New Song – ‘Deleted Scenes’…

‘Deleted Scenes’, the first single from my new EP, ‘A Place Like Home’, was the first song I wrote after my last album, ‘I Used To Be Sad & Then I Forgot’.

I wrote it during lockdown. 

I was trying to not write songs about lockdown. 

I was also trying to not say that I wasn’t writing songs about lockdown. I didn’t want to even mention it, but everyone asks, so there you go.

I tried to concentrate on considering what I DID want to write songs about. Lockdown was good for that, at least.

I wanted to find something honest & worth saying amid the chaos & self-reflection that lockdown forced upon all but most privileged.

This period of self-reflection created a glut of wankers like me banging on about how they faced a period of self-reflection; I disappeared at least as far up my own arse as the next man, perhaps further, as this article appears to indicate, and so THATS what I wrote about – what I DO think. What I DO want. Not what or might think or might want. I’m not giving advice or speculating on lofty principles. 

The people who started tweeting live songs from their normandy retreats, sharing their two-AGA kitchen tales of poverty, covering John Lennon from beside the private family pool while the rest of us queued outside Asda for an hour to get our hands on the government-allocated quantity of bleach, they have nothing to tell me. They shed no insights on my world. But why am I different? I dunno. I don’t consider that I am, but I’m self-aware enough to try hard to be better. 

Since I’m also likely no worse, I tried to sharpen my ideology into the words of a song, something firm, bold & honest. I wanted to be clear, focussed, clean, new & free. Nothing unique or interesting about that, but here we are. It is what I did. I tried to describe exactly what I see from the shade where I sit. Whether I did that or not is up to you. ‘Deleted Scenes’ is about the search for meaning & a place in this lying, decaying late-stage capitalist nightmare of a reality we are fortunate enough to inhabit. 

You can hear it on Bandcamp from 8th October & I’m working on a video, too.

What is 2PrivateMatters?

I’ll tell you what I know.

Hanging around with Josienne Clarke is a fucking trip. Everyone loses their shit.

She’s written extensively about why. The Only Bit That Matters. Go read about it, if you care to.

But you, know, ultimately, scum rises to the top and Josienne’s scum & so am I (council house & comprehensive school blood born & raised, both) so it was always inevitable that we would make music together. It’s a thing we both just do, and yes, it gets complicated and messed up and colonised but both of us would do it in a vacuum.

So, we did. 2PrivateMatters is a stupid name we laughed about using and then did because why not, everyone else just does what they want, now we have, too. What happens is that Josienne writes one of her perfect little sad song things & then I try to impress her by messing it up in Ableton.

Some of you might not know that I used to be in a band called Formication with my friend Kingsley. We played some shows, some festivals, lots of drum & bass nightclub backrooms. We released a great many albums & EPs, appeared on a Wire Magazine cover CD, got reviewed in that magazine a lot. We made harsh industrial noise, extended experimental crazy electronic shit. I heard that Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods saw one of our early shows & I could believe it. We played with two old macbooks and stood around nonchalantly, sounding big, right in their neck of the woods, so, yeah.

Josienne once said that she wanted her voice & songs set in something harder, that she imagined her work led down a more dangerous garden path. I understand why no producer is willing to do that. She can read washing machine instructions in that perfect voice and it makes grown adults lose their mind, it needs nothing else. To really push it out of a happy place feels like double the sacrilege. Unholy. But she doesn’t want to be that. She’s not interested in holiness.

Listen to ‘Cartography’ from Doubts Run Out. That’s all her, one recording she made of her singing straight into a laptop that I did things to. You ever see the TV show DEVS? I enjoyed that. Also the movie Annihilation. Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury, The Insects, that whole Invada soundtrack aesthetic, I like that. So I tried it. Also, I wanted to riff on the holiness. It’s kind of choral, don’t you think? The kind of early music that Josienne has actually performed before, but there’s nothing sacrosanct about this abomination. Although, you know what I’d love to do – perform this live. Get a choir, 4 voices, and learn it like it was written by John Rutter then sing it in a cathedral. Conduct it. I think it’s possible. Who knows.

Then there are these other influences. Dance music. Electronic music. A chaotic mess of meaningless genre names. Everyone in folk always wants to be more edgy by using a drum machine. It’s hilarious. Richard D. James said that dance music is folk music and of course, he’s right. There’s nothing new. I always like the question – what is this music for? How, why & when will people listen to it? Is it for dancing, for listening, for impressing birds, accompanying nature walks, getting off your tits, showboating your librarian-like knowledge, for the respect of your peers? All fine!

2PrivateMatters is to confound. I wanted to do something undone. Take a road less travelled. Show there are other things. I’m not interested in hearing another perfect voice cover Little Lord Fauntleroy, but this time, with a drum machine! Jim Moray did that 20 years ago. It wasn’t new then & it wouldn’t be new now. I was inspired by Burial, Four Tet, Koreless, Giant Swan, Req, Loraine James, Forest Swords, Frost, Fake, Hecker, Vainio, Deathprod, Bohren, Oneohtrix, BPB, Rabelais. You know the stuff. Showboating of my own. What can we do with sound, if we challenge ourselves, with source material like this? DoubtsRunOut is the answer. That’s what we can do.

But here’s the thing. This project is a risk for Josienne. Why? Well, because now every time she uses an electronic drum or a synth on one of her solo records, that will be attributed, in some way, overt or otherwise, to me, the bloke. I either wrote, performed, influenced or encouraged it. It’s a reason not to release this recording we made together, because credit is important & she is vulnerable. But she’s also brave & wanted to do this despite the risks.

Realise this – Josienne never felt able to express herself in all the ways she wanted to because her confidence was undermined, gently, silently, subtly, invasively. She never felt that her voice was relevant enough, she wasn’t given free rein over her own life & work. Unforgivable. But she knows what she wants, now. Her confidence grows. You can hear it in her solo work. The synths on her albums were her. I did exactly what I got credit for and nothing more, nothing less.

So please, listen. Enjoy. Try to understand who did what, if you care to. If you don’t, that’s ok, too, but don’t come running to me when I correct the misattribution of credit because I have a zero tolerance policy on carelessness on this, I consider it important, even if you don’t and I am too old / ugly to worry about losing friends.

We made this ourselves, in our house, no studios. We spent zero pushing it to PR people. We put on streaming services and you can buy it digitally on bandcamp. There is no CD version. I made some stickers and then realised, I’d have nobody to send them to. Ha. It’s just a modest little side project. We made it because we wanted to. No more, no less. We hope you can find a way to enjoy it. If anyone would like promotional materials/review copies/a press release, then please ask – Josienne wrote one of those for it and it’s hilarious, but so far, nobodys seen it but me. And to be frank, I don’t much care if it stays that way, but I will send it to you, if you like. Drop us a line.

Here’s some cover variations. I did this photoshoot in a bath. Couldn’t decide which one to use. Ha.

Thanks for caring enough to read this!

‘Super Recogniser’ by Josienne Clarke

I made another video for Josienne’s latest single, ‘Super Recogniser’…

‘Alec Bowman_Clarke, the Director, Cinematographer & Editor, describes his video for Super Recogniser thusly:

“You know that bit in the first Robocop movie where he first comes online and tests his vision & tracking, tries out the gun in his leg and then gets up & storms out to go find his old life and take revenge on Clarence Boddicker and the gang of baddies who hurt him? Well this is a bit like that, but without the acid baths & exploding cars. Like an emotional Robocop, we find our hero rebirthing from her pupa, emerging, testing out possible movement & her odd perception of light, running critical systems checks. She’s a soft, pink robo-singer, plagued by memories of a life & career ridden roughshod over by the careless hooves of an insidious music industry, trapped, milked dry by an inner circle of vapid yes-men. She was a workhorse in a song farm, left with all the blame & none of the credit, so she retreated into the safe, fleshy chrysalis of her own real life. My video documents her glorious, neon-gore transformation into a being to be reckoned with, a butterfly fully in charge of her own faculties & armed to the teeth with song.”


I also made this poster, which I hope you enjoy.

‘Super Recogniser’ by Josienne Clarke is the second single from her album ‘A Small Unknowable Thing’, released on Corduroy Punk Records on 13th August 2021. Pre-order ‘A Small Unknowable Thing’ HERE:

Making a Record with Josienne and Lukas

I’ve shared a few photos of the sessions but not said much about it. Busy, busy, busy.

First time I met Lukas has significance to me, I’m an imprinted baby duck. I was walking around London with Josienne, feeling thoroughly out of my depth, a little scared of how big & proper it all was, when this famous bloke said hello to us both. Not just to Josienne, though he seemed to mean his hello to her as well, but also to me, like I had just as much right to be there as her and like he was pleased to see us both! In a town where most people at best treated me like I was in the way or on many occasions, openly expressed derision at my presence & involvement. Here was Lukas frickin Drinkwater just casually saying hello to me, in the street! I probably didn’t even say anything back because I couldn’t believe it. Later, we went to the Americana Music awards and Emily Barker treated me like an old friend. I could’ve cried. I might actually have done, because Patrick Stewart’s partner asked me if I was alright while I was standing at the bar and I said I was, it was just a bit overwhelming and thanked her for her kindness and I thought to myself, damn. Maybe I can do this, maybe some people won’t mind me being in the room, one day.

Anyway, here we are a few years later & I am doing it. Living some kind of life. Being the person I appear to be. Living in an honest way that I wrestled from the jaws of loss. Surrounded by love & support. It takes a while to recognise it when it changes, but lives can & will change and I think it’s important to call it what it is when it happens.

And so I wrote some songs about that, about that hope, about that progress, because what else am I going to do? I didn’t have lots, but it felt like a whole thing regardless, a signpost of where I live right now, still yearning for more, hoping the stairs lead up & that there is a reason to climb, however distant it might seem.

My last album, ‘I Used To Be Sad & Then I Forgot’, I once described as like that tiny dog who goes around starting fights with all the bigger dogs, barking in their faces as they look on bemused. That’s how I feel I sound, listening back, now. I’m still very proud of that record and what I achieved with it. It grounded me, made me certain of exactly what my place in things was. I had as much right as anyone else to exist. Songlines Magazine reviewed my record & didn’t hate it.

But these new songs, they’re bigger. I knew I needed more instruments than I had last time. And there was really only two people I needed to help me. Josienne was going to produce, that was always clear. What else would I want to do? It’s her decision making. Her discernment. Is an idea good, or bad? She just knows. But I had this dream that Lukas might be able to help, too. What a line up that felt like. So I out & asked him and he went and said yes.

We spent 3 days in his studio, Polyphonic Recording, in Stroud. It’s a dream location, and I don’t just mean because it’s a one minute walk from a waitrose with a sushi counter, though it is that too. It’s a perfect playground. Tbh, it’s everything I ever dreamed of that I never made happen for myself. I don’t really understand sound like I understand light. Light is obvious, sound is a twat. But not to Lukas – his level of skill in every instrument he plays (which is, best I can tell, all of them…) is unsurpassed. His judgement, creativity, approach to creating a safe space, sense of humour, it’s all perfection. I knew it would be. He’s funny & serious at all the right times. It’s hard to get me to perform stuff, vocally. These lyrics are pretty raw to me. I can’t do it just anywhere, in front of just anyone. But I could do it easily, with him. If this all sounds a little saccharine then, good, it’s meant to. When I called him one of my favourite people, I meant it. If you’re considering making a record then you should have him & his studio on the list. I can’t imagine a thing he couldn’t do. Recording is such a weird type of magic, but not if you understand it intuitively, in a way that I don’t. Lukas does.

We recorded 5 songs, an EP. Lukas is mixing it now. It’s a bigger sound than the album, a full band. I don’t want to say too much about it other than that for now, but I do have (…no shit…) lots of photographs from the recording sessions. I took these because I loved it, and taking photographs / using cameras & lenses is fun, like microphones & guitars are to Lukas, and also, so Lukas could use them on his website.

See what happens if you work in an atmosphere of mutual respect, lifting people up & being lifted yourself? See what can happen if you work, free to fail, free of shame, free of threat? In an atmosphere that encourages individuality of expression, where some ideas are awful but have them anyway and believe that your friends will have your best interests at heart when they say “do it” or “shut up”? What if that led to everyone being a little better after than they were before, to some kind of personal growth & the making of honest art?

Well, here are some photographs of that happening.

Thanks for working with me, Josienne & Lukas.

Josienne Clarke’s New Album Announced!

Josienne announces her new LP today – ‘A Small Unknowable Thing’.

Out August 13th 2021 via Josienne’s own label, Corduroy Punk Records.


Pre-order & listen to it however you like using this link.

I took the photographs on the cover & inside, played electric & upright bass on a few tunes and made a video (or two…or more?) for it, also out today!

I’m so very grateful to JC for the chance to collaborate. It’s been an incredible journey. I’m proud of her & what she’s made & of my part in it. This is my best work, and I reckon it’s hers, too.

Here’s the cover. Shot on a Canon 5d mkiii with a 24mm L lens at f1.4, ISO50 & 1/200s at Broadscope Studios in Glasgow. It was so hard to choose this shot, there were so many keepers in that set, but in the end, she always came back here.

Here’s the video for ‘Sit Out’, the first single…

That’s Josienne playing herself twice, a couple of all-round stand-up game-for-a-laugh good guys from Twitter (Man Skirt & Kieran) and me playing an insufferable arsehole guitarist. Hopefully, it’ll make you smile as much as we did making it.

So, here you go, that link again –

If you visit the bandcamp page ( you’ll find how to pre-order Digital, CD & Vinyl copies as well as a print of a photograph I took during the sessions.

The album is out on August 13th 2021 & between then and now, lots of things are going to happen. Lots more things I can’t say, but watch this space, stay with us, because this is it. This is the moment that you can help. The part where we need you, or all this work & effort & resource & love is just poured into a vacuum. It’s taken everything to make this. It’s been planned so carefully, so meticulously, everything has been given to this work. It might not feel like much, but trust me when I say that anyone who streams, buys, shares, retweets, tells a friend, likes, comments, writes about, asks about it in a record shop or engages in any way with this art is so very valuable. Making a noise in the flood is hard, but this is the real thing & we really do notice & appreciate anyone who engages. It means the world.

Support the art & artists you love. Josienne needs your help & hates to ask, but I know you’ll want to give her everything you can. Now’s the time. Thanks!

Here’s My Hot Woke Take On This Harmless Tweet!

I am writing today to take issue with this tweet from Line of Best Fit! What could be wrong with this, I hear you cry!

Well, scroll down for some pointless, pathetic, directionless irritation & a polite request.

So, what’s the problem?

The headline decentralises Bridgers in the story of her own art.

It uses her name & image to promote a related thing – fine – but relegates her to a bit-part-player in order to do it.

Is Olof Grind “the mastermind behind…” or “the photographer who took…” ?

The article itself opens with the latter, but the headline chooses the former, a different, stronger, more powerful sentence, that just happens to create a victim, a smaller party, an associate.

There’s a word for that. ‘Clickbait’.

Just another article about a bloke who took once a photo that now made a record? Dull, they’re ten a penny.

An article where it turns out that a bloke came up with and executed the whole thing that we thought had something to do with Bridgers? BETTER!

That’s called clickbait & I’m here to call Line Of Best Fit out on this d4ily m4il-like behaviour.

The headline uses rhetoric to sell the article, which is what journalists have to do, but in this case, can you see how the rhetoric creates a conflict in just one word? Bridgers is gently, subtly decentralised in the story of her own art.

She’s shifted from the centre of the frame of a photograph of herself.

The article itself is fascinating, detailed, interesting and I want to listen to the record. All good.

And does Bridgers need defending from this? Not at all.

And are Line of Best Fit the enemy, the worst at this? Nope. They’re a great place to discover excellent new music and have high standards of journalistic integrity. I recommend them highly. I care & that’s why I’m saying this.

The website runs with:

Luminous Kid steps into his own with debut ‘at the end of the dream‘” & the article itself headlines with “Luminous Kid: A Phoebe Bridgers Protege?

They are both great! We need to mention Bridgers, of course. And this is a good news story, a bunch of people made a bunch of cool stuff. Protege actually promotes Bridgers, implies she found this less well known bloke & gave him a leg up, she’s the boss, if he’s a protege. Cool.

But, see, the tweet things it differently, spins the story as a vaguer, dusty oppositional narrative. So 99% of this article is top quality journalism & I hate criticising it, but clickbaity headlines is a creeping, insidious trend that inflicts actual damage on real people, close to me & ones I don’t know & when I see it, I will say it. Even when it’s a friend, like Line of Best Fit. Please try a little harder.

My call out is, check yourself. Tiny things. Defensible things. If you put someone down that you don’t need to, frame a piece of art in opposition to another piece when it is inherently not, create false conflict or gently mislead in order to create a more compelling debate, then maybe, there’s a another way. Olof Grind is a fantastic photographer who shot some genuinely iconic pictures in collaboration with a hugely important artist. You can make that a good headline. I know you can.

If someone called me the mastermind behind a picture I’d taken of a solo female, I’d be upset & so this is pre-emptive. Don’t do it. It’s a collaboration. You can praise me without marginalising her. Please, music journalists, try to do that.

Call me a fragile snowflake leftie woke ponce, no problem, I don’t care what you say. Seriously, I’ve heard it all before, it’s water off the wings of a duck. But I have time, a platform & a cause, however small, however pathetic it might seem.

Do you need to denigrate one artist to promote what another is doing? No. Are you accidentally doing it? Maybe, yep. So check yourself. Watch out for it. Work harder. You’re important, music journalists, what you do matters to musicians & photographers, we need you & you need us and I want the world to work this way.

Please be careful with things that people make.

Field Testing a Pentax 67 120 Medium Format camera…

A few weeks ago in a blog post, I asked if anyone was up for a free photoshoot in Glasgow to give me a chance to practice with my new Pentax 67 120 medium format camera. I got a willing volunteer, more below… but on the day it arrived, I shot a roll of the stone mermaid who lives in the garden & got these two wonderful photographs with it.

That’s with the 105mm f2.4 lens fully open, shutter speed of either 1000 or 500, hand held, on Portra 400. They say this lens renders legendary bokeh and clearly, they are not wrong. The meter in the prism isn’t really TTL (because the sensor is on top of the body, so if you use an ND, you have to manually compensate) but that is easy enough and I was pretty excited by the potential shown in these early results.

The day was clear blue sky, almost too sunny, so we spent time looking for shade on the streets of Glasgow.

Here’s a pile of old mattresses, some peeling walls, a chair & an ominous hole filled with a brick, but I wasn’t trying to make Jenn seem gritty & urban. I wanted something cleaner, so we kept walking.

These first shots of Jenn were taken on my Canon 5D mkiii with a 24mm f/1.4 for metering. In real life, using the P67, I don’t think I need to meter with digital again. It’s so intuitive to use on it’s own. From the look of the mermaid, the meter seems reliably calibrated. So next time, no digital comfort blanket. I thought I’d share these here, because, whilst they are really only light tests, I like them & reckon they’ll be an interesting comparison for when the 120 stuff comes back from the lab.

I decided to us ND & pro-mist filters (1/4) on the 105mm f/2.4 & 55mm f/4 lens I had with me and do the maths on what worked given whatever the sun was doing. It was kind of a thrill. Changing film in the field is 4 times more time consuming & fiddly than with 35mm, but I’m hoping the results justify it. It’s kind of theatrical, this huge loud shutter slap then, every ten frames, setting up a miniature lab under a motorway bridge and trying to move all the bits around. Next time, I’ll unwrap the film I intend to shoot and store it in a tin so I take that step out, make it a little easier on myself. The battery lasted for the whole shoot – I had been told the light meter is power hungry, but I was shooting nonstop for a couple of hours and got through 5 rolls and it’s still testing positive. So that was a nice surprise.

Jenn was supremely patient & a wonderful subject, thanks for doing this with us & I hope the end results are something we can both use!

Jenn left us to it and the excitement of the sun & of being at least vaguely around other people was too much, so Josienne & I went to find coffee. I put the 85mm f/1.2 on my 5D and shot a few by the river. If I’d have had longer, I would have liked to have done that with Jenn, too, but you can’t push your luck too hard in these situations or nobody will want to hang out with you anymore. So, enjoy these last few and I hope you’re as excited as me to see the end results!

Thanks again, Jenn, for being such a great subject.

Glasgow! Who wants a free portrait?

I need a favour. When the world gets back to normal, I’d like to carry on taking pictures of people. Who wants to walk around Glasgow with me & let me practice shooting 120 medium format film with them?

Let me explain.

I use a Canon 5D mkiii for most things. This camera is like an extension of my arm, I can do most things I want with it without even really thinking. I use a Canon 1v for 35mm film photography. It’s a beauty and I love it, as close to the ease of digital as film could ever be.

But, it’s only 35mm. With 120 medium format photography, something special happens, photos are bigger. The kit is clunkier, weirder. Metering is odd, you have to do exposure, focal length, shutter speed maths. You get 10 photographs from a reel of film costing £20. Not as many folks develop it and it’s pricier then, too. But it has something special. The colours, the texture, the depth, the contrast.

Here’s a little gallery showing some of my favourite photographers right now – these folks are all making beautiful photographs with 120 medium format. Visit Vuhlandes, Eli Vicks, Barney Arthur, J Flynn, Andy Low, Ally Green, I could go on & probably will, one day. So, you see, 120 *does* a thing. So, I’m going to put the time & effort in & master it for myself.

And that means I need volunteers. I want someone to spend a couple of hours in Glasgow city with me, when the pandemics calmed down, who will let me take their photograph using a Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 120 medium format camera that I will be using for the first time. Zero cost to you, the only cost to me is time, film and developing. You can you use any pictures I take that you like, and you’ll let me use them, too. You might need to be patient with me, because it’ll be my first time.

Now, I could snap a friend, but I don’t have many of those IRL, and since taking a photograph steals a tiny piece of your soul, the person I usually photograph is looking for me to branch out & give her a rest. I could hire a model, but I don’t know how to use this camera, so before I do that, which I might, one day, I want to know what I’m doing, so nobodys’ time is a wasting more than they are ok with.

Here’s a few recent shots of mine, I’ll be looking to add whatever we take to my portfolio. Of course, none of these are 120, they’re all digital or 35mm. Not that the format matters, the result does. But, see, that’s why I need to practice, to see if I can get 120 medium format integrated into what it is that I do.

Fancy it? Get in touch!

Notes On The Great Beyond

I was just starting to work out who I was & what I stood for when the pandemic hit. It takes a long time to figure that out at the best of times, and I guess nobody ever really does, but I faced a situation where I had to face that demon down double quick sharp, while there was something left to save. So I tried to use the time to try to get closer to that aspiration & sometimes, it feels like I ended up further away. I’m sure you have all this stuff going on with you, too, or your own version of it. I mean this post like a note to self, a statement of intent, rather than a nagging lecturing brag. I don’t know if I’ll manage to pull off anything other than a meaningless self-obsessed waste of pixels, but I find it therapeutic to try.

And that’s what everyone had to do. Pandemic lockdown put our humanity under a microscope, distilled it. Solitary self-examination became the order of the day. What would you do if you had all the time & nowhere to go? Our relationships became more distant & all the people that you care for and care for you got further away, contact prohibited by law. A truly fucked-up thing, that as I write, is still the case. Growing global divides, increasing political turbulence. People dying alone. No crossing county lines. Some people are on touring holidays in France while the rest of us carefully figure out which Morrisons we can go to without being fined. The gloves are off in the have versus have-not wars & the rich will win, like they do every time. Public swimming baths are closed but some folks still share pictures of them in private pools. Self-awareness & entitlement gone mad. Illegal PPE contracts, lying now just another government media engagement strategy, double-crossing gaslighting press anti-trust school shootings toxic workplace cancellations enough-is-enough resign riot & resist, or protest, purge, block, mute & report, and that’s just an hour on twitter, which is the only place we can go to be with people, the tiny potential people in our pockets are the realest other people there are and the only safe way to be part of anything.

Our actual friends, a timeline, a whatsapp group, a zoom call. And you know what? I can live with it. Feels shocking to say, but I’ve been alone ever since I can remember & being stuck in a leaking, decaying rental with Josienne is no kind of torture to me. Quite the opposite; I feel a creeping dread when everyone says how much they’re looking forward to getting back in the pub. I’m not. I have no crippling social anxiety, I love to be around people. I’m kind of gregarious, friendly, outgoing & then sometimes, I retreat into some time alone & I like to do that lots. I like the potential of the future, the idea of a live music renaissance when this is all over. Every time you meet a stranger, connect over a song, a smile, stood in a crowd, that’s never gonna be taken for granted again. But we have to get there, it’s the path that scares me. I want us all to be OK, and this thing has victims. I don’t want blood on my hands.

I’ve sat around all year, lazy in clothes I’ve not washed for months, wallowing in lengthy crime documentaries & eating so much I doubt I fit in my old clean clothes anymore & honestly, I could keep doing it. I got lucky & found some IT work with old colleagues that is keeping the lights on. That’s been great & I’m so grateful, but it challenges my own sense of self, my transformation from weak-willed spineless passenger, only useful for consumption of goods & charging electronic devices at airports into what I hoped was someone who made things, a musician, a photographer, a filmmaker. Working 9 – 5 fixing someone else’s computer makes it hard to find the time to be those things. But it isn’t impossible & I have been trying. Of course, it could be far worse. Hundreds of thousands of people have died of this virus & I hope that if you’ve been affected, you have found a way to cope. My doors always open, I have space & time around me, I’m doing ok. Reach out if I can support you.

I’ve been learning lighting techniques for digital & analogue photography & film. Light is a strange beast & I love working with it, learning to tame a thing that has no physical properties, a fundamental component of reality made neither of particles or waves. Actual magic. I built a lighting kit & learned how to use it. I’ve watched more youtube lessons on clamshell techniques than you would believe exist. I know how to do most things I want to. I just need to get out and do it. Josienne bought a car with a large boot that we can fit our whole production kit in. Josienne sometimes lets me practice on her, and I love the results I’m getting. Have a look:

I’m also writing songs again. That’s a nice feeling. Not written a note for a year, then I have 3 or 4 new tunes in a few weeks. It feels good. It’s hard to write songs about anything other than ‘the event’ and I cannot stand songs about ‘the event’. I have nothing useful to contribute to debate about ‘the event’ and so I shall continue to write songs about the same old things I always write songs about. I’m hoping to record them sometime this year. I’m hoping Josienne will help me. I’m hoping some of you will want to listen. And then I’m hoping that I can go play them live somewhere, somehow, for someone, sometime. I’ve no idea how. Will there be gigs? Will anyone want me to play one? Absolutely fuck knows, but I when & if they do, I will. Hope is all we have at times like this, eh?

Photograph by Josienne Clarke

So, I’ll end with an ask. If you’d like to work with me on an album cover, or a music video, or some promo shots / head shots / portraits, then I can help. If you’re an author, actress, musician or anyone else who wants interesting photos to promote what it is you do, then they say I have an eye for it. I’m easy to work with & I’d love to help. I love taking pictures of people.

When we are allowed back in rooms again, it would be my pleasure to work with you on your creative projects. If you book shows for a venue and one day, hope to do it again, bear me in mind. I’d love to play a song or two for you.

That’s all I ask, and in return, I will hope for you, too.

Catching Rays of Light in the Shady Social Sewer

or ‘How I Ended Up With An Oven Chip On My Shoulder’

(thanks, Matt Hill for that excellent subtitle!)

Things are different around here since I accidentally did a viral, as Luke so nicely put it. All sorts of crazy stuff goes off when you get over a few thousand interactions & it’s interesting & difficult & rewarding & maddening & doesn’t happen very often to anyone & has never happened to me before, so I thought I’d share some reflections on it.

TL;DR ~ This meme doesn’t criticise poor people or rich people. It doesn’t say hard work isn’t important or that people shouldn’t strive for success. It says the world is not a meritocracy & makes a little joke parodying the frustrating myth perpetuated by haves that have nots are lazy. They might be lazy, but they might not have access to the same resources & that makes it a bit rich to tell them that. This is what the picture illustrates. Clearly, though, it can be overshared…

It started the day before yesterday when I smiled at this stupid meme I’ve seen a thousand times already of a schoolgirl tuba player honking in her friend’s face. It isn’t the kind of content I have ever shared before, and it isn’t the kind of content I ever intend to share again. Just a bit of fun! A light-hearted dig, a good-natured prod & the affluent and their habit of not recognising their own privilege.

320k likes & 82k shares as of 09:32 on the 28th January. It’s not my picture, I didn’t make it. I just copied it from an advert because it made me laugh.

Let me explain with a story, a ridiculous nth degree example.

Consider the case of Miss Cressida De La Von Beaureguarde, grand-daughter of Sir Cecil Lancelot De La Von Beaureguarde, heiress to an old money dairy packaging fortune. Her family owns a flat in Paris & London & she grew up in a Hertfordshire house with a piano & a cello in the west wing. She studied sculpture at St Martins college & she’s now the lead singer of The Honey Ho’s, signed to Redundancy Records, leading independent record label with an HQ in E1 & a lucrative line of mugs, bags & bookmarks. Punk as fuck, they are. She works in a bar and says it “helps make the rent” which is a thing she doesn’t actually have to pay.

She got there because she had access to resources. That is not to say she isn’t talented, or does not work hard, but she didn’t have to play the skanky school tuba filled with the spit of her enemies because she had one at home. That’s a wall she didn’t have to climb, a problem she didn’t have to overcome. The A&R guy at the record company used to work for a company that her family owns. She went to school with the daughter of the manager of another band on the same label. She’s not sending out CDr demos & hoping someone picks it up & they aren’t playing her demo because she’s so talented because she can just hand it to the right person, wink, and it’ll get a play.

I’ll say it again, she has access to resources. This isn’t a crime. It’s just how that part of society works. So why mention it at all? Because the lie that ‘the world is a meritocracy & hard work is the only thing that matters’ hinders the progress of those with less access to resources. It literally damages the chances of poor people to suggest that rich people ‘just work harder’. That’s not to say that poor people don’t or shouldn’t work hard, because they can & do & might well succeed because of it. It’s simply that rich people saying ‘hard work is all that matters’ undermines the efforts of the poor.

If I had a pound for every time someone said that to me over the past few days, I’d never have to work hard again.

Cressida had a leg-up, and she has a tendency to downplay the part that leg-up played in her success.

This is the problem.

Obviously this is a classist & probably offensive caricature, but such an extreme example serves to illustrate the point – this thing does happen, I’ve seen it, and when you start seeing it, you’ll realise it, too. That new solo singer, who burst out of nowhere with promo pictures by Tom Mitchell, a band featuring members of Bon Iver & reviews in every music magazine, how did they do that? Sheer talent? That is what the industry would have you believe. That’s what the press release says. Sheer talent & hard work is how that 18 year old musician exploded into the scene, check out their sweet new single.

But, no. Sometimes, maybe. But not usually. How did they, then? Money. Access. Contacts. Education. Facilities. Resources. Music lessons at home from an early age. A record collection. Access to instruments, expertise, equipment. You can turn your hand to anything, you just have to want to & there will be an easy path, a way in. The door is already half way open. The cards are stacked, the game is fixed, some people start the monopoly game owning houses on the board already & then hide that from the rest of us.

What Cressida does is not mention any of that. She buys a song & spends 10k of her trust fund on a promotional campaign that a far better artist with less available resources simply couldn’t afford. Imagine that singer from a tower block in Govan who doesn’t have the funds. Their CD is pure original fire and we lost them all because they had no chance, no way to get a leg up, because they had no resources available to them, no cash for the press release, no radio plugger budget, no proper distribution.

Starting. From. Nothing. Is. Harder.

And all the while, Cressida does interviews and says ‘oh, yah, I just always loved music & I just worked really hard through school, learned how to play and then I got this record contract that I don’t even care or want, really…’ and we lap it up like it’s the hypnotic, inspiring truth but it’s not. We all love a rags-to-riches story, so it plays well, it’s tried & tested, a time-addled tale of struggle that leads to triumph, the down-beat, down-trodden ordinary person succeeds against all the odds. And what happens, so often, nowadays, is that this story is appropriated by the wealthy to mask the truth in their poverty-play scenarios where it’s less rags-to-riches & more riches wearing rags.

So, that’s what the tweet says. Most people get it. The tweet ratios are good. 330k likes to 300 replies is positive, means it landed, but that tweet is a fire tower in a tinder-dry forest, a lighting spike on the tallest building; come at me, I said. And my fucking word, they did.

My wife & I have been the target of violent sexual & racial insults, thousands of them. I’ve reported more tweets than I can count & Twitter say none of them contravenes the rules. All those comments were fine. The people who called me a fag & a pathetic, whining white loser, they were all fine. That Josienne is an ugly bitch is no problem. Twitter is alright with that. Just so you know. It is not safe out there, you have to look out for people. Block, a lot. Twitter does not have your back.

‘I was poor, I worked hard & I succeeded, so fuck you!’ is the most common response. I have tried to say to those people that nothing in the picture criticises or contradicts or challenges that, but it rarely works.

‘Spread love, not hate!’ is next. Yeah. Spoken like a person with at least a toe on a property ladder. I’m not stopping anyone from spreading love, go for your life. I do that too. Sorry if I’m not 100% positive, 100% of the time.

‘You’re just jealous of rich people!’ is a popular one. I thought hard about this and I decided that it’s ok to be a bit jealous of people that have things. I wish I just had things. I do have some things. I wish had other things, and I wish I had a double bass in a music room in the house I grew up in. Everyone wants things. Jealousy isn’t shameful. Rich people tell poor people that it’s shameful to feel jealous of the things they have, but they have the things so they don’t have to feel jealous of them. Know what I mean?

‘But hard work WILL help poor people to succeed!’ Of course, it might, yes! Working hard is a good idea, if you want! Nobody is denying that. The picture doesn’t contradict that. It suggests that hard work is not the only factor in success, it’s simply one of the factors, and some people start with more than others. That’s true, whether you like it or not!

‘You’re a white male filmmaker, so you clearly have things!’ Yeah, man. I do. But this isn’t personal. It’s not about me or you. You can attack me personally, undermine this message, if you have a need to do that. I can take it. I know what I am & what I am not. I’m not going to explain my circumstances to anyone I don’t know. It doesn’t change the fact that the thing in the picture happens.

‘You are encouraging victimhood!’ I’m not encouraging anything. The thing in this picture happens. If you wanna undermine it for your own reasons, if you feel like a victim, or if you’re challenged or confused at the image & the sentiment it conveys, then I am sorry, but I cannot explain the nuance of it to everyone. And I have tried, but it is not possible.

‘This image is an excuse to be lazy!’ It’s not. It really isn’t. The phrase itself ‘if you work hard you can achieve anything’ might be 100% true, but said by a person from means to a person without, it is a damaging, insulting, patronising lie. Perspective is important. Some people are just poor by circumstance & need more help than other people, that does not make them worse people.

Those responses are about 20%. The rest is people saying, yeah, this happens to me all the time. I recognise this & it’s helpful to call it out. That the world is a meritocracy is a damaging myth perpetuated by the haves to keep the have nots in their place.

I’ve had so many DMs. A girl in Somalia has broken glasses. A guy wants to show me him wanking. Will I retweet a liberal arts poster? A life coach can help my post get more views. More wanking, more begging. My little pony porn. Who knew that was a thing? I didn’t reply to anything. It was overwhelming & a bit intimidating.

Twitter became unusable after about 10k likes. I had to disable notifications, and that doesn’t stop them all. I replied to most people, up til then. I successfully explained the point to tons of people who didn’t get it, which felt like worthwhile effort. I got yelled at by people who disagreed. The shit that people let out of their mouth at a stranger on the internet! It’s well documented that it happens but damn, it’s fucked up to actually be the target of it. It was too much for one person to handle, after a while. You just have to accept that it’s all out there & you can’t deal with it, so I cherry picked what I would try to explain. I’m not complaining, it’s just such a dark place. Riven with foulness. Shot through with risk & abuse that is judged to be acceptable by the platform.

I’m not out to get anyone. I’m not a venomous anti-rich poisoner. I mean that picture to be a call for honesty. Elon’s parents owned an emerald mine. Bezos’ mum injected $200k into his failing business. They worked hard & had a little help. There’s no reason to be ashamed of that. But if we all believe that they got there without those early handholds, then we’ll all believe we are failing because we haven’t achieved what they have. But that’s not correct. Not everyone has the same access to resources. I don’t think that should be controversial & I don’t think it can be denied. Is it RIGHT? No, but it is the reality of the capitalist world we live in so let’s tell it like it is and ask others to do the same.

I’m not complaining about my lot. Just explaining & calling for honesty. I will be more careful what I share because I don’t want all of these shitty milkshakes in my yard, I’m happy with 50 appreciative likes on a photo & a handful of shares on music & stuff.

Hashtag rant over. Go about your business & I’ll go about mine. Thanks for reading.