Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shakin' Stevens! (Huh?)

We learn this morning, with howls of incredulity ringing out across the nation, that the grandparents' favourite rocker Shakin' Stevens has been added to the list of people performing at Glastonbury. The same Glastonbury that was having trouble selling tickets for the first time in its history after putting a hip hop star at the top of the bill. (The media protests racism against anyone who doesn't support that.)

Well, the Eavis clan and whoever helps them with the bill do like to be ironic and "whacky" at times. They have that in common with the youth who are supposed to be their principle audience. You embrace something fantastically uncool, if I understand how it works, to prove in some sort of reverse way that you know what is cool.

But let me tell you something you won't believe. In his day, before all the commercial success, before the denim jacket and the white shoes and the spray-painted hair, before Bonnie Tyler, Shakin' Stevens actually was pretty cool. In the glory days of the rock 'n' roll revival in the early- to mid-seventies, Stevens had a band called the Sunsets and they were one of the most admired acts on the club circuit. The album I had of theirs back then was really bloody good.

Imagine how surprised everybody was when he sold his taste and credibility for a few appearances on the now-defunct "Top of the Pops". Didn't happen to Freddie "Fingers" Lee or Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers, both equally stellar acts in the rock 'n' roll world of the time.

Of course, things might have been different if the record companies had had the good sense to offer Freddie or Cavan Grogan (I think his name was), the chance to sell out. Imagine Freddie being introduced by Kid Jensen on "Top of the Pops" and then setting his hat on fire or dropping his false eye into a glass of water the way he did that night I saw him in the Railway Club in Wellingborough two hundred and three lifetimes ago.

Monday, April 28, 2008

10 Pence And Gordon Brown

Jack Straw, stuttering anxiously through a Radio Five interview this morning, said the consequences of the abolition of the 10 pence rate of income tax on the childless poor in this country were "unforeseen".

Perhaps readers will help me, because I can't figure out what's worse: the very likely possibility that that is a flagrant lie, or the idea that the previous Chancellor, now our amazingly ineffective and accident-prone Prime Minister, should have been preparing budgets in the manner of a Jackson Pollock wannabe throwing paint at a wall to see what patterns the drips made.

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm becoming a little bit nostalgic for the days of Tony Blair. I disagreed with him on almost everything, but he did keep Labour in government for a long, long time. Gordon Brown seems set to gift David Cameron the next election on a silver platter.

But here's another unpalatable thought. Perhaps that's what Labour needs. A Tory Government will be appalling in every way, make no mistake. But what use are Labour at the moment, to those who need them? Maybe a little time in the wilderness will help them to realign, find their focus and their conscience again so they can relearn who their real friends are. Those fickle selfish middle Englanders whom the abolition of the 10 pence rate was designed to attract?

If they are the constituency the party cares about now, I would have to question my own continued alliegance to Labour.

Oh, and by the way, despite what I have written above, I will still vote Labour the next time I have the chance to do so. But I'll be putting my cross in their box with no confidence at all that I'm using my vote in the most responsible way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bruce is writing a new poetry book

Me and Woody Guthrie are hitchhiking across the UK next year in the middle of the New Depression going to play for striking workers at a benefit show, see, and Will Geer is waiting for us with bear hugs and booming quotes from Shakespeare.

No point in posting any of the poems here, though, because none of the ones I've written so far really stand without the others.

Anyone know of a publisher who might be interested in taking fanciful left-wing shit like that?

Trust me, in a year you'll all be joining unions as the great wave of the "economic downturn" swallows you.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Yesterday I wrote a letter to my old buddy Gordon Brown to see if he could exert any influence over his Chinese buddies to stop the Olympic Torch from being paraded through Tibet. You know, "What do you need with all this hassle and bad p.r., guys? We know those ungrateful, backward Tibetans who all smell of butter and wouldn't know a benevolent liberator if they fell over one are gonna come out and try to upset the general gaiety of the event. So who needs the headache? And think how good you'd look in the Western media, fellers! They might even swallow that bollocks about you compromising and opening up a proper dialogue with those who have a dissenting view, the way the Olympic Committee did back when you were awarded the games in the first place. Give it some thought, eh? I'm saying all this as your friend you understand..."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Poem By Emma Cox

SUFFOLK PUNCH is normally the place for my ego ravings, but a friend of mine showed me the following poem, which she wrote, yesterday and I wanted to share it with you. I think it's a really eloquent statement of belief; and although it's written by a Christian and I'm a Buddhist (albeit an inadequate one), you can see the common ground of compassion that the two systems can meet on. (Adding a fairly pedagogical note, I'd say you're pretty likely to meet a good number of Muslims and Hindus on that ground as well.)


Jesus--my Saviour and my King!
How could you love me after all I have done and continue to do?
In my heart I know it's true, the message you came from Heaven to give,
but in my mind I am so confused!
Every day another killing, another loved life lost. How come, my King? Where R U in this?

Dear Child, I am in Heaven and I love you very much. I know their pain, every parent whose child has been slain.
I sent my only begotten son as a living sacrifice, to pay the highest price!
Instead of a crown He wore thorns, instead of a robe of purple they ripped His flesh til He wore a robe of scarlet!
Instead of His name being lifted in adoration, He was lifted as a curse on a cross.

This life is not easy, never did I say it was!
but read my Word and respond as I am calling you!
Leave you as a forsaken orphan? This is something I promise I will never do!

copyright Emma Cox 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

a death

a yamaha 1200
underneath a car’s
front fender
outside my door
coming home
tonight. broken
glass, spilled
petrol running
down the road.
one boot abandoned
when they cut
the rider out.
a policeman
taking photographs;
and on the grass
across the street
six kids watching,
clutching skate-
boards underarm.
they’ve all
the appropriate
but still they
look, they gape,
and no one
speaks a word.