Wednesday, 30 November 2011

charm school dropout

The rabbit will blog soon when less time poor but to be going on with here is a clip that has achieved some notoriety on YouTube. The Croydon tramlink is rather a good thing, but not when people like this are travelling on it. The person filming breaks rule 1 - make sure there isn't a thumb or finger in the way - but it soon disappears to reveal charm school dropout in all her charmlessness . ..

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

rabbit at the hop, an e-mail from Christine and Shelagh Delaney

After the threat from Hank to find a way to come over and kick me in the head if I didn't go, it became inevitable that the rabbit would hop off to see The Selecter live at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon last Thursday. It was stonkingly good stuff - I'd quite forgotten what fun live music can be. The rabbit's companion for the evening was another ageing reprobate by the name of Bob - a serious Deadhead who turned up in a starburst tie dyed T-shirt and greeted the rabbit with an offer to buy him a Doom, an offer which was accepted.

The band came on just as the second Doom arrived, entering to the strains of Longshot A Kick De Bucket through the PA. The sheer energy was the first thing to hit home. 'I'm exhausted just watching them' announced Bob, plonking himself down on the merchandising table. Plus - Pauline Black (vocals) is such a little showboater - playing to the audience shamelessly with a twinkle to her eye. Gaps Hendrickson (also vocal) bounces like - well - Tigger.

Then the standards started piling up, Murder, My England (launched by Pauline getting all political 'I hate the EDL, I hate the BNP. This song is called My England but this is our England' - cue much cheering), Three Minute Wonder (launched by Pauline getting all personal 'You are all three minute wonders!' - How does she know? I wondered - assuming it means what I think it means).

There was only going to be one last finale to the main set - here it is compliments of rabbit phone cam services  (Hat Tip to Bob for stills) - On My Radio

Equally, there was only going to be one encore. The audience were chanting Too Much Pressure before the band even came back onstage. Then the band came back on and joined in the chant - as can be seen.

And then into Fatty Fatty. But even encores have to come to an end - as also can be seen...

The encore completed, the PA blasted out Toots and the Maytals' 54/46, which the rabbit was reminded while watching TV the next evening, also opens This Is England . Then Pauline Black comes over to the merchandising table to sign books and records - and was this near! (see pic) to a starstruck rabbit.

Oh what fun! On a completely different subject, I'm sure - without false modesty - that regular readers will agree that it was only a matter of time before Christine O'Donnell succumbed to the rabbit's charms. Sure enough, the rabbit was greeted this morning with an e-mail from Christine. The header read 'you're invited to a private meeting'. The little saucepot! The rabbit is already licking his lips and making his travel plans. So that there is no doubt, the message is headed 'Dear Andrew'. A gentleman will disclose no further details save to say that Christine has come up with a somewhat implausible cover story - presumably hoping to throw the media off the scent - that the meeting is to discuss the 2012 elections. Can't see anyone being fooled by that!

More seriously, the rabbit was sad to learn of the death of Shelagh Delaney at the age of 71. She wrote her play A Taste of Honey aged 17 after going to a Rattigan play and deciding she could do better. She was something of a one hit wonder but did produce other work of some - although - lesser note. Above is a pic of her from 1961. Frustratingly I can't find a quartet of photos from 1960 of her smoking a cigarette, She could make smoking a cigarette look the coolest thing ever, A dangerous talent...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Freedom Riders Palestinian style

I'm sorry to be serious again - normal silliness really will be resumed again as soon as possible - but this deserves wide dissemination - in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience and with an obvious echo of the US Freedom Riders, Palestinian activists will today attempt to board segregated settler only buses to travel to Jerusalem. There is supposed to be a livestream here but it may be jammed. i've got intermittent sound, stills and text - including from eyewitnesses to the right of screen. Expect violence and hysteria as usual from Israel.

Friday, 11 November 2011

November in England III - the banning season

The ineffably useless Home Secretary Theresa May has taken a break from letting anyone who wants to enter the country do so by standing down the Borders Agency to save money (or something) while simultaneously talking tough on immigration to ban the Islamist organisation Muslims Against Crusades. Let there be no doubt that Muslims against Crusades are an odious shower, the mirror image of their fringe christian equivalent Westboro Baptist Church (whose god sure does a lot of hating but I digress). Both target the bereaved via military funerals (WBC) or Remembrance Day events (Muslims against Crusades). Now it is not necessary to support the idiot military adventures in Iraq or Afghanistan (I don't) or to fail to recognise the enormity of the damage done to the hapless population of those countries to intensely dislike gloating, sneering and heckling the bereaved and what ought to be their events. A predecessor organisation of Muslims Against Crusades planned a march through Wooton Bassett - a particularly sensitive location as it was there until very recently the bodies of British soldiers repatriated from Iraq and Afghanistan were flown in. The march - which no doubt would have been hugely provocative and offensive was banned.

These loons want Europe to be a caliphate. Frankly, I have no wish to live in their - or anyone else's - caliphate. What do I think of the ban?

I'm against it

I'm against it for two reasons, one of principle and one practical. Firstly, freedom of speech includes the right of odious people to say odious things. There is a limit to free speech, namely when one person's freedom of speech threatens or injures another person or persons. So where these individuals incite racial (or more accurately religious) hatred then fine, prosecute them. We have laws against racial and religious hatred We also have public order offences by the bucketload. Again, use thesse laws where appropriate. What does banning this shower add to anything?

That is the practical objection. The ban is merely pointless posture politics, its timing being due to the imminence of Remembrance Sunday and the usual Islamist threat to disrupt ceremonies and made by a politican in trouble. One suspects distraction techniques in play. Organisations don't disrupt ceremonies. Individuals and groups do. Such individuals and groups are in no way disabled from disruptions by this banning.

Theresa May announced in banning the group 'I am satisfied Muslims Against Crusades is simply another name for an organisation already proscribed under a number of names including Al Ghurabaa, The Saved Sect, Al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK'

Oh well spotted! So that's what they do! Who would have known! As soon as one group is banned they set up another. Or more accurately they change the name. The new group cannot be banned immediately as they haven't done anything yet. When they do they are banned and another group pops up. And so on.

And thus the point of this serial banning exercise is? Okay - to answer a rhetorical questions - it does no good at all. Below with Hat Tip to Left Foot Forward is Theresa May banning Islamist groups, sorry playing Whack A Mole.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

November in England II - poppies plus other musings

It is a matter of no particular consequence in the great scheme of things but the rabbit will not be wearing a poppy this year.  Basically as an act of protest at the increasing apparent orthodoxy that it is compulsory to wear one.

For overseas readers another short explanation is in order. In Britain and the Commonwealth Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November. In origin, it  recalls the  end of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended 'at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month' of 1918 with the German signing of the armistice. Of course it now includes the dead of World War II and subsequent wars and conflicts up to and including Afghanistan. Although two minutes of silence are observed on 11 November itself, the main observance is on the second Sunday of November, Remembrance Sunday. There are church services usually adjourning alfresco to the local war memorial and there is a national event at the Cenotaph at Whitehall.

The remembrance poppy originates with the red Flanders poppies of the battlefieklds of World War I and  an American woman, Moina Mitchell who promoted of a poem In Flanders Fields  - a mawkish and frankly pretty awful invitation - purportedly from the war dead - to carry on World War I. Red poppies began to be worn as a mark of remembrance.

And so it is today. Red poppies - made of some sort of stiff paper - are worn in the run up to Remembrance Sunday. Donations in exchange for the same go to the Royal British Legion.

Now in principle I have no problem with the way in which Remembrance Sunday is marked and have worn the poppy in the past. Remembrance is right, appropriate and can be healing. There is no glorification of war. It is not a recycling of Wilfred Owen's old lie. Although the Royal British Legion would not be my charity of choice, no doubt it does much good with the money raised by the poppy appeal.

But inevitably three things happen in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday. Firstly, the poppy wearing season gets longer. Traditionally, poppies were worn for the week before Remembrance Sunday. Now they start appearing in October. Secondly, the sense of pressurisation to conform and wear a poppy seems to increase with every passing year. For example, in a micro version of the insolence of office, a head teacher reportedly directed her staff to wear poppies. Thirdly, there is a heated debate about matters 1 and 2. This year it has even extended to the assembled mums of mumsnet. Nowhere is the apparent compulsion more apparent than on BBC television. Is it possible to appear on BBC tv without a poppy in the present season? Do they have some maniac at the doors of Broadcasting House with a bin full of poppies and a staple gun waiting to attack anyone presenting themselves sans poppy? I noticed that Benjamin Zepeniah on Question Time last week wore the white pacifist poppy but would the BBC actually allow you in a studio without any sort of poppy at this time of year? Evidence suggesting that the answer to this question is 'yes' is scant.

Veteran Channel 4 Newscaster Jon Snow does not wear a poppy. He holds to the entirely reasonable position that he chooses to wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday itself but not otherwise. Of course a huge avalanche of odium is heaped on his head every November, particularly last year after he came out with the perhaps not entirely felicitous phrase poppy fascism. Below is Snow not wearing a poppy (nasty tie, Jon).

At least on the 12th November it won't matter for - well - 11 months. Completely changing the subject, the rabbit hopped off to see The Ides of March at the Greenwich Picture House. it's a good watch - go see. On one level its about politics but on another level it's about treachery, double dealing and bad faith - a cynic might say same thing really. One question struck me though - what chance would an agnostic who was opposed to the death penalty have of being elected President of the United States? Not much, I suspect. On the subject of President of the United States, is Obama feeling left out because he has yet to do anything catastrophic and heroically stupid on the foreign policy front?

How about attacking Iran? - that would be truly, madly and deeply dumb.

Completely changing the subject again, the rabbit saw a documentary about Everly Brothers tribute act Simon and Garfunkel on BBC1 last night. The documentary was actually about the Bmaking of the Bridge Over Troubled Water album. Paul Simon mentioned meeting a Vietnam Veteran who said that the troops in Vietnam listened to Cecilia and in particular to...

'Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia
Up in my bedroom making love
I got up to wash my face
When I come back to bed
Someone's taken my place'

A common problem, I'm sure all would agree. The vet's comment that when they heard that these lines were actually being broadcast, they realised they weer coming back to a very different America.

Some wag on YouTube comments that Garfunkel has one awesome moustache.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November in England I - Guy Fawkes Night

Above is Guy Fawkes by Cruikshank, looking distinctly reflective - as well he might. I'm not sure how well the story of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night (5th November) is known overseas. If it is little known in the USA, I'm not surprised as George Washington not unreasonably told his troops to stop celebrating it on the 'nothing to do with us any more' principle.

Fawkes was what would now be called a terrorist. He and a number of catholic co-conspirators decided that the new king, James I, who had proved a sore disappoinment to them by the enactment of further anti-catholic laws was best blown up together with his Parliament (the gunpowder plot). The main conspirator was named Robert Catesby and readers of twentytwelve will recall that the Gilbert family cat is called Catesby but I digress.

A load of barrels of gunpowder were stored in a cellar underneath the House of lords hidden behind firewood ready to blow away the King and parliament on the occasion of the state opening of the latter. To cut a long story short, the plot was discovered and Fawkes was found leaving the cellar, shortly after midnight, and arrested. He was then tortured (a legal note: torture is and always was contrary to the common law - torture took place under royal perogative) and conducted himself with considerable courage under torture but was broken in the end.

Having signed his confession, Fawkes and seven co-conspirators were duly tried, the outcome never being in issue. they were sentenced to be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. They were to be 'put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both'. Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become 'prey for the fowls of the air'.

Rather a stiff sentence, I'm sure all will agree. The paper above shows Fawkes' usual signature below and the faint and barely decipherable signature (to his confession) above indicating the debilitating effects of torture. He also died at the hanging part, thus spoiling his tormentors' fun.

A suitably pleased parliament, not having been blown up, passed the Observance of 5th November Act 1605 - a piece of legislation not noted for the restraint of its prose. And so it was, every 5th November Guy Fawkes was burned in effigy up and down the country, fireworks were let off and strong drink taken.

'Remember remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot...'

But recently something odd has happened. The villain has become something of a hero. The starting point is probably the disrepute into which politicians have fallen and the dystopian film V For Vendetta which gave the world a cool Guy Fawkes mask (the rabbit has one - it hangs on a peg in his kitchen).

Suddenly the Guy Fawkes mask was all over everywhere like a rash. The libertarian blogger Old Holborn uses the mask to (largely) preserve his anonymity. And then there is of course the Guido Fawkes blog - the rabbit is not a fan of the latter, consisting as it does of a lot of self-satisfied self pleasuring but it at least provides a harmless outlet to Tourettes sufferers, ie his commenters. Oh and of course the hacktivists Anonymous who recently delighted the rabbit with their double whammy of an attack on a Finnish neo Nazi site and (allegedly) Israeli secret service and army websites. Nice one times two!

Strange days indeed. The journalist John Harris, who the rabbit usually likes to read, had a thoughtful piece in last Friday's Guardian on the moribund mainstream of politics, starting with 'I miss the Liberal Democrats'. The rabbit sort of does too - there is a lot of be said for radical liberals. Whisper it not but they are a great improvement on the Labour left as they are not in the same thrall to top down statist solutions. The problem is the non-radical liberals - the Orange Book knobs and the like - it seems that the Orange Book knobs have the whip hand which is a pity. Harris quotes Italian Marxist and rabbit fave Antonio Gramsci: 'The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear'.

Or as Hunter S. Thompson put it: 'when the going gets weird, the weird go professional'.

Part II of November in England to follow tomorrow. Apologies for being (mostly) serious. Normal silliness will resume soon.