Thursday, 23 December 2010

I'm dreaming of a White Riot

I never remember the date that Joe Strummer died. I have friends on Facebook who do that for me (it's a boy thing).

Apparently, it was yesterday. Eight years ago.

My Facebook homepage is full of Clash videos. And I know that for my generation, this was the day the music died.

Watch this and remember why.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Is Mad Men better than books?

I’ve just watched the last two episodes of Mad Men and I’m starting to think the unthinkable. It feels almost sacrilegious but I got more from that 90 minutes of TV drama than I would have done from reading a book.

I’ve always thought of myself as a book person. I’ve got two English degrees and have never forgiven my parents for not buying me a membership of the Puffin Club. But I can’t remember the last time I read a novel.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Typical Girls

RIP Ari Up.
The Slits were more punk than anyone. They couldn’t play (to start with) and they didn’t give a damn. They did things their way. And they were more genuinely revolutionary than any of the boys.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Facebook tramples on graves

Dear Facebook

Please stop trying to be clever and start thinking about real people’s real feelings.

You have the biggest customer base in the world and you have no concept of customer service. You don’t even have any way of contacting a customer service person.

I don’t want to ‘engage’ with you. I don’t want to follow you on Twitter or ‘like’ your page (I DON’T ‘like’ you) or ‘share’ a user story about how Facebook has changed my life. (‘We are always interested in hearing from our users’: I don’t think so).

I just want to tell someone – a real person – that you have screwed up.

And I don’t want you to tell me how to ‘engage’ with the site. I don’t need you to tell me who my friends are or how to talk to them. And I don’t want you selecting random photos of me and telling me what to do with them.

Yesterday I logged on to Facebook and there was one of my photos with the heading ‘Tag a friend’. A face was highlighted and underneath it said ‘Whose face is this?’

It’s my dead sister. I posted that photo as a tribute on her 20th anniversary.

She is not on Facebook.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

George Osborne ruined my holiday

George Osborne ruined my holiday... and that’s just for starters.

Cornwall is exactly 200 miles away from my house and I’m a long way from the border. I’ve left my worries behind. I haven’t written a things-to-do list for days. I’ve even forgotten what my own kitchen looks like: it’s been overwritten by the one in our rented accommodation.

Then Husband puts on the telly. It’s a day after ‘chancellor’ Osborne’s budget and it strikes fear into me. And anger into Husband. And reality comes crashing back.

There’s a reason I haven’t written much since the election. It’s easy to be flippant about the 80s revival. But it’s just too scary to look face-on at what’s actually happening.

So I’ll let Ian McMillan say it for me.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Blitzkrieg Bop

The Ramones are a brand. And I don’t care.

Despite my green anti-materialist credentials I have a secret vice. I like looking at pictures of shoes. I don’t buy them very often (protestant guilt, lack of money, lack of decent shoe shops in this one-horse town, feet that don’t fit). But I like to look.

So I am on the mailing list for Schuh. And so I saw today a picture of something called a Converse All Star The Ramones Hi (that phrase is wrong for so many reasons). And I went: I want them.

Thursday, 29 April 2010


I always hated the term ‘new wave’ (punk for people who don’t like punk). And I always hated those ‘women in rock’ articles you used to get. And still do. But I quite enjoyed a recent Radio 4 show called Women of the New Wave.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The great rock’n’roll swindler

Thirty-odd years ago, when I was a teenager, I thought Malcolm McLaren was old. Things look different when time passes. Today, I think he was young. Too young, anyway, to be dead.

I’d be lying, though, if I said I was mourning. I’m just thinking... Was he a visionary or a charlatan? Or something else?

Friday, 2 April 2010

Noggin the Nog meets the Undertones

I don’t often listen to Desert Island Discs but I made a point of doing so last week. I wanted to hear Frank Cottrell-Boyce and find out more about the man who wrote the radio series One Chord Wonders.

He came across as a gentle and generous soul: the sort of person who gives Christianity a good name. He also described Oliver Postgate as a kind of proto punk (it’s the DIY ethic). I liked that.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Two Tribes

A recent Guardian article asked ‘are pop tribes a thing of the past?’ Funny, I was just thinking the same thing myself.

When Husband complains there’s no good music any more I tell him it’s got to be there. It’s just that we don’t know about it, because it’s not meant for us any more. On that basis, maybe I’m wrong about the lack of pop tribes. It might just be my age, but young people look alike to me: all skinny jeans, self-conscious hair, and uniformity.

So I’m halfway through the regular punk-versus-hippie conversation that I have with my sister and I stop and ask my niece what there is now. And she says ‘in terms of style you mean?’ And that is exactly the point. It is only about style now. Once, it meant something.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Yes I am a feminist II

I’ve been watching the BBC series Women with mixed feelings. Partly frustration because I want viewers who don’t know about feminism to understand and there isn’t enough context to do that. And partly anger at how little has changed.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Venus in blue jeans

After years of me trying to get him to stop looking like Clarkson, Husband has suddenly become fashionable. According to those who know, ‘double denim’ is now the in thing.

Husband was bemused when I told him he was on trend. I don’t think he actually knows what ‘on trend’ means.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Yes, I am a feminist

I like a good gossip about Mad Men. (Is Roger still in love with Joan? Is Don losing his grip on cool?) But it’s interesting to discover how different people have different perspectives on the same thing. One of my colleagues (age: under 30) confessed she was surprised to see the extent to which a woman’s status, in that particular time and place, was tied to her husband’s job.

Young British women, it seems, have no concept of how different, how recently, women’s lives were from their own. They take for granted the fact that their independence and autonomy are now considered the norm. It’s not their fault: apparently, no-one told them.

Today is International Women’s Day. I’ll be putting the Guardian poster up at work.

A new series about feminism, Women, starts tonight on BBC4. I intend to make all my nieces - and nephews - watch it.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Me and Mrs Jones

Today, I am a happy person. I am officially NOT a baby boomer.

Apparently, the Americans have invented something called Generation Jones that sits between the boomers and Generation X: exactly where I am.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Don’t call me a baby boomer

Newsnight ran a slightly pointless ‘generation gap’ feature this week blaming baby boomers for the current woes of young people.

Don’t blame me. I voted for Michael Foot. I believed there was such a thing as society. I worried about my carbon footprint before it got fashionable.

But what I find really offensive is the suggestion that because of when I was born I had a charmed ‘never had it so good’ life. No: it's because of when I was born that I missed out on all that.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Life’s too short

Finally someone has written a song called ‘Life’s too short’, my own personal Older Than Elvis motto.

Actually they wrote it a long time ago. The record by the Lafayettes was apparently released in this country in 1962, when I was (I promise) a very small child. I finally discovered it last week courtesy of Brian Eno.

Someone at BBC4 decided that last Friday was going to be Brian Eno night. Eno has a reputation as a rock intellectual so I’m pleased to say that I learned three interesting things from the Arena documentary: 1. Brian Eno wrote the theme tune for Arena. 2. Suffolk looks very nice. 3. He loves this record.

I love it too. I also love the fact that some rock’n’rollers have subverted YouTube from a medium for sharing videos to a medium for sharing their record collections. You won’t find anything this good on Spotify.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Singles going steady

Maybe it’s a bit late for a new year resolution, but this year has been slow getting started. Something to do with the snow, I expect. So here’s mine: this year I will listen to more music.

There was a time when I would put on a record as soon as I got up; put on another as soon as I got home; spend all evening with the radio on. I don’t remember how it stopped. I think it was something to do with silence becoming more precious (see No Music Day). Losing silence was bad. But so was losing music. I think I want it back.