Reasons to be tidy, Pt III

Oh shit, I’ve just found, sealed in an envelope, addressed ready to be sent, a signed form admitting that I was driving my car at the time it was caught on a speed camera back at the end of august. I was SURE I’d sent this, but just now, having a bit of a tidy up (not so as you’d notice, but still) I found it, sealed. And it’s now 29 days from when it was supposed to be sent – shitty shit. I’ve no idea how fastidious the police are about the dates on these things – does the fine go up? Will I get a summons? I’ll post it first thing in the morning, and hopefully they’ll get the letter before they instigate whatever proceedings they are thinking of instigating. it’s ironic that I no longer own that car… no, actually it’s not ironic, it’s just because I sold it. There’s no irony in selling a car, what am I talking about?

Anyway, fingers crossed/prayers whispered that it doesn’t go any further than this, just the usual fine/three points deal (fortunately since my last speeding offence, my first speeding offence has expired, so that’ll be three points coming of my licence just as these three points are going on.)

time for some sleep I think, and then to post the letter first thing!

Soundtrack – The The, ‘Singles’; Talking Heads, ‘Stop Making Sense’.

Are we living in a police state??

I just read this article in the guardian, thanks to a post on Jyoti’s Blog – it’s the story of a guy that was arrested on the tube under the ‘prevention of terrorism act’, had his flat searched, DNA and fingerprints taken and has now been landed with what looks like it may be a permanent police record despite being found innocent, just because he was carrying a rucksack and wearing a coat.

This is some seriously fucked up stuff. Really really scary – if it had gone another way he might have ended up with a bullet in his head like that poor Brazillian lad. He’s done nothing, is entirely innocent, and yet is now ‘on file’.

Why is London turning into some crap version of a Judge Dread cartoon? This doesn’t make us safer from terrorism. It makes all of us more distrustful of the police – surely that’s a really bad policy at this time, when trust in the police is already pretty damned low. It’s not going to put terrorists off, just make them more determined to beat the system that has presented them with this challenge.

If they need to stop people, surely the least they can do is wipe records clean when a person is proven to be utterly innocent, to treat them and their possessions with respect. Instead, he’s treated with suspicion all along, has his privacy violated in a number of ways, his girlfriend is terrified, and his chances of ever getting a work visa in the US are now utterly buggered.

It’s nice to know that the people that are supposed to be looking after us are doing such a damn fine job of breeding fear.

Once again, I feel sorry for those police officers who entered the force to actually protect and help people. They are going to be labeled along with the muppets that arrested David Mery as some kind of Miliitia.

Very scary stuff. Way way scarier than the threat of a terrorist attack, seriously.

Soundtrack – my last.fm ‘neighbours’ radio station. (no, that doesn’t mean I spend all day listening to tracks by Kylie Jason and Stefan Dennis)

'suspect package' in southgate on a bus.

I guess it was inevitable, with that flat that keeps appearing on the news being about a mile from here, that the police are going to be particularly jittery in Southgate, but right now the whole high street is cordoned off due to a ‘suspect package’ on a bus. It’s almost certainly just some poor git’s lunch, that’s now going to get blown into a thousand tiny cheese ‘n’ salad sandwich pieces in a controlled explosion, and I guess they do have to be vigilant.

It is odd though, walking out onto the high street and finding it deserted by traffic – just a few people wandering around trying to find out what’s going on, and some others going about their business. It made the trip to the charity shop to drop off a load of stuff a lot easier, that’s for sure!

Another London Tragedy

So it seems that the man shot on the tube yesterday wasn’t in any way connected to the terrorist bombings. Why am I more shaken and fearful as a result of this than the bombing? I feel sick to my stomach to know that an innocent man has been shot in the head by police on the underground. I’m not placing blame – I have no idea how thoroughly the police had followed whatever proceedure their anti-terrorist measures require, or just how unlucky the guy was to fit a profile so exactly that his behaviour ended with him receiving five shots to the head, but right now, I’m seriously freaked out.

And I feel deep sorrow for the policeman who fired the shots. The pain he will be going through is inconceivable. What a dreadful dreadful experience. To act to save a train-full of people and end up with innocent blood on your hands.

A very dark day for London.

The comments on the Guardian newsblog’s post about the shooting are an interesting reflection of the feelings of some londoners.

This is a time when it feels very strange to be this far from home.

Soundtrack – Cathy Burton, ‘Speed Your Love’.

Lost Wallet

Shit. A rubbish end to a rather nice day in Central London was losing my wallet, somewhere between County Hall and The British Museum. Been to everywhere we stopped, no joy. Rung the police stations in the area, no joy, cancelled my cards. Need to order a new driver’s licence, get the people who had written me cheques that were in there waiting to be paid in to reissue them. Need to work out how to pay my tax bill when the cash that was in it was set aside for that. Shit.

Jerry Springer – The Opera

No, that’s not just a clever heading, it’s an actual show. For those of you outside the UK, it’s a stage play that’s been on in London’s West End for about two years, getting rave reviews and packed houses. The basic premise is it’s a satire on the Springer Show, that ends up with Jerry getting shot and going to hell.

The BBC filmed it, and showed in on TV on Saturday night, and what’s noteworthy about that is the volume of complaint from Christians, accusing the show (that 99% of them knew nothing about, and were quoting made-up figures for) of blasphemy and obscenity. One of the marvellously outlandish claims was that the show features ‘8000 swear-words’ – yeah, only if you multiply up each time the chorus sings one by the number of people in the chorus (27)… what bollocks.

So, anyway, the program drew the largest number of complaints ever for a BBC show, and not only did it draw complaints but there were demonstrations outside the BBC buildings around the country, with people burning their TV licences, and waving placards.

…and then people wonder why I’m reticent to talk about matters of faith, when I’m likely to be lumped in with people who do things like that.

What a moronic thing to complain about, what a disgusting waste of campaigning time and effort. What a feeble target. What a huge embarrasment to thinking people of faith the world over.

There are so many huge injustices in the world that christians should be complaining about, from unjust wars to unfair trade laws, third world debt to child prostitution, institutional racism in the police force to potentially rigged elections in so-called democratic countries. And these schmoes pick on a TV show. A marginal TV show, on the BBC’s ‘arts’ channel. A show that none of them had seen. A show about which they felt it neccesary to make up stats to back up their claims of it’s shock-value. Good God.

Why on earth can’t these same self-righteous moralising masses get of their lazy arses and complain about shit that really matters? God, I get so angry at stuff like this. I missed the show – why? cos I was volunteering in a homeless shelter. Does that make me Mr Worthy? Not at all, I do one night every other week for three months of the year, while the people who really deserve us to be supporting their protests are out changing people’s lives with little regard for their own safety and comfort.

I’m not suggesting everyone should like Jerry Springer The Opera, I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing to complain about. But at least watch it first!! And calling for the broadcast to be cancelled is madness. What kind of weird country are we living in?

Once again, the outcry against a marginal bit of art has turned it into a huge hit. The viewing figures for JSTO will almost certainly be over double what they would have been. The BBC news have had a field-day reporting on the complaints, flagging up the broadcast every hour or so on their news reports, making a huge deal out of it. The same thing happened with ‘The Last Temptation Of Christ’, which wasn’t even looking like getting a full cinema release until some overly zealous complainants got their teeth into a campaign and made it a box office smash.

Maybe I need to release an album with really disgusting titles to all my tunes and get organisations like Christian Voice to do my publicity for me? (for some reason this bunch of particularly zealous muppets ended up getting tonnes of airtime over the campaign… even amongst the people who protested, they were particularly odeous. Poor old God – with friends like these, who needs enemies?)

Please, please, please – channel your campaigning energy and righteous anger into things that are going to change the lives of those who have no power to change things for themselves. Support the Make Povery History Campaign, lobby parliment for trade justice, write to your MP about the rights of asylum seekers and the homeless in your borough, push for better recycling, start a soup run, volunteer with a charity overseas, send money to the relief effort in Asia, scream on the street corners about the tragedy of the Tamil communities that have been cut off from the aid that’s going to Sri Lanka. Anything, anything but whinging about TV shows.

So who’s up for joining my new Messianic Taoist group?

Near-carnage in Parliment Square

So, yesterday was the Commons vote on whether or not to ban hunting with dogs. The vote, as everyone knew it would, was hugely in favour of the ban, but the protests outside (somewhere upwards of 10,000 people) got a bit nasty, with bottles and fireworks getting thrown and the police using their batons on people.

So what of it? The ‘countryside’ folk claim the ban is violating their human rights, it’s taking jobs away and is yet more evidence that this goverment (and preceding governments) don’t give a shit about rural Britain.

The last bit is definitely true – agricultural policy, fuel tax, the closure of local post offices, the way out of town supermarkets have trashed village life, and myriad other laws and societal changes, have made life in rural communities, particularly farming, really really difficult. Something definitely needs to be done about that, and they have my full sympathy.

However, I don’t think that’s what this is about at all. If it was, the hunters would switch to drag-hunting, keep the hunts open and carry on as normal, chasing across farmland with their packs of dogs. In fact, it would probably be better for the farming communities, as they’d be far less likely to end up trespassing on someone else’s land and ruining SSSIs or whatever. The route could – at least by the person doing the dragging – be somewhat planned.

But no, that’s not the same, we’re told. You have to have that marvellous moment where 40 dogs rip an exhausted terrified fox to bits and the tail is then removed and used to ‘blood’ kids on their first hunt. Without all that blood and guts and carnage, it’s just not the same.

Too f-ing right it’s not the same!!! That’s the whole point! The running jumping climbing over fences bit is the same, it’s just the chasing foxes til their lungs explode and then tearing them to pieces bit that’s not. That’s the bit we want to get rid of. And before I get accused of being an out of touch towny (after all, I do live in London), I also grew up in Berwick On Tweed – one of the most remote towns in England, given that the nearest city is 60 miles away. I’m aware of and scandalised by the plight of rural communities, but I don’t think protecting the right to have packs of dogs rip foxes apart has anything to do with it at all, any more than someone who makes their living selling child porn can claim that the government are ruining their livelihood be arresting people for having it.

Tradition is a dreadful excuse for loathsome behaviour. It’s the kind of rubbish that men come out with to justify abhorrent behaviour towards women, and that racists use to try and justify throwing immigrants out of the UK or elsewhere. There’s no defence for the levels of cruelty involved in hunting.

So what’s the next argument? The other ways of getting rid of foxes are even crueller – so that means we allow this one, rather than legislating further???? In Scotland, the hunts are still going on, despite there being a ban on hunting with dogs there, only now the fox is shot at the end, and apparently that’s a slower death than being mauled by dogs. Why the hell not take the fox out of the picture altogether, eh? why not drag hunt? It’s certainly not even close to being an efficient way to control the fox population, given that I can drive round the country lanes near my mum’s house, and see any number of foxes that if I were a trained marksman I could pick off without too much trouble. No chase, no terror, just a clean shot. Even if the first shot injured it and the second one killed it, it’d be a cheaper, less painful way to control the fox population. Clearly the fox population doesn’t need that much controlling, given that there’s this supposed reliance on the inefficient method of hunting as the way to do it.

No, the attraction is clearly some ‘traditional’ significance put on killing for fun, for sport. The more bloody the better, apparently. And that, I’m afraid, is morally indefensible, and as just about all opinion polls show, out of step with the values of the electorate, and clearly with our elected members of parliment.

Something definitely needs to be done to buoy up the failing rural economy in Britain, but it’s clear that the behaviour of the big supermarkets in driving down the prices of milk, dairy and veg in this country and failing to support organic farmers despite the demand for organic food outstripping supply by 2:1 is having a far far worse effect on the countryside than asking the huntsmen to switch to drag hunting for their sport, and using a far more effective, cheaper and humane method to control the fox population.

soundtrackClatter, ‘Blinded By Vision’; Julie Lee, ‘Stillhouse Road’; Pierce Pettis, ‘Great Big World’.

Is the world really in meltdown??

I dunno, it seems like just about everything has gone to shit of late… Here in the UK, the Police force has been exposed as full of racist scum, the postal service is full of credit card fraudsters, the houses of parliment is populated by the most extreme bunch of uber-losers this side of the white house, bnp euro-candidates are working as school teachers, social services departments fail to communicate and little kids get shot as a result, illegal music downloads are on the increase, 50% of all video file sharing online is now porn, murders in London are up 8%… is the world falling apart? has it always been this messed up, we’re just better informed now? Have I been taken in by the scare-mongering losers at the daily mail?

I mean, very little of this affects ‘me’ on a daily basis – how much of it is happening, how much is blown out of proportion to try and create a story to sell papers in order to get the advertising revenue in? We know most of the reporting on asylum/immigation has been utter bollocks of late (the BBC ran a great story the other day about the amount of people moving in the opposite direction into the new countries joining the EU – not something you’re likely to read about in the mail…), so how can we believe the rest of it. The Channel four doc last night about the postal service was pretty damning – very little staff vetting, crims working on the shop-floor, people with no training delivering letters to places they’ve never been, and up to a million letters a week going missing. Is this yet another example of just how screwed up the selling off of the royal mail has been, or has it always been this bad?

But anyway, at least I’ve got my new webcam to play with – check this out –

a very cool toy – I’ve already taken 200 pictures with it… er, maybe this narcisism is becoming slightly less benign and borderline obsessional… I’m sure it’ll wear off….

Soundtrack – in preparation for recording my new album, I’ve been listening through lots of my old unreleased stuff, as well as some things I recorded yesterday… more recording to happen this afternoon…