Monday, 25 October 2010

Keith Richards Earns A Great Accolade - Condemnation From Reactionary Peter Hitchens

Regular readers of this blog should know that I'm a massive Stones fan and I'm looking forward to reading the autobiography of this legend of rock n' roll.  He is the walking riff, the embodiment of the rock n' roll spirit, the lynchpin of the greatest band the world has ever seen.

And he has now earned one of the greatest accolades.  He has been savaged by that right wing, reactionary caricature, Peter Hitchens.

Hitchens has described 'Keef' as a "sneering lout who did even more damage than Blair."

Hitchens, living in the shadow of his ultra talented brother, thinks that the world came to a grinding halt in the 1960s.  And the Stones represent everything that he hates.  He seems to think that the exoneration of Jagger and Richards after their drugs trial of 1967 was where everything started to go wrong.

All nonsense of course.  Such an analysis defies logic.  It is, as John Gray argued in the London Review of Books a few months ago, based on romanticising a 1950s created to a large extent by war socialism and the great Attlee government of 1945 (not something Hitchens would ever admit).  Like reactionaries from de Maistre onwards, Hitchens glorifies a golden age that never was.

Keith Richards should feel proud to be the object of Hitchens' ire.

Direct Ski Advert Is A Shabby Insult To The North East

Some moron at an advertising agency has clearly decided that the best way to sell their cheap skiing holidays is to have a go at people from the North East of England.  This is how some two bit skiing holiday company I had previously never heard of has decided to advertise their holidays:

Outrage: The controversial Directski advert

Unsurprisingly, I haven't seen any of these idiotic adverts in the North East!

The offensive advert is based on a silly stereotype of our region and of North Easterners.  For a cheap laugh, it ignores the fact that the North East is now a culturally exciting, vibrant place, which has, over the past few years regained its vitality after the body blows of deindustrialisation.

There is probably a reason that people from the North East decide not to take up Direct Ski founder Anthony Collins on his delightful and charming offer of cheap skiing.  They probably choose not to travel with Direct Ski because of their idiotic adverts.  There is also, quite often a fair bit of snow in the North East and just over the border.  And perhaps, just perhaps, North Easterners prefer not to squander hard earned holidays on the skiing holidays beloved of rich people in the South.

Hopefully Direct Ski will decide not to run campaigns with a cheap shot at the North East again.  Maybe the advertising execs responsible for these ads should spend their holidays in the North East so they can understand the absurdity of their ads.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Join The Fight To Save The 100 Club

The 100 Club is one of Britain's great music venues.  Step inside and it simply screams rock n'roll history.  The heritage of British rock n'roll is in every corner of the Club and there are few other music venues that are so utterly intimate, with a consistently first rate gig selection.

The Club has a special part in the heart of most music lovers.  The Stones have played there twice - the image below is of them playing in the 80s.  
So many giants of the jazz world have played there (funnily enough I was there when Charlie Watts, the Stones elegantly cool drummer, played there with his jazz band - what a gig it was).  And, of course, the club is dripping with the history of punk - that revolution that started in England (and I know that some people will come back with Ramones arguments) and changed the world of music for the better.  The Clash were regulars in the 100 Club during the early years.

A few weeks ago came the sledgehammer news that this pulsating piece of Britain's musical heritage is to close.  It needs £500,000 or it will close by the end of the year and Oxford Street will lose a historic music venue and probably gain another generic coffee shop or clothing store.  This is not the kind of thing that should be allowed to happen.

These are, of course, difficult times for everybody but the campaign to Save The 100 Club, which can be accessed via the following link is well worth supporting:

There are some cracking gig coming up at the Club, including a 'Save The 100 Club' gig, which has Stones legends Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood, as well as Mick Jones being heavily rumoured to join the line up:

It would be nice to think that some of the millionaires who have played the 100 Club over the years could help to save the Club.  Together, hopefully we can all help save one of London's oldest, greatest and most atmospheric music venues.

Save The 100 Club

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The OFT Decision On Pubs Is A Big Blow To The Consumer

It was maybe a bit much to ask that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) would defend the consumer against big business.  That doesn't seem to be the way consumer protection works.

The fact that big business is generally favoured over the consumer was  illustrated by the OFT's judgement about the 'beer tie' today.  CAMRA launched a 'super complaint' to the OFT that serious competition failings in the UK pub market were leading to higher prices, reduced amenity and pub closures.  The OFT, unsurprisingly, ruled against the CAMRA complaint.

The OFT was shown a great deal of evidence that the pub industry was becoming anti-competitive in a way that adversely affected the consumer.  The 'beer tie' imposed by the big pub companies means that tied landlords pay , on average, £20,000 a year more for their beer than landlords in no tied premises.  The power of the big pub companies means that the number of landlords not in tied premises are falling.  This means that real competition is dwindling and consumers are suffering because of this.

The OFT has, of course, decided to ignore the impact upon consumers.  In doing so, it is ignoring its fundamental duty.

If the beer tie issue and its effect upon consumers and the pub trade is not properly addressed, small breweries will be adversely affected, diversity and competition in the pub trade will be increasingly diminished and the consumer will suffer.  The pub is a vital element of British community life.  It represents the beating heart of the local community.  Today's OFT decision is a victory for big business and homogeneity.  It is a defeat for the consumer, diversity and small breweries.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Kay Burley, Stafford Cripps and Chris Bryant

Kay Burley on Sky News interviewed 97 year old Tory member, Harry Beckough yesterday.  It is probably not Burley's finest broadcasting moment.

Check out the full interview below (hat tip to Political Scrapbook):

Probably the most jaw dropping moment was when Kay Burley made clear that she hadn't heard of Stafford Cripps, that austere Chancellor and the man described by David Marquand as one of the two titans of Attlee's post war Government (along with Ernie Bevin).  As Political Scrapbook suggests, Burley seems to think that Stafford Cripps was "some kind of WWII military regiment from the West Midlands."

You would imagine this would make most people with a knowledge of post war British politics pretty cross.  But biographers of Cripps must be particularly incensed by Burley's lack of historical knowledge.  Step forward one of Cripps' most recent biographers (a good read it is too):

Product Details

Having said that Chris Bryant, the author of Stafford Cripps - The First Modern Chancellor, made his opinion of Burley's interviewing style fairly clear a few weeks ago:

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Glasto, See Tickets And The Nightmares Of 'Ticket Day'

It is now two and a half hours since Glastonbury tickets went on sale.

I'm still trying to get a ticket.  As, by the looks of the top trending #glasto and #seetickets on Twitter are quite a few other people.  Each stage of the ticket buying process seems to crash as the servers get overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the traffic.

This happens every year and it's a complete nightmare.  Seetickets have had this gig for years and the service doesn't seem to get any better.

Surely Seetickets can do better than this.  Maybe they could improve their systems to accommodate more traffic.  Ticketmaster (despite their hideous booking fees) doesn't seem to have this problem for massive gigs.

It isn't as though the volume of traffic is taking Seetickets by surprise.

I'm keeping on trying.  Good luck to everybody in the great rush for tickets.  It will be worth it.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Offensiveness Of 50cent

50cent is a moderate rapper but it turns out he is also a deeply offensive man.

One of his latest tweets says this:

Click for