Was an apology really necessary here?

I suppose the notion of authenticity becomes a little complicated when it comes to animation. On the disability arts scene, there has long been the idea that only actors with disabilities should play characters with disabilities, otherwise it becomes the equivalent of blacking up. The only way you can get an authentic portrayal of a character with a disability is to cast an actor with that disability in the role. The same logic applies to members of any other minority. Yet I just came across this news that “Hank Azaria has apologised for voicing the Indian character Apu on The Simpsons.” Azaria has voiced Apu since 1990, but came under increasing criticism for reinforcing ethnic stereotypes. While I agree that it is only logical that an Indian actor should play an Indian character, was that apology really necessary? Nobody saw the colour of Azaria’s skin; he was just putting on a voice, as he did for all his other Simpsons roles. Isn’t making him apologise going a tad over the top? After all, The Simpsons is a cornerstone of popular culture, Apu included, and surely nothing to feel guilty about. I’m not saying Apu shouldn’t have been recast, but given the transgression wasn’t that overt, did the guy who played him for so long really need to apologise? It’s not like he was painting his skin black, or pretending to need to use a wheelchair.

Pub? Not Just Yet

So far today, the hardest thing for me to do has been to go past so many freshly opened pubs and resist going in. I now try to keep my drinking to a minimum, and Monday drinking is strictly off limits; but the sight of pubs finally being open, with people sat outside at last having something resembling a social life, proved very enticing indeed. It isn’t the beer per se (I can, after all, have a drink at home if I really wanted) as much as the way in which pubs function as community hubs. People gather in them, often after long days at work, and let their proverbial hair down. They are places where you can find people from all walks of life, with all kinds of background; they are places where you can make new friends. People are sometimes surprised to find a person like me in a pub, so they come up to me and introduce their selves. Occasionally we have remained in contact over Facebook. Alternatively I sometimes just sit and observe people, gathering ideas for stories and blog entries.

Best of all, they are places to meet up with your mates, which is what I’ve missed the most. Two years or so ago, I remember meeting my old uni mates Chris and Steve at the Royal Standard in Blackheath, and chatting like the three of us were still up in Alsager. I suggested the Standard because it was an easily findable pub we could all get to. Pubs are landmarks as well as gathering points. They are places where you can meet up and have a bit of fun. After the last year, I’m really, really looking forward to being able to do that again: as soon as I can, I plan to invite Steve, Chris, Charlotte and whoever else I can to my new place in Eltham to show them around and have a drink. It now feels far too long since I last saw any of those guys.

That is the point of pubs. Going in to one today as I passed them, just because I could, would have been pointless. I would have had a beer or two, and the rest of the day would have been useless. It was best to wait for an occasion which could be relished, shared and possibly blogged about the next day.

Great Timing, Phillip!

Just so everyone knows, I have no intention to blog about the death of you-know-who. I never met the man and don’t have much of an opinion on him, so what could I possibly contribute to the discourse? Besides, Old Phil’s passing seems to be the only thing all the mainstream news outlets are talking about at the moment, and probably will be for a while. That is concerning given the current violence in Northern Ireland, as well as the fact that CaMoron has been caught trying to get favours from his old Tory chums. As others are already pointing out, Prince Phillip’s death has come at quite a convenient time for the Tories – not that anyones accusing them of anything, mind.

Me and Street Preachers

I officially hate street preachers. I encountered some the other day in Greenwich, and again today in woolwich. They really, really get on my nerves. That they think they have a right to stand in public spaces and try to indoctrinate people, forcing their religion into passers by, really pisses me off. It seems so arrogant. They refuse to listen to any argument, or anyone asking them to stop. What gives them the right to interrupt everyone else’s day by shouting baseless rubbish which not everyone agrees with through portable speakers in public spaces? Well, if they have the right to do that then I have a right to go up to them, tell them to stop spouting bullshit and attempt to turn their speaker off.

Shouldering the brunt of Tory Heartlessness

I wouldn’t be much of a disability-related blogger if I didn’t flag up this extremely worrying Guardian article. Disabled people across the country are facing huge increases in care costs. “Adults with a disability or mental illness are receiving extra care bills running into thousands of pounds that they say could force them to cut back on food and heating and threaten their social independence.

Amid a care funding crisis, some English councils are quietly increasing charges to people with learning disabilities and mental illness, in effect clawing back welfare payments and leaving some working-age adults with little more than £3 a day to spend.” In other words, “we” are shouldering the brunt of the Tories’ tax cuts for their rich friends, as well as the obvious drop in business due to Brexit. Presumably, the bastards in government opted to place the burden on disabled people because we are least able to fight back or complain, or so they assume. Tell me, how is that fair, and why do we have to put up with such sheer heartlessness from the utter disgraces to human civilisation currently governing the country?

Watching things get built

I have always liked to watch people doing things. When I was small, I could spend hours watching my dad garden or my mum cook. Watching people build things held a special attraction for me, although I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the spectacle of someone doing something I physically couldn’t. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed something being done on a small area of greenery not far from my house: they seemed to be gearing up to build something there, but it wasn’t clear what. The space isn’t very large, so they can’t be constructing anything major; but every time I go past there I look to see what they could be making. I can’t seem to stop myself. Today, though, I took the time to go and have a proper look. There were four or five men at work there. The odd thing was, they didn’t seem to be doing that much: they had concreted a line of several tall iron posts into the ground, and the men, all with Liverpudlian accents, were checking to see whether they were upright. What that will eventually become is anybody’s guess, but in the mean time at least I have something to go and watch.

Lyn’s Golden Heart

You may have heard about the Covid Memorial Wall up in London, across the Thames from Westminster. People are going and drawing hearts, usually in red, on a large concrete wall on the south bank of the Thames, and adding the name of someone they have lost during the pandemic. A couple of days ago, Serkan suggested we go up and add Lyn to it. I thought that was an incredible idea, (although what L herself would have said about it is another matter). Yesterday afternoon, then, we went up, catching the Jubilee Line to Westminster and then walking across the bridge. I now know the intricacies of the London Transport Network quite well; yet I can never forget that that is due to the fact I met Lyn. She introduced me to this great metropolis – she made me a Londoner.

On the way there, Serkan bought a marker. It was supposed to be red, but he could only find gold. As Serkan was drawing the heart, though, that struck me as very apt: Lyn’s heart was unique and stood out, just as Lyn was, and did. Looking at Lyn’s golden heart on the wall, I missed her. It is now almost a year since she passed away, but I still feel the absence of this wonderful, incredible person acutely. I suppose adding Lyn’s heart to that wall was a way to express that.

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Two things which interest me

There are two very interesting things I’d like to flag up today, even if there isn’t that much I can say about either. Firstly, if you want to see what a low-budget, Soviet Russian adaptation of The Lord of the Rings looks like, go here. According to this Guardian article I came across yesterday, they were rediscovered after thirty years and uploaded to Youtube by Russian Tolkien fans. I haven’t watched the film so I can’t comment on it (not being able to speak russian) but needless to say, it looks very, very different to Peter Jackson’s adaptations. Mind you, it’s worth pointing out that it is probably thanks to the popularity of Jackson’s film(s) that the russian one was rediscovered.

The second thing which I want to direct you to today is this awesome looking trailer for the second season of Star Trek Picard. It’s only a short trailer, so again I can’t say much, but all the same it has my juices going. It looks splendid: we get a glimpse of Chatau Picard, and from the look of it, the great John De Lancie is reprising his role as Q. It’s definitely something to look forward to, although a cynic might point out that Q always was a fan favourite, so his reappearance is bound to increase viewing figures. Nonetheless Season 2 of Picard is definitely something I’m looking forward to.

A fragment of New York in London

I decided to go and explore Canary Wharf yesterday. It’s only one stop along the Jubilee Line, but I rarely venture there: I suppose I find it too corporate and imposing. What I found, though, stunned me: everything, from the expensive watches in the shop windows to the buildings their selves, seemed to glitter. It did not feel like anywhere else in London, but like a fragment of New York had been transported across the Atlantic and plonked down in the docklands. I must admit I was awe-struck by the architecture, and how the old docks now had modern skyscrapers sprouting between them. The whole place felt like a labyrinth of ultra-modern, obscenely expensive glitz, with paths winding through well-kept pleasure gardens and between skyscraper-lined docks. Even the Tube station doubled as a large shopping mall. You could tell there were ridiculous amounts of money around.

Yet I couldn’t help being reminded of what I was talking about here. I don’t think you’ll find anywhere like Canary Wharf anywhere else in the country. Indeed all over the city colossal sums are being pumped into urban development: I only need to trundle over to nearby Kidbrooke to see how an area, neglected until fairly recently, is being developed and gentrified beyond recognition. Is it the same case across the country? How come such huge amounts are being invested in london while everywhere else gets left behind? Why should London get all the swanky new buildings? It’s an imbalance which worries me, especially given that I suspect it’s reflected in levels of accessibility, with so much more public transport, infrastructure etc being wheelchair accessible than elsewhere. Almost everywhere I went yesterday, there was either a ramp or a lift.

That aside, I think I’ll go back to Canary Wharf soon: I was quite taken by it’s sheer, brazen opulence, and I feel there’s much more to explore. Mind you, I must admit that I was slightly disappointed that, despite the name, I didn’t find any tropical birds or Klingons.