What I thought of Lost in Vagueness

There’s an increasingly rich stream of crowdfunded documentaries about often incredibly niche subjects, but with stories that need to be told. Lost in Vagueness is on the whole, one of those films though it isn’t without flaws which often come from such crowdfunded projects but Sophia Ollins creates a film worthy to be added to the small genre of films about Glastonbury Festival.

The film tells the story of Roy Gurvitz who arguably saved Glastonbury in the early 2000’s as the festival was crossing over from the anarachic free for all of the previous years, to the more organised 21st Century juggernaut we know of today. To understand what Gurvitz did it’s best ot understand what Glastonbury was at the end of the century.It was breaking into the mainstream thanks mainly to the BBC and Guardian hitching themselves to the festival as festivals became not just a thing for young folk, but of alll ages which to be fair had been something Glastonbury had done.

In 2000, the first year Gurvitz ran his section fo the festival called Lost Vagueness, the festival nearly fell apart. Tens of thousands of people got over the fence, crime was rife and infrastructure in parts of the site collapsed. The festival took a year off in 2001 to work out what the hell to do as they’d never get a licence if something wasn’t done, so the Superfence came in which kept out people so well that in 2002 and 2003 the site felt, well, empty compared to the past. There came a problem that tickets were not selling out which seems insane in a time when it’s a fight to get even in a queue online for a ticket.

So Gurvitz was given free rule to do what he liked and he did. A big chunk of festival goers clicked onto what he was doing which mixed burlesque, performance art, dance, live music and general insanity. I first went into Lost Vagueness in 2002 spending a night of debauchery which led to a very fragile Sunday, but what he’d done is capture all the lunacy you’d get across the site into one area and let some brilliantly creative people run riot. And so the area grew in reputation outwith the festival itself as Lost Vagueness started organising their own events, as well as working for large companies and organisations. Effectively in a few years it became a large company worth millions.

Gurvitz himself came out of the Traveller scene of the 80’s after leaving home at a young age like so many Travellers did. To have him where he was seemed unnatural, and indeed looking at the film seeing Gurvitz turn into an abusive boss demanding jobs be done just loooks painful. Perhaps if Gurvitz had delegated more and become a person who inspired then perhaps things wouldn’t have ended so badly as they did in 2007. That year’s festival was a wet and windy one which is hardly unusual but word from Lost Vagueness wasn’t great. Normally you could get in on the Thursday and walk around but we tried and couldn’t get in. The reason being Gurvitz was threatening to pull out of the entire festival and although this didn’t happen, and in fact I ended up having another great time there, the end of Lost Vagueness was happening all around us.

Ollins tells us the story of Lost Vagueness, and of Gurvitz’s family life which was less than happy which lead to him not seeing his family for 20 years when they tracked him down via an internet search. Where the film works is this history of Gurvitz and how he changed not just Glastonbury but a large part of British culture, but where it fails is it meanders at times, for example what exactly is Gurvitz doing now which is only skimmed over here. A bit more about hos family would have a bit more of an arc, but these are minor issues of what is a fine addition to the small numbers of Glastonbury films.

Happy 50th birthday Glastonbury

Fifty years ago today a farmer in Somerset had an idea to raise a bit of extra cash by putting on one of those pop festivals which were popular at the time on his farm. The Kinks were booked to headline but they pulled out to be replaced by some up and coming band called T-Rex. A few thousand people turned up at the first event to enjoy free milk and hog roast. Over the years tens of thousands more have said they were at the first festival in the same way the first Sex Pistols gig at the 100 Club seems to have 20k people there, but that first festival set everything off. For Michael Eavis it took him nearly a decade to embrace the festival on his terms which he’s shaped into what it is today.

 

50 years later the festival is a juggernaut which has been in my life now for nearly 30 years, and even though it is essentially postponed due to Covid-19 I see it remaining part of my life, but it all started humbly 50 years ago with free milk and Glam Rock…

And oh, assuming next year’s festival goes ahead there’s another 50th anniversary which can be celebrated so lets hope we can do that next summer.

Six years ago Scotland voted to fuck itself

On the 18th September 2014 Scotland could have voted to be an independent country and take it’s own matters into its own hands. Instead we shat it, Brexit happened, and now we have Boris Johnson wiping his flobbery arse all over devolution not to mention the rule of law while the prospect of a second referendum based upon the changes wrought by Brexit is vague at least as the SNP seem unwilling to push hard enough while Johnson’s crazies wreck lives left, right and centre.

Realistically a referendum won’t happen this side of 2022, possibly longer if Covid-19 contnues as it is. People’s patience is strung out but the positives are support for independence increases monthly so by the end of 2021 we could be far ahead of the Unionist side who willl be losing support each time Johnson or one of his proxies like George Galloway belch some nonsense.

But we fucked it six years ago. When the next time comes we can’t do the same again. People’s lives depend on it.

Life during the plague

So here we are again. First day back at work after my recent Covid-19 scare which lasted four hours before the entire office is sent home as two people in the last 24 hours were positive for Covid. I’m not in the immediate risk group but more people are to be tested so this recent dance of testing, worrying and waiting is probably days away.

The ‘new normal’ is proving to be a culture shock for people, and the fact is this pandemic is not going to be over soon, so we’re going to have to live with this. Good thing we’ve got nothing else menacing on the horizon…

BBC Scotland stop broadcasting daily Covid briefings because they’re putting politics before health

Imagine being so politically motivated against an opposing party that you use your position to put pressure on the national broadcaster to stop them broadcasting NIcola Sturgeon’s daily press briefing live every lunchtime. Which they’ve done so the First Minister’s daily briefing will no longer be shown live and the BBC will report the ‘important’ details which means of course it’ll be reported through the BBC filter and we won’t get the raw footage unless you’re watching it online. The reason given by critics is that its a ‘party political statement’ being broadcast for free every day. This has been the line from people like George Foulkes, the unelected Labour peer and of course, the Tories.

The problem is with this is that it’ll cut off large numbers of people from a direct source of information during a global pandemic where information on rapidly changing events, rules and regulations. Now there has been a narrative on the BBC at a UK level of late as to ‘how complicated’ the devolved nations are and ‘how simpler’ it’d be to have one rule for the entire UK but that would involve thousands more dead from Covid-19 if Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had followed the path of Boris Johnson throughout this pandemic.

And there’s the point. Waiting for the BBC to decide what is and isn’t important means it gets screened through BBC editorial processes which means details will go missing or misreported as we’ve now got to treat BBC Scotland as a propaganda arm of the Union supporting British establishment. This has hilariously ended up with the BBC reporting upon itself like a snake eating its tail.

The fact is this is a purely political decision taken to appease extremist elements in the Unionist establishment who put public health a distant second to doing anything to somehow make the SNP look ‘better’. What I don’t think they expected was the backlash from across the spectrum politically nor the comparison with Boris Johnson’s efforts which have left England in a state of confused anger at pulling back freedoms. One of the things about a pandemic is that government needs to be open and clear with the people or it’ll never bring the people with them, and this risks Scotland being pumped full of misinformation and the public as a whole. Take today where new Covid cases hit the highest in Scotland since May yet the BBC are showing a repeat of Battle of Britain Bargain Hunt.

So the fact is people’s health are being sacrificed because of politics and those who made this decision will end up rueing the day when this blows back in their face, as it is right now.

And the results are…

So I’ve been waiting for the results of my Covid-19 tests in what has been a stressful week because if I catch the virus, I’m not confident of my chances of coming out of it.

Luckily the results were negative. This time. As more and more people start mingling the chances of this happening again increase, and of course fewer people seem bothered about earing facemasks or social distancing so this is just a reprieve for now. I do fear for the autumn and winter ahead especially as I fear it’ll be a bad one.

We’ll see, but for now I get a break.

Scotland’s proposed hate crime laws are an illiberal mess.

There’s a lot bout Scotland to praise from how the NHS is still free to its arts to attempts to make us more akin to a liberal Scandinavian democracy than whatever the UK is turning into. On the whole, the governing party of Scotland, the SNP, have guided Scotland in right directions over the last decade but they have a problem with well meaning, but legally troubling laws. The ‘Named Person’ idea was, and is, a great one but was badly put together legally as was The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act was an actual attempt to deal with sectarian abuse in Scottish football but again, it fell apart because it was well meaning but legally a mess.

The latest bill to come down the line in such a way is the proposed new hate crimes law which finally gets rid of blasphemy in Scottish law but replaces it with new types of blasphemies which a progressive 21st century democracy should not have. To quote from this piece

Offences are currently aggravated by prejudice against a victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or their transgender identity.

Hate crime can take many forms including verbal abuse or insults, assault and damage to property, but also online abuse on sites like Facebook or Twitter.

When a criminal is convicted of a hate crime, an ‘aggravation’ can be added to their sentence, meaning that if, for example, someone attacks an individual based on their race, then a racial aggravation can be added to the crime of assault.

The Scottish Government’s proposed legislation would incorporate the existing aggravating factors but also add the characteristic of age, with the potential to include sex at a later date so misogynistic harassment can become a standalone offence.

If passed by parliament, the Hate Crime Bill, will also make “stirring up of hatred” extend to all the characteristics, rather than just against race, which has been an offence in Scots law for decades.

The characteristics aimed to be protected under the bill are listed below.

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origins
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transgender identity
  • Variations in sex characteristics

So far, so relatively uncontroversial though one has to ask why sex is not included in the list (it may be added at a later date) when we live in a time when misogyny is rife and other, more vague criteria is included.The issue rises when we hit what makes an offence which is the offence of ‘stirring up hatred’ which under these proposals would make it an offence for a person to behave in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner, or to communicate threatening, abusive or insulting material to another person where in doing so, the person intends to stir up hatred against a group of people by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origin. The problem comes when the offence is that someone is ‘likely’ to result in hatred.

This opens up the bills from one supposedly designed to update hate crime laws to one which suddenly closes down free speech and freedom of expression while opening up a Pandora’s Box where any group could easily abuse the act to suppress an opposing opinion. Imagine a group of highly organised people organising a campaign to get someone prosecuted because they don’t like what they’ve said? Removing religious blasphemy for secular blasphemy is not progress.

What marks criticism of this out from other bills is the level in which Scotland’s legal organisations themselves are providing warning and lead the opposition to parts of the bill which will limit freedom of expression and will criminalise people who may well be unpopular among a section of people, but offering a different opinion may offend but if as a society we limit offence then we’re heading towards a very controlling, bland society. So to take just comedy, this bill could criminalise Frankie Boyle, Billy Connolly, The Life of Brian and much of the rest of Monty Python’s output, the works of Chris Morris and pretty much any important work of comedy of the last century.

Juries will have to decide if a statement, or a work of art, or just a Tweet, is designed ‘to stir up hatred and as the bill excludes protecting “expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse” it seems as said, designed for small, powerful groups to target individuals especially, If we’ve hit a point where society is so weak, and arguments are so thin that they need to game the system then we are basically fucked.

So I hope the SNP listen, take the bill back and change it otherwise it’ll become law and a few high profile cases will show it to be a mockery, and the Scottish Government will have to rethink something which will not do what it may set out to do. We need a society where dissent is tolerated.

The waiting game

This morning I got up to deep throat a swab. It was not the most pleasant experience of my life but this Covid-19 business is not the most pleasant experience for anyone right now. The process was made stupidly easy, thanks mainly to this ridiculously easy how to video below.

Swabbing one’s throat and nose early in the morning is a wake up call I hope never to repeat, but now it is all about waiting but the god news is I get a few days off work. And if the news isn’t good I’ll have to deal with it which is not a prospect I look forward to.

Covid-19 has caught up with me

I hate wearing facemasks. The straps dig into my ears, my glasses steam up and I often forget my cool looking one leaving myself to use my backup medical one which is even more annoying. It is however a small trade-off against possibly dying choking for my last breath in a hospital.

So yesterday morning I rocked up to work to be met at the door and told that one of my work colleagues had tested positive for Covid-19 and that I should go home and get tested. THe building is being deep cleaned, but with all my various medical conditions it means if I catch Covid and it becomes acute, then the bottom line is I’m fucked. I was asked if I showed symptoms (tiredness, sore throat, etc) but most of the symptoms of Covid-19 are what I live with day-to-day.

AS of this time on Saturday afternooon I’m awaiting a test which is due to arrive sometime in the next day or so I lurk in a state of coronavirus limbo…