Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Enlightenment & Etiquette

Where to begin? Chronologically, I suppose.
Mulling over an anguished piece of intellectual handwringing last month (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2036618,00.html ), I was tempted to go along with the author's premise that each age should produce its own crop of writers & thinkers who not just articulate the tenor of the times, but outline a vision of the way forward for society.
Then I checked myself. Yes, there are writers & thinkers out there (Amis, McEwan, Dawkins, Self, etc.), but they're addressing issues which no longer relate to changing society itself; the most progressive of the current crop, Dawkins, seems intent on repeating his points about religion & Darwin without linking these points to a wider debate about the body politic.

The gap in posting doesn't mean that I've been inert on the web. Far from it, I've been earnestly blogging away on the Guardian's "Comment is Free" website. Still, it was alarming to see a piece which claimed that blogging is already declining: http://media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,,2043775,00.html .

Being on the CiF website is sometimes similar to engaging in a lager fuelled argument in the pub. It is no place for sensitive souls who view their carefully crafted prose as inviolate. Responses to posts, as well as the original articles, are often bracing. At their best, they can be scabrously witty & informative. At their worst, however, they sink to the level of juvenile name-calling. It therefore comes as no surprise that figures in cyberspace like Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, have felt moved to act: http://media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,,2053569,00.html .
Inevitably, responses have been swift &, well, to the point. Critics have accused Wales & others of trying to introduce censorship. There isn't a shred of evidence with which to back up this claim. In fact, to use terminology which these particular bloggers would recognise, it's bollocks with bells on.

Pete Best is the "forgotten Beatle". People are more aware of Stuart Sutcliffe because of his sudden death before fame & fortune beckoned. [Sutcliffe, moreover, couldn't play a note, & was in the group merely because of his close friendship with Lennon.]
It certainly wasn't easy for Best after he was kicked out of the group to make way for Ringo. By the time the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper, Best was reported by the Liverpool Echo as working in a local bakery. He also attempted to commit suicide in the late 60s.
In the 70s he found work in the civil service (my mother worked with him for a few years). Unsurprisingly, he wouldn't be drawn on his role in the history of the world's most famous band.
Over the last decade Best has been a regular at the Matthew Street Festival, that tacky & increasingly Disneyfied distortion of the Beatles' legacy. With his own band, modestly named "Pete Best's Beatles", he's made a living playing the early rock 'n' roll numbers which the band played in the Cavern. He also reportedly made £1m from the success of the Beatles Anthology releases a decade ago.
Now, it seems, Best is willing to meet up with McCartney: http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/music/news/article2432457.ece .
Quite what they'd have to talk about after a gap of 45 years is anyone's guess. However, if I were McCartney, I'd feel safer in the company of Mark Chapman & Heather Mills than in a room with Best.

The anniversary of Hillsborough will be marked on Sunday. It's never easy to deal with, particularly for those of us who were on the Leppings Lane terrace that day. Gerry Ormonde, the driving force behind the irrepressible Kopblog (http://www.kopblog.com/ ) recently posted a message/statement from Anne Williams, whose son Kevin was among those who lost their lives. It's a fairly lengthy piece & to select particular passages of it for quotation purposes would, I feel, dilute its impact.
To summarise, Anne Williams details the long campaign to achieve justice for Kevin & the other 95 victims. Go to Gerry's blog & read it (it's from his entry for 23/03/07).
The email addresses for the campaign are:
annewilliams96@btinternet.com & annajameson@tiscali.co.uk .

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