Thursday, 30 January 2020

I don't want to be a little Englander

As my regular readers will know I have been avoiding the news as much as I can, but I am an avid follower of twitter and even reading with one eye scrunched up (that's how I read now) I have not been able to avoid that tonight, or is it tomorrow, Brexit will happen.  

I am sad indeed.  I don't want to be 'a little Englander' or a whinging POME, a prisoner of mother England, unable to play nicely with our closest neighbours because they are foreign.  The kind of people that insist their streets and neighbourhoods remain in a timewarp with the same white neighbours from generation to generation.  Sad old farts that simply cannot handle change.  I would pity them if their malevolent views were not so pervasive, but sadly they appeal to the lowest echelons of society, the uneducated.  

We are entering a new dark age, something that should be recorded somewhere in history.  Greed and nationalism has won over equality and compassion.  Aldous Huxley has won over George Orwell, we are not in the grey regimented communist world of Orwell, we are in the groteseque, throwaway world of capitalism.  I have no doubt, we are probably being graded into alphas, betas and epsilons as I write, our value determined on the number of likes and followers we have in the current world.  

Greed is good, greed works, until it causes chaos and turmoil for millions of ordinary people doing ordinary jobs.  They are the first to suffer when the drug fuelled spin of the throw the dice tactics are used by the purveyors of high and fast finance.  They crash the world's economy, the poor people pay the price.  And it's worth mentioning here, that the poor people are the biggest majority.  Nuts huh?  William Blake prodded the poor....  'tiger tiger burning bright' , oh if you only knew what power  you had.   300+ years later, it is still the same old story, hey poor people, why do you keep voting for the richest to keep getting richer?

I despair, but in a good mood tonight - off to listen to 'Back to Black'.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

AMERICAN HEROES AND HEROINES - If Republicans give Trump Supreme Power

In reply to a post on the previous blog and because I am currently glued to the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump......

Quite a few believe Trump was inspired to run for President after being roasted by Barack Obama and Seth Meyers at the Whitehouse Correspondents Dinner.  They totally humiliated him and the cameras caught every moment of it.  He was seething.  I am not sure he even wanted or expected to win, he knew nothing about politics and world affairs, it's doubtful he could find Ukraine on a map, even now, or indeed North Korea.  On a visit to Pearl Harbour he had to ask the hosts 'what happened here'.  He has had a life where everything was handed to him on a plate, yet at every turn he has f**ked up.  Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump University, Trump Casinos. His properties worldwide are not the success he would have us believe, many are just fronts for money laundering.  His wealth is unproven, why won't he release his tax returns?  Why did he use his charity funds to buy a portrait of himself?  Is he broke?  I think he probably is, and I think what we have seen revealed over this past 3 years is just the tip of the iceberg.  Trump has led a life of crime, how much evidence against him will come out when he is no longer in power?  Given his word is not his bond, and he can never be trusted, how many have tapes? Was Ukraine the only country he was putting the thumb screws on?  What else is in that secret server that held the transcript of Trump's telephone call with the President of Ukraine?  

There has probably never been a President more desperate than Donald Trump to win a second term in office.  At the moment he seems to be immune from criminal prosecution for his obvious crimes because of the office he holds.  Once he is out of office he will be hit with every crime he ever committed, many of which, will put him in prison.  And given his obnoxious personality, his enemies will be lining up for payback.

From my vantage point over the pond, I am watching the impeachment trial in astonishment.  I have always been a huge fan of the USA, probably because I have been a devotee of Hollywood movies all my life and I can't understand why the cavalry or a band of heroes and heroines haven't yet rescued America from this atrocity.  But that isn't fair, the heroes and heroines are there in plain sight.  Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Rachel Maddow, George Conway (husband of KellyAnne), Stephen Colbert, just a few, and my own personal favourite Bill Palmer (@PalmerReport), who provides a constant stream of information and updates and easy read explanations of what is going on.  They may not be in the obvious forms of Charlton Heston and Stewart Granger, but in standing up to the crazed monster that is Trump, their heroism is beyond question. For some reason he strikes fear in many (heads on pikes anyone?) - terror of a childish playground nickname?  One can imagine Donalds senior and junior's glee at discovering that Schiff, can be made to sound to like 'shit' - they are still high fiving each other for this on a daily basis.  They are the kind of guys that 'man hit in the stomach with football' videos are made for.  

What astonishes me is the moral compass of the Senate Republicans, especially the religious ones.  Trump has been caught red handed, virtually standing over a body with a smoking gun, or caught with his hand in a very small cookie jar.  Their defence 'nothing to see here, walk on by' is bizarre, because the facts are right in front of us and can be summed up in a one paragraph movie pitch that audiences of all ages and intellects can understand.  President of USA withholds aid to a nation fighting Russia unless they announce an investigation (and create a scandal) about his strongest political rival in the 2020 election.  It is a snivelling, weaselly thing to do, but typical for a well known cheat and a liar.  More bizarrely still, while the 'boring' cold hard facts are being played out in the Senate, the dirty, more salacious details are coming out simultaneously on prime time TV (Go Rachel!) and' 'tell all' bestsellers!  Hopefully Rachel can persuade those witnesses, denied by the Senate, to come and tell all on her show. 

The Republican Senators may be ignoring the nitty gritty of how the crime was carried out, but outside of their cocoon, the USA and indeed the whole world, are watching, listening and reading all about it.  And each day, it seems as though new evidence is emerging, evidence the Republicans won't listen to in the trial, but that will be listened to by all their millions of voters.  Trump's crime spree won't stop, he is a desperate man (reminds me of Rico in Little Caesar) and his power will be unreined and unrestricted if he is acquitted.  That puts not only the US but the whole world in imminent danger.  I don't know what the human cost of Trump has been thus far (where do you begin?), but what will it be when he no longer has any boundaries?  Will he then be able to 'take out' any ambassador or government employee at will?  Using private, unvetted, individuals of his own choice and undercover?  Just like, err, a mob boss.

Trump has thus far enjoyed immunity for his crimes because he is the President, based on a line from an ancient memo.  That immunity stops whether it be this year or 2024. He has no incentive to stop committing crimes, more so if he is acquitted by the Republican Senators, because he knows he will have a limited amount of time in which to amass more money, this year or in 4 years time.   He will have an end date.  A day when he steps out of the White House and into a jail cell.  A designated amount of time in which to up the ante and shamelessly give in to his self proclaimed passion for greed - more gold toilets.   With Trump having unrestricted power, some kind of humanitarian catastrophe is a given.  Literally, the day after the Mueller report, while thinking, 'phew, got away with it', he was emboldened to make the infamous call to Precedent Zelensky!  How soon after a Senate acquittal, will Vladimir Putin get an invitation to a State dinner at the White House?   Heck he will probably invite Mohammed Bonesaw and Chairman Kim along, so they can all be best buds together.  Not to mention, the best of US and Russian hookers - I think he and Vlad have got a kinda macho bet going on as to who has the best hookers, but it could all end in tears because Vlad has the actual tapes. 

A vote for acquittal will render the whole Impeachment process worthless.  Trump will have supreme power, there will be no checks and balances, how scary is that? Yes, he will be able to shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it.  He knows prison awaits him, he has nothing to lose.  Plus, every Republican Senator who votes for Trump's corruption will forever be in his debt.  Just the sound of that would make me scream 'kill me now'. He degrades and demeans his puppets and minions most of all.

I doubt this will be read by anyone who needs to read it, but I do have a glimmer of hope that some of the Republican Senators will do the right thing.  History will not be kind to those who supported the abomination that is Trump, all those with close connections to Trump will soon be using his own line, 'I don't know him'.  A lot will have big blanks on their CVs and a lot of explaining to do to their grandchildren. 

But my optimism is based on more than a glimmer of hope.  Whilst the Senate is denying documents and witnesses, they are coming out anyway.   Lev Parnas may well have opened the floodgates to tapes and videos - Rudy Guiliani has 'insurance' and I would bet he is not the only one.  Trump has lost his power to 'catch and kill' incriminating stories (please let there be an abortion one!) and he is now vulnerable prey to every investigative journalist out to get him.  While the impeachment trial is playing out in the Senate, the 'real' trial on TV and social media is getting eye witness evidence and crime scene photos and videos.  And, ultimately, the only Court that will matter is the court of public opinion and Trump's sinking poll numbers.  





* @BillPalmer

Saturday, 18 January 2020

HOUSE OF WINDSOR OR A 'TRUMP' FAMILY?

Thank you for your interesting question 21:25 and apologies for my delay in replying. I fear I have completely given myself over to hedonism, the trauma of the GE results has tipped me over the edge.  I simply cannot watch, think about or talk about anything that makes me sad.  I only survived the BBC's Christmas Carol because I knew it had a happy ending.  Bambi, obviously, was a no go.  

My consolation as I go into freefall, is that I will look fabulous.  Should I survive any knocks on the noggin as I bounce down a cliff, my first question will be, 'did the eyelashes hold up?'.  I have turned, or am turning, into Barbara Cartland, but I have a much nicer nature, I hasten to add.  Not her flouncy, bouncy, pink fairy on top of a tree look, but more, the number of cosmetics she put on her face, inc. eyelashes.  Ok, that sounds a bit clownish, how about Danny La Rue? ha ha.

But I digress, I am feeling a tad whimsical today, mostly because I had my hair cut, and I am tickled pink with the result, factually speaking that should be tickled blue, due to my overuse of purple shampoo, ha ha, oh God, Mrs Slocombe!  Oldies will know who she is ;)

But back to your question.  Where would I put myself on a scale of liking/ supporting, the Royal Family. 1.love....5, Don't care.....10. Hate.  Oooh, I think there should be another option, but for the moment I can't think of one.

For a large chunk of my adult life I described myself as a Marxist, more recently a democrat, ergo, anti monarchy, but only a little bit.  The answer should be around a '6'.  But due to my love of history carried through the monarchy, more of which shortly, but also because they were the chief fodder of the tabloids, the Sundays, especially.  In those days, there were 'A' and maybe 'B' list stars and very little else - the public needed something to discuss over the garden fence.  I had a fascination, obsession even with the Royal Family when Diana came along.  I didn't hate her, who could?  She was a nice lady, and she always seemed kind of vulnerable.  I loved, her fashions, her hairstyles, the jewels!  Yes, I was a shallow Daily Mail reader.

I kind of cringe at my old anti monarchy arguments, because when arguing between my selves (I have multiple personalities) in my head, not out loud, err, I don't think, one of the better ones, defends our duty to preserve history for future generations.  The history of Britain for example, is defined by the names of the monarchs who ruled at that time.  Elizabethan, Victorian, Georgian.  Their lineage defines the culture, politics and big events of their times.  Set against that, the old anti monarchy me would say, most other countries, have evolved with the 'times', and their own privileged, entitled few, have stepped down from their lofty pedestals.  Mostly of their own volition, and I am hoping my European readers will confirm or put right.  As I said in my last blog, being part of rigid family seeped in age old traditions, could feel like a prison.  

There is probably some kind of rebellion going on within the Royal Family, beyond that 'Jezebel' Meghan.  The old Queen, throughout her rein, has opposed any changes to the whole royal ethos.  Look at her stubbornness when Diana died.  Ok, I too thought it a little gross to intrude on a grieving family, but they were on the brink of losing the 'love' of the people.   I suspect that she will never accept that those with royal blood are just the same as everyone else.  Her long rule has kept the House of Windsor static, stifling for Harry and Meghan, change is long overdue.  I think William and Harry are fully aware of that, ergo, their hands on involvement in their Charities.  I suspect the crisis at the palace lies more with old versus new.  Will the Windsors, like their cousins in Europe, evolve into 'normal' people?

I don't love the Royal family, but nor do I hate them, though I should perhaps add I have a very intense dislike for Andrew and a strong dislike for Anne and Edward because they are both such complete oiks.  Prince Phillip, I fear, is doing bit parts in 'The Walking Dead'.  The Queen, I must confess, won my admiration when she went to visit the youngsters in hospital following the bombing in Manchester.  I suppose up until then, I had never seen the good she has done and the difference her presence has made.  I kind of live by the philosophy of 'whatever gets you through the night' (good song title ;)).  For some people that is religion, cheering the Queen, do gooding, or taking drugs and/or drinking to excess.  If the spirit is willing, but the body can't handle it, the first 3 are the best options, but I would also add the application of false eyelashes (I compare it to open heart surgery), as in, no-one would interrupt me with 'the saucepan's on fire, if I was taking a scalpel to an aorta! Actually, any OCD will do, I am presently trying to develop one for learning Spanish but I am stuck on page one because I can't say 'Hola'.  Even the machine is getting fed up with my pathetic attempts, I feel it is mocking me every time it presses the offkey wrong sound.  If it were a physical presence, I would punch it in the eye, as almost happened with a one off guitar lesson, turns out I can't play the guitar, nor sing, but that's another story.

On the whole I would say I am indifferent, to the Windsors, not tutors.  I have no desire to see them, not even Andrew, guillotined in Parliament Square.  Nor would I like to see harsh rules imposed on them by the government, nor any stripping of titles, withdrawal of funds or exiling.  Admittedly, that is a bit of a head in the sand approach, especially if you ask is it right for one, extended, family, to be kept in such luxury and privilege?  But opposed to that, you have the pomp, ceremony and tradition that captivates the entire globe, myself included.  Rightly or wrongly, the nation feels included in those celebrations, no other country has a monarchy quite like ours.  I also, unashamedly, love the pictures of William and Kate's little ones, they are adorable and Kate and Meghan too, are so effortlessly beautiful and stylish.  The vulgar Trumps do not even compare.  I can't see anyone queuing up to see Donald's gold toilet.  Or maybe not, it could have a good future as a booby prize on a Reality TV show.   

I'm afraid 21:25, I hover around the middle, I can see the absurdity of elevating one family above all others, but I can also see that the pomp and tradition of the House of Windsor contributes to our economy, the tourist industry especially.  I am not sure any other person or family would have that draw.  And any argument that a democratically elected leader is better than a Monarch is negated by one word.  Trump.  Ok, he's not actually a monarch, but he thinks he is, and indeed he is treated as if he is.  The founders of the USA obviously didn't consider a lunatic of the raving kind, taking office as the President.  

Returning to our duty to preserve history, as an amateur historian and lover of sparkly things, whilst it is true that history is his-story, it is also the history of the monarchs and upper classes, the elite and public school men.  They were the only ones who could read and write.  And indeed, they were the only ones who could afford to invest in architecture and the Arts and luxuries like diamonds, and, as a bit of trivia, Princess Margaret swooned when saw the size of Liz Taylor's.  The Rich, men especially, erected monuments to themselves, huge sprawling mansions, paintings commissioned by the best artists of their day.  This was their legacy, think Louis XIV and Versailles, the mortal King wanted to build something to be remembered by.  For him it worked, not so much for Ozymandias.  I suppose for billionaires, it is not enough to recline on a golden chaise longue with a lacky peeling your grapes, you want everyone else to know how rich you are.  Kings and Queens have done it, well forever, the wealthier you are the more powerful you are.  Henry VIII and Francis I displayed all their baubles at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.  These days, most men just get a bigger car.

I am not sure what the moral argument is with greedily acquiring more wealth than you could spend in a lifetime, or two.  I mean I am all for a bit of a pampering, but all day, every day?  Fortunately, the old aristocracy didn't have available to them flashy cars, aeroplanes, futuristic mansions with infinity pools or maybe even roulette tables and hookers.  Ok, scrub the last two.  But their big money went into lasting monuments, thus capturing the arts and culture of the time.  All these works of art, including the fabulous jewels, the crowns, the tiaras, the necklaces, the incredible Faberge eggs, still bring feelings of awe and admiration in those who gaze upon them.  Would all these creations exist, if no-one could afford them?

I think, my friend, there are too many answers to your question.  In a nutshell, I think this lot, both Princes and their wives, are a lot better than the last lot.  More aware, and more in touch with the feelings of the public.   They have the potential to do much good, and I get the impression both young couples really want to. 


Monday, 13 January 2020

A GILDED CAGE IS STILL A CAGE


I'm not in the least bit surprised that Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex has stuffed a hand grenade up the kilt of the ancient guards of the House of Windsor.  The British royal family have been stuck in a time warp for decades, understandably, we have had the same monarch for decades.  And such is the overall British mentality, we like it that way, we don't want change, we want to carry on with all the pomp, ceremony and traditions just we always have.  And the deference too, we accept without question, that the Queen and her offspring are our betters, it's not should we bow them, it's how low will we go.

I have watched over the past couple of days interviews with the outraged (Piers Morgan) and read the comments of similarly twisted loonies.  Their blood pressure soaring because a young couple they don't know, and never will, want to choose their own futures.  Piers Morgan, still stinging from not getting an invite to the wedding has led the charge, if his whining voice didn't have slot on breakfast TV, he would be out boiling Meghan's bunny.  

It must have been totally bizarre for Meghan, a young independent woman with a successful acting career, and the freedom do whatever she wanted to find herself confined within a rigid institution with strict codes and conventions, and a system of hierarchy that she must have found baffling.  A family that refers to each other by Title rather name or familial terms of endearment.  A family with strict boundaries between themselves and their servants. A clear divide in status and class.  Hard to argue equality while living in a palace.  As much fun as it must be having people bow to you, and indeed, spending time in the Victorian era, for a modern, woke, young woman like Meghan, her life probably turned into a 'Black Mirror' nightmare.

For Harry it is a world he has grown up in, he has never known anything different, and should they stay put, he never will.  Meghan is an American, her life and background were totally different.  We brits kind of know what the House of Windsor is all about, we have grown up with the curtsying, bowing and waving, but for a foreigner, an American especially, it would be 'jees, are you for real?' I am sure Harry explained, as best he could, what life would be like living in a gilded cage, but maybe downplaying the cage part.  

The media have been merciless in their pursuit of Meghan, so too those who felt the need to express their hatred on social media.  It has been sickening to watch, so this continued deference to an elderly woman who has spent her entire reign clinging onto 'the old ways'.  The Royal Family needs shaking up.  Maybe by not seeing us as peasants, and themselves as chosen by God would be a good start.  Especially that a'hole Prince Andrew.  What astounds me most, is that no-one ever questions or criticises the Queen, what she says goes, she is the 'word', albeit she is 93, and in any other profession would have been retired years ago.  Imagine for a moment what life would be like living under her rules?  Now spare a moment's thought for Meghan, and indeed the former wives of Windsor.

Meghan knows what life is like outside of the Royal family and she has introduced that 'outside' life to Harry.  For William there is no choice and it must hurt that Harry is able to do, what he is not.  William cannot step down, his heirs are way too young.  Queen Elizabeth inherited the throne because her Uncle didn't want it and she thinks it killed her father.  It caused a huge split in the family, the old Duke and Duchess of Windsor were exiled to France, no longer part of 'the Firm'.  The Queen is ruled by 'duty', for her there has never been an option.  But I am sure, as everyone who watched 'The Crown' would agree, she loves it.  

I wish Harry and Meghan all the best, and it was good to see so much support for them despite all the vitriol on social media, Ok, we aren't all super rich like them, but we all have the freedom to choose our own paths in life, and the thought of giving up that choice would be comparable to living in a cage.  Their cage may be gilded, but it's still a cage.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

HAPPY NEW YEAR




As I write this farewell to 2019, and howdy doodee to 2020, a new decade, fires are raging in Australia and a maniac is raging in the White House.  On twitter oppressed white people (oxymoron?) are trending with #Itsoktobewhite as if ethnic minorities have been picking on them for years.  We have now entered Jerry Seinfeld's (and Superman's) Bizarro World, up is down, white is black, truth is a lie, turkeys vote for Christmas.

Cynical maybe, but I have had at least reached the 'acceptance' stage of last month's tragedy, that part where I accept there is nothing I can do about it.  The heartfelt plea of 'hope' from the bottom of Pandora's box has had the lid shut down on it.  We now need a Saviour, but may have to wait another 2000 plus years.

Meanwhile, I will revert to the scribblings of one of my favourite philosophers, Mr. John Lennon.  As a small child he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.  He replied 'Happy'.  His teacher told him he didn't understand the assignment, he told her, she didn't understand life.  If I were that way inclined, I would take myself off to meditate at a Buddhist retreat, but I lack discipline and would probably be thrown out within 10 minutes.  

In any event, I think I have done enough navel gazing over the course of a lifetime, to truly know what I want.  I mean I could kick myself for not knowing it 40 years ago, doh, but there is no reason why I shouldn't pursue it now.  More reason in fact, my peers are dropping off like flies - as my dear old Irish grandmother used to say, 'you never know when you might wake up and find yourself dead!'.  Indeed.

So this year, this decade, I will unashamedly pursue happiness, which I think will sit nicely alongside my quest for enlightenment. I'm not talking complete hedonism here, well maybe a bit, but I will devote my time to that which makes me happy.  Now I have never actively pursued happiness, well not that I have been aware of, so I'm not entirely sure how to go about it.  It will begin I think with discarding all that Catholic guilt I had pounded into me in my formative years.  The kind of guilt that makes you go scrub the doorstep or wash the nets, rather than settle down with a good movie and a mince pie.  That can go.  The time has come I think to update my tick list, my list of things to do before I die.  Get lost in the maze at Hampton Court is near the top and absolutely do-able, ride a horse across the Sahara (again), remains, drink coffee in the Seinfeld cafĂ© ditto, but there is new addition - tour Versailles!  And of course, get my head down and write a book.  

So in this cheery mood, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and my hopes that all your dreams come true.