Friday 30 March 2018

Thinking Allowed

This is for Easter and the time of the year when many are reminded of their beliefs. In the last few millennia humanity has collected a number of ‘Isms to direct the mind, explain our behaviour, and give us comfort in times of trial.

To these might be added “Ics”, or “Ians”, a number of “Ologies” of one sort or another.  Then there are “Mania’s”. These are not exclusive and are subject to interpretation. My Ism is your Ology, your Ology is their Mania, and their Mania is my Ism. I hope this is quite clear.

I will stick to Isms, because I have had a lot of them in my time, some enforced, others as fashion, and now and again because one had a passing attraction, like a steam hauled train going through when you are waiting for the dreary modern rattletrap for which you have a ticket.

Some of the most fervent and anxious opinions out there in the media and on the net are all to do with Isms. All I need to do is mention one in particular and express a slight reservation, and then there will be a thunder of hooves in the distance, or worse a lot of mails telling me how wrong I am.

The essential trouble with an Ism that has been around a long time is that when it is further from its roots, the human condition changes, and as other radical changes occur not only does it morph into something quite different, but these stresses in turn spawn Schisms, so an Ism has many sub-Isms.

This is complicated, if you do not believe me study ecclesiastical history.  It is said that at one time in Yorkshire the proliferation of dissenting chapels was such that in some places almost every family ran their own chapel. It exists elsewhere, but probably I have already upset too many people.

That is just religion.  In economics and commerce it becomes a lot more serious and emotional. Even the flagellants of old cannot match for fervour the proponents of this Ism or that Ism relating to the ordinary business of life and money.

Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Corporatism, Fascism (nowadays sometimes disguised as Nationalism) all these and more are on offer for those who seek some kind of explanation for what the hell is going on.

At present we have a government that has come to believe on the basis of whatever Ism they employ; this is a matter of confusion and disagreement; that moving digital money about rapidly by computer is the key to future and wealth and happiness.

At least for the few who are party to it, and can draw down the benefits. Some call this Capitalism, and if so, it has certainly morphed, it is very different from the pre Limited Liability form, and the early 20th Century industrial age types.

One school suggests that the word now relates to systems that try to maximise the rents on what they own, and this entails the exploitation of whatever and whoever they can get their hands on.  It might explain the relapse in different forms of bondage that much of present humanity endures.

If so then not only do self styled Capitalists have very different ideas of what their Ism actually is and does, but the notion becomes incomprehensible to everyone else.

So as an Ism it is now redundant, and we need to dream up a whole new set of words or phrases to try to explain matters. Socialism and Communism have had that problem. In our modern world this is not easy.

Once upon a time if someone had done enough swotting, written big books that got circulated, and attracted enough interest and agreement, you could have a new Ism established in a generation or two.

These days, you knock out something from a quick search of a few Wikipedia entries and the odd bit or two from Google Scholar in the morning, post it in the afternoon, then after adverse reactions and threats amend it in the evening, but by the next morning it is dead in the water and you have to start all over again.

This is not good news for philosophers or theologians, still less for economists or social scientists. It does not affect politics, but those practitioners have always had a flexible way of dealing with things.

At the dawn of the 21st Century; that is by the calculations of some Isms; there are those with different dating patterns; perhaps it is time for humanity to clear out the intellectual lofts, sheds, and cupboards of what passes for all the whole world of theory.

If none of the old Isms are any use they represent obstacles to any assessment of the human condition now and in the foreseeable future, whether rational, emotional, spiritual, or even cynical.

We have only what we know, and that isn’t much, what we can judge relating to the degree of perception as to what is going on around us, what our instincts may tell us, and what any notions of morality may guide us.

So why not dump the lot?  Perhaps a sonic boom from a passing near earth object, or a blast of cosmic rays from some distant galactic catastrophe, or perhaps simply the total crash of our electrical supply systems from a bigger than usual solar flare might do the job for us.

Oh dear, I have just contracted a new Ism.  It is called Fatalism.  Does anyone share my ideas? Imagine the T Shirts, “Fatalism Is The Future” or “Fatalism Rules OK”.

If you can’t beat them, join them.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Losing The Game

You may or may not have noticed but there is another soccer World Cup due to begin in June. In the UK and around the world our leagues have been disrupted by the intrusion of "friendlies" in which sides who have qualified meet sides who have not as preparation.

One way or another you are paying for most of it between the TV service you use, the purchases you make from firms that do so much of the advertising and sundry ways and means. The grounds, players and anything that either moves or is still is covered with advertisements.

Recently and worse, sport TV now has pop up advertisements frequently flashing across the screen at most if not all slow or static parts of the coverage. The button I reach for is not to buy but to switch off before putting some soothing music on the CD.

The football has become routine, predictable and so boring and the commentating exploring the furthest shores of idiocy. So the sound is off and the music on even if the sport is on screen.

This is what I had to say in 2014, below.

The first soccer World Cup was played in 1930, with two more before WW2 with limited numbers of entrants.  When it began again in 1950 and entrants increasing with air travel available it became bigger and more complicated.

So it began during a period of strong nationalisms and continued in the second half of the 20th Century on a national basis with the teams being substantially drawn from players in their own national leagues.

By and large the national teams were better than the individual teams in their own home leagues and the standard of football reflected this.  When watching a World Cup game you were looking at the best playing the best in general.

In the 21st Century as a result of the globalisation of football, ease of long distance travel, the impact of finance from satellite TV and major corporate sponsors, there is a very different situation.

There are particular national leagues, notably in Europe, where the clubs have substantial squads of foreign players paying top wage prices for the best players they can hire from anywhere in the world.  There has been a concentration of these players in Europe.

For the crowds and TV audiences now the best football to be seen is not an international match featuring your national team, it is a match between elite clubs from the national leagues playing either in their own league or in one of the plethora of international competitions now in existence.

It is arguable that the day of national teams playing on the basis of nationalist interests is now over and it not just secondary, but actually an intrusion on the real business and purpose of football and a costly one at that for the taxpayers. The way things are going in Brazil, if anything, seem to confirm this.

The trouble is, as ever, the politics.  There is not only FIFA and the rest installed as relics from the past there are politicians anxious to show off at prestigious international fun fests of one sort or another.  They are very happy to spend the taxpayers money on these bun fights.

But when a World Cup finals group match turns out to be more boring and worse football that you could see at a routine English second grade Championship match between teams with international squads it does raise the question do we need the World Cup?

How do we get rid of FIFA and its monopoly power?

That was the question in 2014.

Now it is more how do we get rid of football?

Monday 26 March 2018

Money And Tax Made Simple

This arises from a comment made on an article about taxing wealth, a subject of bitter debate across the political and economic board. A major problem is that wealth now, that of not so long ago and that of earlier times are not the same. So how and why to tax it becomes more complicated.

Essentially, at one time a great deal of wealth was static. Think of the landed gentry, the buildings and the gold, silver and the rest in the great churches and adorning the rich and powerful, as well as sitting in the cellars of the Italian bankers.

Then as merchants and adventurers ventured across the world up to the 19th Century and through to the 20th it became movable. Hence the drive to Empires with the aim of moving as much of theirs as you could to become ours. In Europe it was at the root of many of the wars, which certainly moved a lot of it about.

In recent decades with the rapid development of communications technology, money creation ideas and globalisation it is fluid, now you see it, now you don't as it moves around the world faster than the time taken to fill an inkpot in the old days.

We have gone from static to movable to fluid yet the philosophies of economics etc. as they are translated into taxation policies are those essentially of one past or another. We have not yet come up with a set of theoretical economics that can cope with fluid monetary wealth in the global context.

Marx was a mid to late 19th Century man who saw wealth as essentially static and so to be shared by and with all while around him the banks were going broke as they learned about movable wealth the hard way.

As the ups and downs of this continued to plague economies for decades we come to Keynes, a brilliant man and mind, who tried to advise us how best to deal with this. The politicians as ever, preferring the easy and popular bits to the difficult ones, made a mess of this on the whole.

Meanwhile the techies in the attic were playing games on the new machines they were inventing and began talking to each other over the ether.

It was not long before the bankers who dealt with their accounts, invariably in the deepest red, realised that just as the techies could control Mario The Plumber worldwide, they could control money flows and holdings.

The rest is history as we try to understand what is going on out there.

Saturday 24 March 2018

Frock Horror

In my grandfather's time officers of the dragoons had a great deal to do with actresses but rarely, if ever, married them. But well over a century later times have changed. So we celebrate the coming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan.

The media are playing close attention to the crucial issues of this event, for example the honeymoon location, will it be Brighton or will it be a more staid resort such as Bognor Regis or perhaps Sandbanks with its Royal Motor Yacht Club?

Above all of this is The Frock, the wedding dress. There have been a number of designs suggested. One of the popular choices is rather like that of Sarah Brightman's in the "Phantom Of The Opera".

Will the wedding march be "Music Of The Night" from the show?  If not might it the regimental quick march or the slow march?

Thursday 22 March 2018

The Fat Of The Land

As it is half way between meals my thoughts naturally turn to food. During my time on this planet I have consumed a lot of what it has to offer. The weight has gone up and down according to life style, preferences and needs at different times.

But so has the expert advice on which foods are best for me and should be eating. If I went in to this less than tasty subject it would be a long post of which you probably already know the most of it.

In Britain today the male population has grown not just in numbers, but in size. The Brit's are getting bigger but not necessarily better. Being among the biggest in the world wins no prizes. There are health implications and others. But this is now "normal".

The picture above it what was once considered the ideal for the male population of Britain. It is John Bull and in today's world what in the past may have been taken to be a desirable state of manhood are now indications of bad eating and serious medical problems to come.

In the late 18th Century he would have been consuming almost all home grown food and much of it local. Imported foods had the expense of transport which was a great deal and the limited amount of processed foods, e.g. sugar were in the realm of luxury.

By the late 19th Century this had changed as major inflows of food began to arrive from other places and at home factories were being built to make food for the ordinary household table in mass production. Synthetic chemicals were coming into use.

Skipping the 20th Century and into the 21st and it has moved on to an astonishing situation where the old streets of shops have gone, the supermarkets that replaced them have become larger and more extensive but are under challenge from mass IT delivery systems.

A lot of food today comes ready packaged for a few minutes in an microwave oven at most and has bewildering listings of contents that show distant sources and complex chemical content to make them look and taste what the marketing experts dictate will suit the mass of the public.

So our John Bull today is not so much a prosperous peasant but a miracle of chemistry.

For as long as he lasts.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Lovely Wars

Around the many film channels today are some that show ones from the past. They can take us into two different worlds, one the period in which the film was set and the other in which it was made, both very different from our own today.

"Oh What A Lovely War" was screened in 1969, an adaptation from a 1960's stage show and dealt with World War One, another fifty years back. It is one for me to watch because a friend of my early teenage years was Joe Melia who starred in the film.

It still causes debate and disagreement. A vigorous and bright colour film it hit hard and was intended to, albeit without the kind of sex and violence on display and thought necessary in our modern films and drama.

In the 1960's what was current was the Vietnam War, a Cold War where the rockets were kept ready and the East German border under careful watch. In London, PM Harold Wilson was feinting and dodging to avoid being involved in any major conflict.

One of the features of the film was the way in which men signed on for the new Army, seemingly volunteers fooled and persuaded by the propaganda of the period. But in 1914 it may not have been so simple.

This was a time when a high proportion of the male population were labourers or workers in factories who were as often as not laid off for periods, especially the winter.

The Army offered regular pay, food and clothing. With the promises of a war that would soon be over, especially when the German advances had been stopped. There would be many who thought that it would not be a long war.

The film was true for some men of WW1 but not all of them. But the lesson half a century later was that wars were easy to start but often hard to stop; they cost more than they were ever expected to and in many different ways.

Half a century further on we do not seem to have learned much.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Art And Sold

In the BBC series "Civilisations" the third one had Simon Schama discussing landscape art and its history related to the nature of the various forms of civilisation over the millennia.

Sadly, there were no paintings of either British and Irish nor French landscapes to be seen.

As this was the BBC we must assume that it does not consider these nations to be civilised.

If so, then it is possible that one of the reasons for that is the BBC.

Sunday 18 March 2018

The Workers Flag Is A Shade Of Pink

With attention centred on the Russian business and the great powers apparently still playing at Cold War Games, what is striking is how old fashioned it all it in our bright new digitised world. It is not surprising given that governments set up big departments and let them loose to do their best. Which also means worst.

It has pushed back attention on a whole range of other issues where a rapidly changing world is leaving our politics and power systems behind in the chase. One referred to before is what is going on in the UK university segment of the (lack of) information economy.

This article on the wages dispute is short and readable and tells us what a mess it is. For those with long memories it seems to bear strong similarities to the state of the British motor industry and allied engineering trades in the late sixties and into the seventies.

We know what happened next with that sector of the economy. There must be many youngsters coming through whose skills are already well ahead of much that can be taught at the universities.

How long will it be before they no longer want to waste three years in bad accommodation, stacking up long term debt and listening to people from the past giving out second hand information and third rate analysis?

Especially for the kind of work and job markets that are around now and will be the case in the future?

Friday 16 March 2018

Movers And Shakers

History is full of twists and turns and what might be and should be and what the background is often unexpected. Ms. May, who we take to be a vicar's daughter fallen into sin, that of politics, we know has a part of her family history in Scotland and in mining.

Under current policies and proposals she is alleged to be scrapping the welfare state and structures said to be owed to Lord Beveridge and his Report which became a major plank in Labour policy and structure and retained by the Conservatives, if only to catch enough floating voters to put them in power.

Beveridge, however, has his family history in the direct male line from Scotland. Not far from that of Ms. May's Paterson's his are in and around Dunfermline and would you believe it with some in the mining industry at the same time as that of Ms. May's people.

There is a difference, however, in that while Ms. May is of more ordinary and suburban life in England, Lord Beveridge was one of the Sons Of The Scottish Raj.

He was born in Rangpur and his father, Henry, a judge who had taken advantage of all that Scottish education denied to those in England. Henry was an expert in the history of Jahangir, the great Mughal ruler of an Empire.

I have pointed out before the major influence that the Sons Of The Raj have had on Labour policy making, not least via the library of the LSE. Direction from an elite at the top, central planning, rule by bureaucratic multi-layered structures, endless and complex rule making and decision, you name it and there it is, often in the name of nationalisation.

The consequence is that few know what they are really doing and why, decisions, when made are hit and miss, usually the latter, the data selective and inadequate, the analysis based on presumptions that often are badly wrong and the administration if not lacking then prone to corruption and criminality.

But this kind of thing is found in the 21st Century not only in governmental bodies but has been translated to corporate finance in the "global" context. This is fueled by state spending and money creation that allows "markets" in the ownerships of sectors of the economy.

When a company structure crashes these days it is very often the product of greed and folly and fancy financial games. When what seems to be an ordinary business goes bust, how often do we find that it is simply the bottom layer with not one or two above but half a dozen or more, mostly engaged in swapping paper and created money?

What is more, via political directors, money movement etc. the Conservative Party is at the heart of this group of shakers and movers. In the Labour Party they are also to be found, although cheek by jowl with those of the antique Left who look to Beveridge as their prophet.

When is Empire Day this year?

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Health Matters

As we know the National Health Service is one of the leading if not the leading item on the political agenda.

Most of us have a personal interest and if we haven't we will at some time. Yet all has not been well; with the NHS that is.

This article titled "Using Management Consultancy Brings Inefficiency To The NHS" from the LSE perhaps tells us things that we already know. It is short and to the point.

Or as a surgeon might say; cuts to the bone.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Restore The Tsars

A lady I knew in the past, called Aunty Katy had once done a spell as one of the governesses to the daughters of a Russian Grand Duke of the family of the Tsar's. She wasn't really an aunt, but a single cousin of grannie's and the Aunt a sort of courtesy, picked out by the nuns for higher things because of her gift for languages.

It was her view that the murder of the Tsar and family by the Bolsheviks could have been avoided had the British Government acted to rescue them in time.  It had been the fate of the Tsar that essentially he was the wrong man in the wrong job, something that too often happens with autocratic regimes with inheritance.

Historians may refer to Russia as an enigma wrapped in a riddle, but that simply means it is and has been a very complicated place. Between West and East, with faiths demanding loyalty albeit very different faiths and rulers who are supposed to be autocratic but all too often incompetent it is difficult to deal with.

One feature of the various forms of government it has endured has been the coming and going of factions warring with each other and dangerously carrying on their conflicts elsewhere in the world where they also seek allies. The British Communist Party in the first half of the 20th Century was notorious for the divisions between the supporters of the different elements in the Comintern.

A curse of British government has been the talent of the Foreign Office to pick the wrong side when dealing with other nations. Driven by a desire to be seen to have some kind of influence as well as seeking out the money elements for the various party backers in UK politics we get what they pay for.

Along with these people, nowadays big in money and property and media, come the usual suspects in their train. The fixers, the deliverers and inevitably the thugs and the criminals. When you allow them to operate in the drugs trade for our young ones, launder their money via political parties then nasty things can happen.

The nerve gas poisoning tells us just how bad these people are and the lengths they will go to either in pleasing their masters or playing their own games. Our government decides to react by challenging Russia with empty threats.

Probably, reading the internal situation in Russia wrong they hope for some concessions. They are not going to get them and all they will get is a souring of relations that may make it impossible to deal with the UK situation sensibly.

This will not happen because too many Russians in the UK are putting too much money into too many pockets among our politicians and the financial markets.

If only one or other British naval commander had decided to ignore the Foreign Office and government and rescue the Tsar and his family.

Then we could all be singing.

Sunday 11 March 2018

Slipping Down The Slope

When the Beast From The East was forecast and then the snow began to fall, it was clear that many people were in for a bad time and there would be a variety of scares. Dredging my long memory for spells of very bad weather in the past and the disruptions entailed it occurred to me that one consequence was on the cards.

The government are getting the blame and the criticism. I have said before that it was the severe conditions of 1947 that did for Attlee and Labour especially given the struggles of the post war world. the Labour vision of the future did not seem so good in the queues for basic rations.

Today, I read that Labour are moving ahead in the polls. True, there are other major issues that give the electorate pause for thought, even although it may not run much further than prices and the pound in their pockets. The trouble with being in government is that avoid it if you can, there are decisions to be made.

Decisions involve choices and choices mean options and several opinions, often in conflict. There are winners and losers. The losers do not like losing and the winners may not be as grateful as they might be. Especially on an icy morning where getting about may be compromised by little or no gritting due to reductions in council spending.

During a period in office governments will have a lot of decisions to make. In general they often avoid them as much as possible, or as in recent decades have signed up with an international body who will make them so the a government can plead, not me squire, it was the foreigners what done it.

The other ploy is to create a non elected organisation and pass over a chunk of the government to it. These are alleged to be independent and making decisions on the best possible evidence. Also, they are convenient places to park redundant politicians, civil servants on the make and financial and lobbying friends.

The government should do something about it.

Friday 9 March 2018

Hitting The Bottle

Sometimes, the media has a story comes up which is out of the way and reminds us that our activities around the planet may not be quite the same as we are told.

This story in the web site titled "German message in a bottle takes 132 years to be found, smashing world record", is about a lady in Western Australia strolling along the beach, seeing an interesting bottle and discovering a piece of long lost history.

The picture above is the ship from which it was thrown in 1886 and the message inside gives its position in the Far East oceans at the time. The German Hydrographic Office asked ships to report their locations for its research on currents etc. Imagine the sea acting as the broadband of the past.

The part of Germany, Elsfleth, from where the ship came is on the upper Weser north of Bremen. Who were in the crew of the "Paula"? Is it possible to find their families, either in direct descent or related? If any were found in that region they would consider themselves to be German.

But the crew of 1886 might well have not seen themselves as "German" in the sense that we do, because before 1870 Elsfleth was in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg and separate from the other parts. This history of the Duchy is intricate and complicated with much coming and going of rulers.

The "Paula" was built in 1876, said to be at the Luring Shipyard in Hemmelwarden, possibly one of a number in the Bremen area just to the south. Bremen has long been a major shipbuilding centre. At the time of WW2 it was a centre for submarine building and before then warships as well vessels for commerce and passengers.

The creation of modern Germany in 1870 led to an immediate policy of the new Empire to take part in the colonisation of Africa and the Far East and a major role in their futures but initially by avoiding armed conflict with other European powers.

In 1884 it was a conference in Berlin which parcelled up territories between the European empire builders. In that year Germany took control of much of New Guinea and later gained footholds in China.

Soon after 1886 this began to change when Kaiser Wilhelm I died, his successor lived only days which brought Kaiser Wilhelm II to the throne, Little Willy himself.

He promptly dumped Prince Otto von Bismarck who had headed the government since 1861 and his careful foreign policy for a much more forward and aggressive one. Eventually, he did change the world, Germany turned out to be the loser.

There are libraries full of books about this. But I suggest following the money. This was a period when hordes of men ran round the world digging wherever they could. In a few cases they turned up precious metals and stones, the magic money trees of the times.

It was quite simple, the more you owned of the lands of the world, in theory the better your chances, think Cecil Rhodes. Geology was still in its infancy at the time. Another question was where was the money centre for all this? We had London, but the German's and the American's had other ideas.

Where was the "Paula" coming from and going to on this voyage? What was its cargo? Given its location it could be anything. We might have some surprises.

Meanwhile in the present we have a river flowing through the town. After the weekend it is full of bottles, but sadly no messages and for that matter no gold, you no longer get tuppence a bottle on return.

Thursday 8 March 2018

What A Day

The media are telling me that it is International Women's Day.

I asked Wikipedia but it had a long thing which went on about politics and all that going back to 1909. The other stuff was not easy reading.

I think I will stick with what Grannie taught me, it was simple and to the point.

But we are supposed to celebrate. So how about a cup of tea?

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Get On Your Bike

Sir B. Wiggins, late of this parish, had become famed for riding his bicycle better than others. His achievements are to be respected as he has out ridden the best in the world to win races that are both physically highly demanding and require not only individual skills but the ability to one of a team.

Quite why sportsmen and women of this ilk are given one of HM honours is a puzzle. The UK honours system is recognised as one of the most corrupt and questionable in the world, just look at Parliament and the Houses of Commons and the Lords. Sports should have their own honours system, as do some states, with an equivalent ranking in society.

The reasons why Bradley, oops, Sir Wiggins, is now under the cosh are twofold. One is his medication caught between the upper and nether millstones of the rules, or rather the gear changes. It seems he is asthmatic, as are many, for which medication is needed. This under the rules is legitimate.

But as this is cycle racing where breath control etc. is critical, it means that he does not race in his natural condition, coughing and wheezing, but with his pipes cleared. A three week race, such as the Tour de France, or the shorter ones over fewer days demand that the rider needs a clear chest.

So he is damned if he does not take medication but according to some damned if he does. In the meantime in recent years we have been going to a lot of trouble to create the chance for the disabled to take part in sports, one way or another. There is no simple answer to this.

A sportsman's time for fame and fortune is usually a short one. You have to stack up the money, curb your expenses and make sure the right investments are made. For cyclists there are few major areas of media interest in the sport to give ongoing high pay and rewards.

So Sir Wiggins, not having a Ph.D in commodity trading etc. has to rely on others is making sure that his forty to fifty years of retirement can be in comfort and secure. Which brings the tax man knocking at the door, in the case of high paid sportsmen with a big stick.

What will he be advised to do? If they are doing the job they are paid for he will be told to set up a series of business arrangements based in places with low tax regimes.

Some may be islands you could ride a cycle round in a couple of hours or so in hot conditions. Another may have a lot of mountain passes that would make any cyclist wince and do in the cycling season.

The rights and wrongs of this, currently a major debate, lead to people suggesting that Sir Wiggins shrug his shoulders, cough up to the UK Treasury and fork out at the highest rates possible.

Think of the benefits that would give. It would pay the expenses of the members of the House of Lords, all those financiers, for up to several days.

Must go, time to call for a taxi.

Thursday 1 March 2018

A Rock And A Hard Place

The picture above is of Times Square in New York in 1956, when Elvis Presley was a major star and the rock and roll generation were being created by the media of the time. Sixty two years later they have not gone away.

If you search the TV and radio channels there are numbers of them devoted to the various pop stars, bands and production and those that came along later. It seems that many of the followers of musical fashion at the time are still plugging in their hearing aids and cleaning their spectacles to tune in nod and shake away.

Go back another sixty two years, see Music in 1894 in Wikipedia and you are the very beginning of recorded music and the first moving pictures, silent for a while to come, might be seen. There are no channels for these or for the music before from the period, the originals are lost and can only be restaged, if that.

But the activity was there and on a large scale. In the towns, notably the bigger ones, there were an astonishing number of theatres and halls where the different kinds of music and musical theatre could be seen and enjoyed, You could buy the paper music etc. for your own home, but that was expensive.

It is very like the divide you have been a period when some documents and materials have survived to give a partial reality to their past and the other periods where the best you can hope for is the archaeology and a few scraps of written material. You can try to recreate on the evidence you have but this is theory.

Even then we have to be very careful. What we are told was the life of the sixties and seventies are very much what the media at the time liked to describe it and how they wanted it to be, mostly because that is where the sales were. For most ordinary people, life was, well, ordinary.

In the 21st Century, how are we doing? We seem to be ruled by a self selected class of media cum finance cum political people who want to tell us what we are, how we should think and behave, what life we should lead, what we should buy and the rest.

Meanwhile, as we are so busy as all that we may not have noticed that a lot of our music and entertainment seems to have entered a period of stasis, only flashier, noisier and more shouting.

One of Elvis's songs in 1956 was "How's The World Treating You" which did not make it to the top and is now forgotten. But we can see it on Youtube if and when we want.