Apathy – Muddy Summers and the Dirty Field Whores. Album review by Mal Content.

Apathy is the third album from Gail Something-Else and her motley crew of land pirates; the usual deal applies, you can buy the CD or download the tracks for pay-what-you-want. New collaborators on this one include Dai Blow and Buzz Onion of One Eyed God, Jay from Inner Terrestrials/Firepit Collective and Jonny ‘Wrongun’ Daniels from Pure Evil.

Apathy: a state of indifference, an inability to be arsed. We inhabit the disintegrating corpse of a dead civilisation, and sure enough a major preoccupation of our time is the myth of the undead, vampires and zombies. The metaphor is not lost on the conscious minority. Adult men and women while away their hours peering into a dystopian fantasy rather than looking out the window at the dystopian reality. Within the sleeve, richly decorated with Gail’s own graphics, the word is preceded by ‘fuck’ in brackets.

The album was launched with a self-organised party in a field at Gail’s beloved Forest of Dean, Gail’s Broken Ukulele was patched with a bit of wardrobe and an anti-fascist sticker. The cross-dressing Cajon player Techno Hippy was taken ill and a couple of the crew instantly stepped in on percussion. On the Sunday it began to rain and most of the punters drifted away, the crew, musicians and a few stragglers were instructed to ‘drink the bar’. The talented and totally outsane Dai gave a magnificent demonstration of how smashed a human being can be and still put a saxophone to good use – or a clarinet, melodica, whistle, and just about anything else you can blow into. Jay can virtually play guitar in his sleep, he can cook too. Duelling clarinets, gypsy jazz and songs of revolution drifted with the smoke across the wet fields, we did some fireworks that had literally fallen off the back of a lorry. You should get yourself along to one of these gatherings if you can. This music is born in improvisation around the campfire, lending it a timeless quality that defies categorisation as ancient or modern.

“Review the bloody record Mal”, ah, right; the Something-Else mothership comes in ‘To Land’ on an acoustic reggae number with Doozer Mc Dooze of Deferred success, jolly and positive, to blow away the cobwebs and drag you off your computer.

Two tracks from the first album recorded with the Reverend Phil Dread appear here in acoustic form. ‘As the dragon runs’ is a chillingly beautiful re-working of ‘Heroin’ from the electronic set, with instrumentation by Jay Terrestrial. The pipes conjure images of faraway places as the opiate dreams weave through the gritty kitchen-sink reality of sharing a life with one of the great apathisers. In the mid 1980s when the country stood on the brink of revolution it was suddenly flooded with cheap smack. Coincidence? Who knows, we won’t find out under the thirty-year rule; collateral damage included some of the children of the middle class and about a dozen of my old friends. There follows an acoustic version of ‘Empathy’ featuring superb guitar work from Tony Hopkins accompanying snapshots of the bleakness some people inhabit.

‘Conspiraloon’ recorded ‘live and drunk’ but lucid nevertheless, is the catchiest tune on the album, with Dai’s meandering melodica doubtless played stone cold sober. This is for the Guy Fawkes masked, tinfoil hat wearers who believe everything they see on the Internet, chasing phantoms while our rulers piss up our backs. Never mind the Molochs, here’s Howard, the talking porpoise from Atlantis. The new technology has its uses but remember you’re never more than five clicks away from David Icke.

‘The cry of the thwarted bigot’ with Buzz Onion is one for all those apoplectic Daily Mail readers left with nothing to show for their abject class collaboration but a vast chip on their shoulder. Blaming the boss would make them complicit so it must be someone else’s fault: Johnny Foreigner, the unions, gays, Muslims, the unemployed, single mothers, reds, long-haired layabouts and students, etc. UKIP presents a peculiarly English, snide, mealy-mouthed version of the rabid xenophobia that’s sweeping mainland Europe in response to the collapse of neoliberalism. Sort of de-caffeinated fascism, watch your blood pressure, dear.

‘Ignition’ is a political love song, but no compromise, played by Doozer. Waves of sound build up, crash down and wash away again, worth putting on the headphones for.

‘Passive-aggressive’ could be the ghost of an old fairground tune. A true story about one of those dreary people who place themselves at the centre of the universe and somehow manage to bring all activity to a grinding halt. Emotional blackmailers, they come in all sizes and genders.

‘What do we tell our children (about freedom)?’ Tony, Dai and Gail create a wistful sound from a bygone age and lament the increasingly restrictive and prescriptive direction of modernity.

‘Domestic Terrorist’ is one of the silly labels applied to the conscious minority who have escaped the bourgeois hegemony and decline to be pacified with toys and games; the sledgehammer has every reason to fear the nut. Gail plays ukulele and Dai clarinet.

“That the mass bleeds, that it is being robbed and exploited, I know as well as our vote-baiters. But I insist that not the handful of parasites, but the mass itself is responsible for this horrible state of affairs. It clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry “Crucify!” the moment a protesting voice is raised against the sacredness of capitalistic authority or any other decayed institution. … Yes, authority, coercion, and dependence rest on the mass, but never freedom or the free unfoldment of the individual, never the birth of a free society.”

– Emma Goldman: ‘Minorities versus Majorities’ 1917.

‘Open eyes’, another cheerful Doozer reggae song celebrates being different, conscious and in the minority.

The disc concludes with an electro-punk version of ‘Cameron I would call you a cunt’, our campfire sing-along is given a harder edge by the Rev. P’s rhythmic bleeps and squelches. The rest of the cabinet also get a mention and are all found similarly wanting in the depth and charm department.

If you can shoot zombies you can shoot fascists, can’t you?

Mal Content 2014.

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Picket of Poole Council meeting 22.04.14

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The action was organised by members of the Industrial Workers of the World and Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition, there was a good turnout and the accompanying communications blockade seemed to be going well. The e-mail and phone blockade was specifically targeted to affect the exploiters alone and not impair services to the clients, thanks to comrades and fellow workers around the world who supported us, we will do the same for you.

More actions will follow. An injury to one is an injury to all!

Who’s Stealing From Who?

Bristol Anarchist Federation

sfw_b BBC Points West tonight ran with a story tonight on the growing number of cases of shoplifting in the south west . They tried to paint a scare story by revealing ‘shocking’ figures about the rise of shoplifting in the region. Footage of several young boys, one as young as eight, being threatened by the Police and security staff were shown to try and display the ‘moral depravity’ of stealing from businesses.

But who does shoplifting hurt? According to the BBC over the last three years there were 1,800 reported cases in Bristol; 647 in Bath; 900 in Gloucestor; and 660 in Swindon. The worst hit in each city were Primark, Boots, Debenhams and Tesco respectively. They would like us to believe that shoplifting hurts workers by reducing companies’ profits and thus forcing them to cut wages and even jobs.

That doesn’t quite add up though when you consider that

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Frack Free Solent April Newsletter

The campaign against fracking continues – there are now 115 anti-fracking groups in the UK.

Frack Free Solent has had another busy month, with two successful fundraising music nights and a public meeting in Forestside plus daily monitoring of the Markwells Wood site. We also gave a short talk to Portsmouth Trades Council, who have very kindly donated £100 towards our campaigning activities. Don’t forget to check our website for up to date info, news & more.

Markwells Wood

We are still monitoring the site at Markwells Wood, Forestside – a few hundred yards north of the – T-junction here. Exploration work could start at any time, and we will be strongly opposing this as it is very likely to include testing for the feasibility of using fracking at this site. The operator of the site, Northern Petroleum, has recently said that they are looking to sell all their UK assets – however, two other companies already part own the PEDL licence, and there are plenty of other possible buyers who could take over operations. Markwells Wood is within the South Downs National Park and is completely unsuitable for the type of large scale industrial extraction involved in fracking.

Forestside Meeting

Markwells Wood is directly next to the small village of Forestside. Frack Free Solent helped organise a public meeting for Forestside residents in March with several speakers, including Marcus Adams from Frack Free Fernhurst. Over 30 local residents attended, many of whom are now setting up a local group to campaign against fracking. We are now looking to organise another public meeting in nearby Compton, while a few miles further north another group has recently been set up in South Harting following a – meeting there

Green Film Festival

Frack Free Solent is sponsoring the showing of Gasland at Portsmouth Film Society’s Green Film Festival. This will be at 6.00pm on Friday 23 May at the Eldon Building in Portsmouth University, and will be followed by a debate with a panel made up of Tim Dawes and Stuart Mills from Frack Free Solent and a local geologist. We have 25 tickets available to buy online at the reduced price of £4 829 . The usual price is £6, or you can also buy a festival pass from PFS for £10, to see all three films – more info

Donations needed

We need cash! To campaign effectively, we need your donations to pay for leaflet printing, web hosting, hall hire etc. We are fortunate to have had some grant funding from Lush Cosmetics, plus donations from Unison & Portsmouth Trades Council, but we need more.

Please consider making a donation to us – you can make a bank transfer to the Frack Free Solent bank account: Account No – 65698017 Sort code – 08 92 99 Or you can use the donate button on our website to donate via paypal.

Facebook

To keep up to date with fracking locally and nationally, join Frack Free Solent’s Facebook group

Next organising meeting

Frack Free Solent holds regular organising meetings, which are open to anyone who wants to help us plan activities to oppose fracking. The next meeting will be on Thursday 10 April at 7.30pm in the back room of the – White Hart, 1 East St, Havant PO9 1AA

Links to other groups

Frack Off – national network against fracking – lots of useful info & resources

Frack Free Fernhurst

Frack Free Sussex

Contact Frack Free Solent

“CARE CUTS HURT” demo outside Poole Council meeting. 22 April 17:45

Click for 2xA5 flyers

50% pay cut for ex-NHS carers in Dorset.

A personal account from a Dorset care worker:

In 2011 approximately 160 adults with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour were transferred from long stay hospital units and moved into their own homes. The private sector stepped in to provide care for these people and staff were personally matched and TUPE transferred with each individual. The promise was that any private care provider bidding for one of our clients had to show they could ensure our contracts for 2 years minimum, employ new staff on the same pay as the NHS workers to avoid a 2 tier workforce, and help with retention of new staff. A few weeks after the transfer it became apparent this was not the case; providers were employing colleagues at a much lower rate.

By October 2012 the provider ‘Dimensions’ had cut one third of staff’s salary in the form of lost enhancements, change to overtime rate, reduction in annual leave, loss of sick pay, reduced maternity leave etc.. Staff on average lost between £300 and £500 per month in take home pay. For one reason only, many staff accepted the cut at that time while others were dismissed and re-engaged. This reason being respect for those we care for. In Dorset many of us have worked for decades with these people, and have seen them uprooted and socially isolated in their own homes, often with strangers (agency staff) coming in to care, having lost day care provision and suitable transport, we felt so soon after this monumental change in their lives it would be beyond heart-breaking to remove the stability of those they had grown to trust over the decades, so we bit the bullet and continued to provide good care for our clients with the facilities we have.

‘Lifeways’, another of these providers, early in 2014 not only cut their staff’s wage in a similar fashion to Dimensions, they also reduced the hourly rate by 20% at the same time leading to huge reductions in take home pay. For example, a single parent of 3 previously took home £950 per month for part time hours – for these same hours she will now take home £389 – less than her mortgage payment alone and that is after 27 years in the service. Again those that did not sign to accept this cut were ruthlessly dismissed and re-engaged.

In March 2014 Dimensions staff received a further letter stating their hourly rate would be cut by £1.90 (a 20% drop this time). This is going to force the long term staff to search for work elsewhere a choice they cannot take lightly but for reasons of survival will be forced to, having devastating effects for those we care for. Stability is essential for their quality of life and the staff realise this as we have, in many cases, dedicated our lives to the vocation.

Both Dimensions and Lifeways insist the cuts are only necessary because the local authorities who commission the work to such companies have cut the budget and they cannot survive as businesses unless they do. This appears to be their priority – survival as a business – rather than the devastation they are about to unleash on staff and vulnerable people.

That said, other private providers locally receiving the same amount of money from the authorities have kept their ex NHS staff on their original terms and conditions without going out of business. Despite staff arguing that the cut of £1.90 per hour to 42 Dimensions staff in the area, will result in recruitment and training costs higher than the saving made, Dimensions are well aware of this and stated they are looking at the long term stability of the company, so to us as staff this devastating upheaval is completely unnecessary, especially when you learn extra directors with huge salaries have been employed, managers have been cut in number but received an increase, deputy managers have been put in place and a bonus will be paid to all staff in April due to a profit share scheme.

In what world can carers and those we care for be treated this way – in a tory world where profit is put before people time and time again, I would ask everyone reading this to imagine losing 50% of their wage within 2 years, through no fault of their own and in fact for taking more responsibility now than we ever did as a care worker in the hospital units.

Where does this leave me? Other than fighting against this cut I cannot look the gentleman I have looked after since 1999 in the eye for fear of how I am about to let him down, let alone his family and how they will feel when those staff they trust implicitly are priced out of the job. Not to mention how to pay my bills and care for my own children.

Join the “CARE CUTS HURT” demo outside Poole Council meeting. 22 April 17:45

Freedom is Dead, Long Live Freedom

Best of luck to the collective in the new venture.

Trade Onion by Jon Bigger

In the mid 1990s when I was 18 and studying A-Levels in rural Lincolnshire one of my teachers told me about Freedom Bookshop and the newspaper.  It seemed a long way away at the time.  He had a stash of anarchist literature hidden away in the school and when he realised I was heading to London Guildhall Uni (now London Metropolitan Uni) he told me that the bookshop was just around the corner.  I ended up visiting a few times over the three years I studied there and always got a copy of the paper.  The last full regular issue is out now and the collective running the paper has taken the decision to operate online from now on.  That brings to an end a physical publication that’s been running since 1886.  Buy the last ever full paper issue!

The last issue has made me want more.  I’m glad we’re…

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