Sunday, May 09, 2010

On Being (Unexpectedly) Understood.

“The problem is – I have to be at The Globe at 8.30 on Friday morning”.

For I am going to Arsenal Fan’s house for election night where we intend to eat pizza and drink wine and make slurs on Conservatives. And undoubtedly stay up all night watching constituencies we can’t place on a map declare their results. Which can’t exactly be considered conducive for being functional the next day.

“Then - you should go to bed”.

I realise instantly there is something slightly wrong here. Namely I am not the one being sensible. I shake my head. We haven’t – as far as I am aware – slipped into a different dimension without my noticing.

“But I know I won’t be able to leave”.

I’m not good at leaving even under normal circumstances. I think the distinct possibility that Friday will bring George Osbourne as Chancellor would mark the event as being abnormal circumstances.

“By that time you’ll have voted. Everyone will have voted.”

The voice is balanced, reasonable.

“So – you can’t change the outcome. Which means - you should go to bed”.

I realise that this makes perfect, rational sense. Me watching the results cannot counter those votes cast in favour of the Conservatives. Or how crappy I will feel the following day. But it doesn’t mean I’m actually going to buy such rationality.

Time for honesty.

“I’ll be too scared to go bed”.

There’s a slight pause. I sense that at the other end of the phone there is some degree of eye rolling taking place. What can I say – if the proverbial shoe were on the other foot I’d be rolling my eyes too.

Then I hear a laugh. Not one directed at me, but a laugh in conspiracy with me.

“I suppose this is you – and you did feel the need to queue for seven hours to get the final Harry Potter”.

I laugh. Have I, somewhere in the midst of the Potter and the politics and the waiting up all night for odd things, just been summed up in some indelible way?

It's my turn for a pause.

“Yes, yes I did”.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tomorrow Morning I Will Not Be Voting Conservative. This Is Why.

Because I believe that the current recession is more akin to the situation in the 1930's than in the 1980s/ early 1990's and that reducing spending in 2010 (when there is nothing to replace it from the private sector) would lead us back into recession.

Because I cannot vote for a party who will stand by "principles" of tolerance only in seats they know they will lose (goodbye Philip Lardner) but will not remove Phillipa Stroud (a "rising star" of the Conservative Party) from her candidacy because she sits in a seat they may win (currently 2,846 Lim Dem majority) even though she believes that homosexuality can be "cured" by prayer.

Because I do not want a Home Secretary who thinks equality laws can be broken.

Because I do not believe there is a "bias" towards accommodating children with special needs/ disabilities in mainstream schools.

Because I feel passionately about the BBC.

Because I will not be dictated to by Rupert Murdoch.

Because under a Conservative Mayor bus prices in London rose by 20%, an increase that was to plug the hole in falling tube revenue and which predictably side stepped the fact that buses are more regularly used by the poorest sectors of London society - who cannot afford to spend one hour of their working day to pay for the tube. Monthly tube fares remain unchanged.

Because I refuse to be conned by the idea that 6 billion pounds in "waste" can be eliminated in one year. Particularly when David Cameron is previously on record saying that "waste" is an empty political statement.

Because I want to punch George Osbourne in the face every time I see him.

Because, whilst I'm here on the subject of Osbourne, not only was he stupid and arrogant enough to say that there was a risk of "sterling collapse, a run on the pound" as a political point scoring exercise the Lib Dems also estimate that he owes the taxpayer £55,000 in false expenses claims.

Because having a "cap" on immigration from outside the EU is so ridiculous it would be laughable if I didn't think the Conservatives were entirely serious. What is this mythical cap? Ten? Twenty? One hundred? What happens if the quota is filled by April? So no one can stay here until the next year?

Because I think anyone who was a member of the Bullingdon Club should automatically be banned for life from having any influence on the future of Britain. And I say that as someone who is hugely proud of Oxford University and its students.

Because I want political reform, not boundary changes that benefit no one but the Conservatives. I want every vote to count.

Because the notion that philanthropy in Britain is developed enough to support the arts is blatantly untrue.

Because I cannot see why - when heading for cuts as we are - raising the inheritance tax threshold to benefit 3,000 of the richest people in the country is either desirable or fair.

Because I think the inevitable raise in VAT which will come with a Conservative government will hit some of the poorest sectors of society.

Because I do not want the tax system to mark anyone who isn't part of a "traditional" family structure as an inferior.

Because I remember pre-1997.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Rest Is Silence (or not)

"You didn't say...what did you think about my noise?"*

We're sitting in Russell Square, me in my old-lady headscarf, him in a red t-shirt that came from 'Lost & Found'. 'Lost & Found' being the box of lost property at the job that pays his rent as opposed to a cool vintage store.

I laugh.

"You were right - it did make me smile".

"I knew it would. Did you turn it up at the start?"

"Yes!" I know I am talking with my hands now. "I could just about hear your voice - and then just as I turned it up -"

We say it in unison:


Breakfast Club Boy smirks. "I did that on purpose".

There's a pause as he sips from his glass of oddly-coloured snapple. Yes, snapple. Comparisons of growing up in the 1990's have led us to conclude (thankfully on my part) that snapple was a North American thing.

"It's odd - but I'm actually quite proud of it...I know if you look at it - is there a verse or a chorus? No. Is there a melody? No. Is there any discernible musical instruments? No. Is the drumming even in time? No. "

I'm laughing. It's all true.

"But for what I'm doing - the music that I listen to - this is good. In those circles. We're - quite good".

I should have realised the moment that, without prompting, the music dropped into my inbox that this was something more than just wanting to make me laugh. That Breakfast Club Boy was actually proud of what he'd done. And though - as he always knew - I wouldn't understand it in the way I understand the moment twenty seven seconds into 'Bittersweet Symphony', or the dying chords of 'Nightswimming' or the way that I need only listen to the opening of a Damien Rice album to know that I am going to cry, he sent it any way.

If I were to be honest here, I would say that I was proud of him too. That though - let us be clear - his noise, to my ears, is noise, I love it that he's doing all of these things.

He reads something else -

"You'll have to eat your words if this is what makes me successful". It's not accusatory, it's light, playful.

I do not say that I have committed no opinions, that he is reading subtext, but I can't help but smile back.

"Oh, I will do".

*I should add the warning that this link contains music which is labelled as "Psychedelic / Industrial / Minimalist". I am not sure that I know what any of those labels mean but they sound scary.