Eclectic Blue

“Absolutely marvellous”

Comments Off on “Absolutely marvellous” 09 May 2018

From the BBC website:

Prince Charles called the impending marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle “absolutely marvellous”.

He said the wedding in Windsor on 19 May was “going to be a very special day” and it had been “very nice” and “exciting” getting to know Ms Markle.

FFS. Journalists get paid to write this stuff.

Not that I’m bitter, oh no.

Signed,

A failed writer.

Eclectic Blue

Talk talk

Comments Off on Talk talk 08 May 2018

Whilst we might not all welcome the suggestions from the Resolution Foundation about taxing more affluent pensioners and giving the young better opportunities, at least we are at long last having a debate about it. A dire phone-in on BBC Radio Five Live this morning gave the impression it was all about taxing the old and giving generous handouts to the young. It is not.

In any event, it’s about time we had a new social contract about the way forward. Here are some simple facts:

* People are on average living longer
* More people living longer means loads of pressure on social care and the NHS
* Someone will have to pay for it
* Should we keep kicking the subject into the long grass?

None of the changes so far have been subject to consultation with the electorate. George Osborne did not ask us whether he minded stealing many thousands of pounds from people by making them retire later. I’m still livid about it and this is one reason why decisions cannot be made without asking us.

How is it fair that when people work hard and play fair, they retire and then get dementia and lose everything they have scrimped and saved for? At the moment, there is no alternative because every time it does get discussed, the Daily Mail, for example, screams about a potential death tax being inflicting on us. Andy Burnham came out with a very sensible idea when he was still in parliament. The wrath of the Mail has terrified everyone, so now everyone loses.

It should not be a question of young versus old, although the result of the EU referendum still grates with the younger generation who have been shafted by mine. We seem happy, as a society, to throw our young people into huge debt by going to university, we shed crocodile tears when young, and not so young, people can’t get on the housing ladder at all and we seem content to allow millions of young people to enter low paid, insecure work with no hope of a meaningful future.

The truth is that we’ve all been shafted and we’ve all been convinced that everything comes for free. We’ve been conditioned to think that all taxes are wrong and that we don’t believe in paying for anything because we’ve paid in enough already. And it’s mainly because politicians don’t have the nerve to tell the truth.

We need to deal with the social care crisis, we need a new contract which ensures that those who work hard and play by the rules don’t lose everything if they go into care, we need to stop overloading the financial crisis on the young and we want to ensure that pensioners are not penalised for being thrifty. Those of us who are doing well will have to pay a lot more and most of us will have to pay a bit more in order to make it a fairer country.

Above all, we need to talk about it. And soon.

Eclectic Blue

A little respect

Comments Off on A little respect 08 May 2018

Manchester United statement three days ago: “Sir Alex Ferguson has undergone emergency surgery today for a brain haemorrhage. The procedure has gone very well but he needs a period of intensive care to optimise his recovery. His family request privacy in this matter.” The Daily Mail today: “Sir Alex is awake and talking.” Can you see what happened, there?

I am loathe to even write about Sir Alex given what has happened to him, so I’ll leave at this. The great man has had a brain haemorrhage. We all hope and some pray that he makes a full and swift recovery. The family have specifically requested privacy. No further statements have been issued by the family or Salford hospital so the facts are as they were until someone tells us different.

I am not particularly interested in whether the Mail has had information leaked to it, or that they have simply made it up. What they have done, though, is to disrespect the family who must be going through a terribly difficult time. It is surely not unreasonable that they have requested that they be left alone. That includes unofficial updates and speculation. It matters not that Sir Alex is one of the most high profile people in the land. He’s someone’s dad, someone’s husband, someone’s grandfather, someone’s friend.

Is it too much to ask that the gutter press might, for once, show some dignity and respect? As it’s the Mail, probably.

Eclectic Blue

Looking Good

Comments Off on Looking Good 07 May 2018

In the social network world of self-adoration, faced with a blizzard of selfies, self-worship and out and out narcissism, there is one phrase you just know isn’t true. “Looking good!” It is not, I admit, something I see attached to the mercifully few photos I post myself, probably because it’s a step too far to say “looking good” when the browser really means looking old.

I have taken a grand total of two selfies in my entire life and it was certainly two too many. I put one on Facebook and within an hour took it down. I didn’t think I was “looking good” but I felt like an egomaniacal twat for even thinking about it.

It’s probably just me. I look in the mirror and I don’t like everything I see. I see that lop-sided face caused by skin tightness after a facial operation some 40-odd years ago, I see the scar itself, I see my wonky bottom teeth, the lines of age and, of course, the pounds I am hoping to lose before the year’s end. Even though I still have a fair bit of brown hair (no, it’s not dyed), I still find little to show off about. That said, I don’t particularly care what I look like, so log as I am clean and relatively tidy.

My thought process when I took a selfie, which was many years ago, was something along the lines of, “I’ll take a picture of myself”. The first time I did it, I thought I’d take the picture I wanted, I’d look something like George Clooney, post it on Facebook and everyone else would be impressed. I lie. I thought no such thing, but I do know I wanted, for a short time, so see an image of me that was better than I know it to be. A glimpse of vanity. “Look how good looking I am.”

No. Selfies are in the compartment of things I don’t understand. Tattoos, the X Factor, Star Wars, people who go to the gym and then listen to music/watch telly because it’s so fucking boring, personalised number plates, Carling lager, Boris Johnson, 80s music, men in lycra – they’re all there, too. But selfies are the worst and usually “looking good” is about as honest an answer as you would get from Donald Trump. No one’s going to say “Looking as rough as a badger’s arse”, are they?

Eclectic Blue

PC gone mad

Comments Off on PC gone mad 07 May 2018

With due thanks to Paul Singh on twitter who describes, better than I ever could, what people mean when they condemn “political correctness”:

For “sick of political correctness” read “I want to be openly racist / misogynist / homophobic / xenophobic (delete as applicable)”

Eclectic Blue

Time to put the Durrells to sleep

Comments Off on Time to put the Durrells to sleep 07 May 2018

For once, the Daily Express today asks the important question: “Will there be another season of The Durrells?” A lovely, very gentle light comedy but with a little pathos thrown in, why would you not ask for more. Answer: because it’s run its course.

The third season finished last night, just as it started, with a real dud of an episode. It was clear the producers were trying to tie lots of loose ends, so clear it was clod-hoppingly contrived and ridiculously unbelievable. For me, it had the air of a TV show whose producers had not made up their minds to try to squeeze out another series. It’s about time they did.

The Durrells really existed. The TV show features many of the real life characters but in a fictional setting. I am guessing that ITV deemed the reality of the Durrells insufficiently interesting to base an entire show on the factual aspect of their lives and then make up everything else. Whilst at times, the Durrells provided a wealth of well-acted and well-written entertainment, I am struggling with the idea of turning real life stories into fiction.

I have not read Gerald Durrell’s ‘My family and other animals’ but I am familiar with his brother Lawrence’s work. ‘Larry’, as us showbiz types refer to him, bore more than a vague resemblance to Josh O’Connor’s interpretation of him but, if I am being totally honest, the rest of this real life family were reduced to being absurd fictional versions of what they really were.

Most TV dramas are fictional and that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. By its very nature, television represents escapism from real life which is probably why, with the exception of certain sports, I watch less of it now than I ever did. My issue with the Durrells is that it has crossed a line. A not very important line in the grand scheme of things, but a line nonetheless.

ITV can of course milk the idea and make endless series of the Durrells in situations that never happened and doubtless the viewers will still view and the advertisers will still advertise. I would rather remember the show for what it was in the first two series and let it now slip away to UK Gold where it can be repeated forever and a day.

Eclectic Blue

Thoughts about Sir Alex

Comments Off on Thoughts about Sir Alex 06 May 2018

The reaction to the news that Sir Alex Ferguson has suffered a brain haemorrhage has been as satisfying as the news of his condition has been upsetting. Sir Alex is one of those characters you somehow think will be around forever. Tough and uncompromising, the passage of time would have no effect on him. How easily we forget our mortality.

I am no supporter of Manchester United – to say the least! – but having said that my admiration for his greatness as a manager knows no bounds. Not only did United win things, lots of things, they won with style. The United way.

The last time I saw Sir Alex on telly was last week at Old Trafford when he presented an award to his old rival Arsene Wenger. He looked fit and well, full of smiles. He looked well enough to be in the home dug out. The last thing I expected was the news we got last night.

I have virtually given up going to games because of the hate I perceive, fairly or otherwise, to be on the terraces. The hate and the Schadenfreude has quite put me off our national game. And it has made my mental health worse. The love Sir Alex has received since last night has warmed my heart.

All his rivals – enemies, even – have been quick to rally to his side. Liverpool, Manchester City – everyone you could imagine – is wishing him well. Before Chelsea’s game with Liverpool today, a picture of Sir Alex was displayed on the big screen. Both sets of supporters applauded spontaneously. When I heard it on the radio, I can’t deny I felt very emotional.

We need Sir Alex to make a speedy and full recovery. For his family above all and football in general. He is a true great, arguably the greatest manager of them all. And we need the love that has been felt since last night. Our country remains massively divided in so many ways. This sad episode seems to have united us all. Let’s hope it carries on.

Eclectic Blue

Sad

Comments Off on Sad 06 May 2018

I wonder how many of us are SAD? Not sad sad, but SAD, seasonal affective disorder. It’s a kind of depression that people experience in the long, dark days of winter. According to the NHS website, the symptoms are:

a persistent low mood
a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
irritability
feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

I reckon quite of lot of us suffer in varying degrees.

When I say it’s a “kind of depression”, what I mean is that all these symptoms relate to depression itself. It’s just that for many, they only usually appear in winter time, whereas us clinical nut cases have them pretty well all the time.

There was once a time when SAD was mocked, just like all other kinds of mental illnesses were mocked; as if people could just “snap out of it”. I’d like to think that scientific and medical evidence is having a profound effect.

Having not actually been diagnosed with SAD, I do know that my own mood, currently on the middling side of low to middling, responds positively to the Big Yellow Thing In The Sky, even more so to the the blue skies and blue sea. It’s not a cure in itself but it is, to my untrained eyes, nature’s anti-depressant at work.

If you think you have SAD, see your GP. It might just be more than being pissed off with this rubbish British climate and given some treatment – you may need to wait until next summer to actually be seen, though – that could eventually made you less SAD.

Eclectic Blue

March of the Luvvies

Comments Off on March of the Luvvies 06 May 2018

My preferred choice of Sunday newspaper, the Observer, has had a serious brain fart today. Famed for its intelligent and often courageous journalism, today it has hosted a Q&A where “celebrities” and politicians have sought expert advice from a pop singer. I mean, really.

The pop singer concerned is poor little rich girl Lily Allen, self-styled heroine of Grenfell Tower where she turned up amid a media storm, had nothing worthwhile to say and promptly inflicted ludicrous conspiracy stories, later totally discredited by things called facts, about the number of deaths in the fire.

The world really has gone mad when the likes of David Lammy MP, Jeremy Corbyn (obviously) and luvvies like Emily Eavis engage in a ludicrous waste of paper by seeking her views on world affairs. Now, Allen has every right to have opinions, just like you and I, but I do question the value of a national newspaper putting her forward as some sort of substantial leader.

Allen provides us with gems such as “We need to fight back against this fascist regime”, meaning Theresa May’s useless, bungling government. It gets better. When asked who inspires her, she replies with all modesty, “I am my main inspiration.” We learn that she gave up smoking but still smokes and reveals that despite her passionate defence of refugees, she has not taken any in herself. Well, I am so grateful to have learned all that.

I can kind of understand Corbyn asking anyone serious questions since he is so devoid of any answers himself, but Christ, asking questions of a mid-table League One standard pop singer? Honestly?

Perhaps it’s just me but I have tired of hearing the views of stinking rich luvvies, like Allen, who seem so certain they are right and everyone else is wrong. In fact, every time a pop star talks politics, a small part of me dies, whether that’s Allen, Bono or Billy Bragg. And why? Because it scarcely matters to any of them who is actually in power. The affluent hard left, which is very much Corbyn’s base, rather fancy a hard left Corbyn government because if it fails, they will still live their lives in fabulous luxury. Meanwhile, the millions who have nothing much at all will be the ones who suffer.

I am not convinced, as Allen is, that Theresa May is a kind of fascist dictator. I just think she is the classic right wing Tory, albeit one with a tin ear and totally out of her depth as PM, just like Corbyn is as leader of the opposition. And anyway, if she is urging a fight again the “fascist regime”, I suggest she turns her efforts to the Labour Party as a first step and help oust the comrades who are leading the party to rack and ruin and the people who will suffer most are…yes, you guessed it.

Still, next week the Observer is inviting questions for the popular beat combo act Black Lace from Michael Gove, Alan Titchmarsh and a Britain’s Got Talent contestant. That could be every bit as entertaining as this week’s Q&A with Lily Allen. Or perhaps not?

Eclectic Blue

Surf’s Up

Comments Off on Surf’s Up 05 May 2018

Returning to an old subject, it gladdens my heart to read that Brian Wilson’s back operation was a success. However, it saddens my heart to also read that he is to continue touring. I don’t see a positive side to it at all.

I am in various Brian Wilson/Beach Boys social network groups and it never fails to disappoint me just how many people are thrilled that Wilson is still touring. Since his wondrous return to live music, going back around 20 years, I have also been delighted to see him in concert performing the likes of Pet Sounds and Smile. Back in the early 2000s, Wilson seemed to have achieved the most unlikely comeback. Irretrievably damaged by excessive drug use and mental illness, the gigs I saw were joyous. He even made new music, most of which was dire but just once in a while it was brilliant. Now there is no joy.

A couple of years ago, Wilson toured with former Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin. It was little more than a greatest hits show, with Wilson himself a bit part performer; a touring jukebox. The great man didn’t seem to know where he was, staring through empty eyes at his teleprompter and walking unsteadily on the rare occasions he moved. It was not a great sight. I thought straight away that I hope this would be his final tour. It wasn’t. The nightmare goes on.

Of course, he might need the money, in which case it’s even more sad, an elderly man, being driven around the world just to make a buck. A man with a stellar back catalogue reduced to churning out the hits just to make ends meet.

Sometimes, it’s time to retire, to enjoy what’s left of the good life. Wilson’s songwriting career has been erratic at best since the mid to late 1960s. His classics are 50 years old, some even older than that. I make a point of avoiding at all costs the ghastly nostalgia festivals where bands and artists offer everything old and nothing new. If I want to hear old music, I’ll listen to the record.

And still I read how much Wilson enjoys the tour, how his management issue supposed quotes by him endorsing that unbelievable nonsense, also stating his wish to be back in the studio to make new music. This, perhaps, is the saddest thing of all.

The solo albums, with the exception of the eponymous Brian Wilson album, have been at best mixed and at worst abysmal. In his mid seventies, he will not write another Pet Sounds.

It grieves and saddens me to see the legend tarnished. I wish the old boy would call it a day.

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