Friday, 13 December 2013

Oh Mandela, Give us a Sign

I think I will begin with the story about sex segregation in universities. It is easily batted away because it is a paradigm of something I have been saying for years; that political correctness will eat itself.

PC is the child of moral relativism, which is essentially belief in nothingism. Accordingly it is no surprise when one thought of legitimate viewpoint collides with another. In this case it is feminism opposing religion, or more specifically the Muslim religion. Both have a point of view and both are seen as bedfellows of the politically correct. They are arguing among themselves, but in their confusion, they don't really understand what the argument is. If you don't believe me, read the narrative yourself.

I wish God would give us a sign. I wish he would come down and tell us what is wrong. Oh, I forgot, Jesus did that and he got the cold shoulder. So don't rely on signs, the writing on the wall is already there. That is unless you are deaf, in which case you will have to rely on signs, or sign language.

You are ahead of me.. be patient.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the POTUS, the single most powerful man on the planet, was told that he was a heartbeat away from the hands of a grade A lunatic. It turns out that the official (fake) sign language interpreter at the funeral of Nelson Mandela has a history of mental illness, prison, and is a self-confessed violent schizophrenic who heard voices and saw angels. He was a couple of feet away from Barak Obama, possibly also one of the most heavily guarded people in the world, too. The interpreter has in the past been charged with murder, kidnap and rape.

How he got to be in this incredible position is interesting, but I doubt if anyone responsible will provide a straight answer. In a country wracked with corruption, nepotism and crime, it will all depend on whether the ruling powers can find a suitably compliant scapegoat.

And what of this fake sign language specialist? I suppose the charitable view is that he was not the only fake on the platform.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Somewhere in the corner of a foreign field lies a poppy that has fallen off my coat.

I am astonished at the amount of venom aimed at people who don't wear poppies to remember those who have fallen in armed conflict. I am a patriot, but I thought we were fighting for the right to freedom of expression. Apparently not.

I have not been wearing a poppy because I don't have a buttonhole, or a button for that matter, on my goretex jacket, and it fell off today before I could get to the door.

I happen to have mentioned this on certain forums and been roundly told off. Well, unless they come up with an alternative way of displaying poppies, as opposed to the pin (bronze age solution) or a plastic one with a barb in it, the British Legion may find that interest in their poppies is going to wane. If there are poppies not being worn these days, I believe it is not due to a lack of respect, but a lack of buttonholes.

I shall be attending the Remembrance Sunday service at a local church and I shall wear a poppy in the one jacket that has a buttonhole. What is more important is that I remember how I came to be able to worship freely and express myself in this way. Those who fought for freedom paid a great price. It is therefore reasonable, but not obligatory, to get off my bottom once a year and salute them.

I have never gone in for badges of allegiance anyway. People seem to wear all manner of plastic bands and t-shirts to claim allegiance to something or other. Who the heck cares what you or I think? Actions speak louder than symbols.  It comes to something when people object to the wearing of religious symbols. Are they really offended? But when it appears that not wearing something can cause such recrimination, as the kind I have read about, the world has gone mad.


John Cole, the former BBC political editor has died. Cole was an exemplar of the last time anyone at the BBC attempted to report on a political story without being in thrall to the liberal left narrative that has become obligatory at the Broken Biscuit Company. Ironically, Cole hated everything Thatcher stood for, but you would not have known it. In fact you would not have known much at all because his Northern Irish accent was extraordinarily distracting.


I am currently reading a fascinating book about the Scottish Enlightenment. It is not possible to sum up the scope of the subject here, but a couple of things struck me. The first is that the protagonists met together in taverns and coffee shops, then buildings appointed for the purpose. They formed clubs, one of which exists now as the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Such allegiances were not without danger. Some came into direct opposition with the all-powerful Kirk. The last man to be hanged for heresy was dispatched in Edinburgh, with the connivance of the Scottish Church. Of course, it was all done at a time when they also executed people for witchcraft. It is the sort of thing that still goes on in other parts of the world. Except that we have it here, in the 21st Century. A man, an innocent man, was beaten up and set on fire because he was suspected of being a paedophile. There is no difference. The action was born out of hatred, fear and ignorance.

What these Enlightenment people did was crucial to their thinking; they corresponded with each other and met to debate the issues of the day. That way, they were able to test their theories and arguments with their peers. They dared to say what could not be said and many were denied positions of authority because of it. And this also still happens today. There are universities in this country that will deny recognition to The State of Israel and deny its academics a platform. Enlightenment? I call it a descent into superstition.

There is one more thing. The writer of this book on The Enlightenment explains that what came out of it was a vocabulary of thought. The discourse gave the protagonists a lexicon; words to express concepts that needed form and a common understanding. The writer argues that without this, it would have been difficult for thinkers to arrive at novel propositions or radical ideas, if the words and phrases were not readily available.

In an exposition of 1984, Orwell says something similar about Newspeak. He tells us that the purpose of Newspeak is not to censor thought, but to make it impossible to have such thoughts in the first place.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Lou Reed - Urban Hermit

There are no pictures of Lou Reed in the country, walking through fields or on the beach. In at least half of the publicly available photographs, Reed is wearing shades. And yet, mythically, Reed lived and worked solely lit by artificial light, propelled by heroic quantities of drugs and the kind of energy that only an exclusively urban world can give.

I don't think anybody can describe him primarily as a musician. John Cale is primarily a musician, Reed was not. Reed was a lyrical and vocal conduit, and perhaps that is more important. He stood in symbolic relation to a period of time and specifically, the whole milieu around Andy Warhol.

His contribution, in terms of quantity of output is sporadic and at times very sketchy. The crucial albums were the Warhol/Banana/Velvet Underground one (actually called The Velvet Underground and Nico), Transformer and Berlin. Of these, I consider Berlin to be his best. It is stripped down and lush at the same time. The line-up of top class musicians underpins what is a real album, a simple, often bleak message about loss and decay and abuse. Coney Island Baby is best forgotten, as is Metal Machine Music, Rock and Roll Heart and most of the others.

Sadly, Lou Reed is an example of someone whose reputation got well ahead of his talent. At times he was able to attract really great musicians on the sole currency of his charisma and seminal place in the development of rock music. Not all his material is profound and much of it, despite the edgy, metropolitan grime, just glib and sentimental.

One might wonder if, during the last months of his life, whether Reed mellowed at all or changed his outlook, particularly after a liver transplant. It didn't. He was nasty and egotistical to the end and rarely acknowledged that he owed much of his success to a lot of people of greater talent and humanity. He always maintained that he didn't take drugs to get high, he took drugs to feel normal. It is perhaps then, a pity that he never stepped outside his hermetic lifestyle and abandoned the wild side for the sea side.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Latvian Climate Change Scientist who killed Badger while cycling to Harlow Sex Clinic, "Unrepentant"

Valdis Sprudz, (32) Ran over and killed the badger, leaving it to die slowly on the road, a court heard today. Sprudz, an enviromental scientist and vegetarian from Riga, showed no remorse, said the Judge, but in the light of Sprudz upcoming gender-realigment operation on the NHS, was given a ten pound fine and a reprimand.

Guardian and Daily Mail readers were seen fighting outside the court.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Women! Know Your Limits!

I have to preface this with a video. Some people might not have seen it and it puts what I am about to say in context; a fairly tongue-in-cheek context.
(I can't get it to embed and the YouTube version has been removed by the BBC.)

In the Telegraph, a woman, Belinda Parmar, has been blathering on about being treated badly by car salesmen. Well, the news is that car salesmen are creeps. They are just as bad with men, but they tend to treat women differently. That is all. Differently, not better, not worse.

Here's a bit of what she is saying:

There’s no place on earth that’s more of a man’s world than the car showroom...My first stop was a Nissan show-room: the sales rep was an older gent. He’d obviously read in some salesman’s manual that if you wanted to close that deal you ought to use somebody's first name. Again, again and again. “Belinda”, he said “Why don’t you see the new ‘Note’”, “And Belinda, while you are at it take a look at the beautiful new colour - what do you think of that Belinda? Belinda...”. 
I’m not alone in feeling underserved and ignored by this entire industry

Oh grow up. If you, as a woman, want to be treated like a man, I suggest the following line of attack, based upon my own experience. But don't go on moaning about how terrible it is being a woman.

This is the advice I gave her:

Belinda. Belinda, my pal: You have failed to understand the first thing about buying a car. It's a fight. It's cocks on the table time, and sorry, Belinda, but you don't have a cock.
Last time I bought a car (for my wife, incidentally, who is sensibly just not interested because she wastes her time all day making sick people better) I went to a car supermarket.

Now, on any ordinary day I am invisible. I am one of those people who used to trot around Harrods, and be ignored - that is until I asked them to put my purchase on my Harrods account, which in those days was like a magic word.
Anyway, I could wander around at a time-share presentation and nobody would bother me. That's how invisible.

So how shocked are they when I say I want "that car"? They are shocked, because I ask for a deal, and they don't do deals. So I'm walking away, or rather I am making walking away signals. I want a deal. "Oh," says Wayne, "I'll have to talk to my boss". So Wayne goes off and gives me some time. Rather like the time you get when they have arrested you and you are left to sweat a bit in the interview room. He comes back. "It's bad news, Wrinkled. You see,,,Wrinkled, we can't really give you that much for your trade in Saab."

Wayne is a Scandiphobic bigot, I think and clearly is not in love with Sara Lund.

"Well, Wayne" I say, "I think, £9,400". Wayne cacks himself. He is sweating. He is trying not to ring up his mum for a good cry. "I'll have to talk to the boss" says Wayne. "Ok, Wayne" I say.

I get a cup of water from the cooler and it gets even cooler in my ice cold grip.

Wayne returns and says, "I have had a word with the boss, and we don't normally do this, but we can go to 9.5 and frankly, there is no money in it for us."
I calmly get out my debit card and pay for it like it was for a jumper in M&S. Even the secretary starts ovulating.

So as I said, its a macho, cage-fighting, posing piece of theatre and you can play the game, or pay up. Women, know your limits.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Growing Old?

Fact of the matter is, most of us will be old one day. At least most of us hope so. Taking a look back at being me, 30 or 40 years ago, I really didn't see old people as people; they were kind of cipher people, metaphorical people, people with history but no future.
I met some wonderful examples. People, who, in later life I found out were ambassadors, war heroes and many who had served society in a distinguished capacity. This all went over my head when I was young.
My mistake, and perhaps that of others, is to see life as linear - a line of highs and lows. I have reason to think about and occasionally talk to some old musicians. Some are bitter at not making it, and some are bitter at making the big time for a moment, and then fading from sight. Others are happy that they managed to work for 50 years and avoided stacking shelves.
Respect seems to be ephemeral. "Retired" surgeon, general, nurse, teacher, etc is almost a prefix for failure and ultimate irrelevance.
I remember a Neil Young song that contained the lines, "Old Man, look at my life, I'm a lot like you were"

We too, lived and loved. And we are a lot like you.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Vaping, Bricking and Unhalfbricking

This is what I did tonight.

There was a salad, consisting of mixed grains, cucumber, red peppers, roasted sesame seeds, herbs,various leaves and some manchego cheese. A simple dressing of oil, vinegar and lemon juice. A gin and tonic was on standby throughout. A pile of ironing, the kind of pile that threatens and accuses had to be addressed. I popped on Two favourite albums to get me through; Unhalfbricking, by Fairport Convention and Nanci Griffiths greatest hits.

No, it isn't that interesting, but I am not on Facebook or Twitter. And the last time I looked, nobody is going through my garbage in order to find out more.

Unhalfbricking is eclectic - a kind word for all over the place. The world at the time (1969) was going through a disturbing Dylan Covers phase. Graham Nash even quit The Hollies over their plans to do "The Hollies sing Dylan". What happened to him? Who Knows Where the Time Goes and A Sailor's Life are the non-Dylan highlight of Unhalfbricking. I was secretly proud of my son when he used the former in a short film. (He often trawls my collection).

Nanci Griffiths, well you either like or do not like country. The late Bob Newhart once said during a show: "I don't like country music, I am sorry. But I don't denigrate those who do. And for those people in the audience tonight who do, "denigrate" means to put down."

If you think that I am a member of the Klan, drive a Chevrolet truck and live in a trailer park, you really must think again. Country music is white soul. And anyway, Nanci is about as far removed from the stereotypical white trash model that you can get. I cry every time I hear "Trouble in the Fields" and you must have a heart of stone if you don't.
I would like a Chevrolet truck though, but you can leave out the membership of the NRA and the oral tobacco.

Talking of tobacco, I can report further on my dalliance with Vaping. I think I have finally figured it out. What you need to know, is that to be a committed vaper, you have to be a physicist, a chemist and a lot of patience.  So much of the equipment associated with vaping is duff. It's almost all made in China and it is perfectly clear that they design the batteries to explode and cause collateral damage. However, because they are made in China, mine have not exploded, they just gave in after a few sessions. Ditto the cheaper cartomisers. For the record, and because one or two readers might be interested, I now have a Pro-tank Mini, connected to an eGO-T 660Mah battery. My favourite juice is Virgin Vapour Organic's Celestial Honeydew. It works and will do fine until I start getting serious. Yes, you can have this rig - when you pull it from my cold, dead hands.

The best place I know to get everything, usually by the next day, is

Excuse the puff (and excuse the pun) but they have been very understanding with me over the rotten Chinese batteries and there are a lot of very bad places to buy vaping requisites, so consider your card marked. If you can't find what you want on their web site, it is worth giving them a ring.

My local Scottish Nationalist MSP continues to stir up public discontent by advocating that all seasonal goods be banned from stores until two weeks before the event, In this week's local paper, she bemoans the fact that Christmas goods are on sale right now. This is the kind of murderous, Stalinist action you are going to get if you vote "YES" to Scottish Independence, along with eating English Children, banning laughter on Sundays and compulsory tartan pants. But seriously, the "NO" campaign shows every sign of putting Josef Goebbels to shame and I really do wish the shops would stop turning Christmas into a three-month nightmare.

My teeth keep giving me gyp. I had a wisdom tooth removed a week ago and another front tooth has been replaced by a temporary cap. Neither will let me forget the fact. The car has cost over £500 in maintenance this month and I am looking at a similar amount to have a wing replaced. I am facing my 60th birthday (at the beginning of next year) with some trepidation. I would really like to do something, but the money is tight. Ah well, it could be worse. And it is not as if I have a lot of people who I must see on the day.