Something As Simple As Rock ‘N’ Roll Could Save Us All

Last night I went to a gig which reminded me how glorious us humans can be. How glorious most of us constantly are. It was a Frank Turner gig, which may or may not be significant to the effect it had on me, the emotions it stirred, the tears it unexpectedly brought to my eyes. But then again, it definitely needed a certain sort of singer and a certain sort of crowd for this blog post to have been inspired.

Frank Turner, for those of you who don’t know, is an English singer/songwriter, of a folk/rock tradition. This was the second time I’d seen him live and it was even better due to the smaller, more intimate venue not far from his own home town. Over the years many of his songs have gotten to me personally, but isn’t that always the way with performers we become attracted to? They write so many lyrics that could have been written just for us, making us feel like they are talking directly to us.

So come on now if we all pull togetherWe can lift up the weight of the world from your shoulders, just for a moment or two.png

 

Frank Turner invites a mixed crowd of people, which in my opinion makes for the friendliest and safest kind of gig. Young teenage couples stand and sway beside grey haired ones. Parents stand with hands on the shoulders of their children. Women in their thirties and forties, and everyone in between. It doesn’t matter what you wear or how you look, you’ll feel instantly relaxed and at home. There’s no sense of danger or threat in this mild mannered yet devoted crowd.

Not everyone grows up to be an astronautNot everyone was born to be a kingNot everyone can be Freddie MercuryBut everyone can raise a drink and sing (1).png

 

Like all great performers, Turner knows his job is to make us happy and he plays this role to perfection, making it is his sole purpose to excite, entice and invite the crowd to have fun. Like the pied piper of music lovers, if he says jump, we jump, if he says sing, we sing, and if he tells us all to hug a stranger, we hug a stranger. There were some truly wonderful and memorable moments last night, including a man who had flown in from Lithuania to see Frank, being called on stage to pick out someone who would then crowd-surf to two points in the audience in order to deliver high fives to two chosen men.

Having recently mentioned money being raised for Safe Gigs For Women, Turner asked us to prove what a safe and respectful environment his gigs provided for all. Later on, he crowd surfed himself in order to find a beautiful girl to dance with while singing I Wanna’ Dance. He found a little girl and danced with her, and I am sure it will be a moment she will never forget.

But this is not meant to be a gig review. If it was I would say that the crowd were suitably enticed into a hand clapping, feet stomping frenzy, roaring along to each and every song, dancing and hugging and kissing. I would say that Turner did a magnificent job of interacting with the audience, delivering an energetic and passionate performance while coming across as a genuinely lovely and down to earth person.

But all that aside. Something happened last night. I kept getting emotional. I kept wiping away tears. It might have been the two pints of cider. It might have been the songs (I’m not ashamed to admit I wept openly to Ten Storey Love Song and I Am The Ressurection when I saw The Stone Roses) But it was more than that. Because I’ve been feeling emotional a lot lately.

I’ve caught myself staring into space, lost in fearful thoughts. I’ve found myself breathless in the beauty of nature whilst a cold terror that everything is ending clutches at my heart. I’ve had moments of intense love with my children, which feel undeniably punctured with hopelessness. And I’m not the only one. So many people I know seem to be experiencing what can only be described as a sort of mourning. We’re grieving for a world that seems to be going backwards in so many ways, devoured by hate and division. We’re mourning for a beautiful glorious earth that cannot hang on much longer under the damage we inflict. We’re aghast at the utter demons who rule the world and who are voted in by people who should know better.

It’s been bad news followed by worse. Now you might have different political opinions to mine, and that’s fine, but these things need to be spoken about. None of us should ever have to be silent. You might have voted Conservative, for Brexit or even for Trump, but I cannot hold back from discussing the fall out from such outcomes. On the morning of the Tory election win, there were groups of mums gathered in shock at school, in tears. I cried myself. People who were already scared and dismayed at the rate at which the NHS, education and the welfare state had been cut back, rolled back and privatised for profit, were facing another five years of rule under a barely elected Government extremely lacking in compassion.

But we soldiered on. Signed petitions and even won some of the battles. Then came Brexit. And again, if you voted differently to me, that’s fine. I know plenty of people who voted for their own reasons which were not doused in selfishness and intolerance. However, it cannot be denied that Farage and the right wing press whipped up a frenzy of suspicion, hatred, selfish nationalism, not to mention the repetition of outright lies and misinformation.

The morning after I saw the same shocked faces at school and at home. It felt like the extreme right wing racists had won, and the terrifying increase of racially motivated hate crime since then would suggest they felt they had. They felt vindicated and are now proud to voice their intolerant views. It felt like everything was going backwards.

But we shouldered it and carried on. Then came the election of the most powerful man in the world and we all know how that turned out. Avoiding social commentary and political discourse as much as I possibly can here, it cannot be denied nor should it be, that the majority of people across the world right now are pretty scared. They’re either so scared they voted for a misogynistic unqualified lunatic or who doesn’t believe in climate change, or they are now terrified because of that outcome.

As Turner said himself last night, it has been a shit year and the world right now feels very unstable divided and scary.

I felt it hit me last night. The emotion, the fear, the ache of hope, the solidarity with others. With each song he sang I guess I released a little bit of what I had been holding onto. When he spoke about his song Rivers not being about nationalism, but about the beautiful rivers that carve up our land, I wanted to shout yes! I came away feeling lighter, not knowing how much I had needed a night like that.

'And when I dieI hope to beBuried in out in English seasSo all that then remains of meWill lap against the shoreUntil England is no more''Rivers'Frank Turner.png

I guess I don’t really believe any more than rock and roll can save us all. Maybe we are all too far gone, but I do still believe it can save us, if only for just one night.

And I thank Frank Turner for that.

And in his own words; ‘We can get better, because we’re not dead yet!’

and-i-still-believe-in-the-needfor-guitars-and-drums-and-desperate-poetryand-i-still-believe-that-everyone-can-find-a-song-for-every-time-theyve-lost-and-every-time-theyve-won

 

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Guest Post; ‘The Alt-Right and Their Irrationality’ by Toby Martin

This month’s guest post comes in the form of a poem written by a brilliant 19 year old, who comes to my writing group. Toby Martin is studying Screenwriting at Bournemouth University, but he also writes short stories and poems and is working on his first novel. Toby read this poem out one evening at writing group, post Brexit. As we are generally of similar opinions, we were all laughing and nodding as he read it out. We look forward to Toby’s poems and short stories at group, as they are always full of dark humour and never fail to make us laugh. Thanks for this Toby!

Is it really true that sanity has died?

That people didn’t know Farage had lied?

And now Brexit’s happening, but not so swiftly.

The government is unwilling to trigger Article 50.

And why should they? It’ll be suicide economic,

And May’s too busy preparing for apocalypse atomic.

I know I should be grateful we’ve finally got a cabinet sorted,

And that Michael Gove’s gone – perhaps hopefully to be deported.

But at the slightest criticism, May will rebuke us,

Just like she did to Caroline Lucas,

When the latter suggested just the slightest doubt,

That nuclear proliferation could ever work out.

To me, the problem lies with misinformation,

Twisting the truth coupled with outright fabrications.

The Daily Mail is the most popular paper,

Which is depressing considering the many capers

The rag has performed over its many years of circulation,

Baiting minorities, and deceiving the nation.

It’ll get away with lies, slander and exaggeration,

Claiming things to be fact without proper citation.

Consider when they attacked Ralph Miliband, father of Ed,

He hated Britain! The tabloid read,

Despite his dedication for the country’s armed forces,

While the paper’s creator, Lord Northcliffe endorses

Hitler’s Germany, fascists and Italian blackshirts,

At least until we went to war, and then he averts,

Any association he had – he puts it to bed,

Then goes on to attack other groups instead.

Even worse than the Mail (excuse me will I gag)

Is The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s favourite rag,

That used to be the most popular, and probably still would be,

If they hadn’t done away with the topless women on page 3.

Because that’s what we need in a modern liberal nation,

Public pornography and blatant objectification,

(No doubt subjected to excessive masturbation,

And if they get caught, they’ll blame immigration.)

Despite having half the world’s media under his control,

Murdoch will still claim his views are unheard, on the whole.

And whilst UKIP are laughing about their victory,

An exit from the EU will be rather contradictory,

As nothing they care about will likely change,

They’ll still be foreigners in their visual range,

And in anger at being deceived by their leaders,

They’ll go the same route as tabloid readers

And blame any minority group that they see fit,

And it’ll be blameless victims that get the worst of it.

Not all Brexiters are racist – just short on facts,

But now it’s being used an excuse to commit senseless acts

Of mindless xenophobic violence and hate,

While government opposition are declared enemies of the state.

Over in America, things might get steadily worse too,

After Donald Trump’s support unexpectedly grew,

A madman is now in a position to take control,

(Although even he might get fed up of Boris Johnson being a troll.)

And his supporters are too making a spectacle as they see fit,

Like Milo Yiannopoulos, the internet’s favourite hypocrite.

Finally banned from Twitter after racist abuse,

On top of his record of misogyny and homophobia that he would excuse.

And his first claim following his suspension,

Was that he was being oppressed by hate-crime prevention,

Forgetting conveniently enough that he claimed before,

That Twitter didn’t have the stomach to tell him what for.

Why then, do these liars get away with their lies?

Well, in many respects, it’s a curse in disguise.

Personal opinions are important, there’s no doubt about that,

But the danger comes with conflating opinions with fact.

Suddenly there are multiple truths, not just one,

And you get to choose which, to you, is the most fun!

So you can believe in a hollow Earth, or an expanding Earth or an Earth made of sponge cake,

You can believe in Phantom Time or that the Apollo landings were fake.

But some conspiracies are much more harmful with a lot more danger,

That play upon our instinctive fear of the stranger.

I’m talking about those who claim that vaccination,

Is an attempt at government world domination.

That jabs will make your child autistic,

Despite going against the accepted statistics.

But internet culture has a habit of demonizing reason,

Thinking that they’re out to get them for committing high treason.

As a result, we had thousands of children who weren’t immunized,

And as a result had their overall health compromised.

And once again this was a confirmation of the worst fears –

And the first death from measles in Britain in 14 years.

This is just one example of such a foreboding act,

That occurs when we value personal feeling over objective fact,

Be sure to spread this lesson amongst our impressionable youth,

Or we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.

You can follow Toby on TwitterWattpad and his excellent blog tobythewastrel

 Look out for next month’s guest post, a detailed piece on why going indie was the right decision for him, by horror writer Anthony Morgan Clark

Do you have something you would like to submit to this blog? It can be a poem, short story, novel extract, or a blog style post about writing, reading, or an experience of being an outsider (and not caring!) As long as it is glorious then sent it my way! Guest posts are once a month.