“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Rumble Remembered.

Forty years ago today Muhammad Ali achieved what most pundits thought was beyond him and knocked out the ferociously hard hitting George Foreman to regain the Heavyweight Title. Much water has flowed under the bridge since the Rumble In The Jungle. As a Black Muslim, opponent of the war in Vietnam and a braggadocio when a respectful dignity was still the required stance for a black male in America, Ali had never been popular. But he was to rise above it to become a much loved international idol tragically silenced by Parkinson's and the legacy of some brutal encounters in the ring.
The taciturn George Foreman would re-emerge twenty years later as a garrulous and jovial rolly-polly comeback heavyweight who would end press conferences with a cheery, "My name's George Foreman. I'll see you at the buffet." He would go on to recapture two versions of the title at the unbelievable age of forty five and make a fortune from the sale of his famous no-fat grill.
Much has been written about the Rumble In The Jungle and doubtless there is much more to come. I just wanted to say thank you to two brave athletes who gave their all to entertain the likes of me.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Backend up the plot.

The growing season is well and truly over now - but what a season. Everything from spuds to strawberries seemed to do well this year. When I say that the growing season is over I don't mean to imply that the prudent allotmenteer will just sit back now and wait for next year. For a start there is the end of year clear up to crack on with; composting what you can and burning what you must. Autumn digging and muck spreading should be well underway by now and this years extended Indian Summer means that there is still plenty of good work with the hoe to be done if we are to keep those weeds under control. My spring cabbage plants are well away and if anything are a bit bigger than I would have liked for this time of year. Too much young fleshy growth will make the plants more vulnerable to frost later on. I sowed broad beans yesterday and, if the mice give me a fighting chance, they will compliment the spring greens for next seasons first vegetables.  Meanwhile, broccoli, kale, parsnips,   leeks and the few remaining beetroot will be harvested through the winter. But of course the biggest allotment task for the winter months is the planning and day-dreaming about what marvels we will perform next year.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wrong place, wrong time - right move.

It's difficult to know what to do really. A day never passes without more alerts, reports and such like about the nation's lack of physical fitness and alarming levels of obesity. The Olympic legacy has just turned out to be a loss of playing fields and allotments alongside a load more luxury apartments. Only sports that can guarantee a large medal haul at the next games are being considered for state support. If you want to get fit and you don't have the money or the stomach for all those chrome and carpet gyms the best thing is get your kit on and go out for a jog. Not that this is without it's potential problems. You could be running along, suddenly have a funny turn, lurch across to the other side of the road, stumble over the curb and accidentaly deliver a quite decent flying shoulder charge to the fucking Prime Minister.  And there you are. Pinned to the ground by loads of fat coppers and arrested before you have even started your fitness regime. Cameron's security team covered up their gross ineptitude by claiming that Leeds jogger Dean Farley was just, "In the wrong place at the wrong time".  Mm, bit like Charles de Menezes I suppose. At least this time the plod just had egg on their faces rather than some poor bastard's brains splattered all over a tube carriage.

Monday, 27 October 2014

When will we ever learn.

Thirteen bloody years. 453 British deaths and who knows how many Afghan losses. This year alone the Afghan security forces have lost some four thousand and once again the Taliban are poised for victory. Since the time of the 1842 British retreat from Kabul through to the Soviet invasion and the American led occupation the message has been pretty clear; don't meddle in Afghanistan or you will end up with a bloody nose. Whatever the future holds for the Afghan people it is unlikely to be the kind of liberal  democracy that Western political elites are (let's be honest) such recent converts to. To paraphrase the old bloke with the beard, the emancipation of the Afghan masses is a task for them alone.

Friday, 24 October 2014

How do you prefer your Eurosceptics?

As if things were not bad enough for Cameron, now comes the news that Britain must pay an extra £1.7 bn into EU coffers as a result of the Tory's much publicised economic recovery. Over at UKIP Towers they must be cracking open the champers, doing cartwheels down the corridors and generally creaming their knickers. No such jollifications across the the other side of town at NO2EU HQ I imagine. The left-wing faction of the Eurosceptic world may have sent a junior comrade round to the bakers for cream cakes but that will be as far as celebrations go. Lack of funds, and possibly a lack of joie de vevre, will see to that. So how do you prefer your Eurosceptics? Flag waving, foreigner bashing, swivel eyed loons, or worthy but dull with a nostalgia for the old workers paradises of the East? Tough call.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Duck keeping. But not for long.

                                                                     Live aboard boaters who squat the towpath or river bank are never that popular with local communities. I have always reckoned this antipathy and suspicion is partly due to jealousy and the "why should they" factor. Why should they, not have to pay mooring fees, sit about all day smoking roll-ups and drinking tea when I have to work to pay my mortgage on this dull little house etc. It's part of the human condition to want freedom but also to fear it, and fear those who we think may have more of it than we do. But another reason for a negative attitude toward the  towpath squatters of our inland waterways is the junk that tends to accumulate on the bank. The cramped conditions on a narrowboat or small cruiser mean that it's very tempting to keep stuff out on the bank and although this might start out as a pile of firewood and a couple of bikes, it's amazing how stuff builds up. I was certainly no better than anyone else in this respect when I lived on the canals, graduating eventually to the keeping of poultry on the towpath. There is a sad story attached to this that I was reminded of by a recent comment on the blog. The poultry keeping started with a few bantams but eventually I decided to diversify, as farmers say nowadays, and expand into duck rearing. At no small expense I ordered four Khaki Campbell ducks from an advert in the Exchange and Mart. The beautiful looking birds were dispatched by rail, collected from the nearest station and bedded down in the new home I had made for them. In the morning they were gone. Had made a successful bid for freedom and were happily swimming along the canal where all efforts to recapture them proved futile. I was heartbroken.
My efforts at guerrilla gardening were far more rewarding. I found a small clearing right next to the canal that was almost completely surrounded by brambles and by some adjustments to the hedge was able to create a secret garden safe from both the cattle in the adjacent field and the prying eyes of passers by. The watering of the plot during what was to prove to be a very hot, dry summer, was a masterstroke. As the hidden plot lay below the level of the canal I was able to rig up a syphon with a hosepipe and in this way was able to grow quite a bit of veg and a not inconsiderable quantity of dope. That's yer towpath squatters for you all over - give 'em an inch and they take the piss.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

It's grim up North London alright.

Fuck me! You really could not make it up.  Some wealthy Hampstead residents are seriously suggesting that Labour's timid proposal for a Mansion Tax will so devastate their cosseted lives that the whole thing is actually a humanitarian issue. Has anyone alerted Valerie Amos? Drop what you're doing in West Africa girl and get yourself up to Hampstead.
Top marks to Political Scrapbook for alerting the world to this imminent crisis.
And now this. I don't know how they cope.

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