Showing posts from May, 2009


The other day I was collecting my tablets from a different chemist (tired of being asked by the woman at Boots why I don't claim my medical exemption and get them for free--I will do it when I'm not working thanks, and save the NHS £7.10 a month: I'm not an MP voraciously gobbling up every freebie I can get)--but anyway, I was collecting my tablets when I saw the gent in front of me get a methadone prescription dispensed. He took it out of the bag, opened the bottle, knocked it back like a shot of whisky, put the empty bottle on the counter and left. I was in the same pharmacist a few days later and I saw an entirely different person doing exactly the same thing.

Drugs. They aren't cool anymore, if they ever were. And they're definitely not counter-culture. They don't open doors to any kind of new mind that's going to topple the established order. All they appear to do--the harder variety anyway--is open doors to the poorhouse and then to your local A & …

Is Parliamentary Democracy Finished?

I stood outside the Houses of Parliament recently, as the controversy over MPs expenses gathered pace, and wondered what Britain would be like without its present system of government. Without so-called parliamentary democracy (I say "so-called" because you could argue that it fails in some many ways to represent the interests of the British public). We've had the present system for a long time now; but feelings are running so high as news pours out day after day of greedy or just plain criminal activities by our MPS, it's not a huge leap to imagine not only the government falling, which wouldn't necessarily be a shame, but the whole system of government in this country.

And that would be a tragedy. Democracy may be imperfect; it may serve the interests of businessmen and psychosexually deranged powerbrokers; it may abandon those who need it most before they are out of the cradle. But so far it's the best system anybody has come up with--at least for the manag…

spencer bridge alba

at seven in the morning,

walking in the rain to work,

there are horses on their bellies

in the fields across the river,

traffic halted on the bridge,

horns blowing.

just now

a cold, mind-cleansing rain,

birds tweetling like in china--

just now, putting out the trash


disgusting, how you smell

these days counts for more

than who you are inside.

and yet, who wants to socialise

with a guy who smells of socks and sleep,

however nice he is?


That's me. A stalker. I didn't know I was a stalker until a couple of weeks ago, but then I found out that I'd been one for two, maybe three, years. Someone I'd known for a long time told me.

Make no sense? Of course it doesn't. But then, gossip doesn't have to. An idea doesn't have to for it to take root in people's minds and shape all of their subsequent responses to a situation.

What I learned from this person, and confirmed with others because the revelation was so appalling, was that somebody I'd been friends with, but had stopped seeing, had told mutual acquaintances--most of whom we knew through work--that we'd stopped talking to each other because I was stalking her.

A bare-faced lie, but what does that matter? Those who knew me well knew from the beginning that it wasn't true; but everybody else--sadly a much larger number than the number of my intimates--took it either as a possibility or the very truth.

Which we all do, to be fair. Mo…

Who's Stealing Now, Mr. Media Man?

The BBC news this morning is reporting the scandal of MPs abusing public money with dodgy expenses claims, a story broken by the usually slumberous Daily Telegraph.

Now I'm an old leftist. As I stumbled into adulthood in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher was Queen and the Labour Party still had some principles to shed. I have since despaired of political solutions, but forgive a man whose attitudes were formed in that ideologically polarised time for not being able to understand why Labour Party politicians should claim thousands and thousands from the public purse for gardeners, cleaners, Sky subscriptions and mock-Tudor frontage to their houses. You'd expect such shenanigans from Tories. But representatives of the party that once belonged to the working man?

However, the BBC themselves should probably get off the moral high ground when it comes to reporting scandals about wanton rifling of the public coffers.

The radio show I heard the story on had two presenters, a third person to d…

Labour Is Collapsing

Hazel Blears is in one of the papers this morning acknowledging the Brown government's calamitous failure to communicate its message to the public. Naturally this is being interpreted, everywhere--even by the liberal media--as an attack on Brown's leadership. "YouTube if you want to," she says at one point, apparently, and then goes on to call for her fellow cabinet ministers and rank-and-file MPs to return to traditional electioneering methods.

Well, you can't really see that last comment as anything other than an attack on Brown, after his rather arbitrary use of YouTube to announce something or other recently. But I think old Hazel was seized by a little hubris there. She was just seducing herself with the cleverness (relatively) of the comment. The rest of the piece--or the selections I've heard--do sound like a genuine attempt to get real with the voters (although "getting real" is another transparent conceit of people with a superiority complex…