You may have spotted a track by Flowers on the recent Unpopular mix ‘Revolution Summer’. If you like sketchy (in the best sense of the word) thrashy Pop Noise then you’ll have dug it, I’m sure. I file it next to the likes of The Wildhouse, but that’s me showing my age for you. If you like your Pop artefacts on the handmade side then Flowers are assuredly for you, as this recent lathe-cut single shows. Limited to just 30 copies, I’m grateful to the ever-wonderful Bleeding Gold label for sending me this little gem. Also in this care package from San-Diego was the ‘Kill People You Like’ fanzine. Gee, remember fanzines? Blimey. Let’s all take a trip to Analogue City.
You can pick up your own copy of the ‘zine (with ace 20 track compilation ‘Seventeen On The Inside’) from the Bleeding Gold store. And whilst the Flowers lathe-cut is sold out, you can still grab the digital release here, or the two handmade CD volumes of their demos here.
In summer 2011, after riots in London, there were numerous criticisms of state schools for failing to teach young people about social responsibility. In summer 2012, in the midst of Olympic fever, the criticism shifts to a perceived failure of state schools to deliver enough gold medal athletes. Apparently we don't teach enough competitive sports. As if that, in itself, would solve everything.
This national obsession with the quest for Olympic Gold every four years is intriguing, because it is essentially more about sporting consumption than participation. More a media spectacle than a physical reality. I'm sure Cultural Snow would have something interesting to say on that. Something about simulacrums and Baudrillard, I expect. But whatever post-modern analysis you care to make, the fact remains that many people seem content to sit on sofas, blaming anyone but themselves. So many who could have been contenders, eh? If only they'd had the opportunity to try and beat their peers at fast water canoeing. If only their comprehensive school PE dept had offered weekly lessons in dressage... If only they'd never discovered alcohol, or girls, or boys, or music. If only computer games weren't so damned addictive, and if only they didn't make McDonalds burgers so damned tasty...
Did you know that it was a desire to increase the long term health of everyone in our nation that was behind the idea of placing less importance on competitive sport in schools? The argument goes that if you put the focus on sports like football, rugby or athletics in schools, what you end up with are generations of adults who merely consume sport rather than participate. Whereas if you invest in encouraging young people to walk or cycle to school, for example, you end up with adults with healthier habits. Whether this anticipated increase in healthy lifestyles would be able to compete against the ongoing pressure of mediated pleasures probably remains to be seen, but regardless, it is a fine aim, no? Sadly however no mainstream media tell us this. Instead they focus on a perceived failure: something else that state schools are doing badly.
Of course the quest for sporting success is something we should celebrate and encourage. Of course the value in the inspiration of seeing elite athletes on TV is not something to underestimate. But behind those successes lie stories of significant investment. Naturally the media focus is quite fairly on the time, effort and personal sacrifice of the individuals themselves, but equally important would be the input of highly qualified and successful support staff and infrastructures, all of which is not inexpensive. So let's take a moment to remember that one of the first things Michael Gove did in office was to axe the £162m of the 'Sport For All' programme. There's legacy for you.