More for filing …


Young reporter Morwenna Ferrier had fun postulating The End Of The Hipster (meaning, apparently, young men wearing flat caps and beards in East London) for Observer 22.6.14 …


I especially liked the captions to pictures of hipster accessories:

For a heavily tattooed arm, handling a roll-up ciggie: “Never been to sea, or jail, but I want you to know I don’t work in an office for the Man.”

For a man bag: “Contains biography of a Japanese rockabilly band. Nothing else.”

For a double-filtered flat white coffee: “Because single-filtering is for people who like Jim Davidson.”

Whole thing made me smile but had gathered 700 online comments by the end of the day, many of them hostile.



Nice angle on the World Cup in the same Observer, 22.6.14: David Goldblatt on the history lessons written in the faces of the teams and their supporters …



The ethnic makeups of the 32 squads at the World Cup reflect the sedimentary layers of global migration over the last 500 years. The European colonial destruction of indigenous Americans gives us the almost wholly European squads of Chile, Argentina and Mexico; Australia can be considered an Oceanic version of this.

In much of the hemisphere conquest was followed by massive importation of African slave labour, which accounts for the African-European mix of Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Uruguay and the United States; though in the case of America, Latinos constitute an ethnic category of their own. Across the continent football remains a zone of social mobility for poor and immigrant youth. In the case of Ecuador, African-Ecuadorians make up just 6% of the population but almost the entire squad.

The same logic has been at work in western Europe, where squads have been shaped by two waves of more recent movements. During the migrations that accompanied decolonisation and the long postwar boom England acquired an African-Caribbean community; Germany, Turkish gastarbeiters; France began to absorb francophone Africans; the Congolese made for Belgium; and the Surinamese for the Netherlands …

In the last two decades new flows of refugees and economic migrants into Europe have made their footballing mark: Italy’s first black international Mario Balotelli; a Swiss side that is almost two-thirds of migrant descent; players of African-German and African-Spanish roots. By contrast, the teams from farther east – Bosnia, Croatia, Russia and Greece – though they have their own internal ethnic complexities – are white.

The same logic has been at work in western Europe, where squads have been shaped by two waves of more recent movements. During the migrations that accompanied decolonisation and the long postwar boom England acquired an African-Caribbean community; Germany, Turkish gastarbeiters; France began to absorb francophone Africans; the Congolese made for Belgium; and the Surinamese for the Netherlands …

The most ethnically homogenous squads in the competition are Japan and South Korea, both of which have small immigrant populations. However, in the stands, there is plenty of evidence of their own migrant communities – Japanese Brazilians who left for São Paulo’s coffee plantations in the late 19th century and Korean-Americans. These diaspora communities, who remain in emotional and practical dialogue with their country of origin, are best represented by Iran and Algeria. Coach Carlos Queiroz has called on Iranians born in Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany. Sixteen members of the Algerian squad were born in France but opted for north Africa.

Whatever they might represent, professional footballers are hardly struggling migrants themselves. They are part of a high-skill, high-pay global labour market. The four west African teams – Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast – have just six of their 92 players at domestic clubs and four of those are goalkeepers.

Citizenship is negotiable. Croatia and Spain have acquired Brazilians Eduardo and Diego Costa respectively. Only the English and the Russians, neither terribly successful football migrants, play overwhelmingly at home in their rich domestic leagues.

Given that the playing fields of the 2014 World Cup provide such a brilliant picture of the ethnic diversity and complexity of the world, it is not clear that the same can be said of the crowds or the coaching staff … None of the travelling bands of fans seem to share the ethnic diversity of their teams

* David Goldblatt is the author of The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Football (Penguin)



Michael Henderson in Sun. Tel. 22.6.14 reported on a BBC party at which DG Tony Hall made a speech on the plans for music programming.

Henderson wrote:

… there is one vast hole at the heart of the new dispensation. There was not a single reference in Hall’s manifesto to a musical form that has probably given more innocent pleasure to more people than any other since Orpheus strummed his lyre. It is called the American popular song, not to be confused with the pop song, which Radio 2 will be honouring.

There will be a three-part television series about the music of the American South, presented by one of those comedians that programme-makers deem to be such important figures. But, marvellous though much of that music is, it does not correspond to anybody’s idea of the Great American Songbook, which was composed, mainly by Jews, on the island of Manhattan between 1927, when Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein wrote Showboat, and 1959, when Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim collaborated on Gypsy.

Showboat began it all because it was the first classic musical, composed by the man, Kern, who did more than anybody to create an authentically American form based on memorable melodies and, with Hammerstein’s words, demotic language. Irving Berlin preceded him; George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers came afterwards. But Kern’s fingerprints are all over the autograph score of the Great American Songbook.

When Gypsy came along 30 years later, the show was a tribute to everything that had happened in between. Literally, in Sondheim’s case, because he learnt about the tradition at the knee of Hammerstein from his teenage years. There have been great musicals since then, but Gypsy occupies a special place in the history of musical theatre. For many people, immersed in that theatre, it is the greatest stage musical of all.

This is the tradition the BBC is ignoring. It is commendable for schoolchildren to learn about Mozart and Bach if they are to enjoy the emotional richness that great music can bring to life. But it would be no bad thing also to introduce them to the classic American songs.

Full article at




Once again, the papers and the politicians are incredulous that bright young Muslim men should be finding their way to troublespots to fight the jihad in one of its various forms.

A hunt is on for the “terrorist masterminds” who somehow brainwashed British kids and we can expect more money to be wasted on futile efforts to counter their propaganda by showing videos about “British values” – as opposed to looking after the British and letting them look after their values themselves.

It is surely not hard to understand the appeal of jihad if you happen to be already half-qualified to take part.

Martin Amis summed it up nicely in 2006, writing about one of the Twin Towers kamikaze pilots …

Muhammad Atta was not religious; he was not even especially political. He had allied himself with the militants because jihad was, by many magnitudes, the most charismatic idea of his generation. To unite ferocity and rectitude in a single word: nothing could compete with that.

The various militias of the Middle East offer a romantic cause, a dramatic uniform, an outside chance of glory in this world and the firm alternative promise of consolation in the next. No wonder the kids want to go. Oliver Cromwell got the same sort of excitement going in this country, once, although it didn’t last for long, thanks to the good old British values of cynicism, irreverence and distrust of the officer classes.

Somewhere last week, somebody published a letter home from a young Brit to his mates. Jihad was a blast, he said. They killed a sheep every time you were hungry and their camps were followed by strings of girls wanting to get pregnant by a hero. It must have been like it at Waterloo. But lately, our teenagers have learned of more comfortable ways to get glory and girls – as a drummer or a singer or a tv soap star.

Today’s papers are full of spine-tingling pictures of the Mahdi Army re-forming, in Iraq, to fight the opposing view of God’s will represented by ISIS and co. Don’t you wish we could look half as fearsome? If we want to keep our young hotbloods at home, we need something like it for them to join, including a uniform based on headbands and grenade vests. The Govista for British Values Everywhere? The Milibandi for No More Nonsense? The idea still needs some work, I admit.



It is unfair of New Labour to complain about the way Ed Miliband comes over to the voters when his basic problem is that he represents them a bit too accurately. He is what they are, but he does not look quite as cool as they expected.

I thought he was onto something this last week when he proposed withdrawal of dole from under-21s who are not in a job and won’t do any training. The working classes are crying out for a party which understands them well enough to be hard when necessary. The Labour Party has been losing votes for years by being too pathetically kindly all round, with your money and mine (while meanwhile selling yer actual workers down the river).

The more Mr Miliband can sound like Stalin, the better he will do. But his tough-love idea will fail because, for one thing, he will never be allowed to make it tough enough. The training will consist of watching videos rather than breaking rocks.

And anyway, more training is just another way of avoiding the real issue, like Tony Blair did when he tried to get everybody to go to university. The Old Labour constituency wants hard jobs which thick 16-year-olds can do – and will have to do if they do not work hard enough to get better.

Labour will not get the working-class vote back until it starts talking about jobs again, as opposed to paternity leave. And it cannot do much about jobs without opting out of all the free trade agreements, within Europe and worldwide, which Blair and Mandelson thought would make us all rich without pain.



I cannot quite believe what I am reading about the need to stop the banks overheating the housing market.

If I understood it correctly, our last plunge into a bucket of shit was caused by bankers lending too much mortgage money to people who were likely to become unable to pay it back and then treating the loans as rock-solid securities against which they could borrow more themselves.

Surely, after escaping mass lynchings by a whisker, they can be relied on not to do exactly the same thing all over again? And if they cannot, why did we bother saving their sorry asses?



I want to file this advice, and you might find it useful too, from Rick Maybury in Teleg 21.6.14, on taking Windows 8, when we have to have it, back to a more trad interface …

… there are a couple of ways to get it to look and behave like previous versions of Windows and open with the familiar desktop and Start menu. You can achieve a semblance of normality by tinkering with display settings and making changes to the Registry but the easiest method it to install a utility that does all the hard work for you. The two most popular ones are Classic Shell, free from here, and Stardock’ Start8 here. Classic Shell does a good job but it only goes part of the way to taming W8. Start8 goes much further and it is easy to set up and use. It costs $4.99 (around £3.00), though you can try it free for 30 days. For most W8 users that will be money well spent, and a lot less disruptive than reinstalling an older version of Windows.

Full article at




Also useful, Daniel Tomlinson in Observer 22.6.14, answering the question …

What is the most future-forward way of storing and playing my music collection? I have well over 1,000 CDs, and in the last few years have purchased lots of songs via iTunes.

Tomlinson replied:

The simplest way to store your current music collection would be to rip the CDs to an external hard drive as a longer term backup, and to act as a local copy if you wish to add songs manually to your devices. You could also store a copy in a NAS (Network-Attached-Storage) like a Synology or Drobo to play the files around your home.

To stream your music from anywhere, you could upload up to 20,000 songs to Google Play Music, and then play back from any browser, iOS or Android device for free.

Alternatively, with iTunes Match you can get iTunes quality copies of up to 25,000 songs that will be available on all your Apple devices or Windows PCs (through iTunes), including the Apple TV, both locally and by simply streaming. These files can then also be played over AirPlay to any speakers using either built-in software or the AirPort Express for anything with a 3.5mm audio jack, as well as via iTunes Home Sharing to local Apple devices or to Windows (via iTunes).

Depending on the range of your library, you may be able to find everything on a streaming service like Spotify or Rdio (in my experience Spotify seems to have a wider range of music), and after ripping your CDs for the sake of longer term backup, move to using one of these services for your daily consumption of media.

Using a mix of the above is likely the best way to go, and I’d definitely make at least one hard drive backup, there’s no guarantee that the cloud service you sign up to today will exist in a few years’ time and you don’t want to lose your collection.




Harriet Lane, celebrating the wisdom of being over-40 in Stella Mag, Teleg 22.6.14, wrote about learning to love celery and said:

The holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery (you can call this mirepoix or soffritto if you must) adds intoxicating depth of flavour to pretty much anything you may wish to rustle up. Except, obviously, trifle.


For savoy cabbage, Bee Wilson, Stella Mag with Sun Tel 14.3.13, recommended Darina Allen’s technique in Irish Traditional Cooking …

Bring a couple of tablespoons of water to the boil with the same quantity of butter and a pinch of salt, then cook the shredded savoy – lid on – for just a couple of minutes. When you lift the lid, the cabbage is as green as Irish moss and impregnated with salty butter.”


Teleg of 15.3.14 summed up a report in Food Research International: “The perfect steak is cooked to medium-rare, on a griddle at 325F (160c), turned every 30 seconds for three minutes and then flipped each minute, if required, until it reaches an internal temperature of 150F (65c), scientists have concluded” …. quoting University of Campinas, Brazil.


Vivienne Westwood’s salad dressing:

Garlic, oil, lemon, a bit of sugar and bouillon powder.



In search of classic rockabilly from Lefty Nicks and his Southern Drifters, I am intrigued by Screaming Dead Radio …


In Guardian of 1.5.14, Dave Simpson was inclined to agree with a famous review of Spiderland, recorded by a then-teenage band called Slint in 1969, which called it “the album that re-invented rock”.

Doubt I’m going to agree but it’s an interesting proposition and you can check out lots of links to back it up at


In Observer 22.6.14, Kitty Empire wrote:

Thirty one years ago, a midwestern acoustic punk trio released their self-titled debut album. It has gone on to become a cult classic of teenage alienation …

Violent Femmes is still an undersung masterpiece. Anyone who discovers it acquires not only a complex fellow-traveller in singer-guitarist Gordon Gano (who tonight also plays banjo and violin), but a punk band acting as a gateway drug to gospel, country, jazz and experimental music …

If Brian Wilson was the bard of the suburban teenager of the west coast 60s, pastor’s son Gano can make some claim to being his maladjusted Milwaukeean 80s brother, sneering out his tales of lust and self-medication with an unerring ear for melody.

Also interested in Miranda Lambert – Nashville with a twist.

Starter point …



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