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

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Council Tax dodgers of Knightsbridge.

If there is one thing that irritates the mega-rich it's having their financial details pored over as if they were ordinary folk. The secretive owners of apartments at One Hyde Park are being pursued for non-payment of council tax and the more publicity this gets the more irritated they will be. The rich - not to be confused with those greedy public sector workers of course.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

We are what we eat.

There are some things that even I won't admit to doing. Take watching celebrity chef cooking programs for example. Hugh Fearnley-Poshboy, Jamie, that one with the hair-gel, they are all the same to me. Blokes who are making a big fuss about something quite simple i.e. cooking the bleedin' dinner! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking and have always had the greatest respect for ships cooks who are able to dish up excellent grub, sometimes in appalling conditions, when just being able to stand upright is an achievement. I learnt to cook as a teenager on the barges. It was usual to have to learn to cook before you were taught how to steer and this proved quite an incentive. For a long time my repertoire was limited to baked pork chops and savoury mince and these two dishes remain favourites of mine to this day. You can't beat good basic grub I reckon.
The truth is however that the other day, in a moment of weakness, I watched about ten minutes of Celebrity Master Chef. Do you remember that clown who booted his telly in so outraged was he at the Sex Pistols? That was almost me with the celebrity cooks. What a load of rubbish! Minuscule bits of daintily served meat, portions of vegetables so small that any self respecting hamster would have a moan , swirls of sauce, six chips in a lattice - and square plates. Don't get me fucking started about square plates!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A conflict of style.

Is there conflict of interest for David Cameron regarding his property deals with PR and lobbying top boss Lord Chadington? I don't know. It's just not my area of expertise. One thing I do know about is rigger boots and I'll tell you something Dave - You don't wear your trousers over them. Makes you look a prat Dave.

Dream On.

I usually like Adam Curtis' documentaries but only occasionally read his on-line writing, so many thanks to Henry for pointing me in the direction of this - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/10/dream_on.html

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Strange days.

I was up on the Greensand Hills last week and the view out across The Weald toward the South Downs was as gobsmacking as ever but what really caught my eye this time was the amount of leaf still on the trees. This must be the latest autumn on record with reports of all kinds of unseasonal things occurring: even a mallard duck hatching a brood of chicks. I heard the other day that the photographic record of Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph shows shivering crowds against a backdrop of bare limbed trees for almost all of the time until quite recently.
The kind of maritime/continental convergence climate that we have in the UK means that we experience huge variations in weather, day to day and year to year, and it's difficult to know what is the result of climate change and what just normal fluctuation but this is one strange autumn and that's for sure.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Occupy movement gets closer to a nap hand.

I called round to pay my respects to the Bank Of Ideas yesterday. In fact with a prile of occupations in the capital already I'm expecting the Occupy movement to have achieved a nap hand by Xmas. Top work comrades! Having made my way to Sun Street via St Paul's and Finsbury Square I arrived just in time for the tail end of an interesting talk by John Weeks. During a Q&A session Weeks pointed out that we should not confuse what we predict will happen over the next couple of years with what we might want to happen and he offered a note of caution to those who are convinced that some kind of utopia will emerge from the approaching financial apocalypse. It's a note of caution that might have been taken on board by the author of the leaflet that I picked up when leaving. In part it said. "Let it be well understood and widely known - top-down, coercive diktat by disproportionately paid upper echelons of all centralised undemocratic hierarchical organisations and systems of oppressive control - both financial and government - is well past it's sell-by date." Yeah! If only.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Give 'im the money Mabel!

Eric Pickles (is he related to the Wilfred of Have A Go radio fame back in the stone age?) is introducing a "curry college" that will apparently teach Brits how to knock out a knock out vindaloo, curb immigration and put a stop to all this multicultural malarkey in one fell swoop. You couldn't make it up could you? Stand by for a building college and the mass exodus of our Polish comrades. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. If you ask me the Bank Of Ideas seems like a better idea altogether but that's just my opinion of course!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Youth unemployment. Is there life after work?

Youth unemployment has reached an all time high and now stands at over one million. I don't want to add to all the liberal hand wringing platitudes about the future of our youth but they surely do face tough times ahead. One of the few good bits of advice that I was handed when young was, "never work - have a good hobby and make as much money from it as you can". Easier said than done of course but faced with the option of a life of wage slavery or grinding and soul destroying poverty on benefits, it remains the only way to go. Whether your bag is the black bloc, rap, boxing or bird watching - get out there and enjoy it. Every day counts. This is not a dress rehearsal.

Monday, 14 November 2011

EU at least keeps us from each others throats.

Angela Merkel thinks that the crisis in the Eurozone is the greatest threat to Europe since World War 2. Odd thing for a German chancellor to say especially given that during the war one nations crisis tended to be another's cause for celebration. Germany certainly faced a bit of a crisis during the period of Stalingrad through the Normandy landings and on to the fall of Berlin - the rest of the continent was pretty chuffed. But enough of such small mindedness. Whatever you may think about the EU, it has to be admitted, and yes I know all about it being a project to ease the movement of capital and oil the wheels of commerce, it has to be admitted that member states tend not to wage genocidal war on each other. For that we should all be eternally grateful.

The Blade Runner Olympics.

It's a shame but those clean limbed young athletes competing against each other for Olympic glory next year seem increasingly likely to be overshadowed by darker forces. The Americans (why are Yanks always so scared) are so concerned about security, or the lack of it, that they will be sending over a thousand security personnel including 500 FBI agents. These cheerful folk will be armed to the teeth of course and if the government roll over to American demands for an armed presence on the streets of the capital it will be hard to deny similar demands from other states. Hundreds of coked up G men, Met robocops, private (Mac)security wannabees, agents from every country that can afford to release them from homeland duties, London awash with guns, high speed chases down the VIP lanes. Those Londoners who can afford to get out for the duration will do so. The rest will cower in their homes watching a sporting event taking place just down the road beamed to them from satellites in space as tracer rounds light up the night sky and the sound of automatic fire reverberates around the city. I really must stop reading those old 2000AD comics.

Friday, 11 November 2011

City in favour of regulation - for mushroom picking.

Being made up as it is of freewheeling entrepreneurs, property developers, Freemasons and hedge fund spivs, the City Of London Corporation is not noted for it's love of regulation. Well not unless the regulations refer to something really threatening - like mushroom picking for example. It's those dastardly East Europeans again! Not content with eating Brenda's swans and failing to understand that here in England we put fish back when we catch them and only cook proper fish fingers, now the Slavonic deluge are picking all our bleeding toadstools. Well look and learn people. When those deregulated city types are finished we could all end up foraging for a living.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

They also served!

Over the next few days, on the run-up to Remembrance Sunday, we will be hearing plenty about the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces, especially during World War2 - and rightly so. The whole thing certainly has less resonance now. There are fewer old sweats left alive and fewer families of the fallen for whom Remembrance Sunday offered some crumbs of comfort. If you doubt all this, the next time you watch that grainy old footage of the troops storming up the Normandy beaches ask yourself what would have happened if they had failed - if those young boys had been pushed back into the sea. Hitler's version of a united Europe make today's concerns over euros and drachmas seem trivial by comparison.
But, for Britain at least, the war was not all horror and sadness. the home front was throwing up all kinds of interesting stuff and I don't just mean the after effect of Woolton Pie. Even after digging for victory, collecting old saucepans and making wedding cakes out of spit and cardboard people had energy left to challenge many of the old social mores. As author Pip Granger remarks in her Up West - nothing loosens knicker elastic quite like knowing that a bomb might drop on you at any moment. For an alternative to the official sugar sweet girl next door image of Vera Lynn check out this Florence Desmond track. The real spirit of the blitz.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Postmodern blues, running all around my head.

The postmodernist exhibition was entertaining enough I suppose. The V&A curators have understandably concentrated on the physical products of postmodernism - everything from architecture to those fucking awful New Romantic bands. What I find depressing about it all is that whereas modernism, for all it's many failings, was a movement dedicated to the possibility of improving the lives of the many, postmodernism was largely about the accumulation of wealth and the triumph of the individual. If the movement was not directly responsible for the neoconservative project it's only responses were to warmly embrace the project or else descend into a drug fueled spiral of self destruction.
The academic left and the arty farties have both got slightly moist over postmodernism and here at least the sheer impenetrable nature of the ideas have resulted in some saving humor. The art world gave us Piero Manzoni who famously canned (and sold!) his own poo labelled "Genuine 100% Artist's Shit". But my favourite is the scam pulled by physicist Alan Sokal who, pissed off to the back teeth with all that relativism and what he saw as the betrayal of the Enlightenment, wrote a long and suitably dense and obscure article for the postmodernist journal Social Text on the unlikely subject of a postmodern and relativist physics. The article was complete gibberish but there was much need for the changing of underwear in the Social Text editorial office - and later much postmodernist egg on face when Sokal owned up to the spoof. Happy days!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Art for art's sake.

While I spent yesterday spreading muck down the allotment followed by a visit to the St Paul's camp and paying my respects to Withers & Co Solicitors, her indoors opted for a day at the Pallant House Edward Burra exhibition. Apparently it's a great show but what struck her was the punters that it attracted. As a young artist Burra was fascinated with the underbelly of society and gravitated toward the sailors bars, dodgy clubs and strip joints of the world. Now his work is lauded by the kind of people who think that the local Conservative Club annual dinner and dance is living on the edge. All those art lovers jerking themselves off over Van Gogh would not come within a million miles of the real life artist. It was ever thus. Not that art and music practitioners themselves, the actual scrapers of catgut and canvas, are any better. The art world, infested as it is by mummy's little fuckwit faux bohemians, has always had a deep vein of hypocrisy running through it. Yesterday's radical musician is today's champion of the free market. Bruce "Eton Rifles" Foxton actually sent his son to the school. The Situationist International may not have had a monopoly on the truth but they knew what they were doing when they expelled all the artists. Sod it anyway. We're off to the Post Modernist romp at the V&A tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

At times like this.

The established church in disarray. Popular assemblies on the steps of St Paul's. The Stock Exchange sealed off like a plague site. The cops are chomping at the bit to get stuck in but are wary of the presence of the world's media. The Old Etonian AGM round the corner in Old Bailey is cancelled due to fears that the event might be invaded by a rag tag army of tambourine playing fraggles and aging anarchists. The government plot to have a court injunction to prevent the mass public sector walk-out on November 30. All this against a backdrop of the possible collapse of the European financial house of cards. Have there ever been such times?