Today I received an alert from WordPress congratulating me on having signed up with the platform seven years ago.

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Pop! Zwing! Trumpets! [FX: the sound of ‘Fiesta’ by The Pogues]

OK, I am being a little sarky there. But it’s a fair chunk of time, not what one would call a dalliance. It’s been a busy period.

Seven’s a busy number. While there may be no truth to the story that the human body has fully renewed all its cells every seven years, making us a ‘new person’, we’ve got a bunch of other affinities with the digit. Days of the week, Deadly Sins, Basic Plots, Steiner’s developmental stages, Ages of Man, Sages (of the Bamboo Grove), years after which relationships develop an itch, hills of Rome, Wonders of the World, Classical planets, revelatory Seals, Sisters in the stars (Pleiades), chakras… plus stock market fluctuations, religious significance, gematric/numerological symbolism…

If man is five,
then the devil is six…
and if the devil is six
then GOD is seven…

Which is of course Monkey Gone To Heaven by Pixies, and if you check out the genius page for the song, you’ll find Frank Black’s somewhat dry comments that give us this post’s title.

Black Francis glosses a little, though, maybe. There’s something about the number. There’s something about all the numbers, obviously, if you’re looking for it, but seven seems attached particularly to groups, cycles and changes.

This seventh year I have begun writing and blogging a lot more frequently than I have previously. And, in a neat coincidink/sync event, I got my Power of Seven blogging award and was contemplating this change in method at the same time I encountered the song below.

So, while I go off and basic plot a ‘seven’ themed playlist (Pixies, Iron Maiden, Madness, Prince, Culture, The Clash, The Shins, for seven starters), here is a just fantastic version of Black Sabbath’s Changes, by Charles Bradley, with which I fell in love today.

“Times 111…”

Today, remembrance services in Europe mark the 70th anniversary of “D-Day”, June 6th 1944.

D-Day was quite an undertaking. It marked a decisive moment in the Second World War, the history of Europe, the world.

There was – and remains – no doubt in the minds of the people taking part that they were engaged in something important.

I bought this book second hand some years ago:

magic_and_religion_Frazer

Among its pages, this note and inscription:

D_Day_good_luck_Ike

Such finds are one of the reasons I enjoy and love “real” books.

The language used by Eisenhower is unequivocal: “this great and noble undertaking”. It has been a powerful experience watching the veterans on the footage today. Even the youngest of them, 15 at the time according to some accounts, are nearing 90. They’re still standing up for the prayers.

Of course, the date in the book is intriguing. I will do my best to find out who W Beecham (?) is or was, and provide an update on them.

The choice of book is intriguing as well. It confirms a thought I was having earlier, that it is important also to have an understanding and respect for imagination and human creativity as ways of making sense out of a sometimes brutal world.

Half term holidays! Busy doing nothing, working the whole day through.

On the radio mainly we have BBC 6 Music, which normally does OK for itself. This week Radio 6 has been celebrating the “20th anniversary of Britpop”… It had me scratching my head a bit.

Time might have been that I would have pounced on such a one-sided 7″ flexidisc single of an idea and torn it a new centre hole. Not only would I have questioned the arbitrariness of the timing, and the wisdom of giving Damon Allbran further opportunity to wreak his adenoidal miseries upon the populace, but also given detailed Mr Agreeable-styled rebuttals for each of the artists featured:

“Gene. Gene?! F***ing dreary knock-off Smiths b*******s – and that’s taking dreary to depths unknown to the hardiest of miners. Couldn’t carry a tune in a f***ing bucket, no-good sh***hawks. Gene. Dear sweet c***ing Christ deliver us.”

Must have been terrific fun writing the Agreeable columns. But for this grand Britpoppish retrospective, I just couldn’t generate enough spleen. Seriously, My Life Story?

Still, something made me want to contribute my experience in some way. “Maybe I could knock out a list of British artists that I was also listening to in 1994 that weren’t really Britpop.” I thought.

“It would have had The Divine Comedy (Promenade album) on it (despite a later Neil Hannon work managing to squeak an entry on the 6 Music countdown), or Portishead, Dummy… Therapy?…? Er…”

I kind of ran out of ideas. Bands I wasn’t listening to in 1994? Spend holiday time writing about M People? Gah!

Well, OK, “Britpop”, then. Seriously, how hard can this be?

I really liked Suede. Metal Mickey in particular. I saw them live at Leeds T&C… the musical shark was sighted when Bernard Butler left, but look, listen (as politicians and footballers often begin their sentences):

Oh dad, she’s driving me mad!

Oasis… I remember very well the day I chose to wade through the hype and buy the Live Forever CD single (from Fopp in Byres Road, Glasgow). Me and me bezzer Jack sat listening to it, roundly unimpressed with the first three tracks, and then just falling instantly for the live version of Supersonic.

Mind you, it was easy to officially lose interest shortly after hearing the perfection of ‘Acquiesce’. What else can a band say? “Roll with it”? Get off.

Supergrass were awesome. If you do not know Caught by the Fuzz, why, reader, you must.

Yes!

But weren’t they supposed to be part of the New Wave of New Wave or something? Was 1994 simply the year someone thought up “Britpop” to describe everything made by a guitar band in Britain? There were all sorts of things that seemed quite acceptable at the time, that with hindsight look tarnished, horribly insincere. Echobelly. Why, even Parklife, which accompanies some happy memories of driving round Glasgow in a friend’s knackered car, singing along with ‘To The End’. That record had been interesting in sequence, because Blur seemed like a band getting better with each album, constantly prompting the question “wherever next”? The answer to that, of course, was “to a very big house in the c**try and Fat f***ing Les.”

See, that’s how it starts. One could go on. The terrible rest of it, the Sleeper, the Menswe@r… It was actually starting to give me a headache trying to remember them.

There’s that old saying that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there. This morning, as we breakfasted with the strains of poll-topping track (and a bona fide classic “Well done, listeners of Britain!” moment of delight hearing it) Common People by Pulp playing in the background – a song I saw Jarvis Cocker introduce at the inaugural T in the Park, 1994, as “A national anthem for the Netto generation.” – I suggested to J that perhaps we need an equivalent phrase for the 1990s. “Such as ‘If you feel like celebrating Britpop then you weren’t really listening to it.'”
J said “That’s… a bit contrived.”

Contrived! Of course! I seized on the notion. Contrivance seemed to sum up both the original Britpop tag – and, in fact, much of the music, which was sloppy second-hand shop versions of better bands or styles – and the need to celebrate any anniversary for it. And certainly this meta-response.

THEN I remembered that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McElvie and Matt Wilson have already inked the definitive look back, not-in-anger-but-a-bit, on Britpop, in 2006, in fact.

phonogramtpb

It is an excellent comic. If you are of A Certain Age, or interested in pursuing research on this matter, I urge you to the publication. Phonogram Vol.1, “Rue Britannia”. It’s equal parts tender-hearted and unsympathetic, and right. Except about Kenickie. They were f***ing s***-awful.

23 March: Today is the anniversary of the death (in 1931) of Bhagat Singh, an Indian revolutionary.

I discovered this through twitter and the keeps-on-giving interweb… There is so much history in the world one might never uncover it all. I’m always grateful for new stories about interesting people.

I am also in agreement with Singh’s definition of anarchy:

“The ultimate goal of Anarchism is complete independence, according to which no one will be obsessed with God or religion, nor will anybody be crazy for money or other worldly desires. There will be no chains on the body or control by the state. This means that they want to eliminate: the Church, God and Religion; the state; Private property.”

Perhaps one day… hope springs eternal.

NB: The tiny photo used here is from the Singh family-run info website shahidbhagatsingh.org – I didn’t ask if I could use it, so sorry about that, but I wanted to use an actual photo rather than one of the often fanciful artist’s impressions floating about. Hopefully shahidbhagatsingh.org will get a few extra views at least.

Anyway, a tip of the hat to Bhagat Singh.

I remember being 14 years old and watching with disbelief scenes from Hillsborough playing out on the telly. Images from Sky News yesterday (15 April 2009), of the 20th anniversary memorial service, and of course the events of the disaster, brought back a lot of that disbelief. It was like footage from another planet. 1989, a number, another summer, last century.

It’s astonishing to think that so much has changed in the last 20 years as to effectively mean we are actually on a different planet. Not just with regard to the seismic impact of Sky on association football – another article, another blog. This is an unprecedented period of information exchange. As John Mackin says in this excellent article at the Liverpooltv site,

back in 1989, before mobile phones and digital cameras, before the internet, before every major event being recorded and disseminated in a hundred different ways, the ‘facts’ were in the hands of a select few who could, and did, manipulate the situation.

How fortunate we are to be around as the information explosion happens, that knowledge is available at the touch of a button, and that we live to see it. Since then, ‘the people’ (with all the relevant geographical caveats) have more access to information, the truth, than ever. Yet, as recent events illustrate, those supposedly entrusted with looking after the people are still expected, and in some cases it would appear willing, to do what ‘the select few’ dictate. We can at least, as Mackin notes, make steps quicker than we could to bring some sort of reckoning to bear on people’s actions.

Justice, as ever, continues to be generally evasive. Meanwhile, a musical nil desperandum gesture of solidarity and hope to Liverpool supporters, from a Leeds fan:
96 tears – too many teardrops for one heart to be crying.

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