Political birthday celebrations

1 March 2008

I was busy at the end of last month so I did not celebrate my birthday until a few days later. My first ‘do’ was an all-party political event with my son Jack. I was invited to the House of Commons to meet and lobby MP’s of various persuasions about the second reading of (SNP) Peter Wishart’s Copyright in Sound Recordings and Performers’ Rights (Term Extension) 2008 bill. Doesn’t sound very sexy does it? Politics isn’t. It’s money and glamour that rocks most people’s boats! But Peter, as good fortune would have it, happens to be an ex-musician. The law on recording copyright ownership as it stands is mind-bogglingly unfair to UK performers. In fact is so unjust and inhumane that I have been considering taking our case to the European Courts for Human Rights.

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However this bill among other things wants to put us on a par with Americans who own record copyright for 95 years unlike us in the UK at a mere 50 years. This means that for most of us our work goes into the public domain while we are still alive. Having anyone using in any way they like our life’s work will be deeply distressing to artists, musicians and their families. So as an artist I am very much affected by this bill and I went to show my support for all other recording artists and musicians who suffer from this blatant discrimination.


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Of course the record companies (British Phonographic Industry who run the Phonographic Performance Licensing which pays everybody) have a different agenda to the performers and musicians (see details). I want to make sure that the performers’ interests are addressed. I have no vested interest in the results as I am in the unique position of owning my own recording copyrights, so I will benefit in the same way as record companies if and when the bill goes through. I want to help assure a fair outcome to all parties involved in the making of music. It seems obvious to me that the artist creator is the most essential part.

The European Union support and are in fact leading this potentially wonderful change suggested in EC Internal Market Commissioner, Charlie Mc Creevy‘s proposal and want to make it Pan European for everyone’s benefit. This is terrific news. However, thanks to ex- Tony Blair’s Government and his ridiculously ill-conceived Gowers Report the UK politicians up to now have thought differently. Why are we always SO out of step and trailing behind the rest of the world? Rumour has it that the big policy re-think in Europe started with Carla Bruni whispering informally in Sarkozy’s ear. So here’s to Anglo-French détente!

My son Jack, a former politics student, accompanied me for the outing. I always feel safe and chilled when he is around. Quite aside from his height, his manner has a very calming effect and I feel totally protected and at ease with him.

Jack and I had visited the House of Commons together previously for a meeting regarding the formation of an all-party Ministry for Peace and I am ashamed to admit that we stole a Westminster Parliament stamped water bottle to commemorate the occasion. I’m not a very good parental example am I? We use it to serve tap water at home nowadays.

The security for getting in is very tight and complex. Though you would not think so on the day of our second visit, when two ‘commoners’ managed to make a protest on the roof. There was also an anti government demonstration going on outside the front gates regarding the promised but undelivered EU referendum. It was utter mayhem. After being thoroughly frisked and X-rayed Jack and I made our way to the Jubilee Room. Here we were welcomed with large tables of booze. So far it was all very music biz. I was then introduced to various people representing this body and that organisation, this constituency and that government department and had a good old protest of my own. My local MP, Ed Vaizey showed his face to give support which was fantastic as he is the shadow minister for culture. After some speeches and photos we were quickly on our way as Jack had locked his flatmate out…

Now if you want a good time, my daughter Amie is your girl. Like her dad she works hard and parties harder. For my second birthday ‘do’ Amie arranged a girls’ night out together. I prepared by sleeping in as late as I could and swallowing a handful of vitamin pills. I wanted to be able to keep up with her.

We met at my place after she finished work and made ourselves up in the same mirror passing make-up tips back and forth. Amie brought along some La Prairie foundation to share which was recently left to us in the will of our dear friend Paula Owen, a professional make-up artist. We smeared our war paint on in exactly the same way that I had done way back in the early Sixties before a big night out dancing.

This was followed by tapas and pink Cava and white Rioja in the local Spanish bar, accompanied by lots of laughs and tears as we exchanged notes on our current personal affairs. At one point we laughed so much we nearly fell off our bar stools. Then we cried so much we had to do major face repair work in the loo. I think Paula would have approved.

After this emotional roller coaster Amie whisked me away to Soho. Here she took me to a fabulous gay bar for our Wilde night out. I was looked after wonderfully with an endless stream of champagne and everyone was warm and friendly. The DJ played some old Sandie Shaw tunes and Amie was highly amused to see a group of young girls singing and dancing along.

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I was eventually coaxed onto the dance floor, and managed to wriggle about energetically without spilling a drop of champagne (years of practice dear!) Amie was again highly impressed. The problem was once I was up I couldn’t sit down. Amie did her best to try and get me to pace myself but only succeeded in inspiring a new dance move which involved me chasing her around the dance floor and spanking her bum off the beat. It suddenly occurred to us that onlookers would not necessarily know we were mother and daughter on a rave night out and probably thought we were indulging in some weird sado masochistic lesbo ritual. Oh who cares! So we bopped till I dropped and Amie managed to get us both home in the early hours of the morning for a girly sleep-over.

That’s what I call a great birthday!

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