Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm Getting an Election

A while back I posted on a website dedicated to my old secondary (high) school. There is a vast array of opinion on the site and it's populated by some very bright people. Some of the posts are extremely conservative and some quite the opposite. There were several topics that elicited opinions from conservative contributors suggesting that all the evils of the modern world could be laid at the door of liberals and liberalism. I countered with what follows and I post it here because it is election time in the US and the truly lunatic conservative fringe is winning nominations to very high office. Since some of the references are obscurely English I shall explain a couple of them for any Americans reading.

"Thatcher, Major and Tebbit" were leaders of the British Conservative party, hard right supply siders contemptuous of working people and the Irish (which isn't really relevant in this context but you have to say it, don't you?) The post to which I was responding had suggested that the "last thirty years" were a liberal hell in the UK when much of the time the government was, in fact, deeply reactionary and intensely moralisitic.

Brixton is a wonderful working class neighborhood in London with a long history of racial and cultural diversity and the very embodiment, for Conservatives, of the hrrors of modernity. I believe the first electrically lit street was in Brixton, memorialized in song by by Eddie Grant.

The last reference to "Michael ..." is Michael Foot, leader of the Labour Party, who ran against Thatcher and lost by a landslide. Here's a quote from him, proof that he was a man so far above the likes of Thatcher that she was not worthy to touch the hem of his garment, which was usually a very crumpled suit.

"We are not here in this world to find elegant solutions, pregnant with initiative, or to serve the ways and modes of profitable progress. No, we are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those insoluble economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer 'To hell with them.' The top is greedy and mean and will always find a way to take care of themselves. They always do."

And, so, to the rant. Or faux rant, I suppose.

I've been racking my brain trying to think of a single thing the liberal leftie hippie layabouts have ever done. Couldn't think of a single one. Yes, there was that abolition of slavery but who really remembers that anymore? And full suffrage for all adults but that was fairly minor. Between those things there may have been the outlawing of child labour but now where can you get good cheap workers who can fit in a tight space? Of course some limp wristed leftie will say that some state funded surgeon who sponged off the taxpayer to get his medical degree put my spine back together through the National Health Service but as I remember it took minutes to get a bed pan at night when I really needed to go. Then there was that awful bloody mess of giving the likes of coal miners a decent wage so they could then go and spend that money on things other than necessities and so create the modern middle class and all that horrible stuff like decent restaurants, cinemas, affordable cars and television which just rots your brain and lets the bloody lefties advertise their manifesto and get votes by lying about all this stuff they supposedly helped us get. Like what? Government funded pensions? Since when did old people count? Unemployment benefits - get a job. Cheaper food, they say, by encouraging scientists to create better crops. How are we supposed to keep the Indians and the Chinese in their place if they keep surviving infancy? And I really don't want to hear another poncy pooftah platitudinous prat on the left tell me that equal rights for black people did anyone any good. Sure it created a black middle class and saved the economy of the American South, but what else did it do? It forced the police to start hiding the well deserved beatings the bloody coloureds were always begging for and now they have to do it all in secret because the bloody Japanese government went and subsidized the little yellow bastards at Panasonic and Sony and now everyone has a camera attached to their arse and even a well deserved beating of some recalcitrant negro yahoo ends up on YouTube. Yes, the last thirty bleeding years. Nothing but liberal nancy boys like Thatcher and Major and Tebbit and their bleeding heart let's all just be kind and caring and here's some money from your fellow taxpayers to start your organic commune in Brixton politics, followed by Blair and his namby pamby bombing of hundreds of thousands of Ayrab heathens who really should have felt a good shaft of cold steel up their hindu behinds. It's time we stopped people being allowed to put anything remotely related to rubber on their knobs. That's the real rot right there. Allowing people to have private lives. Yes, you can keep your governmental proboscis out of my nice middle class Tory voting domicile but if I even suspect that someone's shoving various parts up someone else's fundament I want everyone to grab a stone and throw it as hard and fast as you can because if you let that sort of thing take hold next you'll be saying that just because someone discovers that the person they met and liked when they were seventeen and up whose fundament they may well have been shoving any number of things in their perfectly acceptable man-woman hetero conjoining is now simply unbearable, well that's too bad. You're stuck pal. And don't be telling me it's a free society and you can choose whom you'll associate with and what about the kids, eh? Why do you want kids to grow up splitting their time between relatively calm households when they should be subjected to the pleasures of watching their incompatible mother and father lashing out at each other and belting each other with kitchenware? Here's where I really get upset. It's the education system. I'll give you an example. It's 2010. Subtract thirty. Now, you useless shower educated at faecal level comprehensives will never get that but I'll tell you - you just remember that just because the Catholic Church buggers little children by the thousand and denigates women and has a long history of supporting mass murdering fascists don't you forget that they subsidized my education and I now know both the Latin and Greek for Farmer - it's 1980. Yes. Thirty years ago this all started with the bloody commie Labour governemnt of Michael .... wait a minute ....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Dud

Whenever I see an article by or about Jonathan Miller, famous for Beyond The Fringe and his subsequent directing career, often in opera, I rush to read it. This is partly because he is a brilliant man and partly because almost everything he says about theatre is complete nonsense. The English newspaper The Independent had an article recently centered on Miller’s declaration that he had not attended a West End play in a decade. Miller went on to talk inanely about his disdain for “modern” theatre and showed his complete lack of understanding of how theatre actually gets made. Despite this I still have a soft spot for the man. How can you not love one of the Beyond The Fringers? However, it was not Miller’s diatribe that ultimately captured my attention. Throughout any article on the internet now various words are underlined and of a different color from the rest of the text. When you click on them they take you to some website or other that tries to sell you something. I have never clicked on one of these because I usually don’t have the time to read another article and I really don’t want to buy whatever they have to offer. How do I know this, you may ask. I don’t. I’m just making an assumption, rather like when scanning television channels I do not rest on the shopping channels because ... well, because. They don’t sell books on QVC. Do they? Anyway, certain words were highlighted in the Miller article, among them the names of his fellow Fringers. I rolled the mouse over Dudley Moore. (Is that similar to walking across his grave?) I was interested in what might be on offer in the web world of Dudley Moore. Those of us of a certain age have no great love for the Hollywood years of Dud’s life but are still quoting lines from his seminal work with Peter Cook. May I, just for a moment, digress? Yes, I may. Would all those people who write about artists, particularly successful artists, please stop blathering on about “unfulfilled potential” and “wasted talent”? On a bad day, hung over, with his head deep in the toilet bowl, Peter Cook was a colossus compared to the rest of us who are trying to cobble together two coherent words with which to attract the attention of even one other human being. Bloody journalists who would give their right gonad to have written three lines in a single Peter Cook sketch should just be quiet in the presence of greatness.

Digression done. I rolled over Dud. I really had no chance to ponder what might pop up relating to him because the balloon thing was there instantaneously. It announced that if I clicked on the Dudley Moore related balloon I would be taken to a site offering cheap deals for travel to and accommodation in Edinburgh, Scotland. Now, it happens that Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world. Even if I had not been there recently I might, under other circumstances, have been interested in information about Edinburgh. Why, though, was it linked to Dudley Moore? I could understand if I had been reading about Rod Stewart. He has familial links to Edinburgh, though the chances of my reading articles concerning Rod Stewart are slim. I doubt he thinks much about the theatre. Let me add that while walking near Edinburgh Castle recently in the pouring rain my family and I heard a pounding bass and somewhat familiar guitar riff and were informed by a homeless man that Rod Stewart was performing at the castle. The song was “Do You Think I’m Sexy?”. Like the later work of Dudley Moore, we of a certain age prefer to ignore later Rod Stewart. I decided to investigate further (the internet sales thing, not Rod Stewart.) I rolled over the illustrious name of Alan Bennett, whose pronouncements on just about anything are a delight and an education. I wonder if he still chats with Jonathan Miller? Given that Bennett’s plays are often in the West End I imagine certain topics are off limits. Rolling over Bennett produced a balloon advertising retirement homes. I suppose, given Bennett’s age and the ages of his likely readers and ticket buyers, there might be some very tenuous link between him and the product offered.

I have been pondering these connections in idle moments of late and can find no possible reason why hotels in Edinburgh would pay good money to a website to link them to mentions of Dudley Moore in newspaper articles. I have tried imagining the meeting in which some eager young sales person is trying – and clearly succeeding – in convincing the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to pay money to be linked to Dudley Moore. For one thing, what eager young sales person has even heard of Dudley Moore? Perhaps they are trying to capture the business of the three people still living who actually saw the original Beyond The Fringe in Edinburgh in the early sixties. Unfortunately I imagine they are all in retirement homes which they found by rolling over the name of Alan Bennett in an English newspaper.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Water, water everywhere

All this serious business about life and death matters has to be put aside once in a while and a little whimsy thrown about. I was leaving a coffee shop today and glanced over at the liquor store across the street (I still love the word “off-license”, it has a sort of old-worldy feel about it and Americans have no clue what you are talking about) and noticed that its awning advertised various items carried therein. Liquor, of course, tobacco, wine and “BEER KEG CHAMPAGNE”. I’ve tasted all sorts of bubbly, from the depths of Kobel to the heights of Moet Chandon but I have to admit to a real hankering for some Beer Keg Champagne. This simple lack of commas reminded me of my favorite sign on a store. It was – and may still be – in deepest Hollywood. Those who do not know Hollywood and associate it with glamour and glitz should be aware that it’s mostly a down at heel neighborhood with specific streets dedicated to specific types of prostitution. If you will recall, Eddie Murphy was picked up, so to speak, after he had negotiated with a transvestite prostitute and claimed he was giving her/him a ride home out of the goodness of his heart. Los Angelenos snickered at this story because the stop was made on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood and that means only one thing – tranny whores. I was hanging about outside a theatre one evening (yes, on Santa Monica Boulevard) during intermission and I glanced at a strip mall across the street and saw a banner outside a store that read “Nothing Exists Except Pure Water”. I don’t know if Los Angeles is odd in having numerous stores dedicated to the sale of water. There are hundreds of dispensing machines for water. This strikes the child of Irish immigrants as quite odd since the fetching and carrying of water, while a bit of a lark for visiting urban English cousins, was the bane of Irish existence until quite recently. The endless trips to the well or the pump were a dreadful burden and the rain barrels were handy places for snails. However, in the land of Fear of Germs and Dread of Dirt, so-called pure water is big business. People fetch and carry water all the time. Personally I’d rather die a slightly early death from water borne foulness than break my back humping water.

I looked at the sign to make sure I was reading it correctly. I was. Nothing exists except pure water. I made sure that the store was indeed a purveyor of water and not the run down headquarters of some aquatic messianic cult – I was quite close to the headquarters of Scientology and a short bus ride from the clutches of the Catholic cathedral, after all. It’s astonishing how many cults and crazies this city throws up. I got the feeling from watching the people tending the store that they were not trying to change the existential underpinnings of American life or convince us that, in fact, nothing exists except pure water. I believe they had translated badly something along the lines of “We carry only pure water” or, “There is nothing in this store but pure water.” However, had their sign read something as dull as that I wouldn’t have ventured anywhere near it. Though I am perfectly happy to drink LA tap water, had I been the sort of misguided lunatic who thinks that the water in bottles or from dispensers is cleaner than the stuff from the tap, that store is the one I would have used. It also strikes me when I calculate the cost of bottled water that it is really expensive. Gasoline/petrol is cheaper. Which brings me to the funniest thing I have seen today, unconnected to water or signage in any way. Chester Football Club is up for sale for one pound. That’s cheaper than a bottle of water. They could actually sell Chester Football Club in a Pound Store. This fact has almost made me think that nothing exists except pure water.