of my stocks of malt. This is also a Good Thing.

6. On the occasion of any male acquaintance's nameday, birthday or any other such celebration, Unicum rather usefully provides a gift of last resort for those of us unfortunate enough to be seriously challenged regarding the ability to select appropriate presents.

7. If you should ever wish to attend a fancy dress gala or some such dressed as an archetypical cartoon anarchist, simply remove the label from the bottle, stencil 'bomb' on it in large white letters, stick a length of string in the top and that's your props problem sorted.

8.'s about it. Quite pathetic, really.

Friday, October 15, 2004


Tony says, "Bollocks."

Thursday, October 14, 2004


It came as a great surprise to learn tonight that one T. Blair is, at this very moment, a small matter of 82kms away from where I am typing this. In Balatonöszöd, to be precise.

I am reliably informed that there are 5 concentric security perimeters around the presence. You don't think there's any chance of somebody mistaking these for a target, do you?

Anyway, I've got nothing on for tomorrow morning so I guess I could pop down and see if there's any chance of an impromptu meeting...messages, anyone?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I was asked the other day if the chav phenomenon had reached Hungary or not. I was surprised that an Englishman, a West Yorkshireman to be precise, should seemingly wish to stake some sort of nationalistic claim to the little buggers but I can assure him that the Hungarian equivalent, while not indistinguishable from his English counterpart, is certainly a divergent evolutionary branch of the same lineage.

Hungarian chavs can be divided, for the purposes of this study, into three main sub-species; the bog standard, the aspirational and the made good.

The bog standard variety would probably easily be recognised by any casual tourist to these parts...think East 17, think charity shop and 'seen better days' and you would have some idea of their haute couture. Their source of income is usually anything which isn't nailed down and it is spent on bling, foreign beers and stereo systems more expensive than the cars into which they are fitted. I say foreign beers but this is dependent on their fence not having temporarily blown down and the vigilance of the local constabulary. If you spot one sidling up to the bar and ordering (furtively and out of the side of his mouth) a shot of house pálinka and a white wine spritzer/red wine and coke, you can say with some assurance that the crime figures are down that month. Conversely, spot a clutch of them chugging Budweiser/Becks out of the bottle and those car keys in your pocket may just be surplus to your requirements for the near future.

The female of the species, the liba (or goose to you non-linguists) is also a pack animal and should you suddenly materialise amongst a plethora of naked, pierced and tattooed midriffs and find yourself torn between a desire to put your hands over your eyes or your ears (the goose appellation is indeed apt), you will have stumbled across a pretty fair representation of the type. In bars, they will be perched behind glasses containing liquid of the most lurid colours imaginable and watching them teeter off in pairs to the ladies room on impossibly high heels should be included in the published list of tourist attractions.

The main product of the bog standard chav is pavement pizza.

Your aspirational chav now, is considerably more difficult to spot at first. Your best strategy would probably be to track a clutch of bog standards and wait for them to go into a kind of "we are not worthy but please allow me to insert my tongue into your rectum" type routine and it is pretty certain that the centre of all this ritualistic fawnery will be your quarry. By dint of obsessional body-building and frequent demonstrations of mindless thuggery, he will have so impressed the local talent spotters that they will have given him a job in one of their security firms. He will immediately be put on bouncer duty and will have to lever himself into a black suit for the purpose. He will not take the label off the sleeve and will, under all circumstances, wear white socks. When off duty he will have one other suit, either lime green, electric blue or maroon and he will often wear the jacket with a pair of black trousers. The white socks however, remain. His drinks of choice will be foreign beers, Chivas Regal, Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker red label. Some become so enamoured of the opportunities for mindless violence that they never aspire to bodyguard or chauffeur duties and remain on the clubs until they venture down the wrong alley on the way home one night.

Their girlfriend of choice is the trophy liba. She will have (preferably) naturally blonde hair, legs up to her armpits and will have mastered the art of walking on spike heels. She will however, still be perched behind a glass of lurid colour, only this time it will be decorated with umbrella, sparkler and assorted fruitery. You are advised not to even glance at her unless you are armed with something very large indeed.

The main product of the aspirational chav is broken bones.

The chav made good is the most difficult of all to spot and identify. I mean, not all load mouthed wankers flashing wads of cash around in bars and restaurants are chavs made good but the opposite is certainly true. To really be able to nail one, you have to be invited into their home. You will probably be driven there in the most fuel inefficient vehicle available at the time, will pass through the remote controlled gates (only barred...the neighbours must be allowed to see their wealth, after all) and alight in a driveway only to be surrounded by a pack of Rottweilers/Alsatians/Pitbull terriers who will look at you as if they think all their Christmases have come at once. Fortunately, their fear of their owner is greater than the pleasure they would no doubt get from tearing you apart and you enter the house. I should make clear at this point that most chavs made good are self employed in the Delboy tradition and have made their pile selling shit, tack, tat and kitsch to tourists. Their ideal English habitat would be Skegness. Here it's Lake Balaton and Zalakaros. Anyway, you enter the house and it is here that the full horror awaits. Think garish, think tasteless, think Turkish bordello, think, "Fuck me up the bottom with a big, black strap-on!" Less is more is not a concept your chav made good could wrap his reasoning gear around, no way. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I was once given such a tour and from the Sony Home Cinema (think small multiplex), through the battery powered Ferrari copy driven by his five year old daughter all the way through to his remote controlled corkscrew (I kid you not), I got chapter and fucking verse. Where he'd bought it, who he'd bought it from, how much it'd cost him and how much he'd managed to barter them down by. Walking through the house was the equivalent of yomping through an obstacle course comprised of as yet, unsold stock.

His drinks of choice are Pernod, Tequila, Southern Comfort, Jim Beam and any Scotch whisky that costs more than Chivas Regal. All of the above are kept in the freezer. The dress is a kind of 'fuck you' chic regressing to a quality lower than that of the bog standard. The white socks however, remain. The most powerful emotion he feels is when he removes the wad from his trouser pocket. This is obviously best performed in front of an audience and at very high volume.

The main product of the chav made good is pure unadulterated bollocks. Believe NOTHING.

I hope I have been of some assistance.

Hey ho.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


From the BBC...

There was some detail in the prime minister's speech with hints about no spending splurges in a third term, lifting the age of retirement, offering incentives for people to save for their old age and a possible crackdown on junk food adverts, for example.

Well, that should light a fire under the politically apathetic, shouldn't it? Stampede the populace towards the polling booths.

I don't honestly know which is worse, the contents or the standard of the journalism. Point one would seem to suggest that the state of 'public' transport will remain fucked for years to come and points two and three are interesting to say the imaginative solution to the demographic problem affecting pension value? Seems to boil down to spending as little time as possible actually retired and leaving as much as possible to the chancellor in death duties. Point four is typical New Labour...a sop...a diversion...caring, sharing, touchy-feely bollocks.

As for the writing. Well. An admirable attempt to avoid the cliché 'spree' gives us 'splurge'. I ask you. Then there's 'lifting'. I mean, what? Sorry to disillusion you, wee BBC journalist type chappie, but one cannot actually lift an age.

I suppose I should be grateful for the last clause, conjuring up, as it does, images of teens being stopped and searched for possession of fast food adverts. Crackdown indeed.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Mercenary Mates and the Lure of Loot

Most English people differ from Hungarians in one crucial respect. They hate to say, "No". So, whereas we would carefully weigh the circumstances before asking anyone for a favour, Hungarians will wade straight in with nary a thought.

I had mastered the language way before I mastered the art of turning down requests and my workload became almost unbearable as a result. Over the last couple of years, I have pruned it down to a more reasonable level and only accept work I can contract via my company.

Unfortunately, I have become a blip on the radar of one of the largest multi-national companies ever to straddle the globe in search of tax breaks and cheap labour. The language of the company in question is English, even in house memos have to be written using it so this and the requirements of video conferencing mean that the demand for tuition is correspondingly high.

It has become clear that Hungarian teachers, whilst being more than adequate for lower level employees, are not fit to leave their imprints on the plush carpets of the top floor and only a native speaker will suffice. Now you might conjecture that this would provide a wonderful and remunerative business opportunity and you would be right. You would also be dead wrong.

I have been there before. In situations where companies have tried every language school within a reasonable radius, sent their employees on residential language courses, paid teachers to teach after school...everything, in fact. Then the solution of last resort. The native speaker.

The problem is two-fold. Firstly, learning a foreign language is exactly that. Learning. The choice of text book and/or teacher, although a factor, is only a very small part of successfully learning a language. A teacher can facilitate, guide and provide assistance as required but most of the work has to be done by the student. Unfortunately, the Hungarian mindset is such that they expect to be almost spoon-fed the told what to do every step of the way. The company has tried many alternatives and all have failed to produce the required result. The students have not learnt. Usually it's a problem of motivation and self-confidence. "I need it for my job" is not normally enough to strengthen the will to put aside enough leisure hours for study, and most of them are of the firm belief that they are too old to learn or that somehow they do not possess the genes they suppose control foreign language acquisition.

The second problem is one of expectations. They have tried many Hungarian teachers and, in their eyes, all of them have failed to teach them English. What can they do? Reach for the native speaker is what. "If only we had a native speaker, everything would be hunky dory and I will finally acquire the language." Wrong. I do not have a magic wand...I will use exactly the same methods, approaches and techniques that have thus far singularly failed to achieve the desired results. The only difference will be that the standard of any Hungarian used in the classroom will take a nose dive. End of.

They are fully aware of the fact that, "I do NOT need this" and have quite sensibly refrained from approaching me directly. They know that I would tell them, in much more flowery language and with infinitely more politesse, to "fuck off and die". I have however, recently become aware of the outcome of a strategy meeting they must have held on this very subject.

Now, a friend of mine is the owner of a language school here in town, one which presently holds the contract for provision of language teaching at the company in question. It is a lucrative one and one which his company would find it difficult to live without. It would appear that pressure has been brought to bear. Allegedly, you understand. Pressure that he feels obliged to pass on in my direction.

I responded to his request and we met. Placing his palms together and fixing me with his best little kitten lost expression (copyright. Shrek 2), he begs.

"Simon. Please?"


"Why don't you want to help me?"

Ouch. Quite a long way below the belt, that one but I let it ride. I go through all the reasons why spending even only 2 hours a week in the belly of the behemoth would reduce my quality of life by a factor too large to even approximate in words and then he plays his trump card.

"I'll pay you double your usual."

Now why didn't he say that in the first place?

Saturday, October 09, 2004


I am not what you might call a morning person at the best of times and after an evening spent with my computer friend debugging some programmes...and our stomachs with fair to middling quantities of malt...this morning was no exception.

The coffee maker had taken the Frog shopping and I was leaning on the kitchen worktop staring at nothing in particular waiting for automatic pilot to kick in and remind me of the steps I would need to take to be in possession of a restorative cup when my mobile rang.

"Jó napot, kivánok. A...." *inserts Babel fish* "Your telephone number has been selected at random and we are..."

"Whoa, whoa...a you speak English?" *removes fish*

"Oh yes, sir. Your number is one of a select few we have..."

I am afraid I interrupted at this point.

Given the facts that I was hungover, still half asleep, in pre-coffee mode and therefore without instantaneous access to my store of lexis regarding invective, I think I acquitted myself rather well. The only regret I have is that pushing a button on a mobile is no substitute for slamming down the handset.

Anyway, I feel a lot better now. Public service at its best.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


I should have known. As soon as I half opened one eye and saw the digital clock at exactly 9:11, I should have rolled over, gone back to sleep and the hell with the day.

Unfortunately, I heaved my sorry ass out of bed and pin-balled into the bathroom where it took a few seconds for the signals from my shins to reach the brain and for me to realise that taking a piss might be a whole lot more comfortable if I were to raise the seat beforehand. Bugger!

So, I sat on the edge of the bath, swung my legs over the side, switched on the taps and reached for the shower head. I say 'reached for' and not grasped as I only succeeded in dislodging it from its perch, thereby chipping the enamel and sending a spray of water all over the floor. Shite!

I eventually managed to sluice off the piss, swung my legs out of the bath, stood up and promptly sat down again. On the floor. A more alert frontal lobe might have made the connection between a tiled floor and surface water and taken adequate precautionary measures but mine was still in caffeine deprivation mode and barely ticking over.

Realising that coffee was indeed a priority, I stumbled into the kitchen to find a note from Zsuzsi asking me to hoover the house and the kettle full of Calgon. Not wishing to de-scale the lining of my stomach that early in the morning thank you very much, I sloshed some milk into a saucepan, stuck it on the gas and went in search of tobacco. I found it next to the monitor, where I had left it the night before. Error.

Cigarette, check. E-mail, check. Favourite blogs, check. Smell of burning milk, check. Christ on a bike!

Search for kitchen roll. Fresh out. Fetch toilet roll from bathroom. Clean mess, make coffee. Take coffee into bathroom with Elmore Leonard paperback and settle down for bit of anal expulsion. CENSORED. Reach for toilet roll. Bugger, bugger, damn, shit, blast! I don't know if you have ever been in the unfortunate position of having to continue locomotion after having followed through on a particularly explosive botty burp but I'm sure you can appreciate the predicament nevertheless.

Anyway, I finally gather all my papers and cassettes together for a spot of marking. I arrange all the marking sheets for the candidates in the order in which they will appear on the cassettes, brace myself for an assault on my English speaking sensibilities and press play. The exam is in four sections and ten individual marks out of three are available spread out throughout the categories. To my intense pleasure, the quality of the recordings is excellent, the interlocutor doesn't over-run the 10 minutes per exam time limit by too much and I get through about twenty papers in about four and a half hours. I collect all the marking sheets together and am just about to switch off the cassette when I hear, "Kiss Balázs, test begins." Say what?!

I check the packing list...20. I check the labels on the cassettes...20. I count the marking sheets...19. Oh sweet fuckity fuck! I find the missing sheet and go back to the first cassette. It soon becomes clear that I have marked the first candidate on the second one's sheet, the second's on the third's and so on. Thank the gods I kept the sheets in order. A slight adjustment...crossing out the original name and writing in another and everything's tickerty boo.

Hoovering. Deep joy. Plug her in in the big room and work my way through house. I get to the office/guest room, reach full extent of flex and yank. Hard. Holy shit! What the fuck was that? What the fuck it was, was the ironing board coming a right purler as the flex wrapped itself around its legs. Only slight damage to floor boards and with a bit of luck, she'll never notice.

Anyway, shave, then bathtime with Robert Heinlein. I wake up, say a quick thank you to the gods again for having allowed me to drop the book on the dry side of the porcelain and check the time. Say "Fuck!" A lot.

I arrive at work with a minute to spare. I do my Fat Freddy's Cat fastest 50m nonchalant walk on record and sashay into the classroom as if everything is under total control. I take the register, I open my briefcase. I look for the lesson plan. I look again. And again. I place my head in the briefcase and attempt to close it. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have been bothered, I rarely use them anyway, but I had planned such a wonderful lesson. Ordinarily, I am probably one of the best improvisers in a classroom I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing in action but this had been no ordinary day. And nor was it then. I corpsed. I fluffed. I floundered.

Desperate times call for...

I showed them my two palms, then said, "Fuck it!", closed the book and flung it over their heads into the corner of the room by the door. "Right then. It's question time, folks. You can ask me any question you like and I will answer them as honestly as I can. Who's first?"

3×45 minutes later and we're still bouncing the questions around but I had opened it up to include everybody and they were really having a great time. I was just adjudicating at this point, only stepping in if somebody couldn't make themselves understood or if they were having trouble understanding. Bloody brilliant!

Arrive home, gates are closed. I park the car. Observe through window that Zsuzsi has the Frog in her arms and that she is crying. I enter the house. "Daaaaaaaaaaaaadeeeeeeeeeee!" She's missed me. Suddenly everything seems okay again. I am wanted. I am loved.

I put them both to bed. Kiss them goodnight. Am heading out the door when Zsuzsi asks, "What are those marks on the floor by the ironing board?"

Sunday, October 03, 2004


I'm puzzled. Bemused. In a state of some confusion. And it's all down to toiletries. Shaving requisites to be exact.

Have you seen that advert for Gillette shaving gel...the one where the guy's hands go all Terminator 2, in a new man, de-caff, latte drinker kinda way, of course?

We are then treated to a rather tacky animation showing how gel reaches the parts that shaving foam cannot reach, the basic message of which appears to be that foam sucks and that gel positively rocks.

Now correct me if I'm wrong but does not Gillette purvey a wide range of such foams from bog standard through lemon-scented all the way to jojoba enhanced?

So if I understand it correctly, they actually paid for an advertisement which informs the public that one of their largest product ranges is basically crap. What is going on here?

Are they one blade short of a triple or do they think we are? I think we should be told.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


A post on Unitedite in support of Uncy and a certain Mr Bragg.

I wonder if you would all be so kind as to allow an ennui inducing, wrinkly anal expulsion of noxious gases to offer non-surgical support to a favourite uncle and also to add a few more gems to the collection of some of the finest music ever committed to vinyl.

For the benefit of younger readers, I should maybe explain that vinyl is the material from which are made those rather ’interestingly’ shaped fruit bowls of your parents…and you have my heartfelt apologies for writing such a clumsy sentence. Anyway, onwards ever onwards.

Au Pairs…Armagh
Medium Medium…Further than Funk Dream
The Beat…Dream Home in New Zealand
Capt Beefheart…Love Lies/Floppy Boot Stomp
Funky 4+1…That’s the Joint
Denis Bovell…Better
Elvis Costello…Alison
The The…Kingdom of Rain
Robert Wyatt…Shipbuilding

Throw in a bit of Black Uhuru and Aswad, add a soupcon of Television and Talking Heads and I would say that between us, we had it all just about covered. Not representative of my entire musical taste by any means…not even a large part of it but what we have here is the music of an era. An era about which, I suspect, a whole lot of people on here know diddly and one during which it was impossible to separate music from politics.

The Thatcher years. A nomenclature far too anodyne for this correspondent. An era defined, for me at least, by frustration, anger, utter helplessness and a deep and abiding despair. I lost my faith in my fellow countrymen. How could they not see through her? How could they stand idly by while she flung wide Britannia’s thighs to the trident thrust of Ronnie’s blunt simplicities?

She set out to annihilate socialism and it is a tribute to her genius that she succeeded to the extent that even today, B. Liar = Thatcher Lite. She divided and conquered. We were to be afraid and consume, a state of affairs that people like Marilyn Manson are railing against even as we speak.

Most of our sense of community, of belonging and yes, socialism (for what is socialism but an acceptance that we exist in a wider society) has its roots in working class communities. Those who had nothing, shared everything and it was this sense of communality that she had to destroy.

She took on, divided and beat the miners. She decimated manufacturing industry in the country to the extent that today, working class means not going to work. The fear bit was easy. The fear of losing your job…keep your head down, work for what we give you and don’t even think about organising labour. The fear of the red menace and of nuclear armageddon…protect and survive…hide under the kitchen table, guys…you’ll be alright.

Another masterstroke was the realisation that she had to create competition, an illusion of betterment. The right to buy allowed many into the mortgaged classes, into debt and under control. The further up the money/property ladder you go, the more your ambitions may become individual, concerned only with you and your immediate family. She made the pursuit of the purely personal aspirational.

So is it any wonder that Mr Bragg went a tad over the top? Faced with such on-yer-bike, rampant right-wingery, just what the fuck was he supposed to do? Is it really such a surprise that music served (as it always has) as a focus for the disenfranchised and seriously pissed off?

Look around you. Greed. Me, me, me. Chavs. Big fucking Brother. Silverdale v Abbeydale, State v Private, Happy Clappers v Warnockers, Rich v Poor. Divisions all widened by 12 odd fucking years of Tory bastard rule.

Oh, fuck it. I’m too old and tired to care much any more and, to borrow a Majorism, not a little bitter and twisted. I had the good sense and the fortune to get out, to escape to a country where people still give a shit. And yes, it IS probably her fault that we only got a point at Brighton this afternoon.

And Millwall? Fradi shat ’em.

Oh, well. If you have been, it’s your own bloody fault.