My father was, of course, right when he said it was ridiculous to deny CaMoron’s legitimacy as prime minister. It did indeed make me ” sound just like the wingnuts in the States who refuse to accept Obama as President.” The last thing I want to do is sound like one of those lunatics. Yet I was writing yesterday from a position of absolute powerlessness: we have a government which I cannot stand, poised to wreck the benefits system. It has arrogantly awarded itself a five year fixed term, during which time life will become increasingly worse for disabled people and the working classes, just so taxes can be lowered. I cannot abide their lies, arrogance and selfish worldview. To deny CaMoron’s legitimacy as PM may be folly, but what I can deny is his claim to rule for the benefit of all. His policies benefit only the wealthy, upon which basis, given government should work for the good of all, I also deny conservatism’s claim to rationality itself.
I do wish the media would stop referring to David CaMoron as the prime minister, because he isn’t. at the risk of sounding a bit of a lunatic, given that he was not elected by the majority of people in this country, I refuse to recognise CaMoron as my PM. I have many objections to his policies – I think they are backwardslooking, insular, and Neoliberal. Behind his ‘austerity measures’, one can easily detect the individualist, ‘I’m all right Jack’ attitudes that have always been Tory hall marks. And it is precisely these attitudes that are going to send us straight back into recession, and probably depression. Moreover, within the conservative party, there have always been non-progressive, xenophobic attitudes intent on repressing immigrants, ethnic minorities and anyone different from ‘normal’. I strongly suspect these attitudes are still there, however much Tories try to hide them.
This is why I still refuse to recognise CaMoron as prime minister. The fact is he does not have my respect. I know it won’t achieve anything, and is purely a symbolic act, butt if I convince other people to do the same, maybe we can get the asshole out of a place where he has no right to be.
Lyn and I spent yesterday at home, for the most part. I did some work on my thesis, and Lyn composed music in her studio. I did, however, get to watch some TV, and boy did I get a treat. At around midday, Howard Hawks’ ‘His Girl Friday’ (1940) was on. To me, this film is an exemplar of Hollywood of classicism: shot magnificently and highly efficiently, the dialogue almost crackles with greatness. There was one long scene where the whole film comes together – its almost totally dialogue driven, with almost no extra diagetic music. I only whish I could write a fraction as well as that. I’d forgotten how magnificent that film could be – no wonder Hawks was a favourite of the Young Turk writers of cahiers du cinema.
If that wasn’t enough of a treat, in the evening I stumbled onto another gem, this time in terms of comedy. I found a show called ‘Roger and Val have just got In’ on BBC2 (I think). It had Dawn French in. while I like French’s work anyway, I was amazed by this show. The entire episode was composed of just one scene with two characters. Again, it was totally dialogue driven, yet the dialogue was used to create an entire scenario, an entire world with characters who had discernable personalities. For the second time yesterday, I found myself very impressed.
It just goes to show there’s hope for telly yet. There is usually so much dross on, but there are still some gems which you can stand up next to the Hollywood greats.
We recently employed two new personal assistants – a polish couple who recently migrated. I must say how impressed I am with Andrzej and Natalia; I think they have previous experience of personal assistance work. Today, for example, we had a very successful shopping trip. We had a good conversation about British culture in Costa; I was trying to expand Andrzej’s English vocabulary. Rather mischievously, I told him about the phrase ‘smeg head’. Mind you, although I know it’s from Red Dwarf, I’m not entirely sure what smeg is, apart from something obscene. So, in that spirit, I’ll send you here.
I already really like Andrzej and Natalia; they strike me as highly intelligent people. We’ve already had some fascinating conversations, about subjects as diverse as the Russian revolution to the status of disabled people in Poland. Hopefully they’ll be the first conversations of a great many.
One of my online associates contacted me with quite an interesting idea last night. She wrote: ” tactics Matt, split the Lib Dems more than they are split already and the coalition falls. Too lat to stop all the damage but best case scenario. Bigger the protest better for splitting already disenchanted Lib Dems.” As far as I am concerned, this coalition is bad for the country and so must go. The liberals are now effectively the Tories lap-dogs; they seem to have betrayed their instincts in return for power. Yet ttheir support is crucial to CaMoron’s premiership. In other words, take out the lib-dems and the coalition falls. Given that it is doing so much damage to our economy and society, this government must be overturned as soon as possible. Yet, the question is, how do we make Nick clegg put aside his lust for power, and realise that he is playing into the hands of the Tories?
Last night I watched quite an interesting piece on Newsnight about Muslim women wearing the hijab or niqab. It is, of course, a very compex issue, but these women were essentially arguing that they wear it as part of their identity. As I wrote here, I think anyone has a right to wear hat they want, and these women have a right to wear veils if they whish. But if this is so, then so do I. given my dress sense often crosses gender boundaries, and given my attitude to religion – that it is just another grand narrative to be deconstructed – why shouldn’t I be allowed to wear a veil? I think it would be a strong statement. If these women feel it liberates them, might it not liberate me?
I will, of course do no such thing. There’s a feeling in the pit of my stomach saying this might be a step too far. Pink party frocks are one thing, but donning a niqab is another. Wearing a dress might get a few odd looks, but nobody will kick my head in, which is what I suspect will happen if I put on a veil. Yet this begs the question why. If we really live in an open and tolerant society, why shouldn’t the same rules apply for everyone, or doesn’t transvestism cross religious boundaries?
It is true that it is only in hindsight that one sees with clarity. For example, I was recently wondering about the best meals of my life: for some reason, I began to wonder, which were the best meals I’ve ever eaten. I came up with a list of three: firstly, there was the seafood buffet I had on new years eve 06/07, in Sydney with my family. We had flown in from the ‘red centre’ that evening, and were lucky to get spaces for the festiivities in our Sydney hotel. The seafood was delicious, and the fireworks made it one of the most memorable evenings of my life.
Then there was the Cuban risotto I had in Paris. When I went there with charlotte, two years ago, we found a little Cuban place near the champs Elysess. I remember it vividly for two reasons: it was there that I drank my first authentic daiquiri, and it was there that charlotte tried to learn to dance Cuban style. I remember it being a truly amazing evening, and one of the best of my life.
The third meal on my list is the least recent, and the most special. In 1994, my parents tool me to the west coast of America. We rented a van, and we toured California, Nevada, and Arizona before going back into California. On one of the last nights, we were up in the Rockies, in Yosemite. Despite the incredible natural beauty, I was miserable, as the chalets we were staying in didn’t have any TV sets. That evening, despite me being in a preadolescent huff, I remember my parents, my brothers and I sitting, up among the redwoods, playing Chinese whispers over a pizza. The sky was so clear that we could see Venus between the mountains. I was young and in a huff, but, looking back, I think that was one of the most magical evenings of my life.
My point is, I think retrospect is the key; none of my favourite meals felt significant at the time. You cant grasp the significance of an event until enough time passes that you can look back on it. Maybe this is the case with politics: Gordon brown is currently portrayed as inept, but I suspect retrospect will show that he saved us from a worldwide depression. I know the two examples are worlds apart, but it is only through hindsight that one can realise the significance of anything, from your three finest meals to the efficacy of a prime minister.
It would seem that hung parliaments are now in fashion. The exit polls of Australia are currently showing that that country too is headed for the type of political turmoil that we went through. I like Australia and Australians, and I really hope that they are spared the shambles we are in, where an essentially far-right party is hiding behind a liberal junior partner in order to make it look respectable. Somehow, though, I don’t think the aussies will stand for that; for the most part, they seem to be a friendly, liberal bunch. On the other hand, its interesting to note ask why elections are so close these days? Is it a sign of insecurity? Might it betray some major worldwide trend – a trend showing widespread unease and indecisiveness? As the societies of the world become increasingly mixed, with people and ideas flowing more freely, I think it’s a sign of the times. The one place we’re not seeing this is the united states, where political views seem to be becoming more polarised, more extreme and less tolerant. What this all means I don’t know, but I cant help wonder where it will lead.
One of the things I love about living in south London is that I am living in a multi-ethnic, multicultural community. The other day, for example, I decided I needed a haircut – my hair was getting quite long and matted. Remarkably for a place as small as Charlton, I had a choice of two places: Trims, where me and Lyn usually go, is a unisex salon run my a nice old lady. The other place, just up the road, is more of a barbers. First I went to trims, but the woman was busy and told me to come back later. I was about to go home, but then I decided to give the other place a try.
This turned out to be run by Turkish gentlemen. Now, at this point I should point out that I no longer have any grievances with the Turks, despite their continued occupation of northern Cyprus. As a kid, I used to listen to my Greek grandfather far too keenly. Anyway, putting politics aside, I rolled in. it was a cross between a conventional British barbershop and a Turkish or Arabic barbers: I was fascinated to see a man being shaved, not with a normal razor but with an old cut-throat razor. I thought those things had been made illegal, and I’d never seen it before. It was like going back in time, or to another place. it felt like something you see on Michael Palin programmes After the shave was over, the gentleman was given a hot towel to put on his face.
Soon it was my turn. Of course, I only needed a haircut – there was no way anyone was coming anywhere near my face with that razor. The haircut I got was efficient, but a bit too short for my liking: I don’t think they get many guys with CP in there, and, as usual, my head kept shaking. Nevertheless, I was still fascinated, as I’d never seen anyone get a shave like that before. but that could just be me being a bit of a yokel. I never saw such things in Cheshire, and it all still feels exotic.
I just saw quite an interesting report on BBC news. the outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians, Air Ian Gilmore, has called for the legalisation of drugs, he thinks that, if drugs like heroin, cocaine and cannabis are legalised, their use can be regulated and made safe. I, like any other intelligent person, agree with him. It isn’t that drugs are bad; the problem is that their prohibition leads people to get involved in crime. If drugs were regulated, they can be made safe and given out in controlled quantities.
Now, I know from experience that drugs other than alcohol aren’t for me. I have, however, many friends who smoke weed regularly. In the disabled community, many people go through chronic pain which can only be controlled through such drugs. Moreover, as I wrote here, ” No doubt there can be some harmful consequences from such activities, but I have only observed the positive consequences – people having fun, feeling mellow and being happy. I’m informed that the harm comes from ‘bad batches’, which would suggest to me a need for legalisation and regulation of such substances. Bring it away from the underground; this way, at least, the problem of drug crime can be irradiated.” The case, for me, therefore seems obvious: legalise drugs, tolerate them, and – forgive the pun – open your mind to the bigger picture.
Of course, I can’t see this happening with the current government in power. Despite their pretences, the Tory mind seems closed to ways of thinking other than their own. It is, however, good to see someone in authority is still capable of thinking outside the narrow constraints of conservatism.