Songs That Changed My Life: Suede – We Are The Pigs

Sitting in the front seat of my fathers dodgy old car on a sunny spring afternoon in early September 1994, I decided to turn the radio station over to JJJ, an alternative youth station that my father didn’t understand but I loved very much. I was in my second last year of high school and was more interested in becoming a D.J than focussing on my studies. Within minutes of tuning into the J’s, the female announcer talked about the new Suede single due for release the following week before promptly allowing “We Are The Pigs” to dance across the airwaves. And what a song it was!

It honestly seemed like a thousand years since the throng and excitement of Suede’s debut LP passed us all by in early 1993. I was often reading live reviews of their concerts in the NME (before it became utter shite), only to be left in fits of misery that I wasn’t over in England to see these immense shows for myself in the flesh. Seeing those early Suede shows must have been akin to watching Bowie impress Ziggy onto the unknowing public in the summer of 1972. After years of rubbish American music dominating the Australian airwaves, a British band had, at long last swept into my line of sight and thrown gasoline over the whole kit and kabootle before dropping the match and walking away to allow their music to do its thing.

So with “We Are The Pigs” on the radio, I stayed up late with a cassette tape at the ready to tape the new single from the forthcoming “Dog Man Star” LP off the radio. Mind, I had to listen to a fair bit of tosh before JJJ played it again that Friday night but the wait was more it. I had the song captured and could play it back on my Walkman at my leisure. In fact, I played it that much that the tape eventually died a slow and painful death.

During the second week of September, an import copy of the single appeared in the local indie record shops for the princely sum of $20. A fair whack of dosh for a jobless teenager in 1994. And, what’s more, there were only three songs on the single. Little did I know at the time of purchase was that the two b-sides were classic Suede songs in the making.

“Killing Of A Flashboy” & “Whipsnade” will forever go down in folklore as two of the bands greatest b-sides. Now, for a band who released a double album of b-sides that entertained the top ten of the British album charts (#9) in 1997, you can kind of see why this single was so important to the growing number of fans.

“We Are The Pigs” is a single that will sit firmly in my echelon of life altering moments because it was released at a time in my life when I was looking for new directions and alternatives to the mainstream and American rubbish that was flooding the market. It’s a dirty, filthy little number that, had it come in the form of a human being, you wouldn’t dare dream of taking it home to meet the parents!

How To Do 24 Hours In Sydney For Under $200!

Early last week, I decided to head to Sydney for 24 hours to watch the Sydney Swans v GWS semi final at the Sydney Cricket Ground along with the Cronulla-Sutherland v Eastern Suburbs straight after next door in the Sydney Football Stadium. Being the avid adventurer and always having trips on the go, my funds were tight so I was only able to make this mini adventure work out if there were cheap flights going. Thankfully, my luck was in and Tiger Air has flights with 7 kg of carry on luggage available for $49.95 each way. Departing at 10 am Saturday morning from the Gold Coast and returning from Sydney at 8:10 am the next day.

The big money saver came in the form of my gym membership as it covered my erm, “accommodation” for the night. You see, I go to Snap Fitness and part of the membership deal includes access to any of their gym’s worldwide and Sydney has a Snap Fitness in the heart of the city with showers, toilets and even a room to put your head down for a while. Of course, it’s not ideal but the hotel rates on short notice were asking upwards of $200 alone for a room so there was no way known that I was going to spend that kind of money for a room that I would only utilise for 5-6 hours. You see, by the time the second match finished and I walked back into the city, it was 11 pm and I was due on the 5 am train out to the airport. This is why Snap Fitness is my friend. I got a workout, shower and a quiet place to hang out in the heart of the city for precisely $0! Winning!

So what did I spend the other $100 of the budget on? Well, I only paid $47.95 for both match tickets. I buy student priced tickets online because nobody at the ground ever checks your ticket which meant my Swans ticket was $25 all in and the NRL ticket was $22.95 after booking fees (none for the Swans game) saving me $45! A bargain if ever there was one!

Next up was the actual transport from Sydney Airport into the city and back. Normally, a return ticket on the air train would cost $34. A highly expensive option for a ride that takes all of 10 minutes each way. Instead, I walked to Mascot Station which is located just 2 km’s from the domestic terminal and paid $2.75 on my Opal travel card. Returning the next morning was actually free because at 5 am on a Sunday morning, there are no ticket guards on duty at either Central Station or the Domestic Terminal so why pay bullshit money to the privately owned Sydney Airport Corporation who earn billions in profits every year when you can ride for free?

So far in the total cost is just under $150 and I still haven’t paid for food or the movie I was going to see! Well, the movie was free too because I had a gift card for Palace Cinemas that meant I was able to avoid the midday rain and see “You Were Never Really Here” starring Joaquin Phoenix. A marvellous if somewhat brutal film too.

The food option was easy. Once in the city, I headed to Woolworths and bought some crusty bread, ham, cheese, drinks and a shit load of snacks for $30. You see. A meat pie, chips and drink at the ground would cost almost $20 alone so buying up before hand essentially saves one heaps of money. And, at 3 am on Sunday, in Sydney’s CBD, I spent $10 at McDonalds for food and again, when at the airport, another $8.75 at McDonalds for a hot cakes breakfast. Better still, I had plenty of leftovers from my Woolies spend to bring home with me for snacks.

Now, I know many of you will think that buying student tickets and riding airport trains for free is unethical and immoral and yes, once upon a time, I would have agreed with you. However, as I grow older, I constantly see unethical and immoral practices in place through corporations, banks, governments & institutions as CEO’s fleece millions off shareholders whilst the politicians continually shove their heads in the trough like pigs so fuck it! If you can’t beat them, join them! The world we live in is a dog eat dog kind of place so you have to look after yourself and do what you have to do. Playing by the rules gets you nowhere in life. To get ahead and enjoy your life, you have to think smart and know how to milk the system in your favour.

Had I chosen to do this trip the way most people would done so, my flights in the middle of the day would have cost $280, airport transfers over $30, a hotel for the night in the city would have set me back $200 and buying food & drinks at the stadium’s and restaurants would have easily chipped away another $80. The whole adventure would have then rattled up over $600! Madness if you ask me.

In spite of the Swans getting bundled out and Cronulla losing (I hate Eastern Suburbs), it was a grand adventure that I would do all over again in a heartbeat. It sure beats spending a Saturday night plonked in front of a television set doesn’t it? And I mean, after all, why do you live? Think about that.

Pointless away kits!

So, here I am watching Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City but I’m struggling to understand why City are wearing an away kit? I thought the same two weeks ago when the Premier League champions travelled to Arsenal.

Wolves play in orange and Arsenal predominantly in red so how on earth can City’s pale blue clash with either of those? Some have suggested money as a motivating factor yet, the profit margins for the clubs in kit sales isn’t actually that viable as a business model. Then again the wealthy foreign owners of modern day football clubs become the extensively rich corporations and individuals they are because they are willing to milk the pennies where and when they can.

If Manchester City can earn a few extra pounds in shirt sales then, sure enough, they will. Including friendlies in 2018, City have worn their away kit more than they have their home kit. There is just something horribly wrong with this.

Tomorrow we will see Everton travelling to Bournemouth and they too will be wearing an away kit. Yet again, another fine example of football kits gone mad! Hell, even some clubs in league two now have three kits each season. League two for the love of god!

Still, my concerns over the pointless away kit fiasco is nothing compared to what might be in the not too distant future. With La Liga taking a game to America this season, I am starting to wonder when the FA will look to milk the game further by taking an entire round of fixtures abroad! Anyone fancy West Ham v Brighton in Singapore? The day that happens is the day I walk away from football.

A Reminder Of When Australia Was Truly Great!

News over the past 48 hours has reminded me why I moved away from politics in recent months. However, it has also reminded me of when Australia was actually a decent, progressive and forward thinking nation. A time when the politicians who ran the country had the good of the people at the front of their minds.

Gough Whitlam, Australian PM for no less than 2 years and 341 days, implemented a vast array of benefits for the country. Take a look at this list and remind yourself of a time when politicians could be trusted and embraced.  It’s a sad state of affairs in 2018 to see so many politicians simply looking to line their own pockets.

The Gough achievments It was the Whitlam Government that:-

1. ended Conscription,

2. withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam,

3. implemented Equal Pay for Women,

4. launched an Inquiry into Education and the Funding of Government and Non-government Schools on a Needs Basis,

5. established a separate ministry responsible for Aboriginal Affairs,

6. established the single Department of Defence,

7. withdrew support for apartheid–South Africa,

8. granted independence to Papua New Guinea,

9. abolished Tertiary Education Fees,

10. established the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS),

11. increased pensions,

12. established Medibank,

13. established controls on Foreign Ownership of Australian resources,

14. passed the Family Law Act establishing No-Fault Divorce,

15. passed a series of laws banning Racial and Sexual Discrimination,

16. extended Maternity Leave and Benefits for Single Mothers,

17. introduced One-Vote-One-Value to democratize the electoral system,

18. implemented wide-ranging reforms of the ALP’s organization,

19. initiated Australia’s first Federal Legislation on Human Rights, the Environment and Heritage,

20. established the Legal Aid Office,

21. established the National Film and Television School,

22. launched construction of National Gallery of Australia,

23. established the Australian Development Assistance Agency,

24. reopened the Australian Embassy in Peking after 24 years,

25. established the Prices Justification Tribunal,

26. revalued the Australian Dollar,

27. cut tariffs across the board,

28. established the Trade Practices Commission,

29. established the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service,

30. established the Law Reform Commission,

31. established the Australian Film Commission,

32. established the Australia Council,

33. established the Australian Heritage Commission,

34. established the Consumer Affairs Commission,

35. established the Technical and Further Education Commission,

36. implemented a national employment and training program,

37. created Telecom and Australia Post to replace the Postmaster-General’s Department,

38. devised the Order of Australia Honors System to replace the British Honors system,

39. abolished appeals to the Privy Council,

40. changed the National Anthem to ‘Advance Australia Fair’ (confirmed at 1977 Referendum),

41. instituted Aboriginal Land Rights, and

42. sewered most of Sydney.

If only Australia had a leader like Gough again!

Sleeping Rough Can Be Good For You

One of my passions in life is helping homeless people out where and when I can. It’s a regular thing for me and I enjoy offering a bit of food and drink or a bit of a chat every now and then. I guess having been there myself once or twice in the past, the experience has given me an insight into the plight of what some 130,000 Australian’s go through on a daily basis. To be fair though, I’ve had only short experiences of sleeping rough. It isn’t an experience I would wish upon anyone but one I am kind of glad I went through on a personal level. It went a long way to shaping the man I have become today.

So what’s tricky about sleeping rough?

The hardest part is the vulnerable position it leaves you in. Dark, cold and empty spaces seem ok around 8 or 9 pm at night however, as the witching hour approaches, things get a little grim. Scary people come out of the woodwork in all shapes and sizes. Shadows against the wall play tricks on your mind. All of a sudden, you feel more alone than one could ever imagine. As they say, nothing good hapoens after the witching hour strikes. Admittedly, it’s been almost 20 years since I last slept rough over a regular period of time but the memories remain clear as day.

In all the years that have passed by, it still baffles me why a country as genuine and “lucky” as Australia still seems incapable of providing a safe environment for our disheveled and luckless citizens who call the streets home. Our government spends billions each and every year on war yet, somehow they seem more than capable at cutting the budgets for crisis centres and outlets to allow homeless people to fit back into our society.

Despite the fortunate life I lead today, I always try to find the opportunities to offer a hot coffee or some food or even the odd toothbrush and toothpaste to homeless people when and where I can. More importantly, I always make time to have a chat with the homeless souls on our streets. They are human beings at the end of the day and sometimes a few kind words can be a small part in helping someone else who is doing it tough get back on the horse. Next time you see a homeless person on the street, don’t walk past them with disdain. Give them the respect they deserve and offer some help as best you can. After all, your act of kindness and generosity could be the catalyst in helping someone down on their luck get back into a life they truly deserve.

Liverpool Doing The Business!

The new season has begun and Liverpool have done something that I haven’t always felt was possible in recent years on opening day.  Step out and blow the opposition away.  Doing the business as they say.

Cast your minds back over the past decade of season openers and you readily think of the loss to an average Spurs side in 2009, Joe Cole copping a red card in the 1-1 result to Arsenal the following season, held to a 1-1 against lowly Sunderland 12 months later and, let us not forget getting thumped 3-0 at West Brom on the opening day of the 2012/13 season.  In fairness, the last couple of seasons have produced decent starts however, like the our clubs history of the past decade or so under American ownership, I’ve never truly started off the season with a genuine belief that the club we all adore and cherish can bring some serious silver back home some nine months later.  When the team stepped out yesterday to play West Ham, I was genuinely expecting a final scoreline of around 6 or 7 zip to the red men.

In the end, they came close to my desired result and I expect plenty of floggings to be dished out during the season.  After all, the boys didn’t really move out of second gear against West Ham which is a frightening prospect for future opponents.  I feel incredibly confident of this team achieving something very special this season.  There is not one reason why we can’t compete on more than one.  More than anything, most reds want that elusive top flight title to come home by seasons end.  Preferably by the end of April if that isn’t too much to ask?  None of us would like to go through a final day heat stopper like City endured in 2012.

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So why are Liverpool looking so classy in 2018?  Firstly, I have to give credit where credit is due.  I’ve been one of FSG’s most stern critics in recent years.  Thankfully, they have rid themselves of that “money ball” tosh that was overused in their early tenure.  Gone to, it seems, are the persistent habits of buying players with “potential” or “project” players.  The club have finally woken up to the idea that, to win the big trophies on offer, you need the best players.  Gone are the likes of Paul Konchesky, Christian Poulsen, Sebastian Coates and Iago Aspas and in are Alisson, Naby Keita, Virgil Van Dijk, Mo Sallah and Fabinho.  You want the best, expect to pay for the best.  It isn’t rocket science but it’s taken FSG 8 long years to wake up and smell the cheese.

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On top of these quality acquisitions comes one of world footballs best managers in Jurgen Klopp.  I had the pleasure of being at his first game in charge against Spurs nigh on three years ago and the anticipation carried forward from that day at White Hart Lane has grown to a point where Jurgen is seen as a messiah on Merseyside in 2018 and if many reds are to be believed, it is only a matter of time before regular trophies start making their way back to Anfield.  Klopp has almost single handedly taken Liverpool to one domestic and two European finals in no time at all.  The German has also given Liverpool back to back Champions League campaigns for the first time in a decade and made the club one that the best players now want to come to for success and not just as a stepping stone to bigger things.  It’s hard to imagine that, as recently as last October, there were plenty of Liverpool supporters calling for Jurgen to be sent packing after a 4-1 mauling at the hands of Spurs.  He’s got the club playing the best football in the land that has the rest of Europe on red alert.

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Moving forward, the red men travel to Crystal Palace next Monday night before hosting Brighton and then heading down to Leicester.  Three games and 9 points on offer.  With the squad we have on deck, there is no reason why all 9 points shouldn’t be collected comfortably.  It’s a great time for Liverpool supporters and we’ve got good reason to feel excited as to what may lay in wait over the coming nine months or so.  I’m not asking too much when I dream of a league title, FA Cup and European Cup treble am I?  I’d throw the league cup in too but because I’m feeling generous, we can leave those scraps for the other clubs to fight over.

P Free July! A Roaring Success!

It’s been that good that I’d forgotten to finish up July with an update. Yes, my efforts to ignore politics in July has been an amazing experience beyond my wildest dreams. Life in general has been that much better.

For the uninformed, I went the whole month of July ignoring politics, not watching news, deleting news outlets from my social media feeds and unfollowing anyone posting incessant political ramblings, more so the endless barrage of misinformed Donald Trump tosh which appears to flow ever so freely in the shape of hate fuelled daily updates. News flash. Donald doesn’t care about inflatable babies and insulting protest signs. If only non-Americans showed as much interest in shaping their own political fronts as they do that of the United States.

I’ve liked this P Free July gig so much so that I am going to carry it on, hopefully for a long time to come. This world, I am afraid, is designed for crashing bores and, frankly my dears, I’ve lost all interest interest in changing things out of my control.