Eclectic Blue

An innocent man

0 Comments 15 August 2018

At long last, a cricketer has managed to reach the consciousness of the general public. This is quite something given that most cricketers, even the so called stars of the national team, are virtual unknowns now that cricket is confined to cable and satellite TV. Unfortunately, Ben Stokes reached out for fame by getting into a brawl outside a nightclub in the early hours, after a shedload of beer, spirits and Jagerbombs, rendering unconscious two other people who were not guilty of affray, like Stokes.

Stokes leaves Bristol Crown Court an innocent man. The cloud that was over his name has now dispersed. He is free to resume his lucrative career and, in the eyes of some, carry on being a role model to young people all over the land.

He could well be a role model for people pissing it up, showing how a world class sportsman can consume loads of booze and showing how you, too, can engage in a drunken punch up and still have no criminal convictions.

For all I know, Stokes may well be a lovely young man. He is probably the ideal husband, a neighbour who would let you have his last cup of sugar and be the first to line up some shots in your local.

All of this is the bizarre aftermath of Stokes’s trial for affray. All the things he did were put to a court of law and they decided, having seen all the evidence, that this man was not guilty.

If Stokes really did protect a gay couple who were being abused, I suppose I should praise him, but I am not going to praise him for literally knocking out two people. Justice was seen to be done, but not seen to be believed.

Luckily for parents calling out for more role models, the good news is that now this trial has ended cricket will return to obscurity on satellite TV. The talents of Ben Stokes will be displayed largely behind closed doors and to most people he will always be that cricketer who got in a fight and got found not guilty of affray. I’m not sure that’s how, as an innocent man, Stokes will want to be known and remembered but in a world where Rupert Murdoch is the king of television that is exactly how he will be known and remembered.

Eclectic Blue

All or nothing

0 Comments 14 August 2018

The future for me, I have concluded after therapy today, is to keep on writing. The hits to this site have steadily declined in the last year or so, for what I must assume are a variety of reasons. They could be, not in any order (!), a decline in the quality of my writing, the fact that a change to this site means that currently you cannot subscribe to it (I am working on this, or rather someone who actually knows about computers is hopefully working on it), I have become a broken record, I have fallen out with so many people (over Brexit, Trump, Tommy Robinson – so the same thing, then), there is better stuff to read out there in cyberspace (this is certainly true) or, as I say when I can’t think of another excuse, whatever. Seven weeks in therapy so far and I am becoming convinced that writing is part of the answer. It could be all of it.

For someone who wants to get his work out there, standing down from B24/7’s website and then the Bristol Rovers matchday programme The Pirate may not seem like smart business, but my declining passion for the club (but not B24/7) meant that I could no longer justify my positions. I had to go and, in any event, would surely have been removed by the new regime at the club who, for what little it is worth, do not enjoy even my qualified support. And that’s not for another day. The party’s over for me. They can do what they like now. It’s your party now, Wael.

No, I need to write. For the first time, I have wondered whether creative writing is my bag and everything else simply isn’t. I have spent a lifetime underachieving at absolutely everything academically and professionally and it is more than likely that my brain, or what passes for a brain, simply isn’t cut out to do the things that really matter in life. Like basic mathematics, science and everything else I was rubbish at when in school and just about everything I have been useless at in work.

Not that I am some kind of literary genius. My creative brain, if there is one, is hampered by my piss poor grammar, so if you want perfection, you’d best read elsewhere. I’ll always get my verbs and adjectives wrong, I’ll break so many rules of writing. There is nothing I can do about it. You’ll get what you’re given or simply not accept it at all.

I am reasonably sure therapy is exhausting because it might just be working, or at the very least helping. I’m shattered again tonight and don’t expect to sleep that well. However, there is an improvement on the last few days where I was, metaphorically anyway, looking at life through a thick fog with the words not always coming out in the right order. After the inevitable post therapy afternoon sleep, my brain had cleared a bit. I went out and bought a magazine called ‘Writing Magazine’, which is – amazingly enough – a magazine for writers. Well, I write, therefore I am a writer.

I need to think this through because if I concentrate more fully on what I am good at – and I am by no means convinced I am good at writing – then I’ll have to write off large chunks of my life which I see as a massive failure. That sounds like a good idea, actually.

I so want to get better, though. It’s this or nothing. It had better be this, then.

Eclectic Blue

When the past comes back to haunt you

0 Comments 13 August 2018

Read this from the Sky News website:

Jeremy Corbyn admits he was present at a wreath-laying memorial (in Tunis) for Palestinian activists thought to have been behind the murder of Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972.

He said: “I was present when it was laid, I don’t think I actually was involved in it.”

That’s clear enough then. For days, his fellow comrades in the Labour Party have once again become little more than apologists for the Absolute Boy. Jeremy, they say, is a decent and principled man and wasn’t involved in the wreath-laying. Now Corbyn makes it crystal clear. He was present when the wreath was laid but doesn’t think he was involved in it. He doesn’t think? What kind of explanation is that?

At least Corbyn is not employing the “it was all a long time ago” excuse and how could he since the wreath-laying ceremony happened less than four years ago. It is surely impossible to not remember if you joined in with the activity?

I have been to more funerals than I care to think about and remember each one with great clarity. The ones I spoke out, the ones I sat quietly near the back. Some of the funerals I went to were of people I didn’t know too well, but I haven’t forgotten anything about them. It’s the same with all major events in my life.

Corbyn compounds matters by digging still deeper, defending his actions by saying that the only way to end conflicts is through dialogue. But he is not, and never has been, a peacemaker. In Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’, Corbyn spoke only with one side: the IRA, who he wanted to win. Not only did he speak with the IRA, he did it on behalf of nobody and no government. As we have already noted, Thatcher, Major and Blair spoke to the IRA leadership, or rather their officials did, on behalf of governments which were searching for peace. There are no records of Corbyn speaking with Ian Paisley.

Similarly, there is no evidence of Corbyn speaking to Israel about the Middle East conflict because he never did. Instead, he was a leader of Stop the West – sorry, Stop the War: easy mistake to make – the hard left group that was not, how shall we put this, exactly sympathetic to Israel.

This isn’t going to go away. From the comrades saying that Corbyn wasn’t there for the wreath-laying in Tunis, Corbyn now says he was there. If he doesn’t think he was involved, you can bet your bottom dollar that Fleet Street will be working flat out to see if he is telling the truth. And so they should. This is a man who is – and I can hardly believe I am writing this – aspiring to be our prime minister.

It was always inevitable that Corbyn’s unsavoury past would catch up with him and so it should. The public needs to know as much as possible about the man who would like to be king.

Do not be surprised if further evidence emerges that Corbyn did indeed take part in the wreath-laying ceremony. And if it does, he’s toast. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the old boy will stand aside but he should. In my view he should have gone ages ago because he is so useless. Useless and unpleasant, I’m afraid.

Eclectic Blue

No hunger game

0 Comments 12 August 2018

I was scrolling through my twitter timeline, as you do, when I came across a couple of idiotic tweets about food banks. One was from a Tory MP and another was from a buffoon I shall refer to only as ‘Roy’ who sits in the posh seats at the Memorial Stadium. It was classic buffoonery too, from a man who plainly has no idea about food banks which are used by over a million people every year.

Roy, for it is he, has a theory, you see. People who use food banks only do so because they squander their money on luxuries like 50″ screen televisions. Now it is true that some poorer people acquire large TVs when they might be expected to better order their priorities. My experience from working for a large government department for much of my lifetime and charities ever since suggests to me that Roy is talking bollocks.

In the winter of 2016, I was working a fair bit in Midsomer Norton and Radstock in the Bath and North East Somerset area and I was working with some people who literally nothing. One man I worked with was a recovering heroin addict and had the scars to show for it. He lived in a sparsely decorated flat and was often forced to choose between heating and eating. Sometimes he did neither. We visited the food bank in Midsomer Norton and whilst the efforts of the volunteers was inspiring, it was one of the most depressing times of my life.

The man I was with, and the other people who were using the bank, did not want to be there. For all of them, it was the height of humiliation. It is one of the great myths that there are millions of people who live a life of Reilly on benefits. The truth is that being on benefits was the only alternative.

It was odd, also, to think that the local MP was the upper class multimillionaire Old Etonian Jacob Rees-Mogg in what is a most bizarre constituency which ranges from affluent rural areas and some of the poorest areas you could imagine. I felt straight away that this was a crude but nonetheless accurate picture of the division of wealth in out country today.

I know the poor are criticised for their diet and I know it is cheaper to buy wholesome food that is to buy ready meals but if your life is unbelievably shitty and you can see no meaningful change in the future, why won’t you have something that might, for a flickering moment, give you a little pleasure? If you use your money to get a 50″ TV – and most people I case across bought their TVs on the never never at criminal rates of interest – why be attacked for that? They seldom go out, they have as near to nothing as you can get. I was critical, scornful even, of people that bought ready meals instead of doing their own cooking but having seen the other side of life, it becomes more understandable. Education – or rather the lack of it – is part of the cause of poverty and, for want of a better, less patronising word, ignorance.

But speaking of ignorance, no one exhibits it so much as Rees-Mogg, who finds the existence of food banks to be “uplifting” and that the increase in numbers using them is because the last Labour government didn’t tell people they existed, as if this was all down to politics. It isn’t. It never was.

My experience of food banks was anything but “uplifting”. I’ve never forgotten my experiences in them. Some people just don’t have a clue.

Eclectic Blue

An unpleasant past

0 Comments 11 August 2018

Whether or not today’s claim by the Daily Mail that in 2014 on a trip to Tunisia Jeremy Corbyn honoured the Black September terrorists who were responsible for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 is actually 100% accurate scarcely matters in the grand scheme of things. Corbyn, of course, denies that this is what he did, just like he always denies pretty well everything when confronted with the reality of his unpleasant past. And his unpleasant past is a constant reminder of why this wretched man will never be fit for office as a potential prime minister.

I rarely believe anything I read in the Daily Mail because of its ugly right wing agenda but it is not just the Mail which has exposed Corbyn’s past. The truth is that he has regularly shared platforms with all manner of terrorist sympathisers and indeed on occasions terrorists themselves. When it comes to anti-Israeli groups, Corbyn has plenty of form. Only this week, footage was found showing the Labour leader comparing the actions of the Israeli government with the Nazis and appearing to question whether Israel has the right to exist.

Corbyn always gives the same answer when asked about his dealings with some of the most unpleasant people on earth: “The only way we achieve peace is by bringing people together and talking to them,” says Corbyn. But what does he mean by that? Let us choose the example of Northern Ireland where Corbyn had frequent meetings and spoke on numerous platforms with senior members of the murderous IRA. There are no records of meetings with the unionists for one simple reason: Corbyn wanted the IRA to win. And in any event, on whose behalf was Corbyn speaking with the IRA?

When Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair tried to end the conflict in Northern Ireland, they did so on behalf of the government. They were not acting out of self-interest. Their governments wanted to see the end of “the troubles”. The likes of Corbyn, shouting and hollering from the backbenches and at public meetings, did literally nothing to bring about peace. They brought no one together in Northern Ireland, as they brought no one together in the Middle East. Corbyn the man of peace is a myth.

Corbyn would be entirely unfit for the office of PM without all this ghastly baggage on the grounds of his complete unsuitability and lack of ability to do the job, but the baggage was always going to come out. While you can question the motives of a right wing pro Tory newspaper, the truth is the press has a duty to present the real Jeremy Corbyn beyond the apparently amiable man of principle.

Labour’s descent into the sewer of anti-Semitism is a by-product of the way its accidental leader has behaved throughout his long and undistinguished political career. The truth will always out and the Mail has only confirmed what we always knew: that Corbyn has a grim and unpleasant past and the views he held then are the same one he holds today. For these reasons and many more I won’t be voting Labour until the hard left plague has been extinguished from Labour.

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (10/8)

Comments Off on That Friday Music Shuffle (10/8) 10 August 2018

TF it’s Friday, eh? That time of the week when I can indulge myself in a little music, courtesy of my elderly and now obsolete iPod. Yes, I’m back in my Man Cave to hear some tunes from the vaults.

So, without further ado here goes. Welcome my friends to the show that never ends!

1. Train in the Distance by Don Henley. I wish the great man would keep making new music as good as this beaut from his most recent Cass County album.

2. Block Rockin’ Beats by the Chemical Brothers. From their album, Dig Your Own Hole, the geeky boys are on top form.

3. Whitney Houston Dub Plate by Wyclef Jean feat Whitney Houston. My god that girl could sing. This from Wyclef’s The Ecleftic record.

4. I Left My Heart in San Francisco by Tony Bennett. No words needed.

5. Mean Old Man by James Taylor. Latter day JT from his October Road album. Lush.

6. Crenshaw by Skee-Lo. Old school hip hop from the man who gave us the utterly magnificent I Wish, which just happens to be the name of the album this track comes from.

7. Just One Look by the Hollies. This was an old American R&B tune that the Hollies turned into a pop tune. Listen to the young Graham Nash soaring up the scale.

8. Supposed to Be by Jack Johnson. The usual dual-tracked Jack weaves his melodic magic once more.

9. Jamaica Will Break your Heart by Little Feat. Decent enough from the old boys from their last album Rooster Rag.

10. I’m Your Man by Wham! I don’t think George Michael’s best solo work ever got near Wham!’s worst work and this is far from their worst work.

That’s all, folks!

Eclectic Blue

No fool

Comments Off on No fool 10 August 2018

Not for the first time, Boris Johnson has managed to fool large swathes of the country. In 2016, he was the lying face of Leave UK, where Britain voted to pull up the drawbridge to Europe and ensure an unsure and potentially chaotic future. In 2018, Johnson has managed to position himself as the new leader of the hard right with a calculated populist newspaper column about the burka. He may be a self-styled buffoon with no eye for detail but this must be tempered my his ruthless ambition to be prime minister. This week, he has taken a giant step to achieve his ambition.

In comparing women who wear the burka to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”, Johnson was tapping into a very ugly mood that is prevalent in Britain, a mood reflected by the levels of popularity in some levels for the convicted criminal and thug Stephen Laxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson. Yaxley-Lennon saw attacks on islam as a way of boosting far right politics in the UK. Johnson, cynical and calculating, has kicked the door of islamophobia wide open.

Daily Mail readers – who else? – have made it clear that they support Johnson and say he is not a racist. That is precisely the kind of reaction Johnson would have wanted to achieve. He has managed the trick of fooling Mail readers into thinking it’s a question of whether what he said was racist or not, but that is not what this sorry debate is all about. It’s not what Johnson said; it’s why he said it.

With the government in a complete mess over Brexit – and even its most vocal supporters will admit that – and the country heavily divided, Johnson is positioning himself for when Theresa May’s miserable spell as PM comes to an end. And he has gained considerable support for his words because, on the face of it, they represent a valid strand of criticism of islam and one in which I would have, in normal circumstances, agreed with.

Like Johnson, I would not ban the burka but I would make it known that there are consequences for wearing it. Wearers could be denied employment, could be refused entry to a variety of places because of their choice of clothing. For me, the burka is a culture too far in our so called multicultural society, an idea which, in any case, as a secularist I do not support, but that’s for another day. But that’s not a debate Johnson wants to get into. His was a soundbite to attract attention and build future support. This is not me being cynical: this is how Johnson operates.

With such a paucity of leadership across British politics, and with the country weak and divided as it takes the road to isolationism away from our natural friends and allies, there is an opportunity for a strong, charismatic leader from the far right to have a major impact in our politics. Many from the American alt-right see Yaxley-Lennon as that man but I believe the danger is closer to home. Johnson’s carefully cultivated bumbling posh buffoon image is loved by many but beneath the comic exterior lies a man with ruthless ambition who will, as we discovered in the EU referendum debate, say anything for a vote.

Boris Johnson a thoroughly modern Mosley? Who knows? Stranger things have happened. We indulge Johnson at our peril. If Johnson is the next PM, these will seem like the good old days.

Eclectic Blue

Good luck Ant

Comments Off on Good luck Ant 09 August 2018

I know who Ant McPartlin is. He presents shows on television that I don’t watch, along with a bloke called Dec. McPartlin and his friend Dec are hugely popular and vastly rich. Good luck to them, I say. Right now, McPartlin isn’t very well. Can’t people just leave him alone for a bit?

I do not know addiction myself but I know, and have known, addicts of all kinds of things throughout my life. Some have been damaged, some are dead. From what I can tell – and I know I should not believe everything I read in the papers – McPartlin is addicted to something. I am guessing that his addiction might be alcohol, given that his public humiliation started when he was caught drink driving. I feel for the lad.

No, I don’t condone him, or anyone else, for drink driving. However, the newspaper images of McPartlin did not suggest a man totally in control of his faculties or in the finest of health. His personal life was all over the tabloids and I can imagine it was not attractive reading for him. There was something about the state of his marriage, too, although I made a point of not reading that. I know that media folk say that if people put themselves our in the public limelight, they become public property. It’s not a view I share.

McPartlin has decided to take the rest of the year off in order to aid his recovery. I could easily make a cynical point that he’s highly fortunate that he’s financially able to take the rest of the year off – oh I did: sorry – but actually I don’t blame him. Just because that is not an option for the rest of us who hit difficult times doesn’t mean that we should somehow wish him ill for being wealthier than us.

We should treat him as just another person in crisis and wish him well. It is, perhaps, easier for me to say that since I have rarely seen him at work on telly. It might be easier to me to put him to the back of my mind because he is rarely at the front of it. I have no idea if he is a nice person or a not so nice person. I don’t honestly care. But I do think it would be nice if the gutter press could, just for once, give the guy a little space in which to put his life back together and return to what he is good at.

Eclectic Blue

BBC 6 Music – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

Comments Off on BBC 6 Music – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” 09 August 2018

Whether your cliche of choice happens to be “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or “Don’t fuck with the formula”, BBC 6 Music decides to fix what isn’t broken and to fuck with the formula. Hot on the heels of the news that 6 Music attracted a record 2.44 million listeners in the last quarter, confirming its status as the biggest digital only station in the land (by some distance), the powers-that-be inflict change for change sake.

Nicked from the BBC website, here are the main changes (everything else remains the same):

Monday to Friday
5am-7.30am Chris Hawkins (from 5am-7am)
7.30am-10.30am Lauren Laverne (moving from 10am-1pm)
10.30am-1pm Mary Anne Hobbs (from 7am-10am, Saturday and Sunday)
1pm-4pm Shaun Keaveny (moving from 7am-10am)

Saturday and Sunday
7-10am Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie (moving from weekdays, 1pm-4pm)

Being a creature of habit, Radcliffe and Maconie have become an important part of my daily life. If I don’t listen to the shows ‘live’, I’ll hear them on catch-up. And I listen for a variety of reasons.

Radcliffe and Maconie are both high class broadcasters. They are unfeasibly knowledgable, they ensure the widest possible diversity of music, they are perfectly suited to the afternoon slot, they are both very clever and very funny. Even though I have never met either of them, they are my friends.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Shaun Keaveny, Mary Anne Hobbs and Lauren Laverne. Hugely talented broadcasters and, it can be argued, that Keaveny deserves a break from getting up to broadcast in the middle of the night and both Hobbs and Laverne richly deserve their promotion. However, I am being selfish. I am sad for me.

I suppose the good news is that 6 Music has survived since the threat to close it down and now it flourishes. No other radio station in the land provides such an eclectic mix of music where you have literally no idea of the genre of the next piece of music, never mind the music itself.

I shall just have to buy a digital bedside radio before the big change in January 2019 so I don’t miss a thing. But this just feels like a big mistake and I suspect a substantial part of its record 1.13 million listeners feel as I do: gutted.

Eclectic Blue

View from and beyond the couch

Comments Off on View from and beyond the couch 08 August 2018

Yesterday evening

I’ve had what for me was a very tough day. Work this morning, about which I cannot comment, and mental health therapy this afternoon. I was shattered after therapy and drove home like a hopeless drunk, which I wasn’t. I’ve spent the rest of the day and much of this evening trying to pick up the pieces.

Therapy is, I think, getting somewhere. It’s supposed to take you to some deep and dark places.

I know, and I knew before, that my severe clinical depression has been caused, at least in part, by loss. Not just the loss of individuals by way of death, but the loss of all sorts of things throughout my life, including chances and opportunities, crises at many levels. I let out a lot of stuff today and there was a time, a few hours ago, when I felt like giving up altogether. Not on life itself, but giving up the fight to at least have half-decent mental health.

I hope I can sleep well tonight because recent post therapy nights have caused severe nightmares that have been preciously close to panic attacks, which to be fair have subsided in the days that followed.

This morning

I had the deepest of deep sleeps until, I don’t know: around 3.00 am, after which sleep was fitful and everything seemed to be happening very quickly, frantically. When it was time to get up, I just wanted to stay in bed and stay away from the rest of the world, at least for the rest of the day. The post therapy trauma – and that is how it feels – hangs around.

We talked a lot about loss yesterday but today my feelings are all of failure, a wasted life of missed and lost opportunities, of unfulfilled potential and still following a road to nowhere. I am constantly told that I should look at all the good things – my wonderful family and friends and much, much more – and the truth is that I do. I’d go further and say that without them I’d be nowhere, quite possibly literally nowhere.

I have to get through a very long day today and my sense of duty and professionalism will get me through. I am so weary this morning. But I have to imagine me without therapy.

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