TRAMLINES 2012: Urban & Free? This don’t make no tents!

Kid Acne knows where his laundry’s done!

In T-minus 2 weekends from now I will attempt to cover Sheffield’s Tramlines Free For All Multimedia Citywide Circus (mostly locally sourced live music) whereby over 800 bands/acts/group events/performances/pissed up mental tosswizards will attempt to entertain us using the almighty power of interpretive sonic frequencies & vibration.

This will be attempted in a similar vein to Hunter S. Thompson a la The Gumball 3000 Desert Rally as per his initial assignment in Fear & Loathing. The most apparent differences will of course be that I don’t smoke (from any distance away from my face), I have hair (turf on the court if you will) & although I’ll most likely be wearing a deafening Acapulco shirt & Aussie beer shorts combo I only have a toothbrush & some old chipforks in my battered leather jacket instead of mind bending psychotropic pharmaceuticals. That’s not to say these can’t be hunted down upon arrival but too many deserving bands/acts would surely have to be missed or overlooked or denied these themselves which may hinder their performance in ways unfathomable. Not to mention the fact that the dizzying array of venues and environs would render any hallucinogenics foolish and misplaced. Such is the delirious bemusement one already feels amidst all the indecisiveness of one’s most thriving habitat. There are many outdoor stages including those in parks, car parks, public gardens, a city farm at Heeley and even a ‘Rude Shipyard’ presumably with a serious case of sailor tongue or docker’s mouth.

How could I possibly know all this dear readers? For those radicalised Cosmic Funky Nuts boyos are ripping up the script with their bare groovy licks of course. Broomhill’s Nottingham ‘Notty’ House Pub, Saturday from 6pm.

In this reporter’s humble opinion, Sheffield thankfully pisses highly upwind and from an almighty height on most other major cities. It has always accommodated a buzzing art and music scene stepping proudly out of the long-drawn shadows of bland, synthetic synth-fiddling electro-pop colder than Mystic Meg’s nipple wax. I remember once trying to rework the Human League’s megahit into a more honest reflection of Yorkshire with the working title ‘Don’t You Want Me Gravy?’ All together now – “I was working as a waitress in a Carvery pub where I meat chewed…”

Extensive line-up can be ogled here:

Not sure why 65 Days of Static are headlining Nando’s New Music Stage though, they’ve been going for over 10 years. Guess it takes people who eat mechanically manufactured chicken a while longer than a nando-second to catch on…

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60 Hours In Berlin Off The Wall

I depart for my oldest mate’s stag weekend in Berlin tomorrow, or I should say at a ludi-chris time of tomorrow morning from east midlands airport – y’know the one that resembles an art gallery with all the art stolen by corporate chain stores desperately vying at eye level by trying to convince you that you’ve forgotten something of upmost importance for your holiday like a pocket teamaid or automated pillow fluffer?

Although we arrive at 10am Friday with T-minus 60 hours to be ‘Brits abroad up to no good but not quite banged up’, I arrive armed with ‘Around Berlin in 80 Beers’ written by the unfortunately named Peter Sutcliffe. It turns out that rather than being the Yorkshire Ripper allowed conditional release to undertake trans-euro express trips comparing the Deustche capital’s finest brewpubs & historic beer styles until he recalls victim’s burial sites, Peter Sutcliffe is much less dangerously an economics analyst in Whitehall (though this is an also increasingly edgy profession in Jack the ‘other’ Ripper’s former slashing grounds) who runs the Foreign Beer Bar at Battersea Beer Fest & lives in Berlin half the time.

Try to outpedal the dreaded condition known as ‘kegleg’

There is a 9 hour bar crawl included in his book which I suspect is a good 7 hours historic context & padding between bars but still, anywhere David Hasselhoff has sung about Looking for Freedom along a 155 kilometre long wall in a LED-flashing jacket is good enough for me. Typing of Herr Hasselhoff, did you know his surname translates as Hazelnut House? No, neither did he until recently according to the latest Big Issue but then he didn’t know where Austria is & his ancestors were from Bremen, the flaming ninnyhead.

To anything less than the best of Berlin’s brews I say “Spulwasser!” (“waste water”). At least this time around on a stag weekend I won’t be having to grapple with a shaved ape-cum-cold turkey junkie in an illuminous man-kini posing like Kate Winslet on a toddler’s mini go-kart outside a respectable rural family pub on the Broads (but that’s a tale for another blog entry). Partridge calls Norfolk the Provence of Britain and Berlin’s just as flat but not quite as wet with buildings even known to rise above 2 storeys!

As my dear pal Alex commented “if you mange to drink all 80 beers in 60 hours you deserve a medal, that’s roughly 1.3 beers an hour, which you’ll have to increase to approximately 2.2 an hour once you’ve factored in sleep time, but as the ancient Germanic proverb goes ‘you can sleep when you’re dead’ – so maybe it’s possible”.

I will make sure that in any tight spot I just think to myself “What would Uter Zorker, The Simpsons plump & gluttonous exchange student, say in this situation?”


Cheers to you Pete ‘I’m a drinker not a ripper’ Sutcliffe!

CAMRA Notts Mild Trail 2012; It’ll tye ye fated abdomen in Notts

Apologies again dudes & dudettes (lady dudes) as I’ve made all too little time to write lately but late getting this print to touch press as the topic upon which I write is an ‘ongoing event’ that began 2/3 weeks ago & continues until June 9th (and people wonder why we have problems with the unsustainable nature of our alcohol consumption, I mean really).

Put aside all your perceptions of CAMRA members & ale drinkers in general as besocked & sandled Good Beer Guide wielding pot-bellied liver-spotted gnomes. They can perhaps be a little too fussy, difficult to please & easy to spot (given the visual markings listed above) but they know a damn decent pint so gasp in mock awe as I present…

Phil’s Make Mild Sexy Again Campaign 2012

This coincidentally might or might not overlap almost eerily with Nottinghamshire CAMRA’s Mild Trail 2012 whereby numerous Notts boozers try to constantly stock & offer at least one type of cask conditioned mild on tap. Effectively the counterpoint to IPA or any extreme/hoppy/bitter Pale ales, Milds tend to rely heavily on different varieties of roasted malts & subsequently can pack surprising & constantly satisfying flavours into a minority of nourishing ingredients and alcohol content.

Now a lot of the problem may be explained by the fact that when I type ‘Pint of Mild’ into any nameless globe-straddling search engine, this is the first image I & thus the world view…forgetting for a moment how said search engine uses knowledge of your previous searches to personally tailor your results.

A true West Midlander of a bygone era

This may be an album cover by the band of the same name or just a stereotypical sketch which summarises the image problems such would-be-proud British beverages face after almost 25 years of lager brands marketing men’s lifestyles domineeringly enough to remain the nation’s most widely consumed beer style.

But don’t just take my word for it, hear what all the rock stars wrote & sang…

Cause I’m a Voodoo Mild, Lord knows I’m a Voodoo Mild baby” Jimi Hendrix

I can see 4 milds & milds & milds & milds etc…oh yeah” Pete Townshend (whose surname even sounds phissed)

Like a true nature’s child, we were born, born to drink MildMars Bonfire (this is a man who coined the phrase/genre ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ – gulp!)

Revivale/A New Dawn

In the misguided hope of spearheading a revival of not just more independent & micro’s brewing of Mild but gents of an unrespectable innings being seen ALONE (not some lost student on an ‘Ex-miner with dementia’ pub crawl) drinking it.

Like some unstoppable modern-day Hunter S. Thompson…of Mild, overall I amount to less than the sum of all my parties. Not a bevy to win the lasses but then when did I ever?

Honestly, the things grown men who ought to know bitter will do for stickers of acknowledgement amongst their CAMRA herded peers & possible future selves if exercise routines & blood circulation go awry eh? I’m sure many men my age would assume I actually prefer the taste of the stickers and that the halves of Mild are just a go-between. All for a free XXXL T-Shirt (after spending all known disposable income on ‘the other black stuff’ – Mild’s street name) which resembles a counterfeit Iron Maiden tour shirt from dahn market & bottles/token for EVEN MORE MILD?!

I suspect its that same collectability factor that guys always seemed to go for in one sip of a big way with football stickers, pogs, monster in my pockets, boglins, tazos (rebranded pogs), gogo’s (cutesy monsters) and so forth. Girls followed suit too I’m sure but never with the same amount of zeal in this humble scribe’s experience.

Mild hearses wouldn’t keep me away – Wahey! Here’s my list thus far;

Stratford Haven – Black Gold (Castle Rock; see other 2 offerings below)

Malt Shovel – Rock Mild (Nottingham Brewery)

The Organ Grinder – Oak-aged Guerilla Stout (Blue Monkey) 

Hand & Heart – Late in the day of my birthday session so don’t quite recall would you believe

Portland Arms – Dole-dependant haggard crones made type of mild unclear

The Gatehouse – Dark Ruby Mild (Sarah Hughes, Dudley)

The Bell Inn – Greene King Mild (Greene King, Bury St. Edmonds)

Roebuck (JD Weatherspoons) – Ruby Mild (Rudgate, York)

Roundhouse – Dark Gem (Caythorpe, Notts)

Dark with hints of chocolate balanced by a subtle hop flavour

Ropewalk – Black Tom (Springhead, Retford)

Dark & nutty with a chocolaty finish – name derived from Thomas Fairfax, a commander in chief during the English Civil War. Peace out

Sir John Borlaise Warren – Black Dragon Mild (Banks & Taylor, Dudley)

Strong & dark (just like my men) brewed with 4 types of malt (Pearl Pale, Crystal, Black & Wheat) & pronounced roast flavours.

Crown Inn – Scoundrel (Leatherbritches)

4.10 out of 5 ain’t bad by anybody’s rating system let alone somebody with the nickname Mildman

Kean’s Head – Mink Mild (Castle Rock)

See below

Those still to sip out…(Seek & Destroy)

As a leading cigarillo makers, i reckon John would’ve fancied a smoky malted mild


Along with the regular mild Black Gold (above) Castle Rock have 2 other specials;

Mink – Their 2.8% dark brown mild in conjunction with Notts Wildlife Trust. Paying less excess duty under 3% & always ensuring taste before toxicity.

John Player – CR’s other 4.2% light golden mild in the style of Timothy Taylor’s take

Magpie Brewery on Meadow Lane right near the Notts County ground will have 2 Milds on during the Mild Trail. Nottingham Brewery have gone one better with Rock Mild, Centurion (first brewed in memory of local CAMRA hero Spyke Golding during 2009) & Foundry Mild all found at The Plough in Radford. The Trent Bridge Inn rediscovering its former glories although sadly now another ‘Spoons, will be showcasing 8 UK milds at various stages over the month with Rock Mild as their mainstay.

Now citizens of Middle Earth (or The Midlands as they’re known today), add up all the number of times I’ve written Mild throughout this post, then go & drink at least triple that amount around the fine establishments of Mild Marian’s city (Nutty-ngham).

“Sod this coquettish dribble, I’d prefer a pint o’ mild”

Some useful links (which may/may not ultimately mark your dark & watery graves) – old article but still very relevant for our country’s current quandary

Money Futures

‘If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world’ J. R. R. TOLKIEN

I have been studying Permacultural Design on a Leicester-based course in monthly weekend installments moving into early summer. Our lecturer likes to view Permaculture as “not preaching but rather acting as inspiring demonstrations for future necessities”.

I found the topical issue of our current financial and subsequent economic crisis echoed across most of Europe very engrossing and therefore hoped to share/offer some possible alternatives & solutions to the ever-present climate of doom & gloom along with the sense of vulnerability & disengagement that usually follows.

Macy’d in yo face Wall Street Suckaz! Erm, or something

MONEY £$%?

Understanding the history of our current situation

Fear, misunderstanding commonplace – can easily become cynical as media/news coverage overcomplicated & shrouded by business terminology

Alienating to most, other than worry many feel no lasting difference can be made

A (very) brief history/assessment of…

Bartering suffered from lack of mobility with larger traded goods e.g. livestock

Direct exchange also problematic if one trader has surplus

Units of value began as shells, nuts, stones, crops, cocoa beans (Aztec), exotic plants

Limits reached as no single international object as travel/globalisation increased

Money’s 3 uses must be as a; medium of exchange/store of value/transferable sum

Money alone isn’t the problem as it acts as a useful energy medium for progress

1971 U.S. reached finite amount of gold/silver reserves so broke ties with weighed currency e.g. no longer value equivalent – gold standard written as dollar sum

Statement on money ‘I promise to pay the bearer the sum of’ is just an illusion! Promises rather than payment upfront – however if illusion shared by all then not in itself a problem provided everyone complies & acts accordingly (Cough! RBS, etc)

Chris Martenson makes key points; life assumptions already being challenged e.g. that housing bubble won’t burst when in fact returning to 70s pricing

Fractional reserve banking – realisation nobody was withdrawing their reserves for transactions so banks started lending sums of which only a fraction actually existed (very small; less than 10%). Hence run on banks in Netherlands 2 years before…

Northern Rock, UK – collapsed thus bottom dwellers & those last past the post lose their cut as money is ultimate pyramid system affecting those with the least worst

Money will always be chained to debtor’s labour & by extension ever more dwindling natural resources to work off repayment

Thus economic growth outpaces the physical limits of the planet’s resources

As hugely oil-based economy, profit margins become harder to maintain

Bucket/Barrel effect – if there are holes then money will always pour out

How to plug leaks? Thriving market towns with strong business links required e.g. Totnes

Co-ops/LETS/Alternative currencies

Co-ops are managed differently to other supermarkets but supply chain similar

Their shareholders can be public as other businesses such as Funeralcare, Bank

Co-op chose corporate responsibility before it became mandatory for positive PR

Working towards becoming first Transition supermarket in UK through tightly regulating farming food standards e.g. pesticide-free, organic options, fair trade month

Research is driven by ethics rather than economics with fairer supplier deals

Alas Buy 1 Get 1 Free is always paid for by trader rather than supermarket

Greece/Ireland austerity packages severe hence public outrage, riots (BBC Audio)

Resilient local businesses can establish links to retain money

LETS – Local Exchangeable Trading Systems; more stable the larger the chain

Credit Unions popped up in the 80s

Local currencies evermore popular – Totnes in Devon, Lewis in East Sussex, Brixton pound (Transition idea)

Challenge in closed systems is finding good skills set – trolls required for practical service skills like plumbers as well as alt. therapies which are often in plentiful supply

Volos; a port town in Central Greece has mushroomed in interest from bartering using alternative currency TEM & now has over 800 traders with Mayoral approval as 2 currencies can coexist & more stability than Euro system at present. Industry collapsed & unemployment soared but community has since become re-energised. Grassroots initiative supplement now spawning elsewhere around country with fresh opportunities & greater fiscal independence

Some free advice (Put ya money where ya mates are)

Firstly complete an Input/Output analysis by self-budgeting

Eradicate your own debts for strength of community to share assets around

Decide if any businesses you own are better to declare bankruptcy as very small window of opportunity

Monoculture income streams; more vulnerable so spread risk to improve resilience

Create feelings of community ownership & empowerment whether starting small from just an apple press to a wind turbine using local group investment

We must recognise the value of ourselves & the services/products we offer

Consider skills/services & design to suit business share (food/clothes/shelter/self)

Gift/Love economy – amongst friends/family for free when strangers would be charged, 70-80% of economic transactions done as favours under this premise

Useful links/Further reading

New Economics

Ann Pettifor – Economics book deals with hard concepts

Peter North’s book Local Money also very useful

Diggers & Dreamers – Embryonic co-housing groups in most areas –

Global Eco Village Network (GEM) –

Move your money campaign –

Triodos, Co-operative Bank & other more ethical choices are out there…

ZOPA debt buying website where lender decides interest rates in fairer scheme –

Drop the debt campaign – or join the Transition Leicester/Nottingham mailing list

Hope this has been in some way helpful

Grand National 2012; They Race Horses, Don’t They Darling?

Despite the entire thoroughbred-pursued obsessive cruelty & knackers’ yard mentality that it endorses, I can’t help but be swept up by the Grand National & it’s ‘everyman having a cheeky flutter’ spirit; seeing myself as something of a one-day-a-year casual gambler. Even though I should be able to just say ‘neigh’ it’s almost become customary to whack a fiver on the most novelty value name in the 40 running then roar with anticipation as you find the best atmospheric boozer to pretend you take no part in any such non-working class ‘sports’. I mean that last word in the vaguest of terms due to the fact you need several grand & a tiny malnourished Irishman borrower before you can even compete.

Yep it’s a disgusting national past time sponsored by a tasteless parody of a ‘smooth’ bitter & yep those ladies look ridiculous in elaborate headwear flanking windswept Merseyside drizzle dressed up like purses from a sow’s ear (don’t hear that expression enough anymore). Apparently there’s a section of the race named the ‘John Smith’s Daily Mirror Punter’s Club Handicap Hurdle’ which makes you almost pity the commentators. I guess they didn’t know just when to stop accepting corporate funding investments.

Hoping that all jockey's are on the Atkins diet?

Alas in the spirit of some excellently named horses – Shakalakaboomboom (my personal choice at 14-1), Swing Bill, According to Pete, Rare Bob & Organised Confusion being probably the most appropriate, I thought it sensible to devise a loosely related playlist. This may well help spruce up the BBC’s 3 & a quarter hours of build up coverage which otherwise would be like watching the steam rise from a brick of baked horses’ shite.

Compulsive Gamblers – Stop & Think It Over

The Osmonds – Crazy Horses (compulsory I’m afraid, though allegedly about car pollution which is still relevant)

Yello – The Race (generally applicable to all major racing events)

Tom Waits – Jockey Full of Bourbon

Aphex Twin – Funny Little Man (That’d be jockeys again)

Mastodon – Trampled Underhoof (Oh the crushing riffs, from early album Remission)

Manic Street Preachers – Faster (Not strictly written with this subject matter in mind)

Pogues – A Bottle of Smoke

Sample lyric: “20 feckin’ 5 to 1, me gambling days are done. I bet on a horse called A Bottle of Smoke & my horse won!”

Dubliners – Galway Races (Beardy ‘Banjo’ Barney RIP you dear old twanging diamond)

Devo – Whip It!

Randy – Win or Lose

Rival Schools – Used for Glue (Equestrian free vid unfortunately)

And this classic Alan Partridge Day Today clip;

Winner of the most shriveled old boy & highest sockline award year on year

Bookies be damned. Suggestions as ever duly noted & appreciated…

Love Unlimited Orchestra’s Love’s Theme: A Brief Appraisal

Q? Has Barry White ever saved your life?

A. No, he never got me back with my ex-wife neither BUT with soul food this nourishing it does feel like he’s saved me countless times from musical starvation.

From that opening swirly ascending string line to its faultless fade-out you beg will never come, the richly textured yet silky lush instrumentation paints the canvas equivalent of cradling womb lining. Those syncopated rhythmic wah-wah guitar sweeps almost sound like bush crickets rubbing their legs together with sensuous glee. Maybe it’s because they have ears on their knees and therefore exquisite taste in sweet melodies. Or maybe I’m just hearing things…sexy things.

How can 4 minutes encapsulate so much sensory delight? Even the 7" cover font & colour looks suggestible

Essentially one of the only instrumental not to mention purely orchestral singles to ever top the US billboard, many versions or samples have since been covered & re-recorded adding vocals; most notably the orchestra themselves a year later, but with musical moments this pleasurably languorous nothing needs to be said. It is now considered an influence on the quintessential disco sound (but don’t hold that against it) which began stagnating commercial airplay the following year.

Just to recite the 40 piece Orchestra’s list of charting singles – Love’s Theme (reached no.1 stateside for a week in ’73 but only #10 on our shores), Rhapsody in White, Satin Soul, Forever in Love, Midnight Groove & not forgetting the ‘coughs dubiously’ Theme from King Kong (pt.1). Essentially in all those titles there’s only one thing on that composer’s mind, which just so happened to be one Mr. Barry White Esq. and THAT my friends is the same one thing that King Kong always wanted – the timeless privilege that is gittin it own’!

"Ahur-hur ok ya got me, this ain't really my orchestra but it IS a selection of my finest sexy ladies...arranged like a heart-shaped chocolate box of love...oooh baby"

Most worthy live version I could find:

Joblessnessness & it’s disgusting consequences (Pt.II)

As Prince once wrote (& that floating baby-no-tears doll’s head Sinead O’Connor once sang) “It’s been 7 hours and 13 days since the temp agency took my job away” – 2 weeks sans work & that niggling creeping tick of self-doubt & lack of direction has burrowed under the skin of my little toe to take root in my wavering telephone voice & illegible freehand pen-scribbling abilities…

Always knew I’d have to continue this thread at some point after first trying to summarise how debilitating & humiliating the reluctant process of seeking employment can sometimes feel. Here I am tossed back onto the heap of the faceless million plus some whom the government sub-texturally seem to accuse of being feckless – just another statistic.

But then I tell myself to lip up fatty & turn that frown upside down (without doing any permanent damage to my face). I try & wait at least 3 weeks before resorting to the ole rock & roll (dole) as previously mentioned in Joblessnessness Part 1 that can actually become MORE disheartening.

Anywho looky here – there’s a whole 8 pages of jobs advertised in this Wednesday’s Evening Post (Notts nightly rag) but in reality they’re actual 2 pages of A3 (if you’re being pedantic & pessimistic which I’ve decided to be for the remainder of this post). The last 2 sides are mostly for highly trained barstards supremoes with several minutes expertise conning already depleting pensions from the fuel-impoverished Osborne-taxed change-fearing elderly.

Trouble is, worthwhile & well-intentioned charity, human rights & other humane causes have no choice but to follow ‘ahem’ the suits as salesperson shysters. Harassing people with all too little to spare would be bad enough, but the only ones interested & in my experience usually less familiar with the ‘no pause for breath’ uninterrupted barrage of persuasive script tend to be lonely, somewhat reclusive, mentalist windbags who launch off into a tirade of tangents about ‘how plums don’t taste like they used to’ & why they’ve become convinced that the jackdaws are stealing their mail’. Actually one of my mates was recalling how his grandad has genuinely started to believe that the Chinese are stealing all our fenceposts – the ‘our’ presumably being Britain. I pondered whether he is mistaking this for agricultural intensification.

"Pssst Oi! Ginger, Pebbles, you both have your characteristic charms now cut that out!"

Hmmm now let’s see…for some reason the first listing under ‘General Vacancies Part Time’ is CATFIGHTERS – Feisty women to compete in new sport. Earn £50-100 per hour – flexi hours (& the women too you’d imagine – oh how you could imagine) Age 16+ (and this bit’s very important) No Upper Age Limit! Hold my cabbage helmet yep, you read that right. Catsitting is one thing, but any society that advocates & even encourages what could essentially result in Granny Wrestling I’d rather not remain a member of – although as I’ve included above, they do presently have plenty to be angry about.

Any just when you figured every civilised hallmark of a virtuous & progressive city such as ours prospects had been flushed down the khazi it reads ‘tryouts to be filmed by Sky TV’. Hosanna! And the world is right again. What the heck happened to my hundreds of letters to Meussrs. Murdoch demanding the overdue reintroduction of Foxy Boxing (Homer’s favourite female sport) to our screens as the pride of Britain’s attitudes to women in time for the upcoming London 2012 Olympics? Proudly sponsored by Loose Women & some shit bacterial yoghurt brand no doubt. They’ve been punching women of all ages squarely in the face for years already.

This could well be the flipside to a Diamond David Lee Roth 12"

Keep ya posted on my progress folks!