Tuesday, 26 February 2008

A little bit of Politics...

Many in the UK might question why we have to put up with daily coverage of what’s going on in the run-up to the US elections but I’m not one of those people. I love it, it’s pure theatre and far more interesting than our fusty political scene. It helps that since the last election I’ve read Hunter S Thompson’s Fear And Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, a book which gave me an insight into just how low-down, dirty and devious you have to be if you are to have any chance of becoming the world’s most powerful person. The game is a much dirtier one now, too. Nixon was as devious as a fox with a degree in cunning but could he have actually stolen an election like Bush did? It’s very doubtful.

Up to now it has, for me, been fairly sedate stuff. The Republicans have been dull. There’s not enough in-fighting for my liking, but then they’re probably saving their efforts for a savage and barbaric assault on whoever wins the Democrat nomination. Today, though, the Obama-Clinton fight just got really interesting. Hillary is starting to panic and her staffers chose this day to circulate a picture of her main opponent wearing a turban and robe. He looks like *gasp* a Muslim! (We can safely ignore the denials coming from the Clinton camp about the source of the leak). It's a dastardly and impressive ruse. Obama, very understandably, isn’t best pleased.

This is what the Democrats seem best at – fighting amongst themselves. Unlike the Republican Party, which generally takes a fairly unified stance, Democrats seem to be best at knowing only what they don’t stand for and, in many cases, it seems that they don’t stand for each other. Who knows what racist or sexist depths the respective campaigns could sink to? Well folks, we’ll find out in the coming months! If the Democratic nomination came down solely to who could play dirtiest, though, Hillary would win hands down. There’s a wealth of experience in the Clinton camp for this kind of fight and it looks like they’re going to need every last ounce of it. I eagerly await the carnage…

What of the GOP? We’ll probably have to wait until the election campaign proper to see them really spring into action. The sole issue at the moment seems to be whether McCain is a little too pink for their liking, but his chances of nomination look pretty sound. What I’m interested to see is just how much effort they’re going to put into securing the Presidency for their man. Obviously they want to win. But could they have a longer term plan up their sleeve? Here’s my theory (well, not really my theory but one stolen from the work of the above-mentioned writer with regard to the Republican effort in the ’76 election):

There is a lame duck President. Right now he and his party are pretty unpopular. The Republicans don’t have an outstanding candidate. Basically, it’s not looking good for them. But it’s also not going to look good for the next President if he or she is unable to extricate the country from the problems that they will inherit: There’s a very unpopular and expensive war going on and the economy is looking a little green around the gills. The next President will probably have little chance of being a success. So….what would be the point, the theory goes, of wasting loads of time and money financing a campaign that would lead to further embarrassment and failure for the party when they could just let the Democrats win the dubious honour of inhabiting the White House for what would surely be four very miserable years? Why don’t they just concentrate on the future and groom a candidate for 2012 and 2016? Look at what happened when Carter won in 1976, the last time the Republicans had little chance of success - His win heralded three consecutive Republican terms. All the Republicans have to do here is let the Democrats win and then fuck things up. That’s my theory.

(Please, any American readers, excuse my ignorance if this is actually a popular theory that you think I’ve plagiarised or if you simply think I’m talking a load of limey bull. And please feel free to correct me. I’m just trying to get involved, y’know? It’s fun!)

Now, some news from England: I saw a man walking his pet ferret through London’s West End on a lead on Sunday. And there ends the news in England.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The Brits

The Brit Awards 2008 is on TV right now. I don't normally watch it but, since I'm currently lacking what many refer to as "a life", tonight I thought I'd give it a go. It's nearly finished now. As I'm typing this Alan Carr is presenting the best Single award to Take That. Alan Carr normally makes me laugh. He introduced himself tonight thus:

Hello Everyone, I'm a bit pissed. I just stuck a straw in Amy Winehouse's beehive. I'm really high now!

So, Alan, would that be the same Amy Winehouse who's currently undergoing rehab for a particularly severe and public drug addiction? Well done for that. Poor Amy, bless her tottering around in her heels looking like a little girl trying on mummy's grown up clothes. She's probably been the high point of a particularly crap Brit Awards just by virtue of not falling over. Maybe it's always this rubbish. I wouldn't know. I just found all the mediocrity on show quite dispiriting.

Mika. What is his purpose? We have Scissor Sisters. We don't need Mika.

Take That winning Best Live Act is okay, I s'pose. Better them than Kaiser Chiefs of Editors or some other piffling indie shambles. I decided that I wanted Take That to win whatever they were nominated for. They, at least, do what they do well. Which is more than can be said of nearly everything else here tonight.

After this comes one of those duets that The Brits like to put on at least one of every year. It's an abomination. Rihanna's Umbrella is a great pure pop song, one of those that only comes along every few years, like Britney's Baby One more Time. She looks and sounds fantastic. But she's playing it with two-bob Jesus Jones tribute band Klaxons. They're dressed like Doug McClure in Planet Of The Apes. Who on earth is responsible for this? It's an incredible mismatch, beauty and the beast, like David Bowie being backed by the Bay City Rollers. It really shouldn't be allowed.

Other winners? Foo Fighters. Meh. Kylie won something despite being not nearly as good as she was a few years ago. Kate Nash wins Best Female for her thrilling dittys about brushing her teeth and squeezing spots and having a dump. Has there ever been a pop star that was actually less glamourous than their audience? Kate is that pop star. Arctic Monkeys, fair enough. They're very good. And they also take the piss out of the stage school brats that have been positioned at the front of the crowd. That's a nice touch, by the way. Those poor underprivileged kids probably need all the breaks they can get.

The Osbourne's were presenting. They're a joke that wasn't ever funny in the first place. I wish they'd retire gracefully, although doing anything gracefully is probably way beyond them. Jack and Kelly were pretty good though, to be fair, they've turned out remarkably well considering (Actually, why should I be fair? Really, why?).

Having ruminated on the crapness of The Brit Awards for a few minutes now I've come to the conclusion that it's probably always been this bad. I just wasn't so bothered about it before. Getting old, me? Yeah, so what? If I can't be allowed to be a curmudgeonly old bastard in my advancing years then there's something desperately wrong and I shan't look forward to getting older any more.

News At Ten is on now, the first time I've seen it since it returned to our screens a few weeks ago. Good old reliable Trevor McDonald is still presenting (Hosting? Anchoring?), that's good. The main story is the nine year old girl who has gone missing in West Yorkshire. Let's hope she turns up soon as I get the feeling that the media and public won't be mobilised in the same way that they were for Maddie's disappearance. The girl isn't as photogenic, you see? And her parents are working class, unlike the dashing McCanns. Oh, I am cynical aren't I? I'm also right.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

I have one grandparent left, one grandmother. This has been the case for a few years now, since my other grandmother died. She was less than a year away from reaching her century and was still independent in her mid-90s where she, despite blindness, continued to live on her own. She was unable to read the labels on cans and used to have to guess what was in them with predictably amusing consequences. Less amusing was when she wasn’t sure that the oven hob was on and tested it with one of hands leaving a spiral shaped burn on her palm. She showed considerable resolve and strength throughout her life, not least when she was sectioned. A daring escape over a wall in my parent’s garden was attempted due to her insistence that we were all out to get her, particularly my dad who, she claimed, kept a tiger in his shed. She then hit a woman who was trying to stop her as she stumbled down the road, threw dirt and stones at a policeman and spat at the paramedics who came to take her away. The rest of her days were spent in a residential care home…

…Which is how my other grandmother lives. She has Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t really understand what’s going on around her anymore, although she can be quite charming when her synapses crackle and stimulate some previously forgotten memory from her youth. Most of the time, though, her condition is distressing for her and those around her. When her dog died a few years ago she used to ask where Scamp was every day, and every day she would be told that he’d died and would then feel the grief of losing her dog all over again. This is why no one will be telling her that her only sister died this morning. She wouldn’t understand. The last time her sister visited my grandmother didn’t even know who she was. I don’t think she needs to be told.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


What a crap month January was! I woke up all miserable and hungover on New Year’s Day and stayed like that for pretty much the rest of the month. I had little money to do anything with and my social life was fairly non-existent due to most people I know feeling similar to me. I have been bored and bereft of imagination. This is one reason I haven’t posted for a while but not the only one.

I was very grateful to receive an award from my friend Speculator who writes a lovely blog here. I’m not confident about my writing and it was nice to have someone telling me that they like what I do, especially someone who writes so well themselves. This post was to feature my acceptance of the award and a few crap jokes about placing it on my mantelpiece along with my other awards such as Playmate of the Year 1984 when I had really big hair and my commendation from the UN in recognition of my services to procrastination and misanthropy. I would then add my nominations and thoughts on what I believe make a good blog and it is here that I have problems since I only read two blogs – my nominator’s and someone he has already nominated.

I set off out into the blogosphere to find five worthy recipients to whom I could forward the award, as per the conditions of my acceptance of it. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for but hoped that something inspiring might jump out at me, a bit like my method for choosing presents when I’m Christmas shopping. I think I was looking for blogs that were a bit like mine. I didn’t want to select any that were written by someone who obviously took their writing more seriously than me for fear that they would think Who the hell does this idiot think he is? You’re not fit to commend my writing! Get off of my page!

I just wanted to find blogs where the author finds joy or beauty or absurdity or anything else in their day-to-day existence. There were precious few of these that didn’t fall foul of the condition outlined above. Maybe my search techniques were lacking but what I mostly found were blogs that were lacking in wit or creativity and were often horribly self-indulgent (yes, my irony detector siren is wailing loudly here too but I don’t care). Our lives are inherently interesting but you wouldn’t know it from the drivel that I took many hours ploughing through whilst hunched over my laptop. This is another reason I haven’t blogged in weeks. My next post had to be about this subject and I couldn’t post until I’d found some blogs I liked.

I found a total of two blogs that I enjoyed reading. That’s a poor strike rate. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like blogs. I’ve also concluded that the problem is with me and not with the bloggers of this world. I find it difficult to be interested in other people’s love lives. Or in their computer games. Or which restaurants they like. Or what their children are learning at school. Or their music tastes. I’m definitely not interested in their music tastes. I concede that there must be loads of worthy blogs out there but you really have to work hard to find them unless you know where to look. Which I don’t. I would rather be reading books. I love reading books. My boring year has allowed me time to read ten books so far. I love books. I don’t like reading blogs nearly as much.

I feel terribly rude about this but I can’t accept the award. I’m unable to fulfil the acceptance criteria: I can’t find a total of five blogs to nominate and, since it’s clear that I don’t actually like blogs, I can’t very well publish my thoughts on what makes a good one. I’m not the right person to ask. I’m truly sorry. I always hoped that if I ever turned down an award it would be from the Queen, and I would refuse it on moral grounds (although there's no way I'd really do that. Mum wouldn't understand). That would be quite noble. This isn't. Speculator, I'm sorry.


In other news: I have a car! I’ve been a public transport user for four years and thought it was about time I had a car again. Where I live is quite isolated so it makes sense. And I love my little MX-5! So does everyone else who has seen it. I’ve certainly never owned anything quite so lovely before and can’t wait until summer so I can cruise around with the roof down. It might even make me more attractive to women! Well, slightly less repellent anyway. I can live in hope.