For A Life That’s Fit For Living

It never fails to amaze me how servile this country is- a thousand years of monarchy coupled with a political upper class who have managed to hoodwink enough of the voters that they know best, that they are born to govern, have done us in. That has led us to where we are today. There was a new item on the BBC last week focusing on a food bank in Grimsby. A couple who had been priced out of Margate had moved north and survived using the food bank.

The fact that we are accepting the use of food banks in 2019 tells its own story and shows how far people have accepted the fate the Conservatives have delivered to them. In the last five years the use of food banks has increased by 73%. By March 2019 over one and a half million people in the UK relied on them. A third of these people use food banks because their income doesn’t cover the basics. A third of the rest are because of issues to do with Universal Credit, either changes to benefits or delayed payments. There are now more food banks in the UK than branches of McDonalds- how’s late period capitalism working for you?

Back to Grimsby. This couple were interviewed by the reporter and asked who they were thinking of voting for. Forced out of their home, surviving on charity food handouts, at the back end of a decade of government by the Conservative Party, the man said ‘I like what Boris is saying’.

Somewhere there’s a complete disconnect between the impact of the three worst Prime Ministers this country has seen since 1945 and the effects of those Prime Ministers on people’s lives. Each of the three has been engaged in a frantic race, in half the time of the previous one, to reach new lows. From Cameron’s ideological cuts to public spending propped up by the Lib Dems and offer of a referendum through fear of the nutjobs and racists at UKIP to May’s loss of an election that forced her to be propped up by the DUP to Boris Johnson- the only British Prime Minister to have been found guilty of illegally shutting down parliament to prevent it from discussing his key policy, we have been governed by the most incompetent and foul trio of leaders imaginable. And still people say ‘I like what Boris is saying’ and ‘I know he’s a liar but I trust him’.

This election campaign has been the most depressing few weeks, the faked news reports in the last few days about the little boy suffering from pneumonia on a hospital floor, the lies told by Matt Hancock to distract from this, the fabricated story about a Labour activist punching a Tory aide at Leeds hospital, the mass use of spambots to pump out lies about the original photograph, the failure of two of the top political journalists to do even basic fact checking- it is shameful and should make anyone who think the UK is modern, fully functioning democracy think again.

If you vote Tory you are voting for Boris Johnson, a leader who has illegally prorogued parliament, compared Muslim women to bankrobbers and letterboxes, called  homosexuals ‘tank topped bum boys’, called black people ‘piccaninnies’, suggested EU nationals should go home to their own countries, tried to politicise the murder of two people two weekends ago for his own benefit, has lied and cheated his way through life and politics, who has been kept away from both the public and TV interviewers the longer the campaign has gone on and who this week pocketed a journalists phone when confronted with the photo of the child on the hospital floor. You’re voting for his cronies too: Priti Patel who suggested recently while being interviewed in Barrow that poverty wasn’t the fault or responsibility of government; for Dominic Raab, the Brexit minister who didn’t realise how much trade comes through Dover and hadn’t read the Good Friday agreement; for Jacob Rees Mogg, a Tory so embarrassing and politically unsafe that they’ve hidden him away from the voters; Nicky Morgan insisting in the face of all rational evidence and basic that 50, 000 new nurses containing 50, 000 current nurses being retained is not 50, 000 new nurses; a party that doctored news footage of Keir Starmer and spread it via social media; a party whose manifesto has little in the way of actual detail other than that they will get Brexit done, as if the whole thing is finished once the UK leaves the EU when in reality that’s when the business of Brexit actually begins. He, Johnson, and they, the Tories, are laughing at us- the hate us and they laugh at us because they know they can do what they like and people will still vote for them. It’s almost as if with Boris Johnson they have decided to see what they can actually get away with in plain sight. ‘Look, here, an actual total fucking bumbling poshboy idiot- vote for him’. The deference the Tories get stems from this bizarre British belief that they ar the natural party of government, that they are the safe pair of hands. Nothing they have done since 2010 or that Johnson has done since becoming Prime Minister in the summer justifies that deference, that servility, that doffing the forelock as the Eton boys go by.

It’s looking like the best we can hope for is a hung parliament. We have to do the best we can to stop these people. Vote Labour, vote SNP, vote Lib Dem, vote Plaid Cymru, vote for the independents thrown out of the Tory party but vote anti- Tory. If they get a majority Johnson and the Tories will be laughing in our faces while they piss on our shoes for the next five years.

I’m not sure any of this helps but I feel a little better for typing it. It’s difficult to feel positive or optimistic about things at the moment. Watching the TV or reading the paper makes me depressed, hopeless or angry. I guess anger is more useful than the other two and that’s mainly what’s fuelled this post.

This song by Aztec Camera and Mick Jones from 1990 has been picking away at the back of mind for the last few months. In the lyrics Roddy Frame takes the four countries that make up the UK in turn- Scotland ignored by the Conservative government despite never voting for it, Northern Ireland with it’s Catholic population at the end of a gun and the butt of Paddy jokes, Wales suffering from population decrease a a result of incoming holiday home owners and England under the cosh of police brutality and illiberal attitudes.  Roddy and Mick’s rat- a- tat delivery, trading song lines and guitar lines, and the sheer bounce of the tune carry it all along, totally upbeat and Roddy tries to end with some positivity-

‘Love is international
And if you stand or if you fall
Just let them know you gave your all
Worry about it later

The past is steeped in shame
And tomorrow’s fair game
For a life that’s fit for living
Good morning Britain’

Good Morning Britain

Swear I’ll Be There

We spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon drinking beer and wine in the sun and listening to music at a friend’s house. After a while the person in charge of Spotify started asking for requests and we ended up with a bunch of mid-to-late 80s songs, as you might expect given the age of the people present, and eventually a run of Aztec Camera songs. This one didn’t get played but it should have if time and had permitted. Roddy Frame’s bittersweet kiss off to punk (and a major inspiration on Johnny Marr, tuning in, a couple of hundred miles south). This is the single version, with production and horns that sound dated- but the song is divine.

Walk Out To Winter

Just Like Gold

In 1981 Aztec Camera released two 7″ singles on Postcard Records- Just Like Gold and Mattress Of Wire. Roddy Frame has said since that they will never be re-released in any other format, no re-issues, no cd compilations, no boxed sets. I respect the purity of that, the sense of these are two time capsules locked into the when they were made and that the way to experience them is in the form they were put out. The downside of this is that they are somewhat expensive to buy second hand. The four songs across the four sides of vinyl are magical and even more so when you consider they were written by a teenager. To post an mp3 of them is defeating the purity of Roddy’s vision but also a little inevitable.

Just Like Gold

And this is a live recording from 1983 Aztec Camera gig in Hamburg, Germany, a cover of The Clash’s Garageland. Free download too. Loads more Aztec Camera rarities here.

For A Life That’s Fit For Living

Good morning Britain.

This 1990 Aztec Camera single is a real favourite of mine. Roddy wrote this state of the union address and realised it sounded so much like a Big Audio Dynamite tune that it would be rude not to ask Mick Jones to join him. This mix from the single isn’t too different from the original version, adding some strings.

Good Morning Britain (Julian Mendelson remix)

Norman Cook did a mix which reconstructed it a little and added a touch of 808. It could be described as polite acid (but could have gone so much further).

Good Morning Britain (Morning Acid Remix)

The main message of the chorus, after four verses dissecting each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, seems just as relevant today as it did twenty four years ago…

‘The past is steeped in shame
But tomorrow’s fair game
For a life that’s fit for living
Good morning Britain’

Say no to Farage and the small minded Little Englanders. Vote Frame and Jones.

The video is a real period piece.

The Spirit Shows

August 1981, a young Roddy Frame leads Aztec Camera to De Villes nightclub in Manchester, just off Albert Square. They play The Spirit Shows, Just Like Gold and Remember The Docks and someone has uploaded a recording to Soundcloud. De Villes was the first nightclub I ever went to (not this night I must add, I was only eleven in 1981). De Villes must have had a slack door policy back in the mid 80s as there’s no way I looked 18, I barely looked 16. I drank a bit, danced (after a fashion) with my mates and got off with a girl in fishnets. It’s funny, the things that stick with you.

I’m off on my youngest brother’s stag do, a day and evening in Liverpool. Nothing too wild, a few beers, late train home. Someone’s threatened a Beatles tribute band at The Cavern. Wish me luck.

I See You Crying And I Want To Kill Your Friends

There aren’t many days that can’t be immediately improved by a spinning of Aztec Camera’s 1983 single Oblivious. Brilliant tune, sprightly guitar playing, cracking lyric, and written, recorded and released when Roddy Frame was twelve years old or something. When Rough Trade put this out it just missed out on the  top 40. When WEA re-released it was a hit. Bloody majors with their big budgets.

Oblivious

Killermont Street


A short ride on the top deck back to Tuesday’s postee Mr Roddy Frame, who ditched the lovestruckness of many of his songs on Killermont Street, realism over romanticism. Killermont Street was on 1988’s glossed up Love but this version is Roddy solo, live with acoustic guitar and piano.

‘Whisky words tumble down in the street with the pain that they cure
Sentimentally yours from Killermont Street’
‘We can get there by bus
From Killermont Street’