Monthly Archives: May 2010

Hate highlights – 31 May

A happy bank holiday to all readers of ten minutes hate – hopefully the sun is shining!  If not and you are chained to the computer today, here are my picks from the hate over the last seven days or so:

  1. Revisit last weekend’s Ska Sunday – and please add your own choices in the comments
  2. Indulge in some nostalgia of when we won it five times!
  3. If it really does rain all day, perhaps use the time to customise your notebook, find inspiration here 
  4. Read this and aim to keep the bank holiday idleness going through the whole week

And four great writers for you:

  1. Bella Gerens calls out the useless bitch MPs
  2. Ben Six on BP Chief Executive, Tony Hayward’s unconvincing acts of contrition
  3. Via Max Dunbar, Sam Harris on the Vatican scandal
  4. 3am Magazine’s review of an essential addition to any reading list in Radical Muckraking, Black Power and the End of the Sixties

And finally, if you have seen anything you think Julia would enjoy in your recent travels around the interweb, please drop me a note in the comments.  Ta!

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In Memoria e Amicizia

At this time of year the anniversaries come often for Liverpool fans, the games we love to remember and the ones we will never forget for completely different reasons. 

One date that should resonate for all fans of the team is 29 May.  Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Heysel stadium disaster, when 39 people died following the collapse of a wall in the stadium caused by clashes between Liverpool and Juventus supporters.

Twenty years later, when the clubs were drawn to play each other in the Champions League, fans on the Kop created a mosaic memorial spelling out the words ‘memoria e amicizia’ – memory and friendship.  This year the club unveiled a permanent memorial at Anfield, dedicated to the remembrance of that day and promotion of friendship between the two sets of fans in the future.

At a later ceremony to plant a tree in a St John’s Gardens in central Liverpool, honorary Italian consul Nunzia Bertali said,

After 25 years people often think we should move on but it is lovely Liverpool has decided to remember and commemorate in this way, in the name of friendship.  I admire the fact Liverpool, and Britain generally, does not stick its head in the sand when wrongs have been done.  I am so grateful for that and really respect it

If you would like to know more, I can recommend French novelist Laurent Mauvignier’s ‘In the Crowd’, which I read recently.  It begins with some very different people heading to the match in Brussels: two Parisian lads out for a good time; a Belgian couple with their own troubles; a young Liverpool fan abroad for the first time, along with two loved-up Italian newly weds.  Their paths cross on the day and afternoon before the game, as the excitement of getting tickets and travelling to the stadium is overwhelmed by tragedy.  The story doesn’t end with the disaster, but continues to show the aftermath and its effects on the different personalities involved.  It is a great novel, for anyone who, like me, was too young to take in the events of 29 May 1985, but is keen to understand and to remember.

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We won it 5 times…

Evertonians, look away now…

I was planning to write something incredibly serious today, about the budget cuts and how the proposed £6bn must be just the start, in light of the Greek troubles.  But you can go and read something better than I would have written on the Independent website instead, while ten minutes hate indulges in some unchecked nostalgia from five years ago today.

I had a couple of opportunities to go to the Istanbul Champions League final in 2005, featuring AC Milan and Liverpool.  Both of which fell through right at the last minute, leaving me gutted enough to contemplate not watching the match at all for - oh! – about three seconds or so.  In fact, I watched the game in the excellent surroundings of a good friend’s front room, equipped with an amazing barbeque, huge telly and, really, who could ask for more?

Lucky Papa Smith did get to go and spent what sounds like a cracking couple of days in Istanbul soaking up the culture.  There is more on the city, as well as some wonderful photos of a completely non-footballing nature, here.

Words to describe what happened that evening are difficult to find, although I will give it a go.  Supporting Liverpool has always been about dealing with the depths as well as the highs, however, I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for so many of them to be crammed into one game.  From half-time, where I said a sort-of half-hearted prayer to any passing god that was listening for us ‘to please score one’, to the sight of this just half an hour later:

(Doesn’t it still rock your world seeing Smicer up there?!  It does mine.)  

There is all kinds of talk about what happened at half-time to change things and, while we will probably never know exactly, I like to think that it was a combination of Rafa’s words, the fans in the stadium who wouldn’t stop singing – my dad still had no voice three days later – and some kind of weird footballing alchemy that saw us lifting our fifth European Cup that night, the only English club ever to do so.

You can’t call yourselves Liverpool players if you have your heads down. If we create a few chances we have the possibility of getting back into this. Believe you can do it and you will. Give yourself the chance to be heroes

- Rafa Benitez

That was one of the best finals I ever played in. We played really well, much better than Liverpool, and we really deserved to win much more than them. But that’s football

- Paolo Maldini

The English club proved that miracles really do exist. I’ve now made Liverpool my English team. They showed that football is the most beautiful sport of all. The Liverpool supporters didn’t let me go to sleep the night before, there were 10 of them to every three Milan supporters. They showed their unconditional support at half-time when they were losing 3-0 and still they didn’t stop singing

- Diego Maradona

Final word to the skipper:

Two European Cup finals in three years — not bad for a little club

- Steven Gerrard

Pictures ‘borrowed’ from The Independent, Big Soccer and The Telegraph (worth reading for Henry Winter choking on our ‘Istanbul miracle’)

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Ska Sunday

I love ska.

I love Sundays, I love sunshine and summer.

So the first day of the year to combine all of these elements called for a heavy rotation of ska on the old music box today.  For once, I am not going to be a musical purist about it, some of this probably crosses into rocksteady or reggae.  It is all, however, damn fine music to be enjoying this Sunday evening.

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Pen, paper and ink

Continuing on a theme from Monday’s post, here are some lovely things to write on and with:

Yes, that is indeed a fur Moleskine holder.  It is available here where, should you purchase one, your rediscovered love of the German language will encourage you to refer to it as a Ledereinband Notizbuch.

I found the fur-lined cover via my new favourite site ‘Skine Cover, which encourages acts of customisation or vandalism (depending on your outlook) such as this:

Beautiful, if highlighting a spectacular amount of time spend procrastinating, rather than filling the notebook with whatever it is the artist is allegedly ‘working’ on.  I know that trick well! 

From Skine Cover it took me but a short while to find Molecover, a company based in San Francisco which produces leather Moleskine covers.  I really don’t think I am going to be able to leave for Japan without this one coming with me:

Gorgeous.

In response to Monday’s broken pen lament, I was advised to check out The Writing Desk, which I did, although doing so has only added to my woes.  Now also appearing on my wish list are this pen case, for the avoidance of future catastrophes:

And I think my life will be a touch emptier without their pen of the week, the fabulously named Sailor Professional Gear Mosaic:

Look at that baby.  I bet it swirls and curls like a Ferrari Testarossa!  Naturally it would need to be filled with the finest ink, available here from Noodler’s Ink.  The only difficulty will be in deciding between Heart of Darkness, Dragon’s Napalm and the X Feather…

Photos ‘borrowed’ from websites mentioned

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Mein Füllfederhalter ist kaput!

Disaster struck ten minutes hate this weekend when – not one! – but two of my fountain pens broke.  I can understand your thinking, this is the digital age, why would a blogger care about a pen being out of action?  Use another one, I can hear you shouting, get a biro, (wo)man the fuck up, Julia!

The truth of it is, that I can’t go back.  Forced to write with a fountain pen from a tender age because it was believed it would make my handwriting nicer, I tried to flaunt such bourgeois notions at university by using horrible and inevitably chewed-up old bics.  Tried, but I am afraid they don’t cut it with me.  I have employed the argument that I can write quicker with ink, as the nib glides across the paper more smoothly than a ball-point which cuts in, so my hand can keep up with my thoughts and I can get it down before whatever it was melts off into the ether.  Similarly, writing cheques (another soon-to-be-archaic experience) or letters, or birthday cards, or never-to-be completed ‘to do’ lists, all benefit incalculably from the use of what the Germans so charmingly call ein Füllfederhalter.

At school, I went through a – thankfully short, owing to its unmistakable air of pomposity – phase of using a fountain pen refillable from a bottle of ink.  Fingers would be permanently stained, pristine white shirts dappled with stray spots, a supply of blotting paper (always luminous pink – why?) could never be too far away.  With the old Parkers you could flick the ink, if you were so inclined, by hitting the right angle to unleash a flurry of black dots, marching across your friend’s textbook and earning you both a few deducted marks for your sham Pollock artistry.  I can’t image today’s schoolchildren being allowed access to something so fun and so messy, which is a shame, not least for standards in handwriting.

So while the broken utensils are off at the mender and I reluctantly make do with a scabby ball point from a long-forgotten conference, I leave you with this quote from Idler, Tom Hodgkinson:

Go backwards in all things.  Wear tailor-made suits, use a fountain pen, walk through the park instead of taking public transport, keep a copy of Byron with you, go to art galleries at lunchtime, enjoy an afternoon pint in the pub, sneak in a cinema visit during the working day.  You must transform yourself in your mind from put-upon wage slave to modern anthropologist.  Detach yourself.  And force yourself to leave work punctually.

Some of those are harder to achieve than others.  I would suggest that the fountain pen is a good place to start.

Hideously out-of-focus shot (in thumbnail anyway) of a corner of a desk, by Julia.  Also featuring alongside the two broken fountain pens: my Moleskine, glasses, jewellery box and a Mallorcan fan dating from the Seventies. The usual writerly detritus

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Tory mix-tape: the anti-fun edition

Continuing our theme of Tory era mix-tapes, here’s one to take you back to the good old days when the Conservatives got the anti-fun bug to such an extent that they decided to try and ban an entire genre of music.  In case you haven’t seen it in all its glory before, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you – the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994:

63 Powers to remove persons attending or preparing for a rave

(1) This section applies to a gathering on land in the open air of 100 or more persons (whether or not trespassers) at which amplified music is played during the night (with or without intermissions) and is such as, by reason of its loudness and duration and the time at which it is played, is likely to cause serious distress to the inhabitants of the locality; and for this purpose—

(a) such a gathering continues during intermissions in the music and, where the gathering extends over several days, throughout the period during which amplified music is played at night (with or without intermissions); and

(b) “music” includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats

(emphasis added)

So in spite of those parts in bold being what many considered the epitome of a good night out, despite a protest campaign against the Bill and the amusing twist of fate of having current Tory cheerleader Paul Staines as one of the leading lights of the acid house scene, the Tories decided – backed up by massive tabloid hysteria – to abandon laissez-faire principles to the extent that anyone caught dancing to thumping loud music under the stars could face up to three months’ imprisonment.

So, here is ten minutes hate‘s pick of the best tunes of the era to take you into the weekend.  If you fancy being really daring, try waiting until after dark before heading out into a field with some mates and playing them really, really loud.  I am sure David Cameron would approve…

Part V Public Order: Collective Trespass or Nuisance on Land

Powers to remove trespassers on land

61 Power to remove trespassers on land

(1) If the senior police officer present at the scene reasonably believes that two or more persons are trespassing on land and are present there with the common purpose of residing there for any period, that reasonable steps have been taken by or on behalf of the occupier to ask them to leave and—

(a) that any of those persons has caused damage to the land or to property on the land or used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards the occupier, a member of his family or an employee or agent of his, or

(b) that those persons have between them six or more vehicles on the land,

he may direct those persons, or any of them, to leave the land and to remove any vehicles or other property they have with them on the land.

(2) Where the persons in question are reasonably believed by the senior police officer to be persons who were not originally trespassers but have become trespassers on the land, the officer must reasonably believe that the other conditions specified in subsection (1) are satisfied after those persons became trespassers before he can exercise the power conferred by that subsection.

(3) A direction under subsection (1) above, if not communicated to the persons referred to in subsection (1) by the police officer giving the direction, may be communicated to them by any constable at the scene.

(4) If a person knowing that a direction under subsection (1) above has been given which applies to him—

(a) fails to leave the land as soon as reasonably practicable, or

(b) having left again enters the land as a trespasser within the period of three months beginning with the day on which the direction was given,

he commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or both.

(5) A constable in uniform who reasonably suspects that a person is committing an offence under this section may arrest him without a warrant.

(6) In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence for the accused to show—

(a) that he was not trespassing on the land, or

(b) that he had a reasonable excuse for failing to leave the land as soon as reasonably practicable or, as the case may be, for again entering the land as a trespasser.

(7) In its application in England and Wales to common land this section has effect as if in the preceding subsections of it—

(a) references to trespassing or trespassers were references to acts and persons doing acts which constitute either a trespass as against the occupier or an infringement of the commoners’ rights; and

(b) references to “the occupier” included the commoners or any of them or, in the case of common land to which the public has access, the local authority as well as any commoner.

(8) Subsection (7) above does not—

(a) require action by more than one occupier; or

(b) constitute persons trespassers as against any commoner or the local authority if they are permitted to be there by the other occupier.

(9) In this section—

  • “common land” means common land as defined in section 22 of the [1965 c. 64.] Commons Registration Act 1965;

  • “commoner” means a person with rights of common as defined in section 22 of the [1965 c. 64.] Commons Registration Act 1965;

  • “land” does not include—

(a) buildings other than—

(i) agricultural buildings within the meaning of, in England and Wales, paragraphs 3 to 8 of Schedule 5 to the [1988 c. 41.] Local Government Finance Act 1988 or, in Scotland, section 7(2) of the [1956 c. 60.] Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act 1956, or

(ii) scheduled monuments within the meaning of the [1979 c. 46.] Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979;

(b) land forming part of—

(i) a highway unless it falls within the classifications in section 54 of the [1981 c. 69.] Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (footpath, bridleway or byway open to all traffic or road used as a public path) or is a cycle track under the [1980 c. 66.] Highways Act 1980 or the [1984 c. 38.] Cycle Tracks Act 1984; or

(ii) a road within the meaning of the [1984 c. 54.] Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 unless it falls within the definitions in section 151(2)(a)(ii) or (b) (footpaths and cycle tracks) of that Act or is a bridleway within the meaning of section 47 of the [1967 c. 86.] Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967;

  • “the local authority”, in relation to common land, means any local authority which has powers in relation to the land under section 9 of the Commons Registration Act 1965;

  • “occupier” (and in subsection (8) “the other occupier”) means—

(a) in England and Wales, the person entitled to possession of the land by virtue of an estate or interest held by him; and

(b) in Scotland, the person lawfully entitled to natural possession of the land;

  • “property”, in relation to damage to property on land, means—

(a) in England and Wales, property within the meaning of section 10(1) of the [1971 c. 48.] Criminal Damage Act 1971; and

(b) in Scotland, either—

(i) heritable property other than land; or

(ii) corporeal moveable property,

and “damage” includes the deposit of any substance capable of polluting the land;

  • “trespass” means, in the application of this section—

    (a)

    in England and Wales, subject to the extensions effected by subsection (7) above, trespass as against the occupier of the land;

    (b)

    in Scotland, entering, or as the case may be remaining on, land without lawful authority and without the occupier’s consent; and

  • “trespassing” and “trespasser” shall be construed accordingly;

  • “vehicle” includes—

(a) any vehicle, whether or not it is in a fit state for use on roads, and includes any chassis or body, with or without wheels, appearing to have formed part of such a vehicle, and any load carried by, and anything attached to, such a vehicle; and

(b) a caravan as defined in section 29(1) of the [1960 c. 62.] Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960;

and a person may be regarded for the purposes of this section as having a purpose of residing in a place notwithstanding that he has a home elsewhere.

62 Supplementary powers of seizure

(1) If a direction has been given under section 61 and a constable reasonably suspects that any person to whom the direction applies has, without reasonable excuse—

(a) failed to remove any vehicle on the land which appears to the constable to belong to him or to be in his possession or under his control; or

(b) entered the land as a trespasser with a vehicle within the period of three months beginning with the day on which the direction was given,

the constable may seize and remove that vehicle.

(2) In this section, “trespasser” and “vehicle” have the same meaning as in section 61.

Powers in relation to raves

63 Powers to remove persons attending or preparing for a rave

(1) This section applies to a gathering on land in the open air of 100 or more persons (whether or not trespassers) at which amplified music is played during the night (with or without intermissions) and is such as, by reason of its loudness and duration and the time at which it is played, is likely to cause serious distress to the inhabitants of the locality; and for this purpose—

(a) such a gathering continues during intermissions in the music and, where the gathering extends over several days, throughout the period during which amplified music is played at night (with or without intermissions); and

(b) “music” includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats

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The Clegg and Compo show

Here we all are then, the Dave ‘n’ Nick show opens with the release of the initial and snappily titled ‘Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition negotiations agreements’ on how we are to be governed.  You can read the whole thing here.

The agreement does demand close inspection, because there are at least a couple of hopeful messages for the future directed at those who may be feeling concerned.  Here is one such commitment that initially caught my attention, something which you might have hoped would never need to be carved into tablets of stone in a civilised country, had recent events not so manifestly demonstrated otherwise:

We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes

Almost gives you hope, doesn’t it.  Add to that:

  • a commission charged with separating retail and investment banking
  • action to tackle unacceptable banking bonuses
  • funding for the NHS should increase in real terms in each year of the Parliament

and you might find yourself questioning if the Conservatives had actually won on any of the negotiating points.  Don’t run away with that thought, though, because of course they did:

  • modest cuts of £6 billion to non-front line services… within the financial year 2010-11
  • a review of the long-term affordability of public sector pensions
  • an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants.

As playwright (and exotic dancer) Dan Rebellato commented on Twitter:

 

so I agree, it is vital for us as voters to retain some cynicism about the whole process.  On the other hand, it is equally important for the Conservatives that they don’t cause undue alarm in this initial period, calming the nerves of people with a visceral hatred of all things Tory, reaching out to wavering Lib Dems and making us all believe that they have our best interests at heart.  There are even some reports of a much deeper change in outlook, if Tory blogger Tim Montgomerie is to be believed:

‘They don’t believe us when we say we’re not two-headed, monstrous Thatcherites so we’ll just have to prove it in office,’ was the conclusion of one leading Cameroon.

I find myself with the words of Mandy Rice-Davies echoing in my head: ‘well he would say that, wouldn’t he?’  When most of the Cabinet count their small change in the millions rather than in silver and copper, you have to question how far we can realistically expect them to understand the concerns of us plebs.  Are they likely to protect the hard-won services and policies that may seem like an unnecessary extravagance at this time of extraordinary economic turmoil, but which we recognise as essential in the battle to keep body and soul together?  I wonder.

Similarly, it is difficult to feel much confidence in the sudden raging appetite for political reform amongst those who typically consider themselves to be the natural party of government.  Having been kept away from the top jobs for over a decade, they won’t be keen to vacate them so readily.  The Alternative Vote system proposed in the agreement is a long way from the demanded Proportional Representation,  as noted by John Q Publican:

It’s about safe seats. AV is the only one of the alternative systems which preserves them intact. Safe seats are graphably the reason for the expenses scandal. Safe seats allow parachuting of candidates, placing too much power in the hands of central committees over local candidates and parties. Safe seats are wholly counter-democratic. And the LibDems have almost none of them, but the other parties have quite a few each

 It does seem that if we are not very careful, what we could end up witnessing is a rapid return to what Rosemary Bechler calls ‘business-as-usual politics’, instead of what benefits us as voters:

We want open discussion and robust decision-making that takes in a range of options we can keep our eyes and ears on.  We want people who answer to our criticisms face to face (as opposed to Jeremy Paxman’s). We want people who ask us what we think much more often.  And we want a democratic, fair, adult, proportional electoral system

So how do we go about getting that?  I believe we must keep up the pressure by demanding a fairer voting system until we get it - the Take Back Parliament campaign is one way of doing this.  Another is to join 38 degrees in deciding what comes next, following their successful actions during the election to counter adverse publicity about hung parliaments and challenge candidates to support electoral reform. 

Whatever the outcome of this, the first UK hung parliament since 1974, it must not be more of the same.  Keep watching!

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We’ve been here before

A short musical interlude for all ten minutes hate readers who don’t remember what this was like last time around. Listen carefully, this could be valuable survival advice:

And if things get really tough, there is always this beauty:

Good luck, everyone.

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A ringside seat

At the risk of sounding self-indulgent, blogging seems a bit redundant at the moment.  The situation changes so rapidly, while Stephen Fry, John Q Publican and the Flying Rodent say everything I want to, but better.  It seems ridiculous to add another opinion to the fog of disinformation as the news media continues its descent from the sublime to the ridiculous:

But it is not ten minutes hate‘s style to drown in such self-indulgent waters for long.  Instead, let’s take a couple of lungfuls of air and attempt to doggy-paddle towards a distant yet sunny stretch of beach.  For the first time that I can remember, people are interested in politics again, and not the stupid, ‘leader’s wives’ version of it eternally peddled by the tabloids, but the ancient mechanics behind how the system should work and if in fact it does.

The brightest dot on the horizon must be that we have had no government for five days now and the sky still hasn’t fallen in.  If you turned off Sky News and ignored the papers, you would barely even notice.  This either points to an unelected cabal of civil servants being the real power in the country or a dizzying scent of anarchism in the air:

…when the most thoroughly organized, centralised institution, maintained at an excessive national expense, has proven a complete social failure, the dullest [mind] must begin to question its right to exist. The time is past when we can be content with our social fabric merely because it is “ordained by divine right,” or by the majesty of the law.

- Emma Goldman

So I say, let them squabble.  While they distract themselves with the scintillating prospect of live, 24-hour coverage of some suits chatting in a room, we can get on with some direct action.  Take Back Parliament, Mend our Voting System, Unlock Democracy, there are plenty of campaigns to get involved with, many of which don’t even require you to get up from your desk.

Of course, you could argue that engaging with the election process in any way other than setting fire to your ballot is a betrayal of true anarchist principles.  Though ‘whoever you vote for, the government always wins’ seems to have been knocked on the head a bit this last week.  I also think that so many of us turning our backs on the process – 35% of eligible voters didn’t engage on Thursday and not all of those were locked out of polling stations – is what has allowed the expenses-fiddling and lobbying to become so endemic. 

If they think we are watching, maybe they will take the piss a little less.  Let’s make the bastards work for those free, taxpayer-funded bath plugs!

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