This Man

The artist as an older man

The artist as an older man

Despite an injured foot I am still doing what I can campaign-wise. If this involves being out of the house then I am at the mercy of those who volunteer to chauffeur me about. Thus, I still did my councillor surgery on Saturday. On Sunday I was asked to attend Southend Soup – autumn comforts! – and asked to bring along my guitar.

In days long, long gone I used to play and sing – now I am very out of practise. However, I did manage to accompany Graham Burnett (Warty Hubbard), Keith Baxter (Famous Potatoes) and the Conga Man (I think that is what he called himself – my apologies if I have misremembered). This gives me an excuse to put one of my old song lyrics here (we did not attempt on Sunday).

This Man was written right at the beginning of the 1980s, and was one of the earliest songs I gave to Dark Deeds On A Lonely Bridge (which subsequently became 86-Mix.)

This Man

This man’s in love
His eyes are closed
He’s got a secret
No-one knows
This man’s in Hell
He hits his head
I touched a part of him
His body’s dead
The padded walls are falling
Another man is crawling towards me
Who’s that in the mirror?
This man is sharp
He sees it all
He realises my joke
He won’t tell
This man’s in love
His eyes are closed
He’s got a secret
No-one knows
The padded walls are falling
Another man is crawling towards me
Who’s that in the mirror?

Flowers in the dustbin

Anarchy in the UK. Bill Grundy. 1976. A big year for music, a big year for me: left school, left home, started work. This teenage communist never embraced the political ideology that was anarchism, but anarchy was the clarion call for those raging against the machine. Glen Matlock was a teenage Sex Pistol and I was a teenage Sex Pistol fan. Now I am a middle-aged fan, and after last night can claim to have seen Glen Matlock perform twice. He played at the Railway Hotel in Clifftown Road and was accompanied by Stray Cats’ drummer Slim Jim Phantom and Bowie’s guitarist Earl Slick. I can recall versions of Pretty Vacant, God Save The Queen, Rock This Town, Blank Generation, John I’m Only Dancing, All Or Nothing. About an hour’s playing to a very pleased crowd, and I am thankful to have witnessed it all.


I regularly post Youtube links onto my Twitter account. These are mostly music videos ; I enjoy music and post anything that takes my fancy. It is a fairly eclectic mix, although I confess that it is heavily skewed towards the nostalgic. I am in my fifties, after all.

Yesterday I put up a link to a Top Of The Pops performance of “I Love You Love Me Love” by Gary Glitter. This attracted comment; not on the music, but regarding the artist. To be honest I had some doubts about posting it – after the comment I decide to delete the tweet and Facebook entry. But, it did get me thinking.

None of us are saints, although I accept that Gary Glitter’s sins scale heights not usually seen by most of us. (To be honest, I know little about his crimes. I rarely read about the foibles of celebrities, and am certainly not keen to examine the details about sex crimes.) Many artistes are flawed, and it is a judgement call as to who is still acceptable.

Being of a nostalgic bent at times I enjoy the old editions of Top Of The Pops shown on BBC4. They are repeats from 1979, my favourite chart year. There are gaps in what is shown because some of the presenters are embroiled in sex abuse scandals (Operation Yewtree). Whilst I can understand why some episodes cannot be shown, it is somewhat frustrating – the musical acts that appeared on shows presented by Jimmy Saville et al are largely innocent.

The same could be said of the Glitter Band, backing Gary on “I Love You Love Me Love”. Their contribution is now tainted by association.

Should you stop listening to tainted acts? Is the music tarnished when the artiste is caught out? What is acceptable, and what is not?

I saw Gary Glitter perform in 1988. He was thoroughly entertaining, and whilst much of his output could be described as naff and camp, it certainly got the Cliffs Pavilion crowd going.

I am as appalled as everyone else by the crimes of people like Glitter. I do not currently own any of his music, and am in no hurry to acquire any. But I am troubled by a blanket ban. Scratch beneath the surface and you will find contentious issues in the pasts of many musical acts. Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, and The Rolling Stones – a random quartet where self-censorship could apply.

I deleted the tweet in case it offended anyone. I utterly condemn anyone guilty of sex crimes, but am genuinely puzzled as to where this leaves me as regards to their output.

Music with moving pictures

For some reason or another, music videos and DVDs that I have owned across the years started to intrude into my consciousness. Perhaps it was listening to Suggs’s autobiography that did it. Anyway, not being someone to avoid the possibility of creating a list I decided to try and recall the artistes that I have invested in as regards to their visual output.

Fully aware that the biggest stumbling block in any enterprise like this is my indifferent memory. Maybe it is selective, exorcising the truly naff. I have tried to be comprehensive. The first, and most obvious, thing is just how small my list is. I have an extensive music collection. I can only assume that cost and a preference to listening rather than watching has driven my consumption.

The second thing is how devoid of punk and sixties guitar rock it is. No Beatles or Elvis either. This can, in part, be explained by my second-hand and bargain basement habits when it comes to actually opening my wallet. Also to be factored in is that I have had TV recording equipment for close to three decades, and so have taped music shows, MTV, rockumentaries, etc over the years. Waiting to be viewed at the moment are The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, two artistes that I have deigned to avoid spending money on when it comes to moving pictures.

So, here they are: musical acts that at one time or another I owned on video or DVD. This list does not include extended CDs, the trend nowadays to include bonus tracks and footage on an otherwise all-music medium (although it would be interesting to see that list – hmmm, maybe another day!)

Britney Spears
The Jam
Kate Bush
Siouxsie and the Banshees

I almost included The Clash as I did at one point own a copy of Rude Boy, their rather indifferent 1980 film. I also had nagging doubts about Led Zeppelin and the Sex Pistols, as well as the Who – I just could not be sure I actually owned The Song Remains The Same, The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle, Quadrophenia or Tommy.

Nothing by The Stranglers, who remain the only artiste that I actually joined a fan club of.

A night out with the TV

Eight Rounds Rapid

Eight Rounds Rapid

Eight Rounds Rapid supported T.V. Smith at The Railway last night, all for just £3. It was a chance to see two good acts and to catch up with some old mates.

Eight Rounds Rapid’s guitarist is Wilko Johnson’s son, and he certainly had many of his dad’s moves. Wilko was amongst the good sized audience – it was nice to still him out and about.

I never saw The Adverts live, although I very much enjoyed their studio work. However I did catch T.V. Smith in 1993 when he was supporting Tom Robinson at Newcastle Riverside. I got him to autograph March of the Giants that I had purchased from him.

I managed a brief chat with T.V. last night. I will have to dig out my copy of Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts for a play very soon.

T.V. Smith and me

T.V. Smith and me

Southend Soup and Warty Hubbard

Wayne Avrili and someone who should know better

Wayne Avrili and someone who should know better

A week ago I invited myself along to partake in Southend Soup’s latest happening at the Therapy Life Centre. It is described as Fun gatherings to share food, be inspired by Good Ideas, and vote for your favourite to be funded. #southendsoup. It was an opportunity to meet new people, try raw foods, and see me mates playing. On that subject, I think I have volunteered to play with Warty Hubbard in the near future.

Connecting. Homelessness, made with love, campaign organising, the bedroom tax

Me with India Witham

Me with India Witham

On Wednesday I went to my first meeting at The Forum, this was for #connectingmilton. This was organised by the Milton Community Partnership and was an opportunity for various people and groups in Milton to get together.

There was music laid on, and I did not initially notice that this was being provided by my long-standing friends Graham Burnett and Wayne Avrili (who, amongst other things, are members of The Stripey Zebras). It was good to catch up with them, and to jam with them too.

I had a long chat with someone who had spent many years on the streets. It was really interesting to hear firsthand about life for the homeless. Amongst the stories was that they had subsisted on wild rabbit for three months (just rabbit, no vegetables, no bulky carbohydrates, no drink). It was a fascinating and thought-provoking conversation. Homelessness is definitely on the rise in the town; I am told that there are between fifty and a hundred rough sleepers. As the winter nears and the weather turns one cannot but wonder how the homeless will deal with it. It certainly makes you think that being able to sleep somewhere warm and dry is a real treat for some people – and this is taken for granted by most. I mentioned to my once homeless conversationalist the number of long-term empty properties in the borough; they responded with the idea of the council purchasing a number and allowing these to be done-up and lived in by the homeless – an idea worthy of further consideration. One thing was evident from our chat and that was the good work being done by many of the churches and charities in the town – real life-savers for some of the most desperate in the community.

The Milton Ward Community First Panel have up to £2500 match funding available to fund a project in the ward. So, if you have an idea about a project to address one of local priorities get in touch. The MCP are also holding an Ideas Fair on Sunday, 8th December (3-5pm). There is £50 available for each person to develop their idea.

Last night I paid a visit to the opening launch of India Witham’s new shop: Made With Love. Fizz and nibbles were advertised – I stuck to orange juice and just a few of the nibbles. I had a quick chat with a couple of people there, and I hope that this venture is a success.

My stay at Made With Love was brief because I was had to leave to chair a Labour campaigns meeting at our headquarters in Sutton Road. I found this very useful, and I hope that my stewardship of the campaigning this year bears fruit come next May’s elections. We are cautiously optimistic.

Earlier in the week I managed to get to a Southend Against The Cuts organising meeting – albeit that I was late and it was nearly finished by the time I had negotiated the traffic. The one thing I can report is that there will be a public meeting on the Bedroom Tax in the near future.


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