Given the inclement weather and the fact that we forgot to buy Our Glorious Leader (The Editor) a Valentine’s Day card we have chosen to repair to The Bunker for a few days to drown our sorrows and wait until the worst of His temper has subsided. We remain connected to the outside world through the regular channels however and news reached us that there has been a right old kerfuffle about the wrong doings of the charity sector with some coming in for particular attention. We like to believe in the inherent goodness of all folk but we also believe that if you abuse your position of help/power/doing right then you are a horrible human being and completely lost to us. On the other hand we can’t help wondering about the vehemence of the right wing press in pursuing certain people and organisations in this matter. A charity came right out and said that capitalism distributes the rewards of market activity inequitably (and by extension is responsible for poverty). The right wing press came right back with one rodney suggesting that socialism was responsible for the desperate poverty inflicted on hundreds of millions (and by extension charity people are all lefties whom we will label ‘sexual abusers’ just to put them in their place). Crikey – it’s a right old mess. Have a listen to this tune which suggests a gentler way of going about handing things out.
This week we have been mostly ruminating on things horological. It is, in the UK at least, one hundred years since (some) men and (some) women got the right to vote. Also we are minded that this year marks the point at which the Berlin Wall has been down as long as it was up. Also someone sent a car into space. Progress we suppose.
Here at Americana-UK Towers we like to think ourselves as being at a certain level of elite without, of course, being elitist. We’ll entertain any old Tom, Dick or Harriet particularly if they are handy with a tune or guitar picking or even, under certain circumstances, harmonica blowing. If the said hoi polloi can pitch up with some fine spirits or decent beer then we can be more than welcoming. We had fun, then, imagining how one of our bacchanalia would go down in Davos – that Swiss place where the ‘great’ and the ‘good’ find themselves every so often in order to discuss the best way forward for the rest of us. Why even Donny John turned up to liven things up (although we suspect he wasn’t fist bumping with our own John MacDonald). Pity we didn’t get an invite but had we done we would immediately have offered to do a DJ set and given pride of place to this little tune which we hope would have given them something to think about. We’re not holding our breath for next year.
It’s a helluva time to be working on any kind of building if you happen to be employed by a corporate construction behemoth either directly or subcontractually, we’d have thought. The sprawling pile that is Americana-UK Towers was fortunate enough to be constructed in more enlightened times by a workers cooperative of brickies, navvies, chippies and sparkies – so none of that one hundred and twenty day payment window malarkey. Nope – we coughed up the readies every Friday night in those special little manila envelopes that you used to get with your name written on it in biro (tax and NI deducted at source of course). Oddly it seems that nowadays ‘value for money’ means ‘contract it out of house at all costs’ whether or not it actually makes financial sense. There’s always The Tax Payer and his/her seemingly endlessly deep pocket to bail out a poorly run private concern with a suicidal approach to procurement. We reckon the best thing we can do is build some sort of religious structure, as Bill Munroe suggests here, and pray that things will be alright…
We like a good railway journey. In fact we like it so much that we had a funicular railway installed at Americana-UK Towers so that we could ascend from The Bunker to The Towers in proper style. Its operators, Sayid and Benin, are fully paid up members of the RMT and ASLEF respectively so we can rest assured that we are in good hands Health and Safety wise. Funny thing about the railway(s) in this country is that they are privately operated – funny because publicly owned rail systems in other countries (cf: France, Germany, The Netherlands) invest in ours and yet EU rules state that we aren’t (at present) allowed to nationalise our own. Its also odd that this system actually costs us more than if we owned them as state enterprises. On top of that some of us find it hysterically funny that there’s just been another above inflation hike in rail fares. “Funny”, as we say. On the bright side you can’t find a rabid right wing hate rag of a newspaper to read for love nor money. If you ask us we need a new Railroad Bill to go through Parliament ensuring that the railways are operated in the interests of those who actually use them…i.e. all of us.
At Americana-UK Towers we are somewhat divided about the festive season. The opportunities for falling out with each other are manifold – the correct ratio of gin to Campari to vermouth in our Negronis, whether sprouts should be considered an actual foodstuff and which Christmas tunes to play on the jukebox are just some examples. However after erecting our tree in The Bunker and given a liberal sprinkling of tinsel and cocktails we have settled on this as representative of our Christmas mindset. Thank goodness for Ray Davies…
At Americana-UK Towers we don’t really have much truck with party politics. Granted we believe ourselves to be progressive in our outlook but essentially we pick and choose ‘policies’ according to our individual and collective wants and needs. Naturally when we repair to The Bunker things get a little reactionary – you try being holed up in a confined space with several other people whose sole purpose in life is to find banging tunes to listen to whilst getting very, very drunk. You see the conundrum. Recently we had one of our “GAS GAS GAS” drills (i.e get down to The Bunker and leave all and sundry behind as quickly as possible) and whilst waiting for the All Clear, news reached us that ‘the government’ (small ‘T’, small ‘G’ by design) had decided that Universal Credit claimants would have to wait for their money over the forthcoming festive season. It’s a five pay day month, apparently. So, y’know, sing for it you fucking paupers they appeared to say. We are not with that. We are not with the constant chipping away at the life prospects, life enhancements or sheer life possibilities of those folk whose only fault is not having enough money available to them to live anything like a comfortable life. Things seem to be taken away bit by bit. And, of course, every little bit hurts.
Fairly soon there is to be a major celebration which happens at the same time every year. Here at Americana-UK we fall fairly evenly into two camps – those that consider it the most wonderful time of the year and those that consider that we have fallen under the jackboot of emotional fascism. Obviously our differences are settled as soon as we repair to The Bunker for pints of sweet sherry and crème de menthe chasers. We were surprised to learn that one major retailer had come under fire for having the temerity to suggest it was ok to partake in the celebrations if you were other than white (and we assume Christian). How sad. This tune makes us feel better.
We were intrigued this week when all of the talk was about paradise and papers. Obviously Americana-Uk Towers is its own little paradise and The Bunker is an oasis of calm in a world of madness. That said we do like to pay our taxes and Vaclav and Tomasz, who put the bunker in for us, are fully unionised and known to the tax authorities. So we are squeaky clean. The duty-free we consume is fully above board and needn’t concern anyone else. What we can’t help wondering though is that if everybody (including the super-rich) paid what they morally owe then how much better it would be for us all…350 million for the NHS anyone? Nothing is new under the sun we like to say and this little ditty from well over thirty years ago somewhat proves our point.
Insulated as we are deep in the bunker of Americana-UK Towers from the worst effects of modern life we can’t help but be deeply troubled about the reports reaching us of abuse. Abuse, it seems, that has become rife in all areas – politics, entertainment, you name it. Is it just men perpetrating this? Probably not. Is it mostly men? Probably. How utterly depressing. We have a simple message: just stop it, show some respect, grow up, stop giving the rest of us a bad name. This then is for you, whoever you are (with added Portugese subtitles for no reason whatsoever)