Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Post-War British professional wrestling reached the peak of it's fortunes during the early sixties. Apart from the weekly television exposure there were literally hundreds of live shows being put on in venues ranging in size from the local corn exchange or public baths to the Royal Albert Hall. At times the quality of the wrestling was such that it was almost possible to believe that the game really was as straight as table tennis, and certainly more straight than racing or politics. Some of the wrestlers became household names and none more so than welterweight champion Mick McManus.who died this morning aged 93. Archetypal wrestling villain and South London dodgy geezer with an interest in antiques, Mick was the epitome of the mat game. Turning pro in 1947 he had a career that spanned three decades. Such was the secretive nature of the business that McManus' true role was shrouded in mystery but it was generally acknowledged that as the Dale Martin "booker" or matchmaker he could make or break careers. Upset Mick and a wrestler could have a very lean time indeed. The product of a strange smoke and mirrors world of deceit, subterfuge and genuine hard men, Mick McManus was also that other paradox, a true died in the wool working-class Tory. Ah! well
Monday, 20 May 2013
"Henry" used to comment on this blog quite a lot at one time and I will be forever grateful to him for introducing me to the writings of the late Joe Bageant. There is so much about the USA to be outraged at or merely sniffily disapproving of, that it's easy to overlook the "other" America. The America of wobblies, freedom riders, and the hard working hard drinking folk who the East Coast intelligentsia look down on with such disdain. It's an America that was captured wonderfully by Joe Bageant and the country was the poorer for his passing
Saturday, 18 May 2013
Friday, 17 May 2013
In an interview this morning, Matt Wrack General Secretary of the Fire Brigade Union, made what I thought was an interesting observation. As part of a general discussion about government cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service the matter of foam filled upholstery came up. Wrack pointed out that in the 1980's his union had campaigned tirelessly for legislation regarding this highly flammable material that also emits very toxic fumes when burning. He also mentioned, almost as an aside, that some of the most vociferous opponents of that campaign are in government today. So who are these scumbags who would gamble with the lives of both firefighters and the public, and what was their connection to the furniture trade? Name 'em and shame 'em.
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
We are lucky in this country to have some wonderful free museums and galleries to wander around. A godsend on a wet day while waiting for the pubs to open. The great and good of a bygone age thought that we might better ourselves, that a bit of culture might rub off on us on the run up to opening time and well, "gawd bless you guvnor", they may have been right. For children the museums of South Ken are a wonderland. I don't know what it is with small boys and dinosaurs but The Natural History Museum certainly hits the spot. Another two cheap days out for Londoners were The Zoo and Kew Gardens but no more I'm afraid. It's well within living memory that you had to put a penny in the turnstiles to gain admission to Kew and didn't we moan when it went up to threepence. An adult ticket will now set you back fourteen quid, although to be fair kids do go free. Generation of parents knew that when it came to a day out with the kids a trip to the zoo and an ice cream was a dead cert and would not break the bank. Well you can forget about that - adult admission is now twenty five pounds with under 16's not far behind at eighteen quid. No wonder that these two old favourites are now patronised mainly by foreign tourists and wealthy pensioners.
Sunday, 12 May 2013
When what was left of the Revolutionary Communist Party metamorphosed into The Institute Of Ideas and Spiked Online dreary Marxist rhetoric was replaced with a far more entertaining brand of self-important contrarianism. On Radio 4's Moral Maze panelist Claire Fox is introduced as "Claire Fox of The Institute Of Ideas", as if they were talking about Harvard or one of the great teaching hospitals. I'm not knocking it. We need people who will fly in the face of received wisdom (no matter how noble) and say the unsayable. When Spiked published Barbara Hewson's critique of Operation Yewtree it was bound to upset the apple cart. Not that I'm suggesting that Hewson is right in her defence of ageing celebs accused of unwanted gropeing half a century ago but it might be an idea to just pause for thought. The History Boys was shown on TV recently. The teacher Hector has genuine concern for the boys in his charge but he also lusts after their young bodies. Hector is not a monster but a bumbling, if likeable, old fool who should keep his hands to himself. It's a wonderfull play that adapted well to the screen but I'm not sure if in the current climate The History Boys could be made anymore.
Friday, 10 May 2013
There is a now mercifully less common propaganda technique where you write an on the face of it interesting piece on Oh! I don't know, football, art, agriculture or education and then in the final paragraph explain how there can never be good football, art, etc until capitalism is finally superseded by the golden age of the workers councils. It's a literary device that must have led to more papers and magazines being chucked in the bin than any other. I try to avoid writing such stuff but frequently find it difficult to, if not actually write it, at least think it. Channel 4 news are running a series, Green and Pleasant Land, examining how climate change is impacting on the countryside. Prompted by a report by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Channel 4 piece last night made fascinating if disturbing viewing but as usual with environmental reporting no effort was made to even begin to question how the natural world can be protected in an economic system that must rely on growth and expansion to survive. To pose the question is to answer it of course and the answer is enough to send shivers down the spines of the rich and powerful. It seems to me that the effects of climate change, distressing though some of them may be, provide us with a challenge and a wonderful opportunity to take a further step along the road of the human adventure. Will the dreams of the 19th century anarchist and socialist revolutionaries be finally realised and will an inadvertent result of industrial capitalism that they could never have imagined be the catalyst?