Tuesday, February 16, 2016

In or Out - How to Fall Off a Fence.

For the first time in my 'political life' I have arrived in the 'undecided' camp. As very much a left wing citizen, who believes in fairness, peace and equality, I've never really been an undecided person (with one exception when I was gripped by Nick Clegg fever in 2010 and didn't vote Labour for the first time ever) and I usually know both sides of an argument which makes my choice easier.

The question of remaining in the European Union (EU) is the most important question facing the electorate until 2020 and it will have far-reaching consequences, if polls are to be believed (which we know isn't always the case).

Depending on where you look, it appears that as many as 65% of the English want out of Europe. Less than 30% in Scotland and NI and in something that I find amusing (in a horrid kind of way), no one seems bothered what the Welsh think. This might look extremely contrasting but England has the biggest population and is likely to absorb 'No' voters from other parts of the current 'Kingdom'. It would appear that we're on course to Brexit with as high as 60% of the people who can be arsed to vote choosing what some would regard as a backward step.

As little as two years ago I was espousing remaining in Europe and taking an even stronger role, but as the General Election loomed I started to see more and more people wanting to leave Europe for purely racist or xenophobic reasons and yet again I was appalled at the BBC and other media outlets for failing to 'put right' misnomers spouted by ignorant idiots, because if you're going to give a twat the right to voice his ignorance, you should give a knowledgeable person the same platform, at the same time, with the same editorial support - unless, of course, it is in the interests of the people who run the media to actually come out of the EU?

I ventured into the 'undecided' camp when we started to see how similar to fascism the richer countries of Europe could sink in their intent to humiliate and bankrupt Greece, which probably should never been accepted into the EU in the first place, or at least until it's unbelievably corrupt rich were re-educated. But the EU wanted to be an economic powerhouse to rival China and the USA and to do that it needed to be big, broader and even more diverse. None of Europe's advocates ever bothered to think that inviting Greece to the party was a little like selecting the top 7 footballing nations to play in a 'Super World Cup' and inviting Bhutan or Comoros to make up the numbers. In reality, countries like Portugal and Ireland probably should have been scrutinised considerably more before they were welcomed and these two economic 'power houses' make Greece seem like a small tin-pot African republic that bases it's entire economy on sunshine and guns.

It should never have happened, but how can you have a fair and competitive Europe if you don't allow the mother of democracy in (unless you just want to humiliate the mother of democracy to ram home the point that democracy is actually just a concept the people believe is happening). So, after the Greek Crisis, I sided with the Out camp; I didn't want to support something that was encouraging a European country to have to survive like a very poor 3rd world country. There was nothing said about improving economic conditions, the EU just wanted money and didn't care what the human cost was.

However, in the last six months I've softened my position again and have flopped back into the undecided camp. The reasons for this are the reasons why I have been Pro-European for most of my life; the ultimate cost to this country should we pull out. Even people like David Davis, Nigel Farage and Kate Hoey admit there are some things we, as a country, might struggle to adapt to or, far more realistically, struggle to pay for.

Take for instance the amount of subsidies the UK gets from the EU on farming. People can bleat until they're blue in the face about the amount of money we have to give the EU as our contribution (or membership fee), but you never ever hear those same people complaining about the UK getting as much as 15% of that amount back in farming subsidies alone. One of the simplest reasons for milk being so cheap in supermarkets is because if dairy farmers didn't get huge amounts of cash from the EU, many would go out of business, few would be able to make any profit at all, and it would allow what has happened in the USA, which is small and independent is phased out and corporations take over the entire running of an industry, which leads to drops in standards, animal cruelty and the same kind of scares we had in the 1990s with salmonella and CJD.

If supermarkets have to pay more for their milk they won't absorb the costs, they'll put the price up and blame the farmers - a lot like what the Tories do when they have to do something people don't like; they blame someone else and are believed. Your milk will just be one of the things that will swell your weekly shopping bill.

But, if our trade is restricted, it might mean the UK has to do something that will be good for the long term health of the planet - the UK will again have to depend on seasonal produce more. It might mean more shops sells odd shaped fruits or potatoes that aren't uniform. It might see the rebirth of more historical varieties, but, of course, unless the supermarkets are prepared to pay farmers more, because they won't get subsidies and the government simply won't be able to or will be unwilling to plough money into farming to support it, then food production will be the sole area of conglomerates and you'll still get uniform vegetables but you will pay 30% more for them.

To think that pulling out of Europe won't have a detrimental effect on the economy is ignorance and short-sightedness. The Norwegian equivalent to our foreign secretary commented in various newspapers last year that Norway still pays Europe as much money as it would have done, but get seriously less competitive deals.

Our Western press is doing a great job to demonise Russia, for all manner of transgressions, but how many of you are aware that this all started because of some chicanery by the EU? We don't hear so much about the Ukraine now because Syria is the important news leader (for a variety of reasons all centring around fear and loathing), but the majority of all this conflict began when the EU backed an overthrow. The Ukraine is and has been a very divided country since before the USSR. It has a very pro-Europe west and a very pro-Russia/Asian east. Western Ukrainians make jokes about Eastern Ukrainians the same way the British made Irish jokes in the 60s and 70s. While the East hold the west in utter contempt because they have most of the wealth and have cast off their socialist heritage. This was a country massively divided long before the EU decided to help a pro-Europe opposition leader overthrow the alleged 'puppet' of the Kremlin. This, oddly enough, is common knowledge, but our media has just decided to overlook it.

Now Russia pays through the nose for what it needs that hasn't been sanctioned; as a result if any EU transgressors want gas then they have to also pay through the nose and it's always the consumer who pays, whether the reasons behind it are right or wrong. The reason I use Russia as a good example of you not knowing what is really happening is because the media has made it quite clear who is the enemy and we're buying into it. They, the media, also seem to be content with allowing ignorant idiots set the agenda when it comes to decisions about our future.

There is this belief that the UK is running out of land; people seriously believe that if we get many more migrants here we'll be full. Show these people the actual evidence that we only actually cover about 3% of the UK with houses and they won't believe you (or worse accuse you of being a leftie); show them evidence in figures everyone from the BBC to the Daily Telegraph and, guess what, they don't believe it. They don't believe it because it doesn't sit with their own misconceptions. Tell someone from Northampton that there are only x number of Polish migrants in this country and they'll call you a liar (or left wing), but Northamptonians have a skewed vision of the Polish because we have more than most places - because we have history with Poland that stretches back before WW2 (but let's ignore the multicultural nature of Northampton because it doesn't agree with our personal xenophobia).

Yet earlier today I saw someone accuse anyone who is unemployed of being feckless and living off the state; I couldn't comment on his ignorance but if I could I would have said that I am unemployed, not claiming any kind of benefits because I'm not entitled to any and I apply for 10 jobs a week; I suppose in some peoples' eyes I'm not doing enough and they can decide on my fecklessness based on a single statement; the same way someone from Wellingborough can say with extreme authority that the country is almost full and it all has to stop. I lived in Wellingborough for years; it's one of the greenest small towns in the country, surrounded by miles and miles of lovely countryside. The last I looked it was not crawling alive with feckless foreigners coming over here to access our incredibly easy (read: difficult) to claim from benefits systems, oh and shag our women while simultaneously converting them to Islam and forcing them to eat Hallal meat.

Honestly, we have an increasingly large population of complete and utter racist fuckwits.

I've banged on before about how much more groceries will cost if we come out of Europe; this will be a reality very quickly after a Brexit vote; it will happen within a month and people will be taken aback by it. It will almost feel like a form of revenge for those who want to stay in and as I said a while back somewhere else 'I told you so' will become the political hashtag of the second half of this year. Fuel (maybe not petrol) will go up because we won't get the trade subsidies we usually get and, actually, let's stop right there... I've mentioned subsidies a lot and we really need to look at the realities of subsidies especially when you have a neo-liberal Conservative party in power...

The most notable thing about this government has been the cuts. There might have been some achievements worth noting, but most people are going to remember the way we've seen everything get stripped back to the bone; wages reduced in real terms and fears conveniently placed to make us realise that we have to continue with austerity. This Tory government doesn't subsidise things; they stop cuts when there's too much public backlash, but they don't subsidise - it's what their ideology is; let the private sector fill that void, somehow. The private sector isn't a charity; it doesn't do things altruistically, it does things for a profit, even if that profit is minimal. Without subsidies an enormous amount of small businesses, cottage industries and farms based around the agricultural heritage of this country will disappear.

You know the trickle down effect that this Tory regime bangs on about, well the Trickle Up effect has been considerably more apparent when you see how many businesses have suffered or disappeared because of punitive measures to other areas of employment. This isn't my opinion; it's a fact that our right wing media just happen to ignore.

The lack or constant dwindling effect on peoples' disposable incomes has meant less people go for a meal, go to the pub, use theme parks, do things that require them to spend a lot of frivolous money; as a result pubs and restaurants go out of business, through no real fault of their own, and even major entertainment suppliers show a trending drop in profits, which, of course, leads to corners being cut because the profits have to go to the shareholders and their bank balances are far more important than the health and safety of their consumers. Is it not that obvious?

Legally, pulling out of Europe could leave us open to changes that the EU would have blocked that could see your civil liberties changed or your freedom of speech stopped. The Tories are making it illegal for councils to boycott goods or services from countries people believe are not ethical or run oppressive regimes, which other than being a blatant erosion of our human rights is an indicator of what TTIP will be like and we'll get TTIP whether we're in Europe or not, but through it in Europe there'll be some come back towards TTIP's authoritarian measures.

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that for the first time ever the multi-national corporations have made a statement that suggests they are above the laws of whatever lands they work in. Hippies have been saying for years that the world's richest companies are really the people who run/rule the world and now we're seeing companies like Google and Apple flaunt rules and then laugh in the face of confrontation, because they know any move to stop them is going to lose; they hold the world by the short and curlies now and that might not change in our lifetimes.

The Brexit campaigners have essentially one argument; forget the jingoism and blatant xenophobia, the Brexit camp are saying everything will be fine via re-negotiation. They believe that once we're out of the club, we'll be in a position of strength to renegotiate everything we felt was stymied by the EU and its slightly less neo-liberal agenda. Where do we negotiate all these things? Who pays for it? As I said about the Norwegian politician - Norway spends as much time and money as a non-voting member than anyone else, but when a major decision is made that could affect them, they have no say in it - at all. Changes to the way Europe does business happens and Norway has to acquiesce - it doesn't have a choice. This will be the UK.

Imagine us not wanting to get involved in a war? I know, highly unlikely, but bear with me. We pull out of Europe and Cameron decides that we're going to spend the money on air-strikes in Syria we will instead bolster the country's coffers now that we no longer get subsidies from the EU (highly unlikely again, but if not this something similar). We don't have the clout we used to have, despite believing we do.

What if Russia and its allies decide that what Europe is doing is counter-productive to its own agenda and eventually there is the signs that the crisis in Syria is finally going to spill into Europe and Russia: where do we stand? We'll be part of Europe then, won't we? It won't matter that as a result of leaving the EU makes things politically difficult for the Tories in power (and don't think that won't happen; if they can butt-fuck the Greeks, imagine what they'll do to a former member that shoves two fingers up at them?). Do not be so conceited as to believe Europeans hold us in the same regard they might have done in 1919. We've made ourselves unpopular and how often do unpopular people get their own way in a democracy?

Obviously our press will always spin it positively and pulling out of Europe would surely make UKIP obsolete (except it won't because no one will want Farage and he'll invent something new to keep them going). We can close our borders (except we can't, because the government make money out of immigrants - have you never considered that despite saying he'll stop the flow of migrants, they've actually increased since Cameron said that?). We can become an isolationist nation (except we won't because we need the rest of the world to survive and to launder their money, plus we enjoy having wars with and against them). We will lose our influence (Can you say with any authority whether we have any at the moment?).

There will be some nations that will hold us in even more contempt than they already do and I'd bet that international relations on a basic level will deteriorate as more and more Brits (English) are happy to wear their racism on their sleeves and perpetuate myths based on lies and fear. If that happens, how long before 2nd generation Eastern Europeans are targeted and then 3rd, 4th and 5th generation Asians? Don't call me alarmist when a Presidential candidate reckons they shouldn't allow ANY Muslims into their country until they know what the hell is going on. If it was satire people would say it's lost touch with reality.

Pulling out of the EU would also allow governments to change employment law, not be held accountable for reneging on deals that previous administrations authorised (not that that has stopped any of them recently) and put even more power in the hands of the employers and the richest people in the country; so you can see why the establishment and half the Tory party are keen for us to get out as quick as possible - they make lots of money at the moment and will make even more when any form of regulation is discarded. You are making Britain's top 1% even richer and all because you're a xenophobe with no desire to understand ANY facts.

So, I started this by being on the fence. Everything above isn't just based on what I believe or my experience. I have researched as much as I could on most of the points - the pros and the cons - and the conclusion I draw is this:

Brexit: it would benefit about 10% of the population, possibly have a positive effect on the next 20%, but most people will see a dramatic increase in inflation. This will be offset by rises in interest rates and more money being directed through property, but the only people who will see that will be the rich. You, me and the bloke down the road will eventually be scratching our heads as we look at the price of some things and realise that what we've gained we lost big time elsewhere. Leaving this club will really show us how much we depended on it and the lower down the class ladder you regard yourself the more likely you are to vote to come out and the more likely an exit will effect you the most detrimentally.

Stay in: I'm still a little undecided, but in a different way. Part of me would relish us exiting Europe so I could join the 'I told you so' group in a year or so; but unlike the Scottish independence issue - which would rear its head if we did vote out - if we come out of Europe, we won't be (invited) welcomed back when a UK Euro-friendly government is elected. The chances are a UK exit could act as a catalyst for the entire concept of a United Kingdom to fall apart and also precipitate a new Europe that would rise from the ashes, one that serves the rich more and allows each countries' specific prejudices to be appeased.

Remaining in allows us to keep the benefits while trying to change certain things that we, as pompous pride inflated buffoons, think we should have. If we had a negotiator rather than an arse talking to Donald Tusk and his gang we might get somewhere.

There is a fact here that you need to, at the very least, try and get across to idiots and ignoramuses - while migration isn't really that high here (which they won't believe); economic migrants want to come here because George Osborne is telling the world what a great success story UK PLC is; when we (those who care) all know that ½% of growth hardly makes us a Tiger Nation. He's been harping on about how great we are and therefore people want some of that.

The fact a lot of our economy is based on borrowed money, (lack of) service industries, zero hour contracts and the destruction of the public sector, means that even if the public believe George, they also don't believe him because the streets are no happier and there's even more Polish voices in said street. And before you start saying that is wrong; look at the USA - the land of opportunity, built on migrants going there to make it. We had that rammed down our throats for over a hundred years, to the point where we've grown so tired of the concept we've forgotten it when we see (our own) migrants (let's not even get into the refugee situation) wanting to come over here to make a better life.

A lot of Brits simply can't fathom the idea that we've been a multicultural country for a very long time and by their very nature multicultural societies will breed a lot of racists, because someone will think, because of their skin colour or how they worship that they are immediately better than someone from another country. The press do a good job of stirring up tensions and I fail to see what they ultimately believe will come out of it; they want to make money, but surely allowing the tide of general opinion to slip towards brown shirts and authoritarianism is self-defeating; they can't make money if the plebs have none to spend.

Something might change my mind; but I think I'm definitely back in the Stay camp. You'd seriously have to be a really selfish and potentially despicable person to support the Out campaign once you've weighed up the pros and cons - and don't take my word for it; do the research yourself, because if we do come out and everything turns to shit, you won't be able to change your mind; you'll be stuck with it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Music is Music is Music

I like being contrary; that's no exaggeration, but sometimes I'll admit to making a twonk of myself and today I did just that. I saw a comment on social media from my mate Roger and misinterpreted it completely. It was to do with the widening gulf between our music tastes, which are usually good natured, but my comments seemed to do nothing but be inflammatory and then I realised why, I thought Roger was humouring someone who thought a particular album was possibly the best of the year so far and knowing the album I wasn't as impressed and then the penny dropped and I realised that Roger had written the review and I then tried to justify my not-being-terribly-impressed and realised that I was entering that controversial arena called 'personal taste' and decided to withdraw with as much dignity as I could.

However (and don't worry Roger), something came out of the discussion that made me think. The album in question was the latest offering by 'experimental rock co-operative' Ulver and I described it as 'post rock' and Roger didn't agree. Then someone else, much later, when the discussion had cooled asked a really interesting question - what exactly is post rock? Which was the perfect accompaniment to the question asked by Roger (indirectly and much earlier) of what is 'prog' and is 'prog' anything to do with 'progressive rock music' which was the label bands like Yes, ELP, Genesis and even Pink Floyd were labelled with in the 1970s.

If you were inclined you can go to the progressive rock website and be confounded by the quite unbelievable variants of prog music now. I could quite easily list them all here but it wouldn't really achieve anything but might make some of you glaze over and fall to sleep. The remarkable amount of prog sub-directories has an almost infinite number of bands, artists and former bands and artists who qualify for the 'prog' label by virtue of being labelled one of the labels. Post rock gets lumped in here as well despite the earliest origins of it being anything but prog, but when you realise how anal prog fans can be you'll understand a reluctance to concede that anything that doesn't conform to 'normal' music must be prog.

Are you confused? I think that's part of the idea.

I actually think there are categories of prog that aren't prog and categories of music that are more prog-like or have more in common with prog than pop, rock or soul and I think that might be part of the problem. In the 21st century, a time when the album is not as important as the song and downloads and streaming makes anything accessible and artists incorporate elements of their parents' and grandparents' music into their own, to try and put things under an umbrella almost becomes nonsensical.

I mean what is post rock? It had a definitive meaning in the 1990s when it was different, but by the 2010s it incorporates everything from the avant garde to experimental to ambient to drone; it can have metal elements, trip hop and soul; it's like a catch-all category for people who don't want to be labelled prog.

For me the definition of 'prog' is the definition of 'progressive music' and that doesn't mean something has to be in 9/8 time or have different parts or be considered outside of the mainstream, because we've had all kinds of freeform jazz that makes even the weirdest prog sound good and I'm sure there's someone out there who will argue that prog couldn't exist without jazz and I wouldn't argue with them.

Traditional prog has always felt like a fusion of folk, rock, orchestral, poetry and theatre; a kind of 20th century minstrel show that could be prosaic and typically British or contemporary and typically British; it had a hey-day that was preceded by its origins and like all kinds of music it has its copiers, imitators and homage and over the years many of these have either developed their own styles or have disappeared. Some have embraced the ethos of progressive music but are not necessarily prog.

The title of this blog comes from a Primal Scream song on Screamadelica - Come Together - which, I believe was a very progressive record; not in the conventional way, but was different even for the loved up days of the early 90s music scene. It goes hand in hand with a very famous prog song - I Know What I Like and that is what music should be in the 21st century. To label any music that is 'modern' is in many ways disrespectful to its history.

I back this up with a little anecdote of sorts. I recently asked arguably my current favourite musician what he was listening to at the moment. There was a slightly selfish reason for it because I wanted some inspiration; something new to find or listen to because I've allowed my music listening habits to stagnate. I was quite surprised by the 20 examples he gave me and as many as half of them I had either not heard of or couldn't understand why he liked them. Duh... stupid thought, but we all have them. I listen to this particular person's solo album and, for me, it is the best thing I have heard in at least 17 years; but I have only managed to persuade one of my friends to 'get into it' or anything else by him and his band. It makes no sense to me; but neither does the fact people by the millions buy RnB and rap music and think Kanye West is some genius - but even if it isn't a fact it's a proven brand/artist/seller. I'm old; it's like punk was to my grandparents.

I think one of the most progressive 'bands' out there is Swansea's Hybrid, who started as DJs, remixers and symphonic electronic 'dance' music; but from the first album they displayed a kind of energy and rock sensibility that made them totally different from the others and they ventured into prog territory and it was completely overlooked. They are a true fusion band now and the elements they use should make them feature of the progressive rock website.

North Atlantic Oscillation do feature and yet for all of their prog influences, I can also see the Beach Boys, Sugar, Scott Walker and drum and bass and as we all know the Beach Boys are one of the most famous prog bands of all time...

Ulver are fashioned as experimental, but listen to their back catalogue and you'll find they're probably doing what they want to do, which in many ways makes them a bit like the Flaming Lips, even if they sound different and are categorised in completely different genres. Ulver have gone through so many phases they rival David Bowie for creativity and diversity. To call them post rock is only accurate in that Genesis were only really a prog band between 1970 and 1978 and were considerably more successful as purveyors of crass MOR shite.

Talk Talk, who I will argue till the cows come home, were the one of the first true 'post rock' bands because what they ended up doing was anything but rock or pop, but was more like jazz than prog but was played on rock instruments. Equally, I believe This Mortal Coil were doing their own version of post rock with Filigree & Shadow and even before that many of the 'post-punk' bands were delving into areas that would be capitalised by shoegaze and space-rock-indie bands (such as Verve in the early 1990s).

I've even argued that British pop band Tears For Fears bordered on both prog and psychedelia at times, while others argue that the Beatles might have been the proto-prog band, especially the way they arranged a lot of their later stuff.

The problem with prog is there's a snobbery that really doesn't belong; prog should mean progressive and not rehashing the old or in many ways trying to reinvent it, which is worse. Prog devotees should accept the 21st century as a time when we know that music is music is music. It's time to get rid of labels and just appreciate what you know you like.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Advertisement

It's been a crap few weeks with a few moments to give me hope.

I occasionally wibble on about how getting a cold is considerably more dodgy for me than most people and as I enter my third week of the virus/after-effects/sinusitis/virus/repeat cycle it's beginning to really hack me off, big time and has, at times, felt a little like my job search - drudgery intermingled with a ray of hope or two that the nightmare will end.

Yes, I'm well aware that I'm laying it on thick, but I'm getting to the stage where, despite being nearly 54, I'm having to explain (for my benefit more than anything, probably) to visitors why there are so many crumpled tissues in my office bin full of a cold, viscous and potentially unpleasant, substance that sticks to blankets (and tissues), so they don't think I've rediscovered continuous wanking in my 50s or it's just a five year accumulation of jizzum...

I've had some interviews - three to be precise - and I'm no more confident now than I was before them. I should be pulling out of daylight deprivation induced depression by now, but the winter has been so mild and almost spring-like at times that I've never really plumbed the depths I sometimes do (like last year, for instance). One of the jobs might still be up in the air - I didn't get the one I went for but there might be another position (I've heard this before so many times now that I'm thinking it's just the bosses way of making the loser feel a bit better, so I expect I won't hear another word from them). The second of the jobs I had one of the worst interviews I've ever had and despite asking for feedback when I left, I haven't heard anything a week later and I suspect that I screwed up with that one.

The third and final one so far was yesterday and at least I wasn't walking around full of cold - I was half full of cold. It's the position I least wanted, so things might take a turn for the better, because beggars can't be choosers.

These interviews were the highlights, not much else is worth crowing about. My one source of income got taken away from me. The little dog walking job I had stopped acrimoniously and has led to me not speaking to the young neighbours we had gotten on so well with. I thought they were aware of my situation to be sympathetic about it, but they wanted to ensure they didn't let a complete stranger down even if it meant fucking up my life just a bit more. I wasn't happy about it and discovered there is a huge difference between communicating with the young in a stressful situation than there is with people of your own age. My histrionic rhetoric, designed to induce guilt and thought, was taken remarkably literally resulting in me being accused of 'only thinking of myself' and being accused of being 'aggressive and insulting' when the most blatant aggression and insults were coming from my neighbour. Now, I'm not having a good time and I might have overreacted, but it appears that it was nowhere near as bad as their overreaction.

We no longer talk to them so expect a new addition to the local nickname roster. It's a shame and knowing what an air-headed, paranoid twit the blond bimbo is I expect their house will be up for sale by March.

Subsequently, I now have no money, a fat overdraft and no income - all really positive for someone as flaky as I am at the moment. So, I have a few Borderline Press books and a few other collectable bits and bobs - such as the original Alans Moore & Davis Captain Britains; signed limited edition books and I'd even offer to sire children for you, but I fire blanks. If anyone fancies buying something, drop me a line, please...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Futility and Pointlessness

Ironically, one of those Facebook memories popped up on my page the other day and because it reminded me of something I didn't want to be reminded of I got rid of it and was told that Facebook was sorry and they would try not to post memories like this again. The following day a similar post appeared and it was a mixture of annoying and upsetting. I wanted to complain and then realised that an individual can complain until he's blue in the face and not a single human being at Facebook central will see it or give a shit.

This reminded me of the changes Facebook made probably getting on for 8 years ago now, when they introduced Timeline and as many as two million users 'rebelled' against it. Except Facebook claims to have over 2 billion users, so 2 million of them equate to essentially a 'lunatic minority' and frankly had 1.9billion people complained Facebook would have taken as much notice of them as an elephant takes notice of a flea. There is no 'democracy' on the commercialised internet.

In recent years Google has been changing everything; getting rid of old things, replacing them with substandard alternatives all geared for the mobile market. They changed the essential Google Maps from an easy user-friendly application to something that really only works for kids on smart phones and there were so few people complaining you only knew about the complaints if you were one of those complaining. They added 'extras' to Chrome, which had a couple of thousand outspoken 'lunatics' bemoaning it for as long as Google allowed the thread on their notice board - three days of quiet and they shut the discussion down - because they knew it was unlikely that even the most devout nutter would start it again elsewhere.

There is a message being disseminated across the corporate internet - it's a subtle one but it's there for all to see. 'We don't give a fuck about you and less about what you think!'

The reason for this isn't as malevolent as you're probably expecting. Companies such as Google probably do take into account feedback, they just choose to ignore it. They are also acutely aware that the vast majority of pissers and moaners tend to be people over a certain age demographic. It is pretty much a given that someone under 30 will accept changes to services without a single qualm, while people over 40 (like me) who have wistful memories of Windows 3.1 and dial-up internet connections, are averse to change and can't accept it. Some don't understand the need for fixing things that aren't broken and others find it too difficult to follow and the reason they are ignored and abused is because they will be dead long before the people who couldn't care less - probably from apoplectic heart attacks caused by anger and bile-spitting.

The internet is a business now; it's not been this FREE anarchic haven of the fair-minded and the idiotic for over a decade and it will never be that again. It is now just a mode of entertainment and information delivery that has changed the way we think about certain things irrevocably.

Don't get me wrong; it isn't just a fascist dictatorship; sometimes changes are so inept or stupid that things are changed back: take Yahoo's redesign; who in their right mind would put the main parts of an email program in the bottom left of a page, a fraction of an inch above the PC's big start button? However, equally an important icon used by Chrome for user-switching and changing the set-up is put right next to the minimise button and despite untold amounts of logical reasons why it was not a good redesign, was steadfastly ignored and when developers prevented users from switching back to older versions of Chrome it felt like they were just taking the piss and doing it in such a way to make sure everyone knew they were in charge and no upstart user was ever going to change it. Where else (apart from a Tory government) would you keep a bad idea just to piss people off.

Does anyone remember Gamehouse Scrabble on Facebook? It was allegedly an unauthorised version that looked suspiciously like the version most people played when they were growing up and many still play today. It was taken away and a replacement that looked like a garish Game Boy version replaced it with added features that now cost you money. There were stories in National newspapers; over 5 million people on line complaining about it and all Mattel and the new on-line developers did was ignore everything until everything went away. That's what happened and today there are a handful of people steadfastly refusing to use the new version and they are seen by others as obviously cutting off their own noses to spite their own faces. The message being sent out is 'Live with it because you can moan until you die and we're going to take zero notice of you'. And remember all of this stuff is free so you haven't even got an economic leg to stand on.

Margaret Thatcher destroyed the British manufacturing tradition and turned us into a service industry-led country - a place where 60% of the country's GDP came from service-led models - but I get the impression she might be turning in her grave (and not on a rotisserie) at how the Service Industry has become the No-Service Industry and a place where the customer is not only no longer always right, but can go fuck himself while he's at it.

The Little Britain 'Computer says No' sketches are actually quite prophetic in their deadpan approach to being told to fuck off, because even if we have a logical and legitimate reason for contacting the infamous 'customer service' desks, we end up walking away feeling as though there wasn't even a hollow victory to be gained. "I'm sorry that isn't possible", "I'm sorry that can't be done", "That isn't company policy", "We can't do that", "It isn't company policy to comment", or, in many ways worse, "We will look into this." Because you know that it's just another way of saying 'Fuck You' but with a time delay to lessen the impact.

If you need to make a complaint about something, or even contact someone for a legitimate reason, finding the route to contact the right person is a minefield in itself. Companies don't want people contacting them; people are nuisances and really if it wasn't for their money...

I wanted to send a letter of complaint (I'm in my 50s we do that kind of thing) to the CEO of a company that I believe not only fucked me over, but did so in a cold heartless way. I found out the name of the CEO, but could I find an email address or even a postal address for him. I approached the company via Twitter and was told to direct any correspondence to their customer advisor desk. I tried the same approach via Facebook and received the same response. I asked the people at the other ends of these pointless accounts if they seriously wanted me to ask the same question, a third time, to an email address, when all I wanted was confirmation of a mailing address. That was exactly what they wanted.

So, despite wanting to kill something by now, I contacted the suggested customer advisor desk and asked them if they could confirm the address I had as an address I could contact their CEO from. They replied by asking me to share my complaint with them. I said it was far too important and personal to share with them and I wanted to contact the CEO as he was the person best placed to deal with my problem. They just repeated themselves and I repeated myself, with some more colourful metaphors thrown in and they just repeated themselves - literally. I was not going to get past their first line of defence under any circumstances. I told them I would send the correspondence to their registered address and if that didn't work I'd resort to smearing their company all over social media until it trended or they talked to me. I get the impression from their lack of response they couldn't give a shit what I do.

Now I actually felt that the complaint I was making was valid. I know anyone can say that, but I'm a reasonable person and this wasn't about something trivial that I was going to piss and moan about for 24 hours and then move onto the next trending moan, this was something I regarded as a direct transgression towards me and my life and I felt the CEO needed to know that some of his employees were running roughshod over people...

Then it dawned on me. He wouldn't give a fuck. No one does, so why should I expect some rich and warmly-wrapped CEO to even acknowledge my letter let alone look into it?

We now live in a world where complaints are just passed off as the ramblings of the latest internet nutter or troll; because it's really easy to be disgruntled at someone because the internet allows it to be very easy; rarely is anything dealt with unless it means money being lost. Complain to Virgin Media about something and you'll be put on hold or shoved from one useless tech support person to the next; threaten to cancel your direct debit and suddenly they have members of staff falling just short of offering you some kind of hand relief and ratcheting up discounts just to ensure they continue to get your money.

It's that facile and hideously transparent.

What is worse is places where this should never apply is now their mantra. The BBC lets you complain and then essentially tells you to fuck off once they've deemed your complaint to be that of a loony - which, according to some things I've read, is always. And there's this new wrinkle, which is if you complain about something publicly you're branded 'left wing' ... Seriously, I have seen repeatedly that people who complain are left wingers, or Corbynistas or communists and what's worse is people are believing it, the same way they believe Jeremy Hunt's lies over the words of 53,000 junior doctors who you all might depend on some day. I mean, who would you believe? People who save lives or a person who has made it quite clear is only interested in the deconstruction of an institute to replace it with a paid for service that only the rich can afford. Well, if the BBC carries on doing Hunt's job for him then I know who most people will believe.

Let's finally put a little perspective on this. People reading this will counter with arguments about how they've never felt that complaining falls on deaf ears or will argue that they've been suitably dealt with by the lower echelons of management quite adequately and in reality if most people have a genuine complaint and go through the long-winded channels to solve it, they probably will... but they have to negotiate that minefield first and minefields are places to deter people from crossing.

What you'll also get is a lot of 'sorry' despite its impact having been lessened by years of politicians using the word like kids eat bogeys. It's like an apology is absolutely fine and dandy and makes everything good and everyone happy.

Plus everything seems so corrupt now; it's almost like its being done out in the open because the only people who will complain about it is The Daily Mirror and a few Corbynistas and, frankly, who gives a shit about them? George Osborne's younger brother has pretty much been outed as a devious sexual predator who is also a practising psychiatrist; who fancies a £5 bet that he'll walk away from his latest scandal completely scott free?

At some point the ordinary person will say enough is enough, but unfortunately for everyone else, no one will take any notice and the ordinary person will just be called a left wing loon and if you ignore him for long enough he'll go away, or die...

This is our world.