Monday, 25 July 2016

Why should women have to put up with crap like this

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook on Sunday.

"Last night, whilst out with friends, a friend of a friend was having a conversation about lead singers. He was saying that lead singers hold the power because most people are looking at them. This guy who I'd only met a couple of hours earlier then turned to me and said "you're a drummer...what's it like being a 'female' drummer?" He then asked "how much attention do you get as a female drummer!" He then said "because nobody would give a shit about you if you didn't have a pair of tits" and finishing with "you're just going to have to accept that your looks are always going to be more important than anything else you do".
I don't know what it's like being a 'female drummer'. I've never had to buy polystyrene drum sticks because the real ones are too heavy, or had to use mini cymbals because normal ones are just too big for me to carry. I've never messed up at a gig because my mind wandered off thinking about shopping or what my next pair of shoes should be and I've never missed a rehearsal because I had to clean a home and make my breadwinning husband dinner by 6pm.
What I do know is that at every gig I am reminded that I am a girl by well intentioned people.
You're probably wondering why that bothers me. Well, I am self taught. When we first started the band, I started gigging 3 or 4 months after picking up two wooden spoons and trying to coordinate my arms to "I am the Walrus" (Ringo was so simple ❤️)
I knew I wasn't very good but I was ok with that, because why would I be good? I'd never had any help and I was fumbling my way through it. But even then, I had people come over and tell me what an "amazing" drummer I was. I was grateful but I always felt stupid, because I knew I wasn't and I really felt that the only reason people said this to me was because I was a girl.
These comments don't really bother me so much now, I've worked really hard, I've got my own style and I know what I play compliments our music. The only time I get annoyed is when me not being a man becomes the focal point of some people's attention, when the music we're playing washes over people because they're too consumed with "a female playing drums" I know this because I have experienced it.
I couldn't really answer the question last night, I was too angry. I don't even think the term "female drummer" should be used. I appreciate that it may be a compliment, but it's degrading to men and women.
But what do I know, I'm just a whiny hysterical bitch who should be grateful for what biology gave her."

Sometimes I read something and just have to say something, and say it in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation.  This is one of those cases. It is pretty clear to me that some people are completely ignorant. In the rock and roll industry, being good looking, be it male or female is a definate commercial advantage in getting a bit of attention, but the only music that endures is good music. The band the author of this comment plays in is a great band. In my judgement, they have what it takes to make it. This is nothing to do with the sex of the drummer. It is because the band has a sound and image that works.  She could be venus incarnate, but if she wasn't a great drummer with a  unique style, it would be totally irrelevant. Her style reminds me of Tommy Ramone. Whilst the Ramones had better drummers, Tommy set the style for the Ramones sound. He was solid, tight and right for the band. Charlie Watts in the Rolling Stones is also an "economical" drummer. There are better drummers, but I believe none are better for the Stones. When a band works it is magical. The author of this tweet is in just such a set up.

That is the musical aspect. I really felt I had to set the context for what I will say next. Some people (and the man who said the comment that sparked the post is one) are dangerous, agressive bullies, who get sadistic pleasure out of undermining people and planting seeds of doubt in their minds. Long time readers of this blog will know just how much bullies revolt me. I am 100% sure the author of the comments will deal with this, but such comments are never acceptable and always hurtful. I fully accept that anyone in a band has put their head above the parapet, but there are limits. To define every single female drummer as  "tits with a pair of sticks" is to me the most revolting act imaginable.

When it comes down to it. Sexism should be treated in the same way as racism and anti semitism. It should be illegal and if you seek to destroy someone because of their race, sex or creed, you should feel the full force of the law. If the author was a bad drummer (she's not), technical criticism is fine by me. To simply demean a great drummer in such a way is destructive and undermining. Any woman in any line of work deserves the dignity of judgement by her talents and performance.

And then there is the man who said it. What sort of man is he? To me a very sexually insecure man. A man who clearly feels inadequate and unable to appreciate the fact that there is no earthly reason why females can't rock it out in just the same way as a man. The rock and roll industry is in many ways the most sexist industry on the planet. When we employed a female chief engineer at Mill Hill Music Complex, one of the most frequently asked questions by bands when they met her was "where is the engineer". Many were truly surprised by the fact we employed a girl in a technical role. One side effect was we developed a large and loyal customer base of not only women customers, who preferred a less testosterone fuelled studio, but we also developed a strong LGBT customer base as well. That was never a consideration, but it worked for us. Ina short time we developed a profitable business.

I really don't think women should take this nonsense in this day and age. I think they should stand up to such bullies and put them in their place and men who have a brain should support them. It isn't big, it isn't funny and it isn't clever.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet

Its fast approaching the silly season. Not much happens, save for a few people who should know better, getting rather too excited abut nothing. Well actually....

But then we live in sleepy Barnet, so what has been happening in our neighbourhood. Here it is, the tweets of the week. Don't forget to follow any of these tweeters who tickle your fancy!

1. Sad news, we've lost another much loved landmark

nothing left of The Landsdowne in Burnt Oak. Note the builders sign -

2. Can you help this young man?

can you help Colindale teen in plea for power pack?


3. A lovely picture of yet another lost part of the borough's sporting heritage. I often wonder if the current craze of building flats everywhere will only stop when every single possible thing has been demolished and built on.

Hendon's much missed Claremont Road ground, as it looked in 1972. Pic Bob Lilliman.

 4. Residents of Edgware may find this tweet of interest

Property Values rise by 2% month on month.
5. We rather like this tweet from David Arditti in Edgware

Display of noctilucent cloud this morn, up to 10 degrees high, observed from 02:15 to 03:15 UT, from Edgware, Middx.

 6. Got a problem with litterbugs and flytippers. Tell the council!

You can help us by reporting persistent litter & flytipping problem areas in Barnet:

7. An East Finchley Landmark

Gallery owner shared his favourite work - ‘The Archer’ by Eric Aumonier at East Finchley

8. Lost a Mog in Totteridge? Dan Wilson has found it

Has anyone in Totteridge lost a black cat? We're currently feeding it

9.  Nice piccie from Lucinda!

 10.  A Mill Hill Landmark was on the Telly this week. Of course we all know our little piece of London is full of  marvellously clever people.

on , on Channel 4. Just saw Fil.

Pete's talking nonsense again - Why waste money on a military fit for the last century

I hadn't intended to return to the subject of Pete Hitchens and his daft views, but in the process of checking to see whether he'd had the guts to publish my comment (guess what?), I noticed a new bunch of rather silly guff in his column. Perhaps for me, the most irritating feature of Pete's mind is his amazing capacity to correctly identify important issues and then come up with the most absurd solutions to the problems. In his blog on the Mail today, he's at it again.

Skip the nonsense about Theresa May. That is stock in trade Pete trying to be contrversial. He seems to think he's the only real Conservative in Great Britain with a public platform. Most people with such delusions are on happy pills, but as we know from our previous spat, Pete thinks these are dangerous, so wisely avoids them. Anyway, unless your happy to lose five minutes of your life that you'll never get back, my advice is to skip that bit.

What he has to say about Trident is actually quite interesting. Pete agrees with me that it is a monumental waste of money, designed to fight an enemy that disintegrated 25 years ago. He is quite right. I also quite like his solution of keeping a few nuclear bombs as insurance and spending some of the cash saved cancelling Trident replacement on the air force. Whilst I am not a fan of nuclear weapons, the world is a dangerous and hostile place and the concept of a bit of insurance is not altogether stupid. The advantage of this is that in most conceivable real world combat situations, an adaptable air force is a huge asset. I read an article by an ex RAF officer that stated a force of 250 bombers would be required, but this would be about a quarter the cost of Trident and give us a hugely flexible solution for any threat. Whilst there are very few scenarios where we would realistically nuke anyone, there are plenty where sadly we bomb them. We've been doing it constantly for the last few years. If we had a force that could do it properly, maybe we'd actually see some results. When I read that we've sent 6 planes to bomb Syria, it is clear that all this does is raise our profile as a target, whilst not making the slightest real difference to the political situation in Syria. If it did, ISIS would be long gone. So up to here, I am with Pete. He ends his blog with the following "All we need to do is to hang on to a few H-bombs and the planes to drop them and we can have all that Trident gives us, for 100th of the cost. We might also be able to afford a Navy and an Army again, not to mention boats to patrol our coasts, which we haven’t got at the moment."

This is where it all goes wrong. Firstly his figure for a credible ariel alternative is a gross underestimate (as detailed above). This is important, because  if you make a proposal, it has to have a degree of reality. To have a credible ariel nuclear presence, you need to have multiple bases, and a 24 x 7 squad of planes in the sky. You also have to have enough planes to get through. This was wherethe figure of 250 came from. At any one time possibly 1/4 would be being overhailed. You'd have a rotation of maybe five shifts per day, to ensure that pilots were fresh. You'd have to be able to approach from multiple directions, and have all manner of countermeasures. You'd have to build a whole new generation of air launched bombs. You'd need new and state of the art facilities, rather than the run down neglected bases we currently have, which have been underfunded for decades.

The upside of all of this is that it would create far more jobs, help local economies, put us back into the forefront of aerospace. After the war, the UK was the worlds leading Aerospace centre. Now we make wings for the airbus. planes such as the Vulcan and th Harrier have no peers. They are unique and I believe the Conservative government committed a crime by scrapping them, without a viable alternative. Now I am not a militarist, but if we are being pragmatic and we say that there is a consensus in the UK for a nuclear deterrent, lets make it work for the UK. Pete is correct that a Trident system is not even in our control. Who knows what could happen if a future US president decided he didn't like the UK. I think it is unlikely, but in reality the US is the only power on earth that could realistic pose a military threat to the UK. We are there allies, but of we had a Prime Minister Corbyn and a President Trump, do you really think we'd have the keys to the Trident safe? I am not saying I think the US would attck the UK in a military sense, but I for one don't think Trump would sit idly by and ignore Corbyn, if he decided to disentangle us from NATO, which is a very realistic scenario, if he gets his  way. For Corbyn, the ideal scenario is that by 2018, he deselects most of his Blairite foes in Labour. At the moment, the Tories look to be unbeatable, but Brexit could go horribly wrong.  Four years is a long time in politics, who thought just a year ago that Cameron and Osborne would be toast?

Which brings me to the main point, the big black hole in Pete's argument. He talks about a beefed up army and navy and a fleet of patrol boats to secure our shores. To me this is complete nonsense. Of course we should fund the army and navy to meet the challenges we present them. The Chilcott inquiry laid bare the fact that we'd sent the army into a war semi naked. They must be given the tools of the trade to do their job. Likewise with the navy. They have aircraft carriers with no aircraft. As I mentioned above, the decision to scrap the Harriers was perhaps the worst decision ever taken by a modern British government.  An aircraft carrier without aircraft is like a car without petrol. It may look great but it is useful for nothing.

But as far as I am concerned, all of these toys are outdated. If there is a World War III it won't be fought on the battlefield as we know it. We won't see the trench warfare of World War I or the Blitzgrieg of World War II. The next world war, should one occur will most likely be a cyber war.  If an enemy of the UK were to bring down the Internet, the country would cease to work in short order.  Supermarkets use what are called "Just in Time" techniques, where they keep only enough on site to fill shelves. Their POS systems automatically reorder and lorries arrive daily from out of town warehouses to restock. A cyber attack would mean that the shops were bare in a day or two. Then there is money. How much cash do you have in your house? A cyber attack would cut you off from your cash. If an enemy could trash the UK banking system., we'd all become skint overnight. CAn you imagine if you couldn't pay for anything by card. It would be pretty irrelevant as most supermarket checkout tills would cease to work. Then there is your heating. Just suppose a cyber attack occurred in the winter during a cold snap? No heat, no light. How many modern luxury flats have a coal fire? How many candles do you have? Even the water that comes through your tap is controlled by computers, networked on the internet. So you are faced with a situation where you have no food, no water, no money, no electricity and it's freezing cold outside. How long could you get by? What would our government do, if a hostile nation, terror group or evil mastercrook pulled that stunt off? Now of course, the Internet is designed to be resilient, but in a battle between the sword and the shield, who wins?

During the second world war, the Allies launched a two year bombing offensive to shut down Germany. This involved thousands of bombers flying nightly to wreak havoc on Germany. 67 major cities were destroyed, yet the Germans still managed to survive. Yet the world we have created, if the internet was shut down, we'd be on our knees, freezing and starving in a matter of days or weeks. does the government have a plan? Do the Banks? Do the electricity companies? Does the MOD? After World War I, the French spent more money on defence than any other nation in the world. They built the Marginot line. The Germans simply went around it. My greatest fear is that Pete and all his friends are simply encouraging us to build the modern equivalent of this edifice, with armies, navies and airforces, when the next great war will simply be the download of a mega virus onto the internet, that locks us all out of our computers.

Now I am not one of these Nevada style survivalists, who say everyone should have 60 gallons of diesel, a years supply of water, 500 tins of sardines and a can opener in the shed. It would be nice, however, to see someone, anyone in government or in the media asking the question "What plans are there for a total takedown of the net". It seems bizarre that, as Pete rightly points out, we can spend £100 billion on something that addresses a threat that doesn't exist, whilst a real and present threat that could stop our nation in its tracks in minutes can be ignored. We've never even had a leaflet through the door to give us the faintest idea what will happen. There would be no radio or TV to guide us. Unless like me, you've got a barbeque in your shed and a bag of charcoal, who will you be cooking dinner? I must admit the idea of making a cup of tea from water in the pond isn't great, but I'd actually be one of the lucky ones in that scenario.

How likely is it that such a thing could happen? I've no clue, but I'm pretty sure there are plenty out there who would love to inflict such a cyber winter on us. How well prepared are we to deal with it? Well I wouldn't expect the government to tell us. I may be wrong, but I happen to think that of all the conceivable threats to our way of life, a Cyber Winter could be the greatest. I also don't think it will necessarily come from the direction we expect. It isn't just the North Koreans and ISIS who'd love to stop us in our tracks. There are Eco Ultras, various strange Apocalyptic fundamentalists and even common criminals, who could see the opportuinty to make a quick buck. So when Pete talks about securing our borders, he may have a point, but the real borders he needs to worry about are not necessarily our coastline.

How ironic would it be if we had the worlds best equipped army, navy and air force, yet the Prime Minister had to hand over the keys to someone who'd used a virus on our own computers to shut down the UK, without firing a shot?

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Saturday list #96 - My Top Ten London Tweets

I love just wandering around London snapping random photos on my mobile phone and tweeting them. I thought you may like to see my fave top ten. Don't claim any great technique, but I think they are interesting piccies!

1. Love this shot of the Mill Field in Mill Hill

The Mill Field, one of my favourite spots in Mill Hill

2. A poignant moment at Wembley after the atrocity in Paris.


3. Love this one of Borough Market.

London old and new. The Borough Market in the shadow of the Shard

4. And this one of one of my fave views

Having a pint at the Founders Arms Blackfriars contemplating our beautiful city

5. Lambeth Bridge is a great place to cross the river. I always think this is a real hidden treasure.

Lambeth Bridge. A joyous view today

6. I miss my early morning walk along the South Bank.


7. My fave shot of Mill Hill Park


8. Love this view from Blackfriars Station. To get this angle, you need to go at around 7:30am on a sunny October morning

London Blackfriars station. Is there a more glorious station anywhere

9. And another view. This is why I love Blackfriars Station

The shard and the tate modern in full morning glory from blackfriars station

10. And I really love pubs and London music venues

Mascara Bar, Stamford Hill with ELD and Commancheros

And one for luck,  I am rather partial to the Barbican.

Have to say. I think The Barbican is a lovely sight