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Chinese Metal

This is boring. Literally boring stuff, but like all boring stuff, it tends to be important.

The London Metal Exchange (LME)10 Finsbury Square London, EC2A 1AJ is the world centre for the trading of industrial metals from lead to gold. In 2018 the LME traded $15.7 trillion and 4.1 billion tonnes of what they call ‘lots’ of metals across the globe.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx) bought the 135-year-old LME for an estimated £1.4bn in 2012. The HKEx now promotes itself as one of the biggest market operations in the world and the leader in “China Connectivity.”

HKEx itself was created in 2000 and formed through the merger of The Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Futures Exchange and the Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company. The merger was designed to increase China’s competitiveness in the global market.

The sale of the LME raised a few eyebrows at the time with the Financial Times reporting (June 2012), “The sale would also deliver a windfall to the banks and brokers who own the LME. At £1.4bn, JPMorgan would receive £151m for its shares, Goldman Sachs would get £132m and the Bagri family, owners of Metdist, would receive £130m.” In the same article, the paper also suggested the Chief Executive of the LME was inline for a bonus of around £10m.

Seven years on following the sale of LME to the HEKx it is widely accepted that the deal has not realised its ambition of building a commodities bridge between the West and China. But as HKEX chief executive Charles Li says, “All you need to think about is if this is the right asset for us. The rest is detail. You don’t worry if the price is right.”

Roll on to December 2019, Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union has already fired a shot across the UK’s PM Johnson’s bow by warning that Brussels is ready to cut off the City of London’s post-Brexit market access unless the UK stays closely aligned with EU rules after it leaves the EU.

In an interview with the Financial Times (December 2019) Dombrovskis is quoted as saying, “Brussels was willing to grant the UK access through a system of “equivalence” decisions that are already used by banks and brokers in other countries such as Singapore and the US. The EU would be especially vigilant in checking that British rules for ensuring financial stability and protecting consumers remained aligned to the EU’s own standards and would act decisively in the event of any lapses.  Access will depend on Britain not starting to engage in some kind of deregulation.”

Meanwhile, as China maintains one alarming eye on the streets of Honk Kong while accusing ‘foreign interests’ of stirring up the disturbances, the other will be watching the negotiations between the UK and EU. Playing safe The London Metal Exchange has an office on the 7th Floor, MYP Centre, 9 Battery Road, Singapore, although it’s not as if they do not already have one foot in the negotiations.

The Bridge Builder’s Son

Stood 800 feet overlooking the River Tees on the peak of the Transporter Bridge. A closeness beyond life. A moment of pure clarity as to why he was standing transfixed, arms outstretched in a christ-like crucifixion pose. Inhale, deep breath, the chill plummeted into his masculine chest like a thousand razor blades degrading all the shivering resilience he was able to muster.

Exhale, warm breath evaporates from his lips to be lost in the orbiting world of colliding satellites, which sail haphazardly above him in the north sky and its carpet of stars. The perplexed matrix of lights from homes, industrial estates, office blocks and shopping centres surrounded his landscape. Flickering dots, the headlights of cars cascading through the urban, barren streets of Teesside.

Below him, the industrial nightshift belches out its obnoxious clouds of smoke and flames, a dancing pyre cavorting with the rhythm that will soon be daylight. Silence, only broken by a gentle breeze, which swirls between the ribs of the bridge and his hair. This bridge is a testimony to resistance, her untouched remorse formed by the regrets of pitted souls belonging to the hardest of men who laboured to bring her to birth.

Unlike the lives, she once touched she bares no consequence of time but static she remains. Once she stood amongst the toils of labour. Now she casts a deep shadow over the sterile conformities of carparks, shopping centres and cheap alcohol redemptions, which paper cracks with little sincerity.

Intimating primal childhood fears, a mesmerising steel monster sitting alongside the insecurities of her riverbanks, weeping with remorse. The empty streets, industrial units and vacant pubs where the ghosts of landlords celebrate the wages of lost generations. Scaling the bridge every step recoiled in memory for his father now missed. A bond rooted in love and the gentleness that had guided him from boy too man. Perched on top, the river flows like black blood below him. Unzipping his backpack, removing the canister secured inside. Closing eyes, he whispers words, “I love you, dad.” His father’s ashes drift downwards in the open sky and into the black blooded river. There to be washed out and to return on the evening tide where the Bridge Builder will wait for his son.

Earth Suite: Assassin of Sound

The photograph, design & layout work for the album Earth Suite by Assassin of Sound, along with a link to the album and the various draft ideas produced for the project.

 

16.12.19: The Magic Lantern & Pete Roe

Properly my last proper gig of the year, but ending on a high note. I realised tonight that I may have overindulged this year on what some may refer to as “difficult music.”   The essence of a beautiful song with its woven lyrics, delivered with real heart and sincerity was in abundance tonight at the Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol. The Magic Lantern and Pete Roe. Beautiful.

 

Foundations for Walls

Having been a member of the Labour Party since  I was 16 years old it does not come down to who was/is the leader that would not change my reason for being a member, which has more to do with the values I believe in.

As a party, which seeks to be in government, we only win when we think of ourselves as a family of 12 million forging alliances with like-minded people beyond our family rather than focussing in on what our membership thinks, regardless if its 100,000 or 500,000 members. As far as the north goes it’s not simply about building political alliances but social networks. It’s also not just about rebuilding a red wall but understanding the foundations, which that wall needs to be built upon.

To be in government Labour needs to win in Scotland, the North, Midlands, as well as further afield.  So my fellow Labour Party friends, think very carefully when choosing our next leader because we will determine if Labour is in our out of power for 5 or decades.

This can be done if we once again think of ourselves as that wider family forging those alliances with like-minded people. BUT after such a devastating defeat, it is often best to show humility, listen, reflect, learn. Then come back stronger. More determined. Hurling abuse, blaming others, taking no accountability are symptoms as to why we lost in the first place.

Anger is an energy. Please use it wisely.

12.12.19: GIVE A SH*T

An emotionally conflicted day, yesterday. General election and during the day helping the campaign to hopefully elect a more compassionate government. By the evening attending a fundraising event called Give a Sh*t for local homeless charities. Then leaving the gig after storming performances from Idles, Beak> and Billy No Mates to realise things might not be getting better soon for those much more vulnerable than the most of us. I managed to survive the Thatcher years, and I empathise with those, especially younger people who may be feeling dejected today. It’s exhausting, but remember anything worth struggling for never comes easy.

Beak>

Reflecting echoes of oneself

The Sandringham Pub is a no-nonsense pub located on Sandy Park Road, Brislington, Bristol.  Amongst the struggling shoots of cafe life its stands definitely, tired, but proud. The clientele in the downstairs bar sit, chat, exchange stories from the day while upstairs political candidates prepare themselves for a ‘husting’ where would-be candidates set out their case for election or re-election.

Having arrived early into a near-empty room with an abandoned father Christmas costume, a well-worn skittle alley to one side, a Banksy print ominously hanging in the background and the intermitting flushing of the toilets conveniently located so audience members need to navigate themselves over the skittle lane and behind the speakers.

The fun of watching the organiser’s deliberations on the location of the top table, various angles are tried, varying sizes of gaps between the tables attempted, each attempt 6 glasses of water are moved from one table to the other enabling tables to be moved, then move back, and then moved again. Until reluctant resignation is accepted that no amount of reconfiguration is going to deny the spacial reality that either the person chairing the meeting or indeed one of the speakers will need to be seated on the skittle alley.

The evening had all the hallmarks of an Armando Iannucci script in the writing while reflecting all the ingredients of what makes British politics, so quintessentially British at this grassroots level. A mixture of pantomime, personalities, amateur dramatics, serious concerns, barrackers, political tribes with a fixed position and the occasionally bemused observer, who has mistakenly taken the wrong turn on route to the bingo.

In the world of spin, social media isolation and soundbites there is something rudimentary and honest about these types of meetings. One which cajoles people from different positions and opinions into a room, to meet people, listen and confront the stark reality that this much more that unites us in common concern than divides us in frustrated anger. The issue, in many cases, is the journey rather than the destination.

Yes, Brexit dominates, like a stroke victim jerking and increasingly struggling with their words any other subject no matter how big and small are drawn back to the B-word. It is depressing but equally fascinating, but like the audience, the eyes of each speaker tells the same story. We are all in a collective ditch, we have set symbolic dates and deadlines for “getting Brexit done,” but nobody has a clue about healing the self-inflicted wounds we have perpetrated upon ourselves, within families, neighbourhoods and communities. Some politicians seem to be pushing for that knock out blow, to be the victor, but a victor over who? In life total victory does not exist, nor is it practical or desirable. The art of compromise may be wanting at the moment, but she will be knocking shortly I just hope we have the commonsense to answer the door.

Life’s Little Eccentrics: Flt Lt Alan Pollock

My late father being of RAF regiment stock often made reference to this incident during my childhood. The so-called, Hawker Hunter Tower Bridge incident occurred on 5 April 1968 when a Royal Air Force Hawker Hunter jet fighter from No. 1 Squadron, flown by Flt Lt Alan Pollock, flew through Tower Bridge. Unimpressed that senior staff were not going to celebrate the RAF’s 50th birthday with a fly-past, Pollock decided to do something himself. Without authorisation, Pollock flew the Hunter at low altitude down the Thames, past the Houses of Parliament, and continued on toward Tower Bridge. He flew the Hunter beneath the bridge’s walkway, remarking afterwards that it was an afterthought when he saw the bridge looming ahead of him. Pollock was placed under arrest upon landing and discharged from the RAF on medical grounds without the chance to defend himself at a court-martial.

Diddly Squat

There is something quite telling about the Liberal Democrats economic plans for the 2019 election. The cornerstone of their plans seems to be the Treasury running a permanent surplus. A sound bite some may feel attracted too, although running a national economy is not the same as running a household budget. Any serious government seeking to hold a permanent surplus as its central economic plan is either going to tax like it’s 1977 or deliver austerity like its 2010.

Regulation No. 2257/94

Bananas should be firm and intact, fit for human consumption, not “affected by rotting”, clean, free of pests and damage from pests, free from deformation or free from bruising, free of any foreign smell or taste.

No definition or guidance was given about the degree of curvature.

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