It occurred to me recently that I still don’t really know London. Of course, having been trundling around the Borough of Greenwich for over a decade, I now know it quite well; I also go up to Stratford fairly often, so I know that area too. Yet as for London proper – the centre of this dense, sprawling microcosm – that is still as unfamiliar to me as some distant, far away land. Looking at the map though, it seems so enticing: names like Paddington, Marble Arch and Baker Street seem to evoke a place which I feel I should know by now. I am, after all, a Londoner, so in a way I want to know my way around it as well as other Londoners do.
The problem is, it’s just so vast, where can I even begin to explore it? It’s not as simple as hopping on the Tube, heading up into the centre of town and having a look around: how would I get home, for one? And what if I got lost, or ran out of powerchair battery? The city is so big, there will always be more of it to explore, so I can never know it entirely anyway.
Even so, London is still a place which fascinates me. I have fallen in love with it, and it entices me to follow all of it’s streets and paths to see what I might find. If London is indeed a microcosm – a cosmos made small, a world brought into one spot – then who could ever resist going and exploring it?
I think I broadly agree with what this guy has to say about John Cleese’s upcoming documentary series on so-called cancel culture. Those who are now so critical of what until recently was called political correctness do so out of a reluctance to accept change and difference: they’re not defending everyone’s right to free speech as much as their personal right to be intolerant. Mind you, I think it would be a good idea to watch Cleese’s programs first, before casting too much judgement.
Far be it for me to make fun of someone’s death, but if you want a new definition of irony, just read this. ”A prominent anti-mask leader in Texas has died from complications caused by Covid-19….Mr Wallace had created the San Angelo Freedom Defenders, a group who sought to end what it labelled “Covid-19 tyranny,” according to a YouTube video.” I defy anyone not to at least chuckle, or raise an ironic eyebrow, at that.
I hate Sky. BskyB strikes me as a disgustingly cynical, manipulative broadcaster, charging it’s customers an extortionate amount for every moment of it’s second or third-rate airtime while still forcing adverts upon them every quarter of an hour. The irony is, when I was nine or ten, I practically begged my parents to get a subscription so I could watch American Wrestling, but these days I think I’d rather get a lobotomy.
The fact remains, though, that the only way you can watch the cricket is via Sky. The third England vs. India test match was really getting interesting yesterday, so yesterday afternoon I decided to see if I could go out and catch a bit of it. First I tried the big screen in Woolwich’s General Gordon Square, with no luck – there was another event happening there. Then I tried in two or three of the pubs around Woolwich to see whether any of them were screening it, again with no luck. I eventually had to go all the way to Charlton to find the test being shown at the Royal Oak – a nice little place I used to visit quite frequently, seven or eight years ago. I stayed there for an hour or so, becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of wickets, before getting the bus home.
Today, however, I had a much better idea: blackheath cricket club has a wonderful ground on Charlton Road with a nice, well equipped pavilion. I’ve been there a few times. Reasoning that there would be a good chance they’d be screening the test match, I trundled over there this morning after breakfast. I was greeted with quite a splendid sight: there was a live match being played on the 130-year-old pitch. Heading into the pavilion though, I finally found what I was looking for; and, more to the point, England had started to take the wickets they should have taken yesterday afternoon.
It didn’t take long for the match to end. I was barely there an hour, watching England get the last four wickets they needed to beat India by an innings. It was a great morning, but I felt guilty about watching blackheath cricket club’s televisions without paying them anything – I’d already had plenty of coffee, and it was much too early for anything harder. Yet the fact remains international sport like this test should be on terrestrial tv where everyone can watch it; I shouldn’t need to go on such hunts. We shouldn’t have to put up with Sky exploiting it’s viewers, making them pay ridiculous amounts for what struck me earlier as a mediocre service interrupted by adverts every few minutes.
I was just watching the evening news, and the BBC is now admitting that shops across the country are now facing significant food shortages, caused at least in part by Brexit. While I haven’t noticed any lack of food in my local shops here in London, I’ve been coming across such reports online for a while. Now the UK has left the EU, we are facing a huge shortage of lorry drivers: goods simply aren’t getting where they need to go. What concerns me is, as the consequences of leaving the EU become clearer and clearer, this will just be the tip of the iceberg.
I think I better clarify, as it has now been brought up a couple of times, that I don’t think anybody should be allowed to drown. To be honest I thought up the title of yesterday’s blog entry on the spur of the moment: I was struggling to decide what to call it, and thought it sounded suitably rock and roll and Nirvana-esque to call it what I did. Obviously letting babies actually drown is unthinkable, but so is refusing to put out roofs which have caught fire.
Apparently, some wanker in America is now trying to exploit the fact that the image of him as an unclothed baby was used on the cover of one of the most iconic albums in music history to make a quick fortune. The beeb reports, “Spencer Elden, the man who was photographed as a baby on the album cover for Nirvana’s Nevermind, is suing the band alleging sexual exploitation.” Sorry, but this kind of thing irritates me: it strikes me as opportunistic and cynical. Elden has obviously realised that Nevermind was one of the most successful albums in history and is trying to claim some of the monetary credit for himself, despite having made no real contribution to it. He claims to have somehow been exploited sexually, and that he “has suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damages”, but I find that absurd. For one, how can any thirty year old man be recognised from a photo of themselves as a baby, and an underwater one at that? Moreover, given this tosser has previously repeatedly referenced this image for his own art, attempting to recreate it as an older man (but obviously not having received the attention he wanted) it was clearly not that hurtful. It was only through a stroke of pure luck that that image was used, so if anything Elden should be grateful to have been a part of such a major piece of cultural history, not trying to exploit it by suing all the remaining Nirvana band members for $150,000 each. Sorry, but it irritates me when opportunistic wankers like this try to make such a fuss about things they have no right to.
To be honest I’m at a bit of a loss about what to say about the Tokyo Paralympic Opening Ceremony. While there were one or two details which caught my eye and which I now want to find out more about, such as the Japanese Para-Ensemble (I’ve forgotten their actual title, but it was basically a Japanese paraorchestra) there wasn’t that much to get my teeth into. As with Tokyo’s olympic opening ceremony, it was very paired down and low key. To be honest I didn’t really get all that stuff about the aeroplane with one wing: I found it childish, saccharine and predictable. The inclusion of so many actors and musicians with disabilities, some obviously fairly profound, was probably the most noteworthy, praiseworthy aspect, but apart from that, there isn’t that much I feel I want to say about it. Mind you, I’m more enthusiastic to see how Beth Moulam, a young woman who I know from 1Voice, does in the Boccia tournament. Let’s wish her luck.
Absolutely nothing happened yesterday, I don’t have anything to report. I did not go for a nice, long exploratory walk up to Stratford; I did not start to explore the narrow back streets north of the olympic park. I didn’t begin to hear some very loud dance music, and following my ears, happen upon a street party of about twenty young people. I did not watch for a while before giving in to temptation and introducing myself. I did not then decide to go buy a few beers at a nearby off license, before spending the rest of the afternoon dancing and making friends (while being careful with my wallet etc.) I did not then get a taxi back at around six, my new mates having kindly payed the fare, very tired yet thrilled at having spent a wonderful afternoon letting my hair down.
No, no, no, that didn’t happen at all. These days it would have been silly if it did. Perish the thought! No need for my parents or anyone else to worry…
I realise this is hardly blogworthy, but today I heard that the next Bond film, No Time To Die, will at last premiere on 28th September. I’ve been waiting so long to watch this film that I had almost given up on it, but hopefully now I’ll be able to see it sometime this autumn. Mind you, I still expect it to suck: as Daniel Craig’s final film in the role, there simply isn’t the motivation to do a good job that there was with films like Casino Royale and Skyfall. Rather, the producers will already be looking ahead to casting a new actor and giving the franchise a fresh start. There is, of course, already a huge amount of speculation online about who will play 007 next. That aside, I’m still really looking forward to watching No Time To Die – good or bad, I think we could all do with a bit of James Bond escapism right now.