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House of Commons

The House of Commons an Antropology of MPs at Work_

House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs at Work

The idea of a study of the nature of MPs in their own habitat could have been dreamt up from Spitting Image in the early nineties, with David Bellamy getting in close to the slugs, the sheep and the grey leader in white underpants. But anthropologist Emma Crewe respects MPs as humans and goes into the House of Commons at a fascinating time, before the 2015 election, with regard at party politics and Members of Parliament at a modern time low.

A week is a long-time in politics, and already in a few months since publication party politics has taken a new turn. The Labour Party has become a mass membership party again after an election of a leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who packed out halls around the country in his campaign, re-energizing politics by speaking up against an ideological austerity agenda when many in his party, particularly the parliamentary party, had lost either the political will or lacked the intelligence to articulate an alternative. And interestingly Emma Crewe interviewed the backbench Corbyn, giving the book an unexpected element of topicality. Continue reading…

Refugees are our Football Family

Refugees are our Football Family

Listeners to Radio 2 medium wave shortly after the 1989 FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough kicked-off will remember reports of fans streaming on the pitch in large numbers. First hand evidence from those who told the truth that day said more and more fans came over the fence, despite being pushed back. It was obvious something was wrong and over 25 years later any rational thinking would question how it was for so long accepted that the fans weren’t offered sanctuary, rather than being penned in further.

That incident is a reasonable parallel to scenes that have featured on the news for months now. Refugees have been fleeing to mainland Europe in large numbers on a daily basis. We regularly hear of large groups dying, suffocating in lorries and drowning in the sea, while there is filming of survivors sleeping in railway stations and then walking for miles with children on their back. From the traffic jams in Kent to the pictures of toddlers washed up on the shore via footage of the displaced being in being imprisoned in coiled razor wire in Hungary, the clues have been there for a while now. And in the last few weeks some in the people’s game have stood up to offer a helping hand as we see a humanitarian crisis of an enormous proportion unfold on TV screens every night. Continue reading…



At significant moments for the economy in the last ten years, from the global banking crisis in 2008 to the recent near shutdown of Greece, anyone in Britain interested in current affairs would be sure to catch a Paul Mason TV report like Tarantino used to run to the cinema for a new Scorsese release in the seventies. Like those news despatches, Mason’s new book, Postcapitalism, is informative, enlightening and engaging.

As it says on the tin (in this case a lovely black hardback), the book looks to the future in a fast changing world, but not before exploring the past and explaining the present. As well as sharing his experiences in the field, Mason mixes micro and macro economics, an in-depth political and economic knowledge and hard evidence to make a convincing case why the current economic model is not only reaching the end of its life-cycle, but how the information technology network can be the basis that both connects globally while individually giving us autonomy in a sustainable society. Continue reading…

Football Column – Concrete Jungle

Spurs at Bayern Munich

In the latest drip-drip of stories from Sky Sports News in the first week of the English Premier League season they announced this evening that Sunderland have opened a Fan Zone; in other words they have made use of a vast car park to put up a few large umbrellas and a big screen in which they can flog bland lager in plastic containers. Half way through a week that started with a live 12.45pm game decided by a lone own goal and will end with football on Friday evening due to drained police resources being diverted to a march by wannabe fascists the following day, EPL Week 1 is dragging like a shoot out midway through Season 2 of True Detective: overblown, unrealistic, fragments of flying glass flying at bleeding coppers and a bit boring. Continue reading…

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of Bewilderbeast Live

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of the Bewilderbeast live The Barbican


Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of Bewilderbeast, 15th Anniversary Tour

The Barbican, Sunday 26 July 2015

When Badly Drawn Boy released The Hour of Bewilderbeast in 2000 it was an instant masterpiece; creative, captivating and musically brilliant. It didn’t just stand the test of time as one of the best albums of the decade alongside other great debuts by The Streets, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and the Arctic Monkeys, like the strongest album of the previous decade (Radiohead’s Ok Computer) and the best so far of this (Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away) it endures repeated listening from first note to last.

So a 15th Anniversary Tour is a welcome treat, even from a notoriously moody live performer as Damon Gough. He has played albums in full before in London. In August 2004 at the Royal Festival Hall, a not dissimilar venue, he played the whole of his then new release, One Plus One Is One. He came on stage saying how it didn’t work well the previous night, but fuck it, he was going to do it again. Like his mates the Doves, he has never seemed fully at home playing London. But eleven summers on at a sold out Barbican, full of love, this time he had no doubts, and played a wonderful, energetic set. Continue reading…

Field of Shadows

Field of Shadows Dan Waddell

An itch of curiosity into German cricket turned into an irresistible scratch for Dan Waddell, leading him to tell a story of how cricket was a ray of light while a nation fell to a brutal fascism regime and Berlin was destroyed. As well of a tale of an English touring party playing unofficial tests initiated by cricket loving Germans before the second world was declared, the lovely nuggets of information dropped in the book, from a random encounter with a buggy-pushing Mike Atherton to how the long room at Lords was used to check for STDs during WWII, make Field of Shadows a valuable read for cricket lovers and historians.

By means of Google, interviews, old football magazines, rare editions of cricket guides and most notably by painstakingly looking through letters and scrapbooks kept by collectors who cherished memories and documented life (and who would today often be dismissed as hoarders), Dan uncovers enough detail to piece together a little known trip, that in itself was seen as an act of rebellion to a cricket despising Fuhrer. Continue reading…

Brix & The Extricated, 100 Club, 29 May 2015

Brix Smith

As well as being steeped in jazz and blues, the 100 Club on Oxford Street also has its own special place in the annals of punk, so it was kind of fitting that tonight we would hear the music of a band that evolved from that scene. Indeed, played by the people we didn’t really expect to see performing those songs again.

Continue reading…

Fick Fufa

Mark Perryman is unconvinced by English football’s occupation of any moral high ground vs FiFA Corruption.

“I’m incredibly disappointed with the timing of what the BBC seem to be proposing with Panorama. To do it the week before the vote – I don’t think think it’s patriotic.” Andy Anson, Director England World Cup 2018 Bid, November 2010

That’s right, on the eve of England’s doomed bid to host World Cup 2018 the bid director took time out to lambast the BBC for investigating FIFA corruption. Five years later with FIFA headquarters raided by police and arrests made the smell of the hypocrisy of English football adopting the role of the game’s moral guardian should border on the overpowering. But almost all of this context is lost in the soft target discourse of Blatter-bashing. Continue reading…

Days of Hope

Days of Hope Crowd

On a sunny Saturday evening, one day after David Cameron was returned to Downing Street, hundreds of people crammed into a room in East London with the blinds down, listening to inspirational speakers talking about freedom, liberty and progressive, compassionate politics. Reports of the death of the Left have been greatly exaggerated.

With great success again, and a combination of music, comedy, poetry, debate and effective visuals, Philosophy Football mixed popular culture and politics with Days of Hope, an event energizing those of us who believe in the autonomy of the individual coupled with a solidarity to build a fair and just society. As part of a captivating panel, telling of the struggles he has seen around the world, Paul Mason explained it is more than an oppressive economic system we are now united against, but one that imposes personal repression; a system he argued will never defeat us, as individuals break out with acts of personal defiance. Continue reading…

Nick Cave Hammersmith Apollo 2 May 2015

Nick Cave Hammersmith Apollo

Nick Cave, like a real life modern day Don Draper, can turn it on at the drop of a hat, wearing his heart on his smart sleeve while having a room in the palm of his hands with wisdom beautifully told. And he turned it on at the Hammersmith Apollo last night. Like a light bulb; like an atom bomb, to steal Cave’s own words. Continue reading…

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