Bourne meets bond

I suppose it was inevitable that such a film would be made. Tonight, I think I will just flag this curious short up. It asks the question: could bond meet bourne? Could they fall in love? For my part, I’m not sure they would – they have entirely different personalities, for one – but the film was still worth linking to, if just as an editorial tour de force. Franky, it captures a homoeroticism which I cannot help but find intriguing.

The secret life of brian

Lyn went out this morning, so I was just browsing Youtube where I found this 2007 Channel Four documentary about the controversy surrounding the Life Of Brian. I thought it worth flagging up because it’s interesting to watch the contrast and conflict between two groups of people, both absolutely convinced that they are right. On the one hand, the guys who made the film, the Pythons, defending their right to make a film poking fun at religion; on the other, all the narrow-minded religious nutters trying their hardest to get the film banned. Watching the footage, I found it infuriating to see zealots like Mary Whitehouse and Malcolm Muggeridge decry this film, condemning it as though they had a right to control what people said, saw and thought. Such critics were dismissing the film as something childish or puerile, assuming an authority which they had absolutely no right to, especially given many of them had not even seen it.

Yet it occurs to me that the problem there is, when we condemn them for trying to get this film banned, do we become as bad as they are? If the pythons have a right to free speech, so should they; when we defend films on the grounds of free speech, we must also tolerate the intolerant. I still struggle with that paradox: as much as I want to call for narrow-minded morons like Whitehouse to shut up, I know i have no right to do so. After all, what if the tables were turned? As an atheist, I agree with a lot of what Life of Brian has to say; but what if someone made a film poking fun at left-wing liberals, or disabled people? Would I not be up in arms calling for it to be banned?

In the end, it’s clear who won: Life of Brian is one of the funniest films ever; it had such a cultural impact that it was referenced at the 2012 olympic closing ceremony. I wonder what those who fought against this film thought about that.

The tories cheated

I still wonder, from time to time, how the tories won the 2015 general election. According to this Canary article, they cheated: ”In the weeks before the 2015 general election, the Conservatives’ ‘RoadTrip 2015’ campaign buses criss-crossed the country, helping Conservative candidates in marginal seats to win their election campaigns. Those buses have since been credited with winning the general election for the Conservatives …Now an investigation by The Mirror suggests that the 24 Conservative candidates who were helped to victory by the buses failed to declare the cost of the buses, along with associated food and hotel expenses, in their election campaign spending.” There are strict rules governing how much parties can spend on things like battle busses. Such rules are intended to ensure a level playing field, but CaMoron and co. obviously don’t think they apply to them. If you view yourself as born to rule, you can simply disregard the rules us plebs have to abide by. They just went about the country, lying and fooling people into voting for them. As a result, we now have a group of people, utterly unfit to govern, inflicting their innately unfair, selfish policies on us.

I must look where I’m (not) going

I’ve just about mastered the principal of looking where I’m going when out and about in my chair, harsh experience having taught me the folly of not doing so. It would, however, seem that looking where I’m not going – ie when I’m reversing – is a skill I have yet to master. I was just out on my daily stroll, by the hospital tho other side of the park. Thinking absently about this and that, I came to a crossroads. I was briefly tempted to head straight across when the man turned red: I stopped, and, realising my front wheels were on the road, reversed.

That was when everything suddenly turned upside down and my chair tilted upwards. I had reversed into a ditch (as shown here). I was dazed but fine. Looking back, I was damn lucky my wheelchair didn’t fall on me. I didn’t have time to think though, as moments later several people came rushing to help, including motorists at the lights. As usual I got the ”is he okay?” routine. It was not until I was back in my chair, Ipad on my lap, that I could explain that I was fine – the plants in the ditch had cushioned my fall – by which time the police had been called and there was talk of taking me to the nearby hospital. Quite a hubbub ensued; I was a mixture of embarrassed and amused, but eventually they let me on my way. Looking back, I feel humble that so many people stopped to help, and relieved it didn’t turn out far, far worse.

We want an apology from CaMoron, not a lecture

I just saw on the news that CaMoron has used his easter message to give us all a lecture on ‘christian values’ and ‘compassion’. I find it galling that that insult to humanity would dare to claim to be compassionate, or that he cares about anyone but himself. His ideology, conservatism, is about greed; it’s about working only for yourself and resenting contributing to society through tax. That’s why, under the tories, thousands of the most vulnerable people in society have had their only source of income slashed; many more have lost their homes. How that abhorrent little scumbag can stand there and claim to have any human value resembling kindness, using a patronising, condescending ‘I’m better than you’ tone, boils my blood. He should be apologising for the suffering he has caused, not giving lectures on kindness.

Time for bond to branch out?

I just came across this rather interesting Guardian article speculating about the possible future of the Bond franchise. If you ask me, it’s fine as it is – EON should just keep churning them our as they have done for the last fifty-odd years. But might it be time for Bond to diversify? Could there be room, this article asks, for a cinematic universe. On the face of it, the possibilities seem endless: after all, there are presumably many other double-O agents to tell stories about; and how about a film about Q branch? Yet, while I have nothing against spin-offs (after all, I’ve always preferred Picard to Kirk), the Bond films are about Bond; they focus on one central character and his adventures. Unlike, say, Star Trek, they are set in the real, contemporary world; there are few specialised conventions or words – ‘warp drive’, ‘transporter beam’ etc – which other narratives could use to enter into Bond’s world. A bond film without Bond would just be a film, albeit one with the odd reference to things like Q-branch. It would have to set up it’s own characters completely afresh – what would be the point? On the other hand, the article also suggests the creation of a secondary series of bond films, based more faithfully on Fleming’s novels and set in the era in which they were written. Personally I find that idea much more intriguing.

We must not allow ourselves to become sidelined

I suppose one of the better things about recent political matters, if I can look briefly on the bright side, is that disabled people are at last being spoken about. Before the budget, we were a side issue, rarely considered in the mainstream. The fleeting glow we enjoyed in 2012 quickly faded away, and people with disabilities once again became sidelined. We still don’t get the media representation we need if we are ever to be seen as equal, productive members of society. There is the odd exception, of course – lost voice guy, the Last Leg etc – but what little representation we have is still heavily reliant on stereotype. At least the recent political furore has brought people with disabilities front and centre, albeit for entirely the wrong reasons: Osbourne’s budget unambiguously persecuted us; it cut the benefit we need to survive to fund a tax cut for the rich. It was an unfair, inhumane attack, and it got the media attention it deserved. I suppose we should be thankful it did – we could have easily been sidelined once again, and had we been, we could have expected more, even deeper cuts. If it was the negative media attention which forced the tories to rethink, then the lesson is clear: the more crips there are in the public eye, the better. We must remain in the public view – on tv, in film, in theatre, wherever as active, productive members of society deserving of it’s support. We must not allow ourselves to become sidelined; the moment we do so, we become easy pickings for tory cuts.

Ipad repairs

One of the advantages of using a device like an Ipad as your communication aid is that, when it goes wrong, help is readily available. Mine was malfunctioning yesterday. It had been quite bad for a while – random letters kept pressing themselves as I was typing, and for some reason my messages on the instant messaging app had stopped getting through. It reached a peak yesterday, in a rather embarrassing session at school, so I decided it needed to be sorted. When I used a Lightwriter, that meant packing it and sending it to the guys at toby Churchill; yesterday it meant a trip to Woolwich.

I assumed the issue with random letters pressing was due to the screen being damaged, so, going into the small laptop and phone repair store on the square, I asked the guy, as best I could, to replace the screen, before explaining about the secondary issue with the messages. After a quick examination, he told me that the latter was probably due to my Sim needing topping up. The screen would take about two hours, he said, and after that he offered to go with me to the O2 store to sort the sim. That struck me as very kind.

I returned home, where I explained the situation to Lyn, then in the bath. She said the problem was nothing to do with the sim, and the guy was talking bollocks. To be honest, it struck me as odd that I could use email and the web browser perfectly well but not the Instant Messaging app, given that they all used the sim, but the guy seemed to know what he was doing. Nevertheless, I went to my computer and waited for two hours to pass.

I went back a little early and waited for the guy to bring my Ipad. It eventually materialised, shiny new screen and all, and I strapped it to my lap. I thanked him, paid him, and was about to invite him to look at my blog, when letters started pressing themselves – it had not solved the problem at all. Puzzled, the guy looked at it, then told me to come back tomorrow when he would have a special part in. I said okay, and then we set off for the o2 shop, just around the corner.

He explained the issue, but when the guy from O2 asked me a question, the keyboard problem had become so bad that I couldn’t answer. It was then, I think, that the Ipad repair man took pity on me: we went back to his store, took my Ipad, and told me to wait half an hour. Puzzled, I nipped into a nearby pub for a quick beer what else is a guy to do with no internet and impaired communication? I had no idea what the guy had in mind. Half an hour later, though, I went back to find, to my great astonishment, that not only was the issue with the screen fixed but the instant messaging app was working perfectly too. I have no idea what he did, but he had obviously done something, as my Ipad was right as rain.

I thanked him heartily, and offered to pay. He refused – I had already paid for the new screen, that would be enough. I sent a quick message to Lyn, updating her on the situation. Happy to see that it at last got through, and that I could now type without anything springing randomly onto the screen, I set off home rather content. After all, that was a vast improvement on the week or two it used to take for my Lightwriter to e repaired.

Frighteningly familiar

Another attack, another atrocity, and yet I feel nothing. All I felt yesterday morning when the bombings in Belgium were being announced was a sense of ambivalence. I know how I should feel, of course: one should feel outraged. But instead I felt as if I was watching a story I had already seen; a sense of sameness and familiarity, as if I’d seen it all before. In a way I have – we all have. Such attacks have become so regular, so familiar, that they have lost their impact. The news coverage was the same as the last time: the same type of shots, the same type of scenery, the same tone in the newsreader’s voice. It made no impact on me, and left me unfazed – I just ignored it and continued with what I was doing. Yet that, now I come to reflect on it, is truly frightening: are these attacks becoming so regular that we are now starting to just accept them?

Owen Jones interviews Sir Ian McKellen

It might be lazy blogging on my part, but I’ll just direct you to this great little interview of Sir Ian McKellen by Owen Jones. McKellen is, of course, one of my favourite actors, but he is also a great advocate of gay rights. Here he talks about the past, and about being a homosexual actor when it was still illegal. People like him have had to overcome so much. Towards the end of the interview he also touches upon his friendship with Sir Patrick Stewart, another of my favourites. In all, well worth a watch; there is much to learn from such civil rights champions.