Tuesday, September 30, 2008

poem: rush hour

Blowing laughter down his nose discreetly,
the Chinese kid sitting next to me
looks at something funny on his laptop screen.
I have put down a book of poetry
to watch a long-limbed Polish girl
do nothing several seats ahead.

Ronald Baatz

I read a beautiful poetry cycle this morning. "Cemetery Country" by Ronald Baatz. It's part of a split chapbook co-authored by the fabulous Mark Weber just out on Zerx Press. The story of Ronald's relationship with his dad and the latter's final months battling (if that isn't completely the wrong word) Alzheimer's Disease. Poetry is poetry, you might think--pleasant, diverting, chuckle-inducing, but essentially a slight experience in this world of fast and cheap thrills. But "Cemetery Country" is brilliantly written and profoundly beautiful. After I'd read the last poem on the morning bus I had three waves of the shivers (you know, the kind you get when you're really moved) and a knot in my chest the size of a baseball glove. Read more about it, if you're interested, at whollycommunion.blogspot.com and investigate Baatz's whole body of work, as a matter of urgency. You'll kick yourself when he's not around anymore and you realise you've had such greatness in your midst.

Blocking the Bail-Out

It's not often I find myself in agreement with George Bush, but lordy lord, the dogmatism of those "fiscal conservatives" in Congress and elsewhere who don't seem to want Bush's Government to do anything to stop the economies of the West collapsing astonishes me. Sometimes, fellers, even when you hold a principle dear, you just have to admit that the game is up (even if it's only temporarily up); that people are more important than abstract ideologies. The American Communist Party did it in the 1940s when they threw their support behind the American Government in the war against Hitler. If the American economy goes down, half the economies of the world go down like a line of electricity pylons being dragged down by the fall of one in a lightning storm. And then there's darkness everywhere.

Of course, fiscal conservatives may be known for plenty of things, but compassion isn't one of them. What do they care about your suffering, as long as they keep their nice houses and big shiney cars?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman

There may be quite a lot of this on blogs written by what the media call "men of a certain age", but I'd just like to note my sadness at the death of Paul Newman last week. He stars in one of my favourite films ever, the little-known "Pocket Money", and plenty of other great movies besides. I hardly need mention "The Hustler" or "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" or "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid".There's also "Hud", "Hombre", "Absence of Malice"...The man was prolific and approached his job with a seriousness that was never self-conscious or pretentious, but resulted in a body of work that no other American actor can match in terms of quality.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Gory Tory

Yes, David "Call me Dave" Cameron may think we are stupid enough to be taken in by a cosmetic exercise in rebranding the same old product, but a Tory is a Tory is a Tory, end of (s)tory. This apparently affable, apparently liberal fellow, with his apparent distaste for what went before in recent Conservative (his)tory, is a supporter of blood sports, however much he tries to disguise his prejudice in the rhetoric of non-interference. The anti-hunting bill Labour brought in was a fudge, and a ludicrous one at that, but at least it was a step in the right direction. Now Cameron is committed to undoing it.

Most people left politics around the time Blair was elected. He made it seem a distasteful, cynical, manipulative art that men and women of principle should have no truck with, precisely because he emphasised style over substance, treatment over truth, in the way Cameron (his best disciple) is doing now. But with a Tory landslide now on the cards, and the repeal of the anti-hunting legislation a very real prospect, the time has come for people of principle to get back into politics. There are something like 14 Old Etonians in the higher echelons of Cameron's Tory Party--maybe even more. Do we want their bretheren rampaging through the fields murdering animals willy-nilly once again, as they were before 1997?

If you don't want that, get involved. I'd suggest a good place to start would be at
Stop Cameron, which is the internet home of a campaign against the repeal of the hunting ban and the most prominent public supporter for that. A Cameron victory at the next election would be a disaster for everybody, but for foxes it would be Apocalypse Now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wake Up And Smell The Tory

Newspapers today are reporting that the Tories will win with a majority of (I think) 146 seats at the next election, if present poll ratings don't change.
Terrific. We are sleepwalking back into the 80s. And anyone who thinks the Tories have changed would obviously believe he had moved house if you crept in and put up different wallpaper in his living room. Show the Conservative Party you're not as stupid as they think you are, I urge you.
They are still opposed to strong unions. And David Cameron himself is a supporter of blood sports. He has referred to fox hunting as a traditional country pursuit he doesn't think it's appropriate to legislate against. Never mind the cruelty. Never mind the death.
Those are just two examples of how the Tory Party of today is no different from the Tory Party of Margaret Thatcher. If they aren't enough for you I will gather more in the days and weeks to come.

The World Looks Nice Today

Third day off work today and I woke up this morning after a good long sleep feeling quite wonderful. Read a little, listened to Willie Nelson's old "Shotgun Willie" album as I dressed, walked outside into a beautiful cool bright autumn day to catch the bus, easy in myself and happy with other people...I am a human being again rather than a bundle of stress and anguish lashing out in all directions and wondering which disaster is going to befall me next. Tomorrow I go back to work.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who Winds Up Bleeding

You'd think I was two different people. Here I offend without meaning to, just by speaking by mind. At work I am often condemned for being "too nice". I am "soft", apparently, "afraid of confrontation". Which is total shit, of course. I am just more cautious at work because I know that truth is one commodity that isn't valued in the workplace, unless your truth happens to coincide with the boss' truth. So many managers in the world of work--and it's not a new thing--are like Shakespeare's King Lear: they want to hear what is convenient and makes them feel good about themselves, and will genuinely believe (because they identify, egotistically, their own cause with the common cause), that somebody who opposes them is making trouble and trying to dismantle the whole apparatus. (Perhaps you aren't drawn to the idea of leading people unless you are vain, insecure and capable of huge, fatuous, self-deceiving rationalisations.)

So, I flatter and deceive to gain advancement? I don't think so; I've been doing the same job in different companies for ten years now, so I'm hardly rising like a comet through the ranks by fair or foul means. But I do hold my tongue. Doing so is probably the prime cause of the stress I carry away from work with me, into my otherwise serene life of friends and country hikes and books-and-pinball in the Lookout. And given my union advocacy and strong views about Capitalism I probably have to be more cautious than most. They say it's a free country, kids, but scratch the surface of any democracy and it's you who'll wind up bleeding. I am even a little nervous about setting these views down here; but I've got to be able to free my mind of it somewhere.

Some have said I am an idealogue. I probably am, though my views are more complex than most of my critics seem capable of understanding. Some who know me well have accused me of reducing human beings to black-and-white stereotypes of good and evil, primarily on the basis of their economic position. I don't think that is true, since Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson are great heroes of mine and they are tremendously rich, and I have an instinctive snobbish dislike of uneducated working class people spitting in the street and chomping burgers on buses (I'm not proud of that, but it's there). But I do see the relationship between rich bosses and struggling employees as a contentious one, based on exploitation and oppression, one the boss dominates by conning and bullying the employee into obedience (this is largely the state of the workplace in modern Britain); I do see their relationship as one in which the employee must at all times be alert, looking out for the con, and prepared to defend himself or herself to protect his (her) own interests. If the interests of employer and employee are synonymous, as the rich Capitalist would have us believe, I'm a Dutchman.

So I will usually side with my fellow employees at work, unless they have made a client pregnant or stolen a hundred quid from the cash box. Which sometimes gives me the appearance, to my bosses, of being over-conciliatory, not having as much spine as colleagues who don't mind bawling out a fellow employee within earshot of the manager to show how well they're doing personally. "Look at me, boss, I don't mind endangering someone else's income by exposing them to you. Now, how about that bonus, eh?" I do mind, unfortunately. I don't necessarily want my fellow employees to be my friends, but I do want to be a friend of the man I see in the bathroom mirror in the morning when I get out of bed and decide not to shave again.

I wonder if there'll be more brotherhood in the workplace when the New Depression hits and these workplace prefects and sell-out bullies realise they need a bit of back-up to protect their own previously-secure incomes.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Free, And Cared For

Whenever I oppose the idea of an unrestrained free market I am called a Communist and reminded that Karl Marx's theories foundered in the vicious, repressive, One-Party behemoth of Soviet Russia.

That is the argument of another century now.Soviet Russia is gone. Even China has become a quasi-capitalist state within the boundaries of its totalitarian rule; and in case anybody hadn't noticed, my vituperation is equally fierce when I'm talking about China.

The key to my opposition to an unrestrained free market lies, if it's really necessary to spell it out, in the word "unrestrained".

I am an individual, perhaps even an individualist (though I'm not so sure about that). I would probably live less successfully under a totalitarian regime than most, given that even in an atmosphere of supposedly complete freedom I'm still out of step. (I say "supposedly" because the pervasive influence of mass media in modern capitalist societies makes every third or fourth person look identical. And think identically.)

I would choke on the socialistic rhetoric spewed out by the propaganda machine in China. But probably only because it is as false there as it was in Soviet Russia. Let China open itself up to meaningful union activity before it can claim any genuine connection to socialism.

(Wo)man is designed for more than the accumulation of things. In that respect modern Capitalism and Socialism are both flawed, because they are both materialistic philosophies.

But if the production and exchange of crap is the only way human beings can come up with of organising our society, is it such a difficult balancing act to ensure that everybody in that society should be simultaneously free, and cared for?

After all, if it's important your dreams are fulfilled, how much more important is it that the billions of human beings around you should enjoy the same? In saying that, the Dalai Lama, vilified by China and tolerated politely by Western leaders, makes more sense than anyone I've ever heard.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm Afraid It's The Clap, Mr Greedy

The people who work in the City and on Wall Street, facing the threat of economic collapse, remind me of a man who has slept with a prostitute and now sits anxiously awaiting the results of a test for venereal disease.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Acceptable Price To Pay

The prophesies of economic chaos being bandied about at present--by the few who seem to have noticed it's happening--remind me eerily (and wearily) of the early 1980s. Do we really have to go through that, or worse, again?

When the economy goes tits up the media reports fulsomely on bankers and executives losing their jobs. Today the newspapers are full of it. By they will be okay. Most of them will have put enough money away during the good times to see them through the bad times in a comfort comparable to what they've already enjoyed.

It's the lives of ordinary people that are wrecked. Their dreams taken away from them. Their one chance of living the storybook life they wanted stolen by circumstances they have no control over. The privation and degradation they are set to experience in the next couple of years will mark them forever.

Ask anybody who lived through the 80s at the rough end of Thatcher's economic miracle why they hate the Conservatives so passionately and believe the System is inherently poisonous, and you will see how deep the scars of the times we're facing once again can run.

And we hear that the coming recession (if it isn't a full-blown Depression) has been at least partly brought about by the unrestrained greed of the children of the Thatcher/ Reagan revolution speculating on deals that never had a chance of working to take their fat bonuses and run to the Hills.

I wonder if this time Society will learn. I wonder, and I think not, since this is what happens in Capitalism and the people who sit at the top of the pile seem to think the decimation of every second or third generation is an acceptable price to pay for their monstrous profits.

You Don't Sound Like You Think You Sound, Boss Man

Save me--please!--from workplace managers who say "shit" and "fuck" and "face like a smacked arse" because they think they are relating to the troops.

Or worse, because they think they are Keeping It Real. Since when was it inherently truthful to use the language of Shakespeare as if you were in the school playground?

Is this 2008? or 1888?

The elegant people are all on the shop floor now, since Thatcher and unrestrained capitalism put power in the hands of so many vicious little barrow boys.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

White Flags And Snowballs

The radio was full of talk about a challenge to Gordon Brown's leadership this morning. Nomination papers have been requested by a small number of Labour MPs. Not enough to force a challenge by the terms of Labour's Constitution, but enough, the disgruntled MPs are said to hope, to embarrass Brown into a contest.

Unless the anti-Gordon brigade have a Tony Blair or a new Nye Bevan in waiting, of course, a leadership contest right now will hand the election to the Tories tied with a nice white flag. And I suspect there is no young lion waiting to galvanise the party and the British public with a new idea or a bold restatement of Labour's traditional values. The name of David Milliband is often bandied about, but he'll be associated too closely to the present administration in the public's mind (and the public loathe Brown)to take Labour into the next election with a snowball's chance in Hell of winning. To me, anyway, he just looks and sounds like a bank manager. What does he stand for? What does he believe? Why is he in the Labour Party? Like most of his cabinet colleagues, ambition has made him so cautious--not to say, possibly, duplicitous--in his speech and writing no one really knows.

I hope Brown remains as PM and I hope Labour win the next election. I think there is some chance of the former happening, and no chance of the latter. But it may be, as I've said before, that what the party really needs is to be comprehensively defeated by Cameron. A few years in Opposition watching Cameron and the Conservatives show their true colours may help those who have been softened by too many good meals at Westminster remember exactly why they sought the job of MP in the first place.

It might also help the fickle public focus on the cost of accepting everything a politician says just because he knows how to smile when he says it--although even after we have learned to our not-very-great-surprise that the cute new Tory Party remains racist, homophobic, rooted in elitism and culturally ignorant, there will doubtless be a lot of Little Englanders out there who still think they're the best thing since God gave the civilised people of the world Waitrose.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One Minute Poem

No short hair.
No shaven face.
No designer shirts,
trousers, shoes.
No useless widescreen
or sound system
to play
Jack Elliott on.
No fast car.
No shiney car.
No car with
aerodynamic features.
Yes sir?
No sir!
I won't accept
every last thing
my bosses tell me.
Ambition? No,
not one drop,
I only want
to sit out in the fog
at breakfast.
Sleep all

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trying To Be Brilliant, Not Pleading To Be Known

I move, intellectually, in a triangle between politics, religion and poetry. In the past one has always been in the ascendant at a particular time of the year. I'm obsessing on the iniquities of the Tories, or thinking about nothing except my zazen cushion, or I'm writing reams and reams of haiku and whatever. Lately I've been trying to find a balance between them all so that I can find time to indulge each without neglecting the others. Abandon this habit of phases for this or that. And I've been doing all right, though poetry still suffers a little bit.

I have seriously fallen out of love with publishing poetry. I have done it--not as often as some, but I've done it. So it's not the rationalisation of a defeated man. I'm just struggling to believe there's any merit in it anymore. Does publishing mean you are any good? You'd think so, but so much of what is published (I include mine) is mediocre, or average, or uninteresting. So much of it does nothing to advance the craft or help us look into our lives and our world with deeper understanding. So little of it is magical. You read Basho or Issa and inwardly you go, "Aww!" feeling wonder at the quality of their minds or the beauty of their language stirring in your breast. You read Tu Fu or Li Po or Richard Brautigan or d.a levy or Ronald Baatz and it makes you laugh and cry and see the world with new eyes. How much of what you find on MySpace makes you do that?

Perhaps it doesn't have to do that, but that's what I'm looking for. A lot of the time it seems that all you have to do to get published is know the right people, or write a competent poem in the tone that suits an editor's prejudice. Or sound just enough like Bukowski or have just enough references to booze and worms.

I can do that if I set my mind to it--I can do all of that--but at the moment I really don't want to.So I write poems for my own pleasure instead, using some of the poets mentioned above as touchstones. Trying to be brilliant rather than pleading to be known. Whether it works or not in the long run only time will tell.

When a poem that rivals Basho is tossed into a bin bag and thrown into a skip to fortify the karma of the crows and blackbirds at the rubbish tip.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Labour And The Unions

The appearances of Alastair Darling and Gordon Brown at the TUC conference have illustrated clearly what we already knew: the Labour Government is not a friend of the Trade Union movement, even if many Labour MPs are. Maybe a Labour Government can't be. Maybe it shouldn't be. Maybe a government of any colour, functioning properly, should be a kind of Solomon-esque father arbitrating between the vested interests of the nation, siding neither with the working man and woman nor business.

The problem we have here, though, is that the Labour Government doesn't stand apart from the fray like a wise and indulgent father. It tends to side with business, just like Tory governments do. And yet Labour are partly funded by massive investment from the unions.

I think the time has come to ask whether this benefits the unions anymore, if it ever did. Perhaps we should now consider removing funding from Labour and putting it into building our own cause independently through promotion, education and public works. If the money we are pouring into Labour provides us with no useful return (we haven't even seen Thatcher's anti-union legislation repealed since Labour came to power eleven years ago), why do we keep pouring?

To provide balance, you might say, to the political scene. Perhaps that would have been true at one time, but now Labour and the Tories are trying to occupy the political centre ground, where is the real difference between them?

On the back benches, you might say. And you'd be right. On the Labour back benches there are a large number of genuinely pro-union, pro-working man, traditional Labour minds. But because of the ineptitude and lack of conviction shown by the Government, most of them look set to lose their seats at the election anyway.

Suppose withdrawal of union funds caused the Labour Party to collapse (if the catastrophe of the next election doesn't). Would that matter? True, there is a proud history in the party. Great men (Bevan, Benn, Michael Foot) have stood under its banner and great things (such as the National Health Service) have been given to the country and the world by Labour.

But it ceased to be that party a long time ago, probably around the time John Smith died and opened the door to New Labour; and the disappearance of Labour as was didn't wipe its achievements from history. They will lay there for rediscovery by new generation for as long as there is history.

And those men who still stand for the traditions--for what is right and just for the ordinary working man and woman--won't cease to exist if the party they currently represent (somewhat bogusly given the nature of its leaders)ceases to exists. Let them run as independents, funded if it's appropriate by unions in their locality, or anybody else whose interests they genuinely defend.

They might even do a lot better at the polls, freed from the taint of hypocrisy and compromise laid on them by association with the fellows who are currently (but not for long it seems) following their advisers and PR men down the corridors of power.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Palin: The Books She Tried To Ban

I know I said I was quitting American politics, but you can't expect me to break the habit overnight. Here, just in case you haven't seen it, is a (believe me) massively edited list of books Sarah Palin attempted to ban when she was a Mayor in Alaska.The truth, perhaps, behind the Mr Smith Goes to Washington act Palin put on so successfully at the Republican Convention. Prepare to be appalled.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
My House by Nikki Giovanni
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Addendum 10th September As Kim points out in the comments field, it seems there's a degree of uncertainty as to whether this list is accurate. I say seems because I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Republican fixers retroactively massaging the facts to make our favourite moose-hunting Creationist hockey mom look a little less appalling. What we know for certain is that when Palin became Mayor of Wasilla she asked the Chief Librarian how she would respond should she be asked to remove books from the shelves. The Chief Librarian said (and good for her) that she wouldn't. But whether or not the list is accurate (and I'd love to know where it came from if it wasn't), the principle is the same. Palin would be prepared to contemplate censorship of books that have been selected by reasonable and moderate people according to nationally-agreed criteria. Perhaps she should be Vice President in China. Of course, they don't have elections there, but given Palin's apparent disdain for democracy that probably wouldn't disturb her. Bruce.

Poor Gordon

Every time he smiles he looks like his lips are being parted from his teeth by invisible wires operated by tiny electrodes planted in his hair. The electrodes activated by brain impulses whenever a faint memory of how Tony Blair used to meet the press or the public arises in his mind.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Sort Of Prayer For Ramadan

Good luck to all the Muslims I know and their brothers and sisters across the world in Ramadan. I hope you come through it purified and with clear vision so that you can liberate yourself from the suffering put upon you by oppressors from within the Muslim faith as well as those who oppress you from without.
Peace, love, tolerance of opposing views and forgiveness of transgressions against you are the key to spiritual advancement, in my humble Zen Buddhist opinion. And maybe I've been lucky, but every Muslim I've ever spoken to has had all of those qualities in abundance.
Let's not curse the many because of the iniquities of the few, eh? Bruce.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Mourning In America: Why Suffolk Punch Is Quitting American Politics

he who knows does not speak. he who speaks does not know ~ zen proverb

I resolved this morning to stay away from the American presidential elections. I heard Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican Party Convention last night and I was quite depressed by how snide and negative it was, how cheap and obvious it was, how one-dimensional and cliched her characterisation of herself and her opponents was--and worse, how much her audience and the media seemed to relish it, all of it. Every carefully-worded sentence of mean-spirited, transparently fake, folksy bullshit that she uttered. This woman is Ronald Reagan dressed up as Loni Anderson in a "Barbie Goes to College" B-Movie from 1983, but if that's what people want, who am I to argue?
I don't understand them or their world. If anybody thinks that speech was anything other than an exercise in skilled manipulation of the electorate by invisible men dedicated to anything other than getting the party that serves their interests into government, again, and then getting rich--well,we speak different languages. I don't think I should be wasting my energy trying to convince them that they're wrong. If McCain and Palin are elected, black people will suffer, homosexuals will suffer, intellectuals will suffer, people of different religions will suffer, other countries will definitely suffer (unless they kiss America's posterior like England does); but that has always been the way when Republicans were elected to the White House. Mourning in America. What good does it do for me to suggest there might be a better way? Those who already know don't need telling, and those who voted Republican either don't care, or will never be convinced.
All it does, my intervening fruitlessly, is give me a headache and let loose anger to stalk through my breast like a panther, disturbing my meditation and my sleep.
Perhaps, by the same token, I should quit interfering in British politics as well. If I can do something constructive, something that will bring about actual change rather than just satisfy my own raving ego, which is really what I'm doing with the political commentaries on this blog, perhaps I should put my energy there; and spend the rest of my time pursuing understanding on the zazen cushion, or writing poetry.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Why Vocational Education Is Harmful To The Man

Children staying on at school for longer I applaud. But the discussions today about the wondrousness of the new vocational courses they will be able to opt into, I condemn (like a lone, small dog barking in the wind five miles from a busy street). The Director of Schools (I think that's his title) says children will have to have reached a certain level of literacy and numeracy before they can opt out of traditional subjects and into vocational ones. But you can bet the bar won't be set very high for that. And a human being is about more than the job he does. He is going to face more in life than he can deal with only having learned how to work in a particular area of trade or business. His spirit will yearn for things he can't even put a name to. And the disjunct between what he needs on a spiritual and existential level, and what he has been given the emotional and intellectual vocabulary to identify and tackle, will likely leave him a dissatisfied, depressed or even an angry man. I'm sure this is where a lot of the social problems we have in the world come from already. How much worse is it going to be if the impoverishment of education and learning is allowed to continue?
I say put children to the study of world literature, languages, philosophy, history, religion. Make a man, an informed and rounded man, then send him out into the world and let him learn whatever else he needs to know when he gets there. Because a man with a proper--and by that I mean classical--education is a man who will be ready for anything. He may even be the man to figure out whether the things he's encountering in the world are fitting for a species capable of crossing universes with a single thought, and if not, identify a new direction for us. But that may be, unconsciously, one of the reasons why the people turning the wheels of the current System don't want him.

The Secret Millionaire

I caught a bit of that show "Secret Millionaire" at work yesterday. You know, the one where the millionaire goes incognito into situations where people are working for no reward just to help others and then gives a wad of cash to the most deserving of them. It's a really moving programme, if you can ignore the Victorian political subtext. The millionaires (it's a different one each week) turn out to be surprisingly warm, deep human beings--though as Sheldon said, they'd have to be anyway to be attracted to the idea of doing such a show.
The real heroes, however, are the volunteer/ charity workers. The last time I saw the show, a few weeks ago, the millionaire was volunteering to work with children in a desperately deprived area of (I think it was) Manchester. This time it was with homeless people in London. And the workers he found immersed in the struggles of these poor sods were giving their time, mostly for nothing, in circumstances that must be pretty dangerous or at least emotionally harrowing, just so they could give a hand-up to somebody who really needed it. That's all. There was no profit for them, no glory, just the knowledge that they were doing what was needed, where it was needed. And to a (wo)man they looked much too humble to take any pride in it either.
What a pathetic and useless ego trip this blog seems to be by comparison.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I applaud Barack Obama's statement about keeping Sarah Palin's daughter and her pregnancy out of the presidential campaign. It's about time someone brought the class back into politics (especially at a time when the Republican Party are using every means at their disposal, including bogus insinuations and outright lies, to derail Obama). What I think should be investigated assiduously is why anybody would have the unmitigatedly dreadful taste to call their children BRISTOL and TRIG. The first time I saw her I thought Palin imagined herself a character in an Eighties tv mini-series based on a Judith Krantz novel. Now I know the names she has inflicted on her offspring I'm certain.