Monthly Archives: January 2011

Living in a Time Warp

I like to entertain the notion that I am not such a narrow-minded individual as to immediately lie down in the road and object to every last thing that comes of out of our coalition government’s mouth, but yet again my heart sinks as George Osborne has his moment of: Georgie Porgie’s not for turning on the television yesterday.

He has to stick to the plan of cuts, he said, because mind-changing would induce market panic. Maybe so. Then he was so dismissive of the unions that I would like to poke him with a sharp stick. Apparently, he hopes to sort out a possible wave of strikes by having a “mature” conversation. Of course the implication was that a union was not capable of such a thing. He also said he’d be willing to change the union laws to prevent striking if necessary and, if that were not outrageous enough, he proceeded to tell unions what was best for their members anyway i.e. what he proposes.

What rank arrogance. How long I will have to wait for that man to come a cropper, I do not know, but please let it be soon. Get after him Mr Balls, and get after him good.

Aside from the jaw-dropping conceit of the Chancellor, we are also witnessing the Tories scratching around like Old Mother Hubbard for the odd crumb on the floor to flog to private interests. Maggie only left them the Royal Mail and the Forestry Commission (the NHS they only dare to give to GPs to run). I can be reasoned with over the Royal Mail, but the idea of handing over forests and woodlands to charities or community groups, knowing full well private landowners are going to pick up the slack, is plain depressing.

Many communities can barely function as a community; thanks in part to this shower’s ideological inspiration. Remember there is no such thing as society…just individuals…and families. Those communities that remain, struggle to effectively run a community centre without support from the local council, so how the heck are they going to effectively manage a forest? It’s not just a case of listening out for falling trees and letting nature take care of the rest; it involves hard work, dedication, skilled management and conservation. In fact, all the things the Forestry Commission currently delivers. Please don’t be hoodwinked people. The Government say they want to hand us our own forests to share and enjoy together, but we haven’t got the time, the energy or the expertise to do it. This is nothing more than a money-making exercise that will leave much of our forests in the hands of private individuals. And don’t think they’ll want the likes of us tramping about on their land; not unless we are prepared to pay handsomely and join a pheasant shoot or summat.

Thankfully, and I never thought I would write this, Melvyn Bragg is on the case. Go Melvyn…

The Forest of Dean: not being flogged

Millions to One and a Visually Distressing Spectacle

Firstly, it came to my attention that the other week, down the road at Romford Dog Track, there was a triple dead heat in a greyhound race. This hardly ever happens, hence the millions to one quoted as the odds. Fortunately for the books this was not an offer they had chalked up on the boards and heavily promoted beforehand, because if they had, people like me might have thrown a quid at it and been happy to settle for the maximum payout quoted.

Before I got to write that paragraph though, I began watching the Australian Open Final: what a disaster that is and I don’t mean Murray’s tennis in the second set. The blue squeaky court, the discordant product placement all over the shop (the one that offends me most is the lurid pink mineral water sign behind the umpire’s chair), the yellow-to-tangerine colours the ball people and line officials wear, and their hats! Why hats? You aren’t outside you muppets, there’s no sun in your eyes. In a final humiliation, the kids fetching balls are forced to wear not just the baseball cap, but the cap with a flap, as if they were little desert rats. And I have observed the shame of their outfits has caused them to keep tripping over each other as they hurry out of the camera’s glare…

Then there is Andy; never the best dressed, but Andy, the green with the black and the black boots? He looks like he’s off to play 5-a-side football. Djokovic is giving a better account of himself sartorially, but again he is compromised by one of his legs hanging off below the knee and his need to tip great quantities of eye drops into his dry eyes with his gob hanging open as the camera does a close-up. I will say though he’s playing great tennis for someone who can’t see.

But the thing that has nearly made me switch off is Murray’s towel. A riot of colour that should only, if ever, be seen on a beach. The towel is so loud, you can’t just see it, you can hear it too. Anyway Murray has just broken his opponent’s serve for the first time, so I’m going to bear with it. If he loses, I’ll blame the towel.

Here is a much more aesthetically pleasing shot: Droopys Djokovic (centre) in the Romford triple dead heat. Spookily he wears the Djokovic blue like his Serbian namesake and went on to smash the other two dogs in a rematch the following week.

It also occurs to me as I watch this filthy game of tennis that, as a maths concept, tennis is on pretty shaky ground. 15, 30, 40 etc. Now what’s that about? They should score them geometrically if you ask me.

P.S. By the time I’d half-sorted out all the grammar and wotnot Murray’s riotous towel has slunk on its belly off the court…

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Tallis Fantasia

To me, this piece sounds like a sea of music and I like watching the motion of the violinists and cellists. When I was a very bad and disobedient violinist (sorry Mr Faulkner) I would never have had the nerve to sway like that. And when I was a somewhat better cellist (thank you Mr Horsfall), in an orchestra and positioned right on the edge of the stage, I am certain I played my instrument like Punchestowns jumps a fence: “as if he had an iron rod in his back” – John Francome.

Still, there’s always a glass of wine and the old joanna…

Minding the Gap #1

In an information overload situation, such as we may find ourselves in an age where mobile phones outnumber toothbrushes two to one, catching the space between thoughts is vital to remain in balance. Seductive as thinking can be, it is also inclined to run away with one. You can’t actually switch off the internal monologue to order, but if you do happen to find a quiet moment in your mind, jump right in.

Animals can do this most effectively. Here is a Turkish dog doing just that. He is today’s guru; listen hard for the silence…

By the Power of the Burger

A while back I was fruitlessly wringing my hands about the seemingly insurmountable problem of getting a replacement driving licence, when I had no idea where I had lived in the past and no record of my driver’s number.

The only answer, it seemed was to go the Big Smoke and physically retrace my residential steps in London, noting down all the addresses I had lived at in my 15 years there (7 separate flats). Then, by the Power of the Blog came Daftburger to the Rescue. Daftburger, as far as I can gather, is a Stoke-on-Trent Sinophile, a fellow sufferer of chest infections, a devoted canary owner, a sucker for a canine sob story and, most importantly On Wishes and Horses: a free thinker. Daftburger always shoots from the hip.

Kindly, and by the Power of Google Maps and some impressive Powers of Inquisition of the flake that writes this blog he ascertained my previous address in Stoke Newington for me which meant, that after months in the Pending pile, my driving licence could be sent off \o/

And guess what? Burger actually got the door number right and, instead of getting back a flea in my ear letter from the DVLA for my crass incompetence and impertinence, I now, for the first time ever, have a photo driving licence. I can hire cars if I want. And I can put some points on my licence which I’ve also acquired in the intervening period – snapped doing 38 mph in a 30 mph zone. Those would be my first ever points, which I consider to be quite an achievement, especially as half of those speed trap cameras aren’t meant to be bloody working. Fate works in mysterious ways…

Anyway, thank you for your help Burger and have a good holiday. When you come back I’ll need to sort out my lost contracted out SERPS pension…


Sometimes you can put your feet up, but it’s just not happening. We managed to catch Rudi on the sofa between a bout of growling and stressing over the gift of a pork sausage. He can’t eat the item, he has to wander around with it whining…

The Pantone Hotel

News of this hotel came my way via Twitter yesterday.  I am not sure I am ever going to be in Brussels, but if I am I might go and have a cocktail there: Pink Champagne PANTONE 12-1107

I find it hard to imagine a world without the Pantone Color Matching System myself…


Burns Night: To a Mouse

This poem was written by Robert Burns after he had  turned up a mouse’s nest ploughing a field.

*raises a wee dram*

When snow is a red herring: the UK economy contracts

I am sure I am not the only person to snort with disgust when the media report today’s figures, from the Office of National Statistics, that show a “shock” contraction of 0.5% in the UK’s economy in the last quarter of 2010?

How can it be a shock when ever since the Coalition cobbled themselves together in May they have been taking money out of the economy, meaning that most of us have less to spend, and that what we need to buy costs more.  It’s a simple equation that means we consumers cannot afford to grow the economy out of recession.  And because our version of capitalism has been so closely linked to excessive consumerism – I’d say the model is in trouble.

From April more public sector workers will hit the scrapheap; that will take more money out of circulation and so on until down the plughole we will go.  Shrinking the state has been one of George Osborne’s long-standing ideologies before he got his mitts on the public purse and his dogged persistence in pursuing that aim, before industry is in a position to expand to fill the gap, is at best short-sighted and at worst downright vandalistic.

The equation is simple about our own spending and so is the model of swift action by the coalition: they want to get the pain out of the way in time for the country’s economy to have taken a turn for the better in time for the next election.  George can’t afford to hang about because he wants the glory run.  I don’t think it’s coming.  The devastating effects of the cuts and inflation are kicking in now and private enterprise is not going to be able to pick up the slack in time for there to be a quick upturn in the economy.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the state of the economy has given the coalition carte blanche to viciously shrink the state in short order not just for our own good and to pay off the nation’s debt (economists say we are not even going start touching that for another 5 years), but to fit with certain politicians’ pre-existing ideas about how economies and countries should be run which are then blindly applied.  A scientist would look at the experiment so far and observe that it isn’t working in the way they had predicted.  Unless Osborne knows that we (yes us, not just some thing called the economy) are going to go through this and is lying.

Instead  Osborne just blames the snow for the downturn in the quarter that included Christmas: well you may as well just say leaves on the line George, leaves on the line…


Anti-Photography: Ed Ruscha

I wonder how this set of photos would have turned out if all Mr Ruscha had to hand on Sunset Strip was a Blackberry.

The fluorescent strip lighting has added its own effect.