Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Welcome back...

Pausing only for a quick 'we are not worthy', the rabbit is delirious to see that total class act Beau Bo D'Or has returned! Welcome back, Sir!

Meanwhile in the land of the free all was not well for two British would be tourists named Lee Van Fryer and Emily Bunting after a twitter announcement that they were going to 'destroy America' and 'dig up Marilyn Monroe' (presumably to measure her - erm - ass for identification purposes - see below). Result: stopped by armed guards at Los Angeles International Airport, interrogated for 5 hours, handcuffed and locked up with various Mexican drug dealers etc. before being deported. Oh and their luggage was searched for spades. Dear Department of Homeland security - Now about that British sense of humour...

Admittedly the less than dynamic duo do look like a pair of dolts, but if this were grounds for banning people from international travel, then there would not be much of it about.

Meanwhile all is not well on the liberty front in the UK. The above is John Marjoram who is Mayor of Stroud, a Quaker and a pacifist. He refused to fill in his 2011 census form as a statement against the involvement of the defence contractor Lockheed Martin UK, which won the contract to run the census. At about the time of the census was the first anniversary of Lockheed Martin's military hardware being used to give Gaza the Guernica treatment. He is to be prosecuted for failing to fill in his census form.

Apparently 1.6 million census forms were not returned. are 1.6 million people to be prosecuted? Nope - apparently about 400 so far with 120 convictions. It is generally agreed in official circles that the census is an anachronistic and unproductive exercise and will not be repeated. 

On what basis has John Majoram been singled out for prosecution? Could it be that he is being prosecuted because he took a stand on principle and did what authoritarians and bossyboots everywhere hate - he showed dissent? Slightly disturbingly - and for reason so far unexplained - he is not to be prosecuted in his home town of Stroud but some distance away in Bristol. No doubt if he couldn't be bothered filling in his census form or simply 'forgot' he would be most unlikely to be prosecuted. Below - as a small sign of support - is a picture of the founder of the Quakers - George Fox - once imprisoned for 'disturbing the peace' (the authorities tend to suffer an irony deficit). It is to be hoped that his latter day follower does not suffer a similar fate.

Monday, 30 January 2012

It's cold up north... mostly photos

The rabbit has returned from his long weekend in the north east where he found himself regularly addressed as 'pet', which is quite nice and attended the Shami Chakrabati lecture as announced on the last posting at Northumbria University - which is an impressive piece of modern architecture (see above). The rabbit stayed in Durham for the long weekend and attended a Verdi requiem by the Durham Choral Society (I'm under orders to give them a plug!) at Durham cathedral which is noted for - as well as its age, it's early Norman - its sheer hugeness. The rabbit couldn't get all of it in one photo from anywhere remotely resembling close up but here is the centre section with tower. Those Normans knew how to make 'we are in charge' statements

Here are a couple of other images from the peninsular (the centre of Durham and a world heritage site). Below is Market Square with statue of Lord Londonderry. Apparently the square was refurbished in the recent past and the statue moved so that - if you wish to photo His Lordship from the front, a less than world heritage Tesco Express appears in the background. the rabbit took the photo from the rear so we - literally - have a horse's arse.

And then The Castle - or at least a part of it. The Keep to be exact...

Then yesterday, the rabbit was taken for a drive in bleak treeless moorland in County Durham. Rather beautiful but incredibly cold and if the skies appear iron grey in these photos - there is a reason...

Apart from the odd mad cyclist, you don't see people on the moors. You do see sheep, though. Lots of sheep. Regularly getting in the way. Oh and the white post just to the left of the road is for orientation in heavy snowdrifts.Very useful up there no doubt...

But this appealed to the surrealist in the rabbit - the cart is solid but the horse is made of strips of metal to create a skeletal image. The rabbit is back in London - where it is significantly less cold - and at work now...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Off I hop...

The rabbit is not a liberal lesbian for reasons too obvious to labour but found the above funny and does find Mrs Gingrich the Third to be scarily fascinating. It's the hair mostly. Is it actually a plastic helmet or is it riveted on or what? 

The circular firing squad that constitutes the Republican primaries is guiltily fascinating - as a car crash is guiltily fascinating. You know that good taste and decorum tells you to look away but you can't help it. With a circular firing squad there are inevitably casualties and the serial killer AKA Perry is the latest to withdraw leaving the repulsive Gingrich slugging it out with empty suit Romney, a man whose business practices are so unattractive as to make his fellow Republicans come over all Michael Moore on him. 

As a peaceful man, the rabbit would not suggest that the loathsome Gingrich (it will be gathered that the rabbit is not a fan) be strangled with the guts of - oh - one of the other would be nominees would do nicely - or anything unpleasant like that but those of a less pacific bent may wish to consider this undoubtedly moderate course of action. Otherwise he will just seek to trade in Plastic Hair for a younger and healthier model in due course. Women of America - be afraid, be very afraid - especially if you make the mistake of getting older or seriously ill.

For the avoidance of doubt - as we say in the trade - the rabbit retains his highly qualified regard for Ron Paul but he's not going to win. God help us, Gingrich might.

Otherwise the rabbit has been invited to Northumbria University to hear   Shami Chakrabarti speak. The rabbit has no idea why he has been invited but will combine this auspicious event with a weekend away staying with a friend who is singing in a choir in Durham Cathedral on Saturday. The rabbit has a front seat ticket.

In the meantime, the smaller small rabbit needs help with his car insurance. He assures the rabbit it will be the last time.Cue for a song... 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Snaresbrook Crown Court and Dennis Potter

Above is Snaresbrook Crown Court in East London. There have been strange goings on there of late. Stranger than usual that is. The advocates' lounge has been closed following concerns as regards the food. Of itself this would be little surprise to anyone who has ever eaten there but there is a particular reason. Namely what? I hear you cry.

There have been fears that the food may have been contaminated. With what? I hear you cry. Ermmm ...

Well it is not official but the suggestion is that traces of urine have been found in soups, sandwiches and salads. Complaints were made that the food 'smelled a bit off'. The rabbit was in fact at Snaresbrook on Wednesday afternoon this week but (coincidentally) had eaten lunch before arriving.

But here is the best bit. Police have become involved and are looking for - erm - 'someone with a dislike of lawyers or judges'.

No doubt.

After the Everly Brothers' Love Is Strange clip in the last posting Tony commented referring to the Buddy Holly version. Good point but not today - though the comment did send the rabbit on an excursion around YouTube in hot pursuit of different versions of this song. Above is the original by the relatively obscure Mickey & Sylvia but with a twist. The clip is from playwright and total rabbit hero Dennis Potter's Lipstick on Your Collar. Potter largely wrote for television as the medium he felt would reach the most people and  Lipstick on Your Collar was a 6 part television mini series. Mickey in the clip above is the young Ewan McGregor. Potter used popular music to frame magical realist scenes as above. if I am not mistaken the cartoons are by those Biff jokers.

Potter, a heroic chain-smoker, became a playwright as he spent most of his adult life desperately ill with regular hospitalisation from arthritic psoriasis, thus making ordinary employment impossible. You can see from the hand with the cigarette the distorting and paralysing effect of his condition. His plays are (largely) great, he was great. I'd quite forgotten that the only time that he ran for elected office - in his twenties - he became so disenchanted he didn't even vote for himself. 'Nuff said. Except this...

He was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer - probably a by product of the medication he had to take for his arthritic psoriasis. He gave a television interview to Melvyn Bragg in the Channel 4 Without Walls series. I think it is the most moving thing I have ever seen on television. Here's a taster.

He had two months to live at this point, through the interview he is swigging oral morphine, sipping a glass of champagne and smoking away. He was also caring for his wife at the time of the interview - she had terminal breast cancer and died 9 days before him. The full interview is up on YouTube in segments - go check it out or here is an edited transcript. Almost 18 years later I still remember the emotional impact of the interview and thinking' I love this guy'.

For the really time pressed, here are some of his points from the interview...

Resist cynicism, invite criticism.
Remember what's truly important.
Appreciate the now.
Don't be seduced by conformity.
Nurture and cherish talent.
Figures aren't everything.
There are reasons for tradition.
Fight the commodification of public life.
Be true to your idea.
Put wood to good use.
Find your own voice.
Consider what you leave behind.
Always make time for your dad.

As the page these quotes are assembled on says 'cut them out and keep them in your wallet; it will make you a better person'.

Above is his gravestone in St Mary's Parish Church Ross-on-Wye. It connects with that of his wife.  The inscription across both stones reads, 'All the way to heaven is heaven ... All of it a kiss'. It is taken from Alice Hoffman's novel Turtle Moon. Respect from the rabbit. Proud to be a fan.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Eve Arnold and Ron Paul

American born but long term UK resident photographer Eve Arnold has died aged 99. She spent a lot of time photographing Marilyn Monroe. As - erm - can be seen. I'm sorry, i couldn't help myself.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, she was given extensive access to Malcolm X, the net result of which was a number of images.

Not to mention Andy Warhol, here seen engaging in some bizarre sort of exercise regime.

Not to mention Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. She wrote 'if a photographer cares about the people in front of the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument'. Okay, one more Marilyn.

On a totally different subject, the rabbit is constantly asked who he would vote for if he had a vote in the US Republican primaries. On balance and in the absence of definitive guidance from his friend Christine O'Donnell who is still keeping her own counsel (sort of) the rabbit would seek help. 

Let us consider the field. we have Romney (empty suit) Sanatorium - or whatever he calls himself - who is apparently of the belief that the British lost the Empire because of the NHS), Gingrich (utterly loathsome toad), Perry (serial killer and serial dimwit) and the now out of the race Michele Bachman and her definitely not gay husband.

And there is Ron Paul.

Ron is aged approximately 108 and is seen here wearing a prosthetic nose as a bet. He is also - unlike the rest of the field -a  genuinely interesting thinker. He is routinely described as the most conservative member of the US Congress but it's a bit more complicated than that. Let's do a little checklist. His deficit reduction proposals are off the wall but that's hardly unique and unlike drooling idiot Perry, he no doubt can actually remember what they are. He is generally against invading other countries and specifically was opposed to the Iraq war (right). He opposes US aid to Israel (right for the wrong reason). He regards the not medically insured failing to be treated as a consequence of freedom (hugely wrong - the non choice between private care you cannot afford and nonexistent free care is the absence of freedom). By way of contrast, the wants to end the US trade embargo of Cuba (right). He opposed Tony B.Liar receiving a Congressional Medal of Honour (guess) and is opposed to the death penalty (guess again - this is pretty rare among US politicians too). I could go on.

Paul is undoubtedly a thorough going extremist and the rabbit does not buy into his free market beliefs (although some propositions flow from them that are actually quite sound). He is however an original thinker and a challenge to received wisdom. As such, he has to be a highly qualified good thing. The rabbit might even vote for him if some bizarre set of circumstances allowed him to do so. Look at the competition for starters.

Have Love Is Strange as something for the weekend for no particular reason that I heard oit on something the other day and thought 'good song'...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


... to borrow a phrase - some justice at last For overseas readers, it is difficult to describe just how notorious this case was - and remains - here.