As a preface to this piece, I would have to say that the Stormcock list, referred to below, is an internet mailing list which is populated by people who are interested in sharing informations which roy harper and themselves have initiated over the years. It exists as a conduit for people who would wish to share certain views about the world we perceive and wish to be in some ways critical of; and the way that the list is maintained offers no particular person on the list any advantage over any other. In that sense, I think that all of us who are aware of this list feel that it’s ultimately a very democratic organ.
I have many fellow travellers on the Stormcock list and I hold many of them dear. I don’t get to read the list as often as I should, and I miss quite a lot. I would suspect that there are a few of us loosely attached to this list who are in that bag. This is a list which generally tries to embrace a broad consensus, but which has a solid core of realists somewhere in its heart. Occasionally there are murmerings which are not concentric, but in the main they only serve to remind us about what kind of a luxury it is to belong to such a generally straightforward virtual gathering. That having been recognised, I would wish to inform this gathering of the way I feel about its most recent choice for debate. The weight of email to me and to the list on this one has made a response by me a seeming imperative. So I’ll introduce the following onto the scales.. Re-the black cloud of islam.. a song of mine written in 1989….
I let my guard slip. I knew that I’d let it slip. I wanted it to slip. I was absolutely sick of being politically correct. I am not politically correct, I never have been.. and I never hope to be. I’d been navigating through an obstacle course for thirty years. My guard slipped.. and I needed it to. I was livid. I was absolutely overcome by feelings of despair. My worst fears were coming true. Religion was gaining ground. The one collective trait among humans that I’d long held at arms length, with the deepest possible suspicion, superstition; was outrunning anything that I could personally throw into its warped path.
The most obvious fact about the immediate political future is that Blair will win the next election by some margin. Questions.. Questions.. How can a man who is steeped in such great dishonesty again become the chosen representative of nearly 60 million people? Answer – very easily. And is this a reflection upon the character of the majority of those 60 million people? Well yes…. is the straightforward answer. It’s a reflection upon all of us, and in many ways. First off, perhaps, our parliamentary system is to blame. Unlike other European systems it was not brought into a more modern world at the end of the Second World War for the simple reason that alone among the bigger western European nations, Britain perceived itself as victorious and therefore justified in revelling in the divine right of the government of victory.
For parliament’s selfish and vested inability to see that Proportional Representation is perhaps the most convenient way to more effectively enfranchise the majority of the populace, it has damned us all to despotic democracy. A form of government in which the leader is virtually beyond the law… and can railroad law through at his/her own beck and call.
This in turn leads to frustration and apathy on the part of the majority of the electorate.. which is abetted by majority elements of the tabloid press who are willing to become lap dogs to political masters. They are paid to do so by companies whose business is to influence taste and to subdue debate in favour of prejudice.. and petty prejudice at that. One looks no further than the companies owned by Rupert Murdoch. Fed with such onstream opiates as Celebrity Big Brother and the Daily Sketch, who can blame the the man who works for fifteen hours to stave off mortgage default, or the woman who slaves for 24 to help them stay afloat for saying, “Why bother?” They both know that the system is the winner; that there is no hope in fighting it. That it’s a tireless monolith in the hands of the elite.
It was a funny old day. A very sad day; sat watching the best man lose. During his concession speech I felt my eyes on the edge of being wet. John Kerry is a good man. Intrinsically a decent human, but there I must stop, and examine.
When we’re younger, we’re all shades of rebel.. well, at least, I was. I revelled in everything just the other side of the line, because I could. Now I don’t define what ‘the other side of the line’ really is, or where it is. Any more.. I don’t have to. In any case, it’s different for everyone. You’re maybe taking Johnny’s marbles from him, burning down the local sports pavilion or having sex with a brontosaur. I only did one of those three, but whatever, everyone’s idea of where the other side of the line is at is different.
But in later life I seem to have retired from full-time mayhem. I guess that I didn’t want to die any earlier than I had to. I’m not afraid of dying. Luckily, that happens to everyone; it’s just that I’ve been forever interested in what’s going to happen next.. and I don’t want to miss it. Then of course there’s the responsibility to the rest of family and friends to live as long and as happily as possible etc.. set the kids a happy example.. something good to remember.. and so there comes a time at which you have to give a little. It’s not that you didn’t always give.. in my own mind I’ve tried to be as generous as possible. I always know where and when I haven’t been as generous as I could have been, and I have feelings when I think about some of my friends.. that I could have given them more, and I always apologise when I think I’ve been too demanding.
The point in this preamble is to try to inform you about some of the maxims and tenets in the formation and development of my character. From having no respect at all, for anything at all, as a child, I’ve developed into a human who has empathy for much he sees around him. My quest has been to develop respect. From a position of having none at all, when I was nine or ten years old.. From not being able to trust anyone about anything.. from being completely out of control.. to being able to recognise that SOME people were genuinely good people. Perhaps they’d come through trials of their own. Perhaps they’d come from places that were very sad, but they shone for me, like beacons in seas of apathy and fear, lies and violence, anathema and war.
Forty years ago, if you loved black music, you were a ‘liberal’. A far far out long gone liberal who would probably die in hell. Just how far the liberal world has dragged the fascist civil monster towards reason can be measured by what’s happened since. And yet how much liberals are still detested. Liberal?? Conservative?? What labels we give ourselves! What Philosophical piffle! Liberals, as I understand it, are trying to make the world a freer place, and yet they are detested. Liberal is a detested word in the USA. Liberals are likely to bring change, because they’re likely to let change happen. But when you’re cosy, change isn’t to be trusted. Liberals are implicitly accused of emancipation of the mind, and how dare they open the world up to so much rationality. How dare they? Can’t they be kept in their place by some good ol’ conservative rule of law that will still try its best to tell people who can and who can’t vote. The hanging chards won the last US election. Which was in effect, the first world election.. that only a minute percentage of the worlds population were allowed to vote in. The world has gone back 200 years. Effectively to a time when most people knew that voting was something that their betters did. In 2004, the world is about as just as it was before Peterloo in 1819.
The lucky few get to vote for the direction the world will largely take over the next four years…. and they all live in the United States Of America.
I know that I’ve said this before somewhere, but I’ll say it again. In 1870, just as the Franco-Prussian war was declared, Ladbrokes, a well known English bookmaker, had the French at 9 to 4 on, to win the war. For those of you who are unfamiliar with gambling, that means that you had to put £9 on the French in order to win £4. (You win £4 and get your £9 back if the french win). Which means that basically, in London at the time, no one gave the Prussians (north Germans) a chance in hell. In fact the Germans were 6 to 4 against, which meant that you had to put £4 on the Germans winning in order to win £6. Very good odds in a genuine two horse race. Better than 50-50. The fact that the Germans were in Paris in six weeks exposed Ladbrokes to some losses which were wholey attributable to their historical and emotional take on events. Their research had been almost entirely emotional. Research by bookmakers isn’t often so lax. When it comes to losing your entire shirt, daily, on various wagers, experience will soon teach you to be invariably on the right side of it. Those who make a book.. are in it for a living..! The rest of us wager on.
Just a short story. It’s a story about finding a different world, when only a week before, there wasn’t even a hint of any relief.
The second or third time I got really cheesed-off with the music business, I decided not to vent the extreme spleen I felt on either my then current management or upon the record company, EMI, because I felt that I’d already worn those particular lines fairly thin. I was of course the same round pin trying to fit myself into the same square holes that still exist today. I wasn’t so much round, perhaps, as of varying and unpredictable shapes, but that’s a boring old story. And too long a diversion.
Anyway, I was cheesed. And, spur of the moment, I just got into the car. Driving west into the sunset at a fast rate of knots, I just went. I didn’t have the slightest idea about where I was going. I just wanted to get away. Soon enough there was dust behind me, and I felt free. I was angry. There’d been a few scenes after ‘Flat Baroque And Berserk’, and I knew that I wanted to do something very different. I was searching for sparks in myself that would set the work apart. ‘Flat Baroque’ had been a muted success, and I was being asked to come up with more of the same. But more of the same wasn’t happening; I’d moved on. Stormcock was on the way. And so was I. I can remember tearing down the old A4, which was quite winding, and good to drive at speed along because it kept you 100% alert. Which only heightened the state of consciousness I imagined I was achieving.
As I got further west I began to slow down. I’d backed it off from the 100 mph I’d started at and it had got down to a sedate 80. I’d started in London, and, after a few hours, I was in Wales.. and the pace began to drop even further. I can remember almost sauntering through Bridgend in traffic. Shortly after that my temper had diffused enough for me to be able to start to think about other things. Other things entirely. One of the first of these was, ‘where am I going?’. I can remember that the first time I thought it, the answer came without thinking, almost as a part of the question. ‘West’, was the immediate response.