#21 It Really Is Only Rock ‘N’ Roll
Of all the sentences I never thought I’d type this one has to be up there.
Keith Richards is seventy years old today.
I mean, let’s be honest, he looks every day of it, and an uphill paper round on top. There are microclimates in the wrinkles on his face, and you dread to think of the cocktail of substances a hair test would throw up. But there he is; a defiant fuck you to all the people who advocate kale and self-righteousness as the only way to live to a ripe old age, the living middle finger to the Just Say No campaign.
He’s descended into every abyss of excess, from sleep deprivation (nine days awake reputedly) to heroin, with every stop in between, and emerged as a walking talking history lesson in popular music. As each decade unfolds acts emerge who can trace their origins back to his ridiculously catchy Chuck Berry inspired riffs, making the Stones the only band that can match The Beatles for influence over so many for so long.
Due to Mick Jagger and his love of a pound note their shows are probably overpriced, and until recently I’ve resisted their lure for this reason along with a belief that watching a band old enough for bus passes would be, well, a bit tragic really. That was until I watched (admittedly belatedly) the superb Scorcese tribute Shine A Light. The way they strut out on this 2008 masterpiece of rock documentary filmmaking and smash their way through a tight, energetic, and most importantly hit laden set is a revelation to anyone who judges their entertainment by looking at a birth certificate. (Mind you, their set needs to hang on old material as for about the last twenty years their studio output has consisted of a bulletproof hit single, some filler, and some absolute cobblers only there to give someone other than Mick the spotlight for once). Next time they come round I’ll be there. It may be hideously unfashionable, but there really is no show like it.
Plus it’ll be great to be able to marvel at Keef. If the apocalypse ever comes it will be him, cockroaches, and Shola Ameobi coming back from injury. It’s something to be cherished; he’s defying the laws of chemistry, physics, and all that’s holy.
So the Mark Duggan verdict hoves into view. here’s what’s going to happen.
All the people who thought he was an innocent little lamb who was minding his own business when the nasty coppers stopped the minicab he was in and shot him to fuck for no good reason will line up on one side. All the people who laughed at the fact he was a 29 year old gangster who frankly should’ve grown out of it by then and tried to front the Old Bill and came unstuck will line up on the other side.
The verdict will be handed down.
One side will agree with it and express their satisfaction through various media outlets. The other side will disagree and let everyone know. Depending on the verdict this unhappiness will either result in fevered calls to phone in stations about how the police can’t do their job and stop and search should be extended not curtailed and PACE abolished, or threats to burn stuff and rob Foot Locker.
Nothing will actually change.
It’s profoundly depressing of course, but such is the way when vested interests hold sway. One side wants further power to oppress and restrict people; the other needs a minority fearful and looking to them for solutions. As long as it doesn’t get fixed everyone’s golden.
Except the people who are affected of course…..
So, Ian Watkins then. Good long stretch, and thinking laterally for a minute a golden opportunity for the authorities to study and evaluate him to see what drives someone to do that kind of thing. I understand some of you will be starting to rear up at that sentence. your (entirely justifiable) anger will lead you to ask why we are even bothering to keep him alive at taxpayers’ expense. All valid points I suppose. If you can’t stand to examine the flipside of evolved refined humanity then the best thing to do would be to execute him.
Except we do like to peek behind the curtain occasionally, to look at what we could be capable of in another universe. Like a rollercoaster rider we like to be a bit horrified and scared, so we devour tales of serial killers, war criminals, and rapists, knowing that ultimately we’ll be safe and can walk away from the nightmare at any moment.
So why not use the thirty five years before he’s eligible for release to find a way of recognising the warning signs, the psychological triggers that indicate that someone might be wired wrong? In the long run it might actually mean that a baby doesn’t get raped, or a schoolchild molested. Of course there’s no actual votes in it, it’s just the right thing to do, so it probably won’t ever happen. I just thought I’d put it out there before some spittle flecked loon tries to persuade you that killing people can stop this kind of thing happening.
After all, Texas has the death penalty but people are still getting murdered and raped, and I’m pretty sure the criminals know the consequences…..
By the way, being eligible for parole doesn’t mean he’ll get it, it just means he can ask. Do you think there will ever be a Home Secretary willing to be known as the one who let him back out on the street?
A woman sneezed right in my face on the train this morning. RIGHT IN MY FACE. As I struggled to control the urge to stamp on her head she offered a shrug, a smile, and a ‘what can you do?’ expression.
Come the revolution people like this will be strapped to a chair and made to watch their loved ones fed to starving tigers. While I flob in their mouths.
Is there really no baseline of politeness that people can’t sink below? I don’t think I’m asking for much here. A hand over the mouth as you expectorate, not stopping at the Oyster barrier in rush hour wearing a massive fucking backpack and staring at the machine with your card in your hand hovering over the reader like it’s fucking witchcraft or something.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been promised a future that involved jet packs. Now while the thought of three million people buzzing their way round central London like some Picasso inspired Battle of Britain dogfight is a little alarming it must be better than a train carriage teeming with all kinds of toxic shit from people’s noses, mouths, and God knows where else.
Stop and think about it. Those handrails and seat rests.
Anyway, that’s it. Next time, a brutal expose of the Syrian situation. Maybe.