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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Blog 98 Clarkson is a contemporary illness.

Far more hilarious than jokes made by any of the white blokes gurning out of the identikit posters for comedy at this year’s Edinburgh fringe was the comment made by Danny Cohen – head of TV. The one liner was made in relation to the sack of offal we know as Jeremy Clarkson.
“No one person is bigger than the BBC”.
Boy the testosterone must have been pumping when he made that statement.

I bet the genuinely witty Tim Vine is wishing he’d thought of that rather than his vacuum cleaner joke.

Despite a litany of offensive remarks that a 15 year old wouldn't stoop to, I see no sign of Clarkson being expunged from the TV gravy train.

Yes he is popular but so is smoking and eating crap.

The Clarkson illness is the same one that allowed Saville to thrive. And no, before you get hysterical, I am not accusing Mr. Offal of child abuse. I’m talking about the sycophancy that blinds people to what is decent or not, what is genuinely worth air time and what should be relegated to pay2view. It is a wilful blindness but it is a complete blindness. The BBC has – since the influx of multiple channelling - hurtled itself ever downward in the race to the bottom and we all know what’s waiting there.

The idea that no one is bigger than the BBC – which I interpret to mean the BBC ideals – is so utterly laughable that it has to be put in the same category as ‘rich people aren’t above the law’. Do we need reminding that a certain formula 1 oldie recently dipped into his small change and bought himself out of a court case for £60 million? Are the gaols bursting at the seams with the bankers who wrecked the economy with their criminal activities?

Claiming we are all equal in terms of expected standards of behaviour – which is the flip side of Cohen’s comment - is like saying the tax system is fair. Look around at who pays tax and the massively profitable companies that don’t. Yet the press barons and politicians spend eye watering amounts of time and effort vilifying those at the other end of the scale be they migrants or the disabled or generally those on the lowest rungs of society’s increasingly rickety ladder.

I have had good, bad, reasonable and indifferent experiences with the BBC but -organisations /institutions – even countries that become too large or powerful to be assailed from outside – that become too established to be part of the general laws of society or moral equilibrium destroy themselves from within.

Clarkson is just a manifestation of internal rot.

This week’s recommended blog from the archives is

26 Library Love

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Blog 97 Viagra – Yes. Effective cure for Malaria – No.

Ok back to blogging though it’s hard to know where to begin this week with a motor way pile up of global nasties.

First I need to work out why when some countries slaughter civilians in large numbers – there is more righteous indignation than you could shake a stick at and a rush to prove humanitarian credentials. The same behaviour elsewhere causes only the equivalent of international tutting.

Fracking is illegal in France but Britain happily issues licences for French companies to frack us. (To see fracking cartoon click on the orange Amanda Baker in right hand column and scroll down.)

Police still don’t get they aren't supposed to shoot unarmed black kids?

We are happy to criticise countries with dictatorships and yet the ruling elite have as tight a grip on power in Britain as the barons of feudal times.

What is ‘the international community’ and why can’t it stop elephants being wiped out? If these creatures are too small and insignificant to protect isn't the planet screwed?

How come we are now chumming up to Assad when he was the devil a few months ago?

 How come Sadam was the devil when, prior to invading, he was a chum of Bush?

And by the way the invasion of Iraq created the environment for the rise of ISIS as surely as the Treaty of Versailles is implicated in the rise of the Nazis. So why is Tony Blair not in prison?

Some global leaders attract our disdain rather than approbation due to their lunacy or buffoonery but we are currently entertaining the idea of Boris Johnson not just as a returning MP but possibly a future leader of the party of that ruling elite. (see blog 62 Boris Johnson’s IQ test). Why?

The West helps create refugees but then gets pissed off when they try to escape to the West.

If you trip on a pavement in the developed world there are lawyers beating down your door to get you compo. If you are a poor family in India and your life and the lives of your children and theirs were blighted or wiped out by the criminal negligence of an American chemical company – tough.

We have Viagra but still not an effective cure for Malaria, Ebola or Aids. Kids still die for want of clean water or a 2pence re-hydration tablet. Is keeping more men shagging longer really a world priority?

I am revolted by these things but revolution is not the answer. What happens after revolution anyway?  Recent and ancient history tells us – worse oppression. Also I am nauseated by privileged westerners  verbally masturbating to their Che Guevara fantasies.

When we get the chance to change things we don’t. A lot of people don’t even vote and I will eat my blog if Scotland votes to release itself from the grip of Westminster/Eton on Sept 18th.

So what?
Crawl under the bed?

No – While I try and think it through, I will be thankful that a couple of healthy foxes regularly visit the back gardens.  I have nice neighbours on both sides and below. I am lucky enough at my age to still have a grandmother. I am lucky enough that my own domestic ‘problems’ are on a level of being ripped off by my energy supplier and not on a par with having my home razed to the ground in war.

This week's recommended blog from the archives - no. 12 Armageddon will not be televised

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Blog 96 Conflicting Promises & BBC blood sport…

I’ll be back to ranting about the world next week but I am, today, hoist by my own poetry petard.

Have you ever been caught out by conflicting promises made to yourself?

You promise yourself you will not walk on the cracks in the pavement but you also promise yourself you will make a better effort to avoid arriving home with doggy doo doo on your shoes. Then you come to that bit of pavement where the pooh-clear space is so tiny and your foot just too wide to avoid the crack. Yes –  we've all been there.

You promise yourself that you will be so appreciative of Aunty Maud’s next presy that you'll wear it whenever you see her. You have also promised yourself that you'll never ever wear a knitted tartan twin set encrusted with orange sequins.

Ok you get the picture.

Having tried a couple unwittingly when I first started doing performance poetry, I promised myself I would not take any further part in slams. For the uninitiated, a slam is competitive performance poetry. A lot of folk love ‘em and if you like blood sports I can see there may be an attraction. NOT FOR ME.

On the other hand when I moved to Edinburgh I promised myself I would do the first 10 things that were offered (poetically speaking). Like the Five-a-day only not five and not in a day. Well – the second thing I was offered was the BBC slam. Instead of saying a definite NO – flustered by the conflict with my other promise - I prevaricated. Then a few weeks ago I received an e-mail (e-mails were sent to those too crap and out of it to be on facebook) with a heat date and time.

Anyway – to cut a rambling story mercifully short – I won the heat last night so now will be doing the BBC final in the big blue tent at the Edinburgh Fringe. The Fringe is something else I promised myself I would avoid for a while but it gives me chance to get my performance back up to scratch after a too long break ready for - hopefully - the autumn's big project. Watch this space.

This week’s recommended blog from the archive is -

Blog 33. Can’t Cuss? Try a Comedy Curse!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Blog 95 Donald Trump proves he’s a chump – again.

 ‘Trump’ was always meant to rhyme with ‘chump’. I know this because I am a poet of the old fashioned sort who enjoys rhymes.  Equally, ‘Bankers’ instantly brings to mind the word ‘w......’ to someone of my ilk.

The irony is that its doormat-head who doesn’t get it.

Donald Trump’s selfish, spiteful tweets in response to the news that aid workers recovering from Ebola were to be taken home to the US for further treatment, have one benefit. They illustrate an important point. From the everyday Jo on the street to the golf-course crazy wombat with silly towers and expensive wives, fear and ignorance are bars to both common sense and humanity.

Mr Trumped-up has possibly fried his grey matter by spending too much time in la la land where the planet is just a smorgasbord of profit opportunities and an expensive place to play.

So here is a reality check.

Ebola may have similarities to the plague (it is incurable and has a high mortality rate) but this aint the mediaeval era. We cannot pretend that there is real separation between countries. Those far-off places that appear on exotic holiday websites have people living in them. Albeit that those people have brown skin, they actually matter. They have families and they love their children and they are not just a resource for the West, either for making money or taking leisure.

Diseases like Ebola and all sorts of things that we thought were safely ‘over there’ (TB, Malaria) as the world’s climate gets knackered will, in the not too distant future, be ‘over here’.

Until the realisation slipped through that, in its latest form and in our current circumstances, Ebola could leave Africa, the news reports were sanguine. It was after all just a few more Africans dying horribly. But as the numbers crept up and the spread seemed not to follow the usual pattern the tone changed. WHAT IF IT GETS US?

In our brave new world, there are going to be increasing phenomena that progress this way. We’ve already seen it with war. Those pesky foreigners engaged in killing each other (in some conflicts that have their roots in Western interference) were news footnotes just before the sport reports. Now it seems Western holidays may be in jeopardy as it becomes increasingly dangerous for domestic flights to fly over war-torn areas. Some favourite tourist destinations get bodies washed up on the beaches from overloaded boats shipping desperate refugees from famine, poverty and conflict.Get over it. It’s not just on the news. It is happening and the world is too small for it to be contained by boarders or treaties or the developing (struggling!) world’s respect for Westerners’ holiday arrangements.

In the 21st century, war and disease, if we don’t treat them with respect and act to prevent them by dealing with societal breakdown and chronic poverty, will spread. They will spread in the countries where they began and they will spread to the countries that sit by and they will spread while the rich and powerful stroll round their gold courses.

Bullets and viruses will no longer ‘do’ international barriers.

This week’s recommended blog from the archives

Blog 24 Cut Foreign Aid – what a spiffing idea