Yeah, OK, so the title’s a bit of a cheesey take on a Quincy Jones album title – I was about 18 when I heard it, and it broadened my musical mind greatly.
Anyway, I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been busy. I’ve been that stupid kind of busy where you just get your head down and keep going until you die. Lots of “working class”* people do it. They do it from the age of about 16 to the age of about 65 and then they just drop dead. I’m not being flippant. My Grandfather did it (seriously must find an atheist equivalent of “god rest his soul”). I’m just not going to do it myself, which is why I’ve stopped doing it for a few minutes (actually, I’ve officially got a few days off!) in order to write this stuff.
The other reason I’ve started writing this stuff again is because of what’s happened to a mate of mine. His name is Pete Faint, he’s a lovely man, a fantastic productive musician who has provided work for countless other musicians, he is lovely to his wife, his family, and his many friends, and he writes a blog which entertains me on a daily basis. You can find it here. It’s a bloody good read, and says a lot of what I think about life, apart from “why can’t people walk on escalators and travelators”, and “who buys all this shit”. I might do a “who buys all this shit” blog one day, but I have to spend more time in Dubai to work that one out. They buy a lot of shit here
Anyway, Pete got attacked: He’s a self employed musician who also works as a lecturer in a university. He didn’t strike on Nov 30th with all the other people who struck (or striked or were stricken, who knows?), as he has no pension, and like many other musos in education isn’t really part of “the system”.
As an aside, there is a parallel to this in Dubai (which is a very British place – the electrical plugs are a big mix of UK 3-pins, various 2-pins, and even those strange American things with the funny angled pins – I bought a multi power adapter thing today from which I could run a UN conference, no problem, but this parenthesis is finished) in that music teachers over here, while being entitled to a visa and health insurance (compulsory under government rules) have no other rights to anything else, holiday pay, etc. As it happens, we don’t complain. We do some gigs to make some more money, and we get on with life. If we were to become thoroughly unemployed we would have to leave the country. Most of us would find a way of being employed (if we could) because we like it here. I’m not stupid, I’m hedging my bets and paying my stamp, as the core of the UK system is (as it stands) a good one in my opinion.
It’s a very brutal system here, but it reflects the reality of the world, as it is in late 2011. On a daily basis I talk to good people from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, The Philippines etc., who earn a lot less than I do (and I earn a lot less than most of the parents whose kids I teach and the people who I play music for), but we’re mostly cool with each other: because this is a good enough life and we want to be here and we’re all trying to make life better for ourselves and our loved ones and we understand how life is in 2011. I dearly hope that places like Dubai can be part of a global movement that gets us all talking so the human race can sort out some of its difficulties, but I’m slightly too old and ill-educated to take that one on.
Which brings me back to a couple of paragraphs ago. Remember? My mate Pete was called a “Scab”, and hunted down (in a stupid internetty kind of way), and basically slagged off a lot for going to work when some other people didn’t. They didn’t go to work because their pensions were being messed about with. Pete had no pension to be messed about with, no union membership, so no gripe. Fair enough.
You can read Pete’s eloquent thoughts about it (and a thought of mine) here. The reason I mention it is that Pete’s blog is very entertaining, brings a lot of joy to a lot of people, of all political persuasions, including left-wing people such as myself. So leave him alone. Come and have a go at me. I live in Dubai, in the UAE, built on oil wealth, a muslim country where men and women have very different rights; actually, in practice, women are generally treated incredibly well, but it depends where you come from, oh shit, that means it’s racist, which it bloody well is, I hate that, but then I hate that when I’m back at home buying clothes and electrical goods and pretty much everything from the same people that Dubai treats like crap. Oh, and a lot of our (UK) entertainment/advertising is run by Saudi Arabia (not to mention the real stuff like money and oil) and you know what they’re like!
That last bit was deliberately a bit confused and inarticulate to try and demonstrate how complex the world’s problems are. To quote from Pete’s blog (quoting Mhairi on her blog and me on facebook – complicated but academically accurate):
[Mhairi Blog] “The majority of those on strike were low paid female workers”.
[Me on FB] Well, I would imagine that the majority of those on strike were white Caucasians, but if she’d have mentioned that then lots of people would have (quite rightly) jumped on her for having a racist chip on her shoulder. So Mhairi clearly has gender prejudice issues and, given that she’s not in any position of power, should be ignored like all the other idiots.
I apologise for the “idiots” bit, but in the context of the title and essence of Pete’s blog, it makes sense. Actually, I don’t apologise for it at all. Anyway, Mhairi Googleablename and @COMBATSCABS on twitter, I’ve mentioned you now, you can Google me, find me, and hunt me down. I really don’t care: I, like Pete, write a peace-loving blog (albeit with a couple of vexations about trivial annoyances) and, unlike Pete, nobody reads it. So slag me off, get my stats up, and keep your bigoted hatred away from Pete’s very entertaining blog. Also, unlike Pete, I’m three and a half thousand miles away from you, so I care about what you say less than Rupert Murdoch or the boss of Clearchannel does. I hope that’s increased your sense of New-World-Order-Paranoia, by the way
While that was all a bit sarcastic (but I enjoyed it), to move things on, I strongly suggest that Pete’s attackers read Susan Strongitharm’s post on Pete’s blog here. There are bigger fish to fry than Pete (or me now!).
On a more trivial and pleasant note, for anyone who’s interested in what I’ve been doing: I’ve been teaching a lot, learned a load of new songs, done some gigs in some interesting places with shiny stuff and big fish tanks and posh toilets (“bathrooms”, always “bathrooms”), and memorised all 28 stations on the metro red line (sad), and am cooking christmas dinner for good friends. Julia is very well and very busy, I’m very proud of everything she has achieved here, including getting me out of a stupid rut
I wish all good people lots of love, and a happy fruitful peaceful life. (Mmmm fruit…!)
*I put the term “working class” in inverted commas, not to be disrespectful, as you will have seen from this blog. You know what I mean. And if you don’t, I don’t care: I’m three and a half thousand miles away from you