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Amazon Go-ing to the Isle of Wight?

$116.9 billion.

A figure beyond the bounds of most of our imaginations, a sum too staggering to comprehend for all but the select few.

Could Amazon be set for the Isle of Wight?

More tantalisingly still, the gargantuan figure is the net worth of a man who upon starting his own business in lieu of an actual desk placed four wooden slabs beneath a supine wooden door inside his garage to use as a makeshift table, with a hastily erected Amazon logo subsequently hung nearby.

From such humble beginnings, Jeff Bezos prospered to become the wealthiest man on the planet, overhauling fellow Seattleite Bill Gates in late 2017.

Now a global brand, the one-time literature database has targeted the UK as the next market with potential for expeditious expansion. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed: “The UK will play a leading role in the company’s global innovation.”

Manchester and Cambridge were the first UK locations to host Amazon warehouses, creating an abundance of employment, although workers past and present have given mixed reviews, with sections expressing concern for the company’s probation policies.

Speculation has been rife amongst business media moguls that the next progression will be for Amazon to roll out their ‘Amazon Go’ checkout-free grocery stores around the UK in late 2020, with Newport, Isle of Wight, among half a dozen prospective destinations blueprinted for the prototype.

Far from the recruitment generated by the Manchester and Cambridge sites, this is a predominantly machine operated franchise destined to affect a slew of issues for adjacent supermarkets.

The concern with Amazon Go is that it relies almost entirely upon cameras and sensors to run its stores, with only a sprinkling of entrance and shelf replenishing staff necessary for the successful operation of the location.

There are already more than 25 of these active in the US, following the Seattle initiation at the start of 2018.

Customers place their credit or debit card on file before entering and are then tracked by cameras, which register the items that they’ve taken (or put back) and subsequently funds are removed from their accounts within seconds. In the case of returns, the customer can re-enter the store, replace the item and receive a refund within minutes.

This all sounds fine and dandy in principal, other than further evidence of the foreboding lurch towards Orwellian society, but the reality is that it could cause more harm than good.

Stores such as Asda, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury are likely to be hit by this development, as people opt for the convenient, time savvy alternative that Amazon Go offers. As one domino topples it is likely others will follow.

Jeff Bezos is currently worth $116.9 billion

The pool is already too crowded in the Island’s capital town for another warm body to dive in haphazardly, let alone one that manipulates the Isle’s populace as figurative rodents plodding around a hamster wheel as part of this behemoth’s quest for global domination.

While I am all for the next wave of technological innovation, this advancement reeks of redundancy. Are we not, as Brits, proud of our tolerance for static queues? Are we not the kings and queens of small talk with cashiers? Let us stand as one and chant “ASDA, ASDA, ASDA” until our throats are bone dry.

You can take our minimum salaried, labour intensive jobs Amazon, but you can’t take our seven minutes of waiting for the person in front to dig through their shrapnel to find the right money!

I am grateful to Mr Bezos and his Amazon website for making Clipper tea bags, Anonymous masks and memory foam pillows so readily affordable, the man is a genius – this is a step too far though. It is time that the Wight unite to make sure that we don’t become fungi in a billionaire’s Petri Dish… Unless he wants to throw in a floating bridge that doesn’t sink that is.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Not Coming Out

Dom Kureen takes a glimpse at the homophobic attitude and fear associated with ‘coming out’ in men’s professional football.

Justin Fashanu’s limp, lifeless corpse dangles from the rafters of a dingy lock-up garage in Shoreditch, London, his neck is bound by a short length of rope and hangs loosely, seemingly held in place by something akin to a layer of Origami paper, as a member of the public stumbles upon the tragic scene.

Aged just 37 at the time of his death on May 2, 1998, Fashanu had at one point been regarded as English football’s next breakout star, signing a lucrative contract with Brian Clough’s high-flying Nottingham Forest in the summer of 1981 – subsequently becoming the first black player in the game to command a seven figure sum, following his £1m move from Norwich City.

Clough, a brilliant but often unnecessarily outspoken manager, had been shaped by traditional Victorian family values. This didn’t bode well for his new acquisition, who was banned from training with the rest of the squad after his sexual orientation and party lifestyle became common knowledge around the football club.

In one particularly fraught exchange, Clough barked angrily “Why do you keep going to that bloody poofs’ club?”

The relationship had reached breaking point and was severed irreparably soon after, when the Forest boss had his young striker escorted from the training pitch by two police officers.

Rapidly falling from grace, Fashanu came out publicly in The Sun newspaper published on 22 October 1990 – the first high profile British sportsman to do so.

The sensationalised revelations led to widespread public and private criticism, notably at the hands of his younger brother, John, who was also a professional footballer.

“I wouldn’t like to play or even get changed in the vicinity of him, so if I’m like that then I’m sure the rest of the footballers are like that” John said shortly after his brother’s tabloid revelations. The two siblings didn’t speak during the final seven years of Justin’s life.

In the three decades that have passed since the Justin Fashanu exclusive broke, no active male professional footballer has come out, although a handful, such as former Aston Villa and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, have done so shortly after retiring from the game.

In the semi-professional game in Britain there is only one openly gay footballer, Cleethorpes Town’s Liam Davis, who has been public about his homosexuality since 2014.

Rugby, cricket, tennis and a myriad of other sports have long accepted homosexuality: be it Gareth Thomas, Steven Davies, Martina Navratilova or more recently Tom Daley, the diver who broke millions of female hearts when he used YouTube to announce his relationship with another man and was generally well received for his honest admission.

Tom Daley used YouTube to reveal his same-sex relationship
Tom Daley used YouTube to reveal his same-sex relationship.

Former England international footballer, Sol Campbell, was the target of derogatory, homophobic chants from the terraces throughout his career; despite no evidence to suggest that he was gay. The former Arsenal, Tottenham and England defender now has a wife and son.

Campbell revealed to BBC News that in his opinion many fans and professionals still have the blueprint of a stiff upper-lipped 1970s footballer in their mind, so anything deviating from that prototype makes them uncomfortable.

England women’s soccer international, Casey Stoney, went public with her sexuality in 2014, revealing to the Telegraph newspaper that she was inspired by the positive reaction Daley received:

  “I feel it’s really important for me to speak out as a gay player because there are so many people struggling who are gay, and you hear about people taking their own lives because they are homosexual. That should never happen.”

Conversely, the majority of her male counterparts remain, on the surface at least, far from ready to accept the presence of sexual persuasions in conflict with heterosexuality among their peers. The primitive psyche surrounding the sport is one reason why it is often perceived as the brutish step-cousin of competitive pastimes.

In that sense things have receded rather than progressed since Justin Fashanu was shunned by his peers more than two decades ago.

One need only look at how that situation regrettably played out to see why there is still an thinly-veiled taboo on top-flight players admitting such a thing, but can more than 5,000 professional football players really all be ‘straight’?

The blinkers are on. As football agent Eric Hall assuredly stated for Inside Story: “Football isn’t really a game that gay people play, I believe that there aren’t any homosexual players among the professionals.”

That sort of wishful thinking may provide a misguided crumb of comfort for a game jaded by its own deep-seated insecurities; a sport gripped with fear and judgement fostered from the sanctuary of a reassuringly unenlightened cocoon.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Cowes Mylk

In my time as a journalist I’ve uncovered many stories which have stirred my innards, but perhaps none as likely to divide opinion as that which I share on this page today.

Cowes Mylk

There have been myriad ambitious projects in recent years on the Isle of Wight; 24 hour Tesco Express, Dappy from N-Dubs being booked at the Isle of Wight Festival, and a £7m floating bridge that seems determined to sink.

2019 sees the Island set for its latest offering from the entrepreneurial conveyor belt in the form of ‘Cowes Mylk’. Yes, you read that correctly, not cow’s milk as in the lactation from the teat of a bovine, rather a different form of milk produced, manufactured and bottled in the town of West Cowes.

There is a twist; the milk produced will excrete from the anatomy of female human beings, of whom more than 20 have already signed up to take part, with the caveat of a generous hourly rate and flexible hours offered to those deemed suitable for the position.

The initiative has been hailed as a triumph by company founder Jill Patrick, who predicts that Cowes Mylk will be on local store shelves by late 2019, with the target of getting into duty free stores and larger chains by 2021.

“We were never designed to drink the pus filled discharge of another animal, particularly one which has its calves unceremoniously and traumatically ripped from it at the point of giving birth.

 

“This is a humane and entirely ethical process, in which all of the participants consent fully to supply our demands, whilst also being amply compensated for their contributions.” Continue reading

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Tupac & Michael Jackson Holograms among 2019 IW Festival headliners!

Isle of Wight Festival insiders have revealed that there will be two posthumous headliners on the bill in 2019.

2/3, but the Hendrix hologram was a little too pricey at £3.2m per hour.

Hip-hop royalty Tupac Shakur and the former “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson, will be beamed onto the main stage during Friday and Saturday night using cutting edge projection technology borrowed from Ryde Academy.

Continue reading

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Bo Knows – The amazing story of Bo Jackson

In the first of a two part look at those super-humans who have succeeded at the apex of more than one sport, new contributor Ken Irons sheds some light upon the extraordinary career of Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson.

Bo Jackson

It is sometimes easy to forget that certain individuals have actually reached the very top level in more than one sport simultaneously.

One such a super- athlete was Vincent Edward ‘Bo’ Jackson, born in Alabama in 1962 as one of 11 siblings. His mother was a lone parent. He was a naturally shy kid with a tendency to stutter and this could lead to anger and subsequent confrontation with other children. Such confrontations, however, were apt to be short lived as it didn’t take long for his peers to realise that baiting him was unacceptably dangerous.

Bo soon developed a superb physique. He grew powerful shoulders, partly due to his ongoing love of bow and arrow shooting, and had a sense of timing that enabled him to throw huge weights accurately and at lightning speed. His massive legs and exceptional lungpower ensured that, when he fully matured (at 6 feet one inch and 225 pounds), he was about as fast an athlete as you were likely to encounter anywhere.

Bo Jackson 2

He went into baseball, football and track, with word of his talent rapidly spreading, and won a baseball scholarship at Auburn University from 1982.

His natural talents and sheer athleticism guaranteed that spectators always got good value for their money when watching him. It was whilst at Auburn (which was his ‘home’ college) that he was approached illegally and signed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers who wanted him to play football for them in the ‘off season’. this led to his dismissal by Auburn, an action that pleased neither party, but one that was inevitable under the circumstances.

Bo then signed with Kansas City Royals for baseball. Soon his enormous strikes and scintillating speed, coupled with a natural sense of balance, had the fans aghast.

Once, he sprinted at top speed toward the fence to take an astonishing catch over his shoulder and then, to avoid collision with the barrier, actually ran 3 or 4 steps up, and back down, the vertical structure.  This happened in one smoothly coordinated, unforgettable movement – small wonder that ESPN subsequently voted him the greatest athlete of all time, ahead of Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer et al.

Jackson’s football career commenced with L.A. Raiders. He declined further involvement with Tampa Bay, although he’d actually signed for them, feeling bitter about his enforced departure from Auburn and stating that he’d treat football as a “hobby” in the baseball off-season.

Only Bo, with his awesome qualities, could have adopted such a cavalier stance. His football skills matched his baseball skills and one could give no higher praise than that. He was, indeed, a superstar in both sports. Multimedia fame and highly rewarding advertising campaigns followed (see below.)

While playing football on 13 January, 1991, Bo was brought down from behind by a seemingly innocuous tackle which, it turned out, dislocated his hip.

Although he was optimistic about recovery at first, he subsequently underwent replacement surgery and, try as he might to recapture past glories, was never the same man again. He did play baseball with Chicago Whitesox (this, despite a false hip), but was a shell of his former self.

His legacy is well and truly preserved however. Indeed, if he had excelled in the modern era, rather than the mid-eighties to early nineties, such were his abilities that cynics would almost certainly be attributing them to the use of steroids.

Bo Jackson’s great tragedy was the cruelly shortened span of his domination.

Check back tomorrow for part two, where Ken takes a peek at a host of others who managed to excel at the zenith of more than one sport.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

Isle of Wight: 30 Under 30

From the 1960’s through to the early ‘noughties’, the Isle of Wight was considered something of a production line for successful creatives. This was in part due to the prosperity of Level 42, The Bees, Jeremy Irons, Bear Grills, Anthony Minghella et al. Thereafter, the conveyor belt has been a  little less prolific.

The sweaty scent of resurgence is now in the air though, making it the perfect time to present a list of 30 gifted creatives under the age of 30 that are worth keeping your eyes, ears and nostrils peeled for in late 2017 and beyond. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below the article.

30. Hester Chambers – Singer/Songwriter

With breathy, Karen Carpenter-esque vocals, Hester Chambers has a simple, beautiful tone that is like marshmallow to the ears.

Ostensibly a bag of nerves right up until the moment she utters her first note, thereafter she morphs into a hauntingly captivating melody maker. Has most recently found a niche in collaboration with Summer festival royalty, the Plastic Mermaids.

29. Sam Morris – Musician

The BaDow bass guitarist is the brains behind the catchy riffs that have seen the three-piece rock outfit scoop multiple accolades since the current lineup was established in 2013, including winning a place on the Bestival main stage by beating off fierce, more experienced competition at an event at Northwood House.

As their status has grown, Sam’s own legacy has continued to flourish. Currently on a studio sabbatical to tour Europe, talk of a potential solo project has been rife around his native Cowes in his absence.

28. Carlie McGarity – Illustrator

Understated freelance graphic designer and illustrator who has romped onto the scene following a transition from retail worker to full-time artist.

In the year since that plunge towards uncharted territory, she has produced stunning images for the likes of Nakamarra, Chelsea Theatre and Duveaux amongst others.

Chalkpit Records subsequently snapped her up as an in-house designer, with her images splashed all over their website. Destined for even bigger and better things as her confidence continues to grow.

27. Doris Doolally – Creator

To pigeon hole Doris Doolally would be akin to clipping the wings of a unicorn. Her illustrations and creations have become a regular feature at BoomTown Fair since 2014.

Seemingly on a solo mission to bring the Dodo bird back into public consciousness, her spoken word performances are one of many other strings to her overloaded bow.

26. Dylan Kulmayer – rapper/music producer/video editor.

USA born, Isle of Wight raised Dylan Kulmayer released his debut rap EP, Retroverted Propulsion, via the platform of Soundcloud at the tender age of 18. Not content with that, the next phase of his development saw him produce his own beats and embellish his audio with punchy visuals, as rough edges continued to be levelled.

Currently at University, Dylan can usually be found on a film set or in the recording studio. The hugely aspirational 21 year-old workaholic has lofty sights set, with a much anticipated follow-up album in the works.

25. Laura Watt – TV Producer

Having studied for a career in production at Cheltenham University, Laura’s story is one of perseverance overcoming adversity, with a heavily populated and diluted marketplace resulting in ‘paying her dues’ as a runner.

Eventually she found her stride, selected to work on several reality TV series, most notably Big Brother, as well as a slew of other production pilots.

Ms Watt returned to the Isle as part of the Red Bull TV team that made a short documentary based around the 2016 Bestival.

24. Greg Barnes – Singer/Songwriter

South Coast Jack Johnson soundalike in flip-flops with a shock of red, ringed hair. Greg Barnes is at the forefront of the Ventnor music community, with his monthly events offering a platform for up and coming performers to hone their craft.

With an uninhibited  soulfulness beyond his years, most recent release Early Summer provided further evidence of a young musician with an ever expanding box of tools.

23. Buddy Carson – Spoken Word Artist/Musician.

Buddy Carson has been a trailblazer for the modern interpretation of spoken word on the Isle of Wight, a genre which has since spawned numerous local acts inspired by his emotionally charged delivery.

Now based in Bristol, a productive partnership with Emmy J Mac (of ‘The Voice’ fame) saw the duo become a fixture at events all over the UK, with the pair later focusing predominantly on mentoring youngsters keen to work in one of the creative industries.

22. Liam Burke – Singer/Songwriter

Liam Burke is a product of the Isle of Wight music college, Platform One, who has found himself touted for breakout stardom since he covered Stevie Wonders’ Fingertips aged just 14 at a Christmas show in New Orleans.

He specialises not in a specific genre, preferring instead to mesh dozens of them together to create something entirely original – often with instruments as far-fetched as rusty salad spoons, zeusaphones and stolen road signs.

21. Ivana Popov – Poet/Songwriter

Born in the Bahamas to French and English parents, Ivana somehow navigated a path to the Isle of Wight, before hitch-hiking across the globe by boat in order to escape again.

She didn’t stay away for long thankfully, and upon her return quickly became notorious for her amusing, offbeat poems and quirky ukulele ditties, including an album of animal related tracks that she occasionally dusts off at PETA meetings.

20. Lewis Shepperd – Musician

Lewis Shepperd is a musician from the isle of wight with a degree in commercial music. He has performed at various festivals and venues such as the Isle Of Wight Festival, Bestival, Camp Bestival and the NEC Arena in Birmingham.

He has been compared to Prince, not only for his lavish leopard skin robes and insistence on yellow M&M’s in his dressing room, but also a deeply intoxicating voice and elaborate range of self-penned tracks.

His debut single ‘Me’ has to date received 16,519 views on YouTube… 16,520 now that I’ve watched it. Despite this success he remains the same humble person that he was during his first job as a moonshiner in 2013.

19. Tina Edwards – TV Presenter

Tina Edwards fell into TV Presenting almost by accident. She had gone to London for a separate audition, when she was spotted and placed on a presenting course due to the huge potential those television executives present had seen in her.

Starting out with street interviews (some of those interviewed more articulate than others), she was able to hone her craft and become a producer for Balcony TV in London. Wouldn’t look out of place as the host of Channel Four’s Streetmate.

18. Isabelle L’Amour – Burlesque Performer/Model

Isabelle L’Amour, known to at least half a dozen people as the ‘South Coast Sweetheart’, is a UK based and award-winning international Burlesque & Cabaret performer, teacher and model.

Creator of The Blue Moon Revue, her show has had sell-out residency across the UK and hosted some of the biggest names in Burlesque, with Kitten de Ville, Natsumi Scarlett & Domino Barbeau all gracing her stage at various times.

17. Sarah Murphy – YouTube Fashion Vlogger

Sarah’s classic, old Hollywood beauty and style really shows through on her various social media platforms. She films everything from hauls to ‘look books’ for her viewers to enjoy.

The fashion vlogger, already boasting around 6,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, is also known for benevolent acts of kindness, something borne out in her life philosophy: “I always try to make someone smile every day, it’s so important to be positive in life and to be kind to people”

16. Jazzy Heath – Musician/Music Producer

With the Summer release of new single ‘My Little Island‘ proving her most well received to date, Jazzy Heath shows no signs of reducing the relentless pace that has raised her profile as a musician around the UK.

Performing sporadically with her band, Pretty Censored, the 20 year-old and her entourage have come a long, long way together since the hard times and the good – the good being when she was part of the backing chorus for Fatboy Slim at the Bestival in 2011 (the gag’s a stretch I’ll admit.)

Also a talented beat maker, she has yet to decide which path to focus on post-studies.

15. Kes Eatwell – Recording Artist

Kestrel ‘Kes’ Eatwell is one of the most capricious artists to emerge from Isle of Wight music circles in recent years.

He turned down a set at Bestival in 2016 after winning a local spoken word competition, an incredibly bold act that paved the way for him to head to London in search of greater glory.

A proficient freestyler, Kes has wit and vocal dexterity in equal measure to ensure that it’s surely only a matter of time before he’s forged a successful career within the orbit of hip-hop.

14. Charlotte Tobitt – Journalist

Charlotte (far right) during her Yoppul days.

Charlotte Tobitt is something of a triple-threat creative force, graduating from Kingston University (In London, not Jamaica) with First Class Honours in journalism, having already secured a music qualification from the University of York, as well as becoming one of the UK’s premier cat whisperers in 2015.

Working her way up the ranks of the Surrey Advertiser via the Isle of Wight County Press’s youth offshoot, Yoppul, Charlotte secured the MA journalist of the year gong at Kingston in late 2014.

13. Jack Whitewood – Entrepreneur

The brains behind the Ventnor Fringe Festival, Jack has been a regular champion for the Isle of Wight arts, hosting and funding an abundance of productions from his HQ at Ventnor Exchange.

The festival itself has evolved from humble beginnings in 2010 to a week long explosion of luminosity, sound and general quirkiness that envelops the entirety of the seaside town, temporarily transforming it into a postcard of the French Riviera.

12. Olly Fry – Actor/Playwright

Olly Fry is ostensibly a man who never sleeps – not far beyond his juvenescence, he has written, directed and starred in more than 40 plays already, and could conceivably follow in the thespian footsteps of fellow Isle of Wighter, Jeremy Irons.

His critically acclaimed one man show, I Hooky, an undercard highlight of the 2017 Isle of Wight Festival, served as a brutally candid, anarchic glimpse into the past tribulations of an actor sufficiently bold to blend bleak with blissful.

11. Charlie Jones – Singer/Songwriter

Raised on the Isle of Wight under the guidance of a high profile musician father, Charlie Jones was classically trained but discovered a love of electo whilst studying law in France.

Part of indie-electo quintet, Nakamarra, (a band named after this song by Hiatus Kaiyote) she’s blessed with a full vocal range, and her performances are theatrically expressive. Temptress, the band’s latest single, is an ode to innocence and expectation.

10. Alex Vanblaere – Music Man/Fashionista

Eccentric, wackily maned bassist who is the heartbeat of math-pop starlets Signals. Alex expertly tip-toes along the line between hipster and flower child, without ever coming across as contrived or overly rehearsed.

To fixate on this personality and musk would be to underestimate the prowess of his playing, which has seen him compared to legendary funkster Bootsy Collins.

9. Nye Russell-Thompson – Actor/Playwright

An engaging and charming personality who has performed his shows all across the UK, receiving a nomination for a Filmflare Award for his hugely popular Stammermouth show.

This spirited one man presentation focuses on the difficulty of suffering with a stammer by utilising a brew of dark humour, hopelessness and a concise storyline arch – all exquisitely showcased without ever threatening to cross into melancholy.

8. Annabelle Spencer – Musician

Annabelle Spencer is 17 years old; she plays 7 instruments, writes her own music, teaches and has a voice that sends chills down the stiffest spine… I’m not jealous, I’m honestly not – those are tears of joy.

In addition to a range of her own material (including recent release Feather on the Tide), she covers all genres from bubble gum pop to rock depending on the mood, all of this whilst still studying at Platform One and maintaining follicles that would make Macy Gray envious.

7. Rhain – Musician

The artist formerly known as Babooshka Baba Yaga has come a long way since her initial live piano recitals which began to spread her name along the south coast, thereafter finding her calling as an operatic solo artist and integral member of the Plastic Mermaids.

It is with the latter that she broached the local mainstream, with their rousing Magnum Opus, Beyond the Cosmos After Death, a track which provides an ideal vehicle for Rhain’s extensive vocal dexterity.

6. Sepia – DJ

Sepia, or Theo Bennett to those who know him best, carved his reputation as a blockbusting DJ in Brighton, Bristol and… Brading (as well as other places not starting with ‘br’) and has enjoyed extensive  airplay on Radio One.

Sharing a stage with names as high in profile as James Blake and Joy Orbison, Sepia’s output generally has an uncomplicated veneer, with smooth transitions accompanying beats full of vitality.

5. Lauran Hibberd – Singer/Songwriter

With the afore mentioned Red Bull TV Bestival documentary (see no.25: Laura Watt) issuing a sub-section dedicated to her, Lauran Hibberd’s momentum threatens to elevate her to juggernaut status among fellow poppy-folk music makers.

After recently supporting Clean Cut Kid, and fresh from the Bestival main stage Lauran’s ever-growing Industrial Folk sound hints at a grander live vision, captured eloquently in her recordings to date.

4. Louis Checkley – Jazz singer

An award winning vocalist from Wroxall, Louis has carved out a niche for himself within the Brighton jazz scene with his often witty and elegantly wrought tunes infused by a piquant flavour of soul.

Though steering clear of vocal gymnastics, Louis’s ample range is light in tone, conversational in its approach and, with an effortlessly dulcet lilt, stands out from the crowd enough to earn its place among premier contemporary jazz singers, aptly demonstrated by his reaching the summit of the Balcony TV Worldwide charts in 2014.

3. Dayita – Innovator

A non-conforming human glitter ball who can’t be pigeon-holed by genre, Dayita materialised on festival stages around the Isle of Wight in the summer of 2017, providing a vivid audio/visual experience that invigorated a principally pop-rock landscape.

Her recent single release, Six Seconds, was an explosion of silver glitter, seductive articulation and Pinnochio-falling-down-the-stairs backing beats apt both for nighttime club use and daytime radio play.  Wonderfully kooky.

2. Adam Pacciti – Film Maker/ Online Personality

A master of the viral video, Adam Pacciti first surfaced on a national stage when releasing his Girl of My Dreams video, where he claimed to have been rescued from the zombie apocalypse by a dazzling dame paddling around his pineal, subsequently scrawling a (deliberately indistinguishable) sketch of her and urging viewers to assist in the search.

The publicity of more than half a million views across social media saw Adam featured on a glut of national television programmes, notably ITV News and GMTV.

A second viral endeavour, via a billboard in London pleading for a job, aligned with his increasing clout as a presenter of Whatculture, blazed the spotlight more brightly upon him, before his recent departure from the group led to speculation that he’s set to open his own wrestling company. Watch this space.

1. Sarah Close – YouTuber/Musician

A product of Ryde School’s music choir during her childhood, Sarah Close began posting covers of songs onto YouTube in the late noughties, aged just 14.  Four years later she relocated to London to attend The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, where she studied music and songwriting.

Sarah released her debut single ‘Call Me Out’ in March of this year, which charted at number one on the UK Official Physical Singles Chart, the first Isle of Wight solo artist to achieve the feat. 

Releasing follow-up, Only You last month, her YouTube channel is swiftly hurtling towards a whopping 800,000 subscribers.

Think we missed anyone out of the list? Leave a message in the comment section below and please throw Kureen a like on Facebook!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Distraction War

The war on drugs continues apace, with a split between those championing a further crackdown and others who think it’s all a bit of a hullabaloo, Dom Kureen gives his two cents.

Psychedelic alien
Drugs are bad Dom!


T
he sentiments were well morally virtuous but misguided on a plethora of levels, as my girlfriend caught wind of my past experiences with Ayahuasca, a psychedelic medicine first reported by 16th Century Christian missionaries from Europe, who encountered South Americans using it and described it as ‘the work of the devil.’

Renowned for its healing powers, the brew, also known under the names Yage and Daime, acts as a hallucinogenic compound of the Tryptamine family – notorious for creating insightful, enlightening states of mind.

Where my former flame showed naïvety was in stating with certainty a debunked generalisation and refusing to acknowledge alcohol, cigarettes, preservative packed fast foods or prescription medication as ‘drugs,’ a view endorsed by the majority of mainstream media and a government whose best interests are served by demonising anything that falls outside of their constitution.

In addition, to claim that all of these illegal substances are ‘bad’ expressed an innocently jaded outlook, one that had been propagated for the benefit of big pharmaceutical companies, who bring a gargantuan chunk of change into the current system.

Albert Hoffman: creator of LSD is considered the Godfather of psychedelics.
Albert Hoffman: creator of LSD is considered the Godfather of psychedelics.

 

In September, 2012, Channel Four conducted their own experiment: ‘Drugs Live:  The Ecstasy Trials.’ In which 30 people from various backgrounds and cultural dispositions were taken to a medical lab on two separate occasions – alternately ingesting a placebo pill and one containing 83mgs of pure MDMA (the subjects were kept in the dark as to which was the active drug.)

Although it was difficult to gauge the credibility of the trial, due to the controlled doses administered and prohibitive conditions, 29 of the 30 people tested (including a vicar, actor, drug counsellor and novelist) found that their overall experience was a positive one.

The sole individual who reported negatively about the experience was a former S.A.S soldier who admitted that in retrospect he had resisted what he perceived to be a forced, artificial state of consciousness as a result of his ingrained training.

Mind-set plays an intrinsic role in the value of all medication; it’s the reason why sugar pills and empty capsules have cured ailments such as headaches, anxiety and nausea in the past.

Matters of the mind also account for why alcohol, tobacco and sugar are widely regarded as ‘safe’ staples of society, despite accounting for so much illness and death.

Alcohol is at the forefront of more than 8,000 deaths per year in the UK, whilst psychedelic drugs are linked to fewer than 20 – still, a person who can quaff copious amounts of booze is often revered, while one who sporadically dabbles in hallucinogens is too freely labelled a junkie.

‘Vice’ is a website that promotes a regular ‘On Acid’ series, in which an individual swallows a tab of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and goes to an event under the influence, with a camera crew documenting the narrative that unfolds as a result of this enhanced mental state.

Although, as with the Ecstasy Trial, the forced settings are probably not conducive to getting the best from Albert Hofman’s mellow yellows, it is a brave/foolhardy form of journalism that makes for engaging viewing.

The problem with heavily regulating psychedelics and other drugs is that it inevitably results in a surfeit of street vendors, who have been known to cut their products with household cleaning agents and other toxic ingredients that are far more harmful than a properly regulated batch of the desired prescription would be.

There are also ‘legal highs.’ These usually involve self-proclaimed kitchen chemists taking an illegal drug, slightly tweaking the atomic structure and printing some fancy packaging to take it to market, often with tragic consequences – bath salts were one such drug that set off psychosis in dozens of users and were the at the root of an array of  horrific, cannibalistic scenes.

McDonald's: Legally pump out their interpretation of food.
McDonald’s: Legally pump out their interpretation of food.

Then there’s the modern strand of Desmorphine, known on the streets of Russia as ‘Krokodil’, a lethal concoction of codeine, paint thinner, gasoline, hydrochloric acid, iodine and the red phosphorous from matchbox strike pads.

A cheap alternative to heroin, the home-made substance is injected into a vein and rots flesh from human bodies due to its toxicity. There are some graphic videos regarding this on YouTube if you think you’ve got the stomach for it.

Of course ad-libbed substances like these are destructive and addictive, but their rise is largely a result of tried and tested drugs being unobtainable, unless one decides to deviate from the prohibitive laws currently in place (which you shouldn’t, obviously.)

While Kureen.co.uk certainly isn’t endorsing the easy availability of ALL drugs, it does feel that, in light of MDMA’s promising track record as a tool for therapy, it could certainly be beneficial to experiment further with it under controlled conditions.

Cannabis oil is another potential remedy that has tons of research to suggest that it could provide a legitimate cure for some forms of Cancer and all manner of other illnesses. Sadly although it is legal, anything relating to ‘weed’ is too demonised in many people’s eyes for it to be considered a feasible option when burning the illness away temporarily is still a viable alternative.

Prescription: GP's are free to dish magic pills out at their own discretion.
Prescription: GP’s are free to dish magic pills out at their own discretion.

Ketamine, Marijuana and some forms of DMT obviously have benefits far beyond what many are aware of. It is when they are abused that they become a danger, nonetheless they’re all worth trialling extensively.

When you consider the data that’s readily available, the hackneyed phrase of “drugs are bad” is fuelled by ignorant conjecture. It only accounts for communique almost entirely reliant upon half-truths. This phoney fear mongering continues to serve its purpose, to distract the spooked masses from corruption elsewhere.

The war on illegal drugs is portrayed as fundamental to the sparing of dozens of victims each year…

And the conflicts that sacrifice millions of innocent lives just happen to be easier to lose in the shuffle as a result.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Top Ten BBC3 Sitcoms of all-time (with clips)

With BBC 3 going off-air in the autumn of 2015, scores of terrible sitcoms will now likely never see the light of day. In amongst the tripe there have been some belters though, Dom Kureen shares his top ten BBC 3 sitcoms.

10. Uncle (Launch: 2014)

 

Loosely based on Man Stroke Woman’s ‘Uncle Jack’ sketches, Uncle follows the evolving relationship between a struggling musician and his until recently neglected 12 year-old nephew. A satisfying blend of dark humour and heart-warming narrative kept the first six episodes fresh, a second series has been commissioned.

 

9. The Smoking Room (Launch: 2004)

Written by Brian Dooley and starring Robert Webb, The Smoking Room won a BAFTA in 2005 and ran for two series from 2004-2005. Set in one room, the snappy repartee between characters never allowed it to drift.

 

8. How Not To Live Your Life (Launch:  2007)

Hitting screens in late 2007, How Not To Live Your Life ran for 20 episodes and focused on the futile existence of Donald “Don” Danbury (Writer and actor Dan Clark), a man stumbling through life with no clear purpose or direction.

 

7. Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps (Launch: 2001*)

Although not to everyone’s taste, Two Pints had a nine series, 80 episode lifespan that started in 2001 on BBC 2 and moved to BBC 3 a couple of years later. The Runcorn based sitcom provided a springboard for the careers of Sheridan Smith, Ralf Little and Will Mellor.

 

6. Bad Education (Launch: 2012)

Starring and written by Jack Whitehall, Bad Education centres around the often misguided teaching styles of Alfred Frufrock Wickers and his relationships with other eccentric figures at the fictional Abbey Grove School in Watford, including sketchy headmaster Shaquille “Simon” Fraser (Matthew Horne.)

 

5. Him & Her (Launch: 2010)

A sitcom about a lazy 20-something couple and their run-ins with various irritating friends and family members. Joe Wilkinson’s portrayal of Dan Wilkinson – Becky (Sarah Solemani) and Steve’s (Russell Tovey) socially awkward neighbour, is the best thing in the show.

 

4. Pulling (Launch: 2006)

The brainchild of Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly, Pulling was a creative success, even if the ratings were a little disappointing. The sitcom focuses on the lives of three single, female house mates and their attempts to…  erm, pull.

 

3. Gavin and Stacey (Launch: 2007)

 

Ruth Jones and James Corden hit the jackpot when they co-wrote Gavin and Stacey, a tale of a long distance relationship that brings the two lead protagonists together. Ultimately, a star-studded supporting cast outshine the colourless lead pair.

 

2. The Mighty Boosh (Launch: 2004)

After years of stage and radio shows, The Mighty Boosh finally hit the small screen in 2004, picked up by Steve Coogan’s company, ‘Baby Cow Productions’. Although sometimes panned as student-y silliness, the programme built up a decent following and created numerous vivid, memorable scenes for viewers.

 

1. Nighty Night (Launch: 2004)

 

A black comedy, Nighty Night follows the movements of narcissistic sociopath Jill Tyrell (Julia Davis) who has become obsessed with her neighbour Cathy Cole’s (Rebecca Front) husband Don (Angus Deayton.) The first series won a Banff award and Davis, who created the show as well as starring in it, received a Royal Television Society Award for her portrayal of the twisted lead.

Disagree with Kureen.co.uk’s top ten? Let us know which sitcoms you think should have been included or discarded in the comment section below.

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

11 of the most uncomfortable interviews of all time! (with videos)

Many dream of one day being able to mingle with the stars… But what about those times when it all goes horribly wrong? Dom Kureen takes a look at eleven of the most uncomfortable interviews of all time!

*WARNING: MOST VIDEOS CONTAIN STRONG LANGUAGE!

1. Michael Parkinson creeps out Meg Ryan

Parky’s usually affable nature seemed to desert him when he interviewed Meg Ryan on his show in 2006, with a patronising, banal line of inquisition replacing the usual charm.

Ryan seemed perplexed at what the veteran broadcaster was trying to achieve, later referring to him as a ‘nut’ and labelling it the most difficult interview she’d ever suffered.

2. Bill Grundy riles up the Sex Pistols

Visibly under the influence of several ethanol based beverages, English television presenter Bill Grundy could barely mask his contempt for ‘The Sex Pistols’ and their entourage during a segment for the ‘Today Show.’

Winding up the punk rockers from the get-go, the interview descended into two minutes of cuss words and provocation.

3.  ‘Dr. D’ David Schulz slaps John Stossel around the chops

Taking exception to what he felt was a disrespectful line of questioning, WWF wrestler David Schulz open hand slapped interviewer John Stossel twice, knocking him over with the force of the second blow.

Schulz later stated that the federation’s promoter, Vince McMahon, had sent him out with clear instructions to rough up the smug journalist, a claim refuted by the company.

4. Harry Redknapp ain’t no wheeler dealer!

Having witnessed his Tottenham Hotspur side lose to Wigan Athletic, Harry Redknapp was left fuming when Sky’s Rob Palmer labelled him a ‘wheeler dealer’ in the post-match interview, a reference to his transfer market acumen.

Redknapp didn’t see it that way and fired off a couple of f-bombs, before being persuaded to come back and conclude the conversation with the shaken interviewer in a more civilised manner.

5.  Crispin Glover goes loco on Letterman

Most famous for his role in ‘Back To The Future’, Crispin Glover appeared on  ‘The Letterman Show’ to promote ‘River’s Edge,’ his upcoming release.

Ludicrous scenes soon ensued, with the live audience and host not sure what to make of it all. Some speculated that the actor was tripping on a psychedelic drug of some sort… In actual fact he was promoting a character from another of his films – A fact that a miffed David Letterman hadn’t been made of aware of beforehand.

6. James Brown gurns and sings his way through CNN interview

Having been released on bail following serious spouse abuse charges, James Brown did an interview with Sonya Friedman for CNN’s ‘Sonya Live.’

Rapidly plummeting into a screeching, singing, slurred attempt to promote his upcoming tour, nobody was quite sure WHAT ‘Mr Dynamite’ had ingested pre-show, but he was clearly high on more than life.

7. The Bee Gees walk off Clive Anderson Talks Back

Taking umbrage to a couple of barbs from host Clive Anderson, eldest Bee Gee, Barry Gibb, became progressively more bothered throughout the interview.

The main bones of contention were probably Anderson insinuating that the band were ‘(s)hit makers,’ and making fun of their previous moniker, ‘Les Tosseurs’.

In one final awkward twist, Maurice was unable to detach his lapel mic’ and stood there tugging at his top long after his siblings had exited.

8.  BBC News interviews the wrong ‘Guy’

In May, 2006, ‘BBC News’ scheduled a live interview with internet guru Guy Kewney. When air time arrived however, they astonishingly called a completely different man, also named Guy, into the studio.

Guy Goma, a graduate from the Congo, had been waiting for a job interview when a BBC Executive mistook him for I.T buff Kewney, An uncomfortable few minutes unfolded live for the nation.

9. Mark Wahlberg gets sozzled on the Graham Norton Show

Hollywood A-lister and former boy band affiliate, Mark Wahlberg, appeared on the Graham Norton Show in early 2013, seemingly three sheets to the wind from the get-go.

Relatively composed at the start, he gradually became less coherent and seemed to have irritated fellow guest Sarah Silverman by the time the credits rolled.

10. Mike Tyson gets vulgar for no reason

Speaking to CNN’s Russ Salzberg prior to a fight against Francois Botha, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson didn’t appear to be his cheery self, responding to mild inquisition with a string of profanities.

Tyson went on to win the bout without too many problems, but behind the scenes (not for the first time) things were falling apart at the seams.

11. David Blaine mesmerises Eamonn Holmes

Widely considered the world’s greatest illusionist, David Blaine appeared on GMTV for an interview with irritating tub of lard Eamonn Holmes.

What unfolded over the next several minutes was widely reported at the time to be Blaine under the influence of alcohol and severe sleep deprivation.

It later emerged that the trickster may have been messing with the media, a stunt that he’d been known to pull previously.

There are numerous other interviews that warrant honourable mentions, including Andy Kaufmann and Jerry Lawler’s (staged) appearance on the Letterman Show – let us know in the comments below some that you think we should have included!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Festive 15 – music to save lives

Award winning music journalist, Dr Jonathan O’Shea, kindly agreed to share his top 15 tracks of 2015 with Kureen – let us know your thoughts in the comment section below the article. 

Chemical Brothers

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, has become an accidental annual tradition (I think this is the seventh one) and was initially inspired by John Peel’s Festive 50. Like pointless paper crowns, turkey incineration and being derisive about sprouts, this is one seasonal routine which is set to continue ad infinitum.

Between Christmas and the New Year, I like to pore over the music that’s been pumped into the ether over the past twelve months and somehow make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking it. Then I present it to the world in classic chart countdown style: 15 to 1 (not to be confused with William G Stewart’s bad-ass 90s game show).

So here’s the Festive Fifteen ’15;

15. What Went Down – Foals

Pulsing, persistent beat and increasingly frenzied lyrics from the inappropriately-named indie rockers.

14. Leaving the City – Joanna Newsom

The planet’s most unique and oblique pop-harpist takes a leap into new, questing territory, with a less sparse, more densely developed sound than usual.

13. Mr Noah – Panda Bear

Some pretty weird-ass stuff here, about a dog being bitten on his leg…? Sounds like it was recorded on a demonically distorted hurdy-gurdy in 2048 and sent back in time through a subterranean vortex.

12. Go – Chemical Brothers ft. Q-Tip

Begins amid frantic bongos and slashing light-sabres (honestly); Q-Tip’s muscular rap provides the backbone for a Daft Punk-style synth-a-thon.

11. Go Out Blur

The kind of swaggering anthem Damon & co relentlessly pumped out in their prime.

10. Singularity – New Order

One of the darker tracks from Music Complete focuses on dissatisfaction with everyday inertia and mourns the loss of ex-bandmate Ian Curtis.

9. Tutti Frutti – New Order ft. Elly Jackson

Could easily be filed under ‘90s nostalgia, but a beguiling duet with La Roux’s Elly Jackson elevates this playful track to something more airily uplifting.

8. Detroit – Gaz Coombes

Probably the finest moment of the ex-Supergrass frontman’s solo career. A tale of longing for home while in a distant land: effortlessly melodic, with a soul-stirring arrangement.

7. City – Spring King

Breathless stomper; designed to thrash about in the dark to. Repeat: “Who am I? What does it matter?”

6. Strange Combinations Teleman

Gently insistent and mildly hypnotic stuff. Perhaps the strangest combination here is the electro beat and mild-mannered vocal style, but it works wonderfully.

5. Borders – M.I.A

Controversial subject matter – the refugee crisis and a ‘f*ck the system’ message – delivered in typically laconic style. Sure, it’s a little lyrically banal, but at least she seems to stand for something.

4. Bodies – Farao

Totally irresistible combination of plaintive Scandinavian vocalist and inexorable rhythms.

3. Swords (Matahdatah Scroll 01 “Broader Than A Border”) – M.I.A.

Opens with the rhythmic clashing of swords and a pulsing beat which underpins a culture-clash classic. Check out the genuinely awesome M.I.A-directed double video for this new track and 2013’s ‘Warriors’.

2. Dreams – Beck

Reminiscent of his upbeat ‘Guero’-era danceable demi-anthems, this track – devoted to the restorative power of dreams – is thickly layered with catchy aural confections…it’s surely the funksome highpoint of Beck’s meandering later career.

1. Don’t Breathe Out – Roots Manuva.

soul-stirring sample of portly baritone Barry White’s ‘Honey Please, Can’t Ya See’ forms the unlikely bedrock of this gloriously gospel-tinged track. The Walrus of Love’s slightly sickly love letter morphs into something altogether more mystical and compelling under the spell of Stockwell’s philosophical wordsmith.

Fin.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.