Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On 'Class'

The musical Chicago is quite rather good. I have seen the film and watched the musical theatre production, and I (first) begrudgingly and (then) rather over-excitedly liked it. My favourite songs are the one where Billy Flynn the hotshot lawyer does the puppeteering, and the one where it goes ‘Nobody got no class’. Google (our mutual friend) tells me these songs are called ‘We Both Reached For The Gun’ and ‘Class’.

The eponymous class of the latter song is about decency, manners, respect: classiness. That side of class is easy to define, easy to implement, and without doubt is an aspiration.

The band The Indelicates have released a song today, also entitled ‘Class’.

But their class is the one that divides rich and poor, the entitled few and the disenfranchised many. I have a massive problem with definitions of class particularly my own – I work in a non-skilled fairly poorly-paid job, I rely on Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits and qualify for free NHS dental care and wigs and all that, but then my parents are professionals and I own my own house – and as such it is equally as relevant a concept in day-to-day Britain as it is entirely irrelevant.

My class – Working / Middle / whatever – doesn’t affect my ability to go shopping or wear jeans or consume or just to live a normal life. But it does present obstacles, the kind that Simon and Julia Indelicate espouse: I don’t know the right people to truly succeed in politics or journalism or in the city. I don’t necessarily want to.

But say the best person in Britain, the most naturally able person to be Prime Minister or Governor of the Bank of England or Editor of The Times wasn’t able to get the opportunity to succeed in the meritocracy we pretend to live in. What if they couldn’t intern for no pay at The Telegraph, or do work experience at their own expense at Citibank, or their aunt can’t get them a job at Carlton communications? Well these are the important career, life, country-changing first rungs on the ladder that are only available to the upper class, to the few, to the rich.

We need to create a fairer pathway from education into the workplace. We need to create a fairer education system. We need... fuck, I don’t know. Something. Hope. Cos without hope we’re just treading water in a pool of wasted sweat and bitter regretful tears.

And why not buy the Indelicates new album when it comes out, too. Titled Diseases of England, it's the scathingly-despairing indie-rock-vaudeville soundtrack to the winter of our dissent, dischord and disharmony.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Brixton Academy
I check my pocket for the second time, the third time and I have the tickets. I’ve already spent the time from Beckenham Junction to Gypsy Hill unable to find them. Losing things is kinda my thing. But I’ve got them. It’s OK.

We get off the train at Brixton. We turn right, and right again. It’s dark, cold. Some men pogo out of the door of a pub as we walk past. We follow them. One has an Iron Maiden jacket on. We know we’re going in the right direction. We think. Matthew taps him on the elbow, that’s as far as he can reach. Hey you going to the gig? He is, yeah. We know where we’re going now. Matthew says I like your jacket and the guy says cheers, it fucken rocks, dun’it? And Matthew says something about Blaze Bayley or something and I zone out, I’m not metal, I’m indie, and I really don’t know what they’re talking about.

We walk down the road in Brixton, the main one, the high street or whatever, on our left we see the lights and the entrance of the Academy, skulking on a side road, and we cross and see Natalie and Jenny and Marie, who are in the year above us a school, and their already in the queue and we say hello, but then we realise that we’re not really being encouraged to jump the queue with them, so we skulk along the side of the building to the end and we wait for the queue to start moving.

Inside we get served, and get served again, and a grunge band play and we get served again, and we’re kinda tipsy, and we go and stand with Natalie and Jenny and Marie, and we stop being so shy, and Jenny starts getting off with some older guy near her, and we’re kinda jealous but we don’t say anything about it, and then another band come on, and they are PUNK and me and Matthew run down the front and jump up and down and up and down then they’re finished and it’s all too quick and sudden, and fuzzy, and we buy some more pints, and then we wait and wait and wait and the anticipation is turning into anxiety and impatience and someone says something about fucking Welsh wankers and too busy shagging sheep backstage and Matthew, who has been to some gigs before, he reckons they won’t be long ‘cos the roadies have sorted out the stage and it’s all ready and then, finally, 50 minutes, an hour, three pints of lager and lots of nervous jumping later they deign to walk onto the stage and we forgive them. We love them.

We push, spin, jump and shove: praise, incant, respond. We recite lyrics learnt by rote, by devotion. I hit the floor during Motorcycle Emptiness. I don’t think I care anymore.