Friday, November 28, 2014

Political slot

Some thoughts. Many in politics and the media would seek to highlight our differences and capitalise on some of our lowest instincts, in order to deflect attention from inequity caused by those at the top. "Look at those people, they get a couple of pounds more in benefits than you get in your minimum wage job! It's so unfair!" The demand is to strip people, who are also down the bottom end, of their benefits, instead of forcing the bosses to pay a higher wage. If it's not people on benefits causing ire, it's fellow workers. "Look at those immigrants, coming over here, sweeping our streets, making our sandwiches...". If people in the UK don't want to do jobs like sandwich-making for pittance pay, and people from Hungary are happy to do those jobs because the pay is relatively good for them, perhaps the government should step in and cajole business owners into making working conditions better so that they can attract local workers? Ah, but they don't want to do that, because of the free market orthodoxy. Well if British firms like Greencore can't provide living wage jobs making sandwiches, come up with some other areas where decent jobs can be created. Like the medical profession. "I can't see my GP because of all these foreigners". Not quite - you can't see your GP because infrastructure in your area is lacking, and/or doctors don't want to practice in your area. Can you force people to train as doctors, and then to use that training in your local area? I didn't want to be on the medical front line, these are hard jobs requiring a good analytical brain and faith in one's decision-making abilities. Of course there aren't enough doctors. There aren't enough of most good things. "I can't get a council house because of all these foreigners". No - there are more single-person households nowadays, more luxury flats aimed at the wealthy (while these companies have no incentive to create affordable housing, because of the free market orthodoxy), and less council house stock across the country because the Tories encouraged people to buy their council houses, and many councils don't want to look after their remaining stock. Pointless to blame the people trying to get a house. Blame the people who ensured there wouldn't be enough houses left to go around.

It seems so obvious that the sensible answer to most people's concerns is to devolve more decisions to the local level, acting on concerns of infrastructure, overcrowding, encouraging the building of enough GP surgeries, hospitals, schools, council houses, fire stations, all the things we consider necessary for a well-functioning society. Not focusing on pulling up the drawbridge. Ensuring that locally there are enough nurses, enough consultants, enough teachers, enough police, enough social workers. Encouraging interest in medicine, advocacy, ethical jobs from a young age; making it attractive to join these professions.

You want more UK-based jobs to replace all the factory ones that have been outsourced? Stop importing energy. Put more money into British renewable energy, kick-start the economy and ensure energy security at the same time. Our governments seem determined to erode energy security, and to make anything that's nationalised pay over the odds.

A Labour politician on Channel 4 News recently tried to justify the Labour-encouraged glut of PFI contracts that led to hospitals and schools being saddled with far higher long-term bills than if they'd just paid for the work upfront themselves. (The private partners walk away with all of the profits and none of the risk.) His comeback? "Well, you ask those patients who've been treated in PFI hospitals whether they're happy those hospitals exist". And nothing more. For crying out loud - if not for PFI, many more hospitals would exist, would be in good shape, well-equipped without crippling debts, and the only losers would have been the private companies.

Most people who claim to be for a free market don't actually believe in it. What they want is a rigged market, ensuring public loses out to private, the risks are cushioned by those at the bottom, and the profits stay at the top. This is profoundly unfair. I don't believe in the free market either; but I'd love to see a fair market.

Friday, November 21, 2014

It was twenty years ago today

Wednesday 21st November 1994 saw the birth of Keshco, in a grubby music room in a windy East Anglian town. Here's Robert:

"Never afraid to try things out. Never a dull moment involving tiny synths, lettuce sandwiches, radio sessions, busking by the Thames, sweetcorn, jamming fast on behalf of Scope at the Virgin London Triathlon 2013, exceedingly daft costumes, bad venues, bad head colds, far too much glitter, 2 near death experiences, and a very short tour by Megabus! "Was it all worth?" Bloody hell.. "Yes, It was a worthwhile experience!" Like the FB page today! We've most definitely paid our taxes!"
It's fair to say at the time it started, we had no idea we'd still be cavorting about under the same name in 2014, partially because if we had we'd have chosen something a little less obtuse and easily mistyped. (Bargain Bag was, I think, an alternative.) Also at that time, we had no idea about the vending machine repair, the life skills coaching, the tractor parts, the Irish connection, or even the fitness gear. It certainly is a very open-ended name. But it looks nice when drawn, so that helps; also when hollered with the emphasis on "Cohhhhh".

Official Bob Art Models logo for the 20th anniversary

A very happy anniversary to Keshcologists one and all. Firecracker gumdrops all round. Come and join us via your screen of choice, on our Ustream channel this Sunday night, from 9pm UK-time:

Meanwhile, our next project is Volume 1 of our instrumental Film-maker's Reference Kit, providing time-starved and cash-poor editors the world over with fresh beats, tunes, idents, and backing pads; and also soundtracks to your own personal movies. Filthy. It's midway through trimming now, so expect that out in good time for Christmas.

Other things you can buy for Christmas: autobiographies by Stephen Fry (which Amazon reviews have dissuaded me from hunting down just yet), John Cleese (which Amazon reviews have cooled me from immediately pursuing), Paul Merton (which in the US is called "The Long And Short Of It" - "Only When I Laugh" doesn't resonate there?); diaries by Michael Palin (I'm looking for a replacement travel bag in the Palin style, ideally one that won't chafe my tender neck, though that might as much be a fault of over-packing my current threadbare Kickers bag, as bad design); musings by Dave Gorman (feeding OCD for over a decade); the first series of Bridget Christie Minds The Gap (just say no to patriarchal snacks).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Live from London, to your screen of choice

Concert-watchers may be interested to hear that the next Keshco performance is on Sunday 23rd November, from 9pm UK-time, to be streamed via our Ustream channel:

I have noticed a quirk of Ustream, in that laptop/desktop viewers will have their streams periodically interrupted by annoying adverts. However, if you tune in using your mobile, you can watch ad-free. The same is true if you use the app on your Smart TV, e.g. one of the Panasonic Viera range.

If you have any requests for favourite tunes, let us know in the comments.

Meanwhile, deserving of further mention is this clip on Vimeo of the HK protests, backed by "Like Home":

Umbrella HK @Causeway Bay 1.Oct.2014 from Laurence Tong on Vimeo.