Posted on | December 31, 2015 | No Comments
With 2015 about to be wrapped up I thought it’s mandatory I’d do some kind of list, but with a few of 2015’s offerings yet to be unwrapped I’ll keep it sparse as any longer and more definitive list could well change.
1. Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – “Big Box”
Most people are well aware I’m a compulsive Neil Young freak, especially when it comes to his heavier work with the flawed, shambolic yet somehow perfectly fitting ‘Crazy Horse’, yet most are aware his output since about 1996 has been frequent but patchy. With this in mind I was apprehensive about his ‘new political record’ (especially after 2006’s hard-hitting but unremarkable ‘Living With War’ and 2009’s quite-frankly dire ‘Fork In The Road’) with a band that sounds ‘just like Crazy Horse’. Yet Neil has teamed up with young rockers Promise Of The Real to produce quite a beaut and ‘Big Box’ is my favourite cut from it. Clocking in at 8 minutes, quite a standard length for a Neil-rocker, it offers a hard-hitting attack on corporations and big-chain supermarkets spaced out with a couple of gems of jams. He even loves this band enough to give them a few solos, one minute he’ll be screeching away, then Lucas Nelson will before they’ll come together and harmonise. This track is the tits.
From “The Monsanto Years”
2. Richard Thompson – “Patty Don’t You Put Me Down”
Although I insist the inclusion of a Neil Young song on this list in more surprising than some would believe, a Richard Thompson track is not – his releases are consistent, frequent and brilliant and after many listens “Patty…” is still Still’s top cut. This perfect little rocker proves that this 66 year old still has enough fire and vitriol to burn a navy and yet somehow is catchy at the same time. In this song he initially assumes the position of a confident young male lover unimpressed with the forward advances of a kanieving lover he’s casually courting warning her that “We might be in bed together but the deal’s not signed”, however, as Thompson nuts will know, there’s many twists ahead. There’s the dry sarcasm of “They say you collect shrunken heads would you like to have mine?”, the destroying chant of “In you ten-watt world it’s beyond any pleasure you know, to stick your fingers in the socket and give yourself a glow” then back to the I’m-a-fool-for-you- refrain of “Patty don’t you put me down”. Genius tune, with guitar-work to die for too.
3. Samantha Fish – “Place To Fall”
I don’t know why I never gave The Fish any more attention sooner as there’s not much about this young blonde blues-rocker that doesn’t appeal to me. This haunting swagger-full yet romantic 6/8er is nothing short of brilliant and just about as raw as it gets and if it wasn’t for the subtle backing steel guitar and the occasional second guitar part you’d be convinced it was live. Although reasonably conventional in structure, the shades of light and dark and the way the song rises and falls between the chorus and verse prove Samantha to be an undoubtedly skilled writer. Bitter and sweet, haunting and heavy – this track is where it’s at!
From “Wild Heart”
4. Duke Garwood – “Disco Lights”
Given how niche and limited my touch on current releases is, I decided to subscribe to MOJO this year and Garwood’s “Heavy Love” was one of the first write-ups that really appealed. It described the album’s genre as “modern blues”, implying it was of a blues idiom but not confined to the tired structures that I know [and admittedly love] rather well. Those who know me won’t be surprised that I picked the album’s most conventional cut, but what the fuck – I love it. Set in the refreshingly familiar [for a blues fan] signature of 6/8 its soothing vocals and distorted but perfectly-paced guitar work make it a heavenly experience for the ear and a perfect contrast of heavy and soft. A lovely piece of music indeed.
From “Heavy Love”
5. Steve Earle & The Dukes – “You’re The Best Lover That I Ever Had”
Yeah ok, three out of five on this list are songs from those you’d expect from me but I suppose I love them for a reason! Steve’s 2015 offering initially unimpressed me, being dubbed a ‘blues’ album it fell between two stalls, it wasn’t quite the type of blues I love nor the type of Steve Earle. Then suddenly it clicked, of course it was neither, it was a mixture of the two – and what a creative and beautiful concoction it was. Having recently divorced Alison Moorer, aka Wife no. 7, you’d hope a bit of irony to be hiding behind the title but even if there isn’t this track is still a brooding yet sweet masterpiece. Combining its sweet yet restrained lyrics, toe-tapping rhythm and spot-on blend of acoustic and electric guitar I can’t see how any woman won’t be touched to have this written for them. A blues masterpiece from a non-blues song-writer.
Posted on | November 8, 2015 | No Comments
Last night a thing happened in a restaurant, and we all know what happened the last time I blogged a similar tale. (OK, you may not – basically everything went MASSIVE and to be honest it became somewhat of a ball-ache.) So basically I now will do all I can to make you turn away before telling you what happened, therefore my arse is clean in case it all goes a bit front-page-of-The-Echo.
By the way have you seen every episode of Cynic? Quite frankly the hits are shit so if you want to read this story I think I should give you the opportunity to watch every episode first…
Still there? Damn!
OK, have you seen my new set of videos where I joke I was molested by a preacher? They are obscenely unfunny and will turn you away instantly.
What, you’ve made it this far?? OK, here’s the tale…
Last night I went to Lilo’s (although Oz Urfa trumps as the best Mediterranean on City Road sometimes Lilo’s is great for shoving your face full of meat) and upon arriving I was greeted by ‘Panicky Manager’. Panicky Manager insisted I should go next door to its ‘grill house’ which they insist is the same but Tripadvisor disagrees. (I think the thinking was l could drive my scooter into the side-door of the grill house.)
So Panicky Manager got a waiter to show me to said side door, and upon arriving it was obvious I could not drive in, and for five minutes I and said waiter had this conversation on loop:
“Hang on, I’ll park”
“Hang on, I’ll park”
“Hang on, I’ll park”
“Hang on, I’ll park”
“Hang on, I’ll park”
etc etc. So eventually said waiter gave up and left. I then parked and walked into the grill house which was full and none of the staff knew me or quite understood why I was there (they didn’t understand my reason “I don’t know, some waiter [who’s disappeared] told me to come [come]”.)
They found me a table in the end, by that time they had run out of most items (it wasn’t even 9!), and while the items I ordered were identical to next door on the menu the quality was clearly inferior. RAH!
Posted on | October 23, 2015 | No Comments
An eye-catching and provocative title if ever, but allow me to explain – several months ago I discussed my fight to maintain my care-package of 20 hours a week when the reality is I get too much money for care, or rather I SEE too much money. As a Direct Payments user I am in charge of my finances and I have access to a bank account which I pay my PA through, I am forbidden to do anything other than what the council tell me to do with this money. (This is paying Esther every four weeks and the occasional tax thingybobby to the powers that be.) So in reality I am in as much ownership of this dough than I am your eyes reading these words. In fact probably less ownership you spunky cumbuckets because I just made your eyes read the words ‘spunky cumbuckets’ and I do not have such liberties with this money.
The one thing I can do is observe that every month more money goes in than comes out, and the difference is often a three-figure amount. My last statement revealed a payment in of £700 and a payment out of £500 and this is entirely typical; I have numerously told the council about this and they’ll say they’ll pay me a bit less next time but I still end up staring at a redundant £2k. It just stays there like an attractive female friend you’ve caught in lingerie, appetising as fuck although you know your desires are illicit and unhealthy. You start to believe she’s winking at you and inviting you to dive in but you just know doing so will land you in a pile of shame and trouble.
My question is ‘why?’. In an age of sickening cuts seemingly designed to cripple the crippled this just seems utterly ludicrous. The best answer I’ve had was ‘it saves time’, but wiping your arse with fivers instead of purchasing new bogroll saves time, but it is still a catastrophic waste of money. I do not know if this is a common issue or one just somehow unique to me but for god’s sake sort it! (Or relax the rules slightly so I can blow it on a few hookers.)
Posted on | September 11, 2015 | No Comments
One [of the many] thing that irritates me is when luck (by that I mean positive luck, it can exist apparently) is applied to the topic of disability. “You’re lucky you can get out” or “You’re lucky you don’t have it worse”, I’ve been told. I’m sorry but fuck off, being plagued with the dildo that is disability is a very unfavourable roll of the dice and no amount of cringe-worthy faux positive thinking can change that. I’ve read that one in five-hundred people have Cerebral Palsy, that’s the equivalent chance of rolling a di about 90 times and not getting a 1 – so yeah, not great odds at all.
But aside from my love of cynicism this false appropriation of luck overshadows personal achievement. I was once told I’m lucky my disability doesn’t make me feel like a social outcast, which admittedly was by someone with a severer disability so responding was awkward, but no, this isn’t luck: it’s hard work and effort paying off. It took me quite a while to be who I am, do what I do and mingle with the groups I want to and while I’m not expecting praise for doing so putting it down to ‘good luck’ is rather condescending. Anyone with a disability (yes, not just me) who can go out being themselves and being admired and recognised for that deserves a fuck-off pat on the back – so give it to them directly.
This explains my beef with ‘disability pride’; yes, it is truly appropriate to feel pride in being able to deal with a disability, but this is NOT synonymous with having one. Your disability deserves no credit, so don’t give it any. And yes, I realise that having a disability almost forces you to cope with it and the line between the two is thin – but it’s a line that should be drawn nonetheless. Every disabled person I’ve met has developed their own way of coping and (by in large) it works incredibly well for them, so it is them as individuals who deserve the credit for it.
The ‘you’re lucky you don’t have it worse’ thing is all types of wrong too. Thinking relatively, it may be fair –though morally dubious- to say ‘you’re luckIER than someone who has it worse’, but lucky – please no! This is being asked to look on the bright-side of something inherently dark, which, although can provide good humour, is incredibly counter-productive. I understand the ‘count your blessings’ mentality but looking for blessings while focussing on disability is a massive non-starter. Plus also, what’s this saying about the poor sod that has the severer condition than you? From what I’ve deduced being told this is offensive to both you and anyone who has a severer condition.
I am not saying disabled people are worthless or void of achievements; far from it, I’m saying disabled people are rich of worth and achievements but looking for them specifically in their disability seems a non-starter.
Oh by the way, here’s my ‘Disability Pride’ routine from I’m Not Sting…
Posted on | August 16, 2015 | 1 Comment
An activist is threatening to report me to the police for ‘attempting rape’. I do not know whether he is serious or not; if he isn’t this is something I cannot see humour in (and this is me!); but if he is I feel I am at a duty to inform you of such behaviour. As I have nothing to hide, here’s the story:
Several weeks ago we had a Twitter-spat (and we have a few), and our spats generally follow said structure: I make a point, he counters it with something completely meaningless, I lose the will to communicate while a bored friend voluntarily joins in and does the fighting for me. This happened a fortnight ago, and after several tweets of absolute meaningless babble from said individual my mate trumps “Someone put a cock in this guy’s hand so he can stop typing”.
Lots of things can be said about this tweet (I personally found it hilarious) but no matter how vile, childish or brilliant you find it it is clearly not a genuine rape-threat. Still, two weeks later, and after I delivered an ass-kicking when he tried to pounce on me for endorsing assisted dying, he informs me he’s about to turn me onto the police for attempting to rape him.
I am not going patronise you with a huge list of reasons, but here’s a select few reminders it’s not a rape threat:
We are repulsed by him and have no desire to be near him.
It’s a joke.
He lives ages away from us.
It’s a fucking joke.
‘Cock’ has several definitions and penis is the slang one. (“Someone put a chicken in this guy’s hand” is an equally plausible – and far more entertaining – reading of this.)
It’s a joke.
The word ‘someone’ indicates this was a request of another party, so even in this paradox where this line is a genuine incitement of rape it voids our involvement in such an act.
It’s a fucking joke.
Plus, this is a homosexual gentleman. I have no intent to slur homosexuality but by nature this means there are more instances where he is likely to enjoy having a set of male genitals in his hand than someone who isn’t. As a heterosexual gent I can only think of two situations where I’d favour a penis in my hand (both situations involve my own), but he’s not limited to these two examples. If you were to claim said line is hate-speech the anti-gay route seems much more logical (but still bonkers) than the rape route.
I apologise, that last paragraph went dangerously close to humour and this is no laughing matter. Sexual assaults go unreported constantly due to people being too afraid and threatened to speak up, people kill themselves as they have been conditioned to think they made themselves get raped. Yet this dude thinks he can report me for attempted rape because I bitchslapped him in a row? Well I hope you burn in hell.
(PS to make it clear I have nothing to hide I popped into see the police yesterday just to say what happened and they basically said such a claim will get thoroughly ignored, so there’s that.)
Posted on | July 8, 2015 | No Comments
I put off blogging about this as I’m not one to milk attention, but the Friday before last (Saturday morning actually) I was reminded how vulnerable crips are. I arrived home at 3am in a state that was legally dubious to be driving a mobility scooter and as I entered my back garden (ooh err misses!) I heard a voice. Drunken logic dictated someone upstairs was watching tv loudly with their window open so I didn’t worry and kept driving, but then I found a mound of clothes over my front-door. After a while this mound started to talk and I concluded there was a human beneath it. (Bear in mind I live behind a code-protected gate so jumping the fence is the only other way in.)
She kept saying something along the lines of “I know your boyfriend…”, (great, even the women I have no interest in feel they have to cockblock!) “and I know what you’ve done”. This (bar the gay stuff which I’m immaturely making light of) somewhat scared me, though luckily Dutch courage from my meeting with the Reverend (Reverend James – Brains’ best beer) meant I could maintain composure and call 999.
The police were great, they understood me perfectly, came quickly and stayed on the line comforting me while they arrived. They then took her away with haste and complete professionalism leaving me to enter my flat and start trolling Facebook for pity.
I then realised just how fragile one’s independence can be. I live life assuming nothing will upset the equilibrium – eg I get up assuming my scooter doesn’t have a puncture so I can go out and I come home assuming there’s no stranger on my doorstep. It’s vital we make these assumptions otherwise we wouldn’t get the most out of life, but when they don’t prove accurate it’s as scary as fuck. One cannot linger on these things which is why we have to become good at thinking in the moment.
This is why I have no regrets about calling 999 – the woman probably was harmless and may have left by her own accord eventually – but I saw potential danger and acted immediately. So the purposes of this blog is to say one must not ponder the ‘what ifs’ but they must be prepared to act in the ‘what nows’. Life is too short to ponder but also too short to let crazy women harm you.
Posted on | June 28, 2015 | 2 Comments
I have read many members of the trans-community putting forward very sensitive and provocative arguments to why Facebook’s latest ‘Real Name’ policy is problematic so my angst at having to drop my faux middle-name ‘Cynical-Spack’ is rather trivial in comparison, but still – here tis. As discussed not long ago we live in a time where identity is incredibly plural and fluid, no-one is only one thing indefinitely (except maybe dead). Being a comedian this is especially pronounced as I have an act which I enjoy adopting in order to make people laugh, this in itself is an identity but one I detach when talking to my parents on the phone, and importantly it’s the identity I use on social media.
And so I named myself on Facebook ‘Ted Cynical-Spack Shiress’. Obviously it was another chance to drop the s-bomb and, if you know me, I never let these opportunities pass by; but the second (and more moral reason) was to make no secret of what I’m like online. To put it simply: anyone offended by the word ‘Spack’ in my name won’t go for my Facebook output.
As I recall discussing before, being disabled makes you flypaper for such an absurd range of misfits online – I’ve had native Africans asking me for jobs in London, pre-teen American girls with cp (no, not like that!), bible thumpers, trolls, you name it – all bar attractive women I can relate to. Therefore I thought firing an automatic warning shot with ‘Cynical-Spack’ was the most moral thing to do.
What makes this any less of a real name than Ted (the name I’m most commonly known as)? Anyone who knows me by anything other than Edmund Alan Shiress is assuming a degree of a rapport with me. Also, what does this matter to Facebook? A friend just told me he recently reported a hideous use of “nigger” in a comment only to be told Facebook doesn’t police comments, so why the clampdown on names? I’ve read that Facebook believes ‘fake’ names inhibit interaction which inhibits ad-revenue, if this is true it is as disgusting as it is bullshit – Facebook is a means for interaction to the point that if you don’t want to interact you don’t use it. ‘Fake’ names only promote interaction as they give a much more vibrant description of who you are right now and whom you want to be seen as.
As I regularly argue, Facebook profiles are for friends and pages are for the public – hence me rejecting friend requests from unknowns and telling them to like Ted Shiress – Comedian instead, so why should Facebook determine what your friends identify you as?
Fuck off, Zuckerberg.
Posted on | June 24, 2015 | 1 Comment
As most who read the sometimes-polite-sometimes-less-so words I shove onto the internet’s face I’ve been trying to fight reductions to my care hours. I previously alluded that part of the issue was the desire I and many other disabled bods have of underplaying their disability which is a faux pas in assessments, however there seems to be another factor in this and that’s making sure they understand how you use your hours – because many don’t. Having just had my fourth meeting with a social worker I am slightly optimistic in that she finally got my apparently ‘radical’ method of allocating hours.
It’s somewhat of a hypocrisy I feel, we’re told Direct Payments are to be used as the client feels best and then when we do use them in an apparently atypical fashion it takes three social workers to understand we’re not just playing the system. My “whacky” approach to cleaning illustrates this: I eat food when my PA is there – she cleans, I eat food when she’s not there – she cleans, I get my papers in a mess after going through forms – she cleans, I get toothpaste allover the bathroom (well, she believes it’s toothpaste!) – she cleans. So yes, when a social worker goes through these tasks in a rigid one-dimensional way she concludes that my pa spends a heck of a lot of time cleaning and this can’t be accounted for. But the truth of the matter is the time she actually spends cleaning isn’t that great – although these tasks are many, the time they take is minimal indeed. Plus they’re often done in conjunction or even replacement of other tasks (ie she’ll spend more time cleaning the table on the days when I sort myself out for breakfast but, if you merely digest that fact, we’ve already cut that time through her not coming in to prepare me breakfast!).
Understand that? Well good, you’re now better than two of the three social workers I’ve seen!
The notion that it can take time to save time was also something only a third-party social worker was able to understand. For instance, my pa spends a reasonable amount of time putting everything in place (often literally) for me to go about my everyday life – she’ll pack my bags when I’m going out, she’ll organise my setnotes when I’m gigging, she’ll call me a cab to the station. However such tasks are done for one main purpose: SO THAT I CAN DO THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITY WITHOUT HER! In asking her to do these things I am effectively minimising the time she’s with me as she therefore doesn’t need to join me for the main activity.
It annoys me that many don’t think these things through to such a degree and as this social worker is a third-party independent it is still up to the council’s digression whether they raise my proposed hours. I just hope that even with the cuts councils will begin to see how ‘essential’ a task is varies from client to client.
Posted on | June 5, 2015 | No Comments
It’s true, I have a huge peni… sorry I mean ‘ego’, but I do try to make it a tongue-in-cheek thing (the fact I spelt that out is proof I’m not 100% sure I succeed). The one area I will admit to genuine arrogance in however is my independence, for someone with my level of disability I can do a shitload for myself – my pa compares me to her other clients and is surprised how easy her shifts with me are. I admit I find myself traveling >100 miles to a gig alone, patting myself on the back afterwards and saying “Dude, you’re awesome”.
With maturity you realise you cannot be gloating in every social setting and one must realise needs/care assessments are one of those inappropriate circumstances. I’m currently fighting proposed cuts to the hours I get with my pa and these cuts come from two things: one, the government being murderous shits; two, my natural desire to [metaphorically] jerk off when my social worker asked me how much I can do for myself. Here I was making the mistake of letting my independence talk, not my incapacity.
In these kinds of assessments there are all these false-binary questions such as ‘Can you make a cup of coffee?’. Now as my pa doesn’t come in every morning and I fucking need my caffeine I have laboriously developed a system where yes, I can make myself a coffee. However the method I have developed takes ages and is probably not safe (it’s one of the things I talk down when conversing to my parents) plus it also involves my pa putting everything in the right place the night before. So when asked this question you need to play their game – yes, if you try hard enough most people however impaired ‘can’ make a cup of coffee, but can you really, in a non-ideal setting and safely?? The answer for me is probably not and giving the answer yes will only mean they’ll tick the ‘is safe to handle burning liquids’ box, so please say no!!
If you’ve become used to a pa (I’ve been lucky enough to have Esther for six years) there are many things they’ll do for you that are so routine you become unconscious of them, but this isn’t to say they’re not essential. For instance, Esther will tidy clutter away to minimise tripping hazards, she will clean surfaces thoroughly to stop germs spreading, she will organise my filing in such a way that I can retrieve what I need – all these things I have become so accustomed to that I can forget they’re being done. However, they ARE being done and the social worker needs to know this.
Plus maybe, like me currently, you’ll go through phases when you’re not spending that much so you’ll treat yourself to an extra few meals out than usual. You are truly free to do this however you MUST not exaggerate this as they’ll pounce on it when assessing you; remember this is just because your cashflow is currently better than it usually is and your care-package should address your standard circumstances, not your optimum ones.
And no, if you’re one to twist meanings, this blog isn’t encouraging people to lie, [genuine] benefit fraud is a disgusting thing that can be done by anyone. This is merely promoting harsh honesty, assessments focus on incapability and independence is irrelevant – remembering that will minimise how much they can bite you in the ass!
Posted on | May 23, 2015 | 3 Comments
I mounted my attack on Simon Stevens a while back now and as we’ve shook hands (spaz-stylee) and accepted our differences I have no desire to refuel the fire, but in the interest of free-journalism and debate I see no reason why I can’t counter his arguments. He recently took to the Huffington Post to discuss ‘normality’ or rather his understanding of it, and as normality is a somewhat artificial and fluid concept this is a problem in itself.
Many rightly argue that gender is not a binary concept and, to take this further, this applies for identity in general; people are a mix of many different things and it is which identity they decide to front that makes them who they are. Put me on stage and I’m a comedian, leave me with my record collection and I’m an obsessive music freak, put me in front of a woman I fancy and I’m a pathetic babbling nobody – these are three established identities that when put in the melting pot make Ted. As I’ve become older and [perhaps] wiser I have learnt to create a ‘live mix’ of my identities (though preferably less of the third) in accordance to who I’m with. This is the standard way of establishing one’s overall self and the most successful, if we didn’t conform in any way we’d have no means to interact with others – it is how we combine these parts that make us unique.
Perhaps several decades ago there was more of a clear trend in society but now there just isn’t, we have labels and in them we have subdivisions and if anyone is able to fully conform to one of them I’d argue they are pretty damn unique. This is why I’m uncomfortable with his attack on goths – I accept it is just an example but a bad one at that. People’s ‘gothness’ may manifest itself in many ways and many may like being part of a group and knowing you’re never too far from someone you share common ground with. I can’t see why a little feeling of belonging to a group is a bad thing and if that’s what normality is I’d argue it must be a good thing.
And should we really let our disability govern if we’re ‘normal’? The argument ‘I’m disabled and therefore an outcast so why should I bother?’ reeks of defeatism, and that’s coming from cynical me! I do somewhat admire the stubbornness not to change for anyone but this severely caps how much one gets out of relationships. Everyone aspires to others and seeks self-improvement and doing so is not compromising one’s identity but making it stronger.
Sorry Simon, but this is clearly the babblings of someone not very in touch with society and with little desire to engage. It’s fine that you are not very in touch because, as you’ve just argued, that makes you ‘You’, but considering this maybe lay off judging others?keep looking »