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

Saturday, 27 September 2014

It might just be a hobby for some.

I have only just noticed this great post over on the Journeyman site. I have always loved the idea of hobbies but I remember only too well the indignity of having hard earned skills reduced to the level of a mere pastime for the chattering classes. Irrational? Of course, but heart felt none the less.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Freedom Passes for all.

This blog is not just the Home Of The Freedom Pass Anarchists but a strong defender of Freedom Passes and their equivalent for all pensioners, regardless of their political affiliation. It's not just a matter of free public transport for important journeys like hospital appointment but the way that a free travel pass can transform peoples lives. There is a whole world out there waiting to be explored and for many pensioners the Freedom Pass is aptly named as armed with a flask of tea and a packet of sarnis they take their dreams for reality and make the world their oyster. Think tank the Social Market Foundation have been harping on about doing away with free travel for the elderly and disabled, or at least making it means tested, for some time. Now a group of Walsall pensioners have taken up the challenge, launched a national petition to save the free National Bus Pass, and are delivering it to Downing Street.
The Labour Party, instead of making a big deal out of proposals for a derisory increases to the Minimum Wage would be better advised to get behind something really helpful - free public transport for all, regardless of age or income. Go on Ed. Show 'em what you're made of.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Scotland? Got a spot of bother up there have they?

Russia claims that the Scottish Independence Referendum failed to comply with international standards.
Meanwhile, according to Political Scrapbook, a referendum truther movement!!! is demanding a recount and claiming that the whole thing was rigged.  ISIS will probably declare Scotland kafir in the next day or two. That's the trouble with democracy - it does tend to get people worked up.

Friday, 19 September 2014

All over bar the shouting?

With a massive 80% to 90% turn out and a convincing 45% - 55% margin, the good folk of Scotland have, for the time being at least, rejected the idea of an independent state. Political pundits will now spend many hours casting bones and poring over entrails. It's what they do.
A few early morning thoughts: Does the YES vote in Glasgow and Dundee indicate a class split or something else? Is there a rural - city split?
Will all that political energy and involvement shown over the past weeks now just dissipate or remain as  a driving force behind a new grass roots movement?
Will things ever be the same again, not just for Scotland but for the UK as a whole?
Capital hates uncertainty. The  markets were twitchy but have settled down now. The pound is stronger. The project now will be a return to the status quo ASAP. All those pre-referendum NO dependant promises - just watch the back peddling start in the next few hours.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Getting free from Accrington.

I could weep for the unhappy, abused children of the world but I know that there is little that I can do about their lives. When they grow up a few are able earn money by unburdening themselves in an autobiography and good luck to them. But misery-lit as it's known in the book trade is not my cup of tea; there is a whiff of voyeurism about the genre. Having said that, I have just finished reading Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and although it would be hard to describe the author's childhood as anything other than miserable to categorise the book as misery-lit would be to do it a grave injustice. Winterson writes compellingly about love, adoption, politics and mental illness but what really gripped me was her description of Accrington in the 1960's. She could just as easily have been writing about the 1930's, or the 1860's. In the 50's we too shared an outside toilet but there the similarity between Leyton and Accrington ended. Up north, grim or not, it truly was a different world.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Who knows what the future holds for Scotland.

One thing is for sure. I can never remember a political issue that has motivated people to such an extent. If Scots genuinely feel that they will be better off outside the UK but inside the EU then of course they should go for it. Vote YES. But it's what will happen after the referendum that will be really interesting.  A resounding YES vote will mean months (perhaps years) of negotiation before independence is finally declared. On the other hand a NO vote will mean months (almost certainly years ) of bitter recrimination. There is a third possibility and it's one that no doubt has been thought about in the corridors of power in both London and Edinburgh. Just suppose that there is a YES vote but that Westminster maintains that there is no constitutional right to secession. That the Act Of Union cannot be repealed. What then?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Rowlocks to it all!

Writing recently about the smallholding advice given me by "Old Arthur" reminded me of an earlier incident in the rich pattern of what the pointy heads like to call "learning for life". In my experience there are few life forms as exasperating and of such little practical value as the teenage boy. Lovable they might be but when it comes to use value chocolate fireguards come to mind. I was no exception to this rule. I was sixteen years old and apprenticed to a boatbuilder on the Essex coast when I was inducted into the black art of bowline tieing. Much of our work was done afloat and that particular morning I had been doing something or other on a yacht moored in the middle of the creek. Come dinner time I had rowed back to the landing stage, tied up the dinghy and returned to the yard where I was told that the guvnor would be coming afloat with me in the afternoon and I was to prepare the boat, including the outboard motor normally denied me due to rowing being good for me apparently. Come two o clock and we arrived back at the landing stage. From this point onward things started to go rapidly downhill. I had secured the dinghy with a collection of hitches unknown to the art of seamanship and the natural fibre rope had swollen to an impenetrable tangle. I was spoken to quite sharply. The guvorner attempted to unpick the knot with a steel spike that slipped and pierced his hand. Again I was spoken to quite sharply. Eventually we got underway and I was told that on arrival at the yacht we were to work on I would learn to tie a bowline. This I did and by knocking off time was confident that I could tie a bowline in the most adverse of circumstances. We set off on the return journey only for the outboard to splutter and die after a few minutes. I had forgotten to fill the tank and once more was spoken to quite sharply. We would have to row back but this proved to be impossible as I had brought the wrong size rowlocks. We would have to use the oars to paddle back home. As the headwind strengthened I was not only spoken to sharply but described in some detail with much reference to the reproductive process. Eventually we got back to the landing stage and I took the painter in my hand, and yes you guessed it, such was my state of nerves that all knowledge of the bowline had flown from my mind like autumn leaves on the breeze. I was spoken to quite sharply.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Panic? No way.

Cameron, Clegg and Bernie Winters head north in an attempt, having failed with the purse strings, to tug at Scottish heart strings.  No doubt there will be much photo-op hesitant nibbling of stovies, mutton pies and haggis and chips. All washed town by tentative sips from pints of heavy. Pubs are offering YES or NO (Bitter Together) beer. A St Andrew's flag is hoisted over Number 10 only for the halyard to break and the whole shooting match flutter to the ground. John Major steps forward to fulfil his role as elder statesman and warn of the dire consequences of Jock Independence. Don't mention cricket, or Curry.
Alex Salmond has the look of a man who has lost a mickle and found a muckle. Only time will tell if the average Scot will be better served by an Edinburgh elite rather than a Westminster one but the question seems to be a live one all right. Unusually for politics - at least it's not boring.

Monday, 8 September 2014

True Grit and false dawns.

I watched the Coen Brothers re-make of the old John Wayne classic True Grit the other day. The 1969 John Wayne version was I suppose the point in cinema history when the Hollywood western finally became well and truly politically incorrect. There was no doubting the right-wing views of Wayne and no doubting either that to a very large extent the story of the Old West is one of exploitation of people and degradation of the environment. But the story is also one of rugged individualism and high adventure that has struck a cord with generations of film and pulp-fiction fans. I think that both versions of True Grit paint pretty much the picture of a brief moment in history that we want to believe in and a set of values that, despite the best efforts of the moral gatekeepers of the left, we all have a grudging respect for.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Deep joy. TCA arrives.

The Cunningham Amendment thudded onto the doormat this morning. Dedicated to joy, irreverence and the arcane skills of wit, irony and letterpress printing, there is no point in Googling, Twitting or Facebooking to find this wonderful little magazine. There is no online presence. TCA is firmly anchored in the real, rather than the cyber world. You could try sending a few stamps and a grovelling letter to :

Peter Good,
Room 6.
Tangleford House,
The Street,
NR20 4RT

You never know your luck!

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Green's Citizens Income is a winner.

There are many things about the Green Party, now ensconced in their annual conference, that give me the screaming abdabs but when it comes to their policy of a Citizens Income I reckon that they can't be faulted. Just think how a salary of £10,000 p.a. as a RIGHT OF CITIZENSHIP and regardless of any other income, would transform lives. At a stroke benefit fraud would disappear, as would the constant harassment of the disabled and unemployed. Those who wanted to work, and these would be in the overwhelming majority I suspect, would top up their Citizens Income by 100% or even 400%. Those who preferred not to be employed but rather to care for children, dig their allotments or master the tuba would be secure in the knowledge that, no matter what life might throw at them, impoverishment would be held at bay. A universal wage as a right would combine with free first rate health care and education to form the foundation of a just society. How would all this be paid for? Why, by a higher rate of tax on the wealthy of course. But might that not lead to a mass exodus of "talent" who would all decamp to Switzerland quicker than a rat up a pump? Ah yes! Switzerland. The richest country in Europe and the one with the highest wages and lowest rate of home ownership.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

On the door at One Commercial Street.

Yesterday evening I finally managed to make it over to Aldgate for Class War's weekly "poor door" picket of One Commercial Street. It was far from being a massive turn out. It's a shame that challenging this issue has been left to a handful of anarchists but I suppose that the left are far too busy dealing with islamophobia and Ukraine to bother with such trivia. The response from passing members of the public was generally sympathetic and I had an interesting chat with a young woman who worked at a local estate agents, had recently let one of the "posh door" flats, had no idea that there were segregated entrances and seemed genuinely shocked and upset at what she had unwittingly become party to.
I have heard it suggested that without the kind of planing gain social and affordable housing such as that at One Commercial Street there would be an even worse housing crisis than there is now and that segregated apartment  blocks are a small price to pay. Perhaps the whole issue of planing gain should be looked at afresh. Perhaps local authorities should grant planing permission to those developments that will have some advantage to the community regardless of bribes in the form of planning gain. 
If developments are populated by some tenants with well paid jobs who are renting from wealthy overseas investors, and some other less affluent ones who rent from a housing association, there is no rational reason why the two groups should be kept apart. This is just another example of the increasing polarity of this country in general and London in particular.