Thursday, 23 April 2009

Alternative History Cycle

Well I see that Jack Jones has died. Despite disagreeing with pretty much everything the old man believed, including that mass non-democratic organisations (which could compel an individual to join and which had no method of secret ballot) had the right to bring down democratically elected governments, he was one of the last of the ascetic leftists who used to dominate, generally for ill but for a kind of good-natured ill, the politics of this country. Let us be clear: Jack Jones was not for fat bastard MPs luxuriously feathering their own second nests with taxpayer funded porn; nor was he in favour of giving entry to government to people who had simply supported it: no, for better and largely worse, he was a leader of working people and led them according to his principles. We may have forgotten these: but in essence the word "principles" means " a set of deeply held beliefs", and Jack Jones worked with this bizarre concept, sometimes to the enrichment of his followers, sometimes to their disadvantage, but always with a view of what was right, even when it was wrong. At no stage did Jack Jones say "oh fuck it I'll just take what I can fucking get" like everyone in public life does now. Well yes he did "meet" representatives of the USSR, but what can you do? - The whole left was so utterly compromised by its half-hearted understanding of democracy that he was about as good as the bastards came (and continue to come today).


What if things had been different: if Jack Jones and his ilk had prevented, at the point of another anti-democratic strike, the proto-monetarist government (yes I know he supported it) of 1976-9 taking effect? What if we had slipped into outright socialism in 1976? Say at a flashpoint in the IMF, ooh, I dunno, November 1976? Around the 17th?

And from that date had the government stuck two fingers up to the IMF and embraced collective bargaining type socialism?

Come 1981, say, does anyone really think the country would have been at ease with itself? That the riots of 1981 would have never happened?

What, I wonder, would have been the case in, say, November 1981? Who would have rioted and why? Who would have got on and put their heads down?

What would have been the State of the Nation?

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Delusions of NuLab

Yes, while everyone is now starting to see the bunch of bullying creeps for what they have always been, thanks to Guido and a timely mea culpa by Alice Miles in the Times a couple of days ago, Harriet Harman is still insisting that black is white (as she does with the Equalities Bill, which, in order apparently to combat discrimination, enshrines it in law).

Here are a couple of choice quotes in a small article on Yahoo News:

She continued: "Whatever anyone else does, we will not fight in the gutter. No-one in the Labour Party wants to see us involved in personal attacks. The Prime Minister has made it clear that this has no place in politics.

Um, yeeessssss. Sooooo, it's the "anyone else" who's been making up nasty stories about the opposition for the last few years is it? The "anyone else" who's been bullying lobby hacks all this time? And as for the PM making it clear....HE'S THE WORST BULLY OF ALL!!!

For fuck's sake man. Woman. This is ludicrous. It bears absolutely no resemblance to reality whatsoever. It's either a delusion or a lie. PArt of the problem with NuLab over the years is that they do not see the difference.

"So we will have nothing to do with smearing the Tories. But we will take them on, on their polices - past, present and future. The way to win is to fight on our values and principles."

Let's just get this straight Ms Harman, shall we. You WERE smearing them, you just got caught. Finally, you got exposed for everything you bastards have been doing for a decade or more - not just to Tories but to innocent members of the public (anyone remember the "racist" Rose Addis?) and even members of your own bloody party. For crying out loud, I know that certain religions have a mystical idea that the one thing evil cannot face is itself but this is ridiculous.

And this is saying nothing about the "values" of a govt which still thinks it was right to arrest an opposition MP for doing his job.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Monday, 13 April 2009

Love And Pride

I now have very little of either: adult life seems to be a gradual stripping of pretensions. I see, in the light of the monitor, the creases in my skin, the folds of my ageing hands, the scars of accidental and deliberate wounds taking me back from the late nineties to the early eighties. The early eighties. John Nathan-Turner (dec'd) once wrote that he wanted to take Doctor Who "into the Eighties" and what he did was to cut the humour, cut the vagueness, cut Douglas Adams' Oxbridge surreal humour, bring in sharp and bright design, synthesised music, stories that made little or no sense but sounded cool or seemed cool on a first 25 minute week by week (no video initially) viewing, and a lead actor whose ridiculous vulnerability in no way fitted a trans-dimensional superhero.

JN-T got the 80s. He got them quick: The Leisure Hive Part One went out on 30 August 1980. It still looks pretty good today, apart from the Foamasi. I think if JN-T's Who had unlimited money, it would have been the definitive artistic expression of the British 1980s. JN-T got it, he saw it, he just never had the cash. Hence after The Caves of Androzani and drastically after Revelation of the Daleks, that vision was curtailed and abandoned. Oddly enough, just as the 80s began to generate money Doctor Who collapsed in an orgy of violence (Lytton's hands....), and nothing was ever the same again, instead becoming a fusion of outdated hippiness and slavering irony. But, there, in 1980, JN-T got it.

JN-T even got the dark turn of the 80s in 1984. Colin Baker was even cast and designed as an anti-Doctor, with his ghastly, evil costume and his character, which would weep over a dead sparrow but walk over a dead man (as JN-T put it at the time or in similar words). Season 22 was a fine cultural expression of Britain in the mid-80s: nasty, cynical, sexist and violent. Resurrection of the Daleks is the turning point here. But JN-T had seen it coming in 1982, with Eric Saward's script for Warhead - following that there was the turn of the sharp-edged coin - the children's show with the crushed hands, the suffocation, the cannibalism, the stabbing, the eating of the dead, the casual acid-bath murders, the drunk on his way to kill a man using the dying to make Daleks ("You forget, I am a doctor, when they torture me I'll know the name and function of every organ that pops out"), the presentation of violence-for-entertainment, the endless killing, killing, killing. Season 22 knows that dying is an art, like everything else: it does it exceptionally well.

And it did it at 1720 or 1745 on a Saturday: hardly adult viewing time. I remember Revelation of the Daleks Part One. I remember - the one and only time of my childhood - hiding behind the sofa. After Jim'll Fix It: mutated bodies, human protein, a vile boss of a funeral parlour, a lame and awful woman trying to impress this callous and selfish bastard. And a cynical businesswoman, a failed warrior, and bodies all over the place.

All good, family viewing.

It's not good and it's not funny. It's Doctor Who and it's 1985.

Also on tv in 1985: EastEnders, Threads (rpt), The A-Team.

The A-Team.

The A-Team.

I see the A-Team.

Friday, 10 April 2009


Woooow! I was like, at this big like placee - Jeeesus, do I have to do this? yeah, so shut the fuck up - , and some dude was like in red and he was kickin it like good, man he was the dude, he like held up this big bit of wood -oh my god I want to die - and then he _OMG_ kissed it!!!! Hey man what kind of porn wos tat? Funneee! Yeah man I was like wot? But then - er, I mean ven - he like did other stuff too - 2- like give owt - is this right? - bits ov bred. Peepl -that's fine - they like took ve brd and like ET it - fucking hell is it hometime yet? No fucking get on with it you slackwitted twat - and then it was like, all quit - you mean QUIET you idiot, no he's rite, quit is good, oh fuck I really really want to die - and then we like went home.....

cross posted from my Facebook page, but with unaccountable interventions from the Facebook staff.

Home where the heart no longer is, only the body.

Fortunately, the heart is only a small part of the body.

Scrape Away

Oh, you need to get away

Oh, you need a change of pace.....

c Paul Weller, 1980

Family Guy is Really Unfunny When They Do That Whole "Liberal Politics Are Great" Thing

Yeah...uh..that's it,really.

Good Friday

For once Ive taken Lent seriously - I think, for various reasons, I've needed to this year - and have nearly completed my chosen observance. It's not been easy but it's not been the hardest thing to do either. This year Lent has helped me to examine myself and my behaviour in more depth than before, but whether it has helped me actually move on, or just bog myself down in introspection I can't be entirely sure. Trying to rid myself of strong feelings that are no help - a sort of compacted, curled up mixture of love and anger - has been a constant thread of these last six weeks, and hasn't really been successful, if I'm honest. But I've appreciated the dedicated time to focus on it. Lent isn't a wonderful time of year, to be sure, but it is a kind of ritual, a reminder, like other seasons, feasts and holidays, that there is a kind of narrative structure to life, and that we can grow as people by taking part in it. Ritual generally is a difficult thing to get hold of: I tend to think we have sublimated it into routine, especially the routine of work, because doing things within a pre-ordained structure does, sometimes, give us a kind of extra freedom to act. Routines give us location and stability and sometimes then the confidence to strike out on something, whether it be a project or a decision. Rituals act in a similar way. The other thing the two have in common is that to some extent they are shared experiences. Sharing a setting like this can also help with the stability and confidence you need to act.

Peace is a strange thing and I often think I run a mile from it. Last night I went to church for Holy Thursday and waited around at the end to watch the Host in the tabernacle - in imitation of the disciples waiting for Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The total silence was seductive, and I sat there for a while, trying to loosen the chunks of irrelevance and pained introspection that naturally clog my mind up in such moments. It worked, I sat there in a kind of meditative quiet, but then the rubbish came floating to the surface again, and unwilling to make the effort to continue, I left.

As an aside a recent article by Simon Barnes in the Times pointed out that sporting achievement - for anyone, regardless of ability - where you push yourself hard, and do what you never thought you could - was the closest we come in the West to a form of meditation, in that it involved emptying out thought and anxiety and focusing in entirely on the one thing, existence, whose possibilities you are exploring. I found his argument entertaining but again not relevant to me. Exercise - running for 4 or so miles say - is a constant lecture in pain by my suffering, lazy body. I watch the distance all the time, focus on mentally whinging about minor aches and irritations and eventually stop, sometimes having pushed myself to my goal, sometimes not. I can see the potential for meditative time in this, but it doesn't work for me.

SO here we are at Good Friday, the commemoration of Jesus' death, his fear of death, his submission, his faith, the curious modernity of Pilate, the waiting. Not my favourite day by any means (can't bear the fasting) but one whose rhythms and rituals make me think again about the meaning of faith and the possibility of sacrifice. Not that I want to think about it, or even think that I could ever sacrifice anything for another person...but then, that's the point, I suppose.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Red Dwarfs

Real ones, I mean. These guys are very cool. They are 85% or so of the galaxy, but we can't see any with the naked eye, meaning that the sky we see is exceptional, not normal. They are between about 0.6 of the solar mass and something almost infinitesimal (but not quite - then you get brown dwarfs).

They burn, slowly and steadily, with surface temps of around 3000K and some of them, the smallest, presumably, with estimated lifespans of 6 trillion or so years. They just burn and burn and burn. They're not great candidates for inhabited planets because some of them seem to be a bit flary at times and a planet would need to be very close indeed to be "in the zone" for life.

These stars do not disturb the universe but are among its commonest objects; they make no waves, cause no black holes, but just plod on and on, in their little corners of space, doing their thing. For years and years and years. And we can't even see them as we look up at the night sky.

The forgotten men of the universe, quietly fiery, in every corner that is too small for us to see.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A Dead God Will Fall Out of the Telephone

Why I hate telephones:

1) Bad news always comes via the phone.
2) The infernal feline attention grabbing ringing of the damned device.
3) The eternal possibility of a call in the middle of the night, bringing, inevitably, fatal or near fatal news. This has now happened to me 4 times I think.
4) The truly horrible, insistent, witch-on-crack like ringing itself.
5) Whoever it is, wants you now.
6) When really I'd rather speak to them at another time.
7) The disembodied voice at the other end is just that, a voice.
8) Phones make my bowels move.
9) Most phone conversations are ghastly, one dimensional affairs.
10) Since I last had friends, it now seems that people surf the web, check their texts, take other calls and generally do loads of stuff while they are supposedly chatting to you. What the fuck is this? Are you such a fuckwit you can't talk to another human being for 2 minutes without checking your fucking mobile? Jesus.

The title of this post is taken from a poem by Ted Hughes.

TD's Amazing Lifestyle

I've just had a conversation.

On the telephone.

Beat that!

The Value of My Blogging

$329 apparently.

Hardly seems worth it.

Gym Update No N.

I thought I'd update the world on my progress. Here is my entire gym experience, summed up in one word:


Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Matt's Blogging Issues

Well it seems that not for the first time Matt M has given up blogging. I've said repeatedly how much I rate his attitude and talent, so I won't dwell on that. But it made me wonder how I have stuck it out, with considerably less to say than Matt, for nearly three years. Here are a couple of ways I've managed it.

1)I couldn't give a rat's arse about it. I think this is important. I blog when I want to, don't when I don't. I don't care about stats, though it is lovely to have comments. Actually check that. I care about the comments, less so about the actual posting.

2) I say what I like. Actually this isn't true. One way I can stick it more easily than before is by staying out of the violent disputes which rage across the blogosphere. You wouldn't believe how much hate there is there: not just for politicians and those in power, but among those who just plain disagree. Real hate. So I tend to write nowadays about other stuff, though I allow myself a rant or two occasionally.

3) I blog when drunk. This is great fun. I feel sorry for anyone who has to read it, of course, but I like it.

4)I leave it fallow for weeks at a time. This hopefully gives me more ideas when I come to write later on. It also means I can't build a proper following but I don't mind too much.

I guess this isn't much use to Matt. But I hope whatever he does he gets back into blogging or serious writing soonish, because the shrillest voices are beginning to clog up the place now....

Saturday, 4 April 2009

La Puissance C'est Tout

As our civilisation collapses, with the inevitability of a 2+ solar mass star-type into its 1974 degeneracy limit, so we have idiot-savants queuing up to display their ability to take us fools into the abyss. Of course, they've been doing it for a while now but as they look more and more likely to lose their jobs in the reactive and productive recession, like a high mass giant puffing off its useless and pointless additional mass: they see their livelihoods dying and are trying to hold on for dear life - or in our case, dear death.

For, dear reader, let us not stint in our critique of leaders, managers and those "with responsibility". Let us not be fooled by the biting, savage crocodile tears, when their awesome burdens cause them to fire everyone else for their own errors: let us not be tricked by their aura of sadness, when it is their desire, fundamentally to tell other people to follow their own ideas that is to blame. These parasites, these viruses, which feed off the ability of others to work, the fundamental goodness and trustfulness of others; they slime their way into the consciousness and infect a healthy mind with their own neuroses. Do this, do that, believe me, follow me, I am right, you are fired. I felt nothing until I got the pleasure of giving orders. This is why in my private life I keep dogs. They live and they obey. They obey.

Let us not pretend we need these people: they led the C20 into unmitigated, unprecedented disaster. Let us, instead, cast them off, humiliate them, refuse - if necessary lose our jobs - let us stand up and say "fuck off": let us go, and walk away, and find some other poor pathetic animal to make them feel better.

Let us believe nothing of their credentials. This week, those with credentials killed four people for no reason. Those with credentials, entirely made up bits of paper which say nothing about life at all, kill and maim through their own selfishness. I talk not of real people like doctors, but of made up professionals, whose vocation has existed since the dawn of time and has worked roughly the same since then.

Someone waves their paper at you - wipe your arse with it. It doesn't matter how long it took them to earn it, or how much wasted energy it took. Wipe your fetid, sweaty arse on it. And smell your finger.

Why are we a nation of managerial parasites? Why do we all aim for it? Why do we, apart from paying the bills, because there are thousands of ways of doing this, want it? Why do we want to tell other people what to do for a living?

Really, why?

ps 1974 degeneracy pressure reached at the point where inflation exceeds growth by n%, where n= productivity over debt.

Lonely Heart Ad

You Are: Six feet tall, six five in heels, with breasts that are each larger than my head: you have tattoos on your crotch, lower back and left breast. The tattoo on your crotch says "Sex" or it might say "fuck". You have no hair on your body at all except your head and eyelids. You have an IQ of 220 and passed A Level maths at the age of 10. You have degrees in literature, philosophy, maths and physics. You are professor of maths at Cambridge but in your spare time you are Professor of Poetry at Oxford.

I am: 5 nowt, bald, with a gut that would shame Buddha. I have an IQ of a shade over 0, a microscopic knob, and I last precisely one push in bed. Any more than that and I come instantly. I make a weird "heurgh" noise when I come. I don't have a job. Instead I blog as "the fat cunt" and I sneer at passers-by when I know full well they look at me piteously.

Are you the one?

Tin Drummer's Breakfast, by David Peace

I am delighted to announce this guest post by David Peace, who has rendered my breakfast this morning in his own inimitable style. Enjoy!

Hunger. The constant rumble rumble of my empty stomach. Empty. Fucking empty. Always fucking empty. I walk downstairs hearing the birds outside. They sing. Sing for others, not for me. Not for Tin bloody Drummer. Because that's who I am. Who I always am. Tin Drummer.

Tin Drummer.

I cut the bread. Slice. The knife catches the light. I stuff the bread into the toaster and put the kettle on. It is the most warmth I will receive today.

Today they will laugh and jeer at me, when I arrive at the gym. Spiteful, hateful place. They hate me for what I am. Tin Drummer. Fat bastard, they will say. Fat bastard, their looks will say.

The kettle boils. Steam. Mist. Obscuring the day before me. I pour the boiling water into my mug. Boil, Tin. Boil. Boil.


I spread the butter on the hot toast. Flatten it. It fades away. Fading. Always fading. My butter. Tin Drummer's butter.

I eat the toast. Hot. Burning, burning, burning.

But I don't care. I never care about hot toast.

Because I am Tin.

Tin Drummer.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

He's Fucking Codding, is Clough

On re-reading The Damned Utd, before going to see the film.

I think the novel is a brave attempt to write as someone else. Someone who was, in a way, public property for a long time, partly out of choice. So one of the difficulties for the author is that people already think they know this character. The temptation for the writer must then be to try and uncover new things about the man: but he is recently dead, and so emotions and relationships are raw, and unbiased evidence thin on the ground. How do you get round this? You let the man himself speak - copy interviews and columns - and you invent a personality. In this case you have an author whose speciality is State of the Nation type stuff. So your invented personality contains elements of what you understand to be the contemporary culture, and what you believe to be key elements of the time. In this case: despair, anger, and collapse generally. These become, in the case of Brian Clough, the dominant elements of the characterisation in the novel.

However I don't think David Peace is deliberately casting Clough in a bad light, or defaming him, as far as that is possible: I think he is trying to pinpoint the essence of a man through his time, and through his greatest failure. In a way, how we deal with failure is key to how we develop as people. By showing the range of emotions at this time from despair to a kind of false hope, to a thirst for vengeance, the author is simply drawing a kind of human life. It doesn't mean that he hates Clough, or thinks he was overrated, or whatever: but that drawing a crisis in someone's life is a more valuable exercise in creating or re-creating their character.

It's a good book, at times falling a little flat - the segments on the death of Clough's mother are brief and you don't get a deep sense of how this impacted him - and sometimes veering into pretension (the repetition. It repeats. Again and again it repeats. Over and Over. Over), but is an excellent imaginative novel and also a great contribution to cultural history. Read it.