Gold as a black man’s palm, the sun in London windows… Doré comme la paume d’un homme de race noire, le soleil dans les fenêtres de Londres…

Gold as a black man’s palm, the sun in London windows…

Doré comme la paume d’un homme de race noire, le soleil dans les fenêtres de Londres…

– Tristan Coleshaw.

Melting McFlurry’s in Greenland’s trash cans : postcard to America First / Des McFlurry fondants dans les poubelles groenlandaises : carte postale à America First.

Melting McFlurry’s in Greenland’s trash cans : postcard to America First.

Des McFlurry fondants dans les poubelles groenlandaises : carte postale à America First.

– Tristan Coleshaw.

Frozen Mountains

Wedding ring mark on his right upper lip, the knuckle end of desire / La marque d’une bague de mariage sur la partie droite de sa lèvre supérieure, le jarret de désir.

Wedding ring mark on his right upper lip, the knuckle end of desire.

La marque d’une bague de mariage sur la partie droite de sa lèvre supérieure, le jarret de désir.

– Tristan Coleshaw.

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Blank votes, pages torn from Anne Frank’s diary / Les bulletins blancs, des pages arrachées du Journal d’Anne Frank.

Blank votes, pages torn from Anne Frank’s diary.

Les bulletins blancs : des pages arrachées du Journal d’Anne Frank.

– Tristan Coleshaw.

Let Labour Be Labour!

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Is it just me, or does the assertion ‘Jeremy Corbyn will make the Labour Party unelectable’ sound not only premature, given he was only elected only slightly before we all started making lunch today, but also somewhat illogical? Does the surge in political engagement and the momentum he has gained, not to mention the overwhelming support he has seen outpouring from ‘traditional’ Labour voters, ie. the Left wing, ie. the people for whom Labour was founded in the first place, plus his electoral obliteration of his opponents, say that there might just be a few people around who would vote for Labour if the were a bit more, you know, Labour?

What the Corbyn campaign has achieved is what so many of us on the Left have been crying out for since the day Tony Blair sent our soldiers into Iraq, namely, a fundamental re-evaluation of what Labour means. Do we have to accept the role of the reluctant yet opportunist props to neo-liberalism, of middle-of-the-road panderers to voters on final salary pensions who would switch to any party that promises not to divert any part of their wealth to, say, the generation that’s now paying for their free healthcare? Do we have the right to call ourselves Labour if we’re embarrassed of our relationships with unions? Do we have the right to call ourselves Labour if none of our shadow cabinet has ever had to support a family on the minimum wage? Are we Labour if we demean the working class roots of the Labour movement and the people who still live in conditions unbefitting of a G20 country, in favour of courting swing voters, the middle classes, the Stoke Newington set and retired Labour voters with a bit of capital?

For the first time in two decades the Labour party is being forced to have this conversation with itself, and it’s thanks to Jeremy Corbyn. Labour supporters, pundits and politicians have been calling out for this, and finally it has arrived. Perhaps now, the radical agenda of the Cameron government might come in for some effective criticism. Perhaps now, mainstream political debate can move away from focussing on who is coming into this country and from where, and instead focus on what is being done to the citizens of this country by people the right wing have elected to lead it. Namely, the asset stripping of public services, the demonisation of the poor, the abandonment of the younger generation, the accession of domestic autonomy to multi-nationals? With Jeremy Corbyn, these difficult conversations may finally get some attention. Maybe he won’t win a general election, who knows?  But he will change the complacent debate surrounding what sort of country we want to live in, and maybe, just maybe, enough people will come out of the woodwork who have voted Labour just so as to beat the tories, and actually get to vote for a leader they believe in. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance under Corbyn that Labour might once again be able to be Labour.

“You have a window on our world no one else will EVER have” – Jeff Bollow…

Undoubtedly the key to our continued survival as a species is the human imagination, something which we need to prioritise in our education system, our economy and ourselves. Enjoy this wonderful talk exploring the subject…

Top Albums of 2014 (and they’re all by amazing women)

  1. Palme – Ólöf Arnalds                                                                                                                                                                     palme-olof arnalds

The second fully English-language album from this Icelandic superstar, its luscious mixture of Reykjavik kaffihús style folk and Folk Rock arrangements creates one of the most intimate listens you’re going to find in contemporary music, just has her previous, exceptional albums have done. With a voice that evokes the ancient song traditions of her Viking past and also as confrontationally post-modern as early Björk, Arnalds is perhaps the world’s least known yet most captivating artists.

  1. Mini World – Indila                                                                                                                                                                        mini world

When you think that Indila was 30 years old before she became well-known, you wonder what the hell you were listening to for the last three decades. Mini World tells the story of modern France – one of lost glory, despair and retrospection, in the guise of impeccably crafted love songs that both lull and bang. Boasting heritage from Egypt, Camodia, India and Algeria, Indila fuses the many musical traditions of her lineage in a way that gives hope for a multi-cultural France in the 21st century. If you can think of any fusions of Pop and ‘World’ music to sell over 500,000 copies in the English-speaking world this year, let me know. When it comes to the face of ethnic diversity in mainstream music, France is still leading the way, and Indila is the queen.

  1. The Way I’m Livin’ – Lee Ann Womack                                                                                                                                     the way i'm livin'

When Lee Ann Womack releases an album you don’t always know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be real. The Way I’m Livin’ is the album Womack always wanted to make, so it’s telling that so much of it deals with loss, being lost and losing your way. With this album though, you get the sense of an artist that has finally found herself. The arrangements are crisp, tender and in ‘Tomorrow Night In Baltimore’ quite simply kick-ass, but the theme throughout is the passionate, intensely authentic delivery of Lee Ann Womack’s vocals. Hailed by many as the best singer in Country music, lets hope that her new record deal with Sugar Hill will see her gain greater exposure outside of North America just as fellow label-mate Sara Jarosz has through the same outfit. If this album does one thing, it proves that Lee Ann Womack deserves it.

  1. Chaleur Humaine – Christine and The Queens                                                                                                                        chaleur humaine

No, not a group, just one visionary singer-songwriter with an imaginery back up band that acts like both the devil and the angel on her shoulders. With themes covering gender-reassignment, escaping a crumbling town and the warmth of the human spirit, this half-English, half-French offering is one of the most intellectually and spiritually rewarding listens for many, many years.

  1. American Middle Class – Angaleena Presley                                                                                                                            angaleena-presley-album-american-middle-class-2014-08-1000px

If you look for insight, humour and unforgettable melodies in your music purchases then Presley’s debut solo album has them all and knocks them out of the park. Channeling Loretta Lynn, George Strait and Rickie Lee Jones in equal measure, the songs here have textures, they have colours and they have soul. And if it’s a slice of human truth you’re after then be prepared to be upset, because the cutting realism in Presley’s set might give you more of those than you’re ready for.

  1. Platinum – Miranda Lambert                                                                                                                                                       MirandaLambertPlatinum

Whereas Revolution was Miranda Lambert’s torch song album, Platinum is the collection where this artist realises she’s got what she was looking for. You can tell this is an album by someone who has recently turned thirty, because gone are those angsty offerings like ‘Kerosene’ or ‘Only Prettier’, in favour of the re-assuredness of ‘All That’s Left (for you to do is leave)’ and the title track ‘Platinum’ (‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you blonder/and my heels and my hotels they just got taller/the thing about platinum irrefutably/ is it looks as good on records as it does on me.’) That pretty much says it all.

 

Some shit I learned in 2014. What did you learn?

1. If there’s a future in Europe, it’s probably in Scandinavia

Free health care, comparatively generous pensions, care for the elderly, affordable housing – four things I’ll bet you a MILLION POUNDS we won’t have in the UK when I reach retirement age in 35 or so years time. So, if my husband and I can batter down the language barriers and learn to live in the cold(er than Britain), I think that Scandinavia is our destination. Particularly Norway. It’s the only solvent place in Europe, with a massive trust fund from its oil revenues, or Sweden with its megabucks. With low populations and high GDP per capita, these are the economies that can keep investing in human services, whereas the UK government is stripping them to a bare minimum. I know which one looks like a secure prospect for my old age.

2. I am a writer

I never would have thought it, but I really am. Whether I’m a good writer or a talented writer is up for debate, but I know I’m a writer because when I don’t write, I get depressed and panicky. I also know I’m a writer more now than ever because of the sense I get that there’s not enough time to do all the work I want to do. And beyond all that, as Joni Mitchell said: “the best of my mind goes down [on] the page”, I make a lot more sense written down than in real life.

3. I was a traumatised child

I was traumatised when we left Wales and moved to England. We left behind mountains, rocks, deep cut valleys, rugged coastline, rain, heather, bogs, and the Welsh language. I spoke Welsh with my friends, so when we moved to England and I had to make new friends, it was a massive culture shock to be in a mono-lingual English environment. It was like another world. I became interested in maps, mostly to see how far away my real home, Wales, was from where we now were. Hundreds of miles seemed like the distance to the moon. It seemed insurmountable. The old life was so far away it was as good as dead. And as a result, I truly grieved. Truly. And it changed me. Trauma in a young child can affect them for the rest of their lives.

4. You can’t change the past, but you can build a future for yourself

The Tristan that went looking for sex and love on the internet, the 14 year old Tristan that felt so ugly and unlovable that he thought he had to exploit the sexual desires of pederasts in order to get laid, the Tristan that put himself in such danger, that didn’t value his own life, who was raped, who was abused, who wound up wanting to kill himself, who was traumatised again and again… I wish there was something I could do to stop him. I wish I could protect him. I wish I could save him, but I can’t. I CANNOT change the past. The Tristan that was so sweet, so loving, so positive, so ambitious, that was a dreamer, a charmer, a friend, a little chubby bundle of joy – well, he did what he did. I went through what he went through. For such a long time I thought he was dead. By being dead it meant that all the things he went through were dead and gone as well. But they’re not, and he is not. And he deserves to be alive. The only way that Tristan can live is by giving him a future.

5. The only way I can honour, or save that Tristan is to give him back his imagination

There were no limits to his imagination, and using his imagination in play, in writing stories, in music was what gave him life and what made him unique. My imagination got buried under sexual desire and sexual trauma aged 14, and it barely saw the light of day again. The only way I can save the child that washed his body only to have it abused is to re-connect with his imagination and his dreams. I can’t change the past, but in re-connecting with the imagination I can give him back his strength, and his spark. My spark. Maybe finally appreciating him and appreciating what made him, me, unique is the lesson I was meant to learn. Maybe it’s the light that emerges from the abyss. I know that it’s the only way I can go on, and I owe it to that Tristan to do it.

6. In the Anglo-Saxon world we limit ourselves to our own language, to our detriment

Most of the world speaks a language that isn’t English, and all over the world people are making amazing music, art, film, TV and literature in tongues we can’t understand. I say GET OVER IT. Get a dictionary or switch on the subtitles and get involved with what the rest of the world has to say about what it means to be human. The most inspiring music I’ve discovered this year has all been in other languages: Christine and the Queens (French), Chyi Yu (Mandarin), La Lupe (Spanish), Indila (French), Ólöf Arnalds (Icelandic), Chisu (Finnish), Cristina Donà (Italian) and 9 Bach (Welsh). My enjoyment of them has only been enhanced by looking for translations of their lyrics and learning to understand at least some of the language they’re singing in. Stop being lazy and try it!

7. I can go all over the world but nowhere will feel more like home than the Rheidol and Elan valleys

You have to go there to understand. If I had to I’d go there and never leave again.

7. New Year’s resolutions mean shit, birthday resolutions are much better, but if you’re living your life and are attentive to your thoughts, desires, impulses then you achieve much more than any stupid resolution.

End of.