The awesome interconectedness of great events

I have recently been relishing reflecting on how there seem to be funny little connections between all the truly awesome events in my recent life. Since moving down to London, I have had some great experiences, but what excites me is how they touch upon one another. For starters there was the big one – the Olympics. That event has personal resonance for me for a number of reasons: for a start, Lyn played at it’s finale, and you never forget something so monumental. The fact that the documentary which preceded heir performance cemented mine and Lyn’s relationship into the Symbolic made it even more special. Linked to that in another ceremony there was a reference to Chariots of Fire, which has quite profound resonance for me because My class and I performed to that very track for a wheelchair dance competition at school. Then, of course, there is my favourite:Happy and Glorious not only utilises my favourite Bond actor in what must be one of the most remarkable bits of tv ever, it also references the union jack parachute jump from the opening of The Spy Who Loved Me. Given that parachuting is not an integral aspect of the Bond character in that he is not automatically associated with that mode of transport, and that there were other options open to the ceremony organisers

(007 could, for instance, have chauffeured her majesty in his Aston Martin, perhaps even re-using the famous car barrel-roll stunt from The Man with the Golden Gun; or they could have had the helicopter land and had her majesty step out), that the two are linked is quite beyond argument. Danny Boyle and is team must have had the pre-credit sequence of The Spy who Loved Me in mind when creating the opening ceremony. While you could ascribe the pattern on the parachute to the patriotism inherent to the occasion, or point out that there were no solouhetted hands or Carly Simon, to try to argue that there is no relationship between the two would be virtually impossible. After all, unless I am very much mistaken, that is where the flag-emblazoned parachute device originated; and both use the opening of a parachute as a musical cue. I find the fact that the one ties quite irrefutably to the other a source of almost perpetual joy. I also love the fact that, at the beginning of Happy and Glorious, you can glimpse the ball-room where Lyn and the Paraorchestra recorded the anthem for the queen’s 2012 christmas address, giving me a second personal link to it.

Through that, the entire London 2012 olympic and paralympic event is linked to my Master’s work. Due to the echo of the flag-emblazoned parachute, the semiotic/linguistic link is inescapable. To me that is awesome. And, through my thesis, there is also a connection to the Ahab scene from First Contact, meaning it links to another of my greatest memories: meeting Sir Patrick Stewart. Thus the two are connected; my thesis straddles both experiences!

The third of my awesome events was, of course, watching Monty Python Live. While I do not use Python in my thesis, there is a link to london 2012 through Eric Idle’s bit. Again, the two echo each other. The two events are also linked through their use of Stephen Hawking, who in turn has a link to Star trek. And of course, through Python my web extends not only to my favourite traveller, Michael Palin, but also to John Cleese, who was in two of the Brosan-era Bond films. I still relish the memory of going to se Mr. Palin talk, yet another great event in my recent life.

I hope you et the picture. I love how linked all these things are; thinking up these connections has become something of a hobby. This is just an overview: there are many more links in this fascinating, often uncanny, web of life. Noticing them makes one realise how intricate and intriguing the world is.

eBay can be fast!

Something rather cool happened yesterday. I was just pottering around in my study at about lunchtime, when Lyn called me. She was in her studio, and sounded excited. She said she had been naughty: she had bought another speaker. Audiophile that Lyn is, she already has plenty, but I still said it was cool. Lyn and my dad share a liking for Bowers and Wilkins speakers – i can’t blame her for buying the best.

Lyn had bought it from ebay, so we expected it to arrive in two or three days. However at around dinner time, our doorbell rang. To our complete surprise, there was a guy there, who handed over over a speaker! I was astounded. Apparently the guy Lyn bought the speaker from lived quite near.

Lyn, of course, was over the moon. She has a new toy to play with. As I sit here on the sofa blogging, she is busily trying it out, blasting out tunes as joyful as a child. It is quite a wonderful, happy spectacle.

Newfound confidence, or being a big-head?

I think I’m developing a kind of arrogance or big-headedness about myself. When out and about, I seem to have adopted an internal sneer; a contempt for anything and anyone which irritates me. Of course, I better make sure this new mean streak does not get out of hand, but I think it has something to do with passing my Masters. I am now more confident than I ever have been in my abilities: I know I’m not stupid; I know I can write, research and analyse. Part of me thinks that it is therefore time I stood up (metaphorically) for myself, held my head high, and stopped being a pushover.

Of course, I’ll need to make sure I don’t take this too far – on must, naturally, remember to be courteous to all – but I think I could benefit from being a little more selfconfident and forthright. Far too often I let people push in front of me in queues; I let opinions and statements I know are incorrect go unchallenged; I allow myself to be looked down upon and my abilities be questioned. No More! I am Matt Goodsell, Master of Arts! I am not an idiot; just because I’m using a wheelchair does not mean you can push in front of me; and when you are wrong you will be told. I think I deserve some respect, and I now plan to get it.

UKIP: The first 100 days,a review

I just gave UKIP: The First 100 Days a second viewing. When I first saw it last night I was very taken by it, but I could tell it required and deserved another watch; now that I have done so, I find myself utterly taken with this brave and sophisticated piece of television.

On one level, you could say this constitutes Channel Four standing up to UKIP. Parts of this program are very anti-ukip, making no effort to hide it’s underlying racism. Last night I was applauding Channel Four for having the bravery to stand up to this xenophobic party: it clearly spells out what a catastrophe a ukip government would be. Yet after the second viewing, I think the film’s approach is more subtle: it tries to show both sides of the argument. This is not the hatchet job part of me wants someone to make; it is very careful not to present ukip or their supporters as monsters I especially like how actual footage of ukip’s bufooonery, including footage of Farage’s speeches, was interspersed into the fiction, so there can be no debate over their accuracy*. This is a very clever move on the part of channel four, because, this way, the film cannot just be dismissed as just propaganda. At the same time, it spells out what a disaster a ukip government would be, and the division it would cause..

Parts of this film had me in appoplexisms of rage last night and again this morning. UKIP have that effect on me, even when they are presented in a fiction. part of me wants to launch into a venomous tirade against Farage and the bunch of idiots he calls a party, but this film reminds us that pure bile is not the solution. It spells out the folly of UKIP, yet holds back from going too far. It is a drama, a fiction; but beneath that fiction lie very salient truths about the dangers this party represents and the dark places it would lead us to. It is thus a brave bit of tv for which it’s makers need to be congratulated. This is why channel four is great.

*I nevertheless just read that ukip has complained to ofcom about the program, and farage has called it biassed and partisan.

the stakes are high for 2024

I still have a strange fixation with the Olympics. It is not the sport that excites me, but the bidding process and choice of venue. The Olympics draw the world’s attention onto a city, each unique and vibrant. For a month or so, a city can show itself off; the world gets to explore a new metropolis, a new city-scape, a new people. Through the olympics we become flaneurs walking the streets of a city in a moment of celebration. The way in which each city choses to reveal itself to the world fascinates me. Yet, no two cities are alike; each has it’s own idiosyncrasies, it’s own unique heartbeat. How, then, can anyone choose one city over another?

It seems to me that it is a selection process like no other, with the steaks higher than any other. Countries compete directly with each other as in no other area. Unlike in war, this is entirely peaceful; unlike international sport, this is not about the physical prowess of individuals. It is a matter of enticing a committee to choose one city over another; about who has the best application, the best city. The associated costs aside, being awarded an olympic games by the IOC is a huge source of national pride, and thus it is a highly competitive process. Vast amounts of capital – cultural, social and monetary – rest on the IOC’s decision. Like winning the world cup, a host receives the esteem of the world; the benefits, though, are more concrete and long-term, often involving the opportunity to transform a city and refresh one’s cultural image.

Soon, cities and countries will start preparing to bid for the 2024 games, where I suspect the tension will be higher than ever: On the other hand we have Paris, no doubt still resenting loosing out to London in 2005 and desperate to host the games after so many set-backs. The French take a huge amount of pride in their capital; one senses they resented not being the first city to host the olympics three times, and want to catch up with London. This, together with the fact that 2024 will mark a century since the last Paris olympics, means this bid will really matter to them.

One might think Paris will be a shoe-in because of this, but the Americans, I sense, want to win this bid just as badly. After all, they were just as disappointed in

2005: they take enormous pride in new york. They were hurt deeply when the big apple bid failed, and again when Chicago’s bid for the games of 2016 was rejected, in the first round no less. American pride is such that they also think it’s time they hosted the games again; they think, as ”the worlds greatest country”, they deserve it, and don’t give a rat’s ass about Paris. Of course, one could argue that selecting Boston over say, New York or LA – truly world cities – implies that the American Olympic Committee is only putting a token bid in, but I really think they want it.

Thus, given that Rome and Berlin (two national capitals) are also bidding, we have a very interesting situation. A huge amount of national pride rests on the IOC’s decision. Only one city can win, meaning that either america or France will be disappointed yet again. You might say it’s only an olympics, and that is true; but to have a city chosen to host the world’s biggest party is a huge source of pride. To loose out to another city in another country automatically feels like a slight, regardless of how patriotic one is. For either country to be rejected yet again will hurt badly – there could well be friction.

Indeed, given how much the US contributes to the IOC, rejecting them in favour of what to the Americans would be yet another Old European capital could be gravely risky. The americans invest a huge amount of capital, both monetary and cultural, into their bids. Hypothetically, another rejection could push them over the edge: they could withdraw from the olympic movement altogether; without the US, the entire event would lose it’s credibility and relevance. From that point of view, the committee has no choice but to go with the American candidate. But could it really say no to paris yet again? Such a blow would be truly devastating for the french. I’d hate to be in the IOC’s shoes.

That’s what interests me: how will they play it, and who will the IOC choose. To a certain extent, I guess my fascination with this stems from my gleeful pride at living in a city which went through this process and won, and at getting to watch the losers from 2005 have to go through this process all over again; indeed, I admit there may be an element of Schadenfreude stoking my interest in this. Yet the subject, given it’s context, is oddly intriguing to me. Being awarded the olympic games is a huge signifier of a city’s importance and esteem on the world stage; the more games a city hosts, the more relevant it can be said to be. There is far more to this decision than financial gain. 2012 was the ultimate confirmation of London as one of the world’s major cultural hubs; it’s status was put beyond doubt. Other cities want that status, that cudos, too. What all bidding cities want, more than anything, is the esteem of the world.

Right and left, sharing and greed, child and adult

We all know – or, rather, are lead to believe – that politics ad economics are vastly complex subjects. Yesterday I tried to condense my opinions on the economic situation into a form of allegorical children’s story. Of course, I grossly simplified things, and some would say it was a highly biassed misrepresentation. Ask an american republican, for instance, and the economic upturn is all down to their cuts. Everything here is subjective, and depends on how one sees it. From there it follows that there are no objectively right answers.

Yet I think you can take that a step further. People differ on how they see things, but those differing viewpoints have reasons behind them; reasons which make one more reasonable than the other.

As babies we are selfish: we demand parental attention, milk, and all the toys; we feel hard done by if, say, mummy and daddy move their attention to a sibling. Babies think they are the centre of the world, and only their needs matter. As we grow, however, we learn to share: we come to realise that there are other children in the playroom, and that their needs matter just as much as ours. Moreover, we learn that if we share, other children are more likely to share with us in return, so we all benefit.

This, to me, is what is at the base of the difference between left and right. Right-wingers still demand that undivided attention; they still think their needs come first. They therefore begrudge contributing to society (sharing) by paying tax. Of course, they might try to rationalise their worldview by citing other ways to contribute, or other convoluted arguments; yet their neoliberal stance boils down to the simple, childish greed of children who have not yet learned to share. To frame it in psychoanalytical terms perhaps, their superego is left underdeveloped.

The left is made up of those who grew out of that stage, who realise that sharing is good. They realised that other children in the room needed toys, milk and attention too, perhaps because their parents were careful not to spoil them. They therefore develop the nascent idea of equality, of fairness. In turn this matures into a communitarian, leftist stance.

That, for me, is what is at the base of the difference between right and left. It is a dichotomy of greed versus selflessness, of spoiled and unspoiled children. This also accounts for the anti-liberal attitudes of those on the right, for, like small children, they desire security and continuity over difference, novelty and change. Granted, it might be slightly reductive, but I think my theory sums it up well; it’s why I think leftism is a more mature, adult and ultimately more productive worldview. After all, is it not the grown ups who have to remind children to play nicely and share their toys? And it is only through sharing, and through working together rather than for personal profit, that we will be able to solve the problems humanity faces.

The wise men, the fools, the house and the storm

Once, a group of wise men lived together in a house in a town. They looked after their house well: good roof, pretty garden, strong walls. But one day, a huge storm came and destroyed the town, and most houses were wrecked. The local greek restaurant was utterly ruined, and its owners needed lots of help to save it. However, the house in which the wise men lived was not too badly damaged, and they were soon repairing it.

It was almost back to how it was when the wise men got some bad news and needed to move out. Shortly after that, some other people moved in. They weren’t so wise. For some reason they thought he storm had been caused by the wise men, and thought the house was in a terrible condition. They set about trying to repair the house, but, fools that they were, did a very poor job. But they were lucky: the storm had passed, and the wise men had done such a good job starting the repairs that the house continued to recover. The new guys were so gormless though, they didn’t realise: in their arrogance they assumed things were getting better because of their flawed repairs. In fact, everyone else could see that they were getting worse due to what they had done.

The house will soon fall down if the wise men do not return, for the new tenants have bodged the repairs. They claim to have improved the house when in fact it has become worse. The only reason it looks so good is because of the work started by the wise men – ironically the people the fools, in their ignorance blame for the storm. If the house is to flourish, the fools must be evicted and the wise men must return…lest another storm comes.

Into the endless cacophony

Something about wandering this city fascinates me

Exploring, surrounded by people, alone with my thoughts

Hearing all the tounges and dialects of the world.

Endlessly curious in this endless three-dimensional labyrinth.

Slightly guilty about leaving Lyn home alone as I roam,

But she has her own wanderings, through music and sound

While I listen to the glorious cacophony of the metropolis:

The music of the voices of the world, the great harmony of humanity.

So out I go into the maelstrom

Unto the chaos of the city

Ever changing, full of life

Utterly fascinating

Paramount London

I just tapped ‘London’ into the search engine of startrek.com, hoping for news of another convention here, and found news of something even better – something astounding. Paramount Studios is now planning to build a theme park to the east of London: ”Paramount London, a proposed entertainment resort, will include a Star Trek-themed area when it opens on the Swanscombe Peninsula, east of London, in 2020. Spread across 800 acres, Paramount London will be the first of its kind in the UK and is expected to attract up to 15 million visitors a year”. I can’t believe my luck: although Lyn made a ‘oh god no!’ moan when I told her about this over the dinner table, and although it’ll pack the area with tourists and opportunists, trekkie that I am, I can’t wait! Here’s the projects website.

Spitting Image reborn

I just read that ‘legendarry’ comedy show spitting Image is due to return to british tv under a new name. Now called Newzoids, it will basically be the same satirethrough-puppetry program. While I have heard a lot about it, and while I’ve seen clips, I don’t think I have ever sat through an entire episode of Spitting Image. I’ll be interested to see how this tuns out then, and I’m certainly keen to see how they handle people like Farage and CaMoron. Mind you, I do know something about Spitting Image: THIS!!