Scottish Highlands & Orkney - October 2019
THE ISLANDS OF ORKNEY
October 24th 2019 - November 2nd 2019
I have family living in the Scottish Highlands, a particularly pretty part of the world. I went as far north as the Orkney Islands, about as far north as you can go within the UK before the Shetland Islands. Orkney is a hot spot for archaeology, single malt whisky and traditional folk music - a great place to go if you want to escape dense metropolitan areas.
I was treated to a scenic walk along the edge of the uninhabited Brough of Birsay on an unusually clear autumn day. You could spot the Scottish mainland, dozens of miles across the horizon.
Sometimes you won't see another person for several miles. The air is a pleasure to breathe. Owing to persistent winds, few trees grow in Orkney, giving it a distinctive rugged appearance.
I flew via Edinburgh - a city I've actually not been to before. Sadly I only had about 45 minutes to explore before my connecting flight. It rained the entire time. Perhaps another day I'll get a better look.
Here is the family moggy, Millie. A very pretty kitty.
We’re leaving March 31st, they said
No deal was a one in a million chance, they said
The UK would never vote in EU elections, they said
We have a plan, they said
Strong and stable, they said
Easiest trade deal in history, they said
We hold all the cards, they said
We'll filibuster in the Lords, they said
We'll block Royal Assent, they said
The EU would never accept an extension, they said
We'll leave on October the 31st do or die, they said
We'll comply with the law, they said
I'd rather die in a ditch, he said
Boomtown Fair - August 2019
BOOMTOWN - A RADICAL CITY
August 7th 2019 - August 11th 2019
Boomtown Fair is a large annual music festival in Hampshire, UK that has been running since 2009. Presently it has a capacity of about 65,000 happy ravers and features a variety of live music, DJs, theatrical performance, arts fairs and political talks. The organisers go to great length to promote environmental awareness, which is ironic as festivals like these are arguably a disaster to the local environment.
Several months earlier at a pub in Brighton, my partner and I were invited by our friends to join them at Boomtown. I'd never done a large music festival before. I'd nearly gone to a few during my university years which were all cancelled by the event organisers at the last second. At 27 years old, perhaps too soon I'd feel too old to drop everything and go camping in the mud. Actually, I felt too old already, but after some convincing by my better half we went online and purchased tickets. Comfort zones be damned!
In the days leading up to the event, we watched the weather forecasting with increasing worry. Hopes of sunshine quickly faded when the yellow weather warnings emerged for storms, rain and wind. So be it, we shrugged, and went shopping for waterproof trousers and wellies.
Boomtown isn't anywhere near as big as say, Glastonbury, it is quite a new event (this was the tenth year) and had been growing quickly. I really feel like the event could use some better organisation at a ground level. Sure, the marketing and stage design is top level, but by crikey the stewarding was shocking! Arriving on site we were misled for directions to our campsite by multiple stewards. What should have been a 1 mile walk from the West Gate to our campsite turned into a 3 mile trek around in circles.
Most people bring their own tents (there are posher accommodation options for those who can afford it) and there are a selection of camp sites. You can 'slum it with the masses' at the sites near the festival centre e.g. The Lion's Den. Or if you don't mind walking it's a good option to camp further out where it's quieter at night. We eventually found our way to Whistlers Green - the most chilled area of the whole festival - the fringe zone for hippies and Pagans to set up stalls for 'upcycling' workshops and carving wooden spoons.
The ground was very chalky, which made pitching tents extremely difficult. A lot of people arrived without suitable camping gear and failed to peg their tents down. As 50mph winds started hitting us many of the tents simply blew away, often slamming into neighbouring campers. I found myself up all night feverishly hammering down stranger's tents in the howling rain for the sake of self preservation.
The next day we went exploring into the beautifully decorated Psy Forests, Tangled Woods and then the Town Centre itself. The stages were ornately done with love and craft at each and every corner. There was also a surprisingly good selection of hot food available catering for veggies and vegans too. We had packed a lot of soup sachets and a camping stove, but we ended up buying hot jacket potatoes, Thai street food and vegetarian chili filled baguettes for dinner instead. T'was yummy, and good fuel for dancing!
Apparently after the previous year there had been complaints about the sound quality at the stages, so great technical care went into this year's set up to make everyone sound louder and clearer. It paid off and every band I got the privilege of seeing sounded amazing, even when standing toward the back. I won't try to list every single band and DJ I saw (I lost track anyway) but here were the highlights for me:
-Asian Dub Foundation
-Salt N Pepper
-Prophets of Rage (the energy at this gig was unreal, there was A LOT of moshing)
-Beans on Toast (manages to be political and positive at the same time)
Due emergency tent maintenance during the storm I sadly missed:
-Infected Mushroom :( :(
Here's a link to a poster showing the 2019 line-up.
There were other artists I wanted to see, but Boomtown schedule strategically to clash the popular events and avoid everyone at the festival pooling at one particular stage. I would recommend you plan your day in advance and make a decision on which artists to prioritise seeing. You won't get to see everyone you want to I'm afraid.
There was a very large presence from Extinction Rebellion. I spoke with various activist groups, we were encouraged at every turn to recycle and there was a good provision of recycling points within short walking distance.
I don't believe this is the fault of Boomtown as such, but this event increasingly attracts a variety of selfish prick colloquially known as 'The Bucket Head.' Bucket Heads, or "Roadmen" (a new word for "Chav") arrive en mass, take large quantities of bad acid, Ketamine or MDMA and proceed to get off their faces, causing a nuisance for everyone else. For these cheeky boys, a festival is a 5-day-long bender in a field, an excuse to be rowdy, classless and obnoxious. Theft was a problem too, so was sexual assault. The private security firms were widely critised for being ineffective at tackling criminal behaviour, targeting the wrong people, even in some cases acting as the criminals themselves. Reading up on the Facebook event threads afterwards, it seemed that hundreds of people had been a victim of theft or vandalism. Further scrutiny is required here.
At the end, my friends and I 'left no trace' but disappointingly so many people abandon their pop-up tents and the pastures are strewn with plastic rubbish. For all the promoting eco-awareness Boomtown makes, thousands of people are just inconsiderate wankers and dump their crap regardless. Some self-policing could be helpful here, if people are brave enough to call others out on littering.
Oh, and anyone who tried to get a National Express coach out of Boomtown on Monday will tell you, in terms of desperation, it was like Dunkirk meeting the last helicopter leaving Saigon.
Bucket Heads, bad weather and stinky compost toilets aside, it's all good memories from Boomtown 2019. The festival looked and sounded amazing. The bands played well. The vast majority of people were lovely. We arrived home tired, soaked and smelly. I think we slept for two days straight. I'm being asked if I want to go to Boomtown 2020? That will depend on the line-up
Priti Patel as home sec? Jesus fucking wept... I guess mild treason gets easily forgotten about in today's brave new world. Oh, and psycho Raab as foreign sec? A cabinet so far right, so chaotic, so dangerous it's unreal... Good luck everyone and strap in. Let's hope this utter madhouse eats itself before it eats us all.
Theresa can't even negotiate her way out of a car.
After 8 years of dismissing Yo! Sushi, Zara has finally shown me the error of my ways.
Happy international women's day everyone! I believe it's only reasonable to recognise all humans are entitled to the same rights, privileges & protections. Massive respect to all the campaigners for equality out there!
I really don't care for Theresa May. But who does? She's a weak and wobbly authoritarian, her voice cracking each time she repeats the same meaningless propaganda. She seems tired and lost. Her campaign has failed to present any good reasons why anyone should offer her a vote today. Her decision in calling this unnecessary snap election was a show of arrogance - an opportunistic power grab whilst the electorate are influenced by fear and uncertainty. I don't trust her. She avoids criticism, dodges interviews and hasn't the courage to attend debates. Theresa loves the power. Lurrrves it. She'll pass the buck and point her finger at everyone, never taking any social accountability. She wants to lock down the internet, curb free speech and scrap your human rights. She wants to rip apart cute little foxes and sell off your NHS in chunks. She sells arms to the Saudis and blames Corbyn for promoting terrorism because he's a pacifist. For crying out loud, I really don't like Theresa May. She makes this country seem like the dystopian Britain from Children of Men. She's pulling some V for Vendetta style bullshit. She looks like she eats babies to stay alive. I ask each and every one of you to consider just how much five further years of May at the helm will suck. She's terrifyingly awful, like, shockingly. Please, Britain, particularly the folks around my age, I need you all to go out today and cast your decisive vote.
Everyone on the news looks worried.
And now this lonely little island represented by gullible fools, xenophobic fossils and irresponsible elites will be at the mercy of Trump and Putin. Not to mention a destabilised Europe - whose people will remember this day as the peace inevitably runs out. Good luck everyone.
Adiós 2015. Glad I got to spend it with so many old and new friends. So lucky to have won the heart of the magnificent Zara Chung! The new year promises great things. Mirth and merriment to all of you on this new year's eve!
Seems like most hating on Corbyn are lizards without principles or spineless fannies determined not to rock the sinking boat.
Devastating. Last night was the nail in the coffin for left wing politics in England, and a massive blow to liberalism on a whole. With a Conservative victory, Britain is now ideologically split between the shires (Tory), cities (Labour), Scotland (SNP) and NI/Wales (Clusterfuck). We've followed the European trend - a lurch to the right and surges in nationalist support. With the right more powerful and unified than ever, things are going to get unimaginably worse. We'll most likely exit Europe, the NHS will be sold off in chunks, arts funding will be decimated, £12bn in heavy handed austerity cuts every year will continue bring poverty - especially child poverty - to appalling levels. The snoopers' charter will return and the human rights act will disappear, stripping away our personal freedoms and privacy.
Students, renters, pensioners, public sector workers, councils, single parents, disabled people - you're all going to be picked clean.
If there was ever a day to be cynical - it's today.
A lot of big names have bitten the dust lately. Amy Winehouse and Osama Bin Laden died over the summer, Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie departed Earth within a week of each other and today marks the long anticipated removal of Colonel Gadaffi. Libya isn’t going to magically transform into Utopia any time soon but I quietly welcome news involving the death of malevolent dictators. Humanity seems to be short on baddie characters now, with only fundamentalist clerics and isolationist weirdos making any memorable appearances. There also still exists North Korea; it’s just kind of there, occasionally embarrassing itself and pretending nothing happened. The new leader looks like a fat baby.
With the student loan due to drop and payday in three weeks promising upwards of £600, it means I can at last buy a MacBook Pro without worrying about starvation or eviction. Once I get Logic, SuperCollider, Max/MSP and a bootable copy of Windows on that bastard, it’ll be a dream machine.
My personal projects including the electronic music and game creation have ground to a halt (The last album was released nearly a year ago), but I was able to fix up my MIDI setup with my Yamaha keyboard by updating the drivers and with the new sound card. The latency is now very low, so I have a controller comparable to the equipment at ARU. With a MacBook, visiting the lab to complete work would become unnecessary.
University work is piling up fast, so I need to get some of the CMT guys together and book a studio for band recordings. There are plenty of possibilities with the entire department filled with pianos, interfaces and microphones so I think this will be more of a motivational challenge. I did, however, opt to work independently on the Electronica project. I have some experience making both Ambient and Chiptune tracks so the mixtape task should be doable, but still an interesting challenge.
It's proving to be an exciting news week. I haven't mentioned the protests in Egypt yet but they are reaching a critical level of unrest. They are also working, with President Mubarak constantly forced to try and appease the masses. I like this. Tunisia's government was overthrown a couple of weeks ago and there is growing unrest in Jordan and Yemen. It looks as if Northern Africa and the Middle East are going to be rather unstable throughout the 2010s. I said to Walid and Bagdat today that the pictures coming from Cairo will probably be London in the next few months.
Jan 18th: You don’t have to do anything, you lucky, lucky thing. Just sit there in that little room and consume what society throws in your direction. Complain about the system, hope for revolution and eat supermarket bought food paid for by student finance maintenance loans. Wipe your arse with branded toilet paper, head towards the communal kitchen and compare the capacity of your liver with other lost souls who determine the quality of a person by how many virtual profiles they’re linked to on social networking websites.
Only now are you forced to give something back, selling yourself out to the corporations you grew up to hate but rely on to survive. Develop loyalty through loathing and pride through disappointment. You know the system is flawed but you’re too small to re-imagine it, let alone recreate it. Trapped behind youth you avoid real responsibility and escape the world through intoxicants.
So, Wikileaks publishes sensitive information for everyone, for free. They’re the bad guys because the leaked information can damage governmental bodies and corporations. Of course, Facebook is well known for publishing its users’ personal data without notice if they neglect to specify their preferences for privacy. It’s worth noting that Julian Assange isn’t hosting Wikileaks for a profit although I’m sure that Mark Zuckerberg must have had at least considered the bathtubs of cash he’d receive thanks to Facebook. Zuckerberg is hailed as a genius of our time, a hero and an innovator. As for Assange? Well apparently he’s some kind of rapist.
Back in the digital world, I’ve already made big plans for Total Anarchy and Overthrow. I’m filling up the new sketchbook quickly, with the notion of getting TA1 wrapped and released as soon as possible with a handful of missions and all the rough edges cut off. TA2, which is still a working title, will have the 3D cars and the ‘chinatown-rendered’ pedestrians and be a major release. Set in the present, I’ll be able to legitimately use lots of my own, friends, local and international creative commons music. When I release that game (hopefully before the Summer of 2011,) I’ll begin work on a Lost and Damned style expansion pack or ‘episodic content,’ except that will be set in the past with a new story line. I just hope all this planning materialises.
It nearly brought tears to my eyes watching the Gordon Brown leave office this week. As late as Tuesday
afternoon, I was hoping for a rainbow coalition. I think Labour were the first to say 'fuck it' and
decide to move back into the 'advantageous position' of opposition. I saw it all happen live, kind of
lucky that - although I was watching the Guardian feed all day too. Clegg sold his party out, and
has just about torn away the last shreds of dignity and decency that the LibDems had. He's a
yellow Tory - glad I made a point of never trusting him. Now he and David 'the human lighthouse'
Cameron are running the country. We're 'ConDemNation.' Certainly condemned to what is
primarily a Tory government. They've already agreed to make 6 billion pounds worth of cuts -
something Gordon advised strongly against. It could be anything up to five miserable years of
austarity measures, cuts and increased inequality - I only hope this shitstain of a coalition
collapses, making both the Tories and the LibDems look even more hapless than Labour.
Miliband is most likely going to become the next leader, and they should win the next election if
all goes to plan. Dark times.
Three hundred and six Conservative seats, wow. Blue Britain. It's all up to Clegg now, is he going to
stick to his progressive morals or sell out to the Tories?? Brown must be hiding under a table as
Cameron knocks on the door!
The UK general election debate last night was interesting, Gordon Brown made a much better performance. Nick Clegg was able to grind Cameron into the ground wit issues over Gay Rights and Europe. Hung Parliament seems the only possible scenario, and Avril made an interesting
prediction that if Clegg and Brown work together in government and don't hold another election,
they could wipe the Tories off the map for a generation. I wish that was easier done than said
though, I have a horrible feeling that Cameron is going to end up as Prime Minister by the end of
the year. I'm defending the fact that Labour have brought mainly positive change to Britain and that Gordon Brown is not directly
responsible for the global recession. The Conservative party look more progressive than they used to, but I'm not buying it for one second.
It's a British TV show set in Bristol about a group of social deviants with raging hormones.
I'm at a loss to see how any of the characters are remotely realistic; Skins has been criticised of causing depression amongst teenagers for it apparently makes 'normal' adolescent lives seem monotonous and uneventful by comparison.
The portrayal of teenagers in Skins is way off. For starters, most of us in real life are never that energetic except for that brief period on Saturday evenings. If these were real teenagers, they would spend the majority of the episode rubbing their eyes, complaining about college and being asleep. Another thing that bothers me is that none of the characters have any interest in the mountain of college work they would normally have. They also seem to spend a grand total of one hour in college a week (and that hour is when the place is set on fire or invaded by aliens or something) and the rest dealing with their ridiculously traumatic social lives.
Also, is Bristol completely composed of entirely beautiful students? I mean, no one in Skins is bad looking. Even the characters who are meant to be bad looking are moderately good looking by normal students.
What's more, all the characters in Skins act like absolute arseholes. When you think about it, you'd never want friends like the ones portrayed in the program. Who the fuck does Effy think she is? She walks in, tears friendships apart, shags her way around the college, nearly kills a girl and leaves her there bleeding in the woods, runs off to some shit-heap village and still persists to tart herself around the place. If she wasn't hot I doubt she'd get away with any of her shenanigans. Even the less 'twatty' characters are cocks compared to real people. These kids have affairs behind their loved ones backs, they treat each other like shit, they treat their caring parents like dirt and cause a fuckload of physical and mental damage to pretty much everything associated with them.
And who is having these parties? These so called 'Skins parties' where everyone just gets absolutely blasted off their tits on just about every drug in the chemist. In these parties, at least three people are going home without any clothes (and missing a limb or two.) It's probably a shock to the average Skins party goer if someone DOESN'T die.
What's more, these arsehole teenagers seem to have an unlimited supply of cash. How many drugs do they take each episode, how many designer clothes do they wear, where does this unlimited supply of fags and booze come from? None of these people appear to have part time work either which must mean that all of their parents are generously loaded. So why do they treat their parents like crap?
In conclusion, it is evident that everyone in Skins is a massive dick. Apart from their social deviancy, they are also really dull people. Their only on-screen hobbies include sex, wanking, drug abuse, DJing, having affairs, setting fire to things, stealing, running away, shouting, getting into fights, getting killed, getting arrested, and generally being selfish cocktards.
I can't see where any of the characters will be 10 years on in their lives.