How big is your chicken? (Klub Kakofanney Lockdown Letter)

How big is your chicken?

It is the first Friday of the month, July, and we are irreversibly missing another Klub Kakofanney night. But hopefully this is the very last time I will have to use that phrase. We are still on track for a resumption gig on Friday 6th August, 8pm to 11pm, at The Home & Hubble, Abingdon Road, when our line up will be Peerless Pirates, supported by The Mighty Redox, and by Mark Atherton and Friends. It will be a free event although any voluntary donations gratefully accepted. After the year we've all had, we don't want anyone to feel unable to come to gigs due to lack of funds.

Standby for further instructions

Meanwhile, as an antidote to an empty Friday night, here are some reloaded pieces from previous Klub Kakofanney shows. This compilation features Pandapopalypse when they fizzed and popped at Klub Kakofanney in 2019, a vibrant Mamzer from 2017, Storyteller also from 2017 playing one of their older songs, and rounding out the compilation is The Shapes in 2019 singing a thoughtful and thought-provoking song about the importance of friends.

It will not be long now before we are hearing live music again, though whether we will ever hear it again at the Wheatsheaf is a different matter. Still no signs of it resuming as a music venue which will be a massive cultural loss for the city centre.

Smile, you're on Candid Camera

This Sunday, 4th July, is Cowley Road Carnival, but due to covid restrictions it will, like last year, be virtual. If you can work out where to tune into, and when, you should find online streams from, amongst others, Waterfahl, The Scott Gordon Band, and Horns of Plenty. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

In other local news, the Cropredy Festival is the latest summer event to pull the plug for another year. It had been rescheduled for the second weekend in August and whilst it looks like covid-restrictions will be removed by then, the uncertainty around event regulations and the financial jeapordy it creates meant the organisers could not risk waiting for clarity any longer. Over half of all the UK's large summer festivals have now been cancelled. Maybe, this summer, small bands should consider organising their own back-garden festivals on a shoestring budget.

Appearing on a security camera near you

The last 15 months has seen bands and musicians finding all sorts of ways to use cameras and the internet to let them practice together and to get their music out to the world, whilst remaining socially distanced but unsociably distant. I have to admit that webcams and Zoom have revolutionised the way we think of meeting. Here is one such collaboration from a fun London band where the drummer is so dedicated to his music that he is sitting outside in the falling snow. I'll bet his sleigh bells were jingling that day. The band is called The Fascinators, and this terrific song is called "The Machine".

I just love that song. The Fascinators make an ambitious claim to be Britain's leading thrash cabaret band, but since they are also Britain's one and only thrash cabaret band, I suppose that's fair enough.

I can't be seen here

The once Secretary of State for Digital Media, Culture, and Sport, Matt Hancock, said: "As a grime fan, I know the power of the UK's urban music scene. I have the great honour of championing British music around the world". A grime fan? Really? Now I imagine him body-popping through the corridors of Whitehall whilst singing the lyrics of "CCTV" by the facemask wearing Tonga Balloon Gang.

Successive government administrations have sought to install more and more CCTV and traffic cameras to log our journeys, and introduce legislation to track our phone movements, keep records of our social media contacts, read our emails, and monitor our browsing histories. They justify all of this as the battle with organised crime, the war against terror, and so on. The trite response to concerns about the erosion of privacy is always "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear", but as soon as a senior Cabinet member is caught on camera with his pants down (thankfully not literally), the politicians shriek that putting a security camera in plain sight on the ceiling of a minister's office is a disgraceful invasion of privacy. Our right to privacy is hugely important. Those who choose to attack it should be aware that this is a sword which cuts both ways.

Exactly how big is that chicken?

One measure of the greatness of a piece of music must be how often it is covered in different styles, guises, and interpretations. Here is a cover of the quasi-operatic Queen classic that you all know and love, Bohemian Rhapsody, but is that really a chicken in the chorus line? What is most surprising is the scene at the end of this video coupled with the date it was created. A joke about unproductive video conferences on a video from 2009? Maybe those Zoom concerts are not so revolutionary after all.

I wonder what the former Health Minister will do now that he no longer has a well-paid job in the Downing Street Muppet Show? How does an ex-minister on a mere MP's salary make ends meet? In 2018, when Boris Johnson departed from his position as Foreign Secretary in Teresa May's government, he immediately resumed his spare time newspaper job. No, not a paper round. No-one wants to see Boris pushing something through their letterbox at seven in the morning. No, he resumed his job as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, writing a weekly opinion piece which he says takes him roughly two hours per week. For this weekly column he reportedly received a salary of £275,000 per year, and if you do the maths, that's over £2,000 per hour. Johnson once famously described his income from journalism as "chickenfeed". That's one hell of a chicken.

Hands, face, space, track and trace, Auntie Grace, double bass

Take care everyone, stay safe, and try not to become a Delta statistic,

2nd July 2021
The Lockdown Letters
Klub Kakofanney