Sheffield. Document. Degenerate

Sheffield.  Host City.  Scene of a recent ramble.  And the International Festival of Documentary Film.

A gorgeous Po-Mo event of the highest caliber, rubbing the ointment of creative industry into the cracks and tumble-down walls of a city’s old worksheds, broke-down factories and remnants of a different age.

How different are the ages of which these two images speak?  And how different from that of our own time??

Countless Document  —  aries showing throughout the days.  I saw A Day in the Life – Four Portraits of Post-War Britain, by John Krish which included The Elephant Will Never Forget (1953): a ten minute short bidding a fond farewell to London’s trams and the ways of life they represented.  Russian Lessons, by Andrei Nekrasov + Olga Konskaya.  The state machinery of Russia manoeuvres and manages a continuing state of war and militaristic terror along the obscure rural hinterland fringes of its empire.  Lastly, Benda Bilili. J’aime beacoup Staff Benda Bilili.

I find ghost-stylings easy in Sheffield.  Yorkshire in a blaze of history, I take thy seat of empire and pull out Ancient Chinese Weapons: A Martial Artist’s Guide by Dr Yang Jwing-Ming.  Peruse.

The City Centre all within walking distance of the Showcase Cinema, scene of this Festival.  Louis Theroux.  I see a talk given by Anand Patwardhan, a truly wonderful man who makes wonderful films.

So, in the style of a phantom: roam the civic space.  I can tell thee, dear reader, the cityscape reads like a pedestrian litany of bad new building.  I ‘ad two men digging all day, heaping shame on Sheffield Council who so blithely went round employing starry-eyed but fuck-witted architects to bring a series of icons to the skyline.

O Sheffield, a citi-character suffused with a New Labour agenda. The National Centre for Popular Music WAS a museum in Sheffield.  This thing cost £15 million.  The museum opened on the 1st March, 1999 and closed in June 2000.  Deary me.  They thought the attraction would bring in 400,000 visitors a year.  After seven months, 104,000 visitors turned up – it is considered that most turned up out of initial curiosity.

Everywhere a failure of the New Labourite town planning tropes.  Here, The Winter Gardens.  Lollipop trees.

Like the factories they – and now we – were raised to replace, a good deal of this scene lies empty, windswept and unused.

The  Ghost hits back it with a particular brand of Iconoclasm.

Space to Let.  To use, even.   And failure for all to see.  People sleep rough on these streets, bitten by frost.  As these crude elegies to corporate and consumer power stand still.  Untouched.

Dead Space.  Urban carcass.

Saturday night, out in Sheffield.  Walking along West Street as the November frost settles when I’m confronted by two bandits.  One of them pulls a knife, asks me what I think I’m doing.  A measured insolence deserves a measured response.  Swiftly, I take out my pair of Sun Tooth Sabers from their carrying case.  Man with knife goes to stab.  Already potential conflict is raised to streetfight.  Parry with Saber, arc of energy then in a flash of street light reflected off swishing metal, one of the bandit’s head rolls down the pavement.  The other flees.  I wipe the blood off my blade and continute on…

Back to London – and Martial Honour!


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