The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
Tweaky big beat pumps from an ad hoc sound system, beautiful people mosey around under post-modern sunglasses - permanently affixed to face regardless of weather - and clumps of hay spring from the spaces in between.
When I walk past three hours later, the music's louder and it appears there's a permanent cloud of dried grass hovering above the revellers.
This is Field Day, and it's now six years old. It seems difficult to imagine the very first Eat Your Own Ears/Adventures in the Beetroot Field/Bugged Out all-dayer in 2007 - a well-intentioned event sorely plagued by planning and audio issues - sharing a lineage with the hipster calendar cornerstone that it is today.
To descend upon Hackney's recently refurbished Victoria Park and see one of the best small festivals in Britain is a charming encouragement. This isn't even a small festival any more.
Shrewdly spaced over most of the park, the layout perfectly isolates stage sound as well as giving each corner its own identity beyond the typical "main stage, alt stage, dance tent" setup.
First ear-grabbing act of the day is Andrew Bird, a US multi-instrumentalist whose latest album Break It Yourself is a lush cut of quasi-classical modern folk whimsy fused with a country lilt, all backboned by Bird's stunning drummer.
It's rare to see such vocal crowd enthusiasm for a violinist - with band or otherwise - and I couldn't help wondering if there was some link between the joyful, yielding abandon of the audience, their ever-mobile jaws and bared teeth and the highly sexed full-body dancing which I found myself an unwilling participant in.
Perhaps I'm just getting old and that's how kids dance these days.
Arguably the highlight of the weekend for many was space-funk dance outfit Metronomy, who made full use of the thankfully well-appointed sound system with staccato, intricate Prince-style synth lines and deep, macabre pop bass.
There's a sinister magic surrounding this Devon four-piece.
Broody, wonky keys, catchy hooks and a sense of humour combine perfectly with songwriter Joe Mount's maturity.
After coming off stage he seems like he's just had a bath rather than whipping up a crowd of thousands into a gurning orgy of music.
In what could easily be called a misjudgement in programming, following Metronomy's devastatingly dancable set is Beirut, every self-respecting scenester's favourite US post-Gypsy mariachi chanson group.
While Beirut rarely disappoint with their sleazy ballads, one couldn't help feeling that the jawgrinders in attendance would have been able to prolong their buzz a little longer had these bands swapped positions.
Closing proceedings is Franz Ferdinand, a band who I mistakenly presumed had long retired from public performance.
Despite being ignorant of running orders for the whole day - the mark of true, bleeding-edge hipness - I was queasily surprised to find such an anodyne group putting the festival to bed.
While clearly capable of writing the odd radio-saturating hit single, Franz's musical and instrumental simplicity offers a prim reminder that their brash, angular pop is actually rather flimsy.
But where else can you find a 10-hour, no-questions-asked straw fight on a Saturday in east London?