28 March 2011

Putting In The Ritz

SchNEWS emergency bulletin on the M26 demos in London

"HUNDREDS of anti-royal anarchists ran riot across central London yesterday, turning a peaceful demonstration about spending cuts into a class war" - Sunday Express

Well - somebody had to do it. - The TUC's glad-hand fest was never going to change the ConDEMS course by even one degree. It was hijacked by anarchists and it deserved to be. The TUC mobilised its masses and did everything they could to make sure that genuine dissent didn't rear its ugly head. The emphasis was to be on a family-friendly day out without frightening the horses. Quite who they think is going to hand out prizes for niceness in the shark tank that is global capitalism remains a mystery.

For those who went to the endpoint rally in Hyde Park, even moderate voices like Bob Crow of the RMT and Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party were not allowed to speak. They were left out in favour of Ed Millaround the gormless puppet who's now trying to pass off the Labour Party as a revitalised radical alternative to the Tories - less than eleven months after they were run out of office. Is this then the TUCs strategy? Wait four years, and then vote in a business friendly Labour government - and they wonder why union membership is at an all time low.

While dressing himself up as the re-incarnation of Emily Pankhurst and Martin Luther King, and the bearer of Mandela's torch, Milliband junior was emphatic about yesterday’s disorder, condemning it roundly while ignoring the fact that all the struggles he was paying homage to involved breaking more than a few windows.

Earlier that morning, the feeder marches, all condemned as unauthorised by the TUC made their way largely unhindered to greet the masses gathered at Embankment. A half-hearted attempt by cops to put a line across Westminster bridge in front of the Radical Workers block that had left from Kennington Park was shrugged aside.

The anarchist block split from the main march past Embankment Station, as a voice over a megaphone beckoned marchers to come with them for a sight-seeing tour around London. The break off bloc poured past Trafalgar Square, past the front of the TUC demo where hundreds of disenchanted activists decided to sack off the A to B marching exercise and join the black bloc. By the time the bloc had made its way through Covent Garden to Oxford Street it numbered several thousand.

Trudging along with the masses, other anarchists filtered through the crowd to UK Uncut's pre-arranged meet up on Oxford St at 2pm. UK Uncut had called for occupations of corporate tax dodgers. The police tactic for the day was clearly the protection of known UK Uncut targets, with lines of police in front of branches of Boots, Vodaphone and Topshop. The cops even seemed willing to protect Topshop at the expense of more traditional anti-capitalist targets, with unfortified McDonalds and Starbucks getting done over anyway, showing that this was far from a single issue demo.

And that was where the fun really started - Topshop, one of UK Uncuts main targets was the first to get it and then, for over hour and a half a rag-tag black block, numbering around a thousand, ran cops ragged around Soho and Piccadilly Circus. Selected corporate targets were attacked with smoke flares, paint and street furniture. Banks bore the brunt of the anger with branches of HSBC, Santander and Lloyds getting the paint and broken glass treatment. The HSBC in Cambridge Circus got given some special attention. As 'Smash the banks' was daubed across the window, the crowd began to move on, until, bearing in mind the complete absence of Old Bill, people decided to take the advice. Windows were smashed and a green wheelie bin was used to batter open the doors. The inside of the bank was turned over before activists did a runner as the plod turned up. Watch the video here. The F.I.T team were chased off in Cambridge Circus. Even London's Boris bikes scheme wasn't ignored, with activists peeling off the Barclay's stickers while leaving the machines intact. It might have been a touch violent but it wasn't mindless.

At the Ann Summers shop, militant queer action emerged from the crowd, spray-painting Ann Summers shiny shop front of apparently taking a stand against "mainstream heteronormatively constructed sexuality", and finally putting a bin right through the window.

Police coming into the area were harassed, with street signs and wheelie bins hurled under vehicles. Riot vans were liberally re-decorated. Some incredibly loud bangers or thunderflashes caused cops to flinch. Plumes of coloured smoke could be seen. Often groups of cops were rushing to protect targets that had been left by the fluid and swift-moving crowd. Uncontained, the block, waving red and black flags, moved along Piccadilly towards the Ritz. The chant went up - "The Ritz, the Ritz - we're gonna get rid of the Ritz" as tables smashed through the windows.

The block then re-united with the main march, giving many a chance to de-mask and slip away. Nearing Hyde Park, no doubt fearing an outburst of sentimental centre left rhetoric, they split off back into Mayfair. Symbols of wealth, including a Porsche dealership and several overpriced sports car were done, along with a couple of shops selling overwhelmingly priced status antiques. Every corner turned in Mayfair showed just how much grotesque wealth is still out there waiting to be redistributed.

Meanwhile at 3.30pm on Oxford Circus, UK Uncuts pre-arranged meet up was underway. After converging demonstrators were slipped a card which told them which colour flag to follow, with the aim of separating into branches then joining forces for the occupation of the target.

The target - Fortnum &Mason, was well chosen, grocers to the Queen and corporate tax dodgers. Unfortunately the sheer size of the protests meant the different crowds didn't arrive simultaneously and there was a stand-off with protestors inside the building and police lines forming outside. A push and shove ensued but due to the pavement barriers not enough of the crowd could get behind the push and the cops remained unbudged, blockading the entrances. The two to three hundred protesters who were already inside, were left to soak up the atmosphere, and eyeing up bargains like the twenty quid jam and £65 napkin rings. Others took a more direct route and climbed up a street lamp onto the first floor.

Unfortunately here, as during the rest of the day, there seemed to be more people filming than actually getting involved in any action. Anyone who wanted to get stuck in had to push their way through a line of happy snappers first. Where does all this footage end up? - Think before you get yer zoom lens out kids, 'cos careless shots cost lives'.

The rest of the day was a mix of stand-offs and running skirmishes. The Peace Horse was torched outside Oxford St tube. By this time the block was being pushed back onto Piccadilly circus as, freed of the obligation to police the TUC demo, that was safely in Hyde Park, more cops began arriving. Sealing off Fortnum and Masons they made numerous arrests.

A number of the crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square, where some had suggested a 24 hr occupation. Described to SchNEWS by one eyewitness as "just a party, really", the cops seized their opportunity to wade in. A kettle was put in place and despite a fight being put up the crowd was dispersed or arrested by 1 a.m.

According to Green & Black Cross legal support there have been over 200 arrests - and that's just those who've contacted the help-line. Most are being bailed now (Sunday evening) many having had their clothes and phones seized. Interestingly, they are receiving bail conditions to stay away from Central London on the day of the next TUC mobilisation 1st of May and on the 29th April, the date of Kate &Wills happy nuptials.

If you were arrested then there's a Defendants' meeting - Saturday 2nd April - 2pm - University of London Student Union, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY

Otherwise - See you on the streets!

26 March 2011

Armchair Army reports live from the front line of the March 26th Demo

Sitting at home as part of the armchairarmy due to a horrendous cold going to follow things in the media.

11.00 Twitter Message from @March26March says ‘media saying 400,000’. @unittheunion say ‘we’re off’. Ed_Milliband starts tweeting away like billio. Better get back in the fold quick Ed. Oops, too late.

11.10 Embankment is rammed. Sheer weight of numbers meaning a late start for some. Unite saying ‘amazing atmosphere’ ‘Great mood’, everyone is being ‘patient and understanding’.

11.20 @gbctoilets say if you are kettled and need a kettlebog give them a shout.

12.16 Getting a bit crowded. Kettling ‘on Essex Street’ rumours abound. @unitelondon ‘approaching houses of parliament, brilliant atmosphere, banners, flags and whistles aplenty’. @Emily_arms’ unborn baby, ‘a not yet born agitator’, is ‘kicking lots’.

.21 Broadcast media; Sky have nice graphic of route of march which swoop and turn. Reporter on Westminster Bridge does live report bigging up the ‘family day out’ schtick. Interview with Government spokesman Francis Maude sees him blabbing about how he is protecting jobs and frontline services. Gives the usual Tory schtick about ‘inheriting’ the public deficit from Labour.

12.27 Sky shows some nice footage of the crowd and children waving flags. News feed on bottom of screen says its the largest union organised event in 20 years. Maude says they ‘will listen’.

12.30 Sky has an interview with fast talking James Mills from Saving The EMA. ‘Poor teenagers are demonstrating to get their voice heard. £550 million is what the EMA costs. EMA is received by 80% of young people who come from under 21K households. Half the British public oppose its abolition’.

12.31 Locally, @Whitstable_Twit is ‘in Tesco’s’ and @eastkenttom ‘has just had a bath’. Rock on.

12.36 Police concerns about how they want to ‘keep it as peaceful as possible’. Say ‘different groups may high jack front of March with their banners’. They highlight potential flashpoint at Downing Street. Sky using the route of the March graphics way too much; something like every 5 minutes. Live interviews from the street about ‘why they are marching today?’ with trades unionists actually on the March.

12.41 Main BBC channel news gets straight to live coverage at Victoria Embankment. Unison balloons look great. Shots of police in a line down the back streets in normal uniform. ‘It’s a festival atmosphere’. Numbers greater than thought. Now BBC says 5,000 police when they said 4,000 earlier. Numbers now ramped up from the 100,000 estimate from the BBC earlier to 250,000 now. BBC have the coverage in the 10 minute bulletin knocking Libya off the top slot.

12.45 Back of March at Aldwich ‘still not through’ says live reporter from BBC in their news channel outside Parliament. Very ‘good natured’. More live voxpop interviews on streets with union members. ‘Vuvuzelas or bagpipes?’ asks @March26March. Head of ‘March now in Hyde Park’. Still tens of thousands haven’t even set off yet.

12.51 ukuncut asks then answers his own question; ‘weather fine so why are some marchers covering their faces with scarf’s? For trouble afterwards perhaps’. At 12.47 the BBC lose their link suddenly. Shots from Hyde Park show only a few there so far.

12.54 Sky roving the streets live. They are still focusing on the massive Unison block. Lots of working class accents; which is great to hear. Some woman says she hasn’t marched since the 80’s. Two other live feeds in (Picture in Picture) PIP down left hand side bar.

13.00 March is now lead story on BBC 1 News. Hyde Park is filling up fast. However they use the same report and the same footage they used earlier. They’re bigging up Milliband as the main speaker. Ben Ando loses his sound in Trafalgar Square live. Overcut images from Hyde Park. They all seem to be having great fun playing with the technology live.

13.05 BBC; police standing back. Vans parked in side streets. Portraying ‘a withdrawn presence’. Police assure ‘kettling will be kept to a minimum’. In Parliament Square a middle aged Connexions worker with blingy shades dips her head towards the microphone but articulates her concerns well.

13.06 Sky lead with Libya then the March. Intense fighting in Addaiya. BBC show aftermath.

13.10 BBC has a split screen; Hyde Park filling up and interviews on the LHS one. Sky start repeating older interviews on LHS feed though.

13.26 Sky helicopter showing some great footage around Houses Of Parliament. Announcement of one arrest made. BBC says ‘small groups of black clad youths are filtering off’ main march. Sky; March held up due to ‘incident’ at Downing Street. No footage though. Police tweet; rear end of march at Piccadilly now. Sky now have a 3 way split onscreen. Tail end of March not in Piccadilly contradicts reporter. People ‘still joining march’. Voxpops of young teachers having a whinge. Sky finds the Breakaway Group with ‘love police’ on the back of their shirts and follow them on the ground. They’re having a sit in outside the Trocadero. Tourists take photos. They then stand up and rejoin main march.

13.33 Sky split screen report. LHS from the round at Hyde Park as Paul Novak Head of Public Services at the TUC tells us ‘the governments cuts aren’t working’. On the RHS screen, live shots from the March as it walks past; a placard hangs in view for a good minute plus; ‘Do I look like I’m made of money’ and ‘millionaire tory scum in bed with the rich but still fucking the poor’ and ‘up yer bum tory scum’.

13.39 Breakaway Group outside McDonalds now. Must be stopping for a burger. They’re sitting in the road again now. Having a rest. Police monitoring.

13.40 Breakaway Group Heading for Oxford Street.

13.47 Suddenly cuts from Breakaway Group to Brendan Barber’s speech live from Hyde Park. He whips up crowd. ‘The NHS stands for something special’ and ‘is not for sale’ apparently. The crowd like that and cheer. They boo when he mentions the city bonuses. It’s just like a pantomime. ‘They’re taking us for….’ The feed then cuts off for 2 minutes.

13.52 Back to the split screen. Ed Milliband on stage waiting to go on. He’s looking relaxed. Masked Breakaway Group now in Oxford St. Anarcho-syndicalism flags and black masks scare the shoppers. ‘You bled us dry’ reads a banner. EM compares resistance of unions to the cuts to the anti-apartheid movement. Smoke bombs let off in Oxford Street outside Top Shop. A policeman has white paint all over his face. Going to see that in all the papers tomorrow as the paparazzi swarms round him. They cut away from the split screen and go to footage of police lined up outside Top Shop in Oxford St and have EM’s speech on top like it is commenting on the ‘lively’ violence. The Breakaway Group set off more colourful smoke bombs. EM says ‘we are the mainstream’ as the masked Breakaway Group contingent jostle with police.

13.56 Back to split screen. The Breakaway Group throws paint bombs at Top Shop windows. ‘Government destroying the things we value in our country’ says EM. The Breakaway Group mainly young men just walk off. A South ‘London Solidarity Federation’ banner is displayed.

14.00 police vans with blacked out windows arrive and nip down a side street. Tweet; ‘the police won’t be keen to arrest people as they’ll have to add them all as guests on the census’. BBC has footage from overhead. Top Shop door soaked in paint. Media took a few paint bomb hits. Atmosphere described as ‘lively’ by reporters. BBC still has the march as top story. Breakaway Group Top Shop incident on second. Sky; showing shots of people feet.? Banner ‘we’ve had enough’.

14.01 BBC route of March graphic far inferior to Sky’s. ‘And still they come’ say the BBC.

14.02 March at standstill/moving slow due to ‘sheer numbers’.

14.03 ‘Good natured’ say BBC.

14.04 Two people have a lovely hug behind BBC reporter. BBC; Top Shop window cracked.

14.05 Breakaway Group antagonists moving quickly to next target in Great Portland Street swiftly followed by police in crash helmets. Breakaway Group now looks around a thousand or so. An anarchist flash mob? BBC show overhead footage of scuffles between the phone boxes and an arrest.

14.06 Parliament Square march still thick with people.

14.07 ‘I’m for the state and against privatisation’ says ‘a lady of a certain age’. Sky tellingly say; ‘no smell of ammonia here’.

14.08 Buckinghamshire Firemen in red ‘cuts cost lives’ t-shirts stand in the background. ‘Globalise resistance’ flutters a flag - BBC. Sky cop in studio says ammonia filled light bulbs wouldn’t surprise him. No real evidence of this happening though.

14.10 On March Sky says ‘it’s a carnival’.

14.11 Met police now ‘official’ on confirming ammonia story.

14.12 Back to the Breakaway Group scuffle as overhead BBC footage shows a police officer getting a paint bomb right in the face. The press are right on him and give him a damn good ‘papping’. A red flare is thrown and the paps get some good pics through the smoke of an officer kicking it away.

14.13 Maude interview from earlier replayed on top of marching footage.

14.14 Back to EM droning away. ‘who is the voice of the mainstream majority in Britain. Let us say we aaaaaaah!’ Pointy finger. Lead balloon.

14.15 He’s off.

14.27 BBC cut back to Breakaway Group. Anarchy signs and paint on walls of bank. ‘ammonia in light bulbs’ thrown now up on twitter. Police van attacked, smoke bomb, purple on roof of van as it tries to drive off. London Socialist Historians say March is in top 5 protests in UK history. Breakaway Group melts away. Sky show great shot of a pap covering in paint. Sky; eye witness says police pull 4 HSBC perps out of crowd after being identified.

14.33 Hyde park is now really rammed. Twitter; ‘have they agreed to stop the cuts yet? My back hurts.’

14.34 Union bod talks on LHS over the top of speeches live on RHS

14.35 ‘Does my society look big in this’ on a t shirt.

14.36 ‘This is the worse London Marathon ever’ @s77NDP tweets.

14.37 ‘Top Shop paint damage sale starts tomorrow’.

14.38 ‘Huge banger just went off. Fright of my life.’

14.39 Someone chucks an arrow road sign at McDonalds and skulks away.

14.40 Breakaway Group splits into smaller Breakaway Groups. Police in helmets and shields come onto streets and loiter in groups on the corners.

14.41 Still rammed round Parliament Square.

14.42 @ukuncut getting fingered on twitter as the Breakaway Group perps. Maude still doing a sterling job defending government position on sky as his old interview from earlier looks like its on a permanent loop.

14.43 @ukuncut tweet ‘every tax dodger shut on oxford st’.

14.44 Breakaway Group attack Santander by leaping out from ordinary marchers then melting away. Police baffled.

14.45 BBC stress Breakaway Group is ‘tiny’.

14.46 Breakaway Group attacks the Ritz and kick a police helmet around the street.

14.47 Police move in. A guy with a black flag provokes them.

14.48 Breakaway Group milling around entrance. Paps more wary now. A few got paint bombed earlier.

15.01 @guardiannews says ‘march swells to 400,000”

15.02 Important call from friend sees your intrepid reporter off to the pub...

24 March 2011

TV Stink – Entourage

Sharks have reported looking up and seeing a leaping Entourage.

Entourage, now in season 7, is hanging onto its own coattails, just as the Entourage crew hang on to the coat tails of the laconic antihero Vince. It satirises, if it indeed satirises, nothing but shows that satirise Hollywood yet it ends up falling for its own depressingly shallow, stinking charm and just like all outer edge heroes they all eventually get absorbed by the mainstream and diluted down for mass consumption.

It never was a critique of Hollywood but purported to be a warts and all "behind the scenes" look at the life of an A-lister. Even the real A-listers, in cameos, did pastiches of themselves. It is basically a male version of Sex and the City without the laughs or the clothes. It's undemanding comedy-drama, which is well written and has high production values; it’s wish fulfillment TV basically, in bright, shiny half hour doses but with less interesting characters that never really develop; but then that's not what the series is about.

Entourage simply found a comfort zone and went downhill from there, the high point of Entourage was the "Medellin" story arc, but it definitely went stinking from there. Vince is increasingly becoming more annoying and less believable as the story unfolds even though from day one he was very annoying and very unbelievable he is now even more so. Let’s be honest, without the characters Ari or Drama this programme would have been canned years ago.

Sharks have reported looking up and seeing a leaping Entourage. I hear season 8 is only 8 episodes. Then a movie will follow in about 3 years when the time will be right. Maybe it will be more like Sex and The City then? Sex and The City 2 anyone?

Comfort bromance; it's a bit jaded but still it manages to entertain. Am I supposed to care about this person's movie career? Who he, or any of his tiresome friends, is fucking? Because I just don't. Sex and the City for Men is right. And that’s not a good thing. It's a lot safer and more mainstream than most HBO fare, however, in its defense, even an HBO programme going slightly off the boil is still a million times better than 99% of British-produced drama. There, I said it, as Chris Rock would say.

Sasha Grey stinks the joint out in this season - porn stars going mainstream never seems to work out. The whole Vince/Sasha storyline left a lot to be desired, in part thanks to the majestic acting talents of Ms. Grey. Still haven’t seen a female character or walk on this season that is size 12 or over, which is a bit of a piss take. It’s casual misogyny not seen since ‘On The Buses’.

Can't wait for Vince to hit rock bottom - don't care if it is predictable, it's shallow, entertaining, good looking TV. This season in the UK was supposed to be somewhat based partly on Charlie Sheen's life in the 90's, i.e. the drugs and porn star girlfriend (Ginger Lynn), and if they can manage to make the final season based on Charlie's current problems I, for one, would definitely watch. I can only imagine Vince's character going on a coke-fueled binge at a Vegas porn convention, living with two porn "goddesses" and then doing a TV interview where he talks about having "tiger blood" and how he's "duh, winning". It would be hilarious and a great way to end the stinking series.

Entourage - Series 7. Episode 10/10: Lose Yourself Thursday is on 31st March at 22:15 on Sky Atlantic.

23 March 2011

happiness is what everyone wants

Extraverts tend to be gregarious, assertive, and interested in seeking out excitement. An excellent human will be a person good at living life, who does it well and beautifully. What makes a virtuous character possible, which is in turn necessary if happiness is to be possible.

Epicurus’ ethical theory is hedonistic. Hedonism is the view that pleasure is the only intrinsic good and that pain is the only intrinsic bad. An object, experience or state of affairs is intrinsically valuable if it is good simply because of what it is. Epicurus identifies happiness as a more or less continuous experience of pleasure, and also, freedom from pain and distress. He recommends a policy whereby pleasures are maximized “in the long run.” In other words, Epicurus claims that some pleasures are not worth having because they lead to greater pains, and some pains are worthwhile when they lead to greater pleasures. The best strategy for attaining a maximal amount of pleasure overall is not to seek instant gratification but to work out a sensible long term policy.

In 350 Aristotle stated that happiness is what everyone wants (and Epicurus would agree). He also thinks that happiness is best achieved by a life of virtuous activity in accordance with reason. Aristotle does not think that virtuous activity is pursued for the sake of pleasure. Pleasure is a by product of virtuous action.

Stoic philosophers; Zeno believed happiness was a "good flow of life"; Cleanthes suggested it was "living in agreement with nature", and Chrysippus believed it was "living in accordance with experience of what happens by nature." (being yourself)

A number of attributes that correlate with happiness: relationships and social interaction, extraversion, marital status, employment, health, democratic freedom, optimism, endorphins released through physical exercise and eating chocolate, religious involvement, income and proximity to other happy people.

Evolutionary psychology or biology; what features are included in the brain that allow humans to distinguish between positive and negative states of mind, and how do these features improve humans' ability to survive and reproduce? Positive states of mind? Parties etc. Social positive skills, more reproduction?

Positive psychology; the results of actions that individuals deliberately engage in to become happier. - David T. Lykken,

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire - an aggregate of self-esteem, sense of purpose, social interest and kindness, sense of humor and aesthetic appreciation.[8]

Stefan Klein, in his book The Science of Happiness, links the dynamics of neurobiological systems to the concepts and findings of positive psychology and social psychology.

A widely publicized study from 2008 in the British Medical Journal reported that happiness in social networks may spread from person to person.[ Happiness tended to spread through close relationships like friends, siblings, spouses, and next-door neighbours, and the researchers reported that happiness spread more consistently than unhappiness through the network.

Aging and happiness - Research in the US has found that older Americans are generally happier than younger adults. Young adults reported more anger, anxiety, depression, financial problems, troubled relationships and career stress.

Happiness is also correlated with the ability to "rationalize or explain" social and economic inequalities.

One American study found that people were happier after spending money on experiences, rather than physical things.

Religious people are happier and less stressed because of the social contact and support that result from religious activities

Buddhism - Ultimate happiness is only achieved by overcoming craving in all forms. For ultimate freedom from suffering, the Noble Eightfold Path leads its practitioner to Nirvana, a state of everlasting peace.

Mencius, 2300 years ago - He argued that if we did not feel satisfaction or pleasure in nourishing one's "vital force" with "righteous deeds", that force would shrivel up (Mencius,6A:15 2A:2).

Economic freedom correlates strongly with happiness. According to Professor Edward Glaeser, people constantly make choices that decrease their happiness, because they have also more important aims.

Positive psychology

1. Research into the Pleasant Life, or the "life of enjoyment", examines how people optimally experience, forecast, and savour the positive feelings and emotions that are part of normal and healthy living (e.g. relationships, hobbies, interests, entertainment, etc.).

2. The study of the Good Life, or the "life of engagement", investigates the beneficial affects of immersion, absorption, and flow that individuals feel when optimally engaged with their primary activities. DJing for me. These states are experienced when there is a positive match between a person's strength and the task they are doing, i.e. when they feel confident that they can accomplish the tasks they face.

3. Inquiry into the Meaningful Life, or "life of affiliation", questions how individuals derive a positive sense of well-being, belonging, meaning, and purpose from being part of and contributing back to something larger and more permanent than themselves (e.g. nature, social groups, organizations, movements, traditions, belief systems).

Mindfulness, defined as actively searching for novelty, is also characterized as non-judging, non-striving, accepting, patient, trusting, open, curious, and letting go. Its benefits include reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.

Flow, or a state of absorption in one's work, is characterized by intense concentration, loss of self-awareness, a feeling of control, and a sense that "time is flying." Flow is an intrinsically rewarding experience, and it can also help one achieve a goal (e.g. winning a game) or improve skills (e.g. becoming a better DJ).

Spirituality is associated with mental health, managing substance abuse, marital functioning, parenting, and coping. It has been suggested that spirituality also leads to finding purpose and meaning in life. This research on the benefits of spirituality is limited, however, to mostly studies using cross-sectional questionnaires.

Self-efficacy is one's belief in one's ability to accomplish a task by one's own efforts. Low self-efficacy is associated with depression; high self-efficacy can help one overcome abuse, overcome eating disorders, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. High self-efficacy also improves the immune system, aids in stress management, and decreases pain.[25]

A related but somewhat differing concept is Personal effectiveness which is primarily concerned with the methodologies of planning and implementation of accomplishment.

Learned optimism is the idea that a talent for joy, like any other, can be cultivated. It is contrasted with learned helplessness. Learning optimism is done by consciously challenging self talk if it describes a negative event as a personal failure that permanently affects all areas of the person's life.

According to Clifton and Rath [26] ninety nine out of one hundred people would prefer to be around positive people.

Hope is a learned style of goal-directed thinking in which the person utilizes both pathways thinking (the perceived capacity to find routes to desired goals) and agency thinking (the requisite motivations to use those routes)[27]

The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. "A systematic study of 22 people who won major lotteries found that they reverted to their baseline level of happiness over time, winding up no happier than 22 matched controls"

The paradox of hedonism, also called the pleasure paradox, is the idea in the study of ethics which points out that pleasure and happiness are strange phenomena that do not obey normal principles. the paradox of hedonism points out that pleasure cannot be acquired directly, it can only be acquired indirectly. we fail to attain pleasures if we deliberately seek them.

Evolutionary psychology (EP) - much of human behavior is generated by psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments.[1] our "inner world" is the result of complex neural structures and interactions in the brain. For example, our brains can perceive a spider, compute that it is a potential threat, and initiate a fear response.

Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy. Aristotle said that the highest good for humans, the highest aim of all human practical thinking, is happiness. Happiness is properly understood as an on-going and stable dynamic, a way of being in action. Happiness (also being well and doing well) is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake, unlike riches, honour, health or friendship.

Socrates thought that all human beings wanted happiness more than anything else. Socrates is convinced that virtues such as self-control, courage, justice, piety, wisdom and related qualities of mind and soul are absolutely crucial if a person is to lead a good and happy life. Can a person still have all these qualities whilst their trousers are around their ankles and they are pissing in a doorway after the club?

The concept of freedom is one of the most difficult to analyse in moral philosophy. In one, freedom is identified with the absence of coercion; in the other, it is a capacity to choose on the basis of a rational criterion. In order for a man to be free, other men must fulfil certain obligations. Legal codes and economic arrangements, cultural ideals and physical tools must all conform to a certain pattern if freedom is to be realized.

Free will is the purported ability of agents to make choices free from constraints. Historically, the constraint of dominant concern has been the metaphysical (concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world.)

US & UK governments interrogating Iraqi “terrorist suspects”, vigilantes, clerical abuse of children in Ireland use methods that are outside the law

Freedom; a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions.

The BBC, a most respected institution World Wide in its education web pages admitted that the United Kingdom was in fact the worst offender on Human Rights violations before losing that esteemed position.

The Buddhist concept of mudita, "sympathetic joy" or "happiness in another's good fortune,"

So, when we were 21 and were invited somewhere we only needed one minutes notice. Get a call, someone says want to come to such and such an event and you go yeah, why not. You put your coat on and go out the door. Simple. Now, when you hit your 40's someone rings and goes would you like to go to such and such an event you find yourself reaching for your diary. Hang on, I’ll see if I’m free, you say. Now, in your 40's unless you get at least a week’s notice, preferably a month, it's almost impossible to commit to anything. Oh, how times change. Even freedom and happiness needs scheduling.

i could go out when i was young and stay out for days and nights on end; sleep on any old clothes line, as it were, spend all my money on frivolous thigns that just took my fancy and not worry about anything except what was going to happen in the next few hours. now it's all direct debits, budgeting, worrying about how i'm going to get back to my lovely bed and whether or not i can get my 8 hours sleep in and set aside the much needed recovery time before i get back to work.

getting into these set rules and not breaking then every single time is so detrimental to the business of actually hanging out with your friends and having fun; one of the primary reasons for being alive i think. does a venue have comfortable seats? should not be the primary reason for actually going to a place. Does hitting 40 distort primary motivations?

22 March 2011

TV Catch Up with tVCabbage… Glee, True Blood Season 3, Panorama, Twenty Twelve, The Secret War On Terror, Mrs Brown’s Boys .

Don't you get sick of the anti-TV brigade saying that TV is shit, yet they never watch any programmes? I do. If they watch one show they should watch Glee. It will, indeed, confirm their worse fears.

This weeks TV digest begins with Glee. Don’t know why I like it? On the surface it’s everything you want to hate; cheesy songs, indeed songs, crass stereotypes, garish colours. It’s tender, mawkish sentimentality all based on, you know, the kids, doing it, like a team (bangs fist on chest and holds back the welling tears), learning to cooperate and tolerate and celebrate each others differences, it kinda, like, gets to you. Relationship models you can aspire to?  

Pass the Kleenex. To wipe away my credulity-strained tears of snarky, satirical laughter as the ironically manicured cliched-parade of procedural conformity is shot down by hilariously mean-spirited Sue Sylvester. "Your delusions of persecution are a telltale sign of early stage paranoid schizophrenia". Indeed. "I'm going to ask you to smell your armpits. That's the smell of failure, and it's stinking up my office."

Brian Cox’s show Wonders of the Universe is brilliant in high definition. This guy explains how the universe works. What’s not to like? He uses the funeral rites at Shiva’s Temple and the beliefs of the Hindus in the cycle of destruction and creation and think reincarnation comes through death and rebirth and how elements of the body are recycled in the next stage of creation as a spring board metaphor to his own creation story which is the history of the universe. The path to enlightenment is not an understanding of our own lives and deaths but the life and death of the stars. Every atom in the universe, including ours, came from inside a star.

Now, anyone who can articulate that on prime time, with the help of great graphics, gets my vote. Didn’t really notice the hoo-ha in the papers recently about the soundtrack to this show getting complaints from viewers but the sound track adds ambiance and depth to the show. Sometimes it goes all Kubrick’s 2001 'A Space Odyssey' on us, or over eggs it a bit, and some times his sense of indy kid wonder gets a tad cloying but getting complex ideas across is a skill he has.

The BBC has decided to re-edit the soundtrack and remove or turn it down. Shame I’m with Coxy on this one; it’s not a lecture it’s a cinematic experience. The bigger the TV the better it rocks my universe. All 92 elements of it.

True Blood Season 3, one big undead sex party, continues it’s relentless satirical journey to camp-land Louisiana as the vampires swim in the gizzards. Sookie and Bill removing dead bodies from the living room carpet; just like a normal couple. "So you fell in love with a serial killer - in this town who hasn't?"

Lafayette finding love. We know it’s all going to end in tears don’t we?

That Vampire Authority strutting around thinking they can do anything they want, straight backs like something from Nazi Germany via the Death Star, all tight fitting black leather uniforms and cock eyed frowns straight to camera.

Scary SS wolves are being being hunted by the "cor he's really fit" (copyright DJ Rosie 2011) Eric. He nearly got them in 1944 and has held a beef for almost 1000 years. That’s unforgiving for you.

The shows soapy, complicated and viciously dysfunctional relationship Gumbo surprising at every turn. All revolving around Sookie. What is she we all wonder?
Panorama exposed the dark arts of the tabloid hacks and confirming their duplicitous ‘it’s just one rogue journalist’ lie. Getting this kinda shit out on primetime is so important.  Phone hacking is the endemic surface scum on the bathtub of intrusion. Subterfuge and deceit, secret cameras and recorders, accessing bank accounts, health records, phone accounts, DVLA records, the use of corrupt police, private detectives willing to break the law, computer hacking; all illegal, all in disregard of privacy law.

Every time we buy a tabloid newspaper we condone this type of behaviour. They want to increase circulation by any means. Not ‘one rogue reporter’ but a whole rogues gallery sucking on the money cock.

Twenty Twelve, a new comedy from the BBC, has it’s own rogues gallery of familiar faces; Rev’s wife, you know, thingy from Peep Show; she’s in it. Her from Spaced. Juliette. Him from that drama show that was on recently and was quite good. Downton Abbey. Some guy who was in something else but now has a moustache and I can’t remember his name.

Anyway, it’s about the 2012 games people getting ready for the Olympics with hilarious consequences. Ticks all 'The Thick Of It' boxes (such as inept boss, selfish chancers winging it, shakey hand held camera, fake 'The Office' style documentary and 'Little Britain'-esque fake-serious voice over), except two that is; it’s not that funny and there’s no swearing. I’ll give it one more episode though just to confirm it’s not going to creep up and be a cult hit behind my back.

At last some decent swearing, but only because swearing is funny. Mrs Brown’s Boys take on things reminds me of the old Hilda Baker schtick from the 60’s and 70’s. In drag. And ruder. Oh look, he’s plays a mature middle-aged mother who starts off the show fekking this and fekking that and before you’re 10 minutes in it’s fucking swearing away like billio. It’s filled with hilarious knob gags such as “if it can fit in one hand you can fekking keep it” and “how would you like me to grab your willie like a windmill and swing you round the room?” It's one big overacted Ray Cooney theatrical farce that thrive on it’s script errors, corpsing in front of the live audience and ad libing it’s way out of trouble. Haven’t seen such a blatant gay stereotype since Mr Humphrie’s stroked Mrs Slocome’s pussy. All men are childish idiots but, in a 'funny' way, it has old fashioned charm. It’s massive in Ireland you know but it ain’t no Father Ted. Best joke; “I was so long in labour they had to shave me twice.”

The Secret War On Terror, a two part documentary, revealed how totally unprepared the American intelligence agencies were after the shock of the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda. The shoe bomber Richard Reed, Al-Qaeda trained and a British Muslim to boot panicked the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. In Pakistan 6 months after 9/11 they captured one of Osama’s top lieutenants Abu Zubeyda; it was their first big breakthrough. Interrogation raised questions about how far America should go to gain intelligence. Documents found at his safe house proved he was the gate-keeper for the Jihadi training camps and this prompted his removal to a black site, or clandestine prison, in Thailand. A Muslim FBI officer using standard FBI interrogation techniques got Abu Zubeyda to identify Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as ‘Mukhtar’ the mastermind of 9/11. He wasn’t even on their radar.

By now standard interrogation techniques were out the window. In May 2002, in cooperation with the CIA, the FBI caught two ‘clean’ potential ‘dirty’ bombers boarding a plane out of Pakistan. One was an American the other a Brit. In Pakistan the Brit Binyam Mohamed said he was hung by his wrists, beaten with a leather strap and subject to a mock execution. MI5 was aware he was being tortured. In 2002 America, the self proclaimed beacon of freedom and democracy, opened Camp X-Ray in Cuba. Chosen because it was outside US jurisdiction, outside the protection of the Geneva Convention, overnight dismantling 50 years worth of human rights infrastructure. A new generation of secret interrogators were trained to get results any way they could. They used hooding, total sensory deprivation, nudity, physical force and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. This involved a confinement box in which the suspect was strapped naked to a chair in the frigid cold and left for 3 weeks at a time; they were sleep deprived then confined in ‘the dog box’ in total darkness, which was covered with blankets to stop air getting in and to raise the heat. The CIA implemented ‘the programme’ – secret rendition, black sites and interrogation – and an ancient and terrible form of torture used by the Spanish Inquisition and the Khmer Rouge; waterboarding. All details available from secret CIA reports.

After the Bali bombing of 2002 Donald Rumsfeld authorised the military to use slapping, dogs, stress positions, 20 hour interrogations, women’s underwear placed on his head, fingernail pulling, cigarette burning and interrogation techniques used in the TV show 24 on Detainee 63 believed to be the 20th 9/11 highjacker. Info obtained by these methods? ‘Drivel’, unreliable and confusing. Conclusion? The US drawn into the realm of abduction and torture; the Brits into allegations of complicity. Torture radicalises, is damaging to the West and cannot be justified in a democratic society.

17 March 2011

whimsical anecdotes with perturbed stories of sex, drugs and badgers.

whimsical anecdotes with salty stories of sex, drugs and circumcision.

 Stand up Craig Campbell rocked my tiny world last night; for a short while anyway.

When he began on the ‘oh isn’t it funny I’m a Canadian living in Devon and your English culture is soo funny’ shtick I thought "here we go again"; aloominum, aluminium. Sure enough he mentioned how funny it was that the English got annoyed at the Canadian pronunciation of aluminium but his storytelling skill showed around an hour later when the word came up again that he paused slightly, looked up at us and, then pronounced the word ‘properly’ like an Englishman would.

He’s as far from the pasty Englishman than it could possibly be anyway; long hair, beard, dropping in gags about snowboarding, mountain climbing, being a biker and a mountain biker, doing jujutsu, how well travelled he is, how violent he can but actually holds it back “because I don’t want to be that type of person”. He recounts a mugging him and his mate from Newcastle experienced in a foreign country. They had been out from the hotel to get some food and had their wallet stolen. A nifty piece of violence saw Craig with his assailant in a head lock, the recipient of him saying “let’s see if any of this jujitsu shit works”. At the end of he comes out of the ‘we’ve been mugged’ phase and still has, in his hand, the plate of food, intact, unspilled, that he was taking back to the hotel. A great raconteur.

I began to take a dislike to his boastings but at heart you can’t help but like his masculine amiability as he skates the edge of macho boasting and apologetic sexism. He even elicited a groan from me recounting the old biker joke about the guy whose jacket had written on the back - ‘if you can read this, the bitch fell off’. “That’s the type of guy I was dealing with”, he says as an excuse to get the joke out. Brendon Burns (the undisputed master of the outrageous out of order comment) said, when I went to see his show that if you want to say anything that may be a bit dodgy or un-Politically correct, whether it’s racist or sexist or misogynist just let some other character in the story you are telling say it. Simple. We then all laugh at how racist/misogynist the person who said it is. I’m not suggesting he is the same league as Brendon Burns because he’s not; more his politer Canadian cousin who milks the laughs and pulls the funny faces just a wee bit too long.

He does though avoid what I thought would be obvious stereotypes and gives us some genuinely funny observations and interpretations on national identity. “You guys are so funny when it’s foggy and you’re driving on the motorway. ‘Where did the guy in the car ahead of me go?’ ‘Dunno’ ‘Let’s find out.’” He then mimics putting foot on the accelerator. Of course we all love it when he rips it out the Americans, but even then, he’s genuinely affectionate about their foibles, as we are too and we all bask in the warm glow of how casually racist and stereotyped we all are.

All in all though not a bad show, catch him if you can. Its simple humour but it works well because we end up liking the lovable, outrageous Canadian lunk. I woke up this morning with images still in my brain over his stories about how he kicked a badger to death and was in a tent masturbating to a man having a heart attack.

Driving with the lights on

15 March 2011

do not involve phallocentric manoeuvres

Mark Sinclair and Derrick Patterson
20 years of Pendragon
Pendragon was formed in 1991 by Mark Sinclair and Kate Pendragon, a unique partnership of creative talent and energy who were both inspired by Celtic mythology and a vision of spiritually uplifting trance parties for all to enjoy.

One of the first and longest running techno-trance parties in the UK, Pendragon had nine successful events at Brixton Academy — including the infamous 10th birthday party — as well a plethora of events at Tyssen Street Studios, before moving to the Fridge after Tyssen Street sadly closed down. Brixton’s Jamm is the perfect choice for their new home.

Jamm said; The line up in the main room consisted of 7 DJs that have been revolutionary in creating what people called, the Pendragon sound. Mark Sinclair leads the charge. This pioneering DJ and producer has helped mould the sound of hard uplifting trance, and as the promoter of the legendary Pendragon parties, his place within the chapters of party history is fundamental.

Room 2 contains 6 very talented DJs playing a variety of sound. We have in this room, Derrick Patterson the only DJ on the flyer to play alongside Mark Sinclair at the first ever Pendragon party on that mountain top in Wales. So there you go.

The Kent Posse was well represented...
Was somewhat of a surprise to find my slot was from 4.30am till 6am as I stood in the club at 10pm wondering how many times I would do, what we had hilariously named, “the circuit”. This consisted of beer at the bar, lean on the bar, chat to friends, listen to the music, bit of a dance, bit of a drink, into the big room, push through the crowd a bit, listen to the DJ, dance to the DJ, shout at friends over the tremendously loud and clear rig, sweat a lot, as it was very hot, push out to the side door, go in the garden, find a spot, smoke a cigarette, finish off the beer, back in the venue, to the little room, to the bar, buy another drink, lean on the bar, cool down, have a chat with friends and new friends just met, into the big room and so on. One can of course vary the order one does things or the places one stands but essentially in the tiny club that the Jamm is this doesn’t leave much room for variety. I pop over to see Si during one of them. “How many time have you done the circuit?” he says. “About 10”, I reply.

Pendragon is far better than most club nights. The pervading empathy and friendliness is truly exemplary so I exempt them from the following comments. 

Every club, or so my female clubbing friends tell me, has these strange, lonely men who, for some reason, think it the ideal place to meet new 'lady friends'. It’s not. Try cultivating a real friendship or just enjoying female company for the sake of it with no sexual agenda. Women really appreciate that. Once you’ve actually got to the stage where you can remember their name and suggest activities that do not involve phallocentric manoeuvres you may be half way to actually getting a woman to like you a bit for the friendly, funny considerate person you are potentially capable of being.

I suggest, during one of my conversations during ‘the rounds’ that “it’s all about pacing oneself when you’re out for an all nighter in order to maximise staying power and enjoyment?” “Fuck that”, says Tanya. “It’s all about shoving as much down your neck as quickly as possible and sustaining that level if you want to dance all night”. Fair enough but in them two statements and the vast area in between we have a dichotomy of ethics. If you are a pace yourself or even a drug free person you cannot deny the fact that most clubs are full of men, and women, who are pissed up, drugged up, drug dealing, talking to you till your ears bleed, toilet cubicle hogging, dance floor puking, drink kicking overers or nickers, crowd generating, under age, over age, sweaty night owly insomniacs who, it seems, but is not true,  rarely dance or appreciate the music. And I’m not just talking about the Brewery Bar in Whitstable. 

At Pendragon on Saturday night one female friend said “...so anyway, this guy came up to me and just stood in front of me. Staring.” Another; “within four lines of ‘chat up’ dialogue he asked me if ‘I wanted to go to the toilets’ with him? I said ‘what about asking me out for a drink, a meal or a visit to the cinema first?”

Oz and Derrick Patterson rip the little room to pieces...
 So I’m playing in the little room and we had some great music going on there from funk and soul to house to techno and a live band to boot. What was there to not like? Some buffoon kept leaning over into the booth and shouting ‘techno’ at me in a strange accent I couldn’t quite place then running away before I could reply. Someone later told me he was French. The first time he did it I had a Carl Craig tune on the deck. Little to his knowledge I has actually been playing a nice mix of house and techno throughout my set but it was all fairly laid back and chilled out. Now I thought Carl Craig was a Detroit-based producer of techno music, and is considered to be one of the most important names in the Detroit second generation of techno producers and DJs. A legend indeed; and one would have thought that any decent techno head would be aware of his music or at least the Detroit sound. If the buffoon had actually stayed a while and had a little chat with me I could have pointed this fact out to him but, alas, to no avail. All I got was his spittle and tobacco breath suddenly looming out of the dark. Indeed Carl Craig's album Sessions is one of my favourite techno albums of all time and is always close to my CD player in the car; especially on long journeys. Some of his tracks are considered the best in the whole history of techno; his influence more incremental than incendiary, always about reform more than revolution, more redrawing electronic music borders than of waving flags, a man of considerable influential legacy no less. 

So you, dear reader, can perhaps understand my initial conflagration as his head pops in the booth again and he shouts “techno” in my ear. Maybe he was actually acknowledging the Detroity concise beats, the distinctive warmth, the fluency with all the different subtleties and nuances of the Detroit techno "soul" sound? This arpeggiated emotive delicacy as Craig piles on sci-fi strings and a hissing beat that creeps until it cracks into a crevice burrowed between a spirited house-y saunter and robotic techno drive. Maybe?

“Techno!” my French chum shouts.I get it now.

"Damn right", I shout back.



Pendragon 20th Birthday Party! Jamm, Brixton - Saturday 12 Mar 2011


Uplifting nu-energy psychedelic techno trance

Mark Sinclair - Chris Liberator - Oberon - Beamish - Choci - Kevin Energy - Nik Sequenci - Juno


Filthy dirty deep down house, electro, funk and eclectic beats

Derrick Patterson - Dan Bizaro – Sylvie - Micky Vespre - Oz tVC - Yoms -Priceless live
Transformers; Trance Orbital - Madam Blagatsky - Kate Pendragon - Paio’s Flowers - Shine AV - Dedicated to the memory of DJ Jace


7 March 2011

it makes you think sometimes life can be beautiful

A weekend floating round Kent through the tVC portal…

The first couple of years that I split up from my girlfriend and left my Whitstable house and children were a social as well as emotional desert. Every second weekend was childless and would stretch out like a … mocking my distress. I could rarely sleep much so there were an awful lot of hours to fill. Initially I went to see old mates in London to go clubbing but they were all in couples and waking up strung out on sofas in Camden and Brixton and Hackney only seemed to amplify my solitude and internal emptiness.

The football season was OK cos I’d play on Sunday mornings and sit down the Chimney Boy and Sun Inn in Faversham all afternoon drinking lager and doing lines and talking about all the goals we’d nearly scored if it weren’t for the ref/pitch/incredible reflexes of their keeper. And I’d cobble together the rest of the weekend by going to dinner parties of work friends or going to wanky bars in Canterbury like The Loft or Alberrys and nearly getting laid but not quite cos I said the wrong thing at the wrong time or they lived in Chartham Hatch with their boyfriend or their mate was making a sour face so they had to leave. Or something. Always disappointment- bad music, bad company and no payout at the end.

And there was a massive gap as I had always loved going out for music. Hip hop and house. And here I was stuck in the area I’d grown up in, single, struggling to fill vast oceans of vacant time. I found one grinning house loving head playing wonderful Detroit techno and soulful house when I wandered into the Loft by mistake, the inspirational Derrick Patterson, but there’s only so many times you can spend an evening elbowing hairdressers and football hooligans out of the way to get to the bar, which was the price you paid for listening to his excellent collection.

Now on a weekend a wave of relief sweeps over me when I get a half hour to myself to cook a curry, put on the telly and watch football highlights. An even greater relief when I get another half hour to choose what records I might go and play later instead of just praying that what’s already in the box will do it for whoever we’re playing to. What the fuck happened? How did those furlongs stretching out endlessly to an invisible finish line become a mere few yards? I guess you might call it the tVC portal.

In March 2006 on an otherwise standard drunken night out with work colleagues in the Neptune, I was lucky enough to engage in some raucous banter and tonsil tennis with a woman named Sara who became my girlfriend for a few subsequent months. She took me to a pub called The Smack one Saturday night where some earnest geezers around my age were playing the type of house music I loved while everyone got pissed and jumped up down. Once I’d peeled myself off the dog hair and Masterbrew ridden carpet- you barely found this house music in London let alone East Kent- I learned they played in people’s houses too. For nothing. And one of them even teaches other people how to play their records. So it was that Sara took me through the TVC portal.

Now my weekends often go something like this…

Friday at work in a soulless government department office near Victoria. Just been told my job in said soulless office will be ending in a couple of months thanks to George Osborne’s cuts. Need a night out so contact Sideways Tom. Sideways are a tight little unit based in the Alkham Valley and Folkestone; they’re like a small house music cottage industry, producing on and remixing each others’ tunes, constantly putting on nights in the Chambers Bar, grafting away to keep a deep tech house and breaks alternative to the dross on offer elsewhere in Shepway. They’re all called Sideways someone because once you’re through the tVC portal everyone has a nickname. That means you can tell Sideways Tom (formerly “Thomisadj”) from, say, Delicious Tom (aka Tom George). This is important, otherwise you might end up asking a cocky, two faced purveyor of banging cheese to play instead of a thoughtful, reflective connoisseur and metronomic mixer of deep house and minimal tech. Which could seriously ruin your night.

Sideways roll under the radar and without fuss or arrogance, making great tunes which get constant high ratings in DJ magazines, and playing occasional rocking sets such as the Lounge on the Farm beer tent in 2009, for people too foolish and cloth eared to ask them back (only Farmhouse Sean knows why they’ve never played there…).  They are overseen by the shadowy, paternal presence of Alien FM (Sideways Dave), the house music version of BlackAdders’s Baby Eating Bishop of Bath & Wells, a man who has indulged in every debauchery known to man and survived, and his gorgeous Spanish wife (Sideways Anna), who makes sure they all eat enough and get enough sleep. He is flanked by producers/DJs Sideways John (Episodes) and Sideways Wes (Keydin). The producers/formation is completed by Sideways Tom and Not-Sideways-anymore-because-he’s-too-famous Tim Green. The latter made his name on Sideways recordings with a track called “Gold Sharks” under the moniker “Robot Child” when he was 19, which apparently Sasha caned to death last summer in Ibiza. He’s now the darling of the Euro tech house scene.

It was a classic Sideways night, the kind of eclectic variety of music and personnel that makes them the South Kent mirror of TVC. Upstairs above a snooker hall, a range of people listening to a range of folky bands with Tom and Wes playing dubby techno in the interludes. It’s an utterly unpromising venue in which to play house music, but after the last act, the 30 or so people attending move the Chesterfield sofas and tables out of the way and groove for a couple of hours to some deliciously spikey and edgy deep tech. 

After they clear up, we wander like a pack of rag week students through the misty street of Folkestone, chasing the gossamer promise of a few drinks and a mix at Tom’s. I was sober, had my car keys in my hand, and do wonder if a day will ever come when I’m not tempted by the slim outside chance of a mix until dawn round a mate’s house. As soon as we arrive in the kitchen of Tom’s flat we are greeted by an inevitable appearance from his ashen faced, tired flatmate, her sleep interrupted by a pack of giggling degenerates. There ain’t gonna be no mixing tonight….

I content myself with drinking a bottomless glass of cheap wine while swapping tales of ancient sexual conquests with Sideways Dave, ruefully shaking our heads that in the midst of our peak we never knew how ephemeral the period would be when women you barely knew would do whatever you suggested. We congratulate ourselves that we both have landed ourselves beautiful, sexy partners, but know in our hearts being a 25 year old slag again is where our ambitions lie.

6am. A couple of hours murmuring sleep in a spare room, a parking ticket for being parked across 2 bays even though I had a ticket, some aimless running on a football pitch and I’m back home and it’s only midday. Over to Oz’s at seven for the ritual of getting the tvc rig from his shed and it’s over to our home turf, the Smack for what turns out to be the best gig for months (more on this soon).
Then it’s over to Margate, a night at the Escape. I’m only going as I’m buzzing and I like seeing the Unite lot now and again. Unite are a far more ragged, chaotic outfit than Sideways but no less worthy of respect. A floating assortment of promoters, DJs, producers, constantly shagging each other, falling in and out with each other, scraping together what few quid they have to hire a grimy upstairs room in a pub and play their utterly unique mix of banging hardcore and tech house. Dedicated, completely nuts, and impossible to dislike.

I know what the night will be like and it is as I expected. Three floors of different genres of repetitive, overdriven, distorted dance music. Gurning faces appear through the dry ice like abandoned souls, eyes desperately struggling to leap forth from sockets. Smiles are rare as the night is fuelled by beats of upward of 140 bpm, unmet sexual need, malnutrition, ketamine and alcohol. Christopher Marlowe, Canterbury’s literary prodigal son, only had to go 20 miles down the road to the Escape Club in Margate to conceive the vision of hell that Mephsitopheles presents to Dr Faustus. “Why, this is hell, and nor are we out of it”. Apart from the joy of a big sloppy kiss from Stoney and Jenny, there’s nothing there to bring any light to my internal world.

Luckily, having spent a tenner each on the ticket in for such self abuse, we are soon whisked out of it. Margate and Unite’s twin pillars of youthful, well stacked loveliness, Lucy and Rachel, direct us to an after party at her flat. We walk into a basement opposite the Lido, and I feel a twinge of regret that the nights Oz and I played there in 2009 were so short-lived. I loved playing there- dingey, off the beaten track, open til 6am and full of nutters open to any kind of house music. I have been feeling claustrophobic being a recognisable face around East Kent over the last year, mainly because I couldn’t modify my sexual behaviour to accommodate being one half of Whitstable’s Posh n Becks. But I am genuinely pleased to see all those Lido nutters there and am promiscuous with my hugs. The old me is back, briefly. I love Margate because nothing matters. It’s the end of the line. It’s where I went to live in an unheated bedsit to hide from my ex partner’s rage and reminds me that however despondent I feel, it’ll never be that bad again.

Unite’s chief hedonists Hank Bannister and Nick Beats play hours of twisted, underground tech house and it’s brilliant. As ever DLL and I are the only ones dancing and as ever she looks incredible and I don’t understand why it’s all so difficult. Hank plays one of Nick’s tunes which uses the riff from Blue Monday, filtered and slowed down, and it sounds phenomenally good. I’m transported by where the TVC portal has taken me this weekend, never more than 20 miles from my front door. To share some time with groups of people loving music, dancing, making great music from small means, sharing their time and space with each other. Creating something to love and enjoy, forming a community through shared passions and termination, making their own culture because what surrounds them is so fucking mediocre and unfulfilled. In its own way, it’s a daily, hourly refusal to atrophy and die of boredom in the way the dominant culture demands we do. As Jeff Mills would know, it’s all a form of Underground Resistance. 

As DLL glides the Audi along the familiar contours of the Thanet Way at dawn, I feel something I feel so rarely these days- a wave of genuine well being. I realise that I’m experiencing an overwhelming sense of being lucky to know these peculiarly determined people and of being part of a scene, a sound system, whatever. Being part of giving people an alternative to the torrent of shit available to them elsewhere. As my eyes focus on the vibrating screen of my mobile phone, as text comes in from Oz reflecting on the lovely gig we did in the Smack earlier… ”it makes you think sometimes life can be beautiful”.

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