Eclectic Blue

The great escape

Comments Off on The great escape 12 January 2019

I am rather hoping you have heard the story about the 18 year old Saudi Arabian woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun who renounced islam and sought to escape her home country. Who can blame her since in her moderate, liberal homeland, a key UK ally, apostasy is punishable by death. A bit extreme, you might say, but when in Saudi believe in the religion you are told to believe in or die. I can understand Rahaf’s choice.

Her initial intention was to seek asylum in Australia but Canada’s excellent prime minister Justin Trudeau has stepped in and immediately awarded her asylum in his country. Saudi Arabia is obviously furious, as it has been on previous occasions when Canada has had the effrontery to call for the release of detained women activists, but Trudeau doesn’t give a toss. He said: “Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world. When the UN made a request of us that we grant Ms al-Qunun asylum, we accepted.” What a contrast with the UK.

We’re at the other end of the scale in terms of refugees and asylum seekers. In divided and broken Britain, all forms of migrants are regarded as benefit scrounging parasites who should be put in unseaworthy boats and told to bugger off and drown. We would have said exactly that to Ms al-Qunun.

The main difference between us and Ms al-Qunun is luck. I was lucky to be born in a non religious household in country where it matters less and less whether you believe in any kind of God and if you happen to renounce the God you were told to worship as a child, you may escape death with any luck. In Saudi Arabia, as with many other religious and mainly muslim countries, apostasy is worse than murder.

Yet again, the warm, compassionate and generous Canadians have acted with humanity and not hate, as we as a nation are doing on an increasingly frequent basis.

Well done Mr Trudeau. If you ever fancy a big money transfer to the UK, I’ll save up and pay for your airfare.

Eclectic Blue

Handy Andy

Comments Off on Handy Andy 11 January 2019

The absolute fucking maddest thing I have read on social networks for a good while is people wondering why Andy Murray was in tears when announcing he is going to retire from tennis. “How can he cry? He’s a multimillionaire.” Has it not occurred to some people, those who revel in someone else’s disappointment and distress, that perhaps Murray is upset that he is no longer to do what he loves to do?

That Andy Murray is a very wealthy young man is not in doubt. But he didn’t just inherit his wealth. He worked himself to the (hip) bone in order to become the best tennis player in the world. At a time when the game was blessed with giants like Jokavic, Federer and Nadal, he still managed to win three majors, countless other tournaments and some Olympic gold medals. That he was rewarded with large sums of money that he did not squirrel away in, say, Switzerland or Monaco (some random examples there) should surely elicit the comment, fair play that man.

I was one of the idiots who decried Murray when, as a young man, he made a joke about England losing at football. He spent years living with that and I am very sorry I was so stupid as to berate him. If anyone needed to grow up at the time, it wasn’t him.

How about the greatest Scottish and British tennis player of all time? I know it is hard to compare eras but I can’t think of anyone who even comes close. I grew to love his sheer hunger, commitment and hard work, not to mention the skills you acquire when you work as hard as he does. So, he ranted and raved a bit on court. Well, so what? This is competitive sport. Do you really want some automaton who is happy to acquiesce when he is up against it or would you prefer someone who gives it everything he has? This, unless you are Bjorn Borg, will require emotion. Murray has emotion in spades.

Mocking Murray’s success is the British disease, the idea that being the best you can be and becoming wealthy as a result is something to be frowned upon and jealous of. Much better in divided and broken Britain to encourage a race to the bottom. I don’t buy that.

If any sportsman deserves a gong, it’s Sir Andrew Murray. It is entirely possible we will never see another British tennis player like him but if we are to, the powers-that-be must ensure that he is not lost to the game. He is a role model, he is an inspiration, he is a great athlete.

And let’s not forget Murray the man, who took on a female coach Amelie┬áMauresmo and has always been a strong supporter of equality in the world of tennis. He’s a great player and a great human being. You don’t have to like him but if you don’t admire him, or still feel bitter about something he said about the England football team when he was young, I feel very sorry for you.

Eclectic Blue

Have you seen this man? No, nor me.

Comments Off on Have you seen this man? No, nor me. 11 January 2019

Call me a cynic, but am I wrong to doubt that Facebook is a useful tool for crime-fighting and finding lost pets? I ask the question because seemingly every day I find on my timeline there will always be the suggestion that I should. Today is no different.

For starters, I have been asked today to look out for a dog that has gone missing somewhere east of London and to look out for a man who has stolen some tools from some sort of industrial unit. In many ways, it’s rather sweet that people share this kind of stuff. It shows, I suppose, that they care, that they want other folk to regain their missing animals and work tools. All well and good, but who do they think I am and what kind of people do they think I mix with?

I would describe myself as an animal lover in the very basic sense. We have three cats, many of our neighbours have cats and dogs. However the idea that I would come across one that I knew had disappeared or been stolen is fanciful to say the least. When I see a missing pet story, my first reaction is to think, “Oh Christ, not another missing pet story” and my second is to forget all about it. It’s the same with tools. I know very little about tools, stolen or otherwise and I come across very few situations where I would even see them. And even if I did, how the hell would I know they were stolen?

It’s the same with escaped criminals, too. “Look out for Wayne Scrote,” says the message. “He’s a violent drug-dealing paedophile who eats cats. Do not approach him.” Well, no. I have no intention of approaching him, but then, how likely am I to bump into him in Asda this afternoon, or the Beaufort Arms? I don’t normally associate with people like Wayne. No Facebook post is going to encourage me to start doing so.

Call me a cynic, but I’m right, aren’t I? I’ll bet not a single crime has been solved or missing dog found on Facebook. Just inform the police instead.

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (11.1.19)

Comments Off on That Friday Music Shuffle (11.1.19) 11 January 2019

An arduous morning at the Poplars Farm shop in Frampton Cotterell is over and it’s time to plug in the elderly iPod for perhaps the last time (until next week), turn up the stacks of Marshall amps and play that random shuffle of music for no obvious reason.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.

  1. Love Made Visible by Delays. The impossibly talented Greg Gilbert and his pals with this lush song from their record Everything’s The Rush.
  2. Live and Let Die by Guns N Roses. Cracking cover of a Macca Bond tune, back in the days when Slash didn’t need to wear a top hat to cover up his balding pate.
  3. Ride Boy Ride by the Marmalade. Latter day Marmalade, written by the brilliant Hughie Nicholson. Lovely.
  4. Voulez-Vous by the cast of Mamma Mia. Cracking.
  5. My Hobo Heart by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks. A bang average tune from the Orange Crate Art album rescued by multitracked Brian voices.
  6. Behind That Locked Door by George Harrison. Country-tinged beauty from George’s iconic All Things Must Pass album.
  7. He’s Misstra Know-It-All by Stevie Wonder. If you don’t have Innervisions, where have you been? Stevie plays everything but bass guitar. He got the legendary Willie Weeks to play that bit. Incredible.
  8. La Femme D’Argent by Air. You might think you don’t know this one, but I’ll bet you do. Moon Safari is a great record.
  9. Sad But True by Metallica. From the Metallica album entitled Metallica , this is classic Metallica.
  10. Rock and Roll Stew by Traffic. At a guess, this is Jim Capaldi on lead vocals. Lovely.

Well, that was a bit different. That’s all, folks.

Eclectic Blue

I’m a do know

Comments Off on I’m a do know 11 January 2019

Jeremy Corbyn made a speech in Wakefield (why Wakefield?) this week to a very bored looking audience who looked as if they had been told to attend instead of go to the pub where, like Club Tropicana, drinks were free. The essence of his words were this” Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rubbish. We need a general election so that, with all the negotiating skills I learned back in the 1970s when I was chair of the Housing Committee of Haringey council, I can bring back a better Brexit deal.” If this was supposed to make the Magic Grandpa look prime ministerial, then it failed completely. Gazing over his reading glasses, he looked like the bewildered old man he actually is reading out someone else’s words. Oh Christ, a general election. Another one. No thanks.

In normal circumstances, I’d have been delighted that a general election had been called. A woefully incompetent Conservative government led by the worst prime minister of my lifetime by some quite considerable distance should be a breeze for Labour. It’s not just Brexit May’s government are messing up: it’s everything. But if you think that things couldn’t be any worse, think Corbyn.

I keep hearing the argument, always from the hard left, that any Labour government is better than a Tory government. It has some merit, too. The Labour government of 1997 to 2010 dramatically improved things that matter to people, like the NHS, schools, introducing a minimum wage, Sure Start and so much else. Whatever you thought of Tony Blair and his top team, they knew what they were doing. No one can really say the same thing about Corbyn and his top team, culled entirely from the political equivalent of a Sunday pub team.

If Labour would do a better job in office than the Tories, I offer Corbyn’s sheer ineptitude as leader of the opposition. No one, not even his most loyal cult supporters would accuse him of having a towering intellect, or having a single original idea in this life. His has been a life of protest, of easy slogans and empty rhetoric, of life on the outside of the tent pissing in. The few ideas he has, far from representing a new kind of politics, are rehashed Bennism from the 1970s and 1980s. It’s old medicine in old bottles. And how the failed ideas of 40-odd years ago will somehow deal with the issues of 2019 is beyond me. It’s certainly beyond Corbyn. He’s simply no good.

A decent leader, say Yvette Cooper, would surely have long seen off May. Simply by holding the PM to account and pointing out her sheer ineptitude at PMQs would have damaged May beyond repair. But Corbyn has been so poor, so devoid of ideas, unable to think on his feet, always reading out someone else’s questions, May remains far more popular in the country than Corbyn. In fact, ‘don’t know’ polls far higher than Corbyn.

The electorate has not been brainwashed by the nasty right wing media. Take me for example – please! I am naturally a left of centre, Guardian reading Europhile. I do not need the Daily Mail to tell me Corbyn is out of his depth any more than I need the Mirror to tell me how out of her depth May is. I have worked this out myself. Most people have.

The big question is this: if not the Tories, then who? If not Corbyn, then who? Honestly? I don’t have a clue. I am as politically homeless as I was the day I resigned from the Labour Party, which was shortly after Corbyn became its leader. I am no more likely to vote for Corbyn’s wretched version of Labour than a mainstream Tory is to vote for the BNP. My ideal would be a mainstream left led Labour Party with all its best talents on the front bench and not Abbott, Burgon, Long Bailey and the other political nonentities which laughably yearn for the great offices of state. It feels to me as if Labour is saying, “We’re shit, but not as shit as that lot.” Hardly a great selling point.

Do I want a pacifist, terrorist-sympathising (there’s a thing) unilateral nuclear disarming, Russia friendly old man to lead my country? No, I don’t. What I do want is my Labour back, but given the control the hard left has I am not going to get it. And knowing what the hard left has done to my old union the PCS, reducing it to a completely irrelevant laughing stock where the needs of members are almost immaterial to the politics, I know how this ends.

A general election where the choice is again between May and Corbyn, two hard Brexiters who want to pull up the drawbridge to the rest of the world? I’m not a don’t know: I’m a do know and I do know that I have nowhere to go when the election comes.

Eclectic Blue

We are not a Christian country

Comments Off on We are not a Christian country 10 January 2019

The far right activist James Goddard, who is one of the MP stalkers outside the Houses of Parliament, holds a lot of views I don’t agree with. That hardly matters. In this divided and broken country, we’re still allowed to hold differing views. Provided he stays within the law – and he goes to great lengths in order to just about do that – he’s allowed to be far right, anti-Europe and anti-Islam. But it’s a bit more complicated than that, isn’t it?

Mr Goddard argues that Britain should get rid of Islam because we are a “Christian country”. Well, I have a problem with that right from the start. It is not because I am an atheist – although I am and find all religions practice belief systems with which I profoundly disagree – but also because I am a secularist. I don’t believe this country should be any kind of theocracy.

This is to say that no religion should have any kind of privileges and advantages above anyone else. The only law that counts is the law of the land as determined by politicians in our parliament and not by vicars, priests, imams and all the rest. But at the same time, everyone should be able to practice their own religion under a common law.

There would be no special time off work for religious activity, except where defined by parliament. Anyone else wanting time off could apply for annual leave in the same way anyone else would who wanted a day off. There would be no religious schools of any kind. As soon as you have one type of religious school, other religions demand their own schools. And why? To indoctrinate the next generation of god-worshippers. And no special arrangements for religious people to kill animals either for food or religious ceremonies other than by nationally approved welfare standards. So no halal or kosher meat.

Mr Goddard’s idea that this is a “Christian country” is simply untrue in a country where the majority of people do not subscribe to a particular religion and even those who do call themselves religious do so only in the most general way (“I’m CofE”). And church-going is at an all-time low.

I don’t suggest banning any particular religion, although I do accept that some religions can overstretch their levels of influence and can, inadvertently or not, harbour people who want to kill and maim those of other religions or none. Like Islam. But not all muslims want to blow us up. Within a secular state, we all know the rules. A secular state where everyone is treated the same, everyone has the right to worship their own god and the rest of us can get on with our lives without interference from Godwhackers.

And anyway no one is born religious. Almost everyone who grows up believing in God, believes in the same religion as their parents. This is not a happy coincidence. I’d like to see everyone make up their own minds when they are old enough to do all the things you can’t do until you’re old enough. That makes more sense, doesn’t it, than inflicting a religion on a young child who is far more likely to believe in a supernatural creator than one who was brought up to make up their own mind.

Eclectic Blue

We want ten

Comments Off on We want ten 09 January 2019

You will have to take my word for it that this morning I was in the process of writing about what I expected to be the absolute futility of tonight’s semi final first leg of the League Cup between Manchester City and Burton Albion. Sadly, work got in the way and my post work time blew away in a whirlwind of activity. I felt this morning that Manchester City would go through to the final with a 14-0 advantage over two games. It looks like I could be right, but I have to be honest: I feel utterly dispirited by the final score.

I watched only the last few minutes on Sky when the score was 8-0, seconds before City made in nine. The City crowd, drunk on Abu Dhabi billions, roared “We want ten!” As displays of mocking and arrogance go, I had rarely seen or heard anything like it. Burton Albion, a small club from the third tier in English football, had not only been heavily beaten, they were humiliated.

The Sky commentators and pundits are gasping in masturbatory wonder at City’s ‘brutal’ display, with orgasms appearing in the form of ever more hysterical superlatives. But what were they expecting?

This was not an equal contest, other than numbers on the pitch. Pep Guardiola is probably the best coach on the planet, but when the best coach is handed unlimited funds to buy the best players on the planet, this is what can happen.

I was embarrassed. Embarrassed at how football had served up such a ghastly spectacle. A ghastly spectacle brought about by the vast gulf in money between the elite teams and everyone else. When the final whistle went, I felt totally flat.

“Was this mission accomplished for Pep Guardia, he wanted to kill the tie tonight?” asked the generic Sky presenter. What sort of fucking question is that? Probably the wealthiest football ‘club’ on earth taking a nine goal advantage to the second leg of a semi-final. “Was this mission accomplished?” I despaired.

I know it’s probably just me, but I couldn’t share in the euphoria gushing out of the Sky studio. I watched the Burton players trudging off the pitch, heavy-legged, humbled and humiliated, shaking hands with opponents who each earn a million quid a month. This was not a football match: it was a football mismatch.

It’s certainly another nail in the coffin of the game I once loved and worshipped. Everywhere I look, except oddly enough the national team, I see a sport I don’t really understand anymore. Tonight’s game was a waste of time. And if the League Cup stays like it is, here’s the future. No thanks.

As ever, Guardiola himself stayed the right side of the line when the game was over. Whilst I find the club he works for utterly repellent, there was no gloating, just humility, decency and class from the manager. That’s the only good thing I can say about Manchester City. The rest I thought was hideous.

Eclectic Blue

Life of Riley

Comments Off on Life of Riley 08 January 2019

It seems very odd to write that Rachel Riley, from Countdown, has been at the centre of the defining moment of Jeremy Corbyn’s time as Labour leader. I reckon it’s true, though. Once she became the victim of industrial scale trolling and abuse when she stood up against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, I had the feeling the game was up.

I know little about Ms Riley, other than the fact she is a highly personable and intelligent young women who appears in one of the most loved programmes on British television. She just happens to be Jewish, something which I did not previous know, did not even think about and care even less about. However, the Labour Party – the Labour Party (think of Neil Kinnock when you say it) – is drowning in a cesspit of anti-Semitism of its leader’s making.

Oh, wait, you might be thinking. Are you saying that lifelong hard leftie Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite? I’m afraid I am. Labour’s magic grandpa has a long history of involvement with Jew-hating organisations, some of whom call for the destruction of the Jewish state. Corbyn calls them “friends”. He’s shared numerous platforms with holocaust deniers and a variety of terrorists. And don’t forget he laid a wreath in Tunisia in respect of the Black September fascists who killed and castrated Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. He’s got form, all right.

Rachel Riley called out anti-Semitism and the backlash from the Corbyn-worshipping cult has been entirely predictable. However, Riley has not been abandoned. Far from it. People from all walks of life are lining up alongside her in support, including Countdown Host Nick Hewer who has been a Labour member all his life, until now, and tonight Stephen Fry. Call it trolling, call it abuse, call it bullying. It’s all the same. In divided and broken Britain, everyone is fair game for abuse, whether it’s from far left Corbyn outriders or Brexiters.

Until recently, the idea that Corbyn was some kind of amiable old man, wise and principled, representing a kinder, gentler form of politics has gained some traction. No more. He’s what he always was: an ill-tempered career backbencher with some highly unpleasant views and friends, who finds himself unexpectedly in the top but one job. He’s been at the summit of popularity in the 2017 general election, but he won’t ever reach those heights again.

The open sewer of Jew-hating and Jew-baiting in the Labour Party has spilled over and the wider electorate is looking on in horror. Labour, as a mainstream left of centre political party is dead in the water but so too is the rehashed 1980s Bennite version brought back briefly into prominence by the Corbyn experiment.

How odd, and how disgusting, that it has been the vicious internet attacks on a young woman that has brought everything to a head. Corbyn’s many shortfalls have already become clear to the electorate. Now they know he’s not a very nice man, too.

Eclectic Blue

The almost midweek music shuffle (8/1/19)

Comments Off on The almost midweek music shuffle (8/1/19) 08 January 2019

What the heck? So it’s only Tuesday – well, I’ve been listening to music all day and now I am going to share it with you. In a rare Tuesday music shuffle, I am back in the Man Cave, the iPod on its last legs playing a random shuffle.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.

  1. Girl in Collision by Chris Rainbow. From his White Trails album, a Police-type tune from the late Scottish songsmith, a man who stammered terribly until he started singing. A little known genius IMHO.
  2. Money Honey by the Sensational Alex Harvey band. Mad as a box of frogs, but boy the band could play!
  3. Come on Nature by the Proclaimers. Lush tune from the Reid brothers.
  4. Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day. Truly magnificent tune from the American Idiot album where Billy Joe Armstrong sings about the death of his father.
  5. Seven High by Damon Albarn. Greatness everywhere today as we join the genius Damon with an instrumental track from Everyday Robots.
  6. Soul Island by the Meters. Classic R&B funk from back in the day. Such an influential band. Proper earworm, this.
  7. Decks Dark by Radiohead. Love A Moon Shaped Pool – great record.
  8. Trampled Underfoot by Son Little. Brilliant R&B cover of the Zeppelin classic.
  9. Stepkids by the Avalanches. From their stunning Wildflower record. Bonkers and wonderful.
  10. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by Neil Diamond. Excellent cover of the Hollies classic, taken from his quite brilliant and game-changing Taproot Manuscript record.

That’s all, folks. You can all go back to work now.

Eclectic Blue

You don’t have to be mad, but…

Comments Off on You don’t have to be mad, but… 08 January 2019

The increasingly unhinged prime minister, Theresa May, has made YET ANOTHER statement on the future of the NHS, which suggests those sunlit uplands where no one ever gets ill are just around the corner. Such is the madcap world of another bloody politician who wouldn’t have a clue to run a bath, never mind a country. Still, she’s really got a grip on mental health. She’s introducing a telephone helpline. Ring 111.

Yes, in around four years, if you get all suicidal, or perhaps you just want to self-harm, or ‘only’ have a bout of depression and anxiety, you can merely pick up the phone AND TALK TO SOMEONE. Sorry for all these capitals. IT’S DRIVING ME MAD.

When the BRITISH RED CROSS (there I go again), bullied and abused me all the way to a mental breakdown a year or so ago, if only that number had existed. I could have made a telephone call and held on for an hour or so. “If you want to top yourself, press one. If you want to cut yourself with a knife, press two. If you think you are suffering from severe clinical depression press three. If you are having a panic attack, blow into a paper bag, try and breathe slowly and listen to an inane bit of music and hold for the next available operator who will read questions from a tick sheet.” Yes, that would have helped.

You can reasonably argue that something is better than nothing and something like a 111 call is better than nothing by an infinitesimal amount. But seriously, wouldn’t it be better to spend a little of the extra money put aside for the NHS on the mentally ill, because what you are announcing here, YOU STUPID WOMAN (I’d call you stupid if you were a man, Tel), is sheer tokenism. You are not serious. This is announcing something to make it look like you are doing something. You aren’t.

You don’t have to be mad in this country, but it helps.

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