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

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Knocking sheds together in the Old Kent Road.

Among the hundreds of books in our drum there are very few old, let alone rare or collectible volumes. A 1912 Freedom Press publication of Modern Science And Anarchism dedicated to, "Our devoted friend and comrade, Peter Kropotkin", on the occasion of the great man's seventieth birthday. Modern Boxing by Bombardier Billy Wells. My treasured Book Of Hobbies and a few other interesting but not at all valuable volumes from the 20's and 30's just about takes care of the vintage section of my collection. One unusual item that I do have is an Edwardian hardware catalogue published by William Cooper, or to give it's full title, The Gardeners and Poultry Keepers Guide and Illustrated Catalogue of Goods Manufactured and Supplied by W Cooper Ltd. The company had a huge site in the Old Kent Road covering several acres and could supply a vast range of items from garden tools to billiard tables, poultry appliances to heating systems, lawn mowers to ferret accommodation. Coopers also offered a selection  of wooden buildings including coals sheds, cricket pavilions, workshops, loose boxes and photographic studios. But to my mind by far the most interesting is the range of prefabricated corrugated iron buildings that include churches, chapels,workshops, hospitals,schools, swimming baths, boat houses, cottages and what are described as "colonial residences". If you were thinking of setting up a utopian community or an outpost of empire, Coopers was the place to get your buildings. Just to give you a flavour of the prices, the two story "African Merchants Station" retailed for £420.  Best not think about how much W. Cooper were paying the workers who made this stuff but clearly that part of South London was home to a veritable shed load of skilled craftsmen. All of the items in the catalogue are illustrated with detailed engravings or line drawings and there are also many pages of information on gardening and poultry keeping. A generous 638 pages hardback for a mere 2/6.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Benefits for all!

I'm well aware of the arguments against Owen Jones (middle-class twat pontificating about the working-class, laying the foundation for a career in the Labour Party, etc. etc) but give the boy his due - a cracking article in today's i about the case for non-means tested benefits such as winter fuel allowance and Freedom Pass. What we need are more across the board benefits not less. Where will the money come from? Why by taxing the rich of course. There is much about the Green Party that I find frankly risible but they are right on the money with their Citizens Income policy. Benefits for all. Let them work that want to. It might come as a surprise to the ruling class but most of us would not choose daytime telly, a can of lager and a dodgy kebab.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Who is to blame for measles outbreak? Yuppies, or Yippies?

The possible spread of the the measles outbreak in Swansea should be a real cause for concern and not just for parents who swallowed the Andrew Wakefield discredited claims for a link between the MMR jab and autism. It's easy to say, "Oh! I blame the parents", much as we would regarding child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Why let your kids associate with, and show respect to, a known set of paedophiles, and so on. More justifiable is the blame attached to the press, nothing sells like a good health scare. Why it's almost as good as a royal scandal. Well there's a health scare now all right and it's a real one this time. Ben Goldacre was on the case regarding Wakefield right from the start and much interesting detail can be found on his site. But apart from gullible but well meaning parents and equally gullible but totally amoral journos I feel that some of the blame may lie a bit closer to home. The radical movement of the 60's and 70's wanted more than a mere economic revolution, we wanted to change everything. To call into question everything and although a great deal of good came out of this we also, in some instances at least, threw the baby out with the bathwater. I know from bitter experience how perfectly viable political groups ended up peering into their own stern-tubes and drowning in a mire of homoeopathy and tarot readings. Science was a part of "the system" and to be treated with suspicion and eventually much of this would filter through to the mainstream leaving us with a lot of people who are more inclined to listen to some New Age bullshit than the dull (but knowledgeable) local GP.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Some people find it helpful.

New Labour, Old Labour, Cranial Osteopathy, Reflexology, Ian Duncan Smith, Crystal Therapy, The Third Way, The Third Eye, Affordable Homes, Essential Oils, Urban Regeneration, The Blood Group Diet, Sustainable Development, Homoeopathy, Mindfulness (in case you have difficulty remembering your  Naturopathy appointment),  Trotsky's Transitional Program, Energy Blockage Removal Program.
There is no evidence to support the claims made on behalf of any of these treatments - But some people find them helpful.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

More flags! Massive St George's celebrations in Leatherhead.

Although St Georges Day is on the 23rd of April we seem to have had a premature ejaculation of English patriotism on Saturday. Yesterday I decided to walk the Mole Gap Trail from Leatherhead to Dorking. Getting off the bus in Leatherhead I walked into the main pedestrianised shopping street in search of sustenance for the walk. The street was so totally bedecked with English flags that for a moment I thought that I had inadvertently wandered into a EDL gathering. At one end UKIP were making a big push to get shoppers to commit to giving Nigel's boys and girls the nod at the forthcoming local elections. At the other end of the street Morris Dancers banged each others shafts, jangled their bells and waved their hankies. In the middle a huge radio controlled dragon roared and trampled The Flag underfoot as parents attempted to explain to their kids what it was all about. I found a Gregg's, stocked up with a selection of sausage rolls and gourmet steak-bakes and got the hell out of there. Very odd.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Let's have no more flag waving.

With the Thatcher funeral out of the way we might have a bit of respite from self-congratulatory, tub thumping, nationalistic, quasi-military "occasions" for a spell. I swear to God, I hope the Queen outlives me. I don't think that I could cope with the funeral.
The next "event" looming on the horizon is next years centenary of the start of the First World War and I have no doubt that it will be milked for all that it is worth. Most people of my generation had a father who served in one capacity or another in WW2 but because my dad was quite old when I was born he spent only a brief spell in the army during the first year of the war and as a result I grew up listening, not to tales of D Day or the Desert Rats, but rather to the horrors of the Somme and Passchendaele. I fear that next years centenary will be an excuse for yet more jingoistic tripe about "ultimate sacrifice for their country" etc. etc. I have no problem with children visiting war graves and learning a little of the dreadful scale of the blood letting. What concerns me is the way that the horror is wrapped in the flag and given the authenticity of patriotism. The battlefields of the First World War were an obscenity, dreadful  killing fields where the ruling elite of Europe settled their differences with the blood of others.
Of course those young boys marched of to war willingly. A lust for adventure, a desire to see something of the world, the camaraderie of the Pal's Battalions, the poverty and drudgery of working life, all this must have combined with a misplaced sense of patriotism to ensure that there was no lack of replacements for the fallen. The Kings, Dukes and Emperors would have been no more than impotent characters from a Gilbert and Sullivan production without the compliance of Europe's workers.
There is much to remember about the First World War and much to learn from it. But none of it has anything to do with flags, the mealy mouthed words of politicians and prelates, muffled drums and the parade of medal bedecked old waxworks from Buckingham Palace. Lest we forget indeed.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Thatcher party worth waiting for.

Regardless of the rain and the totally disproportionate number of coppers that flooded central London, we had a party last night. Never has the death of a public figure been the cause of such jubilation. Now let's forget about the horrendous old bag and try to do something about repairing the damage that her and her cohorts, not to mention the New Labour Thatcher sycophants that followed, did to our country. Good riddance!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Just get out and do something.

'Socrates himself is particularly missed. lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed'
Was the venerable proponent of the examined life and the advantage of knowing ones self prone to bouts of drunken introspection? We will never know but can there ever have been an age more fond of self analysis than our own, and are any of us any the better for it? It would be naive to dismiss  out of hand the urge to somehow get to the bottom of our problems by trying to understand the inner workings of our individual psyche but seems to me that it's important to hold on to two cardinal truths. First, not everything is our fault. Many of the problems that beset us are social problems and quite beyond our individual control. At the same time we are all the result of the dynamic between nature and nurture - we are the hand that was dealt us. We can do little but play that hand as best we can.
Looking inward may have a part in salving a persons unhappiness but surely it is better to turn outward. Take up a physical or creative challenge. Hard physical exercise, getting out in the fresh air and getting a bit of sun on your back, just soaking up the wonder of the natural world. These simple therapies can be worth more than all the supposed insights gained from hours of naval gazing.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

I renew my acquaintance with the SPGB.

I first became aware of the Socialist Party of Great Britain during the 1960's. The harbourside bar in Palma, Majorca that I frequented was run by a middle aged English couple who were members. I seem to remember that they gave me some yellowing literature. Nice people but quite what they were doing in Franco's Spain was never clear, but again you might well have asked the same of this supposed anarchist.
I recently came across the SPGB website and took advantage of their generous offer of a three issue free subscription to Socialist Standard. It arrived in the post this morning along with a copy of Questions Of The Day - a socialist analysis. The first thing that I noticed about Questions Of The Day was the pre-decimal cover price and the fact that the staples had almost rusted through. Who knows how big the print run was. But it's all splendid stuff. Well most of it is. I was never that convinced that the world could be turned upside down by patiently explaining the benefits of socialism to the masses and converting them more or less one at a time but I don't want to nit-pick and Socialist Standard is certainly full of interesting articles. Perhaps we should judge political groups in a Hippocratic way - "first do no harm" and truth be told, I feel all the better for renewing my acquaintance with the SPGB.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

All over bar the shouting.

On and on grinds the media analysis of all things Thatcher. Was she the greatest British Prime Minister or just the most divisive? A Marmite leader. Love her or hate her. Bit like Franco. Done a lot of good for the country though. Even in death she is divisive. History will judge. Saturday night could be a bit lively. Never forget.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Condition satisfactory.

                                                            ANARCHIST MEDIA PROJECT.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Making it happen in South Norewood

I have serious misgivings about the "you can be anything you wannabe" philosophy. Failing to get what we want is not just down to not wanting it badly enough and life is a lot more complicated then all those self-help gurus would have you believe. But none the less,  there is much to be said for keeping a positive outlook and you never know what will turn up if you just let your imagination run free. How many of us have come up with seemingly fantastic ideas in the pub only to let them wither in the icy grip of the mornings  hangover?  Such could have been the fate of the South Norwood Tourist Board but the handful of evening drinkers took their dreams for reality and are now having a lot of fun and getting more media attention than you can shake a stick at. Just goes to show.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

So farewell Walton Temporary.

During a wartime bombing raid on the Vickers aircraft factory at the old Brooklands race track the bridge that spanned the Thames at Walton was seriously damaged. A temporary military bridge was laid and rather than the more usual Bailey Bridge, a Callender-Hamilton model was used.  I don't know how long it was originally intended to keep this bridge but  "Walton Temporary" as it came to be known is finally to be demolished and replaced by a modern "permanent" structure. They can't leave anything alone can they?  In truth the new bridge looks elegant if it does lacks the romance of the much loved "temporary".                                                                      Walton Temporary image Oliver White.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A tragedy used to target claimants.

I refuse to take a mawkish interest in tragic child deaths. I also refuse to watch the Jeremy Kyle Show or Ann Widdecomb's version of reality TV so to a large extent I have been spared the unsavoury media career of Mick Philpot. I also refuse to read the Daily Mail ( my dad, as any good father should, told me that they supported Hitler) but I could not escape the Mail's headline today. The whole terrible saga of the Philpot kids is apparently all down to the benefit system. These days racism has rightly become such a toxic viewpoint that even those who are politically just to the right of the Klu Klux Klan feel the need to prefix every utterance with an assurance that they are "not racist". But white benefit claimants are fair game. The truth is that this island is infested with a hard core of nasty parasitical scum - and a good proportion of them are journalists.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

What was your favourite spoof news story?

So how did you make out with spotting the media's April Fool spoof news stories yesterday?
I think that I managed to spot three wind ups straight away. There was:
(a) The Italian fascist (but non-racist) football manager who has been brought in to give Sunderland a dose of party discipline.                                   
(b) The Swiss 10 o'clock curfew on teenagers. This is being enforced by Hells Angels security who will presumably batter shit out of any teens who answer back. Spirit of Altamont and all that.
(c) The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions who can live on £53 a week.
Yes, spotted all three. You have to get up early to catch out us Freedom Pass Anarchists. In fact you have to get up so early you might as well not bother going to bed.