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Rezillos Gig

To the 229 venue on London’s Great Portland Street last night, to see the Rezillos, about whose reformation I’ve written before, here. I didn’t go to see them back then, so last night I put that right. I had never even heard of this place before, but apparently it’s been around since the sixties. Nice place: good sound system, and fair beer (though the Punk IPA was off).

We had a support band called the Tuts, who are three women from Brighton, and the first band I’ve instantly fallen for since Savages.

The Tuts at 229
Despite what the backdrop and bass drum say, this was actually the Tuts.

Those are they. Check them out if you can.

And then we had the support band that I knew about in advance: Spizz Energi, who are a similar vintage to The Rezillos, and with similar SF-related sensibilities — at least as far as a couple of songs go. But on the night — and after the Tuts — they were actually quite dull.

Spizz Energi at 229

But the Rezillos killed it. They were utterly fantastic. Eugene was playing guitar for the first song or two, which surprised me, but he soon put that away and just sang, along with Fay, of course.

My only slight regrets were that we didn’t get “Thunderbirds Are Go” or “Teenbeat.” But all the other top hits were there.

IMG 4972

I realised as I was there that I only ever Instagram from gigs these days. Gig-gramming, I hereby christen it, though I expect I’m not the first.

Democracy, Representation, and the Will of the People

Further to my letter to Diane Abbot, I saw her last night on Question Time. Disappointingly she was trotting out the line that, irrespective of what they believe, MPs are now tied down by the “democratic will of the people.”

That is utter nonsense.

Did the Referendum Give a Democratic Mandate?

The referendum, as I have said before, did not provide a sufficient majority to change the country’s constitution. In fact, it did not provide a majority at all: thirty-seven percent of the electorate voted to leave. That is under no circumstances a democratic mandate.

Do MPs Have to Abide by the Referendum’s Result?

The referendum was advisory, not binding. That was very clear in the act of parliament that enabled it, though it wasn’t mentioned at all in the discussions running up to the event itself. The MPs were asleep at the wheel when the bill went through parliament: if they had given it the thought it deserved, they would have made its advisory nature explicit in the wording of the question; and more importantly, they would have set a proper threshold for it to take effect. A two-thirds majority is common in cases like this.1

MPs make up the house of commons, half of parliament, the sovereign body in the UK. Their role is to scrutinise legislation and to vote on it in accordance with what they understand to be the best interests of the country.

No-one can say that Brexit would be in the best interests of the country. (Well, OK, they can say it; but they are demonstrably wrong.) MPs not only can vote against the triggering of Article 50: doing so is their duty.

Why Have Most MPs Switched to Being in Favour of Brexit?

Or at least that’s the way it seems.

I honestly don’t know. I have my theory, though. They are running scared of the tabloid newspapers. And maybe, as one of my friends suggested on Facebook the other day, literally scared for their lives if they were to resist the Brexit onslaught. Remembering the tragedy of Jo Cox, of course.

If the latter is really why they are doing it, then the terrorists have won. And even if it’s only fear of the tabloids, then the tabloid terrorists have won. If I were inclined that way I would call the Daily Mail and Sun traitors to their country for trying to ruin the British economy and damage British society, by forcing us out of the EU and assaulting the European Convention on Human Rights (which, if it needs to be said again and again, was written by Britons and is nothing to do with the EU).

What’s to be done?

Buggered if I know. If our democratically elected representatives won’t do what they’re elected for and act in the best interests of the country, then I can only conclude that we’re fucked.


  1. And to be fair, we, the public, and the media, were equally inattentive to what the bill actually said. 

Finally, the Rezillos. “Can’t Stand My Baby” is the opener.

Still not the Rezillos. Everyone’s sharing kit tonight, which is very 77. Spizz Energi onstage.

Obama in Your Ears

I listen to a fair number of podcasts, but I only recently learned that David Axelrod has one now. Axelrod was Barack Obama’s chief strategist and then Senior Advisor.

On a recent episode of his podcast, The Axe Files, he interviewed Barack Obama, during his last few days as president.

They’re friends, so it’s not what you’d call hard-hitting. But it is interesting. Obama as always comes across as personable, thoughtful, and very, very smart.

Which only makes the current occupant of his erstwhile office seem even worse.

But I highly recommend giving the episode a listen.

A Song of Stone by Iain Banks (Books 2017, 2)

Started towards the end of last year, interrupted for Christmas and post-Christmas reading, and taken up again later. But yes, you read that right: I interrupted reading a Banksie. Now even though it’s a reread, that’s not something that happens normally.

But then this is not a normal Banksie. My memory of it was that although I hadn’t loved it, it was good enough. But all I remembered from it was two scenes, and the overall background.

I’ve got to say now, I’m afraid, that it’s down there with Canal Dreams as my least favourite. In fact when I reread Canal Dreams at some point in the past, I found it was better than I had remembered. This, though: this was worse than I remembered.

I mean, it’s not terrible. If it were written by someone else, it would probably be fine. But no more than that, I’d imagine: no more than fine.

What’s wrong with it? Well, it’s just not compelling in the way I expect Banks’s books to be. There are no characters to speak of, except for the narrator, who is not especially endearing. That shouldn’t matter, but he’s not particularly anything else, either. His attitude to the war-torn environment in which he finds himself is essentially that it is inconveniencing him (and, to be fair, depriving him of his ancestral home).

But the guy owns a castle. I mean, how sympathetic is he going to be?

I don’t know, I think the main problem is just that it’s so bloody bleak. I was convinced that it must have been written while he was getting divorced, or otherwise going through a dark period in his life, but the Wikipedia article doesn’t suggest anything of the sort.

Anyway, there we go. Another reread. But not one that I can imagine coming back to again. And there are plenty others still to come.

I Wrote to my MP

So the Supreme Court agreed that parliament is sovereign Good for them. Must’ve been a hard decision. I decided it was time to ask my MP, Diane Abbott, to do the right thing:

Dear Ms Abbott,

Now that the Supreme Court has made its decision, affirming parliament’s sovereignty, I strongly urge you to vote against triggering Article 50.

The most urgent issue facing our country at the moment is Brexit, and the only solution to Brexit is to stop it happening. As a Labour Party member, and one who voted for Jeremy Corbyn as leader twice, I’m very disappointed by the recent reports that he is planning to require MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50.

I know it would be unpopular with certain tabloid papers if parliament were to prevent Brexit. But in truth I think it would be popular in the country. It seems highly likely to me that if there were a second referendum now, the majority would vote in favour of staying in the EU.

That may be wishful thinking, but I don’t believe so: people have both realised they were lied to, and seen something of what Brexit will mean to the economy, to jobs, and to British society.

And in any case, parliament is sovereign, and the majority in the referendum was far too small to justify what is, in effect, a constitutional change. Surely an MP’s duty is to vote in the way that is best for the country, and it is clear that leaving the EU would not be in the UK’s best interests.

I urge you to resist the tyranny of the right-wing press, and go with the majority of Hackney North and Stoke Newington voters, and please: vote against triggering Article 50.

Yours sincerely,

Martin McCallion

That ought to do it, eh?

A Touching App

I’m typing this in MarsEdit, from Red Sweater Software, which has long been considered the best dedicated blogging client for the Mac. Daniel Jalkut, who is Red Sweater Software, is also one half of the Core Intuition podcast with Manton Reece, who is creating Micro.blog, and running the Kickstarter I wrote about a few days ago.

Anyway, a while ago Jalkut wrote and released a kind of “Touch Bar emulator” app for Macs. It simulates on-screen the Touch Bar of the new MacBooks. I just installed it, and it’s really very cool at giving you an idea of what the Touch Bar is like. Obviously you have to use it with the mouse or trackpad, as it doesn’t actually turn a section of the screen touch sensitive, but you can see what features each application offers when the Touch Bar is present, for example.

The only real downside is that it covers up a piece of screen. But it’s easy to toggle it off and on with a key combination.

All in all, fun and useful; and with a clever name: Touché.