Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Another #40newthings so soon!!

I did another first! And it involved Madonna!

Yes I went to see her perform again! At the Glasgow Hydro.
I just had to experience that incredible show from further back.
I realised as I was making the ticket arrangements and experienced the excitement of knowing what I was going to see but still being over-excitable about seeing it all again, that I was hyperventilating over another #40NewThing

How stunning and incredible it was!

And what a laugh I have had on recounting my recollection of the first concert against the reality of the second.
Oh how incorrect and swept up I was with some of my original review!
But I don’t care.
Because I was right in there.
Under her skirt.
Smiling in her face.
Feeling her breath.
Making my heart race.

And the second time was no different except I got to see it from further back and could see the whole show in all its glorious effect. She is such a stunning, incredible artist and I just go into awe now when I consider her presence. How powerful, that a woman of my age can be so overcome and moved by a woman of her age.

But she is the ultimate performer.
Beautiful, strong and funny too.

The show was out of this world. The costumes, the choreography, the swaying sticks, the dancers, the moving stage floor, the sets, the solo pieces, the graphics, the gyrating, the group antics. I just fell in love all over again.

It was brilliant.

And although I recall some of those memories utterly incorrectly (final song was Celebration NOT Holiday) and some of those memories through complete rose tinted glasses (staircase medley was much shorter but still stunning), those memories are staying firmly secured in place alongside the new ones I made a couple of Sundays ago.

We were so far left that we got a good look at all the action going on back stage left, which seemed to be the main area for the maneuvering of all the stage and props. It was amazing to see an actual forklift moving huge items in and out of place while the show was happening and with nothing but inches of room to spare. A man holding a small head torch lighting his path and barely making a sound.
AND
We got to see Madonna (!! Shriek!!)
She arrived back stage left in the same cosy coat with the fur lined hood that she wore in France recently when she turned up for a soul rousing rendition of Just Like a Prayer.

The show finale was a total hat tip to her showman awesomeness. After heading off stage after Unapologetic Bitch, the lights came up and the sound was cut.

But this did not phase Madonna. She was coming on to do her encore, like it or not Glasgow curfew! The show must go on! The show must complete!

And so they did.

They completed that final routine with all the house lights on them, no amplified sound. Just a little rattle and beat from her backing band and singers and Madonna trying to make her voice heard over it. Bloody Good On them!

The audience sung along. Madonna smiled.
They injected a final Fuck You Mother Fuckers and were gone.

AND

We got to see her again! And I found myself screaming as she ran round stage left still in her stage costume.
She looked up at the two of us, and a huge beaming smile cracked across her face and she waved.

And then she was gone.
My heart was full of so much love, respect and admiration.

Another successful memory for my collection of #40Newthings

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Facebook is the modern day news and it sucks

I recently stopped using Facebook for a month.

It wasn’t hard. I didn’t miss it.

I did this after a series of events which led me to be utterly frustrated with it, depressed by it and a little disillusioned by it.

I believe that we live in the age of discovery of the internet, indeed technology, that’s why many people are calling this era of human life on earth, The Technology Age. We are in an interesting position in that we have discovered and are using a great and powerful tool for worldwide communication yet not quite aware of any of the pitfalls or longer term harm we are bringing into our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet and for a while there I really enjoyed the use of Facebook. Catching up with friends and family who live miles away from me. Sharing my news, reviews or blogs. It is a great way to network and an additional utility for the marketing of my own business. It has its uses.

But somewhere along the line I had also begun to use Facebook daily as a source of information and entertainment. And this, I come to reflect, was wrong.

I gave up the TV over 15 years ago now. A decision I took in a time where my then country house had no internet, money was tight and I had run out of new and inspiring music! I had slipped into a habit of switching the TV on most days after work and there I would sit, slumped in front of it for the rest of my evening off.  My life revolved around it and a pattern begun. I was not happy with this. The news in particular was starting to freak me out and piss me off. It was utterly biased. Always depressing. And never particularly helpful towards the meaning and function of my life. I decided to get rid of the TV as a short term plan to change things around in my life which turned into a joyful and beneficial experience I then turned into a long term, life time ambition.

The only time I missed the tv was when I was ill, and I just wanted to lay feeling poorly in front of trash TV. But that was all.

I do find I am hilariously behind the times with world events sometimes but that has never affected my life or the compassion I show when I did discover some new horrific worldwide occurrence. If there has been some terrible act of terrorism, famine or distress, I still meditate on it and send out love.

I found by not being aware of these daily atrocities allows me to meditate on world peace and feel the love within me radiate out, rather than feel sadness in and struggle to comprehend why people do such horrible things to each other.

Because of this no TV perspective that I hold, people have accused me of being deluded and of not living in reality. How is that so? Because I am not up to the minute, on the minute, with every waking drama of the rest of the world? Because I am focused on making my life good and whole and generalising my peaceful wishes?

And others have said that I need to know what is going on in the world.

But I don’t.

When I ask of what benefit is it for me to know all of the sad and disturbing acts of violation that are happening daily to people, the only answer I seem to get is –you must know, so you are aware.

But I am aware! The world is a freaky horrible dangerous scary place. And if I dwell on that, really think about all that, I am aware of the horror of humanity and I don’t feel very well. There is diddly squat I can do about it other than the things I chose to do; which are meditate on world peace, donate to and support activist groups, and focus on what I can change: myself and the world around me.
So I prefer to start my day positively, and I try, every day, to be a good person and to focus on that.

It is simple. Yet my life has been richer because of it.

And yet that darn Facebook slipped in and for a while there dragged me away from my positive daily focus. I would have a quick look while munching my breakfast. Or during my lunch break at work. And definitely when I was home from work and occasionally in bed before I went to sleep. All in the name of looking for a connection with friends. Wanting to see pictures and hear snippets of their adventures or share mine.

And what I began to find was that after using Facebook I would wonder, worry or feel anxious about something. Sometimes I was moved as strongly as to feel anger and disgust. Especially if people were posting from Britain First , David Wolfe Avocado , or simply from a place of total ignorance. I was getting upset and depressed frequently on a daily basis. Those moments of quick picture flicking for joy were fast becoming anxious moments of horror and disbelief.

People call you out on Facebook, saying ‘it’s a social network site, stop being so serious!’ when you dare to comment on the threads which are full of un-evidenced regurgitated shite and yet when there is a worldwide atrocity its all so serious with, ‘quick lets change our profile picture to the colour of their flag and post endlessly about how sad we are for them while simultaneously doing nothing to change anything.’ THAT is hypocrisy. THAT is networked apathy because you believe one automatic type click function on a social network site makes you involved. You might as well of sent a card. That’s how helpful that was.

As I said earlier, the internet (and subsequently Facebook as large as it has become), is a great and powerful tool. Yet with great power comes great responsibility.

Collectively or individually people are rarely considering their responsibility towards using this great power. They do not research who they are sharing from, they do not check the validity of statements and images. It is simply related on a superficial level of ‘awww aint that nice / sad / funny’ and recycled with no responsibility towards the true meaning or possible consequence.

As people always say to me, it’s a social network, take from it what you will and get out of it what you put in. To which I say, ok...however...

If you would place on your front window, open to the world, the same things you post on Facebook, than fair enough.
If you can be at a real life social gathering, say a party, and would be comfortable and competent holding conversation about the points in which you share, like, follow, post, then good for you.
You are a responsible, considerate and genuine human being.
Otherwise you are spilling unfounded views or regurgitating others in a public domain with no background, no back up nor any intentions to explain yourself or learn from others. And that on the face of it, my friend, is just fake.

It is social. We all have social responsibility.
It can be light hearted. It can be meaningful.
It can also be deceitful, hateful and harmful.

Which is why I am stepping out. Not forever or always. But predominantly and mostly.

I will still use my business page and have agreed a limit with myself for uploading info or trawling through info: no more than once a week..

I have turned to using Instagram & Flickr for sharing photos with friends and family. And have been enjoying that on occasion every couple of days for half hour. And that is All.

In the time I haven’t been surfing Faceache, I have written and received emails, watched the birds in my garden out of the window, read short stories and comics, skyped my family and gone outside to socialise. I hvae been really happy and content. No kidding.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Madonna - #40NewThings

And so it begins!
This weekend I ticked off with a mighty WHOOOPAH numbers 2 and 3 off my 40 New Things list:
  • Travel abroad to see a gig
  • See Madonna in concert

 The whole weekend was full of new experiences, new people, new emotions and new idiocy. It was a whirlwind of hard core Madonna fan madness, with my noob bumbling presence in amongst it all  and I just loved it all!

We set off on Saturday morning at 4:30am to get to Edinburgh airport for a 7am flight. We land in Amsterdam at 9:30am local time and stumble around Schipol airport looking for food and sustenance. 

After a large coffee and some breakfast snacks we decide to investigate the train or bus options and head over to the Train Tickets information desk. The beautiful smiley Dutch lady listens to our various explanations and quickly clarifies that as our flight out is early the next day, we will not be able to use the train but, she informs us, that the bus runs back from the Ziggodome arena every 6 mins. Perfect. She nods towards the exit and tells us the bus is at either stand 6B or 7B and is the number 300. We are delighted with her help.
“two tickets to the arena please!” we excitedly request.
Upon which the lovely, slightly bemused Dutch lady, points straight up and says “Zis is Train Tickets desk?” hilarity and stupidity ensue across our faces and we gather our bags and trundle off. Shaking our heads at each other as we meander towards the exit sign. Instantly forgetting what she told us but too embarrassed to go back and check.

As we step outside there are indeed rows and rows of bus stands with a variety of numbers. We immediately dispute what bus stand number she said, as well as the number of the bus being potentially 300, 500 or 900. My friend heads for a timetable board and I decide to find the correct bus stand. But I have no luck.

I head back to my friend and declare “we need to find alternative bus stands because all these are for Bushalte.” She bursts out into loud in your face laughter. You know...the kind of laughter when you know you've just said / done something monumentally stupid...

“That’s the Dutch word for bus stop…” Oh.

We quickly agree that between us both we don’t even make one adult.

The bus turns up and is indeed number 300. We hope on and then off at our stop in no time. The arena complex is vast and windy. We wander through, I’m looking for the hotel and my friend is looking for the Ziggodome arena. We find a location map and then both descend into a bleary eyed incompetence as we can’t find our location. Then my friend disputes the map, stating that the stadium (which I can see clearly right beside her) isn’t represented in the right direction on the map. She proceeds to tell me this over and over while standing beside the stadium yet pointing at where the stadium should be. Too funny.

No, not one of us is adulating today.

We find another map a short distance away and as we run towards it, disregarding the current ‘wrong one’, we also notice a queue end peeking out from under a pass way. Deciding that this must be the Madonna queue we give up on the maps and head in the direction of lined up people. I persuade my friend to pop into the last bar before the queue so I can acquire a warming nip. I suspect I am going to be in this queue for a very long time. And alcohol is a good way to start a long day!

A shot of Tia Maria down, another Dutch service lady bemused by our behaviour, we head over to join the queue.

Upon arrival we are hustled into a line and told in no circumstances should we move or leave our position. A number is drawn on our hand. Our number. The number. An EE number (Early Entry).

We are numbers 219 and 220 in the Early Entry Madonna Mad fan queue. I am regarded through slanted eyes by some as a Madonna virgin, who is clearly above her station to be going in early but I am brazen and polite with it, as I don’t care. I have waited a lifetime to afford this experience and I wont let any hard core diva’s put me off enjoying every moment.

My friend is super popular as she delivers Scottish whiskey to other Madonna fans she knows and is also super popular as she has had up close and personal experiences with Madonna, with plenty marvellous stories to tell that I enjoy hearing. Her devotion, animation and excitement is joyful to behold.

For now I am content to have found my 220nd place in a cold breezy queue. Out hotel is literally just there, overlooking the Ziggodome and this queue. We are surrounded by people in silver rescue blankets or thick coats and I amusingly peruse the arrangement of stools, chairs and wind and rain proof equipment that people are using just now but are going to abandon as soon as the doors open to collect your VIP swag and wrist pass. There are even big fat sleeping bags, layers of blankets and seating that I personally just could not dump, but that is their karma.  I am happily to sit on my squishy bag, not thinking at all about the bottle of water slowly splitting inside it or the bananas I purchased earlier slowly oozing all over my toiletries. I’m not bothered because I am comfortable. For about 10 minutes.

I could not help my entrepreneurial brain thinking…why isnt someone following these people around selling hot food and drinks, temporary shelter loans and picking up all the crap they dump for charitable donations? A whole livelihood could be made out of these fans!

So time check, its now 1pm and we have until 3pm to wait for the Early Entry door to open. But that is only stage one in this series of events that will hopefully get us to the front of this Rebel Heart Tour stage. Once Early Entry passes are acquired it is straight over to another queue to actually queue to get into the arena. At this point we cannot leave the queue as our spots will be lost and the Madonna bitches can (apparently) be harsh in not letting you back even with a pass. I am not intimidated – much!!

The next stage of getting in to pick up our passes, I am told, can get heated and frantic as people jostle for the front. The numbering system which is scrawled across my hand is something set up by the hard core Madonna fans to ensure that people who turned up in an order get in, through the same order. Fair enough. I like this!
But others still try and work round the system or push ahead of their allotted number.

 So while we wait we pass on amusing stories of Madonna gigs, travelling antics and showing off Madonna Tattoos…well my friend does all this as I have nothing to share and nothing to show. But I do get to interject occasionally, with appropriate nods, hmms and affirming, ‘yes that is right, we did’. Actually it was really wonderful listening to her in her freaky Scottish fan number one zone and hearing all the other people’s stories; how obsessive they were with the number of gigs they had been to and the lengths they have gone to cross the globe and be at the front. Who had / hadn’t ever touched Madonna. It was great banter.

My friend checked into our hotel at almost 2pm while I held our position in the line. Literally turning as cold as stone as soon as she left. I had some wonderful conversations with those around me and gradually I was able to edge nearer for general mass group protection from the bitter wind. We all felt like penguins, slowly edging around, our backs to the wind protecting the smaller people in the middle.

As my friend was so keen to get checked in and back into the line, I was concerned by her absence after 15 minutes. After 30 I was positively worried. I knew she would not have fallen asleep, as suggested by the others around me, but I also knew that if she had just bumped into friends she would have hurried them along so she could get back into line. Eventually I tried calling her but the phone went to voicemail. However she soon phoned me right back. It turns out that her credit card kept getting declined as she hadn’t informed her bank she was travelling and spending abroad. Although I laughed, neither had I! So it had taken considerably longer to get all of that cleared up, with phone calls to the bank and hotel staff being slow but helpful.

Never mind, the outcome was successful and we were checked into a very swanky hotel with an executive room overlooking the canal. Beautiful.

Once my friend returned to the queue and we got over the hilarity and drama of the credit card issues, again wondering why there wasn’t a sensible and organised adult on standby to keep us in order, it was my turn to head to the room to freshen up and dump my bag.

The Jazz hotel was very cool indeed. 

Dark shiny interior contrasted with simple chip board walls, that were covered in lots of music related pictures and spray work. The bright red runner carpets to the rooms had graphics depicting ‘Lead singer’, ‘Band support stage’ and such like with arrows pointing at your room door. The room was large with an impressive ensuite, although the fancy sink and pipes in bright orange put me in mind of Easy Jet. The wall behind the ridiculously huge bed was spray painted rough wood, cool as.

So I perked up my hair a little, the victory rolls more like victory swhirls having taken a beating in the windy conditions. And then I discovered all my clothes were wet through from the slowly leaking water in my bag. My make up, which was thankfully still in the airport customs clear bag was smeared with banana. At least it left a fruity smell over the entire contents. I was just relieved that my beautiful adventurers note book, which had been a gift, and my passport had escaped damage.

I threw on my clothes anyway, blasted myself with the hairdryer and touched up my make up. I was standing considering if I should put on my new blue feather eyelashes when my phone rang and an excited friend shrieked down the phone at me ‘we are moving!’

I dashed out of the room and down the lifts back to our position to find that actually, movement was a little over stated. Everyone had stood up. They were more squished together as the doors were about to open (in 15 minutes time). However it did mean that the queue had moved up a little past the end of the nearest building, so we were now better protected from the wind. Staff appeared and moved barriers around, herding us closer together in a funnel towards the imminently opening doors.
Over the course of the next hour and a half we squished tighter like sardines and shuffled slowly like penguins towards our goal. Its a weird thing knowing there are exactly 218 people in front of you when you are gagging to be next! But at around the 70 left mark it became apparent we needed ID to evidence our tickets and of course I had just left mine in the room. So I left the shelter of the waddle and raced back to my room, grabbed my passport and slipped back into the queue again, cursing this missing elusive competent adult.

Getting back into the queue was not as difficult as I thought as everyone we had been standing with recognised me and in fact let me in with a small ya!
But as people pushed and shoved, even though there was nowhere to go, my friend and I were split up by tall male shoulders shoving in. However she didn’t let me down, as soon as she was next she told the doorman she was a group of two and he waved for me to push through to the front.
I believe while this was happening some queen commented to the doorman and my friend ‘that’s not fair’, to which she barked  “Er.. we are numbered & we are next! Where’s your number then pal?”

Not so flaky now are we? Clearly having her adult moment of the day. Hooray!

Inside we are briefly warm as our numbers are checked, our tickets are beeped and we are provided with a nifty wristband (which I still have on three weeks later) and our VIP swag bag. Then we are harangued straight back into the cold! Where we dash to the next queue which is for entry to the actual arena and doesn’t happen until 6pm. Well...

By now I needed a sit down and another warming nip. My back is killing me and I am chilly. I am going to dare to leave the final line and take our swag bags and new items back to the hotel room. I can handle this!

So off I trundle, purchasing a G&T on the way to the room and finding all my anti inflammatory pills and painkillers to take. I load up my strap on pockets with more for later, generally prepare myself for the night ahead and am greatly surprised that my hair is easily renewed into huge obedient victory rolls, my topped up make up goes well and my eyelashes stick on first time. Well that’s a first!! A sprinkle of glitter and I am good to go meet Madonna.

All in all I am actuality back down stairs in the queue in just over half an hour, much to the amusement of everyone we were with who look astonished at the transformative makeover!

Now it is dark. The tension is mounting as we can see the security people lined up inside. The queue is wider so it will move quicker. There are more staff and more doors. As they are swung open and we surge forward we are careful not to get split up by the barriers manoeuvring people into lines. The beep beep of the ticket scanner gets louder as we edge forward. We are ecstatic! Until I realise I have left my ticket in the hotel room, in my swag bag. I try to blag it with the door man. After all I have the wrist band on and the EE lanyard around my neck– but no.
So I curse the elusive adult skills again and run, again, back to the hotel for my ticket and back to the final depletion of the EE line.
This time I am furious with myself. All day long queuing and standing, aching and stiffness to be left at the back of the queue, no further forward than general admission. Who are eagerly watching this queue dissipate with wide eyed anticipation. I am so not worthy right now...

But amazingly even though staff are shouting at people to stay in line and sit in lines of two by two, I spot my friend and scoot over, doing the invisible half run, that we all do when trying to get somewhere we don’t want to be noticed getting, or crossing roads. The oops I’m not here, I’m invisible run.

So lady luck puts me back in my 220nd position for the next hour of...yes you’ve guessed it, more ...WAITING

I mean really this story...already 2,570 words long and we aint even inside the standing area of the arena yet!!! WTF?

I suppose I could have written, we turned up early and waited for ages, then we got in. But thats not really telling you a story or reviewing the finer points of such a wonderful day is it?

Madonna’s entourage take over the final organising of the entry and we are shouted at like disobedient children. They finally let us into the actual arena in groups of 50 people while the rest of us are shouted at some more and told to remain sitting.

SIT! SIT DOWN! ANYONE CAUGHT RUNNING WILL RESULT IN THE DOORS BEING OPENED AND EVERYONE BEING CHUCKED OUT. ABSOLUTELY NO RUNNING. There are humorous murmurs and tittering mumbles about possibly cantering but we just didn’t think the time was right. We were so close to inside. Humour had no place right now.

And then it really was us. And we were at the front of queue. We were the pace setters. And in we go! Its on! We take our space on the right hand side of the enormous protruding stage, just below the right hand corner of the cross, between the runway and the bulbous heart shaped end. The stage backdrop has the Rebel Heart cover on it in a glowing brazen and exciting red. There is absolutely nothing else on show to give the show away.



And now its just another 4 hours wait!!!

And the worst hour of that wait? When the support act came on. Tunice or Lunice or something. Nothing nice about anything other than the second half of the spelling of his name. Shame.

But as soon as he was over we knew it wouldn’t be long before the Queen would adorn her mighty stage.
And then...eventually... after just a little more waiting – BOOM. On came Madonna.

Pic courtesy of James Pearson

I was beside myself. There was Madonna. 
THE Madonna. 
A long-awaited dream come true.
The Queen of pop.
The stage Queen of all shows.
A tick off the old bucket list.
A life time of wishing.
The one and only.
There in front of me...
Madonna.

Her entry through the stage ceiling in her large cage. The dancers in their futuristic fierce tribal inspired black and gold matador style outfits. And the opening routine with Madonna in her magnificent red and black outfit to the same style. The dancers manoeuvres with their huge golden crosses, the way she sat upon one, keenly balanced as she sung, strong, iconic and beautiful. Then she swooped down, quite taking my breath away and hung from her knees as two dancers held the cross and turned it with her on it, still singing.

Pic courtesy of James Pearson

I was just aghast with awe as she swooped and stomped so blooming close to me! Every time she came by I was just beside myself with her masterful presence and impressive energy.

There is just so much about the show that I enjoyed and too much to literally detail here. And if I am really honest with you, I have no idea of the order of things, due to my over excitement and inability to now recall the memories of the show in the precise order.

For instance, when she strutted her stuff down the runway with her dancers, all dressed in kinky nun outfits, it was early in the show, but I’m not exactly sure when. But I don’t care, it’s more important that the memory is there.

So I will describe a few of my favourite things.
There was the large sloped stage which sat centre back of the main stage. At the beginning of the show it was used in a scene with individual dancers sliding down and across it. 

Not only were their moves daring and amazing but the sloped stage danced to their feet with reactive splash effects, making it look as though their dancing feet were splashing colourful liquid all about the place. At the end of the show, three dancers bounced up and down off it on safety bungees while it flashed through every flag of the world.

Then there was the best scene of all when three iron beds appeared centre stage writhing with six dancers. At first you would be forgiven for thinking they were all male on female couples, the male in the centre bed no different from the others in performing the impressive lifts, the thrusting gyrations and the raw brut sexual intention being portrayed. Until the dancer in question whipped off her dinner jacket and revealed her delicious bare naked chest, nipple-tastic, fit female brace laden body. She was fine, divine and showing us a really good time. She danced with the same vitality skill and strength as the men. And boy did she carry out the same hetero-sex moves as the men. Phewy! Surely made me hot under the collar!


My favourite down tempo piece of the whole show, was technically marvellous and poetically beautiful. A full scale metal spiral staircase was lowered onto the heart shaped end of the runway. Just Madonna and one dancer throughout the whole piece and yet it was so striking it moved me to tears. Four songs all depicting the trials of finding and keeping love and the harshness of love lost.

I could not believe the skills and stunts the lone male dancer carried out as Madonna moved up and down the twirling stair case. He parkoured all over it, jumped through the banisters over the top of Madonna and straight through the banisters on the other side. He walked up it on the underneath as she walked up it above. He was pushed down it, slid down in, danced down it. It really was a beautiful piece of choreography.

Another favourite sequence had to be with the now Iconic long bull fighter cape. Which was even longer than the version she wore at the Brits which famously didn’t come off, and was utterly stunning in all its finely embroidered monographic glory.  She came up from the middle of the front of the stage and it draped far behind her in her long march to centre stage. It was Magnificent.

Pic courtesy of DJ McDowall

There was the sequence with four long black crosses fixed into the stage which all the girls polespan on her and gyrated on her. Truly epic and (I will say it again) iconic imagery. When I saw this image pre-concert I mistaken thought it was a male dancer, even when I spotted the huge high heals, this did not dissuade me. But no.

It was one of her female dancers. Something I have admired vocally since my return. Her dancers are hard as nails and totally equal in style, verve and strength.
danced around until one of them held the plank position on it while taking Madonna’s weight. Not only as Madonna stood on her and sang, but as she


There was the kinky glitzy 1920’s style section where Madonna wore a stunning flapper girl style
dress adorned with thousands of shimmering stones and frayed sparkling trim. She sung very slow versions of some of her old numbers and won cheers from the crowds for her long held notes and stylish renditions.

Pic courtesy of DJ McDowall
Then there was the part where she started with a long trailing wedding veil and ended up throwing about a bouquet and asking for someone to take her hand in a marriage. My dearest friend screamed out a proposal which Madonna promptly turned down, rendering my friend speechless with hands thrown on head for about 15 minutes. 
Or at least until Madonna was talking to the guy right NEXT TO US!! So close I could feel the heat off her. Madonna that is, not my friend.


The least likeable sequence had to be when she was dressed like a floral grand-mama from the wine orchards. The moves on her expert Spanish flamenco dancers were impressive and the feel of the section was very jovial and lovable. But the outfit, the spanking of her dancer for dropping the maracas and the understandable less focus on Madonna, more focus on the dancing team giving her a bit of a rest, made it the least memorable section of the whole show.

Pic courtesy of Rich Butler
There was the central circle of the stage which lifted and rose out of the centre of the cross part of the runway. That runway stage was really very epic. Madonna hardly spent any time on the main stage area at all really. It was mostly runway or no way. She sat on the edge of the raised central circle and sung with a little guitar. She posed in front of it playing a rock guitar. She stood on it with dancers. She danced and pranced off it too. Nothing less than you would expect.

I loved how her off stage transitions from outfit to oufit were filled with whole songs supported by troupes of dancers and excellent films shown on the screens behind the stage. (Like my favourite bed related sequence, the song was Sex but Madge was nowhere in sight).
You knew she was off getting changed but the theme was engaging, the dancers were terrific and it effortlessly linked the sections together. Unlike other performers I know who are quite blatant and thoughtless about their sectional transitions.

And then there was the utterly mind blowing use of sway sticks with no less than seven of them bending about on the runway, picking up and moving the other dancers, stealing hats off each other and generally looking stunning. One of them was this beautiful female, she was right above me and actually made eye contact and gave me a wink and a laugh as she swayed right down above me and making me slightly duck. All set to one of the tunes off Madonnas new album that I just knew would be stunning live – Illuminati. My smiling face had my smile shining like Illuminati I tell ya!

The finale was a rendition of Holiday and as I previously mentioned, there were guys bungee jumping down the sloped back stage, people dancing and exciting themselves all over the stage and everything generally going on. It was dramatic and climatic. The flags on the stage, the falling sparkles, the lyrics and it make me think what a great day this had been. And I agree with Madonna, You can turn this world around. You can bring back all of those happy days, put your troubles down, It is time to celebrate, let love shine, and we will find, a way to come together, to make things better.
Pic courtesy of James Pearson

Overall it was impressive and clever choreography throughout with innovative and impressive ideas excellently executed. Some of those ideas were taken directly from previous tours so I can understand why some people may have been disappointed. Some of the ideas were brand new and require recognition for the way Madonna and her dancing crew make it look so easy.

And yes she looked tired at times. And yes she danced wonkey after coming off some of the spinning moves. And yes she didn’t do as much hard core dancing as she has been known to do in the past, choosing to choreograph stunning effects to which she could merely meander through flicking nipples and pushing top hats and make it all look so complicated and detailed.

I can see when you have been following Madonna for years why her show might not be as daring, as or as inventive any more. But they are still a marvel to behold. She is still tenacious, stunning and a master of her work. She is 57 for fucks sake and wouldn’t you want to be taking it a little easier at 57? I’m surprised that by now she isn’t just sat on a chair singing along while she barks orders at everyone else to make the effort. Christ knows she deserves it.

Pic Courtesy of DJ McDowall
But she is a showman. A hard core bitch. A rebel heart. And this show, reminds us of that in all her glory. Rehashed, reshaped or not. She has still got it. She is the queen. And I bow to her superiority.

The lights went up. The crowds rushed for the door. And I held onto my friend, speechless apart from the sound of the racking sobs coursing out of my body. The exhilaration with nowhere to go, turned into sobbing tears of joy. Ridiculous! Even I was shocked to find every time I tried to explain myself, I sounded like a choir boy and further tears burst from my eye lids.

My friend found this utterly amusing and told people this for the next hour or two. I told nobody nothing. Other than my speechless smile and listened to the internal whirring of my brain.

We sat with friends for a couple of hours as I listened to them digest and discuss the show. Most of it I tuned out as I wanted to savour my impression as long as I could. And when we finally head to our hotel room we open our swag bags and enjoy looking through all the memorabilia.

Unfortunately my friend then realises she has lost her jacket and wallet and a search of our seating area and room ensures, but we are confident one of her friends has picked it up by mistake from the sofa we were sat on downstairs. A few texts are sent back from our room and we fall off to sleep.

We have 2 hours sleep before we jump up to catch our bus and flight home. At the airport my friend receives a text confirming someone she will see again at another Madonna gig has her wallet and jacket. We ask them to text us a picture of the car park ticket which is the only thing we can think that we will need in the next hours. Mission accomplished (clearly during another adult moment) we head off for the wrong airport departure gate.

Why would you ahve two flights to the same airport just 20 minutes apart anyway?

Thankfully we realise our mistake before the planes boarding is closed and head to the right gate!

The rest of the journey flys by (ahem sorry) as we both snooze our way back to Scottish ground. King about 10 minutes before landing, our bodies and minds recharged enough to give us another burst of post adventure perspective and we begin to talk excitedly of future plans to write about Madonna and watch Madonnna Tour DVDs over Christmas and in particular my friend is telling me more about what Madonna means to her and we both float off the plane in a heightened state of appreciation for each other’s life stories and of this time we have spent together.

We have one more drama to go though. I discover as I get to the front of the customs queue that I have left my passport on the plane...twazzock! The appropriate staff are notified and we are told to sit (like naughty children again) on some chairs in front of the customs control box while the whole plane of travellers filter past us and out towards their onwards journeys. Event the customs control staff head away into an office and it is quite a while before a man in a high vis-jacket arrives and gathers a member of staff to check us through.
The final realisation that even with our feet on home ground, we have not regained our ability to adult.

Final piece of magic for the weekend was explaining our situation to the car park assistant in his booth. We show him the image of our ticket which allows him to work out our entry time. He is surprised that we have been just a little over 24 hours and he explains that the cost is £38. However seeing as it is Christmas, just ask for Collin at the barrier and I will let you through. OMG! What a nice man. We nearly brake his wrist trying to pull it through the small slot to kiss it with thanks. And we don’t sound dodgy at all when we announce at the barrier that we are the two girls from Amsterdam and Collin said to just let us through!

We drive back, buzzing, chatting and smiling. Magic from end to end. Either keeping us safe, generally pointing in the right direction, and watching over us. The M-agical M-adnness of Madonna.

I look back now and I had known for years that finally seeing Madonna had to be done in style. Not sure what style that is exactly, apart from epic. It was worth the wait. And this experience is most certainly up there in my overall top ten life experiences. And an impressive way to begin my #40newthings count down.
What a hard act to follow!
M-arvellous.

Thanks to my friend for making it happen, and making it M-ental.
Thanks M-ate. X

What a M-omentous and M-onumental M-emory.
And that was the whole point really wasn’t it?

#40NewThingsS


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Its my Birthday! And so the list begins...

PROLOGUE - you have to imagine I actually got round to posting this on the 9th October!

Its my birthday!!! 

Well actually I was 40 years old yesterday. But today I am off work and apart from finding the time to blog, I am enjoying some much longed for time in bed while the mighty and incredibly thoughtful BF makes me a pot of tea. we have an amazing day ahead planned of going to the travel agent to plan our winter holidays and then off to one of best mates for an afternoon tea and snuggle with her 3 month old baby.

I have been able to finalise the #40Newthings list. Another item to fall off the end list was ‘turn vegetarian.’ Not because I am giving up on this life choice but because it is exactly that, a life choice. I am bound to need respite and recipes. Upon talking this one through with a number of people, it was brought to my attention that a life choice can hardly be as whimsical or as daring as taking on a new activity. My seriousness about becoming a vegetarian does not translate into the same year long experiences. I hope this life choice decision will last a life time.

There are a couple of new activities based on birthday presents – gratefully received from wonderful freind’s who know me well and have provided yet more opportunities for me to have near death experiences and in the region too!

So here goes the list up to number 29. 
Suggestions still welcome...List soon to be published on what activity is happening each week. I am starting this week with beginning Pride and Prejudice.

EXCITING!!!!!!  

1.       Publish a book
2.       Fly in a Glider
3.       Volunteer at the South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital
4.       Go into an airport and just fly somewhere for weekend
5.       Get into a car and drive somewhere new
6.       Go to Wales
7.       Eat a deep fried mars bar
8.       Bungee jump
9.       Climb Criffel
10.   Learn Aerial Skills
11.   Master two new Hula hoop moves: off body move & slow mo turning
12.   Make a mermaids lapghan 
13.   Go on a falconry day
14.   Climb an actual outside rock face
15.   Eat snails in France
16.   Go fishing at sea
17.   Walk bare foot in the rain
18.   Bake my neighbours a cake each
19.   Read Pride and Prejudice
20.   See Madonna in concert
21.   Watch the film - The Apartment
22.   Travel alone
23.   Wear a kilt on Burns night
24.    Take part in a ‘messy twister’ conquest
25.   Meditate for world peace all day
26.   Prepare a stand up act to perform the year 2017
27.   Photographic evidence of using a Double Adult Space hopper: spring, summer, autumn, winter
28.   Become a human sling shot – birthday gift
29.   Flyboarding – birthday gift




Dismaland - Banksy Bemusement Theme Park

On the morning of Thursday 24th September I was disappointed to learn that I would not be going to the Loopalu Festival in Ullapool. Some problem with my review companies tickets.

I wasn’t so upset about the change of plans for me but more so that a close friend who was being my press gang plus one would also be let down. This was someone I love dearly that I don’t get to spend much time with and was very much looking forward to seeing for the weekend.

But you make your apologies, change your plans and let the disappointment pass. You thank the world for your place in it, trust that it has other plans for you and move on.

And clearly it had other plans for me.

A few hours later I am zooming up the M74 to Glasgow when another dear friend who I also had not seen in a while rings me with the offer of a lifetime. True story.

“What are you doing tonight and tomorrow and can all your plans be changed?”

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

“I won tickets to Banksy Dismaland!! We need to leave tonight to get in tomorrow and there is an after show party line up that you won’t believe!”

Who in their right mind would have turned this down? The rest is history. And this road trip really did carve a special place in my own history.

Its 1:17am. The car is packed like a camp bed. We have snacks and sandwiches. Crisps and cake. We are on the move.

Our car journey down was a total realignment of our beautiful friendship. A long needed catch up had been in order for months. We had both been through so much self discovery, had worked with some amazing people, been to some wonderful places and were both in that place of ‘cant wait to tell you!’ 6 hours in the car should certainly catch us up!

Sharing stories and explaining new life lessons, it was with great excitement yet calm acceptance we head off into the night and into our hearts and minds.

We barely noticed the road. We played no music other than the music to our ears of our strange self awareness journeys. The momentous monolithic parallel synchronicity happening between us was too prolific to put down to anything other than universal connectivity. We sat up and noticed! In between loud WHOAHs! And NO WAYS!

It was powerful.

It is nice to know that connectivity on a spiritual level is happening among so many of our brothers and sisters. We talked and talked and listened and listened. We went back through the eras to earth’s birth and beyond. We went forward in time to how we might effect change on mother earth and bring peace to her soil.

We talked about the global economy, our fears for the planet and the human race. We talked about the Peak Oil crisis, Oil drilling in the arctic, refugees and global citizens. We talked about the ignorance of the plastic fantastic superficial race of the general populous around us. We talked about work and play, life and death, past lives and future visions, spirits and fairies, giants and angels, ley-lines and stone circles, healing and power.

We connected not just with each other on a soul nurturing level, but we connected with the plight of the world. The calling of the universe. With our lifetimes and our life lines. On every plane of existence and every level in our heart, mind and soul.

AWESOME!

We arrive at Weston-Super-Mare just before 7am and quickly find the old ‘Tropicana’ site on the south section of the seafront. The derelict lido site used to be one of those walled resort with an outdoor swimming pool and fair ground style attractions. It is now the home of the Bemusement Park Dismaland.

The sun was just lifting over the sea front apartments and put an eerie yellow glow on the Dismaland sign. The excitement in our hearts was further warmed by the beautiful sunny day dawning around us. The sky was a perfect blue and the temperature already warm enough for T-shirts. We tried to snooze in the back of the car, neither of us catching many Zzz’s as we tried to quieten our excited, intrigued brains.

Finally giving up on a decent nap by 10am, we secured a coffee and ate fresh avocado and mayonnaise baps on the beach front wall. It felt like a childhood excursion was about to begin. We did nothing but grin as our feet swung beneath us, the waves glistened far out at sea and the feelings in our heart grew humble and full of glee.

It is at this time I would like to thank the amazing people who got us here, at this moment, on this day – THANK YOU. You know who you are. For offering the tickets as a prize, for sharing and caring, for inviting me to come along the road trip excursion once in a lifetime, for giving, for living, for being. I thank you.

After a quick spruce up we head down to the barrier area to join the queue which had been growing since our arrival at 7am. Hundreds of mostly middle aged people waiting in line in the beating sun.

We were shocked to find the clientele so middle aged, expecting more funky youngsters until we realised – WE are middle aged! Good lordy! How did that happen? It snuck up on us really. And when you think how long Banksy's work has been out there, HE must be middle aged too right?

It was also shocking to us how warm it was. In true Scottish style, we were there, no coat, T shirts out and sun shades on. Convinced we would get sun burnt. While many other visitors stood in hats and coats! How?

Anyway, we finally get towards the front of the mahousive queue, our heart skipping, the anticipation swelling over as we step inside the entrance. We did not know we would never be the same again...

Greeted by a room created to be a customs checking area. Everything is made to look like a 2D white pencil drawing. As if everything has been made out of card. Indeed it is! The scanning machines, the conveyor belts, the walk through metal detectors, the CCTV cameras, the staff hats, the police guns, everything is all made of white cardboard, with thick black lines ‘drawn’ around every edge. It is surreal. You feel like you are stepping into a comic book page.

The staff are grumpy and rude. They pick on us for being silly and excited. We are made to answer a series of idiotic questions while they glare & tut at us. Eventually they tell us to stop smiling and let us through.

Stepping out of the room into the main arena of the ‘theme park’ we are greeted by more Dismal staff handing out leaflet guides. But, as soon as you go to take one from them, they throw them on the ground, or over your / their shoulder, or snatch it back and walk off. It made us belly laugh at the utter disrespect.

We move on to a dirty black Ice cream van, the vendor selling programmes. She is sat with her head sulkily resting on her hand. Her face a picture of inconvenience. Making everyone’s life a misery. How dare we ask for a programme! It is not as if she is here to sell programmes…oh wait!

So I tip toe up. Best smile forward. She is slumped in her seat staring at the counter. She is surrounded by piles upon piles of Event Programmes.

“Hello, may I have two programmes please?”

“Sold out.”

Gulp.

“err…then can I have two of the other programmes please?”

She rolls her eyes at me, tuts and slams two programmes in front of me. Snatches my money and sighs again back into her position of dismality.

“thank you!”

The irony of it is not surpassing us.

We are paying for this! Paying to be treated like this. And accepting it. Don’t we always? Hilarious.

Once past the programme booth we stand back and take in the whole of the scene before us. Central to the arena is a murky green lagoon sharing its pitch with a black and broken Dismaland castle, fashioned similarly to the Disneyland castle of course. Crashed in the right of the lagoon is a large RIOT Police truck, spewing water. Arial: The Little Mermaid from Disney sits central of the lagoon. But she is no normal Ariel. She is warped and distorted and disturbing to look at. Almost like the channel isn’t tuned in properly. The whole site strikes you that something is not quite right.

And there is more...

There are large strange installations all around the central lagoon. Such as a huge spiral of Big lorry Jigs. A rearing horse made from scaffolding poles. And more traditional yet slighted dodgy looking theme park items such as an over sized sand castle, a large rickety Ferris wheel (that I could not believe people were using even though it was making weird noises and wobbled when it stopped). There was a Punch and Julie stand, threadbare deck chair. A mini ‘Gulf’ area with people trying to hit the balls around the green not only navigating the various hurdles but also trying to get the ball past the Dismal staff who were just laying across the small gold greens not only being in the way but quite often just taking the golf balls off people and throwing them out of the area.

There were statue versions of some of Banksy's graffiti and a wide range of posters and banners pasted everywhere as well as large statements painted onto things and projected onto others. My favourite statement could be found on the back of the frontage building you walked through to get into the arena. The whole back end was painted in a variety of greys with subtle silhouette style bodies with their arms out. It struck me as moving and macabre. Peaceful yet poignant. The words alongside the painted moody shadow statues spelt out MEDIOCRE.

And there is more...

Dismaland was an absolute feast on the eyes but your senses pick up on the nuances that tell you, that all is not as it seems here. This place said something more than a fun day at the seaside. This was dark and menacing. This was in your face. This was greeting you with pointing fingers and greedy eyes, Hello consumer! Come on down! Sucker!!! We were inside the scratch beneath the surface.

Next up we find another Banksy installation. A lady on a bench with a mad colony of seagull wings as a head. Seagulls are stalking her. She must have had a face of chips or something. There is space beside her for you to sit and get your picture taken. Next to that is a member of the Dismal staff, in his pink high vis that all have DISMAL written on the back. Wearing his wonky over sized Mickey Mouse ears and leaning against a wall with a tepid, bored look on his face. We took his picture. He didn’t bat an eyelid. We watched people drop their eyes and quickly move along. We laughed at him and them. Loudly.

Our elation soon came to a short sharp end as we entered the warehouse. Darkness in the room swallows you in. As your eyes adjust, at first you experience the flashing statements of the roadside sign. The orange LED loop is both rousing and depressing. The social context in contrast with the hot sunny day outside. It flashes at us, at our serenity. It makes us think.

...Class action is a nice idea
With no substance
Class structure is as artificial as plastic
Don’t place too much trust in experts
Confusing yourself
is a way to stay honest
Deviants are sacrificed
to increase group solidarity
Don't place too much
Trust in experts
Go all out in romance
And let the chips fall where they may
Habitual contempt doesn’t
Reflect a finer sensibility
Hiding your motives is despicable
If you live simply
There is nothing to worry about...
o in the darkness of the warehouse...

There was a vending machine with an unborn baby, curled upside down in the foetal position, covered in brand names. Disturbing portrait of how we sell the innocence of our children to conglomerate corporates. Chasing sugar, chasing fame, chasing material success. Chasing money. Posing the question in my mind –is it right that those who control the world are doing it for love of money? Should Coca Cola rule the world? Should Monsanto? How did this become so normal? When will people find this abnormal? Forming. Norming. Conforming.

Then the plastic plants. Everything you saw made from recycled packaging.

The continually swirling non smiley face. All the parts available but never in the right order to create the known acid empire icon of the rave scene. ‘Here for a good time, not a long time.’

The place darkens even more, the BeeGees begin to sing Staying Alive and none other than The Grim Reaper comes out seated on his bumper car, racing around the stage. Evoking yelps alongside laughter. The theatrics of him demon-strating the epiphany of a good time, the irony of the song playing. It is genius.

We move through to another zone in the warehouse. Well lit and full of art work. Immediately the glance you are hit by the impressive magnitude of the work around you. There are colours radiating from the pictures down the walls.

Your eyes drawn right down the middle to a large 3D installation of an atomic bomb cloud. You push your eyes away and move on. We took it all in methodically and slowly. Not wanting to miss a thing.

The atmosphere is lighter, the place brighter. For just a second or two we breathe a sigh of relief for the change in mood.

Initially your impression is of stunning art work. Yet as you move from item to item, you discover the disturbing truth behind every single piece. The unbelievably topical issues represented. Before many of them hit the headlines. The incredible humour. The pain staking efforts some of the artists went through. The ingenious depictions. The sheer brilliance. The absolute horror.

Our senses heightened to enable us to creatively understand the images and cognitively comprehend each meaning. And because of this heightened awareness we were greatly affected by many of the art works. We became fearful. And tearful. The dumb and numb. The distress and discomfort behind each piece. The shear brilliance in the hideous outpouring of brutality. You shall not deny! Yet people walked by.

We watched, we stood in awe. We let the shock ravage our bodies.

We shook our heads. We sighed. We cried.

We felt humbled. Humbled at the brilliance we were lucky enough to witness. Humbled at our small place in the world and how we, unlike many others around us, understand it’s terrible plight right now.

We felt utterly attacked. Like someone had reached inside our brains, taken all the conversations we had on the journey down and created visual representation of them all. Raped. Raw. Stuck to the floor. Long moments passed. As other people shuffled on past. Our eyes stuck to images of pain, distorted points of view, ramming the point home again and again. This world in so much pain. And we are the cause of it all.

The final room took us to a dismal and disturbing place. It was a model village. It depicted a land where only the police were left. There were no general population. Flashing blue lights splattered the whole area. There was mass destruction and the aftermath of hideous accidents and incidents everywhere. Burning cop cars. Cars in trees. Broken motorway bridges. Jack knifed lorries. Burning churches. Smashed and fallen phone boxes. Refugees in sinking boats. Smashed up schools and hospitals.

It was too much. The depiction of what before we could only imagine shocked us to our core. We were there. Stumbling through the desolation.

Horrified. It impressed us and distressed us both intensely. We moved out of there as quick as the shuffling crowds would allow. Absolutely devastated at the devastation. The realisation of a horrific mental image truly brought to life prematurely.

We literally left there holding each other up.

We needed time out for a while. We took solace in the sun on the bleacher type steps at the back of the arena. We purchased a beer. Sat on a slope looking out over threadbare deck chairs. Time to breath. I couldn’t even think. Just shake my head in awe. Sip my beer. Breath.

It struck me, how much more horrendous all of this would seem if it wasn’t such a sunny day. From our position on the bleaches, we could see the outdoor cinema films running. The huge curling lorry installation called Big Jig. The fairground stalls asking you to ‘hook a duck from the muck’. People walking around with big black balloons that read ‘I am an imbecile.’ The back of the black decrepit Castle. The depressed staff. The beyond bonkers surroundings. If the sun hadn’t have been out I think I would have been seriously depressed and unable to continue the day.

Finally we were able to speak actual words to each other and begin to digest and discuss what we had experienced and what we were witnessing with the blind social conformity and the idiotic consumerism around us. We found it hard to believe that the majority of people were buying into all of this. That some had their young children with them. Were those children getting a debrief when they got home? Did the parents understand that this is not a theme park? This social message asking us to wake the fuck up and smell the overpriced coffee you are all addicted to paying for. That this is supposed to make you see how idiotic and shallow we have become. How cruel we are. How small. We should be sad. Sorry.

As helpful as our spot in the sun was, we were still not in complete respite. Opposite us was a small intimate stage area, currently being used as a cinema space. In front of us were rows of deckchairs.

Films ran continuously in front of us and we watched. We watched with open mouth, with open mind. For over an hour we watched the whole loop of every film being shown. What we saw is all here for you to see too:

The Employment - opusBou
https://youtu.be/cxUuU1jwMgM
Bottle – Kirsten Lepore
https://youtu.be/5mVEapKnS1c
New York Park – Black Sheep Films
https://youtu.be/d1BO9xu_eXI
I’ve fallen and I cant get up! – Dave Fothergill
https://youtu.be/daysCqmqd2Y
Symmetry – The Mercandantes
https://youtu.be/yi4CElXXhJM
Golden Age of Insect Aviation: the Great Grasshoppers – Wayne Unten
https://youtu.be/WlA-DVec61M
Dont hug me I’m scared #1 – Becky and Joe Leonie
https://youtu.be/9C_HReR_McQ
Teddy has an operation – Ze Frank
https://youtu.be/AdYaTa_lOf4
Pug Particles – Ramil Valiev
https://youtu.be/U8IFc-yLCbs
The Gap – Daniel Sax / Ira Glass
https://vimeo.com/85040589
Walking on By – Mr. Freeman
https://youtu.be/NbIoPdywXkU
Merry-go-round – VladimAr Turner
https://vimeo.com/97339446
5 metres 80 – Nicolas Deveaux
https://youtu.be/N4RlsJSAbSE
Liberty – Vincent Ullman
https://youtu.be/tt6QHBXjcMI?list=PLEKjMxfhRmvObOaN-K5ZMpCWv8ObwLd7E
Danielle – Anthony Cerniello
https://youtu.be/JRqPJdgdnIM
Rush hour – Black Sheep Films
https://youtu.be/ufK2XRGUjuc
Anamorphose temporelle – Adrien M & Claire B.
https://youtu.be/odgYPoOBS7g
Magic Hats – Jake Sumner / Alldayeveryday
https://youtu.be/l2iF0LDwzgI
Yawns – the Mercadantes
https://youtu.be/0OOYqnxZQ2A
Living With Jigsaw – Chris Chapel
https://youtu.be/kTXfAtckS3g
Fuck That: A Guided Meditation – Jason Headley
https://youtu.be/92i5m3tV5XY?list=PLSqAnkfbFfCaFI30AXVBVeqmVLOw79seV
Stainless / Shinjuku (excerpt) – Adam Magyar
https://youtu.be/oZlBdpp7FtI

You can see from watching any of the film clips above: some of them are light hearted, some of them not so much light hearted as heavy hearted. But all meaningful, insightful, thought provoking.

Next up we decided to get some knowledge and inspiration from the Army Tent. Inside you could find hundreds of activism books and tools. Campaign details, interesting articles, short stories, long books and incredible insights. It felt like the only place in the whole arena that made sense. Funnel your fury into some form of action people! We purchased a few items to help us help others help the planet survive the dismal future. We talked to some incredible people and we left finally feeling less under attack and more out of the spell.

We sat and ate some pizza. Awe struck by the odd conversations around us. One woman sat next to me and remarked what fun this place was. When I replied that actually I was finding it quite disturbing and socially depressing, she looked at me like I had just swatted the ice cream off her cone...oh well.

After chatting amongst ourselves and finding solace in our solitude we decided to brave the big black Dismal Castle. We were in high spirits yet I was not so keen to go in. Not being a fan of anything remotely scary and in particular things like Ghost trains, Halls of Mirrors or Dungeon theme types of antics, where you anticipate someone jumping out on you and dread the inevitable slight pant wetting hysteria of it all...i was slightly nervous.

On approach we were asked if we would be interested in a photo of the whole experience, to which we merely answered...we might. Next thing you know we are shoved in a line on our own and mocked by the staff for being the ‘stuffy rich people!’ We were belligerently chaperoned slowly into our own spot in the queue whilst all the people queueing in the other lines were told repeatedly not to look at us, were constantly heckled by the staff and occasionally poked.

To be honest I was still somewhat concerned with being scared witless but the theatrical demeaning distraction somewhat moved me in quicker. Inside we posed on X marks the spot in front of a green screen, with no idea why and then were shoved into a large pitch back room with flashing lights and jeering.

Hanging onto my friend for dear life, my eyes began to make out the scene in front of me. The strobing was camera flashes. The jeering a large group of paparazzi stood around the wreckage of a life size Cinderella’s carriage. Cinderella herself, on her way back from the ball, hanging dead from the carriage window. The horses dead in the road amongst twisted carriage and broken bridal tack. The cameras relentless flashing continue as we move away. As you back away from the whole disaster, you notice the two paparazzi vespers parked at the roadside. This terrible scene heavily reminiscent of a day gone by when another Princess Di.

We leave choked on the brazen depiction.

We visit a small circus like tent filled with weird and wonderful curiosities. Strange preserved animals. Weirdly combined body parts with other body parts or with animal parts. Odd. Strange. Challenging. Can you make sense of it all? Isn’t this just barbaric bludgeoning? Shocking us yet mocking us. Deviant art for our craved depraved minds? Is it making you loath yourself yet?

We take another breather and absorb the view from back at the beginning, from tattered deck chairs. We watch the weirdness of this dismal portrayal of our dismal world buzz around us. Our sense’s are warped and exhausted. The sun is beating down. The only tie with reality we feel we have. We stare opened mouthed in disbelief. We know it is all actually here, that we are in the experience yet it is all too real and too surreal.

There is just one thing left to do...Exit, through the gift shop.

Evening: Closing Party

We were a pair of lucky duckies to acquire tickets for the finale evening gig. We stood around the large zig zag queueing barriers and looked for ticket touts. None. We waited a long time for someone to appear with spare tickets. None. We were so alert and pensive, strutting up and down the waiting lines, we began to feel like ticket touts ourselves.

The only virtue to our nervous yet hopeful hearts was the people watching sport of so many people in masks or face scarves. What an effort some people had made. There were full ball gowns and tuxedo jackets. Many in fancy dress costumes. Deviant Disneyland characters and due to the nature of the weeks political headlines, many many pig faces and full pig head costumes. Hilarious!

My friend had read an official statement from the official Dismaland website, that "Dress code – due to the amount of paparazzi staking out the park in recent weeks Banksy has requested people come masked-up so he can attend the event without being photographed." So we too were scarfed up as we patrolled the crowds, hunting for entry.

Finally we both came up trumps, purchasing spare single tickets from separate buyers within minutes of each other. Our excitement was immense and our faces fixed with grins yet firmly tucked into our scarves as we joined the glamorous queue and stepped inside again.

Under moonlight the place looked even more freaky. But the mood was different this time. There was the sense of frivolity. There were fires in square pits. And strobing statements on the castle wall. A huge cage had appeared beside the castle on the lagoon side.

We took our spot waiting for the first act of the evening: Pussy Riot. Not knowing what to expect as all I could recall from Pussy Riot was two of them going to prison in Russia for their unauthorised performance in a church, that their sound was quite punky and that their performances were provocative and political. Well...

Before they came on a large crowd appeared on the castle draw bridge shouting “LET THE REFUGEES IN, EQUALITY FOR ALL!” and they shouted and protested like this for almost ten minutes. The air grew tense with trepidation. Then BOOM! The Pussy Riot music began and a horde of riot police stormed out of the castle and attacked the crowd. It was immense. There were numerous well choreographed fights, with truncheons flying and meaty blows pounding down between both sides. One of the Pussy Riot members was central to all the antagonism, running back and forth to the cage with beaten police man.

The air grew uncomfortable with violence and screaming, shouting and screeching among the singing. It was utterly intense. The normal punk sound of the Pussy Riot now a more funky electrobe sound, with plenty of anti establishment lyrics for good measure. At one point I looked around the crowd behind me, curious to see how others were feeling and dealing. All that I could see was an unnerving sea of masked faces. I had nowhere to run. I felt intimidated, violated, trapped. I hate violence and I wanted this demonstration to end! Which it did. When the protesters had beaten the living daylights out of the police and dragged those who were still standing or crawling into the castle. The finale being the Pussy Riot instigator throwing her shoes into the lagoon and four protesters standing along the castle flanks with flares in hands.

I can honestly say I sighed with relief and was glad of a nice sit down once that was all over!

We caught some of Kate Tempest too on the same intimate stage where earlier in the day we had watched the cinema films but I found her lyrical content of political poetry so fast moving and hard hitting my hearing went into shut down and I could not compute any more.

I was running out of capacity to cope! My brain was full of anti establishment messaging. Hope and horror for the future. I was beginning to feel over loaded and was glad when my friend suggested some time out around a fire. We happily sipped on cups of coffee and my friend devoured a tasty falafel wrap. We talked to a few people around us and tried to engage with one of the Dismal fire warden staff but they were still in their role of shoulder shrugging and not engaging banter.

These hilarious yet persistently noisy seagull people were squawking around, getting up in people's faces, squawking and squalling all over folk until they moved on. I stared at them in bemusement. Us hardy gull hating folk who live in Dumfries and Galloway have thicker skin where the continuing wail of seagulls are concerned...never will they squawk me from my comfy seat!

I was unconvinced it could be Banksy in there anyway...just for some interactive fun!

We eventually strolled back round to the small stage area. The cement step levels loaning themselves really well to the amphitheatre sound and ability to see over the crowd. We enjoyed the rapping and bass line as we watched De La Soul and managed to nudge our way into what we considered the best position in the house. Exact centre to the stage and on the same level. The speakers pumped right at us, the band pointed right at us and we could see over the heads of all the people down the front. We had room to boogie and an incredible, personal feeling view of the stage.

During the first half of De La Souls act, two masked men came onto the stage and made their way to the far right side, standing on speakers to dance and hang around. One was wearing a black batman type eye mask and the other a pig face full mask.

Turns out it was Damon Albarn and Damien Hurst!!! Damon Albarn joined De La Soul for a rendition of their Gorillaz collaboration ‘Feel Good inc’ which started with some microphone issues but was a huge hit with the crowd none the less. We were quite ecstatic by this point and I was certainly enjoying the less trying troubling lyrical content of this finale end to an incredible day. Finally the fun and the Bemusement was hitting us. Finally! I felt like I needed to smile a lot to counteract the grim thinking throughout the day.

And De La Soul and Damon made us smile.

As did the DJ who was up next, spinning out 1970’s old skool hits.

And then Leftfield who vibrated the hell out of our bones with his set mostly taken from his new album ‘Alternative Light Source’. The visuals were utterly hypnotic, the bass so in our face we fell all over the place. My friends loud exclamations as the beat dropped and my enjoyment of the heavy bass line making us both smile inanely. Leftfield's slow methodical climbing building climatic dance electrobe tunes took us almost to midnight without any more fright. It was nice to end the night with sheer delight.

Thank you Banksy for almost breaking my resolve, definitely breaking my heart and you certainly blew my mind. For challenging me in ways I was not ready for and have been digesting ever since. For taking away my safety goggles. For getting inside our heads. Or did we get inside yours?

You are so forward thinking that we trawl in the remains behind you, riding the wake of your social consciousness.

I hope your life is not as heavy as we find our own. That you live as an example of where we should be heading rather than a victim of your own success.

I hope your modesty is your liberty and your honesty upholds your integrity.

But then again, how would we know?

Because we don't know you.

Does it matter that you commentate so artfully on what is wrong with our world, when you are nowhere in sight to lead the way?

I guess not, because we know we need to be the solution and you are not here to help.

If the mess we are in is the problem, and people are the solution, then you must be the social finger of blame, wagging at society, as we hang our heads in shame.