Tag archive for "5"

Eclectic Blue

William and Harry

No Comments 21 November 2018

I was always a bit ‘meh’ about the royal family. I never loved them, never hated them, have always been puzzled why they are so popular given their very odd lives and lifestyles.  For all the expense of having them, I rarely thought a republican state would be an improvement. Princess Diana changed all that for me. Whilst she still came from aristocratic stock, there was something different about her.

Diana seemed to care about things that traditionally royals didn’t care about, or if they did, they hid it pretty well. She involved herself in ‘difficult’ subjects, like landmines and AIDS. The latter saw her get closely involved in the LGBT community, not somewhere you would normally expect to see a royal. But she did. Thanks at least in part to her work, attitudes changed. Her sons have, quite wonderfully, continued with what has been a remarkable transformation in how we see the royals.

The most striking aspect, at least to me, has been their involvement with mental health. To this day, mental illness remains a taboo subject where people still find it difficult to talk about. Then Princes William and Harry campaigned in public about it. In what represented a near revolution on the subject, Harry talked of his demons following the death of his mother and now William has opened up about, and here I quote from the BBC website,  ‘ “very traumatic” callouts involving children took him “over the edge” while he was working for the air ambulance.’ In urging employers to look after the mental health of workers, read his own words:

“There should be a much more open, supportive and compassionate working environment. There’s still a stigma about mental health. We are chipping away at it but that wall needs to be smashed down.” A member of the royal family literally said that.

If, like me, you believe we should be encouraging governments to treat physical and mental health with equal levels of importance, the words of the young royals should be listened to and, indeed, acted upon. What comes across to me, unquestionably, is that both William and Harry, who in any event I love to bits (this is ME talking about a royal for goodness sake!), mean what they say. These are not populist soundbites because there is no popularity to be gained from campaigning on mental health. Here, the boys have taken on a ‘difficult’ subject where “that wall needs to be smashed down”. This suggests to me a quite unique level of understanding and empathy, born of experience.

All my cynicism about the life of Princess Diana evaporated years ago. Even when her reputation was being eviscerated and trashed by the gutter press in the summer of 1997 before her tragic death, after which they adopted a very different fawning, gushing attitude that they didn’t have when she was still alive, there was still something very different about her. The lives, beliefs and attitudes of her two sons keep her vision of compassion more alive than ever.

More power to their respective elbows because even in their luxurious lives, where they will never want for anything, except a normal life, of course, and privacy, they are able to understand the lives of others.

Even in these so-called enlightened times, people still make ‘jokes’ about paranoia and OCD, two very serious and highly distressing illnesses, so we know there is a long way to go. But if the royal family can lead the national debate on mental health, there is hope for us all.  Cheers, boys.

 

Eclectic Blue

A real turn off

No Comments 20 November 2018

Jeremy Vine, I discover today ( I don’t watch daytime telly), has a daytime show on Channel 5. A clip  highlighted on twitter reveals to me it is a current affairs show because obviously there aren’t enough current affairs show on the box. And it shows Vine talking to a telephone caller who is arguing that BBC producers should not interfere in the natural world and, in the case of the stranded penguins in David Attenborough’s new TV series, allow animals to die. So glad I opened that video.

Luckily, Man has never interfered with human nature so I suppose the caller has a point, but hang on a minute; yes, he has. Man – and let’s be honest: it’s not just one man – has decimated wildlife on earth. The rain forests have been destroyed, wild animals have been slaughtered throughout Africa, animals killed in the name of ‘sport’ and there’s those millions of animals we breed purely to eat. I’d say helping a few penguins avoid premature death is a small payback for the harm we have done to the world’s wildlife.

I’m very tired of these types of TV and radio shows. Select a controversial subject and have a phone in. Even Radio Five Live, which I like a great deal, has lurched into “let’s hear what you have to say”, putting on air the most extreme and controversial callers in the name of ratings. And so, it seems, is Jeremy Vine, now on TV as he does on the radio.

Whatever happened to straight news shows where a talented journalist establishes the facts and presents them to us with the maximum amount of impartiality?  I suppose people must like this kind of thing, especially since the country is already so hopelessly divided, a bit more division wouldn’t makes things any worse, would it?

“Bert from Neasden wants penguins to die. What do you think?” I think I’ll look for the off switch, thank you very much.

Eclectic Blue

The end of freedom of movement

No Comments 20 November 2018

One of the most depressing consequences of the decision of 17.4 million to leave the EU will be the end of free movement. You know. The free movement that enables EU citizens to work wherever they want within the EU. Theresa May actually brags about the impending end of free movement, as if it’s a one day street. Worse still, the Labour Party, which is now controlled by fossils from the 1980s, agrees the end of free movement is nigh. Let’s hope the British people realise sooner rather than later that the end of free movement will affect them as much as any wretched foreigner because they are foreigners too.

I write about this often. Although I was not able to enjoy all the benefits of free movement myself, I loved the idea that my own children would one day be able to live, love, study, work and retire anywhere they liked in the EU. I love the fact that friends of mine have settled in various EU countries and many more want to enjoy a retirement in the sun. That’s no longer a given.

May talks about free movement as a bad thing. We need to stop these foreigners coming over here to work. They have “jumped the queue”. They will be replaced by British people who are too lazy to work. As our unemployment figures now solely include those who are sick and disabled as well as the unemployable, that will be interesting. When the hardworking Europeans are booted out of Britain, the terminally ill and chronically disabled can do the work. Bloody scroungers.

I was in Devon at the weekend on a  golfing weekend. We were in a large hotel complex and the overwhelming majority of staff were not British. They worked their respective butts off, almost certainly for the minimum wage or not much more. Although they had different accents from us, they just looked like hard working people to me. But what do I know? I’m five-eighths ‘foreign’. Perhaps May thinks I should be deported given that no one in my family has ever signed on as unemployed and instead worked until they dropped, literally in some cases. The “jumped the queue” assertion from May is dog whistle racism. No one jumped any queue. The overwhelming majority, close to all, EU citizens who came here came here to work. But no more.

Instead, if you talk with a different accent, you are, in May’s words, a “citizen of nowhere”. She would have hated my mum who carried her Dutch accent until she died. I think she deserves a better epitaph than that.

I am by nature an internationalist. I am not interested in the colour, creed, religion (as long as they keep it to themselves) of human beings. I see the Polish worker as being no less valuable than an English worker. Those citizens of nowhere treat people and save lives in the NHS every single day. If you have a medical condition, are you really mad enough to concern yourself with the nationality of the surgeon?

That the Tories want to pull up the drawbridge should surprise no one. But Labour acknowledges the same. So called left wingers like Corbyn and McDonnell say free movement must end too. Britain first, they argue. Perhaps they should join Britain First. They’re closer than they might think.

There are many people who believed the end of free movement merely meant the end of free movement for Johnny Foreigner. Wrong. The end of free movement will affect those seeking to retire to Greece or Spain in the same way as it will affect those who want to come here from mainland Europe. Perhaps, we can persuade those pensioners to do the jobs the foreigners used to do?

There really wasn’t that much wrong with the EU before we decided to go it alone. It has helped keep the peace, it has driven up standards, it has given us rights, it has enabled us to live, love, work, study and retire anywhere we like in the EU. EU membership never stopped us being British, it never stopped us trading with the rest of the world, it never stopped us making our own laws, it never affected our sovereignty; it made our lives better. We were rule makers and decision takers. Soon we will be neither, out there alone in the big wide world, trying to trade with protectionist governments like the USA and China.

Freedom of movement is a two way street and soon it will be a no way street. The people who want to buy a villa in Greece but don’t want Greek people to live, love, work study and even retire in the UK will suffer from unintended consequences, but don’t let them tell you they didn’t understand this would happen.  They were warned often enough.

Eclectic Blue

That Monday Music Shuffle (19/11/18)

No Comments 19 November 2018

Fear not, those of you who were fretting when last week’s Music Shuffle failed to appear. I was busy losing golf balls in Devon. But I am back now, in my Man Cave, and I am about to set free my elderly iPod and allow it to choose ten random tunes for no reason other than I can.

So, welcome back my friends to the show that never ends (but many wish it would).

  1. Hey Dude by Kula Shaker. Excellent rocker from the K LP. Still a great band, as I discovered at the 02 last year.
  2. Up, Up and Away by the Fifth Dimension. Incredibly, a Jimmy Webb song. Not the best version, though.
  3. Heaven’s Room by Ducktails. Beautiful, just washes over you. From the truly gorgeous St Catherine album. Why is Matt Mondanile not world famous?
  4. Guit War by Mahogany Rush. Distorted alien voices, siren warnings, loads of feedback and nothing of a tune from the otherwise excellent Hendrix impersonator Frank Marino.
  5. A Apolitical Blues by Little Feat. Lowell George and the boys tap into their blues roots, from the epic Sailin’ Shoes record.
  6. Pure and Easy by the Who. One of the few bits of filler on the all time great Who album Who’s Next.
  7. Can You Dig It? by the Mock Turtles. One of the greatest rock tunes of all time. Simple as.
  8. For What It’s Worth by Crosby, Stills and Nash. Stephen Stills’ great 1967 Buffalo Springfield tune played live by CSN in 2012. “I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound?  Everybody look what’s going down.”
  9. Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) by George Harrison. Unquestionably, All Things Must Pass was Harrison’s finest solo work, which is where you will find this song.
  10. Spanish Moon by Little Feat. One of their absolute classics from the Feats Don’t Fail Me Now long player.

That’s all, folks.

Eclectic Blue

Forever autumn

No Comments 18 November 2018

Driving (well, someone else drove, but never mind) from Devon this afternoon, I was gushing about the gorgeous autumnal colours. Whilst I am an unqualified hot weather fiend, as old age approaches I am finding that I have an increasing liking for the seasons. For a good few years, I had come to accept a complete untruth, which is that we don’t have seasons anymore; everything blends into one. That’s only true if you are not paying attention.

Of course, there are seasons. It’s just that they are not confined to exact dates. We know, for example, that winter does not arrive in the meteorological sense until 1 December. That does not mean that the weeks and months before 1 December will be one long Indian summer (I wish). Things don’t work that way. Weather patterns are affected by many things. A calendar is not one of them.

I can honestly say that until the last few years, I had paid little attention to autumn, which I saw as part of winter and a necessary staging post on the way to spring. I still do, I think, but I can now see more to it.

The colours of the leave on the trees have astounded me. They are beyond beautiful. I’d go much, much further and say that the colours have been breathtaking and even moving. How our little world changes colour day by day. In a few short weeks, the colours will be gone, as trees lose their leaves altogether. Autumn is a special time.

Friends have said for years that autumn is the best time of the year. I am beginning to see where they are coming from. It’s not just nature, it’s everything else. It’s heading to a lovely market, as we did last week when we went to Wells. It’s visiting a warm pub with a blazing fire, drinking classic English ales. It’s snuggling down in a warm bed with the cold air just outside the bedroom window. It’s being with friends and family, walking through woods. It’s being where you are supposed to be.

I’m a bit in awe of nature after what I saw today. England never looked better. We might be in a Brexit crisis of our own making, but for now there are few better places to be.

 

Eclectic Blue

Lipstick on a pig

No Comments 15 November 2018

Well, Theresa May has confirmed what us remoaners have been saying since the EU referendum in 2016: the older generation has sold out the younger generation by voting to end free movement. When I said that older people had decided that their children could not enjoy the rights and freedoms they themselves enjoyed, there was much gnashing of teeth and wailing. Of course, Brexiters love their children as much as remainers but let’s not pretend that the future will be so bright for the next generation. Now we know it has been snatched away.

Free movement allowed us to live, love, study, live and retire in other EU countries. I know countless people who have done just that. People who have moved to France, the Netherlands and Spain to work, others who have moved to Italy, Spain and Greece to retire. Many, if not all, have integrated into their new communities, learned the language and embraced their new culture. By the same token, many EU citizens have come to Britain. I met plenty of them staying in and visiting hospitals this year. May has confirmed tonight that free movement will end. This is not a remoaner from project fear saying this: it’s the prime minister.

At least we will not require visas when we visit EU countries in future once we step off a cliff. EU negotiators have said that bit already. However, the real risk is now that, as well as losing our free movement, it will become far more difficult and more expensive to travel abroad. And, as we pull up the drawbridge and tighten up the borders, it will be us Brits who feel the major effects.

May completed her announcement with the following words: “I firmly believe with my head and heart that this decisive choice is in the best interests of the entire UK.” If she really means this, then I am afraid she is an idiot. Every available form of Brexit is far worse than what we already have. Instead of taking control, her nonsensical Chequers agreement will see the UK lose control. Instead of gaining influence in the world, we will continue to lose it. We will all be worse off in both the short and long term.

If nothing else, May has united everyone, But only in that virtually everyone thinks her deal is rubbish. If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig and her Chequers shambles is the biggest, fattest pig of them all. It’s lucky us oldies won’t be around when our children realise what we have done to end their freedom of movement.  I doubt they’ll be very happy.

Eclectic Blue

Down the Colston Hall

No Comments 14 November 2018

It is not my fault that the Colston Hall in Bristol bears the name of a slave trader. Edward Colston was a philanthropist, a merchant and a slave trader. Streets were named after him, there is a statue of him on the city centre. He died in 1721, so, old that I am, I never met him. More importantly than that, whilst the Colston Hall bears the name Colston, it was named after the street, Colston Street, in which it stands, not Edward himself. He also had nothing to do with the funding of the hall which opened in 1867. So, why the fuss?

It’s obvious, isn’t it? We should be ashamed of the past. It was utterly appalling that people made their wealth out of slavery. Had I been around in the 1600s and 170os, I would have fought on the front-line to oppose slavery. It’s a stain on our history, but how can it be a stain on me? I wasn’t there at the time. I had no say in it and, so far as I can tell, none of my ancestors were in any way involved. And what if they had been? There’s not much I can do about it now, is there?

I understand the sensitivities, of course I do. I am white, albeit five-eighths foreign. I am sure it still feels raw to many people of colour to know how their ancestors were treated and regarded. But I say it again: it was not my fault. I didn’t stand around doing nothing when slavery was going on. Is there anything to be gained from changing the name of the Colston Hall to something less offensive?

It hardly matters what I think, because the name is changing whatever I think. There is a consultation exercise going on at the moment which, if it gives the ‘wrong’ result, will change it anyway. For what it is worth, the name Colston should be preserved. Not to illustrate what a great bloke he was, but to remind people, especially young people, how things were hundreds of years ago. It is all very well to urge teachers to teach children about our history, especially the grim parts, but if there are real life symbols that encourage people to ask questions, then isn’t that better?

There are reminders of slavery in Bristol. How could there not be? The Wills Memorial building at Bristol University, for example. Blackboy Hill in Clifton which links onto Whiteladies Road. Do we change every single name and attempt to remove history from our city, the ugly ones, as well as the beautiful?  I fear that people are already thinking that way already.

It’s very hard to defend the Colston Hall in an environment like this. Those of us who do are generally not racists, few if any will excuse slavery. I can’t see how changing the name is anything other than tokenism and I’ll bet that vast numbers of people will carry on referring to the Colston Hall and not whatever it is a small minority of people decide it should be called.

Eclectic Blue

Here comes the iceberg

Comments Off on Here comes the iceberg 14 November 2018

We are the Titanic, heading towards the iceberg which will eventually sink the good ship United Kingdom. The only difference between the iceberg that sank the real Titanic and this one is that we know it’s coming and that our ship is rudderless.

Theresa May was the person who wanted to be captain of the our Titanic and it soon became clear that she would find it to distinguish her arse from her elbow. The previous captain David Cameron had deserted the bridge when he steered the ship towards a disastrous referendum and the mutinous crew joined him in the lifeboats as it became clear the mess we were in. Boris Johnson and David Davis were but two of the mutineers who left the UK in the lurch. Now they shout from the safety of the mainland, hurling simplistic slogans as the ship gradually loses control.

Enough Titanic analogies. The reality is that the UK is now in its most perilous position since World War Two in every way imaginable. Even in the unlikely event that parliament accepts May’s wretched deal, which will further wrest control and power from this country, leaving us a permanent rule taker than rule maker, which will make us poorer, which will open the door to lower living standards, job losses, the loss of vital freedoms, it will condemn us to years, perhaps decades, of lengthy debate and negotiations as to our future outside the EU.

Make no mistake, the rest of Europe has moved on. Brexit remains an internal squabble between members of the Conservative Party that has spilled out and poisoned the rest of the country. The rest of Europe has far more important things on its plate than a belligerent island across the North Sea which is grappling with a self-inflicted crisis for which there is no end in sight. Europe is not being ‘difficult’. It has merely told the UK that leave means leave and we cannot enjoy all the benefits EU membership gave us. People say things like “they don’t want us to leave”, but the truth is they wish we would just get on with it now. We are the laughing stock of Europe and increasingly the world.

Theresa May, that most inadequate of politicians, has reached the end of the road in ever sense. She was never up to the job in the first place and it is doubtful that even a competent leader would save us from the coming iceberg now.

Be afraid, be very afraid. We are about to hit the iceberg and the damage will be catastrophic.

Eclectic Blue

Get me out of here

Comments Off on Get me out of here 13 November 2018

There are a lot of movies and TV shows I have never seen. I’ve never seen a Star Wars film, nor the Indiana Jones series of movies, nor Star Trek. I’ve never seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Nor have I seen a full episode of the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. I never seen Ant and Dec present anything so I’ve certainly not seen I’m A Celebrity. I do not feel the quality of my life has suffered as a result.

The Bristol Post has reported tonight that ‘Bristol’s very own Noel Edmonds’ will appear on the latest series. I hate to come across as a party pooper – perish the thought – but Edmonds does not come from Bristol. He was born in Ilford, Essex. When he was filming Deal or no Deal, which is yet another show I have never seen, he lived in Bitton, which I would argue is South Gloucestershire, not Bristol. And Edmonds is not yesterday’s man: he’s the day before yesterday’s man.

Fellow contestant Nick Knowles is ‘Bristol’s own’, too, because he filmed an episode of DIY SOS in the city last year, and so is former football manager ‘Arry Redknapp for is appearing in the city early next year to perform in ‘An evening with ‘Arry Redknapp’. If the Post had its way, these men would be given the freedom of the city. Noel, Nick and ‘Arry, the famous Bristolians who aren’t.

Having never seen I’m A Celebrity, I thought it vital to carry out some in depth research on the show, so I had a look at Wikipedia which describes it as a TV reality show  “in which celebrities live in jungle conditions with few creature comforts.” Celebrities have to compete in ‘Bushtucker trials’ where they eat things and do stuff. There is probably more to it than meets the eye but I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to look it up yourself.

Anyway, the food menu looks delightful. Here, courtesy of Wikipedia, are some of the gems on offer:  ‘Green ants, mealworms, witchetty grub, roasted spider or tarantulas, kangaroo testicles, kangaroo penis, kangaroo vaginal parts, crocodile penis, cockroach (prepared in various ways such as being cooked into biscuits, blended into drinks, eaten alive or dead). Other past foods include beach worms, bull’s tongues, the anus of various animals, vomit fruits, cooked pigs’ brains, various animal testicles, raw fish eyes, sheep eyes, blended rats or mice tails.’

It’s probably just me but I have no interest in watching minor celebrities munching their way through a kangaroo vagina or a blended rat (is this a smoothie drink?). Still, it’s all about taste. Personally, I cannot think of anything I’d less want to watch than this sort of thing, but then I like doing old fashioned things like listening to music, reading books (ask your parents’ what they are, kids) and of course speaking with my partner.

I note that Ant (or is it Dec?) is not on the programme this year because he is, or has been, in rehab and is taking time off work. I’m not sure I would get away with that one at my place of work. Then again, given the number of TV shows which are presented by Ant and Dec, I suspect he has a few quid hidden down the back of the sofa to cover his treatment. Good for him.

No, I’ll give I’m A Celebrity a miss this year, as with every year. The producers regard the signing of Edmonds for a mere £500,000 as the “cherry on the top of the series”, in which case, what’s the cake made out of? Raw fish eyes? Crocodile penis? Roast spider?

 

Acknowledgments to Steve Young for giving me the idea about films and TV shows I have never seen.

 

Eclectic Blue

Box on

Comments Off on Box on 13 November 2018

I have an uncomfortable liking of the noble art, or boxing as it is better known. I rarely watch the Big Fights which appear almost solely on Pay Per View TV stations. I pay more than enough, thank you very much, for what I already watch. So, obviously I didn’t see last weekend’s Big Fight between Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk and Britain’s Tony Bellew. I had never heard of the former and had never seen the latter fight. However, I did listen on BBC Radio Five Live.

My liking of boxing is not consistent. Sometimes I find myself disturbed by it. There is something glorious about two courageous warriors scrapping out in a modern day pit from which there is no escape. Or, to put it another way, two incredibly fit men, each trying to render the other unconscious.

Being hit on the head is not good for you. I think we can all work that one out for ourselves. The brain is such a fragile object, yet we replay those sensational knockouts where a boxer is literally knocked out. We were in awe when Mike Tyson was wreaking havoc although we rarely thought about they effects he might be having on his victims. And when the boxing tragedies came along, we express our sadness, mouth platitudes about how “we know it’s a dangerous game but these things are rare” before moving on to the next fight.

I saw a clip on the BBC website today which horrified me. Bellew was interviewed on Sky after being knocked out by Usyk. He had no recollection of the final knockdown and repeated himself throughout a ghastly interview. That he had been affected by the trauma was undeniable. The only question is whether the scars will remain when the concussion has gone?

I was assured by various media pundits that at no time Bellew was at risk. His trainer was with him, along with the rest of his team, as well as his ever loving promoter Eddie Hearn. The boxer’s interests were all that mattered. He would be just fine. Well, we will see whether there will be any lasting effects in the coming years.

Let’s not make excuses. Look at the likes of Thomas Hearts, Evander Holyfield and Gerald McLellan and tell me boxing is safe. It is believed that 90% of professional boxers suffer with some form of brain injury. The evidence  is overwhelming.

If tobacco had been discovered today, it would have been banned. By the same token, if boxing had been invented today, it would surely operate only as an illegal underground operation. And yet we, and with ‘we’ I include me, still watch it. I suppose we must subconsciously convince ourselves that boxing is safe, when in our heads and hearts we know it isn’t.

Bellew’s disturbing confused post match fight interviewers should not be forgotten but I suspect it will be. There’s money to be made and money makes the world go around.

 

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