Latest Entries »
One year to the day I dared to dream
a Cheshire cat who got the cream
cross seas and thru where once was home
to Harbour Bridge and Opera dome
the day that passed will e’er reman
with vision of you just the same
the gentle touch surround my face
with glowing brush of softest grace
I pine for times between us close
and fight the demons most morose
to seek to look, perhaps to find
the happiness I left behind
for you the cause of so much joy
enlightened as you did this boy
who never felt now such the loss
where life reveals now sanded gloss
I pray you well my sweetheart fair
as I sit here and you lay there
in other life I hope to find
better circumstances us will bind
for now I can but weep, lament
whimper dark and malcontent
the world holds no more which to smile
the streets and screens no more beguile
without the dawn to hear your voice
an endless slumber would be choice
yet wake I do, albeit late
to drowsy frown and cursing fate
for in all I see and all I do
the constant essence hints of you
the anchors and routines I know
the signing off of love, Coco
Song Of The Day ~ Led Zeppelin – Thank You
I was minded to write this following a couple of statements made not so very long ago by senior politicians from the Labour Party in the UK. I should explain to those outside the UK who do occasionally stop by, that the Labour Party is the one that would at least until the 1990s have been as the party on the left. It remains to the left of the current Conservative party but it is now a very active proponent of neo-liberal economics rather than anything even remotely Keynesian. This shift started some time ago and a move toward a more social democratic position as distinct from Socialism was clear from the 1980s but the death of Labour leader John Smith in 1994 allowed the Bilderberg-fuelled neo-liberals to transform the party into something the founders would have felt was an anathema to all the original ideals for which it stood, more akin in fact to the one it was formed to stand against. A party designed to protect privilege a little less unfairly than its competitor, a party more inclined to throw some crumbs from the table rather than eat the whole meal in front of the impoverished. It is almost the more contemptible for that. Almost.
The shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls (no that is actually his name!) is in what one might to an extent think a strong position. The current incumbent in government is a detached, self-righteous arse and wedded to the austerity agenda wholeheartedly, of course he would be these are all measures that will not affect him just as they will not affect the vast majority of the politicians who are telling us how important these things our for our own prosperity. And yet the majority of people have never seen the sort of prosperity it is claimed is being protected on their behalf. What these people see is their pensions being eroded, health service in disarray, house prices going to a level that is beyond even the dreams of the common person let alone the actual reach thereof. Fuel and overall energy prices rise, petrol prices may have stabilised but that is an inevitable short-term thing and yet people are being talked to as if children again akin to being told that one has to eat one’s greens because think of the starving folk in Africa. The politicians on the other hand have very often some serious prosperity and can claim lots of expenses from the taxpayer in order to help them enjoy it. They say it’s hard to live on £67,000 something a great many millions in this country I suspect would like the chance to check on to ensure they agree.
Well Ed Balls has no plans to deviate on the austerity agenda, no what the compassionate man has said is ““Without fiscal discipline and a credible commitment to eliminate the deficit, we cannot achieve the stability we need.” He does not address the hideous inequalities that are ever growing he does not talk about the redressing of the balance for the most marginalised. He does talk about the protection of the NHS because of course this is a vote winning strategy for the middle classes, after all he doesn’t expect to need to court the disaffected and poorest, they all live in safe Labour slum seats.
And then there is the Machiavellian figure of Tony Blair, hanging around like an acrid stench in the air foully polluting anything and everything with which it comes into contact. Blair was the main driving force behind Labour’s switch to a more right-wing stance that which would in say the 1960s have been seen as the ground of the Conservative party, which had itself since the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher moved considerably further to the right. It wasn’t as if the Conservative lurch had sucked Labour with it, it was more that Labour chose to follow and indeed then to set the agenda for the centre-right to such an extent that it almost forced to Conservatives to continue the trend mollifying those at the more marginal end of the spectrum who might otherwise have been seen as bigots, racists and the overall far-right.
The excuse for Blair’s reforms was to make Labour electable, that something needed to be done to erode the Tories heartland. In my opinion it is likely given the utter disarray and catastrophic unpopularity of the Tory party in 1997 that if Labour had stood on the overt principles of the Communist Manifesto they would still have gained a Parliamentary majority. (Partially because there are plenty of principles within said document that people would not be at all averse to were they not to know whence it came).
Now Blair is coming in like a deposed Tory Prime Minister sticking his oar in and claiming that Ed Miliband, at best centre-left, is too far to the left for Labour to win the next election. Blair referred to a poll in May 2014 as indicating that it could be an election ‘in which a traditional Left-wing party competes with a traditional Right-wing party, with the traditional result’. Asked if he meant a Tory win, he said: ‘Yes, that’s what happens.’ He denied the political centre ground has shifted as a result of the financial crisis. ‘I see no evidence for that,’ he said. ‘You could argue that it has moved to the Right, not Left.’
Errr… if it’s moved to the right doesn’t that mean it’s shifted Tony…?
Lest we forget Blair was also the man who not only led the country into an illegal and unfounded war but claimed it was in effect his religious duty to do so. Blair and Bush were the prime escalators of the current mess, Bush’s motivation was clearer, he wished to finish Daddy’s work, not a smart reason but a reason nevertheless. Blair was either a religious zealot or a gullible idiot and much as I intensely detest the man I do not think him the latter at all. Much has been written as to how much the UK & US knew about the supposed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Let me just say this, either there would be receipts (and the US used to frequently sell Iraq its arms having set it up in effect to firebreak from Iran) or there would have been factories manufacturing it over a long period of time. I’d imagine that would have been spotted after all they’ve known where Iran’s factories are and they aren’t even making weapons.
Naturally after all his zeal and after the exit of Bush, Cheney and the lucrative rebuilding contracts that were exacted Blair was installed as the Middle East Peace Envoy, a more ironic appointment I would have thought there has not been and I’d go so far as to say it has to rival Henry Kissinger’s Nobel Peace Prize. So if Tom Lehrer was ever likely to come out of retirement Blair’s arrival would have sealed his silence.
The difficulty now is we have reached a stage where it appears to be the end of dissent in quite the sense it was before, or is this hyperbole? Well perhaps a little because what has happened is the mainstreaming of a quelling of descent that has taken place more covertly across the world for many years. The surveillance, the “security” and “anti-terror” legislation is such that we might have thought it dystopian reality had we had it presented to us 25 years ago
BBC journalist Tim Willcox has apologised for a comment made which was undoubtedly ill-directed and in poor taste and was dismissed by the person to whom it was asked, as was her right. However why has such a furore as has met Willcox not been dished out to Rupert Murdoch’s amalgam conflating Islam with religious extremism? Islamaphobia is talked about as a phenomenon and the righteous get very cross and worried about this whilst the mainstream media are allowed to peddle hatred and filth and an absolute perversion of a creed that they get very upset about should it be applied to theirs. At the same time they whip up furore at the disaffected, the young joining the cause in the Middle East, why they say why do they do it? Perhaps they have not really looked at the course they the establishment has plotted over the last 25 years. This is not just about religion it is about the complete disenfranchisement of huge sections of society. You might say it was ever thus after all “the blacks, the dogs and the Irish” took more than their share of stick in their time but that was ignorance and not deliberate policy. The muslims are only one, but they are the dangerous one so they make the headlines. The disabled are another but they aren’t glamorous enough to make the news and besides those that might have generally killed themselves from having been denied the dignity of human life and made to feel like spongers on account of conditions and diseases and the factors they have with which society disables them. And then there’s just the common or garden poor. Well, they’ve got food banks now and even Norman Tebbit thinks not all the people using them are scroungers eating junk food anymore. But he did up to a few days beforehand.
We have an upcoming election and this is once again to be fought on the policies of negativity, ‘if you don’t like what they’ve done then vote us’ or ‘if you don’t want them getting in then vote us again.’ Only no-one really voted for things to be as they are and now there is a new mainstream movement of ‘if you don’t like it you can fuck off back where you came from.’ Parallels with dark periods in the past are easy to make but you know when they are valid when you see how much they chill you as you look at them. I feel distinctly disquieted.
Yet I see no alternative except in the case perhaps of one party which has less right-leaning credentials. This is the Green Party and it has been all but marginalised from the media coverage whilst the bigoted ‘no room at the inn’ party gets feted for its shaking up of British politics.
So the fact is what we will end up with is a succession of parties with capitalist ideologies and intentions, call them the new right, old right, new left, red tories, blue-rinse, UKIPers it doesn’t matter because the fact is they are all selling the same ticket and it is one which has led to the despicable mess the country is now in, you choice is merely whether that trend to feudalism is a quick one or a slow one. Tricky isn’t it? It’s like being told you face the Firing Squad in the morning and then being left with a loaded pistol… ‘do the honourable thing old chap!’
I’m afraid I despair sometimes, which may make you wonder why I came back as some harbinger of doom having been buried away for so long. Well that’s the thing with harbinger’s of doom they don’t tend to come at convenient times. Sorry about that.
Song Of The Day ~ GoFaster – A Modern Education
I think it hard to imagine there is anyone with access to global media who does not know of, or probably have a view on, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many have expressed their opinions whilst the silence from others has spoken volumes in itself. Interestingly though when certain high profile people have spoken out in favour of the Palestinians they have been leapt upon and had the publicists in apoplexy whilst those of the pro-Zionist lobby seem able to express with relatively minor dissent. This is very common practice, the Zionist lobby has long since held the power and not been afraid to wield, it it is not that long ago since my union were threatened with legal action by a powerful conglomerate in the US if they were to decide boycott Israeli universities in protest at the conflict. If they were to decide to mind, not do it, no the censure came at the point where a policy would have been discussed and was to be agreed on. The debate had then to be that in theory were we able to find a method by which we could do so without punitive court costs would we do so, the vote was overwhelmingly in favour. I suspect in no small part down to the moral outrage people felt at being told what they were or were not allowed to decide on before they’d had a chance to decide it. Later pro-Zionist blogs came out naming and seeking to shame many of the people speaking in favour of the boycott, common practice has been to cite anti-semitism whenever someone expresses a view that is at odds with the extremely conservative Israeli state. Anti-semitism has been a brush used for much tarring, often unfairly, in instances such as these but it is a useful way of not listening to any of the arguments propagated, it is the slightly more erudite version of “la la la, I can’t hear you,” I stress the word slightly!
Israel and its Zionist sympathisers principle weapon used with profligacy against the protesters and detractors alike has a chillingly macabre irony as if somehow the reason for protesting against war crimes and butchery is somehow only related to the fact that it is jews who are carrying them out in this instance. This is a crassness of such magnitude that perhaps its ability to exist and continue is merely based on a collective consciousness that finds it too incredulous to see on the radar. In actual fact this method of dismissal causes far more harm to the Jewish community because it makes the actions of the Israeli government synonymous with a much wider and more diversely opinionated people whose link is faith and not political stance. A way of radicalising that has been used many times before is to use the actions of a distant minority to justify outrages against others more locally, sweeping generalisations etc. The Jews themselves have been the victims of this before and not just once, now however it is a state that is claiming to stand in their name that is doing the very same thing and more of them must, for the sake of their wider community, disassociate from it or risk the continued sweep of outrage pervading countries across the globe and widening the violence as has already been happening.
The argument that Israel has a perfect right to defend itself in the face of the barrage of Hamas attacks is the equivalent of saying that a tank has the right to fire its shell at a child who is pelting it with a pea shooter. This may sound at first flippant but this is the gulf between the hardware available to the Palestinians as opposed to that available to Israel. Indeed would anyone dispute the prudence of guerrilla warfare when in the face of a superior armoured force, it would be ironic for the Americans to do so given the nature of their independence as won from Britain by just such a tactic. Plucky freedom fighters and resistance heroes or insidious terrorists? Israel has the ability to bombard an entire state the way the Palestinians have the ability to bombard a building, the difference therefore is to count the dead and from which areas they come. We are not seeing children constantly being pulled out of Israeli buildings, the civilian death toll is almost exclusively on the one side as planes used for carpet bombing are a great deal less discriminatory than RPGs. We have seen the tunnels used to get into Israeli areas by Palestinian fighters, we have seen, though with less expressed outrage the tanks and fighter jets used to get into Palestinian areas.
Israel claims that more than 2,800 rockets have been fired by Hamas from Gaza into Israel but that most have been intercepted by their “Iron Dome” defence – the Palestinian civilians have no such defence against the Israeli rockets and their air strikes and Gaza is being systematically razed to the ground. World focus however has turned to the threat of ISIS, another nasty set of Islamic baddies almost conveniently thrust under our noses as if to show us who the real enemy are. I will not go into the Syria conflict right now, I have given some of my opinions before in 2005, 2012 and there will be another post in due course.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library the death toll on both sides since 2000 numbers 1,327 Israeli dead (11,135 wounded) and 9,515 Palestinian dead (19,011 wounded). According to NGOs and the UN over 80% of the 1,400 Palestinian casualties in Gaza in 2014 are civilians whilst 56 soldiers and 3 civilians have been killed on the Israeli side this year. Whenever Israel starts any major offensive it is the Palestinian civilians who bear the brunt of it.
To subject Gaza to such systematic atrocity is also enormously stupid, if indeed one is looking at any form of lasting peace being the endgame. The demolition of the structure necessary for forming a civilised state means the people in that state have nothing left to lose, they might just as well fight against the oppressor because it is a cause and they have little else left to believe in, or live in. This is a very easy situation for Hamas to thrive in. If Israel were to assist the Palestinians in building schools, nurseries, universities, utility distribution it would in turn fuel the moderates and their cause, it would create a new generation who would not have the reason to hate the Israeli state and would see them far more as a country with whom they cooperate even if they do not always agree. Would it happen overnight, no of course not but then armed conflict isn’t exactly going to come to an end any time soon. So the question is really one of what are people going to be dying for really isn’t it?
Perhaps a glance at the Irish situation may yield some comparison of how a diplomatic solution, whilst less than perfect, can be managed in a way where people are not dying in huge numbers and the extremists have been driven out of the mainstream and marginalised to the point of almost universal condemnation. During the 1980s in Britain a ruthless Conservative government who had no intention of listening to its own people met the Irish republican dissidents with soldiers, water cannon, plastic bullets and guard posts everywhere, they also assisted loyalist paramilitaries to carry out sporadic attacks on Republican areas and civilians. The IRA responded with bombs and guerrilla tactics, many of which were targeted at causing civilians damage but a large majority were phoned in with warnings to the police to avoid casualties. Irrespective of who you may feel was right in the Irish troubles what is not open to question is that children lost parents and parents lost children on both sides of the sea and political divide. The violence fuelled those who said you could not negotiate, the British government flatly refused to sit with Sinn Féin and attempt to reach any form of compromise, so people continued to die, including their own. When governments did seek to meet and negotiate it began to give weight to the arguments of those who said that there was a way that did not involve killing and that it should be investigated. When it was finally investigated a cautious truce was established, which turned into the wholesale decommissioning of weapons once the Good Friday Agreement had been signed up to by both parties, principally steered by the more moderate parities the SDLP on the Republican side and the UUP on the loyalist. The dissident republicans and loyalists that remain armed are now marginalised to near extinction, their actions can promote violence and cause harm but they will not have the support of communities any more, they will not be sheltered and protected by communities who feel wrong, aggrieved and let down by the state supposed to look after them. Do Irish republicans everywhere suddenly feel the matter is solved and that part of Ulster should still be ruled by the British, no, but people are no longer dying for that cause, just arguing vehemently over it in Parliaments, Councils, pubs and clubs.
That it is Israel carrying out these war crimes, for that is surely what they are – no less than Nixon and Kissinger in the Far East, is a hideous irony and not one lost on many people, in fact Israel is perhaps one of the only Western-allied nations where such oppression and perpetrations would be tolerated. (aside from the oil-producing nations of course, no Arab Spring in Bahrain, no that is not the uprising you are looking for!) Look at some of the Zionist press and see the rhetoric, the like of which was very evident in certain European countries in the 1930s. Yes I used that analogy and having seen the justification of violence I use it very specifically because the parallels are extremely similar and therefore a valid comparison, I do not do so purely for effect for it should not need it.
Let us not forget that although the military conflict is taking place between Israel and the Gaza area of the Palestinian territories the Israeli machine acts illegally in the West Bank with settlements, Benjamin Netayahu continues to sanction and sign off more settlements to add to the existing ones, the Gollan Heights is particularly fashionable at the moment. Whilst Israel bewails the Palestinian’s failure to live up to parts of any agreement so Neyanyahu in June authorised 1,500 new Israeli settlements in the occupied land. This is nothing less than a creeping putsch designed to so entrench Israeli settlers as to make them more and more difficult to remove and thus the land less likely to be returned. Under Section of the Geneva Convention “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territory it occupies.” the international community almost in its entirety has condemned Israeli settlements as illegal occupation. Israel contends that the territories it has occupied since the Six Day War do not constitute part of the Geneva Convention.
Votes in the UN have resulted in on one occasion condemnation by 158 nations out of 166 and then 160 out of 171 the countries voting against either directly or by abstentions are the usual suspects, the Western colonial powers such as the US, unsurprisingly along with their acolytes such as the Marshall Islands and Palau and the odd other country that seeks to curry favour with the giant and, more recently, by stealth the conservative Australian government. It is difficult to see another situation where the views of the United Nations Security Council, United Nations General Assembly, International Court Of Justice, International Red Cross and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention could be so flagrantly disregarded. Given that the United States and its allies have used the non-compliance or flouting of a single UN Resolution, such as 1441, as a pretext for war it is interesting (though not surprising) that the international bodies should be cast aside in the case of Israel.
In fact there is evidence that the Israeli people do not agree wholeheartedly with their government’s actions. In 2003 76% of Israelis polled by Dahaf, a leading Israeli public opinion research firm, supported a two state solution and the return of sovereignty of Palestinian areas such as East Jerusalem. Rather like the Irish situation most of the actual citizens of the country do not sanction slaughter and want to be able to live in peace and without fear, for either side to claim that by bombing it is trying to achieve that is nonsense but this is not a chicken and egg situation this is a position where an imperialist state is capitalising on the last guilt generation to which it has access to exploit in order to expand its borders and maintain its disproportionate influence. Palestine is simply not large, enough, not equipped enough, not molised enough to constitute anything more than a pretext for Israeli military action. Were you truly worried about you borders and all the actions why would you continue to be building more and more houses further and further out into “enemy” territory? Would that not be a singular failure to look after your citizens?
Israel is at present a malignant conquering power, this is not because the people running it are Jews it is because they are arseholes and that trait runs throughout any section of humankind without exception. It does not have to be so, a peace can be found if all parties truly want it, the Palestinian people have everything to gain by peace and nothing to lose so why would they be the ones truly standing in the way? When the US wanted to broker peace in Ireland they did not go in merely slagging off one side because there was a desire for peace from the Irish community in the US and all sections of the Irish lobby. So go do your research and make up your own mind who stands to gain more from the conflict continuing…
Song Of The Day ~ The The – Armageddon Days Are Here Again (the lyrics just as apposite as they were 20 years ago)
It’s been a bit of a shit time all in all Chez Baron and there are political rumblings currently in draft at the current atrocities going on in the Middle East and the media shutouts around the world. However in an effort to raise spirits a little before wading back into the genocidal mire I decided to have a look to see if there had been any other uncovering of some of the weird and wonderful album covers such as I had milked for some mileage some time ago.
Lo and behold:
[Start here for a recap of Volumes 1 – 5 if you wish].
The Lyn Murray Singers And Orchestra – Alice In Wonderland
Well this is a good place to start – I mean what the hell is going on, there’s no doubt that the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit are planning something in that teapot and it looks like Alice knows exactly what it is she’d better hope they are just Jihadists wanting her as a hostage!
The Gentlemen Four – We’ll Be Seeing You
Outsourcing really is de rigeur these days and Death has got this small firm to take over the running of things for him whilst he takes it easy for a while. However unlike a great deal of outsourcing companies who are just in it to provide as shite a service for as much money as they can glean it looks rather like the gentlemen here will pursue their work with some zeal!
Yep I have to say this one may well be right on the button I think I can state with some impunity that stripping was not on the mind of the Bee Gees when they wrote ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’ and ‘You’re Having My Baby’ really is going to be quite a passion killer, though I think you could work with ‘The Imperial March’ and if you can’t get double entendre mileage out of ‘Born Free’ then you really aren’t trying!
Heino is back, you knew he would be, remember him, of course you do, he’s been haunting your dreams hasn’t he?! However this is the new smilier Heino, he seems happier now that he has successfully bumped off his mother though it looks as if he lost his right arm in the process and was forced to replace it with that of a chair. I still don’t want him round for dinner that smile suggests that he isn’t stopping just with mother and that he has merely obtained a darker pair of glasses as a better disguise.
The McDonald Sisters – I’ve Got Confidence
And I’ve got my doors locked and the police on standby!
Wayne Cochran – Goin’ Back To Miami
Seriously Wayne really don’t do that, the place has changed man, it’s not your kind of town anymore they won’t understand your brand of sartorial expression, they’ll string you up, or worse they’ll douse your hair!
Sam Sacks – Sing It Again, Sam!
I am prepared to wager good money that ‘inimitable’ is not the first adjective that would come to mind when listening to Sam’s probably unique butchering of your favourite hits.
Foster Edwards Orchestra – What’s Next?
Ok you got me I cannot begin to imagine the answer, trouble is I’m really not sure I even want to know, a leopard on bass, wildebeest on rhythm guitar, it surely can’t end well!
Børud-Gjengen – I Farta
Most people at least try to keep it to themselves, is the older boy a bully pushing the small kid toward the stench in an attempt to woo the flatulent girl or is he trying some sort of corking arrangement on the stinky little toad?
Cody Matheson – Can I Borrow Another Feelin’?
Look familiar? No, Cody hasn’t weathered very well has he?! After his lengthy stay in the penitentiary Cody came out a little more savvy, ditching the Village People moustache and growing the mullet to end all mullets. Note he is still using the same MO to try to come in to your home, you should still keep the doors locked and well away from the windows!
‘Twas The Night Before Bronson
Indeed, the night before Santa Bronson came in after a burglar and shot your dog, the tree and one of the kids. Merry Christmas!
Song Of The Day ~ Ultimate Painting – Ultimate Painting
Two years after the Stop in 2005 the Make Poverty History march took place in Edinburgh at the time when the G8 Summit was being held slightly further North at Gleneagles also in Scotland. I attended and in fact I kept a diary of my time. In spite of attempts to derail the movement, in spite of smear campaigns by some who claimed they shared our objectives we marched and formed a ring around the city almost all of us dressed in white. It was a moving experience, a powerful experience. Why do I bring it up now? Because like the march in 2003 it united people of differing persuasions both left and right, atheist and religious, young and old who were all there to condemn the mindless slaughter of those disenfranchised in other countries by war, famine, disease and the simple lack of caring of the leaders of the Western World and their banking allies. This was another example of people standing up for what they felt was right, and that they felt disenfranchised by the mainstream political parties who all seemed hell-bent on standing for the same neo-liberal agenda and policies.
I am still yet to forgive Bob Geldoff for those days and will not do so until he apologises for insinuating that we were the wreckers, the ones being unrealistic or idealist or cynical etc. etc. for claiming that the deals were hollow and in fact the cynicism was on the part of the leaders cashing in on what was clearly a powerful movement of non-violent dissent. Geldoff effectively admitted we were right 5 years later but showed no remorse or contrition for the people he had slagged off at the time for casting doubt on the sincerity of the world leaders promises. Furthermore it was he who helped organise concerts on the same day as the great march in Edinburgh and then claimed that it showed how many people wanted to get rid of poverty, it didn’t Bob it showed how many people wanted to see Pink Floyd reunite or be at an event that formed part of popular cultural history. The ones who wanted to stop poverty were the ones who had to put their principles before their desire to see the Floyd as one for what will probably be the only time. The fact that the concerts were put on the same day I found crass and offensive, it put into the shadow those who came to do something and reduced the day to a mere rock gig, the at best naive and at worst disgraceful statement that all the people attending were showing their opposition to poverty in Africa was simply not true. I’m sure the people who attended did not specifically agree with poverty per se but protesting against it was not their primary reason for being there. It was ours for making the trip to Edinburgh. Furthermore we were not just protesting about Africa, we were protesting about poverty everywhere from continents far away to that which we see daily around us. If even half the people in those stadiums (stadia) were to have been part of that ring around Edinburgh too then the message would have been louder still and the concerts can only have diluted the message we carried and the significance of it. I specifically know of one couple who did get allocated tickets and were agonising about whether to go to Scotland or Wembley, they chose the latter.
The march on Gleneagles itself 4 days later was hampered and sabotaged by the police who tried to use radio news bulletins to claim the march had been called off and then when many still arrive sought to stop coaches and did indeed stop the 2nd wave (who then occupied Princes St. and got kettled and flushed by riot police for their trouble). They pulled the 1st wave over on 3 occasions making us stand around wondering if all we might be able to protest on was a road junction roundabout. We were told the “Anarchists had set up roadblocks which had closed off the A9″, what was shown later that I saw was that a piece of tree about 8 feet long and with a circumference around that of a milk saucepan that which barely covered one lane of the carriageway let alone the road. But eventually we got there and we made our voices heard. It was empowering, exhausting and exhilarating. We did not go to concerts, we did not stay at home, we came from different parts of the country – as did the police ;) and we made our views known.
[I was unaware at the time that a sweepstake was being run at work courtesy of a couple of “friends” who were very familiar with the penal code and felt that it was worth speculating on what charge I would be apprehended by the police – smart money apparently was on ‘Affray’ at 8/1, Incitement to Riot at 12/1 and someone had placed an outside bet on Treason at 500/1! As it was I behaved myself and only nearly got arrested twice – once apparently for being a “f*cking smart arse” when I pointed out that I didn’t need to move back to avoid a “crush at the gates” because the fact that I wasn’t actually in contact with anyone meant I could not be contributing to anything. The second time was when a police van revved at me as I was crossing a pedestrian crossing. I made a gesture and the driver made for the door clearly to come and ‘have a word’ but he was pulled back by his passenger and the lights changed. Money raised from the sweepstake went to Save The Children.]
On my return I was in mid-air when the bombs went off in London on the 7th and the whole family was in pandemonium since no-one knew where the other persons were. Everything seemed suddenly to be about blitz spirit, everything suddenly became on a war footing again and that put paid to any reasoned debate on peace and diplomacy, “London will go on” we were told, the outrage was tangible and the demonstrations were long forgotten. But does that make our actions wrong? Far from it, it means we stood up in a way that was not open to us in the ballot box, against those for whom we had not voted and in a way that ultimately was vindicated when it became clear that the information used to justify the campaign was fabricated, or at best embellished. People died for that, many people, leaving bereft and destroyed, more than just the buildings that made a number of rich people very much richer through huge outsourced rebuilding contracts, families and communities were irrevocably damaged in a way I suspect those born in this country after the 1940s can scarcely imagine. People in Syria now will tell you and the blanket media campaign that I see now about the conflict reminds me very much of 10 years ago.
Will the Make Poverty History March and the march on the G8 Summit be better remembered than Live8 – no I’d be somewhat staggered if the former make more than a footnote in the pages of political history journals, since the Stop The War march in 2003 merits little more than that, whilst Live8 is enshrined in popular culture, but when those who attended the concerts look in the mirror I doubt they will have quite the same sense of integrity as those of us who stood up for those who were denied a voice. And that is something I can tell my children when they ask the question that prompted this, and maintain eye contact whilst I do so.
Song Of The Day ~ The Mono Polys – Insomnia
My blogging comrade Big John – himself going for the same decade as I have been – recently posted on the occasion of his 75th birthday about how things had been ‘in his day’ as opposed to that which is available (to children) now. It got me in comparison mode so I decided to put another yardstick in giving how the world was in my childhood. You have to bear in mind I was in Chelsea (when it still had council tenants) so what we had was in many respects streets ahead of those living outside ‘the smoke.’
Anyway John’s formative years involved the following:
- Television .. Just the BBC on the
- Telephone .. The nearest one was two streets away on a shop counter.
- Computers .. Great fun was had playing games in the street.
- Motor car .. If a tram or bus didn’t go there, then, neither did I, unless I walked.
- Bathroom .. A scrub in the kitchen sink or a tin bath by the fire.
- Toilet paper ! .. I won’t go into detail.
- Fast Food .. Only fish and chips. ”Bring your own newspaper”.
- Holidays .. Abroad ! Where was that ? .. Well, maybe a day by the sea.
- Supermarket .. or “Can I scan your ration book?”
- Refrigerator .. Only a daily walk to the shops by my mum.
- Central heating .. Just open coal fires, even at school.
- Shoes .. Oops ! .. No .. Sorry, I got carried away for a moment, so I’ll …
As opposed to a man in his 70s I was a child of the 70s and things were different, we had moved on, evolved, advanced with almost wanton abandon, things were thus:
- Television .. Only bought when I was 13 and so my grandmother could watch the news, took up half the room in a wooden cabinet and 3 people to lift! Just two BBC and 1 ITV which I wasn’t allowed to watch because adverts were evil (this is quite correct of course!) Oh and it didn’t run in the morning except for schools programs and it didn’t come in the afternoon until 3.30 with Play School. It then shut down after the late film at around 11 and the National Anthem played! What’s a colour TV?
[Channel 4 came along in 1982 – it was such an event people took time off work to watch the opening… ceremony would be a bit strong, it started with Countdown one of the most sedentary gameshows ever!]
- Telephone .. The nearest one was two streets away in a red phone box – queues down the street on a Sunday before dinner and hoping you had enough 5p coins to beat the pips!
[Later when we moved out of London in the 80s we had a 3-digit phone humber!]
- Computers .. just came in – Yellow River on the BBC involving Xs or Spectrum cassette tapes which took hours to load and made a noise like a fax machine.
[I got my first computer in 1998 it was an Apple Powerbook Duo 280c and the snazziest system I had ever seen!]
- Motor car .. Trams? Bloody luxury, we didnt have them in my day. It was the No. 11 bus to school I had or a 20 min walk to the nearest tube station at weekends.
[I didn’t learn to drive until I was 28 and that was for a job. I don’t exactly feel the richer for it, though my 27 year old car is cool!]
- Bathroom .. Hot running water but an outside khazi still very much in evidence in the terraced housing, we had a separate toilet indoors in our flat for a while but when moved had to share a bathroom with the people above!
[Outside toilets were a nightmare, in the Winter it was bloody freezing and anything could be lurking in there and frequently was!]
- Toilet paper ! .. Unlike the Big Man I will go into detail – shiny on one side and ripped your aris to ribbons it did. Izal – I’ll never forget it, I saw some on sale not so many years ago, heaven knows what idiot still buys it.
- Fast Food .. Still only fish and chips. Newspaper provided! We did have an ice cream parlour – yes “parlour” but it was the Fulham Road you know! In the very early 80s we went ‘into town’ to a Nepalese restaurant in Euston – it was the most exotic thing we had ever done or eaten in my life. I still visit as and when I can.
- Holidays .. Calais, we were cosmopolitan and my Grandmother lived in Kent!
- Supermarket .. What? We had the grocer, the greengrocer, the butcher, the baker and knew them all by name. They’d give my mother a little extra because she was on her own and they liked my smile! (Tried that at Tescos and have another 6 months on the Anti-Social Behaviour order!)
- Refrigerator .. I got to go on the daily shop with mother!
- Central heating .. Coal? Ha you’ll be lucky, miners are on strike and all the powers off!
- Shoes .. So many choices, Clarks or Start-Rite!
If there’s anyone else who wishes to reminisce either here or on your own page then I’d be interested and perhaps amused about your decade. Feel free to share.
Song Of The Day ~ The Rifles – Shoot From The Lip