DAY 41 – ‘Tracks’

April 30th, 2013 § 0 comments

Every so often one makes an amazing discovery, or what we used to call an epistemological break in the old Althusserian days (remember?). Yesterday was one; I learned that the average person in the UK between the ages of 14 and 24 owns 8159 downloaded tracks – which at the usual exchange rate of 3 mins per track, i.e. supposing they aren’t all downloading the Ring cycle,  amounts to about 17 days of listening.

tracksTracks (Allegedly related to the Higgs boson, but as the source is Soundcloud I doubt it.)

Where did I find this? There’s a useful survey done by some guys at the U of Herts, who have time on their hands and nothing better to do than ask teenagers about their downloading habits (Find it for yourself.) As you can imagine, most of these downloads are illegal, so there is effectively a massively huge crime wave in this age group. There’s a generation out there who are behaving in ways which I can’t understand, let alone emulate.

However, whether this behaviour is a crime, or even a sin, is not my concern. It’s the sheer amount of time which it must take to amass so many tracks. How can anyone say that young people are idle? On any standards, they are strivers rather than skivers (see earlier post). It beats me how anyone under 25 can find time to apply for a job, let alone hold one down, when they must be spending virtually all their time downloading, transferring between devices, and listening. If the barista at Costa sometimes seems a bit distrait, think of this; if he/she can hear you (hasn’t got earphones in), he/she may be thinking of what to download next, or worrying whether the latest download had a virus or was picked up by the torrent police. Compared with this anxiety and industry, the life of a Hertfordshire academic who simply has to ask dumb questions and feed the answers into Excel (so as to calculate those averages) seems, and probably is, a holiday.

(Incidentally, assuming the youngsters are themselves from Hertfordshire, notorious for highway robbery, they should be called highwaymen rather than pirates?)

Even I have my anxieties since I learned that the first swoops in Texas had nailed a 71-year-old grandpa called Durwood Pickle (no, really). Pickle blamed his grandkids, but my guess is that he was quietly downloading 50s musicals and/or Mozart concertos just as I or any other grandpa would do, thinking that the Feds would be too concerned with his neighbours’ crystal meth factory to bother him.

cyd-charisse-bandwa_679920cCyd Charisse and Fred Astaire

He was wrong, of course; a cop would rather sit in an office watching online traffic and checking IP numbers than venture out in the mean streets, beat down doors, and face the mob. Who for some reason haven’t, to my knowledge, tried to take over any of the download sites despite their huge success. Is it an age thing? Is it that the mob owns a large piece of most recording studios?

To return to the Theresa/Qatada issue; it seems clear that this should be commemorated by a ballad on the lines of Frank Crumit’s celebrated ‘Abdul Abulbul Amir‘, on a similar clash of civilizations. However, age is creeping up and inspiration is running out. Here’s the story so far:

Extremist Islam it keeps plotting our harm

Overrunning us like an armada

But we’re in the most danger from a long-bearded stranger

Called Othman or Abu Qatada.


We’ve defended our lands from uncouth foreign bands

Since the Brits first fought off Julius Caesar

But our strongest support in opposing their Court

Is our doughty Home Sec called Theresa.


You can see where it’s going; but I doubt if I could manage another twenty verses; I’d probably run out of rhymes long before, although Mick the limerickster could help with Theresa since I’ve found she rhymes with Caesar.. I offer the idea to the younger or more inspired – it really should be the Poet Laureate, but I expect she’s too busy.

170px-Carol_Ann_Duffy_(cropped)Carol Ann Duffy

I raised the Qatada issue with my analyst – OK, she’s an invented figure, but I take it that’s legit, since there are no laws against fiction in blogs, only against copying someone else’s fiction (see above).’Why’ she asked, ‘do you need to imagine this woman who is driven to send her father abroad to be tortured? Don’t you see that the torture -wish is a repressed castration-wish? Does she need to compensate for her own castration? Are we dealing with your own wish?’ ‘Look, I didn’t invent it. Look at the paper, it’s in here. The news is not a product of my unconscious.’ ‘Outside, you may read the papers and deal with the news. In here, the news is your unconscious.’ At which point I called her a wanker, and she asked me why I found that an appropriate term; and my fifty minutes were up.

 Today’s poem is taken from the anthology ‘Poems from Guantánamo’, (a terrific  book, ed. Marc Falkoff, U. of Iowa); the recommendation being from Judith Butler (again). It’s by Osama Abu Kabir, ‘a Jordanian water truck driver’, who joined an Islamic missionary organization, travelled to Afghanistan and was, naturally, arrested and transferred to Guantánamo. (He was wearing a Casio watch, and ‘some models may be used as bomb detonators’).  He was released in 2007.


Is it true that the grass grows again after rain?

Is it true that the flowers will rise up in the Spring?

Is it true that birds will migrate home again?

Is it true that the salmon swim back up their stream?


It is true. This is true. These are all miracles.

But is it true that one day we’ll leave Guantánamo Bay?

Is it true that one day we’ll go back to our homes?

I sail in my dreams, I am dreaming of home.


To be with my children, each one part of me;

To be with my wife and the ones that I love;

To be with my parents, my world’s tenderest hearts.

I dream to be home, to be free from this cage.


But do you hear me, oh Judge, do you hear me at all?

We are innocent here, we’ve committed no crime.

Set me free, set us free, if anywhere still

Justice and compassion remain in this world!


As for music – I should logically offer a pirated track, but I haven’t yet found out how to get one. Here’s an example of how the young (maybe not so young) are manipulating their downloads in the genre called ‘Slash’, or ‘homoerotic backings for songs with videos featuring Kirk and Spock’. A specialist niche, but that’s what the internet is for (32,084 viewings when I last checked).

More seriously – how about Ravi and Anoushka Shankar, strumming together?




Leave a Reply

What's this?

You are currently reading DAY 41 – ‘Tracks’ at Luke Hodgkin.