|Liz Kendall poses outside number 10 with the regulation Blairsuit|
she would wear in the unlikely event of her ever getting through the door.
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
I SAID THERE WAS NO POINT TO IT ALL.
But 'Anger is an Energy' - John Lydon.
Getting over May 7th I feel like some drunk in a pub who's looking for a punch-up over an insult to my wife whilst she pulls at my sleeve yelling 'Leave it, love, he ain't worth it!'. Like a coward I walked away under the heavy burden of defeat and disappointment, wondering why I'd wasted most of my life kicking against the ever-growing concrete wall of apathy which has imprisoned British common sense. Politics for some of us is like smoking and drinking. I've given up neither, so if there's a triumvirate of self-abusing occupations, then the third, political expression, has been missing. In short, I can't shut up.
I know that what I write here, unless it's something to do with unexplained phenomena, will only be read by, if I'm lucky, abut 20 people. I know who you are. Friends and acquaintances, fellow travelers, people in the main of like mind. Fair enough. If those 20 people can radiate the outrage I feel among another 20 people, then perhaps the brief candle of sanity might flicker on a little longer than the new Junta hopes. Yet I doubt it.
The Death of the Labour Party
Amazing when we pause to think that the party born of such painful struggles and the sacrifices of men like Keir Hardie and Aneurin Bevan, the party which gave us new hope, the Welfare State and the NHS in 1945, should end up with only one clarion call to its name; 'Aspiration'. With this as their banner, they are already planning for their final cataclysmic defeat in 2020.
But why should I be bothered? I'll be 77 in May 2020. Since 1979, in any event, everything I believed in and campaigned for has been trashed. There are those who tell me "Just calm down, enjoy your dotage, chill out and forget the world. You're just a cantankerous old pensioner. Forget politics. It's over."
I know they're right. But like a gambler, I can't leave the table; I always imagine thet the next hand being dealt might be the winner. Stupid, yes, but until someone muzzles me I'll remain a rabid old dog.
Having already ditched the vaguest vestiges of that archaic idea 'socialism', having rebranded the franchise several times from 'New' Labour to the most recent, 'Tory Lite', by allowing its front line to be overtaken by over-educated metro-centric 'suits', Labour has backed itself into a political cul de sac and there's no way out other than to call it a day. Even their title is an oxymoron. 'Labour'? When did Chukka Ummuna or Andy Burnham ever get their hands dirty? Which factory production line or supermarket checkout did the corporate-loving Liz Kendall ever work on? Yet now, as I write, she's front runner to replace the hapless, vanished and banished Ed Miliband.
The Flat Earth Society = Socialist Beliefs.
So, as Joe Public has realised, why vote 'Labour' when 'Call me Dave' has offered something called 'Blue Collar Conservatism'? Why vote Labour, when a much more left-wing outfit called the Liberal Democrats have been sand-blasted away from the face of British politics? Any belief in Labour possessing any faint, dim embers of socialist thought equates to a belief in the Flat Earth theory, or a cream cheese moon.
No, let's get real: who needs the NHS? Not Britain, it seems. You can always pay for your operation with a Wonga loan, surely? Libraries? Let's turn them all into Starbucks and Costa Coffee shops. Let's have many more Mickey Mouse train companies and ever increasing fares. Give the bankers bigger bonuses for better criminality. What's all this crap about a Human Rights Act? Who needs that - let the dullards eat zero hours and be happy on their shuffle to the food bank. The disabled? Tax the scrounging buggers! A spare room in your house? How dare you have one!
Jesus wept, why are some of us still festering in volcanic anger? Because the lemmings have chosen the cliffs and a few if us are still hanging on by our blunt little claws.
Despair? thy name is Britain.
Monday, 25 May 2015
The fraternity of the inked: A fine brace of 'individuals' pictured here. You're in such good company with a tattoo. Loving that neck disfigurement, and the good-looking bloke in the cap showing us how much he loves Auschwitz with his 'Arbeit Macht Frei', along with his anger that we bombed Dresden, and the curious German word for 'Betrayal'. Sieg Heil lads! See you in Tesco, Friday night?
A NATION OF 'INDIVIDUALS'.
This is guaranteed to be unpopular. In today’s skewed social climate, although I hate to admit it, I’m in danger of coming on like an embittered Mary Whitehouse. But these festering views have bubbled to the surface of a cauldron of grumpy world-weariness, and can no longer remain hidden. Picture this:
It’s Friday night, we’re shopping in Tesco. It is cold and wet outside, but surprisingly, that does not deter a large percentage of trolley-pushing shoppers tonight, because bare-legged and naked-shouldered they are wearing either singlets or shorts, (in some cases, both) no matter what the season. There is a peculiar reason for this stubborn behaviour. They want us to see their tattoos. Indecipherable barbed Celtic swirls, wreathed skulls and daggers, intertwining roses, Chinese ‘good luck’ characters, the whole of the tattoo parlour’s expanding catalogue can be found here in green-grey bovine motion, shuffling along between the baked beans and reduced El Paso Fajita kits. For all I know, they might be nice people. But they wear a badge which makes me shudder and separates me from their incomprehensible world.
Feeling unease (or, in my case, revulsion) about tattoos will today render you liable to accusations of snobbery. So be it. I shall wear my bourgeois, ink-free pompous outrage with shining pride and an empty expanse of pristine flesh.
My late father was the original illustrated man. The had the flags of the Empire on his back, a lion and a tiger on his chest, snakes coiling around his long, muscular arms, their sinister heads always visible poking from his shirt cuffs. As an orphan, he had joined the army as a drummer boy in his teens the 1930s. During over a decade in India, like many of the lower ranks, he used his vacant skin as a pictorial souvenir album. Tattoos then were the passport stamps of the common man, men like sailors or soldiers, those more adventurous working class youths who would never have seen the exotic wider world had they not chosen to take the King’s shilling, or sign a ship’s articles. Therefore, when I was a boy, tattoos seen on a middle aged man presented an enigmatic glimpse into an outlandish existence beyond the restrictions of British social life.
|Very nice. Gets a bit cold in winter, though, having to walk about like this.|
But that concept is long gone. This foul, spreading stain has crept over the nation’s flesh like some unstoppable alien spore. Even the once lithe limbs of formerly attractive (even intelligent) young women have been permanently daubed with this dumb physical graffiti, and all in the name of that most vacuous fluctuating vogue - fashion. Yet, smudged casualties, consider the following imaginary scenario.
In my lifetime male fashions have changed with the seasons. The post war years saw the invention of fashion for the lower classes. Prior to the 1950s there was no such being as what the free market would eventually designate as the ‘teenager’. Take a look at any photograph of a football crowd up to 1950 and you will see young people in their thousands, all carbon copies of their de-mobbed fathers. Flat caps and shapeless jackets and trousers. The odd daring trilby or muffler, or a scarf poking from the lapels of a tightly-belted gabardine mac. Well-polished boots and shoes.
|Imagine having to dress like this for the rest of your life. It would be like the clothes|
had been tattooed on you ...
Thus, we’re back at the fashion disaster of tattoos. You can take your clothes off. But that green-grey smudge you paid all that money for? Better get used to it. Britain is now the most tattooed nation in Europe. Half a century ago, tattoos were a bit of a hidden low-rent joke, the province of Popeye the Sailor Man, old soldiers or distant tribes in the South Seas, where they served the primitive social purpose of showing your allegiance to your particular tribe, as with the Maoris in New Zealand. So to which ‘tribe’ does the inked estate agent or the otherwise attractive girl on the check-out at Sainsbury’s belong? What will that silly Cantonese martial arts scrawl represent on your wrinkled legs or sagging breasts when you’re 75 and propped up on your zimmer frame? What has possessed the educated, the seemingly intelligent, even the Prime Minister’s wife to allow themselves to be defaced?Had biology selected me to have a body like David Beckham’s, would I have chosen to ruin that Godly physique with a bloody blur of inky needlings? If, as a woman, you were blessed with a pert derriere like Cheryl Cole, would you pay thousands to have it all permanently smeared with the pages of some hideous garden catalogue?
|How to make a complete arse of yourself.|
As fast as this blight spreads, like a plague of blue-green cockroaches over the nation’s skin, an alternative wave of victims has seen the error of their inkings and there is now a profitable growth in tattoo removal clinics. Thankfully, this is not a ‘service’ available on the cash-strapped NHS (although once it’s been privatised, the clinics will be there, right next door to Costa Coffee and Burger King). So have your credit cards and Wonga loans ready.
Private prices for tattoo removal start from approximately £50 to £300 per session, with total cost running from a few hundred pounds for very small, blue/black tattoos, to many thousands for large multi-coloured tattoos. Multiple treatment sessions will be required, and beware - a tattoo artist might only need a GCSE in art to spread permanent graphic ruin on your pristine skin, but you’d better make sure someone in a white coat wielding a powerful laser is a bit more qualified than a trainee sign writer.
As a young Merchant seaman, one drunken night in Valetta, Malta in 1960 I sat in the tattooist’s chair waiting to have an anchor painfully scrawled on my arm. In the second chair alongside me sat a huge US Navy sailor. He removed his shirt ready for another addition to his pictorial portfolio. I sat drop-jawed at the messy scattering of flowers, hearts, roses and crucifixes and suddenly, looking at my pale empty arm, my humanity overtook me. I rolled my sleeve down and left. I’m glad I did. I don’t have an attractive body, but still, at 72, it remains saggy but unsullied. I’m proud to have avoided the vandalism of what today is erroneously regarded by many as ‘body art’. I may not be an ‘individual’, nor am I windswept and interesting, but when my skin begins to crisp in the crematorium fire, it won’t bear any marks of what passes for ‘culture’ in 21st century Britain.
Monday, 18 May 2015
The Irresistible Breaking of Silence
Donkeys and Hyenas
It’s Monday morning, May 18 2015. It’s raining, windy and chilly, and Wilkinsons, the household and hardware store, have just thrust a colourful ‘summery’ booklet through our letter box advertising barbecue equipment and garden furniture. Being the burned out, cynical old bastard that I am I can’t help but find this annual mantra of ‘Summer’, emanating from the vacuous marketing minds of ad agencies, utterly laughable. Yet another plastic corporate façade, erected between reality and capital’s colourful imagination. But there’s more to my cantankerous grumpiness this wet May morning than anachronistic parasols and damp bags of charcoal.
Even writing this I am breaking my own pledge to cease all comment on the parlous state of my country, the so-called ‘United Kingdom’. Yet unfortunately, like an addict, I need this semantic purgative to be able to keep a grip. Without this unburdening in a form of words, I feel as if my head, or even more melodramatically, my soul, will continue to fill with rage, expanding to the point of paroxysm. I have no idea if anyone reads this. I’m past caring. Who the hell do I think I am anyway? Some obscure, fat old scribe in his 70s who writes for a living. Neither rich nor with any scintilla of that which the young world craves, ‘fame’, I none the less continue to project my bile into the ether, my words echoing in an empty chamber like an old, cracked shellac gramophone record.
|That's it, lads, build it and he will come. And we'll all go.|
Some writers, and I like to think of myself in this way, are like bricklayers. The walls we leave behind contain the chipped bricks of our trade. I often look at the exterior walls of this house, built in 1906.
Whose trowel laid that
mortar? In which part of some ‘foreign
field that is forever England’ do his bones lie? How much was he paid to lay
these sturdy, endurable walls? Did he have children? Was he a trade unionist?
Did he volunteer to give his life for that same thoughtless imperialist, capitalist mind-set
which demands of its underlings that they should die for the land of their
birth even though, unlike their masters, they own not a square foot of soil?
Well, my imaginary bricklayer probably owns six feet of soil now, albeit French
|How much did they pay you? Was it in bullets?|
And here we are, over a century later, no longer lions led by donkeys, but donkeys led by hyenas. All the philosophy of progress, all the noble hope of communal mutual respect reduced to a few glib soundbites like ‘Big Society’ and ‘In it together’. Indeed, Trotsky’s ‘dustbin of history’ is full to overflowing. The cunning misanthropic minds of a self-serving international cartel, obsessed with only two dogmas, profit and increasing wealth, have scattered the carcinogenic spores of their vile inhumanity through the ranks of what was once called ‘the People’ with huge success. All talk of equality, fairness and social cohesion is off limits. The bamboozled British have succumbed to the shimmering glitter of greed, goaded like sheep into capital’s abattoir by the threatening, sharpened bayonets of nationalistic fear. Yet although this evil is all around us, in our news media, on the radio, in countless duplicitous TV adverts for health insurance, funeral insurance and pay day loans, the blinkers attached to the nation’s frozen eyes have become immovable.
I refuse to wear them. Thus I row my leaky moral boat with its rotting paddle on a dark landless sea of excreta, a peg on my nose, scanning the bleak horizon searching for like minds. I seem to have spent my life waiting for something which isn’t going to happen. I’ll not say what that is, because it would seem like an alien concept in a new world of selfishness. So perhaps it’s true; the rest of my country is sane and I’ve gone mad. Maybe, after all, I must accept that following your heart can mean losing your mind.
Friday, 15 May 2015
I have just deleted 170 posts going all the way back to 2010. In some strange way, it felt good. Wiping away all the conceited drivel and opinionated trash written with that one aim in mind; self-aggrandizement. You like to think that, because you're a writer, what you have to say might be looked at by strangers who would consider 'following' your wild, ill-advised expeditions into politics and literary self-pity. But what is blogging other than 'showing off', like some cyber pub bar bore or know-it-all barrack room lawyer. Time to shut up shop. The dispossessed have deserted any hope of progress.
The rancid tumor of introverted greed has triumphed over the body politic.
The rancid tumor of introverted greed has triumphed over the body politic.
So the Britain I imagined I knew turns out to be nothing more than a chimera, a vapid cloud of dead spirits. For 55 years I believed in equality, fairness, in an egalitarian notion of our shared humanity and compassion.
May 7 2015 has eradicated all that.
Who needs such outmoded guff.
Who needs such outmoded guff.
The things I once believed in share the same historical shelf as the ideas of the Flat Earth Society and Creationism. So why bother wasting time with the catalogue of self-regarding emotional out-pourings which have crammed the many pages of this blog for five years?
To hell with England. To hell with expression.
What's the point of it all?