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I’ve written a tour diary for this great newspaper for many years now, and many of my columns have been based around my regular gigs in mainland Europe, solo and with my band. Those tours will come to an end if this country leaves the EU without a deal, and to say I am sad and angry about that is an understatement.
Incidentally, I choose to take advice on the matter from my trade union, the Musicians’ Union, rather than from Tory politicians or right wing bots who dismiss everything which doesn't fit their tiny myopic world of red-faced insular Daily Express nonsense as “project fear.”
The following paragraphs are written in accordance with that advice.
I am not paying over three hundred quid for a sodding ATA carnet, noting every bloody plectrum, string and date, time and place of purchase of instrument (which I can’t remember anyway) CD, book, record and badge on it and presenting same to some unnecessary bureaucrat having sat in a poxy queue behind a load of lorries for four hours.
I’m not having the pink wrinkly folds of my testicles examined by bored customs officers for traces of illegal substances which I have never taken in my life, just because I look like an (old) punk rocker, when both they and I know that the people who import the stuff mostly drive posh cars, wear suits and look like ... Tory government ministers, but stopping them’s too much hassle, and they have a day’s quota of examinations to fulfil, so they’ve stopped me.
I’m not unloading a load of musical equipment onto a grass verge just so some petty mainland European official who has the misfortune to be as unimaginative, narrow-minded and misanthropic as his/her UK government counterpart can demonstrate pointlessly that it is HIS/HER country and HIS/HER RULES by asking me to unscrew the nut of my violin bow to check there’s no HEROIN in there.
And so on. And so on...
I’m not going to — because I used to HAVE to before 1992, regularly, and the whole completely unnecessary and ridiculously expensive process sucked vast quantities of donkeys’ smegma-covered reproductive organs in the darkest recesses of Hell.
Then we GREW UP, stopped the whole pointless charade and, along with all kinds of other far more important people who were actually involved in stuff which helped sustain lives and that sort of thing, rock ‘n’ roll musicians of every conceivable hue, from hardcore thrash to the most abject prog, breathed a huge sigh of relief and got on with their work, unimpeded by ludicrous bureaucracy.
I’m not going to — because I don’t have to. I am lucky enough to have enough work in this country to be able to sadly inform all my many friends across the Channel that I won’t be performing there any more.
It’ll make me very sad indeed — and yes, it’ll be my decision, but it is one I can make and still earn a living. I am angry for the sadness I will feel and I hope many of my friends and contacts will feel too.
But I am far more angry about the message we send to the rest of the world as the visa restrictions and requirements for musicians and performers increase — and more and more of them are forced to leave the UK out of their touring schedule out of sheer uncertainty at what comes next.
And I am even more angry for all the people who don’t have the option I do, and whose entire businesses and lives will be wrecked because of the fallout from a ludicrous referendum cooked up by an arrogant upper-class idiot trying to solve the internal problems of the Tory Party.
The Tory toffs baying for a no-deal Brexit will mostly actually benefit from it. The rest of us won’t, and people who do my job least of all.
I’m sad that this newspaper doesn’t agree with me on this issue, and reiterate that I respect and understand the left economic argument for leaving the EU. But culture and openness matter more to me. We’ll have to agree to differ, as comrades sometimes do.
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