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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

259. Sundays could actually save us…


Large swathes of the celebrity-stupefied and T.V. anaesthetised population hanker for the good-old-days. What they mean is a Utopia where white people could be racist without fear of criticism and it was ok to grab a woman’s bottom in the office or openly discriminate. As we are learning, many of these things never went away but they were mercifully regarded as unacceptable. However, one thing does not appear on the wish list.

Yup – while some of us feel the gains made in Britain and other parts of Europe since WWII are fragile and fast disappearing like free higher education, social conscience, decent working conditions etc, others don’t see it that way. Fear of globalisation has left some yearning for a sepia tinted faux 1950s era where – apparently – ‘political correctness’ had not “gone mad” and we were not all at the mercy of the dreaded Health and Safety brigade. Yes. Who wants to be protected from dangerous practices and exploitation in the work place?

But there is one thing that should come back. There is one thing that could positively affect social cohesion, mental health, air quality, debt, stress levels, road deaths - and that is the shop-free Sunday. Re-establish a ban on Sunday trading in the real world.

Initially when Sunday trading laws were altered to make Sunday just one more cacophony of commercial consumer hell, many resisted the pull. Folk carried on planning to avoid diving to the shop AGAIN on Sunday and tried to go for walks, avoid traffic and find somewhere quiet. Well – now – unless you go right out of town – and sometimes not even then – it is not possible.

Look at any shopping centre or roadway and there is no discernible difference from a week day. IN fact some places are busier. Some shopping centres are more clogged with miserable grey faces and children being dragged round malls or restrained in buggies – whey faced and dead behind the eyes as adults search for more ways to heat up their credit cards.

Maybe – like the introduction of seatbelt legislation – we now need saving from our own consumerism. Because society is going through the windscreen at 90mph right now while the government blindly swims around in its own slurry.

Debt and obesity are two of the main causes of unhappiness and severe illness in the UK. While shocking statistics in 2017 showed that many folk don’t walk or do any exercise for even half an hour a week – equally people never STOP buying crap they don’t need.

Yes folk can still shop online but they are doing that anyway.

Seven-day trading is one of the biggest signposts that we are consumer slaves; dumb cogs in a monstrous consumer machine.

Shop working is often exploitative and unrewarding. Initially when Sunday trading was legalised we were told that workers would be able to ‘choose’ whether or not to work on that day. What a load of bollocks that turned out to be.

It used to be the case that with the exception of essential staff such as the emergency services – everyone could rely on at least one day a week where they weren’t strapped in to the clanking, headache-inducing, speeding out of control commercial merry-go-round.

Perhaps – if the malls and supermarkets and superstores were closed SOME families might stay home and TALK to each other or go to the park and WALK together. Some people might take the time to cook a real meal rather than microwaving some processed supermarket shit.

Just think – a whole day without the air being so thick with diesel fumes you could slice it.

Sundays could save our health, improve our relationships, reduce domestic debt, improve the quality of the air we breathe and help us keep our sanity.

One of the biggest distractions during the debate about whether to allow Sunday trading (back in the 1990s) was consigning it to a religious argument. At a time when church attendance was waning that was worse than spurious – but we know the media loves a binary fight and the voices of those who wanted a one day break from the zombie march of consumerism were drowned out.

I just don’t get why – when folk are being nostalgic – they don’t think to bring back things that were actually GOOD.
WE don’t even have to call it Sunday, we could rename it Walk and Talk and Breathe and Don’t Buy Shit day!
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NB In light of the New Year news that Carillion - the contractor that runs (ran) Britain – has imploded despite the billions it has mopped up in government contracts over the years, do check out the blog I wrote before Christmas.
And if you caught the ‘news’ re the deeply entrenched discriminatory practices of the BBC, review some of the comments I made many months ago re the unrepresentative and elitist/racist make-up of this public funded broadcaster
Or check out my letter from July last year published in national newspapers including The Guardian

As well as informing the UK public that in 2017 only a third of top earners at the BBC are women, would Tony Hall (director of the BBC) also do a breakdown on how many non-white, non-privileged persons are in the top percentage of wage earners there?
Amanda Baker
Edinburgh

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

258. BREXIT is Corbyn’s Iraq and massively outweighs Haringey’s flirtation with democracy.

As Theresa May’s government is involved in one political car crash after another the big question has to be why the Labour opposition vehicle is not in better shape.

Will 2018 be the year the Labour party gives British politics some much needed Opposition? Might Labour find a leader who - a. can lead b. is not soiled by Iraq c. is not scared of Brexit or tainted by not campaigning to Remain in Europe?

Jeremy Corbyn does not realise that his catastrophic dithering over Brexit is already his legacy just as Iraq (plus global terrorism, private sector infiltration of schools and hospitals and generation-obliterating tuition debt) is Blair’s.

NOT actively campaigning for (or even declaring a sentient position on) Brexit, left the Remain campaign with no engine. Brexit was not won. No one was paying attention so the conmen were able to yell into the electorate’s bad ear as EU membership slipped out of Britain's arthritic fingers.

As I’ve written many times on this little blog and in letters published by newspapers including The Guardian, The Independent, The National and others - everything from 23rd June 2016 onwards has been about damage limitation. Britain is fighting over which bits of the socio-economic corpse can be used in political organ donation.

Even Corbyn’s blanking of Brexit at the 2017 Labour Party Conference mattered little although it showed he was capable of being politically grubby. It showed he had one skill; despite his faux revolutionary, misguided out-of-touch social sentiment and his snail pace intellect, Corbyn can look the other way when the big issues of the day are screaming for attention. You have to envy him the ability to calmly and genuinely – for example – flag wave for the NHS having done nothing to keep EU workers, on whom the institution now relies, IN BRITAIN. That is a sort of skill. Like being able to make fart noises with your armpit… mesmerising and useless.

Experiencing Corbyn’s end-of-2017 announcement it occurred to me he must be the only ‘leader’ in history who could say “We are a government in waiting” and sound as if he just said ‘does anyone want that last digestive biscuit’.

And for those getting exorcised about the recent activities in Haringey, the London borough where sitting councillors have complained about being replaced by others who intend to campaign against an unpopular local development – chill - that is actually how democracy is supposed to work. The irony is that any benefit gained by Momentum – the group that formed to support Corbyn’s leadership – will be so outweighed by the harm to the British working class by Brexit that they may as well have handed Haringey council to G4S.

For people whose memory lasts longer than an episode of a soap opera – Blair will forever be the little shit who went against overwhelming public opinion, common sense, intelligence and history and illegally invaded Iraq. Corbyn will be the knacker who failed to go in, political guns blazing, righteous indignation to the fore and fight to prevent a plainly foreseeable catastrophe; a catastrophe driven purely and simply by Cameron’s inability to deal with the dough-boy fascists in the ‘nastier party’. Cameron played Russian roulette with Britain’s future with all the chambers full, the barrel pointing at Britain’s foot. Corbyn was unable to make political capital because he was still pointing his blunderbuss at Thatcher’s ghost.

While Farage (with his EU pension) and Boris Johnson (rewarded with a front bench position in government) and Gove (who derided ‘experts’ during the EU referendum and is now Secretary of state for the Environment) all lied and lied and lied and lied and were not challenged – Corbyn hunkered down and did a big grey nothing.

Yes I know it’s becoming increasingly unpopular to say all this. Shut up and get on with it, is the popular mantra. Discombobulated MPs have taken refuge behind the British public, bleating on about respecting Democracy as if the referendum – won on prattle and xenophobia – had anything at all to do with real democracy. History will point to the EU referendum not just as the tipping point when Britain lost its seat at the top table in the world,  it will also be the focus of much debate concerning the end of real democracy in the so-called oldest democracy.

Currently MPs are enjoying some welcome relief from blame, pointing the finger at Google, facebook and other online social media platforms over issues of ‘fake news’ and information manipulation. However, there is a deafening silence regarding the older media whose favour they slavishly court. The BBC, infamously unrepresentative of ethnic minorities or the working class majority who pay its licence fee, continually platformed Farage. The tabloid newspapers fed a celebrity-T.V.-anaesthetised public a diet of bigotry and jingoism and anti-EU nonsense for DECADES – from the plague of straight bananas to the idea that we are all being oppressed by Health and Safety legislation from Brussels – well – tell that to the victims of Grenfell Tower.


Iraq was Blair’s Vietnam – except the effects are global not national. Corbyn’s dull, dull mediocre, grey, pathetic, didn’t-need-to-happen ‘Iraq’ is Brexit…

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

257. BrEXIT (Brown girl Exit)

I’m winding up for 2017 so here’s to 2018 focusing on people who really need our help. Hopefully, we’ll see Trump’s impeachment and more effort to stem ecological damage. Sadly for the UK, it seems there is no undoing BREXIT and you can’t impeach xenophobia, self-interest and stupidity…
But, it’s the season of Good Will and Bad Debt – so check out my favourite old Christmas post – Drink Driving with my Dad & other Happy Memories. http://browngirloutsidethering.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/blog-22-drink-driving-with-my-dad-other.html

A x

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

256. BLACK FRIDAY & THE CURSE OF THE CHRISTMAS SCENTED CANDLE

I CAN SAVE YOU.

Yes. Nothing says I bought this because - you bought me something last year / we’re distantly related / we once worked together / I don’t really know you well enough to buy something you’d actually like / I had to buy something and I know there is nothing you need/want/haven’t already got that I’d be willing to spend my hard earned money on and my credit card is glowing red so I thought of flames while I was shopping and THEY ARE IN EVERY STORE in the section marked ‘DESPERATION’ and it has a Christmas logo on it and it was either this or gloves because it's REALLY important that I buy you some shit – so here’s a Christmas scented candle…

As Brits across the nation quake with dread at the approach of the debilitating, highly contagious and often deadly US disease BF I have good news for you. Not the bible sort of Good News obviously.

Yes – the highs streets (or cyber-highways) will be dark indeed with the swarms of desperate humans burning more credit onto their nearly-dead this-isn’t-real-money cards. Even the gaping holes, where large stores such as BHS used to operate before the owner asset-stripped them and their pension schemes to fund another couple of yachts, will probably be tinselled-up like seasonal prostitutes.

Yes. The ridiculously large, often vanilla scented CHRISTMAS CANDLE.

It will probably be in a glass jar with a ye olde label and some silver lettering. It may have more than one wick! It will be so big that lighting it will pose a fire hazard for houses in a 200m radius and the chemical fumes will dissolve the lining of your lungs and keep wildlife away from your home for the next decade. But SOMEONE out there is probably going to get you one and they are probably going to do it this Friday. Or – in your desperation to get SOMETHING for SOMEONE on your list you may be tempted. Black Friday. The Friday that may henceforth forever be Vanilla Scented Catastrophe Friday.

So just tell them you’d like a book instead. Or you get them a book.

Yes books too are a bit flammable but generally speaking you don’t deliberately set fire to them and they aren’t full of horrible chemicals that will give you a migraine and they don’t reek of Black Friday desperation and debt.
And yes – this is a pitch. If you don’t buy my books how will I be able to afford to buy scented candles?

Adult novels
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A verse picture book for little readers
Books for real girls who want to read about real GIRL heroes.

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IF you're lucky enough to have an eco-warrior in your crew try this


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Dystopian Sci fi?

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There is even a (sort-of) Autobiography
Check out 'Maybe I'm not a Pigeon'

ALL available here – 


NB All new 2017 editions are significantly cheaper than the old editions. YOU COULD BUY BOTH ADULT NOVELS AND THE ENTIRE ADVENTURE TRILOGY FOR LESS THAN ONE M&S CHRISTMAS CANDLE… though the candle in question does feature x3 wicks!!!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

255. BREXIT makes sense - with my brand new parlour game...

My brand new parlour game is called OPPOSITES - STUPID and it will save your sanity. If only I’d thought of this before. How easy. How obvious.

I have bemoaned a sense of living in a parallel universe before on this blog. You look around you and your eyes, ears and common sense tell you one thing but the government and elements of the pop press tell you the opposite. It’s like standing in your living room looking out of the window at an ice storm while a firm, jolly, slightly condescending but insistent voice right behind you is booming out that THE SUN IS SHINING AND IT’s A BEAUTIFUL DAY. The voice is so unrelenting that you begin to doubt yourself.

The oft repeated and up-beat statement, there are more people in work than ever before, should no longer fry your brain. You no longer need to feel dizzy as you contemplate the number of adults you know who can’t get a proper job or are on a dead-end zero hours contract or are working at many many levels below their ability because even though they have £60k of student debt having obtained (for example) a good science degree, they can only find work as a part time pool attendant (like the son of a friend of mine). You no longer even need to consider the millions in employment who, nevertheless, rely on benefits to live.

Don’t worry if, contrary to the government declaiming that the economy is in good shape, you are now paying £1.40 for an item in the supermarket that 14 months ago cost you 98p.

The Brexit vote was the result of the democratic will of the people is a mesmeric mantra for both The Government and The Opposition (I don’t think I need bother putting in the ‘so-called’ prefix there). So, if you squirm every time you hear that phrase because you can see with your human eyes and your developed Homo-sapiens brain that Brexit was the result of xenophobia, stupidity, blatant racism, lies, an opposition vacuum and a lot of people not paying attention – worry no more. Just play OPPOSITES - STUPID.

It works with government. 

Heading up our 3-day-old road kill of an administration is the self-proclaimed Strong and Stable leader Theresa May. She is the weakest wobbliest most ineffectual premier besides whom a bowl of blancmange would look prim-ministerial. But in our new O-S game even she is a logical manifestation.

Boris Johnson is a racist buffoon whose mouth is the gateway to such a bottomless pit of stupidity and vile, privileged rot one can only imagine that what lies within bears some resemblance to the swamp that gave us The Creature from the Black Lagoon. But when you are playing OPPOSITES- STUPID it entirely makes sense to have a tactless, idiotic clown representing us around the globe.

Michael Gove is currently Environment Secretary but was formerly Brexit flag-waver and would-be leader. He is the guy who sneered at the over-reliance on ‘experts’. Well, Britain is most assuredly cured of anything that looks like expertise now. 

Last weekend Gove happily and moronically joined Boris Johnson in their favourite game of foot-in-mouth thus causing dangerous diplomatic difficulties for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British citizen whose life hangs in the balance in an Iranian jail.

Our new Defence Secretary knows nothing about the military and nothing about ministerial representation in The House. But (see last week’s post) it’s ok now to learn on the job even if that job is head of the nation’s defence. Yes, with O-S it starts to seem less and less odd that these incompetent morons who you would not normally leave in charge of the cat are running (ruining!) our lives.

Our Brexit Secretary David Davis (and let’s face it if you come from a family that can’t even come up with more than one name for their offspring – what hope is there) is a gurning mediocrity. And when playing OPOSITES - STUPID it makes sense that a gurning mediocrity with an apparently limited vocabulary is in charge of the most important negotiation Britain has seen since Chamberlain arrived back from visiting Hitler claiming “peace in our time”

Liam Fox – darling of the right – was embroiled in a money+favours-for-a-chum-while-abroad scandal. So, why shouldn’t he be Secretary of State for International Trade? Why should we be incredulous when he says that a trade deal with the EU should be “the easiest in history”

Then set against this three-wheel supermarket trolley of incompetents we have the so-called opposition in the form of (oh God) Jeremy Corbyn. 

Yes – Corbyn - the man who failed to unequivocally campaign for Remain – or anything else comprehensible for that matter - because he didn’t really know if he was for or against the EU. He had a vague idea from his (seemingly never ending) student politics days that he thought the EU was a capitalist conspiracy damaging the good old British workers’ jobs. Now he just stands up and goes neh neh nene neh to anything the government says and he’s in a bind because – for example – as anyone with three brain cells could have told him – the NHS – Labour’s touchstone when all else fails to rally the troops – is totally fucked without EU workers. He is, as Opposition Leader what King Canute was to the rising tide. But yes – when playing OPPOSITES - STUPID even Jeremy Corbyn makes sense.

Thank goodness that’s sorted…
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Re: the latest tax dodging revelations of the rich, famous and morally grubby The Herald published another short letter of mine on that subject
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And remember – if you are already looking for stocking fillers that aren’t vanilla scented candles or ‘novelty’ jumpers/socks/ties or even more things that need plugging in or things they’ll never wear or shouldn’t eat or don’t have room for – do check out my adult novels, kids adventure trilogy, sci-fi novella, environmental poetry story, picture book or even my sort-of-autobiography in new/cheaper 2016/17 editions

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

254. Sex sleaze at Westminster + Gavin Williamson + Brexit = proof that Britain is now in the dementia wing of the la la land hospital for incontinent, delusional ex-empires.


Grubby scandals, overreach, ineffectual leadership, unnecessary wars, poor judgement, economic Armageddon, the rise and rise of mediocrity. Not necessarily in that order. It’s all there as it was with the Greek, Roman, Ottoman etc empires. 

We had the overreach internationally with the illegal invasion of Iraq - the direct consequences are far from played out. We had the financial overreach, the consequences peaking in the financial crash of 2008 – far from played out. As a preliminary to the current governmental grimy sexual scandal we had the MPs expenses scandal. Then on June 23rd 2016 the UK leaned heavily on the big red self-destruct button and now it’s stuck in the ON position.

Yes, with Brexit full steam ahead to the cliff edge we have Westminster embroiled in a seedy who-touched-whom soap opera. MPs are fiddling – in a different way this time - while Rome (excuse the very accurate pun) burns.

Neither have we missed out on the rise of the ambitious but limp. Gavin Williamson appears to have made himself head of Britain’s Defence with a mixture of crawling toadyism, chameleon abilities to switch from one administration to another and having, as chief Tory whip, access to the list of his MP’s sexual misconduct and therefore prior knowledge of who would be resigning any time soon. To make up for whatever he is lacking, it is reported that he keeps a pet tarantula on his desk – called Kronos for heaven’s sake. Because what we really need is to be reminded that we are going down the same sink hole as another once admired and powerful civilistaion.

This was the letter published in the press (you know what a mania I have for letters to editors – see blog 244)
Dear Editor,
Goofy Gavin Williamson is exactly what UK politics needs right now. Another inexperienced but crawlingly ambitions, intellectually mediocre white bloke who knows how to suck up to whichever non-entity is in power while having no comprehension of his own limitations and careless of his aptitude for the job.
It’s not the tarantula on the new Defence Secretary’s desk MPs need to worry about (there, I presume, for the same reason runty men buy dangerous dogs)- it’s the blank behind the eyes…

This is how empires end. Not from external pressure but from the rot within.

OK – no one is arguing that Britain is an empire now or since WWII but we certainly remained at the top table, the first class carriage, the 5 star hotel – long after ‘letting the servants go’ long after the shine  had worn off, long after the bank vaults were emptied and the tatty jewellery sold off. But now we have entered that era of self-destruct which is where all the energy seems to be going. In this we are not original. Look at every empire from the Ottoman Empire to Charlemagne to the good ol’ Romans we loved to read about at school with their straight roads, togas and Russel Crowe.

I listen with increasing incredulity (and you know my incredulity levels are already at bursting point) to the binary chit chat on the radio about trade opportunities post-Brexit. Even the Remainers are struggling to find something positive to say while the Brexiters continue happily in their parallel universe where shutting yourself out of the £240billion of exports to the EU will be replaced by selling Haggis to Canada and whisky to China.

 Self-destruction, unnecessary conflict, corrosive corruption, endemic incompetence, obsessive focus on self and almost unstoppable sexual scandal and predatory sexual behaviour, financial over-extension, falling standards, failing institutions, moral and social decay, failure of leadership, excessive military spending coupled with lack of investment, a wealthy elite exploiting cheap labour hampering general development and prosperity, internal bickering. Need I go on?

Once the mediocre and self-serving have risen all the way to the top a single sound rises above the cacophony and you can hear the fat lady singing.

All empires end this way…

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How about a free book for light relief?
The one that got away in the last giveaway is finally clear of techno-gremlins so click on the link to my author page below and grab yourself a free kindle copy of Eating the Vinyl (from this Thursday 9th Nov to Monday 13th)
If you don’t want light relief then buy Zero One Zero Two – same link
Or choose from the smorgasbord of paperback books for Christmas presents