This was the week the sun came out, some shops reopened and... it’s incumbent upon me to remind you that should you be venturing out there, it’s so important that you look your best. And just who keeps the Champ looking great?
Of course, Damian Marquez the Tailor. (This video created by Jason, featuring a brilliant performance from... Jason, is my tip of the hat to tailors and June Brides everywhere...)
That’s this week’s joy dispensed with, a little more later maybe, but Now This....
Morning, just after parking the car.
I'm thinking that the opening fiddled notes of Esther Rose’s new LP, How Many Times, those four uplifting notes with their portentous promise, would make anyone feel great...
I found myself on the phone, standing outside of the door of the office of the orthodontist my daughter had been referred to in Bearwood, in 2017, talking to someone inside about the four year waiting list for NHS treatment for a child. You’re lucky, was the inference, I was told, if my daughter had joined the waiting list today, the wait would be 5 years.
“How many private patients have been seen while keeping a child waiting for dental treatment?” I asked. I simply wanted to know why they hadn’t even monitored a child with an annual check up to see what’s happening in her mouth. In years.
Her actual excellent dentist had tried earlier in the week to refer her to someplace else, but that is not allowed under the current system, once a referral has been made. Even when a referral leads really, to a de facto a dead end.
Who is going pick up on this story which is repeated everyday, in every town, everywhere? Evan on PM, Emma on Women’s Hour? The situation with dental health in the UK is so fucking useless, hopeless, it would take a Stacey Dooley turning her attention away from Who’s House Is It Anyway, to Whose Health Is It Anyway? Taking as much skill as Tipping Point, Stacey could be a real health czar, each day a winner could get to see the appropriate medical practitioner. Seriously Stacey, there is bad water in Bangladesh but there are bad teeth in Bearwood. And it’s going to take someone who won’t take a some Sleazy Tory™ politician’s “We’ve spent Xmillion on our children’s teeth.” For an answer. What to do when the system isn’t working? I mean, each week people shovel billions of pounds of VAT taxes into various shop checkouts online and off, send off direct debits for council tax payments which rise much faster than inflation, national insurance, direct taxation only to get in return, poorer outcomes in terms of health and social services.
I don’t want to get too deeply into my father being told that the hospital would have him out of there in a week, oh they sure did, in his box. I’m not bitter about that, no! But down at the local hospital they're still at it. I met my friend today on a government mandated walk (as Frankie Boyle first called it). Her dad who has some poor health going on, not so poor that he can’t raise a stink about someone misappropriating his manure over at his allotment, popped into hospital for some health checks and was kept in overnight and had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order placed on his file. This after his heart medication was withdrawn despite his own GP saying that should never happen. Nightmare-ish. Apparently he didn’t hear the question clearly, he has poor hearing. No sensitivity training for that…
Is it any wonder people give up and just watch East Enders. I don’t know if there’s ever been a healthcare waiting list on that show. So if you stay there, you'll never know.
Meanwhile, a while ago I acquired another guitar. Known colloquially as a Gretsch Beast, the guitar most famously played by Kim Shattuck of The Muffs, a band I am amazed by. You’ll know first of all I had to loan out a guitar, the really lovely Jaguar that I play on The Hang Ups which’ll most likely be on the new Ancient Champion LP 'Music Inspired by the Museumgoer of Baton Rouge, Louisiana' - arriving on June 4th. A date for your diary. I had to loan out the Jaguar to make space for the Beast which is a Gretch BST1000. Guitar nerds need to know that these Beasts and their model variants were made only for a couple of years from 1979-81 in a Gretsch plant in Arkansas.
Anyway, anyway, I’d gotten hold of the Beast in Northamptonshire a while ago, but lockdown meant I couldn’t fetch it. So… One sunny day off we went, via the orthodontist's doorway, and the Doc Marten outlet shop in Wollaston, to fetch the Beast back to Bearwood and oh man, can it roar… Here is the Beast having a go at Ron & Nancy's 'Big Wheels'.
I love this guitar. So light, so loud. Amplifier set to 1/4watt output. Thanks to Arran, previous keeper in Northamptonshire, who told me he'd had one of the pick ups rewound but all else is original. And thanks too synthpop superstar genius Woodenhand, for supervising it's light clean up.
...The selfie lens, yes, hmmm, set to mirror, who knew, which is weird, and I don't know anything about making video so the camera mic is closer to the guitar than it is to the amplifier, so you can hear the pick clattering, possibly not so desirable... We're all going to have to live with and listen to the consequences of that decision now.
Can’t help but think if we were a nation of Beasts, so strident, we might get what we need instead of the few of us getting what they want.