Reggae music on global heritage list


This 29 November 2018 video says about itself:

Unesco adds Reggae Music to global heritage List – Special mention to Rototom Sunsplash

We are very proud to see our special mention during the Unesco session about the global cultural heritage of Reggae Music! One love and long life to reggae music!

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Reggae has been added to the Unesco list of intangible world heritage. According to the UN organization reggae music once gave a voice to the oppressed class of society, “but now it is played and loved by many people in society, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion”.

When the decision was made at a UN meeting in Mauritius, the Jamaican delegation sang Bob Marley‘s One love. “This is the heart and soul of my country”, the head of the delegation responded. “Reggae is no longer ours alone, it belongs to the whole world now.”

Reggae originated in Jamaica in the 1960s, where African, American and Caribbean influences came together. For the inhabitants of, for example, the capital Kingston, it was a way to express themselves, social criticism and express their faith.

In the years that followed, the music spread all over the world through the big Jamaican community in Britain. Musicians like Peter Tosh, Desmond Dekker and of course Bob Marley broke through internationally.

At the meeting in Mauritius, which lasts until December 1, more than twenty traditions worldwide have been added to the list, such as the Irish ball sport hurling, Austrian avalanche prevention and the Cuban Parrandas party.

Noteworthy is the addition of traditional Korean wrestling to the list; it is the first time that North and South Korea submitted a proposal together. Ssireum (written as ssirum in the north) is a popular pastime in both countries.

The joint application was made possible by the rapprochement that the South Korean president Moon was looking for with the north in recent times.

Beer and paper

The list of intangible heritage is intended to protect traditional crafts, social customs and arts worldwide. Among the 508 traditions from 121 countries, since 2008, for example, the Belgian beer culture, the Day of the Dead in Mexico and Chinese paper-cut. …

In Mauritius, the emergency bell sounded about seven traditions that are threatened with extinction. For example, the Syrian shadow play threatens to disappear due to the civil war and more modern entertainment, there is less and less room for the Maasai’s transition rites in East Africa and traditional Pakistani astronomy suffers from digital alternatives.

Lost Bob Marley recordings restored


This music video says about itself:

‘Jammin’ (Live At One Love Peace Concert)’ by Bob Marley & The Wailers

From the BBC in Britain today:

Lost Bob Marley tapes restored after 40 years in London basement

Lost recordings by Bob Marley found in a damp hotel basement in London after more than 40 years have been restored.

The tapes are the original, high-quality live recordings of the reggae legend’s concerts in London and Paris between 1974 and 1978. Tracks include No Woman No Cry, Jamming and Exodus.

They were at first believed to be ruined beyond repair, largely because of water damage.

Marley, who died in 1981, would have been 72 on Monday.

The tapes were found in a run-down hotel in Kensal Rise, north-west London, where Bob Marley and the Wailers stayed during their European tours in the mid-1970s.

They were discovered when Joe Gatt, a Marley fan and London businessman, took a phone call from a friend, who had found them while doing a building refuse clearance.

From the 13 reel-to-reel analogue master tapes, 10 were fully restored, two were blank and one was beyond repair. Work lasted one year and cost £25,000 ($31,200).

“They were (in an) appalling (condition)… I wasn’t too hopeful,” Martin Nichols, a sound engineer at the White House Studios in the west of England, told the BBC.

The recordings are from concerts at the Lyceum in London (1975), the Hammersmith Odeon (1976), the Rainbow, also in London (1977), and the Pavilion de Paris (1978).

They were recorded on the only mobile 24-track studio vehicle available in the UK then. It was loaned to Bob Marley and the Wailers by the Rolling Stones.

British Rock Against Racism history


This 1978 music video from Britain is called Steel Pulse: Live at Rock Against Racism. Nazis Are No Fun.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Memories of movement that rocked racism to its core

Wednesday 21st December 2016

Reminiscences of RAR: Rocking Against Racism

1976 to 1982

Edited by Roger Huddle and Red Saunders
(Redwords, £15)

FOUR decades on from the birth of Rock Against Racism (RAR) more than 60 organisers, activists and musicians involved in the movement are reunited in this book to share their experiences of a pivotal moment in history.

The late 1970s Britain saw the racist National Front gaining support in elections. Despite their extremist intent, aided by Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher’s inciteful comments in the media, their numerous marches were regularly given police protection.

There was an increase in racist attacks on the streets, some of which claimed people’s lives, and rioting. Police harassment and brutality were rife and massive cuts to the NHS, housing provision and wages added up to a bleak picture.

To counteract the prevailing pessimism, the book’s editor and RAR founder Roger Huddle felt that: “if given a purpose, both black and white would unite against the overriding threat of the nazis.”

A united front — not just of young music fans but teachers, firefighters, miners, bus and rail workers — was born.

Memorably, RAR mobilised 80,000 people in London’s Victoria Park in 1978. “The media say the crowd came for the music. No, they came to march and chant and to rock against the NF and racism,” Huddle recalls.

Gigs across Britain, from punk to reggae to ska to soul, “mashed up the NF in a rub-a-dub style,” and fanzines like Temporary Hoarding came on the scene.

“We had to educate ourselves about the history of racism,” says its co-editor Lucy Toothpaste, who also seized opportunities to open up a dialogue with bands to challenge sexism.

Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha, a teenager in the 1970s, says that RAR gave her the confidence to find a voice and “made me feel part of something bigger.”

The exuberance of the RAR gigs paved the way for the 200,000 who turned up for the Artists Against Apartheid concert on Clapham Common in 1986 and it was a movement that Steel Pulse’s Selwyn Brown sees as seminal.

“Even with the struggles that exist today, we can still proudly say we live in a multicultural society. Rock Against Racism played a major part in achieving that ideal,” he says. This book is invaluable in documenting the experiences of those who helped make that happen.

Rock Against Racism are looking for memorabilia of any kind from 1976-82 for their archival website. If you’ve got anything to donate, please contact Ruth Gregory by email: gregory.ruth@gmail.com

New novel on 1981 British Handsworth riots


This reggae music video says about itself:

Steel PulseHandsworth Revolution

Steel Pulse – Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland 1979, “Montreux Casino

David Hinds – Vocals, Guitar
Basil Glendon Gabbidon – Guitar
Ronald, Ronnie “Stepper” McQueen – Bass Guitar
Selwyn D.”Bumbo” Brown – Keyboards, Vocals
Alphonso “Phonso” Martin – Percussion, Vocals
Steve Nisbett, Stevie “Grizzly” Nesbitt – Drums

By Farhana Shaikh in Britain:

‘I’m interested in exploring how the personal becomes political’

Saturday 15th October 2016

SHARON DUGGAL tells Farhana Shaikh what impelled her to write her first novel, set during the 1981 Handsworth riots

The Handsworth Times is your first novel. How did you go about writing it?

I’d like to say I have a routine and a set process for writing but it would be a big fib.

I am quite unorganised and a bit sporadic as a writer but I do always carry a notebook, jot down ideas as they arise and revisit them later. I have taught myself to write quickly through necessity and I can bang out a shoddy first draft at speed.

This is because I know my time is short due to other commitments, so I have to get whatever is in my head down on paper before it is too late. From there I revise and redraft a lot and I suppose that has organically become my process.

You’ve set your novel in Handsworth in Birmingham but your story has at its heart a Punjabi family. What personal experiences did you draw on?

I grew up in the 1970s and ’80s in a British-Asian family in Handsworth, surrounded by the joint values of traditional Indian culture, family loyalty and an emphasis on hard work as a way of progressing through life and becoming upwardly socially mobile.

However, I was also surrounded by people of diverse cultural backgrounds living in reduced circumstances, struggling to make ends meet, and it soon became apparent that actually, for the working-class communities that I was in the midst of, opportunities for social mobility and aspiration were severely restricted whatever we did.

Having said that, Handsworth was also an extremely lively and exciting place to grow up with the street, doubling as a playground, central to community life.

I come from a big family with lots of siblings and cousins so there was a rich pool of material to draw on for ideas and characters. Like most extended families, stories about legacy and family history get passed down and become fragmented over time but some things, even though you don’t quite know whether they actually happened or not, do stick in the mind and resurface when writing.

The novel’s set in 1981 and, while it’s fiction, it feels as though we’re very much grounded in reality.

How much research did you do about the period and were you surprised by what you uncovered?

The novel started as part of a research degree so I was well placed to do research as part of the process but, rather than heavy academic research, I found what I had to do was a lot of googling to check things like TV listings and pop charts from the time. I do remember certain things about the period but it was a long time ago so I did have to do my homework, especially on the cultural and news references.

What made you want to write about the riots of 1981?

Birmingham in general is under-represented in mainstream literary output. Not enough stories about the city get published and I don’t know why.

But it is hugely interesting, both for its industrial past and how that has shaped its present, including its demography. It must be among the most multicultural places in the world yet, for some reason, publishers are not choosing stories based there.

This, coupled with the political landscape of the 1980s, of which the riots were a consequence, continues to be of interest, not least because our politicians and governments don’t seem to have learnt anything from what happened then.

Unfortunately, as ordinary people get squeezed tighter with welfare cuts, archaic education policies and lack of investment in communities and as racism and xenophobia rise, stoked as political tools by certain politicians and by their media mouthpieces — or vice versa? — manifestations of social unrest like rioting have and could so easily happen again at any point.

We see the struggle within the household juxtaposed against the one happening in the community. What were you interested in exploring by setting the story firmly within the space of domesticity?

I suppose I was interested in exploring how the personal becomes political, especially for the younger female characters, and how the domestic world and the social external world are inextricably linked.

The world beyond the house very much influences how characters develop and this, in turn, begins to transform how they exist alongside each other in the domestic sphere. They each go on a journey of some kind that helps equip them for the challenges of the world beyond the domestic sphere or, in the case of the father Mukesh, a journey that actually contributes to his demise.

I also wanted to convey something of the claustrophobia of living in a large family in a small house and how this can mirror the claustrophobia of living a seemingly fish-bowl like existence in a community like Handsworth.

Plenty of writers have written about the immigration experience but British stories set outside of London still seem few and far between. What were your hopes for the story you wanted to tell?

Like most people, I get frustrated by the stereotypes that continue to get churned out in books, sitcoms, film etc. It seems that there is an acceptable face of multiculturalism that mainstream publishers and other cultural gatekeepers want to perpetuate for some reason — I suspect it is because it is what they perceive as marketable.

The novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a great talk a few years ago where she warned against the danger of a single story as it leads to misunderstanding and stereotypes which are almost always untrue. I couldn’t agree with her more.

We have a long way to go to change the lack of diversity in literary output despite some really good recent interventions.

The saddest thing is that this is at the expense of some very talented writers that don’t fit the mould and at the expense of the reading public who, I am sure, are thirsty for different kinds of stories and voices.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about writing about the past?

Bring the past alive as part of the research by exploring personal accounts, diaries, social histories, film archives and oral testimony.

Luckily, with more recent history, we have a lot more access to this kind of primary source material online, including digital archives housed on library and community sites.

I found old photographs, music videos and news footage particularly helpful to informing some of the more descriptive passages of the book. Visual stimuli really are useful.

The Handsworth Times by Sharon Duggal is published by Bluemoose Books, price £8.99. A longer version of this interview was first published in The Asian Writer, theasianwriter.co.uk.

UB40, other British musicians, support Corbyn


This is a music video of British band UB40, playing Madam Medusa.

Here are the lyrics of Madam Medusa, on Margaret Thatcher, by British band UB40:

Madam Medusa

From the land of shadows
Comes a dreadful sight
Lady with the marble smile
Spirit of the night
See the scourge of innocence
Swinging in her hand
Hear the silent suffering
That echoes through the land

From the tombs of ignorance
Of hate and greed and lies
Through the smoke of sacrifice
Watch her figure rise
The sick the poor the old
Basking in her radiance
Men of blood and gold

In her bloody footsteps
Speculators prance
Men of dreams are praying
For that second chance
Round her vacant features
Gilded serpents dance
Her tree of evil knowledge
Sprouts a special branch

Madam Medusa
Madam Medusa
Madam Medusa

Knock her right down
And then she bounce right back
Knock her right down
And then she bounce right back
She gone off her head
We`ve got to shoot her dead
She gone off her head
We`ve got to shoot her dead
Run for your life before she eat you alive
Run for your life before she eat you alive
Move out of the way cos`s you`re blocking out the day
Move out of the way cos`s you`re blocking out the day

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

UB40 get behind Red Red Corbyn

Tuesday 6th September 2016

POP group UB40 endorsed Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party yesterday.

The band’s endorsement is the latest in a list of artists supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election bid which includes drum and bass group Rudimental, hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks, comedian Francesca Martinez, pop star Lily Allen and Madness’s Suggs.

UB40 guitarist and vocalist Robin Campbell said: “We support Jeremy Corbyn because he is the only one willing to speak up for working people, who have been badly treated by successive governments, including New Labour, in recent decades.

“He is the only leader offering something different to business as usual. Westminster needs big change, and Jeremy is the man to do it.”

The band are famed for their hits Food for Thought, Red Red Wine and Can’t Help Falling in Love.

Mr Corbyn said: “I am delighted to receive the endorsement of UB40, one of the most successful British reggae acts of all time.

“UB40’s story was and remains inspiring; people from across cultures and backgrounds coming together and combining their talents — in a time when prejudice was more prevalent — and creativity to produce music that has endured across decades.”

Jamaica’s first gay pride celebration


This video from England says about itself:

30 June 2013

YO! Blessup, One Love and Real Rasta greetin’s to you, fellow follower of de Lord of Lords, de King of Kings, de most High…Rastafari.

Have ya heard of de latest roots reggae and dancehall sensation to come out of our island home? Well a mi fi tell yu! Rastatroll Battyboy Soundsystem, all di while dem depon di bashment, Lord a Mercy. Dis crew a been buss dancefloors up in Kingston, all over Europe, and Kingston again, ya see me? Big man ting, ya dun know.

Yes, ‘ere me now, Rastatroll Battyboy Soundsystem are a REAL Jamaican soundsystem, proud of our fabulous heritage and our broad, glistening shoulders and thighs. Rastatroll are not ashamed to look a man in his eyes while he heaves his hard muscled body against ours, whisperin’ sweet words inna our ears. Rastatroll do not apologise for quivering like a flower in his arms, groaning and writhing as he pushes forcefully inside, pumping us over and over until de walls shake and de eyes roll back inna dem head. And Rastatroll do not hesitate to share a ganja spliff wit him as we relax pon de beach afterwards, holding each other, and listening to de cool sea breeze tell its stories of the love our forefathers shared, in much de same way we do now.

Star, dis is our way of life. Worn down by centuries of slavery and homophobic subjugation – but not defeated. Slandered by de bloated, imperialist, Western music industry – but not silenced. Attacked by de colonial sheep and demons who spread lies about Jamaica, but never once forgettin’ de dignity of our ancestors who first spread de Rainbow over Kingston.

In de immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, Prophet of Carr: “Jamaica’s a sham…till it can shout out, I am what I am”

PUUUUUUUUUUUULL UUUUUUUP!

Dis video is some bless footage from de Rastatroll stage at London Gay Pride. Nuff respect and REAL RASTA blessings fi all de battybwoys and punnanygyals who came out to hear de Lion‘s roar inna Trafalgar Square. We were truly blessed to walk amongst you.

De 29th June will go down in history as de day Rastatroll assumed its rightful title of as de most respected Reggae soundsystem on de European Gay scene – a day dat will resound through de ages.

Even Babylon were struck down in awe by our fabulousness, begging us to have their photos taken with us and asking for more rewinds.

If yu have any pictures or video, feel free to share dem pon dis page and inspire de next generation of Rastatroll soldiers.

SELASSIE I. Praise be to de Most High, JAH CARRSTAFARI.

Battyboys inna London, set it set it set it.

From Associated Press:

Jamaica to hold its first gay pride celebration in the island’s capital

Weeklong event that was previously almost unthinkable in a Caribbean country long described as the one of the globe’s most hostile places to homosexuality

Tuesday 4 August 2015 21.22 BST

Jamaica’s LGBT community is holding its first gay pride celebration in the island’s capital, a weeklong event that was previously almost unthinkable in a Caribbean country long described as the one of the globe’s most hostile places to homosexuality.

Events in Kingston have included a flash mob gathering in a park, an art exhibit and performances featuring songs and poems by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans.

Jamaican gay rights activists said Tuesday the peaceful events are a clear sign that tolerance for LGBT people is expanding on the island even though stigma is common and longstanding laws criminalizing sex between men remain on the books.

“I think we will look back on this and see it as a turning point because many persons thought that it would never actually happen,” said Latoya Nugent of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, or J-FLAG, the rights group that organized the event.

For years, Jamaica’s gay community lived so far underground that their parties and church services were held in secret locations. Most stuck to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of keeping their sexual orientation hidden to avoid scrutiny or protect loved ones. A number of gay Jamaicans have won asylum overseas.

But while discrimination against gays remains pervasive in many parts of Jamaica and anti-gay violence flares up recurrently, Nugent said there’s an inaccurate perception overseas that homosexuals in Jamaica “can’t even walk on the streets because if you do you are going to be stoned or stabbed to death”.

“What we are seeing these days is more and more LGBT people willing to be visible, to be open, and to be public,” said Nugent, a co-chair of the planning committee for the events called PrideJa. “It’s remarkable.”

Still, some 80 incidents of discrimination, threats, physical attacks, displacement and sexual violence were reported to J-FLAG last year and the high-profile 2013 mob murder of transgender teen Dwayne Jones remains unsolved. There have been reports of targeted sexual assaults of lesbians. In a 2014 report, New York-based Human Rights Watch asserted that LGBT people in Jamaica remain the targets of unchecked violence and are frequently refused housing or employment.

“Yes, there’s still ridicule on the streets and some people look at you and laugh, but it’s not as violent as it was and we will insist on living our lives. There is a certain change going on,” 26-year-old Nas Chin told the Associated Press after dancing at a secure pride event.

Many Jamaicans consider homosexuality to be a perversion from abroad and a newspaper-commissioned poll has suggested there is overwhelming resistance to repealing anti-sodomy laws. In late August, a young Jamaican gay rights activist who brought an unprecedented legal challenge to the anti-sodomy law withdrew his claim after growing fearful about possible violent reprisals.

But Human Rights Watch has noted that there’s been a “groundswell of change” in the way Jamaica is responding to human rights abuses against LGBT people.

In recent days, Kingston’s mayor and the island’s justice minister have even publicly supported the weeklong pride activities, a major change in a nation where politicians once routinely railed against homosexuals and former prime minister Bruce Golding vowed in 2008 to never allow gays in his cabinet.

Curaçao prime minister supports Gay Pride.

Reggae music at Amsterdam May Day demonstration


This video is about the May Day demonstration of the Dutch trade union federation FNV, 1 May 2015, Martin Luther King park in Amsterdam.

This reggae music video was recorded at that demonstration. It shows the Playing For Change Band.

These two videos are the sequels.

This is a 2014 Playing For Change video, of Bob Marley‘s song ‘Get up, stand up‘.

This video is called The Internationale (Jamaican Reggae Version).

Reggae musician Mista Majah P against homophobia


This reggae music video says about itself:

Maverick Mista Majah P “Closet Is Open” LGBT Community Music Video

13 October 2013

Maverick Mista Majah P breaking the taboo in reggae, telling gays that it is OK to be yourself, no more hiding, come out of the closet, be who you are, be happy.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Reggae star’s LGBT rights stand hailed

Friday 10th April 2015

A JAMAICAN singer was hailed by LGBT rights activists yesterday for his lone voice attacking the homophobic “murder music” of his reggae peers through song.

Mista Majah P has relaunched a two-part music video for [his] single Karma, which attacks the homophobic songs of top dancehall singers like Bounty Killer and Buju Banton.

Many artists in the genre are notorious for their anti-gay lyrics and beliefs, with Shabba Ranks infamous for once stating that LGBT people should be crucified.

Majah P’s music turns the tables on them with lyrics warning that they will reap the hate and violence they sow and suggesting that they could be homosexual themselves, uncomfortable with their own sexuality.

His lyrics have also appealed to parents not to reject their LGBT children, spoken out against gay bullying and in support of same-sex marriage and adoption rights.

Human rights lobbyist Peter Tatchell said: “Such lyrics are unprecedented in the hard-man world of Jamaican reggae and dancehall music, where eight of the best known performers have, for over a decade, made homophobic murder music a staple part of their repertoire — variously inciting and glorifying the shooting, burning, hanging and drowning of LGBT people.”

Since releasing his pro-gay music, California-based Majah P has received numerous death threats and has been warned to not return to Jamaica.

He said: “As long as there are homophobic people, hatred, bigotry, death and no equal rights for the LGBT community I will continue to use my talent and speak out about injustice.

“I’m seeking to challenge ignorance and reach out to gay people.”

He is working on [his] third album Gays Belong In Heaven Too.

This music video from Italy says about itself:

For the first time in Italy, reggae music takes a stance against homophobia. Luciano and The Jah Messenjah Band came out in support of gay rights and the 2009 national LGBT Gay Pride to be held in Genova, Italy on 27 June 2009. The concert took place on the international day against homophobia (17 May) drawing a crowd of 3-500 revellers. Special guest: Carrol Thompson.

USA: Hateful Bigot Mike Huckabee Totally Fails At Basic Civics In Long, Idiotic, Anti-Gay Rant: here.

Novel about banks in London, review


This video says about itself:

Graveyards of the Banks – I did it for the money. Book trailer

6 February 2015

Athens Publishers March 2015
Author Nyla Nox
Voice London Euro Nyla
Cover Art Potamus Studios
Music Frank Quickmix Hassas

Graveyards of the Banks by Nyla Nox

‘Graveyards of the Banks’ is a haunting trilogy about Nyla’s journey through the gothic maze of the Most Successful Bank in the Universe in London. A group of jobless humanities graduates abandon all hope and enter the Third Basement for a life on the graveyard shift, a toxic bubble of bitches and bullies where the Bank conducts human experiments to select the Fittest to Rule.

Author Nyla Nox worked on that night shift herself for seven years, treated by the Bank as the lowest of the low, hidden away in the Building Without A Name, right in the heart of one of the world’s most powerful institutions in the City of London. Her voice is still unheard, the story of her hidden tribe is still untold.

Volume 1: I did it for the money.

How does it feel when you spend night after night in an iron chair with no toilet breaks and fear of being fired at the end of your shift? Hundreds of bankers roam the notorious Seventh Floor of the Bank with its filthy kitchen and flea infested carpets, forced to fight each other for survival, deliberately kept in a state of anger and frustration by their superiors who are grooming them for ruthless leadership (and the big money). Their shouting resembles constant gunfire. Predators to a man, and Nyla is their prey. But almost all of them will fail.

How do you live, how do you love?

Can confident Peter, who kisses Nyla in Cobblemaker’s Lane, fulfill his dreams of leaving for a Better World? How far will shift leaders Claire and Ethan, who rule the graveyard with absolute power (no breaks, no backtalk – in fact, no talking at all – and only one ear phone in!) go to prove their supremacy? And what about the inscrutable bank-wide institution of S&I whose representative survey the Center on their elevated platform, forcing Nyla nightly to recite her mistakes in public before she is sent home without pay?

After a life time frittered away in the unprofitable humanities, Nyla needs the money. And as hope and dignity are stripped away, night after gruelling night, a mental fog descends on her. Is there even a world left outside the Most Successful Bank in the Universe?

And how can you find sleep in the day time while the Monsters are Arising?

Author Nyla Nox‘s new book, to be published on 6 March 2015, is called Graveyards of the Banks – I did it for the money. It is the first part of a trilogy. This first book ends with a cliffhanger. A new worker, called Vera, arrives at the bank. She will play a major, dramatic, role in the sequels. Which role exactly, we will only know when the sequels will be published.

This work of fiction (as a statement at the beginning of the book reminds readers) is based on the non-fictional reality of the author’s time working at a United States-owned bank in the City of London; a time which was at least as disastrous for her as the time of British poet Attila the Stockbroker when he had a job as a stockbroker’s clerk.

Nyla studied anthropology, but could not get work in that field. Her bank job is at the graphics department. She is not an official bank employee, but works through a sub-contracting scheme undermining workers’ rights. She had to declare she was not a trade union member; workers who joined unions were sacked immediately.

The ‘graveyards’ in the book’s title refer to the bank building in the book being next to a cemetery. And they refer to Nyla working with furniture arranged in cross-like shapes around her. They also refer to her bank work as a ‘graveyard’ for the hopes she and colleagues had when they studied humanities. They also refer to her working the ‘graveyard shift’; working from midnight-8am. Not good for one’s health; though some other bank workers have even worse work times, which may result in deaths. Nyla Nox did not work without pay; though some bank bosses advocate that. However, if she would get sick, she would get no money at all.

Late in the nineteenth century, another author, Robert Walser from Switzerland, also worked at a bank. Walser is seen as a major influence on Franz Kafka. If one compares Walser’s writing style to Nyla Nox, then the difference is obvious: mainly compact, short sentences in Graveyards of the Banks. Often long, complex sentences in Walser’s works. Walser sometimes has protagonists working at banks in his short stories, but bank work is not the main subject.

The content of Graveyards of the Banks is somewhat reminiscent of Kafka’s The Castle, in its descriptions of labyrinthine hierarchy and bureaucracy; though architecture and technology are 21st century. Hierarchical bureaucracy, reminiscent in some ways of fascism, the author writes; a brand of fascism without swastikas and SS uniforms. Nyla Nox also compares bank work conditions to Mordor, the land of evil in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. ‘They [the top level bureaucrats] were the 1%. We were the 99%’. But, at least in this first book, a 99% without an Occupy Wall Street or other movement to inspire them; most of the time, the oligarchy’s tactics to divide and rule the 99% work.

Lots of talk in the banks’ propaganda about the ‘new economy’, the brave new world where, because of the information technology revolution, there would be no more economic crises etc. etc. Clearly, the novel here describes ideas of some years ago. Echos of the time before the dot.com bubble burst.

The CEO of the bank is ‘Tom’ in New York City. The lower ranking employees never meet him. Like ‘Big Brother’ in George Orwell’s 1984, one might ask whether ‘Tom’ really exists, outside his propaganda e-mails to employees. Also somewhat reminiscent of 1984 in Graveyards of the Banks is Nyla’s love affair (is it a love affair?) with Peter. Like for Winston Smith in 1984 Julia is basically the only person with whom he can talk critically about their environment, Peter is basically the only person to whom Nyla can talk (mainly in the real graveyard just outside the bank) critically about their financial sector jobs.

Conclusion: a really interesting book not only for people interested in literature, or in London city, but also for people interested in how capitalism works. Not how it works as depicted in glossy public relations booklets like the ones Nyla worked at designing; but how it works in practice behind the scenes.

This novel is available here.

A crowdfunding campaign for the book is here.

Now, from literature to another art form: music; but roughly on the same subject.

This music video, recorded in the USA, is by reggae-influenced British punk rock band The Members.

It says about itself:

The Members singing Offshore Banking Business, live at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles.

This clip was taken from the movie “Urgh A Music War“.

The song was written by a band member, “JC” Carroll, who himself then worked at a bank.

The Marco on the Bass blog writes about the song:

What made me a fan of the band as a young and impressionable suburban dwelling reggae and ska fanatic was The Members prophetic and iconic track ‘Offshore Banking Business’. My introduction to the song came during a screening of ‘Urgh – A Music War’ while I was at University in the early 80’s. My initial introduction to the band had been through their big U.S. hit ‘Working Girl’ which was a staple on MTV in 1982. Therefore I was unprepared for the brass and bass-driven skank of the song that featured singer Nicky Tesco toasting “a lesson in home economics.” The song was a searing condemnation of global financial corruption, based on Carroll’s working experience of merchant banking. Bahrain and the Bahamas banned it, the latter’s parliament calling the band “hop heads singing horse manure.” …

The song “Offshore Banking Business” was amazingly prophetic. Tell me about the genesis of this song from the music to the lyrics. It was quite a detailed look at a financial practice very few people were aware of until very recently. What was it like to work with Rico Rodriguez who recorded a fantastic solo for the song?

Afghan war soldiers’ survivors denounce war


This music video from England is called Jimmy Cliff at Glastonbury 2011 singing We Don’t Want Another Vietnam in Afghanistan.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan say their loved ones lost their lives for nothing

“It’s been a total waste of British lives, Afghan lives, American lives,” said the grandmother of a soldier who died in action

Kashmira Gander

Friday 03 October 2014

As David Cameron visited Afghanistan and declared there was no prospect of UK troops returning to fight there, the families of soldiers killed in the conflict say it has all been for nothing.

Speaking to British troops at Camp Bastion, the Prime Minister thanked soldiers and acknowledged that the armed forces had paid a “very high price” for bringing “stability” to the country over the past 13 years.

But bereaved relatives have said that any improvement seen in the country would “come unglued”, and the lives of 400 British soldiers who died in the war have gone to waste.

Joan Humphreys, an outspoken campaigner against the war, lost her grandson in Afghanistan in 2009. The 69-year-old from Dundee said that British forces had not achieved anything in the Middle Eastern country.

Private Kevin Elliott, 24, of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, died alongside Sergeant Stuart Millar, 40, in an explosion while on foot patrol in southern Helmand on August 31 2009.

“In my opinion we should never have been there in the first place. I don’t think we’ve achieved anything, I don’t think there’s an improvement,” she said, and added that while there appears to be an improvement in Kabul, nothing has changed in other areas.

And although families would always be proud of their loved ones, she said many felt they had “died for nothing”.

“I was very proud of my grandson but never proud of him being a soldier, never proud of his involvement in the military. I supported him, of course I did, but I wasn’t happy with him being there.”

She added that the Taliban remain, and Al Qaida is likely to return to the embattled country.

“It’s been a total waste of British lives, Afghan lives, American lives,” she said, and went on to criticise politicians who initiated the war, claiming they have forgotten that Britain is not the power it once was.

“We should just stay back and if the Americans want to go in, let them go ahead, but don’t put our servicemen in there.”

“We should never have been there and when people say it’s a job well done, it’s just unbelievably crass. There’s no consideration for the families.”

Tony Philippson’s Paratrooper son Captain James Philippson died in a firefight in June 2006, making him one of the first British soldiers to die in the conflict. He echoed Mrs Humphrey’s sentiments, and said that while his son wanted to fight in Afghanistan, he never believed the mission would succeed.

“Though my son wouldn’t have missed going there for the world, he didn’t believe for one minute it was either worth doing or that we would succeed,” said Mr Philippson, 73, from St Albans, Hertfordshire.

“But he wouldn’t miss it. He joined the Marines and then the Paras because that was where the action was.

“He knew it was for nothing but I couldn’t stop him from going because he wanted to do some soldiering. It was his decision, he was the one who was willing to take the risk.”

“He didn’t think it was worth doing, just simply because of the cost, of human life and in dollars and pounds.

“What have they achieved?” he asked. “For the moment they think they have achieved a lot, but they haven’t.“

He predicted that the small improvements made in Afghanistan, such as women being able to go to school, would “all come unglued in the end.”

Additional reporting by AP

In fact, schools were already closing down in Afghanistan in 2012. Even the talk about girls being able to go to school is and was basically not reality, but talk. War propagandists’ talk.