Sunday, 24 November 2013

Where did November go?

My gosh, time is going quickly these days. So what happened to November? In brief...

Friday 1st November, I finally saw Warm Widow play, though I'm not entirely sure that the highlight of this wasn't steadily getting drunker whilst watching Martin engaging in some last minute song writing to be performed immediately after... No, they were amazing, as I knew they would be. I like it immensely when people you like have bands you love, mostly because I've never enjoyed obligation gigs. Not that there would be any obligation here, but it's be able to say honestly that you're there strictly for the music regardless of any friendships/acquaintance or whatever. That night was in some ways a great night, in others not so much, I talked to lots of people, but I was on self destruct that night, and at best I spoke inappropriately to people about topics that don't really matter, and at worst, I behaved in ways that made me not like myself very much - I've not been there for a long time, and thankfully I noticed it quickly, because it's not a way I like to be.

6th November was Enablers at Kraak, with Locean, Monster Island and Michael O'Neill supporting. Slightly unusually perhaps, Michael O'Neill was supporting after Enablers, but regardless of any other logistical reasons, and despite how good Enablers are, nothing could have followed his set - it was fucking awesome. He's listed on the line up for the next Gesamtkunstwerk, which sadly I can't go to, but if you can you should. It's going to be incredible.

Friday 8th was Gesamtkunstwerk, and it was a great night. I'm getting to know quite a lot of folks there, and lots of musical types were out in force; Danny Saul, Michael from Wode, Thomas Long from Easter, Michael O'Neill, Neil from Gnod/2 Koi Karp and others - all, as ever, lovely to chat to. Dancing with Lee and Amy and a bunch of folks, it's an amazing night regardless of the line up, but the line up was exceptional too - Shaped Noise, Gnod and Machine Woman. Fucking A.

Carcass at the Academy (13th November) was a bit of a disappointment - they were brilliant, but the sound system was arse. Still, having never seen them, I'm glad I did, still one hell of a show. Following that was Glenn Jones at Islington Mill on Friday 15th, put on by Buried Bones. That was really something special, a truly beautiful evening.

Wolf Eyes on the 21st at Soup Kitchen, supported by the lovely evolving collective of musicians that is Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura. That was a great set, David Birchall took it (rightly so) as a compliment that it was the "least experimental set I've ever seen [him] play", and Kate Armitage's vocals were superbly creepy and wild. Truly fantastic to see, I'm looking forward to seeing them again in January. WOLF EYES. First time I've seen Wolf Eyes, and they didn't disappoint, although, as seems to be a theme with gigs this month, the sound system did. I wanted it to knock me out of my skin, but it felt more like I was listening from upstairs. Still great, but not quite all it should've been. Often the way Soup Kitchen, you might want to look at that.

Bohren Und Der Club of Gore. OH YES. This was Friday 22nd at Islington Mill, courtesy of Fatout. That was some gig. As a side note, if Wolf Eyes had been at the Mill, that would have made for an entirely different calibre of show. Bohren played for over an hour, and it is fair to say they blew me clean out of the water. I was expecting it to be amazing. They took amazing, and made it look like a three year old child's best efforts. Support was Cornered Yet Climbing, a beautifully dark collaboration with Kelly Jayne Jones, Pascal Nichols and David McLean, and visuals by Khom.

And tonight... Tonight is Shellac. I'm a little excited.

An almost perfect month. Some minor mistakes, and friend has fallen out with me, I'm not sure why, but it's making speaking to an entire group of people I like feel like a very awkward undertaking. I don't know what I did, and quite frankly, it's a little teenage. If you have a problem with someone, sort it. So a blip, but it's not something I'm losing sleep over.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Because I really want to look like the boy off Eerie Indiana

About four or five years ago, thought I found my first white hair, but I couldn't be sure, so I pulled it out and it was. I was excited for awhile, then a little miffed when no more came. Today I thought I found another, but I couldn't be sure, so I pulled it out to see, and it was. Is this the beginning of me finally getting lovely white hair, or am I going to have to wait another four or five years for the next one?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A couple of poorly conceived ideas about how to address UK, and global, wealth disparity.

(Photograph from the guardian website,, Photograph: Chanm Nyeim Zaw/GuardianWitness)

The highest salary in an organisation should not be greater than 7-10 times the lowest salary in an organisation. Seriously. I really do not see why anyone needs so much more than everybody else. Obviously I understand the need for incentive, the need to feel the value of your work recognised, but there are limits. When supposedly around 300 people in America hold around 90% of the wealth, something is seriously wrong. When a footballer in the UK earns more in a week than most people can hope to earn in a year, something is seriously wrong. Yes, football is a time limited career, but that’s what saving accounts and pension schemes are for.

A minimum of x% of profit should be held by companies as capital/invested into the business. Dividends should not be greater than reinvestment, or wages. 

As a society we should look to measuring wealth by living standards rather than GDP, a move away from the profit and loss balance sheets capitalism hold us accountable by would ensure a better standard of living for the more vulnerable.

An acceptance that as we have moved from a less patriarchal model, we have a greater available workforce. Combine this with the knowledge that people are often more productive working shorter hours (greater health, more energy, more creativity) and look at a socio-economic model that allows part time work to support living standards (see the first point). 

A recognition that essential services run by private companies operate for profit. Profit means they are not running it to provide the maximum benefit to their user group. Everyone except the government knows this. Transport links to rural communities closed for reasons of “profit” isolate communities, lower opportunities for employment, and generally suck. I’m unsure what point there is in high speed rail, when many communities have little or no decent transport links at all. Investment in nuclear power from foreign firms guaranteed more than double the current unit price for energy does not benefit those it should, it benefits shareholders, rather than acting to create a better standard of living for a population.

A recognition of what welfare, and national insurance should be. Key word is “insurance”. By helping those who need it, when they need it, without effectively placing them in the poorhouse, allowing them to keep social networks intact, children in the same schools, their chances of getting back into work would increase significantly. When all peoples time is occupied by fatigue and shopping for the cheapest of everything, the time for job seeking goes down. When family networks have been broken down through enforced moves, and there is no spare money anywhere, how do mothers pay up front for childcare and new work clothes?

A model that favours community and localised services rather than centralisation. Localised provision, be it in governments, dairies, agriculture, healthcare provides employment, fosters communities and creates jobs, centralisation causes unemployment and only favours profit. Localisation in our food industries allow for a more sustainable model, offer the prospect of better quality, less packaged green groceries, the prospect of reusable packaging (glass bottles, glass yogurt pots) in dairy, and less plastic leaching into our food products. Localised slaughter, butchery would offer the same thing. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce packaging, reduce transport miles for our food. LOCALISATION. Again, highly specialised services can operate better from a central model, yet for so much more all we reap is the price of alienation. 

We live in a society that values money alone, we exist to serve the machine. What ever happened to the notion that businesses are there to service our needs? 

Our society should serve us. Not the other way around.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The one in which the Woodcat decides to stop drinking for a time because she keeps listening to Nick Drake in the car

 There is a dog following me. You know the one. He's being howling in the field behind my house for some weeks now, chasing my car as I drive to and from university, sitting outside lectures,barking all day, howling all night. Recently he's been getting more confident and coming closer. He pads around my back garden and knocks on the back door for food. And against my better judgement I've started to feed him, to encourage him, and I think I must stop, or soon all my evenings will be spent alone doing nothing but watching Limmy, with a black dog lying with his head on my lap.

You know that the Woodcat has occasional issues with depression, right? And issues with ADD? And you know how that works and impacts my behaviour towards you all? Probably yes and no in equal measure.

The depression side of things is simple enough, in that most people I know have had personal experience of depression, either first hand or through close personal acquaintance. People tend to understand the need to introvert, to oblivion seek, to be a little less present, a little less emotionally available or capable. The attention thing makes things a tad more complicated. People have images of attention disorders as hyperactive bastard kids into everything, unable to focus on everything ever. People who are unreliable because they never remember anything. Truth is, it's not really like that. Attention Deficit Disorder is kind of a misnomer, it's not that attention is gone, so much as it's almost impossible to direct it appropriately. It's being sat at work working to a strict deadline and only being able to focus on learning how to make soap - seriously, I have quite a good understanding of how to make lye, render fat and make a good quality soap, though my attention waned before I ever got around to doing it. It's not being able to work between 3pm and 3:30pm daily because you have a work colleague on a conference call, and you can't tune it out of your head. It's revising for your Maths A Level by reading Edgar Allan Poe, or reading first year degree level Maths when you're doing your English degree. It's having known for a good 18 months what you want to write your dissertation on, knowing exactly what you want to explore, exactly what you want to say, but being unable to start until three days before the deadline. It's being eight years old and maybe only writing the date in an exercise book over the course of an entire morning. It's being fourteen years old and maybe only writing the date in an exercise book over the course of an entire morning. It's being late for everything. It's about understanding everything in classes, but being unable to write essays. Locking yourself away to work and finding yourself doing everything but. The inexhaustible lists that you attempt to live by. It's the inability to forget anything, and the inability to prioritise these thoughts, ideas. It's fluctuating between constantly going off on tangents, or an inability to change tack. Not letting things go. It's the constant blow to your self esteem that comes from chronic underachievement, that despite having an IQ somewhere above 140, you can't complete simple tasks on time. It's going out with strange boys that you really ought to avoid because they were willing to run down the road pretending to be an aeroplane with you. It's a basic problem with inhibition, of self regulation, of impulsivity. It's a problem regulating your interest level. It's needing immediate reinforcement, immediate rewards. It's not being able to skirt around issues, ideas, wanting the point, the bottom line often even before there is one. It's growing up being constantly told you are wilful, stubborn, stupid, a daydreamer. That you are idle. Lazy.

All of this causes significant impact on me personally, but I'm kind of used to my own academic and professional self sabotage, I've come to understand it and if not forgive exactly, at least be more forgiving of it. But there are areas that still upset the crap out of me, and yet it's hard to prevent it from happening. My friend Paddington used to say that there were two Woodcats, a good one and an evil one, and in lots of ways that's almost exactly how it is. Much of the time I can be a warm, understanding compassionate person. And yet... It's constantly making social gaffes that alienate and isolate. It's suffocating friends who need space, and neglecting those who need your attention. It's asking questions that are none of your business, joining in conversations where you may not be welcome. It's treating people badly. It's getting angry for ridiculous reasons. It's being curiously intolerant of other people's behaviour because your head is in a ridiculous place. Constantly butting in and not waiting your turn in conversations. It's existing in a curious plain next to reality, where you veer in turns from looking at the world from behind your face, to being completely engaged in hedonistic experiences. It's a million and one small things that everyone will recognise, but for most people it doesn't impact their lives. Be thankful. It's a bitch.

Depression is a curious ally to balance my ADD. Experiences with depression have allowed me more insight into how my behaviours impact others, and to be more self aware of when I go significantly down hill. And I am starting to notice that I'm going down hill. I'm not treating people well. I'm not treating myself well. Most of my day is spent feeling like I'm looking at the world from behind a mask. My foot is in my mouth more often than usual. My impulse control is way down. Basically, I'm not great to be around right now. Self sabotage is a definite issue. And I'm playing Nick Drake way too often. So I'm going to spend a little less time with people for a while. That said, I am very lucky to have friends who accept that sometimes I am an arse, and will either laugh at me, or tell me I'm being an arse, or both. I'm also lucky to be reasonably aware of when I am less than I want to be, and work on making myself less of an idiot. No mean feat, mind, but I'm working on it. Still, if I'm an arse to you, tell me. Self aware or no, I don't always notice myself being an idiot, and you can't change what you don't know about. It's kind of like the age old dilemma, do you tell someone they're flying low? Most people avoid doing it for their own personal discomfort, only to let the other person embarrass themselves more widely, by exposing themselves more widely... So if I'm a dick, tell me. Hopefully it won't last long. While having a black dog lurking in the back garden is one thing, I'm not keen on the idea of living with one full time.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Stop trying

The Woodcat needs to stop trying to be better, more responsible, more of a human being. Stop trying to be less of a dick. Less of a fuck up. She is who she is. And mostly, she's an arse.