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DIARY Power in a union of hearts and minds

Lockdown continues, but there's strength to be drawn from radical cultural alternatives online

THREE months ago, the idea of performing in front of a computer would have been more than improbable to me but now it’s a commonplace.

My words have been flying across social media in written form for a long time but, having learned the basics of live streaming, my physical presence is there too these days.

We're in the middle of an unprecedented and, to a large degree, totally avoidable catastrophe of death, suffering and economic hardship. The architect of this ghastly debacle — per capita the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the world — receives the backing of his puppet, who happens to be Prime Minister of this country.

Cummings plays the King’s Gambit on television and it is accepted. He’s a chess player: he knows that kings are sacrosanct and only pawns are sacrificed. The pawns are us.

I reflect on and rage about this in my writings and broadcasts at and, of course, in the pages of the Star. Myself and my fellow radical culture workers are doing all we can to provide an informative, entertaining and life-affirming response to it all.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed but I remain defiant and as active as it is possible to be in front of a computer screen at home in a Sussex industrial port town.

When the warm weather comes, the festival season offers many of us a real boost: solidarity, strength, that feeling of being among friends and comrades which human beings, especially socialists, crave by our very nature. No festivals now, just the online alternatives.

The loss of that feeling really hit me last weekend. I was supposed to be performing at Bearded Theory and Strummercamp but had to settle for doing spots at the online versions and watching the other acts on my screen, washed down with more ale than I have been imbibing for a while.

I’m a social drinker: I’ve never been one for sitting at home getting sloshed, it’s something I do while meeting friends and doing gigs. I’m drinking half what I used to and have lost a load of weight. No solace though.

A week today we were supposed to be celebrating our 25th Glastonwick, the music/beer festival I have co-organised with beer guru Alex Hall here in my native West Sussex. It now takes place online, with more than 20 poets, songwriters and bands organised enough to play on Zoom taking part.

If you’d like to be there on June 6, please join our group page at

Donations will go to cover the cancellation costs of the festival and any surplus to Field Me, a fund set up by brilliant festival promoter Gail Something-Else to help struggling musicians deprived of their normal income.

And on Friday June12, I’ll be joining the excellent Ian Prowse and many others at a benefit for Moston Miners’ Arts and Community Centre in Manchester. It’s not just performers whose livelihoods are threatened, it’s the venues we perform in, and we are all doing what we can to defend and support them. Save The Miners is at

One, just one, very positive thing has come out of all this for me. To my shame, I had never given enough consideration to the fact that there are quite a few people who enjoy my stuff but for reason of disability or simple personal choice don’t go to live gigs.

I have had quite a few messages from people who had never seen me perform live and were pleased they finally got to do so: having learned the technology I shall continue to do internet performances once this nightmare is over.

I wish you all safety and as much enjoyment of life as is possible right now. Please don’t drive to Barnard Castle, it’s really not a good idea.



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