Sunday, January 25, 2015

Burns the Radical

Burns Night once more, the Scottish poet Robert Burns being born on this day in 1759. I have had my vegetarian haggis and a glass of Laphroaig...

Awa ye selfish, war'ly race,
Wha think that havins, sense, an' grace,
Ev'n love an' friendship should give place
To catch-the-plack!
I dinna like to see your face,
Nor hear your crack.

But ye whom social pleasure charms
Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms,
Who hold your being on the terms,
"Each aid the others,"
Come to my bowl, come to my arms,
My friends, my brothers!

'Friendship, in these poems, has a sacred quality. In one of his prose letters, Burns refers to the 'solemn league and covenant of friendship'... Burns' view of humanity's god-given sociability has political ramifications. It provides the basis for a strongly civic political ideology, an ideology rooted in the principle of duty to one's fellows... Burns and his correspondents (local poets and farmers, freethinkers and freemasons) are presented as an archetypal civic community: a society of equals, whose selfless cultivation of virtue, integrity and public spirit distinguishes them from the 'selfish, warly race' whose sole concern is with 'catch-the-plack'. In the classical republic, of course, it was the landed elite who formed the virtuous citizen class, while the disenfranchised poor took care of domestic 'economy' In Burns's epistolary republic, however, it is the poet's humble correspondents who devote their scanty leisure hours to public pursuits (learning, poetry, political discussion) while their supposed superiors - the 'cits' and 'lairds' - are wholly engrossed with money-grubbing' (Liam McIlvanney, Burns the Radical: Poetry and Politics in Late Eighteenth-century Scotland, Tuckwell, 2002) 

What tho’, like Commoners of air,
We wander out, we know not where,
But either house or hal’?
Yet Nature’s charms, the hills and woods,
The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,
Are free alike to all.

(advert from old book of my dads for '50 selected songs of Burns',
published by Mozart Allan, 84 Carlton Place, Glasgow)

See previously:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Save Denmark Street: 12 Bar Club Occupied

The famous 12 Bar Club in London's Denmark Street closed a couple of weeks ago, having been given notice to quit as part of a plan to 'redevelop' this area that threatens its status as the city's main area of music shops. Denmark Street, off Charing Cross Road, became known as Britain's 'tin pan alley' as the home of many songwriters and music publishers. The Sex Pistols once lived at no. 6, among numerous other musician connections (see history) Today it is famous for its musical instrument shops. 

All is not lost yet though. The 12 Bar Club was squatted on Monday, and those occupying it hope to use the building to help galvanise opposition to the increasingly homogenous corporate gentrification of the West End of London. 

I was down there today, friendly people so pop in and see them. They would welcome donations of sound equipment, furniture, sleeping bags etc (see notice in window). The are also launching an open mic night tomorrow night (Friday), so looks like the last song has not yet rung out in that venue where, among many others, Jeff Buckley, Joanna Newsom and Bert Jansch, have performed.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Anarchy on Eastenders

One of the highlights of Eastenders over Christmas was an episode where soap opera arch-villain Nick Cotton finds his old copy of The Sex Pistols 'Anarchy in the UK' in the attic of his long suffering mum, Dot. Later the bible-quoting Dot comes home to find Nick having sex with his ex in the front room - he quips 'you never did like the Sex Pistols, did you ma', as Johnny Rotten screams 'I wanna be anarchy' in the background. Earlier in the same episode, Cotton eats his breakfast to 'London Calling' by The Clash.

Let the record show that he had the 1977 French reissue of Anarchy in the UK, not the 1976 EMI original.

Nasty Nick Cotton has been in the series on and off since it started.This is him in 1986:

Actor John Altman, who plays Cotton, was previously a young mod in the 1979 movie 'Quadrophenia'

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Datacide 14

I probably should have mentioned by now that the latest issue of Datacide - the magazine for noise and politics - was published last October. Loads of good stuff, including an article by me on the 'Archaeology of the Radical Internet' about the early 1990s European Counter Network. Also material from Howard Slater, John Eden, Stewart Home, Controlled Weirdness, Dan Hekate, Nemeton, David Cecil, Hannah Lammin, Christoph Fringeli and more.

The full contents and some of the texts are online at Datacide, but you should really try and get hold of the 76 page printed version for the full effect.