Imagine…
December 8, 2010

Imagine…… it was 30 years ago today that John Lennon was gunned down, outside the Dakota building in the Manhattan district of New York, by  deranged ‘fan’ Mark Chapman.  

As a 27-year-old teacher at Bosworth Wood School in Chelmsley Wood – a large housing development adjacent to the Birmingham bound M6 – I vividly  remember climbing into my Ford Cortina on the morning of December 8th 1980, switching on the radio and being stunned by the breaking news of Lennon’s murder.

For others it might be Buddy Holly or Elvis but for me and millions more of my generation that really was ‘the day the music died!’    

I had grown up with John Lennon and the Beatles, buying my first pieces of vinyl in 1963 as ten-year old at Spring Street Junior School, and had watched and listened as the ‘mop heads’ from Liverpool  had grown and developed into the most influential quartet in popular music history.

John Lennon, iconic singer/songwriter, poet, artist and political activist, will be remembered by many today. If he were still with us he would be 70 years old and, I dare say, as revolutionary and opinionated as ever.       

It’s interesting to imagine what a septuagenarian Lennon, peering through his trade mark spectacles, might have made of some of this week’s news stories.  

I’m pretty sure I know where he would have stood on the Julian Asssange Wikileaks affair, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, and what his views might have been on the proposed increase in university fees,  but how about Susan Philipsz winning the 2010 Turner Prize for her ‘sound installation’ and then whatever would he have made of the X-Factor finalists?

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‘Hip’Politicians & the Grange Hill Academy?
July 21, 2010

So just what is it with politicians and references to pop culture? They never seem able to get it quite right and invariably finish up with egg on their faces or worse!

The latest in a long line of cringe worthy moments, of this type, came from PM David Cameron earlier this week. On meeting Liverpool born TV producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, creator of cult ‘80s children’s TV series Grange Hill, DC tried to up his street cred by coming out  as a huge fan and naming ‘Gripper’ Stebson as one of his role models in life!

It might have been a joke DC (it’s hard to tell, you’re not a natural when it comes to stand up comedy are you?) but admitting to hero worshipping a bully and a racist is not too clever is it?

I doubt ‘Gripper’ would have voted Tory, more likely BNP!

But Cameron is not alone when it comes to this particular type of banana skin.

Remember back in 1997, when newly elected PM Tony Blair was quick to tell us he had been in a band called Ugly Rumours, whilst at Oxford, and then went on to embrace Brit Pop by inviting Noel Gallagher to a Number 10 reception and that stage-managed, cheesy photo opportunity?  It certainly wasn’t one of his better moments! 

Not to be out done, Gordon Brown, whilst Chancellor, tried to shake off his dour image by showing off  an eclectic taste in popular TV, and music. He claimed he was a big fan of X-factor and that the Arctic Monkeys featured on his  iPod, along side Cold Play, U2, (and this is where he slipped up) James Blunt!  

He then showed just how un-hip he really was with his famous, “The Arctic Monkeys really wake you up in the morning,” quote. It just didn’t seem right some how!

And then there was Lord Prezza, back in his Deputy PM days, attending the BRIT Awards and getting a bucket of icy water thrown over him for his pains.

Danbert Nobacon, of Chumbawamba, justified his anarchic actions by saying,

 “If John Prescott has the nerve to turn up at events like the BRIT Awards in a vain attempt to make Labour seem cool and trendy then he deserves all we can throw at him.”

Harking back to Grange Hill I wonder if, ‘born again Blairite’, Michael Gove would have considered the North London comprehensive school for academy status? It’s more likely they would have been in special measures I suppose, but then again it looks Gove is a Grange Hill old boy! (right: Gove, far right: Zammo)