Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ranty McRantypants Lets It All Out

Ok. I really have to actually start using this thing now. Enough is enough is enough.

I keep wanting to rant inappropriately in other places and the internal voice which says 'Don't Do This Get Your Own Fucking Blog' keeps being answered by another saying 'But You've Got One You Just Haven't Posted In Six Months', to say nothing of the other voice which says 'Apart From That Other One Where You Only Post In Some Weird Cartoon Persona Which Jesus Christ Am I Actually Like That NOOOO' at which point I start gibbering wildly and have to be comforted with nicotine, then forget all about it. Only the rants, they keep building up and they won't go away.

I had wanted to keep this blog all nice and neat, full of pithy little essays about this or that aspect of the happy-go-lucky life of a London busker but that was a complete non-starter. I must have been taking the pith. What was I thinking?

And there's a lot to rant about today.

Firstly, thank you very bloody much, Radio 4's Today programme, for inviting some dick on your show this morning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly's death by saying how they didn't think he was actually that good and left him a bit cold. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion but there is a time and a place and this was absolutely not it. To be fair, Today is not something that anyone in their right mind turns to for music criticism but this was particularly unwarranted and basically embarrassing to listen to, and the jokey asides about having brought whoever it was on just to 'spit in church' only made it worse. I have a good mind to get my green felt tip pen out and write to them longhand just to show how annoyed I am.

Next. I have just (yesterday or so) finished reading Charles Stross' excellent Accelerando and wish to have words with his editor. For all that I may have slightly taken the piss in a recent cartoon tooltip - and I am not the only one to have wondered if the first section was automatically generated by some arcane mashup of Slashdot, Wired and the Dada engine, I ultimately thought the book was great, utterly compulsive reading, so densely packed with ideas as to leave this reader positively dizzy, in between Wikipedia lookups - Stross takes no prisoners with his erudition and why should he - and though the end was satisfying I was left wanting to read more. However, there is one ugly blemish which runs through the writing, which is the dialogue of the character Annette. She is French, we learn, which does not explain why she speaks English like Yoda. While Stross, who knows so much about maths, science, cosmology, computing, technology in general, and singularity theory in particular, can arguably be forgiven for this lapse - it is not easy to accurately depict the grammatical quirks of a French speaker in English - this kind of thing is precisely what editors are supposed to be for. And Stross' editor let him down badly on this one. I have several French friends whose English is not so good and none of them talk like Yoda. There are grammatical quirks that slip over from French to English but Yodaisms are not one of them.

What else. Oh yes, the busking thing. I have not been busking much lately owing to an arm injury, from which I have now recovered, but in the meantime, various highly unpleasant changes have taken place in terms of the way in which TfL are managing the busking scheme. Owing to ongoing negotiations I am not going to go into detail right now but here's a taster of the New Rules - officially we are now forbidden from selling CDs while we busk and while we are allowed to distribute business cards on request we are not allowed to put them out for people to pick up while we play. To understand why this is shit you need to know that few buskers are just buskers. We are mainly professional musicians who busk because though it is not the best paid gig in town it is a paid gig if you can make it pay. Under the previous regime many buskers supplemented their busking income by CD sales and by further work garnered via random contacts picking up a business card, so this leaves all of us pretty stuffed. And suffice it to say that this is not the worst of the recent changes to the scheme, which has left many of us wondering just how much longer the whole thing is viable - and a few of us wondering if the whole idea isn't exactly that - to discourage us from doing it in the first place.

There's other stuff too, probably, but I forget.

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