Sunday, 31 July 2011
Provided that they survive the contamination of the Ander Brevic connection, and provided also that the calls for a Home Office ban go unheeded, the EDL will march through Tower Hamlets on 3rd September to protest what they see as the "islamification" of their country. For many on the left it will be another opportunity to sell their boring papers, recruit new members and kid themselves that they are taking part in an "intervention". Some anarchist comrades will no doubt be gagging to recreate the Battle Of Cable Street. Local Asian youth will be rightly enraged at what they will see as an invasion of their turf. The Met will be hoping for a large turnout from all sides as both an opportunity to hone their head cracking skills and also as a public order budget justification. The ordinary people of Tower Hamlets will I imagine be concerned about getting the shopping done early and keeping their kids out of trouble.
Look, let me try and be really honest for a change. I have no great love of Islam. It's a repressive and reactionary faith but probably no more so than some branches of Christianity and Judaism. On the other hand I am no lover of the xenophobic nationalism and patriotism of the EDL and don't find mosques anymore of an imposition on the urban landscape than are most shopping centres. So how much of a threat are the Wetherspoons Cavalry? Well to me, sitting in my leafy West London suburb, not that much; probably a lot more if you are unfortunate enough to be a Muslim living along the route of one of their marches, but politically, compared to the vice like strangle hold of corporate power, they are but a gnat bite on the arse. Are they really worth the bother? And how much do some sections of the left need the EDL as an excuse for their own existence?
Friday, 29 July 2011
Medical science does not have the answer to everything despite all the years of propaganda regarding "choice" and the patient as consumer with consumer rights. Trouble is we tend to think that we are entitled to some answers and can get pretty narked when the answers are not forthcoming. When doctors are confronted by a collection of signs and symptoms that can't be accounted for they frequently refer to the illness as a "syndrome". For the patient the pain and distress is real enough and as test after test fails to show anything wrong the sufferer becomes ever more frustrated; prime targets for the snake oil salesmen of alternative medicine and ideal conscripts for the cult of dissatisfaction with the medical profession.
Yuppie Flu, or to give the condition it's more sympathetic name of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is one such inexplicable ailment. Recent research has looked at a possible link with mental illness and this has been enough to motivate some sections of the highly vocal CFS lobby to deluge the researchers with hate mail and demand that research be focused on looking for a suitable virus rather than a psychological condition. Sufferers clearly aren't too knackered to flex their muscles as consumers. It's a wonder that they have the energy.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Cracking day at Lords yesterday for the last day of the Test and a well deserved victory for England . There was a good natured cheerful atmosphere with loads of British Indian families cheering India and all of us cheering Tendulkar. Norman Tebbit would turn in his grave. What do you mean he's not dead yet?
Sunday, 24 July 2011
It's not that often that I am proved right by either history or science so you will allow me a touch of self congratulation regarding the latest evidence that no great harm will come to us if we drink less than the statutory eight glasses of water a day. I has always seemed to me that the mechanism whereby we feel thirsty so have a drink, is one that has served our species pretty well over the years. Am I the only one who finds the spectacle of the chattering classes clutching their plastic water bottles as they waddle from car to running machine just a bit sick making? Of course dehydration is to be avoided if possible but this is very much easier to do in a relatively wet country like ours rather than in say, the Horn of Africa. And that's another thing, in many parts of the world women walk miles to fetch water for their families while in our own pampered society thousands of people consider the perfectly good water in the kitchen tap to be inadequate and insist on the ridiculously overpriced bottled stuff. Check out Water Aid, have a cup of tea - and get a life.
Friday, 22 July 2011
Recent research has established that there is a far higher percentage of totally unqualified people on Glasgow North East than exist in Wimbledon. Well I'll be buggered! Who would have thought it? I don't think that any country in the world is as obsessed with education as we are. I don't mean obsessed with learning, discovery and contemplation but obsessed with the mechanics of education and, most of all, with the measuring of results and attainment. Hardly a day goes by without some new idea tipped to create an education breakthrough. You would have thought that we would have got it right by now. Kids are tested almost from the time that they emerge from the womb and career preparation follows almost as soon as the alphabet is mastered. Parents are driven to states of hysteria about grades and league tables. Many consider that the school round the corner is nowhere near as good as the one on the other side of the borough and that's without even thinking about the increasing number of middle class parents who are convinced that only a private education will equip their little darlings with the right start in life.
Well, school holidays have started kids, so just chill out, tell your Mum and Dad to get off your case and remember - you're a long time grown up.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
What struck me about the Murdoch And Brooks Show this afternoon, and yes, I would be better off getting a life, was not just the tedium of it all but how little the members of the committee seemed to understand about the world of work. I find it wholly believable that senior management did not "know" about phone hacking. In any job, when the pressure is on, corners will be cut and management will make it their business to turn a blind eye, "I don't want to know". Most companies will have a comprehensive document that covers health and safety, codes of conduct and standards of integrity. What this document really covers of course, is management's back. In the real world what counts is getting the job done. Cut a few corners if you must, just so long as we meet the deadline, but just make sure that you don't get caught. And if you do get caught you can expect management to throw up their hands in horror that such malpractices were taking place. That is the reality of the workplace and that culture of pressure was what Sean Hoare was alluding to in his Panorama interview. Unfortunately he may have given the impression that such a culture was unique to News International rather than an integral part of the whole rotten system.
Monday, 18 July 2011
There has not been much activity on this blog recently partly due to a long weekend spent in North Devon walking on Exmoor and along the dramatic coastline. We stayed in the decaying splendour of the Valley Of The Rocks Hotel in Lynton, supped a few pints in the excellent Crown (top music, top landlord) and found a gem of a second hand bookshop in the village of Dulverton. (1947 edition of Lorna Doone - it had to be done)
Meanwhile of course, a media empire is on the brink of imploding, something is rotten in New Scotland Yard and the Bullingdon Massive are looking more and more like the overprivileged, corrupt buffoons we always knew they were. For a full in depth analysis of all this check out the new News Of The World online. British journalism at it's best.
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
It was the nature of children's TV when I was a chavi that a good deal of the schedule was taken up with American imports and although most of this stuff was fairly recent some of it was actually pre-war. So it was that not only were our little personalities moulded by the influence of Roy Rogers and Rin Tin Tin but also by Our Gang and my favourite, Johnny Wiesmuller as Tarzan. We tended to be not all that sophisticated when it came to production values so tame lions ambling around a studio set, clumsily spliced with archive footage of Africa, was quite acceptable. Tarzan was my favourite by far and I suppose that it was my childhood fantasies that would lead to a lifelong interest in tribal peoples, wildlife and the cult of physical training. Eventually I had to face the facts that I am by far the worst swimmer in the family, would not last two secs in a croc infested river, and that no matter how many press-ups I perform in the morning it is now increasingly unlikely that I will ever swing through the tree tops with her indoors clinging to my rippling torso. But for all my interest in the Tarzan character, I had never read the original 1914 book by Edgar Rice Burroughs until I got hold of a copy a couple of weeks ago. I was prepared to be disappointed with Tarzan Of The Apes but found that for all the authors failings, including a total lack of any understanding of Africa, Africans, the anthropoid apes, human nature and women, combined with the racism of his time, I actually just could not put it down. Say what you like about Edgar Rice Burroughs, he sure could spin a ripping yarn.
Monday, 11 July 2011
During the Profumo Scandal of 1963 never a day went by without new revelations about the privileged elite and their never ending fascination with the seamy side of life. The News Of The World, a popular Sunday paper now discontinued, paid Christine Keeler a whopping 25 grand for the full shag and tell. In the end it was just too much and Harold Macmilan, a man who had more integrity in one digit than Cameron and his Cotswold coke heads will ever be able to muster between them, was eventually hounded from office. I honestly think that the Murdoch Scandal will make Profumo look like a minor office affair before it's finished. At the moment there just seems no end to it and apparently no hurt that the Dirty Digger would not cause in order to increase the circulation of his fetid organ. Mind you, it might be as well for people like me to take time out from our collective jumping up and clicking together of heels and read the thoughtful piece from Peter Wilby in today's Guardian.
Friday, 8 July 2011
With the News International drama gathering such pace that my head was spinning, I thought that I would get away from it all yesterday and pay a visit to the Museum of London. It was the exhibition of street photography that I really wanted to see but after the completion of a major refurb last year the museum itself is quite outstanding. Apart from the kind of exhibits that you might expect, the London from Stone Age to Steam Age malarkey so loved by curators, there's a refreshing emphasis on London's political movements and popular culture. Great stuff. As for the street photography - it was just wonderful.
Not until I returned home did I discover that Murdoch had decided to cut his losses and pull the plug on the News Of The World and that Cameron had given the nod for Coulson to have his collar felt. At times like this you just don't know who to turn to. Expect the Queen to come under the influence of a half-mad cleric, the emergence of weird castration cults and for everything to be swept away as the people of the abyss pour onto the streets.
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Bit by bit the truth about the depths that Murdoch's lackeys descended to in the phone hacking scandal is being revealed. The story makes the Citizen Kane plot seem quite pedestrian and has a list of characters that includes child murderers, an all powerful media czar, inept (to give them the benefit of the doubt) police, a corrupt little circle of chums in the Cotswolds led by the Prime Minister and some of the most unpleasant private dicks this side of a Hank Janson story. Big Society anyone?
Monday, 4 July 2011
We are used to police violence, and Thames Valley have a reputation that almost rivals the Met, but even by their standards what happened to the Meyers family on Reading Station is a grim reminder of what to expect from a force that is out of control.
Sunday, 3 July 2011
David Haye's defeat at the hands of Wladimir Klitscho last night confirmed a number of boxing home truths. "A good big'un will always beat a good little'un", is one that springs to mind as does the fact that fights can be won by just working behind a really solid, hurtful jab. But boxing pundits will surely also pick up on the difference between Haye and Klitscho's handlers. The Ukrainian champion had Emanual Steward in his corner and Steward comes from that tradition of hugely knowledgeable trainers that includes such hallowed names as Charlie Goldman, Whitey Bimstein, Eddie Futch and Angelo Dundee. Haye on the other hand seems to prefer being surrounded by the modern world of personal trainers, nutritionists and university graduates. It's the difference between business school and the school of hard knocks. In some fields of endeavour, and boxing is one of them, old ways are best ways.
Friday, 1 July 2011
There is no doubting the fact that, no matter how generous a view you may have of immigration,the expansion of the EU and the large number of East Europeans arriving here has resulted in some problems. The pressure on schools, housing and the NHS is real enough. But people move to other areas or countries to make a better life for themselves. Always have and always will. Frequently the incomers are resented by those already established and history shows how tension can so easily turn to tragedy especially in economic hard times. Against this background Ian Duncan Smith (Is he malevolent or just stupid? I can never make my mind up.) has made an intervention of such irresponsibility that it beggars belief. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "IDS - you couldn't fucking make him up".