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Made in Shoreditch

I also contribute a weekly column to Made in Shoreditch magazine called 'Old East End/New East End', where I look at the relationship between the East End of old and new, looking at the changes and the stalwarts in landscape, residents and culture, focussing on one street or district each week. You can find it here.

A Note on Re-imagining The City

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Radio 4's Re-imagining the City series, which climaxed on Saturday, was a triumph. In four episodes the series took you through New Orleans, Dublin, Istanbul and Coventry with Nik Cohn, Joseph O' Connor, Elif Shafak and Pauline Black respectively narrating the journeys of their inhabited cities.

The thing that stuck out for me, maybe obviously, was the musical landscape described by each narrator. From Nik Cohn's picture of New Orleans jazz to O' Connor's infatuation with Phil Lynott and from the great calls to prayer in Istanbul which Shafak describes, to Pauline Black's (of The Selecter) ode to Coventry 2-Tone, I felt I had bounced through soundscapes that painted great sonic murals of their native cities.

New Orleans

I was particularly taken with Nik Cohn's musical celebration of New Orleans. Of course it was jazz-heavy - it's New Orleans! - but there was a fascinating description of modern hip-hop block parties in the city too, and every so often a snippet of Mystikal's 'Danger' would creep in, letting us know that it's not just Jelly Roll in The Big Easy. The 1920s left their stain, but haven't stifled everything since. New Orleans has a magic about it undoubtedly. Having never been myself (this I will most definitely put right), I've always thought of it as some kind of cultural Mecca - those great characterisations Kerouac managed to conjure up in On the Road and the thought of being technically under the water whilst taking in some hot jazz and ragtime lend it a romantic appeal which is completely unique.

Mystikal - Danger

But don't let that stop you from trying to catch any of the other episodes. Each one has its charms and each one gives a great insight into these places and their music. Pauline Black's comment on Coventry, for instance, made me realise how much I missed while I was working there a few years ago and Elif Shafak's look at Istanbul has made me look at flights there as I'd love to experience just a smidgen of what she does every day. Joseph O' Connor's musings on Dublin and its place in the world are superb and I may also look to get over there pretty soon for a weekend as I've not visited Dublin - and now feel it is imperative that I do.

The series was an inspiring, intriguing look at four cities whose qualities are maybe not always as fore-fronted in the mainstream media as, say, New York or London and if it is at all possible to catch the first 3 anywhere, then do so (iPlayer stops access after 7 days). You can catch the final one on Coventry here.

'arry's Giving 'em 'ell

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Prince Harry has killed an Afghan while on duty for the British Army. I'm sure everybody is completely shocked by this astounding revelation - a British soldier has killed an Afghan on his/her own soil. Crazy.

Now I'm sure that a few Daily Mail readers are absolutely aghast at the thought that cheeky, lovable Hazza has been causing havoc in Helmand Province (or wherever he's stationed), but really he's just doing what his job remit requires of him. I'm sure that many, many more anti-war demonstrators are disgusted with his comments such as "if there's (sic) people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game I suppose". If we look at this objectively, however, then surely we can see that this is rather typical squaddie bravado about being on the front line.

Fuck yeah!

In any case, I kind of admire Harry. It may not be a popular opinion, but face it, he's a member of the British Royal Family who believes in the idea of 'the nation', and has gone on what he feels is a mission to defend it. I've toiled long and hard over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, feeling sometimes opposed to them and sometimes for them, and I've come to a point of almost indifference. My apathy may well frustrate some, but the point really is that if the coalition forces of the US and the UK want to go steaming into a country and invade it, there really is very little that we, the people, can do about it unfortunately. I'll argue this point further in a moment, but firstly let's look at the facts.

Saddam Hussein was a vile dictatorial despot who was committing genocide on his own people. The Taliban were a militant group of tribal animals killing anybody in their way who did not agree with their Islamist stance. That the British and the Americans (and associated others in the West) went into these places and ousted these regimes (in Saddam's case at the second time of asking due to some rather dodgy weapons deals) has done some good. The killing of innocent civilians, the harrowing scenes of, as Outkast put it, "bombs over Baghdad" and the near Vietnam style war of attrition which has played out now in Afghanistan for over a decade, seemingly just to keep it going, are utterly wrong. I will conceded this and, indeed, wholeheartedly agree with it. The reasons behind going in may well have been somewhat ropey, yes. However, Saddam is no longer persecuting the Kurds on a whim and the Taliban are reeking far less hell on innocent Afghans through piety and misreading of religious scripture (surely the most flawed form of doctrine).

Outkast - BOB

The reason I'm at the point of indifference, though, is purely because while our leaders profess to be liberating people from dictatorship, as far as I can see we have no real democracy of our own in the West. In America, one has two parties to choose from (yes you can vote for an independent if you live there, but the futility of doing so I hope I need not explain). In the UK we have three parties, although really it is two (given that the last solely Liberal government got in almost 100 years ago). In fact, it seems in Britain that more and more hung parliaments will arise and the Lib Dems - or, rather scarily, UKIP - may have more of a say in who gets in, but they will mainly be choosing which one of the big two gets in and elects a Prime Minister. Our missions are supposedly freeing the people and giving them the right to vote for their leaders. This, I fear though is pointless, or at least if they follow the Western model.

In the UK we have a monarchy. Granted, it is a parliamentary country in which voters choose their leaders (although do you choose who is going to lead the party you would like to vote for?), but nonetheless we have a monarchy. It seems a tad strange to me that a country in which the democratic process is so controlled, leaving its voter with two real, viable options and which also then has a hierarchical family upon which we must all look up to should be trying to liberate anybody other than ourselves, but if it is a good cause, I'll throw my hat in and back it as far as I can - after all, Thatcher, Blair, Major and Cameron have all had their downfalls, but have never committed genocide on our soil.

David Lloyd George - the last Liberal Prime Minister, who got into the hot seat in 1916. He did some decent stuff for the poor.

That a member of that very monarchy is willing to risk his life for his belief in our semi-autocratic, church-bound system is actually quite refreshing. I do not remember Tony Blair ever offering to strap up and hit the trenches. I'm not condoning violence or oppression. Far from it. But if Harry believes in it and espouses the rhetoric, then the fact that he's out there defending it has an admirable quality which is missing elsewhere in Westminster and Windsor (note: I'm not saying pack the Queen off, I realise that she's in her eighties, just send some of those greasy hangers-on, maybe).

In any case, getting our backs up won't do a damn thing. I watched a video on TED the other day about this rather inspirational Israeli guy. He was giving a talk on this project whereby he sent messages to Iranians saying things like "We won't bomb your country, we love you" via Facebook and they were replying and this whole online community has been forged out of normal Iranians and Israelis who are for peace. I think this is a far better way of going about lobbying for peace - you cut out government and all of those egos and the people themselves just say to one another "look, we have our differences, yes, but I don't want you killed in my country's name, just as much as you don't want the inverse".

You never know, it could work...

What I propose, then, is that anybody reading this from the West - be it the US, UK or more unlikely somewhere like Australia, Germany France, wherever, simply adds one Afghan friend on Facebook and one Iraqi friend on Facebook (send them a message beforehand if possible just outlining why you are adding them) to show that it's not us, it's the wankers that govern us, that we unfortunately vote in because we have no other real choice. Just like them.

5 of the Best: Mali

Monday, 21 January 2013

As the hellish scenes of armed French intervention in Mali are still fresh in the mind, I feel moved to pay a small tribute to the great music of the troubled African state. Here, then, are 5 of the best from Mali.

Vieux Farka Toure - 'Fafa': From the first note of guitar mastery from 'The Hendrix of the Saraha' on this one, I challenge anybody to not be moved and quickly converted to wanting to know more about this great man's music. Ali's son is seemingly singing "Papa" against wailing screams and tears emanating from his guitar and larynx in unison, however, my cretinous brain could well be thinking that 'Fafa' must mean 'Papa' or 'Father' in Toure's native tongue when it means nothing of the sort. If this is true, then I apologise for my idiocy. I really hope this is an ode to Ali though, as a more touching one would be hard to find (though maybe Vieux's 'Ali' could do the job).

Vieux Farka Toure - 'Fafa'

Amadou & Mariam - 'M'Bifa': The pungent, off-beat stomp of the bass against the unholy soar of the immediately alien sounding (to western ears) vocal booms smack the listener straight in the face on this, the first track on Diamanche a Bamako, while dumbfounding anybody within ear's reach. The effect is such that it pulls you towards the rest of the album, instantly leaving you wanting more. A similar trick to The Clash kicking off Give 'em Enough Rope with 'Safe European Home'.

Tinariwen - 'Tenhert (The Doe)': The Touareg outfit's Led Zeppelin meets Arabic rap slant on this track was the first I'd ever heard of them after a few ringing endorsements in the music press. The result was such that I am now a fully-fledged fan in every sense. No superlative quite matches up to describing just how good Tinariwen are and this song is a fine example of their virtuosity as musicians.

Tinariwen - 'Tenhert (The Doe)'

Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate - 'Kala': Bringing together two legends of what is rather lazily termed  'world music', this song, and its parent album In the Heart of the Moon showcase both Ali and Toumani's talents and, quite frankly, nothing I can say here will do it justice. "Ah, but that's the point of you writing this isn't it?" I hear you say. Well, yes, but sometimes it's just better to point one's audience to brilliance instead of verbosely describing it. Just listen.

Ali Farka Toure - 'Dofana': One of the legendary blues man's songs was titled 'Ali's Here'. Grimly, he isn't. One of the finest blues guitarists to have ever picked up an axe, Ali Farka Toure left a legacy in Malian music akin to that of Dylan in American music or The Beatles in English music. This song, from The Source, has all of the offbeat, chant-like qualities I have come to love from his music. To be honest, this whole list could be made up of songs from The Source, such is the quality of the record. Transcendental, weirdly spiritual blues which once heard will stay with you.

Ali Farka Toure

The Top Dog Has Had Its Day

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

With HMV entering administration, many have cried out in a whim of desperation. Is nowhere safe? Well, kind of not, but that's capitalism right? This sense that it's a great shame and a loss to high street, to my mind, however, is rather deluded and misplaced.

The top dog has been knocked off its perch. Now it would seem HMV is consigned to join other high street retailers such as its former rivals Zavvi and Woolworths and we're all supposed to be sad about it. But HMV basically got what was coming to it. After near killing independent record stores, retailers such as HMV, Our Price and Virgin Megastore enjoyed huge success throughout the '80s and '90s when overpriced CDs were the norm and mass sales and what Garry Mulholland excellently describes as the "Warholian nightmare of art as marketing" ran amok (across the '90s in particular, where the coveted number 1 spot on the singles chart was filled each week by a different entrant - much to the delight of the major record companies, themselves now falling victim to the new era in music).

The Top Dog

So all of those minor, independent retailers in towns and cities across the UK closed their doors, teary eyed at the loss of their livelihood while HMV recorded record profits and ushered in new media forms such as Mini Disc, DVD and Blue-Ray onto their shelves throughout its later life and tape and CD in its earlier life. HMV (and associated others), however, never quite cottoned on to the most profitable form of new media until it was too late. Digital music and video (MP3 and MP4 etc.) stored onto computer memory and latterly in cyberspace would see to the demise of high street chain stores in a way akin to how they had killed the local record store originally - which is, interestingly enough, doing better these days than it has in years. The MP3 became the new CD and iTunes became the new HMV. Equally, ready to kill off the old HMV, by selling the media it did at a cheaper price, were the likes of Amazon, whose inexpensive rented warehouses in the sticks would house their shipping led-businesses to record extremely high margins. Meanwhile HMV sat there on the high street, lying in wait, paying a large lease fee for the pleasure and selling next to nothing in relation.

Still, I may get some bargains this weekend

But HMV's bosses didn't give a damn when they were wiping out record stores. Remember that. In fact they courted it and everybody sat around rather unworried by the whole affair. In some kind of microcosmic representation of the western world outside it, HMV bullied its way around and was deemed too big to fail (if one cannot see the comparison to be made with Lehman Brothers or even the USA itself here, then one should open one's eyes).

It seems as if the zeitgeist now is to accept the mega brand as the norm and to see a bunch of small, relatively equal retailers competing with each other as arcane and dead. It's a funny view on capitalism to have, to see this even as capitalism. Surely all of that free enterprise and varied choice, a true market, if you will, is the capitalist way. Surely, having just one large, overbearing oligopoly owning the high street in its particular niche is as anti-capitalist as one big dictatorial leader ordering subjects to do as told.

Reel Big Fish - Sell Out. Seems apt.

We should surely applaud of the demise of HMV then. We who became so attached to a dog and a phonograph - while the owners got fat and overcharged us for so long - should be glad to be rid of this autocratic despot of record and video sales on the high street. Consumer power won again, right? Well, not when we consider that now the bully boys are Amazon and iTunes and there is little we can do to stop them from doing what they want (think corporate tax payments in Britain).

As one clever Palestinian once called his people "the victims of the victims", so now can those giants such as Amazon and iTunes call themselves 'the killers of the killers'. We can all sit back downloading for free or as close to as possible, while HMV dissapears (which, as history shows us, it is now quite likely to do). I should try and cash my HMV card reward points in if I can (such hypocrisy).

Ah, Excess

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The obvious by-product of abundance is excess. Us Brits, we seem to love it. I dare say I'm no exception to this in respects. However, our excessive consumption knows no bounds and we've reached a point of such late Roman proportions that I think we might be at breaking point. The good news is it makes for fucking hilarious viewing.

Tricky - Excess

A spate of lads'/birds' holiday shows have been on our TV screens recently, with tonight bringing us Channel 4's What Happens in Kavos... - clearly Channel 4 couldn't wait to get in on the schlocky action provided by BBC 3's Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and ITV's Magaluf Weekender. These shows highlight the gratuitous galavanting our late teens love to practice during the summer and set out to shock a middle class, middle aged stream of parents who seem happy to constantly parade their disgust at such matters. Indeed, the wasteful, nihilistic behaviour of these young boys and girls is really quite shocking (though, only about 6 or 7 years ago I'd have been there myself I must concede), but, quite frankly, these fleeting moments in the sun before they head off to Uni or the production line (or wherever kids go when the fees are too high and there are no jobs available) are quite understandable really. They go off and let off some steam for a week or two amongst some like-minded folk in the sun, safe in the knowledge that they're due to be headed back to 'Broken Britain' at the end of it all. Excessive drinking, fucking and vomiting ensues and they come back to Mum and Dad fully knackered. Job done.

Following the herd down to Greece

The actions of those pseudo bourgeois parents of theirs, however, are rather more inexcusable and downright unexplainable. Will Self's wonderful 10 min tirade at the actions of folk whose sole purpose these days is so sonorously to consume mass amounts of poncy nosh highlighted this wonderfully on Radio 4 the other night. His A Point of View special on what is conventionally known as 'the foodie revolution' was a tour de force in cultural comment which left me in no doubt that I utterly agree with Mr. Self. Curtness was not the tone of the day (and why would it be with such a doyenne of wordsmithery?) as Self ran through all of the problems with this fat, feckless attitude towards sustainability and cultural capital. A clever line about how middle class aspirations are now seemingly more achievable through Dorset Vinny instead of Warwickshire Shakespeare, which I cannot now fully recall to quote, stuck out particularly and, at the risk of turning this into a televisual polemic, it is really Channel 4 and the like who are pushing this agenda. Indeed, as those parents sit around disgusted by the ludicrous habits of their excessive spawn, as they mull over why young Jack and Sarah cannot resist going so wild with their booze, they guzzle Pinot Noir and chomp on over-sized portions of baked Camembert with aplomb without a thought for the waste or the health problems this may cause. Like some truly crazed bunch of addicts, they cannot resist discussing the merits of grilled figs and rare steaks and potatoes dauphinoise as they watch Jamie do it all in half an hour and the truly ridiculous Heston Blumenthal make chemistry cocktails out of cockles and cheese.

The respectable face of uber consumption - sole fillets

Consumption is a monster, however, those who practice it in its ugliest form seem to be overrun with disgust that their kids have no control either. The hypocrisy is leaden by its own weight and in any case, they raised them. Seemingly, though, we will not get past this until the major television companies stop exploiting all of the facets of excess for entertainment, which probably means we will not get past this. May as well just sit back and enjoy the show.

5 of the Best: 2012

Monday, 7 January 2013

As a final note on last year I've decided to throw together what I think were 5 of the best songs released. 2012 was indeed a rich musical year and I believe you'll see that reflected here - or you'll see how truly weak I am for a hook that stays in your head.

Gotye ft. Kimbra - Somebody that I Used to Know: Elegantly simple, stupidly catchy and sung with a passionate vocal timbre unheard since Sting was screaming that he was "so lonely", this song was probably the song of 2012 in terms of impact. It was also nice to see a well constructed pop song at the top of the charts for once. I wonder if Gotye will just be a one hit wonder though...

Grizzly Bear - Yet Again: This is probably my personal favourite of 2012. Wonderfully reverb-affected guitar tones, simply hit, full barre chords with a divinely stylised pop vocal melody - for me this is the best track off of Shields, which is no mean feat as it is a fine album.

Grizzly Bear - Yet Again

Grimes - Oblivion: Grimes's blend of breathy, high-pitched vocals vs. simple beats and synth works to such effect that it would not be over zealous to compare her to Hounds of Love era Kate Bush. Beautiful art pop and this song maybe best showcases her talents.

Plan B - Ill Manors: Ben Drew's polemical breakdown does more to address the state of the nation and the snobbery of the right wing media in modern day Britain in around four minutes than any pathetic governmental olive branches could. Leaving the Coalition with yet more questions to answer, the song is an aggro-filled whirlwind of 'chip-on-the-shoulder' outrage. Mainstream British hip-hop would be in a horrible state without him.

Plan B - Ill Manors

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe: I probably shouldn't admit this, but I do like this song. Or, rather, it's not that I particularly like it, but that I can seemingly never get it out of my bloody head! Therefore it's earned its inclusion.

Music in Review: Eminem - Early Period

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Eminem's first three albums (I am not counting Infinite on here due to its minuscule success, impact and bearing on the Eminem story), upon which my main focus will be planted for this post, are truly up there with the finest ever to be released and sold as 'hip-hop' albums. From his controversial, vulgar and heretic beginnings on The Slim Shady LP through to the grown-up angst vs. school boy vernacular of The Marshall Mathers LP up to the fully-realised, politicised and at points idealised wonder of The Eminem Show, I intend to look at the journey made in the late '90s and early '00s by one of the period's only real mainstream stars to do what all 'yoof' icons should do: scare the shit out of parents.

First Run - On the early singles and first album Eminem pushed his nihilistic rhetoric to the fore. Constant cursing and fore-fronting filthy themes, even playing the bad cop to Dr. Dre's (yes, Dr. bloody Dre) good cop on 'Guilty Conscience', Eminem was seemingly trying to make all of those controversial icons before him, such as Alice Cooper, Johnny Rotten and Keith Richards, seem like The Osmonds. Mindless homophobia and sexism pervades the whole period and was, to some, its root problem. I, however, think that there were three rather deliberate reasons that Eminem went down this route.

The highly controversial Slim Shady LP cover

The first is obvious, in that he had a deliberate plan to be as bathed in taboo as humanly possible, but was also in the rap game and therefore could not dare go down the race route - leaving two other vanguard cultural taboos. The second reason I feel Eminem pushed the homophobic/sexist agenda was that it made business sense: controversy sells and, as a poor kid from Detroit, money was no doubt a driving force behind launching his career in such a way. The third reason is slightly less black and white, if you'll excuse a rather crude pun on my earlier point. Eminem, to me, of all of the rap stars of his time, had the most intellectual awareness. In relaying this misdirected anger to his audience, he was rather cleverly relaying the thoughts of many bored, disaffected youths in the age of hyper-consumerism and displaying the way in which they frivolously projected their own anger and despair onto any weaker outlet (as adolescents pretty much always have done and always will do). This zeitgeisty approach in turn ignited the perfect response in the older generation - the free love hippies of the baby boomer generation - in that it caused them to stir and try to condescendingly 'protect' their children from this menace in much the same way their parents had to them when Hendrix, Jagger and Lennon were trying to 'corrupt' them (Anthony Bozza's Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem argues this point with more virulence and in more depth than I have the capacity or wont to here).

Throughout his early run Eminem was vilified and made into the satanic monster he had arguably clearly wanted to be, but would strike back at his adversaries in the most eloquent, sardonic and aggressive of fashions.

Guilty Conscience 

The Tricky 2nd Album - Not so it would seem for Slim Shady (his creative death would come later, particularly on Encore, a rather shoddy attempt at Beastie Boys-esque frat rap). The Marshall Mathers LP is, to my mind, as good a hip-hop album as there has ever been. At times a passionate plea and cutting comment on the nature of celebrity ('Stan', 'The Way I Am'), at others a humorous, drug-fuelled social parody of the late '90s ('Drug Ballad', 'The Real Slim Shady') and at others just straight hip-hop 'bangers' with more balls than a billiards table ('Bitch Please II', 'Who Knew?'), The Marshall Mathers LP shifts and shudders around through various shocking skits and utter rhythmic and lyrical realisation.

During this period, the whole Aftermath stable of rappers and producers were enjoying a high old time both creatively and commercially. Dr Dre's collaboration-heavy 2001 was a worldwide smash hit and a fine album, Xzibit burst onto the scene as a new and exciting force with his unrelentingly catchy lead single 'X' and Snoop Dogg was seemingly ubiquitous with an array of guest spots and hits of his own - his star will seemingly never fade. Eminem had reached what may now be looked back upon as his zenith. Unbeknownst to most at the time, between here and 2003 would be Eminem's magnum opus. He was startlingly churning out groundbreaking material a la The Beatles during the time of Revolver and Sgt Pepper's... and never again would things get so good after one last wonderful triumph...

The Marshall Mathers LP

The 3rd Way - On 2002's The Eminem Show (seemingly, during this first period of Em's musical career, an album which didn't reference him or his persona didn't exist), Eminem went to town like never before. Devoting a whole song to berating his mother (and, beyond her, pious, middle class American soccer mom's everywhere) on 'Cleaning Out My Closet', letting rip on the state of American politics post-9/11 in a polemical fashion ('Square Dance') and going to town, back-to-back, with his compadre (another crappy pun for you) on most of their nemeses ('Say What You Say'), made The Eminem Show that man's most personal and introspective work to date. The sheer awe-striking lyrical dexterity throughout the album is something to behold in itself, but is best displayed in a microcosmic format on the incomparable 'Say Goodbye Hollywood' - a song of such power and resonance that it may well be his finest comment on the idiocy of believing in celebrity culture (there are quite a few), all the while referencing Billy Joel. (Indeed, the classic rock reference points do not stop there, with 'Sing For the Moment' sampling Aerosmith's classic 'Dream On' and 'Till I Collapse' sampling 'We Will Rock You' by Queen). As it was, The Eminem Show was also the album that won Eminem critical applause aplenty. That older generation that had seen him as a menace and a punk suddenly seemed to be gushing over him, the irony of which was no doubt not lost on him.

Say Goodbye Hollywood

All in all, the first 3 albums and run of singles from Eminem's career between 1999 and 2003 can be considered among, if not as the greatest ever achieved by anybody in hip-hop. That his more recent output is sketchier and not as consistent is by-the-by when one considers the magnitude, scope and genius of his work during this period.

2012 - So that's that out of the way

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Here it is... a banal recap of the year just gone - Wiggo, Ennis, Osborne, Boris and Woy. And in music The XX released the follow up to their Mercury prize winning debut, Emeli Sande broke onto the scene and the Justice for the 96 campaign was Christmas Number 1. In literature we had the fervour of Fifty Shades and, in turn, millions of Random House copycats like whatever Silvia Day decided to put out. In film we had a fantastic new Bond and the adaptation of Les Mis. In television we saw the final nail in the X Factor coffin. Right, that's that then. Now for some real comment.

Firstly, 2012 was the year when everybody lost their mind in grotesque over celebration and flag waving. In the same year that it was called to pass that a referendum would eventually take place on splitting the Union, ironically everybody went nuts for waving the flag of that very alliance. The Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics provided a platform upon which the nation could zealously scream "we're proud" in an almost imperial fashion. The most ridiculous thing about the whole charade was the masses of nutters getting pissed on, watching an elderly pair of toffs have exactly the same happen to them on a quite ludicrous boat on the Thames. Me, I watched it scornfully from the pub, moaning about the cost to the taxpayer.

Just look at them

Another ridiculous national trait this year was in some ways related to the abovementioned. It came out of the moronic wish that football fans and players would behave like their Olympic counterpartts. It really is like comparing bollocks to mud - they are two totally different beasts. The Olympics is an event which comes around every four years and roughly once every blue moon to the same city and is filled with audiences who really do not have the first clue about what they are watching other than that they want their home country to win. By contrast, football is on throughout about 10 months of the year every year with a fan base that watches it religiously, knows each player and is, on average, pretty clued up about how the game works. Add to that the fact that the fans on the terraces spend a good deal of their hard-earned cash on going to watch their beloved sides one day a weekend and possibly a midweek evening and the passion, the tribalism and the hysteria are only multiplied. It won't be all dandy smiles and kids singing along - as Bill Shankly once said "some people think that football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it's much more important than that".

Tame Impala - Elephant (on Jools Holland)

2012 was also the year, however, that the music industry hype machine slowed down somewhat and, alas, some great records came out off of the back of it. Tame Impala, Yeasayer and, as mentioned, The XX released fine albums with Lonerism, Fragrant World and Coexist respectively. Tame Impala particularly could have been destroyed by the frantic 'buzz' that bags on a new band, beseeching them to be heroes of their generation, however, a steady rise and a sonically intriguing/radio friendly single such as 'Elephant' gave them a platform from which to become something more than could have been maybe had they exploded between the years 2001 - 2011.

2012 was a daft year really. The Rolling Stones turned 50 and had punters paying through their noses for the pleasure, the Olympics turned the UK into a nation of stirring sycophants and for once nobody believed England could win a major tournament (low and behold they didn't). Gone was our usual grump - replaced by the inverse. No doubt 2013 will restore the balance what with the onset of more economic trouble, possible Syria intervention, the possibility of the war to end all wars if Iran and Israel kick off and no "great summer of sport" keeping everybody's eyes away from the real issues. I'm going to make sure I read some of the acclaimed novels of 2012 that I didn't get round to perusing (namely Will Self's Umbrella and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall) follow up and watch The Bourne Legacy (again, I didn't get round to this in 2012) and keep enjoying some of the wonderful sounds of 2012 (aforementioned). Behind me I shall put the nauseating flag waving and pageantry and Wiggo - everybody's new favourite mod. I cannot stand the milking poser personally.