On Your Marks, Get Rich, Go


It’s nice to hear that the Olympic Torch will be in Croydon today. All morning I’ve been singing to myself  “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, fire’s coming home…”.
I suppose if (as has often happened on this relay) the flame goes out they can always re-ignite it with the embers of a burning sofa left over from the riots.

Yes, there’s no getting away from it : IT’S here. That event that you and everyone at T’BBC Salford has been looking forward to.  London 2012 is here and it doesn’t matter that, like me, the very thought of Sebastian Coe induces in you a touch of the Yangtze Rapids it’s here to dominate your tv set, pub conversation and in some cases, the very hell you live in.

Nobody enjoys sport more than I do (unless I have to actually compete in it, you understand) but I do get the taste of a thousand lemons in my mouth as the BBC commentaries and fanfares are drowned out by the clinking-clanking sound of Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Samsung, Procter&Gamble (as if it’s much of a gamble)  G4S and the rest of them hauling sack-loads of our cash out of the country. And all this before Brendan Foster even gets the chance to sober up, or Michael Vaughan interviews Steve Redgrave about his two Olympic Gold Medals.

The decision to move the BBC out of London in the Jubilee Year (in the end, the Queen refused to move to Bury) and the LONDON olympics is really bearing fruit now. The team in Salford are left to report on events in London the way that Jeremy Bowen used to report on events Syria from a vantage point over the Jordan border. They do, of course, have people nearer the action, but for Orla Guerin read Carol Kirkwood, and for John Simpson read the brilliant Mike Bushell. From their gantry this morning above Freedom Square…sorry…Olympic Park, Carol kindly familiarised the viewer with the London skyline, as if it was us who’d been away, not them:

“…and to the left of the screen you can see the Shard: one of the biggest buildings in London…if not the biggest”. It’ll be one or the other darling, but well done on your preparation nevertheless. She ran out of time before she could show us the exact location of the community Gun Emplacements “Sponsored by Accurist”.

Bushell, with his Homer Simpson gormless smile splashed across his face, sat motionless, desperately trying to remember that Wiggly Baggins had won the Tour de France and not scored a double-hundred at Chelmsford yesterday. Such a pro.

Somewhere between the enthusiastic amateurs and the Shard in the distance (however big it may or may not be) one could just spy the scene of the crime, Park Olympia: A dozen or so thoughtfully-designed, and on a few occasions, strikingly beautiful stadia dotted around what looks like the industrial storage facility next to Heathrow’s Terminal 4.

 If not exactly a war-zone that Kate Adie would be proud to report from, then something that needs the help of the Olympic torch and an accelerant. My knowledge of the English language is not advanced enough to express my sentiments on the bit of sculpture in the middle.

So, at last the sun has come out, as if to welcome the world’s finest athletes to our shores. (I knew it would be hot this week – Carol Kirkwood predicted snow) It certainly shone on 12 South Africans yesterday as 11 of their cricketers made life miserable for an Anglo/Bokke XI at the Oval yesterday, and the 12th – a golfer- not only won The Open at Lytham, but went a long way to dispelling the myth that no-one has ever met a nice South African. Ernie Els overcame the hapless and helpless Aussie Adam Scott who Devon Loch’ed up the home straight, playing the sort of golf that I’d be proud of – bogeying the last four holes.

Poor Adam, it’ll be tough to forget that one. Clearly his caddie Racist-Stevie Williams (it’s a double-barrelled forename), who has claimed all those Tiger Woods victories as his own, clearly lost his golden touch and should now be sacked, never to whiten our door again. Some weird mirrored symmetry in a liberal-thinking, white South African, beating a bigoted kiwi.

But never mind all that now. It’s Olympic week. So gird your loins and cheer for your boys (and girls). Cast aside your petty squabbles with racism, corruption, corporate greed, scorched earth policies and financial impropriety. This is England, after all. You should be used to it by now.

Cry God for Bradley, Rebecca and Saint George !!!

And Seb can go and fuck himself.

How Many Roads Must a Man Walk Down?


You need militants on a demonstration. You need passion and commitment and a sense of purpose. If you’re undecided or wishy-washy your march is never gonna get off the ground. Can you imagine the leader of the Liberal Party (Simon Pegg, I think his name is) organising a demo? It’d be as effective as a solar panel in Salford. “What do we want?: DON’T KNOW; When do we want it?: SOME TIME IN THE NEAR FUTURE, IF IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE” is not gonna get anyone excited.

So you need heart. You need drive. Often, some of this passion boils over into violence which is why we see thousands of Plod on the streets of London this morning, having had Knacker cancel all leave. Shame. But we are (up to a point, Lord Copper) exercising our right to demonstrate, and a march without passion or a smidge of violence becomes a ramble— and the Church organises those, complete with kagools and sponsorship forms. No thanks.

I was 13 when my brother took me on my first demo— The Rock Against Racism/Anti Nazi League march from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park in East London (30th April 1978, for anyone taking notes). Fucking miles! But it was fantastic. Hundreds of thousands (Police estimate:143) of like-minded people marching for a common cause: crush racism in the UK. It was 1978 and the National Front were becoming a little strong for our liking, so we marched in protest. And we sang. “The National Front is a Nazi Front, SMASH THE NATIONAL FRONT We sang it all day. For mile after mile. We ALL sang it. It was bleedin tedious.

RAR_carnival_78_poster

Google Maps tells me the direct route between Trafalgar Square and the park is 5.9 miles. Well we didn’t go the straight route (Plod diverted us away from the posh bits in the City) and my brilliant 13 yr old mind told me we walked at LEAST 15 miles. 15 miles of singing the same song. It was like listening to a Morrisey Album all afternoon: torture. But it was a thrill for me at a tender age: collecting ANL and RAR badges. AND placards, and leaflets and flyers and pamphlets. Oh! Think of the Trees, Mike, all that wood n paper!!! well this was BGB (Before Geldof and Bono) and no-one gave a monkeys about the planet or the rainforest. A witty cardboard slogan nailed to a lovely bit of 4×2 was the weapon of choice for both pacifist and anarchist.

The Author (back row, third from left), prepares to leave Trafalgar Square. Note bad haircut

The Author (back row, third from left), prepares to leave Trafalgar Square. Note bad haircut

I was proud to have my photo taken by the Police snapper when it was my turn to carry the big banner (what DID they think I was gonna do?) waved at the spotters on the roofs, and ran away quickly when some of the bigger boys started lobbing stuff at the police. But on the whole it seemed to me to be a good-natured event, (I swear that copper was smiling as they wiped the blood from his head) and it ended with my first rock concert in the park and my first sight of Joe Strummer and the boys. I was in heaven.
So we had one message and one march. And one song.

Fast forward to today. Sit down, I have something to tell you: One of today’s marches goes from London Bridge to The Bank of England.That’s a distance of less than a mile. I have longer nostril hair than that !!

Come on guys, put a bit of effort in.

And the coalition of beefs these people have is mind-boggling: Anti Banks, Anti War, Anti Welsh, Save the Planet, Reclaim the Streets, Right to Work, Right to Left, Anarchists, Pacifists, Cyclists, Monarchists, Buggerists, Typists the list is endless. What are they gonna sing? Is there a running order? (mind you, by the time the London Bridge mob reach their destination they’d have hardly had time for a couple of lines of We Shall Overcome). As far as I’m aware they won’t be passing a McDonalds, a Shell garage, or a branch of Barclays: all classic targets for the mob (I still mourn the end of South Africa House demos). Perhaps they can get more miles under their belts by marching round and round in circles a la American pickets in episodes of The West Wing, Columbo etc. (Why DO they go round in circles??)

Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

So let’s hope for a good clean fight today. We won’t throw lamp posts at you if you put away the CS gas and the horses. We promise not to lynch anyone, if you promise not to lie about the numbers attending. AND if you’re gonna single us out and snap potential “troublemakers” at least make the pics available to us, so that years from now I’ll have a copy of the photo for my blog.
Up the Revolution !!