Dream Nails will fuck you up!

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Published on thefword.org.uk 29 April 2016

Cassandra Fox has a smashing night at the EP launch of the self-proclaimed “punk witches from hell”, Dream Nails

DREAM NAILS RESIZED
Dream Nails don’t mess about. The band have existed just six months, but are already selling out venues, getting stonking reviews in the national press and are now launching an EP. My gig companion Abi observes that if this was the 1980s and there was still a record industry to speak of, Dream Nails would have “A&R men crawling all over them”. Perhaps it’s just as well for all concerned that there isn’t and they don’t.

These self-proclaimed “punk witches from hell” are staunchly DIY (viz the EP’s title track) and their gig at London’s Shacklewell Arms on 16 April is a glorious celebration of girls doing it for themselves. The event invitation even promises a free vibrator to all who, well, come. Singer, Janey, explains that the (male) supplier of the promised vibrators has failed to deliver, leaving the country without a word, but that we aren’t to be sad: “just do it yourselves!”

Before the music kicks off, I find the band arranging old-school zines on their merchandise table (with a new-school DL code stuck to each one). Making the best use of what’s available is an important theme throughout everything these girls do. Janey explains that in her work for a feminist direct action group supporting victims of domestic violence, she regularly meets women who have been stripped of all self-confidence by their abusers and repeatedly told that they’re useless and stupid, until they believe it themselves. “It’s so important to tell women that they’re even just good enough.”

If you can already play an instrument, this makes things easier, but if you can’t, don’t be discouraged!

Their zine offers tips on really useful everyday things: fixing your own bike, making your own peanut butter and, of course, starting a punk rock band. “If you can already play an instrument, this makes things easier, but if you can’t, don’t be discouraged!”

The evening kicks off to a rocking start with a band whose name makes everyone smile every time it’s said: Yur Mum. Singer Analise’s bluesy vocals interspersed with heart-stopping punk screams lift Akos’ more trad metal guitar: think a pissed-off Suzi Quatro fronting Guns N’ Roses.

Next up is another very new band, Miserable Wretch, who set the joyful punk tone for the rest of the evening perfectly. Front woman, Sara, grabs the room by their ears – alternating sweet singing, visceral yells and a cabaret of energy. Amazing. She’s more X-Ray Spex than X-Ray Spex. The ska beat has everyone dancing and smiling, but the lyrics are pure anger and aggression, channeled in a most positive way. Her targets are the “Eton Stains”, the “SPADs” and, more generally, the patriarchy: “Check your white privilege! Check your male privilege!” she screams. (Her white, male band behind her keep the beat going, eyes to the floor.)

By the time Dream Nails take to the stage, the venue is bursting to the seams with a mostly-female audience, and everyone’s fired up. The girls begin the set with a surprise: their own introductory theme tune. “Dream Nails will fuck you up!” we’re warned, and we know we’re in for something a bit special.

rsz_dream_nails_ii

The band’s youth and inexperience belie their musical abilities: the sound is perfectly tight, polished and technically stunning. Anya plays storming punk guitar, and her complex solos – often the preserve of the ‘man band’ – are delivered with a wry “no bother” smile. Emmett’s bass is understated and funky, locked in tight with new drummer Lucy’s infectiously happy energy. Singer and front-woman, Janey, has a great voice – made all the more beautiful when joined on some songs with harmonies from Anya and Emmett. And all this tied together with a visible sisterly bond and camaraderie on stage. This is what feminism sounds like!

DEEP HEAT, ON YOUR DICK! SRIRACHA, ON YOUR BALLS!

The lyrics continue the evening’s theme of channeling female anger, stoking it and using it for positive action. The EP’s title track, ‘DIY’, takes on anthemic status: “You are strong enough, you are brave enough!” If the riot grrrls of the 1990s were leading women to protest against the patriarchy, these loud women of the ‘teens are inviting us to take direct action.

‘Vagina Police’ is dedicated to the young woman who was recently sentenced to prison in Northern Ireland for having an abortion. “The patriarchy controls every fucking aspect of our choices around having children!” Janey’s stage “chat” is eloquent, rousing and impassioned, having the effect of drawing the audience together in solidarity and raising our collective temperature, before launching into the next powerfully angry anthem. A hot room, packed full of women, jumping up and down and chanting along to “DEEP HEAT, ON YOUR DICK! SRIRACHA, ON YOUR BALLS!” Hats off to the male allies in the room who keep smiling through that.

Covers of Bikini Kill’s ‘Rebel Girl’ and the Divinyl’s ‘I Touch Myself’ are perfect additions to Dream Nails’ own great songs.

The end of the set comes too soon for the thoroughly energised crowd. Janey responds to the cries for more: “We can’t play more, we played all our songs!” This doesn’t assuage the mob though: someone at the back leads a cry of “DIY! DIY!” and the rest of the room soon join in. “Really? You want us to play it again?” The roof is raised with a resounding “YEAH!” and then raised further with a totally pumped up replay of the song, accompanied by massive grins and bouncy antics from the band: the perfect end to a perfect set. Dream Nails finally close with the directive to, “Enjoy the rest of your weekend: fixing your bike, making peanut butter and masturbating!” Damn straight we will!

Dreams Nails’ EP and zine can be purchased here. The band play a fundraiser for anti-domestic violence charities at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden on 14 May 2016. Check out the event here

Photographs by Emily Stephenson. Both shots show Dream Nails vocalist, Janey, onstage, aside Anya on guitar and Lucy on drums, in the background. The group are bathed in blue light and in mid-set.

, 29 April 2016

Cassandra Fox sings and plays in Thee Faction and The Wimmins’ Institute and runs LOUD WOMEN – a DIY collective that champions women in music. She is also a mum of two young boys and works as a freelance editor. She occasionally tweets at @cassieefox

Who needs a publisher?

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Schmublishing

Having worked as an editor of one sort or another at book publishing houses for most of my adult life, it initially came as something of a shock to me that an author might consider selling their book by any means other than getting down on their knees and begging a publishing house to do the honours on their behalf.

But, these days, nearly everyone knows how to publish a book for themselves. And anyone who doesn’t can Google it, click a few times, hand over their credit card details, and before they know it their precious manuscript is being printed and bound by a machine (or, simply, downloaded onto one).

Given the apparent simplicity of self-publishing, and the occasional tales of massive success for self-published authors, it’s easy to see why a lot of would-be authors are deeply sceptical of traditional publishing methods. People are even  questioning why publishing…

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Breastfeeding takes balls

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A few weeks ago, for the very first time, I breastfed my baby in public.

Nothing to trouble the squeamish – I was just sat in a cafe, amongst a clientèle largely made up of other mothers, with a strategically-placed muslin cloth saving my modesty.

For many breastfeeding mothers, no biggy. But, nonetheless, it had taken me 8 weeks to build up the courage to do this. And this is my second child – my first son I breastfed for 6 months, only ever in my own home.

So this was a biggy for me, and I was nervous. Scoping the room for potential peeping Toms/disapprovers/former work colleagues, and arranging my ridiculously complicated clothing to allow the minimum necessary flesh exposure, I took a deep breath, held my baby close, and whipped out a bit of a boob.

To my huge relief, no one (besides my grateful son) noticed. No sirens went off, no hazard lights illuminated, no torch-bearing mobs descending to pull my baby from me and brand a scarlet ‘B’ on my forehead. People drank their coffee, chatted their chats, and may or may not have noticed that I was breastfeeding my baby at the table. I simultaneously patted myself on the back for being brave and doing the thing that had scared me, and kicked myself hard for having been scared in the first place. (Quite a manoeuvre to pull off while breastfeeding a wriggly baby, I can tell you.)

So why had it taken me so long to do what should come naturally? Well, I have many excuses. Here are a few.

Firstly, I’m blessed with an above-average size pair of knockers, which does make public feeding a little more ‘showy’ than those mums whose babies’ heads are bigger than their boobs. Yeah, yeah, I know – “poor me and my lovely big rack”, and as a good friend pointed out while I was hiding indoors feeding my first baby, I often wear tops so plunging I will be displaying far more tit on an evening out than I would have done by public nursing. Somehow this feels different though – choosing to display a selected area of flesh, as opposed to having to get the whole thing out,  and it is, after all, my flesh. My post-pregnancy body feels both unfamiliar and appropriated – revealing intimate parts of it in public makes me uncomfortable.

Secondly, breastfeeding is not an easy thing to do – and our cut-back NHS services don’t help. My introduction to breastfeeding began with 3 days in hospital with my first son, where every few hours a different midwife would come over to see me and give me different advice on how to do it. ‘Lie down.’ ‘Sit up.’ ‘Don’t worry that he’s not latching on yet.’ ‘Hold your baby like a rugby ball.’ ‘Hold your breast like a hamburger.’ ‘Feed your hamburger to your rugby ball.’ (What?) ‘Don’t worry that he’s turning yellow now.’ ‘Lie on your side.’ ‘No, the other side.’ ‘Lie on your back and let him feed himself.’ ‘Don’t worry that he’s asleep all the time.’ ‘Wake him up.’ ‘Blow in his face.’ ‘Tickle his feet.’ ‘Here, let me grab your sore, swollen boobs and shove them into your weak, sleepy baby’s mouth.’ ‘Stop crying.’ A paediatrician eventually intervened and insisted that my by now very yellow and skinny baby was given a formula, much to the disapproval of the midwives, who warned that letting a baby so much as look at a bottle would mean the end of breastfeeding. However, with some food energy inside him, we took our anaemic and sick baby home, and in my own calm bed, away from the conflicting advice and poking gloved fingers, my son and I learned how to breastfeed. I’m quite amazed that we managed to do it at all, let alone continue for a further six months. Every feed was a little victory, and I lovingly devoted hundreds of hours to feeding my son up to be healthy and plump. It was emotional. And I didn’t necessarily want to get emotional in the John Lewis cafe.

There’s also the complicated logistics of holding a big jubbly in the right position so as not to suffocate baby, which is more difficult to attempt on the move. (Too icky for you yet? No? Good.) Plus there’s my over-active milk supply and fast let-down, which means that when my baby breaks off from his feed to have a look round the room, and whacks my nip with his little fist, there’s a good possibility of milk spurting across the cafe in a perfect arc of lactation, straight into someone else’s skinny latte. Now, how’s that for icky?

None of these issues is unsurpassable, although I’ve used all of them as excuses for not feeding in public. But there’s another more seedy issue adding pressure on my reluctance, and that of course is a lifetime of thinking of my boobs as symbols of my sexuality.

Boys at primary pinged my bra straps to embarrass me; barmen served me alcohol with a wink when I pushed my teenage elbows together; workmen hollered that you wouldn’t be getting many of those to the pound; and partners came and went and generally always were ‘boob men’. Thirty-two years of my Devil’s Dumplings being bouncy conductors of both unwelcome and welcomed sexual attention, and suddenly my breasts take on a completely different function as baby feeders. I knew that breast milk is the best food for my babies during the first months of their lives, and I would do anything to keep them healthy, but nonetheless it took me a while to get my head round this new unsexy role.

Which is hardly surprising. Mainstream media is overspilling with big round boobs, in and out of clothes, selling us everything from yoghurt to life insurance. Page 3 has taught a generation that a woman’s tits should be big, firm, and exposed every morning for male titillation. And the internet taught the following generation that those dirty pillows are available to aide sexual gratification 24 hours a day, once your credit card details have popped that bra clasp. That kind of availability clearly isn’t compatible with a 3-hourly newborn feeding regime: so capitalism dictates that breasts become synonymous solely with sex, their nourishing and nurturing function obfuscated by lace and whipped cream. Freud would, I like to imagine, be frothing in his beard over the irony that the source of this sexualisation of breasts is the way we fed as babies, a method that capitalism is killing in favour of lucrative powders. You can see 10 foot titties on billboards across the nation, but images of breastfeeding women are classed by Facebook as ‘obscene’ and removed.

And of course it’s the most vulnerable mothers – the poor ones, the ones living in rural communities, and the young ones – who are most under pressure to live up to live up to capitalism’s glamour myth. And those are, unsurprisingly, the ones spending money (and time) they can ill afford on bottles of formula for their newborns.

I fully appreciate that mine was a very minor step forward for breastfeeding mothers, sat covertly feeding my two month old baby in my child-friendly cafe in my leafy suburb of London. The conflict I feel between my boobs as both sexual and child-nurturing objects (and, let’s not forget, part of MY body) was eased in surroundings that were positive and welcoming to me and my baby. Had I taken that (for me) big step, only to have been scorned by onlookers, leered at or, worst of all, asked to leave the cafe, I imagine this might have sent me right back to hiding behind the curtains in my living room, stuck in the house for weeks on end.

So next time you notice a woman breastfeeding her baby in a cafe, on the bus, in the pub, or anywhere else that her baby has decided is a dining area, know that however confidently she may be acting, it has quite possibly been very difficult for her to do so: breastfeeding takes balls. Give her space, give her respect, and, give her baby the chance to have one more vitamin-packed, bug-fighting, free feed.

And here’s the brilliant Hollie McNish saying this in a much better way:

First published 07/08/2013 on Women’s Views on News

6 Reasons Why Beards Are Brilliant

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When I was a younger woman, I shied away from men with beards. L’homme barbu seemed to my naïve, wastrel self a fuzzy creature of darkness: lurking in the 10 o’clock shadows, hiding all manner of filthy secrets behind his facial furniture, face looking like a 1970s lady’s parts, and smelling faintly of breakfast egg. Dirty.

As a woman matures, however, she inevitably develops a taste for a rainbow of acquired tastes: black olives, red wine, blue cheese, and brown beards. Mmm, beards. Warm, nuzzly, soft, fluffy, tickly, prickly, marshy – beards.

Now I feel that the hirsute gentleman shines a little brighter than his clean-shaven brothers. Not all men are fortunate enough to be able to grow a beard; fewer have the strength of character and perseverance required to maintain and nurture a faceful of full-on fur. I think big bushy beard is the sign of a resilient, defiant, snugly, and damn sexy person.

I’m really quite jealous. I just turned 34, so it’s possible another 36 years before I can start growing a beard of my own. In the meantime, here’s why I think beards are the best.

Beards Mean Love

I might, let’s say, go out on to the street and ask 100 people who are their top three beard-bearers. If I did, I could perhaps find that the majority might say: Father Christmas, Jesus, and him out of the Joy of Sex. And they’d be right, because these three hirsute gentlemen are model representations of the loving nature of the beard. Beardies are givers, not takers.

Beards mean power

My survey might also have returned the following bearded results, in no particular order: Henry VIII, Billy Gibbons, Shakespeare, God. All really quite powerful men, who would be rendered impotent (one might imagine) had they not beards.

Beards mean socialism

With a right wing government spoiling everyone’s fun at the moment, there’s never been a better time for the workers to rise up … and grow some full on Marxist beards. Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front, has got the right idea. He tells us “Beards are politically progressive. All the great revolutionary socialists had a beard. Stalin had a moustache.”

Beards mean success

Sean Connery, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp. All clean-shaven gentlemen during their early acting careers. Now they’ve made it, what better way to show the world they’ve arrived as Kings of the silver screen than by growing fantastic face fur.

Beards mean strength

This year’s Rugby World Cup has seen more beards than ever before (probably), especially in the strongest of all positions: tight-bearded head prop. Martin Castriogiovanni, Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Juan Figallo: all heavyweight beard-bearers.  Special non-prop mention for Adam Kleeburger’s stupdendous face-mane.

Beards mean brains

Confucius, Einstein, Lincoln, Che Guevara, and Doc the Dwarf. Everybody knows that that the brightest boy in the bunch is marked out by good serving of facial hair.

10524223_10152366739210980_1939102245275318839_oPublished 25 March 2013, Sabotage Times

Where to stick your Jubilee bunting

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Bunting-fever has hit the UK, and looks set to rise over the weekend as legions of brainwashed Britons stumble  into the streets to gorge themselves on cupcakes decorated with the sickly colours of the far-right-appropriated union flag, and join with the hobbled masses in thanking a posh old lady for another 60 years of oppression of their class.
“Thanks for the day off!” read the ‘ironic’ crown-bearing t-shirt of a man on the bus yesterday afternoon – although by the looks of him and his down-trodden family he’d probably be better served with bread than circuses.
But it is typically the working classes, and the poorest of them, who do most of the flag-waving around here. The council estate that Baby Face and I live on is riddled with flags, bunting, and plans for street parties. The SureStart nursery that our son, DEG GDH, attends is holding a Jubilee celebration tomorrow, and my innocent baby is going to endure displays of vicarious patriotism from the low-paid staff, many of whom are from nations the Queen’s husband wouldn’t piss on if they were burning.
jubilee

And it makes me fume. I want to rip down the bunting and wrap it round the neck of our parasite Queen, and I want my proletarian neighbours to come to their fucking senses and realise that it’s NOT OK to be grateful to the boot that kicks you on a daily basis, just because you’ve been given a day off the kicking. And I want to spend the long weekend in France – they had the right idea in 1789, and they’re still proving themselves to be one of the few right[left]-thinking nations in Europe.

But I shalln’t. I shall take DEG GDH to nursery tomorrow to play with the other babies, and if someone puts a union flag in his hand it will mean no more to him that the Cardiff RFC flag that Baby Face has put in his bedroom. And we shall go to our friend’s Jubilee BBQ at the weekend and eat sausages with them because they are our friends and we love seeing them. And I shall have a day off work on Tuesday, enjoy whatever the British weather throws at me, practice for the DDR of R’n’B on Thursday, and peacefully refuse to allow the fucking Queen to make me any angrier. Because she certainly doesn’t give a shit what I think about her.
Besides. It’s a day off for a sideshow. She’s a relic from a mediaeval age. She’s not capitalism. Most of the rest of the capitalist world has ditched their versions of her. We’ve hung on to her as a source of diversionary entertainment. So we’ll enjoy the day off, ignore the hereditary principle it venerates, and continue to fight the fight that really matters.

Occupy the crib! The top six protest albums for children

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img_1420Children are revolting, and quite rightly too. Our offspring’s generation will be the first ever that might expect a poorer quality of life than their parents’. Thatcher stole our milk, but Cameron is stealing the whole motherflippin’ cow.

The babies of the revolution need to be armed with the kind of education you aren’t going to find on a Disney sing-a-long-and-buy-the-lunchbox-too CD. They need a soundtrack to the children’s uprising, and it’s going to be a loud one.

I asked some forward-thinking friends what music they might buy for their Conservative friends’ children.

Roy Bailey: Why Does it Have to Be Me? http://www.roybailey.net

Chosen by Tom Mycock – SWP activist, and frontman of storming sub-ska band The Splitters, who is expecting his own little revolutionary in the near future. “Some nonsense songs, some funny, some very moving. I remember my parents had a tape of it in the car and looking back I credit it with making a substantial contribution to my political development, especially the song Everything Possible which encapsulates the hope and optimism every child deserves. Roy is a lifelong Socialist who has been singing politically committed music since the 1960s.” This album was recorded for Bailey’s children and their peers in the 1980s – and he’s now recording albums for his grandchildren and their peers.

The Beatles (White Album) (EMI)

Gavin Martin, the Daily Mirror’s music critic and organiser of Talking Musical Revolutions, suggests seeking out a comprehensive ‘Best of the Beatles’ CD for your crib-bound comrade. “They have three songs called Revolution and their music is immediately elating to kids – and mind expanding too. The Beatles music at its essence is all about spiritual/mental love and aesthetic excellence. Yeah I know Concunts will link arms and sing Hey Jude, but we gotta have faith in new generation to set the Fabs in the Prism of Revolt.” The White Album also includes a song about a monkey – and all good children love a monkey.

Woody Guthrie: Nursery Days (Smithsonian Folkways)

On the birth of our son, we were given this CD by Simon Jones, editor of Third Way magazine. Woody Guthrie is known for his political folk music and guitar bearing the words ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’. Simon tells me, “I guess it’s no surprise that Woody ended up writing so many songs for children — he had 8 of his own. I like that, although he couldn’t ever separate himself from his poilitics, the songs are so unembarrassed and fleshy — full of farty shouty licky kids whose independence and cheekiness are things he wants them to retain. He doesn’t want them to be bullied or sold an identity. It’s just so joyful too. A guy with a horrific backstory who knows all about dust bowl poverty, but with children’s songs that are endlessly optimistic. That’s to say that his sense of revolution wasn’t just in identifying capitalist culprits, but in turning desperation into hope.”
This CD is a delightful collection of chirpy, catchy songs about playing nice with all the other kids, sharing your toys, and having fun. I love this, and so does my baby. I can’t wait for him to be old enough to understand the lyrics he’s starting to copy me singing.

Grace Petrie: Tell Me a Story and Feel Better  (www.gracepetrie.com)

Chosen by comedian Josie Long with an emphatic “Grace Petrie Grace Petrie Grace Petrie! She’s the real deal, a proper protest singer and a gifted pop song writer!” The Leicester-born indie-folkster began writing what The Guardian is now describing as ‘protest music’ after the 2010 election enraged her to write a song called Farewell to Welfare. These two albums are available from her website as a very comradely-priced £10 bundle and, while not strictly aimed at children, her sweet melodies and catchy lyrics are bound to be a hit with little ones as well as big ones.

They Might Be Giants: Here Comes Science (www.theymightbegiants.com)

Neil Scott – Scottish Socialist, blogger, and teacher tells me: “music is a brilliant way to teach children, and a social justice message is one that children are really receptive to because they have a really sharp sense of justice. They Might Be Giants have some brilliant kids songs and albums, and have been known to be quite political, though they are firmly, I fear, in the capitalist camp. They were the first group to set up an online store, which was purely to increase their profits – though I suppose you could say they were ensuring they got the full reward for their labour!” Entrepreneurs they may be, but the knowledge they’re arming our children with is a powerful weapon in the anti-capitalist revolution, so we can forgive them the shopping cart. Here Comes Science offers quirky tunes and lyrical genius such as ‘Photosynthesis does not involve a camera, or a synthesiser, although that’s interesting too’.

Kimya Dawson: Alphabutt (www.kimyadawson.com)

This one’s my choice, and I loved this long before I had a baby. Best known as the female half of the Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson recorded this brilliant children’s album, seemingly, in a garage full of children with instruments. The result is a collection of ridiculously catchy songs which combine toilet humour with an education in being a loving, sharing, playful citizen. This record really does hit all the spots: ‘I Like Bears’ makes my baby giggle; ‘Smoothie’ makes me get all teary with memories of pregnancy; ‘We’re All Animals’ makes the whole family cuddle in a bit closer (especially the cats); and ‘Sunbeams and Some Beans’ ends the album on an overtly anti-capitalist message which fills us with hope. This is the CD we buy all of our friends when they have babies – especially the Conservative ones.



First published 23/11/2011 on www.theefaction.org

Protect us from the hooded youth

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Youth

The destruction across my home of London town over the past few days has broken my heart. The streets I grew up around, and where I’ve always felt so safe, were turned into scenes from a bad zombie film. The department store where I first met Father Christmas was smashed, burned and plundered for the sheer hell of it. My home suddenly seemed insufficiently secure to protect my baby. I am angry as hell at these rioters for making me feel like this about the place I love so much. They’ve shown the very worst extreme of individualist greed, engendered by capitalism, that Babyface discussed far more eloquently yesterday.

They’ve broken our trust in our homes and our neighbours. And, in doing so, they’ve taken the public eye off the issue of what really happened to Mark Duggan, and created a swell of public sympathy for the Met.

But angry as I am with the rioters, my new mother anger hormones are getting worked up even more by the reaction of the average unthinking, knee-jerking, Facebook-ranting punter: calling for the army; calling for a locking-up-and-throwing-away-the-key; calling for more police; calling for ‘tougher measures’; or calling for any other vague and un-thought-through plan to solve a problem they don’t understand.

And I’m hearing a lot of names for these rioters: ‘scum’, ‘chavs’, ‘yobs’, ‘thugs’ etc. All terms which mark these people out as being a different breed to us. Perhaps they’ve always been there, lurking in caves between underground stations, feeding on rats, and biding their time before emerging into the streets to quench their thirst for ‘criminality’. Put like this, it becomes easier to fire a water cannon at them, shoot them with a rubber bullet, or carry any of the more barbaric actions suggested by contributors to the Daily Mail’s website comments section.

Because they’re not like us. They look remarkably like the people who, last week, sat next to us on the bus, queued with us in the supermarket, or worked alongside us in the office. But they’re now different. Throw the book/truncheon/bullet at ‘em. Far easier to do so than to engage with these people, and try and work out why they did this. And it’s certainly a lot easier to do so than to consider whether we might have anything to do with these people feeling like a sub-species.

The rioters who betray their neighbours with violence are, of course, spewed from the same flawed machine that produces the armchair critics who betray their neighbours with dehumanisation.

I certainly don’t have the answers and, like everyone else, I’m just praying that it’s over now and we can sweep up, move on, and learn some lessons. What I am taking from this is the crucial importance that I raise my child to feel included in society. To respect and love his neighbours. To know that we are all in this together. And not to call people names.

DEG GDH Fox - the hooded youth

First published 10/08/2011 on www.theefaction.org

Gender-inclusive Carrot Cake

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Carrot Cake

You may have seen my recent post about my distaste for women in the media who reinforce phallocentric gender stereotypes through an affected over-excitement for cakes. That is of course not to say that I have anything against cakes per se: indeed, the process of lovingly labouring to create, bake and decorate a cake to be enjoyed by the masses is at the heart of any good Marxist’s home economy. All members of Thee Faction enjoy their cake-making, and Babyface in particular has been described as a bit of a master baker in his time. It just so happens, that on this occasion, the female of the band made this lovely carrot cake, and Babyface did the washing up.

Ingredients 1

  • 12½ oz carrots, grated
  • 2 oz pecans, chopped
  • 4 oz self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 4 oz plain wholemeal flour
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 8 fl oz vegetable oil
  • 6 oz soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup

For the icing:

  • 7 oz mascapone cheese
  • 2 oz sifted icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • decorations of your choice

These quantities make a 9” round cake.

  • Sieve together the self-raising flour and the plain flour with the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and bicarbonate of soda. (Tip the bran bits left in the sieve into the mixture.)
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, and syrup. (Heat the spoon first and the syrup will slide off easily.
  • Add this to the dry ingredients and mix until it’s nice and smooth. Stir in the carrots and pecans.
  • Tip the mixture into a greased, lined tin and cook at 160oC for an hour, or until cooked.
  • For the topping, mix the mascapone, icing sugar, and vanilla essence until smooth.
  • Allow the cake to cool and then add the topping. Decorate in a manner condusive to equality for all. Here, I’ve chosen halved pecans.

1 Loathe as I am to dictate measurements, accuracy of proportion is of course key to the success of a good cake. In this case, I have reclaimed ‘Imperial’ measurements from the Imperialist classes for the use of this system-bashing cake.

First published 22/08/2010 on www.theefaction.org

Ebbw Vale Lamb One-Pot Kurry

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kurry

Multi-pot curries are bourgeois. Free your meal from an elitist saucepan hegemony, and save time on washing up. Win-win.

Ingredients

  • Onions, chopped
  • Garlic, crushed
  • Chillis, chopped
  • Garam Masala
  • Chilli powder
  • Crushed chillis
  • Ground cumin
  • Cardamom pods
  • Curry powder
  • Chestnut mushrooms, halved
  • Leftover roast shoulder of Ebbw Vale lamb, diced
  • Basmati rice
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Mango chutney
  • Stock, preferably homemade from the bones of the lamb

Measurements: each according to their need.
Serves: the people.

  • Take one large heavy-based pot and prepare it for some thoroughly dignified labour.
  • Fry the onion, garlic, and chilli in plenty of oil, until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the powders and the mushrooms, and fry some more, until the air of your kitchen is thick with spicy fog.
  • Add the lamb and the rice, and stir vigorously. Add the tomatoes, chutney and stock.
  • Put a lid on the pan, and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked, or the proletariat unites and throws off the yoke of the bourgeoisie – whichever comes first.

First published 04/08/2010 on www.theefaction.org

The Frittata of Social Inclusion

Standard

Frittata

The members of Thee Faction have differing views on many things: the Situationist International; Entryism; and the eating of flesh. Dai Nasty and Billy Brentford are both strident vegetarians who would not dream of harming their fellow creatures, whereas the rest of us feel no shame in rewarding our hard-working bodies with succulent meals of tasty free-range meat.

This frittata brings us together on this pertinent issue, as it can be prepared with or without bacon, ensuring that everyone is included.

Ingredients

  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped celery
  • Crushed garlic
  • Chopped chillis
  • Sliced bacon (optional)
  • Chopped red pepper
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Fresh parsley
  • Pre-boiled new potatoes
  • Eggs beaten with a splash of water
  • Raw spinach

Measurements: each according to their need.
Serves: the people.

  • In a heavy-based, oven-proof frying pan, fry the onions, celery, garlic, chilli, and (if using) bacon, for a little while.
  • Add the pepper, mushroom, and parsley, and fry some more.
  • Remove from the heat and add the potatoes, eggs and spinach. Stir, shake, or even flip the pan – which ever way you feel most appropriately ensures a healthy diversity within your pan.
  • Place the pan in a pre-heated oven at around 180C or mark 5 for around 25 minutes, or until the egg is properly set and the top of the frittata nicely browned.
  • Serve with a socially-inclusive salad.

First published 27/07/2010 on www.theefaction.org