Monday, March 18, 2019

"Politics doesn't affect me" - #1

When I started my first ever day's work in a local government office in true blue Eastbourne, I proudly declared to my colleagues that I was a Labour supporter (despite being too young to vote). This seemingly innocuous statement provoked a funny range of responses from a dismissive 'pah' from some, to a derisive 'bloody commie eh?' from my ex-army supervisor and his little sidekick. 

Whilst I suppose I pretty much expected their response, after all, almost everyone voted Tory in Eastbourne "even the Seagulls". What I didn't expect was the relatively cool 'older' bloke (all of 27 years old, I suspect) to lean into the conversation with this observation... 

" Of course. If you aren't a socialist by the time you are 20 - you haven't got a heart. If you aren't a conservative by the time you are 40 - you haven't got a brain..." 

A pithy observation maybe but something that stuck with me nonetheless. It struck me then that it was such a lazy and cynical view of the world - genuinely heartbreaking. It assumed a pre-ordained path and almost instinctively gave one permission to just give up on politics, to give up on life... Perhaps in a time when news was more uniform and access to more radical thought came via University or progressive relationships, it was more understandable that some people believed that politics wasn't for the likes if us.

However, surely the same argument is not quite as valid? I am still staggered at the number of relatively 'sane' adults I know who profess ignorance of or, more regularly, actively avoid 'politics'.  If the last 63 years have taught us anything it is that when politicians (and their sponsors) are left to their own devices, they have a tendency to fundamentally f'things up. If they are not held completely accountable they will drive division, increase their own wealth and royally screw us over... every single time!

Time for a change, time to resist, time to remember - you have still got a heart!

Monday, July 16, 2018

That there football... (Part 3)

And so, another World Cup has been and gone. Was it the best ever? No, most probably not. That honour still goes to Mexico 70. With Spain 82 & Germany 06 perhaps running them close. However, it was certainly enjoyable, with the prima donnas ousted early enough for new heroes to be welcomed and championed.

England's performance was encouraging enough, Brazil regained some composure after the horrors of the last tournament (despite Neymar's histrionics), Germany's departure made for a little more jeopardy in the latter stages, France glided to victory, Croatia gave everything but came up short, Spain's pre-comp suicide most probably did not have much impact and Ronaldo's vanity still irked enough to detract from his sublime technique. Cavani looked a much better player than I've previously given him credit for and Japan proved shrewd tacticians despite themselves.

There weren't any real downsides, the stadia looked great, the promised violence just didn't kick off and the hosts weren't the no hopers they had been portrayed as. As for Australia, the hype and hoopla back home was always going to be impossible to live up to. The notion that Australia were shoe-in's to escape their group showed a lack of perspective of the world game that will continue to limit the national team's progress in major tournaments. They are still Championship challengers in a Premiership world. The major problem in Australian football is highlighted at junior and club level, where physicality is praised over finesse. It is all very well promoting a Dutch footballing model and imposing 4-3-3 on junior sides but until coaches, clubs and committees recognise that the world of football is ever evolving, they will continually be 20 years behind the world game.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

That there football... (Part 2)

Well, all good things etc...

The reality of the situation is that we were lucky to make it as far as we did. We aren't really one of the best four teams in the world. Gareth Southgate isn't quite the tactical genius he was 24 hours ago (not that I'm being critical, he completely surpassed most expectations - especially mine). And yet, the England team performed way above expectations and more importantly behaved impeccably. I know that might seem an odd thing to be so immensely proud of but...

It was about time that a group of obscenely highly paid sportsman fulfilled the other key part of the bargain, which is to be genuine role models and not just roll around on the floor models!

Thank you.

In the meantime though, it is worth remembering the following...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

I was looking for a job and then I found a job... #5

You wait for a few aeons for a job to come along and then 3 come along at once...

  1. Dream role, mentally stimulating. Short term.
  2. Longer term, eyes closed but pleasant enough.
  3. Lifer but as dull as...
What to do, what to do.

I think we all know the answer!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

That there football...

Once every four years and it is time to... get the Panini album, pull the England shirt out from the box in the loft, ignore the fact that you've been slagging them off for the last 3 years and 11 months, become an expert on the current form of the Saudi keeper and become very conversant with random time zones and inhospitable waking hours.

But now the fun bit is over and we have to start to brace ourselves for the knockout stages and the anguish that 90/120 minutes +/- penalties can bring.

It is wonderful but also so agonising....

Monday, July 2, 2018

Slow moving

I just popped back in to see how things were looking and there still seems to be a rather healthy appetite for the various different memories, moments and meanderings described here. I'm conscious that I've been ridiculously slow in posting anything new. I blame football, life & the weather.

However, look out for the following over the coming weeks.

  • More bands that I wished I'd been in.
  • More albums no self respecting gentleman or lady should own.
  • Book of the week
  • Film of the month
  • How to make a million overnight
  • The best way to rob a hedge fund
  • MP's we have loved (in a series of 3)
  • MP's we despise (in a series of 50)
  • More strings of desire
  • The five best parties ever
  • The truth about David Icke
  • Britain's favourite boxers
  • Salad Cream v HP Sauce
  • And a message from our sponsors

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Insights from a Modernlife II

A new style, fashion, music and arts blog is due to be launched within the next couple of weeks. And whilst the prospect might fill you with a dread bordering on pathological, fear not. The writers behind the blog are persons of impeccable taste and style. They know the difference between an edge produced on woven fabric during manufacture that prevents it from unravelling and a zone of altered rock, especially volcanic glass, at the edge of a rock mass.

There will be articles on some of the stand out designers, influencers, style connoisseurs and fashion houses. From the finest accessories to the coolest of cheap cheats that will keep the opposition guessing and the spectators admiring. The soundtrack to a Modernlife will also be covered, with album reviews (classics & new releases). Occasional film reviews too as well as news snapshots and all the what-to-dos. 

Be seeing you! 

Insights from a Modernlife

Friday, April 27, 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018

Albums no self-respecting gentlemen should own #2 - U2 'The Joshua Tree'

A more lumpen collection of pompous music is quite hard to find. Camouflaged under faux 'rock' stylings, the limited lyrical and musical imagination of Paul Hewson, David Evans, Larry Mullen & Adam Clayton has long been held up as some kind of classic. The arguments in support of this are very lightweight but nevertheless it is still common currency. But with the exception of the first three tracks (Where the streets have no name, I still haven't found what I'm looking for, With or without you) most fans and critics alike would be hard pressed to name any other 'tracks'.

The reason for that is simple, they aren't any good. Most vaguely decent albums of any era can easily muster as many if not more standout tracks - The Joshua Tree simply does not stand the test of time. It is music for students, management graduates and footballers. An album that is devoid of any emotional depth, lyrical sidesteps or political substance (on either a micro or macro level), the only saving grace (and boy am I clutching at straws) is some of Steve Lillywhite's production. The aspects of which are too dull to convey.

U2's rise to prominence is still a thing of genuine mystery. The real pretenders to the post-punk/psychedelic/straight rock world were Liverpool's 2nd best band of the 80's Echo & the Bunnymen (the first being The Teardrop Explodes, who were genuinely psychedelically enhanced and prepared to challenge the normsoc rock that bumped along in the lower reaches of the charts). The Bunnymen looked and sounded the part with Messrs McCulloch, Seargent, De Freitas & Pattinson creating a cohesive and dynamic sound that out stripped the Dublin wannabes easily in the early/mid years. If New Order were Champions League contenders, The Bunnymen were upper reaches of the Premiership then U2 were strictly div 2. (NB On this ranking, The 'mighty' Fall were runaway winner of the World Club Championship).

There is much to detest about The Joshua Tree but the thing that tops it off is the 'iconic' cover... Da boyz all standing nicely huddled in... a... wait for it... desert.... where Gram Parsons' alcohol engorged body was torched and the... Grateful Dead peddled super strength Acid - How very rock 'n roll! They could have only topped it by standing round Jim Morrisons grave in Pere Lachaise or doing an accapella version of Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis' final resting place.

Anyway, enough of this.

There are only two types of music - good & bad. The Joshua Tree fits firmly into one of these types and you know exactly which one.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mark E Smith RIP

Mark Edward Smith (5 March 1957 – 24 January 2018)

'If it's me and yer granny on bongoes, it's still The Fall'

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Why I’m not ruling anything in or out...

I suspect that barely a week goes by without the topic of suicide peering over my horizon, whether it is brushing the leaves of the past from the tree of history and coming up against the music or the writing or the art of someone who chose, hopefully after much deliberation that enough was enough. 

Or whether it is simply the seemingly inevitable curve that my life is currently on. The prospect of seeing out the rest of my days surrounded by love, comfort, friends & family battles with the notion that perhaps I should be the one choosing la fecha de fallecimiento.

The stigma of suicide is still that it is a coward’s way out. However, the ever-increasing numbers of suicides suggests that being branded a coward after death counts for little when weighing up the choice to continue to live on in pain or to settle things for good.

People often suggest that there is so much to live for but that isn’t always that apparent to the person gripped by whichever strand of despair they are being slowly suffocated by. Is it really worth carrying on down the road to inevitable collapse, fuelled by alcohol or drugs, crippled by inertia and anxiety? Or is it better to just move on.

And what about the people you leave behind? Isn’t it selfish. I am not so desperate to recognize the fact that if I do decide to just stop this whole dizzy whirl that there will be people who will mourn my passing. A handful of people maybe but they will move on. They will forget the passing and hopefully remember the substance of my life and not the route out of it.

I could of course hang around and see what happens next but you see I have been here before. I made serious plans to take my own life in 2013. But I thought my action was too selfish and I owed it to my family to stay strong. But I know the truth, I am not strong. I am vulnerable and hate the way that makes me look and feel. I decided to stay around for my sons and I also decided to ‘see what happens’. What happened was my marriage collapsed, Brexit & Donald Trump too. Whilst I wouldn’t blame my sense of futility on either of the last two, neither fill my heart with anything other than bitter & twisted anguish. Nor, I must stress, do I blame my ex-wife on the marriage collapsing – that was all down to me.

Sitting at this wooden table and listening to the Lorikeets, Magpies and Myna bickering in the garden, whilst I listen to Joao Gilberto, waiting for the water to boil, everything is calm. I am making plans for the week, looking at possible gigs to go to in January 2018, applying for jobs, wondering if I should stay in Australia or to move on. I’ve got tickets for The Ashes (although that won’t offer much respite). I am looking forward to at least February. But that’s the odd thing you see. I used to look way beyond the next three months. I cannot do that anymore however hard I try.

In closing, I know that I am loved and I love. So, all is not lost.
And even if I decide to stop, nothing is lost. It will just be different.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I was looking for a job and then... #4

Funny how CV's can invariably work against you. Just when you thought you'd got the right qualifications and experience... you tip over into "over qualified, too much experience". In other words, your potential line manager regards you as a threat!

Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200...

Friday, July 28, 2017

I was looking for a job and then... #3

And so... the online job market goes a bit odd on a Friday. Nothing happening.

So, I spent the day reading another one of the very fine 33 ⅓ series. This one was on Colossal Youth by Young Marble Giants. A beautiful album and a lovely book too. Reading about how Stuart, Alison & Phillip created one of the most wonderful records of all time. They relate to various different ambient musical/childhood experiences and it immediately evoked sounds (and visions) of my childhood that I hadn't heard (or seen) for decades.

The album's clicks, melodies and melancholy still allow me to drift beyond the first time I heard it to a hearth, a beach and a garden...

It's the weekend tomorrow, no jobs for the wicked, no blogs for the weekend*.

*Now there's a subtle link to a future post....

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I was looking for a job and then... #2

My email inbox is bursting with a thousand jobs, none of which are in the slightest bit suitable or relevant. But I suppose it is good to know that there are jobs for other people out there.

The sun has shone for most of today and despite the slight chill that accompanies these dry Sydney winter days, overall it is very pleasant. I scan the bookshelves in front of me, wondering when I will have to start selling off some of the rarer editions I have managed to collect during the years. I'm working backwards, deciding on which one will be the last to survive. I suspect it'll be either the limited edition Bukowski or the ltd edition Billy Childish.

Of the older more regular books, I'll be pulled between either The Outsider or A Happy Death. Camus has always been a touchstone for me and I already feel comforted by the knowledge that he'll be with me until the end. As for music, well most of the stuff I know own is MP3 but of the vinyl, goodness knows what I'll keep. I've already had the horrendous experience of losing my treasured box of 7" singles (including a signed Tin Soldier picture sleeve) back in 1990. I won't be able to do a runner with a bin bag and a couple of adidas holdalls this time. But, who know by the time this train reaches the end of the track I might have jettisoned enough crap...

I keep glancing enviously at the drinks cabinet, wondering how long I'll give the two bottles of Jameson a wide berth. Meanwhile, I am trying to make friends with the local Magpie family. I was attacked by one on Sunday whilst out riding my bike and am trying to make amends before the whole thing blows up into a full on feud. I'm not sure of the best approach really but I'm starting off with a bit of friendly banter. Although I suspect food would be a better bet.

I've been unemployed before and I'm starting to remember the overwhelming joy that small glimpses of security bring amidst the crushing disappointment of a regular day. This is not going to be easy but then again nothing ever is, is it?

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I was looking for a job and then... #1

The marine clock chimes 11pm. the Tour of Wallonie is showing on Eurosport and in the background on my laptop Stewart Lee & Alan Moore are having a conversation. In essence the pair of them are trying to subvert the marketing process for Stewart's new book. And they are succeeding.

I have recently gravitated to Stewart's work. He challenges a fair few norms, despite still making a living from being a stand up comedian. I have tried to do that too in the professional consulting space but I have failed (so far).

Being unemployed and of an age where I might never get a job again, is on the one hand very liberating and on the other it is quite fucking scary! I have some money but not enough to buy a house, to live and never work again. I have some money, I don't need much more but I do need more. I am happy to work. I am by no means stupid; my voting record, record collection, reading list and dress sense prove that! But I might have been pulled back into the pack. I was previously in life's peloton and then in the foothills of my 30's I made a break and I got ahead of the main group. I took King of the Mountains points on that stage but it would seem that I went too early...

Stewart Lee and Alan Moore are now talking about 'Moby Dick in Outer Space'. I should really be listening to them but I have committed to a daily update on this blog until I either get a job or die. However, upon looking back from that full stop I realise that I have already written my first post and now is the time to sign off.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Original Mod Rule Book

The Original Mod Rule Book

Clean living under difficult circumstances - Pete Meaden
Once a mod always a mod - Jack Nash

From the heady days of the cool modernists, so beautifully depicted in Colin Machines novel 'Absolute Beginners' to the 2nd generation mods spread out across the deckchair strewn beaches of the mid sixties. On to the 'Quadrophenia' Mods of 73, the revival Mods of 79/80, the scooter boys and  deep corner mods of the 80's, the Acid Jazz'/Britpop Mods of the 90's, the Modfather acolytes of the noughties all the way up to today. There has always been an underlying code that defines Mod v Not. A code that until this day was always believed to have been lost in the last days of The Scene Club.

However, London journalist and lifelong Mod Jack Nash stumbled across a battered copy of a first draft proof copy of the original Mod Rule Book.  After painstaking work, Nash in conjunction with Bureau Clandestine is pleased to announce that prior to the formal launch in January 2018 (to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first ever Modernist Conference in Soho 1958 at The St Jermyn's Club of Piccadilly), that we will serialise some key aspects of TOMRB here on this blog.

Why here? Why such a low key launch? To test two theories: 1) That true Mods instinctively know where the truth lies, 2) That the internet isn't as all pervasive as perceived...

To tantalise. 

Here is a brief extract from Rule 4, subsection 2.2 - Socks. 

Pastel coloured socks
Only these colours are acceptable with a brogue.

  • Lemon (All shades)
  • Sky Blue
  • Puce
  • Baby Pink (1928)
  • Sussex Cream

Pretty powerful stuff...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Albion Hotel

Bring me the keys
And show me to my room
Turn off the light
So that I can see the moon

I can hear the rain falling
Through the night
The gulls cawing
I can feel the tide calling
Through the night
Until early morning

I’m checking in
I’m checking in
I’m checking in
To the Albion Hotel

Bring me a drink
And leave it over there
Turn back the sheets
As you head back down the stairs

I can hear the rain falling
Through the night
The gulls cawing
I can feel the tide calling
Through the night
Until early morning

I’m checking in
I’m checking in
I’m checking in
To the Albion Hotel

Prepare my bill
& slip it under my door
give my luggage away
I won’t need it anymore

I can hear the rain falling
Through the night
The gulls cawing
I can feel the tide calling
Through the night
Until early morning

I’m checking out
I’m checking out
I’m checking out
of the Albion Hotel

©Andrew Franks 2014

For a live version of this song, click here... Albion Hotel live