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

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Swanage. Nothing to eat but fish and chips - nothing to drink but"Piddle".

I'm back from Swanage and the wonderful Isle Of Purbeck. What a splendid old fashioned proletarian seaside resort Swanage is. In the past we have only visited for day trips but having a full week there, sampling the local bitter ("Piddle"), walking for miles along the coastal path and stuffing ourselves with fish and chips - well, what larks. The town boasts a beautifully restored Victorian pier and, most surprisingly, a huge amount of artifacts from Old London ( street bollards, monuments, facades of buildings etc.) shipped down as ballast in the ships that came to the Dorset ports to load the stone that built the new Victorian capital. If you have not been there yet put Swanage on yer bucket list.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Bone is back!

I reckon that the best blogs are a subtle combination of the personal and the political. My own efforts have been pretty poor this month I know and now I'm off on me hols for a week but the good news is that Ian Bone has resurrected his much missed blog. Top work Ian!  Oh! I'll be 70 tomorrow. Don't time fly?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Hillsborough. Is this as good as it gets?

At last the truth about the Hillsborough cover up is starting to see the light of day. Justice for the relatives of the people who lost their lives that day is a given. So also is some kind of retribution and the   public humiliation of Norman Bettison and his ilk. But what we really need is more than just a few days  of tabloid rant before moving on to the more important matter of Kate Middleton's tits. Every time that the police are involved with the deaths of completely innocent members of the public we get a debate about the specifics of that particular case but never get down to brass tacks. What are the police for other than to protect the vested interest of the ruling class? Does the very nature of the work ensure that a high proportion of the force will always be uniformed thugs? What kind of police force do we want and would it ever be possible to have a force that interacted with the public less like an occupying army and more like the public servants they are so fond of claiming to be? Finally, could it ever be any better - or is this as good as it gets?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Growth economics for beginners.

Green comrades assure me that infinite economic growth is impossible on a finite planet and no doubt they are right in this. The mantra of economic growth has never been restricted to left or right and certainly a push for economic expansion is seen by all of the major parties as the only way out of recession. But how to get that initial kick start to increased consumption and production - that's the problem. Fortunately for us the combined efforts of the new reshuffled Cabinet have come up with a master plan. This dual approach, two pronged, pincer movement attack on economic inertia involves the abolition of health and safety inspections for pubs, clubs and restaurant on the one hand and a totally laissez faire approach to planning on the other. Sheer genius. If your teenage kids get crushed to death in an overfull club with the fire doors locked you will at least be able to console yourself with the biggest fuck-off extension in the neighbourhood. Make it grow Dave. Make it grow.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A deco treasure trove.

A few years ago, when I was doing my Capital Ring circumnavigation of the London suburbs, I found one of the best things was coming across completely unexpected delights of landscape or architecture.   It's not all wonderful of course and the walk involves trudging along some pretty ordinary suburban streets; but you just never know what's round the next bend. I remember on one leg of the journey walking up the hill from Eltham Station to find myself standing on a stone bridge and looking down into a moat full of carp. I don't think that until that day I had even heard of Eltham Palace. The notice board explained how in the 1930's Stephen and Virginia Courtauld had obtained the lease on the virtually derelict medieval palace and had had a huge modern extension built and furnished in the Art Deco style. I didn't have time to have a look round but, being a bit of a fan of Art Deco, promised myself a visit at some later date. Yesterday I finally got round to it.
If the bizarre mixture of modernism and mock classical with overtones of African and Mesoamerican influence that is Art Deco is your cup of tea you will love Eltham Palace. The Courtaulds were toe curlingly rich of course and the Palace was a huge indulgence. No expense was spared and the house was equipped with every modern convenience as well as the most fashionable furnishings. The wood veneer alone must have cost a small fortune. I can not imagine what dreadful people the Courtaulds must have been but English Heritage have done a brilliant job of restoring the palace to it's former glory and allowing us proles to see how the other half lived.
 I don't suppose that Stephen and Virginia Courtauld would have liked post-war Britain that much and in 1950 they decamped for Southern Rhodesia. I wonder why?

Monday, 3 September 2012

A PM speaks.

Know what's wrong with this country? In a word, dithering. Too much dither and not enough deregulation, that's the problem. That's why it's so important to get rid of all of this planning nonsense and crack on with the major task of making our cities more akin to Dubai and Shanghai. Onward and upward. Forward together to a deregulated, dither free future.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Criminalising squatting is the thin end of the wedge.

From today the squatting of residential property will become a criminal offence. This piece of legislation seems to have just snuck under the radar and into the statute books with little or no real opposition but don't underestimate it's potential impact. In the first place of course, the change in law will enable readers of The Mail to go on holiday safe in the knowledge that there is less chance of coming home to find that their house has been squatted by Romanian Transgender Zombies or whatever. For squatters, summary eviction by the cops and a criminal charge will be added to all of the usual uncertainties. Owners of large property portfolios will be able to leave homes standing empty with greater confidence and even under the old legislation three quarters of a million properties stood unoccupied at any one time. But most importantly this is a real fundamental change to English property law. Historically owning the title to property conferred certain rights but those without such title also had rights and this is at the heart of why trespass was never a criminal offence. This could turn out to be the signature legislation of the coalition.