Friday, 24 October 2014

WOTSONTELLY. ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BIRMINGHAM. THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA, STILL IN THE DARK; PEAKY BLINDERS, SHINING A TORCH. BOTH BBC2.


  
Prometheus was punished by the Gods; 
forever, day after day, his liver would be eaten by eagles;
 as with Radio Four's  Today Programme, 
the horror would start anew every morning.


All Prometheus had done was he had nicked  the secret of fire from the Gods and shared it with humanity.
 And that's what happened to him,
bird food. 
Gods, what are they like?
Plagues, floods, fire and brimstone,
I mean, if it hadna been for Prometheus we'd be freezing our bollocks off.

Mr Roy Wood, a popular musician, originally from Birmingham, however, has compelled  a large section of mankind to endure the yearly, aural torture occasioned by the playing continually and on all media of his dreadful, Consumermas nursery rhyme, Oh, I wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday-a-ay. It happens every year, for about a month. Soon, it will be here, there and everywhere.

A condign punishment for Wood’s offence might be that one snowy Christmas Day, someone visited his home and broke all  his fucking fingers with a lump hammer; that they would be almost healed by the following Christmas Eve, permitting him to cautiously finger his twelve-string, saxophone, cor Anglais or piano but then, just around midnight, Santa would emerge from the fireplace, Ho-Ho-Ho-ing his jolly fat arse off,  remove a  blunt instrument  from his sack
Wish it could be Christmas every day, do you?

 and smash Wood’s fingers all over again, to bits.

But that raucous Yuletide rubbish is not Mr Wood’s greatest crime against the people, not by a long way.  After they had aborted  their perfectly acceptable beat group, the Move, Mr Wood deserted his joint, pop-classics musical project with Mr Jeff Lynne, another Brummie ex-Mover, and went off to form Wizzard, leaving Mr Lynne, unrestrained, to develop what became the Electric Light Orchestra.

A working class hero is somethin' t'see.|
It's loike, the strings, them's the thing wot does it, int they?

Jeering at his former business partner’s musical pretensions, the late John Lennon averred that had the Beatles stayed together then, given Paul McCartney's musical pretensions,  we’da turned into the fuckin’ Electric Light Orchestra, and whooda wanted that shit?

In fact the sawing, incongruous orchestral part of Walrus would have been composed and arranged by George Martin, rather than the Fabsters, themselves, but essentially Junky John was right and   Lynne’s wholly derivative ELO took the Beatles’ I Am The Walrus, copied it, re-hashed and repeated it for years over several albums, countless massive concert tours and made a career and a fortune from it. 
 Bass lines descending, string parts rising, easy when someone else has done it first;  Richard Thompson has a fine take on McDonalds grub: shove it in their faces, give 'em what they want, gotta make it fast, it's a fast food restaurant; and like burger'n'relish junkies, uneducated stadium audiences relished Jeff Lynne's fast-food,  nutrition-free, classical pastiche, lapped it up.

Harsh things are said about Mr Leonard Cohen’s doleful ditties but it is the endlessly repetitive, wretched cacophony of ELO which would make me suicidal; wouldn’t it just, meaningless teenage lyrics; the same old boomy string section groaning  away at the same old classical romantic/late Beatles figures, in the same old time, to the same old dreary lyrics sung by the same old, thin, reedy falsetto;  same-old-same-old,
 a phrase probably coined to describe Mr Lynne’s musical career.  

 I thought that ELO’s records were symptomatic of the culturally dire nineteen-seventies, bombastic and banal,
as bad as the chirpy eunuch music of the Bee Gees, 
smiling their over-toothed smiles, 
snorting their over-priced coke.   


Not for very long, though, lads.

  Made more money out of I Am The Walrus, 
did ELO than did ever the Fab Four.


None of this matters in the slightest, it's just that I am of that generation which naively and for a short time felt that the popular music of my day  could prove useful, maybe even a bit revolutionary, although mr tdg would argue that you can't have a bit of a revolution.  The Beatles, though, having produced a clutch of shining, magical LPs, all bursting with charming melodies and harmonies, jangling and sparkling, eventually disappeared up their own Strawberry Fields,  the facetious, absurd druggy doggerel of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band killing rock'n'roll stone dead and, worse, spawning double and triple concept albums from legions of imbeciles and, worst of all, igniting Mr Lynne's eternal, unquenchable flame of plagiarism.

And as if ELO was insufficiently irritating, Mr Lynne, post-ELO, when people had finally twigged that this was a load of old shite, formed what is known as a supergroup - dodgy old people, past their best, cobbling together their spent talents, hoping for one last ride on the Gravy Train, but insisting that they’re just regular guys,  just hanging-out together.    

Happens all the time, a current, most astonishing amalgamation is that of Paul Simon and eco-gabshite, Gordon Sumner, or Sting as he is generally known, who are touring the world, mutilating Mr Simon’s considerable catalogue of work and joining forces on Mr Sting’s  Police Punk-Reggae-StalkingBeast music. 

 I listened to them perform  a verse and a chorus of Simon’s much  and justly revered,  The Boxer,  and I nearly fucking died.  But there’s been loads of such ventures,  as incongruous and show-offy as they are futile – David Bowie and Bing Crosby, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, Sir Tom Jones  and almost anybody;  there was that ridiculous Queen stuff, with the opera diva and didn't lardman, Pavarotti,  slum it for a while, with some pop slut?   Mr Lynne’s band was The Travelling Wilburys, consisting of the late Roy Orbison, the late ex-Beatle, George Swami Fuckwit,  Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and himself.  Really, really great guys, they’d hang out, man,  in Bob’s garage studio - I love that garage studio thing that geniuses have,  it's a fucking studio, isn't it, never gonna be any Bentleys in there, lawnmowers, sets of ladders, but it works, doesn't it, people think their musical heroes are just like them, roughing it, with a tape recorder and a mike and an ouija-pad with a music app  on it - or in someone’s kitchen, somebody’d loike, lay down a groove, then somebody’d write a line, someone else’d think of what rhymed with that; one day we  all just read things out of a car magazine and created, loike, a to’ally brilliant track. Naturally, Jeff would then produce it all up in the studio, dusting it with his magic and it sold by the trainload. Must be good, then. But it wasn’t, it was just bits of nineteen-fifties Rockabilly, Western Swing and early Rock’n’Roll, all thrown together and marketed to people too young to have heard or too decrepit to remember the originals.  It was the triumph of music-lite, flatpack music,  mixed and matched. No business like showbusiness.

Evry-body, need some-body, to leeeean o-on.
I watched a bit of a rockumentary and just this one ego-snap  took them hours to arrange,  to  pose for, these  regular guys.
 
But no matter, shifting product, especially old product, where the costs have already been paid,  is the Holy Grail of showbusiness and Maestro  Lynne, with  a newly-assembled Electric Light Orchestra, recently did a mega-sell-out, critically acclaimed concert in Hyde Park, rehashing, with the august participation of the BBC Concert Orchestra, all  those dreadful philistinisms of yore,  Don’t Bring Me Down, Mr Blue Sky, It's a Livin' Thing, da-de-da-de-da-de-dah-dah-dah  and dozens of other overblown and indistinguishable  doodlings, 
 performed for a hysterically cheering, 
weeping  crowd of singalong braindead morons who had imbibed this shit from their parents, or maybe were their parents.
It’s loike yer pop songs, an' yer ‘armonies 
an’ yer classical bits an’ bobs, loike,
 all in the one song; 
that’s worritis, ELO, 
grinned septuagenarian Lynne, 
pleased with himself.   
As well he might be.
Not only has he based much of his life's work on Lennon-McCartney, he even goes to Sir Paul's hair colourist.
Don't get no better'n that.

The greatest irritation of the Hyde Park nostalgia feast was when it closed with the  large orchestral section of  Lynne's ensemble blasting out the da-da-da-daah  opening to Beethoven's Fifth symphony before Jeff took charge, merging clunkily into a miserably inept and misunderstood reading of  Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven,

Whatever he might call ELO
 it's not rock'n'roll and I don't like it.

Lynne's desultory guitar managing to play about every third note of the original.  
Both Ludwig and Chuck are known for their bad tempers and  would be unlikely to bless  this pointless confection.
Doesn't matter, the music trade is in wetting-itself overdrive, musically illiterate broadsheet hacks paid to deliver unanimous, nostalgic acclaim for a true survivor, one of the greats, great songs, great music, a great night and a truly nice guy; can he be persuaded to go on tour, national treasure, do we deserve him?

It was fucking rubbish, every note of it.
Lynne should fuck off back to LA where he is  producer emeritus to pop music's AristoTrash.
If this poncey gabshite has the keys to his and my (adopted) home city,
 they should be taken off him
and shoved up his arse.


 In the studio, loike, 
Oi can take a  litt-ul scrap of a tune, 
an' mek it grayt.

No, mate, you can't.



I have a huge, reproduced catalogue of Victorian household goods

400 pages of British manufactured stuff for living;




 stuff for every conceivable household, transport, travel, gardening, medical, self defence, camping, jewellery and  correspondence  purpose, to name just some of the categories;  the variety and the quality of the designs and manufacturing processes, the imagination,the invention and industry are breathtaking and the majority of these items would have been made in Birmingham or the Black Country; some would have come from Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool; much would have been made in the Potteries, just up the road but the majority would be made in Birmingham.

There is still a chocolate factory, might be a brewery or two and there remains a vibrant jewellery quarter but I don't know what else is Made in Birmingham, once rightly known as the workshop of the world, or the Empire, at least; shame it was never similarly acclaimed  for its popular musicians. The Moody Blues, Jeff Lynne, UB 40 and Black Sabbath;   break the 'eart of a bleedin' wheelbarrow, that lot, woodenit, bab? Ta-ra a bit.

But such flashy dullards are characteristic of the city, itself, not even incorporated as a city until the turn of the nineteenth century, Birmingham, actually much  like Mr Lynne, bedecked itself in  cod-classical grandeur, its  Town Hall, Council House and civic buildings Grecian rather than British and despite its  showy, nouveau riche Victoriana it is now something, city-wise, of a flash in the pan, it's industrial dynamo burnt out, leaving nothing more than a haunted theme park, where people  used to make things. Never had time to settle down, like proper cities, before being trashed by MediaMinster, dancing to GlobaCorp's tune - I know that many, like mr jgm2, see the wrecking of  the Ostin/BMC/Leyland as the responsibility of militant unions, I disagree, I think it far more complex,  but you and I, we've been through that - Birmingham's cathedrals are like parish churches, it's only proper university  a 19th century, red-brick Gothic mish-mash;  Birmingham's greatness as a city spans about a century - the Chamberlains, the Cadburys and the Longbridge car plant, that  about covers it. It is true there was Fort Dunlop, Lucases and Smiths; tyres, batteries, lights and instruments went from Birmingham all over the world but those companies, like the jobs and skills they furnished were here today and gone tomorrow.  Unlike  what happens in a proper place, Brum's  city fathers maul and tear at her, ever seeking improvement;  there have been three Bull Rings in my lifetime,  three central public libraries;

The new, new Birmingham City Library.

 there's an occasional old 'pub, in the outlying suburbs but only  a short stretch of Digbeth contains any mediaeval buildings at all and it is a wonder that some deranged planner-vandal didn't dynamite them in order to erect more concrete, glorious concrete.  But never mind, for ghastly concrete and idiosyncratic futuristic  outrages 

Selfridges, I tried to like it 
but from street level it looks even worse than this

characterise the city centre and even a couple of miles from the centre, Spaghetti Junction, infamously a project borne of bent contracts, councillors and contractors using sub-standard materials has been falling down since the day it opened, a road of constant repair. Considering that it claims Second Cityhood,  Birmingham is a dreadful dog's breakfast of a place, being thrown-together one minute, pulled down the next. And for all its permanent orgy of rebuilding it seems to me that  the most pleasantly striking, settled and dignified   building in Birmingham - and I am one of God's Victorians -   is the Central Mosque; 


 how's that for the second city, the workshop of the empire, it's native architecture outshone by that of immigrant sons of the Raj. Birmingham's built environment   is to civilisation 
what Tracey Emin's shitbed is to art.

But as usual,  I digress.

After paying itself,  the Paedophile Broadcasting Corporation's child buggering kleptocracy seems to have little money left for programming, hence the artful mythologising of tripe like the Archers, Just A Minute, Newsnight and Have I Got Stale News For You,  now in its forty-eighth season.  Surely no other nation on Earth would tolerate for so long the smirking, 

unspeakable chubby ToryBoy, Ian Hislop,  or
the tediously unfunny, self-winding malapropism, 

Paul Merton, 


 not to mention the cavalcade of grotesque panelists 

-  and there is virtually an infinity of other clapped-out, rubbishy shows;  Gardeners World, the Money Programme - how to save a farthing a year to  your ISA by paying close attention to some shit or other; File On Four, the Now Show, Top Gear, Just a Minute; these and so many others run and run, like a Niagara Falls of excrement, flooding the nation's kitchens and living rooms.  Despite wading about in shit we are bombarded with pulled-out-of-thin-air ratings which tell us that, actually,  we love all this trash and somehow, in that strange, seductively deceitful way which underpins Mythology, some people, enough people, believe it;  even though deep down they don't, they still do;  it's what the Monty Python Brainwashed Syndrome is based upon, you know it so well you could recite it in your sleep  and yet you still pay good money to see it again and again and again; it works, anyway;  and viewers grow addicted to the stupidest,  most vapid, contrived, worthless and narcissistic filth, to  people, for instance,  like Monty Don, the Guardian readers' Face of Gardening,

year after year peddling his simpering but actually quite shrewdly reasoned sincerity, his earnest environmental realism, challenging but do-able  and his all-round, well-balanced, impeccable but  harmonious worthiness, as though he was God's Own Ethical Gardener and not a wholly fraudulent, every-word-scripted,  cosmetically enhanced, costumed, floodlit and soundtracked, neurotic, fucked-up, typical telly personality who couldn't, unassisted, find the hole in his own arse.  He presents, Monty, as though he has kept, for centuries,  Botany's ancient secret, has taken holy horticultural orders, is in some shrubby, composty Noble and Chivalrous Order of the Knights Gardener.  He belongs in a loony bin, picking the weeds out from between the slabs, with a blunt knife, so he doesn't harm himself; yet we are taught to worship him, Monty,  the luckiest costume jeweller in history

And....and..

Wouldn't any decent, normal person long  to jump repeatedly, until their feet fractured,  on Victoria Coren's head, 
 
 even before she doubled her grotesqueness quotient by marrying that whiney, chinless clever clogs, the ubiquitous panelshow bloke, actor, raconteur, columnist, but mainly panelshow nomad, migrant guest from Steven Fag to Jimmy Carr, his nasal cavities afire with acid indignation and incredulity, another waste of an expensive education, for it is he, the nation's most famous throat-speaker, David Mitchell. 

Christ, can you imagine that particular Beast with Two Gobs,
 I mean Backs,  Mitchell and Coren-Mitchell, ( if he was a proper dude he'd call himself, gender-reciprocally, Mitchell-Coren, wouldn't he?) I'd give it three years and he'll be knocking on Jemimah's door, down Chipping Sodom way, now that Wussell Gwant has fucked off from his one twue love.

A Celebrity Honeymoon.


Would it be hyperbole, darling,  if I said that, as usual,
the clever one - I -  was on top?
No, darling, exaggeration.

being clever with one another in the sack? Jesus fucking wept.  She won half a million pounds at poker, Vicky, they probably just gave it to her to get rid of her, her bitter, rehearsed  know-it-all-ism, her voice like fingernails on a blackboard,  her  heels higher than her and her scrunched-up, Little-Madam arseface;  how could you play cards with that at the table? Yet she gets series after series, barrowloads of my money, for fronting a quizshow that nobody in their right mind would want to watch, let alone be in;  she'll be a national treasure - you know, from the PBC's zero-value national treasury of tellyturds -  before we know it; probably get a gong, off good for fuck all Brenda. If they're not fucking our children, stealing our money, telling lies all across the news and current affairs, promoting one after another form of morally and ethically bankrupt perversion and degeneracy, they are impertinent enough to tell us that, actually, we are crazy about Mad Victoria Coren's ShitShow, we may not think  we are but we are. Be told.

All across TeeVee, but especially at the PBC, once the leader in the field, drama is in a worse, more unappetising and indigestible  state than any other part of the  national viewing diet; all channels regularly trailing, as though they were new, series of ancient cop procedurals or perhaps worse, reviving formats already done to death, Inspector Morse is now in its third incarnation,  a new Sherlock Holmes lurks around every corner, 'Ercule Poirot is officially dead but that won't stop them resurrecting him, they've done it once already with David Suchet, why not do it again? And do you know what, Mr Suchet so loves, so inhabits  the character of the little detective that he might just be persuaded, if the nation asked him nicely, to play him again; it would take great courage to put himself Out There, like that, but those of us in showbusiness, we all suffer  for our art.  The PBC has even moved an ancient,  children's TeeVee space'n'time soap opera cartoon into prime time, and many of the nation's adults are rivetted by the philosophical conundra framed by successive  Doctors Who working with successive, pouty, leggy, jailbait cyber minxes, the whole show, now, like the awful Harry Potter, marketed  at discerning and sensitive adult viewers, probably the same, smug  eco-dimwits who adore Monty Don. In the crumbling, pock-marked dessicated face of this shoddy, parasitic, amoral and demented corporation's shamefully indifferent, lacklustre and unwholesome output,  something new, therefore, and interesting from the national House of Horrors is a  real treat.
Yow talkin about us?

  Something new and interesting is  Peaky Blinders,  The Godfather part one transported to the streets of 1920s North Birmingham, not a Sicilian family but Gipsy, settled Gipsy, not travellers, making the best of a bad situation.

  Home, in Birmingham, after a heroic and horrific war,  tunnelling under the Western Front with their local regiment, Thomas Shelby and his brothers find  that the land unfit for heroes offers them little, no employment, no housing, a bent political system - boasting Winston Churchill as home secretary - and a corrupt law enforcement system, coppers then, as now, for sale to the highest criminal bidder. Where we now have Murdoch the Monster and NoncesRUs jointly owning the filth, the 1920s had organised criminal families and organised criminal political parties paying the policing piper, calling the policing tunes. His mind war-attuned to danger and the survival thereof,  the decorated war hero, Shelby, had no choice but to Godfather his family, friends and neighbours, as best he could.


No choice but to parade his comrades from the trenches 
on the streets of Small Heath when danger threatened.

He establishes an illicit bookmakers, fights off IRA activists in Birmingham and, expanding,  launches a war against Jews and Wops 

for control of parts of London;


throughout,  Don Thomas Shelby, in proper Corleone fashion, shepherds his family - a brother, his mind dangerously damaged by the war;  an aunt  robbed of her children by the Parish authorities; a sister widowed young as well as comrades, neighbours and friends, all short-changed by wartime leaders, now facing hunger and unemployment; Tommy, patient, shrewd and really having  no other option, does what he can to put food on many tables, booze in many mouths, and the odd bit of cocaine up the noses of  those tormented by total trench-recall. 


And as if that's not enough to be going on with  he becomes a reluctant participant in lethal, extreme prejudice black ops 

launched by a sinister Ulster policeman, working in Birmingham against the IRA as Winston Churchill's director of  clandestine assassinations.

 It's great stuff, hugely derivative but none the worse for that; it is icily well written, deftly acted and while it lacks the painstaking locational extravagance of  Poirot's sumptious Art Deco mansions and the wardrobes, vehicles, aircraft  and sandbagged South Coast towns of Foyle's War these absences are more than compensated  for by the harshly outraged Brummy accents, the haircuts and waistcoats,  the dark cobbled streets (actually Leeds and Liverpool,) the canalsides of the Midlands waterways and the regular explosions of  graphically portrayed, ex-soldier violence.  

Sum fucker gonna get their 'ead kicked in t'noight.

Peaky Blinders, by the way, the nickname of Shelby's gang, refers to the custom and practice of violent men of those times, whereby razor blades were affixed surreptitiously to cloth cap peaks, in order that they could be whipped-off and  slashed across the eyes of opponents, blinding in the blink of an eye.  The Teddy Boys of the nineteen-fifties deployed similar ingenuity, stitching razor blades into their lapels, lest they be grabbed by them and head-butted.



Peaky Blinders is well into its second season, now, but if you haven’t seen it, whilst we are denied much in the way of new drama at least  we are now favoured with all sorts of ouija-portals where we can watch the old stuff over and over again and I am sure Peaky Blinders will be available somewhere;  If it's not it will soon appear at LoveFilm



Although it is a work of fiction it draws on deep historical roots, Tommy Atkins was and remains a discardable piece of kit on the road to political glory; 

Little Big Man, NewLabour's John Reid.
The War Seckatry who said: I doubt that there will be a shot fired at British troops in Afghanistan,
now,  450 dead and countless injured later, Johnny is a  football team  Chairman and paid consultant to more Security-by-Death corporations than you could shake a spliff at. Everybody who knows John knows that the dope found in his home was not his.


New Labour killers for hire, 
torturers , extortionists, money launderers, blackmailers, ponces, pimps and slags. But mainly killers. Hoon, Straw and Blair. Killers of Tommy, Killers of Ahmed, killers of you and I, give them half a chance. Give me an honest gangster, anytime





buttered-up in public by generations of Brigadiers Rupert Golightly-Jockstrap, 

We simply must invade wherever it is,
wherever those wogs are.

men gleefully willing, in private,  to  throw him to the wolves, 


 hurl him against machine guns at Paschendale, lugging his non-automatic rifle; against roadside bombs
 in Helmand Province, in paper-thin Land-Rovers;  carelessly leaving his mending and healing to the paper flowers of guilty, mawkish, tin-rattling  charity, jealously guarding their own pensions and peerages.  The cops are always for sale, always keen to share in the proceeds of crime, nicking a small fry or two, now and again, for show; prohibition, porn and vice or drugs, always  plenty to go around, eh, fill your boots, constable. The poor, as we see even now, are always damned as the feckless authors of their poverty and - for their insubordination - cavalry charged, then,  or kettled and tasered, now, kicked into a fatal heart attack. 

It was the wealthy, teetotal, Birmingham Quaker industrialist, George Cadbury, who said: If I lived in Small Heath, (the setting of Peaky Blinders) I, too,  would be permanently drunk on gin. The series looks more and more like not so much a crime thriller but more a hard-core revision of Robert Tressel's turn of the century socialist lament, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.


I once read a serious review of Mario Puzo’s New York Mafia epic, The Godfather, which claimed that everything one needed to know about US law enforcement and politics was within its covers.

We are all, now, rightly sceptical, cynical, even, certainly better-informed about Inspector Filth and the thin blue line which separates us from outright Decency.  Even so, the repeated sight of 1920s City of Birmingham coppers trousering folded white fivers and leaving crime to its own devices is oddly shocking,  as is the story of a hired assassin, guaranteed immunity, being led, struggling,  to the hanging cell, betrayed by Winston’s copper, who had recruited him to carry out the mission.  A Belfast relative of mine on my father’s side, served intermittently, repeatedly, during the ‘twenties, in the Smethwick station of the old Birmingham City police, Sergeant Robert Ishmael Smith.  I know no more than that, although nothing would surprise me about my Masonic, Orange paternal forebears. If there was a secret society, ganging-up on weaker people, they'd have been in it.



Peaky Blinders is dark, violent and terribly depressing; it is only the hope of Thomas Shelby’s eventual triumph over the ungodly which makes the series watchable; like Don Corleone, Shelby is hoping to make all his business interests legitimate, 


 respectable; 
the only forces which can prevent this happening are the cops and the government.

 My infant memories of Birmingham are predominantly of my mother’s immigrant tears.  No blacks, no dogs, no Irish was a common sign in the windows of lodging houses, I keep one on a bookcase somewhere,

here it is.

 And sometimes she’d come home from the local shops, crying to my Dad, Joey, they eat sheep’s brains, so they do, and lungs, and pigs’ feet. In her native Belfast not even poor people ate stuff like that but the Tripe Eaters of Balsall Heath nevertheless felt superior to everyone, especially Paddy. 

But in addition to Brummy bigotry I vaguely remember, - it’s just a feeling, now - an air of menace, a backdrop of danger. As I grew older I learned that seemingly everyone’s big brother had, tucked away, a big fuck-off Webley pistol, with ammunition; some had hand grenades,  sten guns, many had bayonets, souvenirs of war, I saw them all,  in sheds and cellars, one kid I knew was injured, he had put a bullet in his Dad’s vice and struck  the centre of the cartridge case with the point of a hammered four-inch nail, a clever child.  Many kids had air weapons, BSA and Diana rifles, .177 and .22 calibres; others had air pistols, the Gat was a chromium-plated pistol, wildly inaccurate, yet capable of blinding;  flick knives and knuckle dusters were everywhere, people were slashed and disfigured outside cafes and pubs, on the all-night ‘bus and although many of these lethal weapons were surrendered  in a ‘sixties police amnesty, for that ten or fifteen years after the Hitler War the streets throbbed with grievous bodily harm, malicious wounding and attempted murder. 

 I guess,  after World War One, when there was not even the hint of a welfare state and when – unlike in the Second – nearly everyone who returned had seen and fought in desperate, terrifying, front-line close combat that violence in civvy street  was only ever a raised eyebrow away.  Make a man swift and handy with a broken bottle, that would, all that war shit.
And the no-fucking-about violence of Peaky Blinders is probably an accurate depiction  of life in the urban tinderbox that was the post-war slum.

The series is so popular that the PBC will want to milk it forever, turn it into a long – indefinitely – running, everyday story of urban crime families; I hope that the writers, like their anti-hero, Shelby, have more integrity than the lazy, pampered bureaucrats and know when to quit.

The Great War has been badly served in this centenary year, every historical-cultural, military-historical, literary-cultural-historical-military, every academic-celebrity-cultural-literary-historical-military arsehole in showbusiness has ventured his or her unique understanding of  those events;  every ignorant numbskull in the land has earned a few quid, from donkey-brain, Jeremy Paxman to  Daddy's Boy, Dan Snow, well-connected Mediocrity has fought valiantly for a show and a book deal, somehow makes it all worthwhile. And if those Tommies, fighting in the War of the Royal Cousins' Falling-Out, dying, screaming on the barbed wire or drowning in the mud or shot for lack of moral fibre, if they had known that great men like Max Hitler Hastings of the Daily Hate and Simon Schama off the telly and Professor Niall Ferguson of the Filth-O-Graph would have been, a hundred years on, whoring themselves out, For the Fallen, you understand, Lest We Forget, old chap, Lest We Forget, well, I should think they'd have pissed themselves laughing, if they still had something to piss through.  Peaky Blinders, though, surviving comrades, kicking rotten Privilege up the arse, that's the stuff to give the troops, the sort of home fires to keep burning, then and now.


22 comments:

jgm2 said...

Outstanding Mr I.

Thank you.

When my mum died and we cleaned out the house in Birmingham we found all the letters that my dad had sent to Ireland in the 1930s. My dad having died 15 years before her, she had been and cleared out the old farmhouse in Ireland and saved all his letters.

My brother therefore has all the correspondence from both directions. I'm not quite as interested as him on that side of it but the gist is that my dad was fucking spitting. Brought up his whole life to distrust the English and when he finally walked out - aged almost 30 - of an Ireland that could offer him literally nothing but a bed of ferns in a fucking barn he found plenty of work and plenty of money and a warm welcome and he had nothing but good things to say about the English. Although he used to cry with laughter at the amount of toilets 'the natives' seemed to need in their houses.

It's there in the letters. 'You fucking bastards, lying to me and keeping me like a fucking slave following a fucking plough from dawn till dusk, ploughing the fucking rocks of Bawn..' Less swearing but that was the gist of it.

Growing up we could never understand why he settled for a modest two-up, two-down terrace- the same house that a kind Englishman rented him a room in back in 1936. Him being a builder and all, but when you read the letters you begin to understand that as far as he was concerned he'd died and gone to paradise.

Me? I couldn't wait to leave the fucking place. Birmingham that is.

My brother now lives in Bournville. The rest of the city is twinned with fucking Pakistan. I don't know why he stays there. Utter fucking shithole.

But as the Stanis are showing. One man's shithole is another man's paradise on Earth.

Alphons said...

I find that the Savvanah Jazz band is very soothing in times of stress.

mongoose said...

The Seventies, eh? What are you gonna do? I am ashamed to say that I bought that ELO album. In my defence, I can only add that the balance of my mind had been disturbed by the breathy chanteuses of the Bay City Rollers.

SG said...

Excellent piece Mr I. Somehow you articulated everything I feel about the Tee Vee and 'popster' world but with much greater erudition than I could ever summon. ELO et al - they were shit then and they're still shit now (maybe even shitter). TV - mostly shit. I am glad you managed to pluck a pearl from the slurry (Peaky Blinders) - it passed me by but I'll keep an eye out for it now. The only decent programming seems to come with subtitles these days (the last thing that grabbed me was the French cop show 'Spiral' - a dark montage of cynical and corrupt cops, lawyers and politicians - TV for grown ups rather than the infantile slop served up to us by the PBC et al.). I moved into a new house a while back, no TV aerial, and so went without for a few months - read, surfed the web, watched old movies on DVD but somehow something seemed to be missing. So forked out a couple of hundred quid for an aerial installation (not wishing to meet with the same fate as Rod Hull). What did I get in return for my investment? Shit. Shit pouring down from the aerial onto the pathway below from passing birds using it as a latrine. Even more shit pouring in through the screen into my living room. Now I mostly back to reading, surfing the we and watching old movies on DVD (and clearing up the aforementioned pathway) - certainly poorer but maybe a little wiser too...

mrs narcolept said...

I did worse than buying the ELO album. I bought Sting's Elizabethan lute songs.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ! The meds are beginning to wear off.

I suspect there's a code embedded that predicts the end of the World. Or maybe the secret code that shows the unifying theory of all forces.
A little more water with it next time

I'll get me coat.

Baron

Bungalow Bill said...

This is just great writing. It really is. I know nothing of Mr Lynne nor have I seen Peaky Blinders but that doesn't matter because this is a superbly sustained piece of technique, style, anand substance. Bravo.

inmate said...

This... this is why I attend class here. 'Cause it ain't nowhere else.

Rightwinggit said...

Stunning, as ever.

Anonymous said...

I must say you write the what I have felt for the last fifty years, the entertaining industry is another arm of the state control system feed them shit in all forms and they will not know what is talent or what is dross

Caratacus said...

Well that's sorted out Saturday morning ... splendid stuff.

Chas 'n' Dave for me - now there's a class music hall act that would have had Bach tipping his hat in respect.

Desmond said...

"smiling their over-toothed smiles" and grossly over filled fly fronts.

yardarm said...

A right upper class hooligan that Churchill, keen for a bit of regime change in the Russian Intervention, even as the guns fell silent on November 11 on the Western front Tommy was going into battle against the Red Army. As Secretary of State for War he authorised the use of gas bombs by the RAF against the Russians.

The troops used in the Intervention were often recovering casalties of Flanders, defeateing the Kaiser was one thing but being kept on through an Arctic winter to fight in the shifting political sands of the Russian Revolution was another and some mutinied.

At least we won the First World War, over 200 generals were killed, injured or captured. Don`t recall any coming back through Wooton Basset on the past two humiliating defeats.

That Rupert you show Mr Ishmael, ignoring his professional thrashings in Helmond and Basra called for boots on the ground to mop up the Islamonutterbastards.

The mawkish tin rattling you describe serves as a fig leaf for the utterly rotten politico/military/diplomatic/ ' intelligence ' shambles that lurch us from one fuck up to the next. Bad Vlad, the Chinese, the Nutterbastards probably can`t stop laughing.

tdg said...

If we must single out one new criterion for power in our age it is popularity, however acquired. The face of power is the face of slavery, reflected.

call me ishmael said...

He certainly had an appetite for conflict, Churchill, in Africa, in Turkey, in England and Ulster and eventually in Europe and as the 1945 election demonstrated he neither loved nor was loved by the impotent poor, mr yardarm, but I think it is impossible to over-estimate his influence in defeating fascism; others might have proven better strategists but I believe that his oratory was absolutely crucial in the years before Uncle Sam did the right thing; I can never, therefore, feel altogether comfortable about him, and I certainly wouldn't spit on his kith and kin but as much as did Atlee's government, Churchill made possible the peace and the welfare state, even the dilletante hooligan, in his case, proving his worth.

call me ishmael said...

That's neat, mr tdg, the pity is that so few see it, when it is so clearly there, in the faces of the leading, popular Poundlanders. Not just in the faces, either, some of Mr FagAsh Lil's minders carry themselves with a certain Berlin 1930's chic.

Bungalow Bill said...

The commemorations of the war dead are especially problematic now because what was once a sober remembrance, performed by those who had actually suffered through it all in one way or another, has I am sorry to say become infected by the delicious thrill of deathwankery which is now a degenerate part of our culture. Woolton Bassett was the most repellent example of those who strike attitudes which, while ostensibly compassionate, are all about themselves and about parading their exquisite sensitivity to the slaughter of others. This does no honour to the dead, does nothing to examine or resist the reasons (power, money and greed we may summarise) why they died and continue to die and is, above all, untruthful. We see it in other public keenings, of course, the same nauseating, self- regarding fakery; the same mawkish honouring of the destroyed and maimed. How dare we, how dare they.

call me ishmael said...

Too lenient by half, mr bungalow bill, on those ghoulish matrons and puffed-up British Legionnaires, nasty old fairies, bulled and bereted, blazered in imaginary glory. Probably payclerks and national service NCOs, I suspect proper soldiers wouldn't be caught dead, stooging for Brown and Blair and Hoon, Hague and Fox.

Brought a special, furious picquancy to these commentaries, did Wootton Basset, mr bungalow bill, holding Villainy's coat for him, as they did, polishing his turds, sucking his cock; never mind Royal Wootton Basset, Cuntish is the right pre-fix.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, even among an especially reptilian group, mr yardarm, that prick of a Rupert deserves a special award, the Shithead Cross, horrible fucking snarly bastard. They should pledge their legs or their sight, to be removed when, as usual, they fail and fuck-up, that would focus what they are pleased to call their minds.

yardarm said...

Sometimes a bit of hooliganism is called for, Mr Ishmael. Like a fool I used to vainly hope for it against the damned banksters and GlobaDosh; as if this bunch of pallid pansies would be so impertinent to act against their employers interests.

call me ishmael said...

,,,,,,,,or, a propos Wootton Barmy - and if mr tdg will permit - recreational mourning.

Going out for a pint, dear? Nah, me'n the lads're off down the town, fer a birra recreational mourning, like; 'snice day ferrit. Aye, 'sall the rage, a bit like dogging, only you get to wear yer medals. An' keep yer kecks on. By the left, slow march......

(wife tut-tuts) Poor lad, 'e's never bin right, not since that Diana trollop got killed.....

Anonymous said...

Dear ishmael,
I have just read the opening 'salvo' of your article and this time I agree TOTALLY.

I shall now sit down on this rainy day in Antibes and read the rest.

Baron