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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


with, yet another, change of tack in the implementation and purpose of the id cards perhaps now is the time for gordon brown to finally kick this unwanted (and unnecessary) piece of legislation into the very long grass.
it would save cash. it would be a vote winner.
even david cameron can see that, as he has written to several companies telling them not to sign long term contracts because he is going to scrap the scheme. have to say i agree with him.

one of the things we elect governments to do is to make the hard choice, the hard decisions that we, individually, would not do. the government should be seeing the big picture and operating in the best interest of society.
you can see why they thought that an id card scheme would be necessary and needed. yet they have failed to make the case for id cards stick. no one wants them. no one sees the need for the cards. opposition to the scheme has united people on the left and people on the right.

each time they change their approach the case gets weaker.
the only reason for continuing appears to be stubbornness on the part of gordon brown. (actually there might be a second reason they wish to continue with the scheme: the desire to push money into the hands of big business. governments seem to have a fetish for spending (well wasting) a lot of money on large-scale computer programmes. even worse business has a habit of promising the moon and providing a bit of swampland, but hey the free market always knows best).
this is the time when a good politician should step up to the crease (cricket, dear boy, and not that horrid baseball game) and admit they are wrong and they have decided to drop the scheme.
they won’t, but they should.

all the while gordon brown is passing on one of the promises he could easily make that would help restore his popularity. all he has to say is: no to id cards. simple really.

(more about saying no to id cards can be found here.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009


ever since eve took a chunk out of that granny smith there has been evil in the world. along with stupidity evil is one of the human traits you can find everywhere and every when. evil is a universal constant: always there.
evil comes in all shapes and sizes, it is perpetuated by individuals, groups and societies.
you only have to think of hitler, stalin, isle koch, elizabeth bathroy, spanish inquisition, the somme, agent orange, jeremy kyle and many others to get the idea.
i don’t want to paint too bleak a picture because as easy as it is to find evil, it is just as easy to find beauty. just the other day there i was wandering the halls of the tate modern, there you get a small glimpse into the creative soul of mankind. to stand in awe at the works of picasso and mondrian, to gaze with wonder at a lichtenstein or rothko, to be filled with wonder by hockney or wearing.
and that is just the art dear reader; i have glossed over the magic that can be found in literature and music or in film.
so while there is evil in the world there is beauty and joy too.
yet it was at the tate modern that i experienced my own personal moment of evil. it was not through the works of jake and dinos chapman with their dioramas of hell, that illuminate the darker aspects of man’s psyche, not was it in the canvases of francis bacon laying bare the diseased soul of humanity.
no fellow traveller this evil was more real than the art that fills the tate modern. this was real evil.
the evening was drawing to a close, i had enjoyed my walk around the per kikeby exhibition, but the time to go had come. feeling lazy i headed for the lifts. unusually a lift was there waiting. i get in. press the button for the second floor. doors close.
then it hits me. the evil strikes.
the perpetrator more mysterious than jack the ripper, the effects as lingering as mustard gas. yes, faithful reader, as the door clanged shut and the recorded voice told me which floor i was on i tasted evil, i smelt evil. i have no idea if when the initial crime had been committed it was an sbd (silent but deadly) but i can confirm that it lingered, it congealed, and it hung around the confines of the lift. trapped in that little space what had been to someone a simple fart had become a lethal toxic weapon.
vileness on a lovecraftean scale.
i am not sure i can ever enter a lift again, the trauma was so great.
somewhere out there a rasputin type character is cackling with glee knowing that one of his farts has claimed another victim.

i tell you now brothers and sisters there is evil in the world.
evil in the world.

Thursday, June 25, 2009



there is something special about the bus. it is a microcosm of all that is right and wrong about the modern world. you can see people at their best and their worst.

it had been a pleasant day walking around london, a few galleries, a coffee or two. yet all things must come to an end, so homeward bound. joining the crowd (ah do you remember the good old days of when people knew how to queue? i do) waiting at the stop for the 25 bus. i settled back and prepared to wait. i let the first one go by as it was packed. easy to do, i wasn’t in a hurry.

one of the things about waiting for a bus is that you get to watch the people go by. a bit of a lecherous glance here, a giggle at a fashion faux pas there. the problem with looking around at people is that sometimes you just spot someone you wished you hadn’t seen.
there he was in all his glory. a very smart, neat black man who is carrying two canvases, the front one carrying the legend “ian tomlinson” the other one “mark quinsey”. he looks like he wouldn’t say boo to a goose; all that marks him out are the two canvases.

second 25 bus comes along. fewer people on it, fewer people getting on it. winner. hop on. sit down. get home. simple. i choose to sit close to the doors, hoping to get any cool fresh air that enters the bus.
canvas man sits down across from me.
doors close. the engines cough. bus moves off. canvas man starts to talk. he has a deep rich african voice. he is not talking to me, he is preaching to the bus.

he tells the assembled (captured?) passengers that he has been at a protest. he has been bringing to people’s attention that both ian tomlinson (died at the g20 protests) and mark quinsey (shot at army barracks in northern lreland) have been murdered. not just murdered, but murdered by the freemasons. not only were the freemasons in on it, but it was known about by the queen and sanctioned by a member of the queen’s family.
no one says a thing.
everyone knows it is better to let him rant. why? engage them in conversation or meet their eyes and you are trapped, you are going to be their bitch for the rest of the journey and they are going to talk to you and you alone. when that happens everyone else on the bus will just sit back and enjoy your discomfort.
so he is studiously ignored.
to his credit he doesn’t care. he just goes on.

every two stops he just starts to tell the story again.
around the fourth telling he adds more detail and colour to the tale.
the queen is still involved. so are the freemasons. now arabs and muslims are involved. hypnotism is added to the mix. throw in a little girl who looked at him, she did this, he informed the bus, in order to trap him on charges of paedophilia.
well when you add all of that up you either have one serious cover up that needs to be on the front page of the daily telegraph (if only he could have woven expenses into the narrative) or you have the ramblings of a fractured mind.

whatever the state of mind is the story is repeated like a broken record, does that analogy work in the digital world?

as i listened i wondered if in the world of conspiracy theorists there are people who are considered to be just too far out there, that even the david ickes of the world consider to be nutters?

say what you will about the bus but there are times when you get more than you bargained for.


five hundred years ago henry tudor became henry the eighth, king of england.
he was a bit of a renaissance man. a man of words, a man of action. a lover and a fighter.
before he became king he received some advice on how to live his life from jack skelton, his first tutor. some of them were banal such as "don't be mean". whoa, radical stuff to put before a king. don't worry skelton had a trick or two up his sleeve.
one of the maxims skelton offered prince henry was:
"don't deflower virgins, do not violate widows."

words to live by my friend.
words to live by.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


the two stories of the night are the decline of labour and the bnp winning two seats. a far bit of drivel spoken about both.

no shock that the european elections has proved to be a disastrous night for the labour party. talk about shooting yourself in the foot. thanks to people like ian gibson, who resigned because he didn’t like the way he was treated over his expense (still not to worry his daughter has a flat out of it) or hazel blears, resigning before she was reshuffled. james purnell, resigning in the hope that others would follow him to bring down gordon brown, but they didn’t. or caroline flint, one moment a loyalist, the next moment throwing her rattle out of the pram because she didn’t get the job she wanted.
mostly these seem to be about personality, none of them seem to have come forward with a plan on how to resolve either the expense row or how to steer a course through the economic crisis.
it is true that gordon brown is not the most charismatic of people, but he does seem to be the person who has at least an idea of what to do. if only his party would stop fighting itself.

my favourite comment from the night came right at the death when a tory mep said that if we had a different system then the bnp would not have been voted in.
i am still amazed that so many people can be for democracy but only when it provides the results that we agree with.
over the course of the night on the radio one of the big stories was the potential success of the bnp. lots of stuff about it being a dark night for democracy, various pundits making sure that they got their sound bite on how “depressed” “disgusted” they were that the bnp had polled so many votes. given the tone of the comments you would have thought that we were witnessing an updated version of krystallnacht and that the bnp had stormed the polls, rather than they won two seats. previous experience shows that they will prove to be ineffective in power and they will be out at the next election.
all the thunderous words of condemnation of the talking heads does is make sure that the bnp remain in the public view, that they get a chance to air their opinions, (and i would argue that part of the reason for the success of the bnp in this election was in part down to all the free advertising they got from the media worrying about the bnp benefiting from the expenses fallout.

lost in all of this was the fact that the green party won two seats, and increased their share of the vote, but that is a positive story and that doesn’t sell the news.

if labour does not buck its ideas up then the results are a signpost to their future: the wilderness.

Friday, June 05, 2009


listening to gordon brown giving a press conference about his cabinet shuffle. he has never been seen as the most gifted of speakers, that said you can tell that he is a man who is a man who wants to do a good job, and he believes he has the answers to the problems that face the country.
throughout the press conference he went on about how he wasn't complacent but that he was resolute, yet each time he said it you just got the feeling that even he knows that the end is drawing closer and closer.
that the government is in meltdown was further strengthened by the news during the press conference that one of his ministers, caroline flint, resigned and was pretty scathing in her comments.
whatever happened to loyalty?
whatever happened to working for the public good?
that seems to have deserted the labour party.

i don't want to see gordon brown resign from the job at hand (and during his press conference he said several times that he wasn't going to walk away, almost as if he was a country and western singer) but i do want to see him grab the labour party by the scruff of the neck and take control of labour members of parliament, remind them what is at stake and make sure that they work together to make sure that the conservatives have no chance of winning the next election.
(and if the thought of the conservative party in power is not bad enough, then the thought that we will hear more from eric pickles should be enough to scare us all).

oh and i have a pony as well, just to throw a calvin and hobbes reference in there to lighten the mood.


why on earth are kajagoogoo getting back together?
why on earth are kajagoogoo touring?
does anyone care?
surely this is a sign of the coming apocalypse?

there should be laws against this sort of thing.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


there are times when all you can do is scratch your head and wonder, not quite jaw dropping but almost. my working life was filled with moments like that when the only sane response was: “they did what”?
british politics is going through a head scratching moment that is veering towards the jaw dropping.
there are two major problems that face british government the credit crunch/crisis and the mess that is the expenses of members of parliament. ideologically the conservatives and labour may have differences of opinion on how to steer a course through the economic crisis. so far it seems that labour have more answers than the conservatives. on that basis it is a case of more of the same please when it comes to who runs the country.
the expenses question is one that involves all the main parties working together to create a new clean and transparent system, which also means making sure all the freeloaders are named and shamed. on that basis it seems too sensible not to call an election until the system is cleaned up.
i can understand why the scottish nationalists and plaid cymru are planning to table a commons motion to call for an immediate general election. david cameron’s reasons for agreeing with them are little more than political game playing as he and his team just keep going on about how little authority gordon brown has, while providing little in the way of concrete solutions to the issues of the day.

it is accepted that labour is going to suffer some serious losses in the county and european elections. most of those losses can be laid at the feet of the expense fiasco because voters are giving the party in power a bloody nose.

there is to be a cabinet reshuffle and it was also going to be likely that jacqui smith and hazel blears were going to lose their posts, both chose to resign before they were pushed. this has become gordon brown has lost two of his ministers – it makes for better press that way.
james purnell, who was the secretary of state for work and pensions, has now resigned. in his resignation he calls for gordon brown to stand down in order to give labour a fighting chance to beat cameron and the conservative party in the next general election.
mmm i wonder who is smiling at that resignation letter? oh no need to struggle with the answer it would be david cameron. so now the tories have some meat to their claims of a government in disarray. so thanks very much for that james purnell, thank you for making it even more likely that cameron gets in. thank you james purnell for making sure that the next few weeks are taken up with wittering and twittering among politicians as they plot, scheme and jockey for position. thank you james for making sure that politicians are not focused on the job of running the country but more concerned with internal wrangling.
step forward james and take a bow, you have done the conservative party a great service.

as for you barry sheerman if you want a vote to change the leadership – don’t do it by secret ballot, let us see a show of hands, let us see exactly who we can hold responsible for any changes that take place. if labour mps are too shy to take ownership of their view on who should lead the party then perhaps they should not be voting on it.

the sad part of it all is that all this has done is make sure that we have a conservative government after the next election. i am already dreading it, something else i can thank james purnell for.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


while i am not adverse to a chat and a natter i am not one of life’s most approachable people, i wear a scowl that seems to say “leave me alone, i am not interested”. mostly that is a perfect state of affairs for me. ever so occasionally i get dragged into a conversation with a stranger.
i am not comfortable with this for the simple reason i have never really learnt the art of knowing when a conversation has come to it’s natural end (these days i know by the glazed look of fear in people’s eyes “will he never shut up” they seem to say).

so there i am on sunday walking down brick lane. the weather was too hot for me (expect lots of moans about the heat in the coming days, weeks and months) though i was still cocooned in the happy glow of a decent cup of coffee. there is a part of brick lane that has become a little bazaar where people rock up to sell any old bits and bobs that they have. one chap seemed to have a leather coat for sale. i wasn’t interested in buying it but he had hung it up on the wall and it made for an interesting picture. i asked him if i could take a few snaps of the coat. he said yes. he commented on the camera, we chatted.
it was one of those chats where it wasn’t so much a dialogue but two overlapping monologues that had the appearance of a conversation.

i learnt he was out of work, was a physicist, liked walking, did photography, enjoyed a drink, was involved with a collective of artists, had problems with an ex. all the usual broad strokes you quickly get.
most importantly he provided me with a great quote: “i drink, i fuck, i occasionally shoot photographs”.
on that sunny sunday afternoon it sounded like the perfect advice on how to spend your day.