Friday, March 27, 2015

A pleasant meal, then a ‘right-wing’ revelation: just how meaningless are such political labels? Totally meaningless, a complete waste of time and space or just more bloody twaddle??

Another meal. A triumph? Well, as I was the cook, I don’t know. It’s not for me to say. I enjoyed it, but then I can enjoy a nicely peeled orange, so I’m not the go-to guy an matters haute cuisine. I enjoy cooking - and given that I always stick to simple dishes rather than fancy shmancy stuff where the chances of coming unstuck increase exponentially, I really should describe my cooking more honestly as ‘preparing a meal’. And as ‘a meal’ is, as far as I am concerned as much about entertaining people (and I never entertain more than two others, three at a push, but never any more), chit-chat - some people call it conversation, others just call it chit-chat - and general enjoyment in the company of those whose company you enjoy as food, even going wrong - which I didn’t do today - doesn’t matter that much.

We had, to start, prawns gently heated in very thinly sliced garlic, a little tomato paste, smoked paprika and olive oil, accompanied by a small dish each of little gem lettuce, very thinly sliced onion and very thinly sliced radishes with a drizzle of olive oil. No great expense there, and no great culinary adventure - it’s just my take on ‘gambas al ajilo’ (prawns in garlic for those who, like me don’t ‘have’ Spanish) which is a bog-standard tapas dish. I substituted smoked paprika for the very chopped up red chillies which I use when I do it for myself because my stepmother, 78 the other day, can’t really take chillies to well. After that it was ‘fried herring with tartar sauce and roast potatoes’. Well, it seems now is not the time of year for herring so I got fresh sardines instead and I loved them. My stepmother wasn’t too fussed on them, but I don’t know why.

I chose that dish because I have never before attempted to make tartar sauce from scratch or, for that matter, mayonnaise on which it is based and I wanted to try. It isn’t rocket science as long as you don’t rush it. And I didn’t. Finally, we had meringue with whipped cream and fresh raspberries, something I chose because I have always wanted to try making meringue. Sadly I came unstuck Pflümli - the German version of slivovitz) and a raspberry liqueur which I found knocking around my stepmother’s kitchen, or in my case a glass or two of all three.

and my meringue wasn’t quite what you are usually served, but it tasted great. I don’t know where i went wrong, probably because the oven I put the meringue into was too hot. I don’t know. I’ll try again. After that black coffee and, in my case, double cream, there was a choice of Cointreau, plum brandy (in this case

Before the comrades all yell ‘you fucking plutocrat wanker’ and ‘it’s all right for some, you rich bloody bastard’, the only expensive ingredients of the meal were, arguably, the liqueurs though each bottle should last at least two years or more (seeing as booze doesn’t go off). But that’s the thing. I haven’t actually costed the meal but it most certainly didn’t break the bank.

My big bugbear and I speak as a guy who loves food (but is by no means a glutton or overweight) is that simple, home-prepared meals are not only tastier and better for you than almost all the pre-prepared, pre-cooked crap people buy, but at the end of the day a lot cheaper. I had to buy a kilo of fresh sardines, which set me back £7.50, but we only eat half of them, and the rest are in the fridge to be eaten another day. The tartar sauce consisted of four egg yolks, olive oil, a tablespoon of capers and two small gherkins. The meringue was made from the egg whites of the four eggs and a little sugar. The fresh raspberries were £3.

My stepmother’s guest was the potter Seth Cardew who I have gone to visit in Spain these past three years and who has invited me again to visit this summer. He used to have his pottery - Wenfordbridge pottery - just down the road. It was started by his father Michael Cardew. Seth is always good company, though he surprised me this afternoon by declaring he was ‘right-wing’. Well,

I for one would never have guessed, not in a million years, given that I, and I’m sure many reading this, tend to associate - rightly or wrongly, though I suspect rightly - ‘right-wingers’ as thick shits who don’t know the time of day. But that’s what he said, so I can only take him by his word.

His announcement led into a long discussion over ‘right-wingism’ and ‘left-wingism’ which I shan’t reproduce here except to repeat the assertion I made - and which I truly believe - that the terms ‘right-wing’ and ‘left-wing’ are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. They describe nothing, they are utterly vacuous. They are about as useful in describing people as dividing folk up into ‘left-handers’ and ‘right-handers’ and treating the one group as ‘good’ and the other group as ‘bad’.

The two terms are, at the end of the day, meaningless (and I have not once in the years I have known Seth heard him make any off-colour pronouncement about anyone, not gays, Jews, foreigners, the ‘working class’ or morris dancers. Writing this - and smoking one of my cigars, while drinking a last coffee and one more glass of plum brandy - I am rather conscious of what some might think. OK, for some, might be the reaction. Well, you are dead wrong: for example the cigars - La Paz Wilde Cigarros - are bought on the net from a tobacconist in Holland at €13 - £9.50/$14.61 at today’s exchange rate - for 20. I smoke about four a week and a tin of 20 lasts me for over a month.

Compare that to the cost of 20 cigarettes: around £7/8 for 20 and some folk are on 40 a day. So let’s knock that one on the head. As for the liqueurs, the Cointreau - a half-litre bottle - cost me £12 and should last for more than two years: someone might go down the pub and spend around that on just over three pints. If he goes down the pub twice a week and is a cigarette smoker, who’s the moneybags, me or him?

I  cannot rid myself of a niggling feeling I am protesting too much, and some might even accuse me of that. But am I? Am I really? Britain, unfortunately, is still totally hung up on ‘them and us’. ‘We’ are appalled at the fact that the country now has food banks. ‘They’ don’t care about that. ‘We’ are apt to condemn ‘privilege’ and cite the fact the David Cameron ‘went to Eton’ as ‘proof’ that the man

is a completely unfeeling twat who doesn’t know how ‘the working man’ lives. ‘They’ - well, I don’t know what ‘they’ would say about that because I am neither ‘they’ nor ‘us’ (or, if you like and you have that kind of dull, logical brain which usually make conversation with you something of a chore, I am neither ‘us’ nor ‘they’).

One of the reasons I am glad that in many ways I am more German than British is that, for all their faults, and I’m sure some are queuing up to slag off ‘the Krauts’, the Germans don’t have these daft, boring, unproductive and essentially utterly meaningless class hang-up.

In Germany some smoke cigars, some don’t. Some like liqueurs, some don’t. Some would prefer their SDP to run the country, some are happier with the CDU or FDP. But an attitude they all share, even though they might disagree fundamentally on ‘how the country is run’, who ‘the bastards’ are and all the rest is that your ‘background’, ‘what school you went to’, ‘what your accent is’ and all the boring bloody rest of it is as important as whether or not flies fart too much and what to do about it.

This whole entry, apart from wanting to write about the - though I say so myself - very tasty meal we all enjoyed this afternoon - was essentially sparked off by Seth Cardew’s claim to be ‘right-wing’ and the subsequent discussion on what exactly being ‘right-wing’ and ‘left-wing’ actually mean. You might have gathered: in my view fuck all. They are meaningless terms.

Yes, we can disagree on various matters: whether or not Britain’s benefits system could be fairer or is being abused; whether there are ‘far too many immigrants’ (and in my view that is again a totally spurious concern, though anyone in the U.S. reading this might have definite views about whether the country’s five million odd ‘illegal immigrants’ should be granted citizenship - I’ll keep quiet on that one because I don’t live there and don’t know that much about it all, though I do know which way my heart beats and you might possibly even guess what I might say).

We might disagree on just how much should be spent on Britain’s ‘nuclear deterrent’, given that, with a bit of luck our nuclear weapons will never be used; we might disagree on whether

or not Britain should remain a member of the EU (and I think it should, though that EU is long overdue for a root and branch reform). But basing our evaluation of the other on whether they are ‘right-wing’, left-wing’, ‘centre’ or simply a ‘don’t know’ is a pointless waste of time. But the meal was good. There, I, the cook, said it. Modesty? I spit on modesty!

PS In my humble opinion, Seth, bless his cotton socks and whatever he might think, is about as ‘right-wing’ as the boot of my car. Furthermore, he’s a bloody good potter.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just a couple more to keep you going. If you like this sort of schlock, you’ll love these. If not . . .

This first is Nobody’a Supposed To Be Here by Deborah Cox from her album One Wish.
Deborah Cox - Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here

Then there’s another from Lina, Smooth, from her album The Inner Beauty Movement.
Lina - Smooth

Both are dedicated to every lass up and down the lands, young and old who has just been ditched by, or has just ditched, a lover. If that’s you, weep, weep, weep. If you’re a guy, just get back to chewing pebbles or whatever it is you do.

And as usual browsers are playing up. Oh, well.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Come on, fair’s fair – if Jerry Seinfeld can own 46 Porsches, why am I a nutter for owning six Mac laptops? Well, I’m not, of course, I’m ‘a collector’. So there!

Let me first of all tell you how many laptops I have, most used by me, two used by my children, and one provided by the paper I work for (and which I have long forgotten about as have they): ten. Sounds mad, doesn’t it? And it is mad. And however much I rationalise the situation, however much a protest that ‘if you understand why each was acquired, it would not seem half as mad’, I must admit that any sane person might think me stark, staring bonkers. Which is not comfortable to know – but a few days ago, when considering how I might write this blog entry but saving at least a modicum of credibility, I hit upon it. And my solution is so breathtakingly neat and simple, there’s real beauty to it. It is this: I am not some idiot who cannot stop buying laptops he doesn’t need, many of which he hardly uses and one of which he hasn’t used at all except to set it up - I am a collector. That’s it. Some people collect Chinese vases, some people collect Elvis memorabilia (and will spend a fortune on the most insignificant piece of Elvis crap), some people collect vintage cars (Jerry Seinfeld apparently owns 46 Porsche cars, which are stored in an rented hangar at Santo Monica airport), I collect Apple Mac laptop, and am thus, m’lud. fully acquitted of any charge of being a total nutter.

. . .

But if only it were, of course, that simple. In fact, I know myself quite well and have always had a tendency for getting at least one more of an item. The theory was that I ‘have a spare’ in case the first one, unaccountably, went up the Swannee.

In practice, of course, I simply have some kind of – admittedly harmless – quirk of character which delights in multiplicity. I have previously written about my collection of mobiles phones, since reduced to just four but which at its height was a collection of, it seemed, almost 20, and I have three personal internet radios (although I can no longer use them to listen to BBC Radio 4 as bloody Aunty, in her wisdom, no longer broadcast in the WMA format used by whatever service the radio is tuned to – too expensive, it seems, although bloody Aunty seems to have more than enough money washing around to pay various execs fabulous sums for both an annual salary and expenses). I deployed the excuse that it was a good idea to ‘have a spare’ several times when buying a new – new to me, that is, all but two of the laptops were bought secondhand on eBay – but now that I have found sanctuary in the role of a being ‘a collector of laptops’, I need no longer resort to that rather threadbare excuse. In fact, at least three of the laptops I now own were bought when another seemed on the brink of dying.

One day my 13in 2008 Macbook, one I keep in the kitchen at home and on which I get all my emails, simply refused to boot up. To this day I don’t know why, but to all intents and purposes it had breathed its last. So it was straight onto eBay where I bought a replacement. And what with the simplicity of swapping hard drives in the particular model – a child can do it in under ten minutes – getting one which was more or less the same seemed the obvious thing to do. So I did, and bugger me the supposedly dead Macbook sprang back to life within hours (and never again gave me a moment’s worry until I sold it recently on eBay.)

That second replacement Macbook then took up residence at my stepmother’s house just down the lane where I could use it whenever daily I dropped in to see her and where it was safely away from my wife, who has a nasty complaining streak I don’t appreciate and get on well with. At my stepmother’s house at the time was another laptop, a 15in Macbook Pro. This, too, had been bought when the more or less identical model I kept at home in our bedroom to use in bed also seemed to have developed a fatal fault. And this to suddenly became ‘the spare’ when the laptop it was to replace inexplicably didn’t go tits up.

Actually, most recently it has: the screen went black and although it booted up no bother, it was pretty useless without a working screen. I had twice had it repaired by a very good Apple service near Guildford – it was a design fault with that model, but the Apple repair guy had invested in a machine which put in place a ‘new chip’. He has explained it to me, but I am none the wiser, and any when the screen went blank again and I took it off to his workshop, this time it wasn’t the same fault and he couldn’t identify the new fault. That was when its ‘replacement’, bought several years earlier, came into its own. The knackered Macbook Pro was packed up and sold as ‘for spares and repairs’ on eBay – bought for £93 by someone in Spain of all places – and its replacement was moved into the house to sit where the old one was. They have ever-so-slight design changes but to the untutored eye – and in matters computer my wife’s eye is as untutored as they come – you really couldn’t tell the difference.

As the late Sir James Goldsmith observed ‘When you marry your mistress, you create a vacancy’, the transfer of the replacement from my stepmum’s to mine created a vacancy, and one, dear reader, which I duly filled: where the replacement once sat, there now sits another, more modern 15in Macbook Pro. Something similar happened with my Lenovo x121e: it is the laptop, a very neat little laptop I should add, which I carry around with me and take to the pub in South Petherton in Somerset, where I can outside with my pint of cider, light a Wilde Cigarros and watch the Wednesday Champions League football on Sky Go.

One day, I switched it on and the screen was somehow obviously knackered. That first time I immediately rebooted and the screen was then fine, but the problem cropped up again every so often. So I decided to get a replacement and found – this was a stroke of luck – a more or less new Lenovo x131e on eBay which I got for a very good price indeed. Ah, but there was the rub: it was brand-new and – well, do you know that feeling where something is so nice and pristine you don’t want to use it and spoil it? That’s what I felt. So once I had set it up, I put it back in its box and instead, after consulting YouTube as to how simple the job would be, ordered a replacement screen for the x121e which I fully intended to install the next time the fault manifested itself and then sell the machine on eBay. And, of course, it didn’t manifest itself ever again. The x121e, which is obviously fully acquainted with Sod’s Law, has worked flawlessly ever since I bought its replacement.

At this point I should like to remind the reader that I am not, as might seem, a total wastrel of a nutter who wastes good cash on laptops he hardly uses if ever, but a ‘collector of laptops’ who has every right to own a collection of laptops he hardly every uses. I am keen to remind the reader because a week or two ago I gave into that itch which befalls me from time to time and bought a rather neat – and in perfect condition – 11.6in Macbook Air. I had first considered buying one to replace the x121e, but eventually opted for the x131e. But – well, I liked them. They really are neat. So I bought one and added it to my collection. And there you have it, an honest account of my rather large collection of laptops – and note the word ‘collection’ is here highly appropriate as it saves me from all and every charge of being off my head.

By the way, my other laptops are an 11in Acer I had bought to replace and 11in Acer I had bought in France because I didn’t realise – as I bloody should have done – that the keyboard was the French layout, but which I passed onto my son to make way for the x121e because I really didn’t like typing on its keyboard; and a 15in Medion I bought in Asda for my daughter after the Samsung she had been using went up the Swannee for use at college. Then there’s the works Lenovo T440 I never use. Oh, and the first white Macbook I had in my collection made £90.50 on eBay. It had to go, because I had set my heart on getting a more recent 13in Macbook Pro, ‘hewn from one block of aluminium’ model (yeah, right) and its replacement was brought into the house to take its place.

If at some point in the future you are feeling really bored, remind me to tell you all about the many other laptop in my collection I have had in addition to those listed abover: off the top of my head two Mac Powerbooks, two Mac 1400s, three 13in Mac G4s and for my daughter’s use two (I think it was just two) Dells.
But, please note, they were all part of my ‘collection’ of laptops: anyone here laughing at Jerry Seinfeld owning 46 Posches he doesn’t use or need. Not, I thought not. Let’s keep this square and even, shall we?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Something to be getting on with while I get my act together and tell you about my THREE new Mac laptops (bought secondhand, but in great condition) and desperately try to convince you that I am not a nutter. No, sirree, me a nutter who can’t stop buy laptops he doesn’t really need? She’s called Lina and writes and sings great songs

If these don’t play, load for you or even appear, try a different browser. They certainly work in Chrome, sometimes in Firefox and Safari, rarely in Opera. I’ve just installed ‘Maxthon’ on a Mac laptop, and it isn’t working. In Windows on Explorer they didn’t work, but did in Firefox. All very confusing. Beginning to wonder why I posted them in the first place. Sorry, but, you know, it’s an unfair world. Chrome does work, though. 

I’ve been coming across some great music recently. I was going to say ‘by chance’, but if you think about it more or less everything is ‘by chance’. You bump into a friend (say called, I don’t know, Peter Bailey or something like that, why not?) and you get to talk about music, and he says: ‘Pat, I heard this great track the other day, immediately went online to Amazon and bought it, and you’ll love it, I’ll email you an MP3.’ Well, it arrives and you do love it, but it was still ‘by chance’.

OK, so it was a ‘recommendation by a friend’ — but actually you just happened to bump into him that day; or you just happened to text him or ring him or email him and say ‘why don’t we meet up again, it’s been a while’. And that bumping into, happening to text, ring or email — when you could well at that moment have decided to do something else, I don’t know, not watch EastEnders ’cos it’s complete shite, or not watched Big Brother or Celebrity or Britain’s Got Talent ’cos they are complete pants, you get the drift — is still really ‘by chance’. So there you go: by chance.

Glad we got that out of the way, could well have made this entry a tad labourious.

So ‘by chance’ — the track below opens a film called High Crimes by Carl Franklin I was about to watch and still haven’t what with all the pfaffing around of recording this song from Spotify (I know, I know, shouldn’t and all that, but then I shouldn’t drink and drive but I do that all the time, I shouldn’t swear like a fucking trooper but I do that all the time, so, you know, get a life), editing it — you get extraneous bits fore and aft when you record songs illicitly from Spotify (and OK, so I have done it before, all right, so shop me) — then concerting it into an MP3, uploading it to a Google site where you can copy the location address, pasting that address (or part of it) into a piece of code I came across which bypasses the total hassle of creating a video for YouTube (cont p94).

So here it is, give it a listen and love it. I like it a lot, in fact so much that I have already ordered the singer’s first and third albums (after checking out the tracks on Spotify and each one I listened to is great). Listen to the track, then I’ll tell you a bit more about the little I know.

I’m Not The Enemy

BTW It seems this code doesn’t work on the Opera browser.

She’s called Lina and it seems she’s from Denver, Colorado. But rather than me simply repeat what I’ve read on Wikipedia, take a look yourself. And here’s her MySpace page. She doesn’t seem to have her own website. In fact, it’s all a bit of a mystery: she has recorded and released six albums but her ‘career’ seems to be going nowhere. Which is odd, because as a singer/songwriter she seems to have more talent in her little finger than any number of plastic Taylor Swifts. By the way, it seems her music is ‘neo-soul’. Oh well, it has to be called something.

Oh, well. If you like the track I’ve posted her, check out the rest of her stuff, some of which you can hear on MySpace, and if you like that, too, do that gal a favour and part with a few of your shekels and buy several of her albums. Of course, you might me more into that goddam awful country crap sung by very gay looking chaps in cowboy hats. Well, if that’s your bag, Lina most certainly isn’t. Which is your loss not her’s.
The kind of country singer dickhead who gives gays a bad name. His name is Dustin Lynch (should be Lunch), but he can’t be blamed for that.

Here’s one of Lina. Much more like it, isn’t it?

If you liked Lina, you might also like this track, Party Wit Me by Brownstone. OK, a bit old hat now and they aren’t half as sodding plastic as Taylor Swift, which will distress some of you, but it’s good
stuff. With love and kisses from your favourite blogger xxx

Party Wit Me

And as I’m on a roll, here are two from Johnny Guitar Watson. If you like guitar playing, you’ll like it on this one, I Wanna Ta Ta You:

I Wanna Ta Ta You

Then there’s this great little track, the man rapping around 15 years before everyone else invented rapping, it’s called Telephone Bill:

Telephone Bill

A picture of the lad:

And just for good measure, here’s a little Prince (literally in his case, of course), Do Me Baby:

Do Me Baby

Monday, March 16, 2015

The art of marketing: forget Leonardo and Joe Bach - our Jasmine and Piet have just had a wizard wheeze! And a few comments. Also latest on Putin: he’s back (but won't say where he was)

In the course of pursuing an honest living engaged in my day job and ensuring there will be bread on the table of my nearest and dearest (checking that the answers to the Masterquiz questions which will appear in the paper a page along from the questions are the correct ones – can life get any more exciting?) I came across the fact that Wu-Tang Clan has released a new album of which only one copy has been pressed and whose sale will come on condition it will not be played in public for 88 years. Well!

‘Wu-Tang Clan, m’lud? Well, they’re a sort of kind of “hip-hop” combo. They produce music which, I’m informed, is popular with many of the younger generation, m’lud, especially those youngsters who like to think they are “street”, a bit like, if I might venture to attempt to guess what might have been m’lud’s taste in popular music when m’lud was rather younger than he is now, a kind of Beach Boys or Supertramp or Brotherhood Of Man or Stevie Wonder, but a more insistent beat and ghetto lyrics.

“Ghetto” m’lud? Well, it’s where many of the young men who appear in m’lud’s court come from. “Street”, m’lud? Well, from what I can gather from my son, it has to do with using a certain kind of modern slang and pretending you are black, although I understand Wu-Tang Clan are black, so they don’t have to pretend. Yes, of course, m’lud, there is perhaps more to it than that, but perhaps m’lud will forgive me that I am not as au fait with the notion as, say, my son is.’)

That question and answer intrigued me, but I must admit that although the name Wu-Tang Clan did ring a bell, I really wasn’t too sure who they were and initially confused them with Bombay Bicycle Club (of whom I know equally as little and, after googling them now know they have even less in common than with me.

My first reaction was some rich oil sheikh with more money than sense had made an offer that Wu-Tang Clan couldn’t refuse and had bought the album for a sum similar to what it might be expected eventually to make on condition that they didn’t release it to the public. Why? Well, I assumed, it was some kind of novel one-upmanship: when the sheikh and his fellow too-rich-to-be-sane pals got together in his penthouse apartment in London or Paris or New York and were vying with each other as to who was the richest fuckwit of them all, he could whip out Wu-Tang Clan’s latest – it’s called The Wu - Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, for what it’s worth, which isn’t a lot because you’re never going to hear it – as his trump card. Makes a certain kind of sense, doesn’t it?

Then I googled Wu-Tang Clan and found there website (here) and got the full story. Here’s an excerpt: ‘Wu-Tang’s aim is to use the album as a springboard for the reconsideration of music as art, hoping the approach will help restore it to a place alongside the great visual works – and create a shift in the music business, not to mention earn some cash in the process.’ The album will go on

tour in galleries, but those attending will be searched for illicit recording equipment and to further ensure that no recordings will be made, they will only be able to hear it on headphones. Apparently, only one copy of the album has been pressed and this now sits in a custom-made ‘silver and nickel engraved box’ in a vault in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains.

The album’s main producer is someone called Tairk ‘Clivaringz’ Azzougarh (his quote marks, not mine), a chap – a rather pushy chap I would have thought according to the account on the website – who more or less wangled his way into producing the album, then wanted to come up with some novel way of ensuring it had as long a lifespan as possible. And that, m’lud, is, I suggest, the nub of it all. Read the Wu-Tang Clan website blurb and it all makes a certain sense: any number of singers and dancers seem desperate to attain the – to my mind rather spurious – status of ‘artist’ and so, it would seem, do Wu-Tang Clan (. . . use the album as a springboard for the reconsideration of music as art, hoping the approach will help restore it to a place alongside the great visual works . . .). And good luck to them.

But then putting on my cynical hat – which, admittedly, I choose rarely to remove – it struck me: essentially this is just a novel piece of marketing schtick. I mean record label marketing departments the world over must be more than desperate for their label’s clients to stand out from 1,001 other wannabes hoping to launch a career, but there really are only so many tricks. I should imagine that bog roll and washing powder manufacturers are perpetually faced with the same dilemma. And what better way to announce: this is our new album but none of you’se is gonna hear it, bro.

Well, actually, they will, though having it ‘appear’ in art galleries and the like the world over would pretty much ensure that at least half of their fans won’t come along, and that they will, presumably, instead simply attract any number of arty-farty groupies just dying, darling, to brag that they got a ticket to the Tate’s presentation of Wu-Tang Clan’s latest.

There is just one flaw in the whole manoeuvre: so they tour the album in art galleries, then sell off the only copy to the highest bidder who is, apparently, contracted not to allow it to be played in public for 88 years. But isn’t the whole point of buying or downloading the music you like that you can play it again and again and again and again and again (rather like my daughter has played again and again and again and again and again Let It Go, the theme song from Frozen)? I know it’s what I did when I had bought a single or album I liked. You might argue that they’ve got their money so what the hell, but I wouldn’t: I think it is just one more marketing ploy with a rather fatal flaw. . . .

After writing the above piece, I thought I might as well check out Wu-Tang Clan to see what all the fuss is about, and I have to report that I still don’t know what all the fuss is about. I should say that I am one of those poor saps for whom one hip-hop R&B track goes a very long way (rather like the blues, it has to be said), so perhaps I’m not one to judge. But the tracks I heard sounded rather cheesy and predictable. Sorry, lads.

As for this desire – call it an obsession if you like – to be regarded as ‘artists’ and what you produce as ‘art’, well, I don’t really get that, either. For one thing I am of the distinctly minority view that in the sense that most people talk of ‘art’ there is no such thing as ‘art’ – that ‘art has a moral purpose’, that ‘art has a social purpose’ etc ad nauseam (you probably watched the same TV programmes), well count me out. In this case it is probably quite apt to use the cliché ‘follow the money’ and take a close look at who exactly benefits from bigging up ‘art’: why gallery owners, curators, arts journalists and ‘experts’ of every stripe. And if some chappie appers on the gogglebox declaring that, say, what Gilbert & George produce is ‘art’ but that what Alma Tadema produce wasn’t (or at least is ‘bad art’), who are we to contradict. After all, he is ‘the expert’ and we are not.

Bring art back down to earth, I say, stop using is as some failsafe to gain spurious respect and/or pull the birds.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

‘Putin ill’ shock. What can that mean for house prices?

There seems to be quite a crowded agenda of things which are about go belly up and disrupt our lives accordingly. Many, if not most, need not concern us here in Tellytubby land (aka Great Britain, the UK and Old Blighty), but the aftershock of some might well upset our teatime regimes and ensure that the good folk at the Foreign Office don’t knock off at lunchtime on a Friday, but hang around to sort matters out. Where can one begin?

The whole business with Greece - will they, won’t they fuck up the European part of the Western World by telling their creditors to piss off and re-introduce a glass of ouzo as their preferred unit of currency - might for some take centre stage. But let’s be honest, there’s enough shit going on in the world (at least in the Northern Hemisphere - South America, African nations, Asia have enough troubles of their own and aren’t necessarily inclined to spend their time worrying about us however much we might feel put out by their disinterest).

Elsewhere there’s the battle to kick ISIS (IS or ISIL, never trust anyone with more than two names) out of Mosul, then Tikrit (or Tikrit, then Mosul - subs please check), which might superficially sound encouraging until you hear of the concerns of those familiar with that neck of the woods that the Shia militias - which make up a substantial part of the forces fighting IS (ISIS or ISIL, never trust anyone with more than two names - same joke, but I go along with Sam Goldwyn who believed that ‘if they liked it once, they’ll love it twice’) - might well not stick to the more or less admirable plan to neutralise IS, but carry on and kill each and every Sunni they come across.

This, the worriers concede, might well irritate the Saudis - Sunnis to a man (forget about the woman there I’m told). Given that conventional wisdom insists that almost all the trouble in the Middle East is at heart a proxy war between the Sunni Saudis and the Shi’ite Iranians, any ‘peace envoys’ from anywhere are quite simply wasting their time. But that’s not quite it: there’s also the ongoing bollocks in Eastern Ukraine. And that is where the latest piece of news I have come across fits in.

. . .

I have almost finished reading Petet Pomerantsev’s very interesting and very readable book Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible, and it gave me a fascinating insight into - well, it has to be said - metropolitan Russia, i.e. Moscow. Then, last night, I watched a BBC 2 Newsnight report about the gunning down of Boris Nemtsov which suggested that Vladimir Putin is perhaps not quite as in control of Russia as many, probably Putin himself, like to think. And then I came across these two accounts in the Guardian and the Telegraph, both suggesting that Putin might be ill.

The first thing I noticed was that his age was given as 62. Well, I thought, he’s as healthy as a rat in shit - I’m 65, three years older and have never felt fitter, so why the bloody hell should he be ill? Nonsense, of course - my mother died of a massive heart attack at 60.

No one actually knows whether Putin is ill. They only know that ‘he hasn’t be seen in public’ since March 5. First question: so what? I have just spent three days in bed with a bad cold (for my feminist readers who like to have a good laugh: man flu) and I wasn’t ‘seen in public’ for three days. But there’s the rub: first of all it is now March 12, so Putin ‘hasn’t been seen in public’ for seven days.

Then there’s the obvious point - good of you to point it out - that in the context of world peace I am not half as important or even as influential as Putin. So what can it mean? Well, I don’t know, to be honest. And I must admit that feeling, as one does, quite low when one is afflicted by a bout of man flu, it is a relief not to be obliged to release hourly bulletins as to how you are getting one, with additional piccies to substantiate the veracity of the bulletins.

Folk like Putin, apparently, are obliged to. Or else we must Fear The Worst! Putin is, after all, the man of iron who is apt to wrestle two tigers solo before breakfast. I have noted before in my many ramblings about the former Soviet Union - for I think it is healthier to see it in those terms rather than Russia - that what is most worrying about what is happening there and what might affect us here in the West is the question of succession. It isn’t as though there is some respected and trusted mechanism for the passing on of power.

It seems that there are two distinct factions in the Kremlin as regards the Ukraine: the Peace faction and the War faction. And the names speak for themselves. So - if they exist and it is not all some figment of some journalist’s imagination - to which faction does Putin belong?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Just for the craic, to keep you occupied while I think up my next inconsequential, derivative, faux relevant entry.

I was looking for some piccies I once used in this blog - the entry was about personal internet radios - and searching Google images I came across a lot of others I have used over the years. So here are several, with value added.

OK, so I lied, but look at the bigger picture: I'm now fucking rich, really, really rich. And a lot bloody richer than you.

Well, it was odd, you know: at first I thought 'Me, a gorilla, get a mortgage? It doesn't make sense!' And then, of course, it made complete bloody sense. 

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! Did I switch the fucking gas off? Did I? Did I? Oh no! Fuck, fuck!

I don't care if you're gay, just tell my friends that you fuck me stupid every night. Please! Please!

Philosophy? Philosophy? Who gives a flying fuck about philosophy? I've got wine! Get a life!

Jesus, if only I'd started a pension plan when my dad advised me to!

‘. . . and she really, honestly thought we would be impressed! I ask you!’

. . .

Incidentally, while I am compiling this entry (sitting at the kitchen table), my wife, in the living room, is watching something on TV going through ‘hits of the past’, you know that kind of crap, the kind of thing TV puts on to keep its older viewers sweet by letting them pretend they are not yet dying of old age. There were quite a few songs wafting through to where I am sitting which I like. And one or two I don’t like at all, and never have. And what kicked of this addendum to the above post was Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. Well, make that ‘sodding Kate Bush’, because I don’t mind going public on the fact that I loathe her and her music (except for one song, Babooshka). Who in their right minds likes to listen to a banshee shrieking with lots of faux profound lyrics?

As I am on a roll, I also loathe sodding Nick Drake and don’t particularly care for Tim Buckley or his son Jeff. There, I’ve said it!

PS As I write, there’s another song that has just startd playing that I also I loathe: Bridge Over sodding Troubled bloody Water. I otherwise quite like many things by Simon and Garfunkel and later on just Paul Simn (50 Ways To Leave Your Lover is a great song). But not that one, not Bridge Over sodding Troubled bloody Water. Then there’s sodding John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance (yeah, right - the irony, the real irony, is that you have to fight for peace. If you want to ponder on the nature and essence of irony, ponder on that one, rather pertinent given all the recent furore about Britain’s Bomber Command bombing Dresden. Wake up, John. Oh, I forgot, he’s dead).