The joy of diving into back-issue comics

Here’s a brutal fact. Most comics are crap and not worth the price on the cover. As a semi-occasional dealer this is breaking one of the rules of comic dealers which is not to downplay what you have, but no, really, most comics end up slowly rotting somewhere because they weren’t bought, or over-ordered, or just crap. Dealers who have been around a while however are a teasuretrove of delights as their over-stocks could be utter gems, or their crap something you find to be a diamond.

Back in the days of Bristol’s nearly remembered, semi legendary comic shop Comics and C.D’s, I’d spend hours upstairs in the warehouse raking through endless long boxes to decide the fate of many a comic from a Destroyer Duck to Alpha Flight through to Wild Dog as to whether they lived on in the back issues proper or ended up relegated to the 50p boxes. Today most shops sales stock tends to be New 52 crap and recent stuff which was over-ordered which might, one day, be worth a pound.

The below is a great video of Jim Rugg, Ed Piskor and friends searching through the dollar boxes of a local shop for diamonds and they find many a diamond for next to nothing.

Even as a bitter, old, entrenched old bastard like myself feels a spark when finding something gloriously cheap. I mean I’d kill to pick those Jack Kirby 2001 comics up for a buck each but on this side of the Atlantic it isn’t going to happen. Nobody over here is that public spirited!

I bring a few boxes of overstocks/crap to the bigger shows I do. I do throw some gems in there as a public service but you’ve got to be fast or you’ll miss them. Come along next year at the Edinburgh show and you’ll see what I mean. Til then buy more comics, and search out those diamonds in the rough…

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The crushing misery of the welfare system

Last night I came home to a large brown envelope that contained a letter and form from the DWP asking me to be reassessed for my Personal Indepndence Payment (PIP) which I frankly need to  carry on doing basic things like live. I wasn’t expecting this til early next year so to be put through this process now when things are fragile sent my anxiety all over the place to the extent that although I eventually calmed down after getting a friend to help me fill it out during the week, I was sick and dizzy so ended up in bed just after 9 last night.

The reason I’m dreading this is the process is designed to put people off  and the system itself if you do apply is deliberately gamed against you, not to mention the Tory government would rather you die than claim. So complaints have went through the roof, and a seeming endless trail of people have taken their own life or left bereft of hope after reliving past traumas.

Now for those of you outwith the UK the process is this; you fill in a form and return it to the DWP who then give a judgementas to what you’ll be awarded monthly. Sounds reasonable enough yeah? Except the initial screening process may well be with a medical professional the final assessesment is by someone with no medical training somewhere buried in the system. These people work in a performance based environment so they work to targets. Get seen on a day when they’ve given plenty of awards and you could be refused only for it to be revoked after appeal months and months later. There’s also the fact the system is designed for you to relive trauma every three years.

I’d hoped the new Scottish system would have been devolved in time but sadly not, and as an aside if anyone screams ‘NATIONALIST’ to folk like me who see an independent Scotland as the only way many of us are going to be free of living with fear then I point them to this and say this is what the UK is doing to people. Tens of thousands are dead thanks to a system unfit for purpose and things are only going to get worse thanks to Brexit which adds another edge to this as the carnage that awaits us from that will directly affect people like me.

So wish me luck. I’ve been quietly dreading Brexit, but having this happen while that happens is going to stretch me thin.

50 years of a man on the Moon

50 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Adrin walked on the Moon making them the first human beings to ever set foot on a body other than the Earth. Since the end of the Apollo programme there’s been occasional teases that maybe we’ll go back and beyond but til now humanity has been having to deal with the fact manned space travel is not a politically popular thing due to the cost. But with private companies moving in, not to mention a genuine international move towards working together to push us off Earth to the Moon it looks as if this time we may actually go back.

As I grew up in the wake of the landing and pushed on by things like Booke Bond’s Race into Space card set as well as science fiction made me think that by the time I turned into a teenager in the 80’s that we’d have bases on the Moon, maybe Mars, and pushing into the solar system. We didn’t.

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So here we are looking back at what three men (Mike Collins being the man who went to the Moon but never set foot on it) and tens of thousands of scientists, astronomers, engineers, and just about every profession you can imagine did to  put man on the Moon.

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One major memory of my childhood wasn’t the landing itself as I was too young, though I do remember some other landings. No, it was 1979’s The Space Movie which I adored.

We now have YouTube and the enormous resource that it has become so we get access to glorious documentaries like this.

Or the great James Burke presenting this tenth anniversary programme.

Life and history changed then. We should have become an outward, space-faring race that cared for its home planet instead of what we did become however there’s a spark of hope with the genuine joy and awe of this 50th anniversary.

I won’t be alive by the 100th anniversary but I hope humanity looks back at this one as a turning point as we reached to the Moon and beyond.

Welcome to Nedageddon

Today is the second day of TRNSMT, so getting around in Glasgow currently feels like this.

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TRNSMT is now confirmed to be the replacement for T in the Park (TitP) in Scotland’s music calender after that festival was finally put to the sword.  TitP had mutated from the original idea to have a Glastonbury/Reading type festival in Scotland to one where loads of kids piled onto a site drinking as much as possible in as short a time. The problem though was the campsites which were problematic and eventually the festival ran out of goodwill from the powers that be.

This is a pity. TitP in the early years had it developed down the Glastonbury route would have been amazing, but instead it went down the V Festival route as it lapped up the juices from its corporate teat as it became just a drain on resources for police and the local community.

So two years ago TRNSMT was born which sticks a large festival in Glasgow Green in Scotland’s largest city which causes all the problems you can imagine. Sure, it’s a great chance to see some great acts but the prospect of thousands of Glaswegian lobster people affected by the unusually sunny, warm weather means thousands waking up on Monday like this.

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So the sounds of music and the smell of cooking neds fill my wee flat as TRNSMT tries to desperately work out an identiy that isn’t just a big piss up in a park in the centre of Glasgow that sells overpriced piss.

And the post Glastonbury depression kicks in

I loved this year’s Glastonbury Festival. I wrote a shitload of words saying just that. Today I went back to work properly and hated every second of it but I was just about holding it together til I saw this Tweet.

And then this happened.

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A post Glastonbury depression slapped on top of anxiety and depression (and yes, I’m being clear on this rather than hinting it) is not a good thing. I realise it is only a daft post holiday blip but the reason I’ve barely watched any of the festival on iPlayer is that I don’t want to be reminded I couldn’t see so much, but that I’m no longer there. But reality sucks and as per usual I’ll muddle by which I really shouldn’t be doing.

Anyhow, it’s less than a year til the 50th anniversay.

 

Every Time the Sun Comes Up-The story of Glastonbury 2019

Glastonbury 2019 was one of those years where the line up was actually very good, but as is normally the way I managed to miss half of what I wanted to see and catch loads I never knew I wanted to see. As a festival I loved this year, even though I was melting and had to deal with a grim realisation by the Friday morning. More of this later, but first, the beginning.  S

I’d decided to spend some time in Bristol before the festival to catch up with friends, but before leaving I had a funeral to attend and a speedy rush to the train station to enjoy a pretty painless journey across half the UK with some essential provisions.

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The one thing that’s always clear when travelling the UK is how empty much of it is and how close we all are to water.

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Eventually we crossed the country and sighted balloons which meant Bristol wasn’t far.

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So a few days in Bristol were enjoyed before Wednesday morning came screeching up and my friend Alan picked me up early in the morning to take me through the morning fog to the festival. Weather forecasts had been sketchy in the weeks leading up to the festival with one saying the opening few days would be pestered with thunderstorms, but things changed with the forecast saying long, hot spells. Which we got. A lot.

As we joined the queue for wristbands, etc in the disabled field, our other group turned up and we all managed to get in together.

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Of course we didn’t get a fancy opening ceremony like the guys at Gate A just a few hundred metres away from where we were.

This year I had an enormous tent as I can’t crawl in and out of a two or three man tent anymore. Thankfully I had nothing but the most modern transport for it.

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Eventually we squeezed into the shuttle bus, pitched up in the disabled field, and set up everyone’s tents realising we could have done with another body to help. Next time we’re going to be a tad more organised.

Wednesday at Glastonbury is a bit of a free for all. Not a lot is on, mainly because most people are setting up so it is a perfect time to go wandering round the site when the site isn’t quite ready. I’ve always loved this day since I started going down for the full week in the early 2000’s.

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Wednesday is also the day when a lot of people grab an early night, and with temperatures starting to rise  it seemed smart to duck out and grab an early night.

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Thursday saw a showing of the Jim Jarmusch zombie film, The Dead Don’t Die, but that was in the evening.

Til them myself and Alan decided to wander, which thanks to my glacial walking speed and the by now baking heat, this too ages so we ended up at the Acoustic Stage taking advantage of the bar.

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And of course the cold, cold drink it sold.

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After the film (which is rather good) we all wandered back, with myself staying out later drinking with a mate from Bristol but a mix of exhaustion and fatigue meant I left before things got messy.

Now when the bands start things always become vague in these blogs mainly because by this point things are vague. What was clear is that seeing Stormsy was to be essential as this would either be astonishing or a road accident. Thankfully it was astonishing as he dipped into 60 years of pop history for inspiration, including a backdrop inspired by Elvis and Jailhouse Rock.

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It was a remarkable show that was one of those Glastonbury gigs where an act becomes something else entirely along the lines of Pulp in 1995 or Radiohead in 1997.

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Saturday came and so did the hottest day. As we’re all outdoors shade is a premium so by late morning people were either still lazing round their tents or shade, or risking the blazing sun which by now was melting people around the site. See, there’s a bit of a myth that really hot days are great for festivals and they’re not as every inch of shade was occupied. Luckily most of what I wanted to see on the Saturday was in the John Peel Stage, which meant sitting in the shade on a pretty empty disabled viewing platform near the bar selling cold drinks. It was a pretty good way to spend an afternoon at Glastonbury, plus things became cooler and more akin to a festival rather than the heatwave baking heat.

As for the night I didn’t fancy The Killers as it isn’t 2011, and seeing as people who did see them said they were a bit pish, I made the right choice which was to soak up the night by falling alseep. I struggle with fatigue and this was a time when my body decided to rest itself ahead of what I wanted to do. Ah well.

Sunday came. It was a perfect day, so time for Kylie, who’d supposed to be headliner in 2005 but cancelled due to her fight with cancer. It was a controversy she’d even been booked at the time, but this is 2019 so instead of indie purists sulking, the Pyramid Stage saw tens of thousands of people. I’d put it at around 150k people crammed into a field. It really was extraordinary.

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I mean, there was just a sea of humanity for this tiny Aussie.

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And the crowd barely shrunk for Miley Cyrus who did the Ashley O thing much to the crowds joy or bemusement.

Topping off the festival were The Cure. Now I’m a passing fan but I’d seen them close the festival in 1995 though back then I’d dropped a load of mushrooms which is not something I can do these days. As the crowd on the viewing platform transformed into old Goths, the stage was set for a classic headliner performance if you were a fan. As said, I’m a casual fan and found much of the first half, well, boring. The last half however where they cranked out the singles was great fun and reminded people just how much of a great singles band The Cure were.

As The Cure ended that was it for most people, though many vanished into the South East of the site to not reappear til well into the next day which for us, involved packing up slowly, getting back in our cars and relunctantly going home.

And that was Glastonbury 2019 where I learned the lesson that trying to walk everywhere isn’t going to work anymore. Next year (tickets permitting) I’ll have to get a scooter because there’s no fun in spending hours walking around making myself fatigued ages before I need to be. Next year will be the 50th anniversary and internet rumours range from it being the last year before Michael Eavis retires (I don’t think he will now) to the festival expanding to a full seven days for the one-off anniversary (which I can’t see either) but the lone fact is that demand will be much larger than usual.

2022 will mark my 30th anniversary of attending the festival, but the 50th will be special and I hope to catch you there. I’ve learned my lessons this year so no more trying to do stuff I can’t do and take offers of aid, or use things that’ll help make things more fun!

 

Return to reality

Back to Glasgow after a quite spectacularly hot Glastonbury Festival and a wee holiday in Bristol which came just at the right time. The sun has gome to be replaced by cloud and grimness but there’s still enough holiday vibes to keep me going for now.

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More later but right now I’m off back to bed to watch the festival on iPlayer.