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


Monday, 30 November 2009

Capitalism: Last Few Days. Everything Must Go.

I'm off to the Borders closing down sale. Stock up on copies of Kierkegaard and Mott The Hoople CDs. The death throes of capitalism will have it's downside no doubt - but there's going to be some blinding bargains on the High Street.

Friday, 27 November 2009

JG Ballard.

Sci Fi is not really my cup of tea so I have never got around to reading any of the late JG Ballard's novels. Truth is that until recently I knew more about Ballard from the hero worship accorded him by the likes of Will Self and Iain Sinclair than from anything else but I have just completed the autobiography Miracles of Life and am completely smitten. In this wonderful book the writer comes across as being essentially a kind, modest man. A very ordinary man but one who led an extraordinary life and was gifted with an extraordinary imagination. Better minds than mine will judge JG Ballard's literary merit - I just wish that I could have been as good a dad.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Only full financial transparency will slim the fat cats.

The Walker Review has called for banks to disclose the number of staff earning in excess of one million pounds a year but not to have to identify the fat cats. I don't see how this will benefit anyone at all. What is needed is complete financial transparency -FROM EVERYONE. If the income and tax paid by everyone was put in the public domain it would be clear just how big a share of what is after all the common- wealth of the nation, was being taken by each individual. I can see no reason, other than guilt, why anyone would object to this. Of course undeclared income, be it the odd days work "off cards", organized crime or multi-million pound property scams, would remain hidden but the public availability of information on all taxed earning would be a major step in the right direction.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Iraq War Inquiry.

In one sense the Iraq War Inquiry is completely irrelevant. What I mean is that the justification or otherwise of invading that blighted country was decided by the British people in February 2003 when the biggest demonstration in our history assembled on the streets of London to protest against the war. What was interesting about this mass protest was the huge turn out of Middle England - the "make tea not war brigade". But Blair and his henchmen may have been wrong about weapons of mass destruction but they were dead right in the assumption that the overwhelming majority of us would go home after the demo and put our feet up in the self satisfied certainty that we had done our bit. We knew what was right back in 2003. We just lacked the balls to take things through to their logical conclusion.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Dubai Winter Olympics. You heard it here first.

A couple of seemingly unconnected news items emerged over the weekend. One was the announcement that 60 world leaders will attend next months climate summit in Copenhagen and the other was the victory of Lee Westwood in the Dubai World Golf Championships. I did say seemingly unconnected. If all those world leaders run out of something to talk about in Copenhagen they might reflect on the amount of environmental damage done by the building and maintaining of a world class golf course in the middle of a desert. Dubai Winter Olympics anyone?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Berlin.

It has been a tradition for some time now that Saturday night TV has to be crap. It's a kind of punishment for being too old or too sad to be out clubbing. If you're watching telly on Saturday night you sad bastard you will just have to put up with Celebrity Come
Cooking or whatever. But the last couple of Saturdays have had a welcome change in the form of BBC 2's outstanding Berlin series. Fascinating subject of course and with his informative but understated presentation Matt Frei seems to have grasped that history is more than just a vehicle for the ego of TV personalities. Take note Andrew Marr.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Cockfosters discovered at last.

"This is a Piccadilly Line train to Cockfosters", intones the rather posh voice on the tube PA system. How many times have I heard that and wondered about the nature of this Cockfosters? Last week I finally girded my loins and set off to find out. It is not an expedition to be undertaken if you are pushed for time. Well not if like me, you live on the opposite side of London.
On arrival I discovered a classic 1930's tube station apparently designed by Charles Holden and one of the few stations on the underground network to still have a proper buffet. Not quite like the buffet in Brief Encounter but you can't have everything. Cockfosters is only a couple of miles inside the M25 so really is the outer suburbs. Walking North from the station the expanse of inter-war development ends abruptly to reveal the wooded, rolling countryside of Enfield Chase. Trent Country Park is a real treasure with a proper cafe that looks as though it would be more at home on Kingsland High Street rather than set in this leafy hollow. A mug of tea and bacon sarni later I plunged deeper into the undergrowth and discovered an animal rescue centre where I was able to have a decent conversation with a very amiable sow. The lady who runs the place was nice too. The former mansion of Trent Park is now part of Middlesex Uni but during the war was used to house captured German senior officers. Everything you ever wanted to know about Cockfosters. All part of the service.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

What me, cynical?

All those cynics out there who have been expecting the Lords redevelopment to result in a 'Mc Donalds Lords' the 'Tesco Stand' etc. will have to take comfort from the words of MCC boss Keith Bradshaw, "It's not on the agenda. It's not on the cards. There's no way we will be going down that path." Don't worry you cynics there's plenty of material in the Queens Speech to get your teeth into. New Labour, after twelve years in power and on the eve of a General Election, have decided to introduce a whole raft of new legislation on everything from fiscal responsibility to care for the elderly and increased power for Ofgem to cap energy prices. Terribly negative thing cynicism.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Small mags buck the internet trend.

It 's good to see the current issue of Notes From The Borderland coming out strongly in support of the printed word rather than having a mere internet presence. There are obviously huge advantages to web based publishing but for me nothing will ever take the place of that wonderfully portable and available "hard copy". Another little mag that I usually read is The Land. The summer 2009 issue is largely devoted to a number of exellent pieces on the history of enclosures in this country. What really caught my eye was the article on Austrian poachers and their connection to peasant resistance. The skill and daring of the poacher is something that I have always admired. It's a left wing urban myth to asume that hunting is the perogative of the toffs; they would just like it to be that way.
I don't suppose that the good people who produce both Notes From The Borderland and The Land probably feel that they have a great deal in common, the one being devoted to parapolitics and the other to a radical new kind of rural economy. In fact I think that they have quite a bit in common; well researched and thoroughly referenced articles for a start. Both magazines are also part of a wonderful tradition of small circulation radical publications that we are lucky to have in this country. Something else that they have in common is a stated commitment to the printed copy. More power to their elbow.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Norlington School

Ah! The old school. How the memories come flooding back. Teachers at my old college of knowledge have been on strike as part of a campaign to prevent this comprehensive being turned into an academy. I remember Norlington Boys Secondary Modern as being a pretty ordinary school when I attended it in the 50s. Leyton at the time was a white working class and lower middle class stronghold but not that tough or deprived. At school we were caned pretty frequently. It was a point of honour to own a flick knife but I don't think that it ever crossed our minds to stick it in another human being. Fights were fairly common but teachers tended to encourage us to settle our differences in the boxing ring. At fifteen we were turned out to sink or swim in the job market. I know of only two famous Norlington alumni; Graham Gooch and the Madi Gra Bomber. Nuff said.

How to lose the plot.

For us allotment holders this is the time of year to start winding down and putting the plot to bed for the winter. Muck has been spread. The spring cabbage, onions and garlic are all established and the broad beans are just peeping through the soil. Now for the really hard bit; last nights allotment society AGM. For me of course, unable to keep my mouth shut as usual, this entailed the suggestion that the policing of the condition of plots had resulted in a tenant/landlord relationship developing between the committee and plotholders. It's fair to say that my call for a more "bottom up" approach and suggestion that people would be more inclined to get involved in the maintenance of the site if they felt ownership of it went down like a rat sandwich. Someone even suggested that it would lead to anarchy. The very idea!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Police State one step closer.

The Met's Territorial Support Group have been the subject of 5241 complaints over the last four years of which only nine have been substantiated. One officer has had no less than twenty six allegations of violent assault made against him. The recent culmination of this culture of impunity was the sad death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 demo. None of this should come as a surprise of course. All over the world the behaviour of riot cops is tempered only by what they can get away with. It is against this background that the Commons will today debate the proposed Coroners and Justice Bill. Under this new piece of legislation it will be possible for Coroners inquiries to be suspended on 'security' grounds and replaced by secret hearings. You can find out more about this latest attempt by Jack Straw to further erode hard won rights by clicking here.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Sweet victory for David Haye.

Congratulations to new WBA heavyweight champ David Haye after his convincing win over Nikolia Valuev. Haye showed patience and maturity during his intelligently fought victory and even wobbled the giant Russian in the final round. The heavyweights are always a bit of a conundrum being both the division that exites the fans most and at the same time the one with the smallest pool of talent. Certainly the heavyweight scene has been a bit uninspiring of late but the Bermondsey fighter could very well breathe new life into it.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The links and other matters.

The more observant of you will have no doubt noticed the addition of a labels list to this blog. Those of you that know me will also wonder how on earth someone with my neanderthal IT skill managed to install it. I hope that the site does what it says on the tin. It really is intended to be no more than a light hearted political blog and a vehicle for my thoughts on this and that. I hope that the labels gadget makes it easier to find the stuff that interests you.
The links are a reflection of some of my own interests. There must be thousands of political blogs out there and the few selected here are among the many that I read. Ian Bone is always amusing and also provides an online meeting place for anarchists. Paul Stott's I intend to escape.... remains an inspiration with just the right balance of politics and all his other interests. Paul is a boxing fan as well; top man. In the near future I will be adding more links and perhaps deleting some that are no longer being updated. One site that will remain even though it has not been updated for some time is Classic Cafes. There simply is nothing to replace it. The Wrestling Heritage site is in my view a really fine piece of social history. But they republish a lot of my stuff so I would say that. If this is your first visit to Bad Old Days, welcome, and if you are one of the loyal followers who read this stuff on a regular basis, thanks.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

CO2 and Mark Thatcher - the ultimate toxic assets.

Media pundits are fond of the old saying that a week is a long time in politics,so last March must be the equivalent of the age of the dinosaurs. Remember back then? All kinds of people, and not just those of my political persuasion, were talking about the whole economic system being called into question. Yes, eight months is a very long time and now we hear that carbon trading is going the same way as mortgages did and that there is already talk of "sub-prime" carbon credits.
Meanwhile over on the other side of town news of the return to UK of Old Etonian merc Simon Mann has sent paymaster "Scratcher" Thatcher into a bout of nervous twitching extreme even by his standards. CO2 and Mark Thatcher - the ultimate toxic assets.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Education. Education..........

Those pushy middle-class parents are at it again. Driving their kids around in vehicles big enough to house most families. Constantly whinging about the cost of private school fees. Always on the lookout for ways to advance the prospects of their own little brood and thus proving Thatcher's dictum about society being a sad figment of leftie imagination. When forced to use the state system they lie and cheat to get places at what they consider to be the "best" schools. God knows what kind of pompous twats their kids will grow up to be.  In view of all this it made a refreshing change  to hear a voice of reason in amongst the braying demands of yummy mummy world. 
On last night's Channel 4 News John O' Farrell made a sensible, reasoned case for sending your kids to the comp down the road; regardless of how much dough you have in the bank. The only thing that he failed to mention was that the majority of parents don't have to face any such dilemma. They simply don't have a choice. There is nothing wrong with privilege - it just needs sharing around a bit more!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Johnson shoots the (expert) messenger.

Home secretary Alan Johnson's decision to sack the government's senior drug advisor David Nutt has stirred up a hornets nest of controversy, and not just about the effects of this or that recreational drug. Already questions are being asked regarding governments likely response to scientific advice on perhaps more pressing matters. What happens if advice on, for example, nuclear waste or climate change fails to fit in with policy? Johnson is defending his actions by claiming that advisers must stick to giving advice and leave the decision making to government. This all sounds sensible enough, democratic even. After all scientific advisers are not elected are they? But the implication of this argument is that whereas people like David Nutt might be experts in the field of science, the likes of Alan Johnson are expert in government; in making decisions on behalf of the rest of us. The signs are that we will end up arguing about the relative merits of unelected (and perhaps arrogant) scientists and elected representatives with their finger on society's pulse. The debate that we should be having of course, is about the role of experts in society. And I'm referring here not just to scientific experts, but to self proclaimed political experts as well.
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