Eclectic Blue

They shoot horses, don’t they?

0 Comments 16 March 2018

I tuned in late to BBC Points West tonight, specifically to get the weather forecast. I was a little early and found myself watching a live report from Cheltenham at the end of the horse racing festival. The reporter was interviewing a suit from the Jockey Club who was gushing about the record crowds, as well as the state of the course and the quality of the racing. Earlier, I had heard a similarly gushing John Inverdale on BBC Radio Five Live, praising the wonder of Cheltenham and wondering why the meeting couldn’t be extended by another day. His interviewer replied that he doubted whether the livers of the spectators could stand it. Oh, how they laughed. In neither report was there any reference to the death toll.

Until today, “only” two horses had died at Cheltenham which was way down on usual. On Tuesday, one horse had died after breaking its neck and another had to be destroyed. Gold Cup day restored Cheltenham’s ghastly reputation as being the main killing field of horse racing with three horses having to be destroyed.

For some reason, there were no references that I heard in the media. All the talk was of the stuff I have described above. The drunkenness, the craic, the spectacle of beautiful animals in peak condition was all they talked about, as well as the ladies’ dresses and did I mention the drunkenness? At no point did Inverdale mention the carnage that had taken place today as didn’t Ali Durden on the BBC.

I don’t know why the media imposes such a degree of self-censorship, as if the death of so many participants doesn’t matter. I rather think that if five jockeys had died this week, we might just have heard about it. But they’re only horses, aren’t they? And they shoot horses.

Although Cheltenham is the worst offender when it comes to deaths at British horse racing, it needs to be pointed out that deaths are common, even expected. A fatality occurs every couple of days. This week alone, as well as the five deaths at Cheltenham, three died at other meetings. On the rare occasions the slaughter of horses is mentioned in the media, the apologists say that it’s a dangerous sport and accidents will happen. Yes, the humans involved do, but the horses, who almost certainly have no idea they are actually racing in the first place, probably do not know the risks.

I’ve no interest in horse racing. I know for many Cheltenham is the high point in the racing calendar. For me, it’s the almost daily slaughter of beautiful animals which did not evolve into creatures that can survive the regular falls. To celebrate a day during which three of them were destroyed is beyond me.

CORRECTION: Four horses were slaughtered today and not three. Apologies for any distress caused.

Eclectic Blue

Depression report

0 Comments 16 March 2018

My youngest son revealed to me that he too has been suffering from the black dog. My reaction? Self-pity, of course. That makes me feel terrible, I’ve passed on the family madness gene, where are the tablets. This feeling lasted less than a second. My dad head took over.

Obviously, I’m sad that my son suffers from depression. Which dad wouldn’t be? We wish nothing but good health and success for our children. It hurts when they are ill. I remembered when my sons had other things wrong with them, other than mental health, and my reaction was certainly not self-pity. It was supporting them and that’s what I am doing now.

My own black dog journey reached a new level following my mental health assessment. I am no longer going to get group therapy, I am being referred for individual therapy, which is the only way. That’s the very good news. The less good news is that I will have to go on a waiting list. Ah, yes. Those magic words: waiting list. After the good news, then the bad, comes some better news. I’m not feeling too bad at the moment. I wish I knew how this thing worked.

The news from the British Red Cross that I had in fact imagined my workplace bullying, that my mental breakdown was a figment of my imagination and that they were a caring, sharing, people-friendly organisation didn’t dent my new found resilience. Nor has the fact that CEO Mike Adamson, basis salary circa £180k per annum, hasn’t gotten round to replying to my personal letters to him, not least after they informed me I was off sick from work, despite having left the Red Cross some three months ago. I haven’t finished with them, yet. (If you are reading this, Mike, I shall be writing to LandRover who are corporate sponsors for the work I was doing and I am going to ask whether they are happy that some of their money was being used to pay the wages of bullies. If bullying appears to be part of the Red Cross, I doubt that LandRover will be too happy to pay for it.)

My boy and me are at different stages of our lives and our respective depression. If any good has come out of his it is that I hope we have caught it early. I would imagine that the chances of him making a full and permanent recovery are good. He is a fine young man and I know he will fight the good fight until the black dog disappears into its kennel.

You can see the extent of this mental health epidemic everywhere. I have friends whom you’d never guess had their own demons; happy, shiny people on the outside, looking through a thick fog on the inside. Just to think, when I was a kid, there was no such thing as poor mental health. It was self-pity and being fed up. Even though we have a government that barely gives a toss about the issue, we are winning the argument that they should.

I reckon I am doing much better at managing my son’s depression than I ever was with mine. Hopefully, I can learn some lessons, too.

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (16.3.18)

0 Comments 16 March 2018

I know what you’re not thinking. When is that Eclectic Blue chap going to do his weekly shuffle on the iPod, live from the Man Cave. Well, here it is anyway.

Welcome my friend to the show that never ends.

1. Avenida Revolucion by Chickenfoot. Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Chad Smith and Michael Anthony show that rock is very much alive.

2. My Id-Entity by the Wondermints. From the wonderful Bali album and featuring some Stranglers-type harpsichord.

3. Pavanne for the Sleeping Beauty by Joe Walsh. An astonishing synthesiser version of the Ravel classic from the So What? record.

4. Pastime Paradise by Stevie Wonder. From Stevie’s Songs in the Key of Life long player, this great tune has been sampled to death by the likes of Coolio. Stick with the original, I say.

5. Sweet Arcadia by Saint Etienne. From the wonderful Home Counties album from last year, I could listen to the lovely Sarah Cracknell all day and all of the night.

6. Back It Up by Nils Lofgren. What a talent this man is.

7. Night By Night by Steely Dan. Absolutely belter from the Pretzel Logic, featuring David Paich and Jeff Poracaro from Toto. Still the best band ever for mine.

8. Run by Snow Patrol. They had their day in the sun with the Final Straw record. Excellent.

9. Find the Cost of Freedom by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. “Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground.
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down.”

10. Family Portrait by Pink. What a great way to finish this shuffle.

That’s all, folks.

Eclectic Blue

Lions led by donkeys

0 Comments 16 March 2018

Britain’s worst columnist – or should that be fifth columnist? – Richard Littlejohn writes in the Mail today what things might have been like in 1940 had Jeremy Corbyn been prime minister. The article is so poor you might be forgiven for believing it had been written by someone with only a passing grasp of reality. Actually, you’d be right.

Hilariously, Littlejohn imagines Corbyn as expressing doubts that Hitler was responsible for the blitz, suggesting that it might have been carried out by rogue elements of the Luftwaffe. The whole wretched piece carries on the same dreary road. The biggest irony of all was that the Mail of the 1930s actually supported Adolf Hitler and indeed the father of Max Mosley who organised fascism in Britain.

However, this should not be seen by anyone as a defence of Corbyn. It isn’t. Corbyn, presumably under instruction of his chief spin doctor and Labour policy maker Seumas Milne, simply can’t bring himself to criticise Russia. Instead, he suggests that perhaps the nerve agents that brought terror to the streets of Salisbury might have been used by someone like the Russian mafia. It doesn’t make any difference.

If it turns out some “rogue elements” carried out the attack, it will still have been carried out with chemicals developed by the Russian state. That is a matter of fact. And the Russian state is obliged to report to the appropriate agencies any chemical materials that go missing. I suggest we are in the world of speculation here, or rather Corbyn is.

The other thing is that the Labour leader is the right honourable Jeremy Corbyn is a member of the privy council so he will have been privy to all the information the government possesses. In other words, May’s statement to the House of Commons will be on the basis of information he has been able to read. Is he disregarding the information, saying it is a lie or did he simply not understand it?

Corbyn is talking absolute tosh when he talks about the “rush to judgement”, comparing it with the Iraqi invasion of 2003. It is not even vaguely similar and anyway no one is talking of invading Russia.

Here we have the worst of all worlds. Britain led by a prime minister who is hopelessly out of her depth, a Labour leader who is essentially a pacifist and has sympathy with countries like Russia and a dog whistle media that regards facts as anathema.

Once again, we are lions led by donkeys.

Eclectic Blue

Salisbury scenes

0 Comments 15 March 2018

The scenes of Theresa May walking round Salisbury like some minor – in her mind, major – royal was among the most bizarre things I have ever seen. I mean it. The prime minister of our country, supposedly on a sombre visit to a city where the Russian state has attempted to carry out murder with chemical weapons, fist bumping, accepting flowers from locals and posing for selfies. She was really enjoying herself. It was utterly barmy.

But everything about the political reaction to the Russian attack is barmy. Jeremy Corbyn, who simply cannot bring himself to attack the Russians because his Stalinist spin doctor Seumas Milne won’t let him, blames everyone else, his latest ludicrous suggestion being the Russian mafia. America reluctantly blames the Russians but the Trump stays in the background, desperately keen not to upset his pal Putin and now the man who helped bring us Brexit, Nigel Farage, a friend of Trump and admirer of Putin says that the EU is worse than Russia.

It is not just Brexiting Britain that is on its way to hell in a handcart; it is also the entire world. The extremists of extreme left and extreme right are taking over and I fear for the future of mankind.

With Britain leaving Europe, Trump taking leave of his senses and Putin attacking the world, I don’t know how we can get out of this. Even before Brexit, Britain is weaker than ever before. A woefully weak and useless PM, flouncing around Salisbury, and a bungling monkey with a Stalinist organ grinder leading the lack of opposition.

I’m going to write a lot more about this. Things are getting very serious.

Eclectic Blue

Crash landing

0 Comments 14 March 2018

Let me say firstly that I don’t understand the attraction of horse racing. It must be the only ‘sport’ where the competitors probably have no idea whether they are winning or losing and certainly no idea that entire industries, like betting companies and breweries, make vast profits off their backs. But what I really dislike is how so many of its participants die as a result of participating.

‘Only’ one horse – Mossback – died at the Cheltenham Festival yesterday but those who care about these things will be sorry to know that he almost certainly won’t be the last. Doubtless, seeing the suffering animal hidden beneath a large tent as it’s being put out of a misery inflicted upon it by the ‘sport’ itself was very sad for the owner, the jockey and perhaps the spectators who saw a beautiful animal about to be put to death but I didn’t notice too much sympathy in the media.

Gushing TV reports on the great spectacle of Cheltenham somehow managed to omit any mention to Mossback’s passing and, so far as I could tell, the multitude of strangely dressed racegoers at Bristol Parkway did not seem too bothered, certainly not those who could walk unassisted. No. It was all about the excitement of the Cheltenham Hurdle, about the winners and the losers, about women in funny hats and men in silly suits and much hilarity about the industrial amounts of Guinness consumed on the day.

I’ve never been horse racing and have no inclination to do so. Horses are beautiful creatures for sure but I do worry about what happens to them when they end their working lives and I know what happens to them when they make a mistake jumping a gigantic fence.

Good luck if horse racing in general and Cheltenham in particular floats your boat and if you happen to witness the death of another horse – there is a fair chance you will – I hope it isn’t too upsetting for you. The very fact that the odds are that horses will die today is a good enough reason for me to not watch the ‘entertainment’. But I suppose for many the chance of wearing silly clothes and getting shit-faced is worth all the misery.

Eclectic Blue


Comments Off on Detached 13 March 2018

I watched chancellor Philip Hammond’s spring statement for 26 long minutes this afternoon and by the end I had no recollection of anything he had said. That’s what he wanted, of course. The lack of occasion demanded speech by a man who rarely says anything of significance and Hammond stepped down to the mark. However, the whole occasion, with one or two minor exceptions, was dispiriting for other reasons.

No, I don’t mean shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s scattergun rant in alleged response or any of the subsequent contributions. It was the strange detachment from reality in the House of Commons that got me.

The brilliant comedy writer David Schneider hit the nail on the head with this tweet: “The economy is recovering, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Which is why we want to take free school meals away from a million poor kids”. Of course, he didn’t actually say the last bit but that was precisely what is going to happen.

Hammond, never one of life’s great orators, was greeting but the usual “hear hears” from the government benches and naturally his front bench grinned, laughed and, in Theresa May’s case, gurned along in support. I thought: “You don’t have a fucking clue what it’s like to be poor, do you?”

Honestly, as I saw the grinning fools on the Tory benches, I was honestly thinking about children going without a cooked meal. When Hammond made some idle pledge about reducing rough sleeping by 2028, I was thinking about the people I saw sleeping rough, especially during the recent return of winter. When Mr Speaker was ticking off MPs for making too much noise, I kept thinking about the crisis in social care, patients being kept on corridors in our overstretched hospitals and eight years of government attacks on disabled people.

There is nothing new about it. Parliament has always been like this although the Great British Public has only realised it since radio and later TV coverage was introduced. It was horrible. All sides, though not all politicians it should be said, thought it far more amusing to make political points than to actually refer to real people who were suffering. Today, of all days, I found it a most unedifying experience.

My loyal reader knows how I feel about politicians these days. Many are good people in politics for the right reason, many are bad people in politics for the wrong reasons. But the truth is that they behave as if they rule us and not that they are supposed to be there to serve us. Whether it was Hammond, the ludicrous Jacob Rees-Mogg or the seriously unpleasant John McDonnell, they behave as if they own us. Maybe some of them actually do.

This might have been great theatre but not one person will benefit from today’s glib, vacuous speech by Hammond or the many point scoring contributions that followed. A very bad day in parliament, but aren’t they all these days?

Eclectic Blue

Let’s boycott the world cup knock out stages

Comments Off on Let’s boycott the world cup knock out stages 13 March 2018

The Daily Mail has quickly concluded that the best way of hitting back against Russia, following its apparent poisoning of one of its spies, will be for England to pull out of the world cup. Given the prestige the world cup brings to its hosts, you can see the logic of the Mail’s thoughts. I have an even better idea, a compromise.

I am not yet convinced that we should be penalising our footballers by stopping them playing in the greatest show on earth but I suppose we have to do something to show Putin how mad we are. So how about we boycott the knock out stages?

Let’s face it, England won’t get anywhere near winning the world cup so why not engage in a bit of tokenism? We rarely get out of the group stages anyway, so if we say to Russia that are happy to take part in the group stages but that will be it, then everyone will be happy. The players will get their day in the sun, our supporters will get the opportunity of getting their heads kicked in and we can give Putin the big middle finger as we exit the tournament in the normal way.

You know it makes sense.

Eclectic Blue

Words on the death of Oskar Gröning

Comments Off on Words on the death of Oskar Gröning 12 March 2018

Oskar Gröning, the bookkeeper of Auschwitz, and accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews, has died aged 96.

I only wish there was a hell for him to go to.

Eclectic Blue

True colours

Comments Off on True colours 12 March 2018

Today represented the lowest point of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. Responding to an unexpectedly strong House of Commons performance by Theresa May in condemning the attack in Salisbury last week, Corbyn did the unforgivable. Instead of unreservedly condemning an attack on our country by a foreign power, Corbyn chose to make party political points about Tory party funding and urged the government to move to “reduce tensions” with Russia. Once more, this man proved his complete unsuitability to be prime minister.

There is a time and a place to question Tory party funding but that time is not when two Russians lie critically ill in hospital after being attacked by a nerve agent produced in Russia. A police officer is seriously ill in hospital, Salisbury city centre is still in lockdown and hundreds of people have been told to wash their clothes and personal items. To put not to fine a point on it, this is an attack on our country, on our freedoms, on our way of life. At times like these, we require that political leaders lead. To her credit, May stepped up to the plate while Corbyn showed his true colours, or rather the colours of his chief spin doctor the Stalinist millionaire Seumas Milne who now controls Labour policy.

Corbyn, or rather the organ grinders who control him, made a strategic blunder today which should never be forgotten. The first duty of a government is to keep us safe and May briefly became the PM we expected before her disastrous election campaign. She is hardly a great orator but the words rang true. So did Corbyn’s, though not in a good way.

The truth is that the comrades could not bring themselves to condemn the Kremlin. This should not come as a surprise given the history of the people at the top of the party and the reason Corbyn did not condemn the Kremlin because he has a great deal of sympathy for them.

The response from our government and governments worldwide will, I suspect, be devastating. And so it should be. Sanctions, retaliation and a boycott of the Football World Cup in Russia. Yes, even that. You can argue about sport and politics not mixing but the likely attempted murder on British soil will count much more.

May passed a test of real leadership today. Corbyn failed disastrously. Whatever happens, we should never forget that when it came to protecting our country he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Corbyn should resign tonight because he is not up to the job. He won’t because the comrades and his cult following can forgive him anything, I can’t.

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