Sunday, February 05, 2012

Noel Gallagher: People always drift to the right as they become richer. Sorry, older.

Noel Gallagher pops up in the Mail On Sunday today, giving an interview that will probably excite Mail On Sunday readers:

'It was all better under Thatcher': Noel Gallagher on Britain's glory days, turning his back on drugs and the end of Oasis
Mail readers - who probably believe that Gallagher is some sort of role model to young people - will dance with delight; they might even see this as some sort of rock capitulation. Instead, it's a very rich man sounding like a very rich man.

There was a slim hope that he was just making a misguided claim that rotten government is good for culture, and there is a bit of that:
‘Under Thatcher, who ruled us with an iron rod,’ he says, ‘great art was made. Amazing designers and musicians. Acid house was born. Very colourful and progressive.’
I can't quite remember which member of the Tory cabinet it was who represented the birthplace of acid house - was it David Waddington or Douglas Hurd who had the Chicago seat?

Now, it's inarguable that great art was made during the Thatcher era, but to suggest that that makes the Thatcher era great is just stupid. Everyone can agree that For The Good Of The Cause is a damn-near perfect short story, but it doesn't really make the Stalin era look good from a distance.

And Gallagher isn't just going for the 'it might have been shit, but Ghost Town was a tune' nostalgia. Oh, no; he's going for full-on blue rinse:
'We were brought up under Thatcher,’ Noel Gallagher is saying.
‘There was a work ethic – if you were unemployed, the obsession was to find work.'
No, I've double-checked; this hasn't fallen into the page due to a mix-up with Jeremy Clarkson's copy.

Where do you start? Do you start with the obvious fact that the "work ethic" was a employer/ruling class construct that attempted to use religious imagery in order to impose a rigid pattern on the workforce?

Or that while people want to work, any inherent desire to find labour tends to get crushed out of you when the places your family have relied on for work for generations are closed down as the political class undermines the nation's manufacturing base?

And if there was "the obsession to find work" why was there all the compulsion to take any job that was introduced under Thatcher?

Indeed, the idea that 'back in my day, people would go out and hunt down work' sounds almost exactly like Tebbit's 'on his bike' speech, which supposedly was aimed at the working class during the Thatcher era for not doing that.

But remind us, Noel, what were you doing when you were unemployed in Manchester during the Thatcher years?
"I used to play arcade games when I was on the dole in Manchester," Gallagher continued. "Playing Defender."
Presumably he thought that if you got to level 4 of Asteroids there was a guaranteed job in it?

And on his own blog, Noel paints a picture of his life in 1980s Manchester that doesn't quite sound like a man obsessed with finding work:
Woke up yesterday with a naughty hangover. Felt like a dead shit. It was still raining. What the fuck? Didn't do much. Stared out the window watching the rain. Reminded me of being on the dole back home in Manchester in the '80s.
Well, yes, apart from that obsession with finding work, eh, Noel?

Perhaps Noel should read what this chap has to say, for a slightly-less rose-tinted view of what Thatcher really meant for the working class:
"I remember the 70s constantly being winter in Manchester and the Irish community in Manchester closing ranks because of the IRA bombings in Birmingham and Manchester, and you know the bin-workers' strike, all wrapped up in it... They were violent times. Violence at home and violence at football matches."
One of his strongest memories is collecting the dole every week with his dad and seeing his friends there, too. "That was the Maggie Thatcher age - everyone was there with their dad."
That was Noel Gallagher talking to the Guardian in 2008.

To be fair, most of Noel's blether is fuelled by a clear total ignorance of what the world is like beyond his cocktail circuit. He defends sending his kids to private school by pointing to the local education system's problems:
There were riot police outside our local school the other morning. Turns out there’d been a stabbing. Rival gangs. We shouldn’t need riot police at schools. This is Maida Vale. This isn’t Handsworth or Tottenham, do you know what I mean?
Noel, sweetheart, have you heard of Philip Lawrence? Do you know where his school, the school he was stabbed outside, was? You moved to the site of one of the most horrible school stabbing incidents in recent British history, and are surprised that there is violence in local schools?

Gallagher's other defence for taking his children out the state system is also a bit alarming:
‘I don’t want them coming home speaking like Ali G.'
I'm not sure Noel is clever enough to come up with a coded way of saying 'I don't want my kids to come home speaking like they're black children', which means we could be generous and assume that he's really, really worried about correct grammar and received pronunciation. That would be it, right?

If one good thing can come out of this, perhaps it will be that the NME will finally stop pretending that Gallagher is any more relevant or interesting than Jagger, Collins or Lydon. Or any different to them.


RoJo said...

Nice response but FYI Ali G doesn't speak like "black children" he speaks like any child who grew up on an inner city estate in London.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant stuff from Gallagher. Tells it like it is.

A Teacher said...

You lost me at the Ali G thing. The "Jafaken" accent that some London schoolkids affect has sod all to do with the colour of their skin. Good post otherwise.

jaydeepee said...

Gallagher has always been a cockmuncher. The super city fan who never went and will raise his kid as an Arsenal fan and with a selective view of Manchester in the 70s and 80s. Worse of all his music is turgid shite and has been for years. PS - stop wearing Stone Island for fucksake and if you must, take the badge off. How old are you?

PhilD said...

Ah yes, the Tory govt that inspired Acid House then spent a huge amount of time and money trying to crush dance culture. Remember 94's Criminal Justice Bill? Gallagher clearly doesn't, and why would he, he was already too far gone into his own turgid retro-britpop bubble to notice let alone care. Still, he sold a lot of records and got to meet Tony Blair so I guess it was worth it.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

@RoJo & A Teacher:
Fair point and totally agree that it's how London schoolkids talk, regardless of their skin colour, but when a rich white bloke in a mansion in Maida Vale says he doesn't want his kids mixing with other ones who will cause them to talk like Ali G, I think it's a fair question to ask what that actually means.

There's a bit from - obviously - the Mail a few years back which takes an academic study that says 'it's just how kids talk' and wraps in it a lot of loaded language about 'tradition' and 'multicultural' and 'wiping out' and 'eclipsing' and even 'infiltrating'.
"Talking like Ali G" is a pretty loaded term.

Robin Carmody said...

Elsewhere in today's MoS, Hitchens Minor describes bishops' essentially centrist (One Nation Tory to SDP) opposition to the government's welfare cuts as "Trotskyist". I have a terrible fear that Noel Gallagher would actually agree with this.

re. NG on Ali G (presumably the only person anything to do with Multicultural London English he's ever even heard of, which is why he's still citing him more than a decade on), the singling out of that change and not all the other changes shows that the Mail loves to bash the powerless while leaving the powerful - the overwhelmingly white global media elite who are *really* behind the cutting of cultural ties to the Britain of the 1950s - alone. Where I live, in the overwhelmingly white shires, younger people no longer speak with any identifiable local accent - their voices have been very heavily influenced by white American and white Australian mediaspeak. Had the Mail ever made any kind of fuss about this (and I mean during and since the 1980s, not in the 50s which might as well be several centuries ago in this context) then I could believe that they were simply opposed to any changes, not singling out changes driven by black influences. It's the fact that they've never bothered themselves or got upset about *white* mass media influences altering British traditions in the modern era that makes it obvious how racially motivated they (and Noel Gallagher) actually are.

And that doesn't even begin to deal with the ironies of Gallagher - surely the most regressive influence on British music in the last three decades, not least for his depoliticisation and effective destruction of an entire subculture - basing his career on supposed adulation of a band who wouldn't have *existed* without creating, er, uniquely British hybrids based on black American influence ...

Anonymous said...

Turns out Gallagher didn't say a lot of this at all. Words were misinterpreted and he's mentioned it on his blog thing he has. Oh well...

nothing said...

Millionaire rock star has skewed worldview shocker

Anonymous said...

Noel response to the Daily Mail article...

"Well not a great deal going on. Nothing to report and normally I would wait until something happened before I mithered you but someone has just made me aware of a headline they came across on this here internet. Now 99 times out of 100 I wouldn't bother with such nonsense but I feel outraged, so for the record...

There is a headline that implies that I am of the opinion that the years spent under the rule of that soon to be dead granny, Maggie Thatcher, was good for the soul. I've read the story and I must say it's very misleading; any great working class art, fashion, youth culture etc came to be IN SPITE of that woman and her warped right wing views and NOT BECAUSE of them. Also for the record, on the day that she dies we will party like it's 1989. Just so you know."

And the rest of this blog just guesses and gives one-sided smart-ass conclusions of Noel's quotes.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Yes, I'd actually written about Noel's... what is it? It's not a rebuttal, or an explanation, or a withdrawal... Noel's desperate struggle to save face over twelve hours before you cut and pasted it:

By the way, I think you'll probably find that if you write a response to one person's views, they will tend to be written from a single perspective.

Anonymous said...

I just thought a more balanced view could have been given - but then I suppose blogs don't have to be balanced. And apologies for not seeing the other link - I'd only read this page.

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