Thursday, October 30, 2003

And while we're on the North East Coast ....

What kind of 'underground sub-culture' is it that can have a BBC Week dedicated to it ? Admittedly on BBC6 which no-one knows about. How very alternative - you've only got the State media supporting you.

The goth styles of 20 years ago were quite charming. Pale faces, purple lipstick and fingerless gloves are very fetching on a slender young thing - even better if it's a girl.

But as one who occasionally finds himself in Whitby (where Dracula landed on Tate Hill sands) during a Goth Weekend, let me tell you it's a truly scary sight on an overweight, fortysomething mother of three. And I'm an overweight fortysomething myself.

The culture appears to be undergoing some kind of revival among those who like to express their individuality by dressing alike.

I wonder how many of this weekends attendees listen to the woman who was the essence of all things Gothic - the beautiful, doom-laden (and doomed) Nico, whose 'The End', 'Desertshore' and 'Marble Index' are as Gothick as they come. And looked at another way, extremely silly.

Janitor of lunacy
Paralyze my infancy
Petrify the empty cradle
Bring hope to them and me

Janitor of tyranny
Testify my vanity
Mortalize my memory
Deceive the Devil's deed

Tolerate my jealousy
Recognize the desperate need

Janitor of lunacy
Identify my destiny
Revive the living dream
Forgive their begging scream

Seal the giving of their seed
Disease the breathing grief

Well, yes. Haven't we all, in a very real sense, felt like that ?

I know I have.

Just as a good Goth should be, she's no longer with us. But what a voice.

BBC - don't mention the EU

Just finished listening to Open Country on R4, in which writer Katrina Porteous laments the dying fishing culture of the North-Eastern coast. We hear a redundant trawler being burned on the beach.

Anything missing from this gloomy picture ? Just one thing - any mention of the EU Common Fisheries policy, which is responsible for the decline in our fish stocks.

Just try to imagine a similar R4 piece on the death of a Yorkshire pit village - only without mentioning the miners strike or Mrs Thatcher.

No, I can't either.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Tory Website Shock

It's not too bad. And it's got some news on. IDS's statement, to be precise.
Tory MPs In Mass Suicide Pact

Just heard IDS has been rejected by his own MPs, in an act which will hang round the neck of the Tories in the style of a dead albatross for the foreseeable future.

'Loyalty is the Tories' secret weapon.' What a joke. The MPs should perhaps think of the effect of this upon the party members in the country. This is really going to boost morale.

Even though with the benefit of hindsight they should probably have refused to accept the resignation of William Hague, or failing that gone for the great Michael Howard, having chosen IDS and seen a slow but steady revival in Tory fortunes they should have stuck to him.

I can't think of any more to say beyond what I said a few days ago.

"The only way removal of IDS, even to be replaced by the Blessed Michael Howard, would make sense is as part of a long term strategy which acknowledges the cultural as well as political weakness of the Tories, and has plans to combat said weakness. Sir, I don't see any such strategy. I see a few people milling about in a panic, encouraged by a crowd of media onlookers, and a much larger group of people wondering what's going on, and whether they should be milling too, as 'everybody else is'. The ghost of poor Chicken Licken roams the corridors of Westminster. "

The sky is falling !

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Great Fires of LA

Remembering John Mayall's legendary collection of pornography, destroyed on Sept 16, 1979 in Laurel Canyon.

"Rock-blues singer John Mayall's three-story home was nicknamed "The Brain Damage Club," because of the great parties thrown there. A private movie-viewing room and swimming pool built into the side of the hill made the house ideal for barbecues and parties.
Mayall and a few friends were watching a movie in the house when the blaze started. They were able to escape, but the house with a film library of 2,000 hours of video-taped movies, many valuable 16th century antiques, a pornography collection dating back to the 1800s and rock'n'roll diaries spanning 25 years, was destroyed.

All that remained was a charred foundation and a hand-painted swimming pool, littered with soot and ash. Two cars, including a restored 1958 Volvo belonging to Mayall's son Jason, melted completely in the fire.

"We used to have some great barbecues here," said a blonde in clog shoes and shorts, as she looked down on the remains of the Mayall home. "People used to jump out of the third story into the swimmingpool," she added, looking at a bedroom fireplace, the only remnant of the third floor. "

Mythical Monster Sighted

German police have raided 50 properties in a series of raids against neo-Nazi group Combat 18. More than 300 officers took part in the raids in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein early on Tuesday.

Gosh. 300 officers raiding 50 properties. Must be a pretty big organisation.

"State criminal police spokesman Matthias Hennig said the group has a "hard core" of about 10 members."

I do hope that's a misprint.
Politics Of Envy ?

Surely not from Oliver Kamm ?

"Even at its peak, the only people who benefited from it were those whose time was so valuable or self-importance so inflated that they could justify paying a multiple of sometimes seven or eight times the more conventional carriers. Yet while they paid a lot they didn't pay the economic cost of their tickets, which ought to have taken account of the development as well as the operating costs. Concorde was a subsidy from British and French taxpayers to the rich and powerful."

Price of everything and value of nothing ?

I benefited from Concorde, knowing it existed, occasionally seeing it flying in all its beauty, feeling good that my country had helped create it. I remember waiting for a flight at Heathrow and people crowding to the windows or going up to the roof, parents holding up their children to see it land.

Only a month ago the crowd at the Oval broke into spontaneous applause as she came in over London.

I could never afford a ticket but I don't resent those who could - was it to fly empty ?

If you want to stop subsidies to the rich why not campaign against the Arts Council or the ROH subsidy ? But then I like Concorde a lot more than opera.

This government has spent a lot of cash (fruitlessly) trying to boost the 'self-esteem' of various young people. Concorde did that successfully for two entire nations. Cheap at the price - whatever it was.

David Farrer understands.
Huzzah !

The autumn City Journal is out - with great stuff on new LA police chief William Bratton, the end of history, culture wars, Sex and the City (for those who give a flying one about Carrie and Co.) and even a cheerful Dalrymple piece - as well as this, on how journalists, including those of our very own Bush Bashing Corporation, went easy on the Baathist regime in exchange for access to senior regime personnel.

Read it, gorged on it. Now begins the long wait for the winter edition.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Left Wing Hypocrisy - la lotta continua

The woman with the most alluring voice in the House Of Commons, whose breathy tones would be perfect for the late night Radio 2 slot, Diane Abbott, sends her son to a private school. So joining a long list of left-wing hypocrites such as Harriet Harman, who was criticised for her decision by, er - Diane Abbott. At the time Ms Abbott said.

"She made the Labour Party look as if we do one thing and say another."

(In the Lords the cut-glass accent of Tessa Blackstone wins Best Voice. When I hear her announce some disastrous and destructive initiative in those impeccable tones I get a tinge of what Winston Smith felt for Julia during the Two Minute Hate. And Worst Voice ? An Andrew in the Commons - Rosindell or Mackinlay ? Have to think about the Lords.)
BBC and asylum Part 72

On Sunday 26th October a top radio and BBC online news item was the arrest of 42 people in Sussex suspected of illegal working.

A strange story to make the headlines, really. A quick search of BBC news produces 151 stories on illegal workers. Earlier this month 40 were arrested in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In September 35 in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, and 19 in Wokingham (out of 40 - the rest ran away). Half a dozen in Sark, of all places, in August, and over 100 in Esher, the heart of comfortable Surrey commuterland. None of these made the headlines.

So what was so special about the Sussex 42 ?

On Friday BBC news featured David Blunketts decision to announce yet another amnesty for 30,000 asylum seekers as a main item.

Was someone at the BBC looking for a 'balancing' story, to illustrate how well the Government are tackling the issue ? Note the remarkable sub-heading 'Government means business' . It's unattributed, and nowhere appears in the story.

And what do we find today as one of the top stories, after the unspeakable Burrell and the woes of Ian Duncan Smith ?

"Tougher Asylum Laws Proposed"

UPDATE - the great goddess Mel P. writes on the Blunkett capitulation.

"The Home Office says the new measures restricting benefits will send ‘a clear signal’ that people refused asylum from now on must leave the UK. This is like saying the law against burglary is a clear signal that no-one should rob anyone. But it’s useless if everyone knows that it’s never enforced. "

Sunday, October 26, 2003

I don't know ...

What to make of the IDS mullarkey. The Tories were (before the latest maelstrom of rumour and speculation) clawing back the Labour poll lead, a few decent policies (and a couple of dogs) had been unleashed. Gordon Brown's arithmetic was coming unstuck - bad for Britain but good for IDS.

Then a slew of negative stuff which wasn't all made up by BBC and Times journalists. IDS must have something, if so many Central Office types hate his guts. Certainly sounds as if he doesn't do schmooze - not even to major donors. Praiseworthy but impolitic. If he can't even thank the guy who lends him a helicopter, we're unlikely to see an Ecclestone-style cash-for-fag-ads deal.

But one thing is certain. Any leadership change will be a PR disaster for the party. Those who think that an Oliver Letwin (or suitably liberal clone) will suddenly result in the media attack dogs laying off must be on another planet. (A digression. Some 25 or thirty years ago, Popes (John Paul I) and Soviet Presidents (Andropov, Chernenko) had a habit of lasting for rather short periods. It was a subject of popular humour. This is what will happen if IDS goes.)

The only way removal of IDS, even to be replaced by the Blessed Michael Howard, would make sense is as part of a long term strategy which acknowledges the cultural as well as political weakness of the Tories, and has plans to combat said weakness. Sir, I don't see any such strategy. I see a few people milling about in a panic, encouraged by a crowd of media onlookers, and a much larger group of people wondering what's going on, and whether they should be milling too, as 'everybody else is'. The ghost of poor Chicken Licken roams the corridors of Westminster.

One person will be pleased if IDS goes - Tony Blair. Another will be delighted - Nick Griffin.

When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything. - Umberto Eco

David Aaronovitch back on top form, dissing Diana conspiracy theorists and the (apparently) 72% of people who believe in them.

"..... Diana was indeed, 'in a very real sense', the people's princess. She, it turns out, was barking - and so are we. "