Like left needs right
Legend has it that during the Napoleonic Wars with France in the 1800s, a ship was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool, and a monkey which had been on board escaped. It was captured by the locals and, never having seen a monkey before, and confused by its incessant incomprehensible jabbering and unruly hair, they believed it must be a Frenchman. Can't think why I was reminded of that tale last week when I saw Boris Johnson lumbering around on the Hartlepool by-election campaign trail.
I've had enough of politics
As an antidote to political in-fighting, here is a typically-eclectic Klub Kakofanney mix of pieces from 2017 and 2018 to keep you entertained. This compilation features the utterly uncompromosing high-energy pounding punk poetry with attitude from The Overload, some special sounds from The Scissors who came over from Cambridge, music from local favourites Fuji having a fun time on a Friday night, and finishes off with a subtle yet high-impact piece by the nuanced Nightjar from Aylesbury. Enjoy.
More covid restrictions will be lifted on Monday, but that still doesn't mean we can hold gigs just yet. Up to six people or two households can meet indoors or up to 30 people outdoors, pubs can serve indoors provided it is covide-safe, but nightclubs, discos, and gigs cannot restart until June 21st at the earliest. Cinemas can re-open from Monday, and you may be interested to know that a movie I have mentioned previously, "The Sound Of Metal", about a drummer losing his hearing from too many percussive nights, will be showing at Oxford's only indie cinema, The Ultimate Picture Palace on Cowley Road, from 28th May.
Do you still think of punk rock as being a strange British thing modelled on the Sex Pistols? Here is a Polish punk rock band called Sexbomba who remind me more of The Clash. This is their song "Podzeimna Polska" which means Poland Underground State, and was the name of the Poland Resistance Movement during WW2.
Polish journalist Jakub Zulczyk has recently been charged with the crime of insulting his country's senior politician after tweeting that President Duda is a moron. Why? Because Duda, an ardent Trump supporter, had cast doubt on the result of the US election. In Poland, the crime of insulting the government or its policies carries a draconian sentence of up to three years in prison, and this in a supposedly democratic country and EU member. If we had a law like that here in the UK, I'd probably be locked up in The Tower by now, (and no, I don't mean the Seacourt Tower in Botley). Beware of governments which seek to limit your right to disagree with them.
If you are a musician, you have a voice
There is always a place for peaceful protest. Last weekend I saw a rally in Bonn Square of Colombian ex-pats raising awareness of the escalating crisis back in Colombia where dozens have been killed in protests recently. One placard read "In elections we are citizens, In protest we are criminals", something that sounds all too familiar here in the UK too. I know very little about Colombia, and even less about the music scene there beyond the drumming of Aainja, apart from one band from Bogota, called Oh'laville, who I know of only because they have a roller skating video for one of their songs. This is the video, and the song is called "Planetas".
I discovered that roller skating is a lot harder than ice skating. Roller skates are much heavier than blades, the balance is different, and rollers don't have the sharp edges for turning. Strangely I found it easier to much turn to the left than to the right. But I digress.
As well as being musicians, Oh'laville have a voice, and they use it. Their most recent social media posting reads: "To date, 1708 cases of police violence have been registered: 222 victims of physical violence, 37 of homicidal violence, 831 arbitrary arrests, 22 victims of eye injuries, 110 cases of gunshots and 10 victims of sexual violence. We demand the government of Ivan Duque cease violence against citizens who protest peacefully. Colombia is bleeding to death in the streets just for demanding equality, peace, and an end to corruption."
Bollards to the lot of them
You may have heard about another peaceful protest in Oxford recently, the Human Bollards initiative from OxPA. As you will know, High Street is closed to through traffic between 8:30am and 6:30pm, with ANPR cameras issuing £60 fines to transgressors. This is to reduce traffic in the city centre and protect the environment. Merton Street runs parallel to High Street, and to stop it being used as a rat run to avoid the cameras, it has clear road signs and rising bollards installed at Oriel Square.
These bollards are supposed to be raised at 7:30am, and automatically lower themselves again in the evening, but they've been broken for as long as I can remember and there are no enforcement cameras, so it's pretty well a continuous stream of cars cutting through the scenic cobbled back street, blatantly ignoring the no entry signs. OxPA came up with the imaginative idea of acting as human bollards at the broken barrier. Needless to say, a lot of drivers were not amused, and some tried to bully their way through, albeit unsuccessfuly.
Not surprisingly, the police were called, and when irate drivers complained that protesters were blocking the highway, the police aligned themselves with the protestors' point of view, explained that the human bollards were preventing drivers from breaking the law, and advised motorists to turn around and use the proper routes. The social media outbursts from car owners with a sense of entitlement was predictable. "Do these people really have nothing better to do with their time than stand in the street?" wrote someone who obviously has nothing better to do with his time than sit in front of a screen and type misinformation into Facebook.
In January 2015, the world was shocked by the attack on the office of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and again in November of that year when terrorists massacred more than a hundred people attending a metal gig at the Bataclan theatre in Paris. This song, "Je Suis Free", was written by the London band, The Healthy Junkies, shortly afterwards. Nina, the singer in the band, is a Parisian. This video contains photo stills from the night of the Bataclan attack.
Remember you have a voice too. Know what you think. Sing what you feel. Be creative. And if you can't think of anything to be creative about, be a human bollard instead.