Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is…

8th May, 2012 1:07 pm

Tom Watson has inspired me – to quote Bob Dylan. In his 1965 album track “Ballad of a Thin Man” Dylan’s challenging refrain runs: “Something is happening here/But you don’t know what it is/Do you, Mister Jones?”

So many political and economic commentators and analysts have been transformed into modern day Mr Joneses by the events of the past few months. It is probably unfair to criticise those whose job it is to track and report day-to-day developments for overlooking the bigger, tectonic plate shifts. But overlook them I think they have. Long-held certainties and beliefs are crumbling in our fingertips. It takes courage to say so out loud.

Since the non-election of autumn 2007, and lasting right up until the Budget of a few weeks ago, a certain account of British politics was held to be true. David Cameron was an inevitability, while Labour had had it, doomed to be out of power for a long time. Mr Cameron had cleverly detoxified the Conservative party brand, and the electorate had warmed to him.

Even after the Tories’ failure to win more than 36% of the vote at the last election, the inevitability tag still hung around Mr Cameron’s neck. He enjoyed an extended, 22 month honeymoon. Most Westminster observers declared that Mr Cameron was a natural as Prime Minister, a breath of fresh air, a pleasing change from the fraught New Labour regime. The speeches were all delivered well and sounded, at first hearing, quite good. Labour, meanwhile, was an irrelevance at best.

Suddenly, these same Westminster observers say, all this has changed. The Budget was a political disaster. The government’s economic policy – feted for nearly two years – isn’t working, we are told by a growing number of commentators. That supposedly effortless Cameronian grip has become an omnishambles administration, apparently in a matter of days. And that no-hoper, Ed Miliband, is suddenly being talked about as a potential prime minister.

Those of us who never bought into the myth of Mr Cameron’s superior abilities and inevitability have lived through a frustrating few years. It was, until recently, a minority view in the media to argue that perhaps the government was not quite as able or inspired as all that. The rhetoric was taken at face value. Now the majority seem happy to pile in with criticism. The consensus has shifted, fast.

Something is happening here, but we don’t know what it is, do we, Mr Jones? A bland, unelectable socialist has just become President of France. A once all-powerful media mogul has lost his former intimidating dominance (not that some Conservative members of the Culture committee appear to have noticed). The Greeks are in revolt against the politics of austerity. And similar policies seem to be failing in Ireland, Spain, and Portugal too. The British economy is more or less flat, technically in recession, with too few hopeful signs of life. But many of those in power in Europe persist with 1930s-style economics that the FT’s Martin Wolf – no leftist firebrand, he – regards as utterly misguided. Flexibility, Mr Wolf tells us, is vital at a time like this. Some of the old orthodoxies about deficit reduction have to be put on hold. We need growth, demand, jobs.

Recognising that things have changed, are changing, and calling for something different, is one of the toughest political tricks to pull off. Go too soon with a declaration that a new mood is emerging and you risk ridicule – ask Ed Miliband. But fortune will favour those who take a clear stand now. It seems to be favouring the Labour leader, for the time being.

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  • Daniel Speight

    Looking at the Greek election results it seems to me that talking about Europe wide ‘New Deal’ as FDR did in the US wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

    • Dave Postles

      Excellent idea.  They can, for example, push on with laying cables for wider networks of energy exchange, including solar from the Sahara.

  • Patrick

    Labour should have offered the Single Transferable Vote to the Lib Dems when it had the chance.

    • postageincluded

      Really? And hand the role of kingmaker to Clegg and his successors in perpetuity for a few months of crippled “rainbow” coalition followed by decades of  ConDem hegemony? Unappealing.

  • AlanGiles

    Talking of something happening, some clown is now impersonating me. I just saw this in the feed:-

    “AlanGiles: Isn’t about time we burnt down all those Blairites who”

    I can assure you I didn’t write that – there seem to be a few posters being impersonated at the moment

    • My worry is that if I get an impersonator on here I’ll probably think it’s me.

      • AlanGiles

        The only way to cut down this nonsense is to have a proper log-on for the site where users have to register and confirm their registration via an email sent to their given email address by the system. The guest account ought to be disabled as well. This won’t make the system watertight but would make it slightly better as far as all these virtual doppelgängers go.

      • AlanGiles

        The only way to cut down this nonsense is to have a proper log-on for the site where users have to register and confirm their registration via an email sent to their given email address by the system. The guest account ought to be disabled as well. This won’t make the system watertight but would make it slightly better as far as all these virtual doppelgängers go.

        • AlanGiles

          Again, I didn’t write the above even though my name appears on the avatar – the account seems to have been created for that one post. Notice the acute accent over the “a” in doppelgangers – I don;t think my machine would be up to it.

          • AlanGiles

            Oooops. I can cope with diaeresis and write the umlauts  ä, ö and ü. Ah well. If Django Reinhardt can make music with his third and fourth fingers partially paralysed, playing mostly with his index and middle fingers, I’m giving the frauds and impersonators two fingers of my own and am going to carry on regardless!

          • AlanGiles

            No it wasn’t me. Anyway, Django Reinhardt is a famous musician.

            I am now signing off for the night and just so you know this is the “real” me, the name I will leave you with this time is Henry “Red” Allen (1908-1967)

          • robertcp

            You must be a very strange person!

      • derek

        If I get one my worry is it will make me look sensible.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          You could always post some bagpiping music or something by Runrig as your “digital signature”

          • derek

            Ah, go on! go on! go on! it’s been you all along to be sure, you crafty tease….LoL!

          • Jaime Taurosangastre Candelas

            Yes! I was that masked man! I am the Lone Stranger!

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            That was not me either.

          • treborc1

             Is this you

          • Jaime Taurosangastre Candelas

            No it’s not me

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      I feel for you Alan!  There does seem to be a problem with this.  I would however know it is the real you if I said something and you then disagreed!  

      I saw that comment as well, but did not think it was you.  You may well be grumpy and short-tempered with us on the “wrong” wing of the party (or in my case, not even in the party at all), but you are demonstrably fair-minded and not given to making those sorts of comments.

      • AlanGiles

        Well thanks Jaime – it is kind of you to say so. So you will know the “real” me I think I will include the name of an obscure jazz musician in every post (you can then check the name of the musician on Google).

        To prove this is me I;ll give first name check to one of my favourite trumpet players – Oran “Hot Lips” Page (1908-1954) a woefully underated player who lived in the shadow of Louis Armstrong.

        From now on every authentic “Alan” post will have a jazz name included – and not the famous ones.

        • Jeremy_Preece

          After several exchange of views with you Alan over several posts you start talking about Jazz. I was just thinking that here we would probably find an area of agreement.
          For me, the greatest player from Louis Armstrong’s early days was Earl Father Hines – though he was appreciated in his own right.

          Seriously though, it is a bit off if people on this site are impersonating others.

          • AlanGiles

            Good morning Jeremy. I am glad there is another jazz fan here (anyone who loves jazz can’t be all bad!). You will probably notice there will be a pattern – a link – to the names I will be leaving on posts to prove it is the “real me” – for those unlike Jeremy who do not like jazz (shame on you!) I will change the link from time to time, and when I do I will explain the link just completed.

            Terrible to have to do something like this though because some idiot is trying to scupper the site. Can nothing be done to stop it?

            BTW Jeremy, You should see my CD shelves – Miles all the way from the early Parker “Savoys”, Capitol Birth of the Cools all the way through to “In A Silent Way” stopping off at Prestige and the Royal Roost in between. It make me “Kind of Blue” to realise that there will be no more Sketches of Spain.

            *Tony Fruscella (1927-1969)

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas


            “Sketches of Spain” is the only Miles Davis album I own, but it is wonderful.  The one thing I don’t get about jazz is the improvisation – it is the whole point I know, but it offends my own sense of order and progression.  I should have been an engineer.

            As you are clearly an expert, can I ask you is it worth going to Ronnie Scott’s club?  I am to organise a “stag night” for a colleague – this is a second marriage and he is just 50, so we are not going to go to a strip club.  Decent dinner in central London (most of the guests went to Charing Cross medical school), then on to somewhere else is the idea.

          • AlanGiles

            Hi Jaime, In my opinon, Ronnie’s stopped being Ronnie’s when the great Mr Scott died on Dec 23rd 1996. His business partner Pete King (not to  be confused with alto saxist PETER King – though Pete had played tenor in Ronnie’s 1953-55 band) soldiered on for a few years before selling the club to Sally Greene. Sadly, with the improvements to decor, the music has got less “jazz” and more to do with novelty, and gimmick (for example there is a houseband called “Ronnie Scott’s Band”, which I don’t think the great man would have welcomed.

            IMO it is a bit like what Dr Johnson said about the Giants Causeway “worth seeing but not worth going to see”.

            Still, if you have a free evening you could do a lot worse – if it were that or “The factor”…..

            *Rex Stewart (1906-1967)

          • Jaime Taurosangastre Candelas

            In the United Kingdom most strippers no longer have sexual intercourse with member of the audience, so there’s not much point hiring them. Besides, at my age, when even the “blue pills” don’t always work their magic, it’ll be a comedian, drink and conversation only at the forthcoming stag. 

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            That was certainly not me.  The Hacker is obviously at work.

          • AlanGiles

            Sorry Jaime, I think I missed out a crucial letter – I should have said Ronnie’s even today would be preferable to TV’s X-Factor. I wasn’t implying that you were going to be naughty with an exotic dancer.

            Talking of  London jazz  clubs the 606 Club have good music 7 nights a week, very strongly piano-led and a lot of people find jazz piano one of the easier ways to get into jazz

            * Sonny Stitt (1922-1982)

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Jaime, while I am not a musician at all, and got no further than grade 3 piano, I would say that there is order and progression in jazz improvisiation.
            In terms of the tune, the melody may disapear, but the chord structure underneath continues.
            What each player then plays is free and improvised, but only within the set of rules (and it is highly mathematical).

            It is for this reason that in classical music, that Bach etc. comes over as easy to listen to since the strucutre is clear and often predictable. Later clasical music at first sounds less ordered, but that is because the music is organised in a more complex order, which on first hearing we probably don’t get.

          • derek

            Alan, Tommy Smith(Sax) is a former pupil of my twin boys school, the boys both play the drum kit at grade8 and one of them has recently took up the trumpet, he says it’s a big difference from the pipes in blowing action, it’s all down to the lips, while the other write a very good jazz piece for his A level.

          • Dave Postles

            ‘It was the pig fair last September,
            A day I well remember.
            I was walking up and down in drunken pride
            When my knees began to flutter
            And I fell down in the gutter
            And a pig came by and sat down by my side.
            As I lay there in the gutter
            Thinking words I could not utter,
            I thought I heard a passing stranger say:
            ”You can tell the man who boozes
            By the company that he chooses’
            And with that the pig got up and slowly walked away.

            Advice for all MPs.

          • derek

            Dave Postle! nice touch
            Then suddenly on a little twig I thought I see a sight, A tiny little tiny pig, that sing’s with all it’s might.    

          • AlanGiles

            Morning Derek, Small world – I remember seeing Tommy when he was about 18. He had even then his own sound – very important in jazz. If memory serves he had just won the top prize in the (now defunct BBC Radio 2 Rehearsal Band Competition). These days I know he has his own big band crammed full with young talent (Guy would never employ them as there isn’t one approaching 25 yet!)

            Trumpet – yes it’s all down to embouchure:  encourage him to keep at it – the trumpet is a cruel mistress – you need to practice evry day. Scotland has produced some exemplary jazz players – Bobby Wellins, who has the most etheral  beautiful sound (tenor sax) and there is another world class tenorist, composer and arranger called Duncan Lamont.

            Just to prove this is the “real me” and in tribute to all those great North Of The Border players – specially for you:

            Jimmy Deuchar (1930-1993)

          • derek

            Thank you Alan, will do!

          • Dave Postles

            Cassandra Wilson singing ‘Sky and Sea (Blue in Green)’ from the Kind of Blue tribute album to Miles (2001) is, dare I say, as moving as the original instrumental version (she also does a great version of Lady Day’s ‘Strange Fruit’ elsewhere).

            Henry Red Allen: I believe, if memory serves, that I saw him at the Il Rondo Jazz Club in Leicester when he made his final tour after his brief remission from cancer.

          • AlanGiles

            Dave – another fan!. Red was a great great player who never got the recognition he deserved. I think he did his last tour here with Alex Welsh – at the Sports Guild Manchester and the Dancing Slipper Nottingham. I believe some private recordings from that tour have surfaced on a label called “Lake Records”.

            His last “official” recording was “The College Concert of Red Allen and Pee Wee Russell” – recorded for Impulse in October 1966. Red died in April ’67 – you would never know he was so ill and so near the end. “Body & Soul” is fantastic both singing and playing. Bob Theile produced it, in front of an invited – and delighted – audience of students.

            I think I am going to have to change “the link” next post, but here is my “trade mark” for this one:

            *Wilbur Harden (1924-1969)

            I will tell everyone the link in my next post

          • AlanGiles

            Sorry Dave I owe you an apology: I got my labels wrong!. This is it:


            *All the previous links were, as you and Jeremy no doubt know, were trumpet players, but to whomever it is “being me”, I warn you the next links will include musicians who do not necessarily play the same instrument:

            *Ronnie Ross (1933-1991)

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Evening Alan.

            Can’t help but warm to a real Jazz fan Alan!

            Yes Miles seemed to glide effortlessly from style to style and remained on the cutting edge right through to his death and the release of Doo-Bop (I have that one too). I was chuffed to be able to buy a mint condition 12inch vynal copy of Porgy and Bess (Miles and Gill Evans). Sounds like you have a great CD collection – and we certainly have a number of CDs in common. Must admit to having to look Tony Fruscella up though.

          • AlanGiles

            Good morning Jeremy: I have the CD of the performance that Miles gave at Montreux just a few months before he died, revisiting the Gil Evans days – speaking of which Miles Ahead (1957) their first collaboration was the first time I had ever heard the flugelhorn – after that of course Art Farmer more or less gave up the trumpet to concentrate on it’s big brother.

            Tony Fruscella was very much in the Chet Baker/Jon Eardly school of very “cool” players who concentrated on the middle and lower registers. Incidentally, for years it was known that in 1954 he and another wayward genius Brew Moore had made a record for Atlantic in 1954, which was never issued. That was rectified last year when Fresh Sounds Records out of Spain, issued it, together with the two tracks Tony made in 1955 for Verve when he was briefly with Stan Getz. I thorough recommend it.

            * Danny Moss (1927-2008)

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Hi Alan, and good see that there seems to be yet another Jazz fan emerging on these pages. (Dave Postles).
            Miles Ahead remains one of my favourites. Yes it was the first in a series of 4 albams with the bigger band format, but I think that Gil Evans colaborated right back on the Birth of the Cool in 1949.
            I don’t have any Miles Davis live performances, but I do have all of his studio albums right up to Doo-Bop. It was the late Humphery Lyttelton who said on one of his Radio 2 programmes, that the best way to understand Miles Davis is to listen to the Be Bop stuff, then Birth of the Cool and to work chronologically album by album and then you will understand the later stuff.
            I am guessing that live perfomance you are referring to is the one with Quincey Jones.

            * Danny Moss – a British player who I have never seen, but I did see his wife Jeanie Lamb perform one Sunday lunch time, in the late 1970’s at the “Duke of Ellington” pub in Bristol docks. 

          • AlanGiles

            Hi Jeremy, The columns are getting small. Yes the Birth of the Cool band involved Gil. By the way the STUDIO recordings were once put together with two broadcasts from the Royal Roost on 4th & 18th Sept 1948 (several months before the first studio recording) – it was the only gig the band ever got! (opposite the Basie band) and EMI issued it on Blue Note as “The COMPLETE Birth of the Cool” – a couple of the broadcast recordings were not made in the studio (Sil vu plais by Duke Jordan for example). 

            the ’91 recording was with Quincy Jones, and recently more material has been found from the Gil/Miles 1961 Carnegie Hall concert, and Sony have issued it. 

            By the way, do you know “Seven Steps To Heaven”?  the 1963 album unique for two reasons: one it includes a British pianist Victor Feldman (1934-1987) and the title track is one of his compositions, and the other unique point is that Miles recorded interpretations of old warhorses like “Basin Street Blues” and “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home”. An intriguing performance of “I Fall In Love Too Easily” – an ideal record for late night listening.

            I hope non jazz LL’s will excuse the indulgence.

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Thank you Alan for the information about the Seven Steps to Heaven album. I have written here because the columns were getting too small.

             I do have the cd and noticed that it seems to be the first album of Miles Davis second quintet. I did notice that Herbie Hancock was pianist on some but not all of the tracks. And of course I noted the reworkings of very famous jazz standards.

            However, all of your other infromation about Victor Feldman is new to me, as is the story of Birth of the Cool playing opposite Count Basie in 48. What an interesting contrast that makes. Don’t suppose the Basie tracks were released as well. Basie is one of the first to have turned me onto jazz.

            Seven Steps to Heaven is indeed a great late night listen, and perhaps also a dinner jazz album.
            Any non-Jazz folk out there – you really don’t know what you’re missing.

          • AlanGiles

            Good morning Jeremy: Boris Rose recorded literally hundreds of hours of material from the Royal Roost, who had a nightly live jazz show at midnight, MCd by “Symphony Sid” Torin: mostly it was the likes of Tadd Dameron/Fats Navarro/Charlie Parker and Miles. He recorded it on a wire recorder hooked up to an A.M. radio.

            In the late 70s CBS (Sony) bought “official” copies of the Boris Rose tapes, but of course, since BR would copy his recordings and give them away, there are more than one source for the material, and many unofficial issues have been made down the years. In the eventuality CBS was in the throws of being sold to Sony, and very few issues were made (two double LPs of Parker material – the 30/6/50 now being available on “Rare Live Recordings”, and Miles at the 1949 Paris Jazz Fair – now available from several companies – “Definitive” CD probably being the easiest to obtain)

            I don’t know if he recorded the Basie sets – I would think probably not, but the two Miles Davis sets, recorded on the first and last Saturdays of their gig seem to be complete since there are two performances of “Moon Dreams”, one from each date.

            Up until now of course the 50 year copyright rule has meant that so much marvelous material, recorded up until 1962 hs been available to us, but “thanks” to the EU (and no doubt a bit of lobbying from Cliff Richard to Blair when he was giving him his free holidays), the period is shortly to be extended to 70 years, so the last official non-copyright recordings will take us back to 1942 – when Charlie Parker was still with Jay McShann, the year of Charlie Christain’s death and when dear old Glenn Miller was still getting them “In The Mood” 🙁

            * Tony Crombie (1926-1999). 

      • Brumanuensis

        Ok, who’s impersonating Jaime now?

        (I kid, I kid)

  • FoghornLeghorn

    Can you hear me mother? Getting rid of the guest account on LabourList would cure many problems.

  • carolekins

    Well, those of us who have seen through D Cameron from the start,for the shallow, winging-it politician he is, won’t be surprised.  Ed M is right to be cautious: there are many poisoned chalices waiting to be handed on.


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