Five gold rings, ooh shiny
Halfway through the Olympic slog and the BBC is bubbling about Charlotte Dujardin who finished third in the dressage, (ballet for horses), and thus became "Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian of all time" with her tally of three golds, one silver, and two bronze.
Strange. I thought Sarah Storey, with her nine gold medals in cycling plus another five golds in swimming as well as other lesser medals and world records was by far our most successful Olympian ever, male or female. Never heard of her? That is because she is disabled and competes in the paralympics, so her superhero special power is invisibility.
Earlier this month, the Norwegian ladies beach handball team was fined 1,500 Euros for wearing shorts. Males can wear tank tops and shorts which reach down to the knee, but females are required to wear a cut-off top which exposes the mid-riff, along with tight fitting bikini bottoms sporting no more than four inches of material. Upon hearing about this idiotic and sexist ruling, pop-star Pink immediately offered to pay the fine for them. Did you know that up to the age of 12, Pink was a competitive gymnast, and is nowadays a mother of two and an accomplished aerial acrobat? This particular clip doesn't show off the extent of Pink's gymnastic abilities, but oh, the sheer showmanship. You wouldn't catch me doing that in high heels.
Britain is successful in Olympic sports because of National Lottery funding which has paid for venues such as velodromes, paid for facilities and equipment, paid for people to be full-time coaches, and paid annual allowances to the top athletes so that they can pursue their dreams. The results are clear. If you nurture your grassroots talent properly, it grows. Imagine if we had that sort of funding for our musical grassroots talent.
Swearing, gurning, and beavers
Which punk band plays fast-paced aggressive music, is excessively loud, noisy, swears a lot, has unintelligible lyrics, and does a mean line in pulling faces? Need another clue? Okay, it has the word "Beaver" in its name? Who? No, not Beaver Fuel. I was thinking of Otoboke Beaver. This band comes from Osaka, in Japan, and takes its name from a local adults-only establishment, The Otoboke Beaver, which is what the Japanese politely call a "Love Hotel". Here is a Beaver short about obsessions with social media which makes me laugh.
Japan is a patriarchal society but music breaks through barriers and it has some great all-female bands and mixed-gender bands. However, it is uncomfortable to see the way some Japanese record labels openly favour artists with the "perky schoolgirl" look, and that the massive gig audiences of those bands seem to be exclusively middle-aged men waving their glow sticks in the air. So it is good when bands like Otoboke Beaver break with tradition and poke the institution. Incidentally, the name of that Beaver video translates as something like "Nasty Old Man".
Going for gold,... ooh shiny
You could be forgiven for thinking a band called Tokyo Taboo was another Japanese ensemble named after a specialist brothel, but this ear-splitting outfit has its roots firmly in the London punk scene. Here is a taste of one of their shows at The Lexington in north London, (another indie venue under threat).
Dolly, the athletic and agile leotard-wearing head-banging vocalist is also a very good pole dancer, and in her highest heels she becomes taller than I am. I don't think punk pole dancing is an Olympic event just yet, but give it time.
Back to the dark ages
It is too easy for critics to dismiss punk music as noisy and lacking serious qualities, yet at the same time, punk bands will go places where other bands fear to tread. Here is a lyric video which Tokyo Taboo released last year called "American Dream" and which is so funny, but also has a serious message behind it.
Don't be afraid to make political statements with your music. Someone has to. The next General Election is scheduled for Thursday 2nd May 2024. Just saying,.....
Welcome to the surveillance society
As you will know, no sooner had we hit "freedom day" than the government announced, without any parliamentary scrutiny or legal protection against misuse, that machine-readable covid passports, an identity card by the backdoor, will be required for nightclubs and sporting events from the end of September.
Let me be clear. I encourage everyone to get a covid jab and to ignore the dangerous and malicious nonsense from the antivax brigade. But I seriously question the science of this covid certificate, I question the glaring loophole in the security of the scheme, and most of all, I question this tactic of bullying people into being vaccinated just to live a normal life within the UK. Stigmatising those who have not yet been vaccinated, who cannot be vaccinated, who cannot prove they've been vaccinated because they were jabbed in another country, even the poor sod who lost his mobile phone on the bus, and turning them all into the 21st century equivalent of the leper colony, is not the way forward.
Nevertheless, if you want to go to a gig at either The Bullingdon or the O2 Oxford, and possibly others, you now need to show a covid pass to get through the door. They are not waiting for it to become law. That policy is in force now, and it applies to everyone whether you are in the band, organising the gig, or just an audience member. No pass, no admission, no exceptions. Here is the NHS page about how to get your covid passport.
No news is not good news
A quick reminder, in case you missed it last week, that we seem to have lost The Wheatsheaf as a venue, and The Hubble and Home was short-lived, so we have been forced to cancel our August gig. I will bring you any updates as soon as we have anything.