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

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Revoke anonimity, not licenses.

News that that despite new legislation, the abuse of migrant agricultural workers continues, should come as no surprise. Revoking gangmaster licenses won't help much as the companies just reappear under a new name. We need to find out who owns the companies and give them all the publicity they deserve. Do their daughters posh private school friends parents know how they make a living? Do they want a welcoming committee waiting for them at the golf club? Make their lives a fucking misery.
Oh! and if middle class leftie liberals want something to do they can start by expressing a bit more concern for workers welfare and a bit less for that of poultry.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Boris big hit in Beijing panto.

With the Peoples Republic and Workers Paradise spending the equivalent of the GDP of some Third World countries on the closing ceremony, some people probably felt that Team GB's handover bit was doomed to pale into insignificance. Not a bit of it. Best comedy for ages my view. Outstanding performance by Boris Johnson. I always knew that drawing up the plans on acid was a good idea. Our mayor looked as though he had just woken up having fallen asleep in his suit and was thinking, "who are all these people in my bedroom".
I tend to agree with Arthur Smith on the Today Program this morning. I also try to dislike Boris Johnson as a mental exercise, and don't always find it easy. Doubt if anyone has that problem with Seb Coe.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Reade Crashes. Riley Smashes.

Commiseration to Shanaze Reade who fell off big time in the BMX. Next time Shanaze.
Congrats to Alex Riley for last nights BBC3 "Cheap Homes For Sale". Making a point and making us laugh at the same time it was one of the best progs that I have seen for a while. The nice bit of footage of the Class War Fuck Foxtons action was the icing on the cake. More! More!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Olympic thoughts.

I don't much like the jingoistic medal table hype but that doesn't stop me from being pleased about Brit success at the games.
Never thought that I would be a BMX fan but that Shanaze Reade has got me well enthused.
No matter how debased the Olympic Spirit has become, even old git cynics such as myself can't help but be lifted by the sight of so many happy young faces.
BBC coverage has been outstanding apart from the usual lack of wrestling. Freestyle is actually not a bad spectator sport; certainly better than some that have had hours of coverage.
In the midst of all this hype, lets not forget the huge army of ordinary coaches who slave away in draughty gyms and muddy sports fields, will never produce an Olympic medalist or get lottery funding but devote hours of their time to giving kids a chance to express themselves. They are true sporting heroes.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Ready to Ruck.

Years ago I wrote and marketed a correspondence course. My reasons for producing " Ready to Ruck. A guide to street survival" were threefold. In the first place I was hoping to make a few bob. In case anyone is concerned about my being corrupted by the forces of capitalism, let me put their minds at rest straight away. There was never the faintest glimmer of hope that anything remotely resembling a profit was ever going to result from the project. In the second place I somehow hoped that Ready to Ruck would be a vehicle for anti-state propaganda. Don't ask.
The final and perhaps only legitimate reason for unleashing this masterpiece on an unsuspecting public, was a fascination with correspondence courses that dates back to boyhood. The thrill of knowing that a rugged physique, the secret wisdom of the Rosicrucians and the ability to draw like Leonardo could all be mine for the simple investment of a 10/6d postal order was matched only by the exciting sound of the first lesson thudding onto the doormat. From then on it was usually downhill all the way. If any of this was due to some deep rooted psychological shortcoming it was not revealed in the eight lesson course from the British Institute of Practical Psychology.
Anyway, about the time that I was preparing the nation for street survival an advertisement appeared in the local paper (I'm not making any of this up) for a correspondence course in Nihilism. And it was free. All I had to do was send off a SAE. Well, it would have been rude not to. A few weeks later, and having completed the course ( I later discovered that I was the only person to achieve this, and you can draw your own conclusions about that ) I was invited by the chief nihilist to come round to his drum for a meeting on how best to proceed from here. So, much against the advice of friends, I turned up on his doorstep as arranged The meeting comprised just the two of us plus his disgruntled girlfriend who made tea. It was all a bit of an anti-climax really.
The world of correspondence courses came to an end as learning facilities (adult education classes, gyms etc.) began to improve and I suppose that the internet must have been the final nail in its coffin, but this odd,marginal part of popular culture, populated as it was by experts and charlatans, remains a fascination.
One famous correspondence course, still very much alive, deserves a mention. The cream of the crop and Harold Wilson's finest achievement, the Open University is in a class of its own. I did some OU myself when I was lock-keeping. It was the perfect way to spend the nightshift. With outstanding course material and some very committed tutors I really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Digging for victory. Class victory.

It seems that the Soil Association, freaked out by concerns over the new buzz phrase "food security", are to launch a new Dig for Victory campaign. The original wartime Dig for Victory has always interested me. By the end of the war there were 1.5 million allotments providing over half of the nations fruit and veg. In the face of the German U boat blockade, years of agricultural decline and reliance on cheap imports from the empire had to be reversed. Every available piece of land was put to good use. It has always struck me as an example of what can be achieved when the economy is geared to NEED rather than mere profit. In fact we could all do with being reminded from time to time that during the war "profiteer" was a term of abuse.
This new Dig for Victory campaign has radical potential, but it is only potential. Chances that the media will big it up for a while, celebrity gardening experts will explain how to grow aubergines in the bath and the whole thing will be recouped by the market, reducing us to mere bit players in the spectacle of self-sufficiency. The other option is that we force local authorities to fulfil their obligations under the Allotments Act and provide plots for the estimated 100,000 on the waiting lists. In London alone there are thousands of acres of land that could be used for food production. The back garden of Buck House for starters.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Kev comes good.

Just got back from The Oval. Nice one Kev. Well done. Never doubted you for a moment mate. Top geezer or wot?
Still not sure about the Greens though.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Take me to your leader.

As Kevin Pietersen completes his first day as England captain we can but hope that the selectors know what they are doing. Leaving aside the reasons for Pietersen playing for England rather than South Africa in the first place, arrogant but fundamentally insecure individuals don't tend to make the best leaders.
Funny old thing leadership. The reasons for feeling the need for a leader are complex, as are the reasons for wanting to be one.
The Green Party are about to descend into these murky waters with their decision to adopt a leadership profile like the main parties. My contact at Green Central Office tells me that the main reason for deciding on this was the difficulty in getting the press to take them seriously while they remained leaderless. I have strong misgivings about both KP ( too up himself ) and the Green Party (ain't got no class analysis) but at the end of the day I wish them both well. If Pietersen is looking for a bit of bed time reading he could do worse than Mike Brearley's "Art of Captaincy".
Oh! and Caroline, there are lots of good reasons for having a leader, but wanting to be taken seriously by some wanker from Fortress Wapping is not one of 'em.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Lion and the Unicorn Revisited.

To my mind there is nothing like a good walk to clear the cobwebs. Get the old pins moving and have a proper think about things. That's the ticket.So in this optimistic frame of mind I strode out the other day on one of my favorite jaunts.
Crossing over Waterloo Bridge, I am, as always, thrilled by that view of the city downriver and although I'm not a huge fan of the architecture, I can't help turning to look back at the South Bank and especially the Royal Festival Hall, all that now remains of that supreme example of post-war optimism, the Festival of Britain.
Over the bridge, turn right into The Strand and on to Fleet Street. Pause to go down into the crypt of St Brides "the printers church". No printers in evidence now but an interesting exhibition of the history of Fleet Street. On street level again and the real world. Post Murdoch Fleet Street.
I'm indebted to Ian Bone and his excellent blog for drawing my attention back to George Orwell and the need for the left to remain connected to the common culture of our society. It has got me reading Orwell again especially the essays, and most especially The Lion and the Unicorn. There are lots of things about Orwell's that I admire, not least the unashamed ENGLISHNESS of it all. That does not mean that I'm not an internationalist - far from it. It's just that looking back over the past 40 odd years of my own political development, it seems to me that the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater so many times.
Onward. Cross the valley of the old Fleet River, up Ludgate Hill and into the heart of the beast- The City. Look, this place, The City. It belongs to ME. The workers built this. The heritage of the Square Mile will remain long after the fly by night capitalists and hedge-fund tossers have struck their tents. And this heritage, it's MINE. It's OURS.
On past St Pauls. Down Cheapside and Poultry.Cross another lost river (Wallbrook) Past The Bank and up Cornhill. Pause to admire the Lloyd's Building and the ironwork of Leadenhall Market, both in their own way wonderful examples of craftsmanship and testimony to the truth of the words spoken by Durutti all those years ago. Negotiate the Aldgate one way system and I'm in Whitechapel High Street. Duck into Angel Alley and the anarchist sanctuary of Freedom Books. I buy something by Colin Ward. I like Ward. He writes about allotments, plotlands, the margins. Its all so, well, English I suppose.