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

Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - A taste of things to come ?

During the past twelve months the UK has experienced an unprecedented number of extreme weather events. Extreme weather is always a possibility of course but 2012 really was unusual in that we had drought, severe gales, and  record levels of rainfall all crammed into one year. Beyond explaining the migrations of the jet-stream, climate scientists are being justifiably cagey about giving a reason for this years extreme weather but for many people it looks as though the effects of climate change are happening before our very eyes.                                                                                                               Meanwhile the precipitation continues. There was a knock on the door just now. Jehovah's Witnesses. I was  explaining my position on matters of faith when the Postie arrived. "You want to talk to the Jehovah's Witnesses?" I enquired. " I'm too busy building my ark",  he replied, handing me a soggy envelope. We will see what 2013 brings. Happy New Year.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Vamps, Vixens and Good Old Gals.

 I didn't think that the festive TV schedule was that much to write home about but on the Saturday before Christmas  BBC2 showed the Arena production Screen Goddesses. I recorded the program but didn't get around to watching it until last night. It was worth waiting for. I sat entranced for a solid hour as Garbo, Dietrich, Lillian Gish, Bette Davis and many more strutted their stuff. The screen goddesses were a product of the Hollywood studio set up and as the industry changed so the goddesses disappeared from our screens.
There is a continuing fascination with the old time female stars of cinema which is all the more surprising when you consider that most of them were at the peak of their careers before most of us were born. Marilyn Monroe could be said to be the last screen goddess - and what an act to bring an era to a close. But for me Dietrich, as both a screen and real life personality, is unassailable.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day Hunt Controversy Zzzzz!

Few things, apart from yet another  visit from the in laws, can generate quite so much Boxing Day heat as foxhunting. I have never been able to get my head round why so many people find this anachronistic but comparatively harmless hobby so important. When it finally dawned on the left-wing of the labour party that the New Labour project was never going to offer anything but a slightly pinkish tinged Thatcherism the 2004 Hunting Act was gratefully accepted as some kind of sop. It was an easy way to have a dig at the toffs. Personally I have always felt that if the English ruling class did nothing more socially damaging than chasing foxes we would have little to worry about.  Tally Ho!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Brace up comrades! Brace up!

We can get through this. With a steely determination forged in the crucible of past tribulation and adversity we can win through. Remember, in another seventy hours it will be done and dusted.
Have a good one! Happy Christmas to you all.  That's me standing in front of the fire BTW.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Will the proper capitalists please stand up?

A few minutes browsing company websites reveals that: TESCO put community at the heart of everything that they do. BP are all about making a socio/economic contribution to the community. SHELL are justifiably proud of their social investment program. HSBC are committed to a positive contribution to the community as well as a positive environmental impact.Concerns about labour and human rights are never far away from the thoughts of APPLE. All are more committed to sustainability than you would believe possible.
I wonder, are there any proper capitalists left? You know, proper profiteering fuck the lot of you capitalists like in the old days.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

ACAB - Well, almost.

Clearly not all coppers are bastards. We have all met the odd decent copper and I'm prepared to accept that some misguided folk really do join the force in the belief that they can make a positive contribution to society and "help people".  How long such good intentions survive police canteen culture is another matter. For as long as I can remember elite units have been run as little empires, corrupt, self serving and confident that if push comes to shove they really can get away with murder. Just at the moment the Met appear to be  in a world of shit. Plebgate, Plebgate Gate, half the stations in London due to close, talk of conspiracy fills the air and the Federation may implode any day now, why even the Inspector Gadget Blog is deleting contentious posts as if they where going out of fashion. Were will it all end?  My money would go on a public enquiry into policing followed by a lot of fine words and business as usual. The police will close ranks for sure because bastards or not,  coppers have a sense of solidarity that puts the rest of us to shame.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Nicola Adams. How cool is she?

Even for those of us who are not big fans of cycling, Bradley Wiggins winning Sports Personality Of The Year raises a smile of pleasure. Bradley seems like a decent sort. Bit of a laugh, not remotely up himself but a working class bloke with his head screwed on. But how distressing to see that no less than  230, 000 people are somehow able to hold in their minds the two concepts 'personality' and 'Andy Murrey' at the same time.
The Bad Old Days Will End special award goes to Nicola Adams not only for looking unbelievably cool at last night's ceremony, but also for breaking new ground and winning over the rather conservative male boxing fraternity. As Carl Froch said, "A lot of people have had their mind's changed and changed for the better".

Saturday, 15 December 2012

End of world update.

I used to think that the 'long count' was an incident during the Jack Dempsey - Gene Tunney fight. I now know that it also refers to the Mayan calender and that we are now very close to the end of the world. Blimey! In China the authorities are cracking down on Mayan cults but that hasn't stopped cult members calling for all out war against the 'Red Dragon' (CP) and stocking up on candles and tinned chicken chow mien. I'm not quit sure how to play this to be honest. I've stashed away a bit of extra food and cancelled the paper but that's as far as I've got. Just to be on the safe side we're off to the annual atheist Xmas show tonight. Cover all options I reckon.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Walking the streets.

Iain Sinclair trudges the perimeter of the Olympic Park contemplating the loss of London's last remaining wilderness. Ian Bone criss-crosses the City retracing the steps of Thomas Venner as he researches for the Fifth Monarchist  'Ephiphany' film. No books or films result from my own wanderings of the capital's streets and open spaces. There is no point to these excursions  beyond curiosity and the pleasure of discovering something unexpected, if unremarkable, round the next corner.  A mate once remarked that walking across London was like walking through geological strata. But the strata are not formed of differing layers of rock but bands of wealth and class, and just as tectonic movement forces geological strata into syncline and anticline, so does the pressure of the market distort the bands of social strata that make up the metropolis. Streets of done up houses with BMW's parked outside are forced into uneasy proximity to deprived looking estates. Much of London's housing stock has come full circle from grand bourgeois residence to run down multi-occupancy and back to large family homes for the new well to do.
Writing in the 1930's, Norman Collins in London Belongs To Me says, "Yes, that's London. Mile upon mile of little houses.......  If you start walking westward in the early morning from somewhere down in Wapping or the Isle Of Dogs by the evening you will still be on the march, still in the midst of shabby little houses - only somewhere over by Hammersmith by then".  Collins was writing before the blitz, developers, councils and well meaning modernist architects had combined to put their stamp on London. But there are still mile upon mile of classic Victorian terraces. Bay window, small front garden, neat privet hedge, net curtains. This was the home of the "respectable" working class and the aspiring lower middle class.
Yesterday I set off from Peckham Rye Station walked down Rye Lane with it's dozens of African shops, surely more fishmongers than any other street in town, butchers selling chickens feet at £1.99 a bag and shoulder of goat a snip at £3.50 a kilo. I turned east to take in Nunhead and walked up once posh (and soon to be posh again) Telegraph Hill. Swinging in a wide arc I marched through New Cross  and made my way to Canada Water. Despite all the recent (and not so recent) development I walked along street after street of solid old Victorian terrace housing pretty much unchanged from when Collins was writing and then as now - this is the real London.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Boycott everything!

Ethical shopping, like shopping of any description, tends to leave me a bit cold. Exchanging my civil rights for consumer rights interests me about as much as does exchanging unwanted Xmas gifts at M&S during the January sales. There is no doubting that consumer boycotts can put pressure on companies but the slack will be taken up somewhere else. Having said that, I am finding boycotting Starbucks pretty much of a doddle - as far as I can remember I have only stepped inside one of their establishments once and it's not an experience I'm in a hurry to repeat. A nice cup of tea leaning against that shelf in the Brick Lane begel shop is more my style or better still a visit to one of London's remaining proper cafes. Have you ever been to the River Cafe? No not the poncy one so beloved of the   chattering classes but the proper one opposite Putney Bridge Station. Proper cafe, proper grub, proper Italian family been running it for years. To step inside just once is to see Starbucks for what it is and, if that's your bag, they probably pay more tax as well.  It helps if you are a Fulham supporter but is not essential.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Grapples, Grunts & Grannies.

Documentaries that take a serious look at professional wrestling are few and far between so historians of the mat game as well as fans of the golden age of British post-war grappling will need to make sure that they don't miss this opportunity to relive again the innocence of our youth. My own efforts to record some moments from wrestling history here on this blog are a poor and amateurish thing compared to the output of the Wrestling Heritage site and I'm delighted that 'Hack' and 'Anglo Italian' have been able to have a major input into the program. So, on Thursday 13th December settle down in front of the box for an hour of nostalgia. It's just a shame that Watney's Party Specials and Vesta Curry are no longer available to complete the evening.

Only total financial transparency for all will threaten the like of Starbucks.

For Starbucks paying tax is seen as a voluntary donation, part of their corporate social responsibility profile and something that they can opt in and out of at will. Tax was originally nothing more than a tribute in kind to the king or emperor with the sole aim of increasing the riches and power of the ruling elite. With the wealth collected ships could be built, armies raised and frontiers extended. Tax still fulfils this function of course but in the modern world is also expected to be a tool of redistribution where individual wealth collectively funds hospitals, schools and transport as well as nuclear deterrents and royal pageantry. For most people, locked into the PAYE system as they are, there is no question of choice regarding the payment of tax; they would like to pay less but recognise the redistributive element. For the suits at Starbucks of course, none of this is of any relevance. Their whole world, children's education, health, pensions, everything, is a private matter. We may get pissed off with the arrogance - but we can't fault the logic.
Only total financial transparency for all will allow us to see who has what and where the money goes.
Who would object to such a thing? Only those who have such a disproportionately large share of the cake that they fear expropriation - or those who feel in some way personally diminished by the few crumbs that they salvage. Total financial transparency for all might not lead to the eruption of the marvellous but it sure would be a step in the right direction.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Nicholas Culpeper. More than just another quack.

Like many people I have a fairly limited knowledge of the English Civil War. I know of course about the major battles, the Levellers, Diggers, the Putney Debates, but I am frequently surprised by just how little I do know about this time of profound social and political upheaval. Take Nicholas Culpeper for example. The man is remembered as a famous herbalist and that was the limit of my knowledge about him until recently. But Culpeper was much more and was a true radical who devoted his life not only to extending his knowledge of medicine but making this knowledge freely available to the mass of people. It's easy to dismiss Culpeper as a quack and to be sure I would not fancy being treated by his eclectic mix of astrology and herbs but we should be wary of judging historical figures out of the context of their time. From his shop in Spitalfields where he dispensed to the poor, to his publishing herbalist books in English rather than the Latin favoured by the establishment, to his serious wounding at the Battle Of Newbury when fighting with the parliamentarian forces, Culpeper was a man who walked the walk. Even today there is a populist view of the Civil War and the English Revolution as a conflict between grim faced Roundheads who banned sex standing up in case it led to dancing and foppish Cavaliers who may have been toffs but at least knew how to have a good time. To allow such a huge social upheaval to be dismissed in those terms is not just a misunderstanding of history but a disservice to the memory of radicals and iconoclasts like Nicholas Culpeper.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Those were the days.

                                                                                                                                                                      A timely reminder over at the Journeymanblog that when all the lords, judges and assorted Old Etonians have  had their say there remains one very useful means of controlling the press.

Another brood mare to the slaughter?

The Duchess of Cambridge is spewing her ring up and has been put on a drip. No not that drip. This one is a medical intervention. Her offspring will have the same rights of succession regardless of gender and will also be allowed to marry a catholic. Oh well, that's progress I supppose. Just goes to show how one pushy lower middle class family can get on if only they have the gumption. Doors to manual - a beacon to us all.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Top interview by Sarah Story.

It's not always easy being interviewed by the media. The time available is frequently far too short to get across the things that you really want to say and it's easy to come away feeling that an opportunity has been missed. Paralympic multi gold medallist Sarah Storey has been around the block and was never likely to be put on the back foot in her World At One interview today but still it was a master class in how to get important points across. The relevance of the Olympic legacy, and for that matter disabled sport in general, to the majority of disabled people was summed up in just a few sentences. A pleasure to listen to.