These days, I can’t help getting more and more furious at the bunch of arrogant charlatans currently running the country; my anger now grows daily. I just came across this Independent article. The Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is now trying to deflect the blame for Tory cruelty by claiming that people who appeared in a 2010 Channel Four documentary were actually actors. “The documentary show featured four MPs, including Ms Dorries, spending time living on deprived housing estates around Britain.” It was presumably an expose of the savagery of Tory cuts to social support at the time, and now the Tories are claiming it was all a stitch up, effectively accusing Channel Four of lying. I find that utterly sickening: rather than own up to and apologise for the suffering the Tories are knowingly causing, they would have us all believe that they are good people who mean us no harm, and the increasingly negative light they are being cast in is all a big mainstream media conspiracy. Why Oh why must we put up with this bunch of lying, deceiving scumbags running the country?
Today was the first Communication Works conference in two or three years, and the first to be held at Charlton Athletic Football Ground rather than Charlton Park Academy. I’m pleased to report that it seems to once again have been a roaring success: held in a conference room overlooking the pitch, there were about thirty exhibitors, each displaying a new piece of communication technology. Most, but not all, seemed to be geared towards touch screens or tablets, although there were some very impressive eye gaze systems. During my time there, I had a chat with Abdi Omar, a very interesting guy who uses his head-pointer system to deliver motivational speeches.
Communication Works seems to be going from strength to strength. Although conferences obviously had to be suspended due to the pandemic, now that the crisis is over I’m very glad to see that events like Communication Works are making a return. It now even has a northern sister conference too, I’m told. With communications technology being used to help more and more people, especially young people, it’s brilliant to see such events flourishing and becoming more pronounced.
I finally got around to taking myself down to the cinema yesterday afternoon. While Operation Mincemeat got slightly bogged down in details about relationship issues at times, on the whole I found it an intriguing film which skilfully brought to life a less well known episode of history. There were great performances from Colin Firth and Jason Isaacs, among others, wonderfully bringing to life the mavericks in three piece suits who ran the country and it’s intelligence services at that time. Of course, I especially liked the appearance of Ian Fleming: while he played a relatively minor role in the plot to deceive Hitler that the Allies would invade Greece rather than Sicily, it was great to see the creator of James Bond, 007, at the meetings where everything was planned. Even better, the film revealed the origins of names like ‘M’ and ‘Q’, although it resisted the temptation to get too ‘Bondish’. Above all, Operation Mincemeat is a great World War Two story of espionage and drama, intrigue and tension which keeps viewers guessing until the end.
Brexit is now threatening peace in Northern Ireland; it is bolstering the cause of Scottish independence and the break-up of the UK. Surely the only rational solution to the chaos Brexit is causing is to cancel it and rejoin the EU. Yet the Tories won’t even contemplate doing so as, having called the referendum, backtracking on it’s result would render their party a feckless, powerless joke. If that’s the case, so be it: the conservative party are the problem; they need to be removed from office as soon as possible. As I wrote here, this group of people and their refusal to face the consequences of their own actions are fast bringing about the fragmentation of the UK. The very stability of the country is now at stake due to Brexit. It is a monumental act of stupidity which needs to be undone. The Tories won’t and can’t because the status of their party is more important to them than the wellbeing of the country, so they need to go.
The story goes that, during the Hundred Years War in the Fifteenth Century, the French would cut the two longest fingers from the hands of English bowmen to prevent them firing their bows, and since then the famous ‘two fingered salute’ or ‘V sign‘ has been used as a show of defiance or antagonism. I think it’s fair to say that, last night, Ukraine and Europe put up the V sign to Vladimir Putin and Russia. For Ukraine to win the Eurovision Song Contest really is a great move as it demonstrates that, contrary to what Putin might want his subjects – and the rest of us – to believe, Ukrainian culture is alive, thriving, and is valued by Ukraine’s European, democratic neighbours. What happened last night was a continent-wide display of defiance, directed towards a megalomaniac dictator who thinks his neighbours are his to play with as he sees fit. It was a huge show of solidarity; an enormous ‘screw you’ to Putin. Of course, it certainly helped that Ukraine’s entry was one of the best songs, and definitely among the catchiest; but at a time when we all needed to get behind the Ukrainian people in standing up to a bully, I think we succeeded.
I had just decided on a subject for a blog entry and was settling down to write it, only to find I wrote pretty much exactly the same entry last year. Once again tonight is Eurovision night, and once again we’ll all watch an event dominated by English. From what I saw of the semi-finals this week, at least three quarters of the entries were sung in English. Does that not strike anyone else as very, very weird? For a continent which values its cultural diversity so much, surely more of an effort should be made to encourage a bit more variety. At least the Ukrainian entry (the favourite) isn’t in english; now more than ever, we need to get behind Ukrainian culture, so that’s who I’ll be cheering on tonight.
With that said, I’m off to buy a bottle of Bacardi.
With Johnson now treating the British state like it’s his to play around with, acting like he and his party is above the law, it beggars belief why we’re not all up in arms demanding the jumped up piece of shit’s resignation.
A couple of days ago I began to ponder what London’s next big project could be. For the last twenty-five years or so, London has almost constantly had some kind of colossal project on: first there was the Millennium Dome, then the Olympics, and most recently Crossrail. There have been other projects, obviously, but those three got the most attention. Well, the Dome has been up and running for over twenty years; the Olympics were ten years ago, and the Lizzie-line is about to open; so what’s next?
And then the blindingly obvious hit me: before London does anything else, before it starts work on yet another crazy, sickeningly expensive scheme, it should first make sure all it’s existing tube stations and lines are wheelchair accessible. While newer lines like the Jubilee Line and DLR aren’t that bad, there are huge swathes of central London I still have never been to because the tube isn’t step free. I know they are working on it, for instance as part of the Northern Line renovation; but the process seems painstakingly slow. As a twenty-first century social, cultural and economic powerhouse, making a public transport system accessible by all should be London’s top priority.
The last twenty four hours or so have really served to remind me how much of a home London now is for me. First of all, sitting at home on my computer last night, I heard my doorbell ring. I had just got in from my daily trundle, and was answering emails and preparing for a quiet evening. I got up to answer the door, only to see my two old friends Mitchel and John. They were apparently in the area and had thought that would call in on me to see how I was. Because of the pandemic, it must have been over two years since I had last seen them. Well, the rest of the evening was spent taking, eating and drinking. It really was wonderful to see them. Mitch and I were both amazed at the fact that it has now been eight years since we went to see Monty Python Live; and John was just as bemused to note that it’s now three years since we returned from India. Time really does fly in the metropolis.
Then today, I was out on my trundle, heading across blackheath towards Greenwich . I had stopped to read an information board when a lady suddenly ran up to me. It turned out she was the very same person I had met and got chatting to on a bus about two weeks ago. A sculptor called Margaret Higginson, she had recognised me and had decided to say Hi. It made me feel suddenly very at home in the city, as if the metropolis isn’t so vast after all. Yet such things seem to be happening more and more these days: people recognising me in the street, or inviting me to have a coffee with them in a park. London really is a very welcoming, friendly place, once you get to know it.
I was getting slightly worked up over the Beergate farce, but this Phil Moorhouse vlog has given me pause for thought. The rightwing rags which now seem to dominate our print media seemed to be pouncing on Kier Starmer for having a beer with colleagues during lockdown, and calling him a hypocrite for criticising Boris Johnson over the parties he had in the Downing Street garden. Yet, as Moorhouse points out, that may turn out to be a colossal own goal on the part of the Tory press: they may want Starmer to resign, but the second he does, questions will start to be asked about why Johnson did not do the same. After all, a simple take-away with colleagues does not compare to the flagrant breaches of lockdown laws clearly committed by Johnson. As Moorhouse sees it, the Tory Press have handed Labour the high ground: they can now address the relatively minor misdemeanour they allegedly comittee, making Johnson and co. look pathetic in the process. That’s why the Tories are now trying to avoid talking about the issue. I really hope Moorhouse is right, and the obnoxious mudslinging of the right wing rags bites them on the arse.