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

Monday, 29 September 2008

Reality Killed the Radio Star

Yesterday was the occasion of the allotment society autumn social and what with me winning the prize for biggest sunflower AND second prize in the raffle. Well! Did you know that the best ever book on allotments was written by former Freedom editor Colin Ward? I don't know if George Orwell mentioned allotments anywhere but I'm sure that he would have approved.
The evening found me in the Resonance FM studio as a guest on Wing Commander Bone's outstanding series " Freedom Pass Anarchists". It's always nice to chat to Ian so all in all I was feeling pretty chipper by the time I got back to area HQ.
I woke up this morning, brewed the first cup of builders of the day, switched the radio on and returned to earth with a bump. News of the far right electoral success in Austria was followed by a harrowing piece on child soldiers in Congo. I know that there is nothing I can do to influence either of these issues but it sure put last nights rambling reminiscing in perspective.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hazel Blears set to join anarchists.

You never can tell how the day will pan out. Take today for example. It had been my intention to toddle off up to the allotment and get stuck into the autumn muck spreading. Makes a change from spreading it on the web. Anyway, I made my sarni and a flask of tea, reached for my trusty Freedom Pass and prepared to set off. Bugger! It's only started to rain. I should have seen it coming. Me being a bit of an amateur meteorologist and all, as her indoors was quick to point out.
Ah well! On to plan B- elevate feet and have a read of the paper. Now what's all this? ".....absolute belief in the ability of ordinary working-class people to determine their future and make their own decisions......activist in the working-class tradition
..... believe strongly that it's not about well meaning middle-class people doing good things for working-class people." This is not a quote from some yellowing Solidarity pamphlet circa 1972. No. This is arch Blairite and New Labour super-chick Hazel Blears.
You can't fault it of course. It's all true. The trouble is that if working-class communities really did take matters into their own hands and started to make their own decisions, and implement those decisions, the power of the state would be down on them like a ton of bricks. It would then be up to Our Haze to decide whose side she was on.
Blears also goes on to say that, " The truth is,the poorest people always get the poorest services because they have not had the clout and the influence." And it took all these long wasted years of Labour government to find that out, right?
I should never have opened Society Guardian. I knew that it would upset me. Should have gone up the allotment in the rain.

Monday, 22 September 2008

The one and only Yukio Tani.

During the second half of the 19th century,as Japan was emerging from it's isolated feudal past and rapidly becoming an industrialised nation, the Japanese started to visit abroad and large numbers of Europeans were for the first time visiting and working in Japan. It must have been frustrating for the Japanese,that just as they were trying to take their place in the modern world, it was the ancient and now somewhat discredited art of jujitsu that fascinated the foreigners, especially the Brits.
Among these Victorian martial arts fans was one W E Barton Wright, an engineer on a tour of duty in Japan. Barton Wright had decided that upon returning home he would open a jujitsu academy in London teaching his own "westernised" system that he had modestly named "Bartitsu". Just to be on the safe side and to ensure that he wasn't put on his arse by the first punter to walk through the door, Barton Wright also decided to bring back a genuine Japanese instructor with him, the nineteen year old Yukio Tani.
Bartitsu got off to a good enough start and for a time was the talk of the town. Having Sherlock Holmes use it to overcome Professor Moriaty in their little set to at the Reichenbach Falls helped of course. It couldn't last, the bubble was bound to burst before long and soon the flood of hopeful trainees dried to a trickle. In a last effort to drum up business Barton Wright put his teenage instructor on the stage. Tani was to appear nightly in the capitals music halls not only giving demonstrations of his art but taking on all comers as well.
Barton Wright and Bartitsu were soon forgotten, not so Yukio Tani. The British public took the little man to their hearts as thousands of miles from home and with no other way of making a living he really did take on and beat all comers. Touring the country night after night he offered an open challenge to boxers, wrestlers and God knows what bar room brawlers to step right up and have a go. Only five feet two inches tall and never weighing more than nine stone, how on earth did he do it?
Of course there was his undoubted skill, even though he always modestly claimed that in Japan he would be considered as no more than a good third rater. What was probably even more impresive was the level of mental strength that he must have had.
Yukio Tani settled in London and when he finally retired from his music hall career was to become the first chief instructor at the now famous Budokwai Judo Club.

Friday, 19 September 2008

The Final Days? I Doubt It.

Much as I would like to think that capitalism's present crisis heralds the collapse of the system and the dawn of a new world, I can't help feeling that such is very much not the case.
However, the one certain thing in politics is the complete lack of certainty.
Chances are that the worst off will feel the pinch even more and the sale of mega-yachts and racehorses will continue as before.
But you never can tell. This shambles may offer opportunities we haven't even thought of yet. Stay focused.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Let the Gurkhas stay.

I wish the retired Gurkhas well in their High Court battle for the right to settle in this country if they choose to do so. Even the likes of the BNP would surely find it hard to justify the deportation of these veterans so I was surprised to hear the comment this morning that being allowed to stay "wasn't part of the deal". Like when people striking for improved pay and conditions are told that they knew what the job was like when they started. With that attitude social change of any sort would never happen. Freeing the slaves, votes for women. the five day week, you name it. None of it was "part of the deal". It all had to be fought for.
Ayo Ghurkali !

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Wake me up before you go Gordon.

With such political heavyweights as Joan Ryan and Siobhain McDonagh calling for a leadership contest, Brown must be shaking in his boots. The truth is, that despite the huge amount of media hysteria, the Machiavelian intrigues of the New Labour elite are of little interest to anyone apart from party members and professional politics watchers. The mass of ordinary people are well aware that whoever is in Number 10, from whatever brand of New Labour/New Tory/Same Old Story,the increasing gulf between rich and poor will continue. The reality of modern capitalism is that power, real power, belongs not to politicians but to big business.
The project is not to change leaders but to change life. Something that we can only do when we make real the power dormant in all of us - not just at the ballot box but on the streets, in the workplace and in every area of daily life

Saturday, 6 September 2008

MMA cuts through the bullshit.

I have never been a great fan of Mixed Martial Arts, or Cage Fighting as it is sometimes known. The fights tend to be scrappy and I also feel a bit uneasy about the way the whole thing is marketed. Having said that,There is no doubt that MMA has made an important contribution to martial arts/combat sports in two respects. First off, MMA is acting as an archive of Catch Wrestling submission techniques that might otherwise be lost. Fortunately there were enough old time shooters around to pass on their knowledge to the new generation of MMA fighters. The other big contribution has, in my view, been as a bullshit detector.
I think that during my years of involvement in the martial arts I must have come across more unmitigated old cobblers than in any other area of life. Mixed Martial Arts demand a pragmatic, open minded approach to training and combat that was missing for years. Once the door of the cage closes no amount of secret internal death touch nonsense will get you out in one piece.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Soft Southern Tossers Beware.

I've been Up North. No, honest. Dockside pubs in such exotic ports as Blyth, Hull, Newcastle and Immingham have all been graced by my presence in the past and I have to admit that by and large the experience was a good one. High on my list of Northern adventures would have to be my introduction to Middlesbrough pub culture about 1962. Mind you, this in no way prepared me for my introduction to Sheffield Anarchists some ten years later! Gosh!
But I digress. What I wanted to say was that if any other soft,Southern,suburban tossers are planning a trip North and are looking for a bit of pre-voyage cultural preparation, they could do worse then visiting the outstanding Snook Cocker blog.

Not now darling.

I would not normally have bothered reading the now notorious Alistair Darling interview but so much fuss has been made about it that I felt I really had to check it out. Apparently the media are in a state of shock regarding a politician, much less the chancellor, TELLING THE TRUTH. So what is this hand on heart revelation they are all going on about? Surely it can't be the bit about the forthcoming economic downturn, everyone and their dog has been talking about that for months. No, it must be something else. Ah! this will be it. Towards the end of the article. Where he admits to not being a socialist. That'll be it.
A recession will hit the worst off hardest, as always. I have never subscribed to the view that "worst is best" in politics. When the shit comes down people are not radicalised necessarily, and may retreat into a defeated, depressed isolation instead. The thing that probably concerns me least regarding the likelihood of a recession is Darling fessing up to some journo about it.