Seriously?!

Are Americans seriously supposed to believe that a man who claims to have contracted Corronavirus just a week ago is now perfectly well? A clinically obese, fairly unfit man in his seventies, who did nothing to avoid catching the virus and thus caught a fairly bad case of it, is now suddenly well enough again to resume holding campaign rallies? Is america seriously supposed to believe that?

And is the rest of the world seriously supposed to still respect this buffoon or the country he leads, after he has spent four years turning it into a laughing stock? After he has reduced political discourse there to the level of primary school playground bickering, and encouraged fascist thugs to reduce cities to ash? A once great, proud country, sunken to the level of petulant, horrifying bickering through the election of this imbecellic egomaniac with no idea how to lead a superstate; who claims to have caught a fatal virus but then suddenly recovers just a week later. Are we seriously supposed to respect that? Seriously?

The Searchers

Every Thursday evening recently, BBC Four have been airing a film from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It has been wonderful to watch a few of the classics, such as Doctor Zhivago. However, The Searchers was on last night, and it left me with a very nasty taste in my mouth.

Widely regarded as an all-time classic, this John Ford western has John Wayne going in search of a young woman apparently abducted long ago by Native Americans. I must say, though, the way the film is shot, with Wayne and co going off to deal with savage, backward ‘Indians’, appalled me. Viewed from Twenty-First Century eyes, the imperialism in this film is sickening. No attempt was made to explore things from the Native American perspective, but they were just dismissed as savages who had kidnapped a white girl and were bringing her up as one of their own. She thus needed rescuing. The Europeans, or those of European descent, on the other hand, were presented as noble, brave, and always doing the right thing: the settlers are depicted as out on the west, civilising it, trying to make a living for theirselves. Whatever faults they had (arguments, fights etc) were quickly, often comically dismissed. Wayne’s character in particular struck me as sickeningly racist and right wing, yet he is presented as heroic and brave. When he eventually finds the girl they’re searching for, she just flings herself into his open arms, no questions asked, no debate offered.

Perhaps at the time it was made, such issues would be taken as read; but viewed today, knowing what we now know about history and politics, so called classic westerns like this are shocking in their imperialism and arrogance. I know a lot more can be and has been written about this film, and, not having watched The Searchers since my undergrad days, this is only meant to represent my gut reaction to my viewing last night. Yet it nonetheless struck me as very problematic and dated indeed. I’m tempted to say that I’m glad we have grown past such attitudes, but I’m not sure all of us have.

Another demonstration of the power of social media

A day or two ago, again on a disability facebook page, I came across a post by a young woman and her sister with quite severe CP. Obviously very energetic and fun loving, Hannah and Becky Cheetham made videos on Youtube of theirselves doing all kinds of amazing things like skydiving and parasailing. They had also made a couple of interesting little films about how the younger sister used her communication aid. However, their most recent video, tho one they posted to Facebook, was about how they had been very badly mistreated by the staff at Alton Towers. What the young woman, Hannah, was put through – spoken over and down to, ignored, and generally not treated like a sentient human being – was appalling, although sadly not that unusual, and I almost blogged about it on here.

This morning though, I turned on my computer to find this story on the BBC homepage. The beeb had obviously got wind of the video and had taken the story up. Alton Towers has now apparently apologised to the sisters, whose Youtube page can be found here.

Two Despicable Charades

Today we have all been subjected to two absolutely hideous spectacles: not only have we had to endure the sight of Boris Johnson lying his head off into a camera, claiming to be a man of optimism and energy and fairness, when we all know he’s a self-serving, selfish scumbag who’ll sell his own mother for his own advancement. Johnson seems to think people like him, and see him as cordial and charming, when in fact he’s deservedly loathed. The whole country is suffering at the moment, largely due to his government’s ineptitude; we’ve had balls-up after balls up. Thousands have died, and rather than try to condole everyone and admit his recent shortcomings, he spouts a load of fantasy twaddle. For one thing, for Johnson to suddenly claim to care about the environment when until recently his party was ridiculing the idea of green energy really takes the biscuit. If you ask me, instead of spewing all that bullshit this morning, the p’tahk should have been on his knees offering us his immediate resignation and begging our forgiveness for the damage he and his wretched party have done to the country over the last decade.

The second spectacle was even more galling, if that is possible. Now, I’m no fan of the military – I think there are always other ways to solve problems than with tanks and guns – but the sight of donald Trump standing there trying to look all stoic and brave, saluting as if he was some kind of mighty soldier, really boiled my blood. This is a man who famously dodged the draft for Vietnam; he’s a snivelling coward too self-important to fight for his country. How can America bare the sight of this p’tahk putting the health of all those around him at risk in order to go and wave to his moronic supporters? And then, returning to the White House far too soon, he has the audacity to claim to be brave and noble, congratulating himself like some mighty hero. I find such arrogance abominable.

Both these sights sicken me. The audacious arrogance of both is too much for me to stand. For all my life I have known people, mostly in the disability community, who were humble and stoic; who never complained even though they had been dealt appalling hands. These are the people I respect the most. The sight of these self-aggrandising apaths, so spoiled yet so full of shit, seems to me the very antithesis of such fortitude. Neither Johnson nor trump know what it is like to suffer, but have had life handed to them on a plate, or at least have lied and cheated their way to where they are. Yet both seem to think they were born to rule over the rest of us, as if being white, male, straight and wealthy automatically makes them superior to everyone else. They expect us to automatically respect them and believe whatever they say, even when they are blatantly lying and clearly have no idea what they’re doing. Neither man deserves to be where he now is, and having to watch them both act out their hideous, despicable charades is utterly, utterly sickening.

The death of the cinema?

Given the subject of my MA I suspect everyone is expecting me to write something about the forthcoming closure of cinemas, but what can I say? Of course I’m depressed, but what can you do about it? I was looking forward to watching No Time To Die as much as any other Bond fan, and hearing it has been delayed yet again, after already waiting so long to see it, made me sigh such a deep, pained sigh. Yet in a way we all knew it was coming; it is typical for this woe-begotten, crappy year. If the government put as much into preserving the cinema and theatre industry as they put into the pub and brewery industry, things might be different; but the Tories get a hefty chunk of their donations from pubs, and not much from the arts. The cinemas have therefore been left to close, taking with them a vibrant, valuable aspect of our culture. We’re left to watch films online, longing for the day when we can go back into a nice, big, cinema screening room, perhaps with a few friends, take our seats, wait for the lights to dim, and then be carried away to places where the cinema can take us.. There is something peculiar to the cinema which enhances the viewing experience, which is why, as explained here, EON chose to once again postpone the release of No Time To Die until the Spring. Until then we must wait, hoping that cinemas, like so many other things, survive the winter.

Barred from Pubs

You would probably be appalled if I told you that, in Britain today, a certain group of people is effectively barred from certain pubs and other establishments. While the Guardian celebrates the fascinating life of a man who, fifty years ago, fought to overthrow the so-called colour bar which made pubs no-go places for black people, the fact is there is still a group of people for whom certain pubs are inaccessible. The circumstances may be different, but the result is the same.

If you use a wheelchair or powerchair, there are still pubs and other places which you simply can’t get into. Either there will be a step up to the door, or the doorway will be too narrow, or (pandemic aside) the place will be just too crampt to navigate through. Fortunately these days, thanks to legislation intended to ensure accessibility, such places are becoming rarer and rarer, at least in London, but nonetheless they still exist. And that’s even before you get to the problems of getting the bar staff to understand you.

Of course, I’m not claiming this is akin to overt ethnic discrimination; but surely it has to be pointed out that people with disabilities still can’t go into certain places because of issues which are entirely avoidable. While historic buildings, which often includes pubs, can be exempt from new accessibility rules, it can’t be that hard: Install a ramp, redesign your table layout and Bob’s your uncle. While this is very different to being told to leave a pub because of your skin colour, it is only when we start to frame such issues as forms of discrimination that they start to be dealt with.

The Tories go north

The Tories apparently now plan to establish a second headquarters up in Leeds. They claim it is in order to encourage support in the north or some such rubbish, but I think they’ve realised they are becoming less and less relevant in London and so need to establish a base elsewhere. London is a liberal, multicultural, vibrant world city; the stagnant, selfish, repressive politics of the right has no place here. London consistently votes Labour, and also voted Remain. No wonder the Tories are going packing. They say they’ll keep their Westminster HQ open of course, but surely this is a sign that they have realised their fetid, selfish worldview has no place in a global metropolis, and so need to look elsewhere for zombies to trick into voting for them. Good riddance I say.

Delegation

Yesterday afternoon I received a tenancy renewal form in my email. I’ve now lived in Eltham for almost a year, so I suppose it was time for it to arrive. I opened the form and set to work on it, thinking that it shouldn’t be too much of a problem – I do have a masters, after all. To my horror, though, I soon realised I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. It asked all kinds of random, irrelevant questions. In desperation, I did what I usually do with such matters and sent it to my parents for help. (My new motto: When in doubt, delegate.) Fortunately they got a bit further with it, although mum and dad admiited it wasn’t at all straightforward, and told me I was right to ask for their help. The form asked for details which I just don’t have access to.

The form is now on it’s way to where it needs to go, and once again I’m left feeling relieved that I have such capable, wonderful parents; a cuddle with them both is frankly long overdue. Yet that relief is tinged with worry as well as self criticism: what if my parents weren’t there? Isn’t this the sort of thing I ought to be able to do myself? Why couldn’t I access the information I needed to fill out the form? Lyn seems to have been able to handle such issues, so why can’t I? Delegation is all well and good, but surely I should be up to things like this if I’m to be an independent member of the community. More to the point, though, why do they have to make such forms so damn complex? Even my parents, who are used to such things, had a tough time sorting through this mess, so where would it leave someone even less capable than me who doesn’t have such a wonderful mum and dad to fall back on?

Love it or hate it

I just got back from a trip to Boots where I needed a couple of things, one of which was deodorant. In the deodorant aisle, though, I saw something that made me do a double take – something so weird that I instantly resolved to note it here. Would you believe that Linx now produce a deodorant which smells like Marmite? How odd is that? I mean, I have nothing against Marmite – in fact I rather like it – but who in their right mind would want to smell like a sandwich? Needless to say, I left the shop feeling very bemused.