“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."