30 September 2009

A Rainy Day In Herne Bay

Herne Bay. It's one of those seaside towns. A certain faded charm. The rain washes down in waves, the wind scours the estuary and scurries through the empty streets, on some unknown mission. I'm cold and wet and in a Graham Greene novel.

I'm walking past the Co-op, holding my coat to against the wind, gazing forlornly into its neon-lit interior. No one is shopping. The staff amble about listlessly inside, looking forward to closing-time. And then I bump into a friend. I smile a hopeful greeting. "I can't stop," she says. "I've got an appointment." And she runs, holding on to her bag to stop it falling from her shoulder. I watch her back sadly as she disappears up the road and around a corner.

I sit in a cafe and drink coffee. What else is there to do? Read a magazine about UF0s. Apparently JFK was the son of an alien, which is why the CIA had to assassinate him. All that X-File stuff. Conspiracies within conspiracies. Almost all the articles start like this: "March 20th 1996, 2.50 p.m., Heme Bay, Kent." There's a specific date, a specific time and a specific place. Ifs meant to give scientific credence to the vague stories that follow. But there's something dull and slightly absurd about the whole exercise. People have to have something-to believe in.

Just then the waiter comes over. "Another coffee?" he asks.

I could do with something to believe in too. I'm looking out of the window at the melancholy scene outside, and I'm thinking about UF0s. I can picture one right now: a huge gaseous object descending into the High Street in a swirl of shifting colours. I can see the alien life forms in there, diaphanous beings of light, radiating intelligence. One of them stretches and yawns, slips out of the machine and into the Newsagents, where he buys a copy of the Sun, and a packet of fags. And then they're off again, into interstellar space.

A rainy day in Herne Bay. Nothing much happens.

29 September 2009


Taoist: Shit happens.
Buddhist: The shit which happens is good.
Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?
Hindu: The shit which happens has happened before.
Catholic: We deserve the shit which happens to us.
Protestant: The shit which happens should happen to someone else.
Jewish: Why does the shit always happen to us?
Agnostic: I am not sure I believe this shit.
Atheist: I do not believe any of this shit.
Rastafarian: Let’s smoke this shit.

28 September 2009

"Sexy Music for Sexy People"

Saturday 23rd December

For those of you who don't know what the Flirt boys do down at the Penny Theatre every third Saturday of the month, may I advise you to catch up with it all the next time around. For those of you who do know however, you amy have heard it all before (seeing as they play the same old disco classics each gig) so have I, but I still feel it's worth looking up time and time again.

Driven by Andy (AJ) Jones, the deep roots of the dancefloor are reborn under the careful attentions of Avalon Jon, AJ and Kyle. Now the name of the game is disco. Yes, Flirt is a night focused (soul)y on disco, the same old groove that lends a thousand rips, licks and samples to the ever present House movement. It may be a little bit on the cheesey side, but hell, the "Flirtatious", they love it, and tunes such as "The Street Player", "Car Wash" and "It's Raining Men" are timeless.

Flirt is now in it's third year and has always dropped a quality dance night without any compromise. However the undoubted stars of the show are the die-hard Flirt massive themselves. Encouraged to "wear less to impress" there is free entry to those who look the part. Thereby the Flirt crowd is an uninhibited army of flare wearing , glitter lashed groove chicks, intent on doing it large.

Infiltrators catching the vibe included beards, K and T, Vicki (of Mr Lard), Baz (more often found banging out tunes in the M of K), mark and Anthony (always larging it) and of course myself. Needless to say, we all were drawn on to the Flirtatious frontline to funk.

Warning: The Penny is still a sweatbox.

27 September 2009

“Who’s had their hands all over my Knob?”

7th Heaven Thursday 31 August
Rogue Sound System

Those hootin’, ‘tootin’ CJA outlaws, the Rogue crew sidle into town for a mass takeover of our deep house consciousness. Conrad, Sue, Quinny and Dicko fresh from their Lincoln and Scunthorpe boltholes, amble rather than sidle down the motorway in their Rogue-mobile. First things first and Mark sees our very own tape distributor extraordinaire, Oochie ma Loochie off on a minor mission out into deepest Kent, to sort out some essential club accessories, very suitable to the ‘90’s afterhours experience. Meanwhile the rest kick off. The tape’s recording, the first of many beers got in (jeez-us, the price of beer in clubs? How is any self-respecting heed the baal expected to achieve stumbling mode al dente ay ess ay pee when it costs an arm, leg, foot and another limb just to get the first 10 pints down the old neck. I don’t know.) As Old Scouse git, Steve-E-See, “I’m off to Portugal”, “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Now Ey”, “I’ve stopped smoking”, 40-a-day (and that’s just pints) would say later “Ey, isn’t it funny? How DiY have their own deep house sound? The Lazies play deep house as well, but have a different sound? Like? Ey? Ey? We have our own sound, which is totally different from the Rogues sound. Wierd? Ey? Ey? Ey? Ey? Ey?” He elbows everyone around in the ribs. “It’s true. Isn’t it?” “Eye, it is” we all agree. Stretching the effing house envelope. The deep down sounds of Whitstable Town keep us movin’ right around.

As the 7th Heaven participants part pant in a cipient like manner, we all settle into the distinctive Rogue groove. All groovy bass lines, funky rhythms, solid drum patterns and more than a hint of spicy breakdowns. The cruet set of vocals and pianos used sparingly and sprinkled at random. Mark Dixon and Quinny do the laid back business in an alert kinda way. The Heave-oners, cossetted as always, by the swingeing tVC crew, love it. It’s not a hands in the air kinda night (thank fuck) but the dancefloor remains solidly packed, pumping and grooving and dancing and prancing, and yet another capacity crowd gets the house club they so richly deserve. Friendly, loving, huggy, talky. sitty, snoggy, drippy, drinky, druggy, dopey, shiny. Power.

Torchy, nee Swishy, ducks out on the TV screens coz his old chum (and ours) James (strange combination of drunken, druggy, tattooed, dreadlocked, traveller type with a house and job) was off to the Far East for some high jinxed travelling shenanigans with the natives. He had to be seen off in style, so as Eyesaw was ringing in “sick” at approx 10am Thursday morning, James was already beginning the celebrations. “We may come down to the Club later”, he says. No chance.

Mag Maurice and Able Aaron provide a snot on sound, bwoy. As usual. Later Maurice flips out backstage, DJ booth (cum cloakroom) style; big time. Out on the floor a delicate breakdown introduces itself to the pee pees with a quaint “mmMMMMwoohhh”, looping in on itself and getting progressively louder. WHAT!! Feedback on a tVC night? Fark orf!! But it is! Horrors. We rush to the “rack”. Someone has turned it up. Maurice is, understandably, ripping into anyone who is near, especially Conrad, who just so happens to be the Rogue’s sound man. It’s not a pretty sight and we’re all used to Maurice’s, er, temper. “Who’s had their hands all over my knob? It’s very sensitive!”. I reassure the Rogue crew. Mark, high on, er, tonights festivities, counter rips into Maurice. Bad move. If there’s one thing Maurice is extremely protective about (maybe even more than his 3 daughters virtue) it’s his “living”. Or “rig” as we call it. It’s hilarious watching Dicko and Maurice slug and counter slug for a good minute. It’s all we can do to remain smirkless.

Anyway it all ends soon enough and life carries on. The Rogues are definitely a little more subdued and remain so for the rest of the night. But the crowd clap and cheer as they end their set. You should hear the fucking tapes. Blinding. Approach Oochie for a copy. They’re the dogs bollocks. And a guy comes up to us and says “Did you see me last week?” (at the Warren). Why, we ask? “I was at the party. I took all my clothes off.” “Oh! It was you! Why?”. “I don’t know”. “I put them back on quite quickly again though, not like that other bloke, did you see him?”

Back at HQ for a “quiet smoke”. Fuck me. Despite fielding enquiries in the club along the nature of “Party back at yours?” with an emphatic “NO” and then walking off shaking my head the flat is still fucking packed with crew, guests and assorted liggers supping tea, smoking tabs, talking loud and generally settling down for an all-night sesh. My head-ache worsens. The Rogue crew yawn. We run out of milk. All I can think about is how I’ve got another 2 all-nighters to get through, on the trot. The Rogues leave. Nick goes to work, wide-eyed. I go to bed. Half an hour later the phone rings. The Rogues have run out of petrol 12 miles up the road. Nick has the car in Canterbury, so I can’t even take them some petrol out. How useless can one feel? They manage to get the AA out, but ironically Sue Rogue left her purse at HQ with, you guessed it, the AA card in. Life at the top, eh? Ey? Ey? Ey? Ey? Ey?

26 September 2009

On Rocks

Saturday 26th August
Free Party for Free People
The Warren, Folkstone

Last night we were on rocks. Large, chalk, rocks. Piled high, nestling the cliff base, all square and pointy. At regular intervals during the darkness hours some guy would climb, right up, to the highest point and perch himself on the precipitous ledge. What seemed like footballs of straw were attached to the end of a long rope, maybe 15 or 20 feet in length. These were then lit and slowly swung around his head in a most spectacular manner bringing noisy whoops and screams and whistles from the large crowd below.

In the morning the obligatory naked dancing man was joined by another naked dancing man and they both bounced up and down for an hour or so. The people watching saying to themselves; “No, I won’t look at his penis”, then looking, in a quick-glance-I-hope-nobody-noticed-me kinda way. A few of the men huffed and puffed. One said to me; “I can take most things but”, points to the naked, dancing men, “that is well out of order”. When asked why he said; “it just is”. At least they didn’t try to put their genitals inside a hot-knife bottle. One woman said; “Someone should tell them” and left it at that. I pointed out that this was a naturists beach which elicited a general “oh that’s OK then” response.

Grant Plant, top DJ and tunesmith extraordinaire, was our guest. He played the first set after Nicki’s warm up. Snorter. Deep, funky house blends with melancholic bouncy beats. The, by now, 500 strong crowd kick in to first gear and we’re off. A dazzling, blurred, social whirl that seemed to last 5 minutes but in fact went on for a good two days (and more). With all our basic needs catered for we funking went for it big time. Talk. Walk. Chalk. Everyone with white, dusty bums. The fluro’s flapped, all green, red and yellow, shaking sticks with fluorescent tape on and glowing pom-poms. UV moths.

Only dedicated free party people applied. What with steep steps, going on for ages, or steep slopes to surmount, on top of a two mile walk and a police “checkpoint” to overcome only the dedicated attempted it. A thin ribbon, or apron, of concrete snakes below the Folkstone cliffs towards Dover. The walk is spectacular. Pure white cliffs, no barrier or fence on the apron, only a cars width wide, then the sea, a precipitous drop below. Suddenly this man made barrier against the sea ends and a sandy cove emerges. The sea, now at high tide, all dark greys and silver laps on the shore. Tranquil? Yes and no. 500 persons of the partying persuasion crammed the beach. A “woodwork” gathering, so called because so many people came out of it tonight.

Spotted; Mike-ee walking 5 miles (in the wrong direction!) and losing it (literally, ie himself) for 3 hours, at the peak of the party! Yes he went off to get a bottle of beer (although there was shit loads on site. He just wanted to frolic with Paul in the bushes. You know how excited he gets, Kate). Aaron doing his best to dispel the rumours of his lameness by actually dancing (at his last party too before he hits France. Poor France). Timo (Leg -End (Mr)) ‘falling’ over on the ‘dance-floor’. He tripped over a rock in front of the decks and amused everyone no end, especially as we’d been saying he should have cleared all those dangerous rocks off the dance-floor (actually we think he passed out momentarily but cunningly managed to disguise it. And if he didn’t, he fucking should have (passed out that is)). YSHSTFSOH*. Ed’s chin, manouvering alarmingly all night (just like the good ol’ days, eh?). Well it was his birf-day. Grant Plant, top notch geezer, playing a belter of a set. The pal who came down with him dancing half way up the cliff all night in a fetching pair of shorts. Kate and Connan (yes, we know) deciding not even cake eating could keep them away. Spencer (straight out of the recording studio) and Charlie. Nicki and Dave, with Nicki looking after us in the morning and clearing up the whole beach. Mia, clearing up the whole beach, and looking after us in the morning, despite being decidedly the worse (better) for wear. Timo finding one of Kevin’s pubes (blond (natural)) in one of his packages. Dianne sorting the collection out whilst we all chickened out and pretended to be paranoid. Makka keeping everyone laughing, apart from those poor lads who tried to pitch a tent. P and J appearing out of various bushes, grinning cheekily. Gary, depressed in the beer tent because he couldn’t get his purple beast out (or maybe it was too handbaggy). Paul dancing like a loon all night (we wonder why?) Kate schwinging at Mike in pleasant anticipation of pleasures to be had. Andy and Melissa. Simone and her bro. Nasal and Creaky (and he was). And fucking hundreds more.

Highlights; Grants set. Mike’s set. Timo’s set. Jes’ set. Oz’s set. Ed’s set. The whole darn thang. The setting. Who needs Goa/Thailand/Portugal when you have Folkestone, that’s what we say?!! Doing it. Getting away with it (it finally stopped 2pm Tuesday afternoon). Having it. Big time. The best of music, company and scenery on what looks like being the last day of summer. Here’s to next year.


25 September 2009


New Years Eve 1994

A complete blank. All a bit of a blur. The Fun Factory - nightmare rave of the century. Imagine all your worse parties, ever, multiplied by a 100. Bald dutch gangsters - cloggies - on drugs. I fucked off back to site. And couldn't get off for three weeks.

12” in hand

Deep Space - Saturday 18 August - Legends, Dover

So, it’s Saturday night, the culmination of three solid nights partying. After a wide- eyed day (again) shared by many of us who were in the vicinity of Atomics the previous night, we began congregating, discussing how much rest we’d had. Not much. Still filled with the joys of partying we set about our tasks with a remarkable vigour. Swishy and TB, VJ’s extraordinaire rose to the occasion like the seasoned troopers they have already become. Although Swish in his enthusiasm to show off nearly dropped one of his TV’s off the sack barrow whilst manoeuvring a slippery slope. Throwing the whole weight of his party-ravaged body on top of his equipment (missus) he managed in a heart-lurching moment to prevent disaster from striking. Quite impressive it was as well. I think even Swish was impressed.

The club looked farkin’ soo-perb. The space was used to maximum effect, with the backdrops accentuating the club’s unusual shape. Inviting you in. The dancefloor an arena of fun, pulling you in. Maurice had already been along to have a fiddle (missus) with the rig and it sounded better. With a license till 4am what more could anyone want?

The night was Timo’s opening night in his new capacity as Mr Legend and he’d done a grand job. We all quickly relaxed in its mellow ambience.

Understandably he suffered slightly with first night nerves. As the club is on trial for only four 4am licenses it was important for all of us that the first night be a success . No-one knew how much effect the free party a few miles away would have. With it being such a small scene, there was going to be a definite split in the audience. But worry disappeared, as more and more of the reckless renegades we associate with came through the door.

Much hugging and excited talking about what we’d all been up to in the few hours since we’d last seen each other, took place. The piss was taken out of those who’d exhibited human signs of exhaustion and had maybe flagged by the third day of the bender. We were all here to have serious fun.

Jasper positioned himself under a backdrop, that John pointed out bore an uncanny resemblance to him. And it fucking did as well. It looked exactly as Jasp would if he had blue skin and no hair (instead of brown, and not much). It began to look more like Jasper than he did himself. Then we began to suspect that Jasper really has a day time job as an artists model, and spends his days in a studio, naked amongst strategically arranged articles of fruit, draped in pink silk, 12” in hand. Denied, of course.

Gone continued his sponsored dance that had started that Thursday, culminating in a three mile walk that morning to loosen himself up for that nights mammoth sesh. Chris and Terri (on the mend) giggled and squiggled wide-eyed on the floor. Watson, obviously taking this slowing down business to heart tucked into proceedings with gusto, nicely warmed up by his staying in activities on Thursday night. Bonnie climbed immediately aboard the stage and pumped away all night, with Swishy swishing away like a good ‘un. Nick was desperate to try out her new whistle, “The Loudest in The World” proclaimed the Kite Shop owner when she had bought it that day. Bought to save a ravaged throat, with a voice gone hoarse through too much shouting and talking (and because the Notting Hill Carnival was coming up), it was fucking loud. So loud that you couldn’t really use it again after a trial blow, because you had to rush into the toilet and try and stem the flow of blood from your ruptured ears. Sara pumped away majestically, despite her profound exhaustion. Oochie lost the plot (as well as other things, ask Oz) totally and tumbled around like a loon out giving away all his tapes (so no change there then). Gone were the gels wiv’ tight tops that previously gained his attention, tonight it was chaps with big muscles. TB’s video mixing slipped down his list of priorities as he danced all night, (he’d finally stopped talking for a bit) joined by Paul who was still dancing in the car and the next day.

24 September 2009

Erecting their portion...

Southern Exposure - 18th August 1995

After the ecstatic excesses of the above mentioned night, it was once again that time of the month. To do our oft performed “thick and tired” routine that we unfortunately choose to practice without fail when we appear in Maidstone. Maybe if we paced ourselves a little better, perhaps going to bed at some point between the two days, this phenomenon wouldn’t be so bloody predictable.

With Swishy Eyesaw following, and Robin TwatterBoy (I'm a girlfriend stealing cunt) and chum Paul following them following us we made our way to Maidstone, and yes, went wrong at that same road we always go wrong at. Probably because we’re so tired. Or thick.

There were two big, and very welcome surprises awaiting us at the club. One hundred gallons of sweaty water had been sucked out of the walls and ceiling of the upstairs room. In one fell swoop eliminating the aroma of piss-soaked carpet, that is so conducive to that elusive clubbing experience. Although this meant that we no longer needed our newly purchased sacks of joss-sticks, we did not mind. I felt considerably less tired.

Surprise number two though, was the absolute clincher. Standing towering in one corner, looking impressively bulky and bass laden, stood a magical sight, that drew gasps of relief from the assembled tVC’ers. A big fuck off rig, of most solid and bodacious dimensions, sporting that reassuring EV badge of excellence. It kicked into life, first time, as seven and a half K’s of arse kicking power thumped resoundingly round the room. Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. And, just one more, excellent.

With a spring in our collective step our yawns banished we got to work, watching Swishy carry five TV’s up two flights of stairs and assemble them in record breaking time. Robin and Paul got to work erecting their portion of the visual feast to-be. Clinging teeth-clenchingly, and very sweatily to wobbly tables their equipment was whipped out and on display with as much haste as could be mustered when you are drowning in sweat. It was already extremely hot. The bar-steward muttered, rather ominously we thought, “You wait. You should have seen how hot it was here last week. It was like a furnace”. We don’t care.

Nick was first on. The headphones hung in tatters after the aural activities witnessed the previous night. Oz helpfully switched off the monitors, as Nick wondered why it felt like she’d never done this before and tried to line up beats, whilst listening to the speakers a mere 60 foot away. Who mentioned time delay? The problem of time delay was experienced by everyone in the room as Nick tried to master the mechanics. Things improved considerably, however, when Jasper strolled in, pony tail arranged neatly in an open splay upon his shoulder and, switched the monitors on. Pouting in best DJ fashion (London circa ‘95) Jasp quickly took control of proceedings as he slapped out his cherished 12” for the delectation of the assembled throng.

The room, it had to be admitted, looked and sounded rather spectacular. Pitch black apart from Swishy’s TV treats, and Robin’s visual flashes, both complimenting perfectly the pounding PA. With no stale urine smell to assault ones nostrils, it most definitely felt and looked an altogether different room from that we last experienced. And with small handfuls of our hardcore chums coming, we relished their joyful surprise on seeing it’s most pleasant transformation. We positively strutted round the room. No longer the tVC reps of old who’d sat rather lumpily, while matchsticks propped open our rheumy eyes. We danced and laughed, soaking up the mellow ambience of the room.

Jasper warmed the pulsating throng nicely, rearranging his pony tail for maximum effect as he played his last tune. Oz and Timo, not satiated by their very public playing the night before, waited eagerly for the chance to repeat their joys of the night before. Like seasoned pro’s they slipped readily and easily, into their stride and did their stuff. Spontaneous whistles and cheers erupted from the dance floor as we joined in collective celebration of the new-look, new-feel, new-smell room.

It was too hot for me to dance. Just standing up made your clothes stick sweatily (and rather unflatteringly ) to ones buttocks (mrow). But the new rig made such a difference to our listening pleasure, we could happily sit 60 foot away from the nearest speaker, supping beer, tapping feet, and still have to shout extremely loudly to one another to be heard. It was great. A generally lively time was had by one and all, the heat failing to stop the more robust members in their incessant pursuit of pleasure. Jasper danced! Yes, we kid you not! Robin talked, Swishy swished in a most glamorous fashion. Sara pumped, Claire and Mia talked of fan clubs, tee-shirt designs and groupie-dom, Dougy told Jasper off for putting in danger his newly repaired back whilst Oz talked profusely ,even whilst on the job, wearing out a few unsuspecting sets of ears in the process. Meanwhile Paul listened, escaped briefly, then listened again. Robin talked. Nick didn’t yawn, Gone pranced, Timo beamed and we all thought how lucky we were to have two top nights out in as many nights. We also smiled expectantly when we thought of the fun to be had in 24 hours time in the bosom of our mad Dover compadres. I think a few gallons of sweaty water has been reabsorbed back into the walls, and ceiling though......

23 September 2009

The Sleaze Factor

It is a measure of the class-ridden nature of British society that we have a number of words for the same thing. On one level it's called "perks" and it goes with the job. On another it's called "back-handers" and everyone turns a blind eye. If you're working class it's called "fiddles" and you get the sack if you're caught. And, on my council estate, the same motivation - to take what you can, to line your pockets at someone else's expense- is called "burglary", and you get put into prison for it.

The current word is "sleaze". It's a great word. It even sounds slippery. Everyone is at it. MPs take cash to ask questions in Parliament and claim for moat cleaning and duck islands. Ex-Ministers get Directorships of companies they had a hand in privatizing. Managing Directors of privatized monopolies award themselves huge increases, while cutting back on the pay and conditions of their staff.

The Nolan Committee investigated such practices, and we may now have some idea of the extent to which these self-serving forms of government are undermining confidence in public life. But how relevant is it? Is it merely an exercise in public relations, or does the government really intend to put its own house in order?

I spoke to two people on my estate. Both of them are unemployed, and never likely to work in their lives. They said that corruption is the way of the world. But there is a difference between the corruption of public servants, and the petty fiddles of daily life. "It's a crime against the public, isn't it?" said Bill. "It's an insult." Nevertheless they expected it. "There's nothing you can do about it." And what would they expect from the Nolan Committee recommendations? They hadn't even heard about it, but they assumed it would be a cover-up.

I also spoke to my Father. An Electrician by trade and an ex-Shop Steward, he owns his own house, drives a nice car, and has plenty of savings for his retirement. He told me a story. A friend of his, a newly-elected local councillor, was asked to vote a certain way on a planning committee. He was offered £2,000. He asked my Dad's advice. "Take the money," my Dad told him. "If you don't, somebody else will." But when I protested at the logic of this, it was the normal excuse I was offered. "It's human nature. And you can't change human nature can you?" I laughed at that as I always do. Why not? We changed Wolves into Pekinese, Opium into Heroin, beautiful countryside into motorway intersections. We've changed everything else in nature, why not human nature?

And actually I don't think it's human nature at all. There are societies where wealth is measured in terms of generosity, where the more you give away the wealthier you are. Wealth circulates. In this society, on the other hand, wealth is measured by how much you accumulate. The more anally retentive you are, the more successful. This is a constipated society. What we need is a laxitive.


Sweaty, steaming, stomping primeval soup

Every so often, you get one of those special nights , when everything is right. When the music’s so fucking good that you lose it, in a sweaty, steaming, stomping primeval soup of ecstatic chancers. Dancing. You ride a glimmering thread along which you vibrate. Luxuriously. Pulling faces. Anticipating the rhythms. Moving to melt into them. Meeting them head on.

Tonight was one of those nights. A rare but always hoped for thing. A night of stop to start good music. Spot on music. House music. A night that makes you forget the daily shit, reminding you instead of the power of magic. Really, I’m glad to be alive. I’m glad you were there with me. Life. Is. So. Fucking. Good. Sometimes.

Packed to the rafters with hedonists of every sex, shape and size. Supping rich pleasures. Devouring fun. Experiencing music. All friends. All believers.

We may inhabit the land of “not allowed” whose language is “No”, but it is at moments like these that we create a new world. Our world. Stuffed full with “Yes’s”. Where we rediscover delight and slip into the luxury of fun.

Childhood revisited, but as it never was. The rediscovery of that love of life, of people. Of loving living. Goodbye cynicism. Hello blue skies and sunshine. With the air resonating in lusty appreciation I’m feeling a-fucking-live. At last. Again.

Full of mad, up for it, party bastards, nashing and gurning, prancing, chancing, living and having a fuck of a good time. Faces you would not believe the like of, made their public debut, under the glare of the flashing, crap lights, wrapped in the arms of some seriously meaty music. What is that music? Where does it come from? (Mark Dettmar (C), legendary topp tune trader). How does it hit that spot, again and again? The music was that right, I had to stop myself swooning at the beauty of it all. The shared look on the heaving dance floor, followed by the communal grin. God we felt good. We luxuriated in it and just got fucking lost. Riding on, living for, that next tune.

Tonight was the first time that Oz (C) and Timo (C) were publicly joined together in their pursuit of musical excellence. Never having played with each other before (apart from a couple of times in the shower) they slipped into it easily, each working perfectly to compliment and enhance the others tunes. For five solid hours they kept it up (oo er). Remorselessly holding us in their thrall, as they performed their very public aural coupling.

From wall to sweat-glistening wall people danced and howled their appreciation which was milked to perfection by our seducers. I was entranced, invigorated and fucking stinking as I joined the mass sweat soaked worshippers, at their alter of brilliance. (Well this was the first drink I’d had for well over a week, leading to immediate intoxication of the kind generally exhibited by batty old boys in their local pub). “This is what we want”, yelled Maurice(T), whilst dancing (yes!) and waving his moist limbs about in relaxed abandon. Performing an elaborate mating ritual in front of Judith (V), no doubt. (And Judith lost her tVC virginity as she was clasped to our mass bosom for the first, and hopefully not last, time). Indeed tonight was a family affair for old Mag Maur as a further 2 members of his immediate family were spotted shaking in appreciation of the groove-tastic musical delights on offer. Rowan (V) whooped her encouragement like a good ‘un (‘she’s got a good pair o’ lungs on her that girl’). Oochie(C), flushed with the birth of his business empire, ”Oochie Oochie Tape Productions”, celebrated in true Louie fashion by sticking solidly to the dancefloor all night, gyrating his hips with a beatific grin stretched across his chummy features. Grinning coz he knew this set was being taped, from beginning to end, and he’d have copies, out on the streets within 2 hours of the night finishing.

Unfortunately he spent so much time dancing he didn’t manage to sell many of the tapes he’d already done, but chose instead to give them to whoever took his fancy i.e. young women in tight tops and hot pants. Keef (T) reinstated in his position of splendour at the head of the tVC dancefloor. Exactly positioned between the speakers, topp off in record breaking time (don’t tell Roy) his face wreathed in smiles. Roy (C) appeared to be the only person out of over 350 to miss, totally, the vibe. Charging around, shouting and sweatily chasing someone whom I’m afraid did not appear to exist. Jasper (T) with his hair down tonight so he could swish it’s silky tresses over the back of his neck (constantly) sulking because we’ve all seen his scar and didn’t want to see it again. Kate (V) and Mike (T) (yes) obviously becoming slightly jaded by the superior entertainment opportunities offered by that mecca of sophisticated nightlife, Dukes in Whitstable, decided to slum it instead here. Mike dressed accordingly. There was a time that he sported an expensive new top at every local dance, but this one had obviously seen much action (mwar).

On the “God I didn’t expect to see you here” list as I thought you were “giving up partying“ (Watson (C) in top old trooper mode), going to Portugal (!?), going to France to do a course (Aaron (T), allegedly), knobs” (a few sharing this thought were in evidence, lurking accordingly).

In fact it was so packed (biggest attendance ever, folks, with 333 paying househeads that’s not including the massive guest list) it was actually quite hard (missus) to see who was there and who wasn’t. Everyone was pulling such funny faces, and had lost so much weight due to the gallons of body fluids sucked out by the heat, that they were unrecognisable anyway.

One’s whose faces cannot be mistaken however they’re twisted include Toby (C) “the safest car parker in town”. Gary (C) who was able to tell a certain MM just what that thing held in his sweaty little hand was. Mia and Diane (T’s), Timo’s official fanclub and looker afterers. Gone (T), hair smoothed back in neat and orderly fashion so as not to betray the tumultuous activity going on beneath. “What’s it like not having the kids for the weekend”, we ask knowing full well they’re going to Alton Towers. “Er”, he thinks for a short while, then big beam, “GREAT”. Walt (T&C) in his capacity as stolid, upstanding yet very respectable member of the business community i.e. sitting down all night shouting grotesque profanities and insulting anyone who would listen to him. (Which was no-one, as usual). Polly (T), Trudi (V), Suzanna (V). Jerry (T) back from his round the world exploits, reminding us of his damn fine dancefloor wrist action, maan.

Eldad (V) was also spotted indulging in a little of the urgent wrist actions favoured by the more esoteric of our dancers. Artist Steve (T). Pam (C) only stumbling over steps, and down them, and a couple of times in between, otherwise keeping a low profile. Aaron (V) who managed to keep both a thick top and a coat on throughout all the shenanigans. He looked good, but he must have been fucking hot and I bet his pits stank. Pete emerged as a clear challenger to Keef’s speaker space. Aaron’s wrist action was decidedly limp as Pete managed to nearly out dance him, without even being there. And was that Guy (C), spotted, dancing, on a tVC dancefloor? At last. “That’s a bit more like it Ozzy”, he says, “a bit ‘rder”. Stuart L (T) stumbling around extremely energetically, warming up most professionally for when he plays in September. The undisputed, newly crowned “dancing queen” Leila (V), sans Kier (V). Kier’s bro Liam (T). Ed Formerly (C), the pain from a cricketing wound bravely borne in the pursuit of ‘sinking some piss’. Kate (V). Yes. Alive and well. Roger (V) enjoying his birthday already (as he has been doing solidly since the last one). Freshly deoderised , preparing for his party in a couple of days time whilst giving the dance floor a damn fine rogering with his superb mastery of the light control panel. Those geordie bastards SJ and D (C’s).

And fucking loads of others. Thanks for making it such a good night and adding many fine new memories of 1001 ways to stagger around in a sweat-drenched, beer sodden frenzy.

T=twat V=vagina C=cunt

21 September 2009

"Damn Good Extropy"

DiY Sound System - 20 Year Birthday Party
A Field, somewhere near Nottingham, September 19th 2009

The day after posting pictures of their 10th anniversary party in London on their site it was time to head up from Whitstable, Kent to Nottingham for DiY Sound Systems 20th Anniversary Free party. Oh, how time flies. Funnily enough, after getting up there without much hassle, I bump into Pete Woosh who goes “Oh hi Oz. Long time no see? When was the last time we talked?” I goes, “I think it was 10 years ago at the 10th Anniversary party”. “Have a good one”, he says. “I will; cheers. See you at the 21st party?”

DiY were, as mentioned on previous occasions in this blog, a seminal influence on tVC. We first encountered them on the free festival circuit back in the 80’s; or was it the early 90’s? I can't remember. I’ve had loads of conversations with many experienced party people and one thing we have in common is that we can remember fuck all. Who said experiencing altered states of mind can fry your memory? Certainly not Aldous Huxley nor Terence McKenna ("It is no great accomplishment to hear a voice in the head. The accomplishment is to make sure it is telling the truth, because the demons are of many kinds: "Some are made of ions, some of mind; the ones of ketamine, you'll find, stutter often and are blind."). Mick Jagger once received a seven-figure advance to write his memoirs. He eventually returned the money, saying he couldn’t remember anything of significance. P Diddy apparantly had the same "not being able to write a memoir" problem for some reason. The great idea I had about chronicling DiY’s growth and achievements would probably receive a similar response from Harry et al. Or not. Who knows?

This party, for me, was a bit like that. About half way up the motorway me and Brummy Jon, ye olde stalwart from the Splosh Sound System, from the Midlands, from back in the day, decided to, er, have a little pick me up. Couldn’t of course be arsed to half our little friend we decided to just “fuck it” and have one each. Of course, as one learns from experience, this is “a bad thing to do”. My experience always told me to “wait till you were at the party” before indulging in any attitude changing accoutrements. But, hey, who listens to the voice of experience when the hedonist wants to take over? Not Mick Jagger and not me. That was about 10 o’clock at night. At 10 o’clock the next morning BJ goes, in between several cups of tea from the back of his car; “time to head back to Kent mate.”

During the mean whilst I just had to marvel at the lovely marquee filled with what Scouse Steve called a “well old school sound system”. Steve has just purchased one of those tiny yet loud systems that he plans to debut at a party in Margate soon. To me it looked like DiY’s old system; nice, large bins, but I’m not too sure. Remember when they had them 2 semi circular stacks? That was a nice sound. This system here was filled with Eminence speaker drivers, I was told, and powered by Crown amps. A reasonable budget option that really sounded spot on when cranked up a tad around 1am; a warm, liquid bass, tight filled out midrange and that essential crisp top end. All just at the correct volume, for me, right in the centre of the marquee, right by the central post. Glasses off. Couldn't see a fucking thing anyway; room filled with smoke most of the time. Rob Lights did the lights? I don't know, I couldn't find the fucker anywhere. Just wanted to say hello. Panta rhei -"everything flows" as Heraclitus said.

So I’m standing there, minding my own business, listening to the lovely, deep house music. I’m a slow starter on the dancing front and tend to do what we call the “Stella Shuffle” for hours on end; both feet on the ground, balanced out, knees slightly bend to enable swaying around the central vertical axis and movement of the upper body and legs in 360 degrees; a good bounce to the bass here is essential and this configuration permits thousands if not millions of variations of movement depending on what the music throws at you. I personally adopt this stance as my default setting mode in most dance orientated situations; not going too crazy to attract unwanted attention but not standing there rigidly straight in the middle of the dance floor attracting even more attention. A nice, middling, “I’m on the dance floor - all fucking night. I’m warming up. I like it. I’m connecting". Gently. Hands are occupied by being firmly shoved in my pockets. I might even tap out a little rhythm with my fingers inside my pocket; and it’ll take me hours before I even take my hands out of my pocket. The only other time one hand is out is if one is carrying the obligatory cold, fizzy can of Stella lager or smoking a cigarette.

I bump in Austin Space. His first words to me, and bear in mind I haven’t seen him for a few years, are; “have you got any coke?” The guy is his usual overflowing fountain of ideas. All true or all lies or a mixture of both or either or neither. I do have a soft spot for him and it’s real nice to just listen to him chat away. I’ve missed him. Feels like a DiY party already.

It starts to get a bit hot inside the marquee so I head outside for a wander around. I find the bar and try to blag 2 cans for 2 quid. “Sorry mate, we’re being really strict tonight”. “I’ll try again when you’re pissed later”, I say. “We don’t get pissed”. It’s here I bump into Simon DK, Nicky and Cookie. They’re all really “drunk” and leaning on each other and linking arms. Cookie drops his can of cider on the ground and doesn’t notice he’s done that. It just slips out through his fingers. Nicky is talking to BJ but keeps repeating the same question. BJ re-explains every time. Simon, whilst rolling a cigarette finds he has lost his roll up cigarette filters and his getting anxious searching all his pockets twice over. "There was something else in there as well". He gives me his can of cider to hold whilst he does this. “Now, Simon”, I say, “Do you remember the last time you opened the tin with them in? We might be able to retrace your steps and find them”. He pauses, has a think. During this I think Cookie is falling over and rush to help onto the nearby seat. He’s only bending down to pick up, the now empty can he dropped earlier. Simon goes; “No, I don’t remember”. I give Cookie Simons can of cider and they all walk off to the dance floor as Nicky goes “I love this tune…” Me and BJ say to each other how much we love Simon and all of the DiY lot.

Back in the marquee and Harry is out front by now and working the room like a pro. He seems a lot more relaxed these days. He doesn’t recognize me or remember me. Why should he? We shake hands anyway. It’s good to see them all together or most of them together again. I give Rick a big hug; now he’s in London we do tend to see more of him than the other DiYers. His next tabula rasa appearance, for example, sometime in October. I do enjoy their Digs and Woosh set in the early hours. Cary Grant thought it a bit "girly" but I liked it for all the reasons that he didn’t. It was CG’s first even DiY party. He’s a bit of a London tech boy at heart on the decks but loves it real deep and appreciates the lovely, quirky vibe in the marquee. My hands were out my pockets and flapping around like little good uns without me realising it. Whatever next? Spontaneity?

BJ spent most of the night reacquainting himself with the old Splosh Crew, of which there were many there. Behind the central post in the marquee they all gathered; “Splosh Central” Jon called it, and thus it was so named. There was a distinct lack of older faces from the scene from way back in the day of the early 90's. We thought they might have made more of an effort to come to the 20th anniversary of DiY, the legendary, unacknowledged founders of our deep house free party scene, the agents that forged the moral panic that forged the creation, along with the other Castlemorton rapscallions, of Section 63 and that hilarious “repetitive beats” line.

I was once again trancing out a bit to the music and this guy approaches me; “Wow, were you on the scene at the beginning? What was it like? I’m 40 now. How old are you? You got to find me in the morning so we can talk about them days. I thought there would be more like you here. I’m Dave by the way”.

Later on in the morning I'm walking back to the car for a cup of tea and this guy shouts out to me “how many balloons filled with helium do you think it would take to lift my car off the ground?” “ooh, I do love a maths question in the morning at a free party”, I say and we discuss the functional implications of solving such a problem ( how much does the car weigh? How much weight can one balloon carry? Etc). As I leave, because my tea is ready he shouts “I’ve got 4,000 balloons in my car!” As a big hot air balloon was slowly drifting over our heads my answer to his question was, of course, it would take just one balloon filled with helium to lift his car off the ground.

DiY's Extropy - "the extent of a living or organizational system's intelligence, functional order, vitality, energy, life, experience, and capacity and drive for improvement and growth" - is still there, still palpable, if evidenced from this party. After all the years that have passed.

Happy birthday you old buggers.

little films on youtube:

Haunted by the spirits

After all the hype about drugs, a new report reveals alcohol addiction in Britain to be a far greater problem.

It’s the oldest drug on the market. It wreaks far more harm than newer drugs but receives far less media attention. It predates the Greeks and Romans, who consumed copious quantities of alcohol, and is assumed to have been discovered by accident by early man when fermentation occurred in sugar-containing fruit left exposed to a warm atmosphere. The full extent of alcohol's harm was set out yesterday in a new report from Alcohol Concern: about one in 20 people is dependent on the drug compared to one in 45 who is hooked on all other legal and illegal drugs (including ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine, heroin and acid, as well as tranquillisers and sleeping pills).

The extent of alcohol damage is daunting. It is second only to that of tobacco as a cause of premature death, but unlike tobacco, causes much wider social problems than mere medical ailments. Violence is perhaps its most pernicious by-product with 40 per cent of all domestic violence involving alcohol, a third of child abuse cases, and 25 per cent of accidents at work. An estimated 14 million working days are lost each year due to alcohol-related problems. Absenteeism and poor work performance due to the drug are estimated to cost industry £2 billion a year.

The link between violent crime and alcohol has a long history with recent research suggesting drink is involved in 65 per cent of murders and 75 per cent of stabbings. Even more injuries and deaths are caused by drink-drive accidents which kill 600 people a year and cause thousands of injuries.

The accidents do not end on the road. About 25 per cent of drownings and 40 per cent of deaths in fire are put down to drink. One in four acute male hospital admissions is related to alcohol. Young men are particularly vulnerable to alcohol related violence. There are 5,000 "glassings" annually, in which a smashed beer glass is used as a dangerous and disfiguring weapon. All told, there are about 33,000 alcohol-related deaths every year in Britain.

And yet, as every wine buff knows, alcohol can also be health enhancing. Medical studies have suggested that middle aged males drinking up to 50 glasses of wine (not beer or spirits) or post menopausal women 35 glasses , a week, reduce their risk of premature death. Hence the challenge: how do you achieve a sensible drinking strategy?

In their new report, Measures For Measures, Alcohol Concern sketches out a strategy which has won the support of the former Chief Medical Officer, Sir Donald Acheson. As Sir Donald, who is now president of Alcohol Concern, declares: "The dire significance of alcohol misuse sometimes gets lost between the well-known, fatal effects of smoking and the social consequences of illegal drugs."

The report notes that ministers have already recognised some responsibility by including the reduction in the number of people drinking above risky levels (50 units for men, 35 for women) as a target for their preventive health strategy set out in Health of the Nation. Currently, 6 per cent of men (1.4 million) and 2 per cent of women (500,000) are drinking at levels likely to damage their health. Where ministers have fallen short is having no strategy to implement measures needed to reduce and prevent alcohol-related harm.

The place to begin is with young people, where there is an increase in both average consumption (now equivalent to three and a half pints per week for 11 to 15-year-olds who drink) and frequency of drink (17 per cent of the age group drink regularly). Current school circulars on drug prevention concentrate almost exclusively on drug issues with little focus on teaching children about how to handle alcohol. The report notes the development and marketing of the new "alcopops" drinks. "While not solely responsible for the level of consumption among under 18s, alcopops are exacerbating an already worrying situation, while calling into question the ethics of the drinks industry's strategies to sell its products."

The report suggests alcopops should be subject to duty levels which price them out of reach of children and teenagers. It also wants the present voluntary code for marketing alcopops replaced with a statutory one and a 1 per cent levy placed on the industry's £190 million advertising and marketing budget to finance sensible drinking campaigns. Consumers need more information about the benefits and harm. The sensible drinking message has switched from weekly to daily intakes with benchmarks of up to three units for women and four for men. A unit is a glass of wine, a half pint of beer or a single measure of spirits.

The report calls for a reduction in the permitted blood alcohol Iimit for drivers (from 80mgs of alcohol per l00 mls of blood to 50mgs), high profile random breath testing, and warns against any reduction in tax levels. It calls for more training for people in the drinks trade, and wants an independent body do research into alcohol consumption.

It believes the Ministerial Group on Alcohol Misuse should be re-activated because policy needs to be co-ordinated across a range of government departments including health (treatment), home office (crime and licensing), transport (drink-driving), education (young people), employment (work-based problems), treasury (taxation), trade and industr.y (costs to business) and consumer affairs (regulation of the alcohol industry).

Eric Appleby, Alcohol Concern's director, called on the new government to place a national alcohol strategy at the top of its priority list.

20 September 2009

An Unjust law...

"AN UNJUST LAW IS NO LAW AT ALL" - Martin Luther King



Britain wages a war that has long been lost

T HE "war on drugs" policy pursued virulently in America and criticised as self-defeating by George Soros has been followed closely by British policy makers. Indeed, some commentators argue that its central tenet - that drug use should be stamped out by criminalising it - has been enthusiastically imported from the US into this country.

Both Labour and the Conservatives are adamant that drugs remain illegal and that a campaign against the drug barons and pushers is kept up. Yet an increasing number of people at the sharp end of drug use, including the police, are coming to the conclusion that this approach will not and cannot work.

The Government’s anti-drug campaign has mainly been attempting to stop people trying drugs in the first place. But this approach appears to have failed - a recent survey estimated that by the age of 16 about 50 per cent of people had tried or were regular recreational drug users.

Lifeline, a Manchester-based drug advice service, points out that the Government’s position has a central flaw - that youngsters are already taking drugs and there is an urgent need for a safety net to be provided for them. This could be in the form of counselling and proper information on taking drugs.

Figures on police arrests and cautions suggest that the authorities have begun to take a more pragmatic approach to recreational drug use- cautions are on the up, while prosecutions are failing. Police now tend to charge only those who appear to be in possession in order to sell. For many, though, this softly-softly approach is not enough. Legalisation of drugs, such commentators believe, is the only way to stop use spiralling out of control.

Dr John Marks, a practicing consultant psychiatrist at the Hulton General Hospital in Liverpool and chairman of the Drug Policy Review Group, believes the danger of criminalisation is that to afford black market prices addicts buy more than they need, adulterate and sell the extra to finance their own habits.

Some senior police officers have begun to speak out against the drug war.
Commander Grieve from the National Criminal Intelligence Service recently said that "there are lots of myths about drugs, one being the idea of the evil pusher at the school gates’. The truth of the matter is that the most likely supplier to your youngster is his best mate from school or even an older sibling. So if you wish to ‘declare war on the dealers’ make no mistake, you are declaring a civil war."
The alternative, the reformers suggest, is to control the use of drugs, and hence their misuse. Drugs would be sold only through specially licensed pharmacists, taxed to defray the costs of any addiction, and restricted to adults and to a maximum purchase per day by any particular individual.

And if we don’t change our ways? The most terrifying vision of the future comes from Colombia, where Senator Gomez Hurtado, a high court judge, said recently: "Forget about drug deaths and acquisitive crime, about addiction and Aids; all this pales into insignificance before the prospect facing the liberal societies of the West, like a rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming car."

The income of the drug barons, he pointed out, is $254 billion - more than the American defence budget. With this financial power the barons could suborn the institutions of any state: "We are threatened with a return to the Dark Ages of rule by the gang. Current policies promote that end."

18 September 2009

What is the price of your freedom?

What would you do for £1 million? Would you bully someone, or cheat them? Hurt them a little? Hurt them a lot? Would you kill them? If you were out of the room, and administering pain by remote control, would that make it easier? Were you to look into their eyes while you were injuring them, would that make it harder? What would you do for £100,000? Or £10,000? Or £1,000? What would you do just because someone in authority told you to? How much does your personal morality cost? What is the price of your freedom?

A reminder of how far people will go was published for the first time in this country in October. The great and terrifying study of obedience by the American sociologist Stanley Milgram, whose experiments in the early Sixties look back to Nazi Germany and forward to today, tomorrow, horribly always. Milgram's Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (published by Pinter and Martin at £12.99) is an explanation of history and a continuing metaphor for human behaviour. It all too clearly answers the question: what would you do, not for £1m, but simply because you were told to?

C.P. Snow wrote that 'more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion'. Looking back at the war, Milgram also felt that: 'The person who with inner conviction loathes stealing, killing and assault may find himself performing these acts with relative ease when commanded to by authority'. He wanted to see how an individual conscience fitted into a structure of authority, and devised a stunning series of experiments that would not be deemed ethical today, yet which hold a mirror up to our ethical dilemmas in a way few other experiments have ever managed to do.

Milgram advertised in a local university for subjects to take part in an experiment at Yale. In spite of being offered only $4, hundreds of people (postmen, professors, salesmen, housewives, students) responded. On arriving at the laboratory, they were told that they were to take part in a study investigating the effects of punishment on learning. In fact, they were the subjects of a very different experiment. Each subject was introduced to a stooge, and told that one of them would be asked to teach the other a simple task. They both pulled lots from a box containing two slips of paper. 'Teacher' was written on both slips, so that the volunteer wrongly believed he had been only randomly assigned the teaching role. The experiment was, apparently, to test whether the 'pupil' - who was, in fact, a carefully trained actor - could learn to associate one word with another. The teacher had to administer electric shocks when the pupil failed to perform the task correctly (which, of course, he regularly did). An 'experimenter' - the figure of recognised authority, the scientist - stood by and instructed the teacher.

The pupil-actor, watched by the teacher, was strapped into a chair in order to prevent him from moving when shocks were administered. The teacher could give shocks ranging from mild (15 volts) to the most severe (labeled as 450, intense and dangerous). The teacher-subject was instructed to give a shock every time the pupil made a mistake, and to increase the shock level by level, moving up to the possibly fatal 450 volts. If he demurred, the experimenter had a set number of phrases to utter in order to persuade him: 'Continue, please.' 'The experiment requires that you go on.' Etc. If the teacher still refused, the experiment would be halted. Of course, no shocks were actually delivered; it was all a surrealist charade, a grim theatrical jest.

But the results were astonishing and horrifying. The pupil-actor protested verbally at the low level of volts, cried out in pain as the shock was increased, whimpered and howled as it moved to the 150 level; desperately appealed to be let out of the chair; shrieked with unendurable pain and, at 330 volts, slumped in the chair and did not respond further. During the first series of experiments, there were 40 volunteers, all male. None of them refused to administer shock treatment. A horrifying 26 went all the way, sending intense and possibly fatal shocks into the apparently comatose body of the pupil. The rest also went to high levels, apparently causing severe pain and distress. The experiment was repeated with variations by Milgram, and then tied in other universities in other countries, and the results were always about the same. When women volunteers were used instead of men, it made little or no difference. Social class, age and culture made no difference either. Most people did what they were told to do.

In his account, Milgram describes different responses: some of the volunteers were distressed and hesitant about performing the task, but did it on the prodding of the authority; others performed the task with alacrity, their faces impassive. Some giggled and were embarrassed. Some even became annoyed with the pupil and seemed to think that they 'deserved' the shock if they could not perform the task. Almost all of Milgram's unfortunate, deluded volunteers are 'obedient subjects'. This, says Milgram - who had thought a tiny percentage would go all the way - is terrifying.

Everyone who hears the account of Milgram's experiments agrees that disobedience is the correct course in this particular case; people who have not taken part in the study assume that of course they would refuse. Not so, responds Milgram: internal values seem to have little correlation with actual behaviour. In his book, Milgram tries to untangle the reasons for our murderous inclination towards obedience to authority, no matter what is required of us.

We are necessarily, bred into obedience the moment we are born. How else does a society operate? Obedience becomes part of our make-up, an acquired instinct. Politeness and embarrassment are important factors (Milgram elsewhere has done work on the power of social embarrassment), as is the unwillingness to let someone down. The absorption in the technical aspects of the task makes us lose our sense of what we are doing (we will think about pushing a button, rather than what pushing a button will do). We easily fool ourselves that we are not to blame - divesting ourselves of our authority and attributing it to a legitimate authority, so that we become a simple agent: 'I was just doing my job; I just did what I was told...' We try to live up to the expectations that the person in authority has of us, and not disappointing that person becomes our moral focus. We allow 'The Experiment' to take on an impersonal momentum of its own, divorced from human control. We devalue and dehumanise the victim (a sense of guilt about someone does not make us feel kinder towards them; rather it makes us dislike them or be repulsed by them).
There is, says Milgram finally, the presumption that we are, mostly, decent individuals who will behave properly unless coerced. This is wrong. 'With alarming regularity, good people ... performed acts that were callous and severe.'

'Tyrannies,' he concludes sombrely, are perpetuated by diffident men who do not possess the courage to act out their beliefs.' He is not talking about the monster inside us all; he is talking about the human instinct for compliance, obedience, group action, the need for an instructing authority; about our fragile consciences and the indomitable outside forces.

17 September 2009

An Open Society? - George Soros outlines his concept of an Open Society

I was delighted when voters in two states approved a change in direction in drug policies. California legalised the cultivation and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes; Arizona allowed doctors to prescribe any drug for legitimate medical purposes and approved treatment not incarceration for those arrested for illegal drug possession. It also stiffened penalties for violent crime committed under the influence of drugs.

These results are significant, not least because they suggest that Americans are beginning to recognise both the futility of the drug war and the need to think realistically and openly about alternatives.

Our drug warriors responded by pushing the panic button. One opponent of the reforms claimed that "these propositions are not about compassion, they are about legalising dangerous drugs."

I was severely attacked for having supported the initiatives financially. I was accused of "bamboozling" the voters with misleading advertising and the New York Time columnist A M Rosenthal went so far as to imply that I represent a new kind of "drug money".

I must reject these accusations. I am not for legalising hard drugs. I am for a saner drug policy I am just as concerned about keeping drugs away from my children as any responsible parent. But I firmly believe that the war on drugs is doing more harm to our society than drug abuse itself. Let me explain.

I became involved m the drug issue because of my commitment to the concept of an open society, which is based on the recognition that we act on the basis of imperfect understanding and our actions have unintended consequences. Our mental constructs, as well as our institutions, are all flawed in one way or another.

Perfection is unattainable but that is no reason to despair. On the contrary, our fallibility leaves infinite scope for innovation, invention and improvement. An open society that recognises fallibility is a superior form of social organisation to a closed society that claims to have found all the answers.

Our drug policies offer a prime example of adverse, unintended consequences. In perhaps no other field have our public policies produced an outcome so profoundly at odds with what was intended. But who are waging a "war on drugs" refuse to recognise this. They consider all criticism subversive. To suggest the possibility that this war may be self-defeating is tantamount to treason.

I contributed approximately $1 million, which represents 25 to 30 cent of overall contributions, to the California and Arizona campaigns. I was not involved in the planning and execution of either campaign or in the drafting of the initiatives.
I can well understand why the warriors would be upset by my involvement. I have no use for drugs. I tried marijuana and enjoyed it but it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years. I have had my share of anxieties concerning my children using drugs, but fortunately it was not a serious problem. My sole concern is that the war on drugs has done untold damage to the fabric of society.

I believe that a drug-free America is a utopian dream. Some form of drug addiction or substance abuse is endemic in most societies. Insisting on the total eradication of drug use can lead only to failure and disappointment. The war on drugs cannot be won but, like the Vietnam War, it has polarised society.

And its adverse effects may eventually be even more devastating. Criminalising drug abuse does more harm than good, blocking effective treatment and incarcerating far too many people. The American prison and jail population - now more than a million and a half - has doubled over the past decade and more than tripled since 1980. The number of drug law violators behind bars has increased eightfold since 1980, to about 400,000 people.

The policies are especially harsh on black people. Among young black men in America, the war on drugs has contributed strongly to a rate of incarceration so high that it disrupts family structures in cities and increases the number of single-parent families. One out of every seven black men has been disenfranchised permanently or temporarily, by criminal convictions. Among black adults between the ages of 25 and 44, Aids is now the leading cause of death, with half of those cases resulting from drug injections.

At the same time, proper treatment of drug addicts is inhibited by the fact that they are regarded as criminals. Tens of thousands sit behind bars - at substantial cost to themselves, their families and taxpayers - rather than in less costly, more effective drug treatment programmes. Even methadone treatment and needle exchange programmes are discouraged.

There are indications that prohibitionist policies have increased drug-related disease and death and the crime-rate. Restrictions on access to sterile syringes facilitate the spread of HIV and other diseases. Drug addicts overdose from street drugs of unknown purity and potency, injuring or killing themselves and placing strains on the health care system.

Focusing resources in a lopsided manner on cutting out supplies ignores basic economic principles. As long as demand and profits are high, there is no way to cut off supply. There will always be large numbers of people willing to risk incarceration for the chance of making so much money.

It is, of course, easier to identify what is wrong with present policies than to design better ones. I do not pretend to know what the right drug policy is; but I do know that the present policy is wrong. A more reasonable approach would be to try to reduce both supply and demand and aim at minimising the harmful effects of abuse. and control.

I am aware of at least some of the steps we should be taking now, making methadone and sterile syringes readily available to addicts; removing criminal prohibitions and other sanctions on the ability of doctors and patients to treat pain and nausea with whatever medications work; saving our jail and prison cells for violent criminals and predatory drug dealers, not non-violent drug addicts who are willing to undergo treatment; and exploring new means of reducing the harms done by drug use and prohibitionist policies.

If public opinion were ready for it, I would advocate "hollowing out" the black market by making heroin and certain other illicit drugs available on prescription to registered addicts. I would discourage addiction with social opprobrium, the dissemination of reasonable and persuasive information on the harm caused by drugs, and by legal sanctions. If the Swiss, the Dutch and the British and increasingly other countries can experiment with new approaches, so can the United States.

Not all the experiments hwe been successful. Zurich’s unsuccessful attempt to regulate an open-air drug market in the early 1990s became known as "Needle Park" and gave the city a bad name. But recent Swiss initiatives have been more successful and generated widespread public support. The national heroin prescription experiment has proven remarkably effective in reducing illicit drug use, disease and crime, and helped many addicts to improve their lives. Swiss voters approved this initiative in local referendums.

Our first priority should be to discourage children from using drugs. Even marijuana can be harmful to the mental and emotional development of youngsters. But demonising drugs can increase their appeal to adolescents, for whom rebellion is often an important rite of passage to adulthood. And we must be particularly careful not to exaggerate the harmful effects of marijuana because it may undermine the credibility of our warnings about harder drugs.

Generally speaking, de-emphasising the criminal aspect of drug use should be accompanied by more, rather than less, social opprobrium for the drug culture. Education and social disapproval of cigarette-smoking have been much more successful than the war on drugs.

Unfortunately the present climate is inimical to a well-balanced drug policy. Crusading advocates of prohibition and deterrence stand in the way of reasoned discussion. They insist that there is only one solution to the drug problem, namely, the "war on drugs" and that those who are critical of present policies are enemies of society. Few elected officials dare to incur their wrath. Hysteria has replaced debate in the public discourse.

The voters in Arizona and California have demonstrated that it is possible to support more sensible and compassionate drug policies while still being tough on drugs. I hope that other states will follow suit. I shall be happy to support (with after-tax dollars) some of these efforts, and I look forward to the day when drug control policies better reflect the ideals of an open society.

George Soros is a currency speculator and a philanthropist. In an essay published in The Week, he outlined his concept of an Open Society and the work of his Open Society Fund.

15 September 2009


People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centred.
If you do good people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
If you are successful you win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack if you help them.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.

10 September 2009

I love S?

Showed S my blog today and I wish I hadn't now. Thought I was being open and honest but turned out to have the opposite effect on her and made her cry when she read what I'd wrote about T. It made her realise the place in my heart which she should take has already been taken. But that's not true. I'm coming round to the fact that she likes me for some reason and that we have something here that's worth nurturing.

9 September 2009

Biog 01

Oz was a late starter. At the ripe old age of 18 he began playing reggae records in at punk parties put on by his mates in Newcastle. This was 1978. An early teenage maths lesson with his reggae loving teacher got him switching over from the, now boring, rock music his peers listened to and he never really liked anyway. Reggae was something new, to him anyway. It was exotic, different, dubby and loud and the punks used to love dancing to it pumping out between the Clash and The Damned played by the other DJ’s. Early encounters with the John Peel Show turned his ear eclectic. Hip hop came on the scene (Sugar Hill! Thanks John) as well as late 70’s electronica, Cabaret Voltaire, The Glaxo Babies turning his ear. Saturdays was back rooms eclectic and after parties but he also ran a regular reggae night on Sundays at Balmbara’s in Newcastle for 4 years with his friend Manus; turning all the door money back into reggae tunes freshly ordered from Black Echoes magazine and sent up from London the next day ready for the next gig.

He went to his first all nighter (northern soul was big at the time) and, wow, stayed up all night listening, dancing and talking. A revelation. He was, by now, box in hand, playing regularly for a pittance in a myriad of Newcastle’s late night dives run by an assortment of egomaniacal, and violent, money grabbing drug dealers. Oz would sling anything into the mix that would get the dance floor moving; reggae, hip hop, punk, new wave, disco. Playing in pubs, club, hotels, house parties, you name it, Oz played at it. Experience and the gaining of it was the key here. By now, 5 years experience under his belt and at the tender age of 23 it was time to head down south…

At University in Kent he started a regular reggae night where he met John Ayres who then introduced him to other party people and DJ’s in the region. House squatting and the new age traveller scene was taking off in Kent.

8 September 2009

He feels most perturbed

Feels like I'm being stalked by A. I'm getting half a dozen texts a day from her and she’s calling too. I know I'm not really. Oh, its all nice things like ‘wanna come to J’s for tea’ but it’s making me feel under pressure a bit and I don’t like that.

So, to alleviate the pressure, I’ve invited her to the film being put on by the Stop the War mob at Dukes this Thursday; The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. I only go down to see N anyway, but a few beers with A might not be so bad. She’s said she likes me and I might as well see if we get on. One worry though; she used to go out with my lodger, D, 20 years ago.

Me, R and T met for lunch Bank Holiday Monday. Mistakenly we went to Dukes in Whitstable. This is the first time we three have got together for lunch for over two years. ‘Only D is missing now’ I say. ‘Where is he?’ says R. Jokingly. Just like at the Wall for Bens Ego the night before I have one either side of me but this time they are both talking to each other. It’s a bit stilted but at least they are around the same table. T was recovering from her dumping session the night before and was a bit fragile. Her meal was awful. They’d used pickled artichokes instead of fresh ones. When we complained they said ‘well, you’ve eaten more than half of it’. Tossers. We won’t be eating there again in a hurry.

So, walked into the pub and Ben is sitting there. He waves and goes; ‘déjà vu’. Bens Ego are playing in the pub this afternoon. Déjà vu indeed. After the gig and lunch T decides to get the bus. It doesn’t arrive. Us lot arrange for a drink down the Fountain. I said I was going to get my car and meet them there. T is still at the bus stop when I leave. It’s raining. I fetch my car and pull up at the bus stop. ‘Come on’, I say ‘I’ll give you a lift home’. It feels just like old times. Weirdly. I mustn’t get sucked back into ‘looking after’ her again. The next day I just send her my usual text joke and leave the ball in her court.

Back to the past here; I drop her off. She invites me in. we smoke and drink tea. She does all the talking. Working through her split with Jay. Analysing her reasons and motivation, minimising the hurt. She laid it out on the line. I admired her honesty. She did exactly the same to me. Said the spark wasn’t there. Laid it out straight. J cut his losses and agreed to fall on his sword. He picks his stuff up on Tuesday. Which may explain why T hasn’t contacted me. Think I’ll leave it alone for a day or two.

What I need to do today is ring M up and see how things are going with him and C.

This is going to be a real tough week for my good, old friend and he’s going to need all the support I can give him. He’s just been round mine tonight, with Mike for a mix and a curry. He ain’t seen C. She just rang him tonight, Wednesday, saying she was back in the UK. He knew she was actually back on Sunday night. He feels most perturbed.

7 September 2009

tvc do lounge on the farm 2009

Comment by creaky middle-aged teenager

You Gotta Keep Movin’ Or You’ll Be Left behind

Experience about getting into the festival was excellent. Staff were friendly and helpful and queues were short and fast moving. Security, I thought, was tight but fair and my wrist band was checked every time I went into the main arena. Even when it was raining and I had my coat on I was asked to pull my sleeve up so they could check. We camped in the big field with the rest of our middle-aged festival chums, ignoring all advice to “camp on the high ground in case it rained”. The teenagers “up the hill”, and there were a lot of them, I thought were great and on the whole very well behaved. Ok, so they got a bit pissed. What’s wrong with that? The majority had worked very hard over the past 2 years to study for their GCSE’s and surely deserved the chance to let their hair down and celebrate as only British kids can. I was glad that they were allowed to do that in a safe environment and that they weren’t hassled too much by security. They were really one of the highlights of the festival for me. Was great to see so many young people running around having fun. You only have to look at festivals like Latitude or Glastonbury to see that the claims of festivals becoming “too middle-aged” may ring true for them but not for LOTF. These festival goers of tomorrow, I’m sure, will be loyal Loungers for many years to come. So, big up the younger element and encourage more to come next year. If they are unaccompanied they have to pay full price. They can only buy booze if they are over 18 and have proof of age; and by all means search and remove booze from them if they are underage, but as for the rest the more the merrier and keep LOTF for ALL age groups. Food wise it was great as usual; loved the Rob Lounge's Farmhouse pie and mash and Suzanne’s Good’s Shed picnic packages. Cold beer was my favourite; no, they’re not a band but lovely, bubbly brown liquid in plastic glasses. Just loved hanging around the bar tent for other reasons too; so many great DJ’s playing so much great music all weekend. Looked after so well by Ali! Loved Samondi on the Further Stage and Bent in the cowshed. My girlfriend and I were dancing to Mr Scruff in the Hoedown Tent and she says that she’d love to hear Get a Move On, his big hit from 10 years ago (recently remixed by Ninja Tune) that she loves so much. I said he’s on for 6 hours and we are on the way to see Samondi now. Just as we were leaving he played it. That old tune is getting on a bit but it reminds me so much of the Big Chill that we just had to join in with the dancers in the full tent to enjoy 10 minutes of pure Scruffness. A real highlight for us. One last thing before I go; thanks for the free Scruff download. Now I can listen to the rest of his set that I missed.

6 September 2009

biker barb

It was already boiling hot but as we supped the free beers from Ed we know it would be a good one. I’d had no sleep last night but felt quite reasonable. Although down the EK on Sunday I’d walked into the pub and one of the biker/tattoo/long hair/guitar music/ah, let’s wind the druggies up type of guys turns round and says to me
“’Ere mate! You’ve either had a long weekend or you’re looking old”
“Both”, I reply smiling sweetly and giggling at his top barb. “Anyway”, I say, “how’s it going…?” and under my breath I think “...you cunt.”

4 September 2009

1997 part 25 - decidedly standoffish

Nick bumps into Polly on the stairs and she’s “decidedly standoffish.” Must be the other night when Lisa rang one of them awful chat lines and didn’t even get to speak to anyone, an that was about 5 minutes at 49p a minute. After Lisa made that call I rang a Polly to see what was up.

Now I know Nick had work Saturday and wasn’t up for much but when Polly said they were going to have a party at Jane’s with Rosie I asked “why?” and she took the hump big time and went to bed. Jane was still in hospital at this time and using her place while she was ill seemed inappropriate to me.

Anyway that was Friday night and this is Sunday. After what can only be diplomatically described as ‘a quiet night in’ watching TV with Nick staring vacantly ahead and not making one tiny effort to communicate or socialise with me or anyone or anything – even the cats – I wake to find she’s already gone at 6.30am.

Tonight will be the first gig we’ve done for, well, a week and I’m expectant of good things. I just hope that with all the rest she’s had she’ll be able to put some effort into talking to me tonight. You know, I don’t want big things like hugs and kisses like what full people have. We can’t expect to be a full on couple so soon after our emotional instability. So, one step at a time eh?

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