The Return of PJ Harvey

Stayed up far too late last night so today has been a long fizzle of nothing. I’ve drawn two cartoons and packaged up my Surface. Other than that, meh… I feel tired, which never bodes well for the day. I can’t think when this tired. Even coffee didn’t wake me up.

Despite all of this, I am having a decent day musically. I discovered a new Basement Session from P.J. Harvey on Youtube which utterly knocked me for six. There are very few artists I came to right at the start of their careers but Harvey is one of them; one of the few artists who have given me Grade One weakness of the knees for a huge part of my life. Adore her. So many great videos but I’ll embed one of the less known but equally great ones. Like so much of her work, what’s great about grows organically from simplicity.

She has a new documentary out about the making of her last album. Tempted to subscribe to the trial of the streaming service it’s on but I hate trials unless I know it’s easy to cancel. Amazon Prime is the best for this; The Times is the worst. Easy to give them your details but an absolute awful time having to ring them up to cancel…

In other news, I notice that Sky Sports have sacked three pundits. It’s not really a sports story as much as a media story. It’s noticeable, for example, that they haven’t sacked their most imbecilic pundit, Paul Merson. No, they’ve sacked Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier, and Charlie Nicholas.

Again, this story doesn’t interest me from the football side. I watch Liverpool but I not such a fan of general football punditry. What is noticeable, however, is how social media seems to guide these decisions. As I keep arguing – at least a couple of times a month – our media is shaped not by the best commentators but the very worst.

For all the talk of “cancel culture” it’s notable how many of the people who complain the loudest are heard the most. A career is made these days by being outspoken, extreme, and generally wrong. You’re a success if what you say offends enough people; winds them up on social media so they ensure that your stupidity trends. If you’re the kind of person who speaks sense, you don’t earn the hate, don’t generate the clicks, don’t earn enough money to continue speaking sense.

From a systemic point of view, this is terrible. It’s a positive feedback loop of the very worst kind. Outrage produces clicks which generate money which encourages even greater outrage. Instead of a media that pushes reasonable arguments, we have a media that is continually spoiling for a fight. It’s the Katie Hopkins effect, until, of course, Hopkins got too spicy for the media companies to employ. But, make no mistake, they discovered morality when the advertisers squeal and the advertisers only squeal when enough people were angry enough to mobilise. They simply start the loop again with a different firebrand ready to market their poison.

The whole thing is a crock, the absolute worst of economics driven not by quality but the absence of quality.

Hm… That went off on a tangent and I’d really only sat down to sing the praise of P.J. Harvey, which I’ll do again. This, from the start of her career, was a sound that I immediately fell in love with.

6 thoughts on “The Return of PJ Harvey”

  1. Football would be better off without any pundits, who needs a gobshite to tell you what you have just watched. The only time I have enjoyed watching football on TV over the past decade was when I was living abroad. I couldn’t understand the commentary and they didn’t have pundits at half time, they just showed the highlights and then went to adverts till the 2nd half started. Something about the whole blokes in the studio thing with their buddy buddy act, the fake tans, big watches and of course the garish suits. it really is a piss poor advert for men.

    I watched Bobby Campbell last week on the big match revisited from 1974 and it was like a breath of fresh air, very honest about his own team and players “Charlie George’s biggest problem is Charlie George”, and on conceding a goal “Our lads were running back towards space, but spaces don’t score goals players do”.

    I remember seeing Charlie Nicholas score a cracking free kick at SJP back in the 80’s, he put a six foot curl on the ball to get it around the wall which took some doing with those Mitre Delta’s they were using then. Bloody freezing is the other thing I remember, couldn’t feel my feet coming out of the ground.

    1. The one and only time I’ve been Anfield (a friend gave me a ticket) I left the ground the coldest I’ve ever been in my life. I mean so cold I was worried if I’d survive the night. It was Liverpool vs Stoke (a terrible 0-0) on a cold January day. Didn’t understand how the concrete of the floor acts like an enormous heatsink, in this case drawing all my body heat through my shoes. Tried to keep my feet off the floor as much as I could. Never again had the urge to watch football live. I guess I’m too much of a TV fan: love the replays, the goal line technology, and (up to a point) some commentary. I had a seat at the far end of the pitch which meant half the game I couldn’t see since it was through distant fog. Really don’t get the appeal.

      Where I do object is the stuff around the football. Don’t mind interviews with managers but I despise “Gary in the studio”, on whatever stupid amount he’s on, providing the kind of context that any half decent fan could provide. In fact, I get far more pleasure from “amateur” coverage on Youtube such as, in the case of Liverpool, Redmen TV.

      1. I’m the opposite, the atmosphere at games used to be fantastic, you heard so many funny things during games too. Being thrown fifteen steps downward in the crush when you scored, brilliant!. Then there was the travelling to loads of different places you wouldn’t ordinarily have visited, all the daft mishaps en route. I am also a firm believer that you can’t really assess a player unless you see them live, TV misses so much. Each to their own though, it isn’t a tyranny. The football I loved is dead and buried anyway, it will never come back, says it all that I haven’t even watched a single major final this season.

        Lineker has become toxic for the BBC, the wages and the opinions both, I really don’t see beyond sheer bloody mindedness why they persist with him. He talks the talk alright, I wouldn’t mind so much if he walked the walk. Instead he has been implicated in multiple tax avoidance schemes, which boils down to him taking money directly away from the NHS and the needy people he pretends to give a damn about. I honestly would have to cross the street if I ever saw him coming my way, not many people I would say that about. He’s a total dick. Sorry for that little outburst!.

        1. Oh, I’m neurotic and anti-social to enjoy crowds of any kind so the football kind at anthema to me. Plus I can to football late. I originally loved cricket and only started to watch football with the Premiership. I make no bones about it. I’m definitely a TV fan only.

          What makes Lineker worse is that he keeps turning up on other channels. I might be wrong but I’m sure he was hosting BT’s Champion’s League coverage in addition to his BBC work. Just a greedy sod but it’s more than that. He typifies a nation where we are happy to keep buying the same product by a small number of people. There’s no variety, not reason to have amibiton. There’s certainly not much reason to go into sports journalism these days because you know that the ex-players will leap ahead of you at the last moment. The person who can communicate the game well will mean so much less than the guy who can grunt a little but did score a memorable winner at Wembley in some now distant final.

          Now I am sorry for my little outburst! 😉

          1. Ha! You’ve be amazed at what interests me. I spent too long the other day watching SpaceX fit a lump of metal the next grain silo they’re hoping to make fly tomorrow.

            Anyway, I was ready to say how slow the football feels compared to these days but it didn’t look too slow at all. Between the ball and the woeful state of some of those pitches, anything like fast modern football is a small miracle. Nice goal too, though less sure about the hair.

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It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?


Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.