Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to the premier of the Libertine’s film “There will be no innocent bystanders” - directed by one of the nicest guys in photography, Roger Sargant.And now, I can safely say, a director of the highest order.
It really is a joy of a film, capturing the energy, tension and emotion of a few months in the life of one of the most influential bands of the past decade. More importantly, I left excited by the prospect of live music and festivals, with an enthusiasm that’s been in short supply overt the past year. Here’s a clip.
As tomorrow will see me wading round central london with my camera kit, trying desperately to figure out what the Queen of Denmark looks like and how I can get usable photos, I thought this week’s chart would be best drawn up from the tunes that will inevitably be on my iPod as I try wade through the masses, inspired by those bands that have shaped my love of live music
I solemly pledge this shall be my only post about the Royal Wedding.
Back in 1997, little more than a week after Pricess Diana was killed in a Paris car crash, the Daily Mail applauded itself with the headline “Mail leads the way in banning paparazzi pictures.” You can’t find the article online any more, but underneath that headline the article continued:
“The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi
Viscount Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc said: ‘I am, and always have been, an admirer of Diana, Princess of Wales, and nagged my editors to protect her so far as they could against her powerful enemies.
In view of Earl Spencer’s strong words and my own sense of outrage, I have instructed my editors no ‘paparazzi’ pictures are to be purchased without my knowledge and consent.’”
Illustrated with a set of pictures from arguably the country’s biggest paparazzi agency, Big Pictures, and including the line “astonishingly, she appeared to only have two protection officers in sight” the Mail seems to have entirely forgotten its former pledge and is now more than happy to use paparazzi photography to sell papers.
One can only wonder what the Express will make of it all…..
There has been some media criticism of Vince Cable’s claim that most universities would set their fee level far below the £9k limit - which is looking less the case by the day.
Equally, David Cameron’s assertion that Oxford’s all-white intake was a “disgrace” has stirred some strong feelings - not least from those responsible for Oxford’s admissions.
In both cases, the issue is access - making a top university education accessible to a wider social and ethnic demographic, more representative of the country at large.
Yet it would be entirely wrong to weaken the academic integrity of institutions by forcing them to accept candidates who, were it not for their background, would not have made it.
In other words, the issue is not widening participation through university admissions intervention and the ‘fair access’ provision of bursaries , but increasing the academic achievement and aspiration of students long before they come to fill in their UCAS form.
It used to be the state provided such a route - through grammar schools, and later the assisted places programme. I’ve always been unsure about assisted places - taking money from the state budget and giving it to already full private schools does have an awkward feel to it. However, why not go one step further - why not have universities fund them?
It was always part of the fair access provision that universities had to engage with schools to increase the aspirations of students. I myself went to various events in the North East to encourage students to consider Durham University. Furthermore undoubtedly there are some teachers who take an approach to university that often resembles a concerted attempt to put students off applying to more prestigious institutions. I also spoke to students who came to Durham for a short stay in their holidays, the idea being to make applying to the university less daunting. Both schemes undoubtedly raise aspirations and do deliver benefits.
So - why not bridge the gap? Why not have universities fund a pool of money, which in turn can be used to fund an assisted places scheme? And why not go beyond traditional academic testing in the style of an 11 plus and use the expertise of universities to develop far broader ways of identifying potential, in both academic and non-academic fields.
Not only would it be a way of widening participation by increasing the academic attainment of less well-off social groups, it would also enhance the long-term prospects of those children who benefited, in likelyhood far more than a bursary given when they have already reached 18. Indeed, accepting these assisted place students could become a part of the charitable status of private schools.
Seen alongside Michael Gove’s long-overdue reforms of the education system, this would deliver benefits in just a few years (especially if implemented to create two cohorts, at age 11 and 16) and cost the taxpayer nothing.
Addressing educational imbalances will never work if the intervention takes place at 18 - and will arguably weaken the international standing of our universities. The fees debate spoke about the impact on aspiration - now we have the fees, we need the action.
Morley and Outwood was undoubtedly one of the highest profile battlegrounds of the 2010 general election. Antony Calvert put up a sterling fight to turn a nominally safe Labour seat into a tight marginal with a majority of little more than 1,000. Not bad to say he barely had a fourteen months as candidate, compared to the four years many people enjoyed in some target seats.
One thing that did raise eyebrows was Ed Balls’ speech upon being declared the winner. Rather than recognise his narrow escape and pay tribute to his opponents, Balls went off on one, telling the assembled media and public that he wanted to send a message to the Tory campaign: “You can come along with all your posters, and all your leaflets, and all your advertising, but you cannot buy this constituency”
Figures now released tell another story - Ed Balls was the highest spending candidate in the seat.
He spent £26,659 to Calvert’s £24,911. And that doesn’t include the office funded by his union friends or the Parliamentary communications allowance he received as a sitting MP. (While his old constituency of Normanton was abolished, 2 of the wards in it remained in the new Morley & Outwood seat.)
Also, if anyone’s interested, my opponent Yvette Cooper spent £10,831 on her election campaign - roughly £5,000 more than me. (I came in at £5,761)
She nearly doubled my campaign spend, I nearly halved her majority. Who said the public don’t read election literature?!
For once, combining my love of live music and politics isn’t a confusing link thanks to Mike Weatherley MP!
The recently launched Rock the house competition is combining an awareness campaign about intellectual property (and, I’m very pleased to add, is going about this in a far more sensible way than the Digital Economy Act and is not simply buying into the major label spin) with a search for the best live bands, and - for it is far too often forgotten - the best live music venues.
I’m delighted to be involved as, yes, a ‘prize’ - I’ll be donating my music photographer services to produce some tip-top photography of the winners.
The winning band also get to perform in Parliament, along with a host of other great prizes.
Let’s see which MPs are the biggest champions of live music and hopefully, willing to look beyond piracy headlines as part of the debate about IP and copyright protection.