Murder and shagging…

…are what all folk songs are usually about, but topics for beautiful melodies can also include manure and cabbages, or so I learnt recently.

On Friday, I had the great pleasure of hearing Julie Fowlis and her band play at the Bury Met. The support act is best forgotten – suffice to say I was delighted when they were told they were “out of time” about twenty minutes into their set. I don’t think they’ll be invited back to the Met in a hurry (at least, I fervently hope not).

The main act, though, had to be heard to be believed – Ms. Fowlis’ beguiling Gaelic vocals being accompanied by Eamon Doorley on bouzouki, Duncan Chisholm on fiddle and Tony Byrne on guitar.

This tour is promoting Julie’s second album, Cuilidh. Like her first album (Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe), Julie has researched and selected traditional tunes from her native Uist, giving a glimpse of otherwise obscure works from an oral tradition to a wide (and ever-growing, with all her great reviews) audience. The artists worked so very well together – they weren’t just doing a gig, they were having fun, clearly enjoying every minute. They had apparently had trouble on the roads getting up here from their London gig the previous day, arriving at about a quarter to eight after a seven-hour journey – goodness knows how they managed to sound so fresh and alert, then! I shall be going for a second helping when they play in Sale in a week or so.

Two tracks from each of her albums can be heard on Julie’s MySpace page.

And yes, apparently some of the songs sung during the concert, while sounding romantic, were in fact about spreading manure on the garden and other such prosaic activities.

Hurrah for the Lords!

Yes! Thank goodness for them all – each and every unelected one of them.

Manchester does not (yet) get a super-casino.

A Manchester MP – Tony Lloyd, claims that voting against the casino would be a “vote against Manchester”. I beg to disagree. Do we not already have enough knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing morons infesting the place? Why try and attract more?

“My city and my constituency is [sic] still one of the poorest parts of this country”, says the MP. So of course, I suppose he believes the casino would make people richer? I’m sure it would make a hell of a lot of money, but it would all be taken from the pockets of his constituents – not put into them.

I applaud the decision of the Lords. If the so-called super-casino were ever to become a reality, Tony Lloyd’s constituents and city would be all the poorer – culturally, financially and spiritually.

Every little hurts

I am proud to be able to say that I am no longer a patron of Tesco’s supermarkets. The many reasons why this is an excellent idea are detailed at Tescopoly. I was increasingly fed up with all the packaging, the terrible effects on British farming and dairies, and the fact that so much produce is flown in from far and wide.

Why buy New Zealand lamb? Really – what’s the point? I buy superb quality lamb born and reared not 20 miles from my front door. Why buy apples imported from Italy, the USA and from all other points of the compass, when our own traditional apple growing businesses should be supported?

I now exclusively shop at independent, small farming businesses, markets and cooperatives, and I urge everyone else to do the same – you may be surprised at the lack of extra expense. Now I’m doing better “home economics” with buying a big joint of meat and making it last for the best part of a week (including the bones, for stock), my grocery bill has actually gone down. Fresh veg from local producers, in particular, is both better and cheaper than the insipid, over-packaged supermarket veg (the varieties of which are chosen for their longevity on the shelf rather than for any considerations of taste).

I will doubtless revisit this topic, but for the time being, here are some recommendations for food shopping in the Manchester area:

Unicorn Grocery – a cooperative in Chorlton (no meat or dairy products, though)
Bury Market
N. Knowles and Son – butchers

Finding good quality sources for food is a piece of cake – look at the Big Barn website for a searchable database.

Going postal

Predictably enough, money continues to rule the roost in our public “services”. Royal Mail want to close 10,000 (yes – ten thousand) post offices.

The Royal Mail has told the government it could shut 10,000 outlets and still run a viable commercial service.

What do they mean by this? Do they mean they will still be able to provide just enough of a service to say that this country still has some semblance of a postal system? Or is “viable” here meant to mean that those at the top of the postal tree continue to get earn massive salaries? If the post office is in such dire financial straits that such cutbacks are necessary, why is Adam Crozier, the Royal Mail chief, on a salary of

Sorry about this – I just had to share

A man was sitting at home one evening, when the doorbell rang. When he answered the door, a 6 foot tall cockroach was standing there. The cockroach immediately punched him between the eyes and scampered off.

The next evening, the man was sitting at home when the doorbell rang again. When he answered the door, the cockroach was there again. This time, it punched him, kicked him and karate chopped him before running away.

The third evening, the man was sitting at home when the doorbell rang. When he answered the door, the cockroach was there yet again. It leapt at him and stabbed him several times before running off. The gravely injured man managed to crawl to the telephone and summoned an ambulance. He was rushed to intensive care, where they saved his life. The next morning, the doctor was doing his rounds. He asked the man what happened, so the man explained about the 6 foot cockroach’s attacks, culminating in the near fatal stabbing.

The doctor thought for a moment and said,

“Yes, there’s a nasty bug going around.”

Me & Jerry

Me & Jerry, originally uploaded by Jez.

I joined in with the counter-protest against the religious zealots at the Manchester first night of the Jerry Springer Opera. There were perhaps half a dozen Christian protestors, and 20 or so of us counter-protestors. All went swimmingly, although we were initially concerned that no Xtians would turn up at all! Everything was high-spirited, with songs sung and chants chanted. The theatregoers all laughed and shouted their encouragement, even though the few zealots were telling them that they would burn in hell (I’m not making it up – that’s what some of the punters told us).