Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Nothing happens, it only happened

Last night I went to see a band called Lifehouse at Shepherd's Bush Empire. A good gig in a great venue. 

Maybe it's the ornate theatre-esque interior - or my dad reminding me he saw T-Rex play there over 30-years ago - that I feel like a tangible part of history whenever I've been there. I can't help be a little jealous of past generations who were lucky enough to see such iconic bands as T-Rex, The Stones and The Who in a such an intimate environment, where if Roger Daltrey had swung his microphone around you would've likely had to duck to avoid having your head taken clean off.

I can see the photographs in my head of numerous singers leaning over a sweating mass of bodies all staring in up in awe and wonder at seeing their idols at such close quarters. I can't help but think though that if these scenes were recreated today they would look very different. Instead, the hands reaching out wouldn't be trying to catch a long-remembered fleeting touch - they'd be holding a phone, or a camera. They wouldn't be staring in wonder trying to burn the image indelibly into their memories - they'd be looking not at the stage but at their phones. At one stage last night I could only see the stage on the six camera screens being held up directly in front of me by people recording the song, and they were just the tip of the iceberg.

This seems inherently sad to me. People seem more concerned with making sure they have that video clip to upload to YouTube, or picture to post on Flicker, than I they are with actually enjoying the experience while they are there. From where I was it seemed that some people watched the whole gig through a viewfinder. I can only imagine how it feels for performers now, when they are confronted not with people jumping around enjoying a song, but a sea of phones all pointed their way. Could it be that mobile technology, and social networking, are slowly turning us into people who are thinking more of how to record our lives for others to view afterwards than about living them ourselves? 

From now on maybe nothing will happen until it's happened.

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Modern medicine has been able to cure myriad viruses that afflict us poor humans. But, despite our advances, it seems that we can't stop that age old disease Hyperbolitis from continually spreading, most notably amongst our politicians and media. The condition, which causes those infected to exaggerate everything they say beyond common reason, seems to currently be doing the rounds at Westminster. 

In a single news item on the BBC News web site yesterday (Danger warning over military cuts) several Tory MPs comments said there would be 'draconian cuts', 'grave consequences', 'serious damage, 'appalling leaks' and 'huge overspends', that they enjoyed the PMs 'tremendous support', and at one point, that someone-or-other would need 'the wisdom of solomon'. 

So I was glad to hear Ed Miliband call for a proper grown-up debate after being crudely labelled 'Red Ed' by one particular red-top. Alas though, he hadn't foreseen the spread of Hyperbolitis through his own party, as in the same news item Labour MPs were quoted in response as saying the letter was 'incredible' and that the government was 'in chaos'.

It's a strange disease, in that it only appears to manifest when people comment on others, and not their own situations. And until a cure is found it's hard to see how our politicians are ever going to be able to have that adult debate. But when the day comes when the docs give them the all clear and they do, I for one will think it's absolutely and totally stupendous.