Tuesday, 22 April 2014
When the MP's expenses scandal broke five years ago most ordinary people were justifiably outraged. All those second home scams and everything from thatched duck houses to Remembrance Day wreaths being bunged on expenses. Nice work if you can get it. Truth is of course, we should never expect the people at the top of the greasy pole to be anything other than corrupt. There will be honourable exceptions but by and large the people at the top are lining their own pockets. Otherwise, what would be the point? From the Mafia to the Supreme Soviet to the British Establishment, it's always the same old same old - snouts in the trough. But recent criticism of Nigel Farage's MEP allowances has drawn attention to the kind of dosh that is swilling around Brussels and we can expect anti-EU activists to mount a serious attack on Brussels corruption over the next few months. They will not be short of ammunition.
Monday, 21 April 2014
Friday, 18 April 2014
Pensioners are among that declining section of society who bother voting so between now and the General Election we can expect to be given a lot more attention than usual. It started with Osborn's budget announcement that he thought us all grown up enough to decide whether to wisely invest our 'pension pot' so as to secure an income for life or blow the fucking lot on fast cars, fine wines and wild sex. Now the government have gone a step further and will provide a life expectancy forecast to help us make the decision. One factor in the calculations that I have not heard mentioned yet is the simple fact that the richer you are the longer your life expectancy. One of the few advantages of being very poor is knowing that you won't have to make your tiny or none existent pension pot last too long. When you say it like that this whole thing is beginning to look less of a vote winner after all. I suspect that we will be deluged with lifestyle advice over the next few months. Had I known that I was going to live this long I would certainly have looked after myself better but I am reminded of the story of the famous baseball player who, still fit as a fiddle in his eighties, was being interviewed by a journalist. "To what do you attribute your longevity?" enquired the journo. The old timer looked puzzled, "How's that?" The journalist tried again, "How come you have lived so long?" "Oh! I put that down to my diet." The hack licked his pencil in anticipation. "Yes, I eat nothing but strictly fried food."
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Even by the abysmal standards of reality TV the first episode of The Big Allotment Challenge was bad, very bad. How naive of me to think that there would be space for any kind of look at what allotments have meant as part of our collective social history. I'm sure that away from the ludicrously pristine TV set 'allotments' and back on their own plots, the contestants are happy pottering about, producing a small part of their food, getting to know people they might not otherwise have met, feeling a bit closer to nature and doing all of that stuff that it's so easy to be clever and flippant about but is important to us none the less. Unfortunately none of this was revealed in the program. What can I say about the presenters/judges? Jam Woman. The simpering flower arranger. The only one who was remotely interesting was the retired Royal Head Gardener and I suspect that we may yet find that a little of him goes a long way. The biggest challenge was staying awake.
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
From what I can make of it, BBC2's new series, The Big Allotment Challenge which starts tonight, will be a kind of 'Strictly Come Digging' or 'Britain's Got Club Root'. Sounds like an unlikely format for a hit TV show but what do I know? I hope that some of the history of the allotment movement will come out during the series. Good article in today's Independent but a shame that David Crouch and Colin Ward's definitive history of the allotment failed to get a mention.
Sunday, 13 April 2014
Deborah Hopkins, Labour Party parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, has apparently been suspended by the party for 'conduct unbecoming'. The story goes that Debs used a social media site to suggest of a Tory opponent (not local boy Steve Double surely?) 'I would call you a cunt but you lack the depth and the warmth'. I am unable to confirm the rumour that Millibean had to have the comment explained to him but one thing is for sure; this is just the kind of earthy humour that will not be tolerated in the modern Labour Party.
Tuesday, 8 April 2014
Fringe political parties are on a hiding to nothing when it comes to getting a sniff of power. The British electoral system sees to that. For the press, the political fringe has a novelty value when not much else is happening but the main focus is always on personalities rather than policies. The press want fringe leaders who they can get a bit of copy out of. Worthy but dull won't cut it with the hacks. And to be honest, in these days of the political leaders of the major parties seemingly produced by the yard and cut off as required, we could all do with, well, a Nigel Farage I suppose. Lighting up one fag after another, pints of Scruddocks Old Dirigible are consumed with relish and not just purchased as part of a "common man" photo opportunity and left on the bar after a sip. The UKIP leader has always just got time for one more before setting off to tell Brussels what's what. In the imagination of some people the real defence of this country, the true front line, is the almost unbroken line of bungalows that face out to sea along the South Coast. Union Jacks flutter in the fresh onshore wind. UKIP posters are everywhere. They love Farage here. Think that he's a proper gent who talks good sense. We hear a lot about city spivs but only rarely is one identified for us. Well Farage is, or at least was, the real deal. A genuine city spiv. He might talk posh but he need only grow a pencil moustache and he could be a dead ringer for Arthur English or Private Walker from Dads Army. The hacks ignored him for years but they can't get enough of him now. The policies might be rubbish and, like those iffy nylons, will fall to pieces first time that they are worn, but the patter is good. It won't last of course. Farage may very well end up as MP for Basingstoke and provide hours of amusement but sooner or later the shoddy goods will have to be scooped back into the battered suitcase and Dodgy Nigel will be forced to scarper before he gets his velvet collar felt.