Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Election: Brown's Gaffe & The Clamour For Blood

It may be a tiny bit of a cliche, but someone has called the General Election a job interview with 60 million employers on the interview panel. (I think I have the population right.)

Now tell me truly. Is there anybody out there who hasn't, on occasion, met an interview panel when going for a new job, and after being sensibly gracious and friendly, told their family on the phone as they walked down to the bus stop what an idiot one of the panel was?

I have. Sometimes it was true and sometimes it wasn't. I was tired and stressed, in the latter instances, and my frayed nerves were affecting my well-known equanimity.

I've said different things to and about people more times than I can count, anyway, because it was expedient. Haven't you? I'm not especially proud of the times when I've done it, but expedient lies are the engine of the capitalist system.

This is why it irritates me to hear and read the apparently popular view that the real scandal emerging from yesterday's "bigoted woman" gaffe was the discrepancy between what the Prime Minister said to the hectoring voter, and what he said when ensconced in his car.

The hypocrisy doesn't belong to him, in my view. It belongs to anybody who imagines that Mr. Brown must be held to standards they themselves will abuse freely; who won't allow the poor man to give into a mentality of siege, at times, and say something that would be unworthy of him at his best.

This man who has finally achieved the post he coveted for his entire political career and now watches, helplessly puzzled, as it slips out of his hands. This man who has been subject to the most vile abuse a politician has suffered since Michael Foot 27 years ago and is expected never to sway with the punches.

This man who wanted to be a glorious leader and will go down in history, instead, as Blair's disastrous, unelected successor. The man who led Labour to electoral wipeout, and potentially to third place behind the Liberal Democrats.

His tragedy is positively Shakespearean to me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Election: That Key Word, Change

I wonder now whether there is a sufficient distance between the three major political to make voting for any of them worthwhile. After all, Labour has abandoned the unions and the strong stance it had on arms reduction when I became a Labour supporter in the early Eighties. It will support arms reduction, but only if America does it first. The Liberal Democrats support a degree of unilateral arms reduction but have a stance on unions that's no different, really, from the modern Labour Party's. And Labour, the Liberals and Conservatives will keep Britain in Afghanistan until the sky turns lime green and the rivers run with marmalade. We have "green" credentials tossed around by all the leaders in a kind of pathetic, insincere game of moral oneupmanship, but we know that when the fat is in the fire the environment will be sacrificed by the lot of them if it means keeping in with Business.

There is only one slight difference I can see between the so-called big three in 2010, and that's in how they think the nation should be taxed. Labour and the Liberals have a little bit more of a sentimental attachment to the idea of helping the needy. But that's really just a question of emphasis. The Tories are no more likely to allow people to start dying in large numbers on the streets than Labour or the Lib Dems are likely to feed up the Welfare State until it bursts and splatters us all with its revolting excess. So what's a voter to do if he or she wants the change the politicians all talk about but which none of them will deliver?

I've decided I'm voting Green. Everybody around me tells me my vote will be wasted if I do, but every vote for the mainstream parties is wasted when there is no substantial difference between them. So what difference does it make?

The point, it seems to me, is to stop trying to play a system that has compromise built in at its roots because it's always the important things that we wind up having to compromise to get our man into power.

More votes for a smaller party widens the debate, that's all. Real change occurs on the internet and in the streets and bars -- around firesides -- anywhere that people without a vested interest meet. It's been so from the start; I just forgot, the further away I drifted from those fine days in the Eighties when we cared, and got things done.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Domino Principle?!! Oh Dear.

Gordon Brown, on last night's Prime Ministerial Debate, said that Britain was in Afghanistan with the Americans because of the "domino principle" -- ie: that the other countries in the region will fall into the wrong hands if the enemy (is the enemy the Taliban now, or Al Qaeda?)  isn't stopped at its source.

His comment alarmed me considerably. The domino principle? That was the rationale behind American involvement in Vietnam forty years ago, and after the States had sacrificed some 50-odd thousand of its own youth in support of that unprovable supposition and left South Vietnam to the Communists, the only notable thing that happened in the neighbourhood was Cambodia falling to the Khmer Rouge, who made the Communists look like flower sellers. And that, history considers, was largely due to Richard Nixon's illegal and despicable bombing of Cambodian territory in the hunt for Viet Cong training camps.

The domino principle, in my opinion, and the view of switched on people who live in the area, does work, but only because of the presence of the occupying armies. Pakistan, at its most stable, could have dealt with the threat from the fanatics perfectly well without our help. But if the Taliban flee over the borders, and sadly, Gordon, all the evidence suggests that they have already, it will be to retrench in a territory not yet held by America and Britain. So now we're in Afghanistan and the really dangerous radical Islamists will be plotting terrorist attacks against us from a destabilised Pakistan.

Brown's citing of the domino principle is the fourth or fifth reason we have been given for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. I wonder why we're going to be there in June. Perhaps I'm naive; perhaps I'm an old peacenik who deserves a good crack on the head; or perhaps, God forbid, I'm right and if more people held my views the world would be an infintely safer and more pleasant place to live. But I still say discussion, from the position of strength that we have as a nuclear power and an economic leader in the world, is better than bombs and missiles. And military theory discredited forty years ago is certainly going to help no one.

I'm beginning to think I can't vote for a party that makes war so irresponsibly and at such a terrible cost to our sons.

Why Ads

Keen-eyed readers will notice the sudden appearance of advertisements on this blog. How the mighty have fallen, you may think. The incorruptible Bruce Hodder. The doyen of the moral high ground. I certainly would have said something similar, once upon a time (such as when I had an income).

But in the words of Bob Dylan, "I'm just the same as anybody else/ when it comes to scratching for my meat." (Not that I eat meat, but you know what I mean.) One thing I've noticed about them that's amusing: they're linked to the content of the blog, by some automatic process, which is ingenious to my antiquated mind; but the one thing that process can't measure is the shades of opinion in the references made. So my continual negative remarks about David Cameron led yesterday to the placement of a video in which he defended himself and the Tories.

I didn't want that on my blog really, but that's the price you pay when you give in and let capitalism consume you eh? At least I can claim I offer a balanced view of the political scene now though, even if it is by default.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't Make Me Chuckle (II): The Tory Party Is The New Friend Of The Gay World

It's amusing to watch the Tories trying to reposition themselves as a friend of what straight people tend to call "the gay community". Eric Pickles was seeking praise this morning for sending an "openly gay" envoy to Poland to pay respects (I think) to the family of the deceased Polish premier, whose name I won't attempt to spell, and engage in discussions with the former president's party, which is a Tory ally, about the anti-gay legislation in Poland.

I suppose it's an important development in terms of gay rights, whether the Tory Party is sincere or not, that they have been talking to campaigners like Thatcher's old nemesis Peter Tatchell. Even if they are vote-grabbing in the most unprincipled way, the Tories could be engineered into giving sanction to gay marriage, so that it stands on the same legal footing as the heterosexual equivalent.

And David Cameron may actually believe in what he's directing the Party towards. He may accept the proposition, as all civilised people should, that discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation is offensively medieval. But it must be driving the traditionalists in the Tory ranks, who I bet would constitute the majority of their members, quietly nuts to know they have to shut up and follow him if they wish to reclaim No. 10.

A thought to cheer the heart on a warm Thursday afternoon, that.

A Free Press? Don't Make Me Chuckle

The dangerously engaging Tory chairman (or whatever his role is) Eric Pickles said on the radio this morning, in defence of the frenzied attacks by some newspapers on Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg since last week's Prime Ministerial Debate, "It's what the other two parties have to deal with...We have a free press."

No, we don't. We have a press that's largely owned and dictated to by multi-millionaire businessmen who are using the papers to advance a political agenda that they, the businessmen, benefit from. Which is to say, the one advanced by the Conservative Party.

And the scurrilous attacks on Clegg (and the Lib Dems) by those papers haven't been endured by both the other parties at any time in my memory. The Daily Mirror may, like that king of legend attempting to hold back the tide (yes, I know he wasn't really doing that), try to slice and dice David Cameron in its fairly ineffective way; but that high-minded cultural review The Sun -- which is the real opinion-former in the country -- savages only Brown, and in a manner that would be illegal if it were done outside the political field. The Express, the Mail and the Telegraph distort the political truths more politely, but just as one-sidedly.

Given the violence of the media's opposition to Labour, it's remarkable that they're still in with a (distant) shout. And if I were Brown I would have said fuck it and quit the game ages ago.

The free press in this country is a myth. It may be that the only place you can find absolute honesty in relation to politics or anything else is in forums like this, on the internet, which the mainstream press regards with suspicion.

Yes. They haven't found a way they can buy it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"If time were like a passage of music, you could keep going back until you got it right," as Joyce Johnson said in her book Minor Characters.

When I think honestly for a moment about all the people I've been, it makes me want to run and hide down the nearest cellar.

A strange reflection? Perhaps one we all share as we approach, and then slip our knees under the picnic blanket of, middle age.

"Every place we go together it's like a pilgrimmage," my girlfriend said yesterday, as we walked around Kettering (where a bird defecated on my shoulder, which everyone assures me signifies good luck).

She's right. Memories are everywhere, and the compulsion to revisit them is overwhelming. It's as if your journey can't be rerouted away from the past and towards whatever lies ahead until you have been back to all the places that figured in it so significantly.

Little Harrowden, for me.
Wicksteed Park.
Emberton Park and Olney.
The streets and back alleys, the parks around Wellingborough.
The Railway Club.
Tresham College, Kettering.
Southbank and Elm Bank.

What a pity you can so rarely find the people who figured in your life as easily as you can find the places, especially when you've made as many huge, uncorrectable mistakes as me.

People die. Others can't forgive you.

It's the bleeding human tragedy we live with and usually we learn too late.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Leaders Debates: Ninety Minutes In The Company Of The Small And The Weird

I found the much-trumpeted Leaders' Debate on Domestic Issues rather dreary last night. Anybody well-versed in the arguments of the three main political parties probably would have done, as they only trotted out all the things they've been saying on the campaign trail already. What I was watching for, I suppose, was to see how they interacted; what they were like face to face without the pantomime elements of Prime Minister's Questions obstructing any meaningful analysis of the men themselves. But I was pretty disappointed.

Gordon Brown, of course, is famously dour. He can't help it. He looks, permanently, as if he's just come back from a funeral. David Cameron, to me, resembles a senior estate agent. He's slick, but the polish is just beginning to wear off because he's been in the game too long; and even when he tells you his name is David Cameron you suspect him of insincerity. Nick Clegg is liked by a lot of people I know but he looks physically small, and so clean and well-scrubbed he might be a schoolboy let in on the debate for practise. He is also, it seems to me, a poor orator. A lot of what he said last night might be true, or at least persuasive, but he phrased it in such woolly, imprecise, cliched language I was quite shocked to see the first polls after the debate had him coming out ahead. Who are you out there, English voters? What drugs are you taking?

David Cameron showed a strange lack of conviction for somebody who shouts his face off like a pretentious fishmonger every week at PMQs. Obviously somebody had told him to keep calm so that he looked "prime ministerial". The net effect, however, was to make him look as if he'd taken heavy tranquilizers to calm his nerves before the show. He made a couple of remarks that may have been intended as jokes during his speeches, but they fell flat with the invited audience. There was not a murmur of approval. Or disapproval, for that matter. The same was true of Gordon's gags. Mr. Brown had obviously been told to smile a lot to counter the impression the public had that he was permanently miserable, but he should have resisted the temptation; or at least smiled only when he was actually amused, as he seemed to be smiling at almost everything for the whole ninety minutes of the broadcast. And his smile only makes him look worse. It is a kind of leer straight out of the graveyard.

The overall impression of the three men, therefore, was that they were all equally unimpressive, if not downright odd, which is a little disappointing given that one of them will be running the country in a couple of weeks. And the debate, so-called, consisted mainly of name-calling, even when it came to Afghanistan. The friends I watched the show with came away from it with their pre-broadcast intention to vote Liberal Democrat unchanged and I came away from it still planning to vote Labour, albeit with the reservations every intelligent person should have about a vote cast for any political party. But if that pattern was repeated in households across the country you can't help wondering what the point of it was.

If these men are the best this generation can offer to the country you can't help wondering what happened, either. Where are the firebrands? Where are the orators? Where are the ideals that drive men and women of conscience into public office? Whatever happened to the Foots, the Benns, the Bevans, and yes, the Thatchers (much as I loathed her)? David Cameron doesn't even have the style to be crazy, like she did all those years ago, as she stomped around ripping our country to pieces.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brown & The Banks: Some Humility From London. How Refreshing.

This blog isn't intended just to be a fan page for Gordon Brown or the Labour Party. Far from it. I have questions and objections regarding Labour policy that could keep my vast readership here until Christmas; and there are elements of the Liberal Democrat approach (though I haven't read the manifesto) that I find more persuasive than I ever have before. But I found it refreshing to hear Gordon on the news this morning acknowledging that he'd been mistaken when, as Chancellor under Tony Blair, he didn't act on his instinct to regulate the banks. They assured him no regulation was needed and he accepted their assurances. Time, and the recession that followed, proved they were lying and Gordon Brown was wrong.

Commentators wonder how this unexpected admission of Mr. Brown's will play with the public. Whether it will be seen as a confession of liability for the recession, which damns him and Labour straight to the Opposition benches with no hung parliament in between. It might. I wouldn't be surprised if the newspapers and David Cameron presented  it that way; I fully expect them to say that the Prime Minister has condemned himself out of his own mouth, even though they know that the Tories would not have regulated the banks either, if they'd been in government at the time. Everybody except a few old-fashioned leftists nobody listened to presented unregulated banking as the road to unimaginable riches for all of us, in those more innocent days. And I don't have to tell you which coiffured oligarch foisted that policy on an unwelcoming nation in the first place, do I David?

Labour's biggest mistake, as far as this blogger is concerned, is that they followed the Conservatives uncritically. We warned of the folly of that when Blair declared in his peculiar grammatical formulation that a new era had dawned, had it not? And now we have the irony of a recession caused by Tory free-market dogma which Cameron says only the Tories can get us out of.

It takes a very big man to admit to admit he's made a mistake. Much bigger than the sort of man you tend to see in parliament these days. And it's only the man capable of such self-criticism , in my opinion, who is intellectually mature enough to lead. So regardless of my opposition to the Afghan War, Labour's commercialisation of higher education, and a hundred other policies I object to, Gordon's admission that he was wrong about the banks may just have helped me to decide who I'll vote for on May 6th. Even though I'm beginning to suspect, from fireside conversations and chats in pub gardens, that the entire British population may be going in another direction.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Be Honest, Mr Cameron, We Deserve That At Least

The nature of political debate, especially around election time, is rather depressingly childish in this country. Instead of convincing us of the rightness of their cause, all of the parties would prefer to destroy the credibility of the opposing view, and frequently by disingenuous or dishonest means. Everybody is a little right, after all. We could probably even find a crumb of truth in the blatherings of the Conservative Party, if we looked hard enough. What we should be doing is making an informed decision about which party seems the most right, according to our sensibilities and our outlook, and voting for them.

Take David Cameron's response yesterday to the news that three former Labour MPs were seeking legal aid to defend the charges against them relating to fraudulent expense claims. Yes, it is reprehensible that they should do so; but it was equally reprehensible for Mr. Cameron to be declaring in rabble-rousing tones out in the street that the Tories would seek a review of legal aid procedures once in government, so that disgraced MPs could never do the same thing again. He knows, unless he is spectacularly ill-informed, that the right to legal aid is already means tested in most crown courts, and that the same procedure is being rolled out for all crown courts in the next few months. But he preferred to make it appear, to a public who would probably not research the true facts, that the system under Labour was soft on the manipulation of welfare.

It is not, in this case, only the former MPs, scandalously identifying a loophole in the legal aid system, who should look to their consciences -- not that they, or Mr. Cameron, will bother I suspect.

Monday, April 12, 2010

They're Profoundly In Love With Pandora, But The Bard of Semilong Seems To Make Them Itch

The Chronicle & Echo seem remarkably unkeen to give me column inches. (Remember I wrote to them requesting space to counter their right wing anonymous "common sense" columnist Pandora?) Where does a freelance writer with an independent mind get a paying gig these days?

The Chron just doesn't want someone challenging their own nice, easy, lazy, conservative editorial stance I think. It's often described as the most typical town in England, Northampton, and the paper's view seems to be that the average reader of the Chron has an average intelligence and an average opinion about everything. Their present columnist Pandora's default setting of self-righteous indignation against political correctness and Gordon Brown and anything else that has happened in the UK since Margaret Thatcher left office suits that patronising view of their readers; and it probably comforts their advertisers too, who after all are local businessmen, and I would bet in 98 cases out of 100 Tory voters of extremely average intelligence themselves. They don't want someone getting into serious moral and ethical questions about the issues of the day, especially not from a liberal/ leftish standpoint as I do, quoting Kerouac and Leo Tolstoy along the way because a) they disagree with me personally, and b) in their vanity they assume all of their readers agree with them and would abandon the paper in droves if I were in it, thereby missing their advertisements. Which is very likely completely untrue and sells the whole population short, in my opinion (and you can take my opinion as average or not, as you please).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Modest Proposal

Do you know what would cause a wave of peace, tolerance and liberalism among the young? The reintroduction of the draft.

I'm not advocating that, by the way. I'm just pointing out how easy it is to support a war when all that you have to do is join a Facebook group saying you hate peace protestors.

Friday, April 09, 2010

There Is No Such Thing As Society, Arsehole

Even if we accept the Tory thesis that a hike in National Insurance will be a "tax on jobs", which I think is something that requires more intelligent and more objective analysis than either I, David Cameron, Stuart Rose or the editor of the Sun is capable of delivering, why are none of the newspapers or those legions of Tory-voting businessmen getting exercised about the £6 billion in "efficiency savings" the Tories are promising to make from public services?

Do we really believe that public services in this country are so bloated the aforementioned sum can be taken from them without savage cuts being made to things we really rely on as a community, like (and forgive my sentimentality) the Police, the NHS, Libraries, Social Work Departments? You might think we have no need at all of the last two on that list, given that most people either can't, or don't, read anymore and all Social Workers do is let dirty people strangle babies. But wait and see what sort of a society we have if you let those services go.

Of course, the rub, as Shakespeare would say, lies precisely there. Margaret Thatcher once famously said, "There is no such thing as Society," and for all his liberal posturing David Cameron doesn't believe there is either. (Stuart Rose may well be Margaret Thatcher's regenerated body in a suit and tie.) It isn't the responsibility of the State to do anything except free business to create riches for everybody, as far as Thatcher/Rose and David Cameron are concerned. Suggesting it has anything else to do borders on Communism.

Perhaps one of those folk, or their legions of supporters, would like to explain to me why, if that's how their brand of Capitalism works, nobody on my street or in my neighbourhood appears to have got a penny richer since Thatcher walked into Downing Street 31 years ago and delivered that weird, arrogant, delusional speech about bringing light where there was darkness and bread where there was hunger during her premiership ( I was so frightened by the look of glazed, evangelical conviction in her eyes that day I have blocked most of what she said out of my mind).

Maybe the Welfare State has turned us into fat, helpless oafs and the Tory Government that's undoubtedly on the way just needs to be freed that one extra yard to get rid of it altogether. That would sure as hell be an efficiency saving. Maybe they'll do that and then we parasites will all go out and work like Stuart Rose and Jeff Lebowski did and the streets of Semilong will flow with liquid gold.

There are very few people around here, incidentally, who don't give at least 40 precious hours every week of their lives to somebody making a hell of a lot more money than they are, but it could be that just knowing the dole office is there to stop our children from starving is what's making us soft. There are, after all, 168 hours in a week, and we spend a good deal of those asleep when we could be working.

It could also be that the Conservative Party has been mean, heartless,vindictive, and entirely wrong-headed right from the start; but I wouldn't want to complicate David Cameron's view of the world too much. We are only in the first week of the campaign, remember.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Interesting that David Cameron feels having some 70 completely impartial, entirely objective businessmen backing the Tories' stance on National Insurance supplies him with his most persuasive argument yet that raising NI constitutes a "tax on jobs".

Their overwhelming public endorsement of the Tory alternative view would have convinced me to vote Labour if Gordon Brown was calling for the invasion of the Moon.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Political News In Brief

Much loved Peer Peter Mandelson ate crisps while being interviewed on the radio yesterday. Many witnesses felt the incident proved how in touch the Labour Party are with the common man and said it had increased their resolve to vote Labour on May 6th.

Meanwhile in Northampton yesterday, incumbent Conservative MP Brian Binley pulled a six-month-old baby out of an Alsatian's mouth while canvassing, getting severely bloodied in the process but saving the life of the baby. "I am hurt, but there's nothing I won't do for my constituents," he declared, swatting away the attention of paramedics.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The General Election

Today, we are told, Gordon Brown goes to the Queen and the complicated constitutional process of preparing the country for a General Election is set in motion. I believe that means the Queen dissolves parliament and sends everybody back to their constituencies to catch up on what they have to pretend to care about for the next month.

The radio stations were full of it this morning. At least, the ones I listen to were full of it. I'm not a fan of that local Northampton station which tries to fit snippets of news in between the 95th airing of Cheryl Cole's latest three minutes of derivative drivel, and some delightful piece of nostalgia from the Eighties.

Most commentators are still talking about the possibility of a hung parliament after our votes have been cast and counted. The polls indicate it, apparently, because they continue to be close. But anything can happen in those four intense weeks between Gordon having tea and biscuits with Her Majesty, and the closing of the town halls and school assembly rooms on Election Day. And the Conservative Party has the majority of the British press behind it. One more ridiculous story in the Sun about Brown snubbing a returning Afghan war hero and whole swathes of a highly impressionable and instinctively right wing British public will be calling to have him burned at the stake.

This is my prediction, as much as it grieves me to make it: Labour will lose this Election, dear reader; maybe not by much, possibly by a crushing majority; but they will lose. And the Lib Dems, despite having a persuasive manifesto and an aura of purity and sanity about them that Labour lost when Blair took us into Iraq, will make a decent but ultimately meaningless showing.

The country has been turning to the Right for a long time. Maybe since Al Qaeda flew planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. Historians will tell you it's inevitable in times of war, especially when the country in question has a brutal imperialist history like our own and believes in its implicit right to be boss of everyone who doesn't resemble its brother; as well as the implicit rightness of everything it does, regardless of how manifestly wrong it might be.

Every other conversation I hear is about getting rid of the blacks and the Muslims, microchipping paedophiles, castrating sex offenders, destroying the self-serving swine in the unions, Gordon Brown working for the Taliban. This is no time for anything except flat-out, down-the-line traditional Conservatism, and everybody knows they're going to get that from David Cameron, whatever his PR people might be telling us now to lure out the wavering five-bedroom liberals who don't want an Arab moving in next door.

But as much as I believe the outcome of the Election is a foregone conclusion, and that almost everything decent and progressive in this country is about to be sold down the river again, I will continue to campaign for the alternative. What else am I going to do in the next four hellish weeks? Sit back and say nothing as my fellow Englishmen ruin my country? I'm too much of a bigmouth for that.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Jesus and Easter.

Somebody put a leaflet through my door about Easter last week. It was an invitation to a seminar (if that is what you'd call it) at one of the local churches about why Jesus died for my sins. Had a pretty accomplished picture of the Man Himself on the back of the leaflet wearing His crown of thorns, blood oozing from the wounds it made in His forehead.

I get lots of leaflets through the door in Semilong. It was one of the differences I noticed when I moved to Northampton after years of living in the country. Out there you get the free papers and not much else. But in the town you are bombarded daily by pizza houses, Chinese restaurants, charities wanting your old clothes (okay, it would take a mean cur to argue with that one), even -- perhaps this is peculiar to Semilong -- the Police boasting that they've driven the hookers away with this or that new programme.

Which is fine, although somebody ought to be considering the number of trees that have to die for this wastefulness. I just throw away everything except the charity bags, and those I tend (not deliberately I hasten to add) to leave around until the day after the collection date, when they are no longer useful to man or beast -- at which point they find their way into the bin also. But I can't throw away the leaflet about Easter.

It's because of the picture of Jesus. I'm not a Christian; I'm a Buddhist -- and half the time I'm not even sure of that, given the degree of anger and hopelessness that I harbour deep in my heart like a family secret. But somehow I can't bring myself to consign to the rubbish such a beautiful image of love and sacrifice. To drop it in with the egg shells and the empty bean tins and the porridge scrapings would be to tell myself, somehow, that the values He's supposed to have died for (however temporarily) don't have to be respected; and that would be a bad sign indeed for a society that seems to respect nothing at all, except money.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Easter is with us now; 2010 years ago today, if I have my chronology correct (which I doubt), didn't the crucified prophet rise from His tomb to prove to all who witnessed the event -- and all who heard about it, which is a fair few indeed -- that they would have eternal life in the Lord?  

I understand that. I was taught well enough many years ago at Sunday School in the village where I grew up, before Christians had begun hating homosexuals and accusing epileptics of being the Devil's battleground.

And that message must have left a deeper mark on me than I'd thought, through all my years of atheism and the hours on the meditation cushion, if I can't even throw away a leaflet with Jesus' picture on it. Maybe I will wind up "kissing the cross on my deathbed", as somebody, I think it was Jack Kerouac, said.

I doubt it. But if I do, I hope it's in the name of a friendlier Church than the one we are seeing today.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

What Would The Pastor Think in 2010?

THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote that about the inactivity of German intellectuals in the face of the depradations and ravages of Hitler. But it's as relevant today as it was then. Except that in Britain the majority side actively, not passively, with the authorities eliminating anything that gets in the way of their programme, which is the righteous accumulation of money. Look at the widespread condemnation of the strikes sweeping the country. Nobody has asked why they're happening. Nobody seems to be prepared to accept that some of those striking workers might have a case. They just want the strikers to be put back to work and reminded, as if the two were even remotely connected, that while they disrupt holidays to Bermuda and train rides to conferences in Manchester, "our boys" are dying in Afghanistan.

An employer, in the current selfish conservative climate, can stand in front of the tv cameras and strut and spit forth threats like Danny Dyer in a necktie; but the moment a union boss talks as if he gives two shits it's the end of civilisation.

Fuck principle, so the feeling seems to go in Britain in 2010. Principle is the sentimental luxury of the overeducated.  Principle only gets in the way of shopping.

Oh Hunter Thompson, where are you when we need you?

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Murder Threat

It would seem, unless I am being grossly paranoid again, that your beloved correspondent has been threatened with murder. In the comments field under the post about the Election I wrote a couple of days ago, someone has left the anonymous warning: "Drive carefully. It is not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker."

I responded, of course, by daring the author of that cryptic remark to identify and explain himself. I doubt he (or she) will do that, or that their threat was anything other than a spasm of indignation at the breakfast table about something I've written, forgotten by them as soon as they'd finished their morning ablutions.

It was the anonymous nature of it that annoyed me. I make my feelings public. I stand up for my beliefs, and trust me, I lose a lot of friends and make a lot of problems for myself in the process.Conviction comes at a price and if you're not prepared to pay it, you really have to ask yourself how strong your convictions are.

I can't complain too much about the murder threat itself, however. A close friend of mine (who generally agrees with me) has predicted that I will be blown up one day; but I did threaten to kill the managers at my previous company on Facebook one intemperate afternoon, so I'm not entirely blameless in the area of wild threats of violence. 

"I'd like to run them all through with a flaming sword," I wrote, only half-jokingly, when they'd upset my friend about something or other and she needed cheering up.

But I signed my name to that inflammatory piece (do you hear me, O would be assassins?), and got a one-week suspension and a written warning for gross misconduct as a reward for my elegant metaphor.

The Job Hunt: A "Disappointment" And Then A Satori

I had an invitation to an interview a few days ago. I didn't particularly want the job, but I do want money, funny little bundle of strangeness that I am. I was pleased, too, that it wasn't frontline care, which I have promised myself I will never do again, even if I have to sell my own kidney for a dinner. This morning, unfortunately, I got an email from the company telling me that the funding for my post has been frozen so interviews are off. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

I responded by firing off a challenge to my local paper the Chronicle & Echo to give me sufficient column inches, freelance, every week to counter the Tory-leaning copy pumped out by their writer "Pandora". Typical me, in a way, responding to a disappointment in the real world by withdrawing into fantasy. But sometimes fantasy becomes reality if you push hard enough at the door, and it's not like I haven't done the freelance journo bit before, albeit in my dad's magazine and a hundred unprovable years ago. So who knows what'll happen with that one?

The Chron would certainly be a better read if I had a column in it. Though I couldn't guarantee what would happen to the circulation when I really went to town on the Enemy.

Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Justice

Did you hear about the pet shop owner fined £1,000 and ordered to wear an electronic tag by the court because she sold a fish to a 14-year-old? Animal cruelty, they called it. Wonder how many of the people who sat in judgement of her were meat eaters.