Monday, 2 January 2017

2016

What the fuck was that all about?


A year of death.
It started in late 2015 with the death of Lemmy.  Given his lifestyle of sex, drus and rock 'n' roll in extreme excess it should have been no real surprise to anybody but we assumed he was immune and would live forever.  What happened next was the "Lemmy effect", famous substance abusers (and others) suddenly realised if Lemmy could die then so too could they.  A self fulfilling prophecy was born and famous people began to check out at an alarming rate.  In January it was Glen Frey followed quickly by David Bowie FFS!  Terry Wogan (liked a drink) and as the year progressed Paul Daniels, Harper Lee, Jimmy Greaves. George Martin, Peter Vaughan, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Ronnie Corbett, Howard Marks (another indestructible), Carla Lane, Frank Kelly, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Prince FFS!!!, Leonard Cohen, Prince Buster, Gene Wilder, Andrew Sachs, Rick Parfitt, Liz Smith, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds....
Image result for muhammad ali
Of course the greatest sportsman of the modern age, (who didn't abuse anything he wasn't prescribed) Muhammad Ali died in February.  Possibly the greatest human being I've shared the planet with?

And every year, real heroes die too.  People that are unknown outside their circles of family and friends.  As I get older I find myself being touched by this more often and I don't suppose that will change now.  Three more gone but never forgotten.



Football
The signs that 2016 would be a mad year came early on with Leicester City taking a runaway lead in the Premiership.  I have to say I fell out of love with football years ago when it was raped by Murdoch.  Nowadays nearly all the big clubs are owned by foreign billionaires who treat them as ego massaging playthings and don't give a flying fuck about the fans.  Unfortunately most of the fans are too indoctrinated to notice.  Anyway Leicester went on to win the league so fair play to all their loyal fans, who have had a once in a lifetime year and who should be grateful to the billionaire foreign owners and well done to the gentleman manager Claudio Ranieri.
The England national team played in the European championships this summer.  They were shit, even the Welsh were better.



It's official, we live in The post truth era and although this has been true for some time, it became so obvious in 2016 that nobody even tires to deny it any more.  The Establishment media makes a statement, social media spreads the message, the statement becomes fact.  If this "fact" later turns out to be false, nobody notices and if they do, nobody cares.  We know public figures rarely fill the image and personality they hide behind but nowadays social media allows the proles to create a false image to present to the world.  Nothing is real, no person is what they seem.


Brexit & other bollocks
Europe, or more specifically Britain's membership of the EU has always been a right wing argument.  Ukip was formed by a bunch of extreme Tory rejects and lead by Funky Farage.  Cameron pledged the EU referendum to appease disaffected Tories who were being tempted by UKIP.  Cameron felt safe in the certain knowledge that he couldn't possibly lose the vote.  However a chunk of the UK population felt disenfranchised enough to use the referendum as a protest vote.  They registered their anti establishment feelings by unwittingly voting for the establishment and the country voted to leave the EU, narrowly.

Cameron resigned immediately saying in Eton speak "Fuck this for a game of soldiers I'm offski".  Funky Farage said "my work here is done, I've got what I want, you lot can sort this fucking mess out", then resigned the leadership of UKIP once again.  Ironically Nige still collects a pay cheque from the EU...

Meanwhile professional fuckwitt Boris Bollocks who had come out in support of Brexit after considering his career options right up until the last minute was nicely positioned to assume leadership of the Tory party.  He was then dramatically back stabbed by rubber faced wank rag Michael Gove and the Tory party was in turmoil.

When the dust had settled, everyone had resigned and scarpered, not only was the country up shit creek without a paddle but the only people left in the boat were the passengers.  Who was to blame for this right wing cluster fuck presided over by the Tory party?  Well it was Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party of course!  Many Labour MP's who are in reality Establishment stooges with red rossettes tried to oust JC but he survived with an increased majority.

The country was divided by the campaigns and again by the result and subsequent gloating.  Eventually 'remainer' Theresa May assumed control of the Tory party and so became Prime Minister, despite a history of dodgy dealings.  In the name of increases sovereignty and democracy we ended up with a PM that nobody had voted for.

By the end of summer it had become apparent to most that Brexit was nothing but a massive Establishment con job.  The £350 Million promised to the NHS was quickly acknowledged as a lie by Funky himself.  In all likelihood Brexit will not see one single immigrant prevented from entering the UK.  Prices are already rising and the pound is falling.  The lives of working people will not be positively changed in any way.  The architects of Brexit have run and hid behind the sofa.  The government hasn't got the first fucking clue what to do next.  Anyone who points out these facts is labelled a 'Whinging remainer' ( an assault on free speech!) while the triumphant Brexiteers continue to trumpet their ignorance and empty victory.  Brexit is the biggest con of the working class since "Your Country needs You".



I won't pretend to understand what the hell is going on in Syria but its obvious to anyone that a world of shit has exploded over millions of innocents and a few thousand not so innocents.  I don't understand who is attacking who or why but I do understand why people have to flee the region.  The lack of compassion shown by post Brexit Britain is a sickening disgrace.

I think it is also plain for most that the situation in the middle east has resulted from Bush & Bliar's disastrous war in Iraq.  Their attempt at grabbing oil fields under the guise of bringing stability and democracy to the region is a fucking sick joke.  The rise of IS and the terrorism that has occurred on the continent over the last couple of years also stems from those two war criminal's crusade.  Now the attempt to bring freedom to Iraqi's has led to people in Britain having their own civil liberties squeezed, to prevent terrorism. How fucking ironic?


The 2016 Olympics in Rio were brilliant and Team GB done amazingly well.  It was brilliant to see lesser known stars of unfashionable sports grab the limelight from the overpaid ego driven footballers.  Team GB restored pride in our sportsman and its especially nice that all parts of the UK come together to support one team.  My highlights were Mo Farah as ever,  The Women's Hockey team, the cyclists... Andy Murray added a gold medal to the Wimbledon title he won earlier in the year, I'm not a tennis fan (in any sense) but fair play.


The Poppy has traditionally and correctly seen as a symbol of remembrance and peace.  By 2016 it has evidently become something different.  According to FIFA it is a political symbol.  According to some it is a sign of oppression in the middle east, others see it as a sign of support for the military.  To not wear a poppy means you hate soldiers and are a terrorist sympathiser.  I wore a poppy this year, for the original meanings.

Trump FFS
It has been obvious for decades that the US election is nothing more than a charade; "Show business for ugly people" as the saying goes.  There was a decent man called Bernie Sanders who had good ideas and came close to being nominated but the US establishment closed ranks and blocked him.  After months of campiagning and billions of dollars the choice came down to the two worst candidates in the history of the world.  A corrupt woman in the pocket of big business Vs a xenophobic, bigoted fucktard; or as 'South Park' billed it, a Turd sandwhich Vs a giant Douche.  Everyone seemed shocked that the racist hairpeace won though in hindsight, after Brexit, we should have seen it coming from a mile off.

I must admit to being a fair weather Rugby Union fan but this year I managed to follow England's team throughout (rugby league is shite).  If I was home at the weekends I'd watch on TV but I mostly followed the matches on the radio whilst sitting in a boat.  The year began well with an unexpected Grand slam and all of a sudden we had a team that looked impressive.  Even more unexpected was the 3-0 away win in Australia and the team looked even better still.  Following on from that England were expected to win their autumn internationals, which they did in style.  New coach Eddie Jones must take credit for improving the players we have and now there is genuine strength in depth.

Our Test Cricket team has had a mixed year.  A really good win away in South Africa was followed by an expected comfortable win against Sri Lanka.  Late summer saw an excellent drawn series against a good Pakistan team but when the dust settled England would have felt they should have won.  Cricket in the sub continent is always difficult but we underestimated Bangladesh and a draw flattered England.  Five matches in India were always going to be difficult and so it proved, despite some good moments for England the home side won 4-0
Despite this I think the future is bright for England.  We have a growing squad of bowlers that look capable of taking wickets on wickets outside the sub continent.  Our spinners are improving too, slowly.  We have four cricketers than qualify as all rounders and at least two are worth their place in the side for both their disciplines.  It's starting to look like our top order is very nearly settled.  I think we now have the makings of a very good test team, in twelve months time we'll have a good idea if I'm right.
We getting better in the shorter forms of the game too and although I can't get emotionally involved in this type of cricket, I tune in when I can.  We came close in the T20 world cup and played attacking, exciting 50 over cricket all year.  I think we have a very good ODI team at the moment, the coming series in India will be a good test.

So thank Christ that one is over, 2017 can't be any worse can it?  Well the world will have to learn to live with the decisions made last year so who knows, not counting any chickens.  I think I'll go back to my old habits of not watching any news and ignoring the farce called politics, current affairs or anything relevant.  Well I'll try at least.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Music

My daughter the Maddionette has been busy writing her musical reviews of the year which you can read here;  http://maddionette.blogspot.co.uk/#!
She challenged me to write a review of my favourite music of 2016.  This is a little difficult because I very rarely buy new releases so I'll have to bend the rules a little and include music I've discovered or have a new appreciation for, in 2016.

First up is an album that I bought this year but was actually released in 2015, so it almost counts as new.  I've loved Paul Weller's music for a long time and his latest release "Saturn's Pattern" see's the old wrinkly in top form.  It's a good listen all the way through but I particularly like the opening two tunes; Roaring rock guitar in 'White Sky' and the melodic piano hook of the title track.

Latitude is seven months away and I'm looking forward to it already.  Over the last six years this festival has been the source of the majority of my new musical discoveries.  This year there were several treats.  Grimes played a really enjoyable, high energy set and from what I've heard 'Art Angels' is a good listen too.

Weaves were a big surprise and I really enjoyed watching them in the middle of the day at Latitude.  A hard rock sound with a quirky female vocal, it shouldn't work but it really does.

Soulwax have been around for years but sadly passed me by.  Some of their music sounds like classy indie rock, some is pure dance.  I am growing to love them and their awesome dance set on Saturday night at Latitude was the musical highlight of the weekend.

Maddionette had played me a bit of Panic! at the Disco in the past and I quite liked it.  Seeing them play at Alexandra Palace in November gave me an excuse to investigate them further.  It was a really good show and I've enjoyed discovering this band, in particular the "To weird to live, too rare to die" and "Death of a Bachelor" albums.  As the latter is a 2016 release it actually fits the criteria.

Another band introduced to me by Maddie and Isaac is Twenty one Pilots, really like the "Blurryface" cd, kick arse synth rock! I'm liking 'Vessel' after a few listens too.  This would sound good live so a band to look out for in the future.

Father Xmas (Maddie) brought me a copy of the latest Green Day CD "Revolution Radio" which is a 2016 release.  Not much to say about this but after just two listens I'm liking it, 'Bang bang' and 'Youngblood' in particular stand out.

Finally a proper mention for an album release in 2016!  I liked Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'The Getaway' on the first listen and have grown to love it over the weeks.  'Longest Wave' leaped out at me on that first play (driving to Norfolk) and remains a favourite. 'Dreams of a Samurai' was awesome when we saw them live earlier this month.  There isn't a dodgy song on the album and it's their best release for years.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

What does it mean?

Don't feel obliged to wish me a happy Christmas because I don't really know what it means, do you?  How many people who utter the words are actually celebrating the birth of Christ.  The ghastly "happy holiday" is actually more appropriate but no.  Happy gluttons day.  Happy piss up.  Happy madspend.  Happy I'm going to forget the bastard I am for the rest of the year and be drunk/nice/stupid for a couple of days.

Why are we celebrating?  Presents for children. A few days of work and an excuse to overindulge for most adults.  Celebrate the festival of greed.  Apt when you look at the world around us where greed is worshiped.

It's good to laugh with friends and family, fun things in good company.  Sharing. giving, smiling, followed by eating, drinking, singing and who knows?  It serves as an excuse to bring people together.  If that's what it means nowadays then hell I'll buy into it.  Happy Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Battered in Chennai!

The fifth test was a major case of deja vu.  England won the toss and batted, making a decent score of 477, built mainly around 146 from Moeen Ali.  In return India battered England and amassed a record score of 757-7 dec.  Rahul made 199 and Nair in only his third test turned a maiden century into 303*  England should have been able to bat through the final day and save the match, especially as they hadn't lost a wicket by lunch.  Unfortunately they bottled it and allowed Jadeja to take 7-48, India won by an innings again.

We should have beaten Bangladesh but no one should be surprised at India winning the series 4-0, England were clear underdogs before the series and the result is what many predicted.  The simple truth is; England's current batting line up does not have anywhere enough experience in facing good spinners in helpful conditions.  Kohli was different class this series.  Although our spinners are improving they are not in the same league as Ashwin and Jadeja.  We were outperformed by a better team this year but if the two sides met in England next year, we would win comfortably.

Despite this heavy defeat I think this has been a good autumn for the development of this England team.  After a couple of years of selections that have found little but ruled several players out, it seems as if we are starting to know what our best team is.  Naseeb Hameed looks like he could be a world class player and open the batting for years to come, the search for Cook's partner is finally over.  Keaton Jennings has done enough in a couple of knocks to cement his own spot, probably at no.3.  Ben Duckett and Gary Ballance will go back to their counties, the latter probably permanently.  
There has been talk about the captaincy, will Cook stay on?  Is Root ready?  I hope Cook allowed to continue for as long as he wants the job but if he's had enough then fine.  I'm sure he'll make more runs for the team if he isn't captain, how Root goes remains to be seen.

We don't have another test match until next July now.  A lot can change in that time but from what we've seen this year, my team for the next home test match would be...

Cook, Hammed, Jennings, Root, Ali, Stokes, Bairstow, Woakes, Rashid, Broad, Anderson



Monday, 19 December 2016

Anti Xmas music advent Calendar Part 3

It's here oh blessed relief!  The collective madness has peaked, the annual festival of spending is nearly over and we are sliding helplessly into what all the bloody fuss is about, Xmas day.  Now you can't guarantee everything will be rosy but you can be sure that things will start to return to normal.  After the sales, which I won't go near anyway (actually shouldn't natural selection have sorted these fuckers out by now?) and New year.  As this is the most overrated night and day on the calendar it makes sense to get it over with right away.  But after all that shite things will get back to normal.  Yes we're going back to work and it'll probably be bloody cold but the days will be gradually getting longer and spring will be hear before you know it.

No carols, no Noddy, no Wizard, no fucking Wham.  Play these instead, loud.


OK I'm going soft for a second.  This is a brilliant song, written by a drunken genius and co-sung by an angel who was tragically and ironically killed at Xmas.  It should not be classed as a Xmas song, its a musical story that just happens to be set at Xmas.  None of which will stop shark like music business execs from cashing in year after year but what the hell.


Having endured the hellish first three weeks of December, having spent far too much money then followed this with hours of preparation; clogging the house with decorations, peeling veg and stuffing the fucking turkey for the most overrated meal of the year...  The day itself should be perfect but it rarely is. 



Xmas presents; Socks, deodorant gift packs and loads of total cack that will be in a charity shop by January.  That's not what we want is it?  Xmas presents should be easy...
 



I'm lucky that I enjoy being around my family and being in an overcrowded house full of relatives isn't a nightmare for me.  However I know there are families out there that can barely tolerate the sight of each other.




Whatever happens, overindulgence is impossible to avoid.  Painkillers required for mind, body and soul.



Sorry kids but Santa can't make it this year because he's a lazy fat bastard, either that or he doesn't fucking exist, you decide.  Don't worry though, we've lined up a replacement to slip down your chimney.  Don't have nightmares.





I have my punk obsessed friend Giles to thank for finding this mad masterpiece.  You just have to love the sentiment.




When all the bollocks and bullshit is booted aside, this is what Xmas should really be about.  Sing it loud, "Come together, as one..."  Have a happy one.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Red Hot Chilli Peppers 11/12/16

I love the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and have done since I first heard "Fight Like a Brave" on the BBC way back in the eighties.  A couple of years later they released "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" and became the global superstars they remain today.  I got a chance of four tickets and i didn't have to think about it, has to be done!  So on a damp Sunday afternoon in December I pointed the car westwards and off we set.  I say "we" as I was joined by the Purple Princess, My daughter Maddie and beloved friend Trev, who like me, had seen RHCP before.  The journey along the A14/M6 wen't almost without a hitch (but not quite!) and we pulled up in the car park with time to spare.

The venue, Birmingham NEC is one I've visited many times.  It's further away than the London venues but less hassle to reach.  As we walked from the car park to the arena it became it had been spruced up considerably since my last visit, maybe a decade ago?  There's now a retail area that I hadn't noticed before with high street names in big lights.  The venue too is now named the "Genting arena" after it's sponsor, a casino apparently.

We joined a throng of people and were steadily drawn into the arena.  A quick stop for a Tee shirt then off in search of our seats.  We found ourselves towards the back of the arena, way up high near the roof.  this may have the disadvantage of not being in the thick of the atmosphere below but our view would be better.  Normally I find myself trying to peer over the shoulders of giants so a clear view of the stage makes a nice change.

Anyway, back up a bit.  By the time we found our seats the support were already in full flow.  This was "Baby Metal".  This band are unique to say the least, how could I describe it?  Imagine a Japanese 'Little Mix' singing in front of a 'Metallica' style hard rock band dressed in strange outfits.  (They look a bit like the band 'Goat'.  If you are unfamiliar with Goat, type it into YouTube, ignore anything dodgy and try to find the mad Swedish rock band.  You'll thank me.)  Anyway, three sweet Japanese girls dancing in perfect synch in front of a hard rock band shouldn't really work, should it?  Well it kind of does, in as much as it was entertaining and good fun.  We all enjoyed it and Maddie in particular loved it so its a thumbs up for Baby Metal.

Most concerts start off with some kind of dramatic intro but not the Peppers.  There's a bit of freaky clarinet warbling as they casually stroll on to stage.  Chad climbs onto the drum riser, Flea straps on the bass, Josh walks on with guitar and they launch into a jam, pounding rhythm and wailing guitar.  The rhythm increases, the sound builds and builds, these are seriously good musicians.  Anthony bops on and the band smashes into "Can't Stop", fucking awesome!  Then it's straight into "Dani California" followed by "Scar Tissue", what a way to start the gig!  "With the birds I share this lonely view..."

From this point on I can't remember what order the songs came in but there were several from the latest album "The Getaway".  these included the title track, "Dark Necessities", "Sick Love" and "Go Robot", I love this album and was looking forward to hearing it played live but was disappointed they didn't find time for "Longest Wave".  Mingled in with these were more familiar tunes like "Did I let you know", "Tell me baby" and "Parallel Universe".  At times tonight it seemed that the atmosphere dipped a little and also the sound wasn't quite right to my ears but these could both have been due to our position in the arena.  When a band has a back catalogue as large as the Peppers there are alway going to be tunes that are left out.  In particular the absence of"Californication" left a big hole in the show.  I would have loved to have heard "Snow" and "Brendan's Death Song".  I hear the band mixes the set up every night which is to their credit.

When Trev and I saw the Peppers play before in 2006 a feature of the show had been the band Jamming between songs and I loved this.  There wasn't much of this improvisation tonight but they did squeeze in a few bars of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" and Sabbath's "Iron Man".  There wasn't much audience interaction tonight either, just a few words from Flea and Anthony but that's fine with me.  By jamming and talking less maybe they could squeeze more tunes in?  Whatever, when the Peppers are on stage they look like they are loving it.

I have to mention the lighting.  Apart from the usual effects we've become used to RHCP used hundreds of thin, tubular, ever changing lights suspended above the stage and crowd.  These rose and fell, ebbed and flowed, formed shapes and patterns.  I can't recall seeing anything like this before and it was really effective.  Maybe our row high seats gave us a different angle and allowed us to fully appreciate this?

The band played on...  "Under the Bridge" sounded brilliant with the crowd singing every word.  This was followed by a blistering "By the Way" and once again the atmosphere was sparking.  Another banging tune now would have lifted the roof... But the band left the stage.

The inevitable encore charade followed.  The band returned with another new song "Dream of a Samurai", a strange choice at this stage but it's a great tune and it sounded superb.  Then came the awesome funky punky "Give it away" which had the roof straining once again...
"Unimpressed with material excess, love is free love me say Hell Yes!"  Chad paid homage to some great British rock bands.  Then they were gone.

Walking back to the car we all agreed we'd enjoyed the show.  For me the measure is how I feel when it ends, am I ready to go home or do I want more?  Tonight I definitely wanted more, I loved it!  That said I think RHCP played a better show when I saw them the first time in 2006.  All in all this was a very, very good gig but one that fell a little short of being great.  I'd go see them again for sure!


Meanwhile...
India have taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the test series against England.  We won the test and the latest opener Jennings scored an impressive ton on debut to help England to 400.  It seemed a good total but India have a master batsman in Virat Kholi who is having a remarkable series.  His 230+ helped the home side to a total over 600.  With Ashwin bowling superbly the win was a matter of when, not if.  It's a bit embarrassing for England to lose by an innings after posting 400.  The fifth and final test starts in a couple of days, we could play much better and still lose!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Anti Xmas music advent Calendar Part 2

It's getting serious now.  "The big day" is getting too close for comfort but not close enough to be actually enjoyable for even the most indoctrinated, enthusiastic, brain dead Xmas lover.  By this time most sane people have had enough and just want all the bullshit to be over for another year.

Getting excited/annoyed/frustrated.


Simply the best Xmas No. 1 ever.  Smash the Establishment, smash the X factor monopoly, (NB In this equation X = shit) kick Simon Cowell in the bollocks.  Come to think of it even Cowell's shit was better than the bilge spewed out by suspected paedo (allegedly) Cliff fucking Richard year after year.  




"Burn down tinsel town..."  But don't stop there.  Burn down the tinsel, the tree, the baubels.  Smash the sleigh, eat the reindeer and torch the fucking coke lorry while you're at it.





So you're wearing a Xmas jumper?  How fucking hilarious, you quirky little individual.  I've got news for you, it's shit and you look a twat.  No need...






Why all the snow scenes?  It never fucking snows at Xmas, ever.  Snow is shit anyway, fun for a day then a total pain in the Khyber while it lingers around, clogging everything up, then it melts and becomes a fucking mess.  Not all snow is bad however, one of the good varieties is...
 



Driving into the town centre for the annual ritual riot known as Xmas shopping?  Everywhere packed out with people buying crap, nose to head, elbow to elbow.  Can't move, can't drive and definitely can't park.  You know where you're heading...




While you're at it, all that money you're wasting on tat and shite that nobody really wants.  Put the word 'Christmas' on something with a picture of a fucking robin, then double the price, fucking bandits.  At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.







I don't feel the slightest bit spiritual at this time of year, any religious significance has been long forgotten.  Should I feel the need to attend a ceremony I like the thought of this bloke presiding.




And to get into the spirit properly we all need to see a stylist for a suitable religious look!  Come to think of it, loads of hipster shits are sporting it already.  Scrub that, shave and get a crew cut.