A modern attitude to Bloody Sunday

Standard-issue Loyalist (British) community graffiti in Belfast – a “Taig” is a racist term for an Irish nationalist, or Irish Catholic. “RA” is just short for “IRA“..

Obviously, the blokes who spray this stuff on to public property are small fry, not overly-endowed with grey matter.

Interestingly though, in Unherd (an English online political journal), an obviously literate English bloke set out, in some length, his views why it was reasonable to murder lots of random Irish people.

It struck me that, in essence, his views are substantively identical to those expressed in the above graffiti. I have screen-grabbed his posts below. (I have also kept larger screen-grabs, showing dates and times.)

From Wiki:

Bloody Sunday, or the Bogside Massacre, was a massacre on 30 January 1972 when British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. Fourteen people died: thirteen were killed outright, while the death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers, and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. Other protesters were injured by shrapnel, rubber bullets, or batons, two were run down by British Army vehicles, and some were beaten. All of those shot were Catholics. The march had been organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) to protest against internment without trial. The soldiers were from the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (“1 Para”), the same battalion implicated in the Ballymurphy massacre several months before.

Two investigations were held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the aftermath, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame. It described some of the soldiers’ shooting as “bordering on the reckless”, but accepted their claims that they shot at gunmen and bomb-throwers. The report was widely criticised as a “whitewash”. The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the incident much more thoroughly. Following a twelve-year investigation, Saville’s report was made public in 2010 and concluded that the killings were “unjustified” and “unjustifiable”. It found that all of those shot were unarmed, that none were posing a serious threat, that no bombs were thrown and that soldiers “knowingly put forward false accounts” to justify their firing.”

Of course, to this day, many pro-Union folk in the North of Ireland continue to view the murders as cause for celebration, and the murders were, and still are, viewed with a certain relish by many. This attitude still finds ready expression among right-wing Englishmen, especially those from a narrow military background.

Check out Charles Stanhope (obviously not his real name), an English bloke, seemingly from a British army background, posting on Unherd.

First, our hero reckons that the best way to have sorted out the Troubles would have been for the British army to have shot a lot more people in Derry.

His position here derives from multiple fantasies:

1 That the civil rights marchers were all in the IRA; and

2 That there was no IRA outside of Derry lol; and

3 That giving the Paddies a bloody nose would jolly well calm the buggers down.

(When reading his next statement, keep in mind that, during the Troubles, around 1% to 2% of the Irish Nationalist population were members of the IRA.).

Charles then explains the British rationale for Bloody Sunday.

Note, in doing so, also how Charles cherry-picks his facts to suit his colonist’s bias. He fails to mention that the deterioration in relationships between Irish Nationalists and the British army stemmed from a prior series of abuses by the British, notably their disastrous introduction of internment without trial, wherein the British, relying on very inaccurate and outdated intelligence (dating from the 1950s), arrested hundreds of uninvolved, innocent Nationalists, and roughed them up, including using them as guinea pigs for new torture techniques that the British army were keen to try out, including sleep deprivation, hoodings, stress positions, continual beatings, water-boarding, helicopter drops, dog runs etc.

In that context, the IRA in Belfast had shot some soldiers. In Charles’ view, the obvious way to exact retribution for an attack by the IRA in Belfast was to (wait for it) shoot a few random Catholics in Derry.

Charles’ logic is practical racism in action (“they’re all the same“), based on his use of the forward slash – by mentally putting a forward slash between “Catholics” and “IRA”, Charles soon talked himself into a position of de facto race hatred, namely that there was absolutely no difference beween a small group of shadowy IRA members and over half a million ordinary Irish Catholics, who, dashed inconveniently, were not in the ‘RA. But hey ho, a trusty forward slash sorts out that little bit of categorisation untidiness, freeing a path for his lads to take out a few of “the enemy“.

Incidentally, note the colonial mindset inherent in the use of the word “chastise” – colonists always views the natives as incompetent children, in perennial need of improvement by their white overlords. The reference to the “chastising” in the “sink estate” of Ballymurphy was the murder of 9 civilians by the British army in a poor housing estate in Belfast. “Richly deserved“, according to Charles, yet a 2021 Coroner’s Report into those murders concluded that “all those killed had been innocent and that the killings were without justification“. Just as the British government’s painstaking report into Charles’ “richly deserved” Derry murders by the British army concluded that those killings were “unjustified” and “unjustifiable“.

Next (below), Charles then takes refuge in another fantasy, namely that the civil rights marchers were”insurrectionists“.

Of course, in reality, the civil rights marchers were the exact opposite of insurrectionists, and Charles’ view of them is an ignorant absurdity. They were merely calling for reform in a UK context. In doing so, they effectively were calling for N Ireland to be treated similarly to Britain. The clue was in their name – Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. Irish Republicans don’t use the term “Northern Ireland”; as they do not wish to give credence to the place by using its official British-given name.  So, by using “Northern Ireland” in their name, the NICRA folk were showing themselves to be opposite of insurrectionists.  One of the leaders of NICRA was Ivan Cooper, a liberal Protestant. They were not in any way calling for an overthrow of the UK state. They weren’t even seeking to secede from the UK state. They were merely seeking some long-overdue, and, by today’s standards, some very basic and unremarkable administrative reforms within Northern Ireland, including, for instance, an end to rampant Unionist gerrymandering, an end to blatant Unionist discrimination in public housing allocation, and an end to the rotten borough system of multiple votes for rich landowners (who of course tended mainly to be British Unionists) in local council elections. Following an incident in Dungannon, where a single Protestant person was prioritised ahead of a Catholic family with small children, local Unionist MP, Ian Paisley, voiced the prevalent British view when he stated that “I’d rather be British than fair“. The NI state responded with conspicuous brutality to these modest requests, and sent out the Unionist police force, the RUC, to beat up the unarmed student demonstrators, which they did with evident glee:

RUC officers baton NICRA marcher, Duke Street, Derry, 1968

As a contemporaneous BBC report noted:

The RUC indiscriminately attacked protesters and observers with baton charges. Fleeing people were struck by baton blows from a gauntlet of officers. Water cannons were used for the first time in the United Kingdom. People, including John Hume, were shot down by a firehose of water. Using a blackthorn stick instead of a baton, the District Police Inspector joined in the beatings. Police conduct was eerily similar to the malevolence exhibited in Birmingham, Alabama by Police Chief ‘Bull’ Connor.”

And the interesting point is, Charles doesn’t even seek to deny that rampant anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, prejudice was endemic in Northern Ireland.  Above, even he admits that Northern Ireland was characterised by “a Protestant oligarchy and Catholic helots [serfs]”.

Very muddled thinking, but perhaps explicable by the standard-issue near-hysterical spasms of racist emotion with which blokes of his Blimpish class view the Paddies.

Let’s examine his thought processes – one the one hand (above), he states plainly that NI was badly ran, and structurally unfair.

Then he describes peaceful protests against such admitted unfairness as a “major insurrection“, and segues into an astonishing admission that a good response to protests by an embattled minority is for the forces of the state to weigh in on the side of what he admits was a “Protestant oligarchy” and kick the shit out of the serfs, whom he describes as “the enemy“:

Charles, tellingly, lets slip that he doesn’t consider Northern Ireland to be part of the UK – “if it had occurred in the UK.“, lol. Of course, despite the unrequited prostrations of Unionism, Britain has always viewed NI as lesser, and as other. This attitude underpins a colonial mindset which was able to justify sending in an elite wartime regiment to open fire on unarmed marchers. They’d never have done so in the real UK.

Despite admitting that NI was a British colonial failed experiment, under permanent maladministration by a “Protestant oligarchy” against its “Catholic helots“, Charles nonetheless feels strongly that the said “serfs” should under no circumstances have done anything about it, and should have meekly stayed at home and accepted their lot: “should have stayed at home and watched the telly“. One wonders if, in the face of similar systemic unfairnesses being perpetrated against English people, whether Charles’ advice would be to shut up and suck it up. Frankly, given his seeming military background and his stated propensity for extreme violence, I very much doubt that he’d be one for espousing supinity. Perhaps, in Charles’ view, the Irish are serfs, and it’s in the natural order of things that they should remain so? Otherwise, it’s difficult to reconcile the various sink-holes in his logic.

Charles concludes by once again regretting that the British army didn’t shoot lots more of the unarmed Irish protestors, and wistfully wonders how murdering “100+” of them might have worked. Damn – not enough murdered Paddies! I guess we all have regrets, Charles.

He then admits what has been apparent for decades – the Brits’ military top brass loved the Troubles – taking pot shots at the Paddies in a genuine conflict beats the hell out of schlepping rucksacks around the Brecon Beacons.

Nonetheless, what Chjrles here

There is a legal aspect to all of his bilious drivel though. In his posts reproduced above, Charles is commendably open about his view that collective punishment, namely mass murder of random Irish / Catholic is appropriate and, indeed, “richly deserved“.

We live in turbulent times, wherein stupid Loyalists, having been stirred up by people like Charles to agitate against the Brexit Protocol, are once again attacking innocent nationalists / Catholics, and threatening mayhem,

Charles’ racist concept of collective punishment, the notion that it doesn’t really matter which Irish person you kill (as they’re all “the enemy“), is catnip for these thugs.

It encourages them. As noted, “Taig” is a racist term for an Irish Nationalist / Catholic, and Charles’ “kill them all” approach is one that he shares with Loyalist thugs. The the ever-present “K.A.T.” graffito in Belfast is an acronym for “Kill All Taigs“, an atitude that Charles justifies at length in his foregoing posts about people like me, whom he views as “the enemy“:

Fortunately, in the UK, such outbursts are regulated by various hate speech statutes. For instance, section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986 states that:

Stating, without qualification, that mass murder of random Catholic / nationalist / Irish people is an appropriate way to deal with public protest could be construed as “insulting” to the said Catholic / nationalist/ Irish people; and, in my view, it could stir up racial hatred among certain elements in modern British society, especially in the North of Ireland.


I’ve always loved trash-punk. (I always resist terms like “grindcore”, given the tendency too many of that genre have towards bombast.)

Very few records or bands measure up to the requisite blend of speed, brevity, chaos and silliness.

For much of my life, in that genre, one song reigned supreme, for me; namely 1985’s Wipe-out” by The Stupids.

2021’s “I am not a machine”, a song by South Korean band, the Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, has a similar spirit. Both songs featured here.

But Melt-Banana, formed nearly 30 years ago in Tokyo, are worthy long-term exemplars of the genre.

Their devotion to sonic chaos over such a lengthy period is particularly laudable. Musical respectability soon sets in with even the most initially-spirited bands, with all its fellow-travellers, namely lack of pace, loss of mischief, and encroaching embourgeoisement.

Melt-Banana though, in 2022, they still play and sing as if the stage was on fire.

Here’s their 2019 cover of The Damned‘s 1977 song, “Neat Neat Neat“:

Rarely has a cover been more true to the spirit of the original.

Leaving the solar system

As with Trump’s toadies, as with Putin’s advisers, Britain’s Brexiters by and large are appointed on two criteria:

1 Belief in the True Cause of Hard Brexit or that Ukraine Does Not Exist (real or fake belief, either is fine, the important thing is to craw-thump daily about it, and, every time you fuck up, double down, using the old extremist approach of: “if our Glorious Idea is not working, that’s because we’re not being extreme enough“. Which is another way to subvert conventional wisdom about the speed at which one should dig if one finds oneself in a hole.).

2 Blind loyalty to The Leader. Whether through inexperience and stupidity, or through fear, is irrelevant. Debate works best if we all agree with each other. That ensures our debates are only ever about egging each other on to new depths. No countervailing opinions are tolerated.

Predictably, as with Trump’s comedy-show in government, as with Putin’s continuing millitary cock-ups, the result is a succession of cluster-fucks, of which the Brexit government’s continuing acts of witless sabotage against the UK’s political governance and financial stability are just the latest example:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued an extraordinarily critical statement of the UK’s growth plans, which largely relies on unfunded tax cuts, on Tuesday (Sept. 27). It’s the latest blow to the Trussonomics school of thought espoused by the three-week old UK government.”

Bank of England launches urgent bond-buying programme to avoid ‘material risk’ to UK economy

The current UK government are a bunch of witless extremists and spineless, opportunistic second-raters. They continually confuse theory and reality. Their guiding mantra appears to be: “never mind about it working in practice – the important question is whether or not it works in theory.”

LBC Radio’s James O’Brien had some grim fun with the various absurdities and inconsistenties of various Brexiter Tory responses to their latest SNAFU:

Starting with author Andrew Lilico, James read out one of Mr Lilico’s tweets which said he was

“Embarrassed for the IMF. This is the IMF self-declaring as a left-wing body. The UK should now withhold its IMF contributions”.

So,”, James joked, “it’s time to leave the IMF. Eventually we’re going to leave the solar system.”

Typically level-headed summation here by the Financial Time’s Janan Ganesh:

Truss and her cohort of Tories have none of that snide but ultimately healthy distance from the US. Take her vaunted supply-side revolution. Like all armchair free-marketeers (she has never set up a business) [even the writer of this blog is on his 5th start-up, ffs] she believes her nation is a blast of deregulation away from American levels of entrepreneurial vim.

It isn’t.

The creator of a successful product in Dallas can expand to LA and Boston with little friction. The UK doesn’t have a market of hundreds of millions of people. (It did, once, but the present chancellor of the exchequer voted to leave it.)

Someone who glides over that point is also liable to miss the contrasting appeal to investors of gilts and Treasuries. Some readers baulked last month when I wrote that Truss might not last until the next election.

Even I didn’t think she would trip so soon.

It is a kind of patriotism, I suppose, to mistake your nation for a superpower.”

Garth Brooks – why he packs ’em in

Curious as to why half of rural Ireland was going to see Garth Brooks (or “Gareth Brooks”, as he tends to be called in Ireland), I listened to 20 of his songs last weekend, for research purposes.

He does seem like a very nice, down to earth bloke.  Bizarrely, in today’s judgemental world, this seems to help you sell records.  Whereas previous generations more or less expected their fav popstars to be assholes – e.g., greedy, shallow, materialistic, selfish, promiscuous, junkies etc.  Didn’t matter, in fact, it often aided their popularity, e.g., Rolling Stones, pretty much every performer in the late 60s, Rod Stewart et al.  But now it does matter, apparently.

And he has a pleasant voice, and can hold a melody.  And, by all accounts, puts on an energetic and professional show. 

Of course, he occasionally does a proper country song, fiddles etc. 

But the most surprising thing for me, as I listened, was the realisation that he’s not very country at all.

Much of his music is slick acoustic balladry and soft rock, with a country twang and a big hat.  Lots of the time, he sounds like a cross between Barry Manilow and The Eagles.

So it’s not true that half of Ireland has gone mad for country music.  Garth is easy listening music, slickly and energetically presented, and good luck to him.

But if you’re really looking for authentic country, no disrespect folks, you’d be advised to look elsewhere.

In particular, I’ve always preferred bluegrass, by a mile – bluegrass is the “heavy metal of country” – million miles an hour pickin’, good ol’ boys ‘n’ gals, and talent to burn. 

Here are the Hillbilly Gypsies, live somewhere:

And here’s Bruce Molsky and friends with their version of the old Earl Johnson & His Clodhoppers song, “I Get My Whiskey From Rockingham”:

I also love a bit of good Cajun – here are the Cajun Country Revival, with “My Time is Gonna Come”:

And, slowing it down a bit, here’s the Stones, with “Faraway Eyes” (Jagger’s spoken intro is a treat – walks a fine line between taking the outright piss and authenticity, but the music, and the harmonies, are 100% proper country – nice slide-guitar work from Ronnie Wood too):

And, of course, Mr. Cash, with “Folsom Prison Blues”:


Flicks? I love out-of-date slang.

I also know that “film” is pronounced “filmmm”. Not the way I say it, i.e., “filim”. However, leaving out the second spoken ‘i’ turns you into a ponty-mouthed prck.

My top 10 pieces of music runs into hundreds. It’s a never-ending minor personal clusterfuck of rampant musical infidelities. By contrast, I do not have that many favourite films.

I have excluded much of the low and middle-brow stuff I love to watch. Not “High Plains Drifter“, again, exclaim my family : ) When I was a student, and had no responsibilities, I veered towards intense movies. But as an adult, I mainly want entertainment, ffs. I like my violence to be of the comedy variety, and ideally prefaced by an improbable quip. The violence of e.g. a Clint spag-Western, or Pulp Fiction, primarily is entertainment. I love the foregoing kind of film, but I can accept why critics can pick holes in them. I like them, in the way I love James Herriot’s vet’ books, but I’m not pretending that they’re art. For some reason, film, poised emotionally betweeen music and literature, permits less catholic shared enthusiasms than music.

Some films are too searing to be mere Friday-night entertainment, but are well worth a watch anyway, e.g., the English skinhead movie, This is England, the N. of Ireland Troubles movie, ’71, or the Irish revolutionary movie, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Apart from pretty much everything the gun-slinging and Dirty Harry versions of Clint Eastwood ever made, and the Godfather Trilogy (and Platoon and Gran Torino and A History of Violence are up there too), see below for 5 disparate films that have stood the test of time for me. They have very little in common with each other. If you like or dislike one, there is no guarantee that you’d have a similar reaction to any of the other 4:

The Day of The Jackal (Dir. Fred Zinnemann, 1973)

I watch this annually. I always love it. Possibly, this is my favourite film of all time. Such ruthless cutting and such taut directing. Not an ounce of fat in this film. All shot on location too, and some wonderful performances by the cast, including the supporting cameo performances. Even the car is a classic! If you ever wish to assassinate somebody, watch this carefully (here available full-length for free – the quality of the amateur upload is not perfect, but it’s acceptable, and perfectly OK if you don’t super-size the screen):

Come and See (Dir. Elem Klimov, 1985)

Tough going. Powerful anti-war movie. Here available full-length for free:

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Dir. Peter Greenaway, 1989)

I went to see this when it came out, and never watched it again. But I have not forgotten it. An un-hinged revenge tragedy. View <here>.

Un Coeur en Hiver (Dir. Claude Sautet, 1992)

I’ve watched this several times down the years. Think of every Hollywood love story cliché, then do the directorial opposite. One of the most (satisfyingly-unsatisfying) French films ever made. In a Hollywood love movie, the central problem is “getting the woman”. She’s a challenge to be overcome, a puzzle to be figured out. You look at such films, and you wonder if the writers and directors thereof are all male virgins, stuck in a 1950s time-warp, so far removed are they from a world where women have any agency. (Ironically, today’s wokesters are also all stuck in the ideological 195os, with their quaint notion that only men chase and only women need to “consent”, lol.) The bloke in such Hollywood movies is always a bit of a likeable idiot – invariably, pantingly-eager, and there is no limit to the self-abasement and nonsense he’ll go through to “get the woman”. The woman in question, naturally, always requires an amount of persuasion. The French come to this narrative from a position of much greater equality. In this film, the central problem, one which Stéphane cannot figure out, is how to reconcile his Stoicism (which has served him well thus far in his cautious life) with deep fulfilment (which, shockingly for him, has landed in his lap). How do you re-invent yourself to cope with the conceptually-untidy reality that the woman of your dreams clearly is interested in you? Stéphane needs a massive kick up the arse, of course, but as an insight into the self-defeating dynamics of actual relationships / counter-dependency, as opposed to the clichéd active-male / passive-female conservative shallowness of Hollywood, this film takes some beating. Here available full-length for free:

Black Cat, White Cat (Dir. Emir Kusturica, 1998)

Never figured out what it was about, and it may be rubbish (there’s no great plot or insights), but I love the vibe – the entire thing seems drunk, a bit like a Swordfishtrombones era Tom Waits song made into a film. View <here>.

How you know a band is crap:

  • They regularly do chord changes for the last chorus
  • At a gig, the lead singer always says “HELLO [name of city]” in a hearty voice
  • Their fast songs are slow
  • Their drums sound like fresh eggs being dropped on a tiled floor
  • They are pretty, look healthy, and are well-groomed
  • They wear designer clothes
  • Their albums are about their “journey” and their godamned love-lives
  • All their songs are quiveringly sincere
  • They interview well on mainstream chat shows
  • They do that fake sob thing to show how deeply they feel stuff
  • They call the person they’ve cheated on “baby”
  • They win music awards
  • They like fashionable causes
  • They end gigs with a massive singalong, like <this lot>

Lydon was right about them: https://gigwise.com/news/54956/

A jolly day out

In the late 1970s and 80s rock concerts were almost still exclusively youth events – anyone over 30 would have been regarded as a “weirdo” – and violence was commonplace.

There were riots all the time at gigs,” recalls Peter Hook, former bass player with New Order and before that Joy Division.” (From <article>.) 

I went to a fair few rock and punk gigs in the 80s, and, yes, they were often somewhat edgy occasions. Security was poor to non-existent, and organisation was casual. I remember coming out of a gig in the Ulster Hall with a shoe missing and my clothes torn. I didn’t even realise until I was out on the street (“where’s my fucking shoe? “lol). I knew a fellow Joy Division fan in Belfast, big bloke with a biker jacket, and his thing was to go up to the front row, wait until the gig started, and then randomly start punching people.

From this:

To this:

Nothing against the pleasant and lightweight Mr. Styles- but <headlining Slane>?!

Used to be, going to Slane (and other iconic rock venues) was a vaguely cool thing to do.  Part of this was because gig-going was often countercultural.  The bands often were made up of people who were viewed as “misfits” or “wasters”.

Your mere attendance at such events spoke of a desire to align yourself with a way of being that eluded conventional dreams, and to be present in solidarity with people your parents, teachers, and careers adviser probably would not have viewed as role models lol.  Which is how it should be.  

Nowadays, by stark contrast, gigs are safe spaces, in every sense of the word. They’re big bourgeois days out.  Styles could headline at a N Korean event.  No cultural threat to anyone or anything.  The average golf tournament would be more rock n roll than most singalong modern pop love-ins, despite the presence here of some landfill indie and the well-marketed Wet Leg.  

As they note here, the famous Glastonbury festival in England is now <“more middle-class than a Waitrose olive counter“>.

Modern pop is in probably a worse state than it was before punk in the mid-70s.  It’s a respectable career option for beige bourgeois jollification for young people with pension plans.

More Brexit freedoms on the way

So much for cutting red tape lol – Brexiters now proposing <number plates for bicycles>.

Presumably, all cyclists will now need to be fitted with compulsory speedometers, or people will be required to carry expensive GPS trackers on their handlebars.  Otherwise, how would you now what speed you were doing?  If you’re using an app, you only see your speed etc. stats at the end of a ride, not during.  

Further, while an average cyclist can get past 20mph briefly, out on the open road (hills, potholes, tiredness, headwinds), most run-of-the-mill cyclists will not sustain 20mph+ speeds for long, so this is pretty daft.  

Further, crashing into a pedestrian at 12mph will injure them anyway, so, logically, all cyclists should be below 10mph.  

If this lad had half the brains he was born with, he’d propose something like the <Idaho stop law>.

Consistently, at red lights in an urban setting on a bicycle, it’s much safer for cyclists to treat them a yield – pause and go.  You’re already in tight on your own side, and, unlike a car, are not obstructing other cars turning in anyway; and, on an uphill stop, it’s dangerous to have to wait until lights changes, as there’s always the possibility of a jerk in a battery car, massive torque and distracted with their massive screens, driving over the top of you, as you will never be as quick away from the lights.

Crashes and cycling-related injuries reduced significanly in Idaho when they wised up and introduced this change.  

Nobody in authority / officialdom gets this though.  Blind adherence to rules desiged for trucks, buses and cars, driven by a mix of stupidity and cultural dislike of 2-wheeled road users.  

I guess based on his “reasoning”, all people out doing a road run will need numberplates and insurance as well, in case they barge into somebody.

Pop will eat itself, using the correct cutlery

This was <written in 2015>:

When I worked at the NME in the early 1990s, writers from leafy suburbs would affect proletarian tropes, trousers and vowels to ingratiate themselves with Oasis, New Order or Happy Mondays. Nowadays, adroit navigation of the wine list or the ski slope is probably a more useful way into a band’s confidence.

The current economic climate is returning the practice of art to what it was 300 years ago – a rich fellow’s diversion, a pleasant recreation for those who can afford it, rather than the cultural imperative it should be. Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers, one of the last great bands to emerge from working-class Britain, put it memorably: indie should not be gap-year music

Reading this <interview> with Black Sabbath, it’s apparent how ordinary / poor their upbringing was:

Iommi and Butler worked in factories after leaving school, Ward delivered coal and Osbourne, after stints in a slaughterhouse and car plant, turned his hand to burglary.

This was typical enough in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and earlier.  You always had posh artists, but they tended to be of the individualistic type, like Beckett, or like Nick Drake, in revolt against the strictures of their upbringing.  Even middle-class Mick Jagger, with his bohemian mores and fashion, and his love for Delta blues artists, was breaking the mould of his upbringing. 

Most of the bands I grew up listening to (The Undertones. The Fall, Joy Division) were working class.  In the last century, British pop / rock was an escape route for blacks, for second-generation Irish (from Johnny Rotten to Boy George), and for the British working class and the disaffected British middle-class alike.   

However, in this century, if you are middle-class, and making your living in pop or rock, you’d no longer bother to conceal your class origins.  Mainstream chart music has become bourgeois. 

Used to be, Chris de Burgh was the epitome of bourgeois naffness.  (Nick Drake, who knew him at school, recalled de Burgh’s “vile” taste in music.)  Nowadays, the hammy Burgher would fit right in. 

Here is a picture of The 1975, a successful and popular band of this era – what a bunch of stiffs:

And here is a band from the actual 1970s, Black Sabbath – they have that exuberant working class look about them, as if they can’t quite believe their luck.  You don’t get heads like those in popular music nowadays: