Saturday, December 18, 2010

England, an Anthropological Study Part IV


Walking through the city today, London appears as a city under siege. Police in bullet proof vests and riot gear line the streets of Westminster. Vans filled with police idle by curbs and small groups of uniformed men and women stand silently around them; occasionally talking, sometimes listening to the indecipherable fuzz of walkie talkies, sometimes tapping night sticks impatiently but rarely smiling or laughing or appearing cheerful. All these men and women of fancy dress seem to be waiting for something, or someone, but there is nothing, save for the thinning groups of tourists who seem vaguely perturbed by such a ‘military-esque’ presence, and a few youths clutching Wikileaks support pamphlets skittering defiantly between them.

And that’s what today is about: Wikileaks Julian Assange’s final bid for bail. The police presence seems an overestimation for the few hundred or so reporters and paparazzi that await Assange’s appearance, and the relatively small group of protesters that brave the cold. But as Britain still feels the scars of last Thursday’s 30,000 strong violent protest, the government is understandably jittery in the face of some of the greatest unrest since the Iraq war in 2003, and as all large powers do in such circumstances they turn to pomp and show in the form of an oppressive force, so who better than the bobbies? But what the Government either doesn’t understand at all, is willing to ignore, or understands far too keenly that Julian Assange’s supporters, rather like the student protesters, stand for something far larger than Assange himself or tuition fees. They protest because at some point in our lives we must demand better for ourselves and our Comrades (ah, Communism…so much, so little) and really, we must demand information and freedom and all of those things that we grow up believing and slowly forget. In a world where we have placed our hopes and futures in the hands of a powerful few, where we ourselves have bargained our rights and individuality for more money, bigger houses, better jobs and ease of living, then we must demand something of those we entrust, just as they demand us to pay more taxes, buy more records, eat more fast food and work more hours for less.

In the case of Julian Assange, which is sure to be the landmark case of the decade, there is far more at stake than mere journalistic freedom (which is a huge issue, particularly considering the sub par state of Britain’s newspapers); more so, our freedom of information. Surely the common man and woman should have open access to information about their government – who they will invest in and perhaps even die for (remember, it is always the poor, marginalised and misinformed who are the first to go to war) – and should be able to trust that it hasn’t been misleading, skewed, maligned or politicised for other intent?

But one has to ask, rather like TS Eliot, what of our knowledge that is lost in information? Surely in these days of instant communication and information – when everything from the humble pub quiz to journalistic edge is rendered easier, more unreliable and eventually, extinct – we have lost that knowledge that we so admire in those that are clever clogs and have genuinely devoted hours, days, years and even decades to acquiring knowledge, rather than simply processing information from Wikipedia. I’m never quick to take to such things, and though the Internet is steadily being proven as the ultimate tool of freedom of expression and is being persecuted in the fashion which is common from those with a great deal to hide, both morally and politically (surely Assange’s mock trials and rather un-subtle trumping is evidence), I still find myself with doubts. And yes, I too see the oxymoron inherent with one doubting the Internet in a blog without which I would never be able to express myself so clearly or instantly to people from as distant as the Netherlands or as close as Goodwood, but what is a human without hypocrisy?

But I digress, back to England and protesting. Well in fact, to England and protesting which, to be frank, I haven’t even mentioned.

Watching images of youths attacking Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles’ car on Thursday, one cannot describe the radical idealist in me clawing to get out, if only us Aves weren’t in Dublin, glum and exhausted and hundreds of miles away from the action. The students, dressed in their gas masks and bandanas, looking for all the world like kids from another era or country, and with all the righteous anger of those before them, seem heroic to my idealist. Like gazelles gliding upon the water of politics and indiscretion, the students’ rage is elegant, beautiful and unaware of itself. Yes, there are photos of kids grinning by burning benches and young boys and girls giggling and holding placards proclaiming that ‘Tape Man says no,’ but when the grit has set and the politicians dusted, the kids are enraged beyond pose and Mighty Boosh cool-ness. The tuition fees debacle (which, for those who don’t know is the government’s proposed trebling of education costs. Since the protest, Parliament has passed the fees hike and now an entire generation of students will find themselves either in debt or unable to access the knowledge which they deserve) is such a much argued topic not just because it cataclysmically breaks Nick Clegg’s basic promise to make education free, but because it threatens the very core of progress and pushes England back to the early parts of the last century and before, when education was only accessible to those with the money and the influence to afford it. And an uneducated populous means a docile, ill-informed one that is easily manipulated into whichever mold those in power choose for it. The proles, as Orwell may call them, will only protest if they have enough knowledge to do so, otherwise they will blindly follow whoever has the loudest voice, which is usually those with the largest advertising budget, best spin doctors and biggest microphone.

Protesting really isn’t an English thing, and certainly not a past-time like the French or Greeks. It takes quite a deal of hoo-hah to get the British up and into Parliament Square, not least because one has to brave both the public transport and the weather, neither of which seem to run to any type of schedule known to man (or woman, for that matter). But it is true that the English do get up more often than Australians appear to, and in greater numbers, because too often they seem to be treated by their Governments with a great deal of general indifference. Not only that, but whatever ridiculous law or cut that Government wishes to impose is suggested with quite a transparent gloss that seems quite impossible to not see directly through.

There is also the matter of the police’s handling of the protesters, which is like violent cattle. I have nothing in particular against the law except the usual, but a little power can tip a man’s head until all he sees are objects intent on murdering what he stands for. In the UK, police commonly use kettling (in which those in fancy dress limit large groups of protesters, often by sheer force, and does not allow them to leave by any way other than the way they specify or not at all. The idea is that the protesters, frustrated, tired, thirsty and disillusioned will retreat quietly) and surely this demonstrates a lack of human right to freely protest their government.

Though we were unable to join the London protests, Tasman and I joined a smaller protest in Oxford (there is another oxymoron in there somewhere) and found ourselves surrounded by a bunch of fourteen year olds and the King’s horses. Apart from the fact that the kids seemed more entertained by watching others tread in horse poo, I really do think that the middle classes are pretty crap at protesting things.

Another item of contention is the use of violent protest. Does one lose the message and the power when jumping on a burning bench, or smashing bus stop shelters, or battering the Royal Highnesses car? Is a riot rather than a protest ever a better option? Well, the logical (and ultimately, in my deepest of hearts) in me says no, the idealist in me says yes. I prefer the middle ground, which I like to call a kind of militant peace. Personally I’ve never been one to love hippies. I don’t mind their message, but I don’t like their vibe. Sure, free love and drugs is alright for a while, but what happens when everybody has gonorrhea and is bonkers? But I like peace. I like its concept, but I’m not convinced of it yet, and I’m certainly not convinced that long haired flower pushers will make it happen. So aggressive pacifism, that’s my motto.

I’ve never been in London when I’ve felt more unrest, discontent or general unease. This last month has seen an inordinate number of protests across the entire country, and there is a general feeling amongst the English, a kind of bonding of dislike of the government. Even the newspapers feel uneasy, which is quite the effort.

And as always, there’s a lot to protest about: tuition, Assange, unemployment, war, environment, councils, taxes, politicians, hospitals, animal cruelty and so on and so forth. In fact, Parliament Square is lined with semi-permanent tents (called Camp of Democracy, apparently) of those who have literally joined a protest and thought they may as well save on Oyster card costs and just live on the sidewalk (and thus gaining a much sought after postcode for significantly less). I’ve never actually seen anyone enter the tents, or stand around them, and I’m yet to be convinced that they shelter anyone at all, but the placards tied to the fence and slogans painted on the canvas’ serve as a gentle everyday reminder of the atrocities of a far away war. These desolate little rows of tents battle all weather all year round (I’ve no doubt they’re currently battling the blizzard outside) and are evidence of the dedicated few, who find it absolutely crucial to inform as many as they can even if it means losing comforts that we take for granted.

A few weeks ago the Home Secretary announced that the tents and loudhailers will be banned in time for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding this April. The government has been itching to remove the tents ever since they were set up, and have been searching for loopholes to uproot them for yonks. David Cameron, the PM, said that he couldn't understand why these people are allowed to camp in Parliament Square. I would advise Cameron to read a copy of his nearest citizen rights volume. The ten thing is labeled it a Social Responsibility bill, which seems daft because I can’t think of anything less responsible than turfing out people’s right to protest. And when all those television cameras of the world are trained on London, the world will not see London as it is. It won’t see the dirty sloganed tents, or the towering brown brick estate towers, or the homeless men and women that huddle in doorways overnight, or the rows and rows of shut up shops. Instead they’ll probably have double decked buses and kindly bobbies and black cabs and cheerful cockneys, and all those things that are really nothing like London at all.

To that tragedy, I do protest.

Lucy Campbell

Monday, December 6, 2010

England, an Anthropological Study Part III

Soon, this will stop, I promise.


This has been inspired by a day (plus night) trip to Oxford, in which I have never swung so violently between disgust, amazement and that sort of jealousy that comes from the darkest of places. Oxford itself is a pretty sort of town, a little bit Harry Potter, a little bit C S Lewis and of course a little bit Alice in Wonderland (much celebrated it seems). It’s largely based around the university, and one gets the overwhelming feeling that everybody either studies or works at the university, or is employed by the shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants that seem to exist purely to serve the former. Life appears to revolve around the youthful men and women who are being cultivated to become leading professors, researchers, politicians, philosophers and all that jazz that is associated with the oldest university in the English speaking world. The colleges are grand old places, and the students preen about in neatly pressed street clothes, but always accessorized with a house scarf or jumper or crest, just to confirm their status in the elitist university in the world.

And this brings me to the nature of privilege in Britain. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll bring it up again, because it’s what startles me the most about Britain. Why, just the other day one of David Cameron’s new peers, the absurdly titled Lord Flight (who as far as I can see has done little except become a millionaire banker and therefore, a bit of a wanker) said to the Evening Standard that the welfare changes, in which wealthy families would be stripped of child support benefits, will “encourage the poor to breed.” It seems unfathomable that such a view may still exist, and one can only hope that the poor will breed so that tossers like Lord Flight will not be able exist in his horrible little vacuum of 1860. But it seems possible, as I wander Oxford, how people like Lord Flight and his cronies could exist. In London, amongst the multicultural shopping strips and high street mish-mashes it feels virtually impossible to imagine Lord Flight’s world, but amongst the spires and libraries and halls of Oxford it’s entirely feasible.

You must see that privilege is a fact of life in England that we never truly see in Australia. Yes, there are classes in Australia, but one always feels that one can maneuver between them as long as one is prepared to put in the hard yards and get some dough. Easier said than done, yes, and it’s true that a few of the archaic traditions inherited from Britain exist in Australia today, but the most important point of difference here is the distinction between money and blood. In Australia, classes are a financial meter, and in Britain they are a birthright.

We go to a pub in the evening, a joint called the Turf which is down a small catacomb of laneways and bits between buildings and we would never have found it if not for our new Latvian friend, met during an eccentric conversation at the hostel. When I thought about the Turf before I entered it, I imagined a surf-themed bar, like one of those awful Walkabout monstrosities, but it eventuates to be one of those small low pubs filled with chattering students. It does have an Australian connection: Bob Hawke made Guinness World Record when he drank two and a half pints in eleven seconds as an Oxford student in 1955. It is now when one begins to understand that note of sympathy that Britons employ when they hear of your terrible Australian-ness.

But, for most of the evening I listen to a boy and a girl on the table beside us, the girl nods and smiles and mostly listens as the boy blathers on in the dullest way possible, his perfect Oxford accent (by which I mean that one has never heard ‘posh’ until they’ve been to Oxford) piping up in tones that suggests vague disappointment at the world, the university, his Daddy, and the girl herself, who he seems to regard inferior to his blossoming loveliness: “Oh it really just peeves me how Professors can’t just give one an assignment and that’s that. Why must we go through all this other palaver? I mean, obviously I don’t cheat. What a jolly twat.” His wide face screws up in disgust as he thinks about it, and perfect white teeth bite down on rosy lip as if to demonstrate his academic pain that such a genius be required to complete a plagiarism form.

A professor nearby (well, I assume him to be one, he wears brown corduroy trousers and has a head of grey frizzy hair and spectacles half down his nose, so I can’t imagine him functioning in any other way) overhears and chuckles into his Financial Times.

In my mind I imagine Oxford University to remain unchanged by time, where existence hasn’t been swayed by the threats of Google, iPhones and modern thinking on the concepts of women, race or religion. My mind’s eye imagines tweed boys sweating over large dusty volumes in the school library, racing up to the common room to listen to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore on the wireless, and bemusedly collecting Beatles records whilst turning a disparaging nose up to the wham bam of the Who. This is the Oxford where Albert Einstein once lectured, and Oscar Wilde developed his wit, and JRR Tolkien created his Hobbits and Bertie Wooster, fictional as he was, became my yard-stick for dithering British pomposity. Really, it exists as a rather romantic notion fed by my endless fascination with Evelyn Waugh and Thomas De Quincey, and can’t seem to possibly function outside of a whimsical Stephen Fry-esque world.

Though I’m sure WIFI and degrees of feminism now permeate the hallowed halls (afterall, Kate Beckinsale is now a graduate) one can’t help but imagine these young men and women as anything other than relics of tradition and conservatism.

In the other corner of the Turf, three bearded, bespectacled men hunch over pints, and a part of me wishes I could be them, and look so clever and intellectual (in a way that one could never do at Adelaide Uni or Flinders, because ‘intellectual students’ just look like a bunch of posers in plastic glasses and skinny jeans. Being a hipster isn’t the same as being clever, and when faced with a university that produced Albert Einstein, one can see the Exeter preeners in all their glorious Technicolour). And another, far stronger, part of me feels like tapping them on the shoulder and mentioning that some bloke has already figured out E=MC2, and not to bother writing that book about the world in the back of the wardrobe, and not to begin on the Dagenham Dialogues, because everything here seems straight out of an age we’ve already passed yonks ago.

But I’m sure, I’m sure that contemporary Oxford students are more understanding, modern and aware than their halls and colleges and Churches and choirs suggest. Afterall, some of the greatest modern thought has been produced here. Moreover, some of the greatest anti-selective-education sentiments have been uttered by its alumni. Surely Oxford is in fact one of the most progressive schools in Britain?

I stand at the bar in an attempt to buy the cheapest drink possible (student deals in Oxford are suspiciously un-student prices) and a pale faced redhead and his curly haired friend stand behind me, watching as the bar staff struggle with the demands of students (and they are demands too, please and thank-you are not in a vocabulary that is too privileged to understand them). The redhead scoffs as a young woman in an Oxford scarf barks at the bar man. “Hah,” says the boy triumphantly to his friend, smirking. “That’s right dickhead. Do your fucking job properly, you’re lucky to have one.”

The Oxford spirit is still strong, then.

Regards, Lucy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

England, an Anthropological Study Part II


At any one day, one may enter any British pub at any time and note a small crowd of cheery men and women who will happily complain about living and all that comes with it: the council taxes and the clerical positions that is a stop gap between them and their creative gardening career, the endless bills that litter the front doormat and the inevitable decision between buying a holiday to Tenerife or a second hand Citreon. The cost of living is bitterly debated in these small suburban pubs but the outcome is generally the same: ‘be happy with your lot and don’t get above your station.’ Of course such a mentality seems peculiarly British (and middle class and white for that matter too) and therein lies the gist, that the British seem to eternally believe that the grass is greener, more profitable and generally more comfortable on the other side.

But what, might you ask, of the immigrants that now make up a sizable proportion of Britain’s population? Well as far as I can see in our little Lambeth flat, where being white is definitely against the norm, contemporary multiculturalism is by far the oddest thing to be encountered. Particularly within the world’s most endeavoring and brutal imperialistic nations of the modern age there is the sort of inbred and unpleasant suspicion of anybody from any of ‘the colonies.’ And if you think about it, a rather startling proportion of British immigrants hail from countries that were once under Her Majesty's power. That, of course including Australians, who find themselves addressed as ‘you convicts’ more often than not. The interesting thing is that Britain’s modernity is to be owed to these Africans, Australians, Indians and Pakistanis, who potter about in the suburbs with a sort of willful glee. If it was up to the English, Britain would still be teetering about in outside lavatories, using gas street lamps and chowing down jellied eels like they now do fried rice and Fosters pints. More so is progress. Because you see, while those stiff upper lip Etonians and Oxford graduates were busy blowing each other up and writing silly whimsical poetry about the Boer War, the Indians and Africans and Asians and Lebanese and Greeks were busy making England their home and setting up shop. Some of them deservedly making small fortunes in the manner that the British rarely do; that is toiling away without a fuss and understanding the brutal importance of being ‘one’s own boss’ even if that does mean awaking at five o’clock six days of the week to sell white middle class papers to middle class whites.

It endlessly fascinates me that the English appear so utterly terrified to be their own boss. Allow me to continue a stereotype. Though Barry from the Lancashire mines and Crispin from the London merchant bank may feel they are as polar opposite as two men could be without actually living on the Poles (geographically speaking, not the Polish), they share one point which moots all others: ‘fear of owning one’s self.’ Yes, both Barry and Crispin will ceaselessly dream and envisage themselves in a future where they work for no corporation except their own, neither will actually bite the bullet and do it. Indeed Barry might complain loudly to his long suffering wife about his intentions to open his own carpentry shop, and Crispin will provide endless tirades to his Westminster chums about quitting the rat race and set up his stamp collection society but neither will ever do it. No, no, no, too much stands in one’s way in this cruel world. What about their children’s education, or the holiday to Athens, or the cost of living? Such things are for clever clogs, or people on the telly, or Americans or people with disposable incomes and intelligence. Working for the man is like a right of passage, a natural progression of adulthood into the working force and therefore, the British national character of pull your socks up and shut up. Moreover, it would be embarrassing. What would the boys down the pub say? And would Crispin’s Westminster chums desert him in favour of somebody climbing further and more judiciously up the ladder of politics, democracy or law making. Childish dreams, the lot of them, Barry and Crispin will eventually acknowledge. Nothing but flights of fancy that seem charming and hopeful when they were ten, but are now just tatty, embarrassing and frankly rather sad. I have never encountered such a country to be so content to be discontent, as though happiness is the ultimate betrayal of British-ness. One could shout solutions until blue in the face, but the retort will always be the same, “well it’s alright for you, you’re Australian. Us English have been through all the wars, Depression, the three day working week and Thatcher and we’ve got no room to mess about, have we?” as though they personally knitted socks, offered their children to the effort in Flanders and write for Solidarity. Of course, one could point out that Australians have experienced such things in their own provincial way, along with all the problems inherent with being a colony, but it will be pointless, because at least we have sunny weather when we’re toiling in the mines or living in our awkward suburban wastage. And all the Barrys and Crispins would mutter something about the ‘British national character’ and that delicious phrase of ‘well I’ve made my bed now I have to lay in it.’ All of this is utter rot, but one can’t help but suspect that the tenuous cogs on which Britain so precariously spins would be shattered if only the British national character woke the fuck up and remade their beds.

Owning, in Britain (or at least London, which I only have the vaguest of grasps upon) primarily revolves around several things. That is, the cost of living and the cost of class. All the British pomp and grandeur inherited throughout the ages from Kings and Queens and this odd concept of tradition, has left Britain in this bizarre transition between class and classless (if such a thing exists, which of course it doesn’t in any society no matter how Neolithic or sophisticated. Perhaps a more fitting term would be less-class). The politicians would like to have the nation believe that class is a thing of the past, positively pre-historic in the face of cheap cars and H&M and McDonalds, whilst simultaneously reforming the National Health System into a diabolical mess resembling the American health system and demanding the unemployed get up off their lazy arses and do some real work, such as collecting rubbish in front of Buckingham Palace.

Class, of course, being the subject of a thousand Billy Bragg songs and the inspiration for a thousand suburban symphonies of raps and the ‘grimey’ youth and so on, so forth. Class being one’s identity in London, from your postcode to how detached your house is, to where you shop and how you shop, and of course, which school you attended. Schools seem so much more vital (more precisely, their reputation, not your actual experience which is irrelevant in the real world, apparently) in Britain than in Australia. In Australia you are generally sucked in and spat out no matter the tuition fees, the only difference really being the degree of embarrassment of your uniform. But in Britain your school suggests level of sophistication, adeptness, beauty, success and cleverness. Cleverness is of course never measured by which school you attend or of your parents income. The amount of dunderheads that escape the school gates of Eton and Harrow is roughly the same as Brixton Comprehensive or Pontllanfraith High, but only Etonians and Harrowians feel it’s their natural born right to run HSBC or Fleet Street. Class is a subtle reminder of the centuries of distended hierarchy, and has been a hallmark of society since society existed. To say that one day there will be a classless society is like saying one day there will be a quiz show without Noel Edmonds. It simply won’t happen. As long as money exists there will be the haves and have nots, just like as long as an ageing British public exists there will be Noel Edmonds to fill the void. The entire Republic debate (in both Britain and Australia) is basically null, because if anybody believes that doing away with a figurehead like the Queen will make us more free is the most naïve concept I’ve ever heard. We will be no more free as long as the money and industry and racism and the unpleasant inequalities the we humans fiercely promote in one another exist

Walking back from Tescos today, laden with baguettes (quaintly labelled breadsticks in a further pah! to the French disposition) I note the rows and rows of empty, derelict and boarded up shops. Tescos, in its own garish chain-like way, is the only shining beacon amongst the post war brown brick of Lambeth. Looking from the balcony now, I see that Franks Fish and Chips across the road is no more. Neither is Caxton Care Training. Of the row of shops only the Off License, pizza joint and dry cleaners have survived. Every day a solitary figure struggles with a series of folding tables and sells fruit and vegetables, toilet paper and the odd chocolate bar. This sad little figure does little more than further the effect of brown brick, and Lambeth seems ever more the product of the Depression and the Blitz and all those things that seem so long ago and for an age not our own. But the truth is, this man who seems to never sell anything from his foldout table, appears the shining light for owning one's self in this modern age, even if all he owns in the world is a few rotten bananas, stolen DVDs and chewing gum.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thomas gets off his arse and does some writing.

Some time to catch up on I think. Here's one for you guys. Settle in or tackle it in multiple sittings.


To clarify my process, I have decided to write each days entry on the following day (or later, depending on how things go. Boredom, chiefly), and so as it is our first day in this country, and nothing has yet happened, it seems prudent to conclude the events of the flight day. Trouble arose briefly at immigration when I was told 'Three months is an awful long time for a holiday' to which, somewhat flustered, I replied 'Yes, it is.' Nevertheless, everything eventually went smoothly, and we arrived at our flat at about 6 in the morning thanks to a cabbie who was exceptionally polite, even when explaining the large percentage of tip he expected, and his reasons for expecting it. We didn't sleep at the flat, but rather showered and prepared for our first day in England.


Can there be a worse omen than a cat breaking through a sturdy, locked catflap to get away from the new tenants, and then attempting to jump from a 3rd story balcony to avoid going inside with them again? If so, we haven’t experienced the worst possible omen. One of the two cats is perfectly an excellent pet, the other has spent twelve hours today hiding under a bed after having realized we aren’t going to let it kill itself. The flat itself reminds me very much of Australia because so far we haven’t managed to work out how to turn off the heating (despite having tried setting every switch in the house to off), so we are stuck constantly at a balmy 28 degrees.

The layout of London surprises me. None of the landmarks can be seen from any of the others, but you’ve only to turn any corner to be presented with another one. It’s almost as if someone wanted to pack the highest concentration of landmarks into a few streets, but retain the surprise factor every time a new one came up. But quite apart from that, I can’t resolve in my mind the way all these places fit together. There doesn’t seem to be enough distance between everything, and I feel like I’ve seen every square inch on TV. We have a great view of the eye from our flat. Well, Lucy and Tina have a great view of the eye from their room of our flat. Tasman and I have a poor view of a brick wall from ours. It’s okay though, because we don’t really need a good look at a brick wall anyway.

The apathy which surrounds the workers at Tescos is literally incredible. So much so that it deserves its own mention in a piece of writing which almost exclusively concerns itself with things which aren’t Tescos. The people here look at me funny, there is an odd abundance of porn channels, including one which runs parallel to childrens morning shows, and Big Ben is quite nice. In fact, very nice indeed.


Public transport in this country has basically the same problem in this country as in our own. Namely, that it isn’t very pleasant. Certainly it is an experience, and certainly it is more bearable to use the tube here than to use the bus system at home simply by virtue of the novelty of it, but that doesn’t really make the body heat and smell of a thousand frowning commuters any less depressing. Reminded me a lot of the Paul McCartney video for the song “Press”, except with fewer shots of Paul McCartney and everyone looked like they wanted to die, or at least, get off of the tube.

Went to Camden. That was good. Lots of shops, big market. Of course, for someone who can’t spend any money, the Camden Lock was always going to be the highlight, so we’ve some good photos of that. I notice I forgot to bring a camera, so I’ve been trying to edge into the background of other peoples photos to make up for it. Explored on my own for a bit, which was a mistake as there was very little to explore except a rather nice music shop I found which made me realize exactly how difficult only having one guitar and no other instruments is going to be.

A short one today then.


A lazy day in. Nothing makes you appreciate the things to see in a new country more than not seeing them. The reverse is also true, so I do seem to be developing a healthy dislike of Tescos. Pubs around here are quiet in the day, much like in Adelaide, and food is not inexpensive, which brings me to one of my favourite things so far. I love English money, and not just in the same way that I like all money, though I do feel that to a greater extent with money that is worth more, but in the way that the shapes and weights of the coins just feel right to me. It brings to my mind images of some bent-backed graying, balding and ham-fisted designer of coins who got to Australia last and lumped us with a 2 dollar coin smaller than its half-worth counterpart. The composition of the metal itself isn’t important to me, I want to see how much more my money is worth. To this end, I have been, so far, unwilling to spend much, except to break my notes so I could get some coins to look at.
We decided to venture into town to check out what was going on for Guy-Fawkes night. Very little as it turns out, but we did get a nice look at London in the pouring rain despite the irritatingly persistent warm and sticky weather. When it came to returning home, our revelations of London life were twofold: Tube rides are slightly stinkier at night, and they like to start their fireworks more or less at the point we all wanted to go to bed. Jet lag isn’t a huge problem, but it has thrown us all off by a few hours, meaning we get up at around six or seven, and sleep at whatever point in the night we lose the ability to keep ourselves from not sleeping. Weird.


Another sort of lazy-ish day. Everyone is very much jet-lagged, so mornings aren’t really productive. The most we’ve managed to squeeze out of any morning so far is the making of a bowl of cereal. Except once, a couple of days ago, we ate the cereal as well. Joke.

Everyone else went back to Camden this afternoon, but not wanting to retread the same ground while there was still so much I hadn’t seen in the local area, I opted to stay and explore around our flat. Around outside our flat I mean; I have already developed a passing familiarity with the inside. Not really much around as it turns out (outside I mean). The local area is a little frightening at night, and I am liking the pub at the end of our street more and more, but beyond that there is little of interest in our immediate vicinity (there are a few nice telephone boxes around). Essentially my exploits culminated in the purchase of a pizza from a small place which alternately does and doesn’t exist on the opposite side of our street. I guess it was okay.

It later transpired that everyone spent the last few hours of their own exploits drinking in the pub at the end of our road together without telling me. After I did their dishes too…


I am increasingly of the opinion that London is my favourite place in the world. Yes, I am aware that I have been to very few places, in fact, remarkably few places, but I don’t care. This is precisely the kind of statement that such ignorance allows me to make unashamedly. I can’t begin to remember all the places I saw today, but I did really get a good look around a substantial amount of London. To begin at the beginning, or at least, something approximating the earlier part of the middle, Tasman was overcome in the morning by a supreme wave of lethargy, and so opted to remain in the flat for most of the day. Coupled with this, once the rest of us had made our way into London, Lucy departed to visit a family friend, leaving Tina and I to basically explore one of the greatest cities in the world. And (despite the fact that the word ‘explore’ probably doesn’t accurately portray exactly how much time we spent lost or retracing our steps) explore we did.

I won’t lie, most of my own navigation was based on finding and sticking to streets mentioned in Dire Straits songs, and as a result, we got an excellent idea of the layout of the Covent Garden area (particularly Shaftesbury Avenue) making a few short stops in vintage stores and one in Paul Smith shirts, before finally moving on to Oxford street, which had always been our goal, but which I had forgotten to mention earlier. We stopped for Brie and Salad baguettes at a brilliant little shop whose name I don’t recall on a street I don’t remember, and followed that up with a sort of nutty-custardy croissant kind of thing, which was also brilliant.

Let me say, I have been misled. As a result of the writings of Douglas Adams, and decades in which people have had time to agree with him and taken advantage of that time, I had believed Oxford Street to be full of shoe shops. I’d like to take this point to make plain the difference between shoe shops and shops which merely sell shoes. Not a big deal, but one I’m prepared to use to flesh out an otherwise dull piece of writing.

The Christmas decorations here, and on Oxford Street in particular, very much put our own to shame. Seeing the changes around Christmas time when I was a child was always magical, but naturally, the excitement palled over the years. I can imagine finding the English Christmas exciting for the rest of my life. It’s not just decorations though, it just fits so much better in the winter. I recall long, hot summers at school colouring in pictures of Santa with a stubbie in shorts, sunglasses and thongs and thinking it was just wrong. It was. Now however, I have seen the light. Well, more a sort of Christmas than a light, but using the word ‘light’ seemed to make it a more emotive expression. A white Christmas would be just amazing…

After some 5 and a half hours of walking, shopping, being surprised by how many ‘River Island’ stores there are around Oxford street, and a short, fruitless attempt to find what can only be described as a ‘lion jacket’ (because that is exactly what it was), we made the decision to walk to Harrods. Fortunately, the way was paved with interesting buildings and shops (if not public toilets), because the walk was long and arduous, and ne’er hath a tourist followed it’s length and lived to tell the tale. I have no way of verifying that last fact, but neither can I rule it out, so for the sake of completeness, it remains.
Eventually we reached Harrods, thanks to a helpful man, and their no-expense-spared signs, with thirteen minutes to closing time (thanks to a detour to take photos in Hyde Park). We did get a great look at the toy department, if nothing else. Definitely somewhere to go back to.

And there my writing ends somewhat abruptly because other people want to use the laptop. Also because we then had dinner and went home, which is uninteresting.

In place of the entry tomorrow, I have decided to add a small amount more to the end of this one. This follows.

It is also important to me to mention the monopoly Stephen Fry seems to have over television voice-overs in this country. More interesting though, every single game show seems to be hosted by Noel Edmonds, so much so that there is scarcely an hour where it isn’t possible to find him on at least one channel.

Entry for 10/11/2010

It seems increasingly odd to me assigning days to these entries, not least because I frequently wait days between the events happening and me making note of them, so I have decided to stop doing that. I will let the dates speak for themselves instead.

The people on the streets in this country seem to be far less noisy. Walking down the street in Adelaide, it’s hard not to hear the details of everyone’s conversations, but here either everyone is much quieter, less friendly, or in much more of a hurry. Knowing Adelaide as I do, probably the latter.

Another day walking through London. I’m starting to worry that perhaps two months won’t be enough to see everything here, let alone branching out further which is clearly what we are planning. Went to see the music shops around today, and there really are some nice ones. Not in terms of range, rather in the way that finding a good instrument comes as a sort of pleasant surprise, and they seem to be very cheap and nice. I must make a note to look up ‘Vintage’ brand guitars when I get home, because I’d previously never heard of them and they seem to make excellent copies of Fender and Gibson guitars. Better than those brands themselves, and cheaper.

I’m afraid nothing of particular note happened elsewise. I did briefly stand next to Stephen Merchant while waiting for a green light at a crosswalk. For 6’7”, he isn’t as tall as I’d have expected (Actually, knowing his height, he is clearly exactly as tall as I’d expected, but the difference in height between us was less massive than I’d expected (Though it was still massive).).

Oh, and we had our first England gig. Brilliant. Can’t honestly say I was really in the mood for it, or for anything really, but I suppose everything went almost as well as it could have, all things considered. There were, of course, a multitude of problems to overcome. We weren’t set up as soon as we might have been, because nobody thought to tell us we were headlining the gig (and because as a result of this, we disappeared to explore, and found a nice military surplus store), we had to cadge amps and drums because the only equipment we had was two guitars and a bass, I hadn’t thought to buy an adapter for my Australian power supply, and the band who were on immediately before us hadn’t been on the bill and decimated our audience.

The venue was The Good Ship in (insert place name here), and was quite nice, I suppose. The music had more of a progressive nature than I was expecting, much more than Adelaide, but it was a sort of repetitive, noisy kind of ‘progressive’ music. I can’t say I thought much of any of the bands against those I know and have seen in Adelaide, but it was certainly different. Ordinarily that would have made it interesting, but not this time. Not this time…

I suppose we went down okay. A lot of people had left during the previous band (dammit), but those who stayed seemed to enjoy it okay.

And finally, it turns out that it is apparently quite easy to sneak on and off of the tube without paying. Not really a story there, but there you go.

Entry for 15/11/2010

I’ve been trying to take photos on my phone every day, but I checked them this morning, and it turns out I’ve just been Photographing Big Ben once a day. One day I ‘photoed’ the eye as well, but a substantial amount of the frame is still taken up by Big Ben.

Went to Baker Street today. Turns out it’s just a normal Street. No more Sleuths than usual. Not even any more Bakers than usual. Took a lot of pictures of signs saying ‘Baker Street’ because they were the most interesting thing. Madame Tussauds is right there though, so we’ll probably make our way back there at some point.

Also went to Lords cricket ground, where they wouldn’t let us in, and Abbey Rd, where we shamelessly took one of those photos that everyone in the world wants to take. We were beeped by a Bentley for being on the crossing too long, but the driver was quite old, and if he hadn’t yet learned not to take a road where tourists stand in the middle being photographed all day, every day, in the great many years he must have spent on this planet, I think it was his own fault.

Starting to quite like eating Quorn.

Oh, and my pharyngitis has been fine for almost two weeks, but I forgot to mention it because I’m in England.

Entry for 18/11/2010

In this country the shampoo is pronounced ‘Panten’. Reminds me of my metalwork teacher who thought Toblerone was pronounced “Toblero-one”. I don’t think he was English, though he may have been. He did have grey hair, and a lot of the people in this country have grey hair. Also shoes, but I don’t remember if Mr. Standing had shoes. Hardly conclusive.

Went to the Tate modern gallery today. Tasman and I walked, and Lucy and Tina took the bikes. Probably should have mentioned that everyone else has attempted the acquisition of bikes to use over here (except me), with varying success. At this point, there is one bike good for use, plus the bike belonging to the people whose apartment we are renting, which is a fold-up job. As the bikes were being locked up outside the gallery, we were beset (assuming my understanding of the word beset to mean ‘walked past’ is accurate) by Grumpy old man Arthur Smith on his way in. Not really important, but quite interesting.

Every single thing in the giftshop at the Tate Modern is something unrelated to art which you could pick up from any shop in London with ‘TATE’ written on it and the price doubled. Except for the poster prints which were quite nice, despite being of paintings which were not in the gallery.

The surrealist section first, since both myself and Tina are great admirers of Salvador Dali over other painters. Brilliant. Without wishing to bore the reader by simply listing the exhibits (and also partly because I don’t have a memory good enough to do that), I will stick to key points. Of all the exhibits in the gallery, the one I kept going back to was Dali’s 1938 painting ‘Beach with Telephone’. It never occurred to me that there could be any difference between looking at a painting in a book and looking at the original, particularly because I was already familiar with this particular painting, but of course it is. It is so much more of an experience seeing in such detail the composition of the artwork in individual brush strokes. A woman who stood next to me at the exhibition said as much. She also went to great detail to explain to me the intent behind the painting until I explained to her that not only was the Dali painting she was talking about not the one she was pointing at, she was pointing at a painting which was by another artist. Well, I say I told her, in fact I think my exact words were ‘Actually, I think it might be that painting over there. That looks like it might have been painted by Dali.’

Having lost Tasman and left Lucy at one of the other exhibits, Tina and I submitted our own artwork to the gallery and after this brief reprieve (and rejoined by Lucy), we found ourselves at the café. I will take this opportunity to warn once more about the dangers of buying anything at this gallery. Their iced coffee is just cold coffee! But more importantly, it’s 30p more expensive than regular coffee! Not only do you pay for coffee, you pay them to cool it down for you! I could do that myself in twenty minutes! Following this, Tasman and Lucy attempted to take the bikes home,


The fold-up bike had been pilfered! All of us angry (except me), we trudged home, having a nice conversation about racism along the way.


Helped (by which I mean ‘given an ingredients list’) by Tina, I cooked fritters for all and there was much rejoicing. Turns out Tesco Mayonnaise mixed with wasabi tastes exactly like Hungry Jacks mayo or KFC coleslaw.

To round the night off, we watched the Nutty Professor, noting parallels between the title character and people we know. The perfect end to the perfect day.


Friday, the best day of the week for vintage shopping!

Decided I would have a day away from everyone else, so I looked up some vintage clothes shops I might fancy visiting. In a flash, everyone decided to come along!

Despite the emphasis I put on this activity by using so many exclamation marks in the previous paragraph, not really much to say about it. Most people who give their clothes to thrift shops seem to be incredibly fat or have terrible dress sense or both, so I didn’t buy anything.

A more interesting thing which I suspect I hitherto have forgotten to mention is the fact that I have been sleeping on the couch every night, because Tasman apparently can’t fit in the bed we’re supposed to share unless he’s diagonal. We both seem happy with the arrangement. One problem is that one of the cats has taken to waiting until I’m asleep, then curling into a ball and sleeping in the small of my back. Since I sleep on my chest, this is getting to be a bit of a pain as I’m woken up every morning by a sore back or claws in my back or a cat jumping on my back. Makes for a good story though.

Had another gig tonight. This one at the Cavendish arms in Vauxhall. For a change, not all of the other bands were terrible. In fact, two of the others were exceptionally good. Also, Bartender gave us a free bowl of chips for a copy of a demo CD, so it’s not all bad.

I leave you by shedding some doubts (is that a real expression?) on the intelligence of our band. Between us, we were unable to work out how to tie a self-tying bow tie in twenty minutes of trying. How the hell is that possible! I literally have no idea how that is possible.


Late night last night, so late morning this morning. Not in astronomical terms, not even in terms which make sense, but they’re my terms and you’ll just have to except them.

We all seem less good at doing things on the weekends, so I decided to do a little exploring online last night to find somewhere I’d like to go. Turns out there is a Doctor Who shop in the Upton Park area, not too far from London, but too far to walk.

My solution was simple, look up the directions from the Upton Park tube station, and take the underground. I was careful to avoid telling the others because I didn’t want them to mock me, but it was eventually coaxed out of me by the cunningly worded question: ‘What are you doing today?’ Myself having answered seconds later, Tina decided she’d like to come along. (Does that sentence make sense?)

Resolutely decided on our course of action, we had lunch and watched the movie ‘Racing Stripes’ for no reason, then set out for what was sure to be the greatest journey ever undergone with the goal of getting to Upton Park. The walk to Lambeth North Tube station was uneventful and brisk, but nevertheless pleasant. We passed through the gate into the station with no problems and then it was time to board the tube train.

This is the point at which a rant begins to swell inside me. What should have been a simple 35 minute tube journey with only one changeover became an enjoyable day, but one with altogether too much tube riding. After getting off at the station where we should have changed lines to one which would take us to Upton Park, we found that the line we wanted was closed. Never mind, because there was only one other line which went to where we wanted, and we could catch that from another station. So we tubed there, and it became clear that that line was closed as well. Never fear, since there was another line which although a distance away, and one which necessitated two more changeovers, would take us to West Ham tube station, from where we could catch yet another tube train to Upton park, or failing that, walk.

After another exhausting ride (not helped by the fact that whoever runs the tube seems to feel the need to keep it freezing outside the trains and a billion degrees inside), we arrived at West ham and left the station, stopping at a post office for a drink, and to ask directions. We were informed that we couldn’t walk there, so we should take the tube backwards one stop and bus from there. Somewhat less enamored with the idea of another tube ride than we’d been in the morning, Tina and I opted to ignore this advice (as the stores in Upton Park would be closing soon anyway), and decided to simply take the train to Oxford street.

After some Oyster card troubles, we settled in for the long journey. Just as well, since it was about to become longer. After two stops, we were informed over the tannoy that all tube trains on our line were being held up while an ambulance came to collect a man from another train on that line. This was not a problem because we occupied ourselves with an entire game of chess in the meantime. Finally we realized that we had no idea which stop was closest to Oxford Street, so we gave up on that too, and stopped at London Bridge.

The rest of the day was not uneventful, but I dare say things along the lines of dinner, conversation and the eternal struggle to find a toilet make less than riveting reading.

With that we come to the present moment which sees me writing my diary in the bath while everyone else is out, enjoying the London nightlife. My final point is this: Assuming I read this years from now, the one thing it is important for me to remember is Tim Vine trying to catch a pen behind his ear. I probably won’t have any idea what I mean by that, but I’ve only to look it up on the internet to be amazed again by its brilliance.

P.S. Everyone else’s night out went less than well. The three of them looked around for ages trying to find a good place, then Tina and Lucy went into a DJ gig for eight pounds, leaving Tasman to make the journey home on foot because he’s was too cheap (and rightly so). The DJ gig was terrible, and when they caught the bus home, they caught it in the wrong direction, getting in at about three.

England, an Anthropological Study.

The following is a writing (essay, blog, thing?) that I wrote because I was quite bored and frankly, find writing journals pretty dull. I would just like to say before I begin, that I love England, even if this Study makes it appear that I do not.


The average English man and woman lives in much the same way as anybody else. Television, alcohol and the weekend are the chief hallmarks of life, not matter your postcode. The only differences may be that (if you’ll allow me a stereotype) Barry is watching the Manchester V Birmingham match and sipping ale and Crispin is dithering about in Chelsea watching the BBC news and thinking he’s sophisticated when he’s just a prude and sipping at expensive malt whiskey. The result is the same. Burger King exists on every street corner, tabloids cheerfully inform us of Katie Price and Strictly Come Dancing’s scandal, and the kitchen table has much the same discussion as in every other part of the world. Philosophy, religion, politics and what-colour-curtains-shall-we-buy rule supreme regardless of language or hemisphere.

Minimum wage is quite minimum (a little over five pounds, which equals under ten Australian dollars) and universities are generally standard (unless you attend Cambridge or Oxford where one-on-one tutorials presumably count for something), and people usually work in leaning skyscrapers in the City, or quiet suburban offices in well, the suburbs. Children go to school, adults go work. Weekends are set aside for going to the seaside (Brighton, Blackpool, and other overpriced and overhyped blackholes of culture) or visiting grandparents or entering those colossal Westfields that dot the land like gigantic pimples on a teenager. Sports (cricket and tennis in summer, football and rugby in the winter) are the people’s game and are played in every field and on every street and on every pub television. Music, too, and the old traditions of music hall and jazz still permeate the beachside towns and the nowhere villages like a perfume, and the top forty guides one briskly through HMV like a plague. The are pubs with garage bands and disco and tribute acts and crooners and jukeboxes and DJs. There are clubs with ‘celebrity DJs,’ and an entry fee that could be used in better ways (feeding a small country, for example). Pub fare food is cheaper than Australia and on the whole better, less trendy and more filling. There is no monopoly on supermarkets like in Australia – along with Tescos and Sainsburys are Waitrose, Morrisons, LIDL and ASDA and a host of high street shops that will sell you a whole platter of exotic sounding food from the far East. Newspapers are as equally terrible as in Australia, though there are moments of cleverness in amongst the terrible right wing-ness of the nation’s largest papers. Television is unabashedly terrible but there are shows like QI and Have I Got News For You that pull you through the muck. One does feel though, in London at least, that one is living in the epicentere of something (what, I cannot answer) and there is a sort of togetherness that feels rather lovely and jovial, and oddly heartwarming. Perhaps having come from somewhere as provincial as Adelaide, anything feels more happening than the Channel 7 news and the Malls Balls.

Living, it seems, is not particularly dissimilar from Australia, but the middle classes are financially closer to what we would describe as the upper working classes, and the upper middle classes are closer to what we may say is the upper classes. The difference between living in Penge or in Putney is tangible and so relevant it’s almost irrelevant. But then, the difference between living in Adelaide and living in London is so dissimilar it’s almost similar.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Going To London


Speaking as a person who has comparatively little experience of travel, I Have to say I rather enjoy the novelty of undergoing conveyance by aeroplane. It is a constant source of amazement to me that man of engineering such a form of travel, and merely unfortunate that what preys on my mind as I actually sit aboard it is the fact that it is also a continuous surprise to me that the one I am on is still in the air. I notice then, that the experience of air travel is full of contradictions. For instance, having never been aboard an international flight before, I found every little thing that happened to be novel and, frankly, quite exciting. However, for the 90 percent of the time that what was happening was absolutely nothing, I struggle to think of a more boring experience. Compounding the problem was a massive headache caused by pharyngitis, contracted on the night before the flight, and compounded by the lack of sleep following the same nights gig. I had substantial difficulty concentrating. Even the most Mark Knopfler-related entertainment offered by Qantas was hard to watch. I remember thinking (something which now seems unlikely to my somewhat more lucid mind) that seconds seemed to be passing in clumps rather than one by one, as is customary. Fortunately I assumed that this was their own problem and not mine, and that they would sort themselves out which, I suppose, they must have.

I leave you with a short passage I wrote while quite tired and ill well into our day long plane journey.
‘It is the middle of the night. A perpetual night caused by the travel of our plane in the same direction as the sun. Rather like staying slim by running slightly ahead of a fat man, but not quite enough for that analogy to stand up to any scrutiny or indeed, any reading. I realize that I have a substantial flaw in the shape of my inability to sleep anywhere other than in a bed, at night. The only exception to this had hitherto been when I was ill, and yet one of the defining features of my present deluxe illness is a combination of cold sweat and an inability to swallow without intense pain which together make sleep almost impossible. Even so, I think flying may be my sort of thing…’

Love, Thomas J Williams

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What to do when you don't know what to do?

...become a film buff.

move over margret and david here come the aves.

Due to my Goldblum infatuation the aves have recently viewed some horrible B-grade movies, mostly featuring the dynamic duo of Geena Davis and THE Jeff Goldblum.

Despite the title, "Earth Girls are Easy" was surprisingly entertaining. Most of the enjoyment came from the scene when Goldblum (whom is playing a fur covered alien) recieves a makeover and emerges as a alluring male specimen. three point two five golsblums out of five

"The Fly". This is one to watch with friends as you're going to need to make fun of the entire film to make it entertaining. Needed more Goldblum. one point eight six goldblums out of five

untill next time folks...

Monday, September 20, 2010

October 29th at the Mansion

come and say goodbye, as we'll be jetting off to London a few days after!

Come and get it!





We Love the Ex

Thanks Spoz.

Come see us again at The Exeter Hotel, Rundle st- Thursday the 14 October from 21:30

Saturday, September 11, 2010

tonight was fun

thanks to everyone who came to the Ex. it sure was a good night. we hope you enjoy your free CDs

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Let's get bloggging

Rightio, so we're finally going to get onto this and start posting a few updates every now and then (hopefully more now than then, or more then than now, who knows???)

We'll start with a background of what's happened over the last 10 and a half months since our first and only post.

Perhaps you want to know who we are, and how we got started? Well you see, it all began when a young lady names Florentina was discovered in an amber fossil; a young gent called Thomas was born from a guitar; young Lucy arrived from the future in a self-made time machine and young Tasman fell to earth from a planetary system far far away.
Somehow, they all ended up in Adelaide at the exact same time, and contrary to nature, liked one another enough to play guitars and bash drums in Lucy's kitchen.

And blimey, that was almost a year ago, so what on earth have we been up to since?

Gigs, avocados, fine wine, alleyways, hastily recorded songs in youth centres, chilli flakes, Ken and Tasty, Goldblum, Rodoju, Bowie fascination, less hastily recorded songs in studios, interviews, Fry and Laurie, tears, flogging freshly picked flowers to the intoxicated, broken noses, cut lips and the ever changing outfits of Doctor Who.

Gigs in pubs, clubs, universities, radio stations, factories, windy Willunga paddocks, overheated basements and most recently, strip joints.

There have been broken strings, broken microphones, broken cymbal stands, broken bass amps, broken plectrums, broken cars and of course, the case of the broken nose (bovver boots aside, I still believe the identity of the culprit a mystery).

Triumphs like being number one on 3D radio (just before the aforementioned broken car breaking down en route to a party gig) were met with grateful glee. We're forever indebted to 3D for helping us at every turn.

Triumphs like having more than four people turn up to a gig (maybe even one or two that AREN'T even our close friends and therefore bound for duty). Oh, and that great craic of finding new friends and bands to make one great big street gang to take on the world together.

And we've been doing all that behind the scenes stuff like actually writing songs. Even enough for playing two sets without repeating, which is a triumph if memories of our first two set gig at the Exeter serve well (a great deal of filler, repetition and feverish practice beforehand).

And, in a moment of inspiration, we booked four tickets to London, and we'll be going over in November to sit in a little flat, play a few gigs and enjoy the sunshine.

So really, a little bit of this and a little bit of that: one might say 'not much' but really, if one thought hard enough - really furrowed one's brow and ticked over all the right cogs and wheels - one might come to the conclusion that rather a lot has happened, actually.

So - here's to more gigs, more blogs and more songs.