Another week rears it's head, as if we were drawing from a deck comprised of the Nine Of Swords and nothing but. I found myself curiously depressed without really knowing why...that is until I realised the extreme volume of next door's television was seeping through the walls with it's permanent command of 'STAY INDOORS' broken only by the news that Sir Keir Starmer had won the Labour party leadership contest and could the dream of socialism please fuck off and CLEAN IT'S HANDS on the way towards STAYING IN. Forever.
I don't want this to be too polarisingly political, if only because it goes against the gist of my point (when I arrive at it). But I will say that I felt a curious sense of relief in being freed from the slim hope that the Establishment could engender the means of it's own downfall. We had, on several occasions, supported the Labour Party in terms of organisational events and fundraisers. Two elections were spent at The Peer Hat: the first was a minor victory, providing the fuel for the dream, that this time, we might just do it. I have strangely fond memories of that night, standing in the dark of the basement, chanting barbarous names and managing successfully to stave off the dread of defeat. Although Corbyn was defeated, the margin between the two parties was drastically narrowed. Sadly, the second election night, hangs heavy in my memory. I don't ever want to witness so many people I love and care about rendered so deflated and broken. Arguments broke out. People sat in corners, unable to drink their beer, searching for answers in the reflection of their craft pints, now perilously luxurious.
The days following, meant having to face the stark reality of the establishment's permanence and all powerful ability to police itself. But it took only a little while to remember, that my cynicism had been hard earned and that maybe, just maybe, I'd wasted valuable years in the hope that good sense would prevail and that people would vote for someone who, at the very least, was less likely to start World War III. And then I remembered the pulsating blue sky and visions that tore across the heavens and that more wisdom could be found in the the black soil, than could ever be heard from the mouths of the demagogues we gifted our precious hope unto (I just used the word 'unto' and I only blinked once). No true picture of reality could ever emerge without a consideration of the ephemeral, the spirit or dare I say it...the soul. I think this applies as much to the ardent Eco Activist Marxist, as it does to the Survival Of The Fittest, Capitalist property investor. Why else are we here, gathered to watch musicians and artists, if not to be dragged willingly into other places, other times, other realities than the one we endure? For the dopamine hit? That's another post.
So thus emancipated from dreadful hope, we are able to move forwards. Hope and politics are permanent bed fellows. It's drummed into us that indeed, 'hope' is this wonderful thing which causes men to survive odds that otherwise they would not....likewise, it's rammed into us repeatedly to use our vote, or lose our vote. Both rely upon outside agency, both requite the surrendering of one's personal responsibility to outside forces, to parent figures that will make the bad people and the bad things go away. A wiser man than me put it best: politics is getting other people to do things you don't want to.
And when we hope, we surrender agency. We throw up our hands and beg to be saved, beg for whatever nightmare is plaguing us, to end..admitting we have no solution, no strength, no fire. But.... we are better than that. We are at the very least, the universe itself, living, breathing...carrying heartbeats that have not stopped beating since the first of us drew breath.
..and maybe more than that. But in this way, the dead can very truly be said to be with us still, linked across the epochs in a literal chain of heartbeats.
We find ourselves now facing the end of an Empire, thrashing, becoming ever more tyrannical as it's grip loosens. Many have lost self respect and dignity, choosing to grasp any straw of materialism as the dream evaporates around them. Some have been lowered into a state of psychopathic ignorance, pulling us down with them, mocking the dream of something better as deluded, confident that the master's reality, is the only reality.
And yet here I am, ranting about something or other, telling you again, that yes, magic is real and Manchester is brimming with it. When I speak of the dead of this city, I speak in hushed and reverent tones. I speak of the thousands of workers torn from their lives on the farms, meat for the belly of Moloch and the first Industrial Revolution. I speak of the children twisting through the chimneys, crawling under Jennies, sobbing in workhouses. I speak of families smashed into nothingness by bombs dropped from the black night. I speak of our named dead, the one's we have raised as champions and saints. You know them as well as I do. All of them, as we approach the other side of this in-between-time, demand better. Demand remediation.
We can give it to them, but we must do the work. There's no getting away from the work.
In order to best survive and prosper, I mentioned in an earlier blog post, that we must redefine the boundaries of the word 'family'. For many of us, that begins with drawing closer to the one's we love and care about, the blood relatives and very close friends (and I mean that in very literal terms, as in really consider your living arrangements). But as a community, The Peer Hat can and should do more. As this chaos began, we made a couple of pledges as to how the venue would adapt to the Corona situation, namely, to act as a swapping point (gumtree-esque), a food bank and a postal service. The situation moved swifter than our ideas and before we knew it, we were confined to our homes and anxiously awaiting (hoping for) an end to our troubles. But these things should not be forgotten. Indeed, they make more sense being implemented after the crisis, than they would have done had we managed to somehow get them off the ground before the shit hit the fan.
Please, what divilry hath thou in mind?
Glad you asked. The thinking behind the food bank ought to be obvious. It makes complete sense, that in a time of great economic upheaval, we ought as a community, to consider the needs of those within it, caught in extreme and dire circumstance. I've seen The Golden Lion in Todmorden accomplish a huge amount for their community...frankly I see no reason whatsoever, that we can't follow in their shining example. As for the idea of the swapping point, it re-introduces a level of barter and trade into our lives that we've not had an organic grasp upon for quite some time. By utilising a notice board, indicating needs and surplus (eg. shit you want to get rid of), we should be able to provide a service that everybody can benefit from. Indeed, we can go some way towards, keeping it in the family.
The postal service, is another breed of beast. It's about taking something mundane and matter of fact and then seeing how it transforms when put into our hands. It's about forming bonds and connections with people in our community and getting to know the routes and ways of our geography, so that people and their homes, become nodes on a network of ley lines (if you will). It's magic and weirdness...the things I've been talking about and will talk about more. Because in the end, this is not analysis, this is living, breathing praxis. We're in the midst of this, not on the outside, cooly commentating. That's why my words occasionally have the ring of madness...we're screaming this at you from the night beyond your door.
Mostly it's about forming lines of connectivity and showing us, the people of Manchester and the denizens of The Peer Hat, that we're incredibly close, that we're not just acquaintances...that we're not just artists or promoters or bartenders...that we're not even 'just' friends. That we are, by necessity, family. How does that sound like, for the beginning of something beautiful?
I feel like I've said as much as I can here...let's move on to what's happening right now, eg. things you've sent me.
• First up, we have An Easter Evening: Kiran Leonard/Cult Party/Tekla/Maelin Brown. One of our favourite bar proppers, no less than the mercurial Brandon, as seen fit to promote an indoor evening of faintly splendid atmospheres and vibrations. He's good at this sort of thing, puts on regular nights at FUEL and occasionally with us. He loves music and is about as well known to us as regulars get. We're so pleased that he's putting in the effort to make something good happen...I'm quite sure that there are others behind this venture, but knowing that Brandon is involved, gives me a good hook to hang this bit on. As for the musicians, I'll leave it to Brandon's event page to do the heavy lifting (yes, we still have to use those).
Kiran Leonard. Yep, that's Andrew Cheetham of Curious Ear fame on the right.
• How about a wee update on the mysterious figure known as Charlie Potatoes, from none other than our man Akin?
It's better this way.
• The first Monday of the month at The Peer Hat, is devoted to Papa Legba, which means it's our semi secret Peer Hat Open Mic Night! Apart from the shadowed presence of one Charlie Potatoes, usually waiting until the event is concluded before deigning to furnish us with a long set, other stars have been thrown up, who as yet, are unknown to the wider public. One such individual is Leonora Hackles , a grievously talented singer song writer whose work I have personally enjoyed on many an occasion. I feel that here sound captures perfectly the vibration of our moment...we look forward to, once again, joining her on those strange and mystic nights. She's just released a couple of tunes on Bandcamp, so have a listen...LINK HERE
Art by Helen Emily Davy
• Sometimes I see a man standing, back to me, fiercely playing his guitar, heedless. Both a warning and a symbol of defiance. I think about him a lot during these strange nights.
More soon. I think we'll take a listen to a Peer Hat production, namely the long awaited third album by The Jungfraus, I'm sure Mike will kill me otherwise (it's still exceedingly fine). Until then, hit the follow button and keep sending me stuff at email@example.com We've a long way to go, but we're up to it.