Tag Archives: punk rock

How Scotland could rule England + London punk rock news from Canada

The front of today’s ‘i’ newspaper

The front of today’s ‘i’ newspaper

Tonight is Hallowe’en and things are getting strange.

An IPSOS Mori poll commissioned for STV says that, on current voting intentions at next year’s General Election, the Scottish National Party would win 54 of the 59 Scots seats in the UK Parliament at Westminster.

The Labour Party would have four. The Liberal Democrats would have one. The Conservative Party would have none.

At the 2010 UK General Election, the figures were:

Conservatives – 307
Labour – 258
Liberal Democrats – 57

Given the strong possibility that the Liberal Democrat vote collapses in England and that UKIP gain a number of seats, Scotland’s votes might (as always) affect the outcome of the election and there is a very real theoretical possibility that the SNP could hold the balance of power at Westminster and/or become part of a ruling coalition in the UK. Also complicating matters, of course, are the votes for Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland and Plaid Cymru in Wales.

That is so complicated, the implications are incalculable.

If the SNP actually put up candidates in Northern England – Berwick-upon-Tweed, Carlisle and possible even the Newcastle/Tyneside area, the results there would be interesting. I seem to remember that an apparently well-conducted poll a few years ago found that the majority of voters in Berwick-upon-Tweed would prefer the town to be in Scotland not England and I understand there is at least some level of theoretical support for Carlisle to switch countries.

That old Chinese proverb springs to mind: May you live in interesting times.

Which we do.

Following on from yesterday’s blog about Anna Smith – this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent – being attacked by a Doberman dog, more missives have arrived from Vancouver.

The Blood Bank at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver

Anna Smith visited the Blood Bank at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver

“We were recently hit by a ‘pineapple express’,” Anna tells me. “A warm tropical storm belting up from the equator via Hawaii. Its name was Ana. It was supposed to be destructive with strong gusts. But it wasn’t that terrible after all. I was prepared to go out to my boat the night it struck to make sure it would withstand the storm. Instead I went to the doctor and to St Paul’s hospital for lab tests and a chest x ray.”

That was before the Doberman attacked her.

“My boat is pretty tough,” says Anna.

So is she, in seems.

I woke up today to this e-mail:

“It is 2.00am here. It is very warm. My window is open. The storm (Ana) is finally over. It dropped so much rain that there is barely any low tide today.

“I am still not able to walk because of my crash with the dog. I am still in my boat cradle. I like to be able to sit in bed and look at water. It is very interesting.”

Zombie Strippers lust after The Outburst

Zombie Strippers lust after Outbursts

As today is Hallowe’en, Anna sent me a poster for Zombie Strippers and told me that she had heard news of what Ian Breslin’s neo-punk group The Outbursts are doing in London.

“I have heard a rumour,” she told me, “that The Outbursts will have song sheets at their next gig, so the audience can sing along to Splashing Out (a song about wanking), Whatever Happened to Me (drugs), and Filthy Nina (the police).”

There is a video of Whatever Happened To Me on YouTube.

“Song sheets for Punk?” says Anna. “What a great idea. Finally everyone will understand the meaning of these gloriously disruptive tantrums.”

Anna used to be an exotic dancer and, according to a recent blog, may still occasionally dabble.

“Strippers are always on the lookout for good music,” she tells me. “Especially Zombie Strippers.”

Anna also seems to be branching out into music. She sent me a video of her and a lady called Natasha Nault singing.  It can be viewed online.

Anna (right) and Natasha Nault go beep

Anna Smith (right) and Natasha Nault go beep

Well, Anna admits it is less singing and more beeping. She says they made the video because they were doing their best to assist a man (who, she says, does not wish to be identified) to find his car. The unidentified man, she says, is not London-born Jian Gomeshi.

I have no idea what any of that means.

But she adds:

“We made up the beepy thing song after sitting through a seven course dinner at a downtown hotel hosted by a megalomaniac Italian construction magnate whose office decor includes photos of himself with Silvio Berlusconi. I once gave him shit about this, even though Berlusconi does have good taste in young belly dancers.

“The dessert table had its own room and the highlight of the evening was the magnate’s lengthy red-wine-fuelled stream-of-consciousness speech expressing gratitude to his employees, especially the ones who had worked twenty years without an accident.

“He also said: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Maria, who I love, because she is Greek and I am Italian.

“I was not sure who Maria was… The builders were squirming in their suits and turning away plates of giant ravioli stuffed with porcini mushrooms because they were smothered in parmesan cream sauce (the porcini mushrooms were). The builders thought the porcini mushrooms were Eggs Benedict and cried out: Take that shit away!

Anna Smith ignores the BBC in Canada

Anna sometimes lives on a boat near fish

We managed to escape just as the disco lights started flashing and narrowly avoided seeing Portuguese dancing to that song about Rasputin.

“Now I am in a panic because of Hallowe’en and having to lie so still when I want to dress up like a zombie and dance…”

Personally, I blame much of the foregoing on the lingering effects of 1970s and 1980s drug culture. But I thank the non-existent God that we live in interesting times. And I am looking forward to next year’s UK General Election.

 

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Filed under Canada, Eccentrics, Music, Politics, Scotland, UK

The Spirit of the Fringe is dead, dying or thriving

(This blog originally appeared in What’s On Stage)

Scots comedienne Janey Godley has been telling me and has blogged that she feels this year’s Edinburgh Fringe is different. That the spark has gone. That it has lost some of its character.

I told her it felt that way every year. Malcolm Hardee, the legendary godfather of alternative comedy and a Fringe legend, told me fifteen years ago that he felt the “supermarkets” of the big-time agents and comedy promoters had taken over from the ramshackle “corner shop” shows which he ran and which epitomised the spirit of the Fringe.
But, in the last few days, I have come round to agreeing with Janey Godley. The old Fringe is dying or is already dead. The big venues are now overly-large operations charging serious prices for mostly slick shows. The new McEwan Hall venue’s 2,000-seater is staging Cameron Mackintosh’s West End and Broadway hit Five Guys Named Moe in a production where The Scotsman rightly guessed the lighting rig alone cost more than most normal Fringe shows. It is straight West End transfer in a limited run. A Fringe show it ain’t.

The true spirit of the Fringe has transferred to the two competing Free festivals and to the Five Pound Fringe.

Bob Slayer’s gobsmackingly anarchic Punk Rock Chat Show (which had nothing to do with punk, rock or chat the evening I saw it but did involve a banana, nudity and an orifice) is the pure unadulterated spirit of the true Fringe and, with Lewis Schaffer now taking the erratically-billed 5.30pm performance of his improvised Free Until Famous show out of the venue and literally onto the streets, come rain or shine, we are living in a two-tiered Fringe world.

Punters can’t take the increasing financial risk of paying professional-level prices in the big venues on shows that might be rubbish. They sensibly lessen their financial risk by booking for shows by Names they have already watched on TV.

The spirit of the Fringe in which people accidentally discover new talent and rising stars in grim, sweaty rooms has now transferred to a second, lower tier of the Fringe.

It’s not all bad news, though.

Janey Godley herself straddles both Fringes, drawing big audiences in one of the Big Four venues on the reputation of her often highly improvised live shows despite not being one of the young Oxbridge males so beloved of BBC3 and Channel 4.

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