More Debris : Ronnie Lane

Apologies to anyone tuning in hoping to hear an up-to-the-minute report on last week’s match between the frankly rather slumbering England Lions and Bangladesh.  My tip would be that, if you’ve got tickets for the Sunday of this week’s Test Match, you might like to start thinking about what you’re going to do with the refund.  And the less said about Leicestershire’s three day defeat by Glamorgan (which is where I was on Monday) the better.  Some light shed, though, on the Taylor question (is there one?  do I have an answer to it?), so I shall return to that in due course.

But now, though, another musical interlude.  I read in this morning’s newspaper that The Faces are planning a reunion, with Mick Hucknall in place of the absent Rod Stewart.  This makes sense of a kind (decent singer with a dubious lifestyle, questionable political views and, by some accounts, an unsympathetic personality)  but I’m afraid I don’t think I shall be there, and neither -more importantly – will be the man who was the best part of The Faces (as I think he was the best part of the Small Faces), Ronnie Lane.  Lane provided the pathos, the humour and the wist (and, if there’s one thing I feel is generally wrong with today’s music scene it’s its wistlessness).  If Wood and Stewart always seemed to be hankering after the Big Bayou, or the bright lights of LA, Lane would be yearning to drag them back to the Wapping Wharf Launderette.

This also follows on quite nicely from the previous item.  It was originally released in 1971, on the album A Nod’s as Good as a Wink, and has something of the same 1971 feeling of an older world giving way reluctantly to something harsher and uglier.  It took me a long time to work out that the song is actually about his father, rather than a girlfriend.  His father is on strike, which is why he is looking for bargains on the Sunday morning market, rather than it being some Bohemian whim.  I also bought the Blackpool programme on a Sunday morning market, so – d’ye see? – it all coheres, in a way. 

Who the General Workers’ Union are, by the way, I don’t know.  Perhaps the General Municipal and Boilermakers’ Union wouldn’t have scanned. 

This is a solo rendition by Lane and his band Slim Chance, from the period when he had left the Faces and was touring the  country in a caravan accompanied by a circus (and, on occasion, Viv Stanshall).  Apparently (as I’ve learnt this very day from Uncut magazine) he used to limber up before going on stage by sinking a few cans of barley wine (that potent brew), and perhaps that it is a little visible here.  The saxophone player (who I’m not sure really adds all that much) apparently left the tour, tiring of the whole circus concept, leaving a note saying “Goodbye cruel circus, I’m off to join the world”.  Very droll.  

Anyway, it’s a very lovely song, and it’s Debris –


To kalon decreed in the marketplace

Stepping outside for a quick smoke at work yesterday (physically in the City of London) I saw a parked car with a personalised number plate reading I8TAX5 (I hate taxes).  I wondered what kind of truly wretched individual, given  the opportunity to offer to the world one thought close to his heart, would choose to advertise the fact that he begrudged giving up a small part of his – no doubt overly generous – income for the general good.

Given recent events in the public sphere, there is a possibility that we might soon find ourselves in a situation where the party with the largest number of seats in Parliament might have to convince the representatives of that larger part of the country who have chosen to vote otherwise to agree to the measures they are proposing before they are able to implement them.  To my mind this seems like an excellent opportunity for Parliament to act as an embodiment of the popular will, rather than a rubber stamp (that persistent metaphorical rubber stamp!) on the dictates of a self-interested faction.  

But I realise this is a naive and impractical way of seeing things.  Not the only reason, of course, but the main reason, I suspect, is that it would make the markets nervous.  And who are the markets?  Not the covered market in Market Harborough, of course, nor the Portobello Market, but the financial markets in the City of London.  And who – in actual physical, flesh and blood  reality – are these markets?  The appalling excuse for a human being I introduced in the first paragraph, and his ilk.

How on earth did we get into this state?