Monday, 12 December 2016

Exeter Steampunks Exeter Phoenix 10 Decemebr 2016

Exeter has has a version  of Steampunk and I had a bit of an experience, I turned up in my usual grungy gig wear to be greeted by post modern mash ups complete with fairy lights, mechanical jewelry and wigs, everyone was happy to strike a pose for pictures and show off their amazing creations. The pirate theme inspired some shark outfits, and the MC was right out of Pirates Of the Caribbean. Many looked like extras from a particularly confusing Dr Who episode.

Punk has meant lots of things over the years, in the 16 Century it was a word for a prostitute, and has been used for every kind of lowlife. Steam Punk seems well dressed, post modern and genteel version compared to Punk's violent history.

There was enthusiastic dancing but no mosh pit, who wants to wreak their fabulous confection? Especially as manyof the dresses were home made by some very talented people. There were some great bands and comedians, the night had a similar structure to a good, old fashioned variety show.

 There was the fun anarchy of punk though, one band had a Rum Gun, there was posing and dandy's that haven't been seen since Adam Ant. You could have a bop in the smaller room and it looked like an older, cleaner version of a New Romantics night.

Steampunk is a great expression of crazy inventiveness, great entertainment and post modern escape, it's as eccentric as an English lord building a folly and as full of posing and posturing as the  the coolest night at the Blitz club.  Get your corset and underskirt on, do something interesting with some fairy lights and give Steampunk a go, dressing up is back in fashion, and the more centuries you can pick and chose from the better, so get a great outfit, get some great selfies and escape, be an exotic Steampunk.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

How are the Tories the party for the working classes?

Most single mums are set to lose about £1300 under the Tax Credit cuts, maybe the Tories believe single mums will spend the money on a third flat screen telly but any single mum will tell you that money is essential, often wages go on rent and we live off some housing benefits and tax credits, without these our households will break down.

Poverty is worse than not being able to buy the latest phone or shopping in Primark and Poundland, in my household tax credits are a large part of our income, my wages only cover the rent, I get some housing benefit and most of our bills and expenses. I also have a generous parents who pay for lessons and larger goods so compared to many I know our family are lucky.

1 and 2 Cutting Tax Credits will spread childhood poverty like a disease, the implications for this generation are huge and the cost of cuts will outweigh the savings both socially and economically. Poor children are behind at school, their lives are less rich in experience and they’re less healthy. Tax Credit poverty won’t be down to lazy, feckless parents  who sit on a sofa watching a government sponsored telly, low earning parents won’t be able claim tax credits once they earn over  £3850 not £6420 and at this figure Tax Credits will go down by 48%, work harder get less.

The impression I want my kids to get of work is it buys you the basics and work harder to get more of life, not flat screen telly’s but experiences, travel, school trips and hobbies. I also want to work so my kids avoid the worst that poverty can bring and enrich my life too but this will be less likely under the Tories as they make life harder for the grafters they’ll make everyone poorer and the world a more brutal place for hard working families and show children their lives don’t matter and work doesn’t pay, so how will this less educated, less healthy generation grow up? How much will it cost and why are the government picking on the grafters and the grafters children?






Friday, 9 October 2015

Who are this Hardworking family?

The government likes a hard working family, you can picture them can’t you like a Soviet poster with Argos furniture, smiling with shiny new things and big smiles and tired parents from a hard day’s work and grateful to the government for helping then get their shiny new house, a realistic Utopia under the Tories. This home owning land of self-respect would be a great place, a place of dignity where the odds are always in your favour and the Hunger Games can end with work.

1My family poster would include mum but not dad and two children and mum works too, just like 59% of single parents. Unlike too parent families the strain is on one person, the homework, the doctors and the dentist the washing and the rent are on one person. So this must be a poster of a family that deserves government approval and opportunity.

Now I like working, I’m proud to talk and moan about work with my kids, I believe the best way to teach worth ethic to your kids is to work. I teach them to understand work can be boring, bitchy, nasty but worth it and if they work hard they can achieve their dreams so the odds should be in my favour, but I don’t feel that way, I still walk around thinking about money, I go without haircuts all the time and live off my overdraft, I buy cheap shoes so my kids can get a new pair and dread the post, because there are bills I can’t pay.

2 Tax Credits made my work worth it to start with, it meant my income meant something, my overdraft stops at that and the Foodbank isn’t needed, it’s the odd day out, broadband to look for new jobs and get self-respect and possible opportunities like tweeting for “The Green Party”. So yes I would rather not partly live off the state but my kids grow up with a little more than the minimum and more opportunities so this means the odds are deservedly in my favour.

3 Then you hear the government raise the minimum wage, this must be a good thing but the government forgot or ignored the details or thought they could bluff their way through them while not caring about the kids involved. Tax credits will be cut and a few quid on my hard won wages wouldn’t make me any richer and the poster would not feature new Argos furniture or smiles but more poverty, fewer new coats and hot meals while the government tells me work is virtuous and if I’m part of a “hard working family”.

As a single mum the odds are never in your favour.





Sunday, 27 September 2015

God Save The Labour Party

­Can we cast out mind back to before we heard about David Cameron doing unspeakable things to a dead pig there was a day when the leader of the Labour party decided not to sing our national anthem. A week is a long time in politics and for Jeremy not bothering to sing an obscure song became a PR disaster, but why, it’s a bizarre song that lyrics are not old school but ancient and have little relevance to huge numbers of the British people.

Brittan is a country that is full of atheists in fact 42% of Brits don’t believe in God.  The idea of God saving the Queen from flood, fire or Jeremy Corbyn is just silly to them; they think the Queen would be better off calling the fire brigade or sending in a rabid tribe of Daily Mail readers beating up Jeremy so he can’t steal all her glittery hats and save her from a seriously downgraded council house on an estate full of the little people.

If there is a God what would he save the Queen from? Jeremy Corbyn seems to be about her only threat. If there is a God I would rather he, she or whatever concentrated on refugees or families like mine who are about to be a lot poorer thanks to the Tories not a woman who flashes her wealth, has a big, expensive family, jewels, glittery hat and opulence to the people who pay for it, when thousands are queuing up for food banks this woman just seems tacky, worse still she talks patronisingly about austerity while wearing a crown worth millions, most poor families I know have pawned their gold trinkets. The anthem talks about the Queen as if England is a family, if this was true she would have sold her jewels on E bay a long time ago.

 Read the words, by verse two God Save the Queen, it’s as bloodthirsty as a Slipknot song. Most of us don’t know the lyrics past the first verse and if we have ever had to sing this song by the time we get to verse two most of us are humming tunelessly and red faced. The words we are missing talk of scattering our enemies and world domination, God Save the Queen is not just royal worship but a battle cry.

Is this song relevant to millions of the Queens subjects? One million of the showed up to a record breaking march against the Iraq war in 2003 so a bloody song about our enemies isn’t relevant to these people. .

Look at the people who need God’s help, the crying refugees, crying children clutching to teddy bears, displaced millions with nowhere to go now can many British people sing this song without cringing? So what goes does “Scattering enemies” do, it simply hurts the innocent.  

Jeremy Corbyn shouted for many by not singing this song and the headlines shouted this man was disrespectful to Britain. Look at Jeremy, he may look like a scruffy dreamer but he shows resect to everyone but a woman who has everything by a random accident of birth.

I received an e mail from the Labour party asking me what I would like to say to our government, this is democracy and he asked Cameron to answer his public, thousands of other people did the same. Jeremy stood up and asked questions from ordinary people, this shows a man more interested in people’s lives that his own ego.

Jeremy knows about respects and he saves it for the British ordinary, poor and struggling and the people who need saving and someone on their side. So ignore the obvious signs of respect like buying a new suit and signing a nasty song loudly and look a litter deeper at the rebels, the dreamers and those who look a little deeper at the evil glitter at the heart of our establishment, they may just help the people who need saving.

And here are the words

1. God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

2. O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall;
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all!

3. Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign;
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

4. Not in this land alone,
But be God's mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And form one family,
The wide world over.

5. From every latent foe,
From the assassins blow,
God save the Queen!
O'er her thine arm extend,
For Britain's sake defend,
Our mother, prince, and friend,
God save the Queen!

6. Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the Queen!


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Summer of Revolution starts here.

On Saturday 20 June a quarter of a million people gathered at the banking centre of London and marched to Parliament square.

Coaches came from all over the country all to unite against the government, every regional accent could be heard in the crowd and 6 coaches came from Cardiff alone. I was on one of two Union Subsidised coaches from Exeter.

 The march was a rave for a reason, people danced in the streets of London to bellowing sound systems and drumming bands, and like a good free festival there was outrageous self-expression along with a radical sense of community.

I walked a group against privatising the NHS wearing a tee shirt made by my daughter, it was covered on red paint to look like blood and read “Greed Kills, Save Our NHS”.

Everyone there was angry at the system for their own reasons, there was every group you could imagine from packs of young people waving the communist flag to Bitcoin fans to animal rights activists. This anarchic atmosphere was not completely chaotic, the march was incredibly organised with every theme sectioned off so every cause had a clearly defined voice.

Banners ranged from violent to the ridiculous and hilarious, there were puns, rants against the rich, but the huge majority of banners were about the cuts. Class War showed their usual sick humour about violence against the rich, they had a fabulously offensive slogan “We have found new homes for the Rich” as a caption for a picture of a graveyard but most said “No Cuts” this was the main theme of the day.

One of the strangest sights was a man wearing a dress with penises painted on it, this was a chance for release, outrage and carnival. There were people playing in drumming bands and I took the chance to literally dance in the streets of London. Despite the colour and outrageous was impossible to forget this was also a day out with a serious purpose, to express out outrage at the way Britain is being run.

Chants were varied form anti Scientology while walking past their head office taunts to the surreal “All kittens are equal”.

An exciting, happy atmosphere of solidarity, and a sense this demonstration could lead to something huge, there is the passion organisation and energy to do this.  Like a great old school, free festival I went home feeling energised and changed for the whole experience, a quarter of a million other people had seen through this government’s lies, were angry and hungry for change.

The question is all of these groups can come together for a day but can such diverse groups of people make a real difference, I talked to a friend who was involved in the “Occupy Exeter” camp and he pointed out every reason Occupy was angry started from similar causes, every group needs to remember this and make sure the carnival gets serious and we all take action.

Let 2015 this be a summer of love with a true purpose, let the carnival continue but the work begin.








Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mc Donalds, eleven year olds and Marxism.

Mc Donalds, and 11 year old and Marxism.

I'm getting frustrated., while my son is watching the internet I'm trying to understand an old, yellowing book about Marxism. I'm dyslexic and sometimes wonder if I should bother with books full of theoretical tongue twisters and academic waffle and stick to books with pictures in them  but I keep trying. Then my son asks

"Mum what's Marxism?"

Now that's an interesting question, I have to wonder if I should burden a video game loving eleven year old with political theory, but why not, his sister has explained  The Satanic Bible to him and he's happy to declare himself an atheist  so why not the theories of a man with terrible handwriting, a very patient wife and big ideas. I have to think about how to answer so I start with a familiar  idea, Mc Donalds.

"Well take Mc Donalds, they make a ton of money but is that food good for you"

"No" replies my son.

"Do the workers get paid much?


Do the workers own Mc Donalds?" I ask

"But they sort of do"

Go on I ask

"They could all go on strike"

Now that's clever, I wonder if ideas are genetic, after all, his grandmother was a political campaigner and feminist, she had the huge honor of being buried at Highgate Cemetery, English was her second language but she still struggled with yellowing books  until the early hours.

"They could but they don't own Mc Donalds"

"But they should, they do all the work"

"So Marxists believe the workers should own Mc Donalds"

Now I look at my yellowing book and realise that to a point Marxism is a very simple idea, a child understands fairness, they understand Mc Donalds and they go shopping, explaining the ideas of Marxism are not that difficult. So why are the ideas so bogged down with big words and self righteousness?

Then I realize myself how bad Mc Donalds' is, we sit and eat poisonous and addictive food for someone else s profit, but a bit of me knows we'll end up there, and that's the problem, it's easy to see why we shouldn't join in with the fag end of capitalism but we do, it's too cheap, too shiny and too tasty to resist, in a few years time Mc Donalds' will be a rainy day home and he will be so comfortable there he'll do his hair there, play cards and chat up girls there, Mc Donalds' fulls lots of social needs while feeding us dead animals, fat and sugar, that's why we hate the place but at some point end up sat in Maccys making money for the machine and feeding capitalism, a system so ingrained we have problems  imagining  anything else, so please before your kids sop dreaming explain Marxism, it's not that difficult.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Adventures in Chanting

A long time ago in the halcyon days of my late teens a hippy crush taught me how to chant, at first I was sceptical, I'm a wordy person,  I wanted to know what I was saying over and over again, I felt silly and self-conscious  and I didn't see the point, the only reason I kept trying was I wanted to impress an older boy. When chanting worked it felt great, it was restful like sleep and made me feel less like a child with AHAD.

Life took over and my crush went out with a prettier girl with great hair. Then many things happened, boyfriends, kids and a nightmare of a life, I forgot about chanting. As my mind got more tangled and my bedtime story in my mind turned into a nightmare, a tangled web of thoughts that kept me awake however much I'd done, the mornings became arguments and I needed to do something.

So I tried chanting again, I got up early lit some candles and tried again. At first I giggled, I wondered if the neighbours could hear but I soon got it again. I felt calmer, more human and didn't shout at the kids, I felt in control, my daughter gave me her usual tantrums and traumas and I stayed calm. There is a good explanation for my laid back attitude, and calmer outlook, meditation, this helped me to be logical, understand my actions and not take things too personally. Chanting changes your brain wiring for the better. 

I found chanting replaced some bad habits. When the kids go to bed there's a huge temptation to watch TV just to get that zoned out me time, there is little that's not history or horrible on late night TV, even programs about homicidal stalkers can keep you up late, then in the dark you wonder if that bloke who smiles at you every day is a secret killer just to add to the worry soup swilling around your skull.

Chanting does work, science tells us that, but there is something bigger.  My friend told me chanting is praying to the better part of yourself, and that's what we need; we scan our words, rush our food, shout at our kids and live in a soap opera with no time to think as life pulls us in a thousand directions and threatens to shatter our souls, we need to connect with the best in ourselves and take our happiness and peace into our control as the Dali Lama said "Happiness is not something ready made it comes from your own actions."