Mancunian Blues

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How to Stop Binge Drinking Mark III and Other Ramblings

Well it's the end of an era.

I suppose as we grow up, and we move on, we try and mark the passing of events, places whatever, just for a bit of nostalgia, for a bit of something to look back on with fondness. This should have been the case with the Victoria pub in Withington. For the past two years it has been our football pub. Not having Sky TV has meant that me and me mate have tended to adopt one pub as a Football watching pub. For our years in Fallowfield it was generally Bar XS, for West Didsbury it was The Barleycorn and, for the past 18 or 19 months, The Victoria was handily situated between both of our houses.

This was the last match before me friend moves out of Withington to Heaton Thingamebob; Everton v Liverpool - and let us gloss over the match. My method for stopping binge drinking this month is to employ the dozy barman from the Victoria in every pub. I managed to arrive at a half empty pub 10 minutes before my mate and was just about served by the time he arrived. The bar guy then decided that two pints of lager warranted 70 pence worth of change from a £10 note and turned his back on me when I tried to complain. So rather than memories of great footballing victories, amusing local characters and a friendly atmosphere, I'm left with a smoky den run by rude and hopeless staff.

Last week I took to the stage with Box Of Delights and, after 6 years in the rainy city, I finally played a gig with a 'rehearsed' band on a proper stage. One thing I can confirm is that if you know how to make an instrument sound good first off, it doesn't matter if you can't play. Taking a break from bass for one song I played harmonica. I've listened to loads of Chicago blues bands, I know my Junior Wells, my Little Walter, I know how to get a blues sound from the harmonica. After sound check an impressed promoter came up and asked how long I have spent learning harmonica and it is very difficult to tell him that I guess I've practised harmonica for only about 4 hours, ever. I just know what it should sound like and have spent much of my life listening to blues albums and have an idea of how blues harmonica can be played. This contradicts strongly with my feelings that the harmonica is the most abused instrument in contemporary music, picked up by every wanna-be frontman, every new Dylan, and just blown into randomly. I don't see why am any different, but somebody likes it, which is good!!

I finally came up with a plan on how to buy a house!! I'm going to develop a cough, a limp and buy a cat.

Doesn't follow, does it? Ahah, but it does, because this is spring 2005, or putting in simply, the run up to the run up to the Election.

All I need to do is phone the Conservative Party and get some of them down to my flat, with some camera. With a limp and a cough I will look pathetic as I recount how St Tony's government imposed fees on me, how I am spending most of my wages on my little flat and have no prospect of getting onto the property ladder with the massive house price rises. I'll sit there with the moggy, stroking it, saying how it's the only memory I have of my recently departed great grandmother, however I can't keep him locked up in this flat and that I will have to take him to kennels and lose him forever unless I can get a house.

Now that is the kind of sob story that the Tories have been trying to flood the news with. They are doing a good job and I don't see why I shouldn't try and exploit them.

Or I can find a minority who have a life style different from mine, and make them an easy target. Goths for instance, generally harmless people, but they are viewed with a fear of the unknown from the mainstream adult community. Just like Romanies and Travellers, Micheal Howard knows that they won't vote and the papers like the Mail and the Sun find them a very easy target to stir up trouble. Howard should know better, his family arrived from Eastern Europe as somebody else was picking out the Gypsies as unwanted in society, as well as Jews, Slavs and anybody else Hitler didn't like.

I wonder that if, in this pop-culture, a party forcing individual sob-stories on us and victimising voiceless communities will succeed?

After the Manchester university elections, I really think that the right wing in this country have a growing support. 129 people voted for the BNP candidate. I suspect a chunk of that may have been a liberal backlash, people voting for the BNP in protest against the protests against them. Also the presence of the BNP at some hustings meant that a few socialists refused to be on the same stage as the fascist and were therefore disqualified from the election.

I suppose that, at the moment, the two leading parties are right of centre and the liberals are not making the best advantage of their position. Also a factor is that, however despicable the far right is, it is all too easy to label the far left as a bunch of annoying whiners. I count myself as a left wing pacifist, but whenever over this weekend a peace protester was interviewed, I had to turn of the radio cause it annoys me how far into cloud cookoo land they live!

Apparently when the police count 45,000 people, the protestors make it 200,000. I have never understood protest maths. It is the same maths that says this 200,000 means that the majority of the country is backing them. And so the 55 million odd people who weren't there are the minority?

I never wanted to see troops in Iraq and I didn't believe that we were under threat from a nuclear armed mad-man with ties to Bin Laden. Given that I did not have access to top-of-the-range intelligence and St Tony and Dumb George did, I'm wondering how I got it right and they didn't. However I also know from history that everytime we have pulled out of a country without making sure it is secure, a bunch of war lords spring up and we get another tin-pot dictatorship emerging from the power vacuum. If we remove our troops from Iraq now, the exact same thing will happen. Yes it is a military occupation, however the terrorists there are not just attacking the US and UK army, they are killing voters, politicians, families, anybody. This will continue if our troops leave now and, frankly, the best possible people to deal with it are there at the moment.

If the military troops can pull out and everybody agrees to be nice to each other, then all's well and good. But they won't so we can't and it is no use blaming it on an American conspiracy. If everybody in the US had access to the truth rather than lies and allegations pedalled by the Republicans then I'm fairly sure that there would be as much outrage over there. This isn't America's fault, this the fault of a little boy who wanted to impress his dad, got his mate, the smiley one, to agree to help him take out Saddam. Now that Saddam has gone we have two choices, say opps; run away saying its all a mistake and watch the Middle East implode, or make Iraq a stable country so we don't have to bother with it again.

Anyway, that was a bit of a muddle I think, but I hope bits of it made sense.

Anybody near Crewe – Go watch Box of Delights at the Limelight in Crewe on the 2nd of April.

Till the next time,

Love peace and blues


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