Tuesday, 14 April 2015

I've had some great news!

I have just had some great news.

I have been contacted by Billy Bragg asking if I would like to play some songs with him at the Left Field stage at Glastonbury at this years festival. This is brilliant, I will get to play Glastonbury for the first time in my life, Glastonbury has been a thread throughout my life as I attended the second ever one in 1971 during which I witnessed David Bowie play. I have then attended it sporadically over the years but haven't been there for 15 odd years now. To think that when I turned up in 1971, part of a crowd of 12,000, that all these years later I would play there myself. Amazing.

The 1971 event was only the second Glastonbury festival and the first one to have a pyramid stage.I remember being waking up after late night of overindulgence around late morning or early afternoon and dragging myself over to the remains of the fire in front of my tent. I then tried to revive it with a branch or two just as the performer on the stage sang...

 " Put another log on the fire for me, I've made some breakfast and coffee, Look out my window and what do I see
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me, All the nightmares came today
And it looks as though they're here to stay"Oh You Pretty Things lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, TINTORETTO MUSIC

Because of his strange delivery (as it seemed at the time), I remarked to the other hippies around the fire.

"He sounds like I feel"

The stage was a stone's throw from our tents and it was David Bowie, I was woken up from sleep by David Bowie playing outside my tent!
Once my head had cleared of sleep, I was able to enjoy his set and this has remained a very strong memory.

Other bands on at the festival were Hawkwind, Traffic, Melanie, Joan Baez, Fairport Convention and Quintessence.

Playing at Glastonbury this year will make me feel I have come full circle in my life.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Liars, liars, liars!

I, last night, played with the Newtown Neurotics at the Pipeline venue in London at a pre-election show to encourage people to Kick Out The Tories!

I always face a conundrum at these gigs, as I want the set to not only be a high energy display of punk rock but give people something to think about too. However, I am so intoxicated in the moment, that I have a real problem articulating my political beliefs in-between numbers. Even without having a drink, my thoughts are dashing across my synapses far too fast to take a single idea and run with it. I try to express my ideals though my lyrics, but at times like these, I feel I should say more. When, in the past, I have attempted that and later gone on to view them on YouTube, I am embarrassed that I was not able to more skillfully articulate what I was trying to say.

So I decided to keep it simple last night and just said, "we have got to kick out the Tories because we cannot contemplate another term with them in power". And that was it,basically, but underneath I was seething with a frustration that even my music could not burn away, I had a head full of indignation that, if allowed to be expressed, would come out so fast that it would just be an expression of anger and not reason. That is why I could never be a politician. 

Then, in the early hours of the morning,  I saw George Osborne's 'absolute commitment' to plug the NHS funding gap and I could take it no longer, I just had to get my thoughts out there, and below, if you would care to read it, is what I needed to say, if for no other reason than to give me room in my thoughts for something nicer (we live in hope).

Thank you for your patience in reading this.

Some of us see politics as the mechanism for bringing about real change to improve peoples lives, others see it as the smoke and mirrors of liars.

I despair to see crass examples of the latter, politics should be so much better than this. The Tories are now claiming they are going to plug the NHS funding gap by pumping into it £8bn above inflation, year on year until 2020.

I despair that some people will actually believe this is good news, as for many of us, this announcement brings a cascade of questions which prevents us from believing that the health service is safe in their hands. 

There they are...

1.   If the NHS is so important to you, how come we now have a £30bn funding gap between now and the end of the decade. At best this shows indescribable incompetence, at worse a deliberate attempt to starve the NHS of funding so that it no longer works and then, you can claim, that only the private sector can save it. This is a common template of the Tories, they have used this bullshit time and time again to justify privatisation. The railways for one comes quickly to mind.

2.   Did you not undertake an enormous and un-needed reorganisation of the NHS, one that was not mentioned in your manifesto and therefore, you did not have a mandate from the people to play around, with a national institution that plays such an important part of everyones life? This is a matter of life and death for people and Cameron and his team, who had no record of competency in government, who did not even win a majority, (so doubtful were the electorate that they could run the country at all), who had no idea how to operate the levers of power or how to work with civil servants to best bring about change, decided that they would dismantle the NHS and move it over root and branch to the private sector. What they did next was both completely incompetent and, willful vandalism at the same time, and behind it all was the slavering mouths of private health corporations, at the thought of the easy acquisition of such large amounts of cold hard cash. The cocaine of the ruling elite and their friends in big business. 

And what a mess they made, deliberately I think, and now with Labour gaining in the opinion polls, the sorry state of the NHS is suddenly discovered, as though they hadn't noticed there was a problem this big, during the full lifetime of a parliament. Either, as I said before, they were incomprehensibly incompetent or they deliberately reduced the service to this. Either way they do not deserve to remain in power.

3.   Now, out of the blue, you have found money for this? When last week you never mentioned it? Huge amounts of money, £8bn a year until 2020. Where is this money coming from? Only a few weeks ago the Welfare State which surely includes the NHS, was to be cut back to the levels of funding unknown since the 1940's because, these are the times of austerity and we can no longer afford to be human, to feel empathy, to really care. We can no longer afford to look after the health and wellbeing of the nation. 

4.   Whatever you say now, with this 'late in the day conversion', with money seemingly plucked out of the air, that has nothing to do of-course with the gaining popularity of Ed Milliband and his promises for the NHS (that still don't go far enough for my liking, but that's another thing). How do we know that once in power you will do this?

No-one is going to believe you

but you know what,

 I do...

5.   Your tribe, the Tories have often said that throwing money at something does not necessarily improve it, the subtext of which, is saying that it is important how the money is spent, this is the touchstone of good governance. So how will this £8bn above inflation increase, year on year until 2020 be spent.
If you get into power in this election, you will completely privatised the NHS and then shovel this windfall of £8bn per year of taxpayers money, into the pockets of the shareholders of multinational companies, who will then release some of our money  back to the health service, which will then be festooned with shiny logos, crass mission statements and glass fronted triage centres. A fragmented misfiring, backfiring service with lawyers benefiting from money that should have been spent on peoples health but will, instead, be wasted on finding out why one service didn't communicate with another which led to a string of deaths or abuse. Or why one company wasn't allowed to bid for potential a pot of gold even though the service was already working successful in the NHS and giving value for money.

Then, when privatisation fails to improve the NHS, on top of the money that taxpayers routinely pay for this service, we will then be asked increasingly, to pay again for services that were once free.

Meanwhile, a renewed Trident fleet will patrol silently deep in the oceans, protecting us from an imagined threat, while the austerity bomb explodes across the land destroying the life and soul of a nation,

So, so proud of Britain, so proud of being British that the Tories would willingly shit on it in a display that leaves us with nothing left to be proud of as a people.

The NHS, the greatest of all humanising ideas, the greatest we, as human beings can be, we reached for the impossible and we made it real, the British State did this and we become a beacon for the world.
Since then successive governments have lost the will to recognise this achievement, which was born of aspirations to improve a brutalised country after the Second World War. It was the greatest thing, the greatest idea, because it showed that money does not just buy bombs, it also buys peace and health and a stronger country. It was an ideal free of profit unless it was a profit that could be enjoyed by all. 

But now these despicable Tories and Rupert Murdoch are barbarians wishing to destroy everything so they can remake it in their own fashion, the brave new world.

Remember, Britons never never never shall be slaves,

Except we are, now!

Break off your shackles everyone, there is a future to be won.

Update, My incredulity was matched by Andrew Marr when he interviewed George Osborne who repeatedly refused to say where the Conservatives will find the extra £8 billion they have promised to plough into the NHS if they are returned to power. Check it out here

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Newtown Neurotics live at the Pipeline London this Friday 10th April

Next up is a pre-election blast this Friday 10th April, a Kick Out The Tories evening to encourage everyone to stand against a party that is turning the population into slaves for the rich elite. It's at the Pipeline in London, the venue is near Liverpool Street follow this link for more details https://www.facebook.com/events/1415566418745675/

Really, looking forward to it, I hate the Tories so much that playing live helps to expunge all the bile they create in me after listening to so much of their propaganda. Great to play live anyway and to meet up with my extended family of Neurotics appreciators. Brand new line of Kick Out The Tories t-shirts and badges will be on sale on the night and I hope we can all fortify ourselves for the battle ahead.

Hope to see you there if you are close enough to the gig to make it. 

Oh, one last thing, there has been a Drewett solo acoustic gig cancellation since I published my gig list on this blog in the last post.

The set with Attila the Stockbroker at the Harlow Square for his book launch on Tues 8th Sept, has been cancelled as the venue will be closed by then to enable a housing project to be built on the site. Hopefully the venue will have a new home by then but it is not signed sealed and delivered yet and so we don't know if there will be a venue ready at that time for the gig. Hopefully it will be rescheduled and if it is, I'll let you know. Watch this space!