Monday, 31 May 2010

Media misgivings, Radio Two and Sonisphere

I would like to start this post off by saying that my thoughts are with the families, friends & band mates of Ronnie James Dio and Paul Gray. I’m happy to say I’ve seen both of them performing live, but the news they have both died is bad news. I am very sad to start a blog with that. I really wanted to just talk about a couple of things that have been on my mind as of late. They aren’t deep in anyway, but what is a blog but a communication of all thoughts – complex or otherwise.

I woke Friday morning in severe pain. My left shoulder (which has given me previous grief but nothing too nasty) felt like it had been stabbed. I don’t care for injuries (if indeed they can be called that) when they occur when I am sleeping. However, short of dosing myself up on ibuprofen, there was very little I could do about it at that time. I decided I would switch on my laptop so I could access a social network to bitch about my shoulder (I could have done this on my phone, but whatever). When doing this, my laptop greeted me with the delightful message “Cannot Find Operating System”. Ever get the feeling you are going to have one of those days? (On a side note: the day actually ended up with me being drunk in a casino, having free-rolled my drinks, so it wasn’t all bad!) The casino was fun. I’m not close to being experienced in a casino, but I roughly know what I’m doing on a few games. People were watching me on a roulette table and I overheard more than once “he knows what he’s doing!” – I don’t! It’s like the lottery, its lucky dip

Anyway, my laptop is working again. I restored my laptop back to factory settings. However in a cruel twist, it gave me the chance to save my files and snatched it away by declaring it needed to format the HD. So I lost everything. This means it is unlikely there will be another episode of RRP. It could happen, but I don’t have anything I had before. No sounds, no theme etc. I could sit and rip it from another show but I’m not entirely sure I can be bothered. I’m in the slow process of rebuilding my iTunes library. Ripped about 80cds to my HDD and saved about 10gig from my old external HDD (the one I had for a whole 3 months before dropping it, rendering it almost useless). I have committed myself to buying a new external HDD. I’ve seen one I have my eye on from novatech, but might be tempted to spend a little more at PC World for a external HD I really don’t need. We shall see. Restoring my iTunes library to even a percentage of its former greatness is not so much of a requirement as it might have been six months ago perhaps due to Spotify. I’m fully in love with that program. I’m close to fully converting. I literally want physical MP3s (that a thing?) so I can have music on my iPhone. Will need to upgrade to Spotify pro one day soon I feel. It’s such a good program. I’ve discovered so much music I’ve not listened to before, or not listened to for ages. Also stuff I’ve heard on the radio and thought “this is really good!”

Speaking of radio....there is a little portable radio in the room where I work. I was told on my first day I was entitled to put whatever station I wanted on there, as it was my room. Having experimented with Wave FM (urgh) and The Coast FM (which music wise was fine, but the DJs need to hire a new joke writer). Having spent all of 30mins on The Quay, I decided I should try a BBC station. I’ve listened on/off to Jeremy Vine’s show on BBC R2, and at the time of this decision, he was due on in an hour so I decided to try BBC R2. I have fully converted to being a Radio 2 listener. The Chris Evans show in the morning is pretty funny. The Ken Bruce is also quite entertaining (it also has Popmaster which is always good). Anyway, I could review all the shows in-depth but I won’t. One major issue I have with all these stations, but Radio 2 in particular is the fact different DJs play the same song. New songs from Keane, Rick Astley, Boyzone & Train were all on constant repeat (it felt like). These songs are good, don’t get me wrong, but mix it up a little! I don’t want a situation where I actively dislike these songs because they have been overplayed. On the whole though, my opinion of Radio 2 has vastly improved.

Since my last post to this website (which admittedly was three weeks ago now), the government issue has been resolved. We no longer have a hung parliament and we have a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government. That in itself is interesting as these two parties seemed polar opposites. For me this was quite a good arrangement because there were a few policies in the Lib Dem 2010 manifesto that appealed to me, but on the whole I’m a Conservative. One of the Lib Dem policies that appealed to me was the increase in the tax-free threshold to £10000. Considering the amount I earn, that would mean I’d have a significant amount more to my name each year if this policy came in. The Con/Lib govt are proposing to do what they can to enable this. That makes me very happy. At the moment though not a great deal has changed other than the £6b cuts that have been announced. Nothing really affects me so I’m on board with it. In fact a recent conversation I had with someone went a little like this:

“Oh, the Conservatives are cutting University places! Isn’t that terrible?!”
“ I’ve already graduated”

Selfish yes, but that is my mindset on a lot of the proposals from this government thus far, which is what I like. Already seems to be an improvement from the last government that were doing things that would affect me, which I didn’t like. Oh well, sure that little fact will change soon, but until it does I’m going to enjoy it. One thing which is coming up at BBC Question Time and various other mediums where there is political debate is that Labour & Lib Dems together had a higher vote share than the Conservatives did and therefore, it made more sense for them to be the coalition government. Which may be true but there are two things which strike me about that:

• Labour + Lib Dems didn’t get enough seats for an overall majority. So that takes away from the logic of that argument; and

• The Conservatives and Lib Dems got way more seats and votes than Labour.

So basically, that argument is bust. Stop peddling it Labour voters (and Alistair Campbell), you lost. Accept that gracefully and focus on choosing a new leader (FYI, I hope they choose Ed Balls. That would be the Labour Iain Duncan Smith).

One thing which is hard to ignore about this change (seems odd talking about political change and not talking about Obama) is that the media, who appeared (at least) to be petrified at the very idea of a hung parliament. When the negotiations were going on, the papers urged for a positive but speedy conclusion. In fact, for once, the Daily Star seemed to sum up the national mood with their headline “sort it out you clowns!” I found myself getting anxious about the hung parliament as well. I honestly thought that we’d head back to the polls before long and have another go at voting for a ruling party (I actually still think we will within a year but who knows). Anyway, the media. They seemed to be panicking about the hung parliament and what that would mean for the country (the pound would plunge, interest rates would sky rocket and tea bags would become more expensive than whiskey – might have made that last one up, but they were worried). Now, we have a stable govt for now. The two parties that form the coalition seem to be getting on famously and are committed to solving the problems we have in this country which is nice to see. But the media can’t stand it. The same media which urged the people of Britain to support the parties they did, and urged for a coalition to be formed so we didn’t have to deal with the real nightmare of a hung parliament and all the terrors that would bring are now trying to tear the coalition apart. Almost every day, one of the papers is talking about clashes between Cameron & Clegg regarding policy on the economy, on Europe, on defence etc. The papers can’t seem to realise that these two guys are from different partiers at times. I really enjoyed the Have I Got News For You episodes since the coalition, particularly one with Chris Addison and a journalist (if that term applies) for the Daily Express (sorry but their repeated badgering about Diana and immigrants makes me not like them – if Diana was caught screwing with an immigrant, the paper would have imploded). She actually said something to the effect of “I don’t see it working, they are from different parties” to which Chris Addison retorted with “you journalists are really quite thick. That is the point of a coalition. If they were in the same party it would be a majority government. Why can’t the media see this?!” Really liked him during this show.

Just recently in the last couple of days, the first scandal has come out relating to one of the Lib Dem ministers of this new coalition govt. When the expenses scandal broke, David Laws wasn’t considered to be doing anything wrong because he was claiming expenses for where he was living. It’s since been revealed the “landlord” he was giving the money to was his partner. Unfortunately for him, and I do mean that because it seemed he’d make a good Chief Secretary, his explanation was weak and he had to go. I respect him more for resigning fairly quickly after the deal broke. The media however talked about “a crisis for the coalition” (Sky News); “the coalition is rocked” (one of the papers, I forget which) etc. Now, his replacement is Danny Alexander (another Lib Dem). He’s been in the job one day, and already the media are round circling him like vultures saying he avoided paying capital gains tax on a second property. Now this is nowhere near as severe in my eyes as the issue with David Laws. People who can afford accountants find ways of avoiding tax all the time! This is quite a long winded way of asking this question I am aware but why the hell are the media, who were so scared of a hung parliament trying to split the coalition and get us back to the state of affairs they were so scared of originally?

Anyway, on slightly less serious matters. As the days trickle on, the excitement about summer is increasing. In just over a week, the first significant event of summer occurs (the free RATM gig @ Finsbury Park) which now the tickets have arrived fills me with joy. The weekend after that is the first time seeing Bill Bailey in a tiny room! (Apparently this room is the same size as the Wedgewood Rooms). There are other things as well, not forgetting Sonisphere. It is looking like, so far, to be an awesome summer. Sonisphere just looks amazing now. The day splits have been announced and it looks like I’m going to be moving between all the stages a lot. Want to see 30 bands over the course of the weekend. Don’t see the stage times being overly nice to me, but if I can see most of them, the festival could well take the place of Wacken as the favourite festival I’ve been to. If I see 30 bands, that works out at £5ish per band. Great value for money.

Don’t know when I’ll have enough to talk about to justify another blog but until then, you stay classy