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

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sunday, 28 October 2012

"Charity creates a multitude of sins." Oscar Wilde.

As the full extent of the power and influence of Jimmy Savile is exposed so too is his place in the unpleasant network that is the ruling elite in this country. The Tory Party, Royal Family, Vatican and the media have all been complicit in a huge cover up that is slowly being unmasked. Doubtless there is much more to come. But what positive outcome might we expect from all of this?  Some form of token justice and recompense for Savile's victims would be nice of course. It would also be satisfying to see our corrupt and degenerate masters revealed for what they are. It's a long shot I know but it might even be possible that some really fundamental issues get talked about. It is probably too much to hope for but how about we consider for a moment, not just the activities of a few evil men but the kind of social relations that allow such people to prosper. Perhaps a tad less ambitious but important none the less would be to have a long hard look at the charity industry. Savile's whole public persona was based on the notion of charity. Had he remained just another self-promoting show biz personality he would never have been able to wheedle his way into the inner circle of government and royals. It was the endless high profile fund raising and volunteering that gave him the necessary leverage. This is not to throw stones at the good folk who give their time, energy and hard earned cash to help those who they perceive to be worse off than themselves, far from it, but the whole industry of giving is sadly far more complex than the simple kindness of strangers. Some interesting thoughts from Jules Evans on the nature of charity, self help and mutual aid at http://philosophyforlife.org/pow-mutual-improvement-back-to-the-19th-century/

Friday, 26 October 2012

From geology to mythogeography in one giant leap.

Ian Vince is contributing editor to The Idler as well as being an amateur geologist and general poker about in the margins of life. He is also author of The Lie Of The Land, a layman's guide to the ground beneath our feet; and very good it is too. There is also a website www.britishlandscape.org. and that is interesting enough even if it's main purpose is to promote the book. Browsing through the site I came across mention of Counter-Tourism and from there it was but a short step to Mythogeography and the book of the same name. I have the book beside me now - strangely wonderful, and wonderfully strange.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

You Aren't What You Eat.

I have to be careful here. Don't want to come across as just another grumpy old fart. Oh! sod it. Listen there are a number of things that irritate me considerably. Allow me to share. Jargon laden pompous rhetoric that tries to make very simple things sound much more difficult to grasp than they are. Pseudo scientific nonsense masquerading as some earth shattering new cure for constipation or tiredness. The many thousands of mindless fruit cakes who bang on about "organic growing" seemingly without the first glimmerings of an understanding of what is organic or inorganic and very little practical experience of growing of any kind. People who seem more concerned about "the earth" or "the environment" than they are about other human beings. I'm starting to warm to this. Foodists of all kinds. Look I enjoy my grub as much as the next man and consider myself to be what used to be called "a good plain cook" but  spare me all these celebrity chef tossers who don't seem to be able to get their heads round the fact that in the course of their work they are not performing some complex feat of neurosurgery, writing Capital  or even scoring the winning goal for Wimbledon FC. No, THEY ARE COOKING THE FUCKING DINNER.  How wonderful then that Steven Poole seems to have written a book that kicks the shit out of all of this, well, shit. You Aren't What You Eat seems to tick all the right boxes as far as I'm concerned and if this review is anything to go by, ticks them for former restaurant critic and born-again anti-foodist Jonathan Meades as well.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Is there no end to this?

As all of the great political thinkers from George Brown to Gerald Nebaro to Jeffrey Archer would attest - a week is a fuck of a long time in politics. For the Cameronians the past week must seem more like a geological eon. It's just one bloody thing after another. Gideon, is he a fare dodging arrogant arsehole or just an arrogant arsehole? Plebgate. Tariffgate. Vindaloo is outed as the driving force behind Sir James Savile's appointment as Broadmoor supremo. (Yes, I know she's yesterdays woman but mud sticks) Normo Tebbo reckons that there is nothing wrong with being posh - it's being posh and fucking useless that's the problem. Cor Blimey Guv! Roll on that Christmas recess.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Is arguing about tariffs a waste of energy?

"Cameron reckons he's going to force energy companies to put us all on the cheapest tariff."
"What tariff are we on?"
"Well where are the bills?"
"Er! Somewhere."
"Well surely you know how much we are paying."
"If you are so clever, what is a tariff?"

I do think that breakfast conversations are so important in a relationship.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Allotments spread potato blight claim.

This has been a pretty shocking growing season for farmers and amateur growers alike. One of the problems with a wet summer is the spread of a variety of moulds, mildews and fungal infections of all kinds and potato blight is one of the worst. Now I hear that the Potato Council is blaming allotment growers for spreading blight and suggesting that we should leave spuds to the professionals and concentrate on crops less prone to disease. It's true that a lot of new allotmenteers, motivated by a misplaced belief in "organic" ideology, are wary of treating blight with fungicide but surely the way to deal with this problem is through a campaign of education. Anyway, if the Potato Council are so concerned about amateur growers how come that the first thing that I found on their website was this.
EDIT: Thanks to the ever vigilant Gitane for spotting this interesting bit of spud science.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Boredom. How boring is that?

Boredom, along with alienation, are terms that used to be bandied about by the revolutionary left quite a lot. You hear less about the psychological trauma of living in the advanced stages of capitalism these days with a good deal less talk of revolution as therapy; the financial crisis has seen to that. For an increasing number of people the struggle has returned to one of how to put bread on the table.
For all of that, who can deny the reality of boredom and a recent report suggests that boredom may damage your health.  Boredom is another of those aspects of the modern human condition, obesity is another, where the argument rages about social or personal causes. If we are bored who is to blame, ourselves or society?  I favour the view that there is a dynamic relationship between the personal and the social that takes some unravelling but for sure the boredom threshold must vary between individuals. Standing in a supermarket checkout queue the other day I got to chatting with a bloke of about my age I suppose. In response to my whine about shopping he remarked that for him shopping was an excuse to get out of the house; a break from the otherwise endless TV watching. I was horrified. What a choice. A tedious stream of pap on TV or a visit to Lidl.  And have you noticed how much daytime TV is aspirational in the sense that it's all about becoming a successful property developer, moving abroad or finding an Old Master in the attic? Scratch card TV.  Anything that might get you out of this shit. For myself, I have rarely been bored because I had nothing to do but usually because I had something to do that I found tedious and, well, boring. I have been lucky in my life because some of the many jobs that I've had have been interesting and satisfying, but boy have I had some boring ones as well. I heard a girl being interviewed about her recent work experience. What had she learnt? "That work is boring",  came the reply. Why are teenagers so prone to boredom? Is it hormonal or perhaps, without making it coherent necessarily, they see the reality of life in the capitalist mode of production before settling down to an acceptance of the status quo.
Enough! I'm off out. I'm bored.

Friday, 12 October 2012

London Anarchist Bookfair.

It's that time of year again. Time to start thinking about sowing broad beans and keeping an eye open for the rutting stags in Bushy Park. It's also time for the great London Anarchist Bookfair so on Saturday 27th October we will all be setting off on a pilgrimage down the Mile End Road. Ian Bone reckons that The Bookfair is a bit like Brigadoon with several thousand anarchists emerging from who knows where only to disappear again until the following year. The Bone may have a point but it's a pleasant enough day out and you always bump into long lost friends and interesting new comrades. Anarcho-syndicalists, feminists, council-communists, semi-detached situationists, vegan activists, Fifth Monarchists (search me), libertarian martial artists, can of Special Brew and dog on stringists. All are welcome. If someone points me out to you saying, "Look, there's that old git who writes that weird blog", please come over, pat me on the head and give me half a crown. We're all going down the pub after.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Who fixed it for Jim?

What have Margaret Thatcher's inner circle, the Vatican, the higher echelons of the BBC and the Murdoch tabloids got in common? It's beginning to look very likely that all were complicit in a huge establishment cover up of Sir Jimmy Savile's proclivity for sex with the young and vulnerable. Meanwhile everyone and their dog are proclaiming that they couldn't stand the man and always knew there was something dodgy about him.
PS. In case you're wondering what the Vatican has to do with the scandal. The Pope bestowed one of the highest Papal honours (Grand Knight Of The Order Of St Gregory) on Savile about the time that Thatcher was "Fixing It For Jim" knighthood wise. Only thing missing is a nice bit of Freemasonry. This could run for some time.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Annual Tory spite fest draws to a close.

Imagine being a single mum doing your best with a pre-school chavi. The cost of child care makes going out to work problematic but at least working might help to ease the feeling of isolation. Trouble is that even if you could find a job your confidence has ebbed away over the years and your not sure that you could cope with all the hassle of finding employment. What you really need is the annual blood letting at the Tory Party Conference where a succession of right wing loony tunes denounce you as a feckless, idle, waste of good oxygen. Bet you feel much better about yourself now.
It was ever thus. The conference is a showcase for the spite and self satisfied small mindedness of middle class Middle England. This year the Daily Mailers have been whining about the suffering middle class. Suffering? They ain't seen nothing yet.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Principia Dialectica bites the dust.

Political blogs come and go and this week another one bit the dust. Principia Dialectica was not to everyone's taste and to be sure much of what they wrote sailed clear over the top of my head, but this was no doubt a failing of mine rather than theirs. At other times the blog was right on the money and I will certainly miss it. Rumour has it that the PD boys and girls are concentrating on Marxist reading groups in an assortment of dodgy North London boozers. Well it keeps 'em off the streets I suppose but shouldn't they be on the streets. C'est la vie.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

George Dixon. First black champion.

I have been reading Steven Laffoley's Shadowboxing the amazing story of the rise and fall of first black champion of the world George Dixon. I had heard of Dixon but had no idea just how much he achieved and how deeply he influenced the sport of boxing. Apart from being the first black world champion George was also the first fighter to hold world titles at two weights (bantam and featherweight) as well as being first to lose and then regain a world title. He may have fought as many as 800 bouts. One thing that stands out when looking at his record is the strangely disproportionate number of drawn results. This is explained by the simple fact that on so many occasions Dixon had clearly outpointed a white opponent and a draw was the compromise that the referee came up with to appease the racist crowd. It's worth bearing in mind the fact that during the years that Dixon was fighting as a pro (1886-1906) more than two thousand blacks were lynched.  Fighters of colour had far more than opponents to deal with.
Dixon was not just a great champion but was also a great innovator and is credited with introducing many of the techniques and training methods that would make boxing the sport that we know today.
By the age of 38 George had earned and spent a fortune and was to die penniless in the alcoholic ward of New York's Bellevue Hospital having lived a tragically short but hugely eventful life.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Chris Gray Memorial Lecture.

Last night at Houseman's Bookshop for the Chris Gray memorial lecture given by his old friend and comrade Charles Radcliffe who came across as a really nice self effacing bloke and not at all the situationist uber intellectual that I might have expected.  There was much talk of how influential Gray's Leaving The 20th Century had been and that certainly brought back memories for me. The book was published by Rising Free and  at that time (1973) three members of the Rising Free collective had joined forces with myself and other like minded comrades to form Wicked Messengers. The artwork for Leaving the 20th Century was done by Sophie Richmond and Jamie Reid, both then based at Suburban Press. How lucky I am that some of those comrades from all those years ago are still my good friends-and how especially lucky I am that one of them has put up with living with me for 42 years.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Soon to be reunited I hope.

One nation railway enthusiasts monthly launched.

Right! Hands up all those people who think that Tory and LibDem HQs will be more like TV's The Thick Of It this morning than the prog itself. No sooner had Milibean assumed the mantle of Tory hero Disraeli and launched One Nation Labour, and just moments after the Labour leader had denounced the government as a bunch of half-wit back of the envelope incompetents and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has to announce that when it comes to the West Coast main line franchise not only were the sums done on the back of an envelope but some fucking moron has lost the envelope as well. Laugh? I nearly choked on  my cornflakes.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Eric Hobsbawm RIP.

In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king and so it was that Eric Hobsbawm, unrepentant Stalinist apologist that he was, became a beacon for many on the libertarian left. Whatever his faults Hobsbawm was a wonderful writer and one with a real understanding of the class nature of society. Unreconstructed old Bolshevik he may have been but Hobsbawm knew who's side he was on.

Perhaps golf has some use after all!

I wake this morning to hear that the European team have triumphed over USA in the Ryder Cup. I know very little about golf, have never played the game or taken any interest in it. But for some strange and no doubt deeply Reichian reason I feel elated at news of the victory. Is this the secret of a United Europe? Just get it up the Yanks. In anything!