What Would Sonja Pedersen Do?

Writing this after an amazing gig at The Wanstead Tap with Attila The Stockbroker and Janine Booth.
I do not believe in God or Karma or any of that other whacky stuff, so I will put all of this down to coincidence. But nice coincidence.

In 2010 on this weekend, we played a packed gig with Mr Stockbroker at the much missed Plough in Wood Street , Walthamstow.

We managed to get Attila to play with us thanks to the O’s having a home game against his beloved Brighton. Brighton got a lucky 1-1 draw on the day so we were all happy.

Sadly for us, the idea of playing against them now is a pipe dream , thanks to mismanagement by the powers that be at LOFC BUT WE ARE NOT HERE TO TALK ABOUT THAT!!

A year ago this weekend three of the Protest Family (clue, the one who plays the spoons was absent) went to Centre Parcs Longleat for Sonja Pedersen’s (Beryl T Peril) wake. The difference being that Sonja was still alive against all odds. That is how Sonja rolled .

I often go on about the time we played Derry and how defining that weekend was, but last year’s bash surpassed that.

We got there at about 1pm to be greeted with beer, wine and food and we set up our equipment. We started playing from that moment and apart from toilet and pizza breaks continued until God knows when (I am thinking it was about 3am the next morning).

The place was buzzing, apart from us there was also Paddy Nash and Diane Greer from the amazing Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas, Les Black and Grace Petrie. This was all in a really packed chalet in Centre Parcs. For me, the highlights were us all doing The Band’s The Weight and all of that lot playing while I sang Billy Braggs To Have And to Have Not.

So (I dislike sentences that start with SO, but still) it came to pass that last night’s gig happened to have many people from far and wide that were at Centre Parcs a year ago this weekend. Nothing was arranged , it just happened . Synchronicity as The Police sang (although I prefer Invisible Sun).

It was nice to see people who I last saw at Sonja’s funeral in a different  atmosphere. Sonja is in all of our hearts and will continue to be so.

A word about last night’s gig. Attila was as Attila is. Great fun , but behind that, giving his audience food for thought. You must also catch Janine Booth. She is getting better and better with each gig that I see her. She gets the balance right between her humour and seriousness in her poetry.

And a word for The Wanstead Tap. It is a great place with great people running it with great ales.

Doug Protest

Solidarity brothers and Sisters ( I always say that)

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Protest Family Migration

So, there I was this morning enraged yet again by the unbiased BBC reporting that hearts are hardening to the Syrian refugee crisis, as now 41% of those surveyed thought that we shouldn’t take any more in. No mention of the 59% of people who think that we should definitely be doing a lot more. Even if it’s down from 69% it still looks like a majority to me, but looking at the figures that way clearly doesn’t suit the narrative. (And before we go on to talk about the “M” word, has anyone noticed the complete lack of media coverage of the bombing campaign in Syria since the vote?)

But yes, the “M” word got a repeated airing in the BBC Radio 4 coverage this morning. Migration’s for the birds isn’t it? I thought people were immigrants or emigrés, not migrants. Migrant is a dehumanising term straight out of the bigot’s toolbox. How much easier is it to discriminate against people if you describe them as something that falls short of your definition of people. See also: the way the Nazis described the Jews and the way soldiers are taught to describe the enemy. Charlie Hebdo can fuck off too.

But I’m not here to talk about that.

The talk about travel does remind me that I should be talking about The Protest Family and our upcoming travels. Now maybe if you’re AC/DC or Bruce Springsteen your gigs for the next twelve months are already well mapped out, but if you’re us, maybe less so. What we do know is that we’ll be hitting the road a lot more this year than we have done in previous years, starting with a trip to Glossop next month.

Now Baby Jesus died on Good Friday and rose again on Easter Monday, leaving a very convenient long weekend in between. Easter Sunday might be a re-run of Christmas three months later, tofurkey dinner and board games with the folks, but that does leave you with a whole Easter Saturday to fill, particularly if the football calendar gets switched to the (Good) Friday. Never fear, we shall be performing at Glossop Labour Club with fellow WSO-er Ste Goodall. The Quiet Loner’s Defiance Sessions are gathering some momentum and it promises to be something of an evening.

Talking of Sundays, May the 1st falls on a Sunday this year and it’s Tony Hurrier’s inaugural May Day Festival of Solidarity in Barnsley where we’ll be joined by many of the luminaries of the socialist music scene. We’ve got to get to grips with the workers’ holiday before the Tories turn it into Margaret Thatcher Day or something equally horrid, so hit the streets and celebrate, and if it’s the street that the Polish Club in Barnsley’s in so much the better.

The weekend of the third Sunday in July is of course the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival. Expect the usual Tolpuddle Unplugged shenanigans. More of this later, but also on a Sunday is the Burston Strike School Rally and another opportunity for band selfies in front of trade union banners.

Somewhere between Burston and Bridport we’ll have to squeeze in WSO, Stowfest and somebody’s birthday celebrations, but the fixture computer hasn’t spoken yet so watch this space.

Is that it? Probably not, but do join us around the country and do listen to the news with a critical ear.

S.