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Monday, 30 June 2014

New American Troubadour Tour

Perth seems to be the place to be if you like your roots music.
From traditional folk artists to alt-folk groups and bluesy Americana it’s all going on.
This Thursday provides a fine example as the ‘New American Troubadour’ tour rolls into town.  
In the Inchyra Arts Club they are featuring David Berkeley, Peter Bradley Adams and Robert Hecht.
All three have been garnering a great deal of positive attention from critics, and more importantly fans of the genres they are rooted in.
David Berkeley has been singled out for some rather impressive praise from the likes of The New York Times and Americana UK.
It’s not too difficult to understand why when you jump over to his website and let his plaintive folk drip honey in your ears.
Meanwhile Peter Bradley Adams covers the indie-folk corner with suitable aplomb.
No stranger to glowing reviews himself his softly intimate and evocative delivery of his material is the sort that can create an atmosphere that pins can drop in and be heard with total clarity.
Be prepared to hold your breathe, and maybe even swoon a little.
If for any reason a little doubt is creeping in on the veracity of the claim then have a a preview of his talents via his website
Last, but in no means least, there is Nashville resident Robby Hecht who USA Today picked up on for an article and then went as far to stream his latest album for the listening pleasure of fans all over the world.
Here it is here 

If like me you have an affinity for the music that these gentlemen so expertly and effortlessly indulge, and you are situated on the west coast, then I am sure that you can join me in asking why we didn’t get the opportunity that Perth has.

Tickets here

No man is an island, but some are a band. Part One (The Rag N Bone Man)

One man, or of course woman, bands, and solo acts are often considered indistinguishable from each other, but what they share actually pales into insignificance when we consider what they don’t.

One, the solo act, stands alone in the spotlight and strives to entertain without the safety net of a band accompanying them, and if we are honest they in general plough a similar field as all the other solo artists out there.
They strum their guitars and sing their hearts out and we watch them bravely carry the performance on their shoulders.

The other, the one man band, takes that all to a whole other level though.

It’s not for them keeping it simple and expressing themselves with one instrument.
They want to push outward and incorporate everything they can think of, and with the addition of loop pedals in some cases take what they are doing even further again.
Like pioneers they are pushing at the boundaries of what one person can do, and with that attitude they set themselves on the edge of a ledge and balance there with everything and the kitchen sink on their shoulders as the audience waits for it all to come crashing down around them.

It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, and this is why I hold some affection for their choice to explore the route less travelled that they manically skip in the direction of.

While the solo artists may be in the trenches and considering going over the top and hoping they will survive, the one man band is tying a hachimaki around their head and aiming for the sun.

Is it an act of idiocy or bravery?

Who can really say, but there is an exhilarating aspect to it that certainly ties in with how there is a dark part of human nature that wants to see the tightrope walker fall, the trapeze artists slip.
The element of disaster that casts a shadow over the performance that they provide adds to the performance rather that takes anything away from it, and to extend further into the circus analogies we can also be attracted to what can appear to be superhuman talents that we see displayed under the big top.
Anyone can juggle three balls with practice, but ten?
And similarly many musicians can play an instrument, but five at once over the top of a looped track that was created right in front of your very eyes?

So without any further ado let me introduce you to Lew Palgrave AKA The RagNBone Man.

XXXX - So why a one man band? Is it misanthropy, control over the musical vision, necessity, issues with body odour?

Lew - I got to the point when filling a stage or a room or a record shop with noise by myself was greater than the fear or being alone.
Doing it provides an exhilarating does of freedom.

How important is that freedom to you?

It's massively important as we live in a world where having any sort of freedom is a massive struggle from day to day, the on stage freedom for me is almost complete escapism. It’s something which I’m lucky to have.

How does it feel when you are on stage and trying to push out the sound of a band across to an audience?

I get there every time I play live; take it to the whole band sound level. The noise in my head becomes real. The best noise you can make comes from having your back up against the wall so being alone on stage engages that totally. It feels great.

Do you feel it is necessary to take things right to the edge and let it teeter there for it to have any relevance? 

I don't know about relevance but to take something right to the edge or over the edge is a very addictive thing to do if you’re doing it on a regular basis.
It's a good place to be.
I've had the unfortunate pleasure of being addicted to negative shit over the years so although some may find what I do angry or aggressive it's very positive for my life.
I’m not gonna lie, I do what I do for me not for anyone else, if people enjoy it then that’s cool if not then that’s cool too
As someone who doesn’t even have the manual dexterity to play an instrument I can’t really grasp how mentally anyone can maintain what you do. Do you consider that it I something that can be learnt, or is it a natural gift, or even a combination of both?

I never practice like you would in a band which is great, just turning up and making a noise and getting a rough idea of what your gonna do in a live situation is the best way.
I never really had to practice juggling 3 or 4 things at once. I’m just a freak of nature I guess?

How is the process of song writing different from working with others and having to take into consideration their opinions and input? Do you feel it is liberating or constricting?

No band members = no hassles.
I write new songs pretty regularly I only really maybe play them once and then batter it out at a gig.
Sometimes I never play the song again, sometimes I do, and again it’s keeping my back against the wall keeps things fresh.
You can't really do that in a band because the dreaded practice this song 20 fuckin times happens, then by the time you play it live at a gig it sucks.

So repetition kills the moment? Is the idea of playing the same song night after night note perfectly something that you fundamentally couldn’t do?

Correct. It fuckin bores me.
Also I’m not really musically capable of understanding any more than 3 chords and a wee riff here and there.
When you play alone you play songs differently depending on the mood your in, no silly rules

If you were to consider one obvious positive to playing alone like this then what would it be, and similarly what the biggest drawback?

Every time I play live I get to where I need to be which I said before is a massive freedom, on the down side I have a lot of gear for a one man band so carrying it from place to place is a pain in the arse.
That’s the only downside.

You can check out this force of nature here and here

Friday, 27 June 2014

Blanco - S/T

To all intents and purposes ‘Daisy Chain’ from Blanco is a bit of a wormhole track in the space-time continuum that will suck you in and spit you out just as the poptastic swinging sixties scene was about to give way to the sounds of the landscape melting counter culture psychedelia that followed.
There it sits hanging on to some radio friendly sugar while lurking within the groove is also a bit of the darkness of Altamont.
Take The Clovers hit Love Potion No 9 from the fifties and ease it through the Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders version and then dose it with some LSD and this is what you get.
It does no harm to the over all sound that the bass is set on funk either and that beat is what manages to ease us into the next track Golden Touch.
A song that conjures up the culture clash of Sly and the Family Stone as they tore away at the race boundaries that were still in place.
It’s true that currently there are more bands than you could shake a stick at who are plundering the key musical moments of the past, but Blanco are like kids in the candy store snatching at everything and gobbling as much down as they can with their smash and grab raid working on more levels than most would accept.
As they crash into the harmonica led Simple Things they are yet again off and running and dragging the Merseybeat sound along behind them as they crash a party at The Monkees pad.
EP closer Black Magic then ends the session as strongly as Daisy Chain opened it.
With hints of the blue collar glam of the seventies it rocks up to the finishing line with a swagger that is well deserved
With everything on display here it’s quite obvious that given half a chance Blanco could very well be leaders of the pack in the coming months. 
Yet another band to watch out for.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Stars of the Silverscreen - Bruised for two

On first listen to the new SOTS album I found myself digging out their debut as it was difficult to grasp how much of a jump forward the band had taken.
It’s as if they have gone from mach-speed to light-speed in one small step for man and one large leap for rock kind.
The band that were a robustly strong jetfighter have now become a class-A starfighter The balance between delivering what rock and punk fans would want is Zen like.
No one who has both feet in any genres camp is going to find anything to complain about as they soak up each track on this release, while those who straddle the line will be ecstatically impressed with the sprawling mess of rabid guitar licks, snotty nosed punk attitude and stadium teasing rock and roll that’s on display.
Within its grooves the sound that sprung from the streets of the UK at the dawning of punk has found itself soaking up the vibe of the Sunset Strip and in doing so discovered that it likes Jacuzzis full of jack and strip joints on every corner.
Listen carefully and there are even hints of the NWOBHM flexing its leather encased fist in your face, and for some strange reason it doesn't seem out of place in the mix at all.
Imagine a tornado ripping through a quality record collection and gleefully throwing every slab of vinyl at you and that’s what this feels like.
If you flipped between footage of a crowd of thousands going balls to the wall nuts at a festival with that of Stars of the Silverscreen performing it would be easy to accept that it was the real deal and not just mocked up as this is an album that should be getting played from a stage to thousands.
Download or Sonisphere in the UK need this band, while over in the US Rocklahoma should be kicking their door down and begging them to grace their stage.   

A fist pounding success from start to finish. 

Eden festival 2014

Glastonbury festival was my first love.
It opened a door to a world that I had previously only dreamed had existed and I gladly stepped through it and embraced all that was on offer.
In hindsight I can understand that my time spent in the shadow of the Tor provided me with some much needed respite from my own existence.
I needed it to survive.
Every year I would look forward to immersing myself in a world where all our differences were celebrated rather than our similarities.
I felt at home in the flow of counter culture ideas, alternatives lifestyles, live music and unfettered freedom.
Then, as first loves usually do, Glastonbury broke my heart.
It didn't do it overnight, but slowly, incrementally, it loosened its embrace of me until one year I simply didn't recognize it anymore.
My Glastonbury was gone.
Chart toppers were being idolised and the festival had been assimilated into the mainstream.
I never went back.

Instead I began a subconscious quest to recapture the festivals spirit.

For a number of years it was elusive.
Until that is, I stumbled across The Wickerman Festival.
I took my son to the inaugural year and felt emotionally replenished.
This was the vibe, this was exactly the feeling, rather than experience, that I had been searching for.
The festival managed to hang onto that for a number of years, but similar to Glastonbury its popularity shifted the demographic and one year I found myself attending through habit rather than any sort of attraction.
The ladies who would dance around handbags in nightclubs and the TITP overspill had taken over, the Buckfast and Lambrini flowed and I signed off from it all.

It was with a heavy heart that I did it as striking lucky a third time seemed to be so much wishful thinking, yet I did.
I struck lucky last year the moment I pitched camp at the Eden festival.

It was everything that I needed, and maybe even a bit more than that.
The music was an eclectic mix of magnificence, the stalls offered a melting pot of the strange and practical, and the food and drink were plentiful and provided something to whet the most adventurous palette.
Best of all was the people.
Everywhere I looked there was the outsider attitude being accepted, and that is the key for me.
There was a very obvious celebration of stepping away from the grind and an acceptance of humanity as a large and wonderful mess of individuality.
As the weekend ended I had already decided I would be back in 2014 and crossed my fingers that the same experience would be on offer.

Thankfully to a degree it was.
The weather played silly buggers of course as the mud lent itself to the stereotypical view of UK festivals; the running orders and stage times were a tad more anarchic than the previous year leading to music lovers wandering the site like the lost children of the desert looking for the promised land, and by the final day the midges had gathered and attacked with homicidal glee, but all of that was pretty much irrelevant as the atmosphere and the people attending carried the weekend.

Highlights of the weekend were discovering Casa Caliente, a tent that was by far my favourite place to be.
Throughout the day it provides a relaxed atmosphere to just while away the hours, or play some board games, or listen to music, or simply sleep.
It’s all good.
Friendly, welcoming and providing the antidote to the hurly burly of life
At night it then focuses purely on the music as everyone squeezes in to secure a place on the deep piled rugs and enjoy what is on offer.
It was here that I found Beth McLeish taking some tentative steps as a performer, and I found myself being impressed at the support that Casa Caliente, and those within it, offered a fledgling artist.
As an added bonus The Junkmans Choir, or any number of offshoots, played across the weekend and reminded me of why I love them so much.
The set as The Bastard Sons of Rabbie Burns was particularly entertaining, although it was given a run for its money on the first night when Davie of the Junkmans teamed up with Jane of The Amphetameanies/Pink Kross (ooft I’m going back a bit now) to play some country inspired tunes.

Meanwhile the main stage was taken over by Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 who are right at this very moment the best live band in Scotland.
With a liberal dose of humour, talent and madness being added to the mix they are covering every angle that you could imagine, and with their live set getting increasingly tighter they are delivering high quality entertainment song after song.
With a few more festival appearances to go, and their debut album already released, it would be a good idea for Eden to secure them right now for a headlining slot next year.
As the festival isn't reliant on attracting a name to ensure an audience turning up I say why not?
In fact give the yellow movement a tent of their own.
Now there's an idea. 
Talking about headline acts it's fair to say that King Charles took the De La Soul slot in their stride, and in hindsight I wish I had seen their full set.
The next time they are in Glasgow I reckon I will pop along.
A quality replacement that I doubt anyone was disappointed in. 

The Furry Chillum managed to squeeze everyone in for the Esperanza - although I don't know how they did as it was like pouring two pints into a pint glass - but it has to be said that seeing that amount of people skanking up a frenzy is truly a sight to behold.
Apart from that though it did seem that every time I went into the tent that a band jamming, the same band, all day, and apparently every day.
They may well have been very good, but sometimes less is more and you can get too much of a good thing where fighting it out in my head every time groundhog day rolled around.
From last year when I was regularly bouncing between The Furry Chillum and Rabbies Tavern I found that this time around with a few exceptions there wasn't much that was an attraction.
Although it is also entirely possible that I was just out of sync with all the goodness as that can happen at festivals.

Rabbies similarly didn’t manage to hit the heights of last year with the acts that I seen.
Maybe they were all hiding from me.
Most that I did see managed to hold my attention for minutes rather than for a full set with the notable exceptions of Feet of Clay who I expect will be far higher on the bill next year, or gracing the main stage for an early evening slot. Have Mercy Las Vegas who were mesmerizingly good supporting The Holy Ghosts recently, but were better again on this outing, and The Ballachulish Hellhounds who had me jigging about and maybe even dragged a twerk or two out of me.

The main draw of the weekend was always going to be the people you meet though.
Old friends, new friends, and characters you will never meet again but who are fondly remembered.
So big thanks go out to Will and the Wild Horses, who were accompanied by their better halves, and mates.
It was a pleasure. A very real pleasure.
The Yellow Movement.
Tony Gaughan.
Callum and Barney
Cutty and the Casa Caliente crew.
Trusty and the Foe.
Little Fire.
Alan Frew
And if I missed you out blame it on the award winning rum.

Once again I can only say that I hold nothing but contempt for the damned midges, and yes. I will be back.

Maybe in 2015 a wee programme would be nice with the acts roughly managing to stick loosely to it though.

I love the free and easy attitude and personally don’t want it to be too regimented, but a wee clue as to who is playing where is always nice. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Body Count are back.

The truth will set you free.

Many many years ago I wandered down to Glastonbury's pyramid stage to see the then up and coming great white hopes of the UK indie rock scene that were Oasis. 
Three songs in and I left.
I wasn't the only one either.
The field was emptying as fast as it had filled.

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

It wasn't that they were terrible, but more that their being good wasn't a match for the hyperbolic press that they were riding the wave of.
The sense of anticlimax was palpable.
I clearly remember feeling sorry for them.
I felt that they had been set up to fail.
No band straight out the gate was going to live up to the reputation that the press was asking them to carry.
I was wrong of course, and the rest is history as they went on to conquer the UK, if not the world.

The strangest thing about the experience was reading the press when I arrived home though.
They were one hundred percent behind the band and claimed that their set was the crowning glory of the festival.
While I am sure that there were hundreds who were there that would agree - and thousands who weren't who would also agree - this wasn't my reality, or that of anyone else within earshot of me as I left the area.

They were good, but not great, and certainly not the saviours of anything based on that singular performance.

This didn't matter though.
The press had spoken.
It was probably the first time that I had witnessed reportage being so far removed from what really went on.
It was akin to propaganda.
Nothing written had any bearing on what I had seen and heard.
Of course there are always three stories, and I do take that into consideration.
Yours, theirs, and the unvarnished truth nestling somewhere in between, but here we had a story that didn't reflect my perception of what had happened, or the truth.

Now, all these years later I am reminded of this as I read another review of another band.
This time it’s a small local act.
I simply can't take in the words and fit them together with my own perception of their performances and studio work.
Initially, months ago when I read the first glowing reviews, I thought that I was out of step and missing something that others could see and hear, and I am big enough to accept that this could have been the case.

Yet I had to set that self doubt aside as since then I have literally still to meet anyone face to face - and I seriously mean anyone - who has managed to dredge up one positive comment about them.

A multitude of people just keep saying the same things to me, and all of what is said is negative.

Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t air their opinion to me about this act and how hysterically bad (in their opinion) they are.
Friends and strangers just keep adding to the anti-testimonials.

Less than a month ago I was regaled with the story of how two people had to remove themselves from the main area of a performance so that their howls of uncontrollable laughter did not offend the band.
And when they did they met others who were doing likewise.
A group of gigglers who warmly welcomed them into the warm embrace of the church of what the fuck was that we just seen.

If I had a pound for every time someone asks me how they manage to secure good reviews and bookings as they are so very terrible then I could - without any fear of being accused of exaggerating the amount - take a month off work.

My usual response to those questions is that maybe the person asking should direct their query to the reviewer, or the booker, as I am genuinely clueless.

So what is going on?

I am well aware that in bringing this up I am opening myself up to the usual hate mail, and probably lending credence to the perception that I can be a prickly arsehole, but I am really just asking a question, with that being, why is there this gap between what the people attending the shows are saying and what the reviews claim?
It doesn't actually matter who the band are.

This is, as we know, something that happens all over, and as illustrated it’s an issue that plagues both the mainstream news and everything bubbling under that, but what is really so wrong with an honest view being given?
And I don't mean one that mirrors my own.
It is after all just an opinion being expressed.
Isn’t making positive false assertions just as damaging as making negative false ones?

It may be hurtful, but ultimately once the bruised egos have subsided positives can be taken from what has been said.

When anyone goes to see a band live with the intent to comment publicly, then members being friends, being in a position to do you a favour, or offer you other incentives just shouldn’t come in to it.

Shouldn't honesty always just be the best policy, especially if the intent is not to hurt anyone?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Vive Le Dolls.

With Steve Conte sharing the Rolling Stones article on the New York Dolls (Here) I found myself with one foot on memory lane.
So let me tell you about it. 

The reunion of the New York Dolls was something that snatched my breath away.

Due to the inconvenience of being born too late, and in the wrong place, I had pretty much settled on accepting that our paths would never cross.
It just wasn’t to be.
Like all dreamers I did reserve a miniscule hope that that there would be a chance, but that was tucked away in a drawer labelled ‘never say never’, while in reality I just knew that the dream I was clutching to was more about my reluctance to let go of it rather than anything else.

They were forever and always going to be one of those acts that I mentioned when people asked the time travelling scenario question of what gig, any gig, would you go to?
Billie Holiday with Count Basie, New York Dolls in New York, MC5 in Detroit, Buddy Holly on tour with Little Richard, The Beatles on amphetamines in a Bier Keller.
You get the picture?
They were the bands and artists whose vinyl albums were spun frequently in my bedroom that would take me away from the village life that I felt imprisoned me.
Along with voraciously reading anything it was music that allowed me to disengage with the mundane and claustrophobic feelings of that existence and fly, and it was the New York Dolls that were the masters at providing that release.
Rather than a needle in the crux of my arm it was the needle in the groove that was my release.
I would lie with my eyes closed and the music would assault me, drag me from where I lay and deposit me among the stars.

Then all those years later, seemingly out of the blue they were announced to play meltdown.
I could have had a heart attack. Quite literally that muscle beating in my chest could have just stopped in shock.
The announcement was bittersweet though as I was penniless.
Not the penniless that some claim to be when they have change rattling in their pockets, but life savings tucked away for a rainy day hovering in the background.
I mean the real penniless.
At that point in my life I was hovering on the brink of extinction penniless.

So there they were, the god damn mother fuckin’ New York bloody Dolls reformed and playing in the UK, and there I was dancing with destitution and unable to scratch them off the top of my bucket list of bands that there was a snowballs chance in hell of seeing anyway.

Was I distraught?
The adult me wasn’t.
There was far more important things to concern myself with at the time, but deep down inside of me there was a teenager screaming, gnashing teeth and pulling hair out.

It just seemed that I was yet again destined to be that wrong time wrong place kid again.
However like all good fairy tales this one didn’t end there and did ultimately have a happy ending.

As we all know now the band decided not to just limit their return to a couple of shows and in 2005 they announced that they would be returning to the studio and touring.

This was my beginning.

Glasgow ABC, and it was everything I thought it would be.
From interviewing Sami Yaffa pre gig, meeting Sylvain for seconds, and then being swept away with the performance.
The fan boy in me was a mess. A complete and utter delirious mess.
Pressed against the barrier I sang myself hoarse, pushed out space to dance in until my legs ached, and generally lost myself in the show.
New kids Steve Conte, Sami Yaffa and Brian Delaney weren’t just hired guns but real Dolls.
That was the icing on the cake.
Each of them fitted perfectly, and I doubt anyone thought they were seeing a facsimile of a band from the past, but knew instinctually that instead this was the reincarnated all new, and very probably improved, version of a band that we loved.
Any fear that this may have been a sedate Johansen and Sylvain nostalgia trip was banished as soon as they all stepped onto the stage.
They ripped it up.

Then it got better. More gigs, more ecstatic responses.

I never missed a Glasgow gig.

I took my son to the Morrissey show in Hyde Park (London) and that was really all about the Dolls.
About sharing that fire, the passion, the total disregard for convention that is wrapped in the tribal beat of rock and roll.
The moment when their set overlapped with Morrissey arriving on the main stage and beginning his was gold.
There we stood enthralled by the New York Dolls and all around us were the fans of Mozza creeping to the fringes of the tent as their hero was in the house, but ultimately unable to leave until the last notes were wrung out.
This was their power.
Right there and then they collectively held everyone in the palms of their hands and no one was leaving until they said so.

Since then the journey has continued.
Steve Conte has played solo a couple of times in my neck of the woods. He has two stunningly fantastic releases out to, Sami and Steve are now happily back as sparring partners in Michael Monroes band with Steve writing the vast majority of the last release, and while I am loving it all hovering in the background is that’ little drawer that’s labelled ‘never say never’ that has been opened once before and may be tugged at again.

Who knows, but if it does happen then I am there.

Vive Le Dolls.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

I am the law - Episode One

It’s 9.30am on a Monday and there is barely anyone here.
No black crows flapping about the social detritus and picking at the tired washed out living carcases that normally congregate within the foyer of the court, no aggressive threats malevolently hanging in the air crashing like thunder against equally aggressive colloquial greetings.
Apart from the distant clicking of heels on a staircase and the scratching of the nub of a pen against paper all is an oasis of calm.
It turns out that my first day of jury duty is a bust.
There will be no selection process and after an apology from the clerk followed rapidly with a request to return at 2pm tomorrow I am set free.
It’s a damp squib of a day.

2pm on a Tuesday and I am adrift in a sea of bodies.
My eyes dart between reading the signs on the walls to reading the legends emblazoned in indian ink on necks.
Leaning against a spare space of wall I look at the paperwork that was sent to me and the dress code notification isn't there.
A heads up to tell me that casual is acceptable, but tracksuits are preferable, would have been appreciated, but I suspect when they have loaded up the envelopes with citations and further information the sheet of paper with the dress code neatly typed on it slipped off the end of the desk leaving me looking like a slightly eccentric businessman lost in a throng of casual sportswear aficionados.
Kilmarnock Sheriff Court is pretty much indistinguishable with the ground floor of Sports Direct on the first day of the January sales.

Beside me some legal professional is stage whispering at a very young man who appears calmly bored.
She wants to know if he will change his plea to guilty and he casually asks how much evidence and witness statements there are against him.
She doesn’t say a mountainous shit load, but he gets the idea and grudgingly accepts that his options are limited.
Meanwhile his mother stands at his shoulder and contemplates having a nervous breakdown as she bites her nails down to the knuckle.
The different attitudes between the two generations are an infinite gulf.
One her part she considers that her sons future hangs precariously on a cliff edge, while for him it’s just another day.

For a few minutes I eavesdrop in on the Ayrshire equivalent of the Three Stooges as Baldy, Scarface and Squinty comment on how they haven’t seen the court so busy and then corroborate the story they are going to tell.

Conversations are at similar stages all around me.
None of the participants seem to realize that they are conducting their nefariously imbecilic plans to bypass justice within earshot of prospective jurors and in doing so are making the job of deciding on their guilt an easy one.

Unsurprisingly the flow of humanity that are collectively known as the accused in this instance are largely made up of individuals who may have a degree of feral intelligence, but not much else.
They exist in a no mans land between those who are considered socially unable to get through the day without practical support and guidance, and the rest of us.
Left to their own devices they gravitate towards dysfunction, drug and alcohol abuse - rather than use, and ultimately antisocial behaviour as that is their norm.
They weave through the court building completely comfortable in its environs as they are so familiar to the beating heart of it all that it is for some their second home.
It’s ultimately a tragedy that sits within a conundrum that few want to acknowledge.

Just as it looks like a fight will break out between the comedown kid in the Adidas sponsored corner and delirium tremens in the Nike sponsored corner a woman directs all of us prospective jurors into the courtroom and they are swept apart in the stampede.

Once seated in the court conversations drifts towards the responsibilities of being a juror.
“I’ll just decide if they look guilty or not. I'm not bothered about the evidence.”
“My memory is rubbish so I will just do the same.”
This conversation is carried out between two middle aged sounding women a couple of rows behind me.
The urge to turn around, pinpoint them, and then scream something about acting responsibly is immense, but before I can whip my head around faster than Linda Blair could a court official begins to eloquently explained why we are there, what we should expect and what is expected from us and then we are told to return the next day at 10am.
Two days down. Nothing has happened.
The wheels of justice may turn slower than most would consider.

10am on Wednesday.
It’s groundhog day.
Only the constellations of stars and names on necks have changed.
Within the courtroom the process of being picked for jury duty is explained.
Our names go in a goldfish bowl.
If you even find yourself in the dock there is no comfort can be found in considering that those picked will be a group of individuals who will listen to all the evidence and come to a fair conclusion based on it.
Pot luck is what is on offer.
The possibility of drawing the short straw and having a jury made up of right leaning Daily Mail reading reactionary compassion vacuums, with a smattering of EDL sympathizing Sun reading white van drivers, topped by a couple of people who list watching celebrity Big Brother and TOWIE as their intellectual pursuits, can scarily happen I suppose.
Equally if you are the victim of an assault the jury could be made up of Guardian reading social apologists who think the drunken lout who used your head to break his bottle of Buckfast is simply misunderstood, misguided, and worthy of yet another chance to prove to us all that they just need a cuddle.
Everything just appears to lie in the laps of the Gods and as an atheist that just isn't something I want to subscribe to.

Next episode – The case, the swivel eyed loon and the Teflon toughtie.