Thursday, 27 December 2012


We’ve gone and done one of those lists that should be avoided with added pretentious muso sentence.

1: Swans – The Seer
A 2 hour album with a 32 minute song and not a second is less than sublimely vital.

2: First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Innocently wise sisters’ gorgeous harmonies sing magical campfire melodies.

3: Actress – R.I.P.
Masterful and challenging dance music layered and enveloped in reflective brilliance.

4: Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
Substantial intelligence and literate truth covered in an irresistible smooth R&B exterior.

5: Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse
Powerful, exciting and unrelenting garage rock that kicks melodic ass.

6: Bob Dylan – Tempest
Bob Dylan released an album in the year and so it was the best album of the year.

7: Tame Impala – Lonerism
Psychedelic sounds spiral into a modern pop classic.

8: Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t
Heart-wrenchingly honest break-up album emitting humour and hope.

9: The Cribs – In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull
Blasts of raw energy and chaotic choruses confirm why you always loved them.

10: Bill Fay – Life Is People
Slowly moving masterpiece about life, death, hope and regret crooned with accepted wisdom.

11: Liars – WIXIW
Off-kilter, nagging noise from dark souls creeps to inviting warm and tuneful depths.

12: Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
Dignified, exposing and beautifully realised collection of crafted songs.

13: Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Aptly named joyous riot of guitars, slogans and energy.

14: Scott Walker – Bish Bosch
Difficult, abstract, impenetrable, twisted, terrifying beauty.

15: Julia Holter – Ekstatis
Hypnotic dreams float organically into artfully pretty melodic bliss.

16: Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
An aggressive pounding in thrilling complex time signatures.

17: Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
Poetically aggressive, politically raw, cunningly produced old-skool rap.

18: Crystal Castles – (III)
Atmospheric foreboding electronica that sparkles and soothes.

19: Tall Ships – Everything Touching
Wonky electronic riffs and roaring organic choruses impress.

20: The Coup – Sorry To Bother You
Addictively infectious hip-hop party with engaging underlying messages.

*not made in Leeds

Friday, 21 December 2012


The Leeds Debacle issue 10 is online now. Please read it at the link below. We hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Joseph's Well

Another institution disappearing to make the city a whole lot worse is The Well. The announcement that the building situated behind the LGI would no longer continue as a music venue was devastating, if not unexpected. Only last year, there was a petition to stop the premises being taken over by some monstrosity or another followed this year by a premature announcement that it had lost. Then, just when it seemed to have won…

Memories of The Well are many. From as far back as when it was Josephs and I am working out whether my 16 year old schoolmate on stage has a red-face because his bass-string has just broke, because it’s fecking hot in here, or because his mum’s dancing like a lunatic Bez next to the girl he’s trying to impress. Later and I am scoffing at a Kaiser Chief telling me that Parva have been dropped but how their change in direction is sure to take him from pulling my pint to Glastonbury. Then it is new years eve and I am in drunken delirium being hit in the head by a snowball thrown from the arm of the headliner. Next it is Live at Leeds and I can’t even get into the bar area let alone the stage because it’s too full of people watching my best mates band even though they’re not famous. Oh, and there’s been some damn good music too. The Kills, British Sea Power, Buck 65, Fucked Up, Gallows, Earth… to December when the doors must close with a suitably sweaty, emotional and rocking farewell.

Maybe The Well ultimately carved out too fine a niche for itself as an out-of-town down-to earth hardcore rock and metal.venue. The location was hardly remote but people can be lazy. The bands weren’t always obscure but people can be safe. The Well was always about the music; a huge support for a myriad of local bands stepping out into the world of rock’n’roll and a showcase for any number of superb cult acts unlikely to visit Leeds were it not for here. I, along with many others, grew up with The Well. On behalf of us all, we salute you.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

X Factor to English

Steff Higgins translates...

For years I’ve been perplexed by the fact that I seem to hear something completely different to the X Factor judges. No matter how often King Simon Cowell throws a strop and axes someone, replacing them with someone more attractive and less talented, I always seem to find myself open-mouthed at their reactions. Then I realised… It must be that there’s a secret X Factor language that they are taught vigorously before they’re allowed on our screens to judge the nation. It’s the only explanation (that doesn’t mean I have ridiculous taste in music)! So I went ahead and devised this phrase dictionary so that, on Saturday, you’ll know what they’re actually saying.

* “You’re the dark horse”
I didn’t really like to start with, but after seeing the reaction of the public, I’ve had a sudden change of heart (£££)

* “You’re the one to beat”
You’ve peaked too soon, you’ll probably get voted out around 3 or 4 weeks before the final and no-one will ever hear of you again, despite your voice actually being pretty good

* “You own the stage”
Don’t get too cocky

* “You haven’t got the best voice in the competition”
You sound awful, but my god are you attractive.

* “You’re a born entertainer” 
You’re controversial and, without you, no-one would be talking about the show

* “You’re very likeable”
What’s your name again?

* “You look amazing up there tonight”
You usually look like dog shit, big well done to hair and makeup

* “You look like a pop star”
We’ll have to auto-tune you, and you could never sing live; but you look like we could make you do ANYTHING in a music video (Alexandra Burke)

* “I think you’re better than that performance”
I don’t like that song

* “That was a safe song choice”
Might as well've listened to the original

* “Yours was the performance of the night”
Yours, and everyone else I’ll say that to over the course of the night

* “You looked like you were having a really good time up there tonight”
At least someone was

* “What a great start to the show”
Let’s get this over with

* “What a great end to the show”
Can I go now?

Now I’ve cracked the code, you can watch with the confidence that you’re in the loop.



The cherry on the crapcake of TV programming has to be "Take Me Out" with the baldy bouncer from Phoenix Nights. This indication of how we have slipped as a society should not be ignored! First of all, there's Paddy himself, a man who would not be out of place, and indeed would be the coolest, funniest guy, in Oceana. Have you heard the shit this bloke comes out with? And to rapturous applause from the overweight, undereducated rabble of an audience. So, what's it about? Well, a particularly pathetic man descends down an oversized hamster tube into somewhere within the 8th circle of hell. Where has he come from? What's at the other end? Is the tube just sucking up twats from around the UK like some massive dickhead hoover? If only. How I would love the idea of moving the chute to the middle of the North Sea. I fear the reality of the situation is far more disturbing, they're actually putting themselves forward for this - oh, the humanity! He strides to the back of the studio (or dances) in either jeans and a shirt (George at Asda) or an ill-fitting suit (purchased for court appearances), turns round and strikes a pose. His job is to impress and then choose one of about 40 hags, all as charmless and desperate as the jabroni up for grabs. At this stage the females decide whether they would like to go on a date with him or opt out, Pad then asks a select few the reasons why they are interested or not. The answers require subtitles. I have no idea what they're plying these women with beforehand but judging by their answers it may have started life as floor cleaner. Perhaps one of the requirements for applicants is a full frontal lobotomy, ".....well 'e's a bit full of 'imself inni, I mean yer know...what's all this eh", she flails around showing off her bingo wings. The next is completely indecipherable, god knows where she's from but she sounds like a cup of hot water thrown into a deep fat fryer, cackling something about "not her type". Because he doesn't have two heads? Is his forehead not quite as sloping as she would like? Should Paddy carry round a protractor testing for homosapiens? "Oooh this one's borderline!" One of the girls with their 'light still on' is questioned. "I loved the way 'e just come out, like you know, with a bit o' this (she shakes her hips) I think 'e could be a bit of a wild one, and I'm a bit of a wild one too!!" The audience go fucking crazy, she's a character it would seem. He then gets to show a tape of himself, a kind of promo, showing the girls how average he is, hopefully he will be average enough for them. "Hi I'm fucking Greg, I have a car and a job (great start), I've been to see James Blunt 12 times this year already! (really great start)." Greg, or whatever he's called, is on a roll, but if round two (his mum/sister/boyfriend telling everyone he's a wimp/bully/bore) doesn't get him, round three (displaying his delusion of having a talent, such as playing air-guitar whilst showing no shame) sure as hell will. Greg then selects one of the bozos not turned off by a man who defines talent as sitting in a bath. As our Pad spouts one more nonsensical rhyme and the word Fernando's rises above the wit of Wilde, it is time to turn my TV light off this excrutiatingly moronic meat-market. No lighty, no fucking likey.

Friday, 9 November 2012


Let it not be said that Millennium Square is a paved waste of space and council money surrounded by mercenary bars spilling over with brainless lads and clotheless lasses. It’s not. Since opening in, erm, the millennium, the square has provided a serene space to potter, bask and relax in an otherwise hectic city centre. The following year saw the beautiful adjoining Nelson Mandela Gardens opened by the loud-shirted man himself, who thought he was in Liverpool. Since then, a string of ingenious events have provided us Loiners the chance to have some great days and nights and put some money back into the project. Music gigs, art exhibitions, theatre, fashion shows, sport screenings and food tasting are some of the impressive showcases staged at Millennium Square, all with huge success. The most successful of all returns winter after winter: Christkindelmarkt aka The German Market.

Friday, 5:05pm, mid-November: I am two of thousands upon thousands of feet clomping hurriedly up The Headrow. Offices and staff-rooms across Leeds descending from all sides, eyes bulging, mouths shrieking, tummies rumbling. For tonight, 11 months later, the city comes together for a previously unknown mutual love of sausage, steins, mulled wine and oompah. The anticipation is palpable.

Within minutes, I have queued for a spicy sausage, put too much pressure on the ketchup dispenser, queued for a cheese sausage, put too much pressure on the mustard dispenser, wiped mustard excess off with a paper towel, demolished a spicy sausage and too much ketchup sandwich, and demolished a cheese sausage, mustard and paper towel sandwich. I’ve injured my girlfriend on the dodgems, perused the lovely stalls, laughed at mullets and been told I’m too old for the merry-go-round. Things are going well and can only improve with a massive jug of overpriced German lager next to roaring drunks watching an aged hirsute brass band.

Fifty minutes later, I am two of hundreds of feet standing miserably still, way away from our holy grail, outside the mockingly named Walkabout. Queuing and waiting. Tummies bulging, mouths rumbling, eyes shrieking. Waiting and queuing. One in one out. Only another eighty to go I reckon. Only no-one’s leaving. Another couple of joy-sapped call-centre staff trundle off towards The Cuthbert Broderick. Only another seventy-eight to go I reckon.

I am sitting in the window of Wetherspoons with an underpriced pint of German lager, a wooden rocking horse, 3ft of salami, a reindeer rug, 45 chocolate marshmallows and a toilet roll holder of a man pooing. People outside shiver with broken hopes, from the bierkeller to the exit and beyond. The group of booming louts to my right cheer or jeer, it’s hard to tell, as another pint goes tumbling over. The evening has disintegrated into a din of wordless noises; yelps and grunts, wahays and woahs. I smile at the moustachioed old gentleman to my left carrying a trombone case as he rinses his bangers & mash down with a gulp of English ale. Sir, the city is waiting for you.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


auditCONTROL's debut album ‘Lines’ was made in Huddersfield and championed in Ibiza. Rumbling bass, thick baritone, tumbling drums and chiming guitars introduce themselves separately and precisely to fill a sparse atmosphere and build slow-burning, detached anthems. Theirs is the sound of grey 80’s towns, of hope and hopelessness, of failed escape, all played out with a heavy heart and a grounded ambition.

Little Victories
Bright upstarts Little Victories debut single ‘Staring At The Ground’ bounces a tale of boy-loses-girl to infectious indie pop to get the most static of toes tapping. Nagging and swaggering, politely crunching guitars, vaguely ska beats and rotating bass hook lead accurately to a strong chorus of pleasingly uncool backing vocals that make this a delight to listen to and join in with.

Burning Condors
Foreboding drums, menacing guitar and eerie harmonica introduce a bitter and beaten late-night bar-room story of a man losing everything to his ‘Honey Trap’. Raw and unapologetic, the blues roars and the heart bleeds on a debut single seeping with drama and stenching of whisky. Impressive old-time Americana from London.

With an accompanying video promising blood, feathers and bacon and delivering disturbing Lynch-ian pig-headed images, it would be difficult to concentrate on Antibang’s music if debut single ‘All Our Toys’ was anything less than dementedly catchy. Frightening and fun, this is a chaotic riot of chants that they may or may not be in control of about dry-wet-dream-trampolines and joining the circus. A most enjoyable nightmare.

Mark Parker
22 years since writing his first song, a “painfully shy” Mark Parker decided it was about time he let other people hear them. Less than one year and more than one thousand fans later and he is overcoming stage fright to play tracks like gently moving lullaby ‘I Wish I Could Break Your Heart’ live. His is the story of music helping to overcome personal difficulties to follow dreams and improve life.

Super Luxury
Noise rock seems to be done damn well in Leeds and here come Super Luxury to add to the impressive list. Debut EP ‘Mystery Thriller Teen Drama’ combines classic riffage with modern time-signatures played with an energy and control to thrilling effect. Agitated, yelping, spiked and furious fun.

Hidden White Noise
Good old-fashioned rock’n’soul from Leeds via southern USA from Hidden White Noise on EP ‘Wake Up The City’. Boogying from ‘Do Ya Do Ya’s joyous holler and woogying to good-time sermon ‘Hallelujah’ with much melodic meat in between. Out of time and timeless.

Cold Summer
Wakefield rocks unfathomably frequently and does so again here, hard. On their 2nd EP ‘Wake’, Cold Summer do the quiet-loud thing expertly and passionately, chopping riffs and changing time, screaming verses and bellowing choruses. This is serious stuff unafraid of ambition, which could either be the undoing or the making of them.

Newcomers Cheerleaders blast onto the scene and are gone in less than 2 minutes. ‘Puzzles’ explodes in rattling fast drums and melodically shouted slogans. Either turned-up indie or toned-down punk, this is a promising no-nonsense beginning that fits well with the Leeds scene. Welcome. 


Hollie Morris – Sheffield Wednesday fan – talks sense.

I’ve read match reports, social media comments and heard rants about how Leeds fans behaved and how they, as a club, should be ashamed; with some people, most notably Wednesday manager Dave Jones, calling for them to be banned. (“Leeds supporters should be banned from every away ground until they sort it out.”)

But is it something we’ve never seen before? Is what happened on Friday night something that shocked us because we really thought football had moved on, or are some people using their bias against Leeds as a catalyst for ill-thought headhunting? Does this problem lie within each and every club? Aside from the Kirkland assault, the things I saw on Friday night weren’t something new to me.

The fans’ surge towards the North Stand (and then later the South) may well have been in retaliation to a song sung by Wednesday fans. And the song in question may also have been in retaliation to a prior song by the travelling support. But it’s like trying to sort out the chicken and the egg. You have to ask yourself, before condemning Leeds, have you witnessed your own fans doing this before? And if so, would you invite the same condemnation upon every one of your supporters?

A few years ago at Barnsley away the Wednesday fans charged towards Barnsley’s East Stand, with supporters breaching the barrier and clashing. Our fans began this push towards the Barnsley fans and the Tykes retaliated. At this point, I was stood amongst friends at the back of the stand; do I deserve to be lumped in with those fans that had tried to get at their Barnsley counterparts? There may have been fans behind their goal watching on, in the same way we were on Friday, in disgust. They may have been sat with their children, just like those Wednesday fans who are now debating whether to return to the football.

On Friday, I sat on the front of the Kop in my season ticket seat and couldn’t hear either the alleged song about Istanbul, or the chanting about the disaster. But I did hear the songs regarding Dave Jones and the Jimmy Savile chants that DJ also mentioned in his post-match press conference. Again, though, is this something confined to Leeds fans?

At the time I was disappointed in the songs I heard. And in previous games this season, particularly Millwall and Hull, I have felt the same frustrations with opposition fans chanting things I have felt were, even for football, below the belt. But Wednesday fans may want to get off their high horse now. I went to Ipswich away in 2006 – the year that Steve Wright had committed his serial murders across Suffolk. I’ll not have to enlighten you as to what was chanted at their fans, nor will I baffle you with what was said, affably, about Moors murderer, Ian Brady. When did distastefulness lie under the heading of “banter”? When I was a kid, my Granddad used to call us “Sheffield Wednesday nil” in jest that we could never score. At what point did that turn into the sorry state we have now? Banter has now become a “who can be the most disgusting, repugnant and repulsive” contest.

At Charlton away in recent years I’ve felt the worst I have felt as a Wednesday fan, as a fan of football in general, and as a fellow human being, to be associated with the groups of our own fans we came into contact with. On the train, tube, and out on the street, continuous, unrelenting racism and vile, abhorrent abuse was chanted at general members of the public, not even involved with the “society” of football. A lady was at the station waiting for her train by herself and Wednesday fans took it upon themselves to shout abuse at her and then stroll off as if it was her fault, and she was “fair game”, as it was football day.

After this particular football match, I went home and seriously considered whether to go to any more away games. I didn’t want to be associated with these fans, and if this is what Sheffield Wednesday brought with it, I didn’t want to be a part. It wasn’t all the travelling support. But the loudest are the ones that get heard, and as representatives of our club, they had left me thoroughly embarrassed, ashamed and downright disgusted in how Sheffield Wednesday was to be perceived by others.

This is what some Leeds fans felt the other night. Some of the people I’ve met through the football are some of the very best people you could wish to meet, and are an absolute age away from the Neanderthal support witnessed at Charlton. Living in West Yorkshire, I know a lot of Leeds fans; Leeds fans that would have felt as I did had it been them at Charlton.

There were advertising boards being thrown from the top of Leppings Lane onto the fans below and, again, having travelled to Rochdale last season, wonder what the ‘Dale fans thought, looking on to the boards being ripped from their ground to the tune of “We’ll do what we want”? These people do not represent every person at the club. At our club; at Leeds; or at any club that we see these things at.

As of last season, I personally felt that a section of Wednesday fans had taken on their own persona – “we’ll do what we want” becoming the motto for this idiocy. I hated it last season, and I hate it now. I hate that flares have become something “we do” now. At Crystal Palace, kids near us were crying because an idiot had brought a smoke bomb, then decided they didn’t want to have it near them and thrown it in our direction. I do not associate myself, or any of my friends, with these people, and we should assume the same stance towards other clubs.

Wednesday cannot condemn Leeds because of bias against a local rival. Because of a dislike for Ken Bates or Neil Warnock. Because we hate “Marching on Together". Or even because Howard Wilkinson left us and did ‘you know what’ with Leeds a few seasons later (well... maybe a little bit).

We can condemn the people that truly believe they’ll “do what they want”, and those people that show football, and football fans, up as the long standing (and untrue) stereotype. They’re not Sheffield Wednesday. They’re not Leeds United. They do not belong to football.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


This Friday afternoon Leeds to Skipton train stinks. Overcrowded and rattling, businessmen are sweating into families crying into chavs swearing into hipsters. Gradually, from Shipley through Bingley to Keighley, the suits and the prams and the obscenities alight, and we become a carriage of skinny jeans and massive beards. 44 minutes later, knees bent and arms stretched, we ra ra ra our borrowed tents and buggered cider, with unused strength of unseen muscle, from murky towns to muddy hills. And we’re here. Greetings from Beacons.
In a stunning Yorkshire Dales setting, Beacons essentially opens up Moorfest, a local festival for local people, to outsiders. The line-up is far-reaching in location and genre. The promotion is hot, offering fun for everyone; music, art, clothes, spirituality, food & drink… for families, scenesters, ravers, boozers, hippies… The last and first year was flooded out. Unsurprisingly, this year is sold out. 
The festival is already in full swing and soul, keen campers having arrived last night and today taken in a trio of bands I promise to see at Leeds Fest for missing here. The campsites are small enough to find spaced and big enough to find space. Tent up, cider downed, we leave camp to the relaxed atmosphere of day and enter festival to the vibrant night.
Unfortunately, we do not witness this with the bright vocals and dark beats of Jesse Ware, as planned, but by being misdirected through trawling, winding, unsigned roads to an oddly remote and distant hut, a most unusual and inconvenient location to hold our golden ticket. We then accidently appear on site without passing any security. And now it’s raining…
Despite the open space, Beacons provides ample shelter from the storm. All stages are covered and so the psych-glam-fuzz of Gross Magic in the ‘Noisey/Vice’ tent and the loud dream dubstep of Mount Kimbie in the ‘Stool Pigeon’ tent receive a strong and enthusiastic crowd. Tonight is headlined by dub-rap-reggae master Rodney Smith aka Roots Manuva. Charmingly un-bling and infectiously likeable, we are propelled through dancehalls, schmoozed by Yorkshire Olympic praise, before erupting to alt-Olympic cheese-on-toast anthem Witness (1 Hope).
The night continues but I don’t, laying my head in my new home. This is when some inevitable teething problems become apparent. The party tunes are blared over the camping area and the family-friendly theme is further questioned by an attempted 5am trip to the glory of festival toilets. Minimal in number and unusably covered in your imagination, folk are public-peeing, like enforced Heaton Park Stone Roses hooligans.
Sunshine greets Saturday morning and I feel further refreshed at the sight of people feeling a whole lot worse than me. The food is not quite as delectable as advertised but is passable for a festival so a mediocre breakfast and rather good coffee anticipates the day. Initial confusion letting people onto the site then throwing them back out soon redeems itself by the realisation that the festival is responding to toilet complaints and doing something about it. Kudos. Unfortunately for The Magnetic North, the delay means they begin their mid-day set to themselves but, soon enough, have attracted an audience besotted by their Orkney-influenced picturesque folk tales of seasonal beauty. A lovely opening to shake off hangovers and kick off session two.
Speaking of which, we head over to a real success for Beacons; Whitelocks. Ye olde Leeds pub has recently been taken over by some of Beacons organisers, who have modernised without losing any traditional charm. This approach is exemplified with the on-site Whitelocks, where a terrific selection of real ales are supped by the most unlikely of cool customers. The association may help fill pockets but this is no mere cash-in and the roaring fire for the cold and outdoor benches for the sun make for a welcoming space easy to miss bands for.
But miss bands we mustn’t as Cass McCombs is already riding along his country dirt-track. Expertly played sombre ballads (‘County Line’) fall surprisingly flat though chugging Americana (‘The Same Thing’) fares a little better. Followed by Still Corners, the mood remains static but now sparkles, thanks to both their glorious debut album and vocalist Tessa Murray’s jacket glistening somewhere between iconic front-woman and ironic bingo-caller.
After Julio Bashmore had cancelled his Friday night epic, there are concerns and rumours when Weird Dreams fail to appear next, and Clock Opera later on. The reasons are unclear but, to the festivals credit, the latter is replaced superbly by agit-punk entertainers Future of the Left, and the omissions are helped by a line-up of continuing quality causing inevitable clashes. We choose Japandroids over Splashh and are rewarded with a chaotic riot of noise met by a charged pit to bring in the night.
Next up, Ghostpoet fills the tent with effortless style and an energised set of downbeat tales that have the crowd hip-hopping forward and bellowing back singles ‘Survive It’ and ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’. Headliners and adopted Yorkshire sons Wild Beasts might be preaching to the converted but their sermons are increasingly impressive. Through a back catalogue of awesomely brooding new (‘Bed of Nails’) and awkwardly catchy old (‘The Devil’s Crayon’) classics the crowd shout along, especially and comically on ‘All The Kings Men’, with Hayden Thorpe’s soaring falsetto (“watch me! watch me!”) and Tom Fleming’s warming baritone (“girls from Shipley”).
Sunday arrives with the patter of rain on tent and it seems many remain hidden under canvas until their Pearson Sound induced comedown capitulates. We finally brave the mud for marvellous tea, vintage clothes, tiny golf, bouncy slides, more ale and The Wave Pictures. Perfect 60s sunshine pop somehow fits the falling weather and cheers up a large crowd bopping to infectious off-kilter tunes (‘I Love You Like A Madman’) who now want more! More comes more in tune with the conditions as Leeds’ Hookworms lock-in, groove-out and hypnotise a pleasingly huge head-nodding audience with their thunderous, passionate, repetitive drone and love.
Flagging, an admirable veg curry provides a second wind (so to speak) and we’re off again. Willy Mason is a big draw and reminds us that he remains a big talent oozing authenticity. He delights with audience singalongs (‘Save Myself’) and original classics (‘Oxygen’). Now fully into a relaxed Sunday session, post-rock newcomers Tall Ships get us dancing to wonky electronic riffs (‘T=0’) and roaring organic choruses (‘Gallop’) to create an immediate and lasting impression.
But the end is nigh. Patrick Wolf, Felice Brothers, Cloud Nothings and, of course, Toots & the Maytals await my happy ears but a stinking carriage awaits my knackered body. There has since been much praise but also various criticisms of Beacons; unacceptable toilets, minimal additional activities, unfortunate t-shirts, over/under(?)-zealous security, not what it said on the tin… some valid, all minor. I expect these will be better next year. I expect Beacons will be great next year. It was pretty damn good this year.

This miserable city sits several miles north and several miles south of several cities worse.

She is Joan, widowed, 53, already and recently, 5.30am because she couldn't sleep again, opens her Hunslet door to her Hunslet wind, places her milkless bottles on her repetative step, steps from her Garfield slipper onto her council drive, evaporating, the bite doesn't hurt any more, blind, numb, deaf, dumb. "Good morning!" he says, she hears, he is too nice or he is too thick to be ironic, she waves, and, for the first time since, she smiles.

He is Gary, call centre advisor, 39, moves from the vandalised bus-stop to the petrified bus, squashed, sodden, smiling because his neighbour smiled. Seven til five for seven years for seventeen grand, senseless, sensible, suited, if shirt, tie, trousers and walking boots is a suit, smart. Good, the girl is here again, good. Last time he said next time he will ask, now this time is next time and she is here, she is beautiful, he is smart, suited, scented, smiling, handsome in his heyday, yesterday, yesteryear, "yes" she says. But only in his head.

She is Alice, 26, hot in her heels and running, to work, not away from him, but that's an added bonus, why does that man stare her way every day, smiles stupidly, old, ugly, odourless, harmless, hopefully. Don't trip, don't trip, don't trip, inevitable, agony, wait, painless, alone, embarassed, agony, the masses pass, ignore, she has become an obstacle, objectionable, a man stops, he smiles, not stupidly, he holds her hand, he helps her stand, she thanks the man and runs off on her heels, in love.

He is John, shop-floor stander but little do they know, in retail, stylishly-suited, seemingly effortless, 30, too old for this, trying too hard. That stupid woman was bound to fall for heels for ice for him, for he has seen this all before, force-fed-fucking, fucking animal, vegetable, mineral water is too much for this wage, council pop, counting seconds, to see her, to sleep with her, not any more, yesterday he would be hot on her heels, not any more; to be with her.

She is Sam, formidable for so young, 30, sits at her sanitised city desk, stares from her high head to her low applicant. Is this me or is this my act? Poised, preened, power. Pathetic. Concentrate, focus, tonight is handsome but today is now. She knows he wants to marry her but he's a shop-floor stander, she knows she wants to marry him but a Hyde Park house is not a home... concentrate. When she is with him her hair falls.

She is Patricia, wound tight but is it any wonder? Half her age, half frowning, half a world away. Her hair was too tight and her highness said no. She doesn't even want this job but that doesn't matter. A milkman can't keep a family and 26 is too old to still be at home anyway. Shaking but she'll be alright. A free five o'clock bus is no way to leave an interview.  She composes, a nice man smiles and lets her sit down, she compliments his shoes for such weather. She should set her daughter up with this one instead of her friends son.

He is Richard, nervous and arrogant, a strange combination. 28 and past it, except he hasn't got started, a catch, so why does he need mums to set up a date? Accidently celibate, over-compensating, underwhelming. Rings on the comedy doorbell on the Morley door and rubs his deceptively weak hands. The wind is too strong for a pound umbrella and the rain beats his pointlessly prepared hair. "Good evening" says her dad. He hopes so.

He is Pat, 60 and sound, thirty years in a dying trade, alive. 5am is an early start when you haven't slept. Because he can tell she's in love with someone else again because he's in love with someone else. At least it's not the limp-handshaker. The Hunslet wind bites, fresh, beautiful. Whistling, he removes the milkless bottles from the repetative step. Smiling, he places full, perfect bottles on the repetative step. Everything is correct.

And so it goes, day by day, inside and out, together, happy, safe in the knowledge that this miserable city sits several miles north and several miles south of several cities worse.


I’ve got a blog that no-one reads
I’ve got a dog that no-one leads
I’ve got advice that no-one heeds
I’ve got headlice that no-one needs
I’ve got a garden no-one weeds
I’ve got a pardon no-one pleads
I’ve got a lawn that no-one seeds
I’ve got some porn that no-one breeds
I’ve got a tart that no-one greeds
I’ve got a heart that no-one bleeds
I’ve got a frog that no-one feeds
I’ve got a blog that no-one reads