Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Keep your rosaries off the ovaries!

A week in which the world's headlong dash over the precipice continues apace. In the midst of sundry horrors which made me wonder if The Enlightenment was just a con-trick perpetrated by successive generations of historians, the Catholic church leapt into the fray like an eager participant in a bar fight. You'd think by now that the Catholic church, its credibility on matters pertaining to the treatment of children on a par with Michael Jackson's, would, at least, keep quiet for a while on its old hobbyhorse of Abortion. Well, think again. They made rumbling noises in the U.K. media last week about lowering the limit for terminations. The church knows that this tactic is the only one that would possibly be effective; if they had the balls to come straight out & say that they wanted a complete ban on abortion in all circumstances, much of the misguided consideration being given to their fundamentalist stance would soon dissipate. Michael White brilliantly dissected the intellectual dishonesty of the Vatican's position on the Guardian's "Comment Is Free" blog ( ).

Much sniggering over the epithet uttered by Margaret Beckett, who once memorably savaged Neil Kinnock for abstaining in the Labour Party deputy leadership election rather than support Tony Benn, but the real cause for offence lies surely in her thinly veiled acknowledgement that if Bush decides to target Iran, Britain will be there as customary lap dog (,,1807797,00.html ).

Friday, June 16, 2006

Idealism, ah, yes, I remember that!

Once upon a time there was a rather gauche, solicitous, eager to please Labour Party member called Tony. He even went to the trouble of writing a long letter to Michael Foot in 1982, proclaiming his faith in radical socialist policies (no, don't laugh). Alas, the 80s were lost to the Tories & Tony came to swallow rather more poisonous nostrums as the decade wore on. By the start of the next decade Tony's metamorphosis was pretty well complete, &, well, the rest, as they say, is modern history ( ).
Accompanying this week's New Statesman in this morning's mail was a leaflet from something calling itself the "LabOUR Commission" --the typography is deliberate--, stating its aim to bring accountability & inner democracy back to Labour. The individuals behind LabOUR consist of those who would have been on the soft Left 20 years' ago, & who then bit their tongues as the New Labour "project" proceeded apace; Michael Meacher, Tony Robinson (yes, Baldrick himself) & Billy Hayes (general secretary of my union) are the most prominent names. I wish them well, but I don't hold out much hope for their mission (I also can't help but reflect wryly on the flawed political perspective of these individuals over the last two decades). Under the sub heading, "How you can help", they declare, "LabOUR needs to know why you joined the party, if you left the party why and what might make you want to join in the future." Got a spare weekend, brothers & sisters?
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mersey Mayhem

A link to Saturday's events in Liverpool & other parts of the country:,,1796292,00.html .
The local media, including the local BBC outlets, have affected astonishment at the way things transpired. Gullibility among the local hacks? No way. More like a juicy story which can be breathlessly related to the middle class wannabes who somehow perceive the Liverpool Echo as a local journal of record.
I do have some sympathy for the BBC. They have been portrayed as irresponsible & blithely indifferent to the consequences of showing England's match on the big screen. Instead, the antics of the local intelligentsia, fuelled by cheap booze, grilled by hot temperatures & spoiling for a fight with anyone, was the sole cause of the mayhem.
The people at the Liverpool Culture Company ( ) are paid to be spin doctors, among other things. They will therefore seek to downplay this episode as an isolated act involving just a handful of lumpen scallies. The reality is greater & darker, tapping into a local mindset which has long revelled in a fug of self-pity & fecklessness.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Different wavelengths

The phone rang just as I sneezed. Great, I thought, a snifly croak of a voice with which to answer. There was a slight delay when I picked up the phone, no more than half a second, but sufficient to tell me that a call centre somewhere on this globe was on my case. The male caller mispronounced my surname. I stiffened. Jumping straight in with his pitch, he asked me if I had read the Times recently.
"Nooo," I averred.
The caller persisted, seemingly oblivious to the tone of my response, telling me of the paper's "merits".
"Which paper do you normally read?" he chirruped.
"The Guardian," I said.
Warming to a theme that had started to buzz around my brain, I casually informed him that I hadn't read the Times for many years.
"Oh, any reason for that?" he bubbled.
"Rupert Murdoch," I said, the syllables of the name being enunciated with audible disgust.
The penny dropped. He remarked that a lot of the people didn't seem to like Murdoch. You don't say, I was tempted to comment, but didn't. He quickly bade me farewell.
"Have a nice day," he whimpered.
"You too," I smiled before replacing the receiver.

The hot weather has coincided with a plethora of English flags. Otherwise sane individuals have succumbed to the infantile orgy of nationalism. England's first game this afternoon saw them labour to a single goal victory over the mighty Paraguay. The ruddy featured John Bulls grunted & belched their relief at the final whistle.

Across the pond the influence of the bloggers continues to rise exponentially, as confirmed in today's New York Times ( ).
Writing in the same edition, columnist Maureen Dowd freely confesses her mixed feelings at the bloggers convention in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Ostrich Summit

A revealing cameo from my workplace this afternoon. Three middle aged female colleagues & I were lamenting our new working environment. The arrogance of management was commented on sourly by all. Then it all went very Daily Mail.
Ostrich 1: "'Course, the government are quite happy for this to carry on, it means they can bring in more asylum seekers."
Ostrich 2: "Yeah, that's why our kids won't get a decent wage when they start work. These Arabs work for nothing, so Tony Blair's gonna do f*** all about it."
Let me get this straight, you're blaming asylum seekers, Arab or otherwise, for the lousy wages that employers can pay young workers. And it's all with Tony Blair's agreement?
Ostrich 3: "These foreigners are ruining it for our kids. They've got no chance while more of them stream into the country."
This learned exchange continued for a further ten minutes or so, by which time I was grateful to leave The Brains Trust & deliver a package to another department.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

And We Won't Build Jerusalem In England's Green & Pleasant Land

Out with the old, in the new (excuse the cliche). I didn't need any battalions of advisers, spin merchants, PR creatures, etc. lurking in the undergrowth. The blog's new persona begins here.
Under increasingly clear blue skies the preponderance of English flags on cars, vans, lorries & even bikes has grown exponentially. It sucks. I am too aware of my own family background (Liverpool/Irish) to buy into this nationalistic gangbang. Every so often I'm asked if I "support" England in the football tournaments. I just smile & say that I'm a Liverpool fan, period. Diplomatic, but, hopefully pointed.
Musically, I've been listening to Willie Nile's "The Day I Saw Bo Diddley In Washington Square", Jamie Liddel''s "Multiply" & Howe Gelb's "But I Did Not".