It’s been a very long time since I actually wrote anything on here, I think I got somewhat caught up in the ease with which photography blogs can look more polished than writing ones without quite so much effort.
Don’t get me wrong, photography is a perfectly arduous art, I’m just not that good, so for me it’s more of a click-the-button-see-what-happens kind of process – hardly masterpieces in the making I fear. Basically, if I’m honest, there’s not much blood sweat and tears going into this thing, and it’s about time there was.
And what better way to start than with one of my favourite topics:
Idiots. Affected, sanctimonious idiots with their great, clunking, ignorant belief that the louder you shout the more you’re saying, when in actual fact what happens is you’re drowning out those voices which so need to be heard.
As everybody is well aware, there have been yet more protests and strikes today as a result of the cuts proposed by our government. And boy were the idiots out in full force!
Let me just make one thing categorically clear: I’m in absolute and full support of the striking, I cannot abide Cameron and his snotty seagull face any more than the next Sussex University indoctrinated Brightonian.
But you can shove your calls of “fascism” up your arses.
Ignorantly bandying about extremist buzzwords not only devalues everything today was meant to demonstrate, but also the very real fights against fascism going on around the world.
Watching the march go past should have been a rousing and unifying affair, yet everywhere I looked there were huge billboards emblazoned with, “Down with Facsism!” and the like. I know the nation has problems, right; really quite substantial ones: the government is a bunch of power-hungry liars (yes, Nick Clegg, I’m still looking at you); and – terrifyingly – for the more pop-political among us – we only know as much as our incestuous media presents us with…BUT FASCISTS THEY ARE NOT.
Definition of FASCISM
noun \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\
Do we have one of the most multicultural societies in the Western World?Yes
Do we get to vote our own government into power? Yes (I do believe that the voting system needs a huge overhaul but it’s hardly dictatorial now, is it?)
Do we suffer from the forcible suppression of opposition to our government and its plans? The simple facts that the population of Britain is allowed to take to the streets in protest today, and I am allowed to write a public post calling Cameron a snotty seagull face, suggests that we do not.
It’s a sad day indeed when the romance and freedom of protestation utterly destroys the issues at its very heart.
I actually implore you not to forget that thousands of people have been dying around the world this year, fighting for the simple right just to have a right in their own country. How dare anyone suggest that our fight is the same?
Once again, I am not – in any way – devaluing the root of today’s striking; I just truly believe that if the issue was expressed and dealt with in solidarity with the people it affects, rather than being used as a platform for abstracted, exaggerated struggles, it might help – just a little bit.
And even if it didn’t, I still wouldn’t have to listen to idiots being idiots, and I can’t argue with that.
…On New Year’s Resolutions.
Why do we bother? They just make us feel even worse when we carry on living like pigs well into the New Year and beyond. I want to be able to sit revelling in my own gluttonous delight as I gorge on all the Christmas deliciousness still calling out to me from the fridge, not to be obliged to mentally flagellate myself when the inevitable happens and the temptation proves too much for me to handle. And, frankly, I’m doing my bit for penny-pinching, aren’t I? What a waste it would be if I let it all go off un-eaten and un-appreciated.
So this year I’m not bothering, and while you all sit trembling, beads of clammy desperation running off your tortured, deprived brows, I’ll be happily stuffing my face and fatly loving every single second of it. That is all.
A few observations on the increasingly inexplicable and comedic jargon smattering the government’s proposals, including their newest term: “Welfare Dependency”
After an extended hiatus in which I have been, quite frankly, neglecting all responsible aspects of my life pretty fantastically, I have decided to return and attempt to pick up the pieces of my decimated writerly ambitions and get the hell on with it.
Currently residing in Prague (where normality, dignity and sanity go to die, apparently), I have been living a wonderful existence that leaves me fairly well absconded from reality, especially the reality of world-impacting news. The most influential thing that happens to me from day to day is whether I have a hangover or not. I wish this was a joke.
My time in Prague may or may not, for various reasons, be coming to an end. And so I thought a timely place to re-start these observations of mine would be in the job crisis that seems to have continued as insistently as ever during my absence, and the emerging ramifications of its ongoing existence.
Woefully, it seems that the gov’t. are finally preparing to crack down on benefit claims. If I’m honest I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this: I have to admit, head hung suitably shamed, that I was rather hoping to get back and make the most of the entitlement while I could.
It appears there are two sides to the media’s argument, and both are determined by their take on some comments made by the Archbishop of Canturbury, apparently.
The BBC’s hesitant take on the subject posits the Archbishop’s comments as somewhat harsh and extreme; while The Guardian takes a more substantiated and opinionated view, with their headline suggesting that the decision has already been made, reporting that “the unemployed will be ordered to do periods of compulsory full-time work in the community or be stripped of their benefits under controversial American-style plans to slash the number of people without jobs.”
However, rather than join everyone else in obsessing and analysing all the figures being pumped into the articles, I want to focus on what actually drew my attention. And that is how frustratingly these measures are being both talked about and reported:
A picture speaks a thousand words:
The BBC report shows a picture of Ian Duncan Smith waggling his finger at the camera like telling off a naughty child. And isn’t this how the view of benefits and those who claim them has come to be seen in the media? The new label for the situation emulates this idea: “Welfare Dependency” makes it sound like we are dealing with junkies. All-in-all, it’s certainly not the most flattering of portraits.
I understand the economical ramifications of the situation, but the social ones must surely be taken into account too; I’m so tired of hearing how “our taxes pay their wages”. The whole situation smacks of blustering theatrics on the part of New Labour journalists who have nothing to do but talk about it. Is it any wonder that the working-class of Britain is rapidly losing its identity? What future identity is there for a Britain that is not made up of middle-class media-mogules?
Of course I am aware that I have only spoken about two – fairly similar – reporting platforms, so there is bound to be a trend in the way the issues are dealt with, but my point extends beyond the media, which has become – to my mind – a microcosm of a much larger issue: what the hell is anyone really talking about, anyway?!
As the Daily Mail publishes reports that no one understands all the new terms floating about, I got to thinking: what bullshit it all is. It’s like The National Curriculum for a Nation and we all know it, yet we all follow it. Phrases such as “Welfare Dependency” are just jargon fluff that leave us all confused enough to simply nod and agree dumbly, conjuring up bewildering images not unlike Armando Ianucci’s creations in The Thick of It:
“Haha! What can we call THIS one Cleggsy?”
“Hmmm it’s a dificult one Cammy old boy: we need to make it catchy but not too frothy or they’ll cotton on to us. Let’s keep it a private joke. Ohmygod! Do you remember that time I said…”
I can’t say I’m much looking forward to coming home.
Selective comments on the very recent, and very chaotic, general election.
The British Public has voted. And what has happened is a vote of no confidence, clearly. I know we are all desperate for something concrete to happen, (Who didn’t cower on election night when a sleep deprived David Dimbleby barked that he wanted to know what the next step was, aside from ‘everybody getting a good rest’?) we all want answers, right now; turnout was so much more than expected people had to be turned away. (In a stressful rather than empowering way, mind.) Not for years has the election been filled with such anticipation, yet I can’t seem to shake off a vague unease: is the call for a solution right now pushing a decision too hastily? ‘I didn’t agree with Nick just so he could change his mind and agree with David’, complains one ‘tweeter’; it’s absurd, especially considering how few seats the Lib Dems actually won, how much power Clegg actually has right now.
From this increasingly overwhelming mire, I have collected a few thoughts:
1. No one likes a cling-on. Would people stop using that phrase, please? Gordon Brown is one, Nick Clegg is one, Cameron is so scared of being one he is apparently pretending to have forgotten how the election process actually works. Be a sport Dave. For the first time in decades Britain is suffering from a hung parliament; the prodigious PM title eludes everybody, and I think the situation has gone a long way towards exposing the facade present in this Americanised campaign in particular, as it begins to resemble something like a children’s playground game gone awry, with ungracious shouts of, ‘It’s mine!’ echoing from all directions.
2. Desperation is key. The fleetingly heroic Nick Clegg has become ever so slightly embarrassing, titillating the other parties with his obvious desperation; the whore of parliament: renting himself out to the highest bidder/ whoever will have him. Like the smalls’ bargain-bin in Primark: scrappy ends hashed together that nobody particularly wants, but gets anyway because they’re cheap and serve a menial purpose.
3. I<3 Gordon Brown. I do think that he should have called an election when the public still felt like they were choosing him, but his steadfast solemnity is charming in my eyes. Or maybe I should give up and finally go to sleep. Either way, on hearing the news that he is to step down I feel genuinely saddened at the extent one man can go to shoulder the blame for a globe’s worth of crises. I realise it comes with the territory, but it is such a marked contrast to the PR smokescreens that litter Britain’s politics. I love his utter hopelessness at pretension, and think we would be wise to remember it when David-'The Slick'-Cameron comes to town.
4. I think Britain can find some consolation in this limbo: turnout may have been dogged with frustration but that was because we collectively surpassed our own expectations, and when do we ever do that? It is a Britain alive with debate and opinion, vibrant with choice. Let’s just hope we don’t get bored before we have to do all this again in 6 months time.
5. And one more thing, which to my mind has so far been mistakenly overlooked: David Dimbleby and friends, I salute you, still going strong at 2pm the afternoon after the night before as i hauled my leaden body off the sofa to go to work.
Frankie Boyle has outraged the more sensationalist among us this week, with what the Daily Mail has dubbed his “foul tirade” against Down Syndrome sufferers and their parents “by criticising their hair, clothes and voices”. There is no doubt that it must be excruciating to listen to an audience laughing uproariously about a subject which is so close to your own heart, and one which is undoubtedly a difficult and uphill struggle for most of the time, but am I the only one who thinks Mr. and Mrs. Smith may have slightly missed something?
Boyle is a comedian who has made his name with his close to the bone, often taboo shattering, humour and while his type of humour may divide many of us, with some branding it tasteless while others exalt it as ground-breaking, (and there are certainly valid questions over whether shocking equals funny), it seems Mrs. Smith had already made her decision prior to the show: they did pay for front row seats, after all, and she said herself that she likes “his dry humour”; they wanted to go and “see him say things he could not get away with on mainstream T.V.”. In the blog posting which has caused such controversy, Mrs. Smith actually says she wanted to go to the show because she likes “how nasty he is”.
It appears to me that Mrs. Smith may have unwittingly made herself a rather scratchy martyr’s bed to lie in. After reading her blog, one man, named only “Ben” commented: I hate to be ‘that guy’, but you knew before hand the type of humour Mr Boyle performs…I don’t see you complaining about his jokes about cancer, or pakis, I assume you found those in good taste?
Unfortunately for Mrs. Smith, he has something of a point. The tour Boyle is currently on contains material about AIDS, paedophilia, cancer and incest all in the name of his particular brand of humour. Are we to assume, from her obvious enthusiasm for his comedy before the show, her willingness to be shocked by the humour she openly enjoyed prior to her embarrassment, and the fact that she is upset about this one particular joke, that she was unaffected and even amused by the rest of it?
And this isn’t the first time Boyle has hit the headlines, in 2008 he was vilified for making lewd comments about the Queen on Mock the Week. Rather than using this against him, I would say this was a point very much in Boyle’s favour: he has never been anything other than shocking, and on professing herself such an avid fan, Mrs. Smith should surely have been aware of this. Even more unfortunately for her is where this begins to lead: suggesting that, in fact, she didn’t know that much about his humour and perhaps wasn’t aware of quite how dark he could be and is actually a little ignorant of his comedy. And when Mr. Smith joined the fray it was the beginning of the end. He said: ‘We’re fans of comedy. We’ve been to lots of live stand-up shows. We knew what to expect, or we thought we did.’ Was that a (*gasp*) generalisation? About Frankie Boyle?? Master of the anarchic yet well-known-enough to be a suitable name drop in a conversation where I need to prove my intelligence and individuality in one go??? Generalisations hint at ignorance, and this is where the compassion of the Great British Public runs out of steam. Because to be anyone in this world you have to know what you’re talking about.
Be a martyr if you must Mrs. Smith, but please don’t be stupid. Nobody sympathises with Stupid.
(With the election looming and the debates in full swing, the popularity contest is on; and it appears that, once again, Britain is displaying symptoms of underdog-fever as Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats ride a surge in popularity. But are we falling into a trap?)
So the country has gone a bit Clegg-crazy since the debate on April 15, with reports indicating that his popularity is continuing to rise. I was invited to a Facebrook group today entitled: ‘We got Rage Against The Machine to #1, we can get the Lib Dems into office!’. As a first time voter I must admit I wasn’t much looking forward to choosing between the wares on offer come election day. Poor old down-and-out Gordon, who has shouldered Britain’s rage over some fairly gnarly situations, and who, if the media is to be believed (which, I am well aware it often isn’t), is single-handedly responsible for an age of economic crisis and disaster. All this has made for a very depressing political landscape over the last few years, and the Britons have become vehicles of bitter, bitter cynicism. And then Cameron comes along, taking us all for fools, thinking that we won’t see through his equally-cynical-just-in-a-different-way campaign of airbrushed pictures and bullying of Brown.
It is no secret that the election campaigns this year have taken on a far more Americanised stance, not just with the debates, but with the ‘celebritisation’ of potential PMs, and the Tories’ ‘Vote For Change’ unashamedly echoing the ‘Yes We Can’ which brought America to its knees of reverence not so long ago. However, Cameron appears to have (thankfully) misjudged the British public just slightly. His slogan photos were met with roars of mocking throughout the country, with spoofs popping up everywhere. His ‘Vote For Change’ now echoes rather hollowly, as we all begin to realise that the Conservatives may be a change from a regime we have become tired of, but they are most certainly not new, or radical, or inspiring.
And finally, as if out of the shadows like an angel of salvation, steps Nick Clegg, who as the leader of the Liberal Democrats has been rather overlooked by, well, everyone. In fact, it rather seemed that he was only being involved in the debate as a matter of slightly patronising democratic duty.
Cameron has actually sort of done a Cowell: become completely over-exposed and just pissed us all off with his cynicism and the idea that we are too stupid to notice what he’s doing. And suddenly Britain has begun to say, ‘Fuck you we won’t do what you tell us’1. Clegg is certainly positioning himself in the wise post as a bringer of Real Change, saying: ‘I can guarantee you that the Liberal Democrats will always, always campaign for, fight for and seek to deliver a genuine transformation in the politics of this country. It’s in our very blood as a party.’ He consistently emphasises his party’s forthright and dedicated ethos: ‘A vote for the Liberal Democrats is exactly what is says on the tin – it is a vote for the Liberal Democrats…It is a vote for our policy on fairer taxes, on schools, on a new approach to the economy on cleaning up politics, nothing more, nothing less.’
However, beware the dangers of idealisation: how much do we really know about the Lib Dems? Is everyone a bit too enchanted by the idea of a saviour?
Is it actually X-factor all over again? Where Britain resolutely votes for the underdog in a misplaced and slightly hysterical need to prove that we have both voice and heart, only to be disappointed (hence the reason why everybody voted for R-age and their all-clear message) when it turns out that the underdog was the underdog for a reason: they just weren’t as good, and were actually a little bit annoying.
X-factor analogies aside, we must not forget that these politicians-come-celebrities do represent parties and policies and a potential for 5 or more years of government. (Or a fixed 4 if we carry on heading American.) The Lib Dems have been thrown into the spotlight with quite collective surprise – are their policies up to that of the more established parties? In response to Clegg’s increasing popularity, Cameron and others have argued that the Liberal Democrats are an underdeveloped party, and trust in them would be like building a house on sand. (In fact, it may be worth mentioning that American polls continuously show that the American public have a great distrust of their government, with recent figures reaching as high as nearly 80%.)The BBC have reported that Cameron said plans for a selective amnesty for illegal immigrants were a ‘huge mistake’; and Brown said voters would ‘think twice’ about Lib Dem plans for child tax credits and Trident. Clegg, when confronted about this, did seem at times quite petulantly defensive, and even perhaps a little bewildered by it all. When asked if he was going to win, he shrugged modestly and said very little. Does modesty have a place in British politics? It is easy to see why we would want to choose a modest, honest man over a calculated political machine, and maybe it is exactly what Britain needs, a new found idealism in the face of such cynicism. It is certain that the country is in desperate need of a change, but does the quest for such idealism render us romantic fools?
One place where Clegg may well have found his niche, however, is with young voters: last election 75% of people under 21 voted Lib Dem. Five years on, and that’s five years more of 18 year olds who can now vote. Perhaps this is not quite the shocking turn of events it first seemed. He has absolutely grabbed this opportunity with both hands, telling the Observer: ‘I will be saying to young people that this is their chance to make a difference. It will be a message of hope, but also one of urgency. They can really affect this election campaign.’ Interestingly, this is very similar to Obama’s call-to-arms of young Americans, urging them not to waste their vote and to join his campaign. Figures issued last month by the Electoral Commission suggested that 56% of those under 25 and eligible to vote were not on the electoral roll. But since Clegg’s performance in the debate, there has been a huge surge in numbers, with 250,000 people registering online, of whom 40% were under 25.
And so now I wait, with a certain trepidation that this election may be more about Obama-emulating than change, but also certain that it is gripping all the same, and that this is exactly what Britain needs.