Whatcha Gonna Do About it?

Wednesday 10th September

Facebook is full of political revelations.

The real cuts to the poor resulting in suicides and food banks and the sort of poverty we thought had been consigned to History.  Watcha Gonna Do About It?

American foreign policy, arming the Taliban to fight the Ruskies now turning against us in Afghanistan.  They were paid to grow poppies whose Opium was sold to American teenagers.  Watcha Gonna Do About It?

The failure of British politicians to represent even a smidgeon of the concerns of the electorate.  Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

The alienation of young people in a society that has no job for them, no possibility of ever owning their own houses and no future.  Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

The starving children in Africa; those same pitiful faces covered in flies and with pot-bellies and thin arms and legs.  Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

The constant wars between Sunni and Shi-ite, sometimes fomented by us in the West, the millions displaced in Syria, the overflowing refugee camps.  Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

The Inequality of the world where there is plenty of food and water if equally distributed, but 1% of people own 80% of the resources.  Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

The fact that the banks fucked up but are playing the same game again, blowing the bubble ever bigger until we get caught in the bang and have to pick up the pieces again.  Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

Because posting on Facebook may enlighten a few, but less than you might think.  Because constantly bewailing the failings of politicians and wringing your hands and saying they are all the same and you won’t be voting for any of them won’t make it any better.  Because salving your conscience by sending occasional dribs and drabs of money to charities may save a very few but will not change the fundamentals.  So Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

Please tell me, because honestly I don’t know.

The Danger of Referenda – part 2

Tuesday 9th September

Well, the fat is really in the fire now, isn’t it.  The latest opinion poll puts the Yes campaign just ahead of the No’s.  This may well be a rogue poll, but it has caused panic and real fear amongst those wishing to keep the United Kingdom together.   I don’t think the Establishment has really thought through the possibility of a Yes vote.  For Scotland, or more importantly, for us.  It is going to be chaotic, especially in the first few days following the vote.  There could well be a run on the pound, and this long before the question of whose pound it is comes to be decided.  There is a strong likelihood that Cameron’s position will be under threat from within the Tory party; M.P.s already worried that with Cameron and Osborne at the helm, the Tories cannot win the next election.  And what greater failure for a Prime Minister than to oversee the breakup of the country?  There could be more defections to UKIP.  But Labour is just as much at risk.  Ed Milliband has hardly inspired the nation, and Labour without Scotland would struggle to ever win in England, unless under a pseudo-Tory like Blair.   There could well be a move to replace Ed before the next election, but I do not see anyone really succeeding in his place.  The LibDems are no safer; as the third or rather now fourth party they are being squeezed at every successive election.  Clegg could also be under threat; he has almost single handedly ruined the party, by joining a Tory coalition.  The party conferences will be highly interesting.  It could come down to who keeps their nerve best.

In the long run, I imagine there will firstly be an argument about the timetable for independence, the SNP arguing for a short six months or so, and the old rump UK arguing for five years to disentangle all the joint bodies that administer everything.

Whatever happens it is looking very likely that Alex Salmond will walk away triumphant.  If he loses but comes close he will demand Devo-Max or another referendum in a few years time; in any case all parties are falling over themselves to grant Devo-Max, so in a way if he loses he wins.  And if he wins, well – he wins.

The Americanisation of Eating Out

Monday 8th September

We really must be stupid but we are rushing headlong into an Americanisation of eating out.  We have had Supermarkets replacing Grocers, we have had our homegrown film industry dwarfed by the Hollywood Movie machine, our television more and more dominated by American series and now even eating out is being Americanised.  On Saturday we were in Frinton and fancied a quick lunch, nothing special, nothing expensive – just something to eat.  Most places were quite busy but we found a small café with tables free.  It was clean, quite smartly furnished with comfortable tables and chairs.  We ordered double egg and chips, a  coffee and a tea.  It all arrived quite quickly was well cooked and tasty.  Nothing special but good.  £10.  That was what it cost, and this was nothing special, it is about the right price for what we ordered.

On the way home today we stopped on the motorway at a Starbucks.  Two coffees, a bland Chelsea iced bun and an egg sandwich.  Taken away and eaten in the car, the food was boring and bland, the coffee quite poor and it cost £11.00.  And yet we are all taken in by this commercializing of eating out.  Starbucks has a huge presence on almost every high street, everyone has tried it, many choose it as their café of choice.  And yet it really isn’t very good and certainly not good value.  And if we aren’t careful this will be the only choice we have.  In London now, certainly in Central London it is harder and harder to find anywhere except a Starbucks or a Costa, those old traditional cafes are disappearing fast, and yet they offered excellent food and coffee at cheap prices.  No match unfortunately for the giant chains as the Americanisation of eating out rolls over all in it’s path.

The Ceasefire in Ukraine

Sunday 7th September

The West has been completely outmaneuvered by president Putin.  Despite all the denials it is pretty obvious that Russian troops and equipment are being used almost openly in Eastern Ukraine.  What is less known is that the whole crisis has been engineered by the West, America in particular.  The idea was that Ukraine would be wooed away from Russian influence and into the EU.  The Orange revolution of a few years ago was promoted by us and hailed as a great breaking free from Russia.  Unfortunately the demographics of the Ukraine are quite complicated with roughly a third of the population speaking Russian and considering themselves as more Russian than Ukrainian.  Then the politicians elected were found to be corrupt and a new pro-Russian president was elected, who is still under international law the rightful president.  The CIA funded a rebellion in Kiev and this pro-Russian president was forced to flee.  Then troops suddenly appeared in the Crimea and in no time this was annexed by Russia, no doubt illegally but it seems the local population were overjoyed to be Russian again.  Then in the East of the country pro-Russian rebels started fighting too.  The Ukraine government’s response was to ask the West for help.  However we might have been prepared to foment anti-Russian feeling but we were not ready to send troops to fight the Ruskies.

Anyway a new president (legal or illegal – take your choice) was elected – though no votes were allowed in Crimea and several Eastern areas.  The new strong man Petro Poreshenko declared he would rid the country of Russian dissidents.  After a short while he started losing and was in headlong retreat when Putin, sensibly called for a cease-fire.  The Ukrainians had no choice, they were caught between a better fighting force and a weak West which had encouraged them but had blinked when real help was needed.  Putin will now sit down to talks, not only to end the fighting but to give whatever degree of independence to the East of the country.  Every one will eventually agree and the silly sanctions against Russia will be dropped.

Or nothing will be agreed and fighting will resume.  Whatever happens Russia will probably win.

B – is for Colin Blunstone

Saturday 6th September

Colin was (and still is) the voice of the Zombies, who had a hit with the wonderful “She’s Not There” in the very late sixties.  Strangely enough this was their only real hit, though they released quite a few clever and original singles.  They released their last album Odyssey and Oracle in 1969 and then split up, Rod Argent going on to form Argent and Colin trying his hand at a solo career.  He released a handful of brilliant albums and had a few hits too.  Then, as so often seems to happen he drifted into a more middle of the road sound and the sales dried up.  He carried on, releasing the occasional album and doing a lot of session work, especially for the Alan Parsons Project.  His voice is so distinctive and so utterly English that you can always recognize him.

Lately he has re-united with Rod and members of the original Zombies and they have released a few new records.  Not so good as his first few solo records but I buy them all the same.  Several of his records are unavailable on CD and even the vinyl sells on e-bay for £20 or more, so there must be a few old fans of his still around.

His best two records were One Year and Ennismore but any of the Greatest Hits compilations are well worth a listen.

Almost all adverts use CGI

Friday 5th September

It started in a few films, mostly sci-fi or cartoons, but now CGI or computer generated imagery is everywhere.  Have you noticed but almost every advert on tv now uses it.  Sometimes it is obvious as impossible things happen but sometimes it is just in the swerving camera shots that just had to be computer generated.  But also far more subtly in ads for hair or skin products where I am sure those minor blemishes are all ironed out, or that perfect sheen in her hair is miraculously accomplished.  So, we are living in a perfect image world, where every magazine shot, even of a tub of margarine has been digitally enhanced, to say nothing of the faces and bodies of the people in them.  And largely we do not notice, we take it all for granted.  And maybe we take all of this perfection for granted too, the immaculate white walls and stylish furniture, the elegant clothes, the perfect looks.  Do we never look around at our own scruffy and grubby world and notice the difference.  Or are we sub-consciously separating the two, the ad world with it’s CGI and ironed out view of the world and our own tawdry version of it.  Do we actually realize that this is all CGI created and dismiss it as such, or are we somehow sucked in to believing that this is the perfection be should be striving for.   Interesting?

The Demise of Party Politics

Thursday 4th September

This may be premature, in fact I could be totally wrong – I usually am.  But I am detecting that the old certainties are receding and a new era may be about to emerge.   Our two party system emerged out of the Civil War, a period of our history we hide away as if we are ashamed that we killed a king and for a while had a Lord Protector and then decided to resurrect the monarchy.  The Tories were the supporters of Royalty and as they evolved into the Conservative Party have always been backward looking.  Even now many of them hark back to days of Empire and no involvement with Europe.  The Whigs were supporters of Parliament and as they became the Liberals they were more forward thinking, more progressive and willing to accept Reform.  At the turn of the last Century a new movement of previously disenfranchised workers formed the Labour Party which soon eclipsed the old corrupt Liberals.  And so things remained more or less.  In the nineteen eighties the Labour Party partially imploded and several right-wingers formed the Social Democrats who later joined forces with the Liberals to create today’s Liberal Democrats.  Then there are the Nationalist Parties who have taken votes away from the two mainstream parties.

Now we have UKIP, notionally even more right wing than the Tories, but somehow in their simplistic message of anti-immigration and withdrawal from Europe have struck a chord with both working class and many former Tory voters.  For a while I thought that their flag would not fly, but flap around the flagpole for a while and then be hauled down in defeat.  I was wrong and they are flying high now.  But the most significant change is the gradual seepage of support for the two main parties.  Harold Wilson got over 50% of the vote in the sixties, Tony Blair won in 1997 with 42% and now Labour are on 36% and still could possibly form the next Government.  But far more likely I feel is that UKIP will pick up at least a quarter of the votes, and will in some places break through and have a number of M.P.s in 2015.  How many is anyone’s guess.  The LibDems will hang on to maybe 40 seats and the Tories will lose a few, but Labour will pick up less than they had hoped for.  Another coalition is on the offing.  Surely the LibDems will never go back with the Tories, there is no appetite for that in the party as a whole.  So will it be Tory/UKIP or Lib/Lab next time.  Or maybe a rainbow coalition with (presuming the Scots do not vote for Independence) Labour LibDems and Nationalists joining together.  We will just have to wait and see.

Naked Celebrity Photo’s

Wednesday 3rd September

Now that you have scrolled down and discovered none and returned to reading this we may proceed.  It is still the silly season for the press, and suddenly when we have Iraq and Ukraine and a still unsettled Gaza and many other problems to consider, like the tiniest of pebbles dropped into a calm pond this one has caused a few ripples.  The horror, the nightmare, the disgrace.  Just imagine it.  Not only one’s phone (or icloud actually) being hacked, but the most intimate images and videos being uplifted and posted on the internet.  And me, a celebrity too.

Well I can tell you – I no more want to see naked photos of Jennifer Lawrence (whoever she is) than any other starlet either.  Marylin, well maybe I would have been tempted.

But seriously, it is of course an invasion of privacy and unforgivable etc, etc.  But in the scheme of things, alongside real rape and sexual or physical assault, or death and disease in the burgeoning refugee camps all over the world it may not be the worst thing to suffer.  Besides; most of these celebrities are happy to pose in sexy provocative poses for lads mags or to promote their latest mediocre film.  And I ask you – why in the first place did they pose for the pictures (some of them performing sex acts and we know what that euphemism means) in the first place?   And then why on earth keep them on their phone, if not to show or send to someone anyway.  So, though private, they were hardly so private, and excuse me – but does this not show the most incredible naivety on their part.  Keep your sex life to yourself FFS.  I have never posed naked for a photo, but if anyone wants one please let me know and send a LARGE stamped addressed envelope.

B is also for Bjork

Tuesday 2nd September

When Bjork burst on the scene in 1993 with her album Debut I really didn’t know what to make of her.  I hadn’t heard her when she was in “The Sugarcubes”, but suddenly here was this diminutive singer with the big voice singing strangely un-synchopated lyrics to heavy dance music.  I liked the singles but didn’t really take her seriously.  Gradually the girl has grown on me, and while not in my very favourite of favourites section I do still look out for her albums.  I especially love “The Hunter” and “It’s Oh So Quiet”.

She seems to keep coming up with new sounds, new ideas and even new instruments.   She is quite a phenomenon and seems to be genuinely oblivious to fame.  I suspect she may actually be a bit crazy.  Image result for images of bjork

Let’s Sit This One Out

Monday 1st September

Tucked away in City A.M. today was the suggestion that in the coming bi-election in Clacton might not field a candidate at all.

The story so far……………Douglas Carswell, elected Tory M.P. in 2005 and a known Eurosceptic has defected to UKIP.  Not only that he has triggered a bi-election too and will stand as the UKIP candidate against his old party.  There were suggestions at the weekend that the Tories might put up Boris as the Tory saviour – he is after all the most (only) popular Tory around these days.   But he appears to have seen sense, or chickened out, according to your point of view.  In the wake of the publicity an opinion poll in Clacton has put Carswell, now flying under UKIP’s purple on 64%, the Tories on 20%, Labour on 13% and the LibDems on a miserable 2%.  Now Nigel Evans, former Tory deputy speaker and recently accused of raping a young man (and acquitted) has suggested that the wisest course for the Tories would be to sit out the bi-election and not contest it at all.  His logic is that this would take the wind out of Carswell’s sails and avoid a punishing defeat.

Well, that is one way of looking at it, another, which UKIP will certainly seize upon, is that they are running scared.  Sitting out an election is certainly a radical step to take.  Even the LibDems looking down the barrel of a gun in some bi-elections have still stood their ground, even losing their deposits in the process.  And then what happens if another Tory defects to UKIP?  The Tories really have no choice but to put up the best candidate they can find, lose gracefully and try to rebuild for the general election.  You can hardly present yourself as a national party if there are no-go areas where you will not offer the electorate a chance to vote for you.