Monthly Archives: August 2017

Rebellion Punk Festival, Blackpool, 2017

This year was the first time I’d attended Rebellion Punk Festival in quite a number of years. I attended every one of the first 10 festivals. It’s had a number of name changes over the years: Holidays In The Sun, and Wasted. It’s also changed places between Blackpool and Morecambe several times. I was 16 at the first one in 1996. Since then I’ve been to a few, but I haven’t been for about 8 years or so, until this year. I’ve fancied going back for a few years, and the addition of Slaves to the line up is what really convinced me this was the right year.

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a helpful sign

I approached it with caution because there’s a huge danger that this sort of festival is nothing more than a nostalgia fest with bands playing a set they perfected in 1978 and haven’t changed a note of since. That’s clearly quite unfair of me… but it’s not far wrong for some bands. And this is fine, if you want the nostalgia hit, the few days journey back to your youth. You can definitely get that experience here. With 5 stages , 4 full days of gigs, and most bands getting from 20 – 40 minutes a set, there’s a LOT of music to be heard. If you want your rebellion to be shouty, white, bald men in their 50s, you can probably get through the weekend seeing nothing but this. This is what I very much want to avoid. If that’s your thing – go enjoy, and have a great time!

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Shouty, feminist, hardcore punk from Petrol Girls. Brilliant. Note sequin shorts.

 

So, I approached Rebellion with caution. And when I say caution, I mean with extreme levels of preparation that involved highlighters and codes. I prepared well and consequently had a Rebellion festival full of diverse, new, exciting bands. Bands full of women too. It was great!

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Poly-esters. A great group from Blackpool.

So what did I do? Firstly I made a spotify playlist with every band I could find that were playing the festival. A few issues:

  • some I couldn’t find on spotify at all (lots of quite small bands on the introducing stage),
  • some have a common band name and I couldn’t identify the correct band. Bands: name yourselves to avoid this! it’s really frustrating to want to listen to you but being unable to because of your common name.
  • some I just got wrong – seemed clear when I suddenly got rap or dance music.
    I listened to this for a few weeks and identified some must-see bands that I liked the sound of.
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Some morris dancers enjoying the sunshine.

I then looked up every band to just have a look at them, make sure I’d go the correct band and make sure they were on my playlist. I was looking for bands I liked the sound of, and I was also looking for any female musicians (I’d covered female singers in my first  listen through the playlist). I was also looking for any BAME musicians. Is this weird? No, it’s really not. I love punk, but punk is so very white and male. I want to support women and BAME artists. I want to make sure I’m there giving them more of a crowd, loving what I hear, and helping them progress higher up the billing so more people hear them. (I’ve looked at my sexist listening habits before – here, have a look.)

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Youth Man

When you do an analysis like this it’s quite shocking how most women in bands are billed in the first half of the day i.e. not headliners. And the number of BAME artists is embarrassing. Or it should be embarrassing, but you get the feeling a lot of people don’t think about it or don’t care.

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A pathological level of planning.  Don’t worry, I put the graveyard picture on facebook 😉

Now based on my knowledge about the bands and having listened to as many as I could, I identified bands I had to see, and ones I wouldn’t mind seeing. Because of my criteria a lot of the bands I wanted to see were on early afternoon, which is also great because you see loads of awesome bands, then can relax a bit and have a bit of a party without having to be Schedule Girl (yes, I mean you can have a few drinks). This may, or may not, be evidenced here:

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Me and Caz. I’m trying to get my eye make up in the photo.

What was the result? My Rebellion was all about Girls and Glitter and Sequins and (most importantly) new and diverse, brilliant music. I’m going to highlight a few stand out acts.

The Tuts are a fun, political, intelligent, poppy punk band. I adored watching them really early on the first day. Their lead singer was wearing what looked like a sequined ice dancers costume. The drummer had a fluffy pink outfit. Frankly punk rock could do with more sequined clothes and fluffy outfits.

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The Tuts. Fantastic and great of you like your punk with added pop!

Petrol Girls were another band I was very much looking forward to. I first heard about them when I was reading Nasty Women by 404Ink (link to review). Ren Aldridge, the singer from Petrol Girls writes one of the essays – one of my favourites – about gendered violence in punk. Loved them. They are shouty, feminist, political, activists, and sound great. You will get a bit of a talking to in between songs about important issues, and I love them even more for this. To take their platform and use it as they want. Excellent!

Youth Man remind me a bit of Death From Above 1979. They are probably the least stereotypical punk band I have seen at the festival and they were noisy and brilliant.

Slaves were spectacular. I heard a lot of people grumbling and worrying about Slaves headlining in the Friday night spot. There was much concern about there only being two of them. How will they ‘fill the stage’? With their energetic awesomeness of course! I told everyone they should put their worries aside and go and see them, though I was secretly hoping that everyone would give it a miss and I would have them all to myself… I think the real issue for a lot of people was that Slaves are relatively unknown in the world of punk, and that caused unease. The next day I spoke to so many of these worriers who were blown away by Slaves set. Epic.

I enjoyed the Blink-182 like pop punk of Fat Randall, who had travelled from Dubai. Scumbrians on the introducing stage delivered an energetic blast of hardcore punk to a packed room. Also on the Introducing Stage were Pizza Tramp. I mean, I’m sold on the name already. They were funny AND good, and so blinking fast. The room was full and I was glad I bought a tshirt before their set because the merch stand was heaving afterwards. They did one song five times. Five times, but it was ok because it lasted about thirty seconds.

Final shout out to Screech Bats. I saw some of their set and they win the award for Band I Most Want To Be In. They were all dressed in black, with tattoos, amazing make up, and they were just so punk rock glamorous.

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Slaves did not disappoint.

I missed a lot of bands I would quite like to have seen – this is the nature of having fun at a festival! I was gutted to miss The Kenneths. They were on super early one day and I just didn’t realise how early until it was too late.

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Lovely Blackpool. May have forgotten to mention it’s my home town!

I had a lovely time at Rebellion. It landed just after I’d had a huge bereavement and so I was very worried I wouldn’t get through the whole weekend. I was prepared to leave if I needed to (and I did miss the Sunday evening) but actually it was a welcome escape from the general state of my head at that time. I would definitely recommend a visit if you like the genre, and if you just want a big nostalgia experience then you can do that too, there’s a Rebellion Festival for everyone!

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Frankly rocking my Sleaford Mods tshirt. They would make a great headliner for next year Rebellion! I’m so punk rock with my tomato and avocado toast in a lovely cafe: Shaw’s on Clifton St. Best cafe in Blackpool that I’ve ever been to!

 

Full list of bands I saw:

  • The Soap Girls
  • The Tuts
  • Army of Skanks
  • Pears
  • Revolt-chix
  • Evil Blizzard
  • The Jellycats
  • Rubella Ballet
  • Teenage Bottlerocket
  • The Pukes
  • Poly-esters
  • Brains All Gone
  • Screech Bats
  • The Featherz
  • Youth Man
  • Petrol Girls
  • Fat Randall
  • Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes
  • Real McKenzies
  • Slaves
  • Radical Dance Faction
  • Citizen Fish
  • Anger Flares
  • Duncan Reid and the Big Heads
  • Scream
  • Angelic Upstarts
  • Jordan (interview)
  • Buzzbomb
  • Headstone Horrors
  • Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies
  • The Franklys
  • Scumbrians
  • Band For Disease Control and Prevention
  • Pizzatramp
  • The Creepshow

 

 

 

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Book Review: How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne.

Amber is spending the summer, after her first year at college, working at an American summer camp. The camp is run by her recovering alcoholic mother, who she hasn’t seen for two years. How Hard Can Love Be? is a great, easy read. Obviously a YA book and a great follow up to the AMAZING Am I Normal Yet?

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There’s a whole heap of mother – daughter issues to deal with, on top of the usual 17 year old stuff. Amber grew up with her alcoholic mother and when she recovered she left to live in California with someone she met at the recovery centre. Amber has also never kissed a boy and she might be working with some hot American boys at camp. And she has the whole being really tall and ginger thing to deal with too!

This is the second book in The Spinster Club trilogy – the first being Am I Normal Yet? Each book in the trilogy is the story of one of the Spinster Club members: Evie, Lottie, and Amber. The three college friends start the club to discuss feminism and women’s issues. The coming together of the friends is covered in Am I Normal Yet? That is Evie’s story of her dealing with mental illness and starting college. She becomes friends with Amber and Lottie over the first year of college. Amber is the tall, ginger, arty one and Lottie is the clever one.

How Hard Can Love Be? is set after their first year at college, during the summer break. Amber is in California, but she still gets email and video chat support from her fellow spinster club members. I really enjoy this aspect of the book. Amber is frustrated at the full-on, sexually obvious, cheerleader girl who is also working at camp. Her friends discuss this during their Spinster Club meetings and it’s nice that they try to look at her from a feminist perspective and give a different view on lots of the usual teenage issues. I imagine this could be really useful to a teenager reading the book, who still getting to grips with different perspectives.

There’s some Harry Potter references too. What more can you possibly want?!

And I was about to judge her, when she said “I’m so mad they got rid of Slytherin, I mean, Snape was, like, the best one,” as she walked over, and I learned a lesson about not judging people until you’ve found out whether or not they’ve read Harry Potter.

Word.

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me hanging out in Dumbledore’s office

I really enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to read Lottie’s story in the final part of the trilogy: What’s a Girl Gotta Do?

Book Review: The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas

The Seed Collectors is a magical book about complex family relationships and the seeking of enlightenment. The Gardener family are mostly botanists – we learn about five generations of them. Three members of one generation went missing during the search for a mysterious, deadly plant that is rumoured to be a short cut to achieving enlightenment.

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The Seed Collectors on Blackpool Prom.

Despite the whole enlightenment thing, which might not be your cup of tea (things like that generally aren’t really mine), it’s really a story of relationships. The Gardener’s could be generally thought of as rich, self-centred and interesting. Oh, and fairly obsessed with sex.

The cast of characters is a little overwhelming, but a few highlights are Beatrix: The oldest living Gardener. She likes investing in fashion brands and watching pornography on her computer. Her son, Augustus, who sadly doesn’t appear much.

The main characters are the children of Augustus and his generation. Charlie – ultra controlled and paleo loving, Clem – an acclaimed wildlife documentary maker. Their cousin Bryony – completely uncontrolled when it comes to eating, drinking and spending money, simultaneously devastated by her size. Another main character is Fleur – daughter of Briar Rose, one of the missing, and taken in by the family. She has worked for free learning how to run the hippy retreat in the family mansion. And don’t forget the Robin who lives in the garden of the mansion, he narrates a few chapters!

There are so many children, spouses, friends and colleagues, and the relationships are even more complex than you originally think. You get a family tree at the start of the book, and an updated one at the end. It was really useful because it took a while to figure out how this myriad of people were connected. There’s so many of them you only get a brief visit to some which seems a shame. I think you might have been able to lose some without much damage to the story and it might have made it less unwieldy.

Oleander’s funeral is the opening chapter of the book and some of the strange items inherited are key to the story of the mystical, mysterious plant the older Gardeners were looking for when they disappeared, presumed dead. Oleander is an older relative who runs the hippy retreat Mansion.

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I enjoyed The Seed Collectors as a bit of escapism. I liked going into this world of rich, selfish people who basically destroy their own lives and those around them by their awful behaviour! It’s not a difficult read, and it’s hilarious in many parts. There’s a short sex scene towards the end of the book that was so awful, it was funny. Awful because of the characters behaviour, not awfully written.

Interestingly, this was a book club choice and we met yesterday to discuss it. Only 2 of us, out of 12 or so, liked it! Many hated it so much they didn’t finish.

Have you read The Seed Collectors? What did you think?

 

Family Film Time – July 2017

Every week we have enforced family film watching time. Its partly to try and have a couple of hours down time, partly to be able to share our love of film with our kids, partly to have a tradition we hopefully will continue in the future. We take turns to pick. The participants are currently 39, 37, 7 and 4.

I say every week, but we’ve had a run of months where it’s not been possible to all sit down together. I can already tell you August is going to be a nightmare for this! So what did we watch in July:

The Simpsons Movie

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I’ve seen it so many times already, usually getting to near the end before it all becomes so familiar. Wasn’t sure what the children would make of it – they haven’t ever watched The Simpsons. My son found all the slapstick elements of it HILARIOUS, and they both loved SpiderPig. A hit.

Ice Age

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This film is from 2002! How?! My children wanted me to choose Ice Age 3, but I can’t possibly start a series of films in the middle. So the first Ice Age it is. I tried to help them understand the timeline of ice ages and times with dinosaurs etc. I probably shouldn’t have bothered. 😀

Pokemon: Destiny Deoxys

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Of all the pokemon films I’ve had to sit through so far, this has actually been the most enjoyable. Yes, you heard me. I quite enjoyed it. I mean, I’m not going to watch it again by choice, or actually recommend it to anyone, but it was alright. The best character was Munchlax. Pure comedy gold.

 

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This is Munchlax. 

The question I quite want to know is: How many more Pokemon films are there that my son has access to? I think he might have at least three more lined up…

20 Books of Summer – 2 months in update #20booksofsummer

I’m now up to fourteen books read – eight read in July. Helped by being on holiday for the last few weeks while my kids were still at school! As you can see, the idea that I can plan my reading in advance is a total nonsense. I have only read six from the original list of twenty books I made, and three of those were book club reads that I *had* to read.

Six have been netgalley reads after I went a bit crazy requesting books and then realised they were going to have to dominate my reading to get through them! I’m nearly through them and have now done the exact same thing with requesting Man Booker Prize longlist titles…

Two have been audio books. This has been great on my commute to work (40 mins each way). Not so much since I’ve been on my summer holidays.

And one was over 500 pages!

I have one month left on this challenge and I think I should be ok to get though 6 more books and reach my target!

  1. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry (review)
  2. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng (review)
  3. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor (review)
  4. the Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  5. Hope in the Dark – Rebecca Solnit
  6. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit (review)
  7. Nobody Told Me – Holly McNish
  8. Dear Fatty – Dawn French
  9. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  10. The Power – Naomi Alderman (review)
  11. The Lottery (and other stories) – Shirley Jackson
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  14. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
  15. A Quiet Storm – Rachel Howzell Hall
  16. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran
  17. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  18. The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave (review)
  19. Wonder – RJ Palacio
  20. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  21. Queen of Spades – Michael Shou-Yung Shum
  22. Living the Dream – Lauren Berry (review)
  23. Inferior – Angela Saini (review)
  24. Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris (review)
  25. The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen (review)
  26. Nasty Women – 404Ink (review)
  27. All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg (review)
  28. Anger Is An Energy – John Lydon (review)

Books Bought and Read – July 2017

Bought

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I love this book. The stories of loads of amazing women written like fairy stories with amazing illustrations. I just want books like this lying around my house for my children to pick up and look through!

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small girl looking at the fabulous illustrations

Bit of a kindle 99p sale spree:

  • The Circle – Dave Eggers
  • Alice – Christina Henry
  • Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  • I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • Anger is an energy – John Lydon

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi. I’ve been after this for ages and it popped up on a lightning deal for under £5.

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The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas. The next book for a book club I’m in. I don’t know anything about it.

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Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty. 99p kindle deal. I LOVED the TV series of this

I’ve decided I should always have an audiobook on the go, so have been getting the audible daily deal. I won’t get many listened to until I’m back at work at the end of August though. I’ve now got:

  • Engleby – Sebastian Faulks 
  • Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
  • Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy (99p kindle deal). I’ve seen too many giant book shop displays of this to pass it by.

After the Man Booker Prize longlist announcement I had to buy a couple of them to read so I picked up:

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack. It’s one sentence. I’m intrigued!

Swing Time – Zadie Smith. I have on goodreads that I’ve read White Teeth, but reading the plot summary I’m not sure I ever actually did read it! So this might be my first Zadie Smith.

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More kindle 99p deals:

  • The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
  • Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Read

Click to link through to the review:

Anger Is An Energy – John Lydon

A Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg

Nasty Women – 404Ink

The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen

Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris

Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Bedtime Stories with my Children

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie – Book 1. Utter trash that my son adores.

Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl. I didn’t think I’d ever read this one before but the story seems familiar, so I must have read it once as a child.

Matilda – Roald Dahl. Again!

The Witches – Roald Dahl. Genuinely terrifying!

Picasso and the girl with the ponytail – Laurence Anholt. I know… it’s great though!

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Cinderella. *yawn*

Aliens Love Underpants – Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. -The noisy book version. At least it’s over quickly…