1st August @ Theme

The Way You Are

Art and culture has been a powerhouse of the UK economy for decades. In the last 14 years this has all changed, evidently because it is not a good thing to have people inspired by ideas and feelings that might be against the grain of the neoconservative lust for homogeneity and their flat earth crusade for cultural control. This has been years in gestation – never again can there be Sex Pistols, nor Nirvana, just the odd unexpected release that struggles to break through the firewall of PR, privilege and money – but most seriously, the impact of all eras of music being EVERYWHERE and therefore no longer an agent of the making of vital difference. Music has suffered because the cocktail of conditions between internet ‘freedom’, corporate fear, Covid, cost of living conspire with the policy that “there is nothing new under the sun”, so why not sell the sun on ‘exclusive’ pink vinyl for £40 a shot.

“Music is for the things that cannot be discussed” – Sinéad O’Connor

Travis Kelce stepped out on stage at the Taylor Swift concert at Wembley last Sunday June 23rd. OMG – amidst a setlist largely devoted to break-up songs. Paul McCartney was in the audience with his wife, dancing with Swifties. In this world of extremes – Taylor’s now extravagant wealth and stratospheric influence – it’s important to note how amazing this is for young people, especially young women and girls, who can say “FUCK, I love this and it’s changed my life!”

(Please, Taylor, speak now about Trump, you will be protected by the great and the good).


Can we agree that music is a crucial form of nourishment, and of course there is often sugar involved – but in the best of cases, music can “carry a candle” and shine a light into the corners that art, theatre, even film and writing are slower to affect. If “You are what you eat”, it follows that “You are what you listen to”.

“The Observable Universe”, Heather McCalden, Fitzcarraldo Editions 2024.

With thanks to Corinne Noble.