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

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Thank you and goodnight.

When I started this blog in July 2008 I had no real idea how long it would run for and beyond giving myself a platform to sound off about various matters that concerned or interested me, no real motive for writing it. Seven years ago capitalism was being seriously called into question by all kinds of people and it seemed, just for a moment, that everything might be up for grabs. Unfortunately the moment passed soon enough even if the very lively student protests of two years later did leave me a little flushed and breathless. Not that The Bad Old Days Will End was ever intended as a serious political blog but rather the random ramblings of one old bloke who claims to be an anarchist and has an interest  in allotments, the history of professional wrestling and the margins, rather than the mainstream, of modern life. But blogwise I'm running out of steam and the project has become a bit of a chore. Time to call it a day I think.  I know that some readers have been with me since the start and I take that as a huge compliment. I wish you all fair winds and good fortune.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

A gentle stroll from Bexhill to Hastings.

Yesterday myself and "Her Indoors" had one of those unremarkable days out that are none the less precious. We set out by train to Bexhill and wandered down from the station to the De La Warr Pavilion. "The Peoples Palace", this wonderful example of 1930s Modernism, must surely be one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. The pavilion is hosting an exhibition of artwork from Ladybird Books. Free admission and well worth a visit.  
From Bexhill we walked along the seafront path the five or six miles to Hastings. We wondered at Marine Court in St Leonards. The iconic old girl looked ready to slip her moorings but bound not on the luxury Atlantic voyage that the architect envisioned but rather for the breakers yard. The fabulous block has alas seen better days.                         

Onward to Hastings Old Town and a stroll round the junk shops. A well deserved pint in the First In Last Out was followed by another in the Jenny Lind, a fine pub with good music, friendly staff and no less than ten beers on hand pump. Extra large cod and chips in The Lifeboat and the train back to Clapham Junction. Bliss!

Jimmy Savile and the MI5 link.

This week we learnt that Jihadi John is one Mohammed Emwazi a mild mannered computer science graduate from West London. If campaigning group CAGE are to be believed the kind and gentle Emwazi was so freaked out by MI5's efforts to recruit him as an agent that he enlisted with ISIS and started beheading journalists and aid workers. Sounds unlikely but you never can tell with the secret state. We also learnt, thanks to the independent report for the NHS and Department of Health, yet more harrowing details of the extent of Jimmy Savile's sexual predation at Leeds General and Stoke Mandeville. I was just wondering. Wouldn't a slightly odd DJ and TV personality who wormed his way into the higher echelons of British society and became a close friend of Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher to name but two, wouldn't such a person have needed security clearance? If MI5 knew all about the identity of Jihadi John from day one they probably knew all about the the serial sex offending of the nation's favourite do gooder. Somewhere in the bowels of Thames House there must be a file on Jimmy Savile and I suspect that the bowels of Thames House is where it's going to stay.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Choose life. Not ISIS.

It seems that just about everyone has an opinion on the three East London schoolgirls who it is feared have left home to join ISIS. One of the privileges of youth is having the courage of ones convictions and the history of political movements is the history of young people who disregarded risks and laid their lives on the line for what they believed in. That goes some way to explain the seemingly crazy fascination that  Islamic death cults hold for some kids but for the rest of us the military and ideological adventures of the young are measured by our own political stance. The young militants who went off to fight in Spain in '36 were on the side of the angels or Stalin's "useful idiots" depending on your view of the world. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of young Europeans gave their lives in the resistance movements that fought against Nazi occupation but it was the ability of the Nazi hierarchy to appeal to Germany's youth that swept this dreadful bunch of anti-life gangsters to power in the first place. Just think what they might have achieved with the internet.
Who knows what online resources disaffected (or just old fashioned grumpy and unsure) Muslim kids are tapping into but they should probably take a look at this before  making any life changing decisions.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

A nice little earner.

On July 2nd 1921 the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World  Jack Dempsey climbed through the ropes to take on the French contender with the film star looks, Georges Carpentier. The fight is remembered more than anything else because it was to generate the first ever million dollar gate. Promoter Tex Rickard built a 91, 000 seat stadium in Jersey City and many would later claim that it was here that the Roaring Twenties and the modern day era of super-sports was truly born. Now, over ninety years later, comes news that at long last a deal has been done to enable two of the finest boxers in the modern game to meet in what will be the richest fight in history. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are the real deal and even at this late stage in their careers are capable of pulling off a fight for the history books. Or maybe not. You never can tell with boxing. All those years ago, when the fans started climbing down from the bleachers and making their way home, they could contemplate that after all the hype and ballyhoo Carpentier was just an overblown, albeit handsome, light-heavy who Dempsey had put away in under four rounds. The signs are good but it remains to be seen if Mayweather and Pacquiao will be better value for money. Good luck to all who put bread on the table in this the hardest game.
Jack Dempsey developing his sledgehammer left-hook.

Friday, 20 February 2015

You have to hand it to the handpump.

Once the need for food and shelter have  been met one of the principal tasks for any society is keeping the shit ( ours and our animals) separate from the drinking water. It's a problem for any human settlement without a water treatment system, and that includes most of the world's poor. When rivers are polluted, and they usually are, the only safe option is ground water and the safest, most cost effective way of bringing ground water to the surface is with a handpump.  Most allotment sites in this country have a mains water supply but the site where I am a tenant is unusual in having hand pumps and it has fallen to me to take care of the maintenance of these wonderfully simple pieces of kit. I'm not one to suggest that the day to day problems of the impoverished of the world are best served by 19th century technology, but I'm making an exception for the good old fashioned handpump.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Stay in touch with Intergalactic Facebook

The final 100 candidates for the Mars One expedition have been selected and hope to set up a permanent community on the Red Planet some time after 2025. The reasons for wanting to go on the  expedition seem quite varied as they must have been on all of humanity's great leaps into the unknown. There is much talk of,  "leaving a legacy" and a great deal of pessimism about the future of humanity on Earth.  The logic is, I suppose, that having fucked up one planet it's time to move on to another. But Mother Earth will continue as a benign habitat long after we have gone and for myself I would prefer that humanity used it's undoubted potential to build a more just and equitable society for itself. Amongst all the quotes from the potential interplanetary pioneers that are sculling around the media today I came across this little gem from one Hannah Earnshaw - "My family is pretty thrilled. They are really happy for me. Obviously it's going to be pretty challenging leaving the earth and not coming back but we can still communicate via the internet."

Sunday, 15 February 2015


 Martin Wright is always worth having a listen to. You don't have to agree with his take on the general election but you can be sure of one thing - the man is not tailoring his politics in order to feather his own nest. A rare achievement in 2015.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

I told you so!

The Daily Mail is about as noted for accurate dietary advice as it is for anything else but the horrendous old rag deserves a nod for flagging up the fact that butter and cheese may not be as bad for us as we have been led to believe. I have always felt that the natural product of a cow is probably better food than the homogenised, emulsified and generally fucked about product of a factory. Margarine was after all developed as a butter substitute. The end result of scaring a generation away from decent grub like dairy produce and fresh meat and replacing it with processed sugar and palm oil can be seen waddling down any High Street.
But we make far too much fuss about what we should and should not eat. The best advice came from American writer Michael Pollan, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants". 'Nuff said.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Inside The House of Fun.

The BBC's new reality sitcom Inside The Commons could turn out to be a smash hit rival to Strictly, Britain's Got Talent and the rest. The first episode was a hoot. The countrie's largest Victorian Mock-Gothic horror housing the nations biggest collection of ego driven petty (and not so petty) crooks. Pseudo medieval pageantry and Hollywood Arthurian protocol. A handful of "good people" struggle to make sense of it all and at least have a try at  honestly representing their constituents. And on top of it all this monstrous edifice of a building is falling down around their ears.
Did you spot Nicholas Soames in his skull and crossbones braces? I had no idea that "Fatty" Soames was a Class War supporter, but then, I only recently discovered that Beyonce is a member of the Illuminati. Another thing. Somewhere hidden in the middle of the Victorian monstrosity that is the Palace of Westminster is the original Westminster Hall. But where? I hope that we get to see it in future episodes. Anyway, I wonder if I might make a suggestion. Why not flog off the building to the Chinese  who would turn it into a hotel complex and theme park? A new building on Millbank could incorporate MP accommodation and thus save a fortune on bent expenses.  In the meantime, as the general Election looms, enjoy one of the best bits of comedy on the box.

Monday, 2 February 2015

A forgotten hero of the mat.

A wrestler from the 1930s who was a product of the Stepney Workers Sports Club, a committed socialist who was Britain's only representative at the Anti-Fascist Games held in Paris and would go on to have many adventures including a spell in the French Foreign Legion. Just the kind of tale that you might expect to find on this blog. Alas, I can take no credit for unearthing the story of Harry Rabin, a real deal grappler and a larger than life character from the old Jewish East End. I have mentioned before that my efforts to write a little wrestling history are a small and amateurish thing compared to the wealth of information that can be found over at Wrestling Heritage and once again it's a big hat tip to the best source of wrestling history on the web.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cold and wet but not beaten yet.

Despite the rain and cold there was a good turnout for yesterday's march. It was nice to see such a mixture of people taking part and although I doubt how much can be achieved by A to B marches at least it got a few thousand people out on the street. One thing is for sure - there is no more important issue facing London than the housing crisis. There is very little time left. Soon the corporate vampires will have sucked the life blood from out of our city.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

March for Homes.

12 NOON Shorditch Church. E1 6JN (North London)
St Mary's Churchyard SE1 6SQ  (South London)
March to City Hall.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Amjad Bashire. Home at last.

Less than a hundred days to go before what could turn out to be the dirtiest General Election in years and the parties are manoeuvring to outflank each other by recruiting each others members. But it can all go terribly wrong and overburdened A&E departments end up with shed loads bullet wounds to the feet to deal with. Take the Tories and their latest UKIP "prize" the odious curry house mogul Amjad Bashire. One moment Cameron is lambasting the likes of Bashir for being "swivel eyed loons" and the next all is forgiven and it's welcome to the party. But the Bashires of this world  come with some baggage. Have a look at the man's views on the minimum wage, maternity leave, sick pay and such like impediments to a thriving economy.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Syriza UK? Ohi efharisto.

Say what you like about the bubbles, they don't mess about when it comes to politics and it looks likely that the Greek people will throw in their lot with Syriza in today's general election. Appalling levels of corruption have combined with very painful austerity measures to make for some tough times for ordinary folk and whatever the outcome of the election we can but wish them well. If Syriza do win leftist groups throughout the rest of Europe will be cock a hoop and no doubt we will see a re-launch of Left (dis) Unity etc. Only when you take a close look at the constituent parties that make up Syriza do you realise how desperate Greek people must be. Every kind of Euro-Stalinist, Trotskyist, Eco - Leninist and well meaning lefty dreamer seem to have joined forces. It would be nice to think that all of those super rich shipowners are shaking in their boots - but somehow I doubt it.
No gods no masters. Not even left ones.

Friday, 23 January 2015

A possible way forward.

It's no use giving them statins, they'll just keep the coal in it.

If media attention could solve inequality the struggle against poverty would be done and dusted by now. Never a day passes without comfortably off journalists churn out yet more evidence that the gap between rich and poor has never been wider. On the same day that Oxfam launched a campaign to highlight inequality between rich and poor nations comes the latest news on the wealth gap here at home. Apparently doctors prescribing their own bodyweight in statins everyday are wasting their time and NHS funds unless the patient is fairly affluent. It seems that there is a direct correlation between income and how well the drug works. I have yet to hear that this is due to the poor being too thick and lazy to read the instructions but it's only a matter of time.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Open City? Well not quite.

There is much to dislike about the City of London Corporation and you might be forgiven for thinking that it is little more than the administrative arm of that greedy and corrupt edifice that we call "The City". That dagger on the coat of arms does after all celebrate the murder of Wat Tyler. There is however one aspect of the Corporation's work that can't be faulted and that is the way that they run the many open spaces that they are responsible for. Much of the best loved open access woodland available  to Londoners, Epping Forest, Burham Beeches, Ashstead Common for example, are administered by the Corporation. But apart from these large areas on the outskirts there are any number of parks and open spaces in the City itself. My favourite is probably Postman's Park just a short walk from the Museum of London. Famous for it's George Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice that commemorates ordinary folk who gave their lives saving others, the park is truly an urban gem.


Mooching about the other day I came across a tiny garden that I have never visited before. Like many other open spaces in The City, Cleary Gardens is part of the legacy of the blitz and was created from a former bomb site. Just off the busy Queen Victoria Street the garden is built on the sloping ground that leads down to Queenhythe.

The architecture of Central London is changing dramatically and it's hard to find any social or aesthetic improvement. As more and more of the urban landscape becomes privatised so our parks and open spaces become more precious. I hope that we can hang on to them.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Middle East explained.


The above was sent to me by a reader of this blog. I have no idea of the source but just thought that it summed up at least part of the tragedy of the Middle East rather well.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Waddling down to the chippie of life.

If we all adjusted our diet and lifestyle according to the findings of every new research project the resulting stress would probably far outweigh any benefits that we might get. The latest media  frenzy is caused by Cambridge University research that suggests that lack of exercise causes twice the number of deaths as does obesity. There are a number of interesting issues here but one thing that struck me immediately was all the emphasis on the benefits of a daily twenty minute walk. I find it difficult to get my head round the idea of not walking for at least twenty minutes every day but such is the sedentary nature of many peoples lives that I suppose walking down to the shops now requires an almost Olympian effort.
There was a time when only the rich had any choice about taking exercise. For the majority just the effort of putting bread on the table was exercise enough and the problem was that by the time that people reached retirement age they were simply worn out. Putting bread on the table is still a struggle for many but not a physical struggle. Exercise in this country is now very much a matter of choice.
But why this obsession with longevity? Surely it's the quality of life that matters not the length.  For me exercise is a real pleasure but that's just me and for others the idea of voluntarily getting out of breath or working up a sweat is just too boring for words. So be it. We all have to die of something.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The water is rising again.

Here we go again. Heavy rain is forecast for the UK tonight, rivers are full, the catchment is saturated and some parts of the country had a full months worth of rain in the first twelve days of January. If things continue like this we will certainly have another round of flood misery and despite the best efforts of  Environment Agency staff on the ground, we are woefully unprepared. The insurance industry will soon just wash their hands of the whole shooting match and move on to some better investment. Nothing short of a full scale national flood policy that covers everything from the location of new development, the re-evaluation of some existing flood plain settlement and a flood defence system that includes both soft and hard engineering will suffice. If just some of the wealth and endeavour that is being used to build investment properties for the international super-rich in London was diverted to flood defence and flood risk management we might be able to face the future with some  confidence. As it is we must just seek consolation in contemplating all that effluent contaminated water seeping over the door sills of all those Lamborghini's in the underground car park of another luxury block.

Monday, 12 January 2015

If God existed it would be necessary to abolish him. Mikhail Bakunin.

What do Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia have in common?  Well, they are all EU countries where it is against the law to take the piss out of religion; where the law against blasphemy is alive and kicking in the 21st century. Some of the countries on the list come as no surprise while others would appear, on the face of it, to be too progressive for such medieval nonsense. France did away with the law against blasphemy after the revolution but strangely it is still on the statute books of Alsace Moselle as the region retained it's old German law after the re-annexation by France. I would not be surprised to learn that trial by ordeal is still practised in some of the more agricultural parts of Eastern Europe.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Paris marches for Charlie Hebdo.

Perhaps a million people will gather on the streets of Paris today in a show of national unity against the idea that people can be killed for drawing. We can but hope that Europe will not allow itself to be consumed by sectarian violence. But I keep hearing that Islam is a religion of peace. Tell that to the people of Iraq where the death toll stands at 519 so far this year.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

God may not be great but sure causes a lot of trouble.

Yet more evidence that religious mentalists while they might be queueing up to be martyred, can't bear to be laughed at. God in his wisdom favours speaking only to those who are mentally ill or who seek political power and sometimes those who hear His voice are tainted with both of these maladies. It's a sad fact of life that mocking the afflicted is at times an essential activity, but as today's events in Paris confirm, it can also be a frighteningly dangerous one.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A great read but is this the same John Major?

I have been reading My Old Man, John Major's history of music hall. Of course Major was born to parents who had trod the boards as jobbing music hall artistes and political opponents later made the most of this, sneering in a way that implied that we should all have parents who were Marxist theoreticians or chairman of a knicker elastic company. Be that as it may, My Old Man is a wonderfully detailed history of the halls and the characters who worked them. Major writes movingly about performers who, no matter how rich and famous they became, never forgot where they came from and could reach out across the footlights to a working class audience and sing about a life that they had all experienced. Apart from his own parents, Major shows the most warmth toward the "Queen of the Halls", the wonderful Marie Lloyd. No respecter of authority and an outspoken champion of the underdog, Marie was an unofficial leader during the bitter 1907 music hall strike.  Is this the same John Major who happily sat in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet during the miners strike and later as PM himself oversaw the final days of the national coal industry and the devastation of so many working class communities? Surely not.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Grey vote. Foreward to the past?

If the pundits are to be believed the coming General Election will be all about the grey vote. Greytop coffin dodgers are the most likely section of society to bother voting so from the point of view of politicians with no other interest but the preservation of their own power it makes sense to suck up to the zimmer fusiliers. At last I feel as though I count for something. Mind you, even demented, soup stained has beens such as myself can see that not only does this bode ill for the young (serve them right for getting all that sex) but is probably not in the best interest of the nation. Now, where did I put my dentures? Oh yes. Her Indoors was using them to crimp the edges of a scrag end pie. I suppose that we should just be grateful that the dead, as well as the undead, can't vote.
Of course there is another way……….

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A bear like no other.

There is an old saying in the circus. "Rissley kids and slanging buffers, only the Lord knows how they suffers." A rissley kid is a child tossed about by a foot juggler and performing dogs are known as slanging buffers. The saying is referring to the exploitation of children and animals that has been a cornerstone of show business since the first strolling players plied their trade in the Fertile Crescent. Performing animals are a contentious issue but it has to be admitted that there is a world of difference between something pretty harmless such as dog obedience trials or performing budgies and the savage cruelty of dancing bears. Controlling a dangerous wild animal is problematical at the best of times and working with bears and big cats is always going to have the potential for things going terribly wrong. That frisson of danger is what draws the punters in. Only having complete control of the animal can keep the trainer safe and in the case of performing bears this was achieved by such delightful practises as nose rings and the removal of teeth and claws.
For many years there was a tradition of wrestling bears on the American wrestling circuits. The creature was usually muzzled and may have been de-clawed. The wrestler who worked with the beast would rely on his speed and skill to stay out of harms way until the time was up. It was not an edifying spectacle and certainly had very little to do with wrestling but I suppose that it got a few bums on seats. In the late sixties a young Scottish wrestler called Andy Robin was working the Canadian circuit when he took part in one such exhibition. Andy was fascinated by the experience and was determined to not only train a bear of his own but to do so by befriending the beast and making it a part of his family. The history of wild animal training is littered with the bones of trainers who lost concentration for a moment and paid the ultimate price. As the Grizzly Bear is considered to be one of the world's most dangerous animals there must have been many who thought that Andy Robin had taken leave of his senses when he obtained a grizzly cub and proceeded to play/wrestle with it as it grew up. Andy and his wife Maggie formed a bond with Hercules the bear that might be unique in the annals of animal training. Together the three of them had an adventure that went far beyond the usual wrestling bear act. Hercules became a film star and when he disappeared when on location in the Outer Hebrides the nation held it's breath until he and Andy were reunited weeks later.
Animal behaviourists don't seem able explain why this potentially deadly, 30 stone animal never betrayed the trust that the Robins had in him. You can keep Paddington, Phoo and the rest - Hercules was the bear for me.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Butler-Sloss sums it all up.

Lady Butler-Sloss thinks that only a pillar of the establishment such as herself would be capable of chairing the independent enquiry into child sex abuse. The horrendous old god botherer seems to be under the impression that only the sons and daughters of high court judges are capable of organising a piss up in a brewery let alone something as sensitive and important as this enquiry. There are of course thousands of men and women from all walks of life more than capable of doing the job. In one short statement Butler-Sloss sums up everything that is wrong with our forelock tugging society. The privileged minority who consider themselves the establishment are there because of the self-serving, self-perpetuating  system that they are a part of.