Pentagon Tales: Pete Bennett (Monkey Island)
Pentagon Tales * Trasmissioni dal lockdown
1. Where are u right now?
Hi Paolo, hope you are good, I’m in Manchester staying in an apartment in a converted warehouse in the Northern Quarter, which is a little like the Shoreditch/ Camden area of London- bars, venues.. bit hipster ;)
Engels wrote his book ‘The Condition of the Working Class…’ here, there is a Soviet era statue taken from the Ukraine to commemorate this and an accompanying film ‘Ceremony’ about it (on Vimeo). Also a climbing wall in the shape of his beard at Salford University (pictured). I like it here, my great and great, great grandfather’s ran a Haberdashers/Tailors two streets away in the era of Engels.
2. What’s happening in your country/city at the moment? Are there any restrictions?Are venues/shops/bars opened?
Everything apart from food shops and pharmacists, essentials is closed and there is a lockdown in place- with exception to exercise and buy food. It’s not as hard enforced as Italy, or France from what I can tell, but fines can be given and the government has passed a law granting (which are worrying, if abused) emergency powers for two years.
3. Did u have any tour/gig planned before this thing started?
4. How this situation is reflecting on your everyday life?
I’m enjoying it. I get to bed early (I was running a venue/bar in east London), drink less and train for my climbing (I am an indoor climbing instructor) everyday.
5. How the Music Community in your country/city is reacting?
Sometimes good, sometimes terrible home dj sets and acoustic gigs on facebook.
6. Do u usually have any help from the Government if u’re a musician or anyone working in the music world in your country?Do musicians / people working in the music world get some money or help for the tour they cancelled?
No. As a venue we pay 2 weeks statutory sick pay and the government has made funds available to pay 80% of employed (not self employed) peoples earnings- as employers we are actively looking into how this will be paid to our staff- there is a huge queue of people waiting. Self employed people get a different deal – something like 80% of monthly profits, I believe.
7. How the Government reacted?Did they think about the economical loss and disaster the musicans are facing?
I think the government are making it up as they go along, reacting to the situation, and other countries reactions. It seems they have engaged a fund or access to funds set aside for national disaster- a War Chest fund, if you like.
8. What’s the social situation where u live?How people in general are living these days?What’s the percentage of your friends that right now is not working for this reason?
No one is working unless they are deemed essential – from nurses, supermarket employees to street cleaners, but also construction industry workers- this last one is controversial.
9. How’s reacting the Society and do u think after this will be over something will change in the everyday life?Do u think people will change anything in their life?
Yes it could provoke the kind of social change necessary to meet climate needs – for example: already people can see the environment is better without constant flying of aeroplanes and unnecessary factory production- and address the complete failings of neoliberalism.
I believe Corona is a real thing, something natural occurring, that presents a real danger, like a very bad strain of influenza -especially to people with underlying health issues, low immune systems, and the old and infirm. Whether things are being under or overplayed by the authorities, press and economists, I don’t know. We seem to be on a ‘war chest’ economy at the moment, using access to funding set aside and made available for a disaster. Whether the crisis will be exploited and / or manipulated by those with power is another question. Yes, by some, is probably the answer. From small shops overpricing, to brokers buying shares. To governments suppressing dissent. That’s what concerns me.
I think the UK Government response is a combination of unpreparedness and not wanting to be the government that makes the wrong decision, so they’re all following each other. I’m sure all the governments are communicating in some way – no one state is really acting alone, going rogue. The markets are essentially controlled by Wall Street and The Federal Reserve., WTO, IMF.. they may be seeing it as an opportunity to reset in leu of an impending crash, using temporary embedded liberalism and Keynesian interventions, without admitting that neoliberalism has failed in the classic sense (of market forces creating a stable economy) and whilst still denying or disguising that it was a political tool to establish an elite business class, or at least that this is a now out of control bi-product of neoliberalism. I think it in terms of economics it’s could be stroke of good and/or bad luck, depending on your position in the market, power and scrutability.
The thing that worries me, is not that we’re advised, or even told to stay indoors and exercise caution, that seems fairly reasonable. It’s after we’re ‘let out’, in three weeks or three months- no matter when, the draconian laws will remain in place and can be used to suppress the ideas people have formulated during this crisis, on changing how governments operate, manage the economy, et all.
10. Is there anything u would recommend to the people of the music world during these hard times?
Keep in contact with friends and family, stay away from old and vulnerable, social distance seems a reasonable reaction, stay fit, eat well, try and do all the things you can’t usually do because you are too busy in full time work. Don’t worry if you feel like not doing those things – crisis can cause anxiety and depression- it’s normal don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t panic. Don’t keep reading the internet looking for answers. Don’t name and shame people who you feel are breaking the ‘rules’. Don’t judge.
11. Is there any book/lp/movie u read/listened/watched recently that u would recommend ?
‘A Brief History of Neoliberalism’ David Harvey, Oxford University Press
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