Category Archives: Social

Nationalism – the Root Cause of Everything!

“Nationalism carries with it contradictionswas the view of Ernest Gellner, the British-Czech philosopher and social anthropologist. It is these contradictions which fuel the pockets of political and social instability which the world constantly experiences.

In the good old days of huge empires, from  Rome to the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian, there existed a sort of (imposed) stability but when these empires collapsed, the concept of Nationalism took hold.

Nationalism, in its most primitive form, is based on common language, nationality and territory. It is politics in its most primitive form and something which disaffected minorities always turn to in times of real or imagined political strife.

Nowadays, nationalism is still what society attempts to overlay on its territory, imagining that it continues to be the glue which binds those of a common language….and indeed that is just still the case but we are approaching a time when possibly, a new concept of nationalism needs to be assembled.

The Americans have certainly been the most successful so far at instilling the idea of nationalism to its people (“First and foremost, I’m an AMERICAN!”) but then again, they started late and have had the opportunities offered by a blank sheet of paper. They do not have the deeply-rooted ethnic issues which the rest of the world has to deal with. Any American ethnic issues have been of their own making and mostly badly dealt with.

Yes, it is ethnicity and tribalism which is firing discontent….from Israel to Ukraine……from Spain to Scotland..as well as anywhere in Africa!

A state cannot be divided like a cake in order to accommodate every ethnic group sitting on its own little slice.

Integration does not work because ethnic groups aren’t particularly bothered by it. They want to be left alone with their ethnicity. The only group bothered is the ruling class – the politicians……and THAT is the great tragedy of the modern nation state. Politicians bang-on about “Integration”, possibly not understanding that “the ethnics” don’t want it and never did.

There is no solution to the issue of ethnicity – there can only be a strategy. Politicians need to stop treating ethnicity as a problem which needs solutions.

The strategies for dealing with ethnicity can be anything from recognising differences and encouraging them (good) to actively ensuring equal opportunities for all (very good). Yet another strategy may be doing what Russia has recently done in a part of Ukraine: Invade and Take (bad).

Separatist movements such as the Scottish Nationalists should be actively discouraged – as early as possible, otherwise and in spite of referendums, a disaffected minority will become even more disaffected. They are the dissidents and terrorists of the future.

Political and social strategies are comparatively easy to implement but should certainly NOT include  placatory measures such as allowing separatist groups their own “parliament”. That, as is currently being demonstrated in the United Kingdom (and Crimea) is a recipe for disaster.

Terrorism is another manifestation of the Nationalist-Separatist mindset. Unfortunately, there is only one way to deal with terrorism – through the medium of violence! However, a strategy (and policy) may be NOT to become involved in others’ ethnic or governmental issues and by doing so, kicking over a terrorist hornet’s nest. (Blair/Bush/Iraq)

The real solution is NOT in integration but in coexistence. THAT means, recognising the minority groups, nurturing them and providing fair opportunities to all as well as ensuring that social, legal, cultural and economic aspects of their lives are all accounted for and dealt with fairly.

FAIRNESS is the key word.

However, historical reality has shown that the achievement of such a balance is very difficult. But until the question of ethnicity is dealt with properly, nationalism will remain a zero-sum game.

Let’s have a quick look at Ukraine because it is the most recent example of the dark side of  nationalism bubbling to the political surface and creating rifts at both local and global level.

Russia has made a huge mistake through the vanity of one man – Vladimir Putin. There is little doubt that he is sincere but misguided in his actions of sending Russian troops to humiliate their Crimean/Ukranian counterparts. Putin and Russia have failed because they are now on a collision course with the West and we are most likely to be plunged into another Cold War.

There will be those in the West as well as in Ukraine who will be thinking about re-conquering Crimea. It is only their over-reliance on Russian energy which is stopping them.

In reality, what Ukraine ought to be doing now is working hard to become a successful European State by strengthening its ties with the EU and showing ethnic Crimeans that they may NOT QUITE have made the right decision by voting to get back into bed with Uncle Vlad.

Ukraine should join the EU and NATO and concentrate on nothing else but strengthening its economy, security and politics.

Nationalism borne of ethnicity, if properly managed can not only be the cause of conflict but a great catalyst for peace.

Hell hath no fury like a One Direction fan scorned

When GQ decided to make popular beat combo One Direction its September cover stars, the magazine could have been forgiven for thinking it would attract a slightly different readership.

But when GQ sent out teasers for the issue earlier this week, featuring a different cover shot for each of the five band members, it didn’t expect the tidal wave of capital letters and creative swearing that came its way.

Although the full interviews won’t be seen until the mag hits the shops tomorrow, One Direction’s loyal band of fans weren’t enamoured with some of the cover lines used.

The, for want of a better word, ‘dedicated’ 1D followers took particular exception to the cover featuring modern-day Casanova Harry Styles, which featured the line: “He’s up all night to get lucky”.

Styles’ legion of fans took to Twitter, seemingly using computers on which the ‘caps lock’ key has become glued in the on position, to defend the honour of a man who, if the papers are to believed, has squired more young ladies than Uncle Axegrinder has had writs.

The good sports at GQ, in their infinite class, have been good-natured enough to publish the more coulourful responses.

Axegrinder has a strong stomach, but those of a more delicate disposition may want to turn away now as we reveal an edited selection of some of this creative feedback. However, for the sake of any subs out there, we’ve removed the ubiquitous FULL CAPS. Some things are just beyond the pale.

“GQ magazine can go fuck themselves with a chainsaw up their asshole till it mutilates their insides,” wrote the charming @michaellaneous.

@indeedniall decided to direct his righteous outrage to the editor, threatening to “take your testicles and pound them with a hammer”.

In a possibly rhetorical turn of phrase, @LouisM1serables posed an interesting questions: “Do you realize how many people want to castrate the people who work for this shitty magazine?”

While @crinklysmiles probably summed the situation up best: “I’ll fuck you up GQ, I swear you’ve messed with the wrong people.”

By now, staff at the magazine probably feel that might be true.

After all, you never used to get this with those nice Take That boys, did you?

From The Press Gazette

THATCHER: The Crying Game.

During the last week, the disingenuousness of the rabble-rousing Socialist press has plumbed new depths. In fact, in the last few days, they truly dived the Mariana Trench of modern journalism. They have taken every opportunity to vilify a confused 87 year-old lady who finished her days  not within the homely intimacy of family life but in a London hotel surrounded by hired help. We may deduce that in her final days, not only the gutter press but even her own family failed her. They all failed to deliver on something quite prosaic….Humanity.

Luckily, with the whole world watching, the British people did deliver. They stood and threw flowers. They cheered and they clapped.  Admittedly, there were a few morons who turned their backs and jeered at Margaret Thatcher’s coffin as it passed – but WHY? At whom was their gesture aimed? Obviously not at La Thatcher because she was dead. Was it aimed at the world? That could not have been the case because these were mostly sad , anonymous small people and their 5-seconds of TV fame would not even have registered.

It was all pointless, as were the “parties” and protests organised by those massively over-romanticised Men with Shovels who used to dig coal from the ground. Get over yourselves, lads!

Inside St Paul’s, a tear flowed down Chancellor Gideon’s cheek. He appeared to be blubbering over his spiritual heroine. What’s wrong with that? Does that make him  a wimp? Only in the jaundiced eye of the Socialist hack. Here’s  just one of today’s headlines: “A CYNICAL attempt to prove he’s human!”

We ALL cry – or should I say….we all SHOULD cry.

I cried when I held my first child. I cried even more when the fifth one arrived. I cried when I touched my father’s cold face as he lay in his coffin. I always cry when I hear “O Holy Night”. I’ve cried watching a screaming man burn to death in an upturned mangled car. I cried when the police called me to attend an accident and I saw two dead kids. One was still holding his teddy bear…..and I always cry at funerals because they remind me of stuff which I don’t normally think about.

I am not a wimp and neither is George Osborne. There is nothing wrong with empathy, compassion and humanity.

Tomorrow and over the weekend, bullshit-hardened Socialist hacks will be ladling bucketloads of  their own brand of cynicism over us like sub-zero Vichyssoise. The Chancellor has given them “an angle”.

The protesters –  the anti-Thatcher brigade – are not just angry at a lady who they believe wronged them, their families or their friends. They are angry at a malformed distorted legend fed by a million words of misrepresentation, exaggeration and embellishment. It’s been going on for over forty years, starting on rattly old battered Remingtons in peeling hot Fleet Street offices in the middle of town and will finally end somewhere south of the Thames on nice new Flat Screens in the air-conditioned splendour of a newspaper office somewhere on an industrial estate. THAT’S how long this great lady was among us.

Then…..when you’ve all had your fun………….may she finally rest in peace.

Gideon and the Welfare State.

This is what Chancellor Gideon said about Mick Philpott, the scumbag who killed his own children through an act of gross stupidity:

“Philpott is responsible for these absolutely horrendous crimes and these are crimes that have shocked the nation. The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the Welfare State and the taxpayers who pay for the Welfare State, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

These ill-conceived words from an ill-conceived Chancellor have sparked a debate because of the link made between the crime and the Welfare State. Let’s test Osborne’s opinion with a small substitution:

Shipman is responsible for these absolutely horrendous crimes and these are crimes that have shocked the nation. The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the NHS and the taxpayers who pay for the NHS, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

It doesn’t work, does it?

Philpott is the product of an upbringing, a  British education, a social environment, a learned set of values and generations of genetic programming.

Juxtaposing the Welfare State and Philpott’s crime was yet another “bad call” in a long list of bad calls by the Chancellor.

The Genesis of the United Kingdom’s Welfare State is to be found in the Liberal Welfare Reforms of 1906-1914, under Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.

Surely, Gideon and Dave aren’t going to blame the Libdems for this one too, are they !?

Today’s message from the Pope was clear. He said that the Church’s mission was to “defend the poor and disadvantaged”. Start with Greece and Cyprus, mate.  Then the rest of the Eurozone.

Economic ruin: The Root (Banking) Cause.

Here is some simple high-level analysis which always helps to crystallise issues:

The 2008 mortgage-driven banking industry meltdown was directly responsible for the Eurozone debt crisis, political chaos, austerity, recession (in some cases – depression) and mass unemployment.

The  multi-billion bank and government bailout costs were borne by the surviving taxpayers through increased taxes, constantly inflating prices as well as erosion of their capital and their pensions.

The ROOT CAUSE of this catastrophe was the design and distribution by the banks of technically ill-conceived products which were designed for no other purpose than to optimise bank profits.

Mortgage Securitisation, Default Swaps, PPI, Interest Rate Swaps etc were (are) all bad products.

Against this background, the British Chancellor, on behalf of the Coalition Government wishes to do everything he can to preserve the banking status quo. An “industry” which continues to grind the economy into the ground whilst sucking more cash out of the economy than it is putting in.

Meanwhile, it declares largely illusory profits upon which to base eye-watering bonuses.

The argument that the financial services industry represents a substantial percentage of the United Kingdom’s Gross Domestic Product used to be a good one!

But if the economic collateral damage being inflicted by the banking industry continues, its contribution to GDP will soon tend towards 100% – once everything else disappears!

(On the subject of Root Causes – the NHS is failing to deliver because it is TOO BIG and over-populated by over-promoted Administrators rather than Managers!)

Growing up hungry in Greece

ATHENS/PATRAS, Greece  —  Μarcos Efcarpos is only 10 years old, but he already knows what the euro crisis means.

He lives with his single mother, an English teacher named Nena, in an apartment in the poor, waterfront neighborhood of Kallithea, where a growing number of immigrants jostle with far-right gang members affiliated with neo-fascist party Golden Dawn.

Incomes here have plummeted since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, especially after international lenders imposed debt repayments on the country two years ago.

“My family still pays taxes but very soon we won’t be able to buy what we need,” said Marcos, who plays guitar and appears older than his age. “That’s why we’re careful with what we spend — we have very few possessions.”

Nena works 11 hours a day, six days a week to support her son. But although she often runs out of money by the end of each month, she considers herself lucky because her parents send fruit and vegetables from their rural garden.

Marcos rarely begs for new purchases. “He’s learned to ask if we have money for something he wants,” Nena explained. “We have a new slogan: ‘Fewer needs, fewer worries.’”

Despite his straitened circumstances, Marcos is doing well for a Greek child. Many others are growing up hungry, a stark result of austerity measures such as wage cuts and tax increases that were prompted by the country’s three-year drive to repay its debts, and are affecting almost every part of the population.

Estimates for the number of children living below the poverty line vary. The EU’s official figure, 439,000, or 23 percent of the population under 18, increased a mere 2 percent since 2009. However, that number is derived from the current Greek median wage.

Child poverty specialist Matsaganis Manos says the real number probably jumped “dramatically” between 2009 and 2011 — to 35 percent — if current earnings are compared to what Greeks made before the crisis. And the government’s decision to cut the minimum wage by a fifth earlier this year is “bound to make things even worse for families with children,” he said.

The changes in Greek society are clear on the streets. Social workers say some poor Athens neighborhoods are experiencing close to a humanitarian emergency.

“People are beginning to starve,” said Aglaia Konstantakopolou, who works at a soup kitchen and social center in downtown Athens originally planned for refugees. “Mothers come begging for diapers, milk for their children or food,” he added. “Two years ago, you never saw anything like that.”

Teachers say children often show up to class hungry. Many skip classes to eat breakfast at charity shelters, Konstantakopolou says.

The physical strains are producing psychological effects, especially among younger children who often blame themselves for the effects of the crisis.

“When parents can’t buy clothes or toys, children believe they’ve been bad and are responsible,” child psychologist Salemi Parrisia said.

There are reports of growing numbers of malnourished children collapsing at school and suffering health-related phobias.

Although cuts to social services are partly to blame for those dire developments, some children’s advocates say Greece’s notorious bureaucratic inefficiency is even more responsible.

UNICEF Greek director Ilias Liberis blames “structural weaknesses” among a profusion of overlapping agencies for harming efforts to protect children.

“There are many different services and organizations helping children,” he said, “but no central coordination.”

However, public anger over austerity, corruption and the failing economy has drowned out calls to reform child services.

Already one of Greece’s poorest cities, the western port of Patras has been badly hit by the crisis. The city council estimates the number of poor has more than doubled in less than a year.

At the city’s Greek Orthodox cathedral, employees at a soup kitchen prepare daily basic lunches of beans, olives and fruit.

“The number of people who come begging grows every day,” says cook Konstantina Nikolinakou. “We made food for 30 people before the crisis. Now we serve 120.”

She says there is never enough for everyone. “We can’t chase them away.”

Outside the soup kitchen wait 38-year-old Maria Papanikolaou and her 11-year-old son Petros, hoping for leftover scraps. A former accountant, Papanikolou fell on tough times when the company she worked for closed last September.

“When I grow up, I’ll take my mother far away from Greece,” said Petros. “I promised her we’ll go to an island where I’ll be a fisherman. So we’ll have food to eat and be happier than now.”

Thodoris Skoulis and Charles McPhedran

50 Predictions for 2012

An economy used to depend on the interactions between consumers, commerce, politics and investors. Nowadays, we have to add banks (which used to be no more than a service industry) as an additional entity.

Keynesian economics are all well and good in a Steady State situation but we have well and truly entered times when Chaos Theory rules economics. Consequently, the motley collection of politicians-who-meet do not have the intellectual capacity to deal with what has become a multi-causal international problem with more parameters (known and unknown) than wines served at a G20 banquet.

My 2012 predictions are in no particular order, either in content or importance. They are random.

1. For several years, I have been writing about the Bank of England’s appalling forecasts. Finally, they have admitted that their forecasting model is wrong so they are spending £2.5 million on a new one. Their V-shaped recovery will become a straight-line depression and their 2% inflation forecasts will double.

2.  The prominence and dominance of Central Banks will continue to grow as politicians continue to struggle with sovereign debt.

3. Europe will continue  its recession with an estimated average contraction (negative growth) of -0.5%.

4. Sovereign monetary policy as well as the actions of Central banks will continue  to be driven by the same factor which has been dominant for the last few years: Political Ineptitude.

5. The European Central Bank has begun the process of Quantitative Easing and this will accelerate during 2012.

6. European Banks have 6 months within which to raise their Tier 1 Capital Ratios to 9%. This has already resulted in a Tsunami of deleveraging. This will continue to impact badly on economic growth.

7. Euro fiscal integration will continue to be discussed as will the ECB’s support for the (broken) bond markets.

8. Eurobond yields will continue to rise to record levels until even the Germans wake up to the fact that the whole thing has become unsustainable.

9. I continue to envisage the failure of the Euro which should have happened during 2011. There will be bank and government collapses.  French banks and the Spanish government will lead the way.

10. Contrary to what Mario Draghi has suggested, the ECB will leap into the Bond Market and begin to buy-up Government Bonds.

11. Italy will suffer massive Civil Unrest as the Monti government introduces unsustainable austerity policies and the economy is plunged into serious recession.

12. Spain is already in recession but more austerity will be announced .

13. The ECB will take centre-stage in Europe and will slash interest rates to zero (and below!).

14. The nonsense of the Bank of England’s “independence” will be put to the test with at least £150 billion in Gilt purchases during 2012.

15. The United Kingdom’s official unemployment figures will cross 3.5 million, producing an acceleration in forced sales and a subsequent collapse in the housing market with 25-30% wiped from house values.

16. UK consumption will remain weak, primarily as a result of increasing unemployment and a rising RPI.

17. Last year I predicted a UK General Election for October 2011. I now predict a General Election during 2012, following a vote of no confidence. The smart money is on Q2  – whilst the Conservatives continue to ride high in the polls and Ed Miliband remains Labour leader.

18. I predicted 2011 as the Year of the Riot. During 2012, every European capital will be affected by rioting.

19. America will make a surprising accelerated economic  recovery.

20. The next President of the United States will be…..Barack Obama.

21. Civil unrest will continue to accelerate in the Middle East as the people realise that they have been manipulated by the external forces of self-interest and that Western-style “democracy” is really not for them.

22. We will gradually realise that our intention to halt natural Global Warming was no more than a manifestation of our arrogance.

23. There will be  new Pope.

24. There will be an unusually high number of United Kingdom  by-elections.

25. Last year I predicted a Beckham divorce because I felt a momentous happening. They let me down by producing a baby (Harper Seven) instead. This year (for some reason), I see them setting up separate homes.

26. China will bail-out Italy from its economic woes. In return for gold. (Italy is the world’s 4th highest gold owner).

27. Gold will cross the $2000 per ounce barrier, then the $3000 barrier and possibly $4000.

28. FTSE  100 will cross 4000 on its way down and the Dow Jones will  hit 8500.

29. Nicolas Sarkozy will cease to be French President in May 2012 but his fate is very much intertwined with the Euro and much will depend on how long Mario Draghi of the ECB (the new man in charge) can help the politicians to string things out.

30. Turkey will be the beneficiary from  IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance), which is yet another Euro fund. 233 million euros have been earmarked for Turkey and will be spent on judicial reforms, climate change and environmental projects.

31. Turkey’s integration with Europe will produce an unexpected benefit to Greece. A non-economic excuse to leave the Euro.

32. When Greece leaves the Euro, possibly followed by Germany, a full-blown European recession will begin.

33. Last year I predicted a pre-emptive strike strike by Israel on Iran. It was very close but will happen during 2012. Uncle Sam demands it.

34. The United States will avoid a recession because consumers have begun to consume. However, much will depend on the volume of support America continues to provide to a broken Europe.

35. Crumbling economies will have a good effect on inflation and commodity prices will slide downwards.

36. The Euro will achieve parity with the American $.

37. If there is a “burst” of the Chinese property bubble, there will be a very sharp slowdown in China’s economic growth with a massive effect on commodity exporters everywhere.

38.  Greece will continue its death rattle until it wakes up and has the courage to exit the Eurozone shambles and default on ALL of its debt. Then it will receive proper support from unexpected sources and once-and-for-all break its links with Goldman Sachs.

39. The CIA-inspired Arab Spring will continue to become unglued as bloodshed in Egypt increases and the Libyans begin to wake up from the dreams of “democracy”. I foresee a Libyan Civil war.

40. There is only ONE logical end-game in Syria. An assassination and permanent removal of the Assad dynasty.

41. Britain and the United States have left Iraq and in keeping with modern tradition, it now looks more like a giant litter tray than the ancient  Cradle of Civilisation. Once again, Civil War, more bloodshed and extremists going “boom” beckon. No number of tin ballot boxes can prevent factional interests jockeying for position.

42. My favourite politician of 2011 will make a very welcome return to the European political scene and continue to annoy the Jedward of the Eurozone , Merkel and Sarkozy, now of course, known as Merkozy. Let’s hope that he doesn’t refer to Merkel as an “unfuckable lardarse” again. That  (quote of 2011) would be totally unacceptable!

43. ONLY because I am a great Harry Redknapp fan , I predict that Tottenham Hotspur will win the Premiership.

44. This is not a prediction but a hope that during 2012, somewhere a politician wakes up and realises that in any consumer-driven society, Quantitative Easing is best aimed directly at the consumer and not at the Prima Donna banks, who are not quite sure what to do with it anyway. Never feed a gambling habit.

45. In December 2012, the Chancellor and the Business Secretary (whoever they are) will ask the bankers to show “restraint” in respect of their bonus payments.

46. The United Kingdom’s Political Parties will BOTH realise that they have the wrong man in charge.

47. The Liberals will miss even more opportunities than they did in 2011 but will continue to make macho noises to impress the electorate and each other.

48.  The Labour Party will continue to support Ed Miliband and tell us that “Ed is a great leader and the man for the job” – until the moment that he begins to feel stabbing pains between the shoulder-blades.

49. The X-factor will be won by an entity with no discernible talent. (OK – that was an easy one!)

50. The skids will be bolted under the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Forget Exercise.

Has there ever been a less edifying sight than that of  a purple-faced executive in over-tight shorts and headband staggering around a squash court – pausing only to puke and get his pulse rate back to below 200? Well the good news is that scientists have shown that exercise can be a health risk to the middle-aged. Something that I have suspected for a very long time.

I have always argued that super-fitness is a very unnatural state. It is not 45bbp super-active athletes who enjoy the highest life expectancy – but the super-sedentary classical musicians. They spend a large part of their lives sitting on their backsides either blowing into something or moving one arm in a sawing motion over a piece of wood. Their only real exercise is when the lean forward to turn a sheet of music. They do not spend their time pressing weights, running round a track, drinking foul-tasting energy drinks, shooting-up anabolic steroids and throwing-up. That’s why they live longer.

Cartilage damage, pulled muscles, osteoarthritis, clapped-out knees and ligament damage are far less preferable than sitting –  the highest risk of injury being the occasional paper cut on a sheet of music.

Ask yourself – what would you rather do? Sit in a warm room, scratch away at fiddle, blow a cor anglais or would you rather put on a pair of rancid trainers, run ten miles before a breakfast and return to a glass of water, a puke and a Ryvita?

It’s good to see the scientists get it right for once.

The British and sex.

The British nation’s obssession with sex is considered one of its more endearing traits. Lots of reports about it, talking about it, thinking about it, teaching it, studying it  and even advertising it. The end-result? One of the highest teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in the world.

The latest addition  is a very explicit film entitled “Living and Growing” . Its target audience is the United Kindgom’s Primary School population. I am not going to describe the content of the film but if you have no problem with your eight year-old learning about masturbation, orgasms, anal sex, flavoured condoms and the rest of the sexual spectrum, then you obviously cannot be shocked by this story:

A widowed 70 year-old lady was living temporarily with her daughter and her family. One day, her 10 year-old grandson returned from school. After he had dumped his school bag, PE bag and trainers in the middle of the hallway, he was just about to run upstairs when his grandmother smiled and said to him, “Hello Jimmy – and what did you learn at school today?”

The smile froze on her wrinkled old face when young Jimmy replied ” We learned about penises, vaginas, fucking and wanking.”

“That’s nice, Jimmy” replied the shocked grandmother as Jimmy ran barged past her  upstairs to his room.

The grandmother found her daughter cooking in the kitchen and repeated the hallway exchange with her grandson and how shocking she had found the encounter.

The daughter explained ” Mother, this is the 21st century and this type of sex education is quite normal. Jimmy’s been learning all about sex for a few years now. By the way, can you please tell Jimmy that supper’s just about ready.”

The grandmother shook her head in bewilderment. She turned and decided to freshen up before the meal and set off up the stairs to the bathroom.

As she was walking along the upstairs landing, she noticed that the door to Jimmy’s room was ajar.

She peeked in to convey her daughter’s massage, just at the moment when little Jimmy was ejaculating over his computer screen to the accompaniment of the grunts and screams emanating from the porn movie playing on the laptop.

“Jimmy,” she said, ” Your mother says that supper is ready – just  as soon as you’ve finished your homework.”

Shocked? You’re obviously more than eight-years-old.

(I should also point out that I have no problems with the more exotic aspects of sex marketing, education and paraphernalia. For instance, I consider the glow-in-the-dark condom as probably one of mankind’s most useful-ever inventions. It has given me the freedom to read in bed after the lights have been switched off.)

The inevitably violent?

We live in a  society where success is measured by consumption – the ability to buy. In recent years, the buying-game has  become a celebrity sport which is advertised daily in the media. The “haves” flaunt their riches whereas all that the “have nots” can do is look at the pictures and dream.

Eventually there comes a time when the hard realisation hits. You are NEVER going to either win the lottery or become famous. No-one gives a shit about you or your dreams. Then comes the day when you realise that even the mantra “Anyone can do it – anyone can become a success” is a lie  spouted by the few lucky ones.

You used to eye the Beckhams, the Royal Wedding, the Prime Minister and other rich people with envy but now you envy anyone who has a job. Like your father , mother and grandparents, you will live and die anonymous. History will never know you. You are a nobody.

Your grandparents didn’t give your own parents that most precious of commodities – the one which all decent parents give to their children – their time and love. Your parents (if you ever met them) deprived YOU in the same way.

Your parents assumed that you would do badly at school and  you didn’t disappoint.

Now, you are thick, inarticulate and poor. Just like the rest of your family. Your future is measured weekend-to-weekend. Anything beyond that is too scary to contemplate , yet it is already mapped out for you – right up until the day you die. You will live and die within a few hundred yards of where you were born.

Money is NOT a great motivator but lack of it is. It is the greatest demotivator of them all – bar none. It doesn’t matter to you because you will never possess it and neither will your own unfortunate offspring. You will be permanently and terminally poor – the only legacy which you will pass on to your descendants. After many generations, poverty and the chronic inferiority complex which only the poor understand  have been hard-coded into your genes. They will follow you for ever.

So what do you do to generate a bit of false self-esteem? You are incapable of surviving on your own but you do need to bolster your ego. You have no money with which to impress but you DO need to be admired. Your refuge is the only hiding-place of the poor brainless male:

The hotbed that is the homo-erotic haven of  The Gang.

Because you are among other nobodies, you can challenge and outdo each other. That’s lucky because there is absolutely no way in which you could compare yourself to somebody with an education or money in their pocket. You are stuck among your own – and there is no way out.

These  days TV studios are  full of overweight black social workers and scruffy white psychologists. They all (wrongly) believe they have the answer to your problems. The only trouble is that you do not see your lifestyle as a problem because you have never actually entered a normal person’s life. You have no idea about a warm loving home. In fact, you haven’t much idea about anything.

All the social workers and psychologists in the world couldn’t retrospectively give you what you REALLY need – a normal upbringing. It is too late.

Everything about us all is either Nature of Nurture or a combination of both. Nature has genetically programmed you to be a failure in ALL departments with the final flourish of the Lack of Nurture provided by your parents, cementing your character and outlook.

The Gang provides you with the means to exhibit some creativity – unfortunately, the only way that you KNOW how to express yourself is through the medium of violence – but only within the cocoon provided by your peers. That is because you do not have the social tools with which to be able to act independently.  You are even crap at being violent.

So in conclusion, my sad little hooded friend – you will inconvenience “nice” people for a few days. That will give you a taste and glimpse of an alien world to which you will never belong. You will touch shiny things that you have only seen in pictures and you will covet them –  but you will never really own them. Your escapades will make you even MORE bitter as you briefly taste how the rest of the human race has evolved.

We, on the other hand are looking at you with the wide-eyed wonderment of a young child on its first visit to the zoo. We knew that you lived around here somewhere but most of us have never seen you – our biological  cousins  who have once again confirmed Darwin’s Theory.

Traditionally, we have always either shot or caged a new species. In your case, because we live in enlightened times, you will be locked up for a bit, someone might study you for a while and then you will be released back into the wild of the inner-city.

Different species have always managed to live in parallel – as long as they respect each others territory. Urban foxes have learned to co-exist peacefully – why shouldn’t you?

Tell you what – you stay out of our lands  and we’ll leave you alone to continue your own evolution on the understanding that there will be times when you do feel the need to stray into our Land of Plenty in order to carry out the occasional raid.

You never know, there may come a day when you feel able to embrace our ways, even  learn the language and perhaps return to the main evolutionary flow.

One day, Homo Riotus Vulgaris may even evolve into a species similar to our own Homo Sapiens.

(Am loving the Nikes)

The Mass Murderer

Mass Murder by an individual  is undoubtedly the ultimate cry for help, the supreme statement as well as the pinnacle of  attention-seeking. There are no reasons or answers. There are no solutions. Like an earthquake, the shooter is a natural phenomenon which is appearing to strike with increasing regularity. Unlike the earthquake though, it is a phenomenon which can never be predicted.

Then we have the “Why?” question.  There is no answer. It is what is known as a multi-causal phenomenon. The symptom is without doubt psychological but the root-cause? We just do not know. It could be anything from childhood neglect to incorrect potty-training.

Nature or Nurture? Once again, we don’t really know.

The Mass-murdering shooter differs from his close cousin the Serial Killer in several ways. For instance, one demands publicity whereas the other shuns it.

Derrick Bird, the English shooter’s motives are still unclear. There was a little bit of bitterness and humiliation because he’d been told that a policeman was screwing his girlfriend but why the EXTREME reaction? What turned him into a Mass-killer? In truth, no-one knows.

The Norwegian shooter, Anders Behring Breivik hates Muslims and foreigners but the compulsion to kill was so strong that he did not consider either the outcome nor the personal consequences.

If both killers felt the need for fame or notoriety, they certainly have it but in Brivik’s case, the massacre did not end in the traditional way where the killer either puts a bullet through his own head or  is shot by the police.

One of the outcomes of a shooting episode is a government feeling that it has to “do something”.  Here in the UK, it happened after both the 1996 Dunblane (Hamilton) and 1987 (Ryan) Hungerford shootings.  The “something” that a government usually does is a modification to  gun-ownership laws. However, they should   have learned by now that most shooters and indeed most shootings are carried out with illegally-held  firearms.

So dies anyone have ANY idea what motivates this exclusive Evil Band of Brothers? Evil? No. That is meaningless because there have been many evil non-shooters. Research has shown the possibility of high levels of dopamine and low levels of seratonin – but are they a symptom or are they the cause? It doesn’t seem to matter how many and in which direction the brain is firing neurones or whether the individual has an abnormal limbic system – he is still an enigma.

The shooter is a rare animal and for that reason, the research is very thin. This time however, in Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian authorities have a captive shooter – and they should make the most of it.

There is SOME data. A shooter tends to be male, a loner who not-only feels alone but , more importanntly feels alienated. He has a score to settle and he is angry.

The difficulty is whether such a person has anger and eventually finds something to “hang” that anger on. Or whether his “mission” triggers the uber-anger.

The other phenomenon which all shooters share is that look and demeanour of someone who us “detached” from his crime. Very often witnesses have said “his eyes looked expressionless”, “He seemed very emotionless”.

Shooters tend NOT to be loving men with a mortgage, home-life and 2.4 children.

It has been established that serial killers as opposed to mass murderers derive sexual gratification from their murders. However, it would seem that mass murderes such as Breivik do not enjoy a normal sex life or a normal relationship. Serial killers do it for pleasure, power and for the ensuing chase. Mass murderers convince themselves that THEY are (or could be) the victim and kill only after having developed a quite logical reason for their behaviour.

The My Lai  Massacre in Viet Nam exhibited a very similar dynamic to the Norwegian  Breivik killings. The victims – about 500 men women and children (and animals) were slaughtered. The main driver of this massacre was 2nd Lt William Calley, a dropout and failure who achieved his fame by persuading the men under him that innocent civilians should be killed. This is the statement which Calley delivered during his court martial:

“I was ordered to go in there and destroy the enemy. That was my job that day. That was the mission I was given. I did not sit down and think in terms of men, women and children. They were all classified as the same, and that’s the classification that we dealt with over there, just as the enemy. I felt then and I still do that I acted as I was directed, and I carried out the order that I was given and I do not feel wrong in doing so.”

He, just like Breivik applied simple logic to a perceived problem and dealt with it like a psychopath.

Whereas serial killers are fuelled by the dopamine side of the brain, mass murderers run on cold personal logic. The difference between the two is the difference between a junkie and a logic-manipulator. One is looking for a “high” whereas the other is emotionally dead, angry and depressed.

Breivik would have been “set-off” by an event.  Something such as a personal loss which will have given him a “nothing to lose-everything to gain” mind-set. The “event” does not trigger immediate action but very often is the beginning of a sometimes quite protracted planning process.

Interestingly, mass killers plan everything down to the finest detail. Except how to escape. – Consequently, most of them die.

That is why the Norwegian Shooter should prove to be such an interesting specimen – and should be treated as such.

In the long-term, lives could be saved.

All Coppers (and Rebekah) are NOT Bastards!

Delegation is very topical at the moment because it looks as if we’re in for a few weeks of  various News of the World-related individuals indulging in that most British of blood sports of “throwing oneself on one’s sword”.  As you can see from its name, it is an ancient ritual which the traditionally-minded British have not yet been able to shake off.

The misguided premis is that the “honourable” thing to do is to commit symbolic Seppuku as a gesture to appease.  It is neither honourable, practical nor does it appease. It is an “empty” gesture. From a practical point of view, it also means that when a high-level manager or director commits professional suicide through the medium of  “the resignation”, he has to be replaced – usually by a second or third-choice inferior being.

One of the more important components of the ritual is The Letter – which bizzarely (but traditionally)  expresses  “thanks and support” and usually alludes to a “rewarding experience”.

It is, of course all ritualistic nonsense and what we are SUPPOSED to do when these letters are put into the public domain (which they ALWAYS are) is to “nudge-nudge…wink-wink” and “read between the lines” and wonder “was he pushed or did he jump?”

So what causes this organisational equivalent of self-immolation?  There are only THREE   reasons for professional suicide or corporate sacrifice. The first is an indiscretion, the second is being caught with one’s fingers in the till (stealing, taking backhanders etc) and the final one is bad delegation and a lack of management skills.

The News of the World fiasco clearly demonstrated all of the above.

Rebekah Brooks was thrown on the pyre because she had been promoted to above her level of incompetence and she did not understand that when she delegated, she should have managed. Although she had delegated responsibility, the accountability remained her property. That meant that as soon as one of her underlings screwed-up, her head would be alongside theirs on the block. What is known as a “laissez-faire” style of management carries great risks.

Instead of delegating, Rebekkah had abdicated her responsibility. That means that she simply gave it away and allowed the system or process of news-gathering to be managed by others or, worst of all, she allowed processes to continue without management.

She, in common with others, claimed that she had no idea of what had been going on.  She was either lying or (more likely), she was an incompetent non-leader.

It is most likely that Rebekah Brooks’ sin was not naughtiness – just incompetence. She was too busy schmoozing to notice what was going on. When she did find out – it was too late.

The corporate position in which she found herself was not an unusual one. Many people are promoted because they are perceived as being good at a totally unrelated job to the one into which they are promoted. A great reporter may NOT be a good Editor and a great Editor may be a lousy corporate executive. All three jobs require different sets of skills.

If that was the case, then the fault rests entirely with Murdoch for giving her a rank which she was not ready for.

The other type of manager or director who tends not to know what is going on is the tyrant – the one who rules by fear. That type of manager creates such a culture of suspicion and mistrust that he or she is only ever given the good news. Consequently they are often completely oblivious to anything even vaguely irregular.

That highlights yet another issue which is extremely common. Companies hand out senior positions as a “rank” and not as a job function. Once again, if Murdoch had perceived Rebekah as having done a good job as Editor, he may have viewed her promotion  to CEO as a reward –  the corporate equivalent of a Damehood. That was his mistake.

The Poisoned Chalice of Metropolitan Commissioner is also about to change hands after the “resignation ” of the present incumbent.

Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation statement last night suggested that he was pushed onto his sword. His sin was the comparatively innocent one of someone under him hiring an ex-News of the World assistant editor plus not paying for a  stay at a health farm.

Sir Paul was NOT an incompetent manager. As an undoubted asset to the Metropolitan Police, he should have been assured that no matter what, his position was safe and that he had not only the support of the Prime Minister but that of the increasingly arrogant and out-of-control Mayor of London. But as they say, you cannot satisfy all the Buller boys all of the time.

His resignation has highlighted the management incompetence of the Mayor of London and to a lesser extent, that of the Prime Minister. The Mayor of London has appeared to be in need of a puppet Metropolitan Commissioner for some time now and finally, he will have his wish. That will dilute police management even further.

We need an independent police force and not one which is in the pocket of a “here-today-gone-tomorrow” tinpot dictator.

What of the Prime Minister’s sins in hiring Andy Coulson? A lack of diligence and an over-keenness to please News International when it decided  to call-in the favour of having become a Conservative Party supporter .

From the MPs’ expenses fiasco to the current News International shenanigans – the root cause of the lack of continuity in public (and media) life has a very straightforward root cause  – an alarming shortage of people with appropriate management and organisational skills.

Finally, if we carry on trashing the careers of our best  senior people, we are in severe danger of gradually dissuading “the best”  from even considering high office.

That is already becoming evident in the standard of the last three parliamentary intakes.

Sex, Brits and Injunctions

 

We Brits are not very good at sex but by God, we like to read about others doing it. There’s nothing we enjoy more, except perhaps witnessing a successful person’s life unravelling  whilst we  wallow in those delicious Sunday-morning waves of schadenfreude as we thumb through the weekend red-tops. 

Nowadays, publicist Max Clifford appears to contribute the first ten pages to both the News of the World and Sunday Mirror. It is usually sex-based showbiz dross with either a real or engineered theme of celebrity crisis. It can be anything from Jordan’s split hair to an Antipodean bimbette being excluded from a talent-show panel. However, by far the best kind of celeb crisis is the one which contains sex, infidelity and a broken relationship. We lap it up.

That is why the alleged Ryan Giggs affair with Imogen Thomas has captivated a nation hungry for any hint of celebrity depravity. If there is any shortage of filth – we can join-up the dots ourselves. Think about it – what do we have so far? We have a millionaire footballer with a wife and children, an inexperienced Welsh former beauty queen, a super-injunction-busting Member of Parliament who himself hasn’t been slow in the trouser department  and the undivided attention of a slavering media. Can we bear to wait until next Sunday?

The end-game will be the usual ” Mr and Mrs ……………….. ask that you respect their privacy through this difficult time as they try to save their marriage.”  Then we’ll have the obligatory advice from the Fleet Street Harpies along the lines of  “Should she leave him or should she stay with him?” It’s the usual script – only the main players have changed.

Our very synthetic outrage (how could he?) (the children) belies the fact that we’re glad. Any sympathy we express is sham. What we really want are all the gory details, we want to see those sentences with “hotel room”, “sex act” (usually a blow-job), “well-endowed”, six times (why always six?), “I loved him”,”he promised”,”he was gentle” etc.

So why do footballers and celebrities in general, take those risks?  The answer is simple – Money and Opportunity. In fact, the former facilitates the latter – especially if you are a young fit famous footballer with a permanent hard-on, a Black Amex Card and a Bentley. 

They say that erect prick has no conscience – and sad to say, that is true. Fidelity is not a state of mind or belief, it is a clause in a contract. Every person, given the right opportunity will screw someone who is not his or her partner. The difference between normal mortals and celebrities is that they are handed those opportunities over and over again. Opportunities which most ordinary people never experience.   Inevitably, some of those opportunities will be too difficult to resist.

The ONLY things which can ever prevent an individual from straying sexually are either deep-held religious or cultural beliefs which have instilled the conviction that certain activities can be wrong. Regrettably, these days that type of education has largely gone AWOL.

Nowadays, morality, morals and sexual activity are three separate concepts – no longer viewed as being an intertwined trinity.

To many, the sex act is a bodily function which does not need the veneer of either love or ‘right and wrong.’

The ones who dispense judgement on those who are ‘caught’  fall into just two  groups. Those who haven’t been caught or those who who have never had the opportunity. There is one final (minor) group which is rapidly approaching extinction – those who genuinely believe that sexual intercourse can sometimes be wrong or a sin and should never be played away from home.

Once a couple arrives at the ‘sex-by-numbers’ stage, it is often merely the lack of opportunity which flimsily binds them to each other. That is the time when sex truly does just become an ‘act’.  That should be a time for reappraisal and re-invention. However, unless the couple has that rare 100% bond which enables them to say to each other “I didn’t like that” or ” This is getting boring” etc. , tension , stress, frustration and the danger of straying are constantly self-amplifying.

Having said all that – we are certainly not in the business of sympathising with a footballer who screwed a beauty queen and created Twitter mayhem. The only thing to remember is that there are no heroes or villains in this  ‘whodunit’. Anyway, it has just morphed from ‘whodunit’  to  soap opera!

Let’s just not pretend that we’re not loving every single moment.

(By the way, those things that I said  about relationships and sex just applies to the others and not to you. )

 

Strauss-Kahn Alpha Male.

 

Bilderberger, banker, former Finance Minister and prospective French presidential hopeful – all in one handy package – with the prospect of much more to come! Does it get any better than this?

Remember the gradual “coming-out” of Tiger Woods’ victims/conquests/opportunists? At first, it all seemed like a minor tremor but once the newspapers and TV had  trained their collective beady eye on the story, the proper eruption began. Months later, the tremors have more-or-less died down but his career is still affected by the fallout.

IMF Head,  Dominique Strauss-Kahhn has already been hit by a similar media earthquake.  Now, it is only the small matter of the aftershocks – how many and how severe.

First in the queue after the alleged New York Hotel assault will be French journalist Tristane Banon, who claims to have been assaulted by Strauss-Kahn four years ago. She  is the only one so far who is “considering” legal action but there are doubtless other lovelies awaiting the offer of services from a good PR man so that they too can cash-in.  Some of the claims will be true, others at best will be exaggerations. The rest will be lies. 

But what motivates a man such as this? Surprisingly, the behaviour is part of a sub-set of predispositions which define the Alpha Male. Saddam, Gaddafi and others who climbed or fought their way to their own position of power are the alpha males. Their extreme behaviours are no more than manifestations of their self-belief and  delusions of invincibility – or untouchability. Many of us cannot understand their behaviour because it is difficult to conceive extreme power without having experienced it.

Most ambitious men aspire to being alpha males – we call it ‘ambition’. Many act like alpha males for years before they actually ‘make it’. Books have been written on how to become an alpha male. It is something that many men covet because of the glittering prizes which await the true leader of the herd. What they do not realise is that once they have completed the journey, what awaits them is even more spectacular and seductive than they ever visualised. If religion is the opiate of the masses, power is the narcotic of the alpha.

But there’s always a downside: Once  they are the No 1, the only way out is either disgrace or destruction. Retirement is not an option – not for the true alpha.

In the animal kingdom, the alpha male eats first and mates first but he is always having to defend and fight for the privilege. Physical prowess is what sustains the alpha male but as he becomes older, it is inevitable that sooner or later he will be challenged by a younger, stronger male who will defeat him.

In the human world, the physical challenge has been sublimated into a self-destruct button which the corporate or political alpha always carries with him. For example, here in the UK, trainee alpha male Chris Huhne has just had his own destruct button pressed for him.

Very successful men – without exception have very high sex-drives. Whether it has something to do with money or whether it is power, doesn’t matter. It exists. It is not an excuse for naughtiness but it is certainly a major  contributor. It is that power-fuelled sex drive which is very often  their personal self-destruct button.

Over the years, I have met many high-powered individuals who travel the world, dispense life-changing decisions and who are hero-worshipped by their underlings. Most are married and most (not all) engage in extra-marital sex of one sort or another. Sex to them is a normal bodily function and a right. On the rare occasions when it is not given to them, their self-adulation tells them that they are able to help themselves.

There is always an element of ‘exponential decay’ in any couple’s sex-life. Unfortunately, by the time most men achieve professional power and their sex-drive  reverts to the warp-speed last experienced when they were 17  (obligatory and perfectly natural for an alpha male), their wife is either not there or possibly not as interested as he is.

Alpha men stray from their wives for what they perceive to be better (and sometimes younger ) sex, in part driven by the alpha-urge to populate the herd by spreading those alpha genes. 

How many times have you heard women saying to each other “He left his wife for THAT woman. Look at her!” It happens more than you think and it is a generally accepted fact that the most successful men are on (at least) their second or third partner.

Alpha men do not always stray for a better-looking woman because the whole phenomenon has little to do with looks. It is about sex. I am not suggesting that for instance, those ‘doyens of dirt’- the Rock stars who have shagged their way through a statistically significant slice of the female population are in any way not responsible for their actions – but they suffer from the same syndrome. It is NOT an illness – it is life. They are the alpha males in that particular environment.

Currently, Mr Strauss-Kahn’s sex-drive will be very very low. That’s because he will not be experiencing the ‘highs’ of power which have been driving his libido. In one day, he moved from a fully self-actualised Alpha Male to  someone whose self-esteem has been ripped from him and who is now fighting for his freedom . 

Within the last few hours, he will have realised that his professional life may well be over.

He, like many others who have tasted power and acclaim, has defeated himself.

 

STOP PRESS: Arnold Schwarzenneger has just confessed to fathering a child with an employee.

When you are very old.

So, where are your parents? Are you looking after them, keeping them active, taking them out to the Garden Centre or a drive round the countryside? Or have you forgotten them? Are they living on their own, pretending that they’re eating well and all you do is send the occasional birthday or Christmas card? Or, have you decided that your aged father or mother are beyond your help or perhaps they clash with your IKEA sofa and have become an embarrassment?

Perhaps you’ve bitten the bullet and put them  in a home and of course “They really love it in there. They’re with people of their own age and they are REALLY well looked after!!” Are you sure about that? Would you rather spend your old age with your family – your children and grandchildren or would you rather spend your last days in the company of other old, sick and drugged-up geriatrics?

For the moment, the choice is yours.

Here in the United Kingdom, we’re not very good with old people. Once they start talking crap and forgetting things , too often we feel that it’s time to hand them over to someone else. “What a lovely room, dad….and such nice people. You’ll be well looked after here!”. Can you imagine your aged mother’s or  father’s “euphoria” as the Old Peoples’ Home  door bangs shut for that first time and you finally breathe that sigh of relief. “It was for the best.”

Was it?

There’s absolutely no suggestion that the whole Care industry is bad  but it is just that. An industry.

An industry can feed our parent or grandparent and it can clothe and wash but it cannot relight the memories and emotions of the life that we once shared with them. Very often it is  emotional and spiritual “asphyxiation” which kills people and not any lack of food or drink.

Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham has just published a report about the NHS and its relationship with old people. She concludes that the “NHS is failing to meet even the most basic standards of care for old people”. Here are a couple of direct quotes:

“Mr D had advanced stomach cancer and wanted to die at home. When his daughter arrived to collect him from hospital, she found him sitting behind a closed curtain in distress. He had been left for several hours, was in pain, desperate to go to the toilet and unable to ask for help because he was so dehydrated that he could not speak or swallow. The emergency button had been placed out of his reach, his drip had been removed, fallen and had leaked all over the floor. At home, the family discovered Mr D had not been given the right pain relief and spent the weekend driving around trying to obtain the correct medication before he died”.

“Mrs H was admitted to hospital after having a fall at home. She suffered further falls while in hospital and broke her collar bone, but her niece, who was her only relative, was not told. Mrs H was transferred by ambulance to a care home. When she arrived at the home, she had numerous injuries, was soaked with urine and was dressed in clothing that did not belong to her and that was held up with large paper clips”.

Last year the Ombudsman accepted twice as many cases for investigation about older people as for all other age groups put together.

Old people can be very hard work and sometimes extremely annoying as well as a drain on our time. Just as we were when they were bringing us up.

We now have the medical ability to prolong life  and very soon we shall be able to prolong it indefinitely. Our contemporary attitudes and methods should be telling us that our sociological development is lagging some way behind our technical expertise and it does not look as if we’re making much of a realistic effort to bridge that gap.

Prolonging life  whilst NOT being able to preserve its quality results in the Health Ombudsman telling us:

These often harrowing accounts should cause every member of NHS staff who reads this report to pause and ask themselves if any of their patients could suffer in the same way. I know from my caseload that in many cases, the answer must be “yes”. The NHS must close the gap between the promise of care and compassion outlined in its Constitution and the injustice that many older people experience. Every member of staff, no matter what their job, has a role to play in making the commitments of the Constitution a felt reality for patients.”

The NHS Constitution? The mistreatment of old people has nothing at all to do with constitutions and has everything to do with natural human  compassion, decency and the moral obligation that we all have, to treat or senior citizens as equals and not as former human beings.

Recently, politicians have been talking about “The Broken Society”. They are right. It is because our society is “broken” that we treat our old people as figures of fun and inconvenience rather than behaving with affection and respect.

Our National Health Service would function much more efficiently if we were not in such a hurry to offload our parents and grandparents to be looked after by (often incompetent) strangers.

There are many old people still around who belong to a generation which was brought up to fear authority and through that fear,  learned respect for their fellow human beings. Nothing wrong with that – that’s all that they had at the time.  They are now being looked after by this generation which, in the main, has absolutely no concept of those quaint  “old -fashioned” values. A generation which does not respect its own parents and frightens old people (sometimes) to death.

What about the NHS’ failings described so eloquently bythe Ombudsman? In keeping with all the other NHS issues – it is a management problem which regrettably, from the preening 911-driving consultant to the non English-speaking nurse, does not exist in the form that it should.

So, when you’ve packed the old man’s case and driven him to a hospital or nursing home, just before you walk into reception, look at him properly. Remember.

Then, look him in the eyes and think.

I have included a Comments Box on this post for those of you who are either looking after old relatives or who may have had them incarcerated in an Old People’s Home.

25 Predictions for 2011

The predictions for 2011 are in no particular order and are a mixture of both British and world events. For the last two years, governments all over the  world have been doing no more that playing a wait-and-hope game;  the political equivalent of whistling in the dark.

Here in the UK, the Coalition government has introduced its so-called “austerity measures”. The rhetoric may well be very impressive  to the IMF or the European Bank but what is really happening is that the day-of-reckoning is being postponed by being nudged along by successive disjointed government policies. Everyone is confused.

For instance, in spite of the very negative economic prognosis for the coming year, Stock Markets have been climbing. That  demonstrates is that there has been a final dislocation between economies and  world markets. Stock markets have become no more than a large sandpit in which speculators and bankers play their money games and continue to throw sand not-only in each others eyes but  have also somehow managed to blind whole governments.

Bankers have progressed from custodians  and redistributors of money to self-important untouchable deities who are feared by all.

The most bizarre aspect of Global Economics is the inconsistency with which politicians address  it. 

The blame for the collapse (yes!) of  Western economies is often ascribed to a “downturn in the world economy”. However, governments continue to tinker with their own economies without considering any global impact of their policies. In reality, there is no Global Economy. It is a nonsense phrase.  All that we really have is a large number of  increasingly interdependent local economies. It is a jigsaw of economies, the pieces of which can never fit together properly.  The only solution will be a world currency (that would stop the speculators!) and a real globally conceived, calculated and controlled economy. 

So what is holding us back? That’s an easy one – politics and man’s natural parochially tribal nature.

One of the most ignored aspects of modern economics has been the rise of the bureaucrat. In that group, I include not-only large slices of the public sector  but all non-productive professions such as accountancy, the legal profession, consultancy and those who “analyse”. They do not produce anything new or tradable and  there are too many of them. Large slices of the banking profession also fall into that group.

These groups are a massive a drain on an economy. They do not add value – on the contrary, they take. These “professions” are all due for rationalisation because their only contribution is to take and redistribute money which has been  earned by others.

It is highly probable that 2011 may be remembered as the year when the waiting and procrastination had to stop so here are the predictions:

1. The era of BIG Government is dying and all governments will be forced to cut public expenditure.

2. This will be a year of strikes, general public unrest and riots. Students and pensioners will stand together.

3. The Euro will finally stop twitching and die. Germany has already realised that it can no longer remain in the Eurozone when it it surrounded by so many lame-duck economies.

4. Most western countries will experience cuts in police, the fire service and rubbish collection. Paradoxically, times of austerity produce more crime and a substantial increase in the incidence of insurance-inspired fires.

5. China is beginning to experience inflation. This will result in an upward revaluation of the Yuan – which effectively will be a devaluation of the dollar.

6. Banks will be punished for holding too much cash and  for continuing to withhold funds from commerce and industry.

7. There will be a downward correction in world stock-markets. That is very likely to happen very early in the year.

8.  Gold and Silver prices will decrease early in 2011 but rally massively during the rest of the year.

9.  Commodity prices ( wheat, soyabeans etc) will rise very substantially during the year.

10. Oil will cross the $100 per barrel barrier.

11. In the United Kingdom, the Coalition government will collapse and there will be a general election in October 2011.

12. Nick Clegg will be challenged for the leadership of the Liberal Party and  is likely to “cross the floor”.

13.  The Labour anti-Ed Miliband movement will become more and more vocal as the year progresses and  as Labour realises that they elected the wrong man.

14. After the next government reshuffle, Vince Cable will become Minister-without-Portfolio and will quietly be put out to grass.

15. The concept of Man-Made Global Warming will be further eroded as a scientific theory.

16. We are overdue a nuclear or chemical accident. Look out for one in either China or India.

17. An earthquake in California is also overdue.

18. There has been some tittle-tattle about the state of the Beckhams’ marriage. Do not be surprised if there is a sudden announcement of an impending divorce.

19. As a result of fewer students, public sector redundancies and over-optimistic projections in the manufacturing industries, UK unemployment will officially breach the 3 million barrier.

20. The 279 Council elections in May 2011 will signal the beginning of the end of the Liberal Party. They are already an endangered species and will now  progress to near-extinction.

21. The referendum on the alternative vote will see the “first past the post” system retained. That will signal a long-overdue questioning of the Liberal leadership.

22. There will be an anti Coalition revolt with Labour and the Conservative right-wing standing shoulder-to-shoulder with disaffected Liberals.

23. The January visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao will not produce a cosy new relationship between the two superpowers. On the contrary, the visit may well produce  “sabre-rattling”  for the rest of the year.

24. Israel will carry-out a pre-emptive strike on Iran – as a result of the latter’s nuclear programme. Needless to say, the United States will wade-in with all guns blazing.

25. Sudan will implode. That will produce an ethnically-driven Yugoslavia-like civil war. Needless to say, the United States will wade in with all guns blazing -only this time they will be wearing United Nations hats.

The most difficult and surreal world political question – and potentially, the most explosive (literally) is whether the American nation has the appetite to elect Sarah Palin as the next President of the United States. Because, as sure as eggs is eggs, she will be a candidate. That all depends on how far to the right America is willing to lurch as a result of the inevitable failure of Obamanomics.

“Fryflounce” – a new word

His Excellency, St Stephen of Fry, the media’s Gay Mafia Ambassador has once again flounced and left his 1.9 million star-struck Twitter admirers staring into the abyss of a future without His Excellency’s oh-so-clever musings and self-obsessive bollocks.

It seems that gay is the new black. There was a time when racist abuse was the unforgivable social sin – now, if you’re at all disrespectful of a prancing poofter, you are well and truly in the shit. (!) Oops!

So who is Fry? There are those who say that this self-important oaf is clever. Pause and think – what is he clever at? What is his forte – apart from pseudo-erudite jive-talk? He is the ultimate media “jack-of-all-trades”, the poor man’s Peter Ustinov and as Julie Burchill once said, “the thicko’s idea a clever person”.

He “amuses” the prince of Wales at Highgrove suppers. Wow! A modern jester whose motley is more Emperor’s New Clothes than substance.

He is obviously damaged because what he craves more than anything is approval. Approval and esteem in the eyes of others are his “raisons dêtre“. His carefully contrived, constructed and regurgitated little homilies which appear both in his speech and in his Tweets are only modern in the sense that they are disposable. Most owe more to J.I. Rodale (look it up) than they do to spontaneity.

Because he’s a “celebrity”, an Attitude Magazine hack asked him for his views on sex (what else do you ask someone who is known for having as much sex as His Excellency?). Unfortunately, Stephen must have imagined that he was sitting at HRH’s dinner table with the port on its third lap because he went on and on…and on and talked bollocks. That was followed be even more bollocks.

It was then reported verbatim but according to the man himself, it was “out-of-context”. Yawn. Apparently, he was being “humorous”.

During the interview, he imagined that if women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas – just as there are gay ones.

Reality check for the (largely) celibate one: WTF do you think that pubs, clubs, am-dram societies and “working late” are for? Admittedly, it’s not quite as exciting as entering a public lavatory and sticking your knob through a hole in the wall but we sad heterosexuals manage to put up with the comparative warmth and comfort.

Skulking around in park bushes may be “cruising” to some but most of us “straights” prefer  central heating.

Fry’s last (I won’t say final) Twitter message reads: “Bye Bye”. It was delivered via his iPhone at 1.27 p.m. on 31st October.His Bio reads “No longer in service”.

Just wait. The Deluded One will be back “by popular demand”. Yeah, right. Popular.

Admittedly, he has many followers who believe that by following the Sainted St Stephen, they will appear clever-by-association or through some process of Tweetosmosis. Forget it guys. You’re encouraging Stephen to confuse popularity with our collective worship of celeb-fatuousness – especially when it’s sprinkled with Fry Fairy Dust.

Finally, this is one gay dude who belongs to that media group of batty boys who believe that being gay is not just a vaginophobic lifestyle choice for those saddos who found girls difficult to talk-to before they became officially gay. He is one of the gang which truly thinks that gayness (didn’t it used to be gaiety) is an endowment or gift.

It isn’t.

So, the next time a hack from a downmarket magazine asks you about your views on sexuality and sex – butt out.

The return of the hooligan.

It looks like it’s back to the future because a species which we had thought extinct is rearing its ugly head again.  We thought that it had disappeared forever, back into the swamp of life  but teenage football hooligans are beginning to be more and more visible in the media. As usual, there are experts, commentators and social scientists who have theories.

“Lack of discipline!”, “Flog’em!”, “…..a spell in the Army. Never did me any harm!”, ” I blame the parents!”. The platitude-mongers are being ferreted-out of blue-brick universities, pubs and bus queues. Once again to they are being invited to pontificate and shake their heads by an increasingly hysterical media machine. Even moronic football pundits who are not usually known for their knowledge of behavioural psychology have opinions.

So what is going on?

Yes it is a social problem and the reason why an old-phenomenon is making a return guest-appearance is because the social environment is once-again reaching the optimum conditions for the football hooligan to re-flower and flourish. As usual, the clues are in history.

Football hooliganism was at its height in the 70s and 80s. It reached its peak in the early 1980s and then gradually disappeared.

It was in 1982 when the government announced that for the first time since the 1930s, unemployment had achieved a number in excess of 3 million. Fast-forward to 2010 and we’re there again. The new hooligan- crop consists of the new unemployed, many fathered by the old unemployed. Social outsiders. On the bench of life.

THAT is where the clue is. A gang of hooligans is made up of arousal-seeking males who have no social identity. These are men and boys who are “nobodies” is real life and  who achieve excitement and recognition during otherwise empty and boring lives. That is what unemployment can do to a male. No job, no money, no future and possibly the most important – no “esteem in the eyes of others”. That simply means that they have no-one in their shabby lives who looks up to them for the usual (and normal) reason which is achievement. Theses are not achievers – they are the ones who took the piss out of “swots” and “geeks” at school but now they need the confidence and psychological sanctuary that is afforded them by a herd (or pack).

These are pack animals. They are not solo hunters. On the contrary, they need the psychological duvet of a crowd.

Hooliganism ( “Hooligasm” would be a more accurate description of what they are attempting to achieve) is most certainly NOT confined to the unemployed underclass. There are those in  boring jobs who lead mundane lives, those who feel that their existence and employment are way below what they deserve. They too are ripe for a spot of football hooliganism.

Here’s some psychology:

There are four sets of what are known as metamotivational states: telic-paratelic (goal seeking behaviour and its opposite), conformity-negativism, mastery-sympathy, and autic-alloic (concern with oneself against concern for others).These “states” are four pairs of opposites and are the basis of what is known as Reversal Theory.

It is possible for an individual to “flip” from one state to another but he  does not flip between the two states within a pair randomly.

Reversal theory suggests  that some individuals have a tendency to spend more time in one metamotivational state than another. These people can be categorised as paratelic dominant, conformist dominant etc.

Research has shown that the above states are felt through the emotions which they produce  – especially when combined with arousal level and how good the individual feels (the so-called hedonic state).

The theory postulates that  when a person is aroused and feels good because they have a fulfilled life, we may say that they is in a telic (goal-seeking, forward-looking) state with low arousal and high hedonic tone, i.e  a goal-seeker who is chilled out and happy.

( The term “aroused” is not in the sexual context. It is more on the Chilled-Angry Scale).

For football hooligans, hooliganism is fun. The football hooligan is paratelic dominant, so that when there are discrepancies between preferred and actual levels of arousal, primarily caused by boredom and consequent feelings of futility  his behaviour leads to hooliganism as a means of compensation. He feels useless, insignificant, undervalued,  and frustrated. This , given the right circumstances, will “flip” to anger (Reversal Theory) and so generate the search for excitement through dangerous and delinquent behaviour.

There is no real difference  between the bungee jumper and the football hooligan. Both are attempting to compensate by generating excitement. The hooligan neither has the focus nor means to dissipate his feelings through any other activity than violence or, more often, the promise of violence. For most, it is the anticipation of violence which is the driver.

So why football? There is a powerful association between masculine sport, masculine identity and affiliation which is provided by the football club. Hooligans will not affiliate with a political party, a chain of shops, a pub, a badminton  or  rugby club.

Association Football is a working class activity and the largely working-class hooligans will only herd with their own ” species”. The obvious question? “Why are there no Rugby League hooligans  or American football hooligans?” In those two sports, the violence on the pitch allows the potential hooligans to sublimate their violent urges. One could argue that  if Soccer rules were modified to make it a more violent sport, there would be no football hooliganism.

It is unlikely that there was any hooliganism associated with the Circus Maximus.

Soccer is a metaphor for the sad lives of the disaffected minority which morphs into hooliganism.

Soccer and hooliganism are both games where (usually) expectation exceeds reality, where bonds are formed through false parochial affiliation and identity (“WE (?) scored in the last minute”) and both games consist of two herds in conflict whose weekly forays intersperse a life of abject boredom.

Where did it all go wrong?

THE OLDS.

Let’s put the seniors in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.  This way the seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks. They’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they’d receive money instead of paying it out. They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance. Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education. Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ’s and legal aid would be free, on request. Private, secure rooms for all, with an  exercise outdoor yard, with  gardens. Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly monitored. 

The “criminals” would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8 pm, and showers once a week.  Live in a tiny room and pay £900.00 or more per month and have no hope of ever getting out. Justice for all we say. 
  
 

COWS

 

Does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Lincolnshire? 
And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow. 
 
 
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS


The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or Parliament, is this :

You cannot post ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’, ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery’ and ‘Thou Shall Not Lie’ in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians ….. It creates a hostile work environment.

Punished for sex

Many years ago my girlfriend’s sister became pregnant. She was 17 . The father of her child was about 35 and worked at the local swimming pool. They had absolutely nothing in common but sex. She was from a good moneyed family and he was most definitely from the wrong side of the tracks. Her father was a very successful local businessman but her boyfriend had never known his father. On paper, they had absolutely nothing in common and only a romantic would class their relationship as love. It wasn’t love – it was much better than that. It was pure animal lust. They didn’t pretend that they were in love but anyone who has ever had the sort of sex that they enjoyed would never say that sex alone is not enough to sustain a relationship. They had been “at it” for over two years and even when they were together in public, you could see that it was an effort for them to keep their hands off each other. 

In those days, teenage pregnancies were a definite “no-no”  as were divorces, pornography, kissing footballers and the “F” word on TV. That’s  because  God was still around. I only mention the Big Man because her parents were  upper middle-class  Church of England enthusiasts.  In those days, Church was a good opportunity for the working and upper classes to mix. You know, equal in the face of God and all that. Her mother also had the advantage of actually believing in God. Consequently, she  made the effort  and talked to poor people after every service but only in that slightly detached patronising way that the aspirational classes are so good at.

Therefore the sudden devastation of hearing that her youngest daughter was  pregnant  was not-only a social inconvenience but in addition,  the baby had been conceived through an extra-marital sinful act. These days, we cannot really  imagine the cataclysmic effect that her daughter’s announcement would have had on her cosy Jaeger world.  It made her quite ill and apparently her first question to the  helplessly weeping daughter was “Who is the father?”

She was dimly aware of the boyfriend and the fact that he lived in some sort of Social Housing and that he was poor.  A neighbour had seen them holding hands! Twice!

When the mother recovered, the ” What will they think” syndrome kicked-in like a mule. The mysterious “they”  have never been officially identified but they used to live in several generations’ psyches and were responsible for ruining the psychology and life of tens of thousands of pregnant young girls. “They” were especially prevalent from soon after the First World War until about twenty years ago – although “they” do still exist  in certain communities which are still blighted and hampered by post-Victorian hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, in her mother’s mind, the rapidly expanding daughter was totally surrounded by the imaginary “they” and the family’s latent mechanism for dealing with such matters suddenly came into play. There was an aunt in a small town somewhere in the North of England and that is where the pregnant girl was dispatched. There always seemed to be a maiden aunt somewhere who understood such things and that is where girls who had brought shame on their family were sent. They were the lucky ones, many pregnant girls were simply thown out onto the streets.  The fear that parents experienced was not-only “the fear of they” but there were many occasions when a father would lose his job if his employer discovered that there had been an “illegal” pregnancy in his family.

This family closed ranks, the few people in the know were sworn to secrecy and all that the father was told was that his girlfriend had moved “abroad”. It transpired that he didn’t know that she had been pregnant.

Apparently, she had the baby which was taken from her just hours after the birth and the next time I saw her, she was a hollow-eyed shell and not the vivacious fun-loving young girl that I remembered. She didn’t talk much, did not go out, her boyfriend had moved on and was seeing another girl. In fact he didn’t even know that his former girlfriend was back in town. One Friday night when he was reading the local paper, he found out the hard way. There was a faded photo of his former girlfriend in her school uniform and a paragraph or two saying that she had killed herself.

The trauma of the birth, away from the father and her close family, followed by her baby being literally wrenched from her arms was too much for her to live with and when it became unbearable, she slashed her wrists.

I saw him many years later. He was still single, still going to the same pub. We had a quick chat and inevitably the subject of the old girlfriend who had killed herself  bled its way into the conversation. I have to admit that I did have the urge to tell him that he was a father and that his son or daughter would now be 30-something but sometimes it is best to say nothing.

I was reminded of my old friends when I heard Gordon Brown’s and Kevin Rudd’s long-overdue apologies to those young English children who had been deported to Australia and who had been so badly treated. Among them were bastard kids who had been taken from their single mothers and who had ended up in orphanages and children’s homes. Was there ever a more harrowing sight than seeing those youngsters, many now in their sixties and seventies openly weeping as they listened to young politicians finally saying “Sorry”?

Although my friend’s baby was too young to have been one of those abandoned by England, I like to think that he or she was one of the lucky ones.

(The Child Migrants Programme  ended just 40 years ago when  children, some as young as three-years-old were sent to Australia, many wrongly believing that their parents were dead. They were sent to Australia to supply “good white stock” to the former British Colony. They not-only suffered terrible cruelty and hardship but horrific physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Many remain “damaged” to this day.)

In praise of Alcohol

Alcohol has not only become an occasional part of our lives but it has evolved into one of the strongest influences on our civilisation. As Homer Simpson said in his famous toast: ” To alcohol. the cause-of and solution-to all of life’s problems.”

Alcohol has always oiled the wheels of  our business, commercial, spiritual, political and social lives – and continues to do so. It can be harmless but it is also very addictive.

“Alcoholism is a disease”  is an oft-used phrase. It is NOT a disease. A disease is a natural occurrence, whereas alcoholism is a condition that is induced by poisoning the body and mind to such an extent that neither can function correctly without the presence of alcohol.

The suffix “ism” (unfortunately) lends some sort of quasi-respectability to self-poisoning and somehow fashions to abrogate an individual’s responsibility to himself.

Alcohol , in its thousands of beautiful shapes and flavours is a substance for all reasons and seasons. It  induces everything from affection and love, to vomiting, wife-beating and murder. That is how versatile it is.

We have well and truly popped the cork and released not-only the fun-bubbles of weekend binge drinking but also a mind and body-sapping genie that definitely will not go back in the bottle.

“Education is the answer”, “The Government needs to do something” and ” Don’t exceed the recommended number of units” are regularly trotted-out Mantras.

The problem of alcohol consumption – especially among the young, is that it is a problem without solution. It is too late. There are no quick fixes.

What does alcohol do for you?

1. It makes you feel good.

2. It makes you feel more confident.

3. It makes you wittier.

4. It makes you feel better-looking.

5. It makes you more attractive to the opposite sex.

6. If you are a man – it makes you tough and fearless.

7. It gives you a temporary respite from a shit life.

8. It gets you laid.

Those are just a few of the good things that alcohol does for you. The price to pay for all the benefits in the above list may be a hangover, a damaged liver or even waking up next to a monster. But like it or not, for most people, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Today, both political parties are promulgating their “new” ways of micro-managing the nation’s drinking habits as the result  of a report which claims that in England and Wales, over 40,000 people die every year from alcohol-related illnesses. (Presumably Scotland’s figures were omitted from the report because there just weren’t enough zeros available).

The Labour Party has suggested that proof of age is demanded by retailers from anyone who looks under 18. They also want to ban “speed-drinking” contests or other “promotions” and have tap water available in bars and clubs as well as offering “small measures”.  It would seem that originality continues to hold  Labour at arm’s length.

Not  to be outdone, the Conservatives want to give local councils the power to charge a levy on bars and clubs whose customers cause ” late-night problems”. (That will be a very tempting to any bar or club owner who wishes to remove the competition). The Tories also suggest more duty on “problem drinks” as well as shutting-down premises which break the rules.

Everything that can be tried by government and taxes to curb alcohol abuse has already been tried and failed. This is another example of attempted social engineering by legislation – and it is a waste of time.

I have seen alcohol abuse in our local pub, I have seen it at dinner parties, in the streets and even in the Members’  Bar at Westminster. My family doctor was a chronic alcoholic and our local priest wasn’t always as steady on his feet as he could have been. 

Alcohol has soaked into every recess of our society and until our whole society makes some attempt to “dry-out” – it is pointless in targetting young people whose excessive drinking is only so apparent because it is primarily the young whose natual habitat is the club or pub.  The very public nature of their drinking has made the young the primary target for a lazy media.

What about the sad middle-aged, middle-class lush who spends endless hours sitting in front of a television set, stamping out his or her own personal reality with the aid of a bottle of Chardonnay and ending each evening as drunk as a fiddler’s bitch, staggering up to a cold and lonely bed.

What’s the difference in attitude to alcohol between the studied arty lassitude of a secretly-alcoholic college professor sitting in the sunshine of a London  Embankment cafe, peering at the Spectator through his “demi-lunes” as he takes an occasional sip from his ice-cold Pastis and the naked aggression of the drunk sitting on a concrete bollard ten feet away , talking to himself and swigging  noisily from a plastic bottle of White Lightning. The only differences are probably £5000 per month and clean underwear. Their feelings towards alcohol are identical.

Alcohol is a friend to the young, the old, the poor and rich. It is society’s great leveller.

The majority of people who die of alcohol-related disease are not young – they are old.  At first, alcohol is their special friend and comforter and only becomes their enemy  when it’s time to die. Even then, they find it impossible to turn their backs on a lifelong chum.

So what’s the answer? There is no answer. Most of   those who look at life through the bottom of a glass do not end up in the gutter or in a body-bag.  Warning notices on bottles, increased taxation and fake IDs will do nothing to solve the “problem”.

Many years ago, alcohol could be bought in pubs and off-licences. That was the control.

Nowadays, alcohol can be bought anywhere so perhaps what at first appears to be a social issue is no more than a distribution problem.

Whatever the politicians decide, there is without doubt a certain symmetry to standing at the bar, cigarette in one hand, bottle of drink in the other and a helpful health warning on each.  

 

Ricky “Tumbleweed” Gervais

The 2010 Golden Globes gave Ricky “Tumbleweed” Gervais the opportunity to disprove one of the basic laws of life: “Throw enough shit at a wall and some of it is bound to stick.”  None of it stuck.

I have always believed that the sweaty-Womble-lookalike Gervais has perpetrated the longest and most successful con-trick that showbusiness has ever seen. His series “The Office” was quite funny in parts but although it “starred” Gervais, it is the genius of Stephen Merchant which made the series what it was.

Gervais’ appearance at the 2007 Wembley Diana Concert provided several minutes of car-crash television – presumably in tribute to the dead princess. He was appalling and yet, some Gervais “Emperor’s New Clothes” fans, who cannot see the sweaty fat one doing any wrong were saying things like ” Knowing Ricky, he probably screwed up on purpose.” No, he did not screw up on purpose and the proof was at this year’s Golden Globes.

I must admit that I had great difficulty watching Gervais performing the comedy equivalent of an assisted suicide and by the time the whole procedure was over, I had chewed through not-only the backs of my knuckles but a TV remote and the back of a sofa. It was painful. “Cringe-o-vision” at its spectacular worst.

He was the wrong man in the wrong place, telling the wrong “jokes”.  His manner and delivery may have gone down really well at a life assurance convention but not in a room full of millionaire film people – most of whom had perhaps seen him once in 2004 and  quite rightly, forgotten him.

Jonathan Ross is a bit naughty and at the height of his powers would have made the ceremony slick, topical and funny with just the right dash of irreverent affection – which Ross undoubtedly has for Hollywood and its inmates. Gervais is an outsider – a pretender without the class, wit or presence to drive such a ceremony anywhere except into the ground. He had no place on that podium which makes one wonder whether his agent is the same person who once sold the Eiffel Tower  to an American. That is how good his agent must be.

( If you want to present next year’s Globes or maybe the Oscars, you will find Gervais agent HERE.)

So Mel Gibson was convicted for being drunk about four years ago, Paul McCartney is a god in the USA so Heather Mills jokes are not funny, Colin Farrell was a hellraiser, Hollywood plastic surgery is sometimes mocked – but only in the UK.  Gervais attempted to squeeze doubtful humour out of old news and spectacularly broke Rule 2 of comedy:  “Don’t embarrass your audience.”

(The First Rule  of Comedy is hardly worth mentioning because Gervais has always worked outside the constraints of the basic First Rule.)   Rule 1 is : ” Be funny”

The hapless Gervais was reading his “jolly japes” and his total lack of comedic depth-of-experience was exemplified by his delivery of the punchline to the cosmetic surgery “joke”.  No timing, no delivery……nothing.  ‘Just looking at all the faces here reminds me of the great work that’s been done this year (pause) by cosmetic surgeons. You all look great. ‘

(One American critic described Gervais as  ” Surprisingly uninspired”.  Too kind.

Gervais has not only damaged his own reputation but it will probably be many years before the Americans allow their award ceremony producers to risk another C-list Englishman to mess with their religion.

You want Fame?

 

I am looking for one person who wishes to take part in an unusual experiment. One of my businesses is a Public Relations company. We normally only take-on projects which are guaranteed to make money but this particular proposed project is more of a bet than a revenue-generating idea.

We believe that ANYONE can be made “famous” or “well-known”, even if they have never achieved anything particularly mind-blowing. We are looking for a volunteer who would like his or her name out there but it has to be a person who has never had their name in the media.

It will not cost the volunteer anything – the only thing that we are looking for is that you should have done something reasonably interesting or if you have something interesting to say and that you are American.

If you are interested, please Tweet, or leave your email on this post with reasons why you wish to be famous and I will send you further details. Please RT. 

Broken Dreams

 

Port au Prince is so badly damaged that the Haitians may well move their capital.

About 200 years ago, Cap-Haïtien used to be the capital but in 1842, it was almost totally destroyed – by an earthquake.

Television and newspaper photographs make Haiti look like a pile of rubble but it is a very beautiful place as I hope these photographs demonstrate.

If you listen carefully, you will hear that the locals speak French and even nowadays, Haiti is a destination for ocean-going yachts.

In the last two days, I have been reminiscing about Haiti and about how very small chance occurrences can change your destiny.

Somewhere, there is  a very special yacht called Swany which was  a copy of a Swan 72. I was involved in building the boat in the late 1970s – at the Chantier Naval in Biot, which is inland, between Antibes and Nice. Two of us laid the teak deck and helped install the deck furniture. The reason that I am reminded of those shiny and fabulous but hungry days in the South of France (I was going through my Ernest Hemingway period) is because once Swany was commissioned, the shake-down cruise was going to be to Port au Prince and I was to be a part of it.

Serge, the skipper hired several of us as crew and at that time, I had never sailed the Atlantic. After months and months of very hard work, hours of looking through brochures about Haiti and its surrounding islands, we made our plans. We agreed that there would be many minor jobs to complete and that we would continue our work as we sailed.

After 90% of the work had been completed, Swany’s road-trip to Antibes was incredibly exciting. There she was  dropped in the water, tied up and many of us drank too much Kronenberg. I don’t remember the next two days. There were a couple more weeks of work which we happily continued. Soon, sails and provisions arrived and finally we were ready to sail.

I should mention that Serge and I would often go to the Credit Commercial Bank in Antibes  – in the hope that as the work on Swany progressed, money to pay for the work and materials had arrived. It always seemed to be a few days late. That’s not usually a problem – unless you want to eat. The owner of the yacht always seemed to need reminding  that the eight of us who were fitting-out the yacht, functioned better when we were paid and fed. But even after the yacht was in the water, our pay was still about two months behind. That is often the yachting way.

Fast-forward to the evening before we were due to sail. My wife and two young children knew that I would be away for quite a few weeks but it really was an opportunity that I could not miss – and the family was extremely supportive. That afternoon, Serge and I had been to  the CCBdeF and the bank manager confirmed that funds were in place. Serge arranged to go back later to collect a pile of cash, after he had done some accounting.  We were set to go!

I was owed quite a few thousand Francs and would collect it the following morning, quickly zoom back home and hand most of it over to my wife and then “goodbye”. My tools and other gear were already on the yacht so when I set-off for the short walk to the Old Port, I took a large holdall with a couple of pairs of jeans, T-shirts, flip-flops and cigarettes. In those days, Levis and cigarettes were all the essentials that I needed.

As I lit-up my breakfast Gitane, I walked past the Bar du Port and  through the ancient arches into the port.  I could see the Guinness yacht Sarina  behind the harbour wall (The Sarina had just been sold by Loel Guinness to Robert Stigwood) . Then, as I ambled towards the outer quay, I  noticed that the “horizon” in the Old Port was somehow different –  a couple of masts were missing. Swany was gone.

I discovered later that my friend Serge had secretly hired a new crew and Swany had sailed. I never saw her again and I still haven’t visited Port au Prince.

Nevertheless, because  thirty years ago, I studied maps, charts, photographs articles and anything else that I could lay my hands on in readiness for my trip to Haiti, many of the places that I saw in bits  on my TV, feel strangely familiar and surreal.

It is somehow doubly upsetting because I have just realised that I will never see the Port au Prince that’s been living in my head for all this time. It’s gone.

Now, Serge is gone (he died suddenly and unexpectedly), I haven’t picked up a piece of teak for thirty years and Swany is old, stressed , clapped-out and in need of a re-fit. But then again……………..

There are many calls for donations to help the injured and dispossessed of Port au Prince. Please give generously.

Haiti

 

The Haiti quake, with a provisional magnitude of 7.0, was centred about 16 kilometres west of the capital and struck at about 4.45pm local time.

The US Geological Survey said it was the largest quake ever recorded in the area. A series of aftershocks followed and more were expected, said seismologist David Wald.

A large number of UN staff members were unaccounted for after the collapse of their five-storey headquarters. Among the missing was mission chief Hedi Annabi, who was in the building when the quake struck.

Some 9000 peacekeepers have been in Haiti since a 2004 rebellion ousted the president.

Elsewhere, about 200 people were unaccounted for after the collapse of the Hotel Montana, a popular destination for foreign tourists, a French Government minister said. ”We know there were 300 people inside the hotel when it collapsed, only around 100 have got out, which greatly concerns us,” 

The ornate National Palace crumbled into itself, but Haiti’s ambassador to Mexico, Robert Manuel, said President Rene Preval and his wife survived the earthquake. He had no details.

Governments across the world  are  gearing up for a massive aid operation.

US President Barack Obama issued a statement saying his ”thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake” and that Americans ”stand ready to assist the people of Haiti”.

Haiti sits on a large fault that has caused catastrophic quakes in the past, but this one was described as the most powerful.

Most of Haiti’s people are desperately poor, and after years of political instability, the country has no real construction standards. In November 2008, after the collapse of a school, the Port-au-Prince mayor estimated that about 60 per cent of the buildings were shoddily built and unsafe in normal circumstances.

Yesterday’s quake occurred only about 10 kilometres below the earth’s surface. On a scale of one-to-10 that measures ground shaking, the quake was a nine.

Natural disasters other than earthquakes have exacerbated Haiti’s dire circumstances in recent years. In 2008 a series of four hurricanes flooded towns and knocked out bridges.

Cooking Hell!

“A typical pikey British meal – and it’s ALWAYS  shades of Orange!!”

My wife and I are more than willing to give our 12 year-old daughter all manner of wholesomely nutritious treasures to enhance her crap-filled school lunchbox. Vinaigrette-dipped Kos lettuce-leaves with a scattering of Aga-roasted hazelnuts nestling on a slice or two of  home-cured  ham, maybe some Gruyere with a side-order of our own Indian Chutney, a sun-dried tomato or Cox’s Orange Pippin and possibly some stuffed olives and a couple of  Grissini with low-fat yoghurt to finish.

Yes, we know that crisps are the Devil’s food and that a can of Coke will dissolve her teeth. As for white bread! Wash your mouth out – but only with Badoit or Evian. What about our favourite – a sachet of Pure E – yes, you’ve guessed it – Haribo gums! Yes!  Jammie dodgers, Monster Munch, sausage rolls, Jam sandwiches, chocolate and Limeade which glows in the dark. These are just a few of my favourite things.

Here’s the ultimate admission – my family and I  LOVE anything from MacDonald’s – except the salads.

Today, Nanny State has spoken yet again. Last week our kids were all pissed and today, they’re fat but nevertheless malnourished.

My wife and I were standing in a Tesco checkout queue when a girl who was probably in her teens emptied her truck onto  the conveyor. EVERYTHING that she had bought was processed – from the Chicken Nuggets and Fish Fingers to the Trifle-in-a-box and jar of Cook-in sauce.  When she had emptied all the poisonous grot out of her trolley, she reached down and pulled out  another large plastic object. It was a baby-seat containing a beautiful  baby girl. Judging by the grown-up food spread before her, the young mother  was shopping for one.

So here was a (very) young single mother who probably had never been taught to cook by her own mother and who, in years to come, would doubtless be passing-on her lack of knowledge to her own daughter.

My children are lucky, as are millions of other children. At home they mostly eat food which is prepared properly and cooked. It is high-quality, nutritious and delicious. But if you open our fridge, you will find cans of Coke, processed cheeze  and bars of chocolate. There is usually a box of shop-bought sausage rolls. In the cupboards, you will find peanut butter, jam, honey and sugary cereals. There are tins of chocolate biscuits.

There are also fruit bowls, fresh vegatables, fresh meat and other good things. 

Mind you, if you rendered-down some of the food that we keep, it would put you in a permanent sugar-coma.

The point that I am trying to make is that if a child eats well at home –  eating the occasional piece of crap does not matter. So,  if the choice for school lunch is  either  a white-bread jam sandwich and a packet of crisps or nothing  – which would benefit my daughter  the most? Children eat what they like and not what they’re supposed to eat.

The media will have a couple of days wheeling out “quick healthy recipes”or introducing fresh home-grown nutritionists – who by the way , always look as if they could do with a MacDonald’s inside them. They will insist on telling us (again) what we already know. We know that a celery stick is a healthier snack than a Kit-Kat or that crème fraîche is better for you that Ben and Jerry’s deliciously scrummily wonderful Cookie Dough ice cream. We know!

The children who do go home to what we call “orange Food”, e.g. A plate of chips, beans and anything in breadcrumbs are a concern but so-what, if in addition,  they have a Coke and KitKat for lunch – it won’t kill them. The problem is not within the food but within the ignorance of at least three generations of British kids and adults brought up on processed food.

By the way, let’s please not go all gooey and misty-eyed for the food of our fathers and grandfathers. Most of it was badly-cooked crap. Fish Cakes, mashed potato and cabbage. Beef stew, boiled potatoes and carrots. Fish and Chips. The food was either so bland that you could die of boredom during the main course, or it had enough fat in it to grease a brace of cross-Channel swimmers.

My eldest two sons grew up in France and I still remember morning school runs when we would have to turn back because one of them had forgotten his napkin and/or napkin ring. Yes, children had to take their own (washed and pressed) serviette to school every morning.  During lunch, they would sit at small tables and be served freshly-cooked food and there was a jug of water on the table. That simple discipline gave them the correct attitude to food.

They retain that attitude to this day.

When we moved back to the UK, one of the strange things that we noticed was that many “Anglais” eat in the street or they sit outside on walls  or benches eating sandwiches. Many sit at their desks all day and have sandwiches brought to them. The Brits are known as a nation of “picniquers”. They even mock other nationalities who actally stop for lunch!

When I lived in France, I clearly remember spending two or three hours over lunch. Not necessarily eating a lot but eating slowly. Before you ask – I was always at my desk at 6 or 7 a.m and finished work after 6 p.m.

Even today, I advise executives to “walk away” from their desks during the day, sit down and eat lunch. Not necessarily in a bistro and I don’t care if lunch is a packet of sandwiches and a bag of crisps – it’s all to do with developing the right attitude. It’s never too late.

I bet that the researchers who gathered the information on the nation’s kids’ appalling lunch habits, themselves ate sandwiches, crisps and drank Coke or beer.

So, if your children want to eat crap – let them.

It is not-only their right –  it’s your fault.

 

OOPs!

Have you wondered why no £144,520 p.a. Cabinet Minister supported Geoff “Buff” Hoon and his sidekick Patricia Hewitt. It’s a mystery – but only if you don’t understand the intricacies and gilt-edged rewards of a Cabinet Member’s Final Salary Pension.

Back door Gifts

You may be forgiven for thinking that the juxtaposition of the phrase “backdoor gifts” and “politicians”  in a Daily Mirror headline refers to some nefarious after-hours activity but on this occasion, it transpires that the reference is to cash donations to the Conservative  party by Zac Goldsminth, his brother Ben and others. The cash was from a company called Unicorn, the cheques were clearly signed by Zac Goldsmith so in spite of an attempted Mirror smear, it all looks above-board.

It all a bit ” Ruff”

Statistics have revealed that there a 8 million dogs in the United Kingdom. They obviously didn’t count Leicester or Newcastle.

The Shagging Trapper Joke

Trapper in a pub in Canada’s Frozen North:    “I was trapping during the winter and hadn’t seen anyone for about six months. I’d spent all those  months in the freezing cold, no company and even my radio had stopped working. It was hell.

I was glad when February came and I could ski back home. Even that was hell. Fifty miles cross-country  in a blizzard, then a steep hill climb before I could finally ski down to my log cabin where my young bride was waiting for me.

I hadn’t seen her for such a long time and wanted to surprise her. When I had skied up to the cabin front door, I could see that she was in there, sitting next to a blazing log fire. I couldn’t wait to get in there , into the warm. It was so cold! I didn’t knock on the door – just went straight in. Do you know the first thing I did?”

Other Man: “Had a hot drink? Glass of Whiskey?”

Trapper: “Nope. I ripped my wife’s clothes off and gave her the best shagging of her life. I can tell you that it was definitely worth the wait. Guess what I did next?”

Other man: “You had that hot drink?”

Trapper: “Nope…….. I took my skis off.”

Proper Medical News

Ring of Fire

A 55-year-old British man whose bowel was ruptured in a near-fatal road crash has been fitted with a bionic sphincter that opens and closes and is operated by remote control. The patient had originally endured 13 surgeries and had become frustrated with using a colostomy bag. Norman Williams, a consultant surgeon at the Royal London Hospital then proposed a revolutionary operation.  He wrapped a muscle transplanted from the patient’s leg around the sphincter and attached electrodes to tighten or loosen the muscle’s grip.

Funny Bunny

In the past, Wake Forest University’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine has successfully grown human bladders in the lab. They used a few extracted cells sprayed onto a chemical frame that mimics the body’s tissues. Unfortunately, their latest venture has not been as successful. Their attempts to regenerate human penises has failed – because of the organ’s complexity. However, they announced in a recent journal article that they have achieved some  success with rabbit penises. Four of the 12 rabbits with lab-grown phalluses successfully impregnated females. An unexpected side-benefit was the discovery that the new penises do not appear to lessen sexual desire. All 12 rabbits began mating within one minute of meeting a female.

What was that?

According to doctors who were asked to prepare a report for CNN on “transient global amnesia” , people lose their short-term memory following vigorous sex. The condition occurs because blood flow to the brain is restricted because during sexual activity, more blood is required elsewhere. This temporarily disables the hippocampus from recording new memory. One sufferer, “Alice”  recalled her experience and recounted how she cracked a joke about being unable to remember how good the sex had been. She then repeated the joke over and over, each time as if telling it for the first time. The jokes just kept coming.

Pompey 0.

On 23rd December, HM Revenue and Customs presented a winding up petition in respect of Portsmouth Football Club. The actual court hearing will be scheduled for sometime in February 2010.

The club’s finances are in a very sorry state and there have been several reported occasions when the club has been unable to pay players’ wages. It seems that the club is now drinking in the Last Chance saloon and has under two months in which to sort its finances out. If it fails to find a buyer or partner with cash, it will probably be declared bankrupt.

In the last few years, there has been a procession Abramovich-wannabees and Arab playboys who have fancied their chances in the football backwater that is Fratton Park.

Was it really 2008 when my son and I made those two journeys to Wembley? The first for the FA Cup semi-final when we demolished  West Bromwich 1-0.  Then that surreal May day in the sun  when Pompey won the FA Cup. We stood at the Wembley version of the Fratton-end and shouted ourselves silly as Pompey thrashed Cardiff 1-0. Katherine Jenkins and Lesley Garrett had warbled their way through “God Save the Queen”, “Abide with me” and ““Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”  but  the best moment was when Harry Redknapp finally held the cup. My day wasn’t even spoiled by a phone call from my sister who told me that she was in the Royal Box. (That’s another story.) 

After the game, The police busied themselves with  keeping the two sets of supporters apart but when we did finally share a train carriage with a gang of Cardiff supporters, there was no need to  hide our scarves because they shook our hands and congratulated us on our win – and they meant it. Of course, we told them that they had played better than us because we understood that the day had been as important to them as it had been to us. It was one of those days when football had been the easy winner and we shall never forget the kindness and sportsmanship of those Cardiff supporters.

My sons and I were supporters when Pompey won the third division title in 1983. Bobby Campbell was manager in those days and Fratton Park seemed even more of a tip than it is today – and it continues to be the most old-fashioned  and “intimate”  ground in the Premiership.

In the good old days, there were no seats in the steep Fratton End. On most match days, the Fratton End terraces  looked and smelled like a Domestos-drenched wet concrete cliff. When Pompey scored we’d all jump up and down, the crowd would surge forward, people would be pinned against the steel-pipe leaning posts, bags of chips would be flying round like soggy shrapnel and the noise was…… well… you had to be there. Plus, it always seemed to be raining.

Gone are the good-old “hot-leg” days when a drunk fat bloke would stand, swaying on the top terrace, a pie in one hand, whilst the other hand would be directing a stream of urine over the poor bugger two steps below. Happy days. Now we have plastic seats, napkins and veggie burgers – but the old Fratton spirit remains. That is why Pompey supporters form the loudest crowd in the football league.

Harry Redknapp came, went to Southampton, became an honorary “Scummer”, came back, kept Pompey up in the Premiership, won the FA Cup and then left – taking most of the team with him. In a few short years, Harry became the very soul of the club and he seems to have taken it with him.

Eastern Europeans and Arabs buy football clubs as a distraction – many don’t really have as much cash as we imagine and they don’t really care if “their” football club collapses in a morass of debt. That is what seems to have happened to Portsmouth.

The banks will stand-by and watch the emaciated Pompey corpse twitch as administrators circle above Fratton Park and property developers have meetings and munch prawn sandwiches.

The saddest day of 2010 could come earlier that I thought.

Twenty-one 2010 predictions

On 15th May 2008, I predicted the nationalisation of British Banks. 

On 20th April 2009, I predicted that by the end of the year the FTSE 100 would fall to below 2500

On 3rd November 2009, I predicted the collapse of the dollar and of the pound-sterling 

The first prediction has come to pass – in all but name. The third prediction is about to come true. The FTSE 100 prediction of 2500 was out by a factor of over 100% – so what happened? Quantitative Easing is what happened. Very few of us could have predicted that the Bank of England would start to generate free money, hand it to the banks and allow them to use it to gamble on the stock markets and continue to declare false profits.

Currently, the FTSE 100 stands at over 5400 but this value is totally unsustainable. It is a false dawn. Bankers are now daring to predict that we will not have a “double-dip” recession and that everything seems to be looking rosy. When the dollar and pound collapse and the pound is worth the same or less that the Euro, we will see some real (genuine) action on the world’s stock exchanges.

The critical time in 2010 will not be the first quarter but the second –  because Q2 will contain not-only the beginning of the new tax year but also the General Election and the frightening spectre of the Liberals holding the balance of power. The only good thing that would come out of such a result would be Vince Cable as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Here are the 2010 predictions.

1. The collapse of the dollar and the pound – with the pound achieving a value of 0.9 Euros and the dollar achieving parity with the pound.

2. An accelerated move away from the concept of Anthropogenic (Man made) Global Warming.

3. The United Kingdom being down-graded by the rating agencies – based on its inability to service its current debts.

4. Bankers, Financiers and financial journalists will finally run out of metaphors to describe the apalling state of the British economy.

5. Conservatives will win the  General Election but without an overall majority.

6. Stock Market crash  .

7. 10% more British retailers to go out of business.

8. Arsenal to win the Premiership.

9. The beginnings of civil unrest in the United Kingdom. 

10. AFNAJ ( Artist formerly known as Jordan) hospitalised – inevitable progression. Woo Woo land beckons.

11. Another scandal involving Jeffrey Archer – it’s about time and will include at least one of his editors or maybe Jeffrey’s well-travelled trouser department or maybe the Kurds’ missing millions. We’ll see what we can do.

12. A well-known rock star will succumb to “prescription drugs”. (That’s an easy one because it is an annual event.)

13. The Queen will visit China. It’s about time and someone has to hold the begging bowl.

14. United Kingdom unemployment will be over 3 million.

15. At least one large bank will move its operations offshore.

16. The Americans will threaten to invade Iran. The Russians and Chinese will tell them to “butt-out”.

17. The cost of an  iPhone will be halved because of competition from Google and Android.

18. iSlate will be the “must have” 2010 Christmas present. (Apple has just bought islate.com)

19. The Miliband brothers will be tasked with rebuilding the Labour Party.

20. Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah will write a book and become a television chat-show host.

21. Someone from Goldman Sachs will tell the world how Executive Order 12631 has been abused both to their and the US Government’s benefit.

Experts? You’re f*****g joking!

 

There is a class of individual in politics, industry  and commerce to whom people turn when they do not have the answers and that is the ubiquitous “expert”.

The experts  are the “shamen” of our economy and judging by past results – just as successful.

The experts are the ones who either predict global warming or perhaps another ice-age. They predict economic growth and economic catastrophe – sometimes simultaneously. The recent Copenhagen Conference of Global Warming had more experts per square metre than have been gathered for years and what a blinding success that was!

In spite of their seemingly random predictions, experts do all have one thing in common – they can be a severe drain on a business or even an entire economy. They wait for you to cross their palms with (lots of) silver and then they tell you things. There are analysts, forecasters and pundits of all flavours. They don’t make anything, they don’t start anything, they don’t create. They are an expense and they cost an economy billions. The frightening thing is that the cult of the expert is growing.

How many experts predicted last year’s banking crisis? Although, like bad astrologers, some are now claiming (in retrospect) that they did know that the world’s banking system was heading for meltdown.

So, before you ever hire an expert, do remember that their opinions are mostly subjectively random and the next time that you hear an investment expert or economist speaking, listen carefully to his language. Like any good soothsayer, he will talk in riddles, mysteries, parables and metaphors.

For instance, the economy will not “grow by 50% in the next two years.”  It is far more likely that the economy will be like “An airliner gathering speed along the runway, trying to take off against the bitter winds of global recession with all of us strapped in as reluctant but committed passengers”. 

Weather metaphors as well as natural disaster analogies are favourites to entertain and confuse us.

The Daily telegraph wrote: “The financial tsunami that has engulfed Wall Street since the weekend hit these shores yesterday”

The Guardian explains last year’s rush to dump shares: “It’s like having a fire in a cinema. Everybody is rushing to the door. You are rushing to the door because everyone is rushing to the door. Clearly, as a collective action, it is a disaster.” 

The Daily Mail: “This is about being in a bigger house in the middle of a financial hurricane. In the last fortnight we have seen financial titans falling like skittles.” 

Henry  Paulson was accused of “activating a financial Doomsday machine” and of turning “his guns on his own side”

A banker told The Times “The world is on the brink. The market is puking all over us”

All very entertaining you might think – and obviously harmless. However, the sad fact is that their chances of accuracy and consistency are very low.  Below are a few extracts from the media – gathered over six months. The significant words are highlighted in blue – they are not inventions but are direct quotes:

 

“According to official figures, UK retail sales fell in November.The figures came as a surprise to many economists, who expected consumer spending to fuel economic recovery.”

“According to official figures, UK public sector net borrowing hit a record high of £20.3 billion in November. The figure was the highest for any month since records began but was less than economists had expected.”

“Unemployment will peak at 2.8 million – lower than expected by economists.”

“The Treasury expects economic expansion of 1.25% in the fiscal year 2010, rising to 3.5% in each of the following two years.”

“US producer prices rose more than expected in November.”

“In the United Kingdom, more children than expected have had swine flu’ “

“UK borrowing ballooned by a higher than expected £11.4 billion in October”.

“The risk of blood clots after surgery is higher than expected.”

“Shares in Yell are heading in the right direction after the directories group announced a £660m cash call – bigger than expected.”

“British consumer price inflation slowed much less than expected”.

“N2O emissions from tundra peatlands higher than expected.”

“Householders will pay higher than expected water bills in the coming years.”

“Australia’s economy grew a lower-than-expected 0.2 percent in the third quarter, official data showed.”

“The number of applications by care providers to detain people who lack capacity is one-third the level expected.”

“Global demand for crude oil in 2009 will narrow by less than previously expected.”

“In the United Kingdom, 20,000 students have committed to taking the new diplomas courses which started in September.That is at least 20,00 fewer than expected.”

“The Government’s stamp-duty holiday on properties sold for less than £175000 has not helped nearly as many homeowners as expected.”

“The finished human genome contains even fewer genes than expected.”

“US private sector sheds more jobs than expected.”

“Global warming may kill fewer species than expected.”

 

There can only be TWO conclusions – experts not-only “expect” but they also appear to be constantly surprised.

Vomito ergo sum

puke.jpg 

If you feel something hairy in your mouth, followed by your underpants – swallow it all quickly.”

This is not the first time that I have written about the rather eccentric attitude that the Brits have towards alcohol. The capacity for alcohol, as in “He can really take it” or  “She’s got hollow legs” is widely misunderstood.

If you are a very healthy and fit person, your capacity for alcohol is quite low and the effects multiply. If  however, you are a regular piss-artist  and your insides and brain are totally screwed-up because of too much booze, your tolerance to alcohol is quite good. Nothing to boast about.

Government figures have been released showing that last year more than 800,000 people  were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related injuries and disease. No doubt, the Government will publish some irrelevant  edict in the vain hope of putting the brakes on our drinking but Spygun feels that they should adopt a more innovative approach.

The “So what?” approach. 

Homo Sapiens is a species with a death-wish and damaging our insides using the various forms of ethanol that we consume, is just another manifestation of our overwhelming need to kill ourselves. Leave us alone.

There is one other thing that the Government would be wise to remember. Anyone who has been pissing it up for say 20 years and is now the proud owner of  a liver which has the consistency of a house brick,  has paid for his hospital treatment through the duty that the Exchequer has robbed him of every time he walked up to the bar and said “Same again”.

The same applies to the lonely fat bird sitting on her sofa with a luke-warm “meal-for-one”, corkscrew,  bottle of Chardonnay and another one in the fridge. Leave her alone. At least she’ll be too pissed to remember where she left that box of Milk Tray.

We also hear that there are now more women drunks than 20 years ago. So what? Children are starting to drink alcohol soon after they have been potty trained. So what? Leave them alone.

“Don’t give children under 15 any alcohol” is the latest stupid government pronouncement.

Have a look at www.youtube.com/watch?v=INl10X5ZL9s .  Very high VOM rating there as well. So what?

Click here.   Makes you proud, doesn’t it.

Spygun is not a piss artist but will defend to the death everyone’s right to kill themselves in any way they wish.

Anyway, where would stray dogs be without wino-vomit.

Bit of a Khan

Last night in Newcastle,  Amir Khan took just 76 seconds to demolish No 1 contender Dmitriy Salita. Although Khan was very impressive, what seems to have been bothering him lately is the apparent British lack of recognition of  his greatness as a sportsman.

 

He claimed that racism has prevented him from becoming a “superstar” in Britain. “If I were a white English fighter maybe I’d have been a superstar.”  

As a “personality” he has very little going for him.

Frank Bruno, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn , Lennox Lewis and David Haye are all examples of great British Champions who are perhaps even further along the Dulux colour chart than the deluded Khan.

The difference was (and still is) that they all had charisma. There are many great athletes who are not heroes because they lack charisma. They are good at what they do but they never fully engage with the paying public.

Whenever you hear Khan speak, the overwhelming impression is of an inarticulate moron who speaks with the ugliest of all accents – a mixture of Bolton, Urdu and Punjabi, plus he looks like a spud with a bad haircut.

Joe Bugner was another OK boxer who was white but nevertheless, never became a British hero. It wasn’t because he’d defeated Henry Cooper but because he sounded odd – a mixture of bad English and Hungarian and he had a bad attitude.  Those who saw “I’m a Celebrity” this year would have noticed that Bugner is still a thoroughly repugnant charisma-free zone, still speaking with those weirdly elongated Eastern European vowels which have now been eroded by a touch of a newly-acquired Australian drawl.  It’s nothing to do with the colour of his skin. We just have never liked him.

Khan should work hard to tart-up his image, employ a speech coach (before he become too punch-drunk), stop driving into pedestrians or cyclists in his flash motors and not drive down the M62 at double the speed limit.

Oh yes,  stop wingeing and playing the race card.

Warning No.2

PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING !

You should be alert during the next few days. Do not open any message
with an attachment entitled ‘POSTCARD FROM HALLMARK’ , regardless of who sent it to you. It is a virus which opens A POSTCARD IMAGE, which  ‘burns’the whole hard disc C of your computer.

This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address
inhis/her contact list. This is the reason why you need to send this
e-mailto all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times
thanto receive the virus and open it.

If you receive a mail called’ POSTCARD,’ even though sent to you by a
friend, do not open it! Shut down your computer immediately. This is
the worst virus announced by CNN.

It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus
ever.This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair
yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of
the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.

WARNING

 

 

 

Just is case you haven’t heard. Be careful when shopping on line. So far, over 1200 fake sites have been closed-down. Most of them look English but are based in Asia. They sell decent-looking goods very cheaply. If you order something, you will either receive nothing or counterfeit and your Credit Card may be ripped off.  Favourites are anything with a designer label or electrical and electronic goods.

Remember, if it looks too good to be true – it is.

Office Christmas Party – Survival tips.

” Sex is like snow. You never know how many inches you’re going to get or how long it will last.”

More promising careers have been ruined during the Office Christmas Party than at any other time.

If your company provides a free bar then be doubly careful. Drink as little as possible.

Leave getting plastered at the office bash to the spotty office junior. He is the one who drinks to get pissed as quickly as possible and is after a good time.

You are not there to have a good time. You can have a good time when you have climbed the corporate ladder. But if you have been careless and had a skinful, that 17 year snake-hipped trainee accountant can look doubly devastating. Very tempting! If he has downed several vodkas and his inhibitions have gone AWOL and he comes up to you and says ” Come on – dance with me” dance with him – but keep your distance. Do not touch. No crotch-grinding or butt-holding. You may not think it, but you are being watched.

The most common mistake is the prat or pratess who has far too much to drink and then bumps into the boss who is at the bar ordering another bitter lemon. The scenario plays itself out something like this: ” Hey boss, how ya doin’ ?”

Boss looks round to be confronted by a shiny grinning red face atop a cheap suit who then shouts across the bar ” Another double, Carlos and ‘ave one yourself. So George – ‘avin’ a good time?” Boss looks uncomfortable because he has been in this situation every year for the last ten years and only his wife calls him George.

Idiot grabs the half-pint of G&T and looks at George’s bitter lemon. “Can’t take it eh George? What you reckon then George. Great bunch eh George. You know you’ve got a good team there George. Brilliant they are! What’s your Missus reckon to you coming to these do’s with all this young talent then? Eh George?”

George smiles meekly as Idiot puts his arm around George and breathes sick-smelling breath into his face. George smiles because he knows exactly what Idiot is going to say next. “We’re like a faaamily here ain’t we George? Eh George? Faaaaaaaaamly – that’s what we are, George.”

George nods and he also knows the next line: ” Don’t get me wrong George because you know what you’re doing. But I’ve got a few ideas that I’d like to tell you about………..”

And so it goes on.

Finally George escapes and Idiot says to his mates from the Post Room ” That George – he’s a great bloke. Had a really good chat with ‘im. He liked my ideas. One of the lads ‘e is! Good bloke!”

Inhibitions are GOOD things to have – especially at the office party. Drink enough so as not to appear too stiff but be careful.

Business talk of any description is not for the Office Party. Small talk is.

Small talk is talking about nothing through a process of interruption and association of ideas. You need to be a master of small-talk. There is no short-cut to learning small-talk and it comes only with practice.

Talking social bollocks is a deceptively difficult art.

During the office party, someone will ask your boss to dance – this is normally taken as a cue that the boss is “approachable” – “one of us”. When your boss dances , look away. Certainly do not laugh – find someone to talk to – even an Accountant. By this stage of the party even the Accountants will have loosened the top button of their cardigans. As you engage the Accountant in a fascinating conversation on P/E ratios and Return-on-Capital-Employed, look out of the corner of your eye and you will see an uncoordinated object flailing about on the dance floor. It will be your boss.

There will be those who will be taking the mickey out of the boss’s self-conscious contortions. Avert your gaze , concentrate on the Accountant and practice yawning with your mouth shut. If you do happen to catch your boss’s eye, smile, give a thumbs-up and then look away immediately.

If you do happen to meet the boss at the bar, make a point of saying “Saw you bopping away there earlier. Still fit then?”

“Been doing this for years!”

” I could see that! Wow!” you reply as you slither away.

Other simple-to-follow rules such as do not vomit or lose consciousness are self-evident but it is always surprising the number of people who seem hell-bent on screwing their careers up by spilling their alcohol after they have drunk it and then going to sleep.

Incidentally, you will be constantly surprised by the number of beautiful young things whose boyfriends are garage mechanics called Gary or Dave. They always have dirty fingernails and an earring. They tend to have the brain (and the conversation) of an Isopod.

” So you’re Gary? Mandy’s told me all about you”. Mandy giggles into her Bailey’s.

” Pleased to meet you, Gary. Bye.” – End of conversation. Easy.

If you do get stuck with talking to Gary, he will probably ask you “what motor” you drive. You tell him ” Just an M5 BMW” . Gary will then tell you that he once serviced one and that he drives a white psycho-nutter bastard Fiesta 1.2 Megaspeed with a million watt quad channel CD stereo which once made his ears bleed at the traffic lights opposite Waitrose. Just smile politely and leave. Do not be tempted to out-talk him. He is too stupid.

There may come a time during the evening when your boss stands up to tell a “story” or even tell you a “joke”. Only one simple rule to follow here – laugh. Throw you head back and LAUGH! Remember your boss is the wittiest person on the planet. Never ever attempt to out-joke the boss. If you do, the boss will just smile politely and make a mental note. And if he tells a naughty joke, do not tell one back. You do not know any dirty jokes until you make it to the Boardroom.

Many potential executives arrive at the office party in outfits which are – how can one put it? – embarrassing. Make sure that whatever you wear to work-related social events is in keeping with your image. You have nothing to prove to the youngsters in the office. There is nothing more excruciating than a thirty or forty-something trying to look like a seventeen-year-old raver.

Also remember that you may think that you are looking cool on the dance floor “doing your own thing”. In fact, if you are over 25, it is impossible to look good on the dance floor. You are still doing the one step that you learned twenty years ago – it is only the ingestion of alcohol that has distorted your senses enough to lead you to believe that you are dancing. You are not dancing – you are flailing your arms about, clicking your fingers and stepping from side to side. That is not dancing – it is being an arse. Keep it to a minimum. In the three minutes that it takes for Jeff Beck to bang through Hi Ho Silver Lining, you can move from thrusting young executive to sad loser.

One trick is to move as little as possible when dancing on your own. Keep you feet still and just concentrate on the beat – that way you limit the prat-factor.

If your waist-size is 30+ DO NOT kid yourself that you can ever look cool on the dancefloor. Not possible.

Many years ago, a small group of us decided to play a joke on the Finance Director – well he WAS an ACCOUNTANT and therefore fair game! We persuaded a lively little eighteen year old to pretend that she fancied him and that she should try to kiss him. Even though he was the most revolting specimen of humanity imaginable, he believed that this girl was interested in him. His moose-like ego was in sixth-gear turbocharged overdrive. He was happening!

The girl was primed to go off at a certain time. A slow number was playing and the Finance Director’s hormones must have been colliding at warp-factor 10 and the front of his trousers was giving a passable impression of a ridge-tent. The eighteen-year-old was whispering something into his scaly ear. We watched as, droolingly, he whispered something back.

Suddenly the atmosphere was smashed by the girl shouting ” YOU WHAT? That’s DISGUSTING! What WOULD your wife say!” She pulled away from him, shouted “GET LOST! PERVERT!” and clomped off across the dance floor towards our table. How we laughed! Mind you, from the following day, my expenses always seemed to take that little bit longer to be paid. Coincidence I suppose.

Lesson: Beware of sweet young things declaring undying love. At best it’s temporary and at worst it’s a set-up.

Even socially, you have to remain one step ahead of the opposition.

There may be occasions when someone that you work closely with will wish to take advantage of a social occasion to declare their love for you. You must treat all of these approaches with great sensitivity. It will have taken a great deal of courage for an individual to expose their emotions to you in such a way – pissed or not. They will be feeling very vulnerable. Deal with the matter immediately. Do not make the mistake of saying – ” Let’s talk about it on Monday – when were both sober.” in the hope that it will be forgotten. It will not be forgotten and apart from having given hope to someone, you will find it very difficult to deal with the matter when you are both sober and in the office. If the answer is YES I AM INTERESTED then say so and likewise if the answer is NO. Incidentally, the correct answer is the latter.

There are other pitfalls which can occur at the Office Party but if you remember that all-important rule that there is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation or unremarked action, then you will always make the right decision.