Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The 128th Durham Big Meeting - 14/7/12

If you like heavy drinking, extreme colliery brass and political speeches, there's only one place to go and that's The Durham Miners' Gala, or Big Meeting as it's more usually known. Held every second weekend in July, it is a tradition unique to Durham City and has been held most peacetime years since 1871. The coal mines are now long gone, but their beautifully painted lodge banners and brass bands remain and the Gala carries on as a heritage event with real political teeth. This year, the speakers included the Murdoch-slaying MP, Tom Watson, Shami Chakrabarti from Liberty and two striking Spanish miners fresh in from the picket lines of Asturias. Best of all, we had the Leader Of The Labour Party, Ed Miliband. Traditionally, the Gala speakers have always included the Labour leader of the day, from Keir Hardie through to Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson, but none had condescended to turn up since Neil Kinnock in 1989 (despite the fact that Tony Blair's constituency was just around the corner in Sedgefield). Ed ended the 23 years of hurt with a rousing speech that warmed the hearts of the faithful and confirmed Durham's place at the heart of the national political debate. Seventy banners, fifty bands and a crowd of over 40,000 people 'getting their rights' cannot be written off so easily. As Dave Hopper, General Secretary of The Durham Miners Association put it: 'There's a world to be won. I hope Ed Miliband wins that world for us'.

Ed Miliband At Durham Miners' Gala

In Your Face Colliery Brass

Music For Solo Viola At Healey Church

St John's Church at Healey in Northumberland is hosting an evening of solo viola music on Saturday, the 8th of September 2012 at 7.30 pm. Bridget Carey will be performing pieces by Hildegard Of Bingen, Heinrich Biber, Gyorgi Ligerti, Gerald Grisey and Howard Skempton on viola, with electronics by Paul Archbold. The event is being co-ordinated by John Casken. Tickets are £10, available only in advance from

G4S - Another Failure Of The Private Sector

We hear a lot about the alleged failures of the public sector from the blaring, hate-filled right-wing Tory press, but now the boot is very much on the other foot. First News International, then Barclays and now G4S have been exposed by Parliament for the sort of organisations they really are. Does anyone really believe that our health service, police and military would be better run by people like these? Only the Tory party and their quisling Lib Dem collaborators do - and we know exactly what message to give to these incompetent swine at the next general election.

Departure Of The Olympic Torch

Arrival Of The Olympic Torch

Hawkwind At Middlesbrough Town Hall 30/5/12

When I first saw Hawkwind back in 1980 at Newcastle City Hall, I never suspected that I'd be seeing them over 30 years later just down the road in Boro - or that they'd be just as good, if not better. Dave Brock is still at the helm on rhythm guitar and for someone who's well into bus pass territory, he's looking surprisingly up for it. We are talking over two hours of extended space rock/ambient jamming with dancers, light show and lengthy reworkings of old favourites such as Hassan-I Sahba, 'Psychedelic Warlords' and a 20 minute 'Damnation Alley'. I haven't a clue what Hawkwind are on, but it should be freely available to all on the NHS.