Month: March 2016

You’re my dexy’s my high

Off the back of Two Tone I purchased this single back in 79 from this outfit from Birmingham.  Their’s was a soul sound, with no hint of reference to ska or reggae.  A year later they put out Geno as a single and it raced to no 1 in the charts.  Their first lp Searching for the Young Soul Rebels came out a few months later.  Eleven tracks and I loved ten of them, worth every penny of my wages.  I loved the brass driving forward the melody on tracks such as Tell Me When My Light Turns Green and There There My Dear.  Kevin Rowland’s sensitivity was exposed in I Couldn’t Help It If I Tried and Seven Days Is Too Long.

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Small world

Small world

I watched a documentary on BBC2 on Wednesday night called Employable Me.  I was enjoying it as it was well made and was making me laugh but then something happened and I was overcome with emotion.  In a week when the government backed down on plans to turn the screw on people claiming Personal Independence Payments it was a reminder of the discrimination people with disabilities face trying to get work.
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Misspent youth in north London

ben's party 001.jpg


1983 – 1984 continued to be eventful. After failing my A levels I went into school to meet the head, she recommended I retake them at college and mentioned Southwark College, this was like a homecoming after spending my first 11 years in that borough. The General Election which played havoc with my interest in English Literature and Geography was a disaster for the Labour Party nationally as the SDP – Liberal alliance sucked our supporters away and gave the Tories a landslide. However locally my efforts did help to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as the candidate in Islington North.

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The best years

1981-1983 was when I was a sixth former. I did A’ level Geography and English Literature and extra O levels in Political Studies and Economics. Our school merged with Archway to become George Orwell School. Our local council chose this name because the merger of our two schools was due to be completed in 1984. That and he was a fine British socialist might also have something to do with it. I did one of my A levels at the newly opened Sixth Form Centre, just off Liverpool Road in Holloway. One claim to fame is that our head at Tollington Park was the father of Lofty from EastEnders but Mr. Watt retired when the schools merged.


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Amsterdam, before the flowering of tulips




31 January 2016; This morning I left a damp cloudy country and I now sit by the pool wearing trunks and flip flops.

I wish…Amsterdam is not that far away! After the shortest flight I’ve ever been on (45 minutes) I am instead relaxing in a hotel room. Hotel is a converted tram station and bedrooms are behind bookcases. We followed instructions at airport tourist information and arrived at Amsterdam Central by train. Then we’re told by the information desk that we were in wrong place. Completed journey by taxi. Standard of driving is good but I’m confused by the cars and trams sharing the roads. I’m sure the Dutch know what they’re doing but I wouldn’t.

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Don’t be too organised



Earlier in the week I attended a meeting and the person chairing it said

‘I haven’t prepared for this’.

I thought that was a brilliant statement that sums up my life.  So if you want to know what happens next, so do I.  If you tell me it might save me having to work it out.

When you get angry or upset do you throw photos in frames across the room?  No? Perhaps you throw a vase instead?  I’m getting sick and tired of these actions being scripted in Eastenders when they want to show that characters are upset. It feels as if they’re stereotyping working class people as being incapable of expressing emotions in any other way.

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Holloway childhood

I have something in common with Anne Widdecombe. We both lived on the Andover Estate in Holloway, London Borough of Islington. I lived there between 1976-85 when I was aged 11 – 20. She lived there for a week for a tv documentary after which she described the place as a dump. The estate is better without her constant presence. When we (my three sisters and mother) moved there we experienced for the first time, indoor toilets, a bathroom, central heating, and finally, a bedroom to myself.



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Brymer Road, SE5


Sad to say the series of Cradle to Grave has ended, but it made me think of my early years in SE5. Just off the Old Kent Road and not too far from where Danny Baker grew up. Attached is a picture of the road I lived on. We lived not in a house, but on the top floor of one of the houses pictured. Me, my three sisters and parents occupied three rooms. One of them a kitchen. There was an outside toilet and bath time was a once a week affair in a tin bath. When I was old enough I used the public baths about a mile away.

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The allure of hatred

An awful day. I wake up to the news that 20 have been killed in a city I visited less than a month ago. I wish that was the extent of it but the latest body count is 80 people with 186 injured. This morning men, women, Turkish, Kurdish woke up to go on a demonstration against the government’s policies and will not wake up again. How can you have belief in democracy on a day like this? On my daily blog whilst on holiday I mentioned the super patriots. They are the people who love their country so much they wish war on anyone who disagrees with them. Today is a good day for them. They will try and persuade others that war is the only option.

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Istanbul, diverse and wonderful.


18 September; Day spent travelling to Istanbul, crossed the Mehmet the Conqueror Bridge back into Europe. My namesake was the Sultan who ended the Byzantine Empire. Eventually arrived in spacious room, a lovely sight after long journey and limited space in last place. Made error of hopping into taxi with no metre with driver with only general knowledge of Istanbul. He dropped us on main road, I’d agreed price with him already {just under £20.). Had to get another taxi who kindly stopped and asked several people and got us here. A good experience after a not so good. I presume there isn’t an Istanbul version of London’s ‘knowledge’ my mate Andreas spent three years running round in a moped learning.

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