Thursday, 28 January 2016

Miniature Golf Strip Tease Classes

It cannot come as a surprise to learn that there is pay inequality in the UK and that the problem is getting worse.  The gap between the rich and the rest is increasing and there seems to be no indication that this trend is going to stop. If you were a cynical sort then you would think there was something going on, especially when you consider the following:

  • Support for the unemployed and those who cannot work due to ill health or disability is being drastically slashed, thus making the prospect of unemployment a terrifying one.
  • A rise in zero hour contracts and below inflation pay rises makes work for the majority a less and less profitable proposition.
  • Personal debt increases due to low pay and the constant marketing onslaught which is the lifeblood of an economy based on the endless consumption of mass produced ephemera.

Those three factors alone would make it likely that people in precarious employment, who have amassed an amount of personal debt will accept any pay and conditions. If you have a workforce who is prepared to accept a substantial degradation of their situation as long as they can retain some kind of employment it should not be surprising when companies get away with what they can.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to get a job in the NHS and after 12 years I am in a position I would have not thought possible when I started. I put 75% of this good fortune down to the fact that I have white skin, a penis, straight teeth and good posture. I’ll lob middle class in there as well. Turning up more often than not turning up is worth another 10%, leaving me with about 15% that I can claim to be somehow down to my good judgement and competency.

There have been some shit jobs too and it was only because of working tax credits and housing benefits that I could afford to eat properly, pay my bills and buy shoes. I lived in Swansea at the time and you needed to make sure your shoes did not have holes in them from September to May because it would not stop raining and trench foot is not a good look. If I was in the same position under the current government I can imagine how life would be and it would not be pretty or very long. It isn’t hyperbole to say this either; you would need to have your head buried fairly deep to ignore the steadily rising tide of suicide. The Samaritans 2015 report, which contains data up to 2013, states that the male suicide rate is at its highest since 2001 with 19 per 100,000 men killing themselves. Given the intervening years I would be disinclined to suppose that this trend has changed substantially. Here’s a link to the report:

And the report from the Office for National Statistics is here:

The Prime Minister’s Questions session on the 27th of January saw our mighty leader David Cameron refer to the people living in abject misery in the camp in Calais, who have fled vicious and relentless violence in their own countries, as “a bunch of migrants.” This does not stand out as particularly unusual language for him, his party members and the sort of person who votes Conservative but it is disgusting all the same. Cameron seems to have a very particular view of anyone unfortunate enough not to be pleased with the general debasement of humanity and I don’t think it is entirely positive. Again, if you were a cynical sort you might suppose that he thinks you’re only really human if you’ve got a couple of million in the bank, drink the blood of virgins and sacrifice kittens to Cthulhu.

I had the good fortune to find myself sat at a table somewhere in the Midlands before Christmas. I learned that someone had a husband who wanted to be a Tory MP and wanted to bring back hanging. This wasn’t some retired Captain of Industry or Wing Commander, but a young man. Two things struck me as unusual:

A. That anyone would admit to being a Conservative.

B. That anyone would marry someone who admitted to being a Conservative.

The fact that he wanted to bring back hanging seemed to go without saying and did not really surprise me. I imagine that this reveals some deep seated prejudice I have against white middle class men who want to protect their privileged position and are happy to let the rest of the world burn. I really must work on that. The other thing that was surprising was that no one else around the table expressed any particular emotion either, if anything some seemed to think it a rather good idea. I’m not sure if the “it” they thought was a good idea was becoming a Tory MP or bringing back hanging or if they even separated the two.

On my way home I pondered the fact that back in Liverpool the chances of repeating this experience were extremely low. Does this mean that the people of Liverpool are somehow morally superior? I don’t think it does, you can hear some equally unpleasant notions being aired round this way. Rather, it shows just how thoroughly the Conservatives have shat on Liverpool over the years. This fact yields a glimmer of hope, but only a glimmer; if people really have to be covered in Tory shit, utterly immersed in the stuff, before they vote for someone else, surely that point will be passed in the next four years, unless by then they have convinced enough people that it could be worse, which is not impossible. If you demoralise and disenfranchise enough of the population, beat the will to resist out of them, then if any of them vote at all they will still be outnumbered by the minority of people you have favoured with your largesse. That’s how they won the last one, if not completely then certainly in part.

Some of the points raised in this essay are set to music in the following song by popular electro-rock beat combo Mashemon. Here’s a link to their song Great Job, which will be part of an EP to be released once I’ve done pulled my finger out and finished the last song. You’re welcome.

Monday, 31 August 2015

It’s fiction about stuff that is already there

Is it too soon yet? I might be about to put some kind of voodoo curse on things, but there’s a substantial amount of work being done. Mashemon work at that. I imagine you guessed. Whether you wanted it or not music is being made.

But why now? Why come out of hiding right now, at this stage in human history? The answer is simple; the world needs men like us to stand up, comb our hair, tighten our belts, sit down, scratch our balls and do some electro rock music. So that’s what you will be getting and by golly you’ll be thankful. When your grandchildren ask you what the most important event of the early twenty first century was you’ll be able to look them straight in their bionic eyes and without a moment’s hesitation you will be able to say to them:

“Mashemon did another record. Don’t know what they were going on about. Pass the (insert futuristic staple foodstuff). What time is it? I remember when cheese was a thing.”

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Thank you for remaining in your seat and not thinking.

What’s that? What’s that you say? Some kind of tooting coming from the basement? Strange men eating salad on the bowling green? Someone wants to touch you on the knee? You want someone to touch you on the knee? What?

You were abducted by aliens? They left you on a small island in the Pacific and you had to swim home? You can talk to sea urchins? Boom bang bang boom bang bang?

Pointy fingers and electric guitars? No, surely not, not that, no not that surely not that. No.


Friday, 26 April 2013

Assessing the Cyborg/Gibbon dichotomy in modern cuisine

I’ve been existing in a state of political confusion for what seems like an awfully long time. At some stage I think my brain just stopped being able to accept the bleak truth that democracy is dead and there’s bugger all I can do about it and decided, very much in keeping with the times, to take the executive decision to just pump out white noise whenever I tried to engage rationally with the issues of the day.

This resulted in my exasperated refrain of “I blame Thatcher”. It could be argued that I wasn’t wrong, but it really meant  “I don’t understand where it all went wrong but I know she was something to do with it.”
Since the old woman died a number of good things have happened: the media went monkey-cock crazy about all the stuff that THATCHER! did and how it was great and how it was awful and how very, very divisive she was and how you have to be respectful of old dead tyrants who supported mass murderers and sold bombs to dictators. It was good because it sent me down a hyperlink rabbit hole to finally find some decent information about why things are the way they are and how neoliberalism has screwed the vast majority of us brutally, roughly and without our consent in whichever hole we were least keen on getting screwed in, be it in the post-box or up the cat-flap.

This in no way equates to the sudden acquisition of valid opinions which would necessarily stand up to intense scrutiny, but I can at least begin to find out why there seems to be no social-democratic alternative available in mainstream politics and precisely why the concept of introducing the free market into all areas of state activity is so very, very wrong.

Most of us can see what the free market gets up to. Managers with beating sticks forcing Bangladeshi sweat shop workers to go into a building that promptly falls down. That’s what the free market does. It seeks to suck the money out of your pocket in any way it possibly can and concentrate that money at the pinnacle of an impossibly high pyramid, a pyramid built from the toil of all us grinning idiotic slaves. And they do it absolutely everywhere.

The NHS is being forced to contract out its services (not new that) and private healthcare companies are taking an ever larger piece of the pie. Where does the money come from? You, you dumb monkey. Where does it go? It goes up! All the way to the filthy rich geezers (there’s a high probability that it’ll be a geezer) sat on the board and to the shareholders. And we know what the filthy rich do; they sew pigs together and fire them at the moon. They put cows on roller skates and make them joust for biscuits. They make babies drink their own tears until they turn into fish. I have no idea what the filthy rich do and I never ever will.
Local government has to do the same. We are told that this outsourcing and contracting is more efficient and better value for money and the market knows best and that all the crashes, disasters, atrocities and fish babies are not the result of giving ever longer reigns to an unprincipled greed machine, but because poor people believed that they could have nice things if they borrowed some money and it would be fine and because poor people are all lay-abouts and scroungers and criminals and that what we really need to do is stop worrying about the people who actually made off with all the cash and find a way to make people’s lives which are currently really, really shit even shitter.

None of this will be news to anyone who is actually reading this, it’s not even news to me. What I was having trouble understanding was why there did not seem to be any political alternative to what we’ve ended up with. It’s easy enough to say that all politicians are the same but it is nice to be able to put your finger on how they are all the same. Turns out it is this belief in the free market as the answer to what ails us.

Funny how, now that I’m looking at it typed out, this is what I was thinking all along but had failed to organise into a coherent statement. What will be interesting in the years left to me before I am eaten by a weaponised koala paratrooper (I’ll tell you about it sometime) is finding out what it all means and whether we will ever throw off the shackles of the unethical and uncaring free market bastard army we currently find ourselves the victims and accomplices of.

Thanks for dying Thatcher. You’ve prompted me to replace my befuddled and impotent rage with a focussed, informed and erudite impotent rage. Suck my plums.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

I'm dizzy from the minty tingles!

That’s three grand nights in the Pilgrim that we’ve notched up now. We seem to be doing rather well at this caper. Z.E.B.R.A was great, sweaty and really very groovy. And I’m fairly certain he managed to hit himself in the face because he was getting so far into the groove. I too have hit myself in the face, many a time. I have also broken a deckchair because I was air-drumming so hard. I think the seeds of an excellent performance art project are right there.

Gorp were also amazing. I spent my formative years surrounded by people who liked prog-rock. I confess it was never my favourite thing in the world but Gorp’s sound had a sufficiently edgy enough to please me. And no one was wearing a cape, which was a relief. I’m the cape wearer in these parts. That night I had decided to wear a fairly preposterous garment – a jacket with tails and great big silver button things. I think I looked like sex on a stick, a pretty big stick at that. A Gallop poll found that 87% of women over 35 agreed.

The specific stick.
March is looking like it is going to be an interesting month for us. We will be doing a session for Dave Monk’s show on Radio Merseyside, which will involve acoustic guitars. I’ve got new strings on mine and everything. I even gave it a polish with a bit of Pledge. Smells like spring cleaning. Polish technology has come a long way since I was a lad. According to the label this polish can be used on wood, plastic, glass, human flesh, space, time, facts, lies, racism, cancer, birds, racist birds, porridge, electoral fraud, delusions, illusions, confusions, scandals, handles, sandals, moths, cloths, lofts, ditches, bitches, witches, snitches, hovercraft, Lovecraft, dove crap, spider-monkeys, monkey spiders, dog spiders, spiders with human heads, spiders with human hands and human heads, human heads with spider eyes, bees with lips, ducks with dicks, cows with wheels, swine in heels, lords on fire, the snooker player Stephen Maguire, knuckle dusters, scrotal fusters (look it up), snowballing, kerb crawling, grass cuttings, face fuddings (don’t look it up), anal warts and existential angst. Remember to use a clean, soft cloth.

Greater Spotted Northern Canadian Lesser Lipped Bee
We will also be playing the Threshold Festival on the 9th of March, specifically in the Roost section at about half seven in the evening, which is a definite improvement from last year when we took to the stage at roughly one in the morning, after having sound checked at about noon. It was a long and unpleasant day. Hopefully this year will be much more fun.

But wait, there’s more. This Saturday we will be playing an animal right’s benefit gig in our old haunt Next to Nowhere. It’s been a while since we were down there so that’s going to be a hoot. And the mighty Z.E.B.R.A. will be joining us!

Rounding the month off will be our 4th Pilgrim gig on the 30th. These have really gone extremely well and I’m really very proud of us for having managed to do it. Yay, go us. Mike has an informative film about glue sniffing lined up for us, which I think we would all do well to watch. Whilst I have managed to get my solvent abuse down to manageable levels recently I know some of you haven’t and it is really in your best interests to do so. It wasn’t so long ago that I was huffing a 15kg Calor Gas Butane cylinder every week, as well as the Perma Gard Expoxy Resin, Loctite Hybrid All Purpose Power Glue, Unibond Repair All Purpose 1min Power Epoxy, Evo Stik Serious Stuff Ultimate Strength Grab Adhesive and my personal favourite Mapei Ultimate Ready Mixed Supergrab Adhesive. Now I’m down to one Tipp-Ex Shake ‘n Squeeze a day. My life is my own again. If I can do it, so can you. Andy can’t, he’s got no willpower at all, but the rest of you can.

Seriously though, solvent abuse is brilliant.

Only joking.

I’m not joking.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Invitations to participate in a scandal are now being accepted

We are 8.2% of the way through 2013’s total allocation of days and we have notched up two performances so far. The second instalment of our five act farce at the Pilgrim was at least fourteen spherical inches of fun. Chris Shennan kicked things off early and was very entertaining indeed. Unfortunately he had to leave early too to go and work, which was a shame.

Some Rabbits were outstanding and they brought fruit flavoured Fox’s Glacier sweets as part of some sterling promotional punning on the name of their new single Some Foxes. We all enjoyed them very much and, what’s more, they are extremely nice people to boot. Liam Some Rabbit will be returning as a Zebra for February. I heartily recommend that you attend.

We were pretty good too. We didn’t fuck up our new song Lucky not Lucky to any great degree so I’ll put that one in the win column. We’ve got another new one on the way for the 9th of February. See if you can pick it out from the list below:

1. Lips limbs lungs
2. Facts
3. Stone
4. Lucky not lucky
5. Donkey's Arse
6. Curtains
7. Various Propositions
8. Sanity Check

There may be a prize. There may not be a prize.

We also played at Phoenix of Avalon’s EP launch in the Lantern Theatre and we had a very nice time. It’s a very welcoming little theatre and they made us feel very at home. We also picked up a cracking review from

So all in all we’ve kicked off 2013 quite well. At this point I think it is entirely appropriate to speculate as to what 2013 may hold for us. I have gazed into my crystal prosthetic scrotum and this is what the swirling mystical spermatozoa have revealed:

  1. Andy will be invited to produce the next Roger Whittaker album but will turn it down after suddenly developing a terrible fear of beards.
  2. Mike will tangle his leads into a knot so dense that it begins to warp the fabric of space. William Shatner will arrive to sort it all out. Andy will record William Shatner’s new album.
  3. Matt will discover that it is possible to reanimate corpses using Glade plug-ins and Vimto.
  4. Matt’s zombie army will take over Tuscany.
  5. Mashemon will enjoy a nice holiday in Tuscany.
  6. I will stop worrying and learn to love the bomb.
  7. My dog will cost me another massive pile of money when she ends up in the vets after challenging an orang-utan to a gin drinking contest and getting into a fight with a Russian sailor on shore leave.
  8. Mashemon will finally finish our rock opera based on Culpeper’s The Complete Herbal after cracking the difficult arrangement of Borage.
  9. One of us will learn how to levitate. One of us, who can levitate already, will feel a little less special.
  10. My naked arse will be projected onto the surface of the moon so that all the people of the world will be united in admiration of my hot, hot ass.

It is possible that not everything on the list will occur in 2013, some of them may be postponed until 2014 so don’t come to me with disparaging remarks this time next year because I will simply nod sagely, stroke my beard and tell you to blow it up your wazoo.

In other news: I’m pleased to say that playing my new Firebird at the last gig was very pleasant indeed. Now we’ve got Matt making bringing the twang and scratch with his Telecaster the earthier, deeper tone of the Firebird sits very nicely in the mixture. I’ve even ordered some new Bill Lawrence pickups for it, although they seem to be taking their sweet time to get here. I can only imagine that they’ve been stolen by Rock and Roll Pirates who have put them to use in their swashbuckling activities of deflowering maidens, brawling with burly Hungarians and rocking out with their cocks out.

Speaking of which, because of the low slung nature of the new guitar I can happily rock out with my cock out all the time and no one will be any the wiser, until I start playing it with my teeth. The guitar that is, I gave up those sorts of contortions when the subscriptions to my pay-per-view website hit the £1,000,000 mark and I realised that I could pack it in and avoid major back surgery. Something to bear in mind.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

My mastery of the reverse lunge is unrivalled!

December’s gig went really well. We have launched our new EP and people have reported that they like it. This is a good thing to hear. I would like to think that someone, somewhere, did a little getting ready for work dance to it, or maybe did a little getting ready for bed dance. Or maybe both, if that’s the line of work they are in.

I did a little dance the other day. I think I was eating something tasty and it compelled me to do a little jig. My hips were very mobile. It was not entirely an appropriate jig.

Our next performance is a mere 10 days away and as far as doing a new song each gig is concerned we may fall at the first jump and have to be taken into the car park and put out of our misery with a brick. Things that may have caused us to fail:

1. Micro-organisms.
2. Festivities.
3. The implacable marching of time.

Of course, we may find in our two remaining rehearsals that this song comes very naturally to us and that there was nothing to worry about at all in which case the beginning of this piece will just be me scare mongering needlessly and you’ll say:

”He’s losing his mind.”

And I’ll say:

“Who are you talking to?”

Ha! See what I did there? Try to pull that shit with me buddy and I’ll have to teach you a hard lesson in the art of recognising shit that shouldn’t have been pulled. So put that shit-puller down and button your lip, wise-acre.

Another thing we may or may not be doing at the next gig is bringing along my old and rather large bass-combo to act as some kind of sub-woofer to give things a bit more bottom end. The bass amp is currently sat under my stairs, where it has been for quite some time. I’m going to get it out and turn it on tonight and see what happens. Oooh, shut your face. Filthy. Providing everything is in order with it I’ll be getting Mike to give me a hand carrying it to the van and sticking it inside. Behave. Then we’ll give it a good working over in rehearsal to make sure it will be up to the task of lasting through the next gig. Dirty!

I do hope you’ll be coming to our next night at the Pilgrim. It’ll be on Saturday the 12th of January. Doors open at 19.30 ish. Bring a friend. Bring two. Now return to whatever it was you were just doing. Except for you. Don’t do that.