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


Monday, 29 November 2010

RAMP-AGE Communiqué.

Hot on the heels of the Wikileaks revelations about a member of the House Of Windsor behaving inappropriately comes news that the allotment society cyber intelligence section have intercepted the following:

RAMP-AGE COMMUNIQUE TO THE YOUTH.
IF YOU ARE TAKING PART IN TOMORROWS DAY OF ACTION, BE SURE TO WRAP UP NICE AND WARM. LOVE AND SOLIDARITY.

Friday, 26 November 2010

First Test - Final Straw

What with being swept along by a tidal wave of militant fifteen year olds, discharging the various duties allotted to me by her indoors and keeping things ticking over on the allotment, it's been a busy week. Now I discover that I can't even put my feet up and watch The Ashes highlights on the box. It had escaped my notice that there is absolutely no terrestial coverage of the test at all. Will this be the straw that breaks the camel's back? What would you do, sign up for Sky - or get out on the street with the kids?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Pensioners on the rampage.

One new development at today's disturbances in London was the emergence of a group of militant pensioners who could be seen urging the youth on to further acts of rebellion. Some of the wrinkled revolutionaries that I spoke to claimed to be members of something called RAMP-AGE, a kind of KING MOB for old people. And there was me thinking that Rampage was a Midwest wrestling promotion.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

All power to the students!

Having spent most of my adult life slagging off students and generally adopting a thoroughly workerist, not to say neanderthal, attitude toward the dilettante little shits, I now find myself, in the light of recent events, having to eat a large portion of humble pie. Who knows how the next couple of weeks will pan out, but the cuts have motivated students to a degree not seen for a long time. More power to their elbow. Tomorrow could be a very interesting day. Good luck kids. Stay safe, and look after each other.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

"Weedy" Gove set to trash school sport.

If Michael Gove gets his way, and I see no reason to assume otherwise, there will be a massive reduction in the sport and PE facilities of state schools in the near future. There has been a consistent erosion of school sports for many years now as successive governments have chiseled away at both the facilities and time available by forcing schools to sell off sports fields and bow to the constraints of the National Curriculum at the same time. None of this will affect the fee paying sector of course. Private schools, being exempt from both income tax and the National Curriculum, have the best of facilities and the freedom to devote as much time to sport as they choose. The posh schools recognize the importance of each child developing their potential in their own way and see sport and physical education as a vital part of this.
As the media indulges in it's collective jerk-off over the continuing adventures of a former Marlborough College hockey captain, it might spare a thought for the majority of kids who, deprived of anything better to do, will be trashing Gove's motor and gobbing on his head down the stairwell when he turns up for a photo opp at their school.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

No Business Like Show Business... for the time being.

I had resolved not to join in the Royal Wedding nonsense. To simply have no part of it. But this piece on the Principia Dialectica site was too good not to re-post here,
The announcement of the forthcoming royal marriage will be used by the coalition as a smokescreen, a feel-good factor and an economic bonanza. But the euphoria will not last long. Nothing does these days. The crisis of the economy is too deep. Too many people are suffering. Many will be left with unsold souvenirs.

The entry of Kate Middleton in the royal family is quite symbolic. The monarchy in Britain have always been keen to be seen to change. It did not back Nicolas II when he was toppled. George V discarded his cousin, he could not be seen to back such an autocrat, since there was trouble at home, and it could become much bigger like in Russia. So the czar and his family were left behind…Politics is a cruel business. So the entry of the middle-class to the monarchy is a new move, and it could end the mystique of the Royal Family. Kate Middleton would probably not be out of place on the X-Factor circuit or Celebrity Come Dancing. An art history student is to marry another one.

No wonder all the journalists wheeled in to applaud were over the moon. “A brilliant boost for the economy ” said one hack from ITN (16 of Nov, 2010),”a bonanza for the capital” said another on the same network. Cristina Odone , the God fearing feminist from the New Statesman was over the moon about the marriage , because of sales, and tourism. (Channel 4, 16 Nov, 2010). . then the historian Simon Schama spoke of “of the fetish of the ring”- Kate was given Diana’s wedding ring. Schama also spoke of that marriage as “exorcising Diana’s death” , he also said it was “good news for the government”. and then he added we could be in for a three year Royal display.

First this coming marriage, then the Diamond Jubilee of the queen and her husband, and then the possible marriage of Harry. The crisis of the commodity economy is bottomless. The system has no way of rectifying itself. For Tory historians, in times of crisis, the precedent is there to follow: rally round the flag.

David Starkey, that perfect little Tory squirt and historian of royalty was over the moon with this marriage. He belched: “The Royal Family is reaching out.” Starkey could hardly stay in his chair, you had the impression he was going to take his clothes off and scream: “JOY, JOY, JOY.”

So it is the end of royalty as you knew it, it is now a middle-class show. Maybe the queen is the last monarch, Britain might be a republic in a few years. The Australian PM is of that opinion.

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Fitwatch site taken down.

When the police react to protest it is not always easy to decide if it is as a result of the personal views of officers, the whim of their political masters or simply an attempt to justify budgets. For whatever reason the police have, in the wake of the mounting level of student protest, had the Fitwatch site closed down. No court order involved; just a quiet word in the relevant shell-like did the trick.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Tourists were alright Annie.

I was listening to Annie Lennox being interviewed on radio this morning. I have always had a soft spot for Lennox. Apart from being an outstanding artist she always comes across as a really nice lady. One thing that I have never been able to understand is why the band she and Dave Stewart had before Eurythmics, The Tourists, was held in such low esteem by the music press and by Annie Lennox herself. The Tourists cover of Dusty Springfield's I Only Want To Be With You remains one of my all time fave toons.

Friday, 12 November 2010

You never can tell with the heavyweights.

No division in boxing captures the imagination of the public like the heavyweights. Even people with little or no interest in the sport will be able to name at least one former heavyweight champion and Muhammad Ali was at one time probably the most famous man in the world. The irony is of course that the standard of boxing in the heavyweights is without doubt the lowest in any division and although every era throws up it's great heavyweights, the likes of Johnson, Dempsey, Louis, and Ali are very much the exception in what is, to be honest, a dearth of talent. The reason is not hard to find. How many guys big enough to compete at heavyweight do you know? With such a small pool to draw on it's not surprising that the standard is so much poorer than it is lower down the weight categories. Improvements in diet have resulted in far more big men walking the streets and you might imagine that this would lead to an improvement in the standard of heavyweight boxing but all that has happened is that in order to make it in today's game a fighter has to be huge. The fourteen or fifteen stone heavyweights of the past would struggle to survive in the modern sport.
Whatever the skill limitations of the fighters however, in the heavyweights you just never know. One big punch can upset all the odds and leave the pundits with egg on their faces. This old boxing truth could well be reaffirmed once again tomorrow night when David Haye and Audley Harrison come up to scratch with Haye's WBA belt on the line. Bookies favourite Haye, although light by today's standards, is a class act with fast hands and a knockout punch in his right. Audley Harrison has been a bit of an enigma really. The former Olympic champion just never seemed to settle into the pro game and is expected to be heading for the showers sooner rather than later. But Harrison is a heavy hitter no doubt about it and has that most unpredictable of assets - a punchers chance. With the heavyweights you never can tell.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Small minority of troublemakers spoil everything. Yeah!

"My foot is hurting and I've got a bit of a cold. I can't be arsed. You go. I don't suppose anything will happen anyway." Such was the conversation round here yesterday morning. How wrong can you get? Poor old Dave Cameron. He can't turn his back for five minutes without having party HQ trashed. Meanwhile, as the crowds surged past Parliament, little Clegg was inside busy pretending to be in charge and looking for all the world like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Oh! I do like to see young people enjoying themselves; especially in these times of economic uncertainty.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The allotment in winter.

Well autumn is well and truly here now and if that cold wind is anything to go by, winter will soon be upon us. So that's another growing season over and all across the country allotmenteers are putting their plots to bed and finishing of a bit of muck spreading and digging. The autumn sown broad beans are peeping through, the garlic, onions and spring cabbage are all looking healthy enough and given a bit of luck and a fair wind we should be off to a flying start next year. Of course that doesn't mean that I will abandon the plot for the winter, far from it, and on crisp, clear days I will be up there, lifting leeks and parsnips, cutting the odd cabbage and generally pottering about. Quite simply, it's one of my favourite places to be.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Job Club Revisited?

IDS, the perennial god bothering "Quiet Man" of politics, has finally come up with a master plan to solve the problem of the long term unemployed once and for all. The details have yet to be revealed in full but you can bet a pound to a pinch of shit that what we are due is just another version of that tired old number - work for dole. The long term unemployed are not all the same. Some are happy to remain on benefits topped up by a bit of petty crime. Lacking in skills and poorly educated they have never worked and probably never will. There are also a number of people who having seen through the charade of "the system" have decided to fill their days with what they see as productive and enjoyable activity and let the state pick up the tab. There are others who would like to return to work but have just had the stuffing knocked out of them in one way or another. Of course a huge number of people, with the best will in the world, are simply not fit and well enough to work. Others are unemployed because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time and are the victims of economic and political forces totally beyond their control. What may have escaped the attention of IDS is the fact that lots of people are unemployed because of ........ unemployment!
One group of people who have never done an honest days work in their lives will of course be exempt from all tests, training or schemes because they have no need of benefits, surviving instead on the accumulated wealth created by other people's labour.
We tend not to hear so much about them.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cops 1 - Yuppies 0

At the inquest into the death of wealthy young barrister Mark Saunders it has come to light that one of the officers involved in the shooting of Saunders inserted the titles of Duran Duran songs into his evidence. The officer has been suspended from firearms duty. Quite right too. The last thing we need right now is a load of armed Duran Duran fans prowling the streets of the capital.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Too many communities, not enough community.

"You are totally alienated from the Polish community", was the rebuke recently handed out by a relative to someone that I know . I suppose such conversations take place everyday in the families of all types of religious and cultural minorities. The end result can range from a grudging acceptance to an honour killing. What perplexes me is where all these "communities" came from. The Muslim, Hindu, Black, Jewish, Somali, Gay, White Working Class, and Rural (to name but a few) communities all vie for attention, "rights", loyalty and funding. I have been trying to remember when the word "community" became so much a part of our daily language. Sure, back in the early seventies I helped set up a "community workshop" , the first time incidentally that I realized that workshops were not necessarily associated with light engineering. Yes,we thought that community was important but I'm sure that we located it within geographical rather than cultural or religious parameters.
In post-war Britain class played a major part in the definition of communities. The East End was very much a working class community. Large parts of Central London were mixed communities where the working class and the better off rubbed shoulders. The point is that the community was rooted in place rather than anything else. Running across the grain of these communities as it were,there existed a huge variety of sub-cultures based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, politics, work,music; the whole patchwork of what goes to make us who we are. This is just how it all seemed to me as a young guy feeling his way around the world in the late fifties and early sixties and no doubt many people who served their time as sociologists rather than as Thames bargemen will be able to make a far better job of analysing this stuff than I can. At some stage, and I really can't be sure when it was, these sub-cultures became communities and took on the role formerly assigned to place. As the developers prepared to destroy real communities at the behest of modern capital so the new "communities" waited in the wings for their cue. Just as love of place at times was able to obscure the relevance of class, so these new pseudo-communities threaten both love of place and class consciousness; and that it seems to me, is the real problem of multiculturalism.
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