Friday, 27 July 2007

British Democracy....

This is what happens when our attention is diverted for a while. It is quite sickening. I wonder how many members of the various environmental groups mentioned in the article have been in favour of longer detention-without-charge powers for the police in terrorism cases. For it is only with the support of draconian government policies such as these that the climate can be created where law abiding citizens can suddenly be arrested on criminal charges for simply exercising their right to protest.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

The Weather Underground

I still have no PC or laptop. I hope to write something about my housing situation soon, but not just yet for reasons that will become clear....

Today could turn out to be extraordinary. There are a good few hours left until midnight but I'm confident that the day will end without rain falling. To anyone outside of the UK with any idea of our weather this wouldn't seem to signify anything too unusual. In this country the weather is very changeable, that is well known. But, in this particular summer, for the day to pass without rain is a real treat. A few weeks ago I wrote that I didn't enjoy Glastonbury Festival as much as I might have, due to the amount of rain. Well, it turns out that we were lucky. The weather since has not only been worse, it has been worse on an almost constant basis, culminating in recent floods the like of which would worry a Bangladeshi. Look:

We are over half way through the British summer and we've been cheated. It's impossible to leave your home for any length of time without running the risk of getting wet which is such a shame for most of the population who look forward to the great outdoors at this time of year. Apparently the terrible weather is set to continue for at least a further two weeks which brings me to the sole reason I started writing on this topic: An excuse to use this fantastic quote printed in The Sun from Barry Gromit of the Met Office:

"The longer the rain lasts the less likely it is there will be dry and sunny weather"


Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Cold Turkey Has Got Me...

...on the run. To my parent's house to be precise which is where I have had to go lately to be able to surf the web. I moved into a new flat two weeks ago and I don't have a PC or laptop and it's driving me mad. I'm getting the Facebook shakes, and no mistake. I'm typing this from work in my lunch hour. I'm surprised my company's super-strict firewall hasn't told me off yet but I'll make the most of it while I can.

I should compose a quick summary of the last couple of weeks but not much has happened. I went to see Buffalo Tom at the Scala and they were fantastic. I went to the Rise Festival at Finsbury Park which was also very enjoyable, if a little wet. I've acquired a new hangover symptom - aching joints. I had aching joints all day yesterday due to my weekend's activities. I'm starting to feel a bit old.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Sweden, So Much To Answer For

One day I might find myself in Room 101. It could happen. The government adopted doublespeak some time ago and continues to bring in laws that it claims are essential to curb the ever-present terrorism threat but that also subtly change the way we live our lives without us even noticing. I know the terrorism threat is real but I don't see how a national ID card or the stealthy way the government is introducing laws that combat legitimate public protest is going to change anything.

Woah, calm down Ian! What happened there?! This was supposed to be a light-hearted rant about some trivial event in my life and suddenly, after years of apathy, I turned into someone who actually cares. Enough of that and back to the story....

Should I find myself in Room 101 I would, of course, have to face my worst nightmare. For Winston Smith it was rats gnawing his face (until he ratted on his lover. Ha! Pun!). I imagine others would face the same fate since rats are reviled by so many. At present, and I mean today at this specific time and maybe for a few days yet and no longer, I have no doubt what I would find should I have to enter that infernal place. I would walk through the door to find myself in a well lit room. On the floor would be an arrow and I would follow it. The room would be very large but various structures give it a maze-like quality that ensure that I visit every part of its huge area so that I don't miss any of it. The arrow guides me through the maze with thousands of other people. We would all be walking very slowly, sometimes retracing our steps back through the maze so as to reinspect some part of it that was previously missed.

I might as well stop waffling on in this ridiculous quasi-mysterious manner, I'm even boring myself now. I'm referring to Ikea, or as Dante referred to it, the Fourth Circle of Hell. I went there last night for the purpose of acquiring a few items for my bedroom. I left there in a state somewhere between despair and murderous rage.

No-one enters the Wembley branch of Ikea in a good mood. In order to get there you need to drive a few miles along one of the ugliest roads on God's Earth, the North Circular. It's grim, maybe London at its most unpleasant. Just make sure you don't take a wrong turn into Stonebridge Park....And then you arrive and, if you're lucky, it will take you less than 10 minutes to find a parking space before you wander into consumer paradise.

It all looks appealing enough to begin with. Everything is very well ordered and well lit and well spaced out. The goods are pleasing on the eye. Stylish, but not intimidatingly so. Populist, you might say. And certainly very popular judging by all the people there. You don't miss anything the store has to offer because you can't. There is a single route and you must follow it, deviation is impossible. And it goes on and on. Bland and inoffensive rules here and you will see every bland and inoffensive item the store has whether you want to or not.

I looked up Ikea on wikipedia and found the following information:

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad was, as a teen, directly involved in the pro-Nazi New Swedish Movement (Nysvenska Rörelsen) until at least 1945, causing tensions when IKEA began opening stores in Israel.

It all now begins to make sense. The order. The uniformity. The brown-shirted staff (actually, I made that up. They wear a tasteful and non-threatening blue). It's a totalitarian utopia and we're all falling for it. Our desire for cheap yet stylish living room furniture is blinding us to what is really going on. When Hitler talked of lebensraum he didn't mean room for his master race to breed and live, he was referring to actual living rooms! Do you see!?

However, there is one area in which Ikea falls short in its ambition to become the flagship store of the extreme right and is also the main source of my hatred of the place. After about ninety minutes shopping I had decided upon a bookcase, bedside table and television stand. I collected them from the warehouse area and made my way to the checkout only to find a huge scrum of people all doing the same as me. I would have had to wait in line for a further half hour. It was 10.45 on a Monday night! Already tired from a few sleepless nights and irritable from spending time in consumer hell I took no time at all deciding on my course of action. I swore loudly, left the store and drove home without my goods. I thought efficiency was the one big thing that a fascist regime might have in its favour. After all, if Mussolini managed to make the trains run on time all those decades ago, then what would surely have been his favoured home furnishing outlet can open a few more checkouts!