Old Music with Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

As I was driving to work today, I was listening to New Model Army’s Thunder and Consolation album. Two songs, one after the other on the album jumped out at me and got me thinking about possible contributory factors towards the recent activity across some of our larger cities.

Archway Towers
(audio clip)

Rolling up tab ends that the baby’s collected
Waiting for the number that clicks on the wall.
It’s open season on the weak and the feeble
Their meagre ambitions, their impotent fury
There’s bullet proof glass in case there is trouble
No doors in the building between this side and that side.

I’ve tried to wrestle some unbalanced nightmare
Tell myself over that I don’t really live here
But the boys run away leaving blood on the pavement
And a little crowd gathered to watch you pick yourself up
Joining the queue at the video library
To watch ninety five minutes of simulated torture

The conference hall rings to the standing ovation
The people in blue ties rise from the podium
Crazy with power, blinded by vision
The mass-chosen leaders for a brutalised nation


The Charge
(audio clip with lyrics on Youtube)

Our history speaks in thunder from a thousand village halls
In blood and sweat and sacrifice, in honouring every call
So the forces gathered against the thorn a-piercing in their side
A brave new world is beckoning so the olden world must die.
In the offices of the city, at all the tables of oak and power
The snares are laid and baited for the approaching of the hour
A hundred justifications and the presses are ready to roll
The gateways to the nation they are firmly under control

On, on, on, cried the leaders at the back
We went galloping down the blackened hills
And into the gaping trap
The bridges are burnt behind us and there’s waiting guns ahead
Into the valley of death rode the brave hundreds

We called for some assistance from the friends that we had known
But this is the 1980s and we were on our own
We never felt like heroes or martyrs to a cause
Just battle-weary soldiers in a bloody civil war
The massacre now is over and the order new enshrined
While a quarter of the nation are abandoned far behind
Their leaders offer the cliché words, so righteous in defeat
But no one needs morality when there isn’t enough to eat
The unity bond is broken and the loyalty songs are fake
I’ll screw my only brother for even a glimpse at a piece of the cake
We only cry in private here behind the shuttered glass
When we think of the charge of this brigade, the severing of the past

On, on, on, cried the leaders at the back
We went galloping down the blackened hills
And into the gaping trap
The bridges are burnt behind us and there’s waiting guns ahead
Into the valley of death rode the brave hundreds

For a less sing-song analysis of events, the following two articles come highly recommended (I liked them, anyway):
New Economics

And, finally:

When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty & shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up & express their anger & frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard.

~ Martin Luther King, dangerous subversive

And, really finally this time:

If the young men aren’t initiated into the village, they will burn the village down just to feel its warmth.

~ African proverb


Well, here I am: sitting in a bus stop, looking out across the North Sea and digesting a tasty chip butty (late of Crusoe’s take-away counter). For twelve weeks now, I’ve been going out with a beautiful young lady called Ros – this is still my major news and I can’t believe I’ve not written about it yet (I guess I’m out of practice writing an actual journal). Well, anyway, this entry is dedicated to, and largely about, my lovely Ros.

We’d known each other for a while, at first through church and then through post-church pub-sitting: I made the first real contact and invited her to join a bunch of us for a drink and thought no more of it really – the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned – she was good, boisterous company and livened things up considerably on a Sunday night.

At one point, she and I convinced another of my mates to go out with her and she was kind of wrecked when that ended badly…

I had people around for tea and general hanging-out-ness when she rang, knowing what was coming, I took the call, “Tim, he’s just broken up with me.” I checked with my guests and invited her round. One of them drove to pick her up and the three of us took care of her for the night. Over the next few months we developed a fairly close friendship – helped, at least in part, by her coming for lunch at the flat, twice a week (on my days off)whilst she was on placement around the corner. Well, that and a shared interest in general socialness in pubs with whomever else we could persuade to join us.

About five or six months ago, I got a bit down and needed very much to be around people as much as possible. This coincided with an extended period of free time for Ros and consequently we spent an awful lot of time together – what I now look back on as pre-dating, despite me initially thinking of Ros as just a cool person to hang around with (even going so far as to say so, having become worried that she might be reading more into my need to hang out than there actually was).

This kind of changed the night before a friend’s wedding when after an evening of DVDs, wine and pizza she sat on my lap and tried to kiss me. Being a Tim of very little brain, I resisted her valiant attempt by staring straight ahead of me and not moving my head until the album we were listening to (Trash by Alice Cooper) needed changing. I had hoped to talk to Ros about it in the next couple of days but by the time we got to hang out again the moment had long passed.

Then, on Friday night, three weeks later, the same thing happened again. This time, instead of sitting there like a lemon, I actually spoke – I hadn’t been expecting anything like it, and whilst it would be very lovely to kiss her, I wanted to know that it was a good idea (and, incidentally, make sure of my motives). Because I was going away for the weekend, we agreed to meet up on Monday evening. I don’t think I’ve ever done the trip back from Leeds to Newcastle as quickly as I did then, and given how this entry started, you already know how things went when I got back.