Songs For Kids – Not Wheels On The Sodding Bus

When I was a kid, a long time ago now, rock bands used to make songs for kids.  Somehow psychedelia embraced the childish and the child-like .

The Beatles had “Yellow Submarine”, “Octopus’ Garden” (and more) and The Kinks “I’m an Apeman” and Pink Floyd has “Bike”.  David Bowie made the astonishing “The Laughing Gnome” (one of my absolute favourite songs of his). It somehow seemed, in the 70s that rock didn’t take itself too seriously and kids were somehow part of the whole music world. To me at least.

It seemed that musicals overlapped with Spike Milligan and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and The Monkees. Something I’ve always liked.

So it always seems a mystery to me that “kid’s songs” collections would have “Wheels on the Bus”, a song I loathed as a kid.  So I always used to make tapes ( remember them ) for the car that had decent songs on, that were fun, and my kids grew up loving ( I hope ).

Some of these are simply pure nostalgia, some just because they’re totally fab ( like Crazy Horses ) but most have something of the child-like in them, and nobody goes to mow any meadows at all.


Toy Dolls ~ Nellie The Elephant
Summer Holiday ~ Cliff Richard
See You Later Alligator ~ Bill Haley & Comets
The Police ~ Walking On The Moon
Please Mr. Postman (1961) ~ The Marvelettes
Pink Panther Theme Song ~
Joe Dolce ~ Shaddap You Face
I Wanna Be Your Dog ~ The Stooges
I Like Bouncing 1981 ~ Not the Nine O’Clock News
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) ~ The four tops
I am a mole and I live in a hole ~
Hooray! Hooray! It’s a Holi-Holiday  ~ Boney M.
Foxy Lady ~ The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Four Bucketeers – ‘The Bucket Of Water Song’ – 1980 ~ TISWAS
Don`t Jump Off The Roof Dad ~ Tommy Cooper
Combine Harvester ~ The Wurzels
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – Totp 1971 ~ Middle of the Road
Brown Girl In the Ring ~ Boney M.
Bring Me Sunshine ~ Eric and Ernie
Betty Boo – Doin the Do ~ Betty Boo
Any Old Iron (1957) ~ Peter Sellers
I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat ~ Tweety Pie
Ning Nang Nong (Edit) ~ Spike Milligan
One Way Or Another ~ Blondie
Windmill in Old Amsterdam ~ Max Bygraves
Dah Band – Jollity Farm ~ Bonzo Dog Doo
A-Bee Song 14 ~ Monty Python Eric The Half
Monty Python Lumberjack Song 03 ~ Monty Python
Be Back Soon ~ Oliver!
Max Bygraves ‘Pink Toothbrush’ ~ Max Bygraves
Little White Bull (1959) ~ Tommy Steele
Black Betty 1977 ~ Ram Jam
Oom Pah Pah ~ Oliver!
My Old Man’s a Dustman ~ Lonnie Donegan
Monty Python Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life 01 ~ Monty Python
The Goons ~ The Ying Tong Song
Thank you very much ~ The Scaffold
Children in Need 2004 ~ Tommy Steele: ‘Thank You Very Much’
You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two from the film Oliver! ~ Oliver!
My Ding-A-Ling (1972) ~ Chuck Berry
Sugar, Sugar ~ The Archies
Octopus’s Garden ~ The Beatles
I’m the Urban Spaceman ~ The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
Hushabye Mountain ~ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Play That Funky Music White Boy ~ KC & the Sunshine Band
Human Fly ~ Cramps
The Laughing Gnome ~ David Bowie
You Can Get It If You Really Want ~ Desmond Decker
Disney – Jungle Book – Bare ~ Disney
Everybody wants to be a cat ~ Disney
I Wanna Be Like You ~ Disney
I Feel Love ~ Donna Summers
High Hopes ~ Doris Day
Irish Rovers ~ Drunken Sailer
ABC ~ The Jackson Five
02 02 Lily The Pink ~ The Irish Rovers
Apeman ~ The Kinks
What Time Is Love? [LP Mix] ~ The KLF
Champion, The Wonder Horse (from the TV series) ~ Frankie Laine
Charlie Drake ~ My Boomerang Won’t Come Back
Under the Sea ~ The Little Mermaid
Can’t Get You Out Of My Head ~ Kylie Minogue
He’s The Greatest Dancer ~ Sister Sledge
We Are Family ~ Sister Sledge
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ~ Nancy Sinatra
Roadrunner ~ The Modern Lovers
I’m A Believer ~ The Monkees
The Gnu Song ~ Flanders and Swann
Bright Side ~ Monty Python
I Wanna Be A Fishy ~ The Orb
Bobby Darin: Splish Splash W/ ~ Bobby Darin
Spongebob Theme Song (WithLyrics) ~ Spongebob
Crazy Horses ~ Osmonds
Beatles – Yellow Submarine ~ Beatles
Down By The Water ~ PJ Harvey
The Hippopotamus Song (Live) ~ Flanders & Swann
My Brother ~ Terry Scott
Madness – Driving In My Car ~ Madness
Bobbidi-Boo (from Cinderella) ~ Bibbidi
Johnny Dankworth & His Orchestra ( 1961 ~ African Waltz
Bernard Cribbins, Right Said Fred Lego ~ Bernard Cribbins


…I’m still adding to this list. If there are any you think I’ve missed put ’em in the comments.


What’s Goth and What’s Not Goth

Warning: This blog posts contains a lot of links to You Tube videos of the bands performing live. I expect you to watch every single one of them. There WILL a test. Please don’t continue if you can’t uphold your part of the deal.


So the Beeb have a programme coming up on Friday called Goth at the BBC and it’s already got me all riled up.  Like punk, there is a lot of guff talked about goth. This article, for example, has Joy Division as one of the 10 essential goth bands. No, no, no. Not even slightly.

My only qualification for talking about this is that in the early eighties I was a wannabe teenage punk and I was at the time aged 14, 15 and 16. In that order. For some reason, in those days, what tribe you belonged to really mattered. It’s hard to tell the (my) kids of today how it’s so different now and you’re free to like hip-hop and metal. It’s allowed. In my day, you had to make a binary choice, although there was some blurring around punk and reggae for some reason.

I witnessed the slow troubled birth of goth and in the years since I’ve  seen it grow into the very strange phenomenon it now currently is.  In the days when  access to new music was essentially The Tube ( on Channel 4 on a Friday), John Peel, the music press and of course, local gigs  – one of only modes of fresh information was the collection of band logos on back of people’s leather jackets. Those jackets were the Spotify “Related Artists” buttons of yesteryear.

Look at this leather jacket above… Motorhead, Alien Sex Fiend and The Cramps. I can’t even… there isn’t a venn diagram that could hold these disparate entities. I feel a blog post about punk leather jackets and the logos coming on. Another day.

So firstly, we need to establish that many of the bands that defined goth weren’t actually goth themselves, because goth didn’t exist yet. These bands were hangover punk bands from the 70s, they were musically minded in that they weren’t continuing raw end of punk,  and they all had spiky back-combed jet back hair and eyeliner. These bands were Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure and The Damned. They would be my menage a trois grandparents of goth.

Have you watched the videos linked?




Then there were the bands that the as-yet-not-quite-goths all liked. I’d see these as-yet-not-quite-goths at the same gigs I went to. These bands were very definitely post-punk in that they all distanced themselves from punk which was slowly mutating into the likes of crude working-class mainly racist skinhead Oi crap  from the likes of 4 Skins, hardcore punk from bands like Disorder and anarcho-punk from the likes of The Crass ( I loved the graphics, the politics and ethics of the The Crass but they were quite a hard listen ).

(Have you watched all those? They set the scene )

At the time though, post-punk was only one label of the labels out there for the bands I was watching and listening to. “Post punk” was competing for acceptance with the labels of new wave, positive punk and even blitzkrieg rock (anyone remember that one?) .

These post-punk bands included my personal favourites, Killing Joke and Theatre of Hate who became Spear of Destiny but also included Sisters of Mercy,  Southern Death Cult,  Birthday Party, Psychedelic Furs, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, New Model Army, Cocteau TwinsVirgin PrunesThe Chameleons, The Cramps,  The Fall.

Exciting times.


The Vinyl Holy Trinity Of Goth

There were three records that trace the trajectory of the rise of goth and the death of post punk. They were  Bauhaus with Bela Lugosi’s Dead which kicked goth off.

Death Cult’s   Death Cult – EP which for a fleeting moment looked like punk could become a Kings of The Wild Frontier type thing but didn’t.  It’s amazing how quickly the Cult became mainstream soft rockers following this, but for a moment it look like goth might shake off the black and become something more psychedelic.

And there was the Sisters of Mercy’s Temple of Love was the point where goth got neutered and the this record became the template for what goth is now … and was set in stone.


The Exact Date Of The Birth of Goth

Bauhaus’  Bela Lugosi’s Dead came out in August 1979.  I didn’t know it was that early, I’d have put its release at 1981ish. Anyway, it took a couple of years for its messages to filter through. Messages like vampires are cool, black and pale is obligatory,  wear fishnet stockings on your arms, you can’t have too many effects on your guitars ( chorus and echo especially ) and be as pretentious as hell itself.

I loved Bauhaus. True, they were a bit pantomime but, the music was great.

This article pins the exact beginning of goth as 1983.  Although I doubt the truth about Ian Astbury’s role,  I think the date is about right.

In an interview with Dave Thompson and Jo-Anne Green of Alternative Press magazine in November 1994, Ian Astbury, the vocalist in Southern Death Cult, laid claim to having invented the goth tag:
“The goth tag was a bit of a joke,” insists Ian Astbury. “One of the groups coming up at the same time as us was Sex Gang Children, and Andi — he used to dress like a Banshees fan, and I used to call him the Gothic Goblin because he was a little guy, and he’s dark. He used to like Edith Piaf and this macabre music, and he lived in a building in Brixton called Visigoth Towers. So he was the little Gothic Goblin, and his followers were Goths. That’s where goth came from.”

If there’s one band that could be said to have spawned goth, it would, for me, apart from Bauhaus, it would be the often overlooked Sex Gang Children.  They had the haircuts, the attitude and most importantly they had a connection with the Batcave club in London.

The only problem with the Sex Gang Children was that their music was too intelligent, it was complex, quirky and challenging.  If they’d have whacked up the bass chorus and written some floaty banal songs rather than the screechy stuff, it would be them holding the credit for this thing called goth. I suspect that in the BBC show coming up, they won’t even get a mention. And yet they were goth to the bone before goth.

The Real Goths

For me,  real goth was born in the Batcave which opened in July 1982. Don’t get me wrong, there were a heap of Northern goth bands, and York was home to Red Rhino records which signed them all I think and played them to death at the Roxy. But somehow, The Batcave seemed the spiritual home of goth, a place where the horror B movie look went mad and felt at home. When I think of real early goth I think of Alien Sex Fiend, who I saw at the Bumper Castle on the edge of York, and it felt like the Batcave had visited the north for an evening.

Check out this video of Goth in York. That guy with the blonde mohawk was in the mosh pit at the Alien Sex Fiend gig. I was stood at the back thinking, this is a bit shit.


These new early goths were taking their lead from the grandparents of goth, they added some key components and they were…

  • B-Movie horror style. The camper the better.
  • Drum machines were cool
  • Twiddly guitars were cool
  • Deep male vocals please
  • Bass guitars had to be ploddy and have acres of chorus effect applied
  • It was OK for men to wear fishnet vests and make-up
  • Synthesizers were acceptable
  • Skulls
  • Vampires
  • Zombies

The bands from this time who I would consider real goths were …

Alien Sex Fiend

Alien Sex Fiend, Specimen Gene Loves JezebelThe March Violets,  Danse Society (on The Tube and truly awful ),  Flesh For Lulu (deep singing),  Skeletal FamilyPlay DeadGhost Dance,  Xmal Deutchland,  Fields of the Nephilim,  Balaam and the Angel (on The Tube) and  Rubella Ballet.

Watch all those videos, and spot the difference between Fields of The Nephilim and Birthday Party. Compare and contrast The March Violets and Killing Joke. Most of the goth bands stuck to the same template. THEY WERE ALL THE SODDING SAME!

Goth, like punk was as much a fashion as it was about music, it was like a Hammer Horror version of punk that hadn’t wrung enough juice out of glam rock.

Although some of the bands like Alien Sex Fiend favoured a sort of proto-industrial sound and were trying to be originals, others were more akin to twiddly gothic folk music.

These first goth bands were united by one thing, they were all truly, truly awful.  Really, bloody bad. I know I saw all of them live. I was even in a band at the time that didn’t know it was goth.

The absolute goth kings of awful were The Mission. They obviously really wanted to be the U2 of goth and the way they went about becoming that was beyond the pale.  Watch the linked video, I’m still to this day astonished by how awful they were, their blandness and twiddly diddly riffs are beyond belief. I can’t believe how beyond belief they were.

But it is these pioneers of awful that we must thank for the likes of what is known as goth today… The Marilyn Mansons and VNV Nations and this list of goth bands I’ve never heard of that now are as goth as the goth section in the Argos catalogue draw a direct line of decent from the early real goths and not from the post-punks, not from the likes The Birthday Party or The Cocteau Twins or Spear of Destiny (assuming you ignore haircuts).

Actually, I quite like Marilyn,  who borrowed the look from the Batcave but his sound is more of a glammed up Cabaret Voltaire / Einsturzende Neubaten / Killing Joke / Throbbing Gristle / Test Dept than the twiddly fiddly stuff I’m talking about … bad example there.

And weirdly, at the time, lurking on the edge of goth was  Marc Almond and Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel’s Clint Ruin and Pete Burns with You Spin Me Right Round. I know, it didn’t make much sense but goth was becoming very mainstream and very, very awful. (Again, Marc Almond and Clint Ruin were quite good at it. It’s all very confusing this, isn’t it?)

Goth lost punk’s raw menace. This was maybe a good thing. Punk always had too much violence anyway and punk’s pogo dance had evolved into the chicken dance. Watch for the chicken dance in the audience of any of the live videos linked above, it’s hilarious. You can spot the chicken dance because it was a cross between the birdy dance and a martial art designed for mosh pit survival.  Goth became a Tim Burton fairytale horror story rather than the real dark threat in a Birthday Party song performance.

Compare this Birthday Party song above love to this Mission song above love and guess which one makes me puke.

Goth became very feminine, shy and pretty ( look at this Google Image search for goth this is what goth is now). A style of chicken dance even evolved that was sort of like gentle lace covered armpit wafting, a thing of beauty rather than a sweaty punk from Wakefield’s elbow in your face.

I increasingly didn’t like this fey and girly goth. I not only didn’t like it, I was embarrassed I’d ever shared a venn diagram with it.  And what’s more I got very annoyed when people claimed post-punk bands for goth.  Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Birthday Party weren’t goth. OK, Bauhaus might be, but that would spoil my point.

When you start claiming goth heritage, you can get your hands off the excellent Bauhaus, Killing Joke and Birthday Party because they just weren’t goth and you can start taking responsibility for your wayward real grandparents, the likes of  Alien Sex Fiend,  Sex Beat ( remember them?) and maybe you could even give Sex Gang Children a call to say sorry for locking them in the attic all this time.

Sometimes, I wonder, why any of this matters? Why does whether an obscure band from Wakefield were goth or post punk matter to me so much? It could be that (before I’ve even seen it, I imagine) the BBC are carelessly rummaging through my nostalgia and clearly putting it back in the wrong boxes. It could be that it’s about the veracity of post punk history,  where I shout  “Hey, I was there, at all those gigs, and you’ve got it wrong”. Is it that the ages of 15,16, 17 and indie music were to me steeped in something incredibly intense and seminal for me and I’m just overly obsessed with the music from those years… and myself.

I don’t have an answer to why the post punk and goth era matters so much to me, but I was there.  I shared Southern Comfort backstage with Nick Cave.  And I like to think that maybe the few words we shared set him on his way…  Crown of Thorns were supporting ( remember them?).






David Mullett’s Guide To York

I love giving directions, even, or maybe especially if I don’t know where I am. It’s YEARS since I went out in York, but here’s my best stab at guide to York for someone who likes red wine and red meat.

It begins with a drink in Mason’s and then takes you up the Shambles.  After getting a picture of the Minster, you might head down Stonegate and pop up the stairs into The House of Trembling Madness for a quick one. By now, you can head over to the Whippet Inn, which is the allegedly a very good place to get a steak ( I’ve never been ). Then, it’s a bit of SCHLEP home, I can’t think of anywhere interesting for a nightcap….

Actually, looking at that line, I’d maybe walk along the river to the White Swan? is it and have a pint… it’s a proper pub. And then head down to the Blue Bridge ( which leads to the back door of the Novotel) rather than swim over the river.

The Sun’s “This is our England” cover

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 20.42.35 I wouldn’t buy the Sun if you paid me.

When they posted a free version of this through my letter box I wondered who all the people actually were. At first glance, it seemed clear that the Sun’s England was mainly male, white and long in the tooth. Which is exactly how I imagine they’d like it to be.  It’s how they are.

Of the people shown on the cover, the Sun’s England is 24% female. They like it that way.

So I searched for “johnny rotten delia smith ed miliband” and found nothing. I couldn’t believe it, that no one, that the Sun themselves hadn’t done a key telling you exactly who everyone one was. I’m hopeless at recognising celebs, I don’t really watch soaps, ITV or channel 5.

I started a spreadsheet and tried to name them all… I got more than I thought I would and in the process realised that maybe if other data was added, like income or political affiliation, that the Sun’s pathetic attempt to curry favour would be easily perverted for fun and profit.

If you can help me fill in the names, or add any useful data, please do. Add it to this spreadsheet here.

Trying to re-write the Neo4J browser in pygame with py2neo

This blog post is an exercise in articulating something so that maybe,  just maybe one person, or maybe two can understand me. Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 14.53.21 (2)     So. I’ve written some code that takes the details the delegates gave us about themselves for our upcoming conference. It includes Twitter accounts and a few questions etc. I then semantify ( extract the basic concepts from this ) this data and pile it into a Neo4J database. I’m trying to visualise this data using pygame. The reason I chose pygame were  a. It’s python,  b. I know python. I did try another million angles.

My aim was to simply pile in the data and get “nice” graphs out of the other end. I was wasn’t looking for insight or meaning or valuable data. All I wanted was some “people based” data that connected to relevant random things…. and see where that took me. So. I wrote some code to get me a random person. Then I added some cypher to grab me some connections on from that person to other people. Like this…

MATCH (person:Person {name:"Mally Mclane"}),(them:Person)
 MATCH p=shortestPath((person)-[r*]-(them))
 WHERE length(p) > 3
 RETURN nodes(p),length(p)
 Limit 5

This does most of what I want, in that it makes “pretty graphs” quite reliably. My problem is this. If you look at the  two visualisations above, once running in the Neo4J browser and the other in my (rather hopeless ) pygame code you can see that although they have the same “blobs”, that the Technology_Internet blob in Neo4J is connected to 6 items but my pygame version is only connected to two ( Alex Goffe and the question in green ). I think I know why this is. In python when I get the results back I get 5 items  (see the “LIMIT 5”)  see below… Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 15.13.16 (2) … and in each of those results, it’s values are nodes. Now… when I try to unpack these results into pygame… because each result returns a “path” of nodes, I am simply getting…

1. shoulder bone  node-> arm bone node > elbow bone node > wrist  bone  node
 2. arse bone node > knee bone node> shin bone node> ankle bone node > foot bone node

And there’s the problem. Because shortestPath returns a list of nodes,  a path, and not collections of nodes and relationships… I would have to, with each bone node, go and individually look up the relationships to each of  the other bone nodes. Am I right? Is that what the neo4J browser does? How does the neo4j browser know that ( in my case ) elbow bone node is connected to my arse bone node.

Installing Pygame with on Mavericks

Notes To Self…

… and just in case some other poor soul is struggling with this and searches for the error message…like I did.

I was trying to play a video using and getting…

NotImplementedError: movie module not available

(ImportError: No module named movie)


After trawling around and trying every option out there, brew, pip, hacking source compilation… I found this approach actually worked. For me.


a. Install MacPorts


b. >>> sudo port install py-game @1.9.1_8


c. In the terminal add…


export PYTHONPATH=”/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/site-packages:$PYTHONPATH”


Now I get …


>>> import


<module ‘’ from ‘pygame/’>


And it seems to play movies fine. As long as you’ve converted it with ( you might need to go get ffmpeg too)  …


ffmpeg -i <infile> -vcodec mpeg1video -acodec libmp3lame -intra <outfile.mpg>


… otherwise you get …


Python(37671,0x7fff762f1310) malloc: *** error for object 0x7ff37408a608: incorrect checksum for freed object – object was probably modified after being freed.

*** set a breakpoint in malloc_error_break to debug


… and a crash.


Thinking about thinking… and about symbolism and of course, money

We had an excellent presentation at work today by a couple of people from John Lewis and Waitrose about their approach to delivering a fantastic Customer Service. It’s always great getting perspectives from people outside your organisation, in different industries and seeing the similarities and differences.

The point that made me sit up, and for some reason get fired up was about how all John Lewis employees “own” the business. John Lewis doesn’t call them employees, they’re partners. The creator of this idea was John Spedan Lewis who wrote a book called “Fairer shares: A possible advance in civilisation and perhaps the only alternative to communism” which has to it a whiff of before-its-time-new-labour-lefty thinking that for some reason I warm to.

It’s not hard to warm to John Lewis/Waitrose when you discover the original documents relating to Tesco’s strapline from the days when things were are bit more honest.

Every little person working in, and spending all their money with us, helps us to drive down prices for suppliers and make massive profits for ourselves, hahahhaha!

So there I was floating along on a delicious warm Waitrose croissant of general agreement about how valuing employees results in lower turnover of staff, fewer sick days and better customer services – which leads to happier customers ( who come back, again and again ) – which leads to profit.  And because John Lewis doesn’t have shareholders, remember the company is owned by the employees, ahem, partners… all that lovely profit gets paid to them as their bonus. How totally crazy and brilliant is that?

Then we discovered that, as a partner, your bonus is a percentage of your salary. Currently, depending on how well John Lewis have performed, it’s about 17% of your salary. That’s a great bonus.

But it got me angry that those with large salaries, who have already been recompensed for the work they do ( haven’t they? ) then get a bigger bonus than everyone else. For some reason that completely irked me. If a “share” of the profits is “ownership” then why does someone on a bigger salary own more of the business? Should they?

I raised this question and received some counters, from the speakers and the floor, that went:

Well, if anyone wants to earn that much at John Lewis they will be given all they need to climb the ladder.” That’s great but kind of misses my point.

The top bonuses are capped.” Oh I thought, but it depends how they are capped. Are they capped at an amount or a percentage or what.

People often value more the non-financial rewards more than the bonus.” Again, my point isn’t that receiving money isn’t good, but comparing it to a healthy working culture missed my point also.

I felt that I was maybe being unhelpful. They were here to talk about customer service and here I was wanting to genuinely discuss abstract notions of ownership. You see my thinking was, until I understand their idea of ownership which is based on a good culture for employees/partners and democracy of voices and COLD HARD CA$H – that until I could really understand their model, I wouldn’t be able to think about to apply any of their good stuff to my setting.

My point was this…

If “ownership” is being represented by money then why isn’t it equal?

… It always stinks to my ears ( ahem ) when I hear of percentage-based pay increases in the media. Percentages make the difference between the haves and the have nots wider.

Doug EngelbartIt was during the presentation, at this very point that I was reminded of Doug Engelbart who died recently. Doug seemed to get described by the media as “the guy that invented the mouse”, which he did do, but more importantly ( to me ) Doug’s work was all about using the computer to create tools to augment intellect. Not replace it. If you haven’t watched this video, The Mother of All Demos, go watch it. It’s stunning. The hard part is trying to imagine what it’s like not to know what a mouse is. Also pay attention to the things he demonstrates that we still don’t have today.

And so there I was listening and asking questions about the John Lewis bonus scheme thinking… at a gut level, I have no clue as to how the bonus scheme would change  if it were paid equally rather than on a percentage basis. Of course, there are only a small number of people earning the big bucks at John Lewis, but how much bigger is their drain of the collective profit is.

I would argue that dealing with these unusual sliding scales, like when thinking about the 99%, and like when dealing with very BIG numbers is something we as humans just aren’t very good at dealing with, at working with at a gut level. Maybe it’s just me.

And so I thought, well, what do I know? They have 85,000 employees. They will have fewer high paid execs that lower paid checkout workers. I could guess at how much roughly they get. From there I could work out what 17% bonus would be and add it all up.

So I made a spreadsheet to try and get a feel as to what the difference would be.

What I discovered…

…was that if you are on £20,000 you currently get a bonus of £3,400 and if you are on £40,000 you get a bonus of £6,800. If you are earning £150,00 your bonus is £25,500.

If the bonus was equalled out it would be £5,814 each. That, of course would be a massive increase of those at the lower end, but would it be even worth bothering to drag their sorry arses out of bed for those at the higher end of the pay scales who, in my imaginary model would be out of pocket by £20, 000.

One of the strangest things about doing this was, if you remember the Telegraph article I linked to earlier which contained the figure for the total profit announced by John Lewis for last year.  It has £415 million whereas my spreadsheet has £494 million. What I’m quite clear about there is how, given my numbers were pulled from my hat, and have no fine tuning applied and can’t take into account a myriad of factors, it’s still not a bad ballpark figure for something I wouldn’t have even been able to guess at if asked in the street.

I came away wanting to explore the numbers, only slightly, and did. The answer I got told me that ownership is never ever fairly shared out but that some ownerships are more equal than others.























The Tory Illuminati

Paranoid conspiracy theorists put it to us that the powers that be are in cahoots to keep us in our place, hang onto power and get all the money.

The more complex theories suggest there are secret societies that maintain an ancient blood line, or that aliens resonating at a different frequency to our universe effectively shape-shift from one dimension to another arriving to feed off our fear. More down-to-earth theories hold that THEY want to create one world government and money system, kill most of us off to save the planet and rule the world ( sometimes with or without the help of aliens ).

Whether or not you believe these theories probably depends on how creative you are or how much you are frothing at the mouth – but I think there is something in them… I  always think that the crazies, if a little crazy, are always worth listening to… I’ve always thought that if you could see what was going on, how things really were, that alone would send you mad.

And I also think some things regarding “crazy” conspiracy theories are as true as can be:

  • we are being lied to
  • people in power do very, very shitty things
  • our imagination probably limits our ability to imagine how shitty things can be
  • people are often greedy and selfish
  • people believe any old shit

Those bullet points pretty much explain religion, but anyway…

No matter which walk of life you wander down, there quickly appear beside you two types of people, those who think they know what’s going on and want to explain it to you (in exchange for being listened to) and those who are happy to be told. People with the Power (point) and tales of doom and those buying the tickets… buying in.

So, in the “explaining what’s going on” department, conspiracy theorists are just the ones with the best stories ( aliens FFS ). They even often interlink their stories to give them readymade credence, so that a chem trail protester will happily accommodate the possibility of the existence of “greys” and the reality of magick.  It makes the “story” real somehow… just like how early christians rolled in any old pagan story that was lying around to make the idea of a zombie carpenter more palatable, more believable. Same shitcom, different actors.

And so, when we look at the U.K… it’s a bit more difficult to believe that the Queen is a satanist child abuser (although her family is pretty fucked up ) and that anyone in the New World Order would want anyone at all from the U.K in its privileged club.

To be fair, it’s the Americans that produce the best conspiracy theories. We have a benign monster in a Loch, they have Big Foot! They have an eye and a pyramid on the dollar bill! They invented bird flu and blew up the twin towers just to attack Islam.

The British Illuminati

In the U.K we have a much more restrained attitude to the stories that surround our slavehood. Yes there’s the Royal family and the class system and the Bilderberg Group but we have something WAY MORE INSIDIOUS…. The Bullingdon Club.

It’s sad that we’re back in the position that we have a Tory government, that lots of the cabinet went to the same posh school. If we lived in a meritocracy, that probably wouldn’t change though, who else do we want running the country but people from the best schools, the cleverest dicks? I actually don’t have a problem with posh schools, or smashing up restaurants in general, it is what lies behind all this that bothers me.

More scary to me, than aliens, conspiracies, poisons in sky or mind control is the of The Bullingdon Club. It is the biggest weapon being used against us, the people.

You see the thing is, the tories are happily robbing all of us, the state, the people to line their own pockets and their main defence, a very British defence is that they are foppish buffoons. I call it the Boris Factor. There he is caught with his dick in the biscuit barrel and  with a posh and witty excuse we let him off. Laughing. It has always been this way. We have always had severely incompetent posh idiots simply walking up to the cash, cocking something up and then having the gall to carry it off.

The Boris Factor is far worse than anything any conspiracy theorist can come up with. And it’s real. Unlike spaceships and aliens and all out war, being posh and affable is achievable and sustainable. You don’t need a secret society, you just need stables. It means these idiots, who we can plainly see as idiots will continue to keep doing this.

Here’s the mad part.

They don’t really believe it either.

They ( the Tories ) just have to believe it. The little ones are sent to the best schools not to learn STUFF but to learn expectation and arrogance and the best of them incorporate eccentricity, classic buffoonery or genuine affability.

Here’s the really mad part. Even when we realise this, that Gove and Osborne and Cameron and Johnson aren’t remotely competent, but can happily be relied upon to mention “whiff whaff” when required…. even then… we still let them carry on.

In the recent Levenson inquiry, we heard how Cameron finished his text messages to Rebekah Brooks with LOL and laughed. And laughed. And failed to notice that it was the rest of the text message that was the story. Prime minister in cahoots with Media boss and perverting the course of justice or laugh at the posh twonk? A Genius stroke. Boris would have been proud of the sheer whiff whaffery.

Jeremy Hunt. Need I say more? Baroness Warsi. Need she ever open her mouth again?

And so now, the Tories, on a roll are essentially on a rolling program of releasing any old right wing policy ideas, and if we laugh more than we actually protest, we’ll get stuck with them. Mark my words, pasties aren’t finished with yet, we’re still laughing at the definition of “hot”.

How’s that for hanging onto power, keeping us in our place and stealing all the money?






The Problem With Buying A New Guitar

I recently received some royalty payments for work completed years ago. It wasn’t heaps, but it certainly felt like moula from heaven. It was enough to be able to think about buying a nice (enough) electric guitar. How lovely.

And that’s when my problems started.

I know nothing about guitars…


The Problem Of Brand Snobbery

First there’s Gibson vs Fender thing. I include into that Les Paul. You have to KNOW which you like and why and to be honest I don’t. You start looking at your favourite bands and noticing what they play. For example, Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker plays a semi acoustic Gibson but they cost about two grand, so that’s out. Before that, he used to play a Gibson SG which are much more affordable.

I noticed that lots of glam bands, or odd bands that I liked also chose the Gibson SG. It seemed to have a raw sound I like.

Modern vs Vintage. So, guitar afficionados seem to prefer certain eras of guitar which again seems to make them expensive.

Epiphone and Squier. And then there a companies that make ( or made ) copies of more famous guitars. And whether or not these are “as good” as the original, or woeful rip-offs seemed to vary. There’s even the legendary Ibanez copy of the Gibson Explorer that was better than the original. I quite liked the idea of that. And it was cheaper.

There’s also the knowing the difference between single coil and humbucking pickups thing. Which, it started to seem, is the big difference between Fender and Gibson. It’s about the way the magnets work to pick up string vibration ( I think ) and humbuckers have more raw oomph and single coil ones more zing. I like oomph and zing.

The Problem of Tonewood

Fenders are a bit thinner, more jangly or trebley and Gibsons have more raw grunt. Some people claim that is due to the wood the guitar is made from. Other people call those people idiots.

The Problem Of Being A Bit Of An Individual

Like lots of people I’ve always had a problem with herd mentality. Sure a Gibson SG or a Fender Stratocaster are both so lovely that they are a waste on me… but I still think I wanted something a bit different.

The Problem With Ebay

I found the array of options available to me daunting, there was Fender Jaguar ( cherry red ) that was £400 delivered from Falkirk, or one for £380 but was pickup only from Birmingham. I’d have to go on the train. Once I was watching ten guitars, the matrix of possibilities fried my mind.

The Problem Of The Illusive Bargain

Ebay is a pain because sellers know the real value of things. I wanted to find a U.S made classic for £100 at a boot sale. That was not going to happen was it.

The Problem Of There Being No Limit

There is always a more expensive guitar you can buy. Always. Always. And even then you can start tinkering with it.

The Problem With Music Shops And Being Shit On Guitar

To say I can’t play is maybe over-doing it, but I definitely can’t play solos, or in public. Going into a music shop and cranking up a guitar and thrashing an E chord is waaaaaay too embarrassing.

But I did it. I went to three guitar shops and played lots of guitars.

 The Problem With The Guitars Themselves

Squier Telecaster for about £100 played better than a £600 Telecaster. Can you believe that? The £600 one simply had been poorly set up and had string buzz.

Les Pauls are indeed ace but somehow, despite the Sex Pistols and Ziggy Stardust, don’t move me. And Flying Vs are a pain to play sitting down – they slip off your knee.

The Gretch was quite nice. The SG was undeniably beautifully adequate. The Epiphone was akin to being a recent Skoda owner after Volkswagon took them over.

I tried a Jaguar and was really surprised. I loved it. I decided I needed a whammy bar and hoped I wouldn’t regret not having humbuckers.

The Problem With Having Made The Wrong Decision In The Future

The problem with finding out about guitars was that it was stopping me buying a guitar. How crazy is that? Having tried the Jaguar I went to the pub to read about it in the hope of discovering that I hadn’t bought a complete turkey.

I found out that they were loved by the grunge scene ( Kurt even ) because they were unpopular but were great ( and therefore cheaper ). The Pixies used one.

By the time I got back to the shop, ready to buy, it had been sold.

The surreal shock to my system, at having actually made a decision was only made worse by being attacked by three piss heads with an inflatable sheep outside the shop. Really.

Making A Decision

So. I decided it was time to stop listening to the experts ( although this guy still makes me laugh ) and make my own choice. I’d got over the Fender ( thin sounding ) snobbery… and besides when you crank stuff up with 8 layers of fuzz, distortion and drive, does it really matter?

I then discovered a new version of old guitar from Fender called the Blacktop Jazzmaster.  It’s a cousin of the Jaguar. It has a whammy bar. It has a humbucker pickup. It is made in Mexico. It has simple controls. Johnny Marr didn’t play one. It is beautiful. And absolutely perfect ( for me ).

I noticed Rowland S. Howard with something that looked similar ( probably a black Jaguar, but close enough ).

There’s probably a whole heap of “but am I worth it” lurking that drove this almost painful OCD that I’m not ready to look at yet… but that’s another story. Maybe one day.

I still now notice EVERY guitar that ever appears on TV ever but I’m no longer lost in an awful never-ending matrix of should I / shouldn’t I / What if I have done the wrong thing and regret this forever?

But at least I’ve escaped my lovely guitar buying hell. The only reminder of how big an idiot I am is the persistent adverts for guitars on the side of EVERY SODDING SITE I VISIT.












The Cult – The Mission – Killing Joke

Killing Joke are playing next month and I probably won’t be going. What?! I hear you scream…

Well it’s like this. When I first heard that they were on tour with The Cult and The Mission I thought, wow what a goth fest, that’ll be great. Then having thought about it and looked at the line-up, which suggests that Killing Joke are on first, the alarm bells started ringing.

The Mission Thing

First, The Mission are billed higher than Killing Joke? What? The Mission were bloody awful. They can be single-handedly held responsible for every worst aspect of goth… which if I’m honest I never really identified with anyway… goth has always been when fashionable pretty girls latched onto punk and started wearing black lace… like the Mission.

My loathing for The Mission knows no end. Not only were their songs derivative, the were crap derivative. Listen to this… it opens like a Psychedelic Furs song and lurches towards Simple Minds.  But it gets worse, isn’t Wasteland The Mission ripping off themselves in a way. It’s basically Marian from the Sisters with different words? Not content with ripping off, goth-i-sizing everyone else, they even did it to themselves.

The Mission are, for me, the band that sold out the Sisters of Mercy. That’s it.

And are they on AFTER Killing Joke? Really? Even as time-fillers whilst they change the stage equipment I know I’d find them annoying from the bar. Galling.

And then there’s the other thing

Killing Joke on BEFORE The Cult? I know Killing Joke haven’t quite had a She Sells Sanctuary hit, but The Cult have only had one. Really?

And then there’s the other thing

I’ve always felt let down by The Cult, or as I should say, The Death Cult. That is to say, I really, really liked The Death Cult. They were incredible. They had Nigel Preston on drums doing the most tribal sounds ever, a wall of sound guitar from Billy Duffy, strong bass and warpaint. Killing Joke were in tatters around now (1982 – 3ish) and Death Cult were emerging as leaders in the world of post punk. Just look at them.

They even had Killing Joke scared. I have a video of Jaz ( since removed from YouTube of Jaz ( obviously drunk ) making veiled threats to the band that “calls themselves tribal for the sake of the music press“. They’d become The Cult and they brought in a frillier, psychedelic sound. When they went rock I danced along, in a way, thinking it ironic… but it carried on.

I mean, listen to Wild Flower. Yes, the riff may be reminiscent of AC/DC but they’re dressed like Status Bloody Quo. And the drumming in BUM – THUD – BUM- THUD. Dull.

The demise of Death Cult from brilliance into popularity was almost a bad as Adam Ants. And Ian Astbury kind of went the same way.

The last thing…

Whilst I’m not quite yet completely convinced by Killing Joke’s last offering, I do like it. They are still trying, still making, still kicking, still relevant. Maybe forced by a lack of “success” to remain true to themselves and producing wonderful tracks like Pole Shift that begin gentle enough and end in an 8 minute transcendental noise mosh pit.

And I don’t think I can grit my teeth whilst The Mission float around and The Cult fail to do Horse Nation ( albeit in the style of ZZ Top).




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