Archive for August, 2015

Power in the Darkness


A week ago I wrote a piece here about having bought some ‘vinyl’ a it is now called, albums or LP’s as they were back in the sound-machine-logo2x1day. I also wrote about buying a means of playing the records. One of the records I bought from the great Sound Machine in Reading was by the Tom Robinson Band, ‘Power In The Darkness‘.(That suffers from the problems that beset wikipedia.)

I bought the album in the year of release and had the original which TRB_-_Power_in_the_Darkness_Front_Coverincluded a stencil for spray-painting the upraised fist symbol from the front of the album.

I don’t know how but, like a number of LPs, albums, I realised I had owned when they originally came out but I subsequently lost it, so I was able to replace this one because I had found it in the shop. I thought it was even better because it had the stencil as well. I had thought there wouldn’t be many after all this time which still had it. I bought it, amongst others that day.

Well, having bought a record player I have now listened to it. It reminds me of the me at that time. A list of some of the tracks gives an idea of where it was coming from ‘Up Against The Wall’, ‘Ain’t Gonna Take It’, ‘Man You Never Saw’, ‘Better Decide Which Side You’re On’ and ‘You Gotta Survive’. The state was going to disappear you if you opposed it. We were living in a fascist state. etc etc

I believed the agitprop views at the time. I was fiercely of the left. A person who joined the Trotskyist ‘Workers Revolutionary Party’ for a period until I attended one of their meetings. Above a pub in Katesgrove in Reading I was told that the run on gold at the time, 79ish, would result in armed workers guards at the gates of factories and the downfall of capitalism. We believed that there would be a workers revolution and that Thatcher’s anti-working class behaviour would lead to a revolution and the people would take over. Guess what, they didn’t. Others thought that a Labour Party fighting on it’s second most left-wing manifesto ever would win the election in 1983. Guess what students of history? Labour didn’t and Thatcher won a landslide. As she did in 1987. Major won another election in 1992 meaning that Labour was out of power from 1979 to 1997.

Who lost from that? The middle class Polytechnic or University lecturers who had a safe job and pension? No, they kept their safe cocooned existence.

The people who lost out are the people who really need a Labour Government. The poorest, the downtroden. The people suffering from the onslaught against people on benefits when the people stuffing their tax get away with it. The people seeking a better life who have come to the UK, found work and are paying taxes, or people fleeing the possibility of slaughter in their own country,

Who are the people supporting Mr Corbyn? The people who will suffer if Labour never wins again? The people on zero hours contracts, the people needing money to pay their rent or to buy food? People who are clients of food-banks? No. Not at all.

In my experience they are  people who don’t care if there is never a Labour Government again. People who didn’t even vote Labour at the last election, if they ever voted Labour. The people who can afford to say the Minimum Wage didn’t matter because it was too low. Their metropolitan friends didn’t see people get a pay rise because of the Minimum Wage or lose their job because of it either. Unlike family members of mine living outside their metropolitan elite, they clearly, do not count.

They did not benefit from the Educational Maintenance Allowance(EMA) so it was not important and they did not care when the Tories abolished it. Family members of mine did living outside London did, but they clearly do not count.

Or what about the difference SureStart made to the lives of children up to 3. The most important time in their lives and the first thing the Tories slashed? Nothing from the Corbynistas. The don’t care about the poorest and most downtrodden.

It is about the maintenance of middle-class welfare, unpaid education for the middle class at university, paid for by the poorest workers, people earning the minimum wage whilst those whose parents paid for them to go to private school pay nothing towards their further education. You call that redistributive? You intellectually challenged idiots.

For real people living in the real world the EMA made a difference and people stayed on at school and got an education, for the Liberal elite they didn’t so they were happy when the Tories abolished it. The people supporting Jeremy are happy to denegrate everything the last Labour government did which improved the lives of people.

The songs on the album by TRB remind me of nothing so much as the Corbynistias seeking to win the election for the leader of the Labour party for Jez! Well if he wins we will see a Labour Party that is irrelevant to the British electorate and fails the poorest and people who most need the Labour Party.

People have talked about getting people who don’t vote to vote. What kind of strategy is that? Appeal to people who do not do something to do it. Mmmm that’ll work. What about appealing to people who do vote to vote for you and thereby introduce the changes you want? Funnily enough that worked in 1945, 1964 and 1997.

Warm sound


So, as my previous post said, here I am in Leeds, earning money that has eluded me in Strasbourg, mostly because people who owe me money in Strasbourg have not paid me whereas Leeds pay me straight away, Who would have thought that universities in France would be so third world? Last year when I was here I tried to resolve a lack in my life. As I have also posted I have a number of vinyl albums which I have been cataloguing and converting to MP3 files. So I thought, I have a record player but nothing to play it through so the money I earn  I can get something. I took some advice and bought an amp and speakers but, after taking them home, which was an effort in itself, I found they didn’t work with the record deck I had so I didn’t get to listen to my records last year as I had hoped.

maxresdefaultThis year I spent some time with my parents before coming here to work and visited a record shop in the nearest town, Reading, and bought a few records. The top thing is that this time I have not waited until I got home to be able to try to listen to them. Paid before the weekend and yesterday I went into the city and bought a deck with inbuilt speakers so I have been playing the albums I bought. The first time I have listened to vinyl rather than have it playing whilst I convert it to MP3 and how fab is it? I just love the warmth of the sound again.I hope to be able to plug the deck into the system I bought last year and have it working fully when I am next home.

Cultural differences


As has happened for the last three years I am in Leeds working.

Living in Strasbourg and working as an English teacher, the work at the University in Strasbourg ends at the beginning of June and there is nothing until the middle of September. Previously I have gone to the UK to work at Summer schools. Then, as for the last two years. I got a job on a pre-sessional at Leeds. A course to help people, largely female and largely from China, to get used to what is expected of them in a British university before they start a Masters in September. Not so much teaching English but, as it is known in the jargon, English for Special Purposes.

Living and working in Strasbourg has not been helped by changes to the law by the government which has cut the money people have for training, a lot of which had been used for English language training. Similarly the restrictions put in place by the university to avoid people being considered a full-time worker mean there is some work there but not lots.

The most important part though is that in France I am self-employed. I prepare my lessons at home and then turn up and deliver them. Then I go home. Most of the time there is no-one else to share ideas with and talk about what you’re going through, no colleagues. Here I am part of a team. We share an office. We talk about what’s coming up and share ideas on how to deliver our lessons. There is none of that in Strasbourg. As a teacher I learn so much from my colleagues. I also go out on the evening after we get paid, have an after work drink, doesn’t happen in Strasbourg, and then go out somewhere for something to eat and chat and put the world to rights.

What’s nice here is that I get paid at the end of the month after having worked it. Who knows when I will get paid in France. I worked five contracts in France this year. I have been paid for two. Who knows when I will be paid for the rest. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity? Don’t make me laugh. Particularly not if you are an English teacher at a French university. Despite which Strasbourg is my home and, despite being on the wrong side of the Pennines, and me born in the south, Leeds feels like my cultural home.

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