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Tuesday, 17 May 2022

436. The Rich are so CHEAP.

The Johnson’s wanted £850 per roll gold wallpaper in the Downing St flat having sneered at the John Lewis stuff left by Theresa May. However, the idea that they should pay for it – as per the rules – seemed to appal them. Boris Johnson tried to get a Tory donor to foot the bill (and wanted – apparently – someone to fork out for childcare for the latest addition to his un-numbered spawn).

‘Sir’ Philip Green clearly felt he was entitled to a bigger yacht and asset stripped BHS including wiping out the pensions of long-suffering staff – some of whom had worked for BHS for decades. See my post Does Sir Philip Green kick disabled kittens? 'Sir' Phil was not stripped of his title despite complaints - and one can only assume its becasue the wealthy/powerful find this behaviour entirely acceptable.

Jimmy Carr who famously was caught out tax dodging – despite being a wealthy man from a privileged background with a successful career, nevertheless recently threw victims of The Holocaust under the bus in order – it seems – to draw more attention to himself and his Netflix show. More attention = more money. And while – as they all do – he gloated about being ‘cancelled’ in fact he predicted it with a relish that revealed a deliberate ruse to gain attention as cheaply as possible – and I use the term CHEAP here in all its meanings.

Last week, Naomi Long, the leader of the NI Alliance Party pointed out that the DUP, currently holding Ireland to ransom over the NI protocol, are refusing to take their seats in Stormont. They are refusing to start working on the long list of social problems facing ordinary Irish people. They did, however, rock up long enough to sign for and collect their salaries. No one is suggesting that an MPs salary on its own would make someone wealthy but compared to many of their struggling constituents they are doing well from the public purse – while paralysing the country.

Tory MP Lee Anderson while celebrating foodbanks (!) claimed that the real problem is lack of cooking skills. He deliberately ignores the massive rise in the prevalence and use of foodbanks since the Tories came to power and the rise in numbers forced into poverty and the disaster of Universal Credit etc.  And, while taking the Dickensian approach blaming the ‘undeserving poor’ this guy claims – on top of his MP’s salary – hundreds of thousands of pounds in expenses. Check out my post – Bad memories of political bullying

Rishi Sunak – who has been a previous subject on this blog – is presiding over benefit cuts and a rise in poverty and destitution and a cost of living crisis while enjoying extreme family wealth. Nevertheless, the Sunaks went to some lengths to ensure that none of that money ended up - via the legal tax system -  anywhere near silly projects like the NHS or schools.

And don’t get me started on all the nonsense surrounding the Jubilee. Put aside the racism and the clear royal preference for Prince paeodo over a strong black woman (Monitoring the skin tone of Megan's baby ) – some of those employed by one of the wealthiest women in the world earn just below or barely above the Living Wage. You think folk would be freer with money they hadn’t actually earned themselves. But no. The well-off are cheap and the rich are cheaper. 

There is more than enough to go around at least there would be if a handful of entitled, privileged, greedy, corrupt, people didn’t hoard excessive amounts of money and resources and then feel entitled to even more.. .

They rich are so CHEAP.

The richer they are the cheaper they seem to be and that is the real sickener in a world where the struggle just to survive is getting harder and the wealth gap is now a chasm.

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I said a couple posts back that I’d post a clip if I managed to get some footage from my short set at the comedy club in Dundee and I have little bit. And Mr Carr gets a mention after an interesting mix up by one of the club’s organisers!!! Click the lik to have a look. Aspirational Bathroom

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To check out my books go to previous post.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

435. UK Elections, fake equivalence & the DUP recklessly holding Ireland to ransom.

 So, the UK election results were what anyone paying attention predicted. Roughly. Normal folk were – broadly - revolted into ousting a lot of Conservative councillors.

Ditto – in NI where many were disgusted by the way the DUP, bribed by Theresa May with a £billion to support her failures and representing a country that, like Scotland, voted to remain in the EU, have not enjoyed being played by the Tories. Having supported the party that birthed the NI Ireland Protocol, the DUP are now recklessly holding the whole of Ireland to ransom, refusing to join the power-sharing administration, because they want rid of the very piece of legislation, the NI Protocol, that Johnson used to push his abysmal Brexit deal through.

Up here in Scotland similar shifts happened with the added nuance that the misogynist sex-pest Alex Salmond – (yes – written about years ago in more politically positive terms on this blog before these things were publically known) - and his new party (Alba) idiots and at least one outed racist – got wiped. So, some really good news.

So far so reasonable.

But there is still the massive problem of the rancid media diet-of-dumb being served up on a daily/hourly basis.

We can only speculate who has harried the Durham police to investigate Labour's leader Starmer having a beer during a campaign meeting but clearly it is meant to join a line in public perception between that and the endless parties attended by liar-in-chief, serial philanderer and amateur racist – the man who was too busy at the start of covid disentangling from his cancer-in-remission wife because young Carrie was pregnant – to attend Cobra meetings.

The faux equivalence is the tool of choice in Royal circles too. So, the announcement that the dodgy Duke of York will not be on the royal balcony is firmly conjoined with the news that neither will Meghan and Harry. So, being into sex-trafficked vulnerable young women – costing your old ma £6million to pay off your latest hideous behaviour and fleeing the country because of institutional racism, palace bullying, the vileness and jealousy of your in-laws and lack of support is – er - the same!!!

And – while no one would call the election results anything other than middling – it’s not quite the Tories did badly but so did Labour – painted by parts of the media.

Labour have not just been fighting the vile Corbyn legacy (and for those of us on the sensible left – the Blair atrocities) but also a very Johnson-friendly Tory-afeared media plus the current apparent popularity of both racism and misogyny in our civilised country.

In that context we need to extract and extrapolate the results in a more sophisticated manner and recognise the fake equivalence for what it is.

It does leave a problem for the Tories because the best time to rid themselves of the lying, corrupt, racist, useless blonde blob-man would be nearer the next scheduled election so they can claim all the crap was about him and look – here’s someone shiny and new. It’s worked before. He of course will never accept he is the problem or that he has done anything wrong and does have the power to call an earlier election. So, watch-this-space as they say.

And – should there be a snap election – even with Labour’s showing and the rise of the Greens and the resurgence of the protest-vote-pros the Lib Dems, do not underestimate the current public mood for self-harm. Just look at the Philippines where Marcos Junior – son of mass murderer and kleptocrat, Ferdinand Marcos and mad, idiotic shoe-wife Imelda is looking like the next big obvious political mistake.

Plus, in many areas of the UK that just couldn’t get enough of the racism of Brexit – so called – red-wall areas – no such mild progress was made.

So – the answer to my blog of a couple of posts ago asking would swathes of the electorate ignore their best interests and continue to respond to the racist dog-whistle – is – yes – it sort of looks like it a bit…

 

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Swerving smartly over to happy land – do check out my children’s books this week and remember there are videos on youtube to go with all the poems in Fun Poems for Children.




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Tuesday, 3 May 2022

434. Britain beats Greece AND Italy.

Something to celebrate at last?

In October 2020 – I posted –  Greece here we come!

All empires fail and fall. Most implode either through over-reach or the rot of complacency and corruption which sets in when the master of the universe types who ‘build’ empires with bloody brutality – often tactical and military genius – and just the raw desire to own what everyone else has, have gone. There often follows – in the longer-lived empires a period of exceptional display; of building, art, cultural development, philosophical and scientific development because of the mix of talent, wealth and free time of many of the elite and of course all the hard job of actually living being done by slaves. So far so good - as long as you’re not just one of the mob or a slave...

But then those who were in at the start and drove the expansion are superseded by those who grow up expecting life to fall into their laps. They have what we call today entitlement. They are blind to their short-comings and shored-up by position they have not earned and wealth they have not earned and the fawning adulation of those whose positions rely on the structure that has stagnated.

The point I was making in my blog referencing Greece is that the fall of Britain may be one of the fastest, most spectacular acts of conscious self-harm coupled with lack of self-awareness in history.

Greece may well have failed due to a 300 yr drought. Who is to say that was not the case? Rome arguable rotted from within with the usual mix of corruption, infighting, sexual degradation, greed, overreach and promotion of the privileged rather than the talented.

Britain somehow held onto the credibility of empire long after much of the empire was gone. A significant part of the modern world spoke English. The influential motion picture industry was predominantly English-speaking. And though the world was re-set after WWII – Britain managed to scrape a foothold in the new world with massive post-war social reform further stabilised when it secured membership of European Economic Community which began in January 1973.

However, there was to be only a very short gap – 6 years – between that event and the biggest disaster for working Britain of modern times – Margaret Thatcher.

From that time to the the Royal Mail give-away in 2014, everything that belonged to the British people was sold off. ALL the family silver. There was the punishment beating of the working class which began with the miners’ strike and led us to where we are today – a country of minimum wage economics, growing wealth inequality, falling life expectancy in the poorest areas. We now make little of use to the world and have committed the final act of self-harm in Brexit.

If anyone is in any doubt – despite the fact that much of the media – and especially the BBC are terrified of saying the word   – last week in Bloomberg – Adam Posen, former policy maker for The Bank of England stated unequivocally that 80% of the current cost of living rise is down to Brexit, something farmers and logistics firms and lorry drivers have been saying for much longer. And it’s worth remembering not all of the rules of Brexit trade have as yet been implemented. There is worse to come.

So – really – I'm just echoing a former blog and of course pointing out that for once – Britain won something. In this case – gold in the fall from grace race.

Although, we didn’t fall – we jumped.

The UK still had major standing in the world at the turn of the 21st Century but is now an economic basket-case run by sexually incontinent, entitled morons, bullies and corrupt, avaricious non-entities. You can only conclude that when it comes to self-annihilation – we beat both Italy (Rome) and Greece.

Well done us.

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Small comedy gig in Dundee tonight (tues 3rd May) Hunter S Thomson pub basement ICEBREAKER comedy. If I get any footage I’ll try post something on youtube. It’s been a LOOONG time.

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Do remember to check out My BOOKS thank you


Tuesday, 26 April 2022

433. I know why Boris Johnson is still PM

I worked it out over the weekend. 

I’ve not had TV since last century as some of my readers will be aware (nor a smart phone or microwave or dishwasher EVER – or any of the absolute essentials! of modern life. No car, which of course means I don’t need gym membership or a fitbit. And so on and so on. But, I begin to wonder if telly abstention has kept my critical faculties working despite all the mind-mess of modern life..

Like many sentient Brits, I’ve wondered why enough of the UK (English ) public vote against their own best interests (see last post) and keep electing people who clearly hate them, don’t care about them at the very least, and do their utmost  to strip away every socio-economic gain made since the end of WWII. And I have the answer.

Last weekend my partner treated me to a wonderful weekend up the coast – despite the fact that my youngest daughter thinks you cannot ‘go on holiday in Scotland if you live in Scotland’. I can think of nothing better and have had many such breaks which have all been nothing short of wonderful. (see That Logged Off Feeling )

But in the single-room old fishing cottage we called ours for 4 days there was a TV. Inevitably it got switched on.

Every occasion I’ve spent time with a TV over the last couple decades I feel its somehow gone way lower than what we used to call dumbing down. I do not know what is lower than that but TV in 2022 is it.

I could literally feel my brain cells imploding.

Apart from the atrocious crap that passes for programming generally – in fact a bunch of boring freaks in highly staged natural settings talking uber shite about boring shite that would send you to sleep if you heard it at a bus stop on a wet Tuesday in November (the constant flotsam and jetsam of house-hunting, garden make-overs and competitive food prep)  – there seemed to be nothing but advertisements with a higher gloss content than the programmes. 

The shitter the product the shinier the ad and the more time had clearly been spent with very dedicated consumer psychologists. I could almost imagine NEEDING that new ‘individual’ sofa or that burger that – despite what the evidence around me in real life suggests – actually sends humans into paroxysms of fumbling ecstasy.

Just how many faces in TV world are botoxed and filled and lifted and stretched and caked in so much make-up it’s amazing they don’t simply cave in, is another wonder. Is anyone allowed to look normal? 

What is normal?

There is a gizmo that allow morons to put a sandwich together without having a nervous breakdown. I’d no idea putting more than one item between two bits of bread was so unbelievably challenging – I’ve been managing it all these years entirely on my own.

Apparently your daily life is massively enhanced if some complete stranger turns up at your door with a plastic holdall with food-in-bags cooked by someone in a kitchen in a venue you’ve never seen, filled with ingredients you cannot check – and probably shouldn’t. Everyone starts smiling inanely – that is literally all it takes. I had NO IDEA.

Other than that there are the game shows where cardboard cut-out men and women grin and joke while asking cretins to work out the answers to questions that wouldn’t tax a disabled hamster and everyone has orgasms when they get it right.

So when I returned home to read that Boris Johnson was not only still PM but was spouting about another Tory sleaze-ball being misogynistic – instead of collapsing under the weight of the irony – I got it. I just got it.

TV has wiped everyone’s minds clean out. Many h ave lost the ability to think independently or at all.

Of course my theory falls completely apart as I have a number of friends who have not given up on THE BOX and whose abilities to think coherently remain unimpaired…

If there is any other explanation as to why a privileged wanker who wouldn’t care (and clearly didn’t) if ordinary people live or die and treats his own families with the kind of disregard most of us wouldn’t show to a diseased rodent – I’m all ears…

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As always, do check out My BOOKS by clicking that link or this one - goodreads or this one bandcamp Thanks so much

Oh - and - I will be doing a short comedy set as part of Icebreaker comedy at The Hunter S. Thompson pub Dundee next Tuesday 3rd May 8.30.


Tuesday, 19 April 2022

432. Will English voters dance to the xenophobic dog whistle – AGAIN?

As I’ve observed and been involved in politics since the days of Thatcher, I’ve noted with growing horror the way a significant – and seemingly growing – proportion of predominantly English voters will vote for their own destruction if fed the red meat of racism. Call it jingoism, xenophobia or race-related bigotry – call it what you like – at its core it’s an irrational knee-jerk reaction against ‘them’ (ME) and it has allowed their real enemy – the extremely privileged minority at the top of the pile to non-too subtly whittle away the post war socio-economic gains made by the ordinary majority of the UK. The clearest recent example is the nonsense of shipping migrants to Rwanda as a main distraction from this government’s disasters and ongoing failures in time for the upcoming May elections.

It’s what got us Brexit. Farage with his ‘floods’ of migrants reminiscent of the fascist Mosely and his rivers of blood - was only side-lined when the Tories stepped more openly into the sewer and handed the crown to Johnson – racist, misogynist, liar, chancer, populist political embarrassment and international buffoon.

But we had the hostile environment for immigrants prior to that – thanks to Theresa May when Home Secretary. We had her vile ‘go home’ vans driving the streets of the capitol. We’ve had the Windrush scandal where thousands of Caribbean people who came to the UK to re-build Britain after the war were in effect de-nationalised – many deported – some dead and many homeless and desperate as a result of this huge miscarriage of justice.

Jingoism – as I said a couple of posts ago - is a tired old tune but with an ability to have a Pavlovian reaction from certain elements of the British – and especially the English working class. Remember, neither Scotland nor Ireland voted for Brexit or Johnson – though both nations are paying an extraordinarily heavy price.

Never mind that anything belonging to or benefitting Britain was sold off from Thatcher onwards – often to foreign investors. Never mind that much of the UK’s infrastructure is now controlled from abroad. Never mind that the NHS is on its knees – the state school system barely functioned through the pandemic and in poor areas of the UK, life expectancy actually fell (this before covid) for the first time since such records began. No matter the Tory indebtedness to a slew of Russian oligarchs. Despite all that –the curdling cry that the ills of the UK are somehow the fault of poor, desperate foreigners never fails to chime.

The Tories know it works.  No matter how vile their policies – how cruel – no matter how food banks have spread and spread under their mismanagement and how many families in work now rely on handouts. No matter the degradation – no matter the sleaze and the vileness of those in public office  – they know that as long as they can turn the spotlight on foreigners – preferably brown and black ones with inhumane policies – the dog whistle will work.

It would be nice if this May – for the first time – we saw some sign that jingoism has run out of energy – some sign that – for once the working class of England – the UK’s most populous nation – finally decided to act with complete self-interest and start the process of kicking these monsters out.

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And – on a lighter not – as always I invite you to check out my novels, children's books and poetry anthologies here -

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Tuesday, 12 April 2022

431. ‘Society-supported sociopath’. Dangerous but no longer rare enough…

In his chilling 1979 story The Long Walk under the pen name Richard Bachman, Stephen king paints a picture of a nightmare right-wing America where an oppressed, militarised society invokes a Hunger Games type event annually for the horrified amusement of a degraded populous.

As I re-visited it last week one section struck me forcefully.

In describing the main character, Garraty and his first encounter with The Major (the military leader), we are told that –

“Garraty’s father, before the squads took him away, had been fond of calling The Major the rarest and most dangerous monster any nation can produce, a society supported sociopath.”

While we can all understand why such a monster is particularly dangerous what is worrying is that rarity can no longer be claimed.

America’s Trump was one such. Putin (Russia), Bolsonaro (Brazil). Erdogan (Turkey), Assad (Syria), Orban (Hungary). Then, of course, while he also juggles the international reputation of buffoon, the UK’s own Boris Johnson also fits the bill. Plus of course we have Le Pen in France, currently champing at the bit to join this expanding club of chaos makers.

Considering the parlous state of the world, socially, economically and environmentally, it is important to ask why a dark, divisive and destabilising phenomenon – the society supported sociopath - that could justifiably be regarded as rare in 1979 in the so-called civilised world – is now uncomfortably common.

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And – in a sort of split blog this week – I will just veer off for a quick comment about the underlying main issue of our time – climate catastrophe. As I pen quite a lot about it – and in particular the mad consumerism that drives much of the damage it is worth pointing out that one of the biggest monsters is the throw-away clothing industry. Here are some interesting figures

According to Clothes Aid UK more than 30% of our unwanted clothing currently goes to landfill. The UK puts 700,000 tonnes of clothing to recycling centres, textile banks, clothes collections and to charity each year. That's enough to fill 459 Olympic-size swimming pools. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 5% of landfill space is taken up with discarded clothing.

And – to prove that I try to put my opinions where my mouth is – below is a pic of my Mother of the Bride outfit for my middle daughter’s wedding a couple of weekends ago. All charity shop sourced. Additionally I got my eldest daughter’s outfit from a charity shop – also my eldest grandson’s fab trousers and funky braces, my mum’s super swish wedding hat. Plus my small silver backpack for storing snacks for the kids and my shawl. Additionally – though not items of clothing – all the cake storage boxes to get the cake to the venue in one piece, the cake decorations and the cake stand were from charity shops and a dozen of the eggs that went into the cake were from the 'no waste' box run by a neighbour.




Fingers crossed I have my first comedy gig in ages coming up. Remember I'm not on any social media (Mrs Obscure here) but i'll post details to the blog soon.  Meanwhile do check out My BOOKS

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

430. Brexit! WHY?

Below is an old doodle from 2016. It seems appropriate this week because even hard-line Brexiteers are no longer pretending Brexit was ever going to work / is nothing short of a catastrophe for the UK / was entirely an act of spite and self harm driven by jingoism (see last week's blog) and xenophobia driven by the worst of human instincts. 

With the pandemic, increasing global economic uncertainty, THE CLIMATE CRISIS and now the horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine - Brexit looks madder than ever. But for those trying to claim 'other' influences could not have been foreseen - it is important to understand the dishonesty and disingenuousness of that position.

No one - least of all me - is claiming that current calamities were predictable - though the climate crisis is/was and anyone with any brains knew that a pandemic was inevitable sooner or later. some countries (not us) even planned for one.

What was clear was that ditching our nearest and best and largest trading partners to seek out deals on the other side of the globe to sell - well - whisky to Australia at a slightly cheaper rate(!) was madness. Complete and utter madness. But once again - those at the top rang that jingo bell (see last post) and all sense went out of the window.

So - here is that 2016 doodle...