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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.

The Nationalism of the Losing Nation

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Ah, St. Patrick's Day. Green shirts everywhere and the overriding stench of Guinness, sweat and the craic. It's pretty much the Hibernian version of "rum, sodomy and the lash" I suppose - maybe the wittiest quotation attributed to Winston Churchill, of which there are many . Anyway, it's a day for fervent flag waving, ritual singing and abuse of the liver reaching caustic levels. So, then, as I strolled through Clapham Junction on Sunday, it was to be that I was confronted by all manner of proud Irish men and women bumping into me and shouting at one another though clearly stood next to each other.

St. Patrick's Day is one of those celebrations with a certain charm about it, or so everybody tells me anyway,  and not just a party for a nation, but for every Western nation, probably due to Ireland's main export seemingly being its own people. So it's a carnival, a delirious festival of green, white and gold for all to enjoy, then? Well, not really. It's basically a pious national day of pride which has become a hedonistic display of its people living up to every debauched stereotype about them - feckless, pissed nuisances and that sort of thing - in some kind of whim of identity politics.

An Irish patriot in Liverpool

Anyway, if another nation, say England, did the same thing, it's arguable that due to its colonial past and the fact that its flag has been robbed by meat-headed Nazi sympathisers as a beacon of the innate superiority of the "bulldog spirit" (or whatever other cliche those types may wish to use) over all other forms of national defence, that it would be perceived as a  horrific, nationalistic display of Mussolinian proportions.

What, then, is St. Patrick's Day? Surely it's a nationalistic display of passionate, built-in feelings of the greatness of the Irish ergo the all day piss up and screaming of 'The Fields of Athenry' in the street in amongst the vomit and urine squelching underfoot. Why is it held up as such a cause of reverence and celebration then? One could contend that the answer lies in Ireland's history and its place as the victim at the hands of the English.

In the 'spirit of the underdog sense', Ireland as a nation seems to cause a wave of unilateral applause and fervour. Much like the idea of being Jamaican, the idea of being Irish has a special place in the hearts of many whose sole links to Ireland are through their grandparents or people even further back in their ancestry. Within this, it seems, everybody is expected to laugh and celebrate St. Patrick's Day as well, instead of standing back from it and all of its nasty connotations - namely those which tie any one person to a feeling of superiority due to a tenuous link to a bit of land somewhere.

Oh dear

That said, all of the Guinness and Jameson's bought over the weekend probably gave the economy a bit of a boost, so it has its positives. Somewhat like Christmas it should be used as a good way for people to get together, rather than as a day with any kind of literal meaning. This article, then, shows exactly the kind of harm that the more nationalistic thoughts of people involved can cause:

Why even have or start a movement called Liverpool Irish Patriots in the first place? It's just as ridiculous as the EDL and BNP and clearly ramps up the extremism dial to 11. Such divisive groups will always cause stupid reactions from other divisive groups. It does nothing other than give credence to all of that nonsense of the 'Bulldog Brits' and the 'Plucky Paddys'.

Love watching the guards beating the english sumbags. The ones geting hit are the trouble makers. We have never played em since


Beautiful... A Youtube comment exchange on a clip of the riot in 1995 at the England v Ireland game, where England fans decided to throw various objects at Irish fans and the police.

Once again we see how religion divides us herein too, with Patrick being a patron saint of a nation. The idea of these patron saints is ridiculous - emblematic bollocks dreamed up centuries ago proven to be as much myth as anything else. What's even more ridiculous is that people today still buy into it, even with amount of information available to them.

It's St. George's Day next month, which means one thing: my Facebook and Twitter feeds will probably be filled with nonsense about Wooton fucking Bassett and how English people should be going nuts about how great this country is, but don't. Brilliant. At least there's a whole month in-between anyway.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Like a feral, rabid, uncontrollable species hellbent on permeating the human race, a craze of uber-catchy pop nasties are finding their way into our charts, bringing with them dance crazes and, shudder, that most mundane and decidedly tortuous of processes: 'office banter' (I cringe nearly as much at this term as I do when I see Micah Paris speaking about one of her new records on some sugar coated cunt fest such as The One Show on BBC1).

With all of the gimmicky, unfunny, everyone-can-laugh-at-this-as-it-appeals-to-the-lowest-common-denominator hogwash of Mr Blobby and ITV's Benidorm, these soon to be forgotten creations are inserting themselves into the orifices of the pop charts (never exactly a medium averse to infection by drivel) with unsurprising, yet nonetheless dismaying, ease.

How to look like a grade A bollock in public

No, I'm not talking about those bubblegum singalong boy/girl group numbers - they've been here for years and the odd one of those is good - or even those shoddy dance tracks made by Calvin Harris or David Guetta with Pitbull and some other jizz rag shouting incessantly over them. No, I'm talking about the viral YouTube sensation turned  pop smash. I'm talking particularly about 'Gangnam Style' and 'Harlem Shake'. Chart behemoths in their own right, having been stupid videos sent around the interweb by various pests.

It seems that it has become a given that a viral YouTube hit that has a catchy song on it and pseudo ironic dance moves will chart well. It also seems that it's a given that some fucktard will perform the moves in some piss-ridden nightclub full of 'rah' types to rapturous laughter from his ballsack friends, all the while being touted as some kind of messianic creature by various chinny strangers around him pointing, saying something like "Giles, fucking hell man, that dude over there's doing the 'Gangnam Style', what an absolute ledge, yeah" or something equally as inane and infuriating.

Humour in the digital age

There's no escape from these things. It's as if 28 Days Later is happening, only through the medium of utterly moronic sonic bollocks. The virals  are viral, but publically. What next? Where will all of this pop culture perpetuation end? Music videos of music videos? (Fuck, Blink 182, you utter twats!) Endlessly repeated monologues? (Shit, that's me... here). A popular music form devoted to being about popular music? (Bowie, you git!). My fucking head hurts. I think it's time I lay down and think nice thoughts, like picturing each one of those gimp-clad shits being force-fed ball-bearings the size of ornamental globes... up their arseholes. That's better. Now, off to YouTube. Surely there's a nice documentary about Ballard or The Crimean War or something that everybody's watching that I've not seen. Oh no. The most popular lists are full of this other inexpedient shite. Maybe I'll shove great spheres into various holes of my own. I'll kick off with a horse meatball into my gob. Everyone will be doing it soon.