Friday 15 April 2011

History is bunk

It's depressing to see The World's Oldest Man has died. The thing is, he seems to die every month. As does The World's Oldest Woman. I never read beyond the headline, but it does seem strange to me that they keep on popping off like that. It's a title I hope I never get to inherit. I'm not even sure how you apply for it, perhaps it's just an honourary thing.

It's been an odd week without The Boy. The house is a lot quieter, so we're all looking forward to him coming back to us from his week away doing 'Adventurous Training'. I don't normally keep in touch with him whilst he's away, but on this occasion we've swapped a few texts, although no doubt not as many as he's swapped with his girlfriend, and in any case, they dried up altogether on doubt because of poor mobile reception in the Lake District where he's been yomping up hills and down valleys. Evidently its 'bloody freezing' and so wet that they had to do the rock climbing indoors. That must have been a very big building. It should help him in his preparations for Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, and it won't do any harm in his CCF progression - evidently he's best in his year, so maybe he'll earn a new stripe soon.

Hopefully he will be pleased to see us; I'm sure he'll be pleased to see his room which has been painted, and fitted with new wardrobes, shelves, desk and carpet. It looks quite splendid....even if the picture is pretty rubbish.

Doing The Boy's room has meant that we;ve been going through (yet another) cycle of chucking stuff away. It's supposed to be therapeutic, but after all the efforts to create some breathing space in Brighton it's beginning to feel that isn't the case.

At the same time, I've been clearing out the office. We've been running for fifteen years, and almost a quarter of the space was being taken up with old press coverage. It was an impressive pile of stuff, and the product of many hours, days, weeks, months, years of effort. But at the end of the day was it ever going to be looked at again? No it wasn't. So it had to go. And it was hard. I was ruthless...not looking at what was going, simply chucking it out. But it's provoked a thought train which may yet be a bit of a pandora's box. If I'd been an architect, the fruit of my labours would be there for all to see for years and years. A monument to my skill. I'd have left a mark. The same must be true for many others. It is certainly what drove (obsessed) Tony Blair in his final months...his legacy. In the same way, actors and actresses leave a fantastic legacy if they're on film or TV...for ever alive for people to see and watch.

I guess then, that unless I change careers, this blog will be my legacy. I'd better sharpen up my act then!

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Herbie rides again

I once had a scheme which involved buying train tickets just before the prices went up, so that I could profit from the difference. It never made me a fortune. I had a similar scheme for stamps. I did make a small fortune - about twenty four pence. I count that a success. Last week, I mentioned that I'd had deodorant problems...the spray stopped spraying leaving me a sweaty undeodorised man. Not good on the tube. The manufacturer didn't help when I contacted them, but those lovely people at Boots sent me a giftcard for my troubles. And normally that would be it. All done. All sorted. But in a moment of deodorant rage yesterday I sent an e-mail to the CEO, Herbie. Getting a phone call from him half an hour later caught me only slightly off guard. He's on the case, and has promised me a package next week. I assume it won't be ticking. I'll be back using Soho Fish Dry Deodorant. And I'll be in profit again. At this rate, I'll be in The Times Rich List before you know it. I promise not to forget you all my plantation slaves.

Someone else who is rich is Arianna Huffington. She was rich before she sold the Huffington Post for £315 million. Actually she probably got dollars, but is certainly a good deal richer than she was before. And good luck to her. Except, she started off by telling everyone she was setting up a site as an alternative to right-wing leaning networks. So bloggers have contributed quality content to establish it as a leading global publishing platform that makes $30 million a year. And that would probably have been fine, except she decided to sell to one of those networks. So the blogging contributors have started a class action to get their share of the winnings - claiming they've been treated like plantation slaves. My view is that this isn't the first time that someone has made a fortune of the backs of other people's sweated labour and it won't be the last. So she's probably morally bankrupt, but otherwise doing nothing wrong. Let's face it there are a lot of morally bankrupt people around these days. The bloggers themselves have gained a lot of kudos by contributing...but I guess that doesn't help pay the bills. If I was AOL though, I'd begin to wonder about the sustainability of a model that relies on free contributions to generate editorial.

Someone else who must get paid well is Daisy Waugh who writes a piece in The Sunday Times Magazine every week. I don't read it often, but I did this weekend. It was something about not being able to organise a piss up in a brewery, or at least a dinner party at home. It was an OK piece nothing special...and certainly nothing better than I get to read here in the blogosphere. The Sunday magazines are littered with columns like hers. So it got me wondering why she gets paid and others don't. Why doesn't The Sunday Times simply adopt the Huffington model? They'd get better copy wouldn't they. Of course, poor old Daisy would be out of a job and would have to sell her children into plantation slavery. But it's a tough world isn't it?

I've a friend who's been a very active Facebooker, but has come to realise that 140 characters is not enough, so has asked for some tips on starting a blog. I haven't got a clue. I just jumped in and have been swimming ever if you've got any tips for her they would be muchly appreciated. But I'm not paying you for them.

The BBC adopted a rather arrogant tone yesterday when it asked, 'Can ordinary people make good interviewers?' Implying to my narrow chip on the shoulder mind that they regard themselves as something extra-ordinary. I'm generally a great supporter of the Beeb, but here I think we have a reporter getting out of line. They should start reading some blogs and realise that just because you choose to do something as a profession doesn't make you any better than people who do the same thing but for fun. professional arrogance should be left to the bankers and plantation owners.

PS does anyone know what's happened to the wonderful Tom Foolery?

Tomorrow never comes

So celebrations all round in the Nota Bene household.

On top of The Cat's success in the acting world, The Boy is also top of his year in the CCF. My joy is only tempered by the encouragement it gives him in things military. But that doesn't stop me being immensely proud of him, and The Cat.

In addition, The Seagulls (that's Brighton and Hove Albion) have won automatic promotion to The Championship...they're sixteen points clear, there's still loads of matches to play, but they have enough points to see them through even if they lose the rest of the games this season...which they won't. I should point out I'm not a football fan, but I'm cockahoop nonetheless. And hopefully we'll go and watch hem in their new stadium next year. Just for the experience.

Topping off the the list of wey hey heys, is the French victory in the Ivory Coast. Not that I support one side or the other there. It's just good to see the French break their duck and win a war.

Tara's gallery theme this week is tomorrow...which is one of those clever ones that's intensely irritating because it makes you think a bit. For the first time in a while, I actually took some photos for the gallery. They're not great. In fact they're pretty horrible really. So much that The Cat and The Cat's Mother didn't want to look at them. Using my phone I took pictures of us and then used some software to show what we will look like tomorrow. Well not tomorrow itself, but a tomorrow some way down the road. It's a mighty depressing line up of old croaks we have here.

Thank heavens tomorrow never comes

Tuesday 12 April 2011

The kids are alright

I'm kinda expecting to see a hooded figure walking down the street soon, and I know for sure and certain that there will be a man carrying one of those banners proclaiming 'The end of the world is nigh'. Everywhere we turn there's a problem. It must be the busiest year for death, destruction, misery and misfortune for decades. If I was God fearing, I'd be cowering in the corner.

Mr David Cameron is doing his utmost to catch up with Mr Tony Blair in the spin stakes. He rounded on Oxford University this week, because, in his words, in 2009 they took only one person of Black Caribbean origin as an undergraduate. He described that as disgraceful. Now, by any measure Oxford is not, and never will be, a bastion of equality, and technically Mr Cameron is right. But he has ignored all other ethnic groups, including Black Africans, American Africans, etc, etc. If you include those, the true figure is 22% of the intake was 'ethnic minority'. I may be wrong but I don't think that 22% of the UK's population has ethnic origins. By profession, David Cameron is a Doctor of Spin, but spouting shit like that does no one any favours.

The headlines in the papers yesterday that retail banks need protection nearly made me fall off my seat and break my neck. My experience, and that of anyone I know, is that the retail banks are as predatory as they can be, without a concern for their customers and don't in anyway appreciate the charity that we, through the Government have given them. They're certainly not grateful for it. Instead the Banks in both retail and investment forms think that just because they are banging away with handsome profits we should be impressed with their business acumen even though the rest of the world's economy lies in tatters even now. Like locusts they have caused utter devastation, stealing the food from people's mouths, leaving people's working and family lives in ruins. It's all very well for Mr Gordon Brown to say he made a mistake (as he did yesterday) as he and his cohorts didn't realise how interwoven the world's banks are. Well admitting a mistake is fine, but it doesn't fix the problem. The banks should be made to pay for their cavalier, casino approach rather than passing their spoils on to a tiny minority who get to enjoy the high life at the expense of billions of people around the world.

Japan is now on the highest possible nuclear alert...that's about as scary as it gets...although the authorities say its not a Chernobyl type problem. But the highest alert does mean a significant impact on a wide area. That will mean, figuratively if not physically, there will be little green monsters with three heads, one arm and fearsome teeth glowing in the dark running around in abject misery. Do watch this recent video:

Chernokids (english subtitles) from Les Chernokids on Vimeo.

As the former Libya Foreign Policy spokesman for Libya says, there is a danger of that country becoming the new Somalia. Let's hope not. Africa and the Middle East are unstable enough as it is.

It's enough to make you depressed.

A little while ago my opinion was asked, along with a number of others by someone whose girlfriend was beginning to want children. He was less than sure and opened. I sat on the fence. But with all this NEWS happening at the moment, I realise that the one thing that can giving you an underlying hope for the future is children. As the older generation fades away, it is their offspring that have the potential to resolve the problems created by generation after generation after generation. Admittedly history isn't on their side, but if you look into the bright eyes of a kid, whether they're two, ten or nineteen, then you can see a bright sparkle, an innate positiveness that wears away in later life.

The Cat has won herself a place on a National Youth Theatre summer course against some very very fierce competition. How fantastic is that? It's everything she wants, and will be a truly amazing experience for her. We're all truly excited at this achievement....hopefully it will help her in the future.

Monday 11 April 2011

Getting on with it

As I rode my bike this morning I saw a single, solitary school boy walking along the pavement. I wondered if someone had forgotten to tell him that school has broken up for Easter and he was going to arrive with gates padlocked shut, and him left standing until one of his parents turned up to rescue him.

Someone else who migt need rescuing is Nick Clegg as he becomes ever more Tory....did you hear his comments as he left that press conference last week? I'd been horrified that he criticised middle class parents for fulfilling their parental responsibilities by helping their kids, when he had enjoyed that benefit himself. But I ended up rolling around on the floor when it transpired that some senior Labour politicians were spouting the same hypocrisy. Why open your mouth if you haven't got anything sensible to say?

The Arab Spring seems to be heating up - despotic rulers waking up to the realisation that if they don't clamp down hard, they will be out of a job. And probably a life. In Egypt, the protestors are being hit hard by the army, in Syria, protestors are being shot left, right and centre, and in the Yemen protester is fighting protester. Nothing is being said about Bahrain. In Libya, one suspects that the proposal of the African Union will preserve Gadaffi's dignity and probably his has a history of supporting dictators. Still who can blame them for thumbing their collective noses at former colonial powers? If it does, The West's African adventure will be a mighty embarrassment. Gadaffi is the one leader that said 'No' and then stood his ground. If he survives, you can bet your bottom dollar that the rest of the Arab world will see his wisdom and the feint flicker of democracy will be snuffed out.

I was mighty angry with David Cameron last week for rolling into Pakistan and claiming that many of the world's problems are our fault whilst he handed over a massive aid cheque. What a bizarre world role we are carving out when on the one hand we stick our nose into Libya in some latter-day colonial folly whilst at the same time acknowledging that past colonial activity was wrong. I'm a great believer in judging people's and countries actions by the standards of the time. So by that measure, we should know now not to be mucking around in other countries' internal affairs...even if we did it a couple of hundred years ago.

The Cat and The Boy returned from their skiing antics on Saturday night. Well Sunday morning actually...1 o'clock in the morning. I'm not sure what it says about the school's ability to organise, but they'd left a week before at 4 in the morning. Perhaps the teachers are all night owls, but those times don't work for me....or The Cat's Mother. The whole trip sound far more Inbetweeners than respectable public school to me...drinking, vomiting, drinking, pole dancing, drinking, erm toilet incidents, drinking, water skiing (yes they were in the French Alps), drinking, concussion, drinking. I'm sure it wasn't like that in my day. No doubt we'll find out more as the days wear on and further secrets are revealed. There doesn't seem to be much to say about the skiing, other than it was hot, the snow had all turned to slush by 11 in the morning and water by midday. Oh yes, and The Boy won the race. Again. He's good. Very good indeed.

The Cat is home for the duration, and will bury her head in books as she revises dawn to dusk ready for GCSEs. At least she won't be being distracted by Facebook as she's given it up for Lent. God will be grateful.

The Boy on the other hand has gone off for a week's adventurous training in the Lake District with the CCF. He will love it, and hopefully the mild weather will persist for him as he yomps around. No doubt he'll do some last minute cramming when he returns.

Anyway, I should be's Monday morning, and the last five day week for a little while!