I’ve spent a third of my life living and working in Scotland. I’m not going to re-hash the reasons I left here, they’re easy enough to find elsewhere on the blog. To summarise the summary of the summary, Shetland Islands Council are a cowardly bunch of self-serving arseholes who wouldn’t know a good idea if it bit them on the arse, that’s assuming they could find it with both hands and a map purchased at great expense (with money from the oil funds) from a close relative or personal friend.
I was not expecting Scotland, as a whole, to vote no.
Taking the good things from this. It was a high turnout. That means, for once, people were engaged and interested in the politics governing their nation. Whether that continues to the next General Election, or the Scottish Parliament elections that follow in 2016, we’ll have to see. I’m speculating that you’ll see a lot of “Well, I voted Yes last time and look where that got me, don’t think I’ll bother this time.”
It was close – not as close as some predicted – but well within the margin of error predicted by the polls in the closing days. Most of those “undecided” the polls were excluding must’ve been “no” voters. The “Silent No” they were discussing at great length on Radio 4.
And now we have to live with the fallout.
What we’ve got to deal with now is Larry, Mo, and Curly in Westmister giving more and more powers to Scotland while – at the same time – avoiding giving any concessions to England. The West Lothian issue (Scottish MPs voting for matters that will never affect them as they’re devolved issues), which should’ve been sorted out as part of the initial devolution of powers to Scotland, rumbles on. Until this is sorted out, there’s an awful lot of people who won’t be happy. Oh, and then there’s the Barnett formula, which although Barnett himself thinks is broken, everyone else agrees is just fine. Scotland pays £40-odd billion in, gets £50-odd billion back. That’s fair, isn’t it?
Quite possibly the biggest problem facing England as we go forward is Westminster. The three main parties are all different shades of the same colour – ocean grey, battleship grey and the kind of grey HP used to make PC cases, really, really bland and uninspiring. We have no viable alternatives without giving more strength and credence to the weirder parties. And I’m not including the Monster Raving Loonies here, frankly I don’t see how they could’ve done a worse job.
So, thank you, the Labour government who let this genie out of the bottle without sorting out the full ramifications and seeing this coming. Or maybe they did, knowing full well it would cause trouble and they could sit back in opposition. Laughing. Anyway.
“A person is clever. People are stupid.” – Tommy Lee Jones, Men in Black
Each and every person who voted, regardless of which option they voted for, falls into that first category. They took a step in influencing the course of their country. It was always going to be close, and they were right in thinking their vote counted.
The people who believe things just because they’re told it by one person and don’t check their facts or sources? They fall into that second category.
I shall leave you with this…
Father Jack, of Craggy Island, had a special phrase he used for the poor and the needy. I believe it applies equally well to the leaders of our main political parties – regardless of which part of the UK you live in.
Once upon a time, 2 poor students took the coach from Edinburgh to London, stayed at the Earl’s Court Youth Hostel and walked round the corner to see Pink Floyd play. This was the Division Bell tour. Pink Floyd played a 3 hour set, covering many of our favourites (and the somewhat weird Astronomy Domine, which I’ve never been able to wrap my head around). That night was amazing.
Fast-forward to 2013 and MacFloyd’s visit to Lerwick… These guys played a full set themselves, again hitting all the right notes in the right order and finishing off with a complete run-through of The Dark Side of the Moon. Fitting, as it was the 40th anniversary of that album.
Fast-forward to now, then rewind to last week. I know, confusing, but it kinda makes sense. My eldest is playing Prospero in the Shakespear for Schools festival. She’s on at the Key Theatre in Peterborough in October and we needed to book tickets. First thing I see on the site is Think Floyd, playing on Sunday night. And there are still a couple of tickets available.
*Yoink*. Not any more, there aren’t, they’re mine.
A word about the venue. Simply put, it’s a superb place to see live music. No pillars to get in the way, no obstructed view of the stage, no peeking around the head of the tall bloke in front. The auditorium is banked perfectly, the acoustics pretty damn good. Whichever committee designed that building, they knew what they were doing.
So, there we were in row J. And there were lasers, strobe lights, multicoloured lights panning around the auditorium. At first glance, the line up appeared to be Prof Brian Cox (vocals, bass and occasional acoustic guitar), James May (keyboard), Phillip Schofield (drums) and Mickey Flannagan (vocals, lead and slide guitars), all ably assisted by Suzi Perry on backing vocals.
From half-seven to gone ten, we were given tracks spanning the whole of Floyd’s discography. From the early years of Syd Barrett (See Emily Play) up to one of my absolute favourite tracks, High Hopes (from The Division Bell). Swathes of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here were delivered with incredible skill and attention to detail, the differences in musical style between early and late Floyd coming across beautifully.
An unexpected pleasure was the chunk of Animals, reminding me that that’s a CD I don’t listen to enough. It’s all-too-often forgotten about, falling in the gap between Wish You Were Here and Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Given the huge range of material to cover, the set was carefully chosen and covered most of the classic albums. We didn’t get anything from The Final Cut, nor from Momentary Lapse of Reason. Instead we got tracks from Live at the BBC, and Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I would’ve liked to hear them do Sorrow, or A Great Day for Freedom, but that’ll have to wait until they return next year.
The crucial question is: “How do they compare to MacFloyd?”
Damn hard to judge, that one. On the night, I reckon Think Floyd edged it. Just. But then it’d probably fall the other way if I were writing this post after coming out of a MacFloyd gig. They each approach the material with the same dedication, the same attention to detail. Honestly, if you get the chance, go and see either or both of them.
The final touch, the cherry on top, was coming out of the auditorium to find the band waiting – having bounded off-stage only seconds before, just after finishing a masterclass in Comfortably Numb as their encore – and ready to sell their merchandise and chat to their audience. And a more friendly, happy or cheerful bunch of musicians you’d be hard-pressed to find. Did I get a photo with them? No, for I am a muppet.
Same time, next year, guys?