I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass

May 29, 2015

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I stumbled blindly into business, or more correctly self-employed survival in the days when answer phones were a real big deal. One of those Thatcher encouraged.

“Not got a job you bloody sponging worm? Well work for yourself”
“Ask Norman about a bike while your at it, now get out of my sight”

This was when Prog Rock was on its last legs, 24 minute tracks, Live Aid just round the corner. New bands wearing eyeliner and poncy shirts. The very idea of your guitar being vintage…. or indeed of buying a dirty used one, unthinkable.

The Answerphone. An absolute must have, don’t miss that call, the next job, the next meal. No mobile phones just yet. A big financial decision. You could look all day at those new £300 USA Strats but the Answerphone had more promise at the same price, unless you played for big money.

£300 re-conditioned. As big as one of those nasty shiny black plastic briefcases, but finished in an uninspiring beige. Two cassette tapes. I took the plunge and bought it from a crummy shop next door to the Running Horse, legendary music venue on Alfreton Road.

£300 was a month’s money, that meant beer, rent, food, electric, beer, gas, beer and stuff for a whole month. And records, those black vinyl things.

I was lucky my re-conditioned box had just superseded the earlier model where a mechanical arm lifted the receiver off the phone for an incoming call and held it against a microphone and tape recorder.

If you’re under 50 you won’t have a clue what I’m banging on about, just think your self lucky. Keep a two pence piece in your sock in case you needed to call home. As if anyone was bothered. We’d be out all day, no word, no text.

I digress. Apparently they had this mechanical arm method as it was illegal to directly record a phone call, including one that both parties wanted to message each other.

A pity successive Governments weren’t aware of the rules.

At the same time as the Answerphone we had Yellow Pages. I guess printing that huge tome caused annual mass deforestation, jammed letter boxes and caused back pain in the Post Office. There’d be a union for that then and a strike.

Not that anybody bothered about trees and stuff – unless you were one of those dirty hippy lefty Green Peace types who clearly needed a good kicking and a stint of National Service.

Nobody really cared. We had just spent billions putting a man on the moon- or did we ?

Why ? What did we get out of that, aside from Velcro and Pot Noodle ?

The ozone layer, or lack of it, had only just been discovered. That was clearly down to bloody Henry Cooper and his Brut aerosols. Spraying them everywhere.

A suntan was good for you, healthy. I remember the first suntan oil me mam slapped on, a grade up from 3 in 1. No sunscreen then. No self-respecting proper bloke ever used it and clearly kids didn’t need any, they just scorched.

It’s all gone too far now, past the tipping point. Whether man-made or part of some giant inevitable climatic cycle.

The planet’s just a big self-contained sealed unit, with only sunlight getting in for free, nothing else comes in or goes out. We are a finite resource. Take too much out, use it, bin it. There’s bound to be a consequence. You cannot have an imbalance.

Globally there are too many mouths and not enough arable land or fresh water. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, colour of your skin, whether you immigrate or emigrate.

No politician or political party will ever address the issue or admit it. China had a go once but they’ve sold out now. I’m not one for statistics but the UK has not fed it’s self since WWII or thereabouts. Bloody rabbit pie, very efficient meat source rabbit, we should eat more.

We do make a token effort on our green and pleasant land. Recycle, bottle banks, tin cans, old newspapers.

It always amazes me when I fly over the UK ( yeah like that’s every week…), how green, open and pleasant it really is. Plenty of space for another city or two. Lord Rogers is right, pile them high, three and four storey homes. NIMBY. Not for the mass house builders and their shareholders, erecting their nasty boxes all over the place, based on a pastiche of 100 year old styles, neo-bollocks, twee barge boards and soffits, artificial glass fibre chimney stacks. No thought for the children and Father Christmas , or the future.

I’ve no experience of China, but go to Asia, the poorer regions, and they don’t give a toss about recycling, toxicity, pollution, unless there’s a Groat in it for somebody. Why should they ? It’s their Industrial Revolution now.

We, the West, exploit this. Check out the ship scrapyards. Leviathans chopped up on the beach by blokes in flip-flops and a thong wielding a gas axe. Cheapest place in the world to get rid of your old toxic ships and save a few bob.

That’s where my tasty Vintage Guitar Shop light fittings came from. I did my bit and inadvertently recycled. Supplied by the excellent Loomlight Design.

The West, Europe, are very good at exploitation. Centuries of practice.

Africa’s waiting in the wings now. We, I blame the Belgians mostly, had a go in the Congo years ago. Apparently it’s the only un-developing region in the World. Although there’s no doubt a lot of pillaging and mineral extraction going on right now in return for all sorts of dodgy deals and promises.

The horrendous “Short sleeves, long sleeves” , that was started by European man as a punishment. The violence taught years ago, inflicted on the local people relentlessly, probably the corruption taught too.

Now we have obscenely wealthy desert dwellers buying up huge tracts of arable Africa to grow their own fruit and veg and fly off continent.

Moving on, leaving Africa to Oxfam and its fate. If you have time read “Dark Star Africa” by Paul Theroux- you’ll be recycling all the charity envelopes after that.

Travel to where they should know better – North America. Obscene energy consumption. They really don’t give a fuck. Breath taking a/c in the summer. Gas Mark 6 in the winter. Even heated driveways to keep their huge gas guzzling vehicles on the move.

Florida was uninhabitable until the advent of a/c. Just a few teepee dwellers wandering around and zillions of alligators and mosquitos. Have you ever been to Key West ? Jesus, what a dump. No wonder Hemmingway shot himself.

Soon paid the locals off, gave them a bit of land, which in theory they already owned, and told them they didn’t have to pay any tax if they stayed put. So they built casinos – smart move.

I visited Niagara recently, all frozen up, sort of impressive, unless you’ve already seen the mighty unsurpassable Iguazu, which makes this look like a dripping tap.

Niagara has hydro-electric. Very noble, but probably all instantly consumed by the ghastly plastic neon junk food hell that is Clifton Hill next door. The falls insignificant against this abomination.

So, finally when your recycling your empties, listening to that satisfying crash of breaking glass – admit it you like that bit, hoping you just chucked them hard enough – just remember your Local Authority only recycles so they can sell the stuff while the price is right and in the global scheme of things you are wasting your time.

Before it all ends in tears, there are small things you can do for the greater good and the planet. Don’t use up precious resources buying new stuff, come and look at my fantastic ship’s lights and buy a vintage guitar, they last forever, you never really own one, you are just the custodian.

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