askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
  1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
  2. Where was your profile picture taken? 
    From the living room window of my old flat in Hove, facing the sea.
  3. Worst pain you've ever experienced?
    I think it's a tie between the pain I had in my shoulder a few times before surgery and once after surgery, and my first smear test
  4. Who was the last person to make you laugh? 
    Nicky Wire when I read this interview. "Floppy alcoholic neck syndrome" indeed.
  5. How late did you stay up last night?
    3am I think. Too anxious to sleep again.
  6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?
    Probably New Zealand - Auckland specifically. Can't see it happening any time soon though.
  7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? 
    I don't think so. Tend to actually watch fireworks rather than snog. Because I am relentlessly practical and do hierarchies of urgency for everything.
  8. Which of your Facebook friends lives closest to you? 
    A bunch of people - probably an ex-colleague and current-friend.
  9. How do you feel about turkey burgers? 
    The same as I feel about all non-vegetarian burgers.
  10. When was the last time you cried?
    Last night because I was over emotional and relieved to hear a friend's good news. Only teared up though. Genuinely cannot remember the last time I actually wept.
  11. Who took your profile photo? 
    Me. On my old Canon Ixus
  12. Who was the last person you took a picture with?
    Probably Sim when we were at the festival last month. Nobody I know really takes pictures. Oh! It might have been a selfie I took with B's daughter a couple of weeks ago - I cropped myself out before I shared it though.
  13. What's your favourite season? 
    Spring and Autumn tie for me. Both have such unique textures, smells, colours and both make me excited and aware of all the changes in nature and the unending cycle of life which I get to make a blip on.
  14. If you could have any career. 
    This one. But with more job security and less anxiety - although the last one is totally unachievable/incompatible with this career.
  15. Do you think relationships are ever worth it? 
    Ever worth it? Yes. Always worth it? No.
  16. If you could talk to ANYONE right now who would it be?
    Living it would be B because I miss her again. Dead, it would be Lux. Because I miss her always.
  17. Are you a good influence?
    I want to be. I suspect I'm more of a warning.
  18. Does pineapple belong on pizza? 
  19. You have the remote, what channel are you watching? 
    I always have the remote. Brainless/I want noise in background = E4. Actually concentrating = usually BBC2 or BBC4
  20. Who do you think will fill this out? 
    Other humans.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Some time ago, I wrote this after hearing the person who made the documentary Crazy About One Direction speak (in an academic context). I've had it set to private for ages but in the context of my continuing participation in Manics fandom, and all that it has given me, I wanted to post it now. 

I watched Crazy About One Direction when it aired last year.  I also watched the enormous twitter fall out where the girls who were interviewed were attacked by other fans and expressed their regret.  I watched the film maker apparently bait fans on twitter to greater response and outcry.  I talked to two of the girls who appeared in the documentary on twitter about their responses to seeing the finished film and the twitter response they endured.

My conclusion was that the documentary was about exotisizing and laughing at the 'obsessive' fan performances of devotion. I felt the girls who contributed were hung out to dry.

I asked her today about a comment she made in her presentation that all the girls were happy with the film and pleased to be in it given my interaction with one contributor which was to the contrary - I suggested that perhaps we could understand it within a framework where outrage was a performative act of belonging to the fandom.  She suggested the girls who said they were angry about their portrayal were not being entirely honest because of the pressure they felt to hate the film.  I think that's a neat and plausible explanation but I don't feel it completely deals with the ethical issues raised by the film's airing and the backlash online.

She spoke about how she felt she had made an affectionate portrait of the fans and admired and enjoyed the culture they created and their experience of being in a fandom. She felt she could never win at making a film about the fans that they would enjoy.

Here's the issue, as it stands for me: if you haven't lived a fandom from the inside you can't talk about it.  If you 'admire' the cultural practices and creation of a fandom then you already miss the point.  If you think being inside a fandom would be wonderful and wish you could be - but aren't - then you are never going to represent that experience correctly because you cannot understand it.  There were a lot of shitty documentaries made about Manics fans, a lot of shit articles written about how we were obsessive and insane and impenetrable.  None of them understood why we were those things, none of them acknowledged how and why we came together and why we protected our borders so vigorously.

Manics fans got to understand the media, we got to understand you have to check credentials if someone wants to interview you.  We got to understand we needed to laugh at ourselves and doing so would help us, as well as take the venom out of the bite of the media when they tried to make those same jokes.  Most music press articles on Manics fans these days have a begrudging respect -  we stayed the course, we learnt to be media savvy, we made the jokes first, but we never sacrificed our passion for the band and our protection of one another. 

I tried telling the One Direction film maker I believed that a lot of the anger the One Direction fans felt was experienced by Manics fans in the past and that we had learnt to negotiate the stereotypes about what a Manics fan is - and that One Direction fans were too young a fandom to have got there yet.  She seemed to understand - but then she made comments that suggested she didn't understand at all.  She linked the threats of suicide and murder One Direction fans levelled at themselves and her respectively after the documentary aired to Manics fans cutting themselves as a performance of belonging.  I explained to her that she was confusing cause and effect - that, yes, perhaps belonging was coded in the Manics fandom by performance of self hatred, but perhaps - more likely -  it was that the Manics provided a space to talk, an outlet, and a siren call to those who were already hating themselves.  Perhaps, I told her, One Direction fans were not expressing self hate and feelings of ugliness because One Direction had a song on that topic (as she suggested), but rather because they felt that way and suddenly, finally, had a channel to express that.

She nodded with interest - this seemed to be the first time an alternative reading of that action was offered to her.  'But!' she countered, 'Manics fans are a very different demographic to One Direction fans.' I nodded in agreement.  'One Direction fans are working class' she said.  I hesitated - Manics fans are almost universally from working class families in my experience -  as conversation around us interrupted I lost the opportunity to correct her on the ways in which I felt they were different demographics.  'There's more than shared music for Manics fans though,' I said 'we have a shared political position'.  She nodded; 'yeah, suicide'.  I boggled.  'Suicide is not a political position', I said.  Conversation of people around us overtook us again and I never got a response from her beyond a laugh.  I was talking about socialism and political leftism.  She was talking about performance of emotional trauma.  She doesn't understand my fandom - she sees only the sensational in a fandom which has negotiated a new media relationship away from sensational representations of our fandom.  For that reason it's perhaps inevitable it was only the sensational, the disembodied, the abstract that was represented in what she believed was an 'affectionate' portrait of One Direction fans

I got talking, later on this evening, to a friend about my experience of being in the Manics fandom.  We talked about what it meant to me and what I understood the fandom as.  Family.  Family is what it is.  Manics fans understand me deep down and I understand them, we share a common cultural knowledge, a social and political position, and, perhaps sadly, a shared trauma in relation to family or mental health or society, or all three.  We skip the basics, the introductions, and we go straight to acceptance and understanding and compassion.  And we sustain one another, look after one another, forgive one another.  We offer each other all the things my friend gets from her family or origin.

I wouldn't dream of making a documentary about what it means to be in my friend's family.  But the cultural availability of fandom, the public construction of it, the apparent accessibility of it, means people feel able to talk, with authority, about what it is we are doing and why.  The jokes we make about what being a manics fan means - about self harm and self loathing and suicide and disappearance - they are funny because we live them.  They aren't funny because they are abstract or because they are excessive.  But those are the reasons people outside the fandom, including this filmmaker, laugh.  We laugh together, they laugh at us.  We laugh or we'd cry, they laugh because it seems strange and incomprehensible, because it is Other.

Ethically though? Nightmare.  I maintain her documentary was fundamentally unethical because of how it offered up her representation of those girls to a hostile and paranoid fandom.  And after speaking to her I strongly believe it fell down ethically because she was sure she understood their fannish experience and refused to listen to them telling her what it felt like from the inside.  She fetishised the experience of being inside fandom and that creates an insurmountable distance in story telling. My family is the Manics fandom, I find it hard to articulate what that feels like - but I don't want someone else to tell my story for me, to judge me by their standards, to point and say "isn't this weird, how they communicate and organise and live?! Isn't it novel and different?! Let's all look and stare!"

And that, I think, remains the fundamental misunderstanding of the filmmaker which means she can't quite see how inevitable the response to that documentary was.  And it made me feel misunderstood, as I tried to illustrate my point with my own experience of fandom because she got side tracked with what she thought she knew about Manics fans and stopped listening to me.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Nothing 'big' but I was in a cinematic release movie, available on bluray later in the year, appeared on BBC tv. I had an operation - my first ever. And I kept ploughing on with the PhD - a determined continuation is new in a roundabout sort of way.

Read more... )
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)

I don't think I ever found the time to write about going to Manchester to see No Manifesto: A film about Manic Street Preachers. It was a documentary that was largely recorded 9 years ago and has been stuck in post-production for several years for want of funding to get a cinematic release. This year it finally came together and in January and February this year it had a limited theatrical release. I was interviewed for the documentary in 2006 and suspected I'd made the final cut as I'd been in the theatrical trailer they'd released several months earlier. Sure enough, I appeared in the 'cast photos' the film makers put on Facebook and I can be spotted a couple of times - although if you blink/close your ears you miss me.

On a personal note, I adore No Manifesto. It's all the things I, as a contributor and fan, hoped it would be. It has a light touch, a wry look at the band and the fans that come with it.  I sat with [ profile] snapdragon_666 and we laughed and giggled and cringed and had a thoroughly wonderful time watching it - and in our day together either side of it. 

No Manifesto has a wonderful line from Nicky Wire where he says "sometimes the fans hate us, and sometimes we hate them, and that's ok." And it really is.


Yesterday I attended the Manics Cardiff Castle gig which I had been so excited about since it was announced in December.  Unexpectedly, it was broadcast on BBC 2 Wales and, for the non-Welsh, on BBC red button.  It's available for the next 29 days on iPlayer too.

Even more unexpectedly - as I resolved to queue for no more than a couple of hours and decided I'd be quite happy not to be on the barrier - I ended up on the barrier.  And, taking my place on Nicky [Wire]'s side of the stage as I always do, found myself in front of the crowd camera.  I sent my parents a text to let them know they might spot me on tv.  I didn't expect to find myself featured quite so heavily and got home to my hostel last night to a pile of twitter notifications from friends telling me they'd seen me (and our other mutual friends with whom I was standing) on the live feed.

I travelled home from Cardiff today, still feeling the afterglow of a thoroughly massive, energetic, energising gig, and as I was getting the photos off my camera, I watched the first half of the gig on iPlayer.  And yep, there I am! Singing, dancing and generally having the sort of time I only enjoy when I'm crushed against barrier and bodies, screaming at Nicky Wire, without another care in the world.

This was one of the times we didn't hate each other. It was one of the times we bloody loved one another.  Fans and band, running off one another's energy.

A Day Like This a Year

So yes, my last entry was rather melancholy.  But, predictably, that doesn't reflect all of life.

And it's moments like these - laughing until I cry at a documentary in a cinema in Manchester with what felt like a room-full of friends, singing and dancing and cheering amid a mass of 10,000 bodies at a castle in Wales - that really make life.  These are the moments that last.  These are the moments that see me through.  These are the moments - especially the moments yesterday and this morning with friends - that really matter.

Gig Report

Sep. 25th, 2013 12:14 pm
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
If you're not interested in gig reports and/or the Manics then scroll on by...

Last night I went to my 14th Manics gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire which is one of the few 'classic' London venues I haven't been to before.  I arrived about 5pm and got lost trying to get from the tube station to the venue which was quite serendipitous as a woman approached me and asked if I was trying to find the Empire, I said I was and then a passer by who overheard us pointed us in the right direction.  We chatted on the way and it turned out she was on holiday in London for a week and quite by chance had googled the Manics earlier that day and discovered they were playing and decided to come down and see if she could get a ticket.  Once we got to the venue I joined the (fairly small) queue and she went to talk to the touts.   

She got a ticket for £70 (face value; £32.50, ouch!) and we stood listening to the soundcheck through the fire escape.  We got talking and it turns out she's from Thailand and had been trying to see the Manics for years - back in 2008 they were due to play a couple of days after all the protests and the airport being closed/occupied so they cancelled, rescheduled twice and then cancelled entirely so she was beside herself with excitement.  Then a chap came over and started to talking to us, he was 52, from Italy and had decided to buy a ticket from an online tout (£85) and fly in from Italy that morning and was going straight to Stansted after the gig to catch a flight back again!  Manics fans are nothing if not dedicated!

After that I began talking to the guy ahead of me in the queue who was wearing a pair of leopard print converse that I had been eyeing up for some time.  He had been to every date on the tour so far (see: dedicated!) and at the Bristol gig the night before, had got back to his hotel to discover his ears were bleeding! We chatted and joined forces in our plan to get a good spot on Nicky's side of the stage.

Much laughter and chatter later we were in the venue.

I have a few negatives about the actual gig and I'm going to get them out all at once so I can move on and talk about the good things.

Bad things

There was a hugely aggressive atmosphere. Some lager totting-Ben Sherman shirt wearing knob pushed in front of me as soon as the support act finished and proceeding to completely obscure my view and slam into me as he danced. When he left after a few songs, there was space for three people to move forward, two women from my right moved into the space and aggressively prevented me from moving forward for no reason I could comprehend.

Later, two women who looked rough as all hell (i.e. people I would not mess with) started having a go at the nice guy standing next to me because he was pushed up against them; newsflash ladies, if you are in the 4th row at a standing gig and there have been multiple crowd surges people will be pushed up against you.  I intervened after I heard him repeat for the 3rd time that he couldn't move backwards because he was squashed/there was no space.  I told them there was nowhere for him to move and that we were all squashed, they were basically suggesting he was a pervert because he was pushed up against her back - poor guy was nothing of the sort.

Another woman who I had seen hanging around outside the venue (but not queuing) forced her way to the front, screamed in my ear repeatedly and completely obscured my view of Nicky by holding her massive Galaxy Note phone up to photograph him for the full length of 3 three songs - a lot of people were shouting at her, and she kept leaning on the shoulders and heads of the people in front of her which I'm sure was even more annoying than what I suffered - but she ignored everyone and just kept forcing her way forward.

Towards the final third of the gig the mosh pit which usually happens in the centre and off to the left moved right and into the area in front of Nicky where I was standing - I got smacked in the back repeatedly and about 4 blokey laddy types forced their way in front of me.  I have been knocked over, shoved, kicked, fallen on by crowd surfers, squashed, lifted off the floor by the force of the crowd, and generally abused in gigs - and at Manics gigs - but I have never been so persistently and deliberately attacked and punched as I was last night.  The type of men who were smashing their way to the front exclusively danced and sang to the hits and simply were not the sort of people who have been at gigs in the last few years.  By the penultimate song I had been shoved halfway to the back (from my original position 2 people from the barrier this is a considerable distance) and into an area of calm.  I decided to move out of the centre entirely for the final song and found myself in a group of people dancing, singing, smiling and shouting which made me really regret not moving there sooner.

So, that's out.

Good things

Despite the aggression, there was a lot of positive energy.  The crowd singing on the very first track - Motorcycle Emptiness - was HUGE.  One of the loudest responses I've ever heard and from a relatively small crowd/venue.  Nicky and James seemed to really thrive on the volume and energy of the crowd, there was a lot of interaction (although relatively little talking from them between songs)

The acoustic set in the middle - just James - was spectacular.  One of the best I've seen him do.  He completely fucked up both the lyrics and chords for The Everlasting but we sang him through.  All the new tracks - of which they did many more than usual in an album tour - sounded fantastic.  Richard Hawley came on to do his guest spot on Rewind the Film but it's still just not a winner for me.  That was really the only song I didn't enjoy.

Nicky also did an acoustic bit - he sang the first verse of Marlon JD (much to my unconfined joy, delight and surprise) and then went into [new track] As Holy as the Soil (which made me tear up) but he was tremendous.  His voice was an open joke amongst fans when he started singing but it has definitely improved over the past few years.  That was a really special moment for me.

Motorcycle Emptiness and Design for Life were the first and last song respectively and were the purest moments for me with regard to immersive, unifying energy from crowd and band.  I feel I missed the enjoyment of a number of songs as I was forced to concentrate on avoiding fists in the latter section of the set but overall it was really solid.


I said goodbye to my new Thai friend (who, by the way, spotted my Thai language tattoo and translated it - I did get it right! - and then gave me a lesson on correct pronunciation!) and sent twitter messages to the guy to say goodbye.  We both waved off a smiling Italian man too.  I headed for the tube and got talking to a guy from Yorkshire who told me the last time he'd been to see the Manics was the final night at the Astoria back in 1994.  Manics fans saying they were at the last night at the Astoria (Richey's last gig) is a bit like people saying they were at Woodstock - the number who claim it and the number who were documented to be there simply don't tally - but I am inclined to believe he was telling the truth.

Made the final-ish train to Brighton at midnight and walked home in the deserted streets of 1:30am.  I bade good morning to a fox taking an amble down the road (he paused at the zebra crossing, apparently contemplated where he wanted to go and then resolved to carry on down the pavement on the side of the road he was on) and fell into bed - aching but basically content.

"You can't expect to be happy all the time. A few minutes everyday is all I expect" - Nicky Wire
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 I'm currently going through a Bowie phase so intense it is only rivalled by a three month period in 2005 in which I ate only beans on toast and ryvita and listened only to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

I've been scavenging the net, and newly bought 'Starman: David Bowie - The Definitive Biography' for all the ins and outs I need.  I am a big believer in finding the music of an artist before you read up on the mythology and political wrangling that brought them to the fore because it can have such a dramatic impact on your relationship with the music.  This impact isn't always negative (just last year Nailed to History: The Story of the Manic Street Preachers prompted in me a new openness to the Manics commercially disastrous Know Your Enemy) but it can be and I think the immediacy of music in coming through your stereo in a closed room is something that should not be compromised by critical analysis in the first case.

I am struck by the similarity in the story of Bowie's rise to fame with the Manics upward trajectory; from letter writing campaigns, to form coming before substance as they both proclaimed themselves to be - not the next big thing - but the big thing.  I find it fascinating that whilst it takes time - both Bowie and the Manics taking several years from inception to record deal to mainstream recognition - pure, unwavering self belief, self aggrandizement and ruthless ambition is truly the best policy.

As far as my own relationship with Bowie and the Manics goes I think the similarities in their stories are striking; from modest backgrounds, determined to not just transcend those roots but to realise their individual love affairs with rock n roll in it's most idealised form.  Glam rock - 'high glam' as Bowie apparently termed it once, given it was primarily a conceptual statement - of this ilk is borne out of frustration and ambition, and as such is much more seductive than any other music genre I have encountered; perhaps the reason I am only obsessive over these two acts has more than a little to do with that.  Yes, in my youth I donned the uniform of baggy jeans and jumpers for Sterophonics, Coldplay, Travis, Mull Historical Society, Embrace, and Easyworld gigs, but the defining and enduring relationship has and always will be with the glam of the Manics and David Bowie.

Such preening, extroversion, and posturing are at odds with my own natural state.  At my core I am an introvert - and I'm ok with that - but somehow Bowie and, to a greater degree given their continued live presence, the Manics, provide a safe framework within which something in me cuts loose and I am free - eyes blackened with eyeliner, hair glossed and often dyed, short skirts, 'DIY aesthetic', pressed to the front of the stage calling out lyrics with all the simultaneous seriousness and irony required of a good Manics fan.  

Bowie's honest/dishonest declarations on his sexuality and wilful visual confrontation provided me with a much needed touchstone for queer identity when I was a teenager living in a world stripped of any alternative influences or role models.  That his purported bisexuality may have been nothing more than a calculated technique to court publicity is, to me, irrelevant - it provided me an image and a route into a world I inhabit now.

It struck me as ironic when I was watching a late night repeat of Radiohead at Glastonbury in 1997 and the crowd sang to 'Creep', that a song about isolation and alienation could unite so many people without any apparent hypocrisy for them.  That is the remarkable thing about music - it starts off purporting to be about alienation, outsiders and otherness and creates, as it gains momentum, an entire sub culture -membership of which depends on correctly enacting that same 'otherness'.  I do wonder at what point it stops being true - how many of those people repeating the lyrics of Creep like a mantra have any connection to the content? When does belonging obscure identification?

I think that, almost uniquely, glam does have an honesty in its performance because it is founded on artifice.  The whole intention is to create a new reality which stands both in parallel to, and above, the norm.  Followers of glam, recreating themselves to attend gigs, are aping their idols in every respect - stripping it off to go back to work on Monday is in keeping with the artifice.  Many people speak of coming to glam through one defining realisation after a single spectacle - for many with David Bowie I understand it was his 1972 performance of Starman on Top of the Pops that changed their relationship with fashion, sub culture and music.  When that is the case, when one moment draws you in, and you can dress yourself in that moment, I propose that you are recreating the moment of epiphany.  A genre which makes you see the world differently in one move can, therefore, offer you revelation every time you dress.  And you can dress a hundred times, a hundred different ways.

Bowie recognised that - that's why he was able to reinvent himself so many times and why the Manics duplicated so many of his statements (from replicating a certain image in You Love Us (Heavenly Version) from Bowie's Boys Keep Swinging amongst many, many other visual statements).  It's a vocabulary of outrage, confrontation, statement and, above all, freedom.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)

Richard James Edwards, 44 today.

I half love imagining he's gone the James Dean Bradfield-ageing route* and become decidedly rotund but there's every chance he, like Sean Moore, is blessed with Peter Pan genes and looks as though he hasn't aged a day.

Without Richey, the Manics would not be in the world right now.  His furious energy and attacks upon the media propelled them into the public eye and then he, and Nicky, captivated the country and indeed the world with their beauty and words, whilst James and Sean made sure we listened

His unflinching, uncompromising intellect created a brand that young, beautiful sluts flocked to.  He wrote a lyric about group sex in the Kremlin. He scared the bejesus out of Mark Lamaq with the now infamous 4REAL moment. He made bad, contradictory, stupid decisions. And he made beauty, in many, many ways; he understood the power of an image, and he understood the weight words can carry.

Would the O2 gig I attended on Saturday have happened if he were around for his 44th birthday? Maybe, maybe not.  But would I have got wasted on vodka beforehand were it not for Richey?! Would I have chuckled as I heard 16,000 people chant/sing "we are the useless sluts that they mould" had Richey (and indeed Nicky) not simultaneously brought such humour and gravitas to those lines? Would I read Camus and Nietzsche were it not for Richey? Would I always feel safe to wear short sleeves in the company of Manics fans were it not for Richey's articulate honesty on the subject of self harm and depression - would I have the words I do to describe and process those times in my life? It's a simple 'nope' in answer to all of those.

We 'young' fans feel the loss of Richey through Nicky, James and Sean.  We feel it in the absence of the dense lyrics that were his trademark. We feel it in the lightness and intensity of every moment of Manics fandom.  

And it is with that sense of melancholy I hope and wish with all my heart that wherever he is today, he is enjoying his birthday, with humour and happiness and intelligence.

* For reference, see impossibly beautiful young James and impossibly middle-aged current James.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Nicky recounted a conversation he'd had with Richey by way of an introduction to Revol [live performance from last night here]. Richey was discovered smashed off his face in a hotel room. Nicky asks him what's going on. The subsequent conversation, we were told, went like this;
Richey: "I've got an amazing lyric, it's about group sex in the Kremlin".
Nicky: "Sounds like a winner to me Rich"

Nicky ended the gig last night by throwing his guitar to the ground during the end section of A Design for Life, before retrieving it and, to the delight of the crowd, smashing it to pieces. He reflected on this a couple of hours later on twitter;
Wish I hadnt smashed one of my fave bass guitars in half- its had it- such is life xx


That Band.

Oct. 10th, 2011 09:00 pm
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
You know how I bang on about the Manics all.the.fucking.time? Well, it's coming up to the release of the boxset of the last 21 years of singles and there's lots of publicity in various music magazines from various journalists and celebs.  Below is a memory of a track which, all in all, pretty much sums up everything I feel about them.  I particularly like "heroically ridiculous, serious/not serious/deadly seriousnessness" description of band and fans.

For context, you should also watch this video which is the Top of the Pops performance Caitlin Moran refers to.

The Holy Bible 1994

God we were kids; kids – and the Manics were the most fun you could have with your eyeliner on. Wolverhampton, Bournemouth, London, Glasgow – everyone in town who properly dressed up would be there: girls in gloves, in a wedding dress, in hysterics. Boys in lipstick, in the mosh-pit - trying to sing “You love us like a holocaust” with the same heroically ridiculous, serious/not serious/deadly seriousnessness as the band. From above, on the balcony, a Manics gig looked earnest puppies in Barry M glitter nail-varnish. It was a Scrappy-Doo valiance in the face of the 20th century. In the face of their fake-fur, library-learned arseiness, your fist aimed unstoppably upwards, in an air-punch.

And then: Richey in rehab. Richey out of rehab. ‘Faster’ on Top of The Pops. Sickly green lights, fires burning on top of the speaker stacks. James in a balaclava with the ragged mouth-hole - looking like he’d bitten through a hand knitted gimp-mask as he walked on stage. And Richey: too too thin, in a sailor’s uniform, looking – in every respect you can think of – inappropriate for tea-time television.

‘Faster’ was faster – too fast. Much too fast. It was like watching the car in front of you on the motorway suddenly flip up into the air and spiral off, over the hard-shoulder, into the fields, as you listened out for the crash. “Too damn easy to cave in/Man kills everything.” No air-punching now. Terminal velocity. The point of impact. A fist aimed low, down, hard; at your throat.

Afterwards, the BBC reported a record number of complaints from viewers. I was amazed they could pick up the phone and speak. I couldn’t. Too fast.

Caitlin Moran (author/columnist/critic)
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Thank you to jadedlibertine over on LJ for my 5 questions.  I believe the meme goes that if you reply asking for questions I wlll provide you with 5.  I make no guarantees on this front, but I might.

1) How many times have you seen the Manics and which was your favourite of those gigs?
I have now seen the Manics 12 times (helpfully listed here with links to setlists).  

It is phenomenally hard to pick a favourite but I think my favourite was at the Brighton Dome in 2009.  

It was the first time I had ever been on the barrier at a gig; I risked getting fired by closing the shop I was managing early in order to RUN the 5 minutes to the Dome; it was the first (and so far, only) gig I've been to alone - and I still don't have a single regret on that front. It was also the tour where they played the entire album, in order, followed by a short break, then the usual greatest hits set - which is a HUGE undertaking by any standards, but it also meant that Nicky sang William's Last Words, and, being positioned directly in front of him, I saw him fight tears, cry, and then flee the stage before the final note had died.  It was always going to be an emotional gig, but that did something to me that I can't describe and will never forget.

2) If you had £100,000 to give to a charity but you were only allowed to donate to a single charity which one would it be and why?
I thought about this question ever since it was posed a week or two ago, I think I would choose Amnesty International.  They do incredible work and whilst (at the moment) I don't support them with a monthly donation (currently I give to WSPA and on the next pay rise - if and when - I will be donating to Amnesty as well) I think they get forgotten too often in favour of other humanitarian charities who can easily put a face to their cause whilst Amnesty would struggle to put a universal face to their campaigns.  Their campaigns, in particular for freedom relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, outstrip any other organisation I know of and are obviously close to my heart - one cannot experience freedom from persecution for expressing a sexual identity and not be aware how lucky you are to live in a country which does not kill, rape and persecute you for it*.

3) Is there any country you would refuse to visit even if all expenses were paid and your safety guaranteed, if so which one and why?
There are actually quite a few, but the one which leaps readily to mind is Saudi Arabia.  For a [oil] rich country, their treatment of women is inexplicable; as the only country in the world which bans women from driving there is a nice neat way to judge how certain freedoms, no doubt enjoyed by some women in Saudi, are hollow when such a non-political activity is denied to them. 

4) Did you have a favourite toy growing up, if so what?
I had two toy dogs, one was called Spot and he was made for me by my Grandma.  I used to tie a bit of string around his neck and 'walk' him everywhere, as such his legs splayed out in a rather distressing fashion and his feet were all worn down.  I still have him in my wardrobe. My second toy dog was a pound Puppy called 'Rosenna' or, more commonly, 'Mother' because she had 3 puppies which could be stored away in a velcro-close pouch in her stomach (which, on reflection, is weird)   I bought her from Argos with my savings of 5ps, 10ps and 20ps.  I remember distinctly pouring all this out on the counter and a vaguely annoyed Argos employee slowly counting it out.  Any and all games could be played with these two so it did the job.

5) If you could wake up tomorrow with the ability to play any musical instrument perfectly which instrument would you choose?
Guitar! I love how guitar sounds.  I would love to fill gaps in my evenings by learning to play songs by bands I love and I adore the fact that, like piano, you only need one instrument to carry a recognisable tune that everyone will join in with whilst, unlike piano, it is very portable!  Also, I have owned a guitar for the last 10 years and still haven't learnt to playing the cocking thing!

* Yes, I know we have a long way to go, and yes all those things still happen as a result of persecution for sexuality in this country, but they are not defended, endorsed or encouraged by our laws and government.
askygoneonfire: Cartoon character lying terrified and awake in bed (insomnia)
Thanks to the unspeakable, inexplicable, wondrous generosity of [personal profile] forthwritten I have some paid time, I thought it was only right to celebrate with a post.

The other night, much like tonight really, I drank a heroic amount of vodka, and finished reading Albert Camus' The Fall. The book I finished a day before that was Martin Power's Nailed to History: the story of Manic Street Preachers. Being a massive CoR, I cried as much as I laughed at the story of the Valley boys and found myself obsessed/intrigued with Richey all over again. In that sense, The Fall couldn't have been a better 'next read' - the protagonist's words and Richey's lyrics are a marriage made in heaven/plagiarism made in hell.

The combination of the tail end of mania, vodka and Camus resulted in me being able to 'understand' some of the lyrics on The Holy Bible in what I felt was a new way. Before I passed out into a semi-paralytic sleep, I recorded my thoughts on Open Office on my phone. I record them below for 'posterity' (aka 'what the fuck?).

Much needed explanations can be found for some of this in '[]' brackets.

Dead )

It's a lot like when I watched The Man Who Fell to Earth when I was drunk on rum to the point I couldn't remember my own name, but for the first time that film made sense.  Or when I go really stoned and understood 'Motown Junk' in a way no person ever had before and insisted everyone I knew listen to it *right now*.  A week of fucked up sleeping habits and a night of heavy drinking with a bit of mania thrown in for good measure makes for some entertaining reading.

I hope to contribute something intelligent to Dreamwidth in the next two weeks. although don't hold your breath as I'm currently reading 1984 and the last 249839 times I read that it gave me paranoia-based nightmares....
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
I don't believe I've taken the time to talk about how glorious Saturday night in Cardiff was.

Nicky just SMILED and SMILED.  He looked happier than ever. Then he put that skirt on and started doing high kicks and standing with his left leg up on the amp flashing his pants for the world to see.  Unfortunately, his boa-mic-stand/electric flamingo was blocking my crotch shot view so I had to keep leaning on [personal profile] harleyrose in order to get a clear look.

Nicky, Nicky, my Nicky.

And I smiled too.  Like I never do.  I only smile like that.  I only stand there, breathless, sweating, pressed against a thousand other bodies (actually, it was something like 7000 other bodies on Saturday) shaking from head to toe, screaming and SMILING like that when I am in front of them.  In front of Nicky, in front of the wall of sound, in front of that energy.
askygoneonfire: 'Love' painted on to four fingers of a hand (love hand)
 " we are told that this is the end..." Then the freaking confetti canons went off and the air was thick with red, white and green confetti.

And I felt something inside me go 'click' and I knew that it was the end.  Of what, I don't know; I just know I felt the most acute sense of loss in that moment.  I stood, singing, staring alternately at Nicky's exuberant final strut and the impossibly thick rain of confetti and mourning the end of I know not what.

When it finished, and we turned and laughed and exclaimed what an incredible gig it had been, I noticed I was shaking.  I was still shaking as we made our way out of the doors and into a frantic Cardiff evening.

It feels like a dream somehow, over 130 miles away and nearly 24 hours since the event, it very nearly is.  Except I'm still suffering a real, hard sense of loss.  I've heard that song a thousand times and at 11 gigs, what was different this time?
askygoneonfire: scribbled 'fuck you richey' over the concentric circles of hell (fuck you richey)
I still have questions/photo requests to answer for day 15 but I'll come back to it as it's causing me a block when 30 days is supposed to relieve the same....

Share a song that represents your mood.

Inevitably, this is a Manics song. Today's choice is Love Torn Us Under.

Lyrics below cut )

I've just had a week or so of not really sleeping, leaping out of bed full of beans in the morning, talking 10 to the dozen all day at work and generally bombing about.  Yesterday I felt a change creeping in; I'd been woken by nightmares all night, physically I was aching and exhausted. Suddenly imbued with fear of loud noises and anxiety that makes you crawl into a ball; 'there's nothing nice in my head/the adult world took it all away'.

Last night the nightmares returned once more and I awoke with the absolute knowledge spending any time with people would ruin me; unfortunately I'm still living with my parents so whilst 'not seeing people' just meant staying in the flat with my phone turned off in Brighton, it now means staying in my bedroom and fending off shouted-through-the-door questions ("do want a tea?" "your washing is dry, are you going to fetch it in?" "do you want some of the pudding I made?") as politely and monosyllabically as is humanly possible to avoid raising any concerns which would lead to more interaction.  How I long for a place of my own.

This week, I can tell you now, is going to be hell.

Have been trying to write more about how I feel and what I hope in terms of getting through it today/this week - and in the future - but after more than an hour of writing and deleting, I have to admit defeat.  Thinking is - as I said on twitter earlier - like wading through treacle at the minute. 

I need a job where I work on flexi-time so I can actually manage this stuff without being completely useless at work half the fucking time.

I just want to say 'help me!' but who that would be directed to, and what they would do about it is beyond me.  Moreover, in a week or so, this will be over and I'll be back to 'normal'.  Although how you define normal when normal usually means common and not one of my three states exists longer than another, I don't know.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 I was going to write about how conflicted I am over what to do about mortgage stuff having been to see a mortgage advisor today and being told it's within my grasp.

I was also going to write about how unrewarding, stressful and frustrating my job is.  How I can't sleep for stress dreams and how tired I am at feeling stupid because I don't have a head for figures and doing payroll - dealing with pensions, tax and factored payments makes me want to smash my head against the desk.

How I am also frustrated, tired and upset by how poorly I grasp mortgage calculations and budgeting for a mortgage - and how I will know if I can afford it when I see the bills.  I have no abstract sense of numbers, interest, percentages....nothing.  I nod and I smile and go "oh I see!" when I am no better informed than I was a moment ago.

And I was going to write about the Manics again, and how simple everything seems when I am in front of them, surrounded by them, immersed.  Which is why I have spent every evening since Saturday watching Manics DVDs and listening to albums, to the exclusion of everything else.

But I'm tired.  And I've summarised. And I want to watch more Manics now.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
I went to see the Manics last night with Becky and Harley.


One of the best performances I've seen them give.  James was in spectacular voice and hitting notes hitherto unheard by human ears.

Drank vodka in the queue - as is the Manics fans way - and talked to some people who had flown from continental Europe for the gig.  

In an unexpected turn of events, Tolerate made me cry.  The first bar was played and I knew with the absolute physical certainty you have the moment before you throw up that I was going to burst into tears - completely involuntary, somehow more than mere emotions - and pow! I was sobbing my heart out, alternately sobbing and smiling so broadly I thought my ears would crack.   Tolerate has never made me cry before, I wonder if it is an expression of my sublimated fears regarding the political instability and social reorganisation this country is currently experiencing.  Whatever it was, that song is epic and it absolutely overcame me last night.

Currently nursing a back and legs covered in bruises from various crowd surges but overall the Nicky pit was as stable as it ever is.

I just can't put into words how seeing them live - when they are on form as they were last night - is a transformative experience.  Body and soul altered and shaken.  I came away alternately smiling and feeling as though I was going to cry again.  Harley and I were both on that adrenaline high that only the Manics provide and both of us only managed 6 hours sleep last night - finally coming down around 1pm today while we were having lunch.    I woke up with a great big smile on my face and laid back just letting it all come back to me.

Becky has never really been into the Manics but I asked her to come with me in the hopes of converting her.  I don't know that she was converted, or that she enjoyed it - although she tells me she enjoyed some parts of the set.  She asked me why people were so obsessed with them and expressed shock at the fact that at one point during the set she looked around her and found that everyone was crying.  I'm not sure I have a sufficiently large vocabulary to put into words why that happens - but I know with absolute certainty what those other fans were feeling who surrounded Becky. 

The Manics are, and were last night, greater than the sum of their parts - quite literally when they play live given Richey's absence - and that really is as much explanation as I can give as to why I, and many many others like me, find ourselves in tears in front of the stage, mid gig, singing every line as though it is our last.

I'll leave you with a couple of links to blazzingly short video clips....
Nicky's unfeasibly long legs from 00:21
May your gods be with you

And the set list;

ETA: Review from the Independent.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
List five things you would save if your home caught fire.

1. The rats, obviously.
2. My external hard drive.  It contains both my dissertations and all my photos from 2003 onwards.  I should probably back it up actually...
3. My iPod.  A damn sight easier than saving my entire shelf of CDs and representing 10 years or more of music collection.
4. Manics cds.  I know what I said above, but as I said in a previous entry, they are more than the physical cd. 
5. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.  This book is the bible (even down to the wafer thin paper) of university study.  It's more highlighter and biro now than it is printed word and the dust jacket was lost long ago, but I wouldn't go near an academic course without it.  It's glorious.

In other news, I seem to be experience some sort of crazy (har har) hypo-manic mixed episode which has only happened to me a couple of times before and is as much fun as you would expect.  Fuck off brain.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
In 2003 my English A Level class went to Birmingham to hear a day of lectures on Shakespeare. We arrived into Birmingham early, just as the shops were opening. It was a grey and dreary day, we scuttled through the town centre from Birmingham New Street Station, following our teacher who didn't really like students and appeared to be trying to get away from us rather than lead the way.

A dreary start gave way to an unseasonably warm spring day, I recall I was only wearing a t shirt during the lecture itself. Unfortunately that's the only positive the inauspicious start threw up. The lectures were terribly dull and we were, by a country mile, the 'rough' kids - not in uniform (we didn't have one) and lounging about on the lecture hall seats - who got disapproving from the other schools' representatives. Most of our party, including the teacher, fell asleep during the day and we ducked out at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our teacher told us we had 45 mins before the train and to meet at the station, then she disappeared at top speed. Slowly we all dispersed, not out of a desire to stay together, but for want of knowing where to go. I split off with a friend, Lux, and we ambled around the shopping centre. Being 18 we gravitated to a large HMV and split up. I fished out a copy of Generation Terrorists by Manic Street Preachers, it was priced at £17.99* and after some debate with myself, I decided to go for it.

At this point I owned Forever Delayed (bought in Grantham on a rainy Sunday afternoon, with S, from a now defunct record shop), The Holy Bible (from now closed HMV Listergate, Nottingham - Saturday afternoon) and Gold Against the Soul (also from now closed HMV Listergate, Nottingham, Saturday afternoon. Listened to it in car on way home, got Life Becoming a Landslide stuck in my head for 2 weeks, my Mum told my brother I was listening to 'suicide music' as a result of me singing it semi-constantly) and nothing else by the Manics. The logical next choice should have been Everything Must Go (from Amazon, no idea when) but there I was, in HMV in Birmingham, one peculiarly out-of-place afternoon, holding Generation Terrorists.  I was wearing a pale blue golddigga zip up jacket, jeans and Vans trainers.

I paid, rejoined Lux and we went to MacDonalds to pass the time before the train. Gazing out the window at the passers by, I don't recall us talking much, companionable silence I think they call it.

Once on the train I sat against the window on a table seat, travelling backwards. This is back when Central trains ran the line so the carriage was a gaudy shade of green. I put the new CD in my Panasonic 40 second anti-shock portable CD player, sat back, turned my eyes to the window, and listened.

I couldn't believe this was the same band who produced the mature The Holy Bible and the polished Gold Against the Soul. I poured over the lyrics in the insert booklet as I had done with the other studio albums but my eyes widened as I tried to distinguish details in the collage of black and white photos in the centre. It was loud and stupid and glorious and joyful.

The album - if you skip the second Repeat (Repeat UK), as I did, thinking it was a duplicate track - lasts exactly the same time as the train journey from Birmingham to our destination; Melton Mowbray

When I was packing up my posessions in Brighton I tried to find Generation Terrorists - nothing helps packing like Motorcycle Emptiness - and couldn't, I had the box yes, but not the disc . With difficulty, I managed to convince myself it'd 'turn up' when I unpacked. It did not.

What to do? Another disc from Amazon or the like would not be the one I reverently placed in my CD player that day.  Besides, what would I do with the case? The one which had first caught my eye and convinced me to buy it? Take the disc out of the new box, place in old box and discard? That seems like cross contamination! It was quite the conundrum.

Fate, however, was smiling on me.  It sent me to Birmingham on a course.  A dull course at that.  Only a month or two ahead of the original purchase anniversary I found myself standing in front of the very same HMV, some 40 minutes before my train to Melton Mowbray departed, after an unrewarding day's study.  

I took the stairs to the fourth floor 2 at a time and rummaged until I found it - Manic Street Preachers: Generation Terrorists. Lyrics: Nick and Richey, Music: Sean and James.  This time it was a snip at £7.  Glowing with pleasure I clutched it and found myself, for the first time in many years, browsing real live CDs, rather than pictures of them online.  

In due time I paid and departed for my train where I pulled off the wrapping and opened the booklet.  In lieu of a CD player I turned on my iPod and navigated to the appropriate album.  

To my surprise, I enjoyed listening to Generation Terrorists on yesterday's train journey homeward in a way I haven't done since that first time in 2003.  It sounded fresh.  And I actually listened to it - something I rarely manage to do these days, particularly with albums I know inside out.

When the train arrived into Melton I decided to listen to the album again in my car on the drive home.  But it was the same old Generation Terrorists I've come to ignore over the years.  Somehow, the spell was broken the moment I got off that train.

It has made me reflect on how I buy music.  I categorically do not buy album downloads because I would rather have the cd and manually make it digital but I think I'm still missing something by buying those cds online. I can tell you where every single CD I bought in person came from and usually the time of year and where my first listen was.  Every single one.  I'd struggle to tell you when I received the ones I bought online, much less where and how that first listen sounded.

Music has always been more than the sum of it's parts for me, I just never realised how key one of those parts was in creating something more.  Consider my new years resolutions amended.

* This in a time where the average cd price was around £12, so it was still expensive.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

August 2017

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