Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Okay it took a while, but at last I really like Kate Bush. No pretending.

I've always liked Kate Bush in theory. I wasn't ever going to like Wuthering Heights. Not when I hated the book so much.  Not with all the other stuff I was listening to. But later. Running up that Hill. The Red Shoes.  Hey, there Micheal - something about swinging on a chair in Abbey Road?  I almost got here.  Liked that she'd recorded them, liked that they existed, but not actually, as it were, to listen to.  Admired her. Respected her talent. Just didn't listen. I tried to because I thought very highly of what I thought she might be trying to do - Hounds of Love - went back to that several times, couldn't do it.  I wanted to like Kate Bush, I really did, I was the kind of person who should like Kate Bush. Only I didn't, so I obviously wasn't.
This Christmas I bought 50 Words for Snow for my wife, and because she hadn't got it, The Director's Cut. Played them on Christmas Day out of a sense of duty.  And listened.  And heard them.
Now I don't think it's all my fault.  Everything's a matter of taste.  But I loved Snow. Then I played Director's Cut.  And I loved that too.  It' isn't all my fault.  I heard them because they are so simple. So paired down. So undramatic. So unlike Wuthering Heights perhaps? No, that's not the point.  They are so bloody good.  The songs breathe.  Her voice so subtle.  The lyrics so clean.  And not so many notes, and, alright, I'll say the unsayable, not so much screeching.  Whatever it is, I promise I will go back to the other albums and try again. And if it doesn't work?  Who cares?  50 words for Snow and The Director's Cut will do for me.  Happy Christmas Ms Bush. You (and Private Eye the First 50 Years) have made mine.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Harry Perkins - the best fictional Prime Minister we never had.

I began this year reading Chris Mullin's diaries and twelve months later I've just finished A Very British Coup his thriller about what happens when a Labour government with socialist principles gets an overwhelming majority.  It's such a good read that it would be unfair to give anything away other than what we already gather from the title  - Harry and his colleagues are never going to be allowed to succeed.
I have always wondered why men and women of integrity, ideals, and conscience ever go into politics  when they can only look forward to sliding from one frustrating compromise to another, notching up more defeats than victories.  But reading Mullin makes you glad they do. 
His thriller is amazingly prescient.  It's exciting but it's so sad because the obstacles that prevent Harry Perkins getting closer to the world he's striving for are not a million miles from those that frustrated Mullin himself.
But the message of the diaries and the novel are the same.  It may not be possible to make much of a difference, in a world that seems bent on protecting the vested interests of a few (cf Cameron walks away from Europe to protect the City which is of course in all our best interests.  As  in - Is it fuck.), a society based on freedom, equality, and justice may be out of reach, but that shouldn't stop us trying to put our small shoulders to the wheel.
A reasonable thought for the New Year.

Monday, 5 December 2011

How does an ordinary mortal get tickets to see Bruce Springsteen?

Saturday morning.  Eight fifty five.  I'm sitting in front to the computer waiting for nine o'clock. The time that tickets for next year's Bruce Springsteen concerts go on sale.  At nine o'clock I click on.  All I'm offered is two at the very very back and at the very very highest point of the South Stand at Manchester.  I try other sites. Nothing. Eventually I get a ticket for Hyde Park. Only one ticket as my wife is just over five foot and gets understandably fed up at paying good money to stare at somebody's back.  So I'm going to see Springsteen.  Not with my wife.  Not at my venue of choice.  Maybe I was just unlucky.  Hundreds of thousands of people clicked on at exactly the same moment.
Yes, but hang on a moment.  I've just been on e bay and they're log jammed with Springsteen tickets.  6 for Sunderland. 8 for Dublin. All about to change hands at huge prices. And then I went on to look for tickets generally and the sites that said they'd sell tickets on Saturday and didn't have any now suddenly have stacks of them at prices up to £1398.
Oh, and on Friday I went on the same sites and they were offering pre sale tickets - that weren't officially on sale yet - for inflated prices.
So it wasn't just bad luck or bad timing that prevents me and God knows how many others from buying tickets.
It's a huge fucking organised scam. 
This is disgraceful, but it isn't news.
The ticket agencies either have inadequate security or they collude in the process.  Because they can make even more money by allowing the bulk pre purchase of tickets that they can re sell at huge prices and take a rake off from that sale too.
I have one question and I haven't the faintest idea of the answer.
How can it be stopped?