Tag Archives: The Specials

March 19th

On this day in 2011, so actually today there is a phenomenon called a “supermoon”. This appears to be causing both excitement and confusion, so while I am usually your font of all historical knowledge, today I shall take on the role of science genius and explain it all to you. Listen carefully, I shall say this only once. Well I’ll say it once, then probably wibble on a bit, go around the houses and then sum up in a “and there you have it!” way, to further impress the wonders of my unique and Mekon-sized brain on you all.

Many newspapers and other media outlets are pretending to us that the supermoon is a rare event. This is nonsense.  There are somewhere between 4 and 6 moons that are a bit super every year. Now, the one we’re having today is the most super one we’ve had since 1993, or I guess, the one that looks the biggest and is therefore making the media get a bit moist in the old pant region.  That out of the way, I shall now tell you in simple words what this phenomenon is.

The Moon gets annoyed when spaceships land on it

The moon, as we know, orbits the earth once every (roughly) 28 days. The moon’s orbit is also influenced by the earth’s orbit of the sun and it is perturbed (this is a scientific type of a word, but you know what? It roughly translates to the same as the proper use of it, so I’ve used it because I like the idea of the moon being a bit worried) by both the earth and the sun. These little worries are described in a big old mathematical way by a bloke called Cassini’s Law, but we don’t need to worry ourselves with that. Basically, I’m showing off a bit. Now at times the moon’s orbit brings it closer to the earth than others. When it’s within 90% of its closest range and is a full or a new moon, we call it a supermoon. We call it that, but scientists like to have their own language for stuff, so they call it a perigee-syzygy. I’m not trying to be clever here, because perigee is a word we need to know for the scary stuff that people believe about the supermoon thing a bit later on. It means the point at which the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit. Syzygy is a full or new moon when sun, moon and earth are aligned. And there we have it. The moon we have tonight is full and fine and bigger than usual. That said, I was very disappointed to go out earlier and not see the whole sky filled with the moon. After all the fuss and nonsense I was expecting something a bit more spectacular than what we’ve got. But enough of my wish for a very large moon on a stick. Time to move on to all the bad things that people think this supermoon can do.

Ooh! Say all the superstitious numbskulls. Did the moon make Japan have an earthquake and a tsunami? It is big so it can make these things happen for sure! Funnily enough back in 2004 after the Indian Ocean tsunami people were asking the same. But here is the very big thing and no the very big thing is not the moon. The dreadful tsunami in 2004 took place on December 26th, two weeks before the full moon/supermoon. The Japanese earthquake/tsunami happened 8 days before the super supermoon. This means that instead of the moon being at its perigee it was at its apogee or near to it. In 2004 it was at its actual apogee, this year it was closer to its apogee than its perigee. And yes, I know you have all figured out that its apogee is it’s furthest point away. It’s all relative. Some apogees are further away than others, just like some perigees are (as we’ve seen), but if the moon is causing all this mayhem because it’s super, then why is it only doing it when it’s actually not very super indeed! I think all of us rational people can conclude that it was not the moon what done it.

I should add that other people – those irrational stupid types – are also asking if we are about to have Armageddon because of the big moon, the earthquakes and the Middle East getting all revolt-alicious. I do not know the answer to that, although my best guess is that they should all, in a very real way, catch on to themselves, but we have at least sorted the moon today. Tomorrow we will return to history, but never forget, dear readers, my knowledge of just about everything is well massive, as the kids probably don’t say anymore. Peace out.

Today is the birthday of hot 1980s miserablist Terry Hall off of The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Colourfield. As  teenager I didn’t know any girls who weren’t at least a little in love with Terry Hall and this was a very good thing because The Specials were all about top music with messages, not beat you over the  head messages and not everything was a message, but …

So damn hot

Terry singing Too Much Too Young was enough to make any fourteen year old re-consider the wisdom of getting down and dirty with some pimply youth who’d leave her up the duff and screwed over. Terry was a man well worth lusting over even if his smiles were rarer than supermoons. For real, the man almost made Morrissey look cheerful in comparison.

Terry’s still performing, still wonderful, still has his quirky voice and for a man who’s turned 51 today, he’s still pretty much got it all going on. In other words: I still would. But I shall leave my animal lusts out of this, because Mr Hall deserves to be praised for being involved in good music and good stuff in the 80s and 90s, for singing fine and pretty, for making people happy and for making them think as well. I wish there were more bands like the Specials out there today and as there isn’t, I’m so glad I grew up when they were around.

Happy birthday, Mr Hall. If you’re ever in Brighton and … Sorry. Happy birthday Mr Hall, you sure do sing purty for the people.

Please note: If you are sharp-eyed you will see rare footage of a Hall smile in this video!



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March 18th

En ce jour de 1871, la Commune de Paris a commencé son gouvernement de Paris. Ne vous inquiétez pas, nous sommes de revenir à l’anglais dès maintenant! As you were!

The Paris Commune of 1871 was an uprising of the workers and lower-middle class of Paris in response to what the Franco-Prussian War had put them through. In the previous year Paris had been under siege, Parisians were starving and forced to eat rats and domestic pets. Things had been pretty bad for years, but this was pretty much the shitty cherry on a cake made of shite. However, the Parisians had something going for them.

Fuck you, we won't do what you tell us!

At the start of the war, in July 1870, the government – which had buggered off to Bordeaux so that they naughty Germans wouldn’t kill them – the National Guard of Paris had been expanded to protect it from invasion by German troops. This meant that many ordinary citizens were armed. They also had cannons and heavy arms which meant that they were pissed off and heavily tooled up. Not a good situation if you want your citizenry to remain all well-behaved, especially when many of the men being elected to head the Guard were of a socialist or anarchist persuasion. Fast forward a few months; the Prussians are triumphant and want to have a little march around Paris. The Parisians are not happy about this and the provisional French government under Adolphe Thiers realise this and decide they’re not going back to Paris as it’s a bit angry; they’ll go to Versailles for a while. The government also decide that they want their cannons and shit back and this is when everything goes a bit Pete Tong for Thiers et al.

The Communards – as they members of the Commune were called – were not having it. Some of the soldiers who were sent in to get the heavy arms, decided the Communards had it right, so they joined up with them, shot a couple of officers who didn’t like their attitude and there you have it. The Commune began.

Alas, it only lasted until May of that year, but for all the disdain flung at it by the la-di-da government, they were well organised, were not even demanding that much and had a rich culture of their own. After all, it was here that Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles

The aftermath

developed their musical chops and their cover of Never Can Say Goodbye was a heartfelt tribute to the day the Commune was broken up, the lucky escaped to make their way in the world and the unlucky were gunned down or arrested. The end was pretty heinous. In the week of May 21st-28th, nearly 20,000 Parisians were killed and 25,000 arrested. Thousands of the arrested were executed and about 4,000 deported to the province of New Caledonia (out near Australia somewhere). Many of the deported were treated appallingly, tortured and abused. The bad feeling among the poor of Paris as a result of the events of 1871 remained for many years and was only slightly assuaged by the outcome of an inquest into the treatment of the (now returned) deported that published its findings in 1881.

So, that was that. Mais ce qu’il était? Well, it was the first mass working class revolt, which could have become a full on revolution. It was the working classes demanding to be listened to, claiming rights for themselves, refusing to be treated as an afterthought and demanding equality of rights. It was a full on fuck you to the establishment that may have been quashed at the time, but was not forgotten and bore the seeds of later revolutions and the violence they contained. Violence is never right, but here’s the thing; if you’re happy to kill people for standing up for their right to be treated like a human being, you should never be surprised if those people are just as happy to kill you when they have the upper hand. Vive l’esprit de la Commune!

Today is the birthday of young Marvin Humes who is a singer in a boy band called JLS which apparently stands for “Jack the Lad Swing” (Sweet mother of god!). Now, normally I’d have no time for this sort of fly-by-night outfit with their vaguely ear-wormy tunes

Marvin likes to protect his penis while he sings

that are at once lingering and instantly forgettable, but then the band took part in a great sketch on this year’s Comic Relief and I decided that young Marvin deserved a happy birthday on the back of that. Not least because JLS are going to do a record with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and indeed went out for a pint with him after the recording of the sketch.

I mean, it’s music, Jim, but not as we know it. It’s all X-Factor (American Idol, etc) type shite that in many ways is killing real creativity and making Simon Cowell more rich, more powerful and more unbearable with every passing second.  In 1971 at the height of the Vietnam War, Marvin Gaye released What’s Going On? In 1981 with British cities erupting in riots and the economy in the toilet The Specials released Ghost Town. The Falklands War brought us Shipbuilding from Elvis Costello. Now? We have Everybody in Love. Still, it’s not Marvin’s fault that he’s pretty and vacant and he did some good stuff for charity (and his own profile) on Comic Relief, so la!

Happy birthday, young man. Look after your money because this won’t last forever and do try to enjoy the ride.


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