Category Archives: Music

Moths and Rockers

Moths and Rockers

Me and my sis were fightin like normal. Dad separated us and exasperatedly declared, “Ye’re as bad as the mods and rockers on Brighton Beach”.

I was young but I knew what rockers were. My Granny had one. Lots of old people did, which seemed odd ‘cos it was us kids who got most fun out of rocking-chairs. But it seemed unlikely, even to my young mind, that anyone would want to fight rocking-chairs on a beach.

I had never heard of ‘mods’, so I didn’t know that it was a word I didn’t know. I presumed the word was what it sounded like … ‘moths’. I knew what moths were alright. Every kid did. Moths were ugly stupid butterflies who ate clothes. They also had a habit of headbutting lightbulbs but, though that hinted at latent aggression, it didn’t explain why they’d be attacking grannies in rocking-chairs on beaches.

And how exactly would they go about it anyway? I envisaged a swarm of moths eating the clothes off of a granny while the granny knits furiously in order to create new clothes with which to cover herself faster than the moths can denude her. It was an odd image.

moths attack rocker
Moths attack a Rocker

Even odder if, as it seemed, this was happening to multiple grannies all across a beach. So I asked my Dad, “Why are they fighting rocking chairs?”. My Dad and my sister both burst out laughing (my sister was two years older than me).

I flushed red with embarrassment and started to run out of the room. My father caught me and managed to stop laughing long enough to explain that these ‘rockers’ were the ones we had seen on ‘Top of the Pops’ playing loud music, with long hair and wearing denim.

I wanted to ask why they were fighting moths but my sister was still laughing mockingly at me and I didn’t want to look stupid again so I wriggled out of my Dad’s grip and ran off to my bedroom.

Besides, now that I realised my mistake about the ‘rockers’, I felt that the rest of it made sense. The rockers on telly wore denim clothes that were covered in patches. Some of my clothes had patches from where holes had torn in them while playing football or climbing over fences. Initially I had assumed that the rockers were just very rough and careless in the way they played, or maybe that they were poor so their clothes were very old. But now I realised that they were obviously being constantly attacked by moths who must favour the taste of denim above all other materials. The rockers had evidently done their best to make-do and carry on, just covering the holes with patches rather than switching to clothes of some less tasty material like cordrouy or polyester.

However, one day, while on holidays at this Brighton place (why else would you be at the seaside?), the rockers were horrified to discover that these annoying moths had followed them all the way from home and were now attacking them even there on the beach. (I did wonder whether the rockers would still be in their jackets and jeans or would have changed into denim swimming-togs and denim bikinis).

moths and rockers on Brighton Beach
Moths and Rockers fight on Brighton Beach

The rockers had had enough and quite understandably decided to fight back. And so came to pass the sight of hundreds of rockers in patch-covered denim standing their ground on the golden sands and throwing vicious punches at the swarms of moths that enveloped them.

The fighting was every bit as savage as it was surreal. Locals ran for cover and barricaded themselves in their houses. The next day, they discovered that the moths and the rockers were all gone, –

… but the beach was littered with tiny wings and little bits of nibbled denim.


Source images in montages: beach by jari, chair by jdurham, and moth by dancesincreek, all from . Woman from National Library of New Zealand via . Brighton Beach pic via



The Little People Inside The Radio

The Little People Inside The Radio

pic radio drawing

When I was small I used to think that there were little people inside the radio who made all the music and sang all the songs. I was reminded of this recently when I found my Grandad’s old transistor radio at the back of a wardrobe. I remember vividly as a kid, staring at it and imagining the orchestra of mini-musicians inside being conducted by a mini-conductor (free joke for scientists there). It had a crackly kind of sound but this, for me, always added some charm, as if the sound picked up interference in being transported from a world where the mini-musicians were a normal size to this world where they were miniatures inside a radio.

Old soviet radio receiver

I turned the ‘on’ knob but of course nothing happened. Nobody had used this for over thirty years. Probably the last time it was switched on was by my Granddad himself on the day he died. And probably either my mother or her mother turned it off for the last time later that day after he had passed away.
I got some fresh batteries to see if it could be encouraged back to life after all this time. I popped open the clasps and prised off the backing. And then I gasped in amazement.
For there, inside, was an entire orchestra of little people. Each of them in their tiny little tuxedo or black evening dress. Each of them holding a tiny but perfect musical instrument And I thought, “This is the greatest thing ever. There is still magic in the world”.
But then I looked closer. None of the little musicians were moving. I looked closer again. And now I could see that there was a sort of greeny-brown slime over them all. I got a magnifying glass and looked closer still. Now I could see that, wherever this slime had touched, it had eaten into them, through their clothes and even right through their skin and deep into their flesh. And now I could see that their little faces were contorted in expressions of total horror and anguish.
And I realised of course what had happened. The batteries had leaked on them and killed them all. Such a horrible ending to lives which had done so much to bring joy and beauty into the lives of others.

So search your home and find all the old little transistor radios your family used to have. Give them a little shake. If there’s a rattle, it’s too late. That’s the sound of the dead bodies inside. But if there’s no rattle, it might not be too late. Rip open the back. Yank out the batteries. Yes, they might be covered in sticky corrosive acidic rust, but there’s no time to worry about petty injuries to yourself. Yank out the batteries and whack in some new ones. Slap the back back on and turn the ‘on’ knob and wait and pray and maybe, if you’re very very lucky, after a little bit of time – faintly at first, but then growing stronger – you might hear some music. Just a little tentative note on a violin to begin with. Then some woodwind joining in. And then gradually all of the instruments coming to life and joining together to produce a full swelling sound of a sort that you won’t have heard for years. Sure, the music might be a little wobbly at first but, remember, these guys haven’t played in years, maybe even decades. But you can stand there and look at the little radio – maybe, like me, it’s one that your granddad used for twenty years – and say to yourself … “The sound quality is really shit actually. Much worse than I remembered. My phone is better than that”. And then you can switch off the radio and go back to listening to music on your phone streaming live over wi-fi and be grateful that nowadays there are younger, fitter, even smaller musicians playing in a tiny box called the internet floating above the earth far away from any leaky batteries.

Rage Against the Espresso Machine

Parents lie.

‘Tiddles is gone on a holiday’.

‘Those tablets are  Mummy’s vitamins’.

‘You can be anything you want.’


Maybe if you’re poor you can become anything you want to be – astronaut, president, footballer, prostitute, crack-addict, – possibly even all of the aforementioned at the same time. Poverty will not deny any of those opportunities to you. It might even help. Basically the world’s your lobster.

But if you’re rich, there are just some things that you will never be allowed to be. And one of those things is …


A protest-singer must tell the truth of their life even if people don’t want to hear it. Apparently that’s all fine and dandy if you’re a poor person singing about the iniquity of society. But if you’re telling the truth from the other side of the fence then no-one wants to know about it.

( Admittedly the fence is electrified, with a moat beyond it, which puts a bit of distance between the singer and the common man audience).

Oh no, instead of supportive shouts of “You the man”, it’s accusations of “You’re The Man”. And apparently The Man should not have a voice, or at least should not use that voice to complain about troublesome aspects of his life (taxes on second properties, animal-rights campaigners getting in the way of fox-hunts, the difficulty of finding a good footman nowadays).

But consider this: – if Woody Guthrie was alive today he’d be a rich man!

… Not just because of the money he’d be earning from the royalties on his songs, but because it’s really the only rebellious confrontational position to take in modern liberal western society. Yes, Woody would choose to be wealthy.

So if you’re rich, sing it loud and sing it proud (and if you’re poor, you can just hum along in solidarity while acknowledging the undeniable truth of the lyrics and admiring the evidently complex melody):

“This land is your land

Well, it was your land

But then you couldn’t keep up the payments.

Now this land is my land

So technically you’re trespassing.

Leave now

Before I loose the hounds.”