A (Not Very) Brief History of 2013, Before Everyone Else Attempts One…

After the dizzy heights of national pride experienced in 2012, you would be forgiven for thinking that 2013 would be a bit of a let down. Like a hangover, if you will. If we’re honest, things didn’t start too well as it was discovered that Iceland had been feeding us horse instead of beef in their lasagne dishes and the like. Easy mistake to make, obviously, both cows and horses have four legs, and are relatively large, so why not? By that logic, don’t be surprised if you see a Rhino Moussaka pop up as a ready meal some time soon…

The state of affairs didn’t improve when the goings on of some of Britain’s most famous TV faces from the 1970s were found to have involved a large quantity of utterly deplorable child sex offences. I’m sure the world has heard enough of Jimmy Savile’s name over the course of this year, but nothing ruins a reputation more than being a serial sex offender. It’s all well and good when you’re dead, it’s almost like you think you got away with it… but the world will always know now.

While I’m on the subject of certain dodgy individuals in positions of power, the Catholic Church was forced into choosing a new Pope after the bizarre resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February. Unless I misread somewhere, the job of the Pope is held until you’re dead. A bit like paying taxes or sitting in front of the television waiting for a weather report to be wrong, just so you can write in and complain. (If there’s anyone out there that actually does that, PLEASE don’t bother…)

It seemed that the only good news in Britain came from sport. The British and Irish Lions rugby team actually beat Australia over the course of three matches, and a (currently) British man ACTUALLY won Wimbledon. Even the English cricket team won the Ashes, but then lost it again. We can gloss over that for now…

In other news, a baby that is more powerful than any single one of us (despite the fact that he is barely six months old as I write) was born. It’s not as if you couldn’t have heard about little baby George, because his name was all over the place. The media took it upon themselves to speculate about every last detail, and the sheer boredom that can come with six hours of broadcasting with no real news took its toll on journalists, as well as anyone that would’ve bothered to have sat through the running commentary of poor old Kate’s labour. To any women reading this, imagine if you were going through childbirth and there were copious amounts of cameras outside the hospital trying to predict what was happening at every given moment. Madness.

In the rest of the world, Robert Mugabe “won” the Zimbabwean election, while Kim Jong-Un got his uncle executed in an attempt to prove his worth on the world stage. Vladimir Putin was caught on camera topless for no apparent reason yet again, Barack Obama has been pretty quiet, and Boris Johnson continues to live in his own little world. As per usual, then. 

Somehow, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) made such strong gains in local elections this year that they were the third largest political party existing at that point. Until they were uncovered as racists, sexists, homophobes etc… but they still remain more popular than Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats. Which isn’t all that hard, but still.

In other news, Miley Cyrus thought it would be a good idea to use a foam finger in the complete wrong way and appear naked in a music video in order to get attention. A song raising an important issue in nature became very popular, making people think about what a fox might say. To this day, no one knows. A woman threw eggs at Simon Cowell and the X Factor song got to Christmas Number 1. Shock, horror etc…

One of the greatest figures in world history to have ever lived died in December as well. Even the great Nelson Mandela couldn’t have everything his own way at his own memorial service when a fake sign language interpreter managed to get through every bit of security going to pretend to know how to sign.

In short, then, 2013 hasn’t been all that great for the world. But the one solace that we can take from this is that Justin Bieber has said he’s retiring. If that isn’t something to be joyous about, I don’t know what is. Happy 2014, everyone.

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Mumford and Sons have already rocked Lewes, and they haven’t even played yet!

Music fans and football fans came together in the hundreds today at Lewes’ historic Dripping Pan football ground to watch Mumford and Sons, selected others from the Gentlemen of the Road tour and teams entered from Lewes itself enter into the arena of 5-a-side football. Bonfire United, a selection of players representing Lewes’ seven Bonfire Societies, won the day; beating Lewes FC comprehensively in the final (ominous, if you’re a Rooks fan…)

Mumford and teachers from Lewes Priory school faced off for third place, and the Priory teachers came out on top in that match. But today was about more than football. I spend and have spent quite a big chunk of my life in Lewes and nothing of the scale of GOTR has ever even looked like it’ll happen in Lewes. Of anywhere that Mumford could’ve chosen to have held this festival, they chose the sleepy little County Town with a deep history behind it, simply because they “like the vibe of the place”. If it’s good enough for them, it’ll be good enough for most of us…

I’ve also seen more than my fair share of matches at the Dripping Pan, and not many have rivalled the kind of atmosphere that was generated there today. For the first time I can remember, Lewes has come alive and I’m not just saying that for the blatantly obvious cliché. This festival has given the town something to talk about, something to look forward to. Now 25,000 have descended onto the Convent Field to see the music unfold. If this was annual, or in a larger city like London, it’ll be forgotten fairly quickly. Not in Lewes. This is the sort of event that will go down in folklore, ‘most definitely something to tell the grandchildren about. 

The best part about this is that Mumford seem to understand the importance of this to a town like Lewes. The football tournament today gave them a chance to meet the fans (including myself, as you’ll see from the picture below!) and they made sure that they made time for everyone. This was from the other players to the referees to the droves of fans on the sidelines as well. 

When I met Ted Dwane, I asked him how he was now after he had an operation to remove a blood clot in his brain, his response? “Yeah, definitely getting there, mate!”, and all four members actually seem like genuinely nice blokes, too. When one player went down injured during a match, even though he wasn’t playing, the first person to run over to offer help was Marcus Mumford (who, by the way, is actually half-decent in goal!)

Unfortunately I can’t make it to the show tonight through work, but you can bet your mortgage on me being there tomorrow. I wouldn’t miss this even if you paid me. I want something to tell the grandkids… So even before the music starts all I can say is thank you, Gentlemen of the Road, because Lewes definitely needed this.Image

How is Radio still so strong?!

radio1In the digital age that we live in, there is always something that we, as human beings, can turn to to make our lives easier. Cleaning has been simplified by the Vacuum Cleaner, Social Networking has been simpler to access on pretty much anything with an internet connection. But Entertainment is something which hasn’t been changed in any way in its basic form, but the ways in which we are entertained have changed dramatically.

In this day in age, it seems almost impossible to think of a time before digital entertainment didn’t exist, especially in those Under the age of 25. But most seem to rediscover their love of board/card games when there’s a powercut once in a blue moon… But since the early 20th Century, the developed world seemed addicted to one thing: The Wireless. It had everything anyone would ever need, news updates, drama series (entirely in narrative, still happening on BBC Radio 4 with “The Archers”) and even the playing of the music of the day.

It’s well documented that DJs of times gone by weren’t exactly the most socially desirable of the working masses. But somehow, the new era of the “Super-DJ” has managed to turn some of these vinyl-spinners into worldwide superstars. You only need to see the crowds that the likes of David Guetta and Calvin Harris have started to grab to see the utter transformation in recent times. Not only were former DJs described as having a “face for radio”, those poor people now have to suffer through current BBC Radio 1 DJs like Greg James and Nick Grimshaw becoming unlikely sex symbols among their female fans! (Had to be said… The sort of tweets you sometimes see are almost frightening!)

Perhaps what is most striking about this transformation of radio is how it has not only managed to survive this new age of Digital Downloads, it has flourished. Listeners can now customise their own musical playlists by listening only to the music that they want to listen to; but the radio hasn’t suffered from it, it seems. The Compact Disc effectively killed off the tape, the Digital Download has now all but made the CD obsolete, even the almighty TV hasn’t managed to shuffle radio into the status of ‘archaic contraption’. I mean, it’s almost everything that the radio can do, except you can see everything.

Almost everything about the modern era should take a little more wind out of the radio’s sail. But there’s one invention that you could arguably say that the radio has a friend in: Cars. It seems so simple, car journeys are boring. Everyone knows that; especially if you’re on your own in the morning on the way to work. So on the other side of the push of a button, is a more pleasant experience. Different radio stations play almost any sort of music imaginable, so there really is something for everyone out there (corny pun not intended, but the point is still valid!) like the TV schedules, every radio show will have its own staple features that will make people keep listening. To use BBC Radio 1 as the only example (simply because that’s all I ever have on!) Scott Mills has the now infamous “Innuendo Bingo” and the wonderful diary of Chris Stark “24 Years at the Tap End”, Greg James has “Ask the Nation”, Nick Grimshaw has “Showquizness”, and Zane Lowe picks a new “Hottest Record in the World” every day.

It’s also the interactivity and the rapport between DJ and listener that keeps people listening long into the show, because very simply, radio shows are very entertaining. Viewing figures for the most popular shows remain in the multi-millions, and artists still get their best exposure for their new single through radio airplay.

The radio should have suffered the same fate as the Walkman, or Heelies, or at least Tamagotchi by now. But it hasn’t. I suppose some things in the world are able to defy logic somehow…