Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Great believer in the collectivist model of society I might be, but even I am not daft enough to think that an outbreak of a contagious disease is likely to bring people together. None the less the likelihood of a flu pandemic is very much a social problem and can only really be coped with on a social rather than an individual level. Hard pressed NHS workers will be on the front line and we need have no doubt that they will give of their best, as always. Anti-viral drugs, sufficient for half the population, have been stockpiled. Already there is talk of a "buddy system" for collecting and delivering medicine for the sick. Is this another example of us shedding the last vestiges of Thatcherism and pulling together at last? Alas there is a blot on my usual rose tinted landscape.
The rich are buying up prescriptions from private clinics in case they have need of the drugs at a later date. There are stockpiles of anti-viral drugs. Unfortunately they are all in Knightsbridge and Mayfair. The rich, will they always be with us?
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Paid a visit to the now reopened Whitechapel Gallery today. Mmm. Not sure really. I mean there is no doubt that an outstanding job has been made of the refurbishment and I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of those involved but I can't help feeling that the loss of the old library may not have been worth it. The exhibitions are certainly well worth a visit, Goshka Macuga's installation in particular. It was heartening to see contemporary posters and leaflets by Whitechapel Anarchists displayed alongside Picasso's Guernica and memorabilia of the East End's radical past but I even have my doubts about this. I suppose that I feel uneasy about propaganda being reduced to objects of contemplation in a museum. Recuperation is not just an idea put about by the Situationists to frighten the horses. It's for real.
In this unquiet frame of mind I popped next door to Freedom Books. The new downstairs shop is a great improvement. Nice atmosphere as well. From Freedom it was a stroll up Brick Lane to the Bagel Shop for a salt beef roll and a cuppa. At least some things never change.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Not since the days of the wartime Dig For Victory campaign has vegetable growing been so popular. A day never passes without a TV programme, a special pull out supplement, book launch or whatever on the wonders of simply growing a bit of veg. The waiting list for allotments tops the hundred thousand mark and if you don't want to get into something quite as ambitious as an allotment there seems to be no shortage of advice on producing fruit and veg in everything from the backyard to the bath.
For myself, I started growing veg as a back to the land anarcho-hippy in 1970. A cottage and three acres, BIT crash pad, a few goats, flogging Freedom and Black Flag to bemused shoppers on Saturdays. We produced a lot of food, smoked industrial quantities of dope and hoped to change the world. Well I'm still growing veg, and still have that hope - on a good day.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
According to IPCC boss Nick Hardwick a police "distraction technique" is described as hitting, kicking or striking. And there was me thinking that it was busting a dozen foreign students on a fantasy terrorism number.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
It's a failing on my part I'm sure but when the business news comes on the air I tend to drift into a semi-coma. Likewise I never read the business and money pages of the paper. Old hippie that I am I find it all a bit boring but even I woke up on hearing that Tesco have just announced record annual profits of over £3 bn. Economics is not my strong point but I had a nasty feeling all along that the fallout from the recession would not impact on everyone in the same way. Our day will come.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Despite the worst efforts of developers and local councils, we Londoners are lucky to be pretty well off when it comes to parks and open spaces. I have always been a bit of a London Parks enthusiast. When I was doing the Capital Ring walk a couple of years back I discovered a number of parks and open spaces that I had never heard of but thought that by now I had visited all of the capitals major parks. So it came as a surprise to realize that I had never set foot in Brixton's Brockwell Park an omission that was put right yesterday. What a great park and being Saturday morning the place was being used to the full with dozens of football matches, community greenhouses, a cafe in the old Manor House, lovely walled garden, all clearly an asset to the community. I am sure that local residents will tell a different story regarding Lambeth Council and the contractors who run the park, but as an outsider wearing the usual rose tinted specs I was pretty impressed. I shall return.
Friday, 17 April 2009
The results of the second Ian Tomlinson post-mortem have finally been released and suggest that Ian did not die of a heart attack as the Met have been claiming, but as a result of internal bleeding following being assaulted by an as yet unnamed officer.
Two things can be predicted with some confidence. One is that regardless of what may happen to any individual officer, the Met as an organization will get of Scot free and in the short term will be looking to divert attention by any means possible. Working for a safer London? I should cocoa.
Monday, 13 April 2009
It has not been a good couple of weeks for the Met. First the completely unnecessary spiteful policing of G20 Meltdown resulted in the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson. This outrage was compounded by the clumsy, inept attempt at a cover up. Next on stage was Bob "Safe Pair of Hands" Quick with a truly outstanding piece of idiocy that resulted in a swift retirement on full pension for the man who was supposed to be the senior counter-terrorist officer. Just when our esteemed public servants were thinking that they could relax at the Masonic dinner and dance and up comes the revelation that they had been guilty of monumental errors in the Baby P case.
The question of what kind of police we need is never an easy one to answer but surely few people of any political persuasion would opt for the quality of policing that we have been paying for of late. Never has the "shame on you" chant been more appropriate.
Monday, 6 April 2009
Calls for a presidential pardon for the old time heavyweight champion Jack Johnson remind me a bit of when NALGO made the imprisoned Nelson Mandela an honorary member. It was probably churlish of me but I thought at the time that for someone banged up on Robben Island NALGO membership was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. I feel pretty much the same about a pardon for the long dead Johnson.
To say that Jack Johnson was a man before his time is an understatement. A truly gifted fighter, first black world heavyweight champion and one of the finest defensive boxers of all time, Johnson took the fight game to a whole new level, and won the undying hatred of white America for his trouble. When Johnson beat Tommy Burns for the title in 1908 he sent shock waves through the white world. Two years later former champ and so called "white hope" Jim Jefferies was called from retirement to defend the honour of the white race. The fight was held in Reno, Nevada and was a deeply racist affair. Among the many famous people who made the trip to Reno and helped hype the racism was that darling of the left, the writer and self proclaimed socialist Jack London. After the crushing defeat of Jefferies an orgy of riots and lynchings descended on America's black community.
It wasn't just that Johnson was beating all the white fighters put in front of him; it was the sheer arrogance of the man. In an era when for a black male to make eye contact with a white woman could result in a lynching, Jack Johnson openly married and had affairs with a number of white girls. At a time when a shuffling subservience was the expected form of behavior for blacks in white society, Johnson was an unashamed flash, brash, hard drinking, hard gambling lover of fast cars and fast women.
Eventually he was tried and found guilty of "transporting a white woman across a State border for immoral purposes". Escaping abroad Jack had many more adventures, lost the title to Jess Willard and returned to The States to serve a year in prison.
Master boxer? Certainly. Flawed human being? Most probably. But today's liberals need shed no tears for Jack Johnson. He refused to be a victim of racism and lived his life to the full.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
I decided to slope off on my own today. Have a bit of a mooch around The City and see what was occurring. We seem to have nicely redecorated The Bank but by late morning not much was happening apart from the area being infested with cops. I strolled East and fetched up at Freedom Press. While I was there the news came in that the Earl Street Convergence Space was being violently evicted and there was a request for people to get over there. There was little that those of us who gathered outside the police cordon could do other than shout our support. The surrounding streets were full of armoured personal carriers and the number of ambulances in attendance boded ill for the young comrades inside. After about forty minutes I decided to head back to The Bank, arriving there just in time for the Threadneedle Streeet cavalry charge. I'm definitely having a quite day up the allotment tomorrow.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Well, interesting times indeed. Today's festivities in the City got off to a reasonable start. I marched behind the black horse from Cannon Street being herded along by the cops who clearly couldn't wait to get us into the inevitable kettle. I was also given some sunflower seeds by nice man from Guerrilla Gardening. Inside the cordons the atmosphere was lively and optimistic. SingalongaBill, spot the celeb, all good stuff. Eventually of course people thought that it might be nice to leave the area. Explore Climate Camp perhaps. Some hope. Here I got lucky when a combination of being in the right place at the right time , the Met being temporarily caught off balance and deploying my old tactic of pushing her indoors to the front resulted in being part of the Queen Victoria Street breakout.
So we toddled off for a pint, checked out the Trafalgar Square rally before going on to a fish and chip supper. It's a hard life. Now tomorrow, shall I call in at the Exel or put the second early spuds in? We shall see.