A man I’m privileged to say I knew…

Trotty's blog

Saddened to hear of the recent passing of one of the country’s great eccentrics, namely Fang. Yes, Fang – nothing else, no Mr, no surname, no christian name, just Fang, as it says in his passport. He changed his name by deed poll to the single word ‘Fang’. A friend and colleague, James Millar, attended his funeral today, and was surprised to see my portrait of him on the order or service, not realising the connection at first, but then remembering he had seen the photograph hanging in my house. I only knew of Fang’s passing, thanks to a text from him.

I met Fang 20 years ago when he signed up to a character model agency I was working with at the time, shooting head shots for their catalogue. As soon as I saw him, I knew I had to arrange a shoot. Long hair and long grey beard, he…

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Pukes in the park.


I’m starting to get reasonably comfortable with my camera. I’m at a stage where if something doesn’t work I can make little adjustments without a huge amount of thought….Don’t get me wrong, I still have to think about it but it does not take so long.

I’m happy taking portraits in natural light, comfortable with the little knowledge I have with regards to flash and lighting modifiers. Night photography, candid street photography………you get the idea… I’m getting comfortable and have some confidence in what I’m doing.

However, on Sunday I think I took some of my worst images ever! ‘London Parks’ is one of my City & Guilds homework projects but the wind was such that I was never going to get any outstanding landscapes; the good news was that The Pukes (A ukulele punk band) were filming a music video for their new single.

It was cold but they…

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The Pukes – Too drunk to pluck

Musings on music, books and life

The pukes
Too drunk to pluck
hoo ha records


By now you’ve probably heard about the movable feast that is the pukes. Movable in that they can range from 12 to 30 members on any one night depending on who has brought the ukeleles. They mainly do covers of classic punk songs and live they are a sight to behold. This really is punk rock, a group of people up on stage doing what they want and being inclusive.

They have been touring around for a few years now and have finally released their debut album. We have 12 songs with covers of songs by the likes of Dead Kennedys, ramones, The business and wire. There is a drum and bass beat providing the rhythm but the rest are all ukeleles and vocals so it’s not the agressive in your face sound we associate with such songs. The fact that…

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Mrs Thatcher’s Legacy – My tuppenn’orth

Mrs Thatcher’s death renders conflicting emotions. Russell Brand’s picture of a frail Alzheimer’s victim pathetically tending roses in a Temple courtyard to whom one’s heart goes out Remembering Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Unmaternal National Matriarch contrasting so dramatically with the Iron Lady of political legend.
On balance however, I’d argue her legacy has been a disatrous one for the UK, and, ironically, one that will end in the destruction of all that she herself believed herself to be her achievments. As Piers Storey has reminded us, even Norman Tebbitt thinks the Tories went too far in their pursuit of the NUM (quoted in Francis Beckett and David Hencke, Marching to the Fault Line. The Miners’ Strike and the Battle for Industrial Britain (Constable, 2009), pp. 261-262.). To those who say, “she broke the power of the unions”, I’d ask, “Yes, but to what end? And at what cost?” – breaking the power of the unions was acheived by engineering a massive recession between 1979 and 1981, one that took a full eight years to recover from, in terms of GNP; and which arguably, we’ve never recovered from, in terms of employment.
Indeed Michał Kalecki predicted as far back as 1943 (The political consequences of full employment, Political Quarterly 14:4 reproduced at http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/kalecki220510.html), that full employment would eventually lead to employers deciding unions had too much power, and that they would finally find an economist (step forward Milton Friedman), who would declare on their behalf that the current ‘situation was manifestly unsound’ :
In this situation [full employment] a powerful alliance is likely to be formed between big business and rentier interests, and they would probably find more than one economist to declare that the situation was manifestly unsound. The pressure of all these forces, and in particular of big business – as a rule influential in government departments – would most probably induce the government to return to the orthodox policy of cutting down the budget deficit. A slump would follow in which government spending policy would again come into its own. (Kalecki, 1943)
The return of mass unemployment returned fear into the lives of working people: fear of unemployment, of poverty, of old age – to say nothing of the isolation engendered by the destruction of community “there is no such thing as society”. It also, long-term, wrecked the British economy; & nowhere is that more evident than in the fall-out from the credit crunch of 2009 – the realisation that UK plc has nothing to sell to the rest of the world other than financial services and tourism (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/4929712/Gordon-Brown-advisor-says-City-all-important-and-rest-of-the-country-can-be-turned-over-to-tourism.html). The fact that this brutal truth gets hammered home under a Labour administration is neither here nor there – it’s just one of the grim ironies of history.
But the final irony? The fact that the political success in breaking the power of the unions is leading inexorably to the breakup of the UK itself (as the son of a Welsh father and an Irish mother, I take no pleasure in this, btw, I’d hate to have to be forced to have my nationality reduced from ‘British’ to anything less). But the fact of the matter is that Mrs Thatcher forced through her recession with the support of only around 4 in 10 of the population, nearly all concentrated in SE England (winning share of Conservative vote in 1979 44%; 1983, 40%; 1987, 40%). By her third term in office there was maybe only one Conservative MP left in either Scotland or Wales (there were certainly none during the Major years). The rise of the SNP and Plaid Cymru were the inevitable consequence. Mrs Thatcher’s little England mentality will in the end indeed result in the creation of a little England, instead of the great Britain she so devoutly wished for.

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If you must know one thing about Abilene, KS, know this: it is the home of the International Greyhound Hall of Fame!

People of Lewisham's Ukulele Club

PLUC favourite, Abilene, written by Bob Gibson and John D Loudermilk, makes some strong claims in its lyrics. We ask: what’s the story behind the town in the song & do these bold statements hold up to closer scrutiny?

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