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The Amazing Life of Ant D - Page 4

  • Nous Sommes Humain

    Sigh, humanity sigh. The events of Friday night have hit me hard, not because I knew anyone there, not because I particularly love France, not even particularly because of the events themselves but because of my ever failing belief that humanity is good.

     

    12234899_10156135290865198_3323675452904096305_n.jpgIn short the events of Friday 13th November 2015 saw 120+ civilians killed in terrorist attacks in the French capital, civilians who were enjoying a night out at a rock concert or at various bars, they did not deserve to die.

    The aftermath saw millions take to twitter and Facebook in shock over the atrocities that had occurred in Paris but then the tide turned, for a lot of people the shock turned to anger and that anger got spilt out towards more people that didn't deserve it; refugees. Facebook became awash with hatred "close our borders", "don't let the immigrants into our country" I am ashamed to say people I regard as friends were speaking this rubbish.

    The current refugee crisis is caused by millions upon millions of poor people who are unable to live in their own countries, often the country that they grew up in and love, because they are running from the same terrorism that hit France last night. Whilst the emergency service were still fighting the cause in Paris, anti-migrant groups in Calais set fire to a refugee camp. This horrible retaliation, which dragged precious resources away from the incident in Paris is for some unknown reason not being reported in the same way that Paris is being treated, yet it is the same story, innocent people being attacked by terrorists.

    This horrible tit for tat mentality is exactly what terrorists want, what better propaganda is there for enticing people to join extremist groups is there than showing innocent Muslims being attacked by evil Westerners. It is no coincidence that fake Syrian passports were found near the sights of the bombings despite 7 out of 8 attackers already proven to be French nationals. It is all to provoke further rash outcries to use as more and more propaganda.

     

    paris.jpgThe worst thing is, even without these tactics from terrorists our own press provide enough hatred and vitriol to easily go around. Before the attacks took place I was reading the Evening Standard on the tube and read the front page article about the death of Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed Jihadi John. I found the article particularly unpleasant, glorifying the death of this man saying that he had been 'Vaporised'. It went on to mock that he was bullied at school.. Now this to me points to a man who was crying out for help and unfortunately found it in the arms of a terrorist organisation. To me this shows the failings of British society that allows children and young adults who need guidance to fall under the radar. This paper, read by hundreds of thousands of people every day is spouting such hatred that sadly a lot of people take at face value and thus this cycle of hatred keeps on going.

    For me this all comes down to one fact, if one person wants to kill another person whether it be in the name of 'religion', revenge, war, whatever there is something wrong with them. As humans we all can see our own mortality and to want to take that away from somebody else is not natural. People committing these atrocities aren't well, they need help and fuelling their vulnerabilities with hatred will not work. 

    Imagine in the light of this the West said, lets not send in more air strikes, lets show that we can be the better people. Let us publicly display more affection towards the refugees and the horrible plight they are escaping from. That message of Peace will be a lot harder to use to recruit more members.

  • Labour Leadership: Who to vote for?

    Well, this isn't a feeling I have had all too often. In my voting lifetime I have always been supremely confident in who I was going to vote for and I am happy to say that to this day it has been Labour all the way. Sure I have flirted with the idea of voting Green or even Socialist but in my heart I had always known that Labour provided closest to what I was looking for. The 2015 election was no different apart from that I really did believe in Ed and his policies but Labour lost convincingly and now the party is in a complete mess! 

    I believe 2015 wasn't lost on policy but on a lack of cohesion in the party and that has been never more apparent than in the leadership election that is currently ensuing. 4 very different candidates vying for one position;

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    Andy Burnham: White Male, 45, MP for Leigh since 2001 and former Cabinet Minister 

    Yvette Cooper: White Female, 46, MP for Normanton, Pontefract & Castelford since 1997 and former Cabinet Minister

    Jeremy Corbyn: White Male, 66, MP for Islington North since 1983

    Liz Kendall: White Female, 44, MP for Leicester West since 2010

     

    Above you will see pure facts and from those you can get very little of substance so we dig a little deeper to where their politics lie and why we'd vote for each. So on a rudimentary political paradigm, Corbyn is on the Socialist Left, Burnham and Cooper are moderates and Kendall is on the Right of the party. Ok so at this juncture I will throw in my first two cents and drop a candidate.

    19.jpgThe Labour party, founded in 1900 as a bastion of hope for the underprivileged of the UK, was formed as an opposition to the Conservative party, a party full of wealthy land and factory owners who's oppressive and greedy ways kept the rich rich and the poor poor. So now why do the Labour party have a candidate who has no distinguishable difference from the Conservatives of today, she refuses to rule out further privatisation of the NHS and backs plans for hefty welfare cuts. Her arguments for success are that she can win back the swing voters in seats such as the famous Nuneaton and I'm sure that is valid as they have most recently voted Conservative and are likely to want the same again, what she neglects to realise is that in doing so she complacently forgets about the Labour core who are turned off by her views. So I am glad to see that Kendall lies in last place in the polls as it would suggest I am not on my own in thinking like this.

     

    But now is where we get to the real meat of the situation and where my problem lies. On paper Corbyn is my candidate, I locate myself on the left and find the vast majority of what Mr. Corbyn talks about to be similar to my own beliefs. Beliefs that everyone should pay their fare share to help others and that war is fundamentally wrong. 

    4016.jpgBurnham and Cooper find themselves somewhere in between Corbyn and Kendall and although don't cater fully to my political whims they do so as much as any previous Labour chief has and every now and then they come out with something which I really like, so much so that for the early weeks of the election campaign I was torn between the two, Cooper possibly edging out Burnham as although Corbyn satisfied my socialist desires I didn't think of him as a plausible or likely leader, sighting the 1983 General Election as my proof.

     

    I was fairly set but then came the Welfare Bill, a dedication from the Conservative Government to make £12 Billion in cuts to welfare over the next Government. Corbyn unsurprisingly was strong and voted against the cuts that would hit the poorest in society the most. Kendall stayed strong to her beliefs too she agreed with the temporary leader Harriet Harman and said that the proposed cuts were in essence correct and abstained as was party line. But then we had Burnham and Cooper who vehemently disagreed with the bill like Corbyn but decided to abstain, letting the Bill through with ease. From this moment forward I had been a Corbynite, an honest man who stuck to his morals no matter what instead of weak yes men who will quite happily say one thing to your face and another behind your back. Again the country seemed to agree and the Corbyn bandwagon hasn't slowed down since, overflowing rallies and an increase in membership on unprecedented levels.

    jeremy-corbyn_3341664b.jpgMy views on Corbyn as a plausible leader too had changed, this surge in popularity was telling me that in fact this is what a lot of people want and as leader I believe that he could do a lot of good but, and there always is a but, I still can't see him winning a General Election. I do believe that in opposition Corbyn would force the attention of the media on some atrocities that are allowed to happen under the current Government, the housing crisis, the joke that is the minimum wage, the cost of trident, tax avoidance, tax evasion, the list is endless. In doing so my hope would be that as a result these issues could no longer be ignored and that even were he to lose the 2020 General election, that the political landscape in the UK would have shuffled to a more appealing position and that by 2025 there could be a quality alternative. 

     

    The last few days though my bubble has been burst, the tirades or abuse from the right wing of the Jeremy-Corbyn-11_3328948k.jpgLabour party has been incessant and the silence from the Conservatives have been deafening. If Corbyn was to become leader surely he would then open up to an even more unpleasant scrutiny from the other side, saying that it is hard to think it can get much worse than the deeply unpleasant bile coming from Tony Blair. Already he has been called anti-Semitic for his pro-Palestinian stance and will likely suffer similar for his association with the Irish Republicans. The press would overload anything positive he did with ten times as much rumour and speculation. True he does not have a perfect record but I am sure none of them do but the press won't be as hard on people that they will benefit from or at least perceive that they might do so. The opposition within the party too wouldn't die down and a split would be quite likely as the voices of Labour past would never be too far from the foreground. However disappointing I may find it I think a Corbyn Premiership may well be self destructive despite it being what I really want.

     

    So I am stuck. I still have Kendall firmly on the do not vote list but I have to make a choice between the bland Cooper/Burnham leadership that in reality will be slightly left of Blair, slightly right of Milliband and entirely uninspiring but with a reasonable chance of becoming PM especially after five years where cuts will hurt or a Corbyn leadership that in a perfect world would be a perfect solution but with a general public who tend to be on the greedy side of aspirational and a poisonous press who again would rather tell the stories that keep them rich and powerful than the ones that really matter, would probably result in another 10 years in the Tory Wilderness. I unfortunately think that in writing this I have chosen what I didn't want to be the right answer.    

     

  • Best Albums 2014

    So here I am nearly at the end of May 2015 and I have only just got around to doing my best of 2014 list. I managed to get my best of tracks before the New Year but the albums I struggled with. Maybe this was because I had such a busy year and didn't get to listen to as many albums as I would have liked or maybe as I unfortunately think it wasn't a wonderful year for music. Nevertheless I have produced my list, better late than never.

    619ff170567b613a77e673cc586d984c.jpg10. Tune-Yards - Nikki Nack

    Tune-Yards is the brain child of New England musician Merrill Garbus, she records much of her music in very minimalist ways looping a drum, playing a ukulele and singing but manages somehow to create a big sound. Nikki Nack is Garbus' 3rd release, I first heard of her after her second, Whokill and have not looked back since. 'Water Fountain' is my favourite track on the album but the whole thing is filled with quirky little gems, definitely worth a listen.

     

     

    aa66daf9592070dc1808f1ce2664379a.jpg9. Spring Offensive - Young Animal Hearts

    I can't remember how I came to hear from Spring Offensive but once I heard 'Speak' I knew I was onto a winner. Spring Offensive were an Oxford based five piece and when I first listened the vocals reminded me of early tracks by frYars who himself made a bit of a comeback this year. Along with 'Speak', other stand outs on the album include 'Bodylifting' and Hengelo, expect sombre lyrics and a gentle electronic sound, a band that only through writing this list I realise have already split up, alas I will never see them play.

     

    b59502fc530a97b27cf7e35a34965b59.jpg8. Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain 

    I have been following the career of Mr. Oberst since I first heard Bright Eyes' 'First Day of my Life' back in 2003. 'I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning' is one of my favourite all time albums and was therefore near impossible that anything Conor Oberst would release after to compete. Unfortunately with each Bright Eyes release the quality was decreasing but this solo effort from Conor Oberst is the best thing he has done in ages. There is no one stand out track on this album but it works nicely as a playthrough, whether giving it full attention or just having it on in the background it's a good'un

     

    edfd289e38642d84bca1a9d09597bb01.jpg7. Milky Chance - Sadnecessary  

    This band I found completely by accident, when watching music TV in my room in Venice with my newly married wife. 'Flashed Junk Mind' came on and it was one of those moments where we both just looked at each other and knew we liked it and in the end we used it for our wedding video. I bumped into the band again on the FIFA 15 soundtrack with the song 'Down By The River' which gave the band some mainstream fame. Milky Chance are a two-piece indie band from Germany who have produced a very listenable debut album. 

     

    25b726d89de20b396f328808caa4c615.jpg6. Azealia Banks - Broke with Expensive Taste

    Now this album should have been released about two years previous. Ms. Banks' single '212', you know that really filthy not too subtle rap came out in 2012 to mass praise from both critics and the general public, she was to be the next big thing but delays begot delays and publicised arguments with her production company meant that the album didn't come out until 2014. It was though worth the wait though with tracks like 'Nude Beach a-go go' she proves she still has a cheeky edge and 'Chasing Time' was an instant banger. Unfortunately for Azealia though not everyone shared my enthusiasm and it fell a bit flat in the public eye.

     

    edcdd0774171a16059bc750bb49bf358.jpg5. Drowners - Drowners

    This was one of the first albums I listened to in 2014 being released in early 2014. I was awaiting this fairly eagerly having come across their single 'Luv, Hold me down' in the NME's On Repeat section in mid 2013. The band and that song especially have a very strong The Strokes vibe which can only be a good thing in my book. Hailing from the USA this is the bands 1st album and it is a very solid and listenable debut.

     

     

    09c922427b035866a311a2bd8e2298bc.jpg4. Jack White - Lazaretto

    The maestro returns with a superb album, although good I never really got into his first solo effort in the same way that I did The White Stripes but with this album I was reunited with a love of this man. Now more than just a musician, Jack is now the founder and head of Third Man Records who have a number of impressive bands under their guidance including the impressive Alabama Shakes. Lazaretto is as rawkus as anything that Jack White has done previously, the title track my particular highlight but from start to finish it is more than enjoyable.

     

    50404685da8b640ab34b96aedd0f1c76.jpg3. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

    When I first heard BBC they were a bunch of 16 year olds about to undertake their GCSE's and played in a band at the weekends. The best part of 10 years later they are still recording and as this high entry shows, still making good music. The band's sound has changed a lot since those early days but this, their 4th album, retains all the elements that enticed me in the first place whilst keeping it fresh for a new audience. I wasn't a huge fan of their previous album, 2011's A Different Kind of Fix, that I felt was a step too far into a dancier sound but I think that they have now found the right balance.

     

    a4c43603d8f1cf5048613884b7d55fe7.jpg2. Beaty Heart - Mixed Blessings

    Every year there is an entry near the top of my list that appeared from nowhere and this year it is this, Beaty Heart's Mixed Blessings. Early in the year I heard Lekka Freakout and enjoyed it thoroughly but on first listen to the album it went straight over my head but when I saw the band supporting Catfish & The Bottlemen later in the year I really began to appreciate them and for about a month after I couldn't stop listening to the likes of Seafood and Banana Bread. An indie electro 3-piece their music has a surreal element as do their videos, which are made especially strange for me as the lead singer does have a striking resemblance to my cousin. Mixed Blessings is the bands first album although the band have been around for a few years, hopefully it won't be too long until their next.

    36bc554f9334254d7bf4001fdb1a25d6.jpg1. Jamie T - Carry on the Grudge

    No surprises at number one it is one of my favourite artists, Jamie T, with his 3rd album. The release itself was a bit of a surprise as nothing much had been heard of from the Wimbledon troubador in more than 5 years but when he released the single 'Don't You Find' from nowhere in the middle of the year, it was clear that he was back. This record sees Jamie taking a huge step from the style of music that originally brought him fame in the late 2000s, on the whole it has a fairly slow and lo-fi sound with a few faster paced snippets such as 'Zombie' thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately I missed out on the initial ticket release for his shows as they sold out in minutes but was lucky enough to see him play locally later in the year and although it wasn't my favourite live performance it is one performer I can cross off from my bucket list. The album though blew my mind and hence here it is as my number one album of 2014.

     

    Honourable mentions go to FKA Twigs whose LP1 was only just pipped out of the top 10 and Fuse ODG who would have made this list had it been based just on singles but his album tracks just weren't strong enough. The wooden spoon goes to my beloved Bellowhead, like Akala last year I think I was almost expecting too much from their latest album and it did not come up to scratch. Maybe if I was listening to the album objectively I would have enjoyed it more but unfortunately for them I can't and they do not make my list this time. 

    So there you have it, as I said on the whole not a tremendous year for music but the bonus of writing this half way through 2015 is that I have already heard a lot of what  has come out in 2015 and it has already proved to be a bit of a belter. Hopefully I will be able to get 2015's list out in a more punctual fashion!

     

    END.