‘the party of the nhs’?

Talking of the olympic opening ceremony..

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We love our national health service; CaMoron and his party does not – after all, they can afford to go private.

I want more postmodern juxtapositions of fictional and non-fictional characters!

I suppose it is fair to say that, despite Boris’ wistful musings that London could host the Olympic games again within twenty years, we won’t be seeing a summer like the one of 2012 for quite some time. That is not to say we couldn’t: after this summer and the run up to it, it would be the simplest thing in the world to get everything going again, and I bet it would be even more awesome than the last. It’s just that London has already hosted the games three times – more than any other city. There are plenty of other cities for the Olympic party to go to – cities in countries which have never hosted the games. That means, of course, that I better come to terms with the fact we probably wont get to see the queen making any more grand entrances, with double oh seven or anyone else.

I’m still obsessed with that bit of film, sorry. As I mused last week, I hope Rio does it’s own reply. I’m intrigued by it’s postmodern juxtaposition of fictional and nonfictional characters: it blends reality and fantasy in a new way, which brings me to wonder what other weird and wonderful combinations I can come up with. Now we have had the queen meet James bond, anything else is possible, nothing else is unthinkable, no person too big or too important, no scenario too far fetched. She may not have realized it, but when she uttered the words ”Good evening, Mr. Bond”, her majesty opened up an exciting new world of postmodern possibilities. Although she may never utter them or their equivalent again, what might they have spawned?

The mind boggles: there are so many fictional characters and so many possible scenarios, it’s hard to know where to begin. What if president Obama was shown talking to superman? What if the mayor of New York was shown talking to Batman about crime in the city? Such stunts could be put to good use, and help deliver important messages. I have been trying to think of ones which are vaguely realistic all day though, and it is harder than you might think. James Bond was the obvious choice for introducing the queen as the stunt did not really need much setting up in terms of pretext. If he were indeed real, as a government agent her majesty would already know him, which is why she could just greet him with a simple ‘good evening’; indeed, the way in which she has 007 wait a few seconds while she finishes her writing subtly demonstrates that the queen is familiar with her agent – had she not known him, surely she would have turned around as soon as he entered the room. Bonds grin and slight pause before he replies underscores this sentiment. yet, as she then rises and walks towards the door, bond looks straight ahead, maintaining a formality and verisimilitude. If Bond had turned his head as her majesty passed him, it would have looked odd – even disrespectful. Thus the pause is not bemusement or impetuousness, but 007 being a professional royal servant, which I think adds to the sense of reality vital in such stunts.

As for the question of why the queen used such an unusual way to get to the ceremony, given that her majesty didn’t actually parachute in to the stadium but landed outside of it and entered as she ordinarily would, how do we know that this is not her usual way of getting places? In other words, whereas if anyone tried to do a similar stunt with some other fictional character they would need to establish a pretextual justification for it, because Bond is a (fictional) government agent, the film makers did not need to explain why this character could appear with the queen. If professor Dumbledore had been used in the olympic ceremony sequence instead of Bond, for example, it’s makers would have had to explain why he had taken a break from his duties at Hogwarts; with 007, a government agent who for all we know does such things with the queen frequently, no such contextualization was necessary. That’s why other examples may be harder to find, as they would need a greater degree of preamble. I’ll continue to mull it over, and try to come up with one as good as bond and the queen. Please put your suggestions in the comments.

Leveson 1

It is quite an interesting day for us observers of media. I’ll try to write something in-depth and intelligent soon, I promise, but as the dust is yet to settle, I can just direct you here

Lit up like a thousand photos of manhattan

These dark London nights seem somehow unlike the winter nights of Cheshire. They feel darker and colder, more alien, as if people seem more distant. Everyone is, of course, in a hurry to get back home to the warmth and the light, as they would be all over the country. Countryside, town or city, a winter’s night is a winter’s night. Yet here in the capital, that urgency is more pronounced: cars zoom by, and people seem to walk a bit faster.

I was just out with Lyn. We went to the coffee shop around the corner: we have a new personal assistant to train up, and that is a good place to start. My dad had came to visit this morning; it was good to see him, as ever, and after he had left we felt some coffee and cake was in order. It was quite dark when we got home, but, despite that, I felt like a short walk, just for some fresh air.

And so I went, through the parks, along paths I now know quite well. It was cold, though, and before long I decided to head home,, but before I did I decided to take a look at the view I once described here. London may seem alien and cold sometimes,, especially on a dark winter’s night, yet it is also beautiful. Canary Warf, lit up at dusk like a thousand photos of Manhattan, looks magical. It is an image powerful enough to chase away the coldness in an instant, and with that I turned for home, thinking of my father, my family, but most of all the wonderful woman waiting for me.

Still proud, but wanna help

I find it more than a little bit awesome that almost precisely a year ago today I wrote this entry. In it I record how proud I am of Lyn after seeing her play in her first Paraorchestra performance. I go on to wonder what might be in store for them: I knew they were going to be fairly successful, but, to be honest, I would not have dared to dream that they would hit the heights they have this year. It has frankly amazed me: first, going to Orchestra in a Field, and then watching them close the Paralympics. Moreover, although I’m not at liberty to say what, there are a few very big things in the pipeline. Lyn and I have some very busy days ahead.

Or rather, Lyn does: I’m not a member of the orchestra – I don’t play an instrument. I have thus started to feel guilty about glorying in a success which I have not contributed to. I feel rather like a groupie, a hanger-on. I suspect I just get in the way. I want to help somehow, though – I want to contribute in a more meaningful way; I suppose I want to be a proper part of this groundbreaking, increasingly important organisation. The question is, what can I do?

‘Open sesame’ indeed!

This story caught my eye today. Scientists in the middle east have had quite a brilliant idea: several nations in the region, from both sides of the arab/Israeli conflict, have decided to come together to create their own particle accelerator. They have decided to put their nations differences aside for the sake of science. If you ask me, this is profoundly brilliant news, as it shows – does it not – how superficial our petty conflicts are, and that, when we choose to, we can put them aside and work together as one people, one species. I found it so glorious that I just had to flag it up on here. Mind you, I must admit that, when I first saw this story on the lunchtime news, the grim thought occurred to me: ”I wonder how long it is until this place is attacked by a group like Al Qa’ida.’

out for a stroll

One of the best things about living in London, or any large city I suppose, is the abundance of reasonably nice walks. In stark contrast to other parts of the country, it’s a beautiful day here, and not that cold for the time of year, so I just went out in my chair. As I wrote here, I have always liked going out for strolls, but the problem was, back up north, there weren’t that many circular routes. Of course, there were lots of good walks, but these were along roads and paths leading further and further away from home, so at some point you would have to double back on yourself. I prefer paths which lead you in circles, so you never have to see the same bit of road twice: that is why I loved the walk to Swettenham.

The problem was, that walk was rather long. Here in south London, however, there is an abundance of circular walks, long, medium or short, so I never get tired or bored. The one I took this morning was short to medium: through the parks down to shooters hill road, along to blakheath stopping in M&S Food for some supplies, and from there home. Not very long, but long enough to get my cognitive juices flowing. Part of it was on a stretch of road I had never been down before, too: another advantage of living in a metropolis is that there are always new paved, accessible roads to go down – new places to explore in my chair. There were all kinds of people about, going to and from church, doing their weekly shopping, playing in a football tournament in the park, or, like me, just out for a stroll. It was the perfect start to a lazy Sunday, after what has turned out to be one of our busiest weeks ever.

MI6 job ad

I’m sorry, but I just have to flag this up – it’s just too funny not to. According to an article in the Guardian, MI6 has posted a presumably fake job advert on the directgov website, looking for ‘target elimination specialists’ who ‘will receive all necessary equipment, including passports, special watches, jet packs, minisubmarines and a Walther PPK.” Needless to say, I’m considering applying, but I may need to forgo some of those martinis, as much as I like them.

Thanks to John white for sharing that with me!

How could Rio reply

A couple of days ago, I had an idea, or rather I had an idea which I hope people in brazil have. Given that one of the most memorable parts of the London Olympic opening ceremony was a short film in which James bond escorts the queen to the stadium, how might the Brazilians develop that meme? If you think about it, it is quite an interesting question: that film brought together two British icons, one fictional, one non-fictional, capturing the moment in the most brilliant, surprising and awesome way. After all, who would have ever expected to hear her majesty utter the immortal line ”Good evening, Mr Bond.”? How, then, could brazil respond to that? It occurs to me that they have to – London threw down the gauntlet when it made this film, creating something emphatically British yet playing with British icons, in so doing telling a joke that the whole world would get. The question, then, is how can rio reply?

I was pondering this on Monday: I have a couple of brazillian cousins, so I thought I would ask them whether brazil has it’s equivalent of 007. Alex suggested a guy called Capitao Nascimento who seems to fit the bill, although I daresay no other character from any country occupies Bond’s unique niche. Nascimento comes from Brazilian hit film ”Elite Force”, and, according to alex, has a couple of cool catchphrases, like ”your not man enough to use the black uniform” – he would do nicely. The question is who would jump out of the helicopter with him, if indeed there is going to be a helicopter at all. As I wrote here, ‘Happy and Glorious’ is a rereading of power structures – power structures which are uniquely British. Only we have this benign maternal figure, slightly anachronistic, slightly absurd but which still has our respect and admiration; only we have a martini-drinking spy who is the central character of the biggest, longest running film franchise ever. Both icons have unique places on not just British but worldwide culture: it will be intriguing to see whether the joke is taken up by Rio, and the meme evolves Brazilian style. I love the way an event like the Olympics affords us an opportunity to play with such concepts, and I really hope London has started a tradition continued in rio and beyond.