On Straight Edge And Real Love

One of the many shitty sayings I hear sxe kids saying is this:

“If you’re not now, you never were.”

Depending on how you count it, I’ve been straight edge for thirty-two (last time I was drunk) or eight years (last time I had caffeine). I actively avoid any psychoactive substances. I tried smoking once as a kid, never took it up. And it’s so long since I last had sex that, technically, I’m a virgin again. I think you’ll find my edge credentials are all in order, officer.

So, when I hear some motherfucker who’s been edge for a month or whatever whining about people who “broke edge” and saying the old “If you’re not edge now, you never were,” bullshit, it really fucks me off.

Firstly, it’s the irony of them being so vehement in their hatred of ex-edgers when it’s very likely that in another month, I’ll seem them off their tits again, slopping beer out of a cheap plastic cup. For most people, edge is a cool badge to pose with for a week or month or year. It’s a healthy phase of their life before they return to the unhealthy norms of society. You know, like when people join the gym as a New Year’s Resolution and then stop going by February. That’s edge for maybe 95% of the people who ever claim it.

Secondly, let’s extend this to other areas. Straight edge is simply a lifestyle choice, the same as being veggie or wearing odd socks to be wacky at Uni. It’s not morally any better or worse than either than of those options, it’s not some key to a path of spiritual enlightenment and holiness. It’s not a fucking religion.  (Personally, I would say being religious is a de-facto edge break, desiring to have that much filler crammed into your head.) Basically, you don’t want to get fucked up because you don’t need to / don’t enjoy it / are a recovering addict.

That’s it. 

So when I hear “If you’re not now, you never were,” I hear a ridiculous assertion. For example:

“I used to live in France.”

“Used to?”

“Yeah, I moved back to England after a couple of years.”

“Dude, if you’re not living in France now… YOU NEVER DID.”


“Of course, I didn’t always work here, I used to be a fireman.”

“Dude, if you’re not a fireman now… YOU NEVER WERE.”

Do you see my point? It’s an asinine thing to say.

People try being straight edge. The vast majority give it up because of peer pressure or because they miss getting wasted or because they can’t cope without the crutch of alcohol / drugs. They tried it, it wasn’t for them. Big deal. But don’t try to re-write reality and claim they were never really edge in the first place.

Now, here’s where the edge constituent of this article plummets and the emo quotient rises to 100. The one time, the only time, I’ll use the phrase “If you’re not now, you never were,” is about love.

Real love involves a permanent, irrevocable re-writing of yourself. It cannot be erased, elided, replaced or otherwise forgotten. 

One of the reasons I left Facebook is because of the degradation and misuse of the word ‘love’ I saw on my newsfeed. You’ve probably experienced it yourself: couple goes from just shagging each other to ‘Facebook Official’ and instantly their respective feeds turn to shit. Instead of messaging each other private loving moments, which would be sweet, they feel the need to broadcast them to all their Facebook friends, which is as pleasant to experience as licking dog turds.

Helplessly, you see their overblown dedications, passionate paeans, in-jokes about vociferous sexual intercourse, all the while gagging and scrolling as fast as you can.

Then, in a week or a month or a year, they’re done and onto the next one.

True story: I used to have a Facebook acquaintance who did this. All of her updates were about ‘breakfast with the boy,’ ‘park with the boy,’ ‘me and the boy snuggling,’ blah blah blah urgh. Then her feed went quiet for a bit. Then, it was back to ‘dancing with the boy,’ ‘shopping with the boy,’ ‘off to Paris with the boy.’ Business as usual, I thought.

Then, I bumped into her on a night out and asked how (insert name) was? She gave me the craziest look and said, “What?? I finished with him aaages ago! I’m with (insert new boy name) now!” I hadn’t even noticed the change in partners. She went from LOVE OF MY LIFE A to LOVE OF MY LIFE B in the blink of a fucking eye. Seamless.

For most people, a boyfriend or girlfriend is a passing phase. They like fucking, they’re attracted to someone and their bodies pump them full of happy hormones for a while so they think they’re in love. But when the sex inevitably loses it shiny newness, they move on.

That love they were were ranting about, that person they said was The One, they just replace them. After all, boys and girls are all the same, they’re just identical dolls to be played with and then swap when you grow bored.

The truth is, they were never in love. They were infatuated, they were horny, they were blinded by the temporary wash of bonding hormones. But that’s not real love. 

So what is real love? Here’s a simple test. Think of someone you claimed to be in love with:

If you’re not now, you never were. 

Love isn’t convenient, it doesn’t get put away, it doesn’t fade and it never, ever falters. If you fall in love with someone, it’s with you forever, like that scar on your knee from when you were a kid.

Love is something that, when that person leaves you, you try to erase, you try to replace, you try to move on.

And you fail.

Love, real love, is immutable, intractable, unreasonable. It can be years, decades since you lost them and you still think of that person every day. You still see things you wish you could share with them or imagine what they’d say. You carry a detailed model of that person in your brain. They’re always there. You dream about them, sing songs about them, write poetry, paint pictures. But no exorcism works: their ghost is still there.

That’s real love.

Love isn’t a pretty little arrow shot into your wittle heart by a fat baby cupid. Love is a an iron rod being driven through your fucking brain. It is eternal or it wasn’t love.

It is not a lifestyle choice like being straight edge, living in France, or ballroom dancing, it is the removal of volition.

If you’re not in love now, you never were. 

More Dreams About My Ex

Ladybird - 1

I dreamt about my ex-wife again last night.

In the dream, we were working together on something, I think we were pulling a lawnmower along the ground outside. It was enormously heavy but we could just about move it, together. It stank of petrol and there were rusty bits on the handle, fuck knows why it was so important. We kept bumping arms and it was awkward because we weren’t together any more, whereas the closeness would have been cosy before.

I tried making some joke about the whole situation, like I always do and before we knew what was happening, we were hugging and crying. I told her how much I missed her, how sorry I was for being depressed and driving her away, how I wanted to do so many things with her, travel and adventure and just live the lives we should have done if I hadn’t been so fucked-up in my head.

She forgave me. When she held my face, I could feel her hands, the same love in them that she always had. We hadn’t erased the divorce, we were dealing with it, being careful and taking things very slowly. The dream was, as ever, totally realistic and believable. We kissed and I felt so stupidly happy to have this woman back in my arms, arms that have felt so useless and empty since we split.

On waking, it took me around a minute to realise none of that had happened. I had this cocoon of happiness around me, fuzzily wondering where she’d gone to, maybe she’d gone to make a cuppa. I imagined her little face looking all sleepy and how cute she’d look in the blue dressing gown she loved.

Then, as the dream faded, my real life started pressing down on me, like someone was slowly reversing a car onto my chest. The weight of loneliness descended, crushing the brief happiness I’d felt, squashing the light out of the sky.

I don’t know why I dreamt about her this time. Possibly because of tomorrow. Or maybe because I’ve been recording and churned up buried emotions.

I hope I can sleep tonight.

Racist Gear

Top Gear’s Burma Special in which Jeremy Clarkson used a racial slur broke broadcasting rules, Ofcom has said.

The show featured a segment showing the hosts looking at a bridge they had built on the River Kwai as a local man walked across it.

Clarkson remarked: “That is a proud moment. But there’s a slope on it.”
(Source: BBC News)

So, any time someone says they’re a fan of Top Gear, just replace that in your brain with:

“Hi, I’m a racist and I’m a fan of racism and racists like Jeremy Clarkson.”

And of simpering toadies like Richard Hammond.

You all have to watch this again:

Indietracks 2014

Indietracks Peeps 19

Indietracks 2014 was this weekend and, even though I’m straight edge, I’m still recovering from the mad swirl of it all. Firstly, it was DAMN HOT. GODDAMMNNN HOT. I honestly thought I’d pass out at some points in the shed! A contrast to last year’s downpours.

Indietracks Peeps 37

Then there was the bewildering array of music:  too many bands to see! I’ve given up on trying to see bands in the Church now, so I wrote off that stage. But that still left the train shed and outdoor stages as well as surprise jams in the merch tent. As well as the actual music, there was the core Indietracks activity: bumping into people who you haven’t seen since last year’s Indietracks. 🙂

Spearmint 6

The first band I saw were Spearmint. AND THEY WERE BRILLIANT. I’ve never seen them before and so it’s the first time I’ve heard songs I’ve known for years rocked out live. Apparently, they don’t get asked to gig much which is a fucking shame ~ sort it out, indiepop promoters!

The Chills 1

The same with The Chills, never managed to see them live way back when and then, boom, they’re on stage in front of me! I loved the old tracks but I also loved the tracks from the new album. Really, this kind of songwriting genius is rare nowadays. The only thing the set missed is ‘Rain’ which is my fave Chills song and simply one of the best indie songs ever.


I missed the start of ONSIND because of pesky travel shenanigans but the end was brilliant: passionate punk with an actual heart and soul. I hear so much (pop) punk which is utterly meaningless, just some nonsense about invented heartbreak and boohoo my emo life. ONSIND are the antithesis of that drivel.

Joanna Gruesome 5

Joanna Gruesome surmounted some pedal-based killjoyness to play a blazing set, full of excellent shouty bits and wonderfully floaty twee bits. I missed them last year because they were on the Church stage so I’m so glad I caught them this time round. They also had this feller guesting on stage:

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That’s right DEAN FUCKING WAREHAM. Who’s actual set afterwards I had to miss because of more transport-based bullshit. ARGH. So annoyed.

The Hidden Cameras 2

Closing the festival on Sunday evening were The Hidden Cameras. Their half-naked stage gear went down very well with a frankly over-randy audience (YOU KNOW WHO I’M TALKING ABOUT) and their set was stuffed full of crowdpleasers. I loved their show, it was warm and human and full of life, humour and strange little hooty bits.

The Hidden Cameras 3

The only criticism I can make is that there wasn’t enough from the wonderful new album, I really wanted to hear ‘Gay Goth Scene’ live, it’s so beautiful. Also, even though they did an encore, the set was still too short. They have too many anthems we need to hear! 🙂

My memories of Indietracks 2014 will be of all the friendly peeps I met, old and new, the frankly overwhelming number of brilliant bands (too many to see them all!) and the whole vibe of the event. Indietrack 2014 was a like the best house party ever! But in a field! With bands! And owls!

(Click here for more Indietracks pics!)

Israel Massacres 185 Children With US and UK Governments’ Approval

The overwhelming majority of those killed are Palestinians – at least 798 have died since 8 July, including about 185 children and 93 women, Gaza’s health ministry says. The UN says around 73% of the Palestinian dead are civilians.

(Source: Gaza crisis: Toll of operations in Gaza)

Although the BBC frames it as ‘800 on both sides’ the truth is that 20 times more Palestinians have died compared to Israelis. Israel claims to have killed 200 “terrorists” but that estimation is as trustworthy as Obama’s drone terror defence.

Israel has killed 185 children. 

The world at large has done nothing. The USA, as ever, defends Israel’s war crimes against children. Can you imagine if North Korea or China had killed 185 children in the past week?

What if Russia had shelled and killed 185 children? America would be spouting angry rhetoric continuously. Our screens would be swamped with Obama’s angry condemnations. 

But when it’s Israel committing crimes against innocent civilians, the USA gives it a free pass.

Of those Israeli deaths, only three have been civilians. I’m not minimising those lives lost but compare that to 800 civilians killed in schools, hospitals, just little kids playing on a beach.

The viciousness of the Israeli assault on Gaza and the total lack of any adverse commentary from the US or UK shows what a mockery the morality of our Western governments is. 185 children are murdered and our leaders say nothing.

Police Let Murderers Roam Free, Spy On Families Of Victims Instead

A mother campaigning for an inquiry into her son’s death in 1997 says she has been told she was spied on by undercover Scotland Yard officers.

Student Ricky Reel was 20 when he vanished during a night out in London, shortly after he and his friends had been racially abused by two white men.

His body was found in the River Thames.

The man tasked with investigating undercover policing did not name specific families but criticised the “routine gathering” of information.

Mr Reel’s mother, Sukhdev, said she had been informed that officers gathered intelligence on her in 1998 and 1999

If you’re non-white in the UK, you can be murdered by racists, have the investigation botched and then have the very police who were meant to help you spy on you instead.

This is what is meant by white privilege: if you’re white, that won’t happen because the police force aren’t institutionally racist against whites.

Scotland Yard’s black and Asian policeofficers have made a dramatic intervention on the eve of the 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence‘s death by declaring that the Met is still institutionally racist.

The Metropolitan Black Police Association (BPA), the biggest group representing minority officers in the force, says despite the training and community initiatives put in place over the past two decades, Scotland Yard has failed to tackle the mindset at the heart of failures over Lawrence.(Source: http://gu.com/p/3fa58)

I’m male, I’m middle-class. But I’m an Indian man living in the UK.

Therefore, I am and will always be treated as a second-class citizen. 

If I get racially harassed, when I report it, the police won’t investigate. If I get murdered by racists, the police won’t be motivated to catch the killers because they very probably agree with them.

Again, this is what is meant by white privilege. Not petty shit about what food you eat or a harmless white hippy girl with a bindi on.

While ultra-left SJWs squabble over irrelevancies and what fucking words people use, non-white people in Britain still live in a fundamentally racist society which doesn’t value our lives let alone our human rights.

Columbo – Murder By The Book (1971)

I’m currently watching the first ever appearance of Peter Falk as Columbo, 1971’s ‘Murder By The Book.’

Written by Steven Bochco and directed by Steven Spielberg, it’s a masterclass both of ’70s US television and of the delicate pacing and character-study that’s been lost in contemporary TV.

Jack Cassidy, playing the murderer Ken Franklin, is perfect. He pitches a wonderful psychopath,  arrogant and initially dismissive of Columbo but also elicits some sympathy when being blackmailed by the equally adept Barbara Colby as a local storekeeper with stalker-ish designs on him.

Every shot is framed beautifully, a pre-echo of what Spielberg would produce in his directorial debut ‘Duel,’ the same year. And this is only four years before ‘Jaws‘ propelled him into stardom. Really, if you’re a young director, this episode of Columbo is chocker with lovely little pans, perspectival tricks, light tricks ~ the whole shebang. Spielberg was having great fun playing around, it’s obvious. Bocho’s script creates a rich playpen for Spielberg, full of delicate touches of character and set pieces that unfurl organically around the rumpled Columbo. A year after writing this, he wrote one of the best hard SF films ever, ‘Silent Running.’

So, a stellar supporting cast and a couple of actual geniuses as writer and director. And then, in walks Peter Falk. It’s impressive how fully-formed Columbo is in this. Falk has the bemused observations and tricky little traps all here, present and correct: the cigar, the coat, the fumbling around for his badge – check. However, Columbo’s greatest weapon is his indifference to being viewed as stupid or inept, the antithesis of Poirot. Practically every murderer he’s trapped has underestimated him, patronised him and thus been nabbed. Columbo’s scenes with the Franklin in this episode lay those foundations out.

In contrast, when Columbo is with relatives of the victim, with anyone who is actually in pain because of their loss, he is an entirely different character. Confident, assertive, comforting, concise and authoritative. When these characters ask him questions, he never equivocates, there’s never any ‘just one more thing.’ In the hands of a lesser actor, this juxtaposition of traits might have seemed false and unseat the whole character and show. With Peter Falk, that’s never even a question. He creates a Columbo that is whole and believable and is ruthless in his pursuit of the murderer.

I’m now up to the scene where  Columbo confronts Franklin. It is pure magic. Spielberg is switching between what looks like 40mm close-ups with 80mm long shots, the shots are tight and uncomfortable, the angles unsettling. Bocho’s dialogue changes rhythm, snappy and insistent where before it has been playfully-scampering fencing. Falk drops all the bumbling now, he’s  a bloodhound snapping at Cassidy’s heels until he brings him down. But he doesn’t gloat; Columbo never gloats. He always looks solemn and perhaps a little sad that he has to do this job at all, that humans can be so evil.

It is beautiful.

‘Columbo’ will always be my favourite detective. As much as I love Marple and Poirot, Morse and Lewis and every incarnation of Sherlock, there is something about Peter Falk’s rendering of Columbo that makes the detective seem more real, more human than any of those sleuths.

On Cultural Appropriation

I don’t fall into an intense rage when I see white girls wearing mehndi. Or, for that matter, when white people wear pyjamas, use the word ‘thug’ or the numeral for zero, Indian things that have been so absorbed into Western culture that their roots are forgotten.

As long as they’re not doing it in a racist, demeaning way, I also find it cute when white people dress up in Indian clothes, like the Beatles in their Nehru jackets. If a white woman goes through the effort of donning a sari, it’s a compliment and I take it as such.


(There always has to be a but, doesn’t there? Sorry!)

We can’t leave issues of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism un-addressed. Here’s an example:

When a white musician/band ~

  • Uses Indian instruments
  • Experiments with African rhythms
  • “discovers” gamelan
  • “discovers” K-pop
  • Then no-one bats an eyelid. Critics will probaby praise them for looking further than their own culture. They will be seen as innovative, challenging, embracing multiculturalism. Fair enough.

    Now wind back to the first White Town gigs I did. White people asked me:

  • Why are you playing indie music and not bhangra?
  • You’re with the band? Are you their manager/accountant?
  • Why don’t you have tablas?
  • Why aren’t you wearing a turban?
  • Do you see my point? Now, that was a long time ago but even now, being non-white in a lot of popular music cultures is to be in an eternal minority. To be in a band in one of those genres is to be ultimately exotic. I’m still, weekly, the only non-white person in the club or at the gig.

    White people can go where they want, take what they want, do what they want because they are heir to hundreds of years of colonialism, cultural imperialism and appropriation. There are no gatekeepers to their entry to any culture. There are even Nazi hip hop and reggae bands, such is the arrogance of white cultural appropriation.

    I believe in multiculturalism the way I believe in rain: because it is the truth of the world. We have always lived in a melting pot, ideas cannot be owned by any one ethnic group, they exist as memes in the original Dawkinsian sense of the term, spreading, mutating, evolving. Indian numerals were transported to the West by Arabian traders and scholars where they blossomed because they were more efficient than the clumsier alternatives. Mathematics doesn’t care about borders or the colour of a person’s skin (although mathematicians may do). African and European cultures met and collided in America to produce jazz, arguably the single greatest artistic innovation of the 20th century. Similarly, four white, German blokes in a band called Kraftwerk became the seminal influence in electronic music, including electro, hip hop and every other genre driven by electronic instruments.

    All that is beautiful, all that is why humanity makes me happy and hopeful.

    But when non-white people like me are told we can only act or speak or dress a certain way or we’re “acting white,” that’s where I see that neo-colonialism lives on in our culture today, never questioning white right to anything, anywhere but always, always trying to put the uppity natives back into our little huts where we belong.

    There was a recent post I saw on Tumblr which was basically laughing at a Korean rapper for no other reason than he was Korean. If he’d been doing exactly the same thing and been black or white American, no-one would have cared. The hilarity was specifically directed at his non-Koreanness. When I watched the video, I thought of the effort it must have taken this person to get where he is, the hours of practice, the love of hip hop and all he’ll see in his comments are jokes about his ethnicity.

    Even though I’ve grown up in England, my Indian-ness will always be questioned because I don’t make bhangra (which, by the way, originates a thousand miles away from my part of India). I’m old so I can brush this ignorance off but it makes me sad when I see younger people getting shit for not conforming to the neo-colonial coolie ideal.

    So, stick those bindis on, white girls (and boys, if you feel like it, hijra-style), flaunt those dreads, mangle those kanji in your tatts but please, please allow us the same freedom in return.

    No-one owns anything. It’s all out there for grabs.

    For everyone.

    The Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

    I’ve just got back from watching ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ in splendid IMAX 3D at Notts Cineworld and my brain is still buzzing, sorting through the plethora of ideas, references, jokes and downright weird bits in the film.


    Based on the mega-successful ‘All You Need Is Kill,’ ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ is many things: military SF, ‘Groundhog Day’ (and, to a lesser extent, ‘Source Code’), rollicking adventure yarn and very, very slow romance (there’s only one kiss in the whole thing). I’m going to try to tackle each part of it but first a brief synopsis.

    Tom Cruise plays William Cage (Keiji, geddit?), a PR man for the worldwide human military (the UDF, gonna love that in Northern Ireland!) in their battle against alien invaders, the Mimics. Through a series of quite bizarre events, he ends up outside of his comfort zone, taking part in what is meant to be the final offensive against a cornered and beaten aggressor. Instead, it turns out to be an ambush and he dies on the beach in the process of blowing up a boss Mimic called an Alpha.

    When he wakes up, the day has reset, Bill Murray style. But instead of the mundane minutiae of being trapped in a snowbound town in thrall to a fat rodent, he’s back at the start of his hellish day and gets killed again. And then again. Each time he dies on the beach, he resets. In one of the loops, he tries to save the life of Emily Blunt’s character, Rita Vrataski, who is a formidable warrior and literally the poster girl for the human resistance. Before she dies, she tells him to ‘come and find me when you wake up.’ Thus, we learn that she, too, used to be Groundhogging until… well, I’ll leave that for you to find out.

    I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say that they eventually vanquish the Big Bad Alien Mama Thingy. But that really isn’t the point of the film.

    All of the struggle to defeat the Mimics is incidental to the real core question of the film which is exactly what it was in Groundhog Day: what would you do? Would you hone your combat skills and attempt to save the world or would you eat loads of cakes and then become a master of ice sculpture? We’ve seen this all before. Yes, I know that saying that is more than a squint ironic but that’s the arena ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ inherits. You could simply view it as ‘Groundhog Day’ with shooting and aliens and you wouldn’t be far wrong. But you would leave out so much.

    ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ shines when it demonstrates horribly how many repeats Cage has been through by showing his progress from trembling coward to ruthlessly efficient soldier. In the course of this development, we’re given plenty of standard military SF tropes to grope: exoskeleton fighting suits, a squad of reprobates who eventually come good, the carnage of war with body parts flying all around and, handily, unquestionably evil aliens who it is A-OK to exterminate en masse. This is where the film feels most creaky and unadventurous: war itself is never questioned or challenged and I don’t feel the pre-story shows enough worldwide human tragedy to warrant that lack of inquiry. Still, Cruise handles the progression in character with aplomb, playing Cage as genuinely a bit slimy and manipulative at the start before hundreds of deaths imbue his soul with more weight.

    Blunt is perfect as Vrataski: she is hard as fucking nails but not some cigar-chomping FEMALE SOLDIER YESSIR! stereotype that we’ve seen in so many SF films. She is a soldier but she is human and Blunt brings all that through with a the deftness of an expert magician. I didn’t notice she was doing things to inform her character, I just noticed that my idea of Vrataski changed. Perfect sleight-of-actor’s-hand.

    I loved that although Cage seems to be attracted to Vrataski from the start, the film doesn’t degenerate into love in the trenches drokk. The romantic side is played so well and so sparsely that I thought it was kind of spoiled by the eventual face-mashing. I don’t think the film needed the kiss, I think Hollywood did. Would it hurt soo much to have a het female and male just be comrades in a film and nothing more?

    What makes ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ such a good film is not where it ticks the boxes of a big-budget Hollywood action film but in its margins where it does little things that bring it to life. You know, exactly the opposite of any Michael Bay film. Whether it’s the English bloke who likes to go into battle balls-out (yes, literally) or Bill Paxton’s extraordinary turn as the irascible and didactic Master Sergeant Farell, ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ is replete with nuances and references. And that’s on first viewing, I know when I see it again, I’ll spot more. There are so many puzzling little touches, one being Vrataski’s battle sword. I know this was a feature in the original novel but in the film, it’s looks to me very much like a helicopter blade. So, when a helicopter turns up later on… You see what I mean? The film is constantly teasing you and forcing you to try to solve the mystery of it in the way that standard screen military SF never does.

    Add to that a cast that is faultless. Every single actor, no matter how small their role (hello Astrid from The Tomorrow People!) weaves a part of the coherent, solid whole. Yes, it’s largely a tag team with Blunt and Cruise but without Paxton, Gleeson et al, the world wouldn’t have been both so real and therefore so disturbing. Props also to Noah Taylor who has never turned in a bad performance in his entire career.

    So, ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ is all I said it was: military SF with a ‘Groundhog Day’ twist and a faint sprinkle of romance. But it is more than that description encapsulates. It’s an action film with real heart where you actually give a shit about the lives of the characters, even as you know you’re going to see them die horribly multiple times. And it’s a popcorn film that will leave you musing about your own reality, life and choices hours after seeing it.