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

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.