Eclectic Blue

Taking it to the streets

0 Comments 16 February 2019

Well, I supported the strike yesterday, where many thousands of children went on the streets to campaign on the subject of climate change. Naturally, stuffy politicians like Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom condemned them all for wasting time when they should be at school. These politicians waste time for a living.

On the subject of climate change, there is no scientific debate. It is happening, it is being caused directly by us. The legacy my generation is leaving for the next generations will be abysmal. Put to one side, the reduced opportunities that will be available for young people as a result of Brexit and instead look at the evidence. Extreme weather events are increasingly more frequent and the planet is heating up. Why the hell should young people not take to the streets? It’s their futures that are being destroyed.

Eclectic Blue

THAT FRIDAY MUSIC SHUFFLE PART TWO (15.2.19)

0 Comments 15 February 2019

I can’t help myself. Even though it isn’t spring, it feels like it. Even though it isn’t really warm, 12c in a cloudless sky with a mild breeze it feels warm. I’ve even got the door open in my Man Cave.

So, what the hell? The sun is shining, I have been playing music all day and now here is shuffle number two.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!

  1. Happy Together by the Turtles. Late 1960s harmony music from the USA, if it’s not the Beach Boys or the Association, it has to be the Turtles. Absolute belter.
  2. Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone by the Temptations. No description needed!
  3. Festival Times by the San Remo Strings. More wonderful Motown.
  4. Creedence Song by John Fogerty. From his Revival album, this is classic modern day JC Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame.
  5. (Da Le) Yaleo by Santana. From what was, I suspect, his last great album, Supernatural, Carlos is on top form, here. (On a point of information, the supernatural doesn’t actually exist but don’t let that spoil your enjoyment of this excellent record.)
  6. Going For the One by Yes. Bizarrely, this one starts like the Allman Brothers Band, until Jon Anderson reminds us who it really is.
  7. Woodstock by David Crosby. The Joni Mitchell classic revisited on Croz’s very latest album Here If You Listen.
  8. Venus by Television. From their epic Marquee Moon record. Everyone should own that.
  9. Helter Skelter by Roger Daltrey. Rog covers this Beatles belter on the Art of McCartney tribute record. The old boy shouts to reach the top notes these days, but it’s still unmistakably him.
  10. Feel The Groove by Little Feat. A rare vocal outing from Sam Clayton on this track from the excellent Down On The Farm album.

That’s really all, folks!

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (15.2.19)

0 Comments 15 February 2019

What a glorious, sunny. springlike day it is, so why not spoil it by setting my portable telephone free and let it choose a random iTunes shuffle?

Yes, it’s Friday, I’m in my Man Cave and it’s time to shuffle away.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!

  1. Because I’m Me by the Avalanches. From their Wildflower album, this is absolutely great. Their gig at Motion was the best I saw in 2017 and arguably one of the best I have ever seen. I’m in love.
  2. Be Happy by Mary J Blige. Blige, this girl can sing. Lush R&B.
  3. Walking to New Orleans by Fats Domino. Classic.
  4. Guitarra G by G Club Pres. Banda Sonara. And now some banging Ibiza style dance music.
  5. Lay Down by the Strawbs. Some cracking electrickery from Dave Cousins’ legendary folk music outfit. Love it.
  6. Problem Girl by Rob Thomas. In my opinion, Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas is one of the best singers in popular music. This is from his Something To Be long player.
  7. Just Because by John Lennon. Absolutely beautiful cover version of the old Lloyd price tune from the excellent Rock N Roll album, confirming that Lennon was one of the great rock and roll singers.
  8. Within by Daft Punk Feat Chilly Gonzalez. This is one of the best cuts from Random Access Memories which, amazingly, came out in 2013.
  9. Shine Silently by Nils Lofgren. Nils will never write a song as good as this and I doubt whether anyone else will, either.
  10. It Had To Be You by Bobby Darin. “It hadda be you” sings Bobby, in his inimitable style. What a voice.

That’s all, folks!

Eclectic Blue

30 years of hurt

0 Comments 15 February 2019

Yesterday, I somehow managed to miss the 30th anniversary of the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie by some fruitcake Ayatollah or other for the apparent crime of writing a book. That book was the Satanic Verses. It really upset sections of the ‘muslim community’, whatever the muslim community is meant to be, because they considered the work to be blasphemous and for that the author had to die. Copies were burned, some muslims went on the streets to demonstrate and even set fire to copies of the book.

You might have expected muslim fanatics abroad to protest about the book, especially in countries run by muslims where free speech was not a thing, but did we expect such violent demonstrations in our own country? And demonstrations happened everywhere across the land, especially in areas where there were large muslim populations. Posters with ‘Death to Rushdie’ were not uncommon. There were people picketing outside bookshops. I was appalled, I went out and bought a copy, simply in order to cross a picket line of fanatics and removed my copy from my bag when I left the book shop. No one said anything but I felt better, in my narrow little world, for having done so. What surprised me was how the establishment bowed before the fanatics.

At that time, Margaret Thatcher’s hardline right wing government was in power, yet even they showed no bottle when the heat was on. Thatcher’s thuggish right hand man Norman Tebbit lined up alongside the Ayatollah condemning Rushdie as someone whose “public life has been a record of despicable acts of betrayal of his upbringing, religion, adopted home and nationality.” Think about that for a moment. A right wing Conservative government lining up alongside fanatics to stand against free speech. It really happened.

My loyal reader will know I have no truck with muslim opponents of free speech. I supported, without reservation, Salman Rushdie, I was appalled at the outcry regarding the Swedish cartoons, the attack on the offices at Charlie Hebdo was an act of islamic fascism and terrorism. Free speech means you have the right to criticise and mock anything, including religion. It also means you have the right to publish a book like the Satanic Verses and feel safe. Rushdie was not safe. A religious fanatic had issued a death sentence. In the end, he had to leave the country. This, make no mistake, was a defeat for free speech, freedom of expression and freedom full stop.

As for the Satanic Verses itself, I rather enjoyed it, although it was slightly above my head. Perhaps it was not the kind of thing I would normally read. There were those who will have greatly enjoyed it.

The reason so many people condemned Rushdie, the Swedish cartoons and Charlie Hebdo is because they were frightened of being killed in retaliation by the ‘religion of peace’. To be honest, I’d be scared of that, too. So our leaders should be stronger and clearer when they condemn all kinds of fascism, including religious fascism. Appeasement, as we should know, does not work.

Eclectic Blue

No regrets

0 Comments 14 February 2019

It was four years ago when Shamima Begum and her two friends left the UK to spend the best days of her life in Syria with the maniacal islamic fascists of ISIS. Now, nine months pregnant and in a camp in Syria, she wants to come home. She doesn’t regret going to Raqqa, but now she wants to come ‘home’. “I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” she says.

I wasn’t the most mature 15 year old, I admit, but sneaking off abroad to meet up with a group of psychotic lunatics in some kind of religious caliphate, or some kind of equivalent was not on my horizon. I had a whole of interests back then, including music, football and girls, pretty well in that order. Another thing was that I was not attached to a religion which in the case of islam is all encompassing.

With no God in my life, I was never going to face religious indoctrination, or radicalisation, from any religious group. My immaturity was, in effect, immaterial. Ms Begum and her friends were in a different place.

They didn’t attend a muslim school, as such, but the majority of pupils there are muslim. There is no evidence that they were radicalised at school, although being schooled in an islamic environment can’t help. Similarly, it is likely, almost certain, that her home life would be based on religious tradition. How much would it take to persuade a child of 15 that the religion her family, her mosque, told her that the truth, the full truth and the only truth was being expressed in Raqqa? The answer is not much. Should we allow Ms Begum back into the country? I’ll come to that in a moment.

As someone who believes in a secular society, where no religion gains any special privileges, and everyone lives under the same laws with the same entitlements, I feel strongly that we need to change. Of course, in a secular society everyone is free to believe in any God they like, but that cannot in any way affect the lives of anyone else. There can be no Sharia law, there can be no kosher or halal slaughter of animals, there can be no religious schools, there can be no representatives of religion in parliament (the UK and Iran are the only two countries in the world who allow this). In short, believe in whatever you want, but the law of the land comes first. Multi-ethnicity yes, multiculturalism no. Sadly, at the moment, this simply does not happen.

Thanks to successive governments, there are now more ‘faith’ schools than ever, even though we know that ‘faith’ schools encourage division. Look at Northern Ireland. That went well. We need to get rid of the lot and we need to do it now. I repeat, people should be free to express their own religions but that should not impinge on society or affect the lives of others. This will include the end of catholic schools, COfE schools, islamic schools – every single one. This will be a valuable start to making our country better, through secularism.

Now I shall sound like some right wing lunatic, but here goes anyway. What people object to the fact there are no longer any religious schools? The law of the land, which reigns supreme, declares there are no religious schools. It is up to theists to decide what they want to do. Nothing can stop them taking their children to church, or encouraging them to read religious writings, although I would rather parents didn’t force their children to be religious. It is not a coincidence that children almost always have the same religion as their parents. But unless children are persuaded at an early age that God is a thing, religion will die out. You can see why there would be an almighty fight to if and when the government showed the courage to ban religious schools. But unless we mean business, things will not stay the same; they will get worse. If you want a religious school, you won’t find one in the UK.

As for Ms Begum, my first reaction was that I would not want her back in this country in a month of Sundays. My second was much the same. In any event, Britain has no consulate in Syria so even if we wanted to help her return home, sort of sending people into a very dangerous area to collect someone who decided to live among religious maniacs, wasn’t ‘fazed’ when she saw a rubbish bin full of decapitated heads in Raqqa and still doesn’t regret going, there’s nothing we can do. I’m very happy to leave it that way.

In my view, all religions are bad but some are worse than others. Islam is definitely worse than most but in order to reduce the risks we face, we need a secular country. Anything less merely encourages the extremists. It’s a very simple choice although it is one that would require courage. Politicians of all colours are not noted for courage and I expect things to carry on getting worse.


Eclectic Blue

The Root of the problem

0 Comments 13 February 2019

England cricket captain Joe Root has been the recipient of a great deal of praise after he responded to homophobic abuse in the Third Test Match against the West Indies in St Lucia. In response to comments which remain unknown made by the West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, Root replied, “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.” And he’s right. But why then, if the England captain feels so strongly about homophobic abuse, is he taking a team to a country where homosexuality is illegal and anyone convicted can face a prison sentence of between five to ten years?

Yes, I know that you can find fault with pretty well any country in the world. You might think twice about going to America which still routinely executes criminals. How about Dubai which has been described as “a morally bankrupt dictatorship built by slave labour?” Or Spain, where bull-fighting is still a thing. Where do you draw the line? How do you avoid accusations of hypocrisy? Tricky, isn’t it?

On balance, provided the likes of Joe Root have the courage to speak out against, in this instance, homophobia, it’s probably a good thing that England have played in St Lucia, although it’s fortunate that the England team is entirely heterosexual. If there had been a gay player in the side and the St Lucian authorities had got wind of it, doubtless he’d have been removed from the team hotel, found guilty of homosexuality and sent to prison for a decade.

Shannon Gabriel has behaved like a dick. He’s been banned from some future games but what he really needs is education. Homophobia still plagues our world. It’s not just sport. And we all need to call it out.

Eclectic Blue

The Banks of England

0 Comments 12 February 2019

They’re gradually leaving us, those heroes of 1966. Following the news that Gordon Banks, the Banks of England, has died, only six players remain. We must cherish the rest of them while they are still with us.

My dad was at the 1966 World Cup final and, had I been brave enough at the age of nine, I could have been there too. However, the prospect of travelling alone to meet up with him at London Paddington on a train from Bristol Temple Meads was too much. Not a bad ‘what could have been’, eh? My dad, bless him, told me all about his special day in the years that followed. Lucky man.

I do not know if Banks was the greatest goalkeeper who ever lived. I do know that deciding who is the best footballer of all time can only ever be a matter of opinion. The fact that was six times chosen to be FIFA’s goalkeeper of the year does suggest he was a bit special. I’m happy to believe he was the best. He was the only Englishman who had won a world cup. Facts, I suppose, speak for themselves.

My reaction, as Nicky Campbell broke the news to BBC Radio Five Live listeners shortly before 10.00 am, was one of profound shock. Yes, Banks was 81, he had been suffering from kidney cancer, but heroes are supposed to live forever, aren’t they? Everyone knows about that save from 1970 but the pros who were interviewed on the radio said how Banks made it all look so easy. His saves were rarely spectacular because he knew the angles. He would simply catch balls where other keepers might be desperately trying to tip them over the bar. Although the one save he made ‘for the cameras’, from a header by Pele, is the one we all remember.

I do not understand why so few of the world cup winning team were knighted for their achievement. The nation gave Banks a richly deserved OBE, but why was he not Sir Gordon? Why were some heroes awarded this accolade but not most of the team? It strikes me as such a great injustice when gongs are handed out to political cronies and people for simply doing their jobs, yet heroes are either ignored or given second class honours.

If Gordon Banks was arguably the greatest goalkeeper of all time, then Pele was arguably the greatest outfield player of all time. HIs tribute to his old friend is beautiful.

Pele said he was ‘glad’ Gordon Banks had saved his header

“That act was the start of a friendship between us that I will always treasure. Whenever we met, it was always like we had never been apart.

“I have great sadness in my heart today and I send condolences to the family he was so proud of. Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being.”

Eclectic Blue

No better than Farage

0 Comments 12 February 2019

And now a word from Gloria Di Piero, the Labour MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire:

“Though I voted to Remain in the EU at the referendum I have long been concerned about wages being depressed at the lower end of the wage market. Is there anything socialist about a free market in human beings?”

Ms Di Piero is referring to migration here, those awful foreign folk who come here to work, often to do the jobs Brits don’t want to do. Well, perhaps things are particularly grim in Ashfield so let’s look at the ethnicity of the town:

97.6% White
(96.0% White British)
1.0% Asian
0.5% Black
1.0% Mixed
0.1% Other 

Oh crikey, things must be awful there. As many as 4% of the population are driving down the living standards of the other 96%. You couldn’t make it up, except that a Labour MP – (puts on Neil Kinnock voice) a Labour MP – is blaming non-existent foreign folk for the low living standards of her constituency. Presumably, the Thatcherite deindustrialisation of places like Nottinghamshire, nor the country’s long-standing love affair with paying people as little as possible has anything to do with it? Pull the other one.

The main point to consider is this: is there evidence that EU workers are generally driving down the wages of British workers? The answer to this is, quite firmly, no. This is not to say that there is not a single instance of British workers having their wages suppressed as a result of migration. It’s just not a big thing.

And here’s something else. We have always been able to control the numbers of migrants coming from the EU, it’s just that politicians chose not to do so. More than that, the majority of migrants come from outside the EU. Blaming the European Union for all our ills is absurd.

I once had high hopes for the likes of Ms Di Piero and her fellow Labour MP Caroline Flint. However, since Brexit they have failed to even attempt to persuade their own constituents that Brexit, in any form, will make them poorer. Remember that MPs are representatives, not delegates, and on that basis should therefore acted in their constituents interests, whether they agree with them or not. Ms Di Piero thinks it’s not socialist to allow workers to come here from other countries, but that it is socialist to ensure workers get poorer. The truth is that she is far more worried about her own well-paid job as an MP as she is of the livelihoods of the people she is misrepresenting.

There is undoubtedly a major issue of low pay in our country. Making the country worse off will not make people better off, which is what some people appear to be saying.

The majority of politicians are weak and cowardly and won’t do what they believe and know to be right. And in their respective ways, the Labour anti-migrants are no better than the likes of Nigel Farage and probably worse, because at least we know Farage is an out there racist and bigot. They’re all blaming foreigners for our problems.

Eclectic Blue

Taking the piss

0 Comments 11 February 2019

I just read on the BBC website that the TV presenter Pete Hegseth has said on Fox News that he has not washed his hands in 10 years. “Germs are not a real thing,” he said, eating a sandwich with the hand he was holding his cock with whilst having a pee a few moments before. Okay, I made up the sandwich bit although that’s pretty well what Mr Hegseth has been doing for a decade.

He then added, wonderfully, that micro-organisms did not exist because they could not be seen with the naked eye. Given that one gram (0.03oz) of human faeces (that’s shit to you and I) – about the weight of a paper clip – can contain one trillion germs, his understanding of science would appear to be questionable at best.

My loyal reader will know that I have a thing about people who don’t wash their hands after urinating and worse, I’m afraid, to the extent that I often take hand disinfectant with me when I am visiting the pub. I go to the trouble of washing all evidence of my bathroom visit from my hands, yet when I use the door handle, the odds are high that I am twice removed from someone’s penis. I could be returning to the bar with a small amount of someone else’s urine on my hands or shaking hands with someone who…oh, no. I don’t want to go there.

It is not just a small minority of men who show little regard for hygiene. I was in a gents toilet last weekend when men were carrying their pints into the gents, urinating and then taking their beer back to the bar without washing their hands. And when I eat out, I so hope the chef has better standards of cleanliness.

Please, gentlemen, think what you are doing when you finish your visit to the bog. Think where your hands have been and think about the minute amounts of urine and excrement you will be carrying around with you when you go back to see your mates or your partner. It’s not big, it’s not clever and if I want to hold your penis, I’ll ask you first. Thank you for reading.

Eclectic Blue

Choose death

0 Comments 10 February 2019

There may come a time when I want to die. Hopefully, that time won’t be too soon, although I am aware I am now on the final straight. I don’t particularly want to die at the moment, even though the thought has occasionally crossed my mind when the depression gets too bad, but generally speaking being alive is still better than the alternative. But what happens if and when I start to lose control? Why shouldn’t I have some choice in the matter?

There are numerous stories doing the rounds about people who have decided that when their incurable conditions and illnesses become too much to bear, they will want to end it all by assisted suicide. I am at a loss to understand why we, as a society, prevent them from so doing.

I have been to the vets with pets over the years who have reached the stage where they need to be put out of their suffering, where keeping them alive is an act of cruelty. No one seems to object when an animal is out to sleep so why do people complain when a human being wants to be put to sleep? Why are we compassionate about cats and dogs but not our close relatives?

I’ve got a suggestion here: if you don’t agree with assisted suicide, then don’t agree to it. If your religion, for example, decrees that ending your own life to avoid pain and suffering is against God’s will, then don’t end your own life. It’s that simple. But don’t, then, tell anyone else they can’t end theirs.

Why should someone have to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland in order to die and why should a next of kin fear being arrested by the police and potentially tried for murder? Surely we need our own system. How about the dying equivalent of a midwife?

I haven’t really thought this through, as you may have noticed, although it does seem obvious. People are employed to help you enter the world, so can’t we have people help you to leave it? On the face of it, I suppose it isn’t exactly a cheerful kind of occupation, or is it? If someone is living in a hell on earth – and, spoiler alert, that’s the only type of hell that actually exists – then perhaps it could actually be rewarding to take them out of hell?

I hated seeing my stepfather disappear into a confusing and frightening world caused by Parkinsons and dementia. There are no possible circumstances under which I would want to go through what he went through. I won’t go into detail on a public blog because some things are better kept in the family, but its won’t take much to work it out for yourself.

Whether you have faith or not, you know you will die. Faith may mean you expect to survive your own death, which strikes me as somewhat contradictory. I see death as The End, just as I never lived before I was born. But the end of real life can occur long before clinical death occurs. I’d like to choose what to do if I get the chance. if you disagree, well, it’s none of your business.


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