Bleed For Me

Last Friday I got an award.

Hurrah for me, I hear you say. But this is probably one of the most important things that I’ve ever been awarded. It’s a small enamel badge and certificate acknowledging that I’ve just made my tenth blood donation.

I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in the UK we’ve got a well-established (and free) health service that collects blood from volunteers just like me, ready to be used by anyone who needs it. They take their mobile units and set up in church halls, community buildings, workplaces, anywhere there’s a space to get a few bodies lying down comfortably for a few minutes and a table for the weak lemon drink and biscuit afterwards. And I’ve not yet worked for an employer who hasn’t given me paid time off to go and give my shot when they’re collecting near my workplace, always a bonus in my book.

For quite a few years now, I’ve given a pint every now and again. Admittedly it’s been somewhat erratic – you can’t donate within 12 months of a piercing or tat, which affected me quite a bit when I was younger, and I’ve sometimes just forgotten. Theoretically, I could make three donations a year; the reality is that I’ve made about one a year. But the important thing is: I’ve given something that cost me a few moments of very mild discomfort but could be worth a life.

And that’s a good feeling.

Maybe I feel it a bit more personally than some. About 7 years ago, one of my brothers was in a nasty accident (he lost control of the van he was driving because of a mechanical failure). He was badly injured, losing a piece of flesh from his thigh about 5″x7″ square and half an inch thick. A major artery in his leg was ripped open. The fact that the crash occurred only a minute from the city hospital, and with a doctor and nurse passing by at the time, almost certainly saved his life. He lost two pints of blood at the scene, but would’ve lost a lot more (and died) without the first-aid he received.

Whilst they stabilised him in hospital they transfused fifteen pints of blood into him to keep him going and make sure he had the best chance possible. He’s a strong kiddie and pulled through. But without that blood, so freely and generously given, the chances are I would’ve been burying my bruv.

So, to anyone who’s reading this, find out when your next donor session is and go along. You’ll get a warm welcome, a break from work, the aforementioned squash and biccie and an immeasuarble sense of satisfaction. Don’t give me any of that nonsense about being scared of needles either – you’re a punk for fuck’s sake! Look the other way and imagine that you’re in the thick of it at an Extreme Noise Terror gig, complete with soundtrack, booze and mental mental moshing, punk meditation if you like. Before you know it, it’ll all be over. And you’ve probably lost a lot less blood than if you’d actually been at the gig.

Not only that, but having a pint of blood taken out of you don’t half make the evening beer and spliff a lot more enjoyable.

Keeping It Personal

A little while back I was looking at some of the great stuff being put out and distributed by Concrete Jungle Records in Germany. After a bit of internal debate, I selected a few choice items and made a payment via their PayPal option. Unfortunately, I hadn’t clocked some of the small-print, namely a €17 postage charge for non-German orders (as opposed to €4 for internal) and a 5% PP premium.

So a day or two later, I get an email from Matze, the guy behind the operation, asking me to send quite a bit more money (my order was about €33 including, I thought, the postage etc). So I mailed him back, pointing out that it wasn’t really clear that there were additional charges, that I thought the shipping costs were excessive compared to many other distros I used, and that it was unfair to slap charges on PP users when the other payment options probably incurred bank charges anyway. I was polite about it, as Matze had been in his original mail, but I cancelled the order.

Anyway, a while later I get another mail from Matze. He told me that the €17 charge included insurance (which I didn’t know, and made it far more reasonable), but that he could send uninsured mail for only €4. Now, I’ve rarely had a problem with stuff disappearing in the post (like any postie wants to damage his hearing, image and sanity that badly by nicking the kind of stuff I listen to), so uninsured post is what I always go for. Even when there has been a problem, I’ve always managed to sort it out with the relevant postal service. So he’s changed things around and €4 is now the standard charge for worldwide orders (with insured as an option). And orders over €100 are now post-free, so if you club together with a few friends it becomes a proper bargain.

And he also said he was removing the PP surcharge, again a welcome surprise.

The end result is, I’ve now placed an order for over €50, spending what I would’ve paid for shipping on a very classy antifa t-shirt.

Could you imagine having had this kind of chat with the head of Sony or Warner or any other piece-of-shit major label, or even getting a personal response in the first place? I know you probably don’t need telling but – SUPPORT THE INDEPENDENTS. They really are doing it for the kids, young and old.

OP’s opinion: Five

What A Gas!

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the media in recent times, you’ll have probably noticed yet another round of stories resulting from the latest UN report about global warming and impending ecological catastrophe. Human activity is put in the frame, and quite rightly so. There is now no question that what we do and how we do it has led to destructive climate change and, if we fail to tackle the problems caused by our activities on this planet, then our future’s going to be short-lived, unpleasant and brutal.

What struck me more, though, was how another report, issued by the UN back in November last year, seems to have bypassed the mainstream meeja’s radar. This report looks at one of the major causes of global warming – farts. Not just farts, to be fair, but all the greenhouse gases, as well as other negative environmental effects, that are produced by farming animals for food. And it makes for sphincter-clenching reading.

Did you know, for example, that farmed animals produce more greenhouse gases than transport – around a fifth of the global total? Not only that, but the farming of animals for food has seen around a quarter of our planet given over to livestock farming, a third turned over for growing farm animal feed crops, and nearly 10% of the world’s water supply being used in the whole process. Their piss becomes acid rain – two-thirds of all the anthropogenic (caused by human activity) ammonia comes from farming animals. The waste products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and pesticides pollute the land, air and water.

In short, animal farming is an environmental catastrophe.

But it’s also probably one of the easiest problems to solve. It involves nothing more than changing what we eat. Despite the failure of the UN to say as much, switching to a vegan diet is about the simplest and most direct way that we can make a real difference. It’s far easier to change what you eat today, right now, than it is to change the way that industry operates or what fuel you put in your car.

To help get you started, here are the lyrics-cum-recipe for Anarcho-Pie by Jockish herberts Oi Polloi:

Mixed veg
Red beans

Let’s make a tasty anarcho-pie – ace vegan food for you and I
Let’s make a tasty anarcho-pie – ace vegan food for you and I

Take eight ounces of pastry and, leaving a little bit aside, roll out two equal portions each a quarter inch thick. Then use one of these to carefully line the bottom of your chosen pie dish.

Cook the ingredients for the pie filling separately and then place these inside the pie dish on top of the pastry base. Wetting the top of the edge of the pastry base, affix the pastry cover to the anarcho-pie.

Now comes the important bit: using the spare bits of pastry, decorate the top of the pie with a pastry anarchy sign – symbolising our never-ending resistance to the omnicidal system that perverts our lives.

After baking the pie in the oven for between thirty and thirty-five minutes at approximately four hundred degrees farenheit it should be ready fir serving and by this time should have developed a good crust!

Mmm… uurrgh, I don’t like mushrooms. Howay, pass them ower – I’ll have them. Aye, this pie, this pie’s barry – it’s almost as good as – as a singing hiney man! Mmm… mmmm… Alright John eh aye? Aye barry! That’s what it is – pure canny! Uurgh, I don’t like walnuts. I’ll have them. Mmmmm… Aye, ye canny beat this vegan food, ken? Aye, vegan food. Oh, it’s the best. Pure dead brilliant man. Anarcho-pie rules, ken? Aye. How long does this go on for? Who’s doing the dishes? The wimmin! Aaaahhh!! Street cred gone! Knife him!! Knife the anarcho-pie anyway. Aye man. Aye. ‘kin raj! Aye etc.

By Order Of The Management

The ManagersSpecial
Global Routes Music

Special album cover First off, this is one big band! Twenty musicians contribute to this release, although I don’t think they all appear at the same time! The numbers involved have helped create a collection of tunes that display a great deal of variety and musical inventiveness.

They’re also from New Zealand, a country that’s about as far away from mine as it’s possible to get on a spherical planet. This fact alone was enough to get me sending a few of my hard-earned pounds literally half way around the world. What, I wondered, would Antipodean ska sound like exactly?

Turns out that it has much in common with any other well-produced ska. It straddles the second generation Two Tone ska sound and early third generation punky ska with that all-important nod to the original rudeboy vibe running through it all, and The Managers do it very well indeed. Everything is superbly executed and the band are an obviously talented bunch. The fact that they are able to play around so well with tempo and melody keeps your interest up through the whole album and you have to keep reminding yourself that it’s the same band you’re listening to.

The opening track, Capt. Ska, is 99% instrumental and a great way to start, recalling a cranked-up Bad Manners on a Nutty Boy trip with a large dash of modern ska complexity thrown in, something that could be said about quite a few of the tunes here, and it sets the (two-)tone for what follows.

Some of the songs get to grips with those classic ska staples of love lost and found, all having a different take on the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of romance. Sometimes the ska saves the day, dragging you out of the door and on to the dance floor, sometimes it’s just the tune playing in the background as your world falls apart, but it’s always there waiting for you, for when you’re ready to put your boots back on. ‘Infiltraitor’ in particular makes good use of the female vocals, harking back to The Selecter and taking to task the two-timing toughboys who think it’s cool to cheat on your girl. ‘My Mistake’ sees upbeat tunes backing a tale of regret, at times almost sounding like the Muppet Show house band (in a good way), while ‘Out Of Breath’ takes the more traditional down-tempo reggae route to express similar feelings.

While it’s true to say that many of the tunes here are about either affaires d’amour or dancing (or both), The Managers aren’t afraid to take on heavier topics too. ‘Charge!’ is a minor key rail against the madness of war, pointing out the fascistic mindset that underpins those who would have us fight and kill each other for their privilege and power. ‘Killing En Masse’ deals with a different kind of slaughter, that commited by bloodthirsty hunters who exterminate our wildlife for kicks. A hardcore vegan sensibility is not something you generally find in your average ska release, but The Managers appreciate the beauty inherent in all life and make their point well with the simple line ‘we are right and you are wrong’. Now that’s an attitude I can relate to.

If you like the kind of stuff put out on Asian Man, then there’s no way you won’t like this. And how many other New Zealand ska records have you got sitting on your shelf anyway?

OP’s opinion: Four

Download sample track – ‘Infiltraitor’

The Managers

(© Lindy Hickman)

NB: The Manager’s second album ‘Take It Or Leave It’ is out around now. That will be a welcome addition to my NZ ska collection, as well as doubling the size of it.