A retraction and a rant

I hate having to write retractions and corrections, although I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this one is only minor. It has been a busy day: my friend Chopper and I have been all over the place, mostly getting stuff for the conservatory roof. On our travels, we bumped into Alex – it turns out he didn’t film that woman after all. He only posted it to his Facebook page; Chopper was misinformed by his sons. Needless to say, I am rather disappointed.

All this running about south-east London mean I couldn’t go up to see any of the protests. I’ve seen evidence of them: there have been more kids about than usual because the schools are closed, but the busses are running and things are quiet. Ii am disappointed about this too: if we are to get the government to listen, the entire capital must come to a halt*. I only just got in so I haven’t seen any of the up-to-date reports, but I bet you any money this already-failed government is continuing with it’ cuts, despite the fact that half the country is on strike, and the fact that the economic data shows that their cuts are not working. They were shown yesterday, beyond doubt, to be cutting too far and too fast; but instead of doing the sensible thing and easing the cuts, Osbourne decides to cut even harder. No wonder the country wants these idiots out of power.

*mind you, it struck me as a relief this morning that the direct payment system is in place. That is to say, we employ personal assistants directly; they are not public sector workers, so they are not on strike. Another advantage of DP, I suppose, although I dread to think what might happen if – or should that be when – the Tories cut that.

I know the guy who filmed it

I should probably be writing about the budget, but think it would be wise for me to let the dust settle a bit before I do so. Instead, I just want to point out something cool: just as the world went mad over a clip of a dog chasing deer in Richmond park last week, this week it is up in arms over some racist woman mouthing off on a bus. I came across it yesterday, and like most people I was appalled. I thought about blogging about it there and then, but given that I didn’t have anything to say about it other than the normal statements of disgust that would have occurred to most other people, I decided against it. What could I have said about it that nobody else could?

However, I just found out something funny. The Chopster just popped in on a routine visit, and, according to him, I know the guy who made the video. It was made by one of his friends, Alex, whom I have met. How cool is that? Of course, I need to confirm it, but the woman in the clip does have a strong south London accent. Indeed, the truth is a lot of people around here have views similar to hers, although I suppose you could say that of anywhere these days. It just struck me as odd, and worth pointing out; it also presents me with the possibility of finding out more. I’ll have to talk to Alex the next time I see him.

musings while pulling up floor boards

Now I come to think about it, what happened yesterday was a little odd, but it was cool nevertheless. It started normally enough: we need or conservatory roof fixed, so about noon I buzzed over to choppers to investigate the plan for it. As usual, he invited me in, sat me in front of the film he and his sons were watching, and started feeding me biscuits, all the while chatting about this and that. However, he then said he wanted to take me to his mums house so I cold help him fix her light.

Although I’m usually much better at breaking stuff than fixing stuff I thought I might as well go with him; after all, he was going to fix our roof so it would be rude to say no.

Fixing choppers mums light was no straightforward task. The whole thing needed replacing, which meant getting to it from the room above. That was the fun part: we had to take up the floor boards, which meant chopper gave me a big crow bar to use. It really appealed to my sense of anarchy and destruction; mind you, it was also very tough going, so I could also manage a bit; I also think I took up a board that didn’t need to be removed. However, while I was doing this, it made me ponder: I’m not that great of an academic, at least compared to my brothers, so maybe had I not had CP, I would have been the sibling who used his hands rather than his brains. Maybe I would have been the builder, carpenter or scaffolder of the family; after all, I have always liked watching stuff like that. I know that is idle speculation, but, hard though it was, I really liked what I was doing yesterday. I got home dirty, tired, and in need of a drink.

Having said all that, my back hurts this morning, so perhaps I should not have been a workman after all. It did make me wonder though. Nevertheless, this afternoon the less physical task of continuing with my thesis beckons. That is fun too, although I don’t get to use a crowbar.

Parallels between russia and egypt

I was chatting to my friend James last night. He made a point which, to begin with, I was quite dismissive of, but the more I think about it the more interesting it seems. James was saying that events currently unfolding in Cairo reminded him greatly of the 1917 Russian revolutions. I am instinctively very weary of such talk:

after all, history does not and cannot repeat itself, so supposing one event can be used as a template for another seems to me quite foolish. Yes the two cases are similar inasmuch as they both have two changes o government, one each side of the year. But pre-soviet Russia and modern Egypt are two completely different places, so I thought trying to compare the two would lead only to superficial conclusions at best.

Yet the more I think about it, the more I think James has a point; in retrospect he was being quite astute. As in February 1917, earlier this year Egypt’s long-ruling dictator was overthrown, and as in October 1917, we have a group as extreme as the Bolsheviks, the Muslim Brotherhood, eager to cease power. The question remains, however, as to how closely the transitional council in Egypt resembles Russia’s hapless and shot-lived provisional government. The former seems slightly stronger than the latter, and indeed has promised elections. Crucially though, the world is watching Egypt, ready to step in in a way it couldn’t in 1917.

I’m not saying James is wrong; his is a very good point, and the thing it implicitly predicts, that one autocrat will merely be replaced with anther, might well come to pass. Yet however interesting this debate is, it is ultimately only frivolous academic speculation. It might be interesting to discuss such parallels after a good dinner, but it is ultimately useless in predicting what is really going to happen in Egypt. That only time will tell.


Rarely if ever have I felt as proud as I suddenly find myself feeling. The only time I ca compare it to is when my dad pushed me across the stage at graduation day. Lyn just called me and Marta into her studio to show us something, and showed us this. It is a video of her performance on Monday: once again I feel like a parent, but, this time, a parent whose child has just received a standing ovation from two thousand people after giving a most wonderful performance. Seriously, though, I had no idea how wonderful a thing Lyn’s orchestra was, or how big a thing they will no doubt become. Lyn is now set for enormous things, and once again I find myself struggling for words to convey how proud I am of her.

the superstar comes home

Lyn got safe and well last night, having had an excellent time in Brussels. She was only a few minutes later than ii expected – well within normal parameters – but even so I was beginning to fret. I felt like a housewife waiting for her husband to get home after work, or a parent waiting for a teenager to come in after a gig. Anyway, Lyn was very excited when she got home: she was performing with the para-orchestra, and the event, she and Dominic reported, had gone wonderfully. In fact, when they described it, and after I saw a shout clip of the applause Lyn and her group received, I began to feel quite miffed that I hadn’t gone. I think I’ll have to put my foot down and insist on going with them next time.

more congratulations

Since I did one baby-related entry, I might as well do another. I have great pleasure in announcing my great friend Ricardio is now a father. He and his Partner, Hannah, today had a baby girl. You know, I’ve often made fun of Ricardio – I remember referring to him as ‘beardy’ when we first met at uni – but, truth is, he is an amazing guy, and I know he’ll make an excellent dad.

As for myself, Lyn is away on business for the night so I’m here alone. The house feels empty without her, and although I know she’ll be back tomorrow I find myself missing her a great deal. It feels so strange and empty. Oh well, at least I have the thought of ricardio now having to get up and change nappies to cheer me up.

time for some cheerful music

It’s a long, slow, lazy afternoon. Lyn has gone to her music group (which I’ll be blogging about in due course, but I can’t say much about that now – it’s all hush hush). I went up into london yesterday with the Chopster, and we both came back exhausted, so today I’m just chilling, doing a little work on my thesis and generally mooching around the house. Thus, in the spirit of cheering everyone up and generally chilling out, I think I’ll just direct you here, to a video of Charlie’s group, The Harmonettes, singing Valerie. I think they’re quite good; they certainly brought a smile to my face.

why society exists

I’ve been debating online again, and this morning I had occasion to set out the rational behind my worldview. I wanted to explain why society existed and needed to exist. I think it might also be of interest to readers of this blog:

I fundamentally disagree with you when you say society is a construction. Frankly, you only say that because it suits your selfish, self-centred worldview: you make the assumption that you’re okay fending for yourself, so everyone can fend for their selves just as well, or else die out. This is, of curse, a social Darwinian approach, and is intellectually void.

Man evolved to live in societies for a reason. We are social animals. We all know different people have different skills. A group is made up of individuals, yes, but each individual will have his or her own skill to contribute. Living as an individual, one might have some, but not all, the skills necessary for survival. It was therefore necessary to work together in a group, pooling resources, so that the maximum number of people had the maximum chance to procreate. It’s the survival of the species in all it’s diversity, rather than the individual, that matters – that’s the bigger picture.

We don’t live under the same evolutionary pressures now, of course, but the same principles apply. For the individual to be happy, he needs society to flourish, and for society to flourish, it needs to care for all its members. Say someone had a certain skill which society needed, but was otherwise unable to look after himself. The group has an interest in caring for that individual because it helps guarantee the survival of the rest of the group. That’s why I find individualism a poorly thought through concept: it is a poor attempt to rationalise greed and selfishness, but gets us nowhere. For the individual to flourish, society must flourish, and for society to flourish, individuals must work together.

congratulations Marcie and mike!

I’m not sure I should publish this here, without their permission, but tonight on facebook my friend Marcie announced that she was expecting. This is absolutely incredible news: Marcie, know at uni as Rockie, is an absolutely incredible person. I have never met anyone with more warmth, and morre strength. She and Mike will make absolutely amazing parents.Words fail me – I’m overjoyed for them both.