Thursday, November 25, 2004

Brief Encounters

"I never exchanged a word with the Colonel. He has no significance at all in what happened during my stay in Oxgodby. As fas as I am concerened he might just as well have gone round the corner and died. But that goes for most of us, doesn't it? We look blankly at each other. Here I am, here you are. What are we doing here? What do you suppose it's all about? Let's dream on. Yes, that's my Dad and Mum over there on the piano top. My eldest boy is on the mantelpiece. That cushion cover was embroidered by my cousin Sarah only a month before she passed on. I go to work at eight and come home at five-thirty. When I retire they'll give me a clock - with my name engraved on the back. Now you know all about me. Go away: I've forgotten you already."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Move away now - there is nothing to see here."

Don't mind me: Just changing the template to the blog. Hopefully the links will be put back in (and updated) at some point later today. However, if you will still insist on continuing to look at the page - here's something to gladden any eye: The special blend of mawkishness, overpriced tat and celebration of the greatest ever achievement by a football team is captured so lovingly. Only 50,000 more to sell and Celtic can finally buy that really creative midfield player they have been missing so much since Lubo Moravcik left the club.

Monday, November 08, 2004

'No Zizek quotes, will Robinson do?'

Currently re-reading the very funny 'Smoking In Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson': a series of interviews with Bruce Robinson edited by Alistair Owen, that takes him through his childhood in Kent; through his years as an actor where he acknowledges that he was little more than a pretty face made good in the movies 'cos Zeffirelli fancied him and cast him Benvolio in his 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet; up to his years as a novelist and screenwriter of such excellent works as 'The Killing Fields'; 'Withnail and I' and the 'The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman'. The following quote from the book caught my eye 'cos it captures so well the combination of Robinson's gallows humour and his jaundiced view of the capriciousness of the Film Industry:

"We were at a dinner party at Terry Semel's house in Los Angeles, which is like Blenheim Palace. Semel was running Warner Bros, and I think he still does. We were sitting there and clearly audiences were going with The Killing Fields, and Jake Eberts was saying to me 'What are you going to do next, Bruce? I said, 'It looks like I'm going to write this atomic bomb film for Warners, but what I'd really like to do' - and I wasn't talking about me as a director - 'is get my little film made.' He said, 'What is your little film?' - i.e. 'Bring it to us' - and I said, 'It's about two out-of-work actors in London in the sixties.' He said [American accent], 'Fuck! I gotta tell you this, I just had this script over my desk about two out-of-work actors in London in the sixties.' And he proceeds to tell me about Withnail. 'It's the most godawful unfunny thing I ever read. I don't know what yours is about, but let me tell you if it hadn't been recommended I'd never have got through it. It's just shit.' I finally said, 'Yeah, that's my story.' So there you go.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Communists for Bush

The SPGBer with the high politics and the low spelling, Reasons to be Impossible , has an interesting post here on the American Election, which relates to a previous post of his on the Guardian-shoots-itself-in-the-foot-'fest otherwise known as Operation Clark County. Its an interesting post primarily because of the excerpt he reproduces from the article, 'CAPITALISM WINS 2004 ELECTION BY DEFAULT', published in 'The People', the journal of the De Leonist Socialist Labor Party. The swine beat me to the punch - damn him and his early starts - because I was going to link to the article myself. It's a fine piece of writing. I'll get my own back by saying that I think he's wrong about the SLP being part of the First International. Before he barks back at me that it is myself that has got it wrong, according to Girard and Perry in their admirable wee book 'The Socialist Labor Party 1876-1991: A Short History' (now sadly out of print): "In April 1876, a preliminary conference of representatives of the Internationalists and the Lassalleans met in Pittsburgh and issued a call for a Unity Congress to meet in Philadelphia the following July to form a "Socialist Labor Party." Prior to this Congress, delegates from the remaining American sections of the International met in Philadelphia on July 15 and disbanded that organisation. On July 19 the Unity Congress met . . . In four days the Unity Congress glued together the Workingmen's Party of the United States (WSPUS) complete with an organizational structure, and a program calling for "emancipation of the working classes," "the abolition of all class rule," and the abolition of the wages system." Read it and weep - four days between the disbandonment of the one organisation and the formation of the other. My leftist trainspotter anorak credentials may be a bit moth eaten but they are still intact. Christ, I just know I'm going to be hit with a bad case of schadenfreude for the above comments. What's the difference between the Socialist Labor Party and ourselves? I'm afraid I don't have the spare seven hours to bore you with the details of the internecine strife that seems to beset politicos with newspapers. Save both me and you some time by renting out the DVD of Monty Python's 'Life of Brian', click on the menu and go to the Judean People's Front versus People's Front of Judea scene. Just like every eighties heavy metal band has to pretend to have a sense of humour by saying how much they love Spinal Tap, us lefties also have to put on a brave face and pretend we can see the joke when the Monty Python mob rip the piss out of us in the Life of Brian. I myself pretend with a steely gaze and through gritted teeth, waiting for that day I *cough* accidently bump into Cleese, Palin, Gilliam and co. and demand royalties from them for stealing some of my best lines.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

'Dancing With Tears in His Eyes'*

A quick one.
Mention in a previous post of Iain Banks political gesture of burning his passport in protest at the actions of Her Majestys Government, reminded me of the following anecdote, cut and pasted below, that appeared in Jim Higgins uproariously funny political memoir, More Years of the Locust.
The background to the anecdote recounted was the arrest of ex-IS member turned Anarchist, Stuart Christie, in 1964, whilst trying to cross the French-Spanish border with a rucksack full of explosives and a plan to assassinate Franco. Arrested, and apparently as part of the last of the thirty attempted assassination attempts on Franco's life, the eighteen year old Christie could have been executed by garroting, but was instead sentenced to twenty years and, following international protest and campaigning, was released in 1967.
It says something for the shallow roots that Anarchism has in British political life and public consciousness that forty years after the above episode and thirty years after the juvenile antics of the Angry Brigade, Stuart Christie still qualifies as the best known Anarchist in Britain. (Chumbawumba's 'Tubthumping' always playing on the pub jukebox doesn't really count.)
A grisly episode, but if it is good enough for the late Jim Higgins to write about, then who am I to pass up the opportunity to cut and paste a funny anecdote to gratuitously fill up my blog? Take it away Jim:
"In Glasgow, the IS comrades organised a protest at his sentence outside the Spanish consulate. Ian Mooney prevailed on his mother to run up a fair replica of a Spanish flag that could be symbolically burned outside the consulate. As the man who provided the flag, Ian insisted on being allowed to set it alight. To ensure a merry blaze he first soaked it with lighter fuel. Unfortunately he was extremely shortsighted and, while he successfully soaked and lit the flag, he also soaked and lit his own boots. Thus what might have been an easily forgotten protest has danced – along with Ian Mooney’s flaming boots – into the annals of Glasgow socialist folklore."
* The title of the post is in homage to Reidski's habit of using the title of classic pop songs as titles of the messages to his blog. If he can namecheck the songs of such great artists as Blondie, the Buzzcocks and the Stranglers then why can't I namecheck Ultravox?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Looks like someone is going to Saltcoats for his holidays next year.

Hat tip to the Scottish Patient


In the comments section to this post, Backward Dave comments on Banks as a person and as a writer. I agree with Dave that what I have seen of Iain Banks, when he is being interviewed on the television, he seems like a good bloke and all that. And, like Dave, I agree that Bank's friend and fellow Sci-Fi novelist, Ken MacLeod, is probably the better writer of the two - from reading Macleod's blog and from reading the non-Science Fiction bits of his novel, The Stone Canal, which is as good a thumbnail sketch of the British Far Left in the seventies and eighties than anything I have read before.

Why did I feel the need to mention the above? Simply 'cos it gave me the excuse to link to the following article that MacLeod wrote for the Special Centenary Issue of the Socialist Standard, monthly journal of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, in June of this year. Gratuitous plug for said article, in the journal described as the Beano by Petty Bourgeois Deb, over, I can get on with other matters.

Now, where did I last leave my armchair?

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Been a bit busy lately - procrastination can take it out of you - which means that I've been a bit backward in coming forward in updating the blog. I may or may not get back to regular blogging in the next few days. I'm not sure if I want to continue with this blogging business. The original *cough* mission statement, in setting up the blog, was to try and get into the habit of regular writing. The truth is I can't really be arsed - I will always be more Oblomov than Goncharev when it comes to such dedicated and disciplined matters.
If I do get to pull my finger out with regards to the blog, then I really will have to change the template - it has been bugging me for ages now (and has probably contributed to me not updating the blog as often as I should). Nothing fancy - just another shameless steal from Bloggers offer of free templates. I would also have to update the sidebar. I really need to update my links - reciprocating to those who have linked to my blog, etc. Apologies to those of you out there for my slackness - it is just part of a general pattern.
Rather than just leave this message and blog hanging in such a 'face like a slapped arse' miserablist fashion, I thought I would take the opportunity to take a leaf out of the SIAW triumverate's book (otherwise known as shamelessly ripping them off) by reproducing below a favourite poem of mine. They have for the last few days taken it upon themselves to updating their blog with a selection of their favourite poetry. As they apparently got the inspiration for the idea from this guy , I don't feel half as guilty about also partially lifting the title of their thread, 'Otherwise Engaged', and calling this post Otherwise Detained.
I can't pretend to be the greatest afficiando of poetry - this blogger here knows his onions when it comes to poetry - but I read the following piece in a collection of thrities poetry recently and it caught my eye for its humour. The collected lyrics of Paul Weller may be cut and pasted at a later date.
Bagpipe Music It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crepe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with head of bison.
John MacDonald found a corpse, put it under the sofa,
Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,
Sold its eyes for souvenirs, sold its blood for whiskey,
Kept its bones for dumbbells to use when he was fifty.
It's no go the Yogi-man, it's no go Blavatsky,
All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi.
Annie MacDougall went to milk, caught her foot in the heather,
Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna.
It's no go your maidenheads, it's no go your culture,
All we want is a Dunlop tire and the devil mend the puncture.
The Laird o' Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober,
Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.
Mrs. Carmichael had her fifth, looked at the job with repulsion,
Said to the midwife "Take it away; I'm through with overproduction."
It's no go the gossip column, it's no go the Ceilidh,
All we want is a mother's help and a sugar-stick for the baby.
Willie Murray cut his thumb, couldn't count the damage,
Took the hide of an Ayrshire cow and used it for a bandage.
His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish,
Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.
It's no go the Herring Board, it's no go the Bible,
All we want is a packet of fags when our hands are idle.
It's no go the picture palace, it's no go the stadium,
It's no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,
It's no go the Government grants, it's no go the elections,
Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.
It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.
Louis Macneice

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bob Doolally writes . . . .

I was originally going to entitle this post: 'The Script was Already Written', before I realised that the same cliche had already been used by every proper football journalist reporting on the game last night. Yes, it was obvious Larsson was going to score and, football being football, it just had to be the killer third goal after Celtic had forced their way back into the game after Marshall's penalty save and Sutton's equaliser.
Don't know what else to write on the matter, except to say that my replica 1970s Barcelona top is in severe danger of being binned. That's a strong reaction from me - 'cos I didn't even get shot of it three or four years ago after a pissed up Real Madrid fan took exception to me wearing it, whilst we were both standing in Trafalgar Square (after yet another bloody march). Me thinking - "For fucks sake, yet another bastard Swoppie speaker on the platform not mentioning that they are speaking on behalf of the SWP Party Line rather than the front organisation they are claiming to represent." Him thinking - ¿What's ese Scotsman híbrido que hace usando un balompié Jersey de Barcelona?*
Until the heat dies down, if anyone asks, I'll deny that the shirt has any connection with Barca and just state that my second team is Smurf FC, who just happened to hammer The Muppets 4-0 in a pre-season friendly a few years back and, since then, I have always had a soft spot for them.
* He spoke very bad Spanish. The above translates as: "What's that Scotsman hybrid that does using a Jersey soccer football of Barcelona? " Which is an amazing coincidence 'cos that is what you get in Spanish if you type "What is that Scottish bastard doing wearing a Barcelona Football shirt." into Babel Fish and then try and retranslate it back into English. He obviously couldn't handle his drink, but as for what Babel Fish has been drinking I wouldn't venture to guess.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Party Line

A telephone conversation from recent memory: Socialist (Putting on his best telephone voice): Hello, is that Such and Such Library? I'm ringing on behalf of a com-, *cough*, colleague, who mentions that your library doesn't appear to have the Socialist Standard in its periodical section despite the fact that, according to our database, we send it to your library every month. Head Librarian (Posh voice - this posh): I am sure I have seen it come in. I will check with a colleague to ensure that it comes in next month and get back to you on the matter. Socialist (Just trying to make light of the matter): It's probably a case of one of your librarians being an SWP member and inadvertently misplacing it every month. Head Librarian: Bugger the SWP - I used to be a member of Class War. I'll make sure it gets on the shelf. Socialist: . . . . . . . .

Monday, September 13, 2004

"Pro-intelligence, anti-intellectual"

Is this connected to this and this? I certainly hope so. UPDATE Damn - I should have titled the post ' A Pseud Cornered'. Maybe next time - 'l'esprit d'escalier' and all that. Fuck, I'm coming down with it now. Never mind, I could do with that tenner.


The following report courtesy of the Skookum Talk blog about class struggle in so-called 'Socialist' China.
Hundreds of police break up factory occupation in China
By John Chan13 September 2004
In the early morning of August 30, around 1,200 paramilitary police officers, security personnel and plain-clothes police stormed the Banan Special Vehicle Factory in the Chongqing municipality of Sichuan province to forcibly break up a 12-day occupation by workers. The protest was sparked the corrupt sale of the state-owned enterprise and concerns over back-pay and jobs.
A retired worker told Radio Free Asia that police blocked the entrances of nearby workers’ apartments to prevent them from joining the protest. Clashes with workers occurred when riot police forcibly entered the factory and at least one old woman had her arm broken. “Most workers are extremely angry,” the worker said.
She told the reporter that 90 percent of workers at the factory were owed wages, even before “restructuring”. The government and management had promised to pay them, but no money had materialised. Moreover, some workers’ wages were as low as 80 yuan ($US9) a month.
Protest leaders issued appeals for help on the dissident Internet website—the World of Workers and Peasants. They described the situation in the factory as a “white terror” with brick walls being built to fortify the buildings, and searches being conducted for strike leaders. About 100 security personnel were guarding the entrances to the factory.
The incident is typical of the violent police methods used to enforce the sale of state-owned enterprises—a process that has resulted in millions of workers being thrown out of a job and cheated of wages and pensions
The factory was previously operated by a government weapons manufacturer, Unit 3403, under the Chengdu Military Zone. Like many other state-owned firms, it went bankrupt in June under managing director Zhang Ermao, who was accused of systematic financial plundering.
Under Chinese law, the bankrupt enterprise had to be auctioned publicly. However, a group of corrupt government officials and businessmen decided to sell the factory, estimated to be worth 200 million yuan ($US24 million), for just 22 million yuan to the private company Naide, run by Lin Chaoyang.
Managing director Zhang had already been “cooperating” with Naide since 2002 in helping to “restructure” the factory’s operations. Naide had itself been a state-owned plant before being taken over by its former manager Lin. As part of this “cooperation”, Naide exploited the Unit 3403 factory to produce vehicles and motorbike engines for its subsidiaries, ending in the unit’s bankruptcy.
Zhang immediately went into hiding once the factory was declared bankrupt to avoid workers who were demanding that he explain and secure their jobs and pay. It was later found out that he had been appointed to a highly paid managerial position with Naide and had enjoyed a holiday in the western province of Xinjiang, leaving the unit’s workers to fend for themselves.
The deal to sell the factory was done behind the backs of workers. When the news spread, workers resolved to occupy the factory on August 18 to demand the government provide an explanation and punish Zhang for the corrupt sale. At the same time, they declared that if the plant were to be sold for 22 million yuan, then the 3,000 employees would raise a fund of 30 million yuan to buy the factory and run it themselves under “democratic management”.
The following day, the Banan district government, as well as the police bureau and officials from the Chongqing economic commission, confirmed the sale and warned the workers to withdraw. On August 19, Zhang and Naide’s boss Lin sent some 60 thugs to try to intimidate the workers.
Over the next two days, Lin forced all male employees working at his company to cancel their weekend leave and sent them by bus to attack the occupying workers at the 3403 factory. However, many refused to participate after the unit’s workers explained what had happened.
At the same time, using the pretext of conducting an “investigation”, police entered the factory and tried to arrest the strike leaders but they escaped. An attempt by Lin to buy off the workers’ leaders with a bribe of 400,000 yuan was rejected.
On the morning of August 24, the city committee of the Chongqing Communist Party organised negotiations with the workers and demanded to enter the factory. Workers agreed but refused to allow the officials into the financial department, which contained the evidence of malpractice and corruption. As the purpose of this ruse was to destroy the incriminating financial evidence, “negotiations” collapsed.
The following day, 300 police appeared at the factory, declaring that the property already belonged to Naide and thus the occupation was illegal. They refused to listen when workers demanded the presentation of the legal documents of the sale and the opening the company’s books, insisting that the “illegal private company gets out of here”.
“The factory is bankrupt and employees’ legal rights must be protected,” workers said. “We need redundancy pay and money for food and health care. Because of the lack of money for sick workers, three people have already tried to commit suicide by jumping from the top of buildings. Two are dead and one seriously injured.”
During the protest, the unit’s workers have made several appeals on the Internet. In a letter published on August 27, an organiser explained that similar incidents had been taken at several state-owned factories in the region in recent years, only to be brutally suppressed by the Chongqing police bureau. “Now the tragedy is turning on us,” he wrote.
The organiser denounced the crimes of managers and Communist Party cadre in looting the “hard labour of workers’ blood and sweat”. He said they had used the company’s money to set up businesses for their families and had been involved in illegal trade contracts to plunder state-owned assets. At the end of the year, management shared the annual dividend amounting to hundreds of thousands of yuan, but gave little to the employees.
After this letter appeared, the organiser disappeared. On the eve of the August 30 police crackdown, other workers raised concerns on the Internet that he and other organisers may have been arrested, because the Chongqing branch of National Security Bureau (the secret police) reportedly had become involved.
The vicious state repression used to end the factory operation demonstrates once again that the Stalinist leadership in Beijing has nothing to do with socialism. From top to bottom, the bureaucracy is guided by the slogan first enunciated by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping: “To get rich is glorious”. Over the past 25 years, officials from the local to the national level have engaged in the looting of state-owned enterprises at the expense of tens of millions of workers, while opening up the country for foreign investors and the capitalist market.
Workers from the Unit 3403 factory wrote a letter to Wu Guangzheng, a powerful member of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee, appealing to him to stop the violent attacks and to act on their demands. But they received no response. After the police crackdown on August 30, workers warned that they would not stop their campaign and issued a defiant statement denouncing the government.
“The Chongqing government thinks they are safe now after suppressing workers at the 3403 factory but they forget that incidents like this are taking place everywhere in China. The highest decision-making body should also not think this is just an isolated phenomenon. If this type of ‘restructuring’ to privatise state-owned assets allows entrepreneurs to continue and spread, all of China will burn in a fire of revolution..
“If the Chinese government doesn’t want to collapse, doesn’t want an escalation of large-scale social unrest and wants to maintain social stability, then it must stop ‘restructuring’ and privatisations as soon as possible. Otherwise, a working class revolution is inevitable, it is just a matter of time.”

Sunday, September 12, 2004

"A sandal-wearing bearded fruit-juice drinker."

I'm not that big on the Jesus debate - you know the one: Was he the son of god? Did he actually exist? Was he in fact a revolutionary freedom fighter against the yoke of Roman Imperialism, but whatever else, he did provide Bill Hicks with a decent gag*; Billy Connolly with his best stand up routine; a smart opening to one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century; and his *cough* life did provide all the po-faced paper sellers out there (guilty as charged) the opportunity to pretend that they have a sense of humour when - pissed on foul tasting Weatherspoon's Real Ale - they recite the 'People's Front of Judea' routine at each other.
However, I think that - as the campaign poster below indicates - the Bush Campaign Team may have a point. Think about it - the bloke in the picture has a beard, has been known to wear sandals (the biblical scholars have yet to establish whether or not this was with or without socks), believes that the role of the state is in benign intervention to help the poor (not for them to help themselves, mind) and thinks that the problems of the world can be sorted out via a scheduled committee meeting (think Last Supper) with properly typed up minutes from the last meeting, and committee members only allowed to speak through the chair.
I can now exclusively reveal that Jesus Christ is alive and well, and is serving as a Liberal Democrat Parish Councillor in a small hamlet just outside Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
The pic is courtesy of the always readable and scribbable Backward Dave, who got it from here, who probably got it from someone else. The bad jokes are all my own.
* "A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a fucking cross? It's like going up to Jackie Onassis wearing a rifle pendant."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"It's what's inside that counts."

From this week's Private Eye 'Funny Old World' section. No link available, so I have had to type it out in full:
"The little missus was away at a Tupperware convention, so I had to do my own laundry," Klansman Arnie Stevens told reporters outside his house in Pigeon Hole, Oklahoma. "But I'm not used to washing clothes, and they say this has happened because I didn't separate my whites from my colourds. A Cincinnati Reds tee-shirt must have gotten into the wash, that's why my robe turned pink. This just goes to show that segregation is the way of the Lord. In laundry and also in life."
Stevens was speaking after trying to attend a Ku Klux Klan rally, dressed in a pink hood and pink robe, and being ordered to leave. "I only have one robe and hood, so I had to wear them. But the others told me to go home immediately, because they said pink made me look like a faggot. Unfortunately, my fellow Klansmen judged me solely on the colour of my robe. But I can't help what colour my robe is, can I? It's what's inside that counts."
(Maryland Live Journal, 27/5/04. Spotter: David Harvey)

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Resolutionary Socialism

Oops - been a bit slack lately on the old blogging front.
Apart from turning up occasionally in other people's Comments boxes - Hello Lenny! - I've been elsewhere in cyberspace in recent weeks, but I guess I'll try and post a bit more on the blog in the near future. The blogging world can never have enough bad jokes and decent taste in music.
Just to ease me back into posting, I thought I would cut and paste below the following poem, 'Ode To A Committee', that someone posted on the Socialist Unity Network website. From what I can gather, the Socialist Unity Network is the latest example of a support network made up of fragments from the various 'Generals Without Armies' who have now rediscovered such long forgotten concepts as democracy, openess and a sense of humour within the workers movement - aah bless.
The words of the poem I have lived through many, many times; sitting through boring meetings, staring into space, with my legs going to sleep, the rest of my body wishing it could follow suit, but too scared to shut my eyes because I know the words below are tattoed on the inside of my eyelids.If you have no idea what this poem is about, don't gloat - it could happen to anyone.
You have been warned ;-)
An Ode to a Committee
Oh give me your pity, I'm on a committee
which means that from morning to night,
we attend and amend, and contend and defend
without a conclusion in sight. We confer and concur, we defer and demur,
and reiterate all of our thoughts,
we revise the agenda with frequent addenda,
and consider a load of reports. We compose and propose, we support and oppose,
and points of procedure are fun
but though various notions are brought up as motions,
there's still very little gets done. We resolve and absolve, but never dissolve,
since that's out of the question for us!
What a shattering pity to end our committee
for where else could we make such a fuss?

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Socialism As A Torrent - A Short Post

If anyone has been having a look at the comments section of the previous posts to this blog they will see that in amongst the comments about Celtic gubbing Newcastle United at the footie, there has been some mention of my hope to be able to post mp3s on the blog.
Unfortunately, this matter is still in the hands of my lawyers ( I can't believe the royalty cut Donny and Marie Osmond want before they will allow me to post their cowpunk version of Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid' onto the blog) but in the meantime I thought if I can't post mp3s of obscure music onto the blog, then the next best thing would be to post a link to mp3s of some obscure politics instead.
Those of you up with the 'Bit Torrent revolution will understand the following info - for the rest of you I apologise, I can't post an idiot's guide to what is a 'bit torrent', how to download a 'bit torrent' and how it all works, 'cos I'm a bonafide technoidiot myself and my name is already on the waiting list for an idiot's guide to all this myself. (Where's Magnus Pyke when you need him?)
Recordings of the following Socialist Party meetings have been uploaded to the 'bit torrent' sites, Suprnova and Loki Torrent:
'Why Socialism Is Still Relevant' - Centenary Meeting of the Socialist Party held on the 12th June this year in London, England.
'Martov and the Anti-Bolshevik Approach To Revolution' - A recording of an old meeting but which was part of an excellent series of meetings, 'Socialist Thinkers - People Who History Made', in which other figures from history under discussion included Karl Kautsky, William Morris, Bronterre O'Brien, Joseph Dietzgen and a couple of others.
Now *gulp* for the difficult bit. Contradicting my comments above, and for those people not yet up with all this 'Bit Torrent' shenanigans, an attempt at an idiot guide written by an idiot:
What is a 'Bit Torrent'? A bit torrent allows people and/or companies to upload a file (in everyday language, a film or album or ebook etc, etc)to the internet and rather than it being downloaded from a single web server, and thus increasing the bandwidth - and cost - for the person uploading the file, the download is shared between multiple file users, who are also downloading the same file at the same time.
Sorry if that sounds a bit garbled, we didn't do computer studies at school, we daydreamed through woodwork. For a nice diagram that gives you the gist of what I am wittering on about, click on the link.
The link above is a bit disingeneuous, cos it gives a PR speak impression of bit torrents being for the use of companies to best distribute their products on the internet. However, in reality, its just the bloke who conjured up the bit torrent covering his arse with a disclaimer; cos in reality most people use bit torrents to share and download films, music etc etc across the net without first having to first break a twenty pound note.
How Do I Get A 'Bit Torrent'? For those of you who have a desperate need to hear what sort of Public School accents abstract propagandists have, you will first have to download a bit torrent. These can get downloaded here.
OK, I've Got A 'Bit Torrent', What Next? As mentioned above the recordings of the meetings are available at Suprnova and Loki Torrent They are both listed in the miscellaneous sections of the websites. At Suprnova, after you go click on the miscellaneous section you have to go into the 'Other' section, where both talks are listed.
How Big Are These Files? 'Why Socialism Is Still Relevant' is 64mb in size, so with a good connection it should take forty minutes to download. The Martov meeting is 94mb in size and will take about an hour to download.
How Long Will These Files Be Uploaded For Download? I will try and keep them up as long as possible, but if and when Donny and Marie's lawyers see sense then obviously my priority will be to post to their classic reinterpretations. Therefore, those of you thinking: "Mmm, I will eventually download the socialist guff, but first I must download that Croat language version of Spiderman 2", then I must warn you that when you finally do complete that download (with a dial up connection, it should be finally downloaded around about the same time as the closing ceremony of the Olympics), then it may be the case that even Donny and Marie have exited stage left to be replaced by the 'Rab C. Nesbitt does Shakespeare' file.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

'I Tnhik The Begugr Is On To Stnehoimg'

From the Charlotte Street blog, the following interesting post.

The Leafletter Returns

About Sodding Time!
His unexplained absence was getting that extended I thought I might have to end up posting some political content on my blog myself.
But the good news is that fellow SPGB'er, Reason To Be Impossible, is back on the blogging trail. It is definitely him - the combination of high politics and low spelling are in all the right places - and it means that if I post a link to him from time to time I can keep up the politics quotient on the blog, whilst I can get back to the serious business of writing bad jokes, talking up good music and posting the random picture.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Kilgore on Wee Jinky

I know that Robert Duvall starred in a film about Scottish football a few years ago which, beyond a few clips on the telly, has never seen the light of day in Britain, but I still can't quite get my head round the fact that a Hollywood actor who starred in such great films as 'Apocalypse Now'; 'Godfather'; 'MASH'; and 'Network' amongst others is a drinking mate of Jimmy Johnstone, the greatest footballer to ever play for Celtic.*
It's a small world but I wouldn't want to leaflet it.
"You know wee Jimmy Johnstone, the Celtic player . . . He was the No. 1 character I've met in my life and I've met a lot. I named a dog after him. He sings like Neil Diamond. When he was drunk we had to put him in a cab but not before he'd hugged a few flight attendants. Isaid to the cab driver: 'This guy must be second only to Jesus Christ', and the cabbie says: 'No, he's before Jesus Christ.' " From Monday's London Metro newspaper
*He was voted the greatest Celtic player of all time in some poll conducted last year. 'Fraid I can't find the link, but he polled above other greats such as Jimmy McGrory, Kenny Dalgleish, Danny McGrain, Billy McNeill, Charlie Tully, Henrik Larsson, Bobby Murdoch, Bobby Evans, Bertie Peacock and Bobby Lennox amongst many others. (I double checked but I'm certain Wayne Biggins didn't make the list).

"The Horror. The Horror"

Christ, just had the misfortune to see the pilot episode of the American remake of 'The Office'. It is so bad that a few years down the line it will become a 'cult classic' - aye, that bad.

The pilot episode of the American version - I think I should delete the word "pilot" and insert "only"; surely they won't show the other remade episodes if they have made them - has a near identical set to the original version; a near identical script (though some of the 'near the knuckle' references from the original have been written out); and a cast of characters who in a bad light, with your contacts out and your cataracts in, almost look like the original actors but it just gets everything wrong. Steven Carell, who fills the shoes of Ricky Gervais, attempts to play the David Brent character (renamed as Michael Scot in the American version) as a wholesale rip from Gervais performance - tic for tic; sly glances to the fictional documentary camera; and even the attempt at the best fake laugh this side of an audience at a David Baddiel* Stand Up Show. However, it just doesn't come off. And the guy playing Gareth? For some reason, the makers of the American version thought that they would get an actor who looks like the lovechild of Garrison Keillor and Olive from 'On The Buses' fame to play the part. That is the most interesting part of his performance.

And what does Ricky Gervais himself make of the American version?

"I've watched the pilot. It's good. It's quite faithful to the original."But it's weird for me because I can't look at it objectively. I think anyone who's seen our version will find it weird. But it's not aimed at us Brits, it's aimed at 250 million Americans who've never heard of The Office."So I don't know what will happen really, but neither do I care. It's nothing to do with me. We handed over the rights and now it's up to them. I wish them luck."

David Brent couldn't have excused it away better himself.

*As Baddiel is a fake comedian, I thought I would link to a pic of a fake David Baddiel.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Facts and Figures - Japan style

"Japan's birthrate fell to a record low of just 1.12 million babies, or about 1.29 children per couple, in 2003. The rate, which measures the average number of times a woman gives birth during her lifetime, dropped 0.03 points from the previous low of 1.32 in 2002. The falling birthrate is a serious worry for Japan as it looks forward to the possibility of labor shortages, a diminshed tax base and pension system insolvency. "
Source: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
"Suicides rose 7.1 percent to 32,082 in 2003 from 29,949 the years before, according to figures released June 11 by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Suicide was the sixth leading cause of death after cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, and the leading cause of death among men in their 50s, a demographic that has borne the brunt of corporate restructuring and the economic slump. Suicide was also the No. 1 cause of death among those in their 20s and 30s, the age groups that are less likely to die from illnesses."
Source: The Japan Times
Both quotes from the July 2004 issue of The Japan Journal

Friday, July 16, 2004

'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For . . .'

News reports today mention that the rough cut of U2's next studio album has gone missing, presumed stolen, whilst the band were doing a photoshoot for the cover of the  proposed album. French police have issued the following description of a man they want to interview about the disappearance of the CD.*       * OK - It's a fair cop - the joke above is fifteen years out of date, but: 1) So are U2. 2) I had to post something to get back in the habit of blogging.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Invention of Tradition

One of my favourite films of all time is Peter Mullan's Orphans. In fact I love the film so much I can be a bit of pain in the arse about it - proselytizing and preaching at people, urging them to check it out, in the same way your average SWPer tells you that every Respect campaign is really, really brilliant.

I guess people put me love for the film down to some sort of atavistic Glasgow thing or a bad case of the lapsed Catholics: at a push I can plead guilty to the former, but the latter don't apply in my case. I come from a *cough* mixed family (roughly translated as one side of the family are left footers) of professional don't knows, don't cares, and the "hedge your bets on your death bed just in case - get them all in to say a few words to make sure your name is on the guest list if there is a trip upstairs. The Priest, Vicar, Iman, Rabbi and the woman with the crystals" brigade

It is just a really, really brilliant - shit, I'm coming down with a case of the 'SWPS' now. I'll be breaking out the petition next - film. A mixture of tears in the eyes humour, lump in the throat family drama and the best use of Billy Connolly in a film ever (Sorry Billy, the quality of your jokes are now in inverse proportion to the size of your ego)which confused the hell out of the Joshuas and Jemimas in the Marketing Dept of the film's financiers, Channel Four, when they saw the final cut of the film. Rest assured the Joshuas and Jemimas quickly recovered their composure and did what they do best when faced with a film that they can't shoe horn into a soundbite on a poster: they fucked up its distribution and let it disappear to the bottom shelf of the video section in your local library. (You couldn't find it in Blockbusters - there was not enough room on the shelves for a single copy of the film alongside the 50 copies of 'Notting Hill'.)

I'm getting off the written track of the post as per usual. My reason for the post is 'cos when reading an old Peter Mullan interview I came across the following admission from Mullan about a key scene in the film that made me smile. I always wondered how traditions start:

Peter Mullan: "In a way, the four main characters in Orphans are the way I felt after my mother died divided into four. So each of those characters represent elements of how I felt, but what happens to them in the course of the film is completely fictional. The only thing in Orphans that really happened is the opening. My eldest brother, as we stood around our mother's coffin - we had no ceremony to fall back on even though we're working class Irish Catholic and we didn't know what to do. Well, he had a pair of scissors and he made each of us clip off a bit of hair - and I thought, "Wow, this must be some ancient, Celtic thing". And when it came to him, he took this big, fuck-off chunk from his head - it was like the opposite of De Niro in Taxi Driver - this big lump of alopecia and he threw it at her coffin. And it was so irreverent but we were all thinking "This must be something from Donegal". So I asked him about it later if it was some family tradition, and he said "Nope, I just made it up. I thought it sounded really good". We were thinking that we'd connected with death and life and the universe and this wanker had just made it up. God forbid that he had found a pair of garden shears - he might have told us to cut our ears off, and to be honest I'd probably have done it."

When In Doubt, Post A Cartoon

Monday, June 28, 2004

Fifty Not Out

Bloody hell, this is my fiftieth post to this blog and as a few people have been kind enough to add this blog to their links section - acknowledgement and reciprocation to follow - which hopefully means that people other than myself and my parole officer are reading it, I thought I would take the opportunity to once again shamelessly plug the book just published by The Socialist Party, 'Socialism Or Your Money Back', (click on the link you buggers) which *cough*, give or take a few years, is as good a brief history of the twentieth century you are going to get this side of the Gang of Four.

As it is the fiftieth post, I thought I would for once put to one side the naff jokes and the obsession with pop music (Gang of Four excepted) and post a proper piece of writing on the blog for once. And of course it wasn't written by me.

The following article, 'Building The Future', which is included in 'Socialism or Your Money Back' originally appeared in the July 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard. To the best of my knowledge, it was the first article the author ever wrote for the Standard and he has not written another article since, which is crying shame cos it is a cracking piece of writing. It's from the heart, and as cheesy as it sounds, I don't think there is enough political writing out there which is written from the heart.(The write in campaign to get the bugger to pick up his pen again starts here and now).

I will never get within a sniff of writing anything a tenth as good as this, but that's no matter; it's just a pleasure to post it on the blog. Put up your feet and enjoy:

Building The Future

"I am one of the many tens of thousands of construction workers who are currently unemployed. Disunited, we must be patient and wait. Surviving on the State-prescribed pittance as pliant trapeze artistes on the unravelling "safety net" which so enchants reformers. Turning useful people into beggars is a historical, and inevitable, principle of the capitalist system. Perhaps this time, we have got to be extremely patient before capitalist investors decide that the opportunity of making profits from our labour power is a distinct possibility. Until then we must needlessly hang on, suffer quietly, await our masters' call.

Twenty-eight years ago, when I started working as a hod-carrier on the buildings, the economic circumstances were quite different from today. The demand for labour was high, consequently wages and degrees of freedom had been rising. Capitalism was in the boom phase of its cycle, and the construction industry anticipating even larger profits was in the process of restructuring itself. The design of buildings was slowly beginning to change, as were materials. Every aspect of what is a labour-intensive industry had to be cost effective.

Cash-in-the-hand wages were starting to become the norm for bricklayers and hoddies in London. No sick pay, holiday money or wet time for us, after all we were screwing the State, weren't we? Being a nomadic trade—I have had well over 100 jobs—where being a realist is forced on you, the majority took full advantage of the economic situation. It was quite usual for men to jack because there was no crack on the job, tea-breaks were too short, or, because you couldn't get a sub when you wanted it. The sub was very important, its availability was one indicator of an employer's liquidity. It was a simple case of once bitten twice shy. Nearly everyone who has worked for sub-contractors for some time gets bumped, at the first sign the realists abandoned ship before it sank.

The Monday Club was in full swing at this time. If 50 percent of the workforce turned up on a Monday the subbie was in raptures all day about how loyal his "boys" were. Building trades unions at this time were generally recognised as the niche of opportunists, liars, and the bribeable. Consequently, negotiations over wages took the form of "we want another shilling an hour". If it wasn't forthcoming, then the tools were immediately thrown into the bag and the ladder descended. A new start was just a phone call away.

It was fully understood that what we built during a working week was worth more than what we were paid, it was wholly transparent. The remainder being shared by the layers of pimps that thrived through our labours, this too was understood and despised. Creating profits, through the unremitting appropriation of surplus value from its workers, is the sole function of the construction industry. Building homes, etc is purely incidental to the process.

No boom lasts forever. The speculative jamboree of overproduction ended abruptly and inevitably. A few capitalists went bust. The shrewd, and well-connected ones are still there, conniving their way out of their latest short-lived binge. The long boom was over, and those few freedoms have never returned. The barbed-wire around the sites was in the process of being re-erected, and a new reality was beginning, one that over the coming years would increasingly subjugate the realists.

New income tax laws had been imposed, and were strengthening. Tax was being deducted at source which meant a _œ“) percent reduction in wages for those without exemption certificates. We were now self-employed--small businessmen no less. A great many workers, inspired by media reports of large sums of money to be earned, had travelled to London. These were among the first to taste the dole. Realists understand that they are disposable. Skint, most of the smaller and more liberal subbies were back on the scaffold with their "boys". The illusion that they had been more than just intermediary workers in the production of profits was still obstinately imprinted on their thwarted minds.

A small elite of subbies were now in a position to more effectively exploit for their masters those who were still in work. Afternoon tea-breaks disappeared and have never returned. Apprenticeships, which had been declining rapidly amongst firms since the rise of the subbie in the early sixties, were now just a source for contrite prattle by reformers. The derisively-paid, and deftly-worked improvers became their replacement. The week in hand was introduced, and the sub became extinct.

Competition between workers became more ferocious than ever. It was common practice when starting a new job to be put to work with the fastest bricklayer on the job; if you didn't keep up, you were down the road before breakfast. Few workers now questioned this, and some gained pleasure from it. Guilt, if you thought you hadn't done enough, and fear of what might happen, became as inseparable from your being as the trowel was from your hand.

A brutal system can create brutes, and the surviving subbies seemed to be in agreement on the type of foreman that they needed to run their jobs. Only the thug would do, no knowledge of bricklaying was necessary. A bully with a watch and few scruples replaced the tradesman. The old boys said that they'd seen it all before, no-one really believed them.

Semi-literacy, and a knowledge of various state institutions, form the background for many bricklayers and labourers. Alcohol, and latterly drugs, are an integral part of the everyday working life for most. When the sack can arrive at any moment, to anyone, regardless of ability, just "to keep 'em on their toes"; where working conditions can vary from working in shin-high mud, to ramshackle scaffolds; where names and faces over the years become a blur, simply because of their frequency. And forming friendships is fraught with problems, then escapism becomes a necessity. And callousness a shield.

It's an upside-down world under capitalism. Those who are most useful suffer the lowest social esteem. But, laze in a masterfully-built mansion, and devise ways of turning human sweat into profit and you are to be admired, knighted even. After all, how would we cope without them, once the plans had been drawn and the footing dug and concreted, the walls built and then plastered, the joist and trusses nailed into place, and the roof battened and slated. Surely, we would be lost without a parasite to then sell the building?

A common dream, voiced amongst many workers that I came into contact with through the years was to build one's own home. A few achieved it. Some of those have now lost it. The possibility for all to achieve this dream can become a reality. By uniting, together we can begin the work of tearing down the barbed-wire than surrounds our lives, and bring nearer the day when we can establish socialism, and with it our freedom".

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Reviving Manufacturing . . . One Cheeseburger at a Time

The article below caught my eye from the Spring 2004 issue of Internationalism, the American publication of the International Communist Current.

For some reason, this short article is not on their website - though 'What Bordiga Ate For BreakFast: A Symposium In Ten Parts' probably is - so I had to type the bugger out, but I thought it was worthwhile for the wee snacktoids of information of how the American Capitalist Class has gone about massaging its unemployment figures down the years.

In the early eighties in Britain, when the number of people out of work started to rise to post-war record levels, the powers at be came up with the ploy of obscuring the true level of those unemployed by putting a whole generation of men and women in the old manufacturing regions of the North East of England, South Wales, Merseyside and the West of Scotland, where the recession hit hardest, on sickness and incapacity benefit. By doing this, they could vanish them from the real unemployment figures in Britain. (In London, to massage the unemployment figures, they did not go for the same option. They chose that age old alternative for hiding the true level of unemployment in London, best known as 'mini-cabbing'.)

As a member of The Socialist Party, the ICC see me as someone in "the swamp", "a parliamentary cretin" and having a "fetish for democracy" amongst other inelegantly phrased political insults but its a good article, and I hope they don't mind too much me posting it up. They will probably interpret it as a fiendish ploy on the part of the bourgeoisie to catch the revolutionary proletarian current off its guard with sweet words - they are only half right.

But to be honest, insults from the ICC are water off a duck's back: there is something comical in being savaged by a political organisation whose members look like refugees from a 1970s London Comprehensive School Staff Room, 'cos I choose not to share their liking for that armchair barricadist karaoke classic, 'Let's Smash the State'.

'Reviving Manufacturing . . . One Cheeseburger at a Time'

"American capitalism has long had a knack for creativity in its use of statistics to put a positive spin on an otherwise dismal reality. For example, the US government calculates unemployment by counting only those workers without a job who have actively applied for work during the previous 30 days. The so-called “discouraged workers,” those who have given up looking for non-existent jobs, are not considered unemployed - they are considered to have dropped out of the workforce. According to the government they are no longer workers. In another example, up until the early 1980s, the unemployment rate used to be calculated on the basis of the civilian workforce. But then the federal government decided that nearly 3 million members of the armed forces would thereafter be considered as employed workers (previously they had been considered as outside the civilian workforce). It proved to be a very effective means of lowering the unemployment rate. When the Department of Labor estimates the number of jobs in the economy, any job employing a worker for a minimum of 10 hours a week counts the same as a fulltime job – this explains all those outlandish claims about millions of jobs being created all the time. In this twisted way of “counting” joblessness and jobs, it is quite possible that a worker who lost his fulltime job and then scrambled to find three low-paying part-time jobs in order to survive, would be counted as one unemployed worker in the unemployment statistics, and as three jobs in the tally of new jobs created in the new economy!

In February, in the annual Economic Report of the President, Pres. Bush floated an innovative idea, suggesting that fast-food workers at places like McDonalds should no longer be considered service workers, but should be reclassified as manufacturing employees. Bush’s chief economic advisor, Gregory Mankiw wondered, “When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger, for example, is it providing a ‘service’ or is it combining inputs to ‘manufacture’ a product?” Having lost 2.6 million manufacturing jobs in the economy since January 2001, government economists have finally come up with a plan to revive the manufacturing sector workforce – one cheeseburger at a time! Of course, the Democrats and the talk show comedians had a field day poking fun at this absurdity. There hadn’t been such a blatantly clumsy manoeuvre since the 1981 Reagan administration suggestion that ketchup should be considered a vegetable in calculating the nutritional value of school lunch." - JG

I'm Grateful That They Are Dead

Thinking about my recent choice of Top Ten British Albums, I realised that it reeks of someone locked in a eighties timewarp where his life revolves around burgundy tank tops, sta press trousers and wedge haircuts (no, wait up, that's Franz Ferdinand), so conscious of that I thought I would scotch that myth once and for all, and show that I am up with the current hit parade by checking out the Grateful Dead *cough* classic album, 'American Beauty'.

For years, I have studiously avoided listening to the Grateful Dead for the obvious reasons that their songs have never been played on Radio One (when it was good - the eighties again); the reverential devotion of their fans, 'the deadheads', who remind me too much of a run in I had with Spart paper sellers one time; and 'cos the group itself looked like a collection of the Geography teachers who bored me senseless through five years of Secondary School.

However chastened by the seeming narrowness of my musical taste, and following the recommendation for the Grateful Dead from a comrade who otherwise only seems to listen to Wobbly songs, and mention of the 'American Beauty' album on the excellent American drama series 'Freaks and Geeks' (how is that for product placement?), I thought I would check out the Grateful Dead to see what the fuss was about.

What can I say? The first track on the album, 'Box of Rain', is a nice track until the vocals kick in and then you suddenly realise that they are a poor man's Byrds. Christ - I must have a sixth sense to have avoided them all these years. And this is supposed to be their best studio album? I had to listen to some Gene Clark albums to get the bad taste of 'American Beauty' out of my ears. And to think of all those 'Deadheads' opting for that crap over the real deal from Gene Clark. Weird.

Friday, June 25, 2004

"They Made Me An Offer I Couldn't Refuse."

Just a quick post to mention that I have updated my 'Worth A Gander' section in my sidebar, adding three blogs that I regularly check out to see if I can nick any jokes or meaningful insights to try and pass off as my own on this blog.

Normblog is the blog of Norman Geras, one of the daddy's of the blogsphere. Academic, cricket buff and jazz fan, and yet despite all that I still enjoy reading his blog! The good man kindly added my blog to his link list when I asked him impolitely and he even suffered with good grace my crap jokes sent via email.

As Norman is the author of 'The Legacy of Rosa Luxemburg' (available at an extortionate price from secondhand booksellers who claim to be socialists), it gives me the gratuitious excuse to post the links to a couple of Rosa Luxemburg articles that were published in the Socialist Standard in 1907 and 1915, and which are in the translation section of The Socialist Party website alongside articles by Lafargue, Guesde, Bebel and Kautsky from the same period of 1904-1915. And some people think that there isn't enough politics on this blog.

timesnewroman blogs from Scotland, and he concerns himself mostly with music, football and slagging off leading Scottish SWP member Roddy Slorach. All of which in themself would make it a recommended link, but it gets a special thumbs up for the banter in the comments section between 'TNR', 'Reidski' and 'The Radical Postman'. Imagine The Three Stooges relocated to deepest Ayrshire and whose physical comedic violence has been transformed into cutting putdowns via cyberspace and you will get some sense of why I enjoy reading the trio mentioned above ripping the pish out of each other. I guess the bitter disappointment of being a Kilmarnock supporter lends itself to being expert at mindless physical violence and verbal punch ups. Does that mean The Three Stooges were Killie supporters, also?

Also added to the blogroll and worth a gander is A General Theory Of Rubbish which has a nice line in graphics and a skewed leftfield look at the world that can only come from listening to Captain Beefheart's 'Trout Mask Replica' one too many times.

O.K, I've given you all a plug - can I have my puppy back now?

Shutting Out Subtitles

Alex Cox points out something out in his article in today's Guardian Review which has been bugging me for a while: how come little or no subtitled films are shown on British TV nowadays? While I'm having a justfiable hissy fit, what about all this brilliant black and white films from a hundred years of cinema? You just know that if the buggers thought they could get away with it, we would be drip-fed colourisations of black and white films and dubbed versions of foreign films in between our dose of reality tv and watching England getting beat in various sporting events on mainstream TV.

I still get the piss ripped out of me in some quarters for admitting that I once went to see an Iranian film at the ICA - going against the grain of the chip on the shoulder workerism and inverted snobbery that I wear as a badge of honour - after doing a shift at a Warehouse I was working at ('Look at me, Ma - I'm Jude the Obscurantist') but there are so many great films out there that I can (just about) remember watching on late night BBC2 and Channel 4 years ago. Films that I know - this side of my lottery numbers coming up, and me being able to afford the collection of Tartan videos - I will never get the chance to see again. I mean films like Emir Kustirica's 'When Father Was Away On Business'; Louis Malle's 'Au Revoir Les Enfants'; Truffaut's '400 Blows'; Bertolucci's '1900' and Jean Vigo's 'Zero De Conduite' amongst many others. Brilliant, brilliant films that every bugger should get to watch just after the Weakest Link and just before Eastenders every weekday night on BBC1.

Okay that's enough pretentiousness from me, where did I put that Tom Clancy novel?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

"A Design Classic"

New batch reprinted - impress your friends and confuse ticket collectors with the Socialist Party spoof railcard. Available in batches of 100 for a quid from 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN. Revolutionary propaganda was never meant to look this good.

'A design classic.' - Terence Conran

'It won't get you on a train, but it might get you to the future.' - Danny L. at various demos last year.

'Are you trying to muscle in on my business?' - Menacing Ticket Tout at Clapham North Tube Station

'Can I have few more? They make excellent roaches.' Trustafarian at Glastonbury 2003

'Can I use this ticket to get home? HA, HA, HA!' - Unfunny Trot at a demo last year.

'Ha Ha Ha. That's a good one, Joshua.' - His unequally unfunny Trot mate at the same demo.

'Mike F. stole the idea from myself. Inspired by the key situationist texts of Debord, Vanegeim and Milligan I had the same idea in the summer of '75 just after I finished managing the New York Dolls in their 'communist chic' phase and before I invented punk rock. I believe I left the proofs of the idea at a Sparks concert at Hammersmith Palais I attended as a VIP guest. Never did know what happened to the designs until someone thrust the card into my hand with the punk jubilee issue of the Socialist Standard outside the ICA in the autumn of 2003. I will obviously require recompense.' - Malcolm McLaren

'This is far too cool to come from the SPGB.' - A cheeky bastard with acute insight at a demo in London last year.

'I love this card - Mike F. is really talented' - Danny L.

'I guess so' - Darren O. (green with envy)

The Flip Side

Wearing An Anorak In This Weather?

What is it with middle-aged blokes and their need for lists? Give me a couple of days, and I will be able to come up with a top ten list of reasons for why blokes need them, but in the meantime I confine this post to last Sunday's Observer list of the Top 100 Greatest Albums of all time. The latest in a long line of meaningless lists concocted for no other reason than to get me to shell out some money to see what's in the Top 100.

I can't find a link to a single page that will give you the low down on what white middle aged blokes from the suburbs are listening to these days (pretty much what they were listening to in yesterdays) but if you want the general page with the full lists, the token female pop singer's top ten (who happens to be plugging a new single as we speak), Emma Bunton, plus the smart arse comments by numbers views of Stuart Maconie and Paul Morley, then click on the following link.

The list has the usual suspects included but its a bit of a shocker that the Stone Roses debut album has made the number one slot. Don't misunderstand me, it is a good album but it is not even in the top twenty in a just world. I'll hazard a guess and suggest that a disproportionate number of the one hundred great, the good and the mates of the Observer music magazine editor asked for their top tens are confusing a particular good time in their lives - circa 1989/91 - with an all time great album. A bad case of the 'soundtrack of our youth' syndrome. I'm sure if pushed they would regale you with stories of the Hacienda, Spike Island and a rave in a warehouse off the M25 during this period as high points in their life. (That's the press release version issued by their PR Company - their reality was more along the lines of studying for their A Levels in the suburbs of Middle England; catching the tail end of the Mock Turtles singing 'Can You Dig It' on Top of the Pops and buying an Inspiral Carpets' 'Cool As Fuck' T shirt but wearing it under their hooded tops after reading in the NME about the bloke who got arrested by the police for wearing his in public.)

Not that surprised to find that at some point in my life I have had in my possession 48 of the 100 albums listed, which indicates either an excellent taste in music or a gullibility on my part for buying 'classic' albums as recommended by the music press down the years. 'Revolver', at number two, is the top listed Beatles album but I've always thought it overrated - though I'm well versed in the muso's dissertations on why that is such a seminal album. For me, 'Rubber Soul' is the better album.

Looking through the list, there are a couple of albums missing that I am surprised at by their ommission (for more info see numbers 3 and 6 in the top ten below), and I'm also a bit pissed off that on the whole the albums selected are predominately white boy bands with guitars; that is until I compiled my own top ten and saw that I had gone down the same road. Oops.

Another surprise is that the clutch of brilliant albums that the Kinks made in the mid-60s onwards didn't make charts at the time of their release, which makes me wonder if the sixties were more minging than swinging.

As I say above, I've done my own top ten. I've limited it to one album per artist in the top ten, though there are few of the groups listed who could have had two or three albums in ten on a different day. Top ten lists are daft 'cos there are hundreds of great albums out there. Or rather there were, with the advent of mp3s and downloads from the internet, the album is dead and not a moment too soon. A few decent tracks with some fillers is the best you can get today, and those albums where every track is a killer is rarer today than a saved Socialist Party election deposit.

I know already that I want to take some albums listed out and put some other albums in, and also that I want to switch the positions of the albums around. I also know that I will want to change the list again and again, but that is just an indication of my changing taste in music.

At least of the six albums listed in the ten I discovered after they were released so I'm afraid you cannot pin the sub-Proustian 'Rememberance of Things Past' tag on me. I've already previously posted the cover of the number one album on the blog before - giving the game away - so I have included in this post the cover of the most obscure of the albums listed. All recommended listens, with barely a duff track amongst them, and if I have the time in the future, or the inclination, I may clog up the blog with my reasons for why the albums are - to quote George Martin himself - the dogs bollocks.

That's all for now pop pickers.

1. ABC - 'Lexicon of Love'

2. The Smiths - 'The Smiths'

3. Prefab Sprout - 'Steve McQueen'

4. The Kinks - 'Village Green Preservation Society'

5. The Jam - 'All Mod Cons'

6. Aztec Camera - 'High Land, High Rain'

7. Cocteau Twins - 'Heaven or Las Vegas'

8. Human League - 'Dare'

9. The The - 'Soul Mining'

10. Colourbox - 'Colourbox'

Monday, June 21, 2004

A Lady With Class

In an otherwise so so feature on the American writer, Erica Kennedy, where she plugs her novel, 'Bling', an 'insider/outsider fictionalised account of the world of hip hop, Kennedy makes the following acute observation: 'I think a lot of the issues we talk about in terms of race are really issues of class,' she suggests. 'We might not necessarily feel comfortable talking about issues of race, but we're used to it. And all these people in the hip-hop world, yeah, they all came from the ghetto, they all came up the hard way, but you know what? Russell and Jay-Z and Puffy have a lot more in common with Donald Trump than they have with the average black man living in America. Because it's an issue of class, it's Have and Have-not - and now they're all Haves, in a major way.'

For rest of the article, click here.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Delusions of Grandeur - Volume Two

A conversation that may or may not have taken place recently between two WSM'ers:

First Abstract Propagandist: "I think the Party should consider starting up its own blog which could be directly linked to the existing website.

The beauty of the Party having a blog would be that it would mean that there could be much more topical items on the net, posted much more frequently. Rather than people visiting the Party website once a month, for when the latest Socialist Standard comes out, they would be visiting it every couple of days to see what The Socialist Party, and other members of the WSM, were saying about the issues in the news.

I tried to raise the issue as a Branch item for discussion at the last Party Conference but you could tell that most members didn't really know what a blog was, and its potential for Party propaganda."

Second Abstract Propagandist: "I'd sooner we didn't call it a blog - it should be called a News Group. The word 'blog' conjures up an image of a thirteen year old writing an online diary."

First Abstract Propagandist: . . . . . [Stands up and walks away]

Second Abstract Propagandist: "Where are you going?"

First Abstract Propagandist: "Just nipping off to write up this conversation for my News Group."