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Retirement at last for Paul Dacre,
Friend of boss, red-faced bigot, strikebreaker,
The old and the stale,
In what some call the Mail,
And I call the Malady Maker.
GREAT journalists can inform, educate and inspire. The writings of Paul Foot and John Pilger, to name but two, have illuminated my life. Bad journalists — almost inevitably boring, slavish, brown-nosing toadies of right-wing proprietors and editors — are a sad fact of life and one of many reasons for the decline of newspaper sales.
But they’re just sheep. My greatest scorn is reserved firstly for the proprietor who employs them and secondly for the editor, the faithful shepherd who takes his master’s instructions and passes them on to the sheep, corralling the not-so-timeless prose they produce into endless serried columns of carefully crafted bollocks.
It was therefore with great pleasure that I learned of the impending retirement of the aforementioned Daily Mail editor. Not so much a great journalist as a grate journalist, both on the nerves of people who aren’t foaming ogres of prejudice and as the ideal, fire-containing repository for his output. Worst of all, it appears that he was given complete editorial freedom by Rothermere and so the simmering resentment and division he has fostered in this country for so long is entirely his own work.
Apparently he is moving upstairs in the organisation. If it existed, there can be no doubt that his final, permanent destination would be downstairs — appropriate indeed, because he has made life hell for many decent, honourable and principled people.
At the end of each gig I do, I always thank the organisers, not just out of courtesy but because I am one myself and know just how much blood, sweat and tears goes into producing a successful event. Last weekend saw our 23rd Glastonwick Beer, Music, Poetry and More Beer Festival, a three-day event on a beautiful farm near Shoreham in West Sussex which I have co-organised since 1996.
I’d describe the basic remit thus — to provide 500 or so people with a weekend of great fun sampling beers and watching bands they have mostly never heard of. Not entirely, though. Sussex brewery Dark Star, now part of the Fuller’s empire, was well represented on the beer front and well-known genius comedian Robin Ince, BBC Six Music favourites The Lovely Eggs and beer-sodden punk legends Peter & The Test Tube Babies were part of the entertainment line-up.
But most of the 21 acts on show were up-and-coming performers, many half my age, selected from the many I share a stage with in my 100 or so gigs a year all over the place and I’m happy to say we now do our best to provide 50/50 male-female representation on stage as well.
There’s no way I can mention everyone here but London dub-punk/ maestros Smiley & the Underclass were a huge hit early on Saturday afternoon, poet Sophie Sparham managed to be simultaneously heartbreakingly real and totally uplifting, East Town Pirates inspired this 60-year-old punk rocker to crowd surf for the first time in four decades and husband-and-wife duo The Lovely Eggs had a packed crowd eating out of their hands with their surreal Ramones-meets-Half-Man-Half Biscuit take on life.
And talking of the mighty Biscuits, their new album No-one Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fucking Hedge Cut is one of their best ever and the first to crash straight into the Top 40 album chart with (obviously) no mainstream media publicity whatsoever.
The songs live up to the titles — Man of Constant Sorrow (With a Garage in Constant Use) Knobheads on Quiz Shows and my favourite Swerving The Checkatrade, about singer and Tranmere Rovers fan Nigel’s reluctance to attend the new and much maligned knockout football competition which includes lower-league teams and the second strings from the top two divisions: “Oh let me gaze upon your curves/Instead of Ipswich Town reserves/ Swerving the Checkatrade with you.”
Next week: tour of the North East. Grenfell Tower solidarity gig in Doncaster Thursday, Quakerhouse in Darlington Friday, Golden Smog in Stockton Saturday, Museum Vaults in Sunderland with my old friends Red London on Sunday afternoon. Cheers everyone...
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