#1090: 1988, Michelle Shocked, Anchorage

by Jackie_South on August 26, 2017

This year, my almost annual visit to the USA has taken me to “the largest state in the Union” – both the USA’s and my 49th state.

There are a number of songs I could have picked to reflect this: perhaps Dwight Yoakam‘s North to Alaska (or the Johnny Horton original).

Or, if I was to go very dark, Lou Reed‘s Caroline Says II, with the lines But she’s not afraid to die/All her friends call her “Alaska” and  the final refrain It’s so cold in Alaska.

Instead, I have gone with this great Eighties’ folk track from an artist who has inexplicably not previously featured on Songs to Learn and Sing. It’s a great personal tale of making contact with an old friend from back home after moving to New York, only to find that the friend has also moved on and further away, both geographically and in lifestyle.

I can’t say that I felt particularly anchored down in Anchorage, although it’s wet August weather did remind me a little of childhood Autumn half-term visits to the city’s English twin town of Whitby.

The track comes from her superb Short Sharp Shocked album: disappointingly, her subsequent output never really measured up (although there is a case to be made in favour of Arkansas Traveler), particularly after she found God in the mid-90s. Back in 1988, she might have been the very last artist you might expect to be homophobic, yet by 2013 she was characterising her views to her audiences as “God hates faggots”.

But let’s draw a veil over that and remember happier times, when many thought that the short-haired, un-made up folkster was the very thing she ended up hating.

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A Tale For Our Times…..

by Gareth R Roberts on July 31, 2017

Pick, as they say, the bones out of this….

I was in Court last week – the case involved a horrible road traffic accident, where a young Albanian delivery van driver had attempted to overtake a HGV when it was clearly dangerous to do so and ploughed headlong into the path of an oncoming car tragically killing the elderly driver.

Most barristers hate these cases – my client, a young man of impeccable character, had made a catastrophic mistake, but had no intention to cause any harm, let alone the death of another person. He wasn’t a drug addict or a drunkard, he wasn’t dishonest or violent – he was, for a period of about ten seconds, stupid.

I met him outside Court – he was besuited and bookish looking, with an equally bookish looking girlfriend nervously touching his arm in an attempt to comfort. His English was excellent and he told me that he had been living with his girlfriend in the UK, lawfully and productively, without incident for the last 7 years. He told me that his Father was a Palestinian Doctor who had fled to Albania in the early 1990s when it became impractical for him to work on the West Bank – he, himself had been a law student in Albania and had come over to the UK because it was far more lucrative to drive vans delivering parcels in Britain than appear in a Court in Tirana.

He cried, silent undramatic tears, when I asked him about the incident and he explained that he didn’t really want me to mitigate, saying that it was right that he receive whatever punishment the Court imposed – I told him I respected this, but that it was my duty to let the Court know everything I could that would help the Court impose the right sentence. He then reluctantly, and with obvious shame, told me that he was on a zero-hours contract delivering goods for a massive, global on-line company, and that as part of his contract his wages would be docked if his van was in any way damaged. He told me that as he was driving behind the HGV, it was kicking up chippings and that he was nervous that they would damage the van and see a reduction of his wages, something that he could ill afford – so, he made the fateful decision to overtake.

He then asked me if it would be possible for him to write to the widow and family of the deceased to express his sympathy and sorrow, and I told him, that i’d ensure that that could happen.

He then asked me, with thin lipped stoicism, what sentence he could expect and I told him that he would go to prison for between two and four years and he nodded – he asked me if this meant that he would be automatically be deported back to Albania and I told him that it would. Then surprisingly (because in the past this has been a negative thing for EU citizens convicted of criminal offences)  when I asked him if that was a bad thing and started to advise him of his right to appeal against that – he shook his head and told me that he wanted to go back home now because the UK had nothing left for him any more – ‘we,’ he told me, ‘are no longer welcome.’

As I said, pick the bones from this tragic tale.

 

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General Election 2017: now that we’ve stopped laughing, what next?

June 12, 2017

Forgive me readers for it has been bloody ages since my last blog. In that time, I have committed many sins, including the sin of confusion, hopeless optimism, blind despair, excessive elation, false elation and wicked gloating. Why? Because I, like every other poor bastard in this country of ours, has been subjected to the […]

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Georgia’s Sixth: Democrats First Test for Sunbelt Strategy

April 2, 2017

On 18 April, the southern US state of Georgia sees a ‘special election’ to find a new congressman. The election could be a key indicator for the way forward for the Democrats. One of the key questions for the Democrats to face in the aftermath of its electoral defeats last November is its election strategy […]

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What Brexit really means…

March 27, 2017

“Brexit means Brexit.” ~ Theresa May To many Brexiters, what Brexit really means is: The British Empire Rule, Britannia! Britannia Rules the Waves! Last night of the proms Sticking it up Johnny Foreigner Union Jack bunting Foreign muck The plucky Brit The Great Escape Dambusters Mother Country British bulldog Imperial chauvinism Born to rule Land […]

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Theresa May is the wrong prime minister at the wrong time

March 20, 2017

“I think the economic arguments are clear, I think being part of a 500-million population trading bloc is significant for us. I think, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe. “If we were not in Europe, I think […]

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The United Kingdom: A Union of Unequals

March 17, 2017

I will always consider myself both British and Scottish. I have spent years wrestling with my own opinion on Scottish independence. I hoped that it would never come to this, but, from 2014 onwards, I made my progression from being a unionist to a supporter of Scottish self determination for the following reasons:- Independence is […]

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Corbyn’s Copeland Catastrophe?

March 1, 2017

There is no doubt that Labour’s performance in the Copeland by-election last week was historically bad: a government last won a by-election seat off an opposition in 1982. But Jeremy Corbyn’s most die-hard supporters have tried to explain this poor result away. Do their arguments hold any weight? You have read the headlines: this is […]

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Should the Lords have stopped Brexit?

February 27, 2017

There is an unfortunate irony that, sadly, one of the most interesting periods in national and international politics has coincided with us here at Allthatsleft going into self-imposed stasis. I write this, because I’ve been considering just how bad things could get – I write this because things that seemed absurd only a year or […]

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Trumpton, USA – A Place Called Hate

January 31, 2017

“I still believe in a place called Hope.” ~ Bill Clinton, 1992. In America 2017, hope has left the building. Hate has walked in, pimped out the White House with gold furnishings and started a real life version of Lord of the Flies. Obama was in the White House for 8 years, and managed to […]

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#1089: 2012, Viv Albertine, Confessions of a Milf

January 31, 2017

Last weekend, the lads of All That’s Left went away for a weekend in the country. As well as drinking what the experts tell us is the safe amount of alcohol for a month over 36 hours, there was a lot of music. One of my picks was this, my favourite find so far of […]

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Labour: dying before our very eyes

December 9, 2016

Another week, another by-election where the Labour Party candidate has seen his vote decrease. This week its Sleaford, where Labour eventually finished fourth behind UKIP and the stirring Lib-Dems. Should those of us on the left be nervous about this? Too right we should. Labour is currently embroiled in a slow and painful descent towards […]

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Can a Democrat be Elected as President in 2020?

December 8, 2016

Last month, the Democrats faced the most unpopular presidential candidate in the last thirty years, and lost. The victory of someone as dangerous as Trump against such an experienced figure as Hillary Clinton, the unexpected nature of the outcome by most commentators and the fact that she won the popular vote by over 2.6m have […]

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#1088: 2016, Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker

December 6, 2016

It seems like years ago since I last posted a song. And, it’s true, in that time, much seems to have happened, and most of it seems to have been bad. One of the worst things has been the death of Leonard Cohen – one of the true giants, a poet, a musician, a legend, […]

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Speeding Down To Trump-ton

December 3, 2016

We are only 48 days away from the beginning of the Presidency of Donald Trump. For me the very idea still seems so absurd as to be almost conceptually impossible. How could any electorate vote for someone so singularly ill-suited for office? But as every day goes by with more freak show appointments from the […]

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#1087: 1978, Kate Bush, The Man With The Child In His Eyes

December 2, 2016

2016 really has been a godawful year in so many ways.   Perhaps the winner of the ‘worst year since the Second World War’ competition.  Politically – Brexit, Trump, the Labour Party descending into an unelectable leftist cult, the rise and rise of Marine Le Pen in France.  Artistically – the deaths of David Bowie, […]

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What does the Richmond Park By-Election tell us?

December 2, 2016

I don’t know what to make of Zach Goldsmith – man of principal or man of huge arrogant ego? A couple of years ago, I’d have given him the benefit of the doubt and plumped for the former, but, after his mindless London Mayoral campaign, I feel that perhaps Zach Goldsmith is just a poor […]

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #70: 1964, Dr Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) (Stanley Kubrick)

November 30, 2016

General Jack D Ripper: ‘Mandrake, have you ever seen a commie drink a glass of water?’ Group Captain Mandrake: ‘Well, no, I can’t say that I have’ Three weeks after the US Presidential election, it is still hard to come to terms with the fact that the American electorate (or at least that part of […]

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‘Taking Our Country Back’: A Day in the Life of Nigel’s Slogan

November 18, 2016

Perhaps it’s the lawyer in me, but I’m not a big fan of slogans – Making America Great Again: how? And what do you mean by ‘great’? Working Hard and Playing By the Rules – don’t even get me started on that load of nonsense. But, what is perplexing me, and has indeed perplexed me […]

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Too Much Polling Can Make You Blind

November 15, 2016

If it had happened once, then ok, maybe they could be forgiven, but in the last few years, pollsters have consistently fed us information that has at best been unhelpful, and at worst, down right wrong. The last general election was too close to call they said – no it wasn’t, the Tories won quite […]

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The rise of the Alt-Right: This is not normal

November 15, 2016

John Oliver laid into the result of the US Presidential election, on The Last Night Tonight he said, “A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll is going to be delivering the next State Of The Union address. This is not normal. It is fucked up.” Exactly. We have got to a point where major elections or referendums […]

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Lazy assumptions about Trump and Brexit voters is bigotry on the other side of the coin

November 11, 2016

One of the most disturbing themes to come out from the post Brexit and post Trump landscapes is the lazy assumption that all Brexit / Trump voters are bigots. While I don’t agree with their direction of vote, I am uncomfortable with a narrative that moves towards the demonising of all Brexit/Trump voters. Such assumptions […]

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Brexiters Voted Our Country Down

October 13, 2016

Damn us Remainers for expressing concerns based on factual evidence on the economic alarm bells ringing since the EU referendum. We now have a pound sinking faster than Donald Trump’s election prospects, inward investment flatlining, a slump in the housing market, inflation concerns, increasing retail prices and tax revenue decline concerns as a result of […]

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#1086: 2016, Kate Tempest, Europe Is Lost

October 10, 2016

Pretty good angry analysis of so much of what’s going wrong from the poet/rapper Kate Tempest. I’m usually a bit more positive but quite hard when you put it like this and with everything going on. “I can’t see an ending at all, only the end” Um…

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Post Brexit, the future is…… Australian!

September 22, 2016

G’Day Sport! Throw another snag on the barbie and open us a tinny. We had better get used to it, because the future of Britain is no longer dependent upon our relations with Europe, but, according to the Government and the Brexiters, Australia. Yep, fear not – the fact that the EU is showing no […]

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It is getting scary now – Donald Trump might win

September 15, 2016

2016 is proving to be a shit year. Our iconic celebrities are dying, the Tories have no real opposition and don’t even get me started on Brexit. There is enough shit news out there at present but potentially even worse is to follow. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Donald […]

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#1085: 2016, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree

September 15, 2016

When Nick Cave’s 15 year old son Arthur died of head injuries after falling from a cliff last July, a parent’s greatest fear and worst nightmare became so horribly real for him. After a period of private mourning, Cave has now released a breathtakingly beautiful, grief-strewn album about the tragic loss of his son. A […]

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The boundary changes aren’t just about party politics

September 15, 2016

If we’ve learned one vital from the Brexit debate, it’s that the people of the UK are profoundly underwhelmed by our democracy – the prevailing feeling from the doorstep was that not only did people have little confidence in Europe, but, but they didn’t have a great deal of confidence in Westminster either. People felt […]

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Northern Ireland Boundary Proposals: Good News For Sinn Fein?

September 12, 2016

Tuesday sees the Boundary Commissions for England and Wales publish their draft recommendations for the Parliamentary constituency boundaries for the next general election. But as a taster, Norther Ireland’s commission published their draft recommendations a week earlier. These appear to offer good news for Sinn Fein, less good news for the Ulster Unionist Party and […]

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Back Of The Net Special With Ray North – The Legendary Pre-Season Preview

August 17, 2016

Ok – it’s a week late, but I’ve been on holiday, and there’s been the Olympics and, well, you know, life gets in the way. But, I’ve now got five minutes to spare and can share my thoughts on what I think will be the most interesting football season, since, well, since the last one. […]

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