Writings, photos, politics and rants... *Original content - may not be reproduced without my consent.*

Monday, 29 February 2016

Knowing my place in the Scottish Left

This is unedited and off the top of my head. I will add any appendices needed regarding what I write at a convenient time (I have kept records of all interactions I have mentioned in my "critical" posts about the SSP/Rise and certain people in and around those organisations).

My relationship with left politics has certainly changed in the past year. There has been a certain amount of self development in that; circumstances that have changed; a reaffirmation of who I am and also a realisation that the current "left" in Scotland is driven by things beyond its "leaderships ken." In that last point, I don't claim to be the "only person on the left who does understand current circumstances in Scotland," but as someone who was outside, completely, the sectarian left of the 80's and 90's here, I feel my perspective and understanding is very different from those I have criticised in the past few months. There are those who quickly jumped to a conclusion of where we were post independence referendum this time last year, and added their interpretation of what was happening in Greece etc and came up with a vehicle that, rather than United the left /will unite the left, has split that small section of political activists who remain outside the SNP and one that is sullied in many ways in the perceptions of thousands of those who joined existing Yes political parties.

I don't take back any of the criticisms I have had of key people within my own political party (nor those in the current alliance, Rise, I have criticised), but I feel I have some understanding of how and why they use the awful methods they do in trying to "win" their points etc. My weakness, as far as they are concerned, I feel, is that I am open about how I feel and what I think. And my weakness has also been to get drawn in to their odd "left legacy" style of personal engagement with their "comrades" and their activism.

I still think they were totally wrong about trying to fold the SSP- and I feel those trying to do that are creating more division and another sectarian division that need not exist.

I think those who use feminism as something to attack and not educate are wrong and do the cause harm.

I feel those who praise those who use terms such as "scab," "misogynist," "racist," etc and also attack using mental health as a pejorative have caused harm within and to,  the Party I was part of for 13 years.

And I think the calculated undermining of democracy within the SSP in full view of a social media literate membership was something from the 1970's as carried out by Wolfie Smith.

I feel those who drove the current disastrous formation of Rise used methods they were used to using in a pre-technological age, when information was easily stemmed and only given out to those who "needed it." We are really no longer in that age. And those hiding behind "young people" and the real drivers of the minuscule Scottish left, have by using methods that worked _for a while_ in the '90's and early 2000's, have built something that again will fail. A more measured, open and honest process, perhaps over a period of a few years, would have brought all on board. Instead, the same hurry the SSA (Scottish Socialist Alliance) had in setting up the SSP for a very different election in 1999 and under extremely different political circumstances, walked over a swathe of people politicised and brought together by the SSP in the early- mid 00's.

Personally, I went through trauma last year. I had a difficult time regarding work, stress, depression etc. And after the independence referendum- and successful online campaign I had brought together for the SSP (I was an EC member and Social Media/Web organiser) - a campaign I am proud of with a team I had brought together mostly made up of new members of the party (and when needed, paid for myself); helping build the party from an AGM of 50 delegates in 2012, to the larger party we had brought together post indyref- and the work I did as branch organiser on the ground in East Dunbartonshire as a Yes leader/RIC organiser etc- I was totally exhausted.

The subsequent personal abuse I received from new members of the party- and old- because of my belief that anything other than continuing to build the SSP after its successful brand rebuild during the indyref would be disaster, totally exhausted and shocked me. Being personally attacked as a "scab" for posting a meme that had the statement "Taking the fight to the SNP," receiving an email from Cat Boyd, via the National Secretary and Frances Curran that said I was creepy etc for posting the meme (which was a direct quote from a SSP spokesperson at the Rise launch and had a photo of both Nicola Sturgeon and Boyd, who is top of the Rise list in Glasgow; titles herself and a small group of her ISG friends "Team Rise;" who has repeated such sentiments over the months and who is at the forefront of the Team Rise campaign and with whom I have had extremely limited interaction with - all of which has been recorded and filed) really was the final straw of attacks. I left the SSP, for a few weeks- I didn't want my £50+ per month going to these people. Curran then using this "private" email as a stick, saying on social media, "there is more to Neil leaving than meets the eye" and since grouping me with someone who did leave the ssp after a crime was committed- really smacked of the old condemn and destroy politics of the sects.

These methods continue to be used -stupidly- as all interactions via phone, text, social media etc are recordable and do not disappear. (I did take advice about attacks on me- and I was advised my case against some of these people was sound, but after much thought, at present, I've decided not to).

I rejoined (at £10 a month) in the hope that the party I thought I was in, makes a come back. We'll see. There are people within and without the ssp I will never work with again, and my level of commitment to the party will never again be at the levels it was for almost 13 years.

My socialism and fight for social justice will be through my work and on issues I feel I can help with. And until the spectre of the worst aspects of 1980's left politics disappears from the left and a left more fitting for a technologically democratic world arises, I'll not be part of a political machine.

Monday, 15 February 2016

1916, Militant Liverpool, 2003, the #indyref and May 2016...

In my opinion, there is very little that divides the generations in Scottish Independence politics, that is, the politics of "Yes." I do think there are false divisions being thrown up on the left, in the SSP, Rise and through the platform these organisations have in RIC, though. And rather than it being a revolutionary new generation that is taking politics forward, on the contrary, it is the old, Scottish Parliament 2003 generation in control. They are calling the shots. They are creating the playing field that the new generation of radicals are being fenced in.

What unites Scottish independence politics across the generations at present is what divided it during the "revolutionary period" in Irish politics in the early 20th Century. There is a conservatism- a reformism - a total concentration on parliamentary and constitutional means to our goal of independence. The left; the politics of protest are very much centred around speeches on George Square and the Radisson Blu. And we all await the SNP to tell us when to jump into action; into their campaign.

This was where  "official nationalism" was in late 19th, early 20th century Ireland, awaiting the nationalists to say they had reached an accommodation, they, the leaders, were satisfied with. And many nationalist MP's did. Their independence campaign was all but over because of the concessions they had managed to drag from the Tories and Liberals.

But a new generation of more radical, leftists and feminists brought the Irish revolution forward through agitation, education, moves toward socialism and violent revolution (only to be recaptured and caged by the catholic conservatism of De Valera and those around him after 1921).

Of course, I would not agree with an "Easter Rising" type scenario here in 21st Century Scotland, that would just be idiocy; but I do think insurrection/ open protest against cuts at local level should be encouraged, supported and indeed, built from the ground up. Our councils, whether they be SNP, Labour or Labour/Tory controlled are all cutting our services to the marrow.

The total upside down concentration on the May Scottish Parliament by the radical left and not on the huge budgets and power wielded  by Councils shows who is really in control of the present generation of left idealists- those who, quite by chance ("chance" being the circumstances at the time- a new Parliament, the shifting Scottish sands caused by Blairism and war etc) gained MSP's in 2003.

In my opinion, real radicalism will centre on Council budgets in the way that generation won victories in Liverpool in the 80's against Thatcherism; against her poll tax; against her dreadful housing policies etc. That is where our fire power should be concentrated. Not leafletting for list candidates in a now, totally pointless waste of activist effort.

The Liverpool Lefties of the eighties should be our inspiration that will pull Scottish Politics left. Not some distant, wasting  drive to May 2016, which will amount to nothing more than newly radicalised young people feeling totally at a loss as to why their efforts crashed and burned.

The party of independence- and constitutional revolutions - is in power in Scotland, and driving THAT narrative. The left's narrative should come from below- from the wreckage caused by the death of local services. From the education budgets that are being slashed. From the job losses and pay freezes. From the service users and those suffering from the smashing of the services they need, by the Tories and those balancing Tory budgets.

The old generation who made the gains that seeped through to Scotland from Liverpool and its Militant Councillors, have forgotten how they built up here, or at least that kind of building a movement has been set aside instead for them too build their betrayed "legacy" and their reliving a chance to regain what they feel they lost because of the fight with their creation, Tommy Sheridan.  They are trying desperately to use the new generation to unsully their legacy from the muck of the Sheridan affair.

 The present wasting of effort on the Scottish Parliament should be their swan song in my opinion and the new generation should analyse properly the mistakes of the period after the independence referendum (and what they have learned and can use far more effectively than any generation before them- ie the new media etc).

Next years Council elections, because of the coup within the left in the past year by an older way of thinking- a constitutionalism and conservatism- will be yet another wasted opportunity. Many of us knew that if we did not get our Yes, that September 18th 2014 could be our Easter Rising- a tragedy in the making that would render the SNP all powerful, the Labour Party and Libs dead and the Left, if not clever about it, swimming in the wake of the socially left SNP and the out and out right wing unionism of the triumphant Tories (their triumph will come here in May).

And the left, led by the eighties "vanguard," and their chosen new cadre, did not play it clever. They believed the hype they created in the minuscule and official "Yes campaign" dependent Radical Independence Campaign. They steered a very different path from the Greens, who made all the same gains the left had through Yes and RIC, but knew to regroup, solidify and channel those gains. We went down a channel that thought RIC was something more than an amalgamation of lefty/radical people from the SNP, the Greens etc and actually believed thousands would join a rebrand with the speech makers and place keepers the independence movement saw as mere "hingers oan." Those who quite obviously, to most of us, had carved out careers on the back of a movement that allowed them "to be," in order to pretend the organisations they created were unrelated colourful butterflies.

Some of the "failed" "butterflies" should have shown us that only SNP approved organisations and people were really allowed. TUFI, a group organised by real lefty Union radicals was replaced by SNP friendly Trades Unionists for Yes. RIC had enough SNP people on board (and potential for new SNP members) for those truly in control of Yes to allow it to use their offices etc. The post Indyref love in for the radicals and the parties of Yes, has been replaced by a huge gain of members for the SNP, a respect for the Greens and the SSP, but a distrust of those who led the "leaderless" RIC who have said they were going to "take the fight to the SNP," a slogan so misplaced and so far from a real analysis of the current left in Scotland as you can possibly get.

With two months to go, no gains in percentage points (in fact trailing previous  SSP %'age figures), the cobbled together sectarian (why not JOIN the revitalised SSP?) socialist/left vehicle has shown nothing more than an ability to get articles in unionist controlled newspapers who are keen to split the independence vote (or totally destroy it!). They have built decent websites and held launch and conference after launch and conference with less and less people outside the sectarian groups interested. But the newly radicalised young people have expectations raised and are convinced that what they are doing is revolutionary and radical. It is neither of these things. It is nothing more than chasing on the tail of the liberals in the Greens who will make less of a gain than they think -but will receive many times more votes than the radical left because they stayed true to themselves (or at least seemed to have from those looking on from the outside).

Back in 2006, I recorded Richie Venton, a founder of the SSP and Liverpool Militant Labour veteran,  speak about the SSP taking the Councils. This was before that generation of socialists were completely overwhelmed by their Sheridan catastrophe. I fully believed back then, had the left seen sense and dropped any connection to him, we could well have more than our lone councillor Jim Bollan - a man and a group of socialists in West Dunbartonshire who worked hard away from the Parliament chasers and constitutional reformers. Jim's legacy will be much more fundamental, yet less glamorous than the six MSPs in 2003. And if anywhere will vote socialist post Yes, it won't be Glasgow or Edinburgh (where most of the current effort is being drained), it'll be in and around Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven.

If the previous  generation of Scottish socialists are the "Vanguard"  who seek places in the Scottish Parliament as anything other than SNP in the present political circumstances, in the paraphrased words of Pearse in his 1915 poem, "Ghosts," "There has been nothing more terrible in [the socialist Scottish independence movement] than the failure of the last generation."

Sunday, 7 February 2016


I've been thinking about my relatively recent "conversion" to vegetarianism and why I stopped eating animals.

I think the second part of that opening sentence is more important than the first. My decision was NOT to become something, it was a realisation that meant me stopping something. Vegetarianism was a bi-product. Vegetarianism is the name given to the product of what I realised. I stopped eating animals and therefore my diet became almost entirely made up of vegetables, fruits, herbs. I think that is an important distinction to make. Labelling ourselves as a complete "ism," I feel, grinds education of ME to a halt. I label myself as a socialist, a feminist, a humanist NOT as ends; not as a font of knowledge on those isms, but as someone who has come to certain realisations and through these realisations, I explore thought processes, feelings and try to find roads towards solutions both communal and individually. Education should have no end. Our place in this world of people and other species is one that is still developing.

How the world looks in one hundred years time depends on what knowledge we pass on and some of this is scientific, empirical, "proven" theory. Some knowledge is passed on through dialogue and some through families and community. Learned by experience or by proof from a teacher. What I've learned as an individual can perhaps only be passed on by my living; being the change I want to see in the world. And one change I want to see in the world is peace- non-violent solutions to our problems and sometimes diametrically opposed beliefs and opinions.

So I am not going to write here to defend my ever expanding knowledge of my non-flesh diet; I want to try to explain WHY I stopped eating other conscious beings (regardless of what level of consciousness they enjoy). I can only try to explain where I am. It is a journey, and I personally haven't reached any destinations yet. I'm accumulating experiences and knowledge.

My stopping eating animals wasn't a sudden epiphany. It was very gradual. I enjoyed eating dead flesh.

I remember when I was at university, in first year, our corridor in our halls of residence came together and cooked together. Someone took responsibility for one meal a week. Boy did I pile on the pounds! Each meal was elaborate and delicious. I learned new things- some of those in the corridor were experts. We all came from different backgrounds. I could cook- I had a good wee repertoire of sauces and pasta/potato and rice dishes - but had rarely cooked for more than myself. Others in the group; A chef, an ex-soldier, and others of varying backgrounds and knowledge, all contributed and taught and reviewed, praised and cajoled.

And the food was great.

But one day, the usually harmonious group became discordant. Matt announced he might make a veggie salad. He was needing something less heavy. Less meaty.

I remember talking to another member of the group and saying, "if I am served a vegetarian bloody salad, I'll throw it at him. I want meat with my meat!"

I loved most meats. I was brought up in a meat eating family. There was always meat in the fridge and on occasions, game hanging in the garage. There was always a freezer full of trout or salmon or other freshly caught fish. And I loved it all. I loved trying different ways to cook it/season it/serve it. I loved how cooking could change its texture. I loved melt in the mouth steaks and lamb that fell off the bone. I loved meaty salmon. When I ate out, I loved seafoods, poultry of different shapes and sizes and cuts of different muscle tissue from animals large and small.

For a few years during my "mature student" college and University years, I worked in a chicken processing factory. I worked with others on a distribution computer programme. I saw the live animal, through to the fancy packaged and shipped, sauced, spiced and herbed limbs and carcasses. Though I didn't really. I saw green writing on a computer screen representing "product." I saw simple computer graphics (this was the early-mid nineties) representing product in, product at different stages of production (hatchery, kill, fresh, distribution etc) and rarely visited the actualities of what was happening. Though at times I did. Watching people hose blood from their waterproofs, scrape flesh from bloodied boots and the floor. A friend of mine, Ian, another student worker used to complain heavily about the smell and mess he worked in, hosing down trays and cleaning floors of dead guts and blood. I laughed it off. I only visited his section in which he was waterproofed and booted, in whites splashed in reds of varying deepness to show off my clipboard and tie. I was well apart from the process he was engaged in. I didn't get my hands covered in guts. I didn't witness or press buttons to kill, behead or gut the birds.

I never visited the hatchery, but tails of cruelty were laughed at and were just seen as part of the product chain. The recent video that emerged online of someone "stage diving" into a packed room of piglets on a factory farm isn't really that surprising - the only new part of that was the ability of onlookers to video it in order to bring the guy to justice. There are many people at large nowadays who took part in cruelties such as that who never were caught, some of whom, I hope, have thought long and hard about what their younger, less experienced selves did.

But none of what I saw or heard in the chicken processing factory changed my eating habits (except never again buying chicken nuggets unless they were whole chicken breast or trying to avoid chicken that had ready made sauces added).

Well, except for one conversation between managers I worked with. One of them, the same age as me, had left his managerial position and was doing theology to train as an Anglican minister. He was employed during university holidays to continue his work on the new Stock Distribution System. He and I worked very well together. I enjoyed his company- he made me think. We had theological/political/ ethical conversations daily over coffee in the canteen and in the office. He recommended reading to me, which I lapped up, but none of it "brought me to God." Rather, if anything all of what i read made me question what was around me and sold as "truth," much more.

The one line I remember of the conversation between managers on the ethics of working in the chicken processing plant was, "which point in the chain of production is the least or the most neutrally ethical operation?" The managers discussed and debated this question. None of them could agree which part of the chain of the production was the least ethical. The minister said he had difficulty with the hatchery, which set off the whole room. Without the hatchery, none of us would have jobs! There would be economic meltdown in Armagh and South Down. If ethics ruled our system, where would that end? All those jobs in farming, in government departments, in subsidiary manufacturing like vets, drugs, leathers, glue, butchery, canning plants, TV cookery, and rows and rows of aisles in our supermarkets full of dead animals, graveyard shelves as I think of them, would go.

Was everyone in that chain, from slaughterer, through to pen pusher as guilty as those making huge profits?

Ethics would stop war industry and injustices across the world. Building ships for murder, slaughter, mechanised death when we should be diving for pearls. An ethical world would be a peaceful one in which humanity would do as it needs to do- value life and ensure all of life is valued.

This conversation stayed with me through my most ravenous animal eating years. And slowly I changed my diet as I observed the world around me. And then one day, four years ago- one day after eating a delicious young lamb cooked beautifully in the Pot Belly restaurant in Tullylish, I stopped. Because I observed two things.

One was as we drove from the ferry  through Ayrshire, I watched as a calf leaped and jumped and enjoyed being alive as its mother passively watched over it. Like all mothers, animal and human do. That mother stood protectively as her little child enjoyed the space within the barbed wire enclosed jail. Her love and protection would mean nothing when the "cleverer" humans decided her offspring was to have its brain electrocuted and its throat cut; its guts torn out and most of its innards, skin and bone packaged in beautifully designed cartons and tins.

As we drove on and neared home, the sun was setting, beautifully orange- it was stunning. And another herd of cows in a field ran to as close as they could get to the beautiful sky; pushed, crowded against the wire and all of them stared towards the setting sun. Where they thinking it was beautiful? What thought process was going on in their heads as they stared at something I too thought was "beautiful?"

The next day I stopped eating meat.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review: Forbidden Planet, Glasgow...

My first furtive, uneducated fumblings in Forbidden Planet were nervous affairs. It was a coming out- an acknowledgement of my love of pen art and adventure and character driven writing. The thrill was as close to the forbidden dens of my youth, the under aged drinking, the shebeens and the crossing over into dangerous forbidden territory across the border or in West Belfast or across into other territory I was always told I shouldn't go. But I'm like that. I explore. I taste. I experience. I jump. Well, I used to. I'm 50 now and have inclings of mortality, so comic shops are perhaps as daring as it gets these days.

Was I really going back to my teenage love of comics? Would someone see me there? One of the shop assistants in the shop, today, professed a love for Abba and Queen, and said he didn't care who knew. That's life as it should be. Living la vida loca. Be you. Disco dance to Joy Division.
Be seen reading 50 Shades or Harry Potter and the Burning Saltire... That was after a while, the view I took at my love of comics. I am a comic user and am proud. I mainline graphic novels. I drink deeply from the font of Garth Ennis and Marvel and DC.

The shop became a place of therapy. A world of characters I hated, loved, wanted to swap places with, was glad I wasn't, and a place in which I could scan imaginations as eclectic and bizarre and colourful as my own not so hidden madnesses. And I found it when I needed it most, during a time of upheaval in my work life and my political work. It fuelled my need for narrative when my own inner narrative was all over the place. It transported me to other planets, other lives, other countries, other times. What other shops can do that?

The shop is a weekly treat for me every Thursday or Friday. I have less time in it I would like, but dream of a holiday day when I can scan the shelves for an hour or more, though I already spend far too much dosh in it as it is, so that could be dangerous.

The staff are great. They know their stuff and are friendly when prodded. I've had some great recommendations from them (as I only recently re-entered the comic world after quite a few years of absence). No bum steers. Just turns into different cul de sacs or onto long, winding highways...

The back catalogue of must reads are all there. Novels and collections of all kinds from the odd through to political and just sheer exhilarating from times gone by through to the most up to date brilliant pieces of work from all over the world. And authors who should all be writing for the screen.

The choice of music in the place along with the smell of print and the narrow walkways give the place a real Indy feel and I love the mix of people scanning the titles, from obvious cos players, emos young and old, people from all over the world-mangas of every nation- and a few "norms," of which I hope I don't fit in with TOO much.

My one complaint is the low shelves- for 50 year olds like me scanning a-z can be a dizzying affair. I would not be surprised if a few have fell faint to the floor after jumping up too quickly from c to d...

My treat of the week is buying a collection (like this week Jessica Jones, Alias book 3) and nipping across the road to Tinderbox for one of their wonderful custard tarts and a large black Americano and scanning pages of great art and dialogue.

Coffee, comics, great music and a universe to explore- you don't get that on every high street.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The King is Dead

I remember when Elvis died. And the world didn't stop. But the world changed, for me.
Clark, Alan, Alistair, the English twins and others, left my life. They were still alive, but at 11, the system meant we were driven apart. Separated by verbal reasoning tests.

When I was a child, I thought of TV and pop stars as Gods. People who came into your house and who you talked about and heroised. I remember my friends and I talking about what might happen if a superstar died. I remember thinking that the world would just stop! These were people who, surely,  made the world go round. An incestuous, almost intangible world in which they spoke to each other, married each other, sang to each other, were in magazines and tabloids together and were never seen in real life. They were from planet TV. Planet Holywood. Tabloid Town. A place so sunny and happy, we were imperfect subjects, incomplete, unlike the Gods.  Subservient, deferential; the worker bees, buying, sharing, sanctifying the product of their genius and talent. Our lives in the shadows beneath their feet.

Elvis seemed different. He was apart; living behind the gates of Gracelands; a place fit for a King - with its walls of TV's, food and drink and music and friends on tap.  A man blessed; a man even the stars genuflected before.  But a man who had known what it was like to be poor.  From the ghetto... or the dustbowl equivalent. A man who was surely an American Jesus.

There was something very tragic about him, even I could see that. I remember going to get my hair cut and reading a tabloid while I waited. Elvis, it was rumoured, was taking drugs. Photos of him, bloated, sweating, dying were contrasted with photos taken just a few years previous looking healthy, fit, lithe. The recent photos were not the Elvis we watched in the morning during holidays in his summer, happy, formulaic films.

I remember thinking, "Someone will help Elvis. He'll be OK!"

The next visit to the barbers showed that this hadn't happened. More revelations about Elvis. Someone who knew him had said he was killing himself with drugs and food. And people he knew were implicated.  It couldn't be the fault of the King; that God, that innocent from the sticks.  He was being killed by other forces.

And then one day, when dad and I went to the Ulster Grand Prix, on the car radio, the news of Elvis' death began to filter through. And I thought, "the world will be in bits!"

I thought my mum would be upset. But she wasn't, when we arrived back home from Ray McCullough's win; from Tom Herron's return; from Joey Dunlop's Hares Leap bounce, my nanny and grandad were in our house, having a wee vodka or liqueur, a cup of tea, bracken, wheaten, soda, jam and a biscuit, as they were every Saturday night and there didn't seem to be any tone of grief or morbidity. No one seemed to miss him.  This was not a house grief stricken like those outside the King's big white gates.  We only had his films.  We heard only his voice still alive, still happy in Hawaii.  Elvis' death was as far away from our reality as his life had been. The Stars told us he had been their biggest influence. He hadn't been my dads - his had been his mum and dad.  He wasn't my mum's - her's were here in my living room, laughing, sharing a joke.

Elvis died at a time when my life changed. It was the last long, hazy, lazy summer my primary school friends and I were together. Shortly after his death, We were split up and we went to intermediate for us eejits and grammar, for the snobs. Or so we said.

Though one friend remained constant, Mickey Neeson, who had always went to a different school. We were different since birth. Our descendants belief in Empire over King or vice versa, meant our friendship was one that was after school. My cool friend. The Fonz personified. Always happy, always positive and someone who influenced my political thought more than he or I could have known back then. Mickey was still Mickey. We cycled with a new found, more mature freedom to my Granny and Grandad's miles away out of town, in Tullylish, and watched saturday afternoon wrestling with Mickey's aunt and Big Daddy in Lawrencetown. And ate boiled sweet peanuts amongst the grass at the top of the big hill. And for a few days more, my primary school friends were not wrenched from me by way of different uniforms and a sense of being better or cleverer or not. Girls looked different and Blackpool in July, with my sisters Karen and Margaret, my mum and dad, Nanny and Grandad, cousins Ian and Amanda and aunt Lorna and Uncle Ian, was even more beautiful.

Elvis was dead. And his films brightened our mornings. His music played, tinny, mono from small radios and other stars spoke about him and their world. It didn't change that much. They were still far far away. But my world was about to change.

The world continued to turn and the King was replaced in the tabloids by others. Lee Majors, Farrah Fawcett, George Best... they were the new incestuous golden families. Parkinson laughed as comedian and Carry On star regaled with story and revelation.

And this Christmas, my son bought me Elvis' latest album and I remember the summer before it all changed. Elvis didn't influence me, his death didn't touch me too much, but those around me that summer certainly have. A last summer of security and with everyone around me I loved.