It’s a thankless job being the Prime Minister, what with everyone making life so beastly.
First of all, Dave Cameron gets it in the neck for minor indiscretions, like his economic policy. Just because he offers tax breaks to the super rich, gifting Manchester City’s playboy footballers, for one, an extra 5p in every pound of the millions they earn (more of that club later), critics accuse Cameron of ignoring the plight of poor people.
The PM can’t even cite his favourite British album of all time without sparking a round of ritualistic pie-throwing. As part of a celebration of 60 years of British rock, to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the PM named Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon as his top record in The Format Formerly Known As The Long Player.
Cue: hysterical pop culture outrage.
The Dark Side of the Moon (to be pedantic – because we are discussing rock and pedantry is obligatory – the album is The Dark Side... not just Dark Side...) is that rare thing: a bona fide, nailed on classic album.
The themes it addresses – insanity, alienation, materialism, greed, death – are timeless and they chime perfectly with the deranged outlook of long-haired sixth-form boys. Crucially, the Floyd’s musicianship and the album’s stellar production means it appeals all over again to these self-same adolescents when they become grey old men and start to obsess about tonal frequencies.
DSOM (the rules of pedantry dictate the definite article is dropped from the abbreviated form of The Dark Side...) is unimpeachably fabulous and this is what has particularly narked Cameron’s political detractors.
He doesn’t get the irony, they wail.
Has the Honourable Member for Witney never listened to the lyrics of Brain Damage: “The lunatic is in the hall/The lunatics are in my hall/The paper holds their folded faces to the floor/And every day the paper boy brings more.”
Does he not get it? The lunatics’ “fold faces,” delivered by the paper boy? Yes, David Cameron, that’s you. You are a folded face. (Note to younger readers: paper boys, and paper girls, were boys, and girls, employed by shopkeepers called newsagents. Their job involved delivering newspapers to homes every day. This was in the dark times before the invention of the internet.)
And in Money, say the snipers, that line about “New car, caviar, four star daydream/Think I’ll buy me a football team,” that’s about Man City, that is. And in case you’ve forgotten, that’s the team (about which I will refer to again), that you (David Cameron) handed tax-breaks. Man City’s players (average salary: lots of numbers plus lots of zeros) don’t half struggle to get by. After all, it’s grim up North.
None of this criticism matters, though, because an individual’s love of music has very little to do with how they live their lives. It’s a state of mind.
This is why critics of Cameron’s selection of DSOM – people like Dudley North MP Ian Austin – have made themselves look a bit silly.
Austin, who judging by his website is still struggling to get over the fact Gordon Brown is no longer PM – lots of pics of Gordo there – had a sideways Twitter pop (“twop”?) at Cameron for championing the Floyd’s finest hour (pedant correction: the running time of DSOM is 42 minutes, 59 seconds, not an hour).
Austin has previously laid into the Old Etonian for pledging his love of The Jam’s Eton Rifles and appears to suggest Floyd “sums up the sort of pompous everything [sic] the musical revolution of late 70s was against.”
Up until a few years ago, I might have agreed with Austin. I came to DSOM late in life. When it was released in March 1973, I was five years old; Cameron, who I didn’t know, was six. He was educated privately; I went to a school in a council estate.