Saturday, May 31, 2008

Quote of the Day

From an old episode of Shameless, which is currently being re-run on the Sundance Channel:

"And if communism's so great how come they've all got their own jars of coffee . . . with their names on? [Frank Gallagher spies the red menace in the teachers' lounge.]

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: 1) Why did Shameless have to get so shit after the brilliant first series (I knew the writing was on the wall when I saw that Christmas Special.) & 2) What does Middle America make of the Gallaghers and the Chatsworth Estate?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ron Cook

A couple of weeks back I read, via the Party's email discussion list, the sad news of the death of long time SPGB member, Ron Cook.

I only met Ron three or four times down the years but on those occasions when our paths did cross, he always struck me as a warm and well rounded individual. Very much the antithesis of what the stereotypical socialist is supposed to be like.

Reprinted below is the obituary for Ron that appears in the forthcoming June issue of the Socialist Standard and, for someone like myself, helps fill in the gaps of our knowledge of Ron.

I'd long admired the articles and short stories in Ron's name that appeared in the pages of the Socialist Standard but I didn't realise until now that he sometimes used the pseudonym of 'S. Stafford' when writing for the Party press. I wish I'd known that before now because I always liked the articles penned by 'S. Stafford', and it would have been nice to be able to communicate that sentiment to him.

As the obituary further mentions, about six or seven years ago, Ron published a book entitled 'Yes - Utopia! we have the technology' and it's a measure of the man that even after being an active socialist for over fifty years he was still intent on looking forward politically rather than sitting back and reflecting on the past. I especially liked this passage from the book's introduction that I found on the net:

"This irony runs right through our lives, individually and collectively. We have produced all the ingredients for providing a comfortable, fulfilling life for every man, woman and child on earth. Instead, one half of the world starves while the other half stockpiles or destroys food or takes more and more land out of food production.

"One section of the world's population works so hard that their lives are shortened and made wretched by long hours of drudgery, stress and insecurity while the rest live in varying degrees of poverty and destitution because they are unable to find paid work or get money in any other way. If this is "the real world", as our streetwise friends tell us, then something must be seriously wrong with the engine management system because it is not providing what we need and want."

I know. It's been said or written a million times before, but it still needs to said, written or cut and pasted again and again. I nearly wrote 'especially in these current times' but such a sentiment was equally applicable two years ago when most of us thought we'd beat the system with the fistful of credit cards and the new 'fuck off' plasma screen staring back at us in the living room. Nothing like a gold chain to keep you chained to class society.

I hope he doesn't mind but I'd like to finish the post with a link to a post that Birmingham Branch member, Andy Davies, wrote about Ron. He knew Ron better than most of us, and Andy's thoughts are a nice complement to the obituary published in the Standard.

As an addition, the photo below is from an SPGB Annual Conference and dates from the late 1940s. I scanned it from the June 2004 Centenary issue of the Socialist Standard especially for the post, as it includes a very young Ron in attendance. He's the young bloke in the back row (near the centre but just to the right) wearing the light jacket, dark shirt and the white tie. From where I'm sitting, what with his light coloured hair and that hairstyle, he looks like Conan O'Brien, but maybe I've been living in the States for too long.

Whatever the case, this socialist wants to say a belated thanks to Ron for the part he played in both keeping the real idea of socialism alive, but also insisting in rooting our politics in the future rather than the past.

Ron Cook 1927-2008

Members were saddened to hear of the death of Ron Cook, of Birmingham branch, at the beginning of May. He was born in 1927 and joined the Party in 1948 while he was a student at Ruskin College from where he won entry to Cambridge University. At the end of the war he had been a teenage sailor on the battleship HMS Illustrious. He worked as a teacher and later as a tutor for the Open University.

He was an active member both at local and national level, a regular delegate to Conference until recent years. He had his own viewpoint on a number of issues. A keen student of Marxian economics - and the writings of Paul Mattick in particular -, he argued that crises under capitalism tended to get worse and worse. He was also impressed by Herbert Marcuse’s 1955 work Eros and Civilization and was inclined to be take on board more of Freud’s theories than most members. In 2001 he published a book Yes Utopia! We have the Technology in which he presented the case against capitalism and for the sort of society he would like to see established (including his own personal preferences, such as that people in socialism would live in something akin to hotels).

Besides being a speaker and debater for the Party, he wrote for the Socialist Standard (sometimes under the pseudonym of S. Stafford) and drafted pamphlets including the latest edition of Socialist Principles Explained. In 1994 he represented the Party in the elections to the European Parliament, standing in the Birmingham East constituency. Until last year he organised the annual Party summer school at Fircroft College in Birmingham. Members were expecting to meet him there this year but his friendly and encouraging presence is going to be missed from now on. A party representative spoke at his non-religious, humanist funeral where John Lennon’s song Imagine was played.

Our condolences go to his wife and family.

New Search Toy

Found via the sitemeter comes finderFACE, ". . . a homegrown web site devoted to keeping tabs on people in the public eye here in the UK. Every day the site scans Google News, Amazon Products, Flickr Photographs, YouTube Videos and Blog Posts to provide all content relevant to a person on a single page."

Amazingly enough someone found the blog via a John Terry post. Who'd have thunk it?

Just typed in "George Galloway", "Tommy Sheridan", "Noam Chomsky" and "John Rees" and nothing came up. Nada. Can you believe that? Doesn't finderFACE realise that those are the four most important people in the internet universe? Granted, I only reached that conclusion myself after doing a survey of Harry's Place, Kamm-buy-hooray-yah and er, that's it, but surely the decentists wouldn't lie to me?

Ok, it appears that fF is at the baby steps stage, so I'll cut it some slack. To get a flavour of it, I think I'll click on the random button to see which five celebs it will offer to me as people I need to know everything about in the here and now.

Here goes:

  • Franz Beckenbauer Fine. No complaints from this corner about the choice of Der Kaiser. Euro Championships starts next week, and I watched him being interviewed on an ESPN programme that is part of the build up to the tournament. The original Becks insists that the West Germany team that won the 1972 European Championship was the best ever German team. Better even than the World Cup Champions of 1974, and by the following European Championship, the West Germany team that lost to Czechoslovakia in the final on penalties were an aging team by that point. Before my time, so I'll take his word for it. OK, who's next up?
  • Damien Hirst Need an eye check up. At first glance, I thought it said Damon Hill. Yeah, whatever, not that bothered. See when the enfant terrible of the modern art world dies in sixty years time (see I don't wish an early death on him or anything), I'll hear the news and my first thought will be: the bloke who directed the crappest video in the history of pop music has just died. No thoughts of formaldehyde or a pharmacy will cross my mind; just that crap video for that shite song . . . which will be ironic because I will be thinking those thoughts via my disembodied head which has been preserved in formaldehyde and will be sitting on the shelf of a Futurama like Pharmacy. Moving quickly on (and away from that piss poor joke). Who's next via the random button?
  • David Bowie OK, what's the Thin White Pluke up to these days? I know he lives in New York but we hardly shop in the same deli. Mmm, this looks interesting, David Bowie: 'PAUL WELLER, GIVE ME MY HAIRCUT BACK!'. Never knew that Bowie and Weller have been known to have crossed words. According to the linked to NME snippet, it turns out they've traded barbs in the past in the music press but Bowie is now being concilliatory after Weller briefly left 1966 and moved his time machine to 1972 to check out some new acts. Apparently Weller digs Bowie, and he has said as much in recent interviews . . . but there's no word back yet on what he thinks of Chicory Tip. Bowie's accepted the olive branch and even said by way of a joke that Weller should give him back his haircut. That'll be the one that Weller sports today, and which Bowie claims he was wearing back in '67. Word of warning to Bowie that he is on a slippery slope with the requests to other entertainers for giving things back. As I write, there is a séance taking place in a boarding house in Westcliff-on-Sea and the ghost of Anthony Newley is asking David Bowie for his career back. Moving on to the next celeb. Maybe finderFACE will find a female celeb this time. 0/3 isn't good going.
  • Frank Carson Frank Carson? Who has editorial control over compiling these lists? Stuart Maconie? OK, I now know that Frank is still alive. Fair play for still cracking the funnies at the ripe old age of 81. And I now know that he's of Italian descent, and that there once was a 'Little Italy' in Belfast. What else? His nephew is on the books at Sunderland FC as a promising goalkeeper and Frank's the director of Chasetown FC. (Think I already knew that 'cos of Chasetown's recent FA Cup run.) What else can I say about Frank? . . . nope, that's it. Maybe, with the last push of the random button, the website will acknowledge 51% of the population. Here's hoping.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte OK John Terry . . . Der Kaiser . . . Hirst . . . Bowie . . . .Frank Carson and now Napoleon? Guess that confirms my growing suspicion that the website must be an offshot of Nuts magazine. I guess the idea is that you check out the main Nuts website for the female celebs in a state of undress and then, when the mood takes you, you click on finderFACE for a quick two minutes of blokedom. I know that if I'd clicked on the random button for another twenty clicks it would have been nothing more than a merry-go-round of Rodney Marsh . . . Michael Caine . . . Keith Moon . . . Ally McCoist . . . Jonny Wilkinson . . . Lewis Hamilton . . . Liam Gallagher . . . Jimmy Carr . . . Jeremy Clarkson . . . Roy 'Chubby' Brown . . . and Johnny Vaughan. Yeah, not impressed. Back to the matter of the little general? What's to know? Our 21lb Menshevik Internationalist Boston Terrier has a napoleon complex and there's a documentary on Abel Gance that I taped weeks ago and I've yet to get round to watching it. Cheers finderFACE for the gentle reminder.
  • Getting Older

    Bastard genius Half Man Half Biscuit lyric:

    "Not long now before lollipop men are called Darren." [Totnes Bickering Fair]

    Hat tip to the thoughts of chairman mickeymo.

    John Terry Watch (2)

    Ye. he's still bawling his eyes out, but I don't remember the painting of the Crying Boy that hung at the bottom of our stairs looking like this.

    More from the Guardian's gallery here.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Hillary's Downfall

    *Blog Warning*

    Don't click on the YouTube clip if you're easily offended . . . or if you don't have a warped sense of humour.

    I thought it was funny. Kara will batter me for posting it.

    Hat tip to

    Do They Mean Us? #17

    I've been signed up to the Urban 75 messageboards for nearly four years now but I've only just this minute got round to checking out the 'urban75 dictionary'.

    Of course, when you mention the SPGB and Urban 75 in the same sentence, it can only result in one possible response: 'nomoney'! And, right enough, he's even got his own entry in the dictionary:

    nomoney [noun] extreme and vocally sectarian dogmatist who can't see how anyone can come to different conclusions to their sect.

    They would say that. 'nomoney' - long gone from the messageboards but not forgotten.


    Via the San Francisco Chronicle comes news of the 'Spam Valley' phenomenon reaching Stateside:

    "Sales of Spam - that much maligned meat - are rising as consumers are turning more to lunch meats and other lower-cost foods to extend their already stretched food budgets . . .

    "Spam's maker, Hormel Foods Corp., reported last week that it saw strong sales of Spam in the second quarter, helping push up its profits 14 percent. According to sales information coming from Hormel, provided by the Nielsen Co., Spam sales were up 10.6 percent in the 12-week period ending May 3, compared with last year. In the last 24 weeks, sales were up nearly 9 percent."

    Where did I first hear about 'Spam Valley' again? That's right; I read about it in Gordon Legge's 1989 novel, 'The Shoe'?

    "They lived in what Kelly called 'Spam Valley'; where people were so tied to their mortgages they never went out, had holidays or ate decent meals."

    It took a while but Grangemouth's finally went global.

    Peace in my mind

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (48)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 48th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1252 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Success
  • A Socialist reads the koran
  • Indian Earthquake: Did it really kill?
  • This week's top quote:

    "The poor complain; they always do, But that's just idle chatter. Our system brings rewards to all, At least to all who matter." From Globalisation by Gerald Helleiner.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Black And Blue by Ian Rankin (St Martins Paperbacks 1997)

    "Somehow, fuelled by sheer terror, Allan Mitchison got to his feet, still tied to the chair. The kitchen window was in front of him. It had been boarded up, but the boards had been torn away. The frame was still there, but only fragments of the actual window panes remained. The two men were busy with their tools. He stumbled between them and out of the window.

    "They didn't wait to watch him fall. They just gathered up the tools, folded the plastic sheet into an untidy bundle, put everything back in the Adidas bag, and zipped it shut."

    Radioed Trousered Philanthropists

    One for the diary.

    Christ, I haven't been this excited about a radio show since Mike Read played 'Go Wild In The Country' one school morning way back in 1982.

    I guess I can sort of see Andrew Lincoln playing Owen.( Jack Shepherd must be too old or dead for the gig.) Johnny Vegas as Easton? Does he do south coast accents? Timothy Spall, Paul Whitehouse, Phillip Jackson and Shirley Henderson in the same cast? Next time they perform together will be at Mike Leigh's funeral. Never heard of the actor Tom Goodman-Hill, but I guess it's apt that someone with a double-barrel name should play Barrington.

    But John Prescott as 'The Policeman'? Are you 'effing kidding me? I guess Andrew Lynch - who adapted the novel for the radio - didn't have a speaking part for Sir Graball D'Encloseland in his radio adaptation.

    hat tip to Danny L for the heads up.

    Sid Waddell says 180

    The start of what I hope will be an ongoing series.

    For about six months back in 1982, Jocky Wilson was my sporting hero. And, yes, Darts is a sport. They've been known to wear sweatbands, and darts players discovered the necessity of regular re-hydrating during the course of a match when the likes of Jim Blyth and Mick Coop were still sucking on a slice of orange at half time.

    If you're so inclined you can check out this interview with Jocky that dates from 2001. I must warn you that it is rather sad.

    Anarcho-Syndicalism on a shoestring

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Quote of the Day

    - Don't try and pull that 12 year old's trick on me.

    - What gave it away?

    - Your quick movement.

    - . . . . .

    Good tune, shame about the video

    Via Hak Mao, the latest viral video smash to make you shake your head in awe and admiration.

    Weezer's video for their current single, "Pork and Beans", has been viewed 2.3 million times on YouTube since it was posted only three days ago, and I feel old and out of touch because I barely recognise about three of the YouTube phenomenons brought in to bring sparkle to the video.

    Wired Magazine's blog has more on this very clever marketing campaign by Weezer.

    Damned Utd

    The blog takes out from laughing at John Terry to click on a link about Leeds Utd.

    Hat tip to the good people at Urban 75.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Just Who Is The Fifty Year Old Hero?

    What sort of wannabe music blogger would I be if I didn't mention that Paul Weller turned 50 today.

    Many an hour spent in blissful contentment listening to his music down the years, and one of my major pop kid regrets is that because I was otherwise musically disposed, The Jam only properly crossed my musical consciousness when they were announcing their break up on The Tube. How's that for bastard bad luck? I had to get into Weller thru' Style Council - I'm not complaining too much - and work my way backwards.

    Whilst I'm on the subject of missing out on The Jam first time round, is it too sacrilegious to admit that for many years, 'Snap' was my favourite Jam album? I would state for the record that I'm referring to the double vinyl LP version of 'Snap'. (Don't sell yourself short with 'Compact Snap'.) The vinyl version still adds up to my all time favourite compilation album.

    Like many of his fans he fell off my radar with Style Council's 'Confessions of a Pop Group' (the late eighties had to a lot to answer for), but as soon as I heard the opening bars of 'Into Tomorrow' by the unfortunately named 'Paul Weller Movement' on the radio one evening* in '91, I knew that the original commie curmudgeon still had it. I've loved his stuff anew ever since (though Heavy Soul was heavy going) and, to bring you up to speed, his last album, 'As Is Now', had more bite and incandescent anger than any other album released in 2005.

    As I keep reminding myself, this is only a wannabe music blog so my bare arsed laziness coupled with yet another prematurely busted bandwidth month means that I'm not in a position to post any Wellersque *samples* for your delectation but proper music blog, The Vinyl District, has been doing sterling work this past week combing through Weller's back catalogue with accompanying biographical bits tagged on for good measure. I can't in all good conscious say I would have picked the same tracks album by album and year by year, but as it was Noah who got his finger out and did all the hard work, who am I to carp?

    Individual links are as follows for Vinyl District's 'Wellerweek':

  • Wellerweek: Day One (Best track featured, in my humble opinion, is 'Down in the Tube Station at Midnight'.)
  • Wellerweek: Day Two (Again, favoured track for me is the rather obvious 'Town Called Malice'.)
  • Wellerweek: Day Three (Moving into Weller's "blue coffee" with a red wedge on the side period, the best track featured is 'Walls Come Tumbling Down'. Pause a minute to think of Dee C Lee in the video *sigh*.)
  • Wellerweek: Day Four (Weller's back from the wilderness. Fast forward through unfortunate band names - the aforementioned PWM - . . . . blistering live performances on Late Night With Jools Holland, which had the hairs on the back my kneecaps standing to attention . . . . the Dad Rock accusations . . . and the mid-life crisis. Fav track by the whisker of his wispy 15 minute moustache? 'Above The Clouds'. Controversial winner but I didn't get to pick the original nominees.)
  • Wellerweek: Day Five (Weller's latter solo career. 'Fraid Noah's selection for day five is the weakest of the batch. If you put a water pistol to my head, I'd have to opt for 'Savages' but that thing better be loaded.)
  • Wellerweek: Saturday Kidz (Noah's inner voice gets the better of him and he does an extra shift on the Saturday to post a fresh selection of Weller tracks that cover his whole career. Hard going picking just the one track but as you're still waving that water pistol around, I cave in and scream 'Away From The Numbers'. Arguably the track that more than any other in the early days of The Jam sign posted the latter greatness of Weller.)
  • One last add on before I wrap up this post in anticipation of tomorrow's birthday anniversary tribute to Britain's original axe wielding musical hero on the blog.

    Will Rubbish sent me the link to this Paul Weller interview a few weeks back and I meant to post it on the blog before now but never got round to it. Nice piece that can only contribute to you warming to the bloke further. I think one of things that I've always liked about him is that, for all the passion and seeming intensity, he appears to be self-aware of the ridiculousness of life and to have a finely attuned bullshit detector. Couple of quotes from the interview only seem to confirm this:

    [On his involvement with Red Wedge.]: "All the artists involved had the best intentions. But meeting the politicians it was like, f***ing hell - I wouldn't be seen dead with these people, let alone drinking with them. They were from a different planet, and their agendas were totally different from ours. They behaved like stars in their own right. On the tour bus there was no hint of ego - it was only when we turned up at gigs or meetings that we'd see these other people who definitely did have the egos."

    [On mixing pop with politics.]: "The final death-knell of his political activism was sounded at a press conference in Sweden, where the Style Council were appearing at a festival, 'and every single question was about politics, nothing about music whatsoever.' He shakes his head. 'That's when I thought, maybe I've led myself into this position and its my own fault, but either way I don't like it. Because first and foremost I just write songs and play music. So that really put me off all that."

    Of course, what with song such as 'Eton Rifles' and 'Walls Come Tumbling Down', many people have picked up from the interview that he has privately educated his kids and, therefore, knocked him as a hypocrite or a sell out. I'm more disappointed that this interesting interview has appeared in the pages of the Daily Torygraph. All your childhood heroes have feet of clay. Get over it.

    'The past is our knowledge - the present our mistake

    And the future we always leave too late.'

    John Terry Watch

    Yeah, he's still greetin' and bleatin'.

    Shit Celebrity Fans

    Oh, that's a bastard. Set my heart on wishing Doncaster Rovers well in today's play-off final against Leeds Utd, and it turns out that their only celebrity fans are the couple of numpties represented below.

    Ken Bates versus Clarkson and Daniels . . . . Ken Bates versus Clarkson and Daniels . . . . Ken Bates versus Clarkson and Daniels . . . . Ken Bates versus Clarkson and Daniels . . . . Ken Bates versus Clarkson and Daniels . . . . Ken Bates versus Clarkson and Daniels . . . . Nah, it doesn't matter how often I cut and paste those loathsome names I'm still caught on the horns of a particular footballing dilemma.

    What would Charlie have done?

    Do They Mean Us? #16

    Bloggers block can mean only one thing . . . a dash of cut and paste to conjure up another post in the 'Do They Mean Us?' series:

    “At the Barras market in Glasgow about 25 years ago open air political meetings were not uncommon, and the best were conducted by a fiery brand of working-class revolutionaries called the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Founded about a hundred years ago (and still going, I’m glad to say) and proudly hostile to all other allegedly socialist or communist political parties, they had several fine speakers and in those less apathetic days could always raise a fair crowd of the starvelings whom they hoped to rouse from their slumber.

    Scorn for their hearers’ meek acceptance of poverty and satire upon the quality of goods and services supplied to the workers were prominent in their arguments, as when the speaker would draw our attention to an evil-looking greasyspoon caff and recite parts of the horrible menu, concluding with Stomach pump free of charge. Once, when challenged by a wee bauchle with scarce a backside to his trousers on the grounds that ‘under socialism we widnae be individuals’, the agitator on the soapbox paused from his remarks on the rival attraction of ‘Jehovah’s Jazzband’ (a Salvation Army ensemble) just down the street, fixed him with a baleful eye, and loosed a withering tirade about how the questioner was obviously a proud specimen of individuality, with your individual Giro and your individual manky shirt and your individual football scarf and your individual council flat and your individual Scotch pie for your individual dinner . . .

    It went on for ages, a tour de force of flyting”. [Kenneth Wright, Glasgow Herald, 13 February 2001.]

    Being on the receiving end of the withering wit of Glasgow Branch comrades on many an occasion, I've narrowed the suspected speaker down to a shortlist of ten of the wizened old scrotes.

    Special Note: I scoured the internet high and low but I couldn't find a picture of the Barras circa 1976, so I decided to throw post authenticity out of the window by posting a still from Bill Forsyth's 'That Sinking Feeling' to accompany the post. Trust me, Glasgow 1980 was not that different from Glasgow 1976. The Smiles Better Sunshine Gimp was a lifetime away.

    Spoilt Bastard sings 'Spoilt Victorian Child'

    The Fall as featured in Viz Comic:

    Hat tip to DLR at MATB.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    Happy Hour

    I fear that next season it will be a case of Hull 0 London Clubs 4 every other week, but fair play to the Tigers for getting promoted to the top tier for the first time in their history. I just wish that Bristol City had gone up as well (at the expense of Stoke City).

    Dean Windass's volley was a corker and I was pleased for him after reading this interview with him in today's Guardian. Dean Windass as Bernard Malamud's Roy Hobbs? Mmm, maybe not.

    PS - loved this quip via Bristol Rovers fan, 'JTG', over at Urban 75:

    "Harry Dolman, Fatty Wedlock, Jon Atyeo, Chris Garland, The Fucking Wurzels, Tony Robinson, John Cleese, Alan Dicks, Tom Ritchie, Steve Lansdown, Joe Jordan, Fact Hunt Johnson.....your boys took one Hull of a beating!"

    That pun is nearly as bad as one of mine.

    Latest news from Wembley

    News Just In: "Overweight middle aged Hull City supporter wanders onto the pitch during today's Championship play off final. Hull City's Fraizer Campbell is unable to wrestle him to the ground."

    Acid Casual

    Just spotted this earlier text from the BBC minute by minute commentary:

    Looks like the Nostradamus of New Cross has some serious competition.

    Can it last?

    Queen of the South's dream, I mean. We already know that Chick Young will always be a tube.

    Snap, Crackle and the Finest Derry Pop

    One of the best music bloggers out there, Spinster's Rock, has been here before with his posting of the singles collections of such brilliant bands as Wire, Magazine and Siouxsie and the Banshees, but he's excelled himself with his decision to now post The Undertones singles in chronological order.

    What makes the series such a must have is that - like with the previous bands he's featured on his blog - he's ripped the tracks from the original vinyl so you get all the crackles, scratches and warmth of A sides and B sides that have been played one hundred and forty three times at high volume on an old record player. (I'm projecting a bit here.)

    I understand that there's a very strong argument for breaking out the software to polish up the sound on old tapes and records when you're converting them to mp3 or compact disc but when the music under the microscope is the best punk/pop from the golden years of 78-84? Nah, it's neither the time nor the place.

    Spinster Rock's currently up to 'My Perfect Cousin' in his Undertones series on his blog but I hope he doesn't stop after he gets to 'Julie Ocean'. For reasons I don't fully understand, The Undertones (Mark I*) latter period gets short shrift from some critics and fans but their 1983 album, 'Sin of Pride', contains some of their strongest material.

    I get it that it wasn't another 16 slabs of two minute garage/pop a la 'Teenage Kicks' and 'Get Over You' from just four and five years before but just because it was the case that The Ramones were their greatest inspiration when they first kicked off that didn't mean The Undertones had to follow in their heroes footsteps by reworking a variation of their first album for the next ten years.

    The fan base and record sales seemed to diminish the further away they got from their original sound but if you haven't already done so, you should check out such Undertones tracks as 'The Love Parade', 'Love Before Romance', 'Valentine's Treatment' and their cover version of Smokey Robinson's 'Save Me' from that final album.

    Briliant, brilliant tracks which reflected the maturity and concerns of four wonderful songwriters who'd moved on from boaking up another ten songs about Mars Bars and cheap polyvinyl jackets masquerading as leather jackets .

    [The above pic courtesy of this rather excellent Undertones fan site.]

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Hobbesian Choice

    For all that I truly admire Bill Waterson for his steadfast and principled refusal to cave into the cash cow that would be the merchandising of his wonderful Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, looking through various websites tonight with Kara, I couldn't help but wish once again that he would cave in a little and sanction some limited releases. Just for kids, mind; adults can continue to settle for the pirated versions of the Calvin & Hobbes genius doing the rounds on a street corner near you.

    Thought we'd lucked out on a compromise when we stumbled across the brilliant T shirt pictured below on the bottom right (the original is on the left) but it turns out that the smallest size available is 29-31 chest (inches).

    How many times do you have to put that on boil wash before it shrinks down to a size comfortable for ages 3-6 months? We've got about 4 1/2 months to come up with a definitive answer.

    Alex Ferguson wants to buy Stuart Christie a pint of sangria

    The English and Spanish off-season has kicked off with its now customary opening match: the 'Will Ronaldo Go or Won't He?' Cup.

    Now in its third season, this not so friendly charity match, played every year in aid of tabloid footie journalists the length and breath of Grub Street, has saw early scrappy exchanges where Real Madrid - with their wily midfield maestro, Bernd Schuster in the middle of the sporting backpages and defensive bung merchant, Ramon Calderon, grandstanding from the directors box - have sought to unlock Man Utd defences with mind game quotes and judicious off the record briefings to the Madrid press.

    Real Madrid's early pressure game has been largely inconsequential but has seen the occasional ricocheted salvo that has reached the back pages of the tabloid press back in England.

    News Just In: Seasoned Man Utd warhorse, Alex Ferguson, has scored in the eighth minute with the following 40 yard screamer:

    "Real Madrid are not the only club interested in Ronaldo. But the others are not saying so. They don't get into this nonsense.

    "Calderon makes that great statement 'slavery was abolished many years ago'. Did they tell General Franco that? Give me a break." [See here for exclusive Pie in the Sky footage.]

    Looks like Calderon might be substituted after that early skinning from Fergie. Calderon's mind doesn't seem to be on his game. He keeps looking up at the press box, and seems to be mouthing the words: 'Don't mention the Spanish Civil War.'

    I'll keep you updated with what's going on with the rest of the game. Man Utd now have the upper hand after that early exchange but Real Madrid have been known to come back strongly in such games. There's another eighty minutes to play but if previous matches between these two sides are anything to go by, there'll be eight weeks of injury time.


    Whatever happened to the Blues Brothers?

    No triumphalist parades in SW6 and G51 for another season, and the super-rich and their flunkies can rest easy that Monaco won't be littered this coming August with empty buckfast bottles (made by monks), discarded union jack boxer shorts (Made in China) and renditions of not so popular folk classics (made up on the Shankhill Road).

    What with it being Chelski, R*ngers and 21st century professional football - with its gaudy commercialism and fast buck mentality - the marketing peeps in the Blue Zone have went with the short term view that though not every trophy cabinet can have silverware, every cloud should have a silver lining and, with that in mind, have already rush released the 2007/2008 season's commemorative mementos represented below.

    Depending on which side of the blue bed you get out of every afternoon, you can go for the Dave Weir figurine represented on the left or the Frank Lampard special that is slouching on the right.

    The figurines are made out of the shoddiest materials to properly represent the personalities of your modern day footballer, and they are tastefully dressed in funereal black to mark another season of abject footballing failure. As is fitting for a season that has gone up in flames so spectacularly, the clothing that Mini-Dave and Fat-Frank are sporting is made out of 100% polyester because it was felt that that was the most flammable of man-made materials.

    The jackets have been fitted with long sleeves to hide the questionable tattoos and, with summer approaching, both players have specially bolted on sunglasses to both hide their deadened eyes and to help them avoid the blinding glare of a world where the sun is permanently shining.

    As an added touch, ugly scowls have been scarred onto both players' faces and you'll be pleased to note the manufacturers, with an acute eye to authenticity, have specially moulded their wee plastic hands into angry balled up fists.

    The manufacturers want R*ngers and Chelski collectors to be rest assured that there are plans for other players to be featured in the series but the design department are currently experiencing teething difficulties with the John Terry figurine: they can't get it to remain upright in the box.

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Glasgow Celtic SPL Champions 2007/08

    Too emotionally drained (and physically drenched) to write anything intelligible at the moment. Aberdeen proved me wrong. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU, Aberdeen. Celtic were nervous . . . and I'm thinking of renaming Reidski, 'The Nostradamus of New Cross'.

    Nice touch with Strachan going up to the winners' podium with a mug of tea in his hand. Only the third Celtic manager in its history to win three titles on the trot. I hope the boo bhoys will take time out to think over that particular stat.

    Just as importanly, that air of superiority that R*ngers had previously had with Walter Smith at the helm is now floating down the River Don. It'll still be difficult next season for Celtic but not as dangerous as I once thought.

    I still think Riordan should have played a part.

    Gone Wishing

    Apparently there was an inconsequential soccer game that took place in Moscow last night. Ho-hum, whatever: who gives a shit. The eyes of the world will be on the the game of consequence, tonight, at Tannadice, and it starts at 7:45pm (GMT).

    We've been here before in 2003 and 2005, but this time round the title's there for Celtic to snatch from the jaws of what was seemingly defeat only a few weeks back. I can't write too much. Just off to Manhattan to watch the Celtic/Dundee Utd on a big screen in a bar where I'll be chewing my knuckles in between listening to out of tune renditions of Fields of Athenry sung at high volume.

    Now's not the time for pre-prepared excuses, but let's not piss about here. Celtic may have got seven points out of nine so far this season against Dundee Utd but they have got the more difficult game. Again and again, Dundee Utd have shown their true worth as a decent side this season and they have the added bite in their step of knowing that they were hard done by the referee when they played R*ngers a few weeks back.

    Aberdeen, on the other hand, have form this season of losing big time at Pittodrie against better opposition. My fear is that if Kris Boyd starts he'll stroll rampant. That swine can score goals for fun whatever else you think of his old round play.

    Maybe I'll blog about the game - and the park kickaround in Moscow from last night - when I get back from Manhattan but it may be the case that I'll either be too euphoric or too disconsolate.

    What I will say now is that if he's on the bench - and if Celtic are in a title clinching position - I hope that will Strachan will play the sentimentalist card and give Derek Riordan a run around towards the end of the game.

    If Strachan is intent on selling him at the end of the season, maybe it's idea that he gets Riordan off the bench . . . if only for a few minutes. I'm no expert in football matters by any stretch of the imagination but I understand that buying clubs are not that keen on paying over the odds for players who have seen less mobility in the last two seasons than an under the weather Steven Hawking.

    What's was that old David Brent/Ricky Gervais joke . . "Steven Hawking's football boots"? I bet they've seen more action than Derek Riordan's football boots in recent memory.

    Someone's slipping . . . and I don't mean John Terry

    What's happened?

    It's nearly 18 hours since the Red Devils defeated the Blue Devils, and I've yet to see Uri Geller turn up on the news with a Man Utd scarf around his neck and a claim that he had something to do about that penalty miss.

    Someone's slipping . . . and I don't mean John Terry.

    Just In: Chelsea's new sponsors for the 2008/09 Season

    As recommended by John "Man's Man" Terry:

    "In a season where I've played a central part in my club failing in the Community Shield, the Carling Cup, the League and the Champions League at the final hurdle - and where I also contributed to England losing out on qualifying for the European Championship - I find from frequent use that the 3 ply Kleenex Extra Large White Tissues is my sob rag of choice.

    I know now to never leave the dressing room without first stuffing a box down the front of my shorts. I just wish I'd had two boxes for last night in Moscow."

    Hat tip to the John Terry Fan Club for the pic. Britain's fastest growing fan club. Special membership rates for people signing up in the SW7 area.

    John Terry: Careful Now


    Hat tip to an Urban 75er.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    John Terry's mind is on other things before that fateful penalty

    "Whatever happened to that bloke who wrote 'Smash Cash'?"

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (47)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 47th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1253 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Coughing up cash
  • If This Be Treason . . .
  • Blast from the past!: 'Smash Cash'
  • This week's top quote:

    "That's just a lie we tell poor people to keep them from rioting in the streets." Gabrielle Solis in Desperate Housewives, [In response to the claim that money can't buy happiness.]

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    (Photo credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

    Champions League Final - First Thoughts

    I once wrote a 3,910 word post on a Champions League Final. I'm never doing that again.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Hardhats, hidden history and hard realities

    I'm a bit chastened to admit this but the fact of the matter is that I used to read more about the history of the American Labor Movement when I was back in Britain than I do now that I live in the States.

    It wasn't so much that I was doing the 'revolutionary tourism' bit, but more a matter of being able to score some excellent books secondhand on the subject that would be now beyond my financial reach. The Encyclopedia of the American Left or Louis Adamic's 'Dynamite' or Joyce Kornbluth's 'Rebel Voices' or any of Eric Foner's volumes of labor history are must haves to have on your shelf. Such books are just not as readily available second-hand as they once were. Not sure if the internet is to blame or maybe there is a new generation of radicals who are less inclined to pass their books on. I hope it's the latter.

    The gaps in my knowledge of American Labor have to be filled in somehow, and local cable tv is as good a place to start as any.

    This morning's New York 1's carried the wee nugget that on this day in history in 1970 100,000 construction workers (and others) marched down Wall Street to show their support for Nixon's war policy in both Vietnam and Cambodia. Led by the President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York, Peter Brennan, the march was to show both the respectable face of blue collar America and its social patriotism in light of the 'Hard Hat Riots' that had taken place in New York City twelve days before.

    On May 8th a couple of hundred construction workers had run rampant against anti-war demonstators who were protesting about the murder of the four students at Kent State University four days previously and, as the New York Times article already linked to states, their violence was savage, indiscriminate, and made the actions of a minority of R*ngers supporters in Manchester last week look like a Teddy Bears picnic by comparison.

    I did write a "wee nugget" when initially making reference to this shameful episode in American Labor history, and I meant it despite the fact that it doesn't reflect too cleverly on the 'noble worker'. Mob violence is mob violence whoever is meting it out and I do think it's necessary to get some sense of the whole picture of the US Labor Movement. It was (and is) exceptionally grubby in places and its unsavoury nature doesn't begin and end with 'On The Waterfront' or the likes of Gompers and Meany.

    Someone in Allston, Massachusetts owes me a chocolate biscuit.

    A poignant quote from 'A Month In The Country'.

    Mixing Pop and Politics (8)

    Part of me is a wee bit wary in pointing people in the direction of Richard Dyer's 1979 article, 'In Defence of Disco'.

    Not because I have any particular issue with Dyer's impassioned defence of disco, as outlined in his thesis, as:" a discussion of the arguments against disco in terms of its being ‘capitalist’ music and, second, an attempt to think through the- ambivalently, ambiguously, contradictorily- positive qualities of disco . . " but because the language and the jargon employed in the piece is so dripping in its time frame of radical academese that I wonder who the hell he was writing it for. (His right hand, perhaps?)

    He was right enough to call out those on the left who were quick to dismiss disco for its supposed lack of "authenticity", but he's missing the main point on why disco was relevant, necessary and central to working class experience in the late seventies: it sounded fucking amazing. What's with the need to drape his article with sentences such as "The anarchy of capitalism throws up commodities that an oppressed group can take up and use to cobble together its own culture . . ." as a means to placate some cloth-eared member of the Militant Tendency* back in '79? It doesn't matter if it's 1979 or 2008: until a member of the SP/CWI can point me in the direction of a readable article by Peter Taaffe, I'm not prepared to hide away my Rose Royce mp3s.

    I love my political music as much as the next member of Generation iPod but what's with the constant need to find political relevance in the music you plug into? There's this insinuation that it lacks weight if it's not explicitly saying something of major political import when we all know in our heart of hearts that Simple Minds went shite when Jim Kerr got his Amnesty International membership card through the door and that, more often than not, we'll fast forward through 'Ideology' to get to 'Levi Stubbs' Tears'.

    OK, I know Dyer is one of the good guys and with his piece he was trying to get the archetypal left folk music merchant to pull his finger out of his ear as a prelude to pulling his head out of his arse, but what's with the final paragraph apologia of :

    " . . . disco can't change the world or make the revolution. No art can do that, and it is pointless to expect it to. But partly by opening up experience, partly by changing definitions, art and disco can be used. To which one might risk adding the refrain, if it feels good, use it."

    No need to be defensive about such things, comrade. If the missing piece in achieving the revolution was a decent mixed CD, then the SPGB would have secured its Parliamentary majority back in 2003. I think we've finally got past the point where it was once might have been claimed that the barricades don't go up until the soundtrack's in place. And that's a good thing. The left's split enough as it is without throwing in rows about the tracklisting into the mix.

    But it does have to be mentioned in passing that the daft thing about the whole disco versus diabolical materialism argument that beset the bedsitter left in the late seventies is that Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers were shifting million of units whilst mixing the political commentary in with the reverberated vocals. Sadly, it went over the head of many:

    "Here’s what’s great about “Good Times.” At the time that we wrote “Good Times,” the country was undergoing the worst economic depression that it’s seen like the since the Great Depression, which is what they used to say, and people were furious with us for writing a song “Good Times.” And we used to look at people, and we were befuddled, and we went, “What are you talking about?” And we realized that we had done our job so effectively that all of our lyrics were shrouded in double-entendre because there was no way that I was ever just gonna write a song about partying and dancing. I mean, I’m a Black Panther, what are you talking about? And so it was always about compromise." [Nile Rodgers quoted during Black History Month]

    Much too subtle for your average Central Committee member, but I hold out hope that even the most seasoned cadre can catch on late in the day. In that munificent spirit, I'm happy to offer up a couple of mp3s for sampling purposes: The 12" version of Chic's classic - for those of you want your subversive disco tunes to last longer than the sycophantic applause at a George Galloway gig - and Beverley Knight's 'Made It Back (Good Times)', which dates from 1999 and is one of my favourite ever tracks for making use of a Chic sample:

  • Chic - 'Good Times' mp3
  • Beverley Knight - 'Made It Back (Good Times)' mp3
  • Hat tip to Bob-from-Brockley for pointing me in the direction of Richard Dyer's article.

    * I put my hands up to a uncalled for sectarian attack on the Millies. I knew that AVPS loves his dance music. It's just not very good dance music. ;-)

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Denise Mina and Foot Fetishism

    It's amazing what a google alert can sometimes throw your way. There's me - honest - on the look out for the New Yorker's belated review of the Garnethill Trilogy when what I get instead is a series of flickr pics from a photographer in Texas who recently photographed Denise Mina at a book signing.

    Now, with regards to the title of the post, I'm not casting any aspersions on the motives of the photographer: I'm shamelessly going for the brilliant novelist/unhealthy obsession google market.

    I can't be the only person who has Denise Mina on google alert, can I?

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Yazoo's 'Don't Go' (Jonathan Ross Show,16.5.08)

    I know I'm being arsey but I don't like to make a habit of posting too many You Tube embedded clips on the blog at any one time.

    However, I have to make an exception for the following clip. Alison Moyet has still got it.

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    Could that swine Reidski be right, after all?

    In the words of the poet, Ian McNabb, 'You must be prepared to dream'.

    Amber means pause for 'Gers celebrations

    Just woke up, and my mind's too cloudy to properly focus. Just a marker to say that had the caffeine had time to kick in, I would have rejigged and recycled this old post.

    Come on the 'Well!

    PS - possibly the worst post title I have ever come up with.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    A killer quote to bite me in my SPGB arse

    A quote staring back at me at the bottom of an email newsletter:

    "Pity the revolution that devours itself in order to obtain victory.

    Pity the revolution that waits for a final triumph to put its ideals into practice." - Jose Peirats.

    Where's the sitcom tendency when you need them?

    Going down the dip with you

    What can I say about the galloping major that hasn't been written a thousand times before? (one thousand, eighty hundred and forty seven if you include the writings of Brian Glanville.)

    The sweetest left foot. The fulcrum of the best team never to win the World Cup. Playing in that game that every male Glaswegian over the age of sjxty claims they saw in person. That wee jink and move to turn Alf Ramsay inside out for that goal against England in '53. Oh and someone is using his name over at the Guardian Sportsblogs to fuel the conspiracy theories in anticipation of R*ngers end of the season run-in:

    "You're aware who currently manages Aberdeen?

    Tango and Sash will make sure Rangers secure any necessary points at Pittodrie next Thursday.

    Having said this Bob Malcolm FTP won't be trying to hard this weekend to upset the orange, I mean, apple cart.

    Hence Celtic's greatest hope lies at Love Street on Monday - bugger." [Rangers' treble triumph in the hands of McGhee's Motherwell men]

    Conspiracy theories to the left of us, conspiracies to the right of us. A future R*ngers domestic treble staring right back at us.

    First We Take Larkhall

    Q: What do you get when you cross a left anorak with a psephologist

    A: Someone who will click on this latest/final post from the SPGB's election blog, Vaux Populi.

    The comrades over at VP give a breakdown of the votes for the SPGB candidate in the Lambeth and Southwark constituency. Turns out the Party's best ward vote - a whopping 71 votes - was in the Larkhall ward. I'm not knocking it. It's the first recorded victory of a Menshevik over a Bolshevik (71-50) since the Georgian Parliamentary Election of 1919.

    Now we know where to concentrate comrades. Larkhall can be the Little Moscow Paris Commune for the 21st century.


    Q: What a good definition of 'reaching'?

    A: When the comrade in the same post suggests that the SPGB's best result in Southwark - Faraday Ward - can be put down to the fact that the Party had an " . . . outdoor speaking station [that] we ran at East Street from the 1930s to the 1960s." [My emphasis.]

    That comrade is now being head-hunted by Gordon Brown for the position of Chief Spindoctor for the forthcoming General Election.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Tommy Burns 1956 -2008

    Shocked to wake up this morning to the news that Tommy Burns has died at the criminally young age of 51.

    He was a wonderfully elegant midfielder for Celtic for over 15 years, and was unlucky during his time as Celtic's manager in the mid-nineties.

    Think back to the 95-96 season. To lose only one league game during the course of the season - including a 31 unbeaten run - but to still lose the title to R*ngers? That must have been a heartbreaker.

    But some things in life are just so much more important than football.

    Bronze Frippery

    A couple of months ago on the blog I thought I was being cute when I posted a still from early doors Brookside with the accompanying sub-heading of a 'Early promo pic of Goldfrapp*'.

    Living as we do in a just universe, my studied smart arsery was rewarded with zero comments. Lesson never learned.

    But that's enough about me and my blogging woes. Via his sterling work of delving through the back issues of ZigZag magazine, H over at Cactus Mouth Informer has unearthed an article from'83 about Alison Goldfrapp's first band, Fashionable Living Death.

    Click on for pics of a teenage Alison Goldfrapp, working with political skits, tales of the deepest south coast of England that would have had the late Thomas Hardy wincing in recognition, and an early mention of Moby. No, not that Moby. Another one.

    Do They Mean Us? #15

    Lazy bastard that I am, I've had this post in the draft section for the last ten days. Whatever . . .better late than never, I guess.

    The following glowing testimonial is from the discussion board of Urban 75 and dates from a few weeks back when, during the course of a increasingly heated discussion on the post entitled '10 candidates for Lambeth and Southwark GLA constituency!', SPEW/CWI member, 'dennisr', thought he would try get into the Guinness Book of Records by seeing how many urban myths about the SPGB he could cram into one post:

    "The socialist party you link to has feck all to do with the SPGB - either faction. They are not 'dissidants' - they are an organisation of thousands (which is not a lot in itself but - as opposed to 20 just or however many the ejets of the SPGB claim...). The SP are registered as the Socialist Party but not allowed to stand as the Socialist Party.

    The Socialist party - which has sitting councillors in Lewisham and Coventry comes from the Militant. irt is forced to stand as Socialist Alternative because the two man + dog of the SPGB (now split inot 2 or 3 factions all with members possibly only just in double figures...) got their knickers in a twist about the name.

    In Huddersfield the SP candidate stood under the Save Our NHS name because she was part of an alliance with non-SP members - she is also now a sitting councillor (she is also a doctor which may have something to do with her NHS concerns...).

    Outside of the prolatarian stronhold of Clapham the SPGB don't exist." [Post dated 07-04-2008, 15:46.]

    Fast forward three and a half weeks and my eye catches the results of Lambeth & Southwark and its neighbouring constiutency of Greenwich and Lewisham.

    The SPGB candidate, Danny Lambert, receives 1588 votes (0.97%). Yep, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking William Morris and how it's hardly a case of " . . .a thousand and society begins to tremble . . ", but not too bad an effort in the circumstances from two men and their dog.

    How did the artists formerly known as the Militant Tendency do in Greenwich and Lewisham? Must have done better than us sad sacks. According to 'dennisr', they've got thousands of members. The SP/CWI has been one franchise in the crowded Fourth Internationalist market who have been experiencing genuine growth in recent years (admittedly after a fallow couple of years), and in Chris Flood, a sitting local councillor, they had a popular candidate. A tribune of the people, no less, who has built upon the work of their other councillor in the Lewisham area, Ian Page.

    Drum roll please:

    1587 votes (1.08%). If I could capitalise that, I would. Wait up, I can: ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY SEVEN VOTES. Thank christ for their own sake that the Millies don't indulge in the SWP-mantra of 'It's never been a better time to be a socialist.' If that was the case, 'dennisr' would be eating so much humble pie that he would be the SP/CWI's answer to John Molyneux in a matter of weeks. And by that, I don't mean that 'dennisr' would be submitting articles on Picasso to Socialism Today.

    And, for the record, we in the SPGB camp shouldn't be too gleeful about the comparable results. As a comrade pointed out in the comments section of the SPGB election blog, Vaux Populi, after the London results came in:

    "Of course we shouldn't get carried away. What's happened is that they've been relegated to our league (Third Division South?) rather than us promoted to the league they thought they were in."

    Very wise and insightful words from the comrade and, by way of a reward, for his (and other comrades) hard work during the election campaign, the Party should have a whip round and buy him a Rothmans Football Yearbook that's been published in the last 15 years.

    I don't care if he has read (and understood) the footnotes in volume three of Capital. He should be brought up to speed as soon as possible with regards to the football pyramid system currently applying to clubs in England and Wales.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    FC Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 Rangers

    No gloating. No piss taking. No ha ha on the blog.

    In its simplest terms, R*ngers did not do enough tonight to deserve to win the Uefa Cup. Don't believe me? Think I would say that, anyway? Just look how R*ngers own fans reacted after Zenit's first goal went in.

    Just under twenty minutes to play and the deathly silence and resigned resignation - yep, resigned resignation - was palpable 3500 miles away in Brooklyn. If R*ngers fans were ever considered the 'twelfth man' for the club, Walter Smith should put them on the transfer list tomorrow morning when he gets back to Ibrox. Shocked at how they didn't try and gee up their team.

    R*ngers played better in the second half, but they never really deserved to get a sniff of the game. Kirk Broadfoot was a lucky hunny bunny with that stonewall pen at the end of the first half, and Ferguson was kidding himself with that penalty claim in the second half.

    What does it mean for the rest of R*ngers season? Well, they were neither robbed nor spanked - and that meteorite was a no show - so they're still red hot favourites to win the domestic treble.

    Kirk Rabbitfoot

    Oh my, that was a stonewall penalty. Broadfoot's red face gave it away after the event.

    Unless R*ngers win by two clear goals - and I don't mean on penalties - that will be a talking point if it's Ferguson whose lifting that trophy that Denis Law was struggling with before the game. (How's that for a convoluted sentence construction.)


    R*ngers fans queuing in a disorderly fashion for their daily ration of buckfast at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre earlier today.

    Joking aside, if you like very closely at the top left hand corner of the pic you'll see my younger brother. He's tall, dark, good looking and looks nothing like me.

    Yeah, the family secret is out: my half-brother is a bluenose. Half the family is. I'm torn and conflicted about this sad state of affairs. I'm caught between pitying them and sending them a bottle of Russian vodka come tonight, when Zenit overruns R*ngers in the final.

    What's a person to do?

    Temporary Autonomous FC Zenit Saint Petersburg Fan Zone?

    As the Motherwell TAZ post falls off the bottom of the page, I prompted to ask myself if I can bring myself to try this TAZ lark again with tonight's game?

    On the previous two occasions I've tried it, I've come unstuck. Does that qualify as blogging hubris or just bastard bad luck? And tonight's final is a bit of a special case in that it is Gazprom poster boys versus R*ngers. A case of the unacceptable face of capitalism versus the unacceptable face of Glasgow's south side.

    Bottom line to ask myself is what's the best result tonight for Celtic's outside chance of retaining the SPL title? I can think of three possible scenarios:

  • Option A R*ngers winning tonight's final, and in their best fashion being consumed by their very own hubris which will result in them coming unstuck against Motherwell and St Mirren in the league.
  • Option B Zenit Saint Petersburg do what they did against Leverkusen and Munich in the previous rounds in tonight's final, and a crestfallen R*ngers trudge back north only to come unstuck against Motherwell, St Mirren, Aberdeen and Queen of the South in the coming weeks.
  • Option C A meteorite hits the middle of the pitch at the City of Manchester Stadium, and Barry Ferguson, David Weir and Nacho Novo fall into the resultant crater. Ferguson is out for the rest of the season with cruciate ligament damage after his knee smashes into Novo's new gnashers. Weir, conscious of the fact that he isn't getting any younger, decides that this is as good a burial plot as any and refuses to leave the crater. He asks that wreaths be sent to Little's Funeral Service Home on the Paisley Road West Road.

    The referee decides that his only option is to postpone the game. This despite Walter Smith's protestation that his R*ngers team has never used the middle of any pitch and why should they start now? The new crop of injuries coupled with R*ngers adding to their current backlog of fixtures forces Walter Smith's hand and he has to give Thomas Buffel a game in the season run-in. Rangers come unstuck against Motherwell, St Mirren, Aberdeen and Queen of the South . . . and barn doors the length and breadth of Scotland release a collective sigh of relief.

  • If it's about Celtic doing the impossible, and snatching championship victory from the jaws of Ibroxian mediocrity, I'll have to go with option a as the best possible scenario.

    The blog's hexed ye.


    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (46)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 46th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1241 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • The Fetishism of Money
  • Dude, where's my revolution?
  • What causes world poverty?
  • This week's top quote:

    "When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion." Voltaire, Letter to Mme. d'Épinal, Ferney (1760).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    11 13 15 17 comments! Blog life imitating art.

    Back to Gregory's Girl:

    "You read it, don't you? I've never seen you turn your nose up at anything I've made. Hours and hours I've spent writing you lovely, lovely things. And all it means to you in the end is 11 13 15 17 comments over a random film poster?"

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    James Connolly Commemoration, 1949

    No, the blog is not jumping on the James Connolly bandwagon on this day, the anniversary of his execution by the British State.

    Just thought I'd take the opportunity to post a link to the text of a leaflet that dates from 1949, and was produced by the Dublin Socialist Group for distribution at events organised in the city to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the execution of James Connolly.

    James Connolly Commemoration, 1949

    The Dublin Socialist Group were a handful of working class men and women who agreed with the Object and D of P of what we now know as the World Socialist Movement. They later linked up with socialists in Belfast and elsewhere in Ireland to form the Socialist Party of Ireland (later changed to the World Socialist Party of Ireland).

    Despite the fact that our tradition's opposition to nationalism - red tinged, 'anti-imperialist' or otherwise - has meant that we are one of the few groups with a journal in the magazine rack at Housmans to not claim the mantle of Connolly at some point or other, our early history has links with a period in Connolly's political life that might be of interest to those readers interested in working class history.

    The most obvious connection is the 'impossibilist split' that took place within the Social Democratic Federation in the early part of the last century.

    The post-it note version of this historical split is that a group of SDF members dissatisfied with - amongst other things - the SDF's leaderships overtures to reformist currents within the Labour movement (the SDF were one of the original signatories to the Labour Representation Committee in 1900); the SDF's very own wobbles over the whole reform/revolution debate; and Hyndman's autocratic rule over the SDF and its publications, formed an opposition faction within the SDF.

    Based primarily in Scotland and London, these two groups - after a raft of expulsions and splits from the SDF in the 1903/04 period - were to become the Socialist Labour Party of Great Britain and the Socialist Party of Great Britain. One of the leading lights of the group in Scotland that became the SLP was Connolly, the editor of The Socialist newspaper which had been a pole of attraction for SDF oppositionists in Scotland and which became the official newspaper of the SLP when it was formed in 1903.

    Though Connolly himself had been central to the 'Scotch current' that was to become the SLP, he soon after emigrated to the United States (in 1903) to - do amongst other things - join the Socialist Labor Party of the United States; help with the founding of the IWW; have a political barney with Daniel De Leon and to form the Irish Socialist Federation in New York in 1907/08.

    The Connolly and the London impossibilists connection? Well, the first General Secretary of the SPGB was an Irishman by the name of Con Lehane, who had earlier been a member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. According to his wiki page - granted it was probably written by an SPGBer - Lehane was one of the more prominent members of the IRSP during its short history: the secretary of its branch in Cork and a regular writer for its paper, 'The Workers' Republic'.

    Another Irishman with past membership of the IRSP, and who also helped found the SPGB, was Valentine McEntee. He's best known today - if he's known at all - for his latter career in the Labour Party. A member of parliament for over twenty years and later 'elevated' into the House of Lords as 1st Baron McEntee. If I'd known that earlier, I'd have placed a 'Red Baron' comment somewhere in the post but it's too late to groan now.

    Further Reading on all things Connolly, Ireland, Impossibilism and everything in-between:

  • James Connolly - An Assessment
  • 1914 Socialist Standard review of Connolly’s 'Labour in Irish History'
  • Ireland - Past, Present and Future (SPGB pamphlet from 1983)
  • Getting Lippy Gets You Lifted Into The Liffey
  • Northern Ireland: Our first election campaign
  • Hat tip to ALB for the Dublin Socialist Group text.

    The James Connolly woodcut is by the late Irish artist, Harry Kernoff.

    Musical collaborations nixed at the planning stage

    If Spandau Ballet had worked with the Angelic Upstarts . . . the proposed album cover.

    Hat tip to SCWR blog.

    Gregory's Girl (1981)

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Gladys Marie Catt and Jean Higdon

    When I was posting details of this month's Socialist Standard on the blog a couple of days back, I realised that I'd neglected to include a link to a couple of obituaries from last month's Standard on the page.

    I'm neither ghoulish nor wishing to reinforce the stereotype of the SPGB and its companion parties as aging organisations, but that part of me that is susceptible to 'sentimental socialism' thinks that comrades' passing should be marked . . . even if it is only in the pages of the Standard and on my daft blog.

    From the April 2008 issue of the Socialist Standard:

    Gladys Marie Catt 1918-2008

    Marie joined the SPGB in the spring of 1941. The outbreak of war had profoundly disturbed her, along with her family and friends. Her two brothers and her future husband had become conscientious objectors and she became engaged in their struggles to win conscientious objector status. Marie was persuaded about the necessity of socialism partly by the Party's stand against working-class participation in the war, but also by the forcefulness and clarity of the Party's speakers at the outdoor meetings held at Lincoln's Inn Fields and she joined the Palmers Green Branch where she met Sid Catt, her future husband.

    In 1957, she, Sid and daughter Jean emigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. After settling in, they became a contact and propaganda centre for the Socialist Party of Canada. They set about recruiting members, holding discussion forums in their home and speaking at Allen Gardens. By 1964 they had organized the first Party Local east of Winnipeg.

    Marie continued her activities for many years. She always spoke forthrightly and passionately in favour of socialism in whatever circumstances she found herself. Her grasp of the meaning of the Object and Declaration of Principles was thorough. She once wrote of the significance of these Principles to members of the Party:

    "These have remained the sheet anchor for their understanding, proved the strength of their case and their integrity, making it impossible to confuse them with any reformist organization This Object and Declaration of Principles are as valid today as they were at the time of the inception in 1904 of this unique political party."
    B.S. (Canada)

    Jean Higdon 1934-2007

    Jean’s secular send-off was attended by fifty of her family, friends and party members.

    Of those who were invited to speak on Jean’s life were her son, Jon, who spoke of Jean’s dedication as a mother; Mike Lee, Chairman of the Auckland Regional Local Bodies’ Council, who briefly outlined Jean’s socialist thinking (production of use, not for sale); and Jean’s neighbour whose fractious child was always comforted by Jean’s pleasant manner, and a party member whose galloping rhetoric brought smiles to what might have been a sombre occasion. Said he, “None of those parasitic bastards in Buckingham Palace, the White House or the Kremlin would be tall enough to polish the shoes of Jean Higdon!”

    Jean was for many years secretary of the Auckland Branch of the WSPNZ, taking lengthy notes of the discussions we had, and typed out the minutes almost verbatim.

    Jean was responsible for the layout of the party journal, The Socialist Review, from 1971 till 1982 when it folded because we couldn’t find any writers. Jean was also a sometime parliamentary candidate for Auckland Central on the socialist ticket, and with her late husband made a vital contribution to spreading the socialist case in New Zealand.

    They are both remembered for their humanity and generosity of spirit.

    Our condolences go to Jean’s family.

    Executive Committee, WSPNZ, 8 February 2008