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

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Spoilt for choice?

The continuing row over the abuse of MP's expenses has at least injected a little interest into the Euro elections, normally a democratic procedure only marginally more entertaining than watching paint dry. There is much talk of the electorate "punishing" the major parties by voting for one of the number of small parties. If that is the case I just hope that these voters can make more sense of the bewildering selection of fringe parties laying out their wares for inspection than I can. There is certainly no shortage of choice.
I have now lost track of the number of anti-EU groups who are non the less gung-ho for the project when it comes to getting elected to the European Parliament. If homophobia and concerns about the hereafter are your bag you need look no further than the Christian Party. Some people are even talking about voting for the Socialist Party of Great Britain. I can only recall having known at all well two members of the SPGB; a middle aged couple who owned a bar in Palma, Majorca during the final years of the Franco regime. Lovely people but totally out of touch with politics outside of their SPGB bubble. I fear that little has changed.
The BNP are getting far more publicity than they deserve with much talk about the white working class flocking to vote for this bunch of morons due to having been "let down by the Labour Party". The BNP might be a pretty distasteful bunch but equally distasteful to my mind is the patronizing assumption that working class people are empty vessels that can be filled up with any old rubbish and that just beneath the surface of each of us is a racist cretin waiting to get out at the first hint of hard times.
 I don't know what to make of the Green Party. They seem so keen to stand apart from the left/right  dichotomy that they have achieved the impossible and become an apolitical political party. There are some good people in the Greens and some good intentions, but reading their manifesto it is difficult to see what kind of society they want other than it being in some way more fair, powered by renewable energy and fed on organically grown veg.
I don't know. It might just have to be None Of The Above.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Guv'nor.

One of the many everyday social changes that George Orwell noted about revolutionary Barcelona was the dropping of formal forms of address. I hate being called "Sir" by shop assistants, not least because of the very obvious insincerity. Respectful forms of address don't necessarily imply hierarchy and subservience I suppose. It can just be an acknowledgment of respect between equals. I am of a generation who would address male strangers as "chief" and I am now of an age when  I get to be called "Guv'nor" occasionally. Truth be told, I quite like it.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Spooky John Wick.

I don't usually pay much heed to conspiracy theories and tend to think that the mundane, simple explanation of historical events is the one nearest to the truth. With this in mind I won't comment on the spooky John Wick of International Security Solutions and his seemingly motiveless MP expenses whistle blowing other than to say that it's, well, spooky. 

Friday, 22 May 2009

The Week In Politics.

Nadine Dorries fears that MPs will crack under the strain of financial scrutiny. Imminent suicide cult threat.
Former Samaritan Anne Widdecombe is available for late night chats. If anyone was having second thoughts about taking their own life I would imagine Widdecombe could be the final straw. She is also available for stand in Speaker role.
BNP Fuhrer invited to Palace.
Mad professor calls for overthrow of Parliament. MPs on hols.

Monday, 18 May 2009

The threat of the BNP.

There are a number of issues over which I have frequently found myself to be out of step with the majority of comrades. The whole anti-hunt, animal rights thing is one such issue and the perceived threat of the far right is another. I have lived through Mosley's Union Movement, Colin Jordon's Nazi wannabees, the National Front and now the BNP. Unpleasant, racist losers all of them and in need of being put firmly in place from time to time no doubt. But threat in terms of achieving any political power? No chance, or so I have maintained up until now. I'm beginning to have second thoughts. Could the BNP really get MEPs elected and use the financial windfall and subsequent publicity to enter the mainstream of British politics? Surely the time of the authoritarian buffoons is long past. Isn't it?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Marsh Farm Estate points the way forward.

The Westminster expenses fiasco shows no sign of running out of steam. Shahid Malik resigns, Clare Short suspected of perhaps not being the good old girl we all thought she was. Where is it all going to end? Will British voters simply retreat into yet deeper apathy or might fringe parties of the right and left hoover up votes at the EU elections? The wheel is very much still in spin but one indication of where, with a bit of luck and a fair wind, we could be going was on the Radio 4 Today program this morning when a visit to the Marsh Farm Estate in Luton revealed more political good sense coming from the residents than I have heard for some time. You can listen to it again here

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Bung it on expenses.

You would need levels of cynicism beyond even my capacity not to believe that the House of Commons has at least some members who are not primarily interested in feathering their own nest. It's just that such members appear to be becoming about as rare as rocking horse shit. 
One interesting aspect of the expenses fiasco is the subtle differences between the major parties and the nature of the scams involved. New Labour is all property spivery; all naff new extensions and jerking themselves off to Homes Under The Hammer. The Tory Party are more concerned with having a housekeeper (are there still such people?), moat clearing, that kind of thing. But the Lib Dems, as dull and unimaginative as ever, don't seem to be able to come up with anything more dangerous than the odd dodgy trouser press, HobNobs for the office and daughters sleeping over at the London flat. Come on Lib Dems. Get a grip. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Mat Game's Lost Years.

Researching the early history of professional wrestling is not always a straightforward task. One problem is the lack of very much reliable written history. An American writer pretty much hit the nail on the head in remarking that wrestling history was something more at home on the front porch rather than in the library. We are dealing with an almost entirely anecdotal history more suited to a Studs Terkel rather than an Eric Hobsbawn or an E P Thompson.
Another problem is that until very recently we had two distinct histories on offer, one for public consumption and another, oral "true" history that was the preserve of those inside the business. Some writers, such as  Charles Mascall, had an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the mat game but their position in the industry ensured that excellent although much of the work was, it had as a corner-stone the assumption that the punters must be constantly reassured about the genuine competitive nature of wrestling and must never be allowed to have their suspicions about the game confirmed.  
After many years of reading everything available and spending a fair bit of time talking to "old timers" I think that I have a reasonable grasp of British pro wrestling history but there are certainly many questions that remain to be answered. One of the mysteries that has been bugging me for a long time concerns what I refer to as the "lost years" of British wrestling; 1914 to 1930?  
We know that the golden age of wrestling started to go into decline after Hackenschmidt's defeat at the hands of Frank Gotch and that by the start of the First World War in 1914 the business was in a poor state. The outbreak of hostilities was the final nail in the coffin of big time wrestling in the UK. We also know that in 1930 Athol Oakley and Henry Irslinger introduced to the UK the "new" style of wrestling that had been popular in the USA for the previous ten years. Rebranding the product as "All-In Wrestling" Oakley, Irslinger, Garnon et all launched a major revival of the mat game that was to rival anything that had been seen during the heyday of music hall wrestling.  The question that puzzles me is what happened during the intervening years ? 
When wrestling started to go into decline on this side of the Atlantic many of the top stars decamped to America to reappear on the new circuits that were being set up by the likes of Toots Mondt. What happened to the bulk of British journeymen wrestlers that survived the war? Did they simply go back to work in the pits and mills and keep the skills alive by having a pull around with their mates? One thing is for sure the rigid and class bound segregation of professional and amateur sport would have meant that a return to the amateur ranks was out of the question.  None the less all those skilled wrestlers who made All-In the huge success that it was must have come from somewhere. Certainly the Lancashire catch wrestlers and Cumberland and Westmoreland stylists would have been wrestling for side bets and no doubt troupes of grapplers were working the travelling fairs taking on local lads in the time honoured way, but British professional wrestling in the sense of a form of entertainment for paying customers seems to have disappeared in the years leading up to the First World War only to reappear in a completely new form at the height of the inter-war depression.  1914 to 1930 really are the lost years.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Black Flag.

I'm an infrequent reader of Black Flag but I suppose that we all are as it only comes out a couple of times a year.To be truthful I still hanker after the old Black Flag that Albert Meltzer and Stuart Christie used to crank out on their duplicator, but don't get me started. Actually the modern incarnation it's usually worth waiting for and the current issue is no exception with a very interesting piece by Paul Stott on Islam and Anarchism and much else besides. 
Black Flag - Full of good stuff - Three quid to you comrade.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Ayo Gurkali! AbFab Forever!

I don't know anything about Joanna Lumley's politics but I suspect that they probably have little in common with my own. Be that as it may, one of the political highlights of the week has been watching the glamourous Freedom Pass Gurkha campaigner running rings round clueless suits like Phil Woolas. Ayo Gurkali!  AbFab Forever!

Nice and Tidy. Tidy and Nice.

You might think that how an allotment holder maintained their plot was, provided they did nothing to effect the neighbours, pretty much their own business. You might think that, but you would be very wrong. Every allotment site committee has at least some members who hold strong views on what an allotment should look like and are more than happy, given half a chance, to enforce their standards on all and sundry. Not that the Taliban, as the hard line elements of our own committee are known, ever have need to give me a hard time. My plot is the epitome of bourgeois, crypto-facist order. Perfectly straight rows of crops, hardly a weed in sight and the whole thing surrounded by path edges as sharp as the creases on the smartest of smart casual's Sta-Prest strides.
 I tend to be a pretty tidy person and although I put this down to my nautical background others are equally convinced that I'm just anal-retentive and probably in need of long term treatment. Whatever. I do know that I have not the slightest interest in inflicting my own way of doing things on others. On the contrary, I find the existence of the untidy world of squats, traveller's camps, dreads, dogs on string and half completed permaculture projects a source of great pleasure. I don't want it, but it is something to celebrate none the less. 

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Swine flu leaflets delivered just in time.

I don't know if there is anyone in Gordon Brown's cabinet still capable of joined up thinking, but if there is they might like to ponder on the good fortune of getting the distribution of the swine flu leaflets out of the way before Royal Mail is flogged off like dodgy nylons from some spiv's suitcase. 

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Fit to drop.

It tends to be a source of amusement to many people (including my family) that sad old gits like me continue to pursue a daily routine of physical training. Well it's probably not the most dignified pastime, clanking around ludicrously heavy dumbbells and forcing the body into excruciating contortions but having just completed a hard day of  driving water-pump bores down at the allotments it's satisfying to know that I can still keep up with blokes many years younger. Bet I sleep well tonight.

Hatton should call it a day now.

After a devastating defeat at the hands of Manny Pacquiao I hope that Ricky Hatton will decide to hang up his gloves now. The Mancunian has been a wonderful champion and an exiting value for money fighter from day one but unfortunately his style of fighting does not lend itself to long careers. A credit both to the game and to the local community that he has remained close to, Hatton deserves a long, happy and healthy retirement. Go now Ricky - and thank you.