Tuesday, 31 December 2013
I just watched what has been the Christmas telly highlight for me so far this year. It could have slipped by as I had become tired of Michael Palin's travel programmes, but his documentary, "Michael Palin in Wyeth's World," was a wee gem. Andrew Wyeth's work is familiar to me- one of his most famous works is stunning- "Christina's World" is all the more beautiful when you learn the story behind the muse.
Wyeth's painting is so stunning in its obvious love for the hard work of most of its subjects, and his love of the landscapes, light -and darkness - in both the land and its people. Palin, a man who has an obvious love for life and people, beautifully paints a picture of an artist you can tell would he have got along with like a house on fire.
Wyeth, like everyone, has depths beyond the landscapes and portraits he painted and the shadows and light he painted reflected the joie de vivre and tragedy he lived. There is no better presenter who could have made this programme. And the direction, editing and camera work in the programme really compliments the subjects... Maine, Wyeth, the artists muses and Palin himself.
5/5 Stars for this unexpected gem.
Christmas Dr Who - just watched it. Not much of a story- it relied too much on past plotlines that had been tied up and even in the Dr's world, too much suspension of belief and illogical devices and resolutions (eg entire armies of Daleks etc unable to invade a village for centuries because of the Drs tricks). Ultimately it sacrificed a story for sentimentality. But hey, I suppose it is a kids programme and none of these things should matter, though if viewing as a kid, I dont think there was enough to keep me interested beyond the appearance of the new Scottish Doctor who hopefully will urge 16/17 year olds to vote Yes next September to break the present Dalek Westminster hold on this time continuum. 2 1/2 out of 5.
As for the always "shakey" comedy of Mrs Brown, well, lets just say even in her world, middle aged Fonzie jumping the shark was much more believable and acceptable. A disapointing 1 out of 5.
"Gravity"- worth seeing. And worth seeing in 3D. It won't transfer onto the small screen well. Great cinematography, decent acting. Sparse story and a smidgeon of pretentious "meaningfulness" - but only a smidgeon, so not completely ruined by something pretending to be more than the sum of its parts. Not a relaxing watch. 3 1/2 out of 5.
Wednesday, 25 December 2013
The Little Match Girl and Tiny Tim- two victims of Victorian austerity. How many children are reliant on cap wringing charity this Christmas?
Those of us who are lucky to be able to afford a decent Christmas, hopefully, will give thought towards those impoverished by the present, nasty system, because George Osborne, David Cameron, Boris Johnston, Ian Duncan Smith, Nick Clegg et al shall have perfectly selfish millionaire Christmases in warmth and with full, fat bellies. As they swirl their brandies tonight, they will reflect on how they have broken up and sold off England's NHS and welfare system and they will be counting the dividends from these along with those made from the Post Office sell-off.
For nearly 50 years our welfare system helped those of us who needed it now and again. In just a few months this year, the Tories and Libdems have dragged us down where the US is- foodbanks and people in so much debt they will never really be contributing members of the community. Our taxes instead of directly helping people go to boost G4s and SERCO profits, who deny people dignity and rights and ensure profitable health services take priority.
Shame on the Tories and their Libdem facilitators.
Let 2014 be the year these Tory robbers are jailed.
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
This piece can only be a snapshot. Memories, unrelated except by music and selfishness. All informing my present. Cherished memories, but not the whole story of selected relationships- and of course, one sided.
I'm older and wiser, still learning though.
|Me on a roof in Stuttgart, Christmas1994|
My first kiss was by a telephone box on a dreich night in my hometown. She is in this story.
“Your ballroom days are over baby
Night is drawing near
Shadows of the evening
crawl across the years"
Growing up is selfish and every bit as much steeped in the want to escape banality and boredom -and doesn't stop at school.
Personal, selfish struggle can morph through the emergence from the self aware, self gratifying child and teenager. And preserving a sense of self will always prevail if adults are given time to reflect and learn.
Education comes in often disparate events, separated by time, linked by selfishness and yearning and naivety and self importance. Running towards what?
"No-one gets out of here alive."
She looks tired, but every bit as beautiful as I remember. Memories can be sepia stained and rose lensed, but I know my memory of this day isn't. I don't remember the end of the day, but I think we all boarded a train to Bayeaux for The End.
Before our seeking Père Lachaise, I knew only Jim Morrison was buried there. During our trip around, I discovered Bizet and Chopin and Proust and Wilde and Piaf and Daladier and Dąbrowski and the 147 Communards who had been sacrificed to keep the status quo. All of them pointed the way to Jim. All of them pointed to The End.
"It hurts to set you free
But you'll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies."
She would be gone and my summer of freedom would be over. A hot summer of sleeping on trains with a book as my pillow. Of drinking cheap, sweet beer in Eastern Europe, with Jim, Ian, and Evan and the guys from the shipyards, Austin and her.
She who weeks before had stood like an angel in white at the top of the steps. She who had, in the dead of that hot Budapest night, introduced her smiling, radiant, funny, clever self as Catherine and talked about Jim and music and total carefree happiness. She who I had kissed and who had disappeared, off to another country before I woke and me moping to Vienna, longing to meet her again. Then days later, waking hung-over beside a pool in Corfu, seeing her wave over as if she had never been away. Our tour around Europe was full of perfect coincidences like that. And everyone we seem to have met along the way seemed to congregate in Corfu for a week of drunken fun.
I'm not supposed to love the Byron-esque, sexist hedonism and white boy usurped pseudo-mysticism of Jim Morrison and The Doors, but I do. I see, plainly, the negatives, but the beauty of the images and the teenaged kick aimed at the midriff of regimented middle class America by a spoiled brat of a self loving/loathing rock God really appealed to this working class boy who was bruised and battered through the school system ruled by vicious, middle class, hard knuckled, self loathing, fearful women and populated with damaged, hard knuckled, poisoned tongued bastards. Morrison, of his time, still ignites a "fuck the system- fuck them- let's get the hell out of here" emotion in me perhaps greater than any other muso.
Two songs, for me, capture this rebellion best. LA Woman and The End, and like all great pieces of music, they dredge up memories from when they were immediate. When they were young in my head. And memories of four connected, but different cities - connected by my want for rebellion and want to break on through from a life of pre-destined Sunday boredom. An attempted escape from pre-ordained numbness and order. But almost succumbing.
Newry, Paris, Budapest, Stuttgart.
"Driving down your freeway," the irony hits me as we head towards Armagh on the "A" road in the Mini Metro. I was 24. In retrospect, I now know how patient she was with me. How serene and how balanced she was. And how fucked up I was by a dog eat dog system in which resentments rode high and lashed out at the poverty trap, usually at perceived compliance. My rebellion was not to be a Nazi. Not to wear their badges. Not to revel in hatred of the other. As soon as an "other" was identified, they became my friend.
My head full of Highway 66 and getting out of there, where and whatever "there" was. My head on repeat, Kerouac whispering, "I hope you get where you're going, and be happy when you do." A small town couldn't contain me, but nowadays I know it was too big for my narrow, damaged, teenaged dreams. The subtleties and the histories, richness and the meaning all lost on someone like me who thought everything was happening somewhere else, with someone else. Lost on me who had to escape a kicking for my loud mouthed opinions and "fuck you and your misunderstanding of punk." Their misquoting of The Exploited and wearing of sectarian badges alongside Nazi symbolism as "punk." I cheered inside when the old teacher crushed and stamped on their swastikas, foaming and shouting at their sneering faces - "My friends died for your freedom!"
She lives their bullying daily. Her family move out of the village every year during the "Twelfth Fortnight," escaping the bands drumming, purposefully, intimidating at her gates. Choosing to clear out from the marching seasonal hatred of neighbours who politely make small talk the rest if the year, when they come home.
She doesn't particularly like The Doors, but listens while she drives.
"It sounds like a journey," I say.
"It doesn't end, just fades, like a never ending journey. Imagine driving forever! Yeuch!"
The conversation bolsters my feeling that "she just doesn't get it." My condescension knew no bounds in those days. I suppose my escape from my thoughts of my failure to break on through to another side of life, one promised by L.A. and The Doors, or New York and the Velvet Underground; a life of hedonism and beautiful or strange people doing as they pleased was personified in her. A life of safety, shining cars on Sunday and 9 to 5 on week days. And making her angry by cursing her Irish God and his ma.
When she dumped me for a more exciting, though stable model, I was devastated, but deserving. The illness that followed had something to do with the realisation I had entrapped myself in resignation to mowing lawns and that my teenaged dreams were all but dead. So I threw off the 9 to 5 and went back to school. Escape wouldn't just happen, I had to find a key. And my two keys were drink and education.
The pub is a bit run down. I can't remember why we were there, but she was with me. I was 19. She was like me. We were both lost. Rebelling from something so insidious we barely knew what it was. We'd crawled from the nightclub at 6am, blinking in the morning sun and lay on the pavement outside the small shop in the housing estate, staring into each others eyes, babbling our teenaged dreams of escape. She had escaped from abuse and sectarianism for a while to England, but had come back to find safety. But he, the safety, had been caught rebelling with another rebel, in her bed. And now she and I drunkenly planned our route to a world away from daily Sunday's. We needed a drink and we needed cigs, our ears ringing from the thumping beat and drunken, shouted conversations.
When the shop opened and we bought our lucozade and Embassy Regal, we lit up and staggered up the road, past neat gardens and temperance halls to her bed, where we slept till late afternoon.
When we woke I drove to Newry and found a pub with a juke box and ordered burgers. Her laughter filled my heart and we topped up with a few beers. The pub wasn't that busy, and the jukebox was silent, so I pushed a couple of fifties in and, surprised at the selection, chose Bob Dylan and Jokerman, Roxy Music and Virginia Plain, The Velvet Underground and Venus in Furs and The Doors, The End.
"I'm gonna have to stop drinking. The car."
"Stick to beer, you'll be OK."
The few old blokes seemed to tolerate our laughter and drunken petting.
"He was a shit."
"I know. I won't be."
"You aren’t my type."
"I can be."
" ...the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands,"
"We could live in England. I could get a transfer to a factory in Northhampton."
"There's nothing there. I want away from all of this shite. Route 66."
"Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand."
The music started to pull my mind further, the beer oiling the tracks.
"Now your talking!"
I stood up and lifted her empty glass. At the bar, as I ordered a couple of whiskey's and a couple of pints, I vented my disgust at the barman for switching off the juke box just as Morrison was mid " fuck me fuck me" rant. We were asked to leave and I drove thirty miles to a village where the jukebox and petting was unfettered and then home to sleep a couple of hours before work.
The escape hadn't happened by the time we met in Budapest. But this was the first step. My escape was under way, the vague plans and dreams had transformed into digging, tunnelling, moving towards the goal. A summer away from monotonous provincial town in which all seemed shut down except churches and pubs and off licences.
And a week of Corfu, eating, drinking, laughing so much we fell in heaps and slept by lapping Mediterranean water under a huge, black sparkling sky.
From Corfu to Italy, then Paris and Jim. To a cemetery that educated and a thank-you to a dead rock star who pointed the way to a never ending need to escape.
Then Bayeux with "Sweet Dreams," hash and wine and cheese and bread and The End in Cherbourg, sipping wine before the ship left, my throat nearly closed in grief.
The following year I would be at University, unfettered by my past, or so I thought. Hedonism contained. Rebellion only from my own demons and barely a mark on the world.
Time and learning are strange things, sometimes you don't realise they are happening until it is painfully or joyfully obvious that they have.
1994, Stuttgart. I quickly drafted a letter to her, arranged a temporary passport and arrived in Stuttgart airport, not knowing she would be there. Luckily she was. We took the tram into the city, dumped my bag in the beautiful, ricketty old attic flat and hit the Christmas decked German town.
"What will we do?"
"Nothing. You've always been quite unstable. Let's have a nice week."
The late nights of drinking, the jealous girlfriends and boyfriends and the falling out, getting back together again, secret meetings, seemed to come to a close that week. That chapter of my life really closed far far away from that phone-box.
"This is the End, beautiful friend..."
She smiles over her beer and says, "She was the love of your life... your life so far. But you hadn't realized."
Maybe. But only "so far."
The End did not come. Seeking freedom did not finish. But the parameters changed. I hope I am less selfish. I realised there was no hedonist holy grail. I enjoyed learning; my selfish times were amazing and selfishness can evolve into dogged determinism - I know I have that trait - and I would not go back, but I have some fantastic memories.
The love of my life criticizes my cooking, my instability and loves my cooking and my instability.
Monday, 23 December 2013
Hey! News 24! Its winter and the weather is bad. We've got that (and kind of expected it to be honest).
Now, get to reporting some real news like the fact that the UK is one of the countries the Red Cross now delivers food parcels in (see Jacqui Mcintyre's facebook status reproduced below for a list) and tens of thousands more people/families, as a direct result of Tory/Libdem policy (voted for enthusiastically by my MP Jo Swinson), are reliant on food banks (the new name for soup kitchens).
Weather and Nigella and Christmas shoppers are much more important than increasing poverty and starvation in Tory UK.
But hey! GDP and other figures that show in actual fact, that the rich are getting richer and damn the poor who had no hand in the 2008 economic crash, are much more important!My local foodbank are describing the present situation as "the food crisis." I know they are well meaning, but lets call a spade a spade. This is a crisis brought on by the Tories and LibDems diverting taxes from welfare to corporations, banks and their pockets. Like the Liberals and Tories of the 19th century who starved the Irish poor. The mismanagement of the economy that has led to starving people relying on foodbanks is more than incompetence- it is criminal robbery. "The food crisis" = the tory robbery of the working class.
Workers are getting poorer and poorer, and welfare now means "starvation and freezing to death" in one if the richest countries in the world, yet News 24 want to tell us the winter is cold and wet.
The UK is definately a cold place for those who work, are desperately looking for non-existant work, are unable to work or have recently lost work.
Saturday, 21 December 2013
Thursday, 19 December 2013
This society now relies on food parcels and "food banks" to feed old people, disabled people, low paid and unemployed people while millionaires make thousands administrating this new privatised welfare system (Cameron's so called "big society").
There is no doubt about the callousness, greed and stupidity of these Tory and Liberal Democrat politicians- a huge amount of whom profit from the destruction of our safety nets and NHS.
The sad thing in Scotland is the Labour Party leadership are on the same side as the Tories and want us to vote for no change. The only way out of this dreadful new tory wrecking of lives in my opinion is to vote Yes in the Independence Referendum next year.
The Tories who find poverty funny condemed in an article by Tom Watson MP HERE
Saturday, 14 December 2013
The only reason these vile nuclear machines of murder are still there on the Gareloch at Faslane, is because our share portfolio holding politicians and uber-rich "betters" put their profits from BAE systens and the likes before people like our children, our disabled, our parents and grandparents.
Lets call a spade a spade.
Nelson Mandela, in insisting on truth and not accepting compromised bullshit from his rich and powerful "betters," exposed them for what they were, and in turn showed up our aparthied supporting Tory Party as greedy, power crazed racists - and in doing so started a revolution of truth.
I accept nothing but the truth about these evil weapons of war- they are indiscriminate and illegal- and are not there for the good of the Gareloch, Scotland, the UK nor man and womankind.
They are there as a tremendous money spinning exercise for already very rich people who could not give a fiddlers f*** about anyone only themselves. They put "me" first, forcing the rest of us into a dangerous, impoverished second.
A Yes in next years Independence referendum will see us rid of them, and a chance to rejig our society for people, not profits for the 1%.This is the biggest white elephant money maker for rich people ever. It reminds me of the thousands of standing stones at Carnac. A huge industry and economic engine was created there over hundreds of years. By the end of that culture and industry, noone really knew why they originally started lifting the stones upright, but so many trades, religious centres and food growers etc depended on the stone standings, and through the trade, so many had grown powerful, they continued long after it had any meaning. These weapons are not needed anymore. But so many rich share holders see money slipping through their hands if they go,and so many of them are close to the reins of power, the industry remains.
I wrote about this for the HuffPost during the Summer HERE
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Marine le Penn and Farage are two disgusting racists too far. How dare they use Mandela- a man whose life, beliefs and convictions could not be further from theirs - to in some way tack their nasty wee bigoted dirty rag of a flag to. Farage- a nasty, greedy wee man who was goosestepping through English villages when Madiba languished in chains and voiceless in prison; Le Penn who is being prosecuted in France for comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation.
Watching Bush, Cameron, Blair etc slap backs and spout that "Mandela forgave all..." made me feel physically sick. Mandela can be quoted out of context and used by vampires picking over his corpse now. But those left in poverty, without homes, hope, limbs and loved ones by these vicious hawks should and do know, Mandela pointed his finger at their likes for excerbating the man made conditions that create poverty.
Mandela may have forgiven in order to ensure transition from racist state to a state in which legislatively everyone was equal- but he was no mug. He saw through their nastiness and although eventually meeting Thatcher, made it clear just what he thought of her and her Government's bolstering and its ministers profiting from the racist regime, when on his first visit to the UK, he refused to entertain her. He knew the people who create poverty. He was not and is not a symbol for them.
That raised, clenched fist was not for these selfish, careerist, self aggrandising, bigoted murderers. It was a sign, he is a symbol of solidarity with workers who have been beaten, incarcerated, victimised, tortured, exploited, segregated, banned, fenced, impoverished, shot, blamed and lied to. And it was a sign to say that the exploited will one day win. It was a sign in defiance at the likes of these dreadful excuses of human beings that their tormenting and exploitation for their selfish gain will be defeated.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
33 years ago, I played the single I had bought a few days before, "Just Like Starting Over," over and over again. I was 14, nearly 15 and had just that year read up on John Lennon's activism. Another flawed man who inspired many.
Friday, 6 December 2013
I truly believe that the legacies of Mandela and Gandhi will be viewed, reviewed and ultimately thought of as people who began the 'new time' when good first began to crush might and greed. Neither man succeeded in creating utopia- but the struggle and victory they both symbolise will, in my opinion, be seen as the first steps towards a fightback. Three steps forward, two back - and both men understood that. Some on the left have yet to understand that when they criticise. Changing this world will not fit exactly the left sect programme the critical mind belongs to. I read online and hear at meetings criticisms of political fighters who have given their life to struggle that I can hardly believe. The usurping of the Mandela legacy by the right will rely on the criticisms from the left. Mandela understood that. He explicitly said that he was no saint. He was a sinner who did his best - as all of us should acknowledge we are - even those of us who prefer not to use religious language. In other words, he, like Gandhi, was flawed. Lots of these flaws are flaws of their time, generation, culture etc. Some are personal, socialised flaws. We all have them. We don't all give our lives to struggle like these men did.
I read about his passing on twitter last night, nursing a sair foot after falling through a school stage. That, I will remember in the same way feeling rubbish after an argument with my new wife in September 2001, or feeling a bit hungover watching the Berlin wall fall through my small portable telly lense or shivering in my digs in Dunblane when my mum phoned me to tell me something dreadful in 1996 or when my grandfather, the same age as Mandela, passed away. All of these events were dreadful or hugely historical or personal and all of them I remember every detail around me. I will remember the papers on the seat around me; my laptop and and my sair foot.
I wore my Makana FC top to work today (Nelson Mandela's footie team when he was on Robben Island) and told my P3 class today about why he loved Glasgow so much and why he thanked the city. I got all choked up and a wee girl cried because I did. I will remember that.
Mandela and the struggle against Apartheid, and my small part in that as a young teenager through to my early twenties (writing letters, sending money, marching), helped me understand my own country (Northern Ireland) when I was younger. I remember sending away for a report by some organisation about South Africa when I was in my early teens. The organisation had the foresight to send me a report on the island of Ireland. Stark facts, figures and raw data on housing, wealth and poverty. They made me think. I read the world I saw was flawed. The vista was a green baize patched with cheap paint. A rhinestone studded shiny plucked cloth covering a festering mound of poverty and elitism. I will remember that.
The struggle against apartheid united many right thinking people across the world then, and at this moment in time.
The struggle isn't over as the Tories and right wing parties are on the rise defending their riches by deepening our impoverishment; and people are incarcerated in disgusting holding centres for no other reason than existing and wanting to escape poverty. This is our fight.
The struggle against apartheid continues in Israel / Palestine. This is our fight.
It continues across the globe when one set of people are pitted against another, or one set of people are scapegoated, or swathes of humanity are kept poor and die of hunger and curable disease at the hands of a system that has huge riches. This is our fight.
We were right. Separation was wrong. Discrimination, poverty, segregation, division, inequality, elitism, demonisation, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, hatred, poverty, poverty, poverty all our battles.
This is our part in the fight. Exposing wrong and smashing it.
The past- the Cameron's and Thatcher's (who he refused to meet) and Tebbits and Farage's and Bush's and Reagan's etc of this world were wrong and have no place in the celebration of this mans life. This mans fight is our fight.
I will remember him. Madiba. Tata.
Sunday, 24 November 2013
“Wit time is it pal?” he asked me.
Ah took ma mobile out ma pocket an’ checked.
“Ha’ past eight, pal. Ye’ opening, like? I wudnae mind a wee caperchino …”
“Eh? Wit? Oh. Na, pal. This isnae a wee coffee shop. It’s a time machine and space roaket.”
He wiz pure taiken the piss.
“You’re a cheeky clown. When are ye opening?”
He looked down at Sparky.
“Ah supposed I’ve never had a wee dug as a space buddy. Or a jaikey clown fer that matter.”
“Hey, pal,” sez I. Less of yer jip.
He smiled at me. He looked like a junky, like. Nae teeth at the front an’ aw pale an stuff.
“Ah’ve jist regenerated. Ye’ don’t happen tae have a wee mirror oan ye?” sez he. Ah didnea know wit “regenerating” wiz. Our area wiz “regenerated” an’ the rents went up an’ then they sterted tae sell the hooses aff tae rich students an’ snobs. Ah kinda guessed he wiz sayin’ he had jist put his clobber oan. But his accent wiz no fae roon oor way. More like somewhere like an island or sumthin.
“No pal, but ma phone camera reverses like. “
I let him look at hesel’. He looked kinda upset an aw.
“Jings,” he sed, “no Dr Who nae mair. Mair like Dr oan the medics or somethin’!”
I hunea a clue wit he wiz oan about like. I jist thought, ‘Why would a jaikey clown be allowed to be servin’ caperchinos?’
“Are ye goanea get the coffee oan, like, pal?”
He looked at me again and smiled.
“Oh wit a clever TARDIS!” sez he. “Aw course!” sez he.
“Hey, pal,” sez I, “Ahm nae tardis.” I didnae nae wit he wiz oan aboot, but he wiznae getting’ away wi’ that.
“Naw, pal. Not you. The… ach, never mind. Come oan in and we’ll get ye a coffee.”
Now, ahm nae saft touch, like, But ah wiz a wee bit feart about going in there. He went in before me, an’ before ah could say onything, wee Sparky had followed him.
Now, when ah tell ye wit ah saw, ye’d think ahm pullin’ yer chain.
He sed, “aye pal, it’s bigger…”
“Christ,” sez I. “The inside isnae finished, pal. Huv you bin sleepin’ rough in here?”
“Naw pal. This is ma hame. Sit yersel’ down. Ahl get the coffee oan.”
Now, he pressed buttons an’ danced aroon and twisted we turny things. He was definitely oot a’ his scone. But then something strange happened. The whole place started to shake and make a funny noise.
“Aff we go to fight ma’ wors’ nightmare of a enemy!”
“Ah jist wan a wee caperchino wi’ chocolate powder oan the tap pal!” sez I.
He danced and pranced aroon’ the big funny table in the middle of the big room. An’ that’s when it dawned oan me. These coffee places had a nice wee bit a room at the back. I used to wonder where they stored aw their coffee and wee nut biscuits an’ aw, when the place wiz shut. Now ah knew.
“There! 1978! Jist afore she wrecked the place!”
He ran to the door and shouted, “Come oan tae ah show you pal!”
An’ what he showed me knocked ma sidey ways. A’ NHS that worked. Schools full of books. Students wi’ full grants tae tide them o’er while they learned. Work oan the shipyards, collierys, and people with plenty aw money tae pay their electricity and gas.
Wit me an’ Sparkey saw wiz well kept council estates, nae one up to their neck in debt because of mortgages an’ Wonga; and pawn shops nearly goan, nearly a thing of the past. We saw free prescriptions, free dentists, free opticians...
We saw fantastic music, an beautiful art aw by workin’ class men an’ women. We saw working class politicians making decisions for working class people an’ the Aristocracy dying off. We saw a world where people had hope. An’ then we saw her, sewing seeds of discontent, jealously and greed.
We zoomed through time an’ space… and we defeated Daleks and Cybermen and creepy wee statues you couldnea blink at.
“What aboot her,” sez I? “Are you gonnae defeat her before she wrecks things again? Before pensioners die av the cold, before people lose work, before they lose hope, before working class people become almost another species to these taller, posher nuggets?”
“Naw,” sez he. “That’s aw up tae you nuggets in 2014. She’ll be in the groon’, but you can vote to turn yer wee country aroon. Tha’s why the TARDIS made me a Scot this time. Tae show you what an independent Scotland could look like.”
An’ then he dumped me an’ Sparky back in the park.
“Now get tae … and don’t make me huv tae dae yer work again. Daleks an’ the likes are my bag. Tories are yours. Go vote them oot a’ existence.”
An he wiz away. An I knew wit ah had tae do.
Ah registered tae vote an’ like millions o’ others, ah voted YES in September 2014…
Thursday, 21 November 2013
I just watched this weeks Panorama on Northern Ireland. It was horrific.
But not entirely surprising.
It told a new half truth about the murky, murderous political world I grew up in. And all the more disgusting because the "democratic" heirarchy of the "United" Kingdom meted out murder on its own population. It sanctioned the mowing down of young men by tommy gun toting, brainwashed psychos because "if you were standing in an area, you were a terrorist."
The dirty, Government sanctioned murder squad, the Military Reaction Force (MRF) were exposed and revealed not in the way its members had hoped, ie as a heroic column against terrorist, but as a bunch of black-ops agent provocateurs who stoked the fires of hatred higher and didn't care whose lives they destroyed on the way.
During the eighties, I stood in manys an area with manys a person from all corners of the political, boxed in, sectarian conflict and I could have been, by their awful assessment, discounted as guilty by association. I could have been shot in many areas in retrospect I wasnt safe. I had this perhaps niave determination as a teenager and in my early twenties that I would not be segregated and told where I was not allowed to go. Pubs, clubs, towns and friends criss-crossed dreadful, malicious, sectarian lines.
I think I need to explain my views. This will ensure all "sides" criticise me for niavety; for excusing the "enemy."
I hate the elitist, aristocratic, pretence at democratic UK state. I am a Republican Socialist. I came from a Northern Irish unionist town. I come from a unionist with a small u, family.
I have been a Republican -anti-elitist for those of you who are still pousoned by the demonisation of words that challenge our Etonian owned excuse for a democracy- most of my adult life (and through out my late teens).
I know many "closet" republicans in Northern Ireland from my ex-hometown, though most of them are unionist, unlike me.
As far as Ireland goes, I personally believe it would be better off united- and I believe it would be a fairer place to live than it is separated. I am not a nationalist, either be that Irish, Scottish or British. I am an internationalist.
But, for years I had to do my best (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep my belief in a proper, bottom up democracy secret because of the odd belief that unionism and monarchism were on one side and republicanism and the want for a reunited Ireland were on the other side.
When I was 15 years old, I found a book in my (state) school library. It was a book on Marx by the father of present day Guardian columnist Martin Kettle. Back in those days when so called "socialist" organisations were murdering workers, on reading- and thinking "this is just as I think," and not wanting to be seen to be associating myself with terrorist groups many said at the time were funded by the USSR, I nicked the book and told no-one about it.
I could not not equate what I was finding out about fair, democratic, green, equal, socialism and what was being associated with it both in Northern Ireland and worldwide. I could not equate my feeling that it was unfair that people I knew struggled to pay bills, yet their tax money they struggled to earn was used to uphold a system in which one family were given millions of pounds and huge access to, and an inequitable amount of power.
Those are my views on Northern Ireland and the UK monarchal system in a (simplistic) nutshell. I now live in Scotland and want to see Scotland taking the reigns of its own destiny. I want to see Scotland free of the dreadful aristocratic, heirarchical system. But I would not kill for that ideal, nor my ideal Ireland.
I would fight back if attacked. Although I am a non-violent protestor, I am not a pacifist. I would defend marginalised people and certainly if houses were being torched- friends, family, working class people of any ethnicity - could rely on my support as best as I can give it.
And this is what, for a short time happened on the streets of Belfast in 1968.
But then sectarian; tit for tat; drive by shootings; pub bombings, vicious, sociopathic... State Sanctioned black ops; psycopathic, poisonous, polluted, illogical politics smashed families, ruined lives... Poisoned minds. Killed.
Friends and family were killed in the name of Ireland, socialism, the union, the Queen, the Union fleg and the Starry Plough. And none of these murdering bastards shooting unarmed civilians or bombing pubs or shooting construction workers, local policemen, milkmen, dancers, pop bands or mothers represented me, my friends nor my family. And none of them, from Thatcher, I. K. Paisley through to Martin McGuinness and shady, vicious Loyalist gangs represented my beliefs.
Because of these "leaders;" this minority of people who saw life as cheap; as collatoral... people I loved suffered. And continue to suffer on these false "sides;" these non-political sectarian divides created in order to stop working class people unite and take what us theirs from the grabbing, vicious aristocratic hands.
So no, Attorney General, John Larkin; the ordinary people from all parts of Northern Irish/ Irish/rUK do not want justice suspended. They, we, deserve to know who and why these people killed and maimed and poisoned our population. Our communities. Our mothers, brothers, fathers; sisters, babies and unborn.
As a republican and at present a UK "brit" passport holder and taxpayer, I support my nationalist and unionist, socialist and capitalist, ghettoized and middle class brothers and sisters in their want for truth and justice and need to build faith in society.
Murder is murder. Hatred is hatred. Bullying is bullying.
Sunday, 17 November 2013
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Characters such as “Meltdown Man” fighting against an apartheid world, “Judge Dredd” fighting to enforce a neo-liberalist, segregated capitalism; “Flesh” - exploiting new technologies to feed markets that threaten our past as present markets have wrecked our futures and “Invasion! A violent imagining of Britain invaded by a Stalinist state; “The Ballad of Halo Jones,” showing Halo’s attempts to escape; showing other’s caught up in the grinding turning of the wheel (“the hoop”); showing the profiting elite escaping on the “Clara Pandy,” the escape and luxury the poor can only aspire to enjoy.
I used to spend hours on each comic. Engorging my imagination, speeding through the stories every Friday and then taking my time to study each amazingly drawn plate that night in bed. I used to painstakingly draw each admired character myself- Dredd, Jim diGriz (the only drawing I still have is one I recently rediscovered of Angelina, The Stainless Steel Rat's girlfriend and a first love of mine...), Sam Slade, Nemesis, Hoagy, Bill Savage, the Harlem Heroes and Mach 1. Pouring over these worlds. Reading, imbibing, engorging my mind, escaping.
I gave up comics. Cheeky Weekly, Plug, Warlord, Battle and the amazing 2000AD were replaced by drink, "love" affairs, music and clothes. All fleeting (except for music) and all part of growing up.
Sunday, 10 November 2013
Thinking of those in our family effected by war. Alexander Mulligan, who died a very young man in WW1 and our Great Grandad, his brother Thomas, who came back from that war so traumatised he wanted to kill the local factory owner for "encouraging" so many to their deaths. He also died a young man- a victim of war, with undiagnosed trauma that led him to drinking himself to death- and had such mental scars, ensured our grandfather never lifted a gun.
The War effected my Grandfather's family- our family- for many years afterwards. One of the most poignant things we as a family have is a gift of an engraved match box a German POW he looked after made him in a POW camp he was a guard in, after he was moved from the front. This proves to me he was a good man who saw the lunacy of poor people being sent to foreign fields to kill other poor people. He befriended "the enemy," another poorman, no doubt, sent to war by aristocrats who were rowing over markets and stolen resources.
On the other side of my family, I am remembering James Scott, who left 5 children. And my granny Scott's wee brother, her only brother, Dorrie.
I think it is extremely important to remember our family. I really hope remembering will help us move towards a world in which there is no wars. The idiocy of armed conflict is something that has effected me and the country I grew up in deeply- I witnessed as a child the impact of diametrically opposed ideologies wasting lives and talking about brothers, sisters, children, mothers, fathers and loved ones as "collatoral damage."
The scars of war run very deep. And for many years they effect societies abused by those killing for gain (or sending others to die for gain).
I hope the rest of this century is a century of healing for our young people... But it hasn't started off very promising. I really feel if our remembering is not tempered by a fight for peace, then these wonderful, beautiful, valuable people died in vain.
I wear a white poppy as a supporter of non-violent activism and as someone opposed to armed conflict.
I have a friend- 90 year old Ron who was stationed in India in WW2, who is an inspiration and has fought for peace all of his life. He lost many friends and his family fought hard for peace at a great cost to their lives. I assure him I will always strive to fight for peace as long as I am fit.
Friday, 8 November 2013
"Hey! Revolutionary socialists! You are much better revolutionaries than me. I quite liked Russell Brands rant. I'll step aside now and allow your revolution by formula to continue."
This was my facebook status yesterday. I was angry - also tired and grumpy- at the many lefties on my timeline picking over Brand's life, words and hairstyle.I've already written about Brand and Paxman- the clash of the hirsute - a few days ago. I don't agree with all of his "solutions," but hey- his analysis of working class representation in public life was the best I have seen on the Public Schoolboy Broadcasting Corporation, for quite a long time... Well, if you don't include the unedited Darcus Howe footage from the anti-Tory/anti-brutal policing riots a few years ago...
Back to my very important Face book interactions. Rosie Kane, my favourite Scottish Socialist revolutionary, who admittedly said she was feeling tired and grumpy, criticised Brand. Fair enough.
After a long couple of threads, she said, "What if I agree with what Russell Brand says sometimes, but think he's a total bawbag... Thats ok... Eh?"
Which is again, fair enough. ( I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her...) It ended up, I probably agreed with Rosie, on most counts, though I err on the side of what he said I don't only (mostly) agree with, but think it was really important he did- even though he was plugging a comedy tour.
I don't know what he is like outside his TV/film personna, but I kind of think if he was 'in my gang,' he wouldn't be the member I'd sit beside at the bar for pre-clubbing drinks (back in the day when I did such things). I think now that I don't do such things, he would be the member of the gang me and the rest would say, "do you remember when Rusty used to..." or "Rusty was a wild man..." Rusty would not be in our company as he would be away being an international comedy God and had texted us before hand to say, "can't make it guys. Am meeting Bono for a pint and a curry in Reykjavík to give Bjork a bit of support in her new vegan cafe... Love yiz!" We'd sit there and sup our huge Costas and be secretly, even from ourselves, as jealous and resentful as fuck, while saying, "he was a lig!" Anyway, you get the gist. Nice bloke, but probably would annoy the fuck out of me.
I argued that it was good that he had these views splashed across the media, and, "Not only splashed across the press- but to many of the previously politically switched off he is credible.
He aint the messiah... But he confused the feck out of the public school boys and girls of Newsnight."
Lots of the left criticism centred on his undeniable sexism, his wealth and his being set up, or setting himself up as a hero.
What none of the criticism I have read takes in to consideration, in my uncared for and uneducated opinion, me being a lowly teacher with ideas above my station/me being a teacher who is way far removed from the class on account of my huge mortgage and no longer drinking hard drink or smoking fags or hating football or liking Strictly Come Dancing or not having read and written 10,000 word analysis of all Lenin's works including his Primary School essay entitled, "My Teddy Bear is my Equal," is that Brand has been more or less saying these kinds of things for years. As for being a hero- I really have no time for "heroes." It was Tommy Sheridan's constructed and self promoted hero status that kept me away from the SSP and I only decided to join in 2003 when I met Rosie before her being elected to the Scottish Parliament- who was down to earth and kindness looks out of her.
Brand says he is no "leader" or hero- but he is in a position now where the things he has been saying for years are being heard. Look on Youtube for his stuff he did on regional TV and on his blog- anti-facism and anti-capitalism going back years.
I think more than anything, it says more about our rich Private school educated media and political system that in the rare situation that a working class person gets near the political media it is as an entertainer, and he is lambasted from all sides, rich, poor, fascist, anarchist and marxist.
We are in the same situation today- almost the same inequality of working class representation in the higher echelons of this pretence of a meritocracy, in which Harry Pollitt and other union/working class "leaders" of the early- last quarter of the 20th century found themselves when they thought that the only way to truly make a difference (or one of the ways) for the class was to send their children into the Oxbridge lions den. As Brand has said, the rich feel at home in the corridors of power, when we, the working class are not only there as reverent visitors, but on the rare occasion of working our way in there to try to make a difference, are made to feel very uncomfortable by those who "belong there." Our discomfort is accentuated by the surroundings AND by those who we try to represent, who can be easily whipped into critical hysteria by the millionaire owned and run media- including the very heirarchical and Oxbridge controlled BBC. "He can't be like us because he has sat his arse on an old oak bench and was educated/He is not like one as he was brought up in one of those houses we give to the cogs in our profit pyramid scheme."
I am not a fan of Brand's comedy, and certainly not his misogyny, but I am glad that what he has said is getting such publicity. Brand is inconvenient to them now- he fucked off out of their clutches and by sheer brass necked talent, he has become an international celebrity- giving the boy from poverty a voice they cant control.
I do feel the same "knock him down" syndrome is in use against Owen Jones, who again isn't quite revolutionary enough for the loud, fists in the air, catechismal students of how a revolutionary should be; what HE should wear and HIS level of poverty isnt quite what they have read as being correct to be their saviour.
Who is perfect? Certainly I am not. And I will never be in the position of Brand or Jones or Michael Rosen to spout my less than 'dead revolutionary' perfect opinion, but what with working class politics, working class needs and equality being completely shafted at present- our working class organisations wrecked by rabid toryism and sectarianism encouraged by those within with axes to grind and perhaps a class to help keep in power- I am glad of the odd Brand or Jones or Rosen or Zephaniah just to remind these Etonian, exploitative, greedy, monarch ring kissing, power usurping bastards that their time using our resources and wielding oppressive power is limited.
Sunday, 27 October 2013
The Velvet Underground blew this small town Ulster boy's brain wide apart back in the mid-eighties. I "discovered" them thanks to the alternatives friend, John Peel, the NME or Sounds magazine.
A commercial, mass produced shiny pop scene was gilded by their short existence. Reed, Warhol, Nico, Reed, Cale, Morrison, MacLise, Tucker, Yule, Powers and Alexander battered the fuck out of pop norms, beats, melody and instrumentation and propped it up at the bar after a sizeable spliff and an intraveneous hit. And the best eighties music was indebted to them.
It said something about their genius when back then, during my teenaged anxty days, they were streets ahead of anything around. Even the greats of the eighties - The Bunnymen, JMC, The Smiths - didnt hold a candle. But they - and others like the Associates, the Glasgow music scene and the Man/Madchester scene- would not have been anything like they were without Lou and the Velvet's magic.
I remember turning up at a friends barbeque in Newcastle, County Down on a really hot, sunny day dressed in my black, alternative, scruffy weird self cut hair, smiling amongst pastel dressed Miami Vice "strivers" on an Irish dunescape.
My car blasted out "Guess I'm Falling in Love," "Heroin" "Sunday Morning," and "The Gift." The guys exiting my car cracked open the beer, the girls were goggled up and down by the WASP, good living, sell their granny, white teethed, money marryers and I felt awkward amongst the Christian educated.
My friend, who had invited me was standing frying an animal alongside an upstanding, strong, countryboy of Ulster. He erupted in laughter as I approached.
"What is it?" I asked.
"He asked, are you on drugs! It's your weird music!"
I remember on that hot, sunny afternoon, feeling so far away from those we had joined up with. I felt -I knew- we were being judged. I felt then that I needed to get away, my head full of Nico and Hunter S. Thompson.
I looked at my carload of "outrageousness," and felt proud not to be thought of as belonging to the deck shod and cotton jacket, "normals."
But I felt pissed off I couldn't drink because I was the only driver, so I cranked the Velvets up, lay down beside the Strada and closed my eyes and drifted off...
RIP Lou Reed, you cantakerous oul' genius.
Guess I'm Falling in Love- a song that beat with my teenaged hormones through my body - is here.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
If this was a politician he would never got near to the studio.
If this was a politician he would never be this honest - chained by the constraints of the lies and deceit politicos feel is necessary to hide true intention whether noble or, mostly, self serving.
What a contrast to Cameron in PM QT today.
What a contrast to Johann Lamont on BBC Newsnight Scotland tonight (or Scotland Tonight - whichever one of these dreadful programmes that never dare ask real questions anymore).
At least Paxman allowed - or was browbeaten by - Brand.
He hit a nerve. These poshos can cry about their grannies granny from 100 or more years ago on "Who do you think you are?" when they find out they had to clean other peoples pants or lived in squalor. Brand tells Paxman he met someone in that position earlier today.
These posh bastards live in ancient homes designed by the people who designed the ancient schools their ancient families paid for them to go to and on to the ancient Universities of the privileged.
The world of power belongs to them. Time to throw every part of this system on its back. time for a bearded revolution.
|Beards are necessary for the coming revolution. Make them mingle with your armpit hair...|
Thursday, 17 October 2013
The eastern world it is explodin',Violence flarin',
You're old enough to kill but not for votin',
You don't believe in war,
but what's that gun you're totin',
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin'
The song had, for a long time, been on a BBC restricted list. Those of you who like me, remember the puritan "banning" of Relax and even the Pistols "God Save the Queen," probably don't know about the restriction of Barry McGuire's recording, because it was a restriction THAT MATTERED. A song and a message that almost disappeared from the playlists just like the MC5. A kick at our consciousness – a nailing of the right wing scum who judge and casually blame the foreigner and then sit down and pray over their gravied and hidden slaughter housed dinners. Lyrics and delivery that meant something; that made listeners sit up and survey the bullshit pumped into their ken, their "understanding," by the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Murdoch’s and all of the other murky profiteering liars of the past 50 years- for indeed these lyrics, spat and sneered through tinny transistor speakers are a year older than me. The next anniversary of such pop subversion even pirate Radio Scotland banned it, is its half century.
Even "the blessed DJ" gasped because for once, the music he played this time SAID SOMETHING ABOUT HIS - MY- OUR- THEIR - LIVES as we sit and are blown away by their drones and juggernauts and their tanks roll over us with every increase in their murderous profit taking heating bills, bedroom taxes and "peace making" oil thieving corporate incursions.
Hang the DJ. Or wait- perhaps that "Wow!" was the realisation his Cowell fawning, "lets be rebellious by giving proto fascist Farage airtime," propaganda propagating blandness was his ‘Washing of his hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless - siding with the powerful,’ as Friere would say to him 'YOU ARE NOT NEUTRAL!". His grinning, hand wringing inanity is enslaving, engulfing us all.
Will he go home tonight and listen over and over again and question his neutrality in allowing greedy bastards like Farage and Cameron the air time to promote the destructive, historically one sided view of the cancerous Thatcherism they wank over? Probably not.
But he did say “Wow.” He did for a brief second have his conscience pricked. For a moment he did see through the murk of processed news and “art.” The tranquillity smashed by the Prisoner “Number Six.” It’s all in here –the Middle East; young people fighting and dying in wars they don’t understand; the evils of unquestioning, imperialistic nationalism; race riots; hypocrisy; nuclear war; the space race; conservative bullshit.
Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]
And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
Yeah, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin'
I'm sitting here just contemplatin'
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'
And then the “Rover” recaptured us as Steve Wright interviewed Nigel Farage about his love of beer, his hobbies and his, oh, casual racism, proto-fascist, anti-working class 'ordinary bloke' views.
The “Wow!” had accounted for nothing. A momentary id over ego. Smashed. The Human Right of this millionaire man to spout hate and his warped view of history obviously subsumes that of workers to fight for their humanity and integrity in their place of work.
For “Red China” read “the Middle East.” For Selma Alabama, read Brixton, Manchester, the Gorbals, Easterhouse, East Horsley, Milngavie, London, Birmingham,Grasmere,Carlisle,Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
“Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it's the same old place
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace
And, tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend.”
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music they constantly play
On the Leeds side-streets that you slip down
Provincial towns you jog 'round.
|Dead children in Afghanistan.Victims of US/UK Drone attacks.|