Recently, at the BBC Proms, the National Youth Orchestra performed a piece by the composer and electronic musician Anna Meredith.
The name of the piece is HandsFree
. It's not your typical Proms fare. The musicians put down their instruments and commence twelve-odd minutes of clapping, stomping, shuffling, shouts and even singing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
In 2008 the actor Rupert Everett hosted (seemingly from his apartment) a rather strange documentary: The Victorian Sex Explorer
( 2 3 4 5
), an attempt to follow in the footsteps of famed Explorer, translator, and author Sir Richard Burton
and convince us of Sir Burton's passion for sexual experimentation while laying in lots of bathhouses and visiting brothels. [more inside]
Discovering the strange beauty of the utterly everyday, Simon Sharville's Economy Custard
is quotidian voyeurism at its gentlest. It certainly "...sits uncomfortably close to the boring", in a wonderful way. [more inside]
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z
signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's
bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later
, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend.
From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London
(set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's
brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings"
) to the frenzied chaos of its climax
, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale
of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count
And while sequel 28 Weeks Later
with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions
failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences
in modern horror), and 28 Months
looks increasingly unlikely
, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records
is a radio series on BBC written and narrated by Stuart Maconie. Each episode focuses on one particular pop song and tells the story of the song as well as what social trends it mirrored, for instance the episode on Telstar by The Tornadoes
focuses on the technological progress, especially in space travel and music, and the story of songwriter and record producer Joe Meek. 25 episodes have been broadcast
, including ones on Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and 21st Century Britain
, Cornershop's Brimful of Asha and the British-Asian experience
, and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'aime and sex
. There are 25 more to come
. There is also a blog
and profiles of the songs already discussed
. [Previously on MeFi]
Conservative MPs have drawn up an “Alternative Queen’s Speech” with radical policies
- "The 42 bills also include legislation to scrap wind farm subsidies, end the ringfence for foreign aid spending and rename the late August Bank Holiday “Margaret Thatcher Day”.
Britain’s relationship with Europe features prominently in the action plan, with draft laws setting out how the UK would leave the European Union and a Bill to prevent Bulgarians and Romanians winning new rights to work, live and claim benefits here from next year.
All of the proposals were laid before the House of Commons last night after the Tory backbenchers hijacked an obscure Parliamentary procedure by camping out in Westminster for four successive nights." [more inside]
In 1985, McDonalds sued left-wing activists in the UK for libel over a pamphlet accusing the multinational food giant of environmental destruction, abuses of workers' rights and selling junk food. The ensuing trial became the longest-running civil trial in English history, ending in 1997 in a Pyrrhic victory for McDonalds, who had lost millions of pounds in pursuing the case, and won £40,000 for their trouble. (The judgment was later overturned in the European Court of Human Rights.) Now, it has been revealed that the leaflet in question had been co-written by an undercover police officer assigned to infiltrate Greenpeace
. The officer in question, Bob Lambert, had previously spent years infiltrating environmental groups, even fathering children with activists
before disappearing. [more inside]
London record label Black Butter
have been spearheading
a new wave of UK dance music. [more inside]
"The government’s plans for deficit reduction
have increasingly stark implications for public spending as their deadline draws nearer, according to new Resolution Foundation analysis.
While overall expenditure is set to remain relatively flat in 2015-16 (the period covered by the latest Spending Review) the pace of reduction in total government spending is due to increase significantly in the two subsequent year"
Dead men tell some tales
- a visit to the Hellfire Caves
, home of one of the most infamous Hellfire Clubs
Realm of Chaos 80s
- an 80s Games Workshop blog.
Recession prompted 'unprecedented' fall in wages -
Wages have fallen more in real terms in the current economic downturn than ever before, according to a report.
On top of the rising cost of living, a third of workers who stayed in the same job saw a wage cut or freeze between 2010 and 2011, said the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
"The falls in nominal wages... during this recession are unprecedented," said Claire Crawford from the IFS.
Labour said the figures showed there was a "living-standards crisis".
Netflix House of Cards
series starring Kevin Spacey was a remake of a very popular British political thriller of the same name that aired during the 90's. The show begins
by tracking the dark political machinations and skullduggery of an urbane Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, who is conspiring to become Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher's resignation. [more inside]
The Spectator Archive
today, with searchable, browsable
content of the weekly U.K. (conservative-leaning) magazine, from 1828 through 2008. [more inside]
was a 1970s English punk rock group
from south London that once had Chrissie Hynde, Kirsty McColl
and Captain Sensible within its ranks
had a mere three singles and
one album between 1974 and 1978, but in 2013 one Fred Burns is making a film
to restore this punk footnote to prominence. There is also a Myspace
made against gay marriage in the House of Lords, England, during debate of the Governments proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
Who owns Marvelman? Part I
and part II
- the concluding chapters of Padraig O Mealoid's epic 16 part history
of one of comic's most disputed characters. meanwhile another hole in comics history
is about to be filled in as Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell's Zenith finally gets collected in full
"Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics suggest residents of this city have the lowest household disposable income of anywhere in the UK.
The average income per individual householder after tax, but including benefits, is £16,034 a year. In Nottingham it is £10,834.
That may be only one measure of poverty, but at a time when there has been a sustained assault on living standards for everyone it is surely a difficult extreme. "
"Britain's poor were absolutely and relatively better off until Thatcher was elected in 1979.
Since then, the bottom half of society is worse off than it was in 1983." "In 1945, when Thatcher turned 20, the richest 0.01 per cent people in Britain received 123 times the mean national average income. By the time she turned 40 in 1965 that had halved to 62 times, and the year before she came to power, in 1978, it was at its minimum: just 28 times the average income."
You may remember
the 7.5 hour documentary released in 2009 which allowed you to travel the journey between Bergen to Oslo from the comfort of your home.
If your wanderlust was fired up watching that video, then you may enjoy some of the other trips you can take.
From the innocents at the New York Times: how to attend a Premier League match
Ha-Joon Chang on why separating politics from economic policies is bad for democracy. What free-market economists are not telling us is that the politics they want to get rid of are none other than those of democracy itself. When they say we need to insulate economic policies from politics, they are in effect advocating the castration of democracy.
What Is Going on With the Accents in Game of Thrones?
Gawker beanplates the accents used on-screen by the actors in Game of Thrones.
Like most fantasy television shows, Game of Thrones is largely populated by English actors speaking with English accents. This is because Americans are still unconvinced that England is a real country, and associate English speech patterns with kings and magic and sorcery and frequent stabbings. [more inside]
Dr. Brian May
, PhD FRAS
, recently retired Chancellor
, winner of The RPS' Saxby Award
for achievements in the field of stereoscopic photography, distinguished author
, film producer
, and occasional musician
has been quite busy lately trying to prevent a sweeping cull of the British badger population
. His efforts have been surprisingly successful. The overwhelming response to his government petition
led to a parliamentary debate
, where MPs overwhelmingly rejected the cull in a non-binding vote. The government has attempted to press forward with the cull, but has faced significant resistance from scientists, naturalists, and concerned citizens
that have led to implementation delays
. The movement recently got the attention of Weebl
, who has recorded
a rough cut of a new song with Brian May called "Save the Badger Badger Badger"
which was recently used in a flash mob protest
. The final version will include additional vocals
by Brian Blessed
is a fan film
based on a minor character from the comic 2000AD
's story Judge Dredd
Mau Mau to Midnapore: Confronting the brutality of empire There are certainly some Britons, including academics, journalists and human rights lawyers, who are aware of the realities of colonialism. However, in the society as a whole and in the media in the UK there are still far too many who seem strangely reluctant, even after so many decades after the end of the British empire, to come to terms with the true nature of colonialism or learn from the perspective of former subjects who had rebelled against it.
Which? poll says many 'borrowing money for food' -
"One in five UK households borrowed money or used savings to cover food costs in April, a Which? survey says.
It suggests the equivalent of five million households used credit cards, overdrafts or savings to buy food." [BBC]
Since time immemorial, people have tried to predict the future. In the second half of the 20th century, these efforts grew more ambitious and sophisticated. Improvements in computational power, data gathering, and analysis were all put to work to try to lift the veil on the future.
But the last decade has not been kind to futurology. Bankers' and insurers' forecasts of risk turned out to be drastically wrong, torpedoing the financial system and ushering in a long stagnation. Politicians' visions of long-term stable economic growth evaporated. Perhaps relatedly, scathing critiques of our ability to foresee the future rose to the top of bestseller lists.
In this newly self-conscious mood, Nesta funded research that tries to get under the surface of different ways of talking about the future. This paper leans on that research, defending some forms of futurology.
Accompanying Guardian post
on uncertainty being the only certainty.
"More than a million people
with interest-only mortgages face a financial crunch when they have to pay them off, a watchdog is warning.
Some 2.6 million UK householders have the mortgages but the Financial Conduct Authority said estimates suggested that nearly half would not have savings or other funds to cover the final bill.
The average shortfall is £71,000, according to FCA research."
The Ministry Of Food was a British government ministerial posts separated from that of the Minister of Agriculture. A major task of the latter office was to oversee rationing in the United Kingdom arising out of World War II. They made many newsreels and PSAs to inform the citizenry how to use the food rationing system: Rationing is introduced in 1939 The new ration books are coming! Cod Liver Oil Here's spud in your eye Don't cut that bread! DON'T WASTE FOOD! Dig For Victory! Milk is here!
In addition, some short films instructed people in how to best use the new rationing system : Two Cooks And A Cabbage How To Make Tea Rabbit Pie Buying black market meat: a Partner in CRIME A US view explaining UK rationing to the States.
The UK Peace Index [PDF]
, a new publication from The Institute for Economics and Peace
(IEP), has produced a startling new headline: against public perceptions of crime
, both crime and homicide have fallen significantly. The fall over the last decade has resulted in the UK homicide rate now being roughly equivalent to that of the Western European average, and it is now at its lowest level since 1978. [more inside]
This St. George's Day sees news of the next attempt
to redress Britain's superhero shortage: Englishman
, who looks like Iron Man crossed with a mediaeval crusader.
The series promises “brand new, quintessentially English characters, including Greenbelt and Dry Stone Wall”. [more inside]
"This video has been dramatically enhanced in quality, using modern video editing tools. The film has been motion stabilized and the speed has been slowed down to correct speed (from 18 fps to 24 fps) using special frame interpolation software that re-creates missing frames." Watch corrected and cleaned footage of circa 1900s London and Cork (5 min 35 sec)
How we made Knightmare
The creator and the dungeon master of the 1980s fantasy game show revisit dodgy technology and terrified children. The wikipedia entry
explains more. Knightmare mentioned previously on mefi
More than five years after it was first announced, it looks like beloved British 1970s/80s science-fiction show Blake's 7
) is coming back to television. The story about the innocent freedom fighter framed for sex crimes against children and his criminal compatriots fighting the Authoritarian Federation
is getting a fresh lick of paint at SyFy. It will be directed by Casino Royale and Green Lantern director Martin Campbell. But should it return
? [more inside]
London mayor (and oft talked-up potential future PM) Boris Johnson is demolished
in a slow motion bicycle crash of an interview. (The whole thing
Popular transgender Lancashire teacher Lucy Meadows was found dead last Tuesday.
Blame has quickly fallen on an inflammatory Daily Mail article by Richard Littlejohn
, which has lead to a petition to sack the writer
. Is this fair? Jane Fae at the New Statesman says it doesn't matter
, while the New Scostsman calls it 'monstering
'. The f word blog
and the Guardian
have longer articles on the case and the issues surrounding it.
British horror writer James Herbert
of the modern classic of the genre The Rats
among many others. [more inside]
is a collaborative collection of more than 3,000 royalty-free
photos from World War II's Battle of Normandy and its aftermath. (Photos date from June 6 to late August 1944). The main link goes to the photostream. You can also peruse sets
, which include 2700+ images from the US