Friday 21 October 2011


I still remember that when I was young I didn't know whether chaos was pronounced as a k (as in kite) or a ch (as in chimney). It's strange what things stick in your mind.

I think there is a theory that says the natural state of the universe is chaos. This makes me feel good because for most of my good many years I have lived in chaos. I am somewhat less in touch with the natural world these days as The Cat's Mother sees it as her mission to keep me on the straight and narrow. But there are areas where chaos still reighs supreme, and one of those is keeping track of the blogs I like to read. Some of them are listed to the right, some of them I 'follow' and some of them are just bookmarks. The net result is that I never can seem to keep a track on what I've read and what I haven't...sometimes realising that I've missed a good post by days, weeks even. I now it's all my own fault, but really it's most frustrating.

It's such a shame that in the chaos of the protest against bankers, St Pauls has felt it necessary to close its doors to the public. As The Cat's Mother says...Hitler didn't manage it. I remain entirely sympathetic with their aims, but this does seem to be biting off the hand that feeds them.

The public sector is making enormous cut backs so that we can balance the national budget after all those bankers f*cked us over. We're not quite in the same boat as the Greeks, but then they seemed to be able to retire before they'd even graduated from nursery so they don't illicit a lot of sympathy from anyone. It's not as if holidaying in Greece is any cheaper as a result is it? With this background it does seem surprising that Southwark Council has taken it upon itself to rip up the local park/ancient churchyard to refurbish it. It's a nice place, especially in the summer to eat your lunch, but I can't imagine how it has risen to the top of the council's list of priorities. Worse still. Much worse still is Camden Council which has decided to issue every one of its employees with a Swiss Ball. If you don't know, they're big rubber balls that you tend to find in gyms and are used as part of an exercise routine. In this case, employees are encouraged to sit on them to improve their posture. I'm not sure how many people are employed by Camden, but there's enough to mean that he bill for this must run into tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds. I assume they all had chairs to sit on in the first place. I'm sure that Camden Council will say this is an investment in their employees health and will reduce the number of sick days. But really. Get a grip. This is unnecessary, unreasonable spending. Of taxpayers money. Extravagance is clearly a habit that local council finds hard to kick. I've a good mind to write to the Daily Mail.

It seems my brief on TV has caused a little bit of a furore amongst friends, relatives and others. By declaring I have a large overdraft on national TV, it seems most people assume I'm about to enter the poor may see me begging on your local street corner. At first I laughed at people's response, but now I'm feeling a little defensive. So let me declare here and now, that I'm not broke, I can still afford new clothes and the odd CD or two. The overdraft is just working capital which I get at a reasonable rate of interest. It's a smart business decision, not a desperate plight. Now I've got that off my chest, please tell everyone else so that I can raise my head up again in Loughton High Street as I walk past another TOWIE shop.

And just to round off with Libya, there's not much for me to add that hasn't been said already. Gadaffi's dead, and it's a shame that he was kept alive long enough to be properly interrogated. There are many questions left unanswered, not the least of which being who killed WPC Fletcher and was the truth about Lockerbie. I wonder if there can now be any full closure for the families of his victims. I don't doubt that in the heat of the moment this particular dictator was dispatched by a simple bullet to the head by an over enthusiastic (or hatred-filled) fighter. And as Crispin Black says here wouldn't it have been wonderful to see Tony Blair on the stand as a character witness. So what started as chaos ends in chaos.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

The Truman Show

I'm very good at forming opinions when only aware of half the facts. Sometimes less than half is necessary. This is a skill I was taught at school, and was particularly useful when sitting my history 'O' Level. As I got an A for that, I've always felt it is one of those skills I should hang on to.

So on that basis, let me say, that if I'd built a house without planning permission, I doubt it would have taken the council ten years to tear it down. My sympathies, therefore, lie with Essex Council when it comes to Dale Farm. And it's not too often that you find me sympathysing with authority.

The Middle East has disappeared off the front pages of the newspapers, to be replaced I see by a pretty hysterical warning from The Sun that fish pedicures will give you HIV. So in the interests of balance, let me say that in Egypt the army is pretty much in control and the likelihood of true democracy breaking out is remote. Still in Egypt, the Christians are being beaten to within an inch of their lives, so the chances of me being able to go there and buy the Bible written in Arabic which I should have bought in the Lebanon seems equally remote. In Libya, the fighting is still going on, and I don't think that Gadaffi will give up anytime soon, so the likelihood of me going to visit the amazing Roman ruins there seems erm, erm remote. The Syrian government is continuing to slaughter protesters, so that too is off my list of must go places. Yesterday you may have seen the Israeli soldier Schalit was returned five years after being captured/kidnapped by Hamas. In exchange, the Israelis are handing back a thousand Palestinian terrorists/freedom fighters. In general that seems to be viewed as a humiliation for Israel, and a sign that they had no military answer to the problem. On the other hand, it might be seen that Israel views one Israeli life as worth a thousand Arab lives...and that probably explains the continuing atrocities they commit against the Palestinians every day. You can see where my sympathies lie.

On Monday Loughton High Street was chaos as a film crew was doing what film crews do best. Filming. It was the opening of a new hairdressers, and I understand that the owner is one of the stars of The Only Way Is Essex. That's the second TOWIE owned retail establishment in Loughton...the other is a lingerie shop. I'm told there will soon be a TOWIE nail shop. I may be wrong (but I never let the facts get in the way of a good story - see above), but I think one of the bar/nightclubs is also run by a TOWIE star. If you know anything about Loughton, you'll know you can walk from one end to the other in five minutes. It's not a big place. Have you ever watched TOWIE? OK, have you ever watched TOWIE for more than five minutes? No, me neither. Terrible, terrible people and a terrible, terrible programme which is occupying valuable airwaves which could be taken up more usefully by a revival of Crossroads. Living in a TOWIE world may well be my worst nightmare come true. Hopefully Jim Carey will come and rescue me.

Monday 17 October 2011

Mid-day in Paris

Is it me or had Downton Abbey become utter crap? We loved the first series, but second time round it's just not keeping us entertained on a Sunday evening. Too many plots still going on from the last series, too many new ones introduced in this series, and it's all a bit of an Eastenders rollercoaster. We may not last the full series...if only we'd plumped for Spooks instead.

I'm delighted to see that around the globe there has been proper rioting against the greedy bankers....about time too. Interestingly the Metropolitan police decided to 'kettle' the protesters to prevent the protest making an impact. So much for freedom of speech and democratic rights.

Last week was one of those goddam awful weeks that happen from time to time. I'm generally sanguine about them as I know that these things pass on the assumption that things pick up the following week. So it was "a bit of a disappointment" when my phone went off in the middle of the night with a computer message to let me know that the office alarm had been activated. I hauled myself out of bed and jumped on the motorbike, stopping a few hundred yards down the road as it was so cold I thought my fingers were going to fall off. Having put my winter gloves on again I set off and arrived at the office to find absolutely nothing was amiss. Having double checked everything, I returned home, arriving at 6.30 am, just in time to take The Boy to school for an exceptionally early start. When I got back I climbed into bed to give myself a half hour snooze before the day started properly. Not surprisingly, when I did arrive at the office, the computer kept crashing which meant most of the rest of the morning was spent sorting that out. Humph.

It was a good job we had an interesting weekend.

Friday night we saw The Tempest. Actually inspite of having Ralph Fiennes as Prospero it was piss-poor. Poor staging, poor acting and a desperately slow pace. Rank amateur. And this from Trevor Nunn...we can only surmise that he is distracted by his dalliance with Nancy Dell'ollio who is probably sucking his emotional energy out of him like a Dementor.

Sunday we had a day-trip to Cambridge to see a Vermeer exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum. This was a special trip for us because we wanted to see this picture:

We'd seen it in Paris just a few weeks ago when we popped over for a few days, so it was just fabulous to be able to see it again so soon. The exhibition is called Vermeer's Women, and having seen it I can now tell you that in the seventeenth century:
1. All Dutch children were pig-ugly
2. The women spent a lot of time buying fish...
3. ...when they weren't peeling vegetables
I can also reveal that the curator had failed to spot one of the women was in a skimpy Santa outfit. Tardy.

Sunday The Cat's Mother and I went to the fleapit to see Woody Allen's latest film. I've never enjoyed anything by Woody Allen so my hopes for this one were not high. Yet surprisingly it entranced me almost from the opening credits. I'd rate it pretty much the perfect Sunday matinee film...light, jolly and whimsical. We spent a lot of time trying to spot the places we'd been in Paris. I'm not sure we managed very well, but Paris was certainly shown at it's doubt giving the President's wife a part helped them secure some great locations. The Americans were shown at their worst. And for the first time I realised that Marion Cotillard is an absolute babe.

Why she is given second billing and her name is virtually hidden on the IMDB entry. Perhaps the Americans are still not quite on board with the French again.