The Saturday Miscellany: How to start a record label; Kate Bush; George Szirtes' bookshelf


How to: Start a record label

By Ally McKay

If you're after free booze and sex, join a band. Running a label is not as glamorous as people think, unless you find beauty in spreadsheets and post office queues. Still interested? Well, I warned you...

1. Find some great music. Sounds obvious but be honest with yourself; is it that great? No. Keep looking. Yes. Right, try to convince the creator to let you release it. This is often easier than you think.

2. To borrow a boxing phrase, you don't get what you deserve in this business, only what you negotiate. No one will beat the door down to buy your record. Get your hands dirty and sell, sell, sell.

3. Remember to have fun. It's only pop music after all.

Ally McKay runs the independent label Cross Keys Records

Rotating column: London weighting

By Gillian Orr

Almost as soon as Kate Bush announced her first concerts since the Seventies – the Twitter backlash began.

The singer had unwittingly aggravated the already taut north/south divide: all 22 shows were to take place at London's Hammersmith Apollo (or whatever they're calling it now).

"Such a shame Kate Bush only playing in London. C'mon Kate, the UK exists outside London!", wrote one angry fan, somewhat justifiably.

As a Londoner, it's easy for me to be dismissive of those complaints. I merely have to hop on the Central Line to get to the show. But think of all the fun you'll have blaring out Never For Ever down the A1 from Sunderland. I say, suck it up. You've waited 35 years for this moment. What's a few more hours on the motorway?

Proposal: TheSmiths reunite with 22 shows in Glasgow to spite smug Londoners like Gillian

Instant Ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Dear Ellen

Q. Should I correct other cyclists when they break the rules of the road?

A. Pausing mid-ride to advise fellow cyclists on the highway code sounds to me like the precursor to hideous multi-fatality traffic accident. You wouldn't want that, would you? The irony is just too heavy-handed to be amusing


Micro Extract: Horrors of war

"War, superb as it is, is not a filtering process by which men and nations are purified. There are many people to write you of the noble side, the heroic side, the exalted side. I must write you of what I have seen, the other side, the backwash."

From "The Backwash of war" by Ellen N. La Motte (£8.99, Conway)

Four play: Spy trials*

1. Carl Lody

2. Jose Waldberg

3. Portland spy ring

4. George Blake

* The Rosenbergs are sentenced in the US

Takin' it easy: On the origin of the species

By Larry Ryan

I recently learnt the etymology of the word 'couch potato': there was a group of lazy folk out in California in the 1970s who lived the easy life (ground zero for the ease taking community). One among them, Tom Iacino, used the phrase to describe a friend who was the laziest of all, particularly keen on the couch and the TV - "he had a penchant for laying back and 'viewing'," Iacino told Bon Appetit magazine.

Their quasi-movement kicked against the health freakery of the era. They took part in a local parade with a float featuring "a couple of couches on it; all of us bumming around, going through town" and spawning merchandise. It's like an unwritten backstory for Jeffrey Lebowski. The dudes incarnate. They were the men for their time and place. They abide.