Monthly Archives: September 2009

Wrong

Cartoon from the ever-excellent xkcd

Ok, so I know I should know better than to bite.  I know I should just move on.  I am trying to, honest.  There I was, innocently reading an eminently sensible and thought-provoking post by David Osler about how to today’s youth it is Labour who are the evil ones and the Tories who are to play at being the saviours, while to anyone who grew up slightly ahead of this generation, it will forever be the other way around.  Perhaps this is just the way the pendulum swings, I thought.  You grow up under one set of bastards, vowing never to vote for them as soon as you have the power.  Then the other lot gets in, they screw it up so badly that the next bunch of kids makes a similar vow and the cycle is repeated forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

And then I got to the comments.

‘ZanuLiebour are like Nazis!’  ‘The Tories will put poor people in camps!’

‘You want to privatise the NHS!’  ‘Your lot already have!’

And I want to say, grow the fuck up.  I want to point out that people are being left behind, whole lives chucked on the scrapheap, just like the 80s, while a bunch of professional idiots scrap over who gets to play with the levers of power and their respective gangs of cheerleaders yelp encouragment across the ‘blogosphere’.  I want to, but it is impossible to get a word in edgeways.

Meanwhile, the news gets more ridiculous by the day: Alistair Campbell is tipped for a return; the Tories will sell the BBC when they get in; Gordon’s on the happy pills; Mandelson would work for a Conservative government if they tickled his chin when they asked. As if any rational human being outside of SW1 gives a flying one for any of it, they would rather just be left alone to try to clear their credit card debts before they lose their jobs.

And I don’t know if it is better to add to the chatter, or instead to ignore it all in the hope that it will go away and focus instead on nice things, like this:

(found via It’s Nice That, again)

So I can’t decide.  You tell me, in the comments below.  Just remember to play nice because, I promise, the first mention of Liebour and you’re banned…

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An accidental tourist

I’m leaving because the weather is too good.  I hate London when it’s not raining

-Groucho Marx

This morning, after a most enjoyable Full English (exquisite black pudding, sorry veggies), I left the Aged Relatives at the station and wondered what to do with the rest of a beautifully sunny Sunday on which I had no further plans for the day.  Deciding upon a big long walk was the easy option.  A quick look at Google Maps on the phone and I was off as quickly as my hungover legs could carry me.

It wasn’t long before I stumbled across blogging gold, in the form of probably the most inappropriately named block of flats in the universe (click on the thumbnail for more detail):

House

Aesthete and purveyor of fine wit, Noel Coward, numbers among his many triumphs a note-perfect performance in The Italian Job as the patriotic gang boss Mr. Bridger.  Aesthete and purveyor of fine drawings, Aubrey Beardsley, created beautifully erotic illustrations for a number of  the most notorious publications of the Art Nouveau period, including Oscar Wilde’s Salome. That noise you can hear as you gaze at the signs affixed to these particular examples of concrete brutalism is the sound of two meticulous men spinning like turbines in their respective graves.  At least, I think that and I like brutalist architecture.

Wandering on I came across this scene:

River

… containing plenty for me to muse upon, the odd but strangely mesmirising MI6 building – star of nearly as many Bond films as Judi Dench – it appears to be the kind of Art Deco palace a 30s Hollywood mogul would have had built, but is really an 80s pastiche.  It is just possible to see the exposed remains of the huge mudflats which Charles Dickens would have known before the Embankment was built to reclaim some of the riverside.  That provided extra space for the new-build flats seen in the background, with the cranes suggesting yet more are being added, because London has next to no yuppie flats, of course.

There were parts of this walk which were very familiar, both from pictures and previous wanderings, but next up was a part of town which was a beautiful surprise even for a cynical and embittered Londoner like myself.  Victoria Tower Gardens has it all: plenty of space for reclining on the lawn, river views and fresh air, as well as interesting sculptures and statues to break up the sense of monotony that a town-dweller can feel on looking at a wide expanse of grass.  First up was an elaborate bit of Gothic masonry – which on closer inspection turned out to be the Buxton Memorial Fountain – built to commemorate the abolition of the slave trade.  One of the original castings of Rodin’s sculpture of The Burghers of Calais is also located in the park, having been bought for us by the British Government.  See, they don’t always spend our money on tat!

This stroll through the park brought me somewhere I hadn’t visited since a distant school trip, or walked to since the ill-fated 2003 Iraq War protest march: my Nation’s Parliament.  Naturally no troughing MPs in view, as it was a Sunday and they are also on recess for a little while longer.  Perhaps taking inspiration from this statue of Richard I, who spent less than six months of his ten-year reign in England?

Richard

And then we come to my favourite view of London, the dome of St Paul’s as seen from the South Bank:

View

Here it is looking picture-postcard perfect, glinting in the sunshine as if impersonating Wren’s source of inspiration, St Peter’s in Rome.  There are more stunning images here, including another of my favourites (if you scroll down a bit): the dome enveloped in cloud and lit up by searchlights during the blitz of 1941.

By now the urge to sleep off my breakfast was winning out over any desire for further wanderings, so it was time to hop onto the bus for home.  Things learnt were many and it was heart-warming to act like a new arrival to this city I have called home for most of the last decade.  All for the price of two bus fares and a bottle of water.  Sometimes the best holidays are those spent on familiar territory.

So now off to snooze while agreeing with that other cheerleader for the old metropolis, Samuel Johnson:

By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show

All photographs taken by Julia

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It’s Nice That

It's Nice That 2More It's Nice That 2Got home on Friday to discover It’s Nice That had arrived…

I very excitedly tore open the package to reveal my copy, screen print by Rob Ryan and a lovely postcard which to my eyes appears to be a handwritten ‘thanks!’ from editors, Will Hudson and Alex Bec.  I almost hope it was printed though, because I am going to recommend that everyone get themselves a copy – I’m not lending mine out, so tough – and if they have to hand sign too many they will be exhausted before they get to Issue 3!

That is a risk we will have to take because, believe me, you NEED a copy of It’s Nice That to restore your faith in  publishing with proper paper, gorgeous illustrations and clever words.  From first flick-through I can’t wait to read George Hardie on rulers, the interviews with photographer Peter Finch and genius accessories designer Fred Butler, not to mention spend all of a hungover Sunday morning gazing at the beautiful photographs and illustrations.

So while I am doing that, do yourself a favour and head over here to buy a copy.  The limited edition screenshots are available until midnight on 30 September.

Very average photographs, which in no way do it justice, by Julia

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Something for the weekend

KHamnett_thinkMaybe it is because it is the season of fashion weeks (Fashion Month?) and maybe because I just submitted some scribblings to a fashion mag’s writing competition (in the hope of winning shoes!) but I have of late, found myself musing about the mad, bad and dangerous to know world of fashion.

Of course, ten minutes hate is mostly concerned with the iniquities of politicians and the tyrannies of other weak-willed men, and it could be argued that with all the scandals, thievery and corruption in the world, taking a month off to gawk at clothes we won’t even be wearing until next Spring is, well, a bit silly, isn’t it?

I would disagree, obviously, or this post ends here…

Once you concede that clothes are about more than protecting us from the elements or saving our modesty on a packed Tube train, everything else becomes a statement of intent.  Having a good day and toasting it with bright red lipstick, wishing to hide in a comfy tracksuit, going for the full uniform of whichever tribe you picked: from goth to emo to skater or a million others, even in the anti-capitalist garb of army surplus trousers and ironic t-shirt, you are saying something about yourself when you get dressed each day.  To be ‘anti-fashion’ is to be as much a part of the conversation as a member of the front row at any show.

True, there are things to hate about fashion.  I hate it when fashion is cruel to women by, for instance, offering shoes designed to cause injuries, or making a perfectly healthy girl feel fat, or engaging in excess and waste on a scale not seen since Marie Antoinette was playing at milk-maiding.  I also hate when the fashion default setting is ‘how amazing!’ when really it should be ‘are you sure?’, which is why it is so refreshing to read reviews like this one of House of Holland’s show (hat tip to Gem Fatale’s Style Blog for the link).

But credit where credit is due, not all fashion swims at the shallow end of the pool.  Witness Katherine Hamnett offending Margaret Thatcher two decades ago, Vivienne Westwood matching a natural sense of playfulness with a deeper concern for the world around her, not to mention all the Reds, People Trees and Eduns which seek to bring us clothing grown from renewable sources, made by workers adequately rewarded for their labour and sold with biodegradable packaging.  Sometimes fashion proves that it is for the grown ups too.

vw_manifestoWestwood’s manifesto contains more than a trace of her punk roots and shows that ‘recreating a punk aesthetic’ should be about more than wearing your skinny jeans with too much eyeliner and a safety pin brooch (god help us, I have yet to recover from that one, thanks ASOS.)  Do It Yourself and be proud to have your clothes show age as you wear them.  It could be simply a ‘make do and mend’ for the Noughties except for the margin notes added to the handwritten note: exhortations to save the rainforest and support for an Amnesty International campaign.

So now that I have proved that you can keep your political consciousness and still enjoy clothes, feast yourself on these images from New York and London Fashion week.  A little something for the weekend.

Hamnett image from Vogue, Westwood manifesto from Style on Track.

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Pick a pocket or two

Gordon Brown taught Cameron and Osborne everything they know

Gordon Brown taught Cameron and Osborne everything they know

When the recession started last year, most British households cut their cloth accordingly. Reduced unnecessary outgoings, started to pay more off the credit cards and, despite rates that are the lowest since the Bank of England opened its doors, they even began bunging cash into the savings accounts.

But not the Government.

The Government couldn’t act like us because, if they had, we would now be looking at something much closer to the Great Depression than the Vera Lynn revivals and fascist outrages on the streets would have you believe we are. The taps had to be turned on. But even accounting for the bank rescues, the guaranteeing of the bonuses and the increased welfare costs, it is impossible to escape the fact that our debt as a proportion of GDP is growing to astronomical ‘chop-the-credit-card-with-the-kitchen-scissors’ levels and that, worst of all, we have next to no intention of paying it all back, preferring instead to let deflation take care of it and no matter if that screws the savers and the pensioners.

Still, at least our leaders and would-be leaders are, at last, pledging to get to grips with our free-wheeling, high-spending public services, because – you know – it was those hospitals with all the crazy drugs they were buying and the spendthrift social workers that caused the meltdown, not a bunch of over-paid coke heads in bad suits acting like their nations’ economies were a roulette wheel, right?

So, much as a couple argues the toss over classing spending on a holiday or that new plasma screen TV as ‘essential’, our politicians are now trying to convince us that the other side will do the evil cutting. Emotive accusations that they will stop paying to educate the leaders and wealth-creators of the future while they won’t be able to afford to have the bins emptied weekly will drive us all mental between now and Election Day. Meanwhile, each will be spinning that they are the only ones able to rid us of all the troublesome bureaucrats and unnecessary ‘costs’ that we won’t miss when they are snipped.

Instead of Tory Cuts v Labour Investment (as the last three elections have run) this time, they will be arguing debating the nuances of millions and billions spent on paperclips and kidney transplants in an attempt to persuade of the stirring ideological differences existing between them.

Don’t fall for the bullshit.

The Tories, always chief cronies to the wealthy, and Labour, up the arses of the fat cats for 12 years and counting, are not our friends. They are equally guilty of allowing the people who caused this shitstorm to run away laughing while we carry the can for their hubris. Not all bankers are evil, but the mud-slinging between them and the politicians over who to blame is the show to distract from the sleight of hand that picks our pocket, even as the seeds of the next catastrophe are already being sewn.

Stay alert and keep a tight grasp on your wallet.

Picture from Wikipedia


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The Golden Country

Picture 032Picture 033 Last night I got home from work and watched the evening sun play across the wall for about an hour.

In 1984, the Golden Country is a place of escape, untouched by Big Brother and the Party and remote from the cares of everyday life in Oceania.

More posts to follow…

(Photos by me, for once.)


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