Wednesday, 30 November 2011

#N30

I work in the private sector. I don’t begrudge what public sector workers earn or the pension benefits that they receive. It shouldn’t be about reducing pensions so that we are all poorly provided for. It should be about improving living standards and pension provision across the board. There are some extremely wealthy people in this country. People in power, the rich got us into this mess. It is down to the rich to get us out of it. They need to dig deep into their pockets.

Knocking the BBC

I don’t like knocking the BBC. It’s something that those on the right are very accomplished at in their uniquely subversive, sinister and destructive way. In my opinion the BBC tries very hard to remain impartial. But I do think that they sensationalise and trivialise the news in a way that lowers standards to a form of LCD* that smacks of blatant dumbing down. They also act as unwitting pawns in the war of oppression waged by the wealthy.

The BBC trivialises
Game shows and reality TV programmes are not news. If you want to know what news is I suggest you watch Al Jazeera. Local news mainly seems to focus on ‘how can we put a local angle on national or international news however tenuous the link?’ or ‘human interest’ stories which are of absolutely no interest to normal human beings.

The BBC sensationalises
I’m going to use this definition of ‘sensationalism’: describes the act of foregoing accuracy or dignity in order to capture headlines or public attention.
It is often quite subtle but the BBC is sensationalist. Instead of just challenging they will use ridiculous angles that are not really there or are straight from the black propaganda machine of the Tory press. Please BBC, challenge in an intelligent way; a way that sticks with facts rather than emotions, a way in which you have thought about how you challenge, rather than taking the easy/lazy option. Please stop treating us like children.


 


*lowest common denominator

Monday, 28 November 2011

Can we ever be free?

Most pseudo-libertarians have a tendency to be either right-wing nutters or canon-fodder shielding and doing the donkey-work for right-wing nutters. They spout off about freedom without really having a sustainable philosophy to perpetuate their vision, if you can call it a vision. Pseudo-libertarianism is an act of irony. They preach a warped dogma that can never be fulfilled. They preach freedom from law; a perverted form of anarchy.

True freedom is not about one group of people having the ‘freedom’ to oppress another group of people. True freedom can only ever be equality. Without equality there is only subjugation.

Can we ever be free without equality?
Absolutely not!
But we need more than just equality of economic and cultural opportunity. We need equality of thought and opinion. We need a vox populi not conditioned or manipulated by a small minority. The Media controls or at the very least sets the agenda for ‘public opinion’. And, whilst The Media is in the hands of a small elitist reactionary minority we will never be free.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Stewart Lee to guest edit R4's Today

It would seem that the clever, astute and very funny comedian Stewart Lee is to guest edit the Today Programme on New Year’s Eve; a date for your diaries folks.

There is no accounting for taste

This morning I decided that I really should get around to ordering tickets for a couple of comedians I wanted to see early next year. If you don’t get in quick I usually find that these things sell out quite quickly. So I dutifully went on line to try and book some tickets. Easy I thought. How wrong I was. The booking office website kept throwing a wobbly. Funny I thought, funny.

I had to go into the city anyway so I thought I’d call in at the box office and book my tickets in person. I’m very pleased to report that I now have tickets for Jon Richardson and Richard Herring who are performing at the Norwich Playhouse next March and next April respectively. The Playhouse has added an extra night for Jon Richardson due to the first one selling out. It would seem that at long last Jon is getting the recognition he rightly deserves. I’ve never seen Richard Herring so I am much looking forward to that.

As I was booking my tickets I learnt why their website had been a problem that morning. It seems as though tickets went on sale for a Michael McIntyre show at the Theatre Royal and the phones and website went into meltdown with, according to the EDP, the tickets selling out in six minutes. Because of this Michael McIntyre is now an even more annoying tit than he was yesterday!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Be careful what you wish for

I hate this particular saying, but like so many wordy irritations it’s found its way into popular usage. Having said that I have realised that it could well be relevant to our current PM “Oi! David Cameron, this ‘Big Society’, be careful what you wish for”.

Tory economics have sown the seeds of a ‘Big Society’. Quite intentionally I’m sure. But if that ‘Big Society’ does come to fruition and flourish it could well manifest itself in a way that no narrow-minded self-centred Tory could have ever imagined.

I think we in the West witnessed the ‘Arab spring’ uprisings and thought that it was something that couldn’t possibly happen here. But I’m now starting to think that it could easily happen here. Yes, it could well take a slightly different form to that of our Arab brethren, but I think it is coming.

In this country so many people are fed up with the lies, cheating, embezzling and double-standards practised by many politicians. Whilst, at the same time they see their own incomes and standard of living plummeting. Unfortunately there are still too many Neanderthals that believe what they are fed by the Tory media about it being all the fault of scroungers and immigrants, which it clearly isn’t. Why do the simple minded always want to assign blame downwards? But a growing number of us with a smattering of intelligence know that it is bonus bulging bankers and assorted other feral financiers that have raped and pillaged the Western world and left so many of its people hungry and destitute. The ‘Occupy’ movement is a shining example of the way to go. Non-violent direct action along with a great big dollop of community-self-help is the recipe that will enable the 99% to succeed. Today’s take-over of the empty UBS building to form The Bank of Ideas is such a wonderful initiative. We can control our destiny. We can break free of these chains that bind us. All it requires is a little imagination.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The coalition isn’t working

To the unemployed person it doesn’t matter what the level of unemployment is as for them it’s 100%. Today’s unemployment figure of 2.62 million people might well fit nicely with the Tory economic model but these are real people, real people that are being denied the right to work. My lady is one of them, a victim of the Tory local government cuts. A large proportion of this unemployment has been created by the government when it didn’t need to be so. There are alternatives we just need a government with some courage and a sense of fairness.

This government is destroying lives. You do wonder how ministers manage to sleep at night. I suppose it’s because they really don’t give a shit!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Oh Moses! - Murder in the family

If you have a blog or a website you will know what hours of fun can be had from looking at the ‘search statistics’. These are the terms that people enter into a search engine that then bring them to your site. I like the serendipitous nature of it all. Some search terms are quite bizarre but I do like the strange but small degrees of separation that link sites around the interweb. But little did I know that when I looked at the statistics a few months ago where they would lead me or what would be revealed. It shocked me I can tell you, which is one of the reasons it’s taken me a little while to write about it.

One of my blog posts that gets quite a lot of hits is about a visit I made to Chatham Dockyard. Most of the hits seem to be generated by the bit about a Stanley Spencer exhibition. But I also wrote about the rope-making factory that they have there. In the piece I happen to mention the Haverhill Rope Works, a business that my great-grandfather William Whiting had a part share in. It was a search for ‘Haverhill rope works’ that lead me to discover quite a shocking fact. There can’t be that many people that knew about or would want to search for the Haverhill rope works. My curiosity was such that I had to find out what else came up apart from blog when I searched. I was not surprised to find the Museum of East Anglian Life came near the top for they actually have a rope making machine from the Haverhill factory. My blog was listed at that all important NÂș7 spot. Just above was an entry entitled ‘William Whiting 1864-1941 - Haverhill Whitings’. I was intrigued. I had to visit this site. The site in question turns out to be a lovingly researched reference by Simon Hutchison who is like me descended from Haverhill Whitings. There on the page in question was mention of my great-grandfather, along with his wife and children, one of whom was my grandmother and several other great aunts and uncles that I had known.

It was then that I noticed Simon's mention of Moses WhitingWilliam was the eldest child of Moses and Emma Whiting. He was born in 1864 in Burton End, Haverhill, where he appears on the 1871 census. By this time he has two sisters, Emma and Alice, and a brother, John. Another brother, James, was born in 1874 but two years later tragedy befell him when he was murdered by his father.” In a sad and cruel irony great-great-grandfather had broken one of the commandments allegedly revealed by his namesake. That commandment was ‘thou shalt not kill’. It would seem that my great-great-grandfather had committed murder by taking the life of his own son, and by the newspaper account that Simon Hutchison references, it is a sad, sorry and macabre tale.

The newspaper report about the incident and in particular the coroner’s hearing suggests that there was a history of madness within the family: “The prisoner’s awful affliction is certainly hereditary, for a long list of attempted suicides, and, in fact, suicides which have been committed by various members of the prisoner’s family are mentioned.” The report makes reference to Moses in the court saying that he did not take the slightest interest in the proceedings and spent most of the time shuffling back and forth on his seat. Later on in the hearing there is reference made to Moses possibly suffering from Delirium Tremens although it was stated he had not taken drink for three or four weeks. There is also reference to the brother of Moses being in an asylum. Despite the jury’s verdict of “Wilful Murder” it is clear that this poor soul, my great-great-grandfather was not in charge of his mental faculties when he took the life of his two year old son.

Thankfully Moses did not face that most abhorrent of punishments, the death penalty, but instead the poor soul spent the rest of his days in Broadmoor. I have no doubt that Broadmoor was no picnic and that he suffered under a regime that probably neither recognised what his condition was nor was able to treat it particularly effectively.

As I pointed out in a previous post my father has HD. Huntington’s Disease is a particularly cruel disease that attacks parts of the brain, it affects different people in different ways, generating a number of symptoms including aggressive behaviour, involuntary movements and a whole host of others that are equally unpleasant. My grandmother Elsie, the granddaughter of Moses also had HD. HD is hereditary. Unfortunately I don’t know if my great-grandfather William had it, and it is possible that grandma received her faulty gene from her mother, but William selling his share of the Haverhill Rope Works at an early-ish age and moving to a different town suggests that he may we have had the disease even if it was never identified as such. My mother has told me that when my grandmother apparently first showed signs of HD relatives had said it as ‘nerves’ and suggested there was a history of ‘nerves’ in the family. Whilst I can prove nothing, I suspect it was grandma’s father William that had HD, and that it had been passed down from his father Moses. Every mention of Moses in the newspaper report points to behaviour consistent with Huntington’s disease. He was probably never diagnosed at the time with it because the first thorough description of the disease, by George Huntington, was only published four years before in 1872, and in the USA. There is no cure for HD. The only treatment is a range of drugs and dietary aids to help subdue the effects of its onset. Treatments that poor Moses would never had a chance to receive.

It doesn’t bear thinking about how tormented, ridiculed and abused a number of my ancestors must have been. They must have suffered terribly at the hands of people who I’m sure were quick to look at superstition for answers to why they displayed the symptoms that they did. No wonder it is alleged that a number attempted and some committed suicide. It could be that I have this awful condition, and whilst there still is no cure I am thankful that the treatment I will receive if I do will be so much more humane than the punishment presumably metered out on many a poor Whiting in years gone by.

I will never know if my grandmother knew about the murder in the family but I’m pretty sure my father doesn’t. Unfortunately in his present condition I don’t feel able to discuss it with him. My mother certainly didn’t know about it and she is confident that if father did know about he would have shared it with her whilst they were married. I am thankful to Simon Hutchison’s painstaking and comprehensive research into the Whiting family history for bringing this to light.


Updated here on 27/5/17

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

What’s the time Mr Wolf?

A lot of Americans get emotional or agitated at the mention of ‘9/11’ for understandable reasons. I get agitated when British newsreaders and media types use that same term. This side of the Atlantic it isn’t ‘9/11’ it’s ‘11/9’

It is true that I am irritated by Americanisms in general. It’s their inaccuracies and cack-handed ways with language that irritate me the most. And, dates are a great source of that irritation. Whilst I can almost accept that much of their spelling despite being arrived at by laziness or ignorance offers a certain brutish efficiency, there is absolutely no way that their misuse of the date can be defended. Logic would dictate that as a date is made up of various units of measure you would arrange those units in a uniform way; smallest to largest or largest to smallest. Wouldn’t you? Surely that’s the most logical thing to do. That way people know where they are. Virtually everyone in the world does it ascending or descending. But not so the awkward Americans. They clearly adopted the approach of throwing the individual units up in the air and seeing which way they landed, “Oh Prairie-shit, month day year it is then”.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

"Farther... ...Christmas!"

For those of you that are confused and must celebrate Christmas please note that it is 'Father Christmas' and not 'Santa' or 'Santa Claus'. Alright?

The power of blogging?

Last night I blogged about ‘Winterval’ and today the Daily Mail, the paper that supported Hitler, prints a retraction:

"We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval.

Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998.

We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas."


n.b. just in case there are any Daily Mail readers passing by: of course I don't really believe I had anything to do with it.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Winterval

My previous post about Christmas reminded me of the lies that are regurgitated every year by the lackeys of the right. Unfortunately the likes of the Daily Mail have managed to create stories that have ended up as urban myths, and gullible people fall for it hook, line and sinker!

It’s easy to spot these twerps. They tend to mumble stuff about “political correctness gone mad” or will complain about health and safety, or the EU or immigration. They always have to have a bogeyman (or woman) to complain about; a nebulous evil spirit that manifests itself in the form of their particular prejudice. In counteracting such twatishness there is none better than Stewart Lee. See here his riposte of the lies about ‘Winterval’. The man is spot on:



I’ve never understood why political correctness should be used as a form of abuse. What’s wrong with doing the right thing? Nothing I suppose unless you are a complete pillock. Again I shall call expert witness Stewart Lee. You cannot argue with this stuff!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The C word is humbug

A bit like those that like parties, people that like Christmas can’t understand why some of us don’t. It never fails to amaze me how so many people just accept the culture that they are brought up in believing that’s how it should be. I do get some very bemused looks from people when I say I hate Christmas. Many people just cannot understand it. There are so many sheep out there. Worse than those that just can’t comprehend that some people hate Christmas are the ones that feign empathy and will spout some bollocks along the lines of Christmas having lost its true meaning. I’ve no doubt that the festival we call Christmas lost its true meaning when the bloody Christians got their oppressing hands on the feast of the solstice. Christmas is only marginally better now that the god of consumerism has got its claws into yuletide. For some people Christmas can be really hateful, a time of deep depression a time for feeling unloved and for some poor souls it all gets too much. They choose suicide. For me I just ignore it as best I can.


We don’t put Christmas decorations up; although we do display the cards we are given. We still feel obliged to join in with the greeting card ritual nonsense although it is kept to a bare minimum.me and my lady don’t give each other presents and presents to others are simple and again kept to a minimum. Last year for the first year ever we managed to do nothing Christmassy on Christmas day and we loved it. A few years ago I spent a large part of the middle of the day on my own on Christmas day and it was wonderful; I had beer, junk food and listened to music. It was sheer lazy bastard’s heaven. If I ever had a job where I could work on Christmas day for enhanced pay and time off in lieu then I’d probably do that.


Christmas is so false that I really don’t want to be part of it. The hype causes so much stress for so many people along with so much unhappiness for those that feel that they are missing out if there Christmas does go exactly as social pressure dictates. People spend ridiculous sums of money that very often they can ill afford to buy ridiculous presents that just fuels the furnaces of the hell that is consumer-fuelled capitalism.


I was a big fan of Slade in their day. Yes I am that old! But I don’t want to hear their Christmas hit in every shop, supermarket, pub and restaurant that I enter in November and December thank you. Worse still I don’t want to hear the syrupy vomit-inducing offerings from the likes of Cliff Richard, George Michael and Aled Jones.

But, you don’t have to accept all this nonsense. You don’t get struck by a thunderbolt if you ignore it. Life is good without most of the Christmas bullshit. So, go on, ignore Christmas and you could well be surprised how happy it will make you.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Imagine Grayson Perry

I’ve been aware of Grayson Perry for a few years now but I’m not aware that I’ve ever seen his work in the flesh so to speak. I’ve seen him on various arts and magazine programmes, on the televisual goggle-box, usually as Claire (his alter ego). I understood him to work mainly in ceramics, he came across as being slightly less pretentious than many arty folk but apart from that I knew very about him. Last night’s hour-long programme on BBC1 ‘Imagine: Grayson Perry and the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’ was a joy. Alan Yentob can’t make a bad arts programme (great job you’ve got there Alan) and this one was no exception. It charts Grayson over a two year period leading up to his current exhibition at the British Museum ‘Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’. The exhibition is a mix of Grayson Perry’s work and artefacts from the museum’s collection brought together in a near serendipitous way to represent an imagined body of work the ‘Unknown Craftsman’. We are introduced to Alan Measles; Grayson’s teddy bear of 50 years standing and Grayson Perry’s deity, as they journey together to Germany on a pastel pink and blue custom build motorbike. All is explained in the programme.


I like or can accept a sizeable chunk of contemporary art. And, despite their politics I think Gilbert and George are particularly outstanding artists. But, I don’t care for likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin with their pretentiously-purveyed Emperor’s New Clothes style nonsense. It doesn’t shock or disgust it’s just downright boring and in my book it ain’t art! Grayson Perry is a cut above all that. I like his attitude to art. Despite the way he dresses, which certainly grabs the attention it seeks, he appears to put in the effort, genuinely striving to produce quality art rather than take the piss. He himself is also critical of much of the art world. He is also a tad eccentric which is no bad thing in an artist. Grayson is truly a great British artist, up there with Hockney, Gormley, Banksy and the aforementioned Gilbert and George, to name but a few. I hope to go and see his exhibition before it closes on 19th February 2012






If you missed this fabulous programme and want to see it, go to the iPlayer. But be quick as it won't be there for long.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

“Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone...”

I’m not a particularly gregarious chap. I like to socialise, sometimes, but I’m certainly no party animal. When I do socialise it tends to be in small groups, because that’s how I like it. Huge gatherings irritate and bore me. I don’t like being told that I need to ‘have fun’ or ‘have a good time’, and that a large gathering of morons eating and/or drinking is the way to do it, because for me it ain’t! Unfortunately those further down the food chain who like parties just can’t comprehend that some people don’t. They think that parties are the only way you can have so called ‘fun’. They think that you can’t be happy unless you enjoy parties. Well let me shock you pea-brained party-goers. You can and I am. I may come across as a grumpy old sod but for the majority of the time, and particularly when I’m not at work, I am happy. I like going out. I just don’t like lowest common denominator entertainment, but if you do then that’s fine by me. You have a right (and you don’t need to fight) to parteee!

We are now entering a period when people manage to find flimsy excuses to have a party. Please spare a thought for those that are not afflicted with the need to waste hours on such nonsense. Please remember that one-size does not fit all!