Last summer I skipped London and spent the Olympics in Paris, and occasionally I regretted doing that because it seemed to be the first time in my adult life I’d witnessed a Britain at ease with itself. Less than a year on and that’s definitely no longer the case. This government’s meanness and the onslaught against the disadvantaged could hardly be any more divisive or brutal, while the whole of Britain appears to be trapped in some freakish nightmare episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show with Mick Philpott up against the tabloid press (apparently Kyle’s got cancer… although the way I heard it, cancer’s got Jeremy Kyle). I’m not hanging around long enough to watch it go crying to Graham backstage; I’m off to Wales overnight to see friends at the Laugharne Weekend, then I flee the country again on Monday, and hopefully I won’t be back for a while. Sorry to sound like that knobhead who goes off to University and returns to his home town sneering at everything, I hated that kid so I know how it must sound.
There’s still always stuff to see in London mind you, though the only artist I’m still desperate to see before he or I die is Tom Waits, and he positively detests London. Waddayamean I’m missing the Stones? I worked out this morning that people paying £299 for Rolling Stones tickets at Hyde Park this summer will be charge just under £4 per decibel for the pleasure (I tweeted this actually – not nearly enough love for this observation – pearls before swine). The only things I’d like to have tickets for right now are The Book of Mormon and a fair bit of Yoko Ono’s Meltdown Festival. Siouxsie Sioux, Marianne Faithfull, Iggy and the Stooges, Thurston Moore, Savages, Boy George…it’s a fabulous line-up, and pretty left field for an octogenarian (he said patronisingly). By the way, if you don’t like Yoko then you’re a misogynist and a racist. Fact.
I’ve been listening to a lot of John Lennon recently, and I had this spooky thought this morning that I’m actually a couple of weeks older than Lennon was when he was shot. I can’t pretend that when I’m listening to him on The Beatles (the White Album was hands down his most inspired period and I can’t get enough of it at the moment) there’s not a little bit of me thinking, “bugger, he got a lot done.” Never fear, there’s still time. No really there is. No really.
I’m going to stop moaning about Britain now. In a funny sort of way I’m looking forward to the time when I miss it again, and hope there’ll be a dramatic upturn so there’s even a semblance of something to one day consider coming back for…