Robot Invasion of Earth (Phase II)

In which The Author narrowly avoids being upgraded

Less than half an hour after I posted my latest bitter piece about the non-existence of Aberdare, (see Nothing Ever Happens) I was in the park, only two minutes’ walk from my house. One day in the week, some friends of mine had decided to bite the bullet and play a Secret Gig. The first I knew about it was Friday lunchtime, when Doz H. sent me a bizarre text:
At 2pm tomorrow afternoon, Replaced by Robots will appease the Sun Gods in Aberdare Park at the Stone Circle. Receive transmission
I replied:
Until the mighty Demons of RCT Parks Dept tell them to sling their collective hook, at least
Replaced by Robots have been around for over six months, but have only just emerged from their Cyber Suspended Animation to invade the Earth, starting with a small town in Wales. Doz (noisy bugger of Clay Statues renown) and my old friends Craig C. and Wayne B. (formerly of Serotonin) came together and started writing some songs. By now, the band has finally coalesced into a seven-piece. They played their first gig last Friday in Aberdare, and apparently in the week someone came up with the idea of a squatted gig in the park.
By the time I arrived, there was a good crowd sitting on the bank and the boys were already inside the circle. Even though it wasn’t the full line-up (Rhys couldn’t make it), a drummer, a bass player, a guitarist, two keyboard players – one of whom doubles on vocals, and the other of whom doubles on trumpet, glockenspiel and samples – and a noisy bugger can make a nice unofficial racket for a Saturday afternoon.
I had a chat with them while I rigged up my video camera just outside the stones. The stone circle isn’t Neolithic, unfortunately. It was erected for the Gorsedd of Bards when Aberdare hosted the 1956 National Eisteddfod. (Oh, I’ve just realised – that’s four interesting things that have happened in town in the last century. I take it all back!) Still, it’s a good setting for a gig, especially with the sun blazing down as it was.
Now, bear in mind that they hadn’t consulted anyone beforehand. They’d just turned up with their gear, a petrol generator, and started setting up. Andrew L. told me that a police patrol car had done a full circuit of the park soon after they arrived, but left without a second look. While they were fiddling with the generator, a little Parks Department vehicle came along and stopped a short distance away. We all thought that the occupants would almost certainly cast a metaphorical rain cloud on the afternoon. To our amazement, they just emptied the bins at the end of the path and drove off again. Emboldened, the boys carried on setting up.
Sammy M., Kath’s foster-daughter, turned up with one of her friends while I was chatting to some of my mates. Kath had rung me earlier and we’d arranged an al fresco Tech Support Surgery. I’d set myself up as admin on Sammy’s Netbook when I was fixing it a few months ago. I didn’t really think it was wise to let a fourteen-year-old girl loose in the Windows registry, so I gave everyone else limited accounts and told them to call me if they needed help. It turned out that she needed to access the admin account in order to install a dongle, so we’d arranged to meet in the park. I sorted it out and asked them if they were going to stay for the band. But it was a sunny afternoon, and the park would be full of teenage boys, so they declined and went on the prowl.
The boys eventually got under way just after 2.30. Two songs in, the generator packed up. After a couple of abortive attempts to fix it, they decided to get a replacement. Leighton L., who was sitting next to me, kept referring to it as a ‘jenny’. I told him that, unlike my Jenny from 2009, at least their fucking jenny had made the effort to turn up.
There was a hiatus while we waited for the cavalry to arrive with another generator, so I had a chat with Carys, who was making a flying visit to Aberdare with her father and her baby. He’s six months old already. This year is flying by.
While the boys were fiddling about again, a member of the Park team arrived with a litter-picking stick. He made his way into the circle, and we were sure that he’d invoke some obscure by-law to chuck us all out. After all, the Code of Conduct for park visitors states ‘No alcohol’ amongst other things, and quite of a few of the gang had brought their own booze. There’s almost certainly a clause about ‘sturdy beggars busking in a public space’ or some such. Instead, he chatted to Andrew and Craig for a few moments before heading off again. Things were going surprisingly well.
At about 3.15 the gig finally got under way, and I got half an hour of decent footage, which I’ve cut into segments and posted to YouTube. The only untoward intervention by forces beyond our understanding came towards the end of the set, when a freak gust of wind blew my tripod over. Luckily, Eggy was on hand to set it upright again.
Apart from that minor glitch, the whole afternoon went incredibly well – with no licence, no security, no health and safety precautions, no public liability insurance, no intervention from the Powers That Be, and no trouble from anyone except Notos, the God of the South Wind.
Maybe that’s the way that things need to proceed around here. After all, David Cameron’s always on about the ‘Big Society’ and the need for people to empower themselves, without the State involving itself. Perhaps Replaced by Robots have inadvertently hit on something exciting. After all, if the people responsible for whatever goes on in Aberdare want to keep us in the 1950s, when only officially sanctioned entertainment was available, who can blame us for wanting to make our own fun every so often?


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