Punk rock

Why I was wrong to think Idles obvious and depressing

I never had Idles down as a great Bristol band, I confess. In fact, I never had them down as very much of anything at all. Through occasional and accidental contact, I associated the quintet with a cadre of unlovely groups – Sleaford Mods, Shame, Soft Play (formerly Slaves), Viagra Boys – that emerged in the 2010s and made shouty, angry music which wanted to Say Something Important about our times, most of it pretty obvious and deeply depressing. Idles had a song called ‘I’m Scum’. It was a hard pass from me – more or less sight unseen. Turns out I got it wrong; or perhaps Idles got it

From cheap sex comedies to gritty brilliance: British culture comes of age

As readers of a certain age will realise, Looking for a New England derives its title from ‘A New England’, a chart hit in early 1985 for the singer Kirsty MacColl. The song was written by Billy Bragg and opened side two of his first LP, 1983’s Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy. Famously, Bragg pinched the opening couplet — ‘I was 21 years when I wrote this song, I’m 22 now but I won’t be for long’ — from Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Leaves that are Green’ (1966), a winsome number that was itself a cover of Paul Simon’s acoustic original, which had first appeared on the folk singer’s

Letters: Civilisation will survive coronavirus

Covid questions Sir: I worry that Matt Ridley and others are trying to frighten us about Covid-19 (‘Like nothing we’ve known’, 21 March). The fact is that we do not know how deadly the virus is. We know that it is widespread; but that does not make it deadly. How long-lasting is the danger from Covid-19? Will it remain in the system after the pandemic scare is over? We do not know. But will civilisation survive? You betcha! I was called up to National Service in 1952 and while waiting for the train to take me to Aldershot, I bought a book at the station called Earth Abides by George

Britain has its first punk-rock government

The most surprising thing about the letter from Guardian and Observer journalists moaning about Suzanne Moore’s supposed ‘transphobia’ is that it contained 338 signatures. This must be the first time a newspaper has had more writers than readers. What an extraordinarily bloated institution — how does it survive? Through those often advertised workshops where Owen Jones explains to people how to write a column? Most bizarre. Surprise number two was that these hacks were prepared to get themselves worked up about a perfectly reasonable piece, for once, by Moore — but found no problem what-soever with Steve Bell’s disgusting and frankly racist depiction of Priti Patel in a cartoon. Patel,