Monday, 10 November 2014

Celebrating 32 years of Deadbeat

Eddie Izzard - force majuere - 25 years of joy - 5 stars

Issue 18 - Reintroducing the Screaming Nobodies

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Leaving Leon - An excerpt from chapter 37 of Tommy Turns Cars by Josephine Archer -

Bill looked at Jim, crumpling under his Leon legacy. His face was red from the sun but it looked like his purple nose was casting its fruity shadow over his sundried face, until the black seeds of his eyes. He looked like he'd been in the mortuary two hours ago and the prunes they'd placed over his eyes had left their wrinkling residue.

"This town is a shit heap" said Jim as they stomped out through busy streets, then quiet flyovers, then busy streets. "This is the fag end of your magnificent capitalism, it was the unwritten rule, jobs for life became jobs for five years and then brick it all up, leave a heap of shite."

Buenos dias, mi amigo, who feels good today then?" replied Bill still savouring his last tapa from La Trebede, the last bar of the evening but comfortably the best. They had strolled out of the Posada Regia Leon and catching sight of a bar called inger' they had navigated successfully down the street, weaving from Bar Madrid, to Mona Lisa and many more before finishing in the early hours at La Trebede.

"We had to be a more flexible workforce responding to the whims of fashion. Retraining and reinventing ourselves. That's why you get ghettoes like this. The jobs arrive and five years later the grants are gone and the company fucks off leaving unemployment and a bunch of skills nobody needs" ranted Jim as he crushed every piece of concrete under his boot, and any insects foolish enough to wander through his camino.

"My favourite tapa of the evening was probably the big slice of tostada with morcilla in Mona Lisa but to be fair, the paella in Bar Madrid wasnae too shabby either." Bill continued. "But the amibence and the variety of tapa at La Trebede, was second to none.

"In the 50's, the automobile industry did this with the car putting wings or fins, bumpers and shiny bits but the 80's version did it with people. They started bending people into shapes. Its a fucking disgrace and, ah, ya bastard. These fucking pavements with their big cracks and stupid lips that you trip on." exclaimed Jim as he continued crashing his boots into all comers while wildly waving his walking poles as they searched for a solid surface. "Sustainability was a catchword for complacency. A lack of ambition. Ambition to create something that would last was replaced in the dictionary by something that could be quaffed. Simply consume it, dont construct it. Chocolate fucking fire guards. The UK led the way, while the northern Europeans were maximising the benefits from sexual equality the real enemy of women in the UK board room was that they didn't have balls. No cock meant no lap dancing. The business was concluded in clubs. No longer private gentlemens clubs at lunch or over bridge the 80s was about cutting deals to get the max out before moving on to a competitor. Max out - move on. Momo. Leaving the SAD people stay and develop to wither in poverty on the vine"

"Hold on, I'm just getting this photo. Do you see that statue of St Jacques? How cool is that? And I do like the hobbit houses, these bodegas cut in the hill side. I could well imagine myself staying in one for a long evening, emerging at sun up to continue the camino or if it was chucking it down like today, going back in for more!" said Bill happily smiling at his friend's furnace.

"I said, leaving the SAD people, those who would stay and develop to wither impoverished on the abused vine. By 2000 Rome was burning. Consumer driven momos were populating every board room with the same mantra. What will sell. Not what is a profitable and sustainable model."

"Ah, but not all vines have been abused. Have you tried the wines of Leon? Last night that's what we had with the Morcilla. A bit harsher but it works depending on the tapa. To be fair I ask the barman to choose the wine and tapa, it was easier and they always knew what worked well. The albarinho with the seafood paella was superb."

"The business schools taught their business but the world had moved on. Now look at us. The biggest industry is entertainment. Its mobile apps and games. Its sport stars and franchises. It talking your national sport and putting it in another continent to bleed them dry. Its about sport for stars and obesity for amateurs. We fund excellence not participation. Look at the Swedes, look what Petra was saying last night and Marguerite. They might not have top class sports stars but they do have the best child participation levels." Jim spat every word as if his words could counter the cascading rain as it accelerated down from the sky above.

"For once, mi amigo, you have stumbled into a rant I like. I do agree with Petra. I agreed with everything she said last night, up until she kissed me good night and said 'sleep well'. She gave me a massive hug and I thought she was staying to the end. They really are slagged for being boring but all that stuff last night made perfect sense, especially the bus to Astorga! Do you think we could maybe change attack and get on a villamdangos. They said buses were every hour and let's face it, we've now walked 5km, that's usually our lot"

They had passed the bodegas and were back alongside motorway and wet spray. Jim's hangover had started to subside. He was looking around and drinking from his bottle. He saw his friend's smile. His pack felt lighter, his mind was nearly empty, but there was once last thing he remembered from Marguerite & Petra. "They are on the 11:30 to hospital de orbigo, what time is it?"

"Mi amigo it is 11:05 according to that big clock there. The one that flashes 13 degrees and cold and is next to the bus stop. What say we wander over and check it is our bus stop"

They stood next to the bus stop and could decipher nothing. The cafe was a few yards away and Bill blazed the trail. He threw his pack off and asked, "Dos vinos tintos por favor. Autobus to Astorga aqui?

"No" replied the bar tender as he pointed another 50 metres up the street, where a small number of people were gathered in ill fitting ponchos and back packs. "Cinquante metros"

"gracias" said Bill as he necked the two wines and handed over the two euros.

"You really are ambidextrous" said Jim as he felt some light invading his long dark drink damaged tunnel

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Logrono to Leon

As Pilgrims diaries go this one is lacking in the spiritual stuff. By the time I can write, I'm usually sober again and my spirit has taken flight as my liver receives respite and I am suitably saturated in sobriety. However, my friends, I am on the doorstep of discovery. I have dreeped doon the walls of wonderment and welcomed the white floor show of the virgin snows. Yes its good. The mind is a cavernous mine which every camino see me cut a new hue.

This is special now. This is three parts further a dimension than I've had before.

The camino saps your strength and when your resistance is low, your heart starts to go. 
This is the moment that you work out whether you jump a bus or buy a ticket to Atapuerca man show.

I hide my luck under the ticket that gave me the free pass to the camino frances ~i ~i l never tire of it. The people are different every year, SOME OF THE BEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD YOU WILL EVER BE LUCKY ENOUGH TO MEET.

You try to keep the stories light, but it is special and that's why I keep doing it...

So back to the real camino, today was a great example. I lost weight once on the camino and I point at my expanding belly as proof that 'that camino belly' will shrink, or is already moving in that direction. It is clear it is not. I have already ditched the 36" short and bought a pair that are 42". I know its only temporary as once I climb O'Cebriero I will miraculously shrink to fit my cycling shorts.  In the event that I fail, I have kept a photograph of them and can therefore discard them so that a wee skinny fuckweight who clearly has a higher metabolic rate than myself can wear them on the serious climb via vega valcarce....but that wouldnt worry me. There would be too little time. The climb from VALCARCE is so swift you havent time to breath never mind harbour ill will. That bastard who is now wearing my shorts? Yeah good luck. Wish I had left the elastic loose, then I could pull on the thread and get dragged up this hill. 

This is the highest hil of the camino. Luckily you are all fit now. If you are not fit now, you will be at the top. Most hills on the camino are rise and fall. This is the only one that rises 1/6 for 5 hours!

Buen Camino

Not so Fat so

Fat Al

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Fairy steps

it seems a long time ago i left Burgos and go t caught in the rain just short of Hornillos. After that I had a great trip over to Itero de la vega, reqading myself with the Albergue Hogar, a contender for best on the camino. Then I took the long step to Carrion de los Condes via the river route which meant I got a wee rest in villavolio where there is a fountain a play park and goals for me to kick my ball. At Carrion I stayed in the monasterio just at the end of town. Superb choice.Yestterday was a decenet shift to templairios and i got proper reeking. Woke up this morning and everyone had left town....just me and the barman left. Easy day was not so easy as rain came again. Stopped at Sahagun monasterio on route out. Superb single room for 25 euro. no drinking....well not much!

Thomas Tobias Carruthers was in my head all day. His life story going round in my head. Tommy Turns Cars....I just love it

Thomas Tobias Carruthers was a fine man and is fondly remembered today because he turned cars. A simple and noble profession but one that all of you present were aware of and Tommy never shed from letting you know his qualifications and the reason for his early enforced retirement.

Getting in and out of cars is a young mans game and when Tommy's girth became an issue there were luckily for him, his daughters. They are all sat here today missing a dad a mentor and a fantastic human being.

The first son of Rozita and Tobias Carruthers, he was named after his Gradnfather from Cork. A giant of a man and one that Tommy certainly grew into. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

fatal-bannas.blogspot is the place to be just now

I heard it ringing out all over Santo Domingo!! The has much information about the camino to Santiago. This is what fat boys do when the drugs dont work and they just keep you up at night.

I do W.E.D.S. Walk eat drink sleep. Not every wednesday but every day until I'm fecked. On this occassion i am in carrion de los condes. A town famous for the  monasterio del zurio. I walked here from itero de la vega, a great spot just after Castrojeriz. A town full of bevvy merchants and snorers, thats why i moved 10km down the trail.

Before that it was Hornillos, Burgos, Ahes, Villambistia, Santo Domingo, Azofra and Logrono.

It the tastiest pub crawl you'll ever be invited to.

right back to this 4euro bottle of Rioja

buen camino

Vincente Bee

Monday, 29 September 2014

News, views & reviews - its time to talk all things Spanish again

I'm on my way again walking the camino to Santiago de Compostela. Quite comfortably the best pub crawl in Europe. I've already reviewed so many of the venues but this time around I'll stay in different towns and that means I can write new shite. Same words to describe a different venue.

Logrono is my starting point. Flying into Santander is very cheap from Edinburgh. I'm going for the princely sum of £37. The port of Santander is superb, lots of really good tapas bars and really chilled. I might get a few in before I jump the bus down to Logrono.

I'll be updating here with a few pictures, so if you are interested, ready away.

Buen Camino

Friday, 19 September 2014

Where did it all go? - bullshit bingo for the politicians when did you claim your biggest expenses

£ million
£ million
1. Source ONS Public Finance Statistics
These are big numbers - and for those who say Scotland doesnt pay it are right, the spreadsheet is run out of London. For those in London who say they pay too much, can I remind you London weighting means you all earn too much and as a result are likely to pay more tax. If London weighting did not exist then you wouldnt pay so much for property and you wouldnt inflate your prices. Try living on the yorkshire moors or up north in Scotland and there is no cheap transport and fuel costs for cars, heating and lighting are 35% of your income.

As socialists Scotland have been happy sharing the oil revenues with the rest of the UK, but recently we have just got really pissed off. London ministers have had the oil revenues for so long they genuinely believe they are Whitehall's oil revenues. I think that is where it goes a bit pear shaped and why at least 20% of that 45% who voted for independence will never trust a governing class based in Whitehall again.

Scrap the Barnet formula, split the oil revenues 50%/50% with Scottish and UK parliaments. As we were told all along it runs out soon so giving away half of something that runs out soon is a bargain.

Rip van Bee

I woke up this morning and had a brilliant dream. Thatcher did not get elected in 1979. Healey was still chancellor and had used the oil revenues in three different ways. 1/3 he gave to the mining industry and said you have a limited lifespan, but let's keep the communities going for the next 20 years. The money would be invested in safety, retraining and in new uses for mines, ie museums and long term storage. He figured quite cynically that Scargill was getting on a bit and that by 1999 there would be no Scargill and the people he was bribing were currently 38-45.

Callaghan had pointed out the steel business and shipbuilding were also in terminal decline but he accepted the next 1/3 was for investment in the future, primarily infrastructure. Being an energy tax, Healey argued vociferously that the steel based industries should re-invent themselves as part of the new manufacturers. New cleaner power was envisaged in the coming generations and harnessing its power profitably as it moved from the laboratories to the manufacturing plants was key. Ditching loss making activities at the early stage was crucial. Electricity was the new idea. The new national grid would run parallel with the railways and the massive transit systems. The pylons would be gone and the electrification of the railways would provide a grid the envy of the world. The primary resources of water would also be part of the national grid. In the Somerset flats, massive canals would sit either side of the raised railways. With the collapse of other steel business, we had a lot of manufacturing plants going empty. Huge grants were made available for any company transforming itself and their staff to fulfil elements of the national grid. British Steel wasted no time in availing itself of the largesse. The investment was not just for steel. Healey targeted the developing telecoms industry and one of its off shoots, something called the internet. He finished his budget speech to rowdy cheers as he set out plans radically transforming the water industry with his proclamation to create 100,000 new plumbers.

Having visited Scotland during the 1979 bid for devolution he was conscious how dreich it could be so  1/3 he suggested be put away for a rainy day.

During the early 80's he realised that the sale of council houses was a plan the public embraced and took note. He matched the tory policy on discounts and agreed to sell houses to any tenant however with a caveat that if they subsequently sold the house within 10 years the discount would be returned on a 10% sliding scale. All revenues were to be reinvested in new council houses and councils were obliged to ring fence infrastructure revenues which highlighted the tory plan to use the proceeds to reduce central government support of councils. Every council was asked to set aside an area to convert into new accommodation. 80% council housing 20% student housing where appropriate. Where council house sales exceeded certain levels new schools, libraries, recreation centres and hospitals were to be built as part of the infrastructure.

As unemployment fell from the 1million to 650,000 universities were seeing a greater proportion of overseas students who were happily filling the skills shortages, particularly in the new computer related industries.

Tax revenues from those employed rose as the government continued to see employment figures rise.

Then I woke up, a bit snarly having heard we get getting devo max minus the oil revenues clearly belong to London as that's where the spreadsheet is. We can have all the tax raising powers, except on the big things, as we need it for cross rail, HS2, another millenium dome....

back to sleep, it was all looking so rosy...zzzzzzzz

Its over - Mebbees aye, mebbees NAW!

Aye, Dundee might be known for jam jute and journalism but now it is the official capital of the Yes vote and  Glasgow, North Lanarkshire & West Dunbartonshire can also lay claim to having smelt the roses. I'd suggest future campaigns start there but I doubt there will be any. We are unlikely to be afforded another chance in the next 30 years. We must now find a way forward in the current set up.

Firstly though, Falkirk. What are they drinking out of the canal there. Ballot stations closing at 4pm because everyone had voted!! This is hysterical, it tops the imperial masters rickshaw. If we could get the rest of the population to follow that polling station in Falkirk these votes would cost peanuts. Like a self service bar. Open until 4pm thereafter, Joan, Elsie, Jimmy and Big Tam you'll find your ballot paper behind the bar. Just pop it in the box there. This is the democracy we strive for. The one where every vote counts and people feel they count. 88% in Falkirk and Clackmannanshire is a pretty tasty turnout.

As for the No campaign, I always thought the closer to the power the more likely you are to cling on. My home city voted overwhelmingly, No Tack! 

Caution is something we do well. Random decisions get made all around us but generally speaking we are a cautious lot. This is why the No campaign were well advised to tell us that we could'nae organise a piss up in a brewery. All of them should know as they have been running the UK for the whole of our lives.

But it is politics. This is why Gordon Brown could tell us how he knew best. The same guy that the rest of the UK told to walk along short plank. He was a good foil for them. England hated him so we had to listen. Everyone had their underdog, and every underdog has its day. I backed an 18/1 shot the other day and watched it scoot up.

The key to the No campaign for me early on was that they convinced me to vote No. I wanted to vote YES, but when I saw how inept their campaigning was, I realised we were going to be in trouble long term. I then heard the pack of lies coming out of London and relaxed and voted Yes. Long term the voter turn out suggests this country will have a lot more entrants into politics from different spheres, not just the Oxbridge graduates.

The best answer Salmond gave was if we cost the rest of the UK so much whiy do they want us. Like a one legged sheep dog they came up and showered love and platitudes on us that clearly had a few of us puking. The original vote was supposed to be 65% - 35%, so did the imperial masters help or hinder the cause.

My life has been sorting out messes made in haste by people in London. Highly pressurised, tired from long daily commutes and unable to make decisions on the hoof one lot racked up debts of £500m. Sorting it out was fun, but stopping them making the same mistakes again was not so easy. Others like me went down and sorted these types of messes out but the penny never dropped and my affinity with London is now primarily on the social side. Big metropolitan centres suck people and jobs in but when they cant get the best they take whatever is available locally. There is now a massive crisis in London as they suck people in but dont have the education or transport infrastructure.

I wondered what part the Trams would play. You can have Cross rail, HS2, Wembley stadium, the millenium dome or even a big fucking aircraft carrier that was the wrong size for the planes, to name a few miscalculations, but we were in Scotland and we were in Edinburgh, a decision that the council made and then found themselves over a barrel with. Hmmm, if we deliver nothing it costs £500m deliver something it cost £800m. This was a proper fuck up. The No campaign used it very successfully to scare the people of Edinburgh it couldnt govern, only London could. 

For me the greatest thing about the referendum was the turnout. On average 84% of people got out of their bed, care homes and asylums to vote. Even if a lot of the older people were more cautious and swayed the result, I dont care. I'd rather they vote against my preference than not vote at all, I'm mad that way. Its quite funny that a turnout of 75% can be considered low. My own take is Glasgow got a high turn out and thats why it voted YES. In an ultra high turnout it is blind panic and caution to say No that wins the day. I've not done the sums but I figure if Falkirk had 88% turnout the 43% who voted no probably equates to the 50+% who voted yes in Glasgow. IE YES generally polled at 40% of the total possible and they squeezed every bit out. The unknown, status quo cant be arse converted to a No vote in many areas but in Glasgow it did stay in bed awaiting a conclusion. 75% is huge though and it shows that politicians have engaged the public better than ever before, even if the purple prose was at its most poetic.

Hysterically funny how many barrels of oil surfaced hours after the referendum vote closed. In case we didnt know its not just Salmond, all politicians present to us what they want. Some people call this lying, but they arent all lying bastards. They just forget things from time to time.

I feel its time to bring in SS Politician. Yes Whisky Galore. Yes all those barrels of oil had been hidden and when the good ship went down, up they popped!!

I think if the SNP missed a trick they needed to get UK Sport involved. Not for their votes but for the 0.2% here and there that they needed, one I thought was worth 0.3% was they could have suggested their future name. We knew we didnt want the SNP governing us as nationalists just want independence. If they keep the name afterwards it suggests, Franco, or  others who have continued to govern as nationalists. Had they suggested they would be opening up a democratic party to encourage membership and new representatives it might have shown more of the futre and how we'd participate. The vacuum was filled by fear from opposition parties who through the BBC proposed that Jim Sillars represented the only view likely to oppose Salmond. Jim Sillars and many others would undoubtedly have been hugely influential, but we would have had many more, the YES campaign never succeeded in selling them. Ironically Gordon Brown was positioning himself for prime minister of Scotland, it would've been a great trivial pursuit question in 2050. 

We do want a democracy in our country. We currently have not got a democracy. The UK is a busted flush. They are clinging on in the houses of parliament, but constitutional reform must come.

What will it look like?

The same, ride out the storm, get the general election over with and then do nothing. W had a bite at the cherry, hope everyone enjoyed it.

There are a few postscripts

Firstly - 97% of the electorate registered to vote. OK if we know its 97% how do we know the 3% didnt? We must know who they are, why did they not tell us throughout the campaign who the 3% are.

Secondly - It seems Lloyds are still moving the jobs. The referendum was a convenient opportunity and not one to miss.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Independence - YES or NO - its not just the end of British Summer Time

As the might of the westminster machine rolled into Scotland, eluding Alex Salmond's well positioned Panzer divisions it was clear that Vinny would go walkabout, and he did.

Alicante, then up to Barcelona where I had many discussions with the Spanish and Catalonians about our referendum. In homage to Catalonia George Orwell gave a simple account of the civil war 1936-39 and although I didnt re-read it, there are many themes that run through from 80 years ago. British Summer Time was not among them.

A guy in a rickshaw wearing a darth vader costume while shouting "bow down to your imperial masters, they've come a long way to Glasgow today" over the Sky wars soundtrack has probably been up the top of my top 10 comedic moments. There's been loads.

Cameron telling Salmond he can have his after school clubs already, while his researcher is shouting in his ear piece, yes but he wants the tax revenues from letting parents go back to work earlier to pay for it, YA DAFTY!

Salmond meantime meanders around a number of points as nimbly as I did at my wedding. Sore feet all round and a noticeably large number of women switched off by him. Given that the other side are shagging their way through Westminster, allegedly, it comes as no surprise that not being a womaniser loses votes. Its one of those oxymorons, although it is easy, to comprehend. If he had the charm, he would get the women out voting and he probably would be a shagger. Look at Hollande in France, although, he has taken it a bit too far and now looks like every woman in France is an ex. Salmond doesnt exude that charm, he's no Bill Clinton. He's a wee dumpy guy who went to St Andrews, backs a few horses, cracks bad jokes and probably enjoys the odd light ale. Sounds like me, definitely nae time for shaggin.

So what are the vote winners, what are the things that are getting us out of bed to vote, well except me as I posted mine before my travels.

When I reached Narbonne in France, we discussed the auld alliance, and whether the French would welcome us into the Euroland. "Mais oui, vous avez beaucoup d'argent, huille, whiskey, en France il'y'a rien". Well that's the euro and economic argument put to bed then. It seems we get into Europe as net contributors and part of the energy security, we also disprove the theory that we cant be a profitable nation. As well as education and tourism, computer games and golf we can also export some of our other things like oil and whiskey which may help the fledgling economy and if we dont get to keep the pound they'll throw the euro at us making it even easier to get tourists.

The big questions for the floating voter though are will it make much difference. How much control over our revenues do we need in order to max out on the economy. Let's face it, Clinton always said, its the economy stupid. This is the whole deal. The main and only argument those discussing YES & NO need to have.

Voting YES means that there will be a transitional phase and we will all be worse off initially, except the constitutional lawyers and accountancy firms employed to negotiate the separation. There is plenty reason to fear the size of the divorce bill as there is not going to be lot of love in this room after a YES vote. The ends will justify the means when 35 years down the road in 2049 we are looking at a successful development of the work that was started since the split.

At present we look back on the years since 1979 and are somewhat bewildered. All our tory MPs have left to get constituencies in safe seats down south. I wasnt a big fan of them and laughed when they left then and in 1983, but the real loser was democracy. These guys were parachuted in just as people from down south came further north to find a safe Labour seat. If representative democracy is to work, then civic volunteer, councillor to MP is surely the route we want most people to take. Let's face it, the civil service guide the hand anyway.

The measure as I say will be in 2049. Its 35 years ATE (after thatcher election) so 35 AYE (after YES eventually) that we can look each other in the eye and say we've migrated to a model closer to the Swedish one. Higher taxes, full employment, after school clubs.

Many voting NO will be saying, exactly. I dont want that. Its clear if Scotland on its own votes for a government it will be left leaning, like left used to be not Tony's Troskyite version.

Education education education was his mantra. We didnt realise it was the old school bully nonsense of I'll show him....I digress, we discuss the future not the past.

On balance I am pro-democracy, which meant I became a YES voter. There is no line that is a vote winner for me, on either side. It is a massive vote of faith.

In 1979 & 1997 there was a massive vote of faith and it was misplaced. One spent all our money on creating high and sustainable unemployment (for those wondering why Norway has a huge oil fund of £800bn and we have a £1trillion deficit ask Sherlock how much it cost per annum to keep 3 million unemployed never mind how could it grow if it could've been invested). 1997 is best left alone, its still too raw but the emphasis is on democracy.

2014 and another vote of faith. Keep with the union, leave home and start afresh. I think if we split up, we'll be closer together in the future, if we stay together we will disintegrate. I think our democracy on these islands will improve as we show the way forward. Scotland has taken the lead in the past and not just with the poll tax.

Its a lot of dough to get rid of trident, and will we have politicians who keep their noses from the trough. There are lots of places where we would choose to invest if we had control over the revenues. Its not just about providing free this and that. It is about investing in infrastructure industries. We led the way with the turbines but the Danes got the job manufacturing as we were so busy closing all our steel mills. Check the Proclaimers letter to America if you dont believe me! Will we choose to do that or will we acquire a taste for fine port?

Can we make whisky cheaper and therefore stimulate investment by the distilleries in the independent Scotland instead of Japan?

Nobody knows. Its a leap of faith that business leaders will continue to see that Edinburgh is the number 2 financial centre currently and in the top 10 in Europe. Will that change? Its up to them but the talent will not leave Edinburgh unilaterally. What makes these financial institutions migrate to Edinburgh and Glasgow is the pool of staff. For every Standard Life that makes noises about leaving there are Blackrocks, JP Morgans and the rest who view the cost and quality of the staff, its geographical positioning between Asian and North American markets as being pivotal.

Can Salmond and the successors in this new democracy fuck it up? Of course they can. They've been educated the same way as the screw balls I mentioned earlier did so for the whole of the UK, but with any luck our democracy will be more robust. Who knows, but we'll find out some answers soon and others we may not even find out at all.

Good luck whichever way you vote, we'll still be in the pub Friday night.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Vinny B @ Swanys, Tuesday August 19th

If music be the food of love, the crowd at swany's would be a starving lovelost bunch. Happily its the festival and getting out yer face on a tuesday night listening to Vinny destroying every song he ever wrote and a few other people created.

Opening up with "sitting on dock of the bay" was a promising start. The guitar seemed in tune and the lack of a microphone meant the singing may well have been in tune too. The follow up of Wreckless Eric's whole wide world was another gentle intrusion into the pre-theatre menu. It was 7.05pm and all seemed well. The bar was deserted apart from Dave the barman and a couple of bits of tumble weed.

"Watch you grow" was next up as the tempo grew. Relying on a hearty bunch to echo the singer's chorus, in a retro Alarm style 68 Guns,....for guns guns guns, sing grow, grow, could see the tumble weed growing to the task.

In pure camino styled magic, a rendition of the Proclaimers' "500 miles" continued the singalong and when Charlie leaving PAtaka heard his song being destroyed he popped in to give Vinny a few tips. Swelling the crowd to one was just what Vinny had been hoping for. What he didnt realise is that he would become the crowd as Charlie gav a masterclass in one man, small venue, no mic performance. As Vinny sung along to Sunshine on Leith he realised that he was indeed a very good pub singer, when someone else was performing. Alas Charlie had to go as his carry out was ready for collection and Vinny resumed with "Stop you Sobbin".

Quite apt as he watched Charlie disappear and left Dave the barman distraught in his emptiness.

Vile Rapport 1981 classics, "Why?" & "Romantic turn" were dished up as easy to play inoffensive fare. Distraught Dave looked to have composed himself.

"No peace for the Wicked", "Another girl another planet" and "its the truth" followed in quick succession as the only ones segment came to an end, as did the first act. The teams were out and Arsenal v Besiktas took centre stage. With only 45 minutes to rehearse for the half time show. Vinny wasted no time in getting a second opinion from Distraught Dave. "Faraway" was clearly a favourite.

There was much talk about the Buzzcocks, but nobody knew the chords. Interesting as the chords were easy, it was just the order. Outrageous Disorder. The penny drops as the mushroom rises had not figured at this stage and the cold war classic looked comfortable in its cloudy past.

The halftime show was full of keyboards as first "Satellite of Love" then Perfect Day" were treated to the Vanity B Fair makeover. As the crowd cried for a stones cover, Vinny experiemented with the first bar of several before acknowledging, "Naw, ah dinnae ken any"

The crowd started getting edgy as the football had started again and Vinny hadn't stopped experimenting with the Boomtown Rats "Rat Trap". While little julie was watching top of the pops, the volume control was working well on the telly and a 0-0 draw would be played out while Vinny faded to grey!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Pataka - Fusion dining experience - 5 stars

A great Scottish welcome is rare in Edinburgh but Pataka have specialised in it since they first opened their Charles Rennie Mackintosh themed restaurant. The food is superb with traditional Indian and Bengali dishes cooked to perfection. Marinades make the chicken tikka mouthwatering but whatever your preference you'll get your taste buds dancing. Good food is a given at good restaurants and service is sometimes ignored. Pataka people make you feel special. Good service compliments good food, it is that simple. That's why I've been going to Pataka whenever I'm in Edinburgh, and will be for a long, long time. Vinny B

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Anniversary time again!

Like my alma mater - our 30th anniversary just rolls and rolls. It is now 31 years since issue 16, yes, Strawberry Switchblade and also 31 years since our 1st birthday when The Wild Indians and Pop Wallpaper produced the flexi disc and we produced an issue that sold out. At 10p including a flexi disc a pile of shite would've sold out.

Evan where are they all now, bring us up to date. Keith is up from London this week so maybe arrange something at Bennets in Maxwell Street if you are all still living in Clinton Road. Well of course its 31 years on and you wont, but just in case....Bennets is handy

I've moved house this past week and I'm exhausted. Age does not make you stronger. I did however heave a huge pile of back issues to Backbeat in Crosscauseway. I gave them a load of records too, pass it on I say. Guys like Backbeat enabled Deadbeat to get started and sustained us through our first year. The record companies then gave us free records and 30 years on those promo copies of Talking Heads etc have made it all the way back to the deserving second hand shops like Backbeat.

Backbeat also kindly took some fanzines from around the globe like Falling and laughing, simply yellow, etc etc. Photo courtesy of fat Al some time in 1982 at cimitierie de pere lachaise....

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Carl Donnelly, 4th Aug 2014. Upstairs at the Pleasance 4 stars

On a very warm 2 for 1 evening Upstairs in the Pleasance, Carl Donnelly is rocking a new look, double denim and, lack of spectacles... This allows him to kick off with a bit of audience participation but in case its his ice breaker we'll leave him to crack the ice.

What`s behind the image update? 

First is the break up of his marriage and second the eye surgery, and yes they are very much related. The former supplying most of the material for this years show. 

Thankfully, he`s now in a much better place he explains, starting off with the night.... distraught as he left the marital home, leading to an in depth heart to heart with his dad, his travels through India, to this show...and all the pitfalls that have befallen him in between....Alcohol, hallucinogenics, horrific house parties and attempting spiritualisation through a Peruvian magic tea, there`s not much missing, even a victorian wanker.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Beirut - eating for fun

Eating at the festival is one of the great pleasures for visitors and locals alike. Pop up restaurants appear all over the place and some of our busier places thin out a wee bit. If you want good food, look no further than the Edinburgh Central Mosque and the original mosque kitchen. If you start at the Mosque, I guarantee you 30 different types of cuisine within 5 minutes walk. I like Tapas. Lasal does Spanish Tapas in Howden Street while Mother India does Indian Tapas dishes in Infirmary Street.

Just such a place is Beirut. Come out of the Mosque, turn right, and with the BBC tent on your left, hang a right into Nicholson Square. As you come around the corner another 20 steps takes you to the door of Beirut and another 10 steps will get you to your table. If you've thought about it in advance you will have brought a carry out, and if you dont drink alcohol you will get all the drinks you need in the restaurant.

Thereafter there's a menu but if you have brought a pal, a partner or even just bumped into someone who had a rumbly tummy, then sit down and order the banquet for two. Its simple, tasty and huge. Lebanese food is fusion food for those of us who were brought up on mince and tatties. For anyone who has sampled tapas, meze, you know where I'm going. Lots of good flavours and combos that have worked for 1000's of years.

Neither rushed in and out, nor left dangling for too long the service was superb. Suitably chilled unlike my lager from Lidl, but at 75p a tin, I shouldn't complain. So when the bill is less than £40 and you cant finish the baklava, my only complaint was a lack of space in my ballooning belly.

I love Mediterranean food so I am biased. However, our tip is usually an indication of how much we enjoyed our meal. It was great, we tipped happily and will do so again very soon.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Eddie Izzard - force majuere - 25 years of joy - 5 stars

An hour in my life that I'll never get back and ah never want back. The journey Eddie Izzard takes you on is still the same. It is simply superb surreal comedy. Dali would love the way he melts time. As scholarly as his artistic licence allows him, he juggles time and states-people (well statesmen really, that's the way they write history....), moves seamlessly through the epochs and never forgets to give the Gods a glance. Giving punchlines away would not spoil the show as his delivery is everything. We all know why later copies of the bible suppressed the bit when Adam and Eve discussed cross dressing. We wont dwell on the ego of a performer or even older phrases on the power of deep voices, its the delivery, and Eddie delivers across a diverse eclectic range of topics. The crowd hang on every syllable and when it doesnt arrive the tension just makes the humour better. Has he forgotten?... is it for effect?... what is he thinking? The Danish have laughing clubs and Eddie clearly has his own touring laughing club. There is no tension in the room. He tries to remind us that the right wing are still alive and kicking us, but we know, and we pretend it doesnt hurt. Tonight, of course, it doesnae hurt. We have our saviour, our talismanic, idiosyncratic action transvestite. Go on yersel big man, well in those heels we'd all be big men.

The last time I saw Eddie in a venue this small was in the last months of Thatcher's Britain at the Brighton comedy club. I'd travelled down from Edinburgh and after a game of 5-a-sides stumbled into one of the finest nights of my life. Joint second with my wedding and daughter's birth. All through the 80's we had divided the country in two. Comedy was the same. Alternative comedy grew out of the ashes of our manufacturing industry although the greatest irony was working mens' clubs gave voice to the old right wing fascists, but I digress. As Thatcher's cabinet was nimbly applying pressure to the pillow they had lifted over her whisky stained gob a more sophisticated alternative comedian had appeared. Eddie shone in that Laura Ashley frock back then. He was a more overt transvestite but his mind was as sharp as the tangent at the point of a circle. Yeah, really sharp. 

He looked 25 years older but that could just be the marathons he's run or the fact that he is 25 years older and even action transvestites dont believe a nip and a tuck is a good use of financial reserves. Instead Eddie very kindly let the impoverished public wander in for £15 to an intimate gig which he did in German and French earlier in the evening. The same show performed every hour for 3 hours in 3 languages is his well publicised new gig. Some language teachers need to look at getting the kids along to his shows. The French gig tonight was not sold out, that is simply a scandal. Fanfuckintastico when he adds Spanish to the list. He'll be doing 4 hours a night, even when footballers have to go to extra time and penalties they still dont do that long and they charge more than 4 x £15....

Quite simply Eddie Izzard is a human being in our space, on our planet at the same time as us. Quite simply in the absence of God and the Clash, he is the new religion. Quite when he'll have the resources to do the show in Gaelic is unknown but I'm sure he'd relish the challenge.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Blues n Trouble - Queens Hall Edinburgh - July 2014

Well, its a full 30 years since issue 27 had Blues n Trouble being interviewed by Mad dog Doug and Keith, the same Keith who along with Vinny interviewed Joe Strummer in La Sorbonne one year later.....I digress, so Blues'n'trouble are still playing and this week its the Queens Hall but clashing with Smiley Miley.....after the gig, go and check out issue 27. I'm having website trouble again...its that 50 year old in me,

 it seems the clock restarts at 50, and yes I'm 1 now....

Wednesday, 9 April 2014




Looking for any contact for former members of the band Europeans in Tropic. Trying to find friends of late Warren Ozzie Hutchins who died some 30 years ago and was a member of the band. My partner Fiona is his sister, and Warren would be 50 years old today. Hope someone may be able to help.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

All the power in the hands, of the people rich enough to buy it

While we walk the streets, too chicken to even try it..

Yes Tony Blair was brought up on the Clash, he misunderstood the message and where are we now?

40 years on from the 70's - London may not be burning but everybody's sitting round watching television, they have the new religion. Electronic media killed the spirit of Trainspotting, just as, video had killed the radio star, allegedly.

When Joe talked about the new religion he couldn't have envisaged people bumping into each other playing text dodgems, the new British bulldogs for the school playground, but as I type as a screen, there's no getting away from it, it is the new religion. Churches are full of people who are not computer literate. Its obvious they turn to God when their PC wont come on. Why? is it broken or because their partner had wisely flicked the switch at the wall and the irascible auld git heads up to church seeking sanctuary and some divine inspiration, and if he's no too busy, intervention.

We predicted this back in March 1983 and by 1984 all our apocalyptic vision were starting to come true. Labour had imploded, Mrs Galtieri had won another election and was selling her pals all the stuff she'd found in the basement of parliament. The sign read, Poundies of Parliament. The whole infrastructure of the country was sold at everything must go prices. BT went with a 50% discount and to prove they couldnt be blamed for another flood or rail disaster, water and rail followed swiftly off the shelves. Obviously rail came with the bail out for life card that is normally reserved only for children. Obviously devolving power stopped at getting rid of the energy companies, but yes, again 'bail out for life' card comes with every nuclear plant. This bail out for life card came in useful when the 5th emergency service, oor postie, was seemingly on sale for ever. As soon as the £10bn pension shortfall was removed it was sold, aye, you got it, half price, nae bother. What aboot oor Postie? Slowly being shafted into oblivion. The last remaining care workers in the profession are being told to stop talking to people on their rounds. They are supposed to be moving so fast if a pile of mail is building up at old Janie Jones' hoose, feck her, you're a postie no social services....thankfully we still have a lot of Posties who know that if it takes a bit  longer its worth it. In this disconnected world there is still one person who knows a few people  in our streets and stairs, and do you think our MPs or councillors seek them out to ask them questions......but why would they do that...they only walk the streets and know the constituency. In any other country every James Bond would start as a postie, every under cover cop would do the rounds and learn the trade of their community, but what do we do? We privatise it so that there are less Posties on the ground and more managers in the moneymaking offices discuss strategy.

Deadbeat was there. We walked every step. Career Opportunities the one that never knocks. I knew I didnt want to be a bus driver or ambulance man and I certainly didnt want to go fight in the army or the RAF, despite the growing number of opportunities.. being a Postie really had appeal

After the success of the Higsons issue with Switch adorning the cover for the girls, Annie Lennox was our cover girl for issue 11 keeping the boys happy.

We never got that interview with Debbie Harry or Siouxsie Sioux, maybe that'll come before our 40th anniversary.

So Funboy three are the next cover issue 12 but spring forward to March 1984, 85 & 86 and its a different mob

My memory fails me just now but undoubtedly Lloyd Cole was darkening our front page in 85 for issue 29. The joint best album of the year. 30 years on I think it works. I've heard Lloyd now on his own and he can be a bit of a car crash without the smooth polished rigours of the band to keep him on track. He does become the wandering minstrel quite successfully. I think that's what Bowie sussed early, probably a week after the ivor novello awards night. Doing a gig is fourteen little sketches. A three minute tour for the senses. If its kept tight and it rolls on you have a fantastic sketch show. If you have an advert breaks where you discuss where a song was written and it becomes 'an evening with....' well it all goes pear shaped for me. I wanna shout, I wanna sing, I'm hear for the music, as Clinton famously said during his re-election, "its the music stupid",  Me I'm heading back to the garage because....I'm in love Janie Jones.... and to listen to the Clash at La Sorbonne again...and does anyone remember the name of the famous Edinburgh band who wouldn't step aside for them that night.....answers on a postcard....all will be revealed at the Deadbeat reunion on the 22nd

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

February Finales

Not really a finale, more a final post, but before we expire, we have to review the February deadbeats in preparation for our 2014 anniversary - 28 years since the last issue or 31 years and 8 months since the start, let's party, Oxford bar, 8pm, see you there. I clearly have a few more chins than I used to and whenever I meet guys from yesteryear, I can be confused by the ones who forgot to eat the pies. Clearly I only ever went backstage to eat the buffet. Dont get me wrong, I could do a line or two, but when it came to the buffet, it was a shame to see it go to waist, oops, waste, I took my diet pills after I'd eaten, c'mon, I wanted to stay up all night, but why miss out on the buffet. You've blagged it backstage, why hang around the powder when there were vol au vents lined up.

Charlie Higson plies his trade as a writer now but back in the day, he adorned the front cover of Deadbeat #10. The interview was the usual nonsense. "Oh, you're from Norwich, Backbeat records are in Norwich, arent they?

Yeah, how do you know about Backbeat? asked Switch

I read it on the internet, replied Vinny, fresh from a seminar on the future of information processing

Aye, said Switch putting on his finest 'Scotch' accent as we went back to talking about Norwich being the new Edinburgh, Glasgow Liverpool and any other city that NME or Sounds had advised us was 'appening.

Issue 10 preceded #11. Annie Lennox  & Dave Stewart arrive to play the Barracuda in March but for now its February.

The year is 1983 and we sold out. We felt we'd arrived when we sold out. We knew there was an election coming and we werent sure that selling out was the right thing to do. I think I also burnt my balls in an ashtray in the TSB but that's another story. Life Support had got a gig and we were being bad as usual. As we blasted out "Out of time, out of tune" I did the splits, then decided to straddle a table as I sung some words I'd make up as the circumstances demanded. On this occasion, I made up words as usual but the smell permeating the air was burnt hair followed by burnt baws. I looked down as the words went up a key to see a fag sitting in the ashtray, with said baws as company, as I removed myself from the table and tucked my shrivelling sac back from whence it came, I smiled and sung notes I'd never reach again. "out of time, out of tune and out on the embers...." Oh how I laughed as I sung... As a precursor for a vasectomy it was a glorious warm up.....

The band as professional as ever continued..... playing different songs.....

But back to the interview with the Higsons. They had their first and only hit that they were out promoting, "Run me Down". The Norfolk sound was non-existent. The three mains bands all played completely different  styles, rhythms and the sounds were unique. Personally, the Farmers Boys worked for me but I just liked the voice. Run me down was as good as anything else at the time, it was a bad time though. We were up against it as a society. It was about to end. The family jewels were about to be sold off and war was on its way. The tory party had found their own Gen. Galtiere and if we thought 1982 was the beginning of the end, 1983 proved it was only the end of the beginning.

Nobody will ever know what this country would've looked like if she hadnt won that election but if we had a society before, it certainly never existed afterwards. It was a shit time to care. It was a great time to be an opportunist, and many certainly prospered. The great thing about selling off council houses and nationalised industries is that those who could afford to buy them, would be well rewarded. The thing about Capitalism is that it thrives on people having access to capital. Those with access to capital, get given more capital. Those with no access are fecked.  As all the industries and council houses had been sold by the time the Socialists returned to power they had to sell the gold and start more wars. In fact, they started a war with the Socialists in their party and decided that the party would now be called a Capitalist party, but nobody told them Capitalism had died. It had morphed. politcal and economic systems dont stand still forever. While nobody had noticed Deadbeat in February 1985 decided to throw its hat into the ring.

Capitalism is Dead, it pronounced, long live Opportunism. Hardly prophetic, but we had suddenly became aware it wasnt just a case of musical chairs or pass the parcel, it was indeed dead. The marketing was now everything. Only two years earlier we were being told about the Norfolk sound and now we were being advised that bands like Dancing Bears and The Men Men weren't what people wanted. I'm just flogging a Deadbeat tape, but I sat in the A & R rooms of many companies and they played me what I was to find in Scotland. I laughed. I said its pish. They told me its where music is going. I said no. Its the Wedding Present, have you heard some of the Creation sounds, I said have you heard this sound you're playing? Its tumbleweed ya dafty, As Anita Ward said, I'm out of here. I didnt have a deal, I wasnt looking for one on behalf of anyone, I just wanted a free coffee and biscuits, to stay on the mailing list to get free LPs, but please, NO!!! I dont want that pish you call the future. Only a year later I was involved in a fracas with Big Phil and those arseholes from Matt & Gloss. It was a mini pagger, mini, because we had to go back to work......and in London its worse than handbags at footie.

Its taken me a long time to realise why Deadbeat did finally run out of steam, I'd always thought it was because we were too busy working, getting married, divorced, that kind of thing, but with the glorious benefit of hindsight, the glorious fun, the joyous nonsense, the carnage of burning yer baws, or biting yer way through a long line of vol au vents had become sipping cappuccino while listening to pish. If it sells its good. If its the only thing in the shops, the only thing on the radio, the only ticket you can buy in this totalitarian was all getting messy, time to go retro and get that stuff from the 70's

"Wasnt I lucky, wouldn't it loverlee.....where did you go..."

We were in a desert and it was time to desert....The greatest irony to all of this was that I missed the oasis.....where the Stone Roses grew.....well, I was working......

Friday, 17 January 2014

January Deadbeats

Its back - another year - I've updated issues 11-17, seems like Janaury 1983 was the start of something big, it was certainly the end of me doing any studying at St Andrews. Much bigger fish to smoke as Arbroath, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness, Inverurie, Perth,  Norwich, Liverpool, London and all towns 'not' St Andrews started to stock Deadbeat