Friday, February 28, 2014


Well, here we are with the second of our 'Monthly Movies'. Sadly, it isn't especially good. I thought that I'd shot lots of great footage of the aftermath of all the recent rain, including scenes of flooded streets here in Crapchester, overflowing ditches in the countryside and the like. Sadly, when I reviewed it today, most of it was, for various reasons, completely unusable. I've cobbled together as much of the salvageable stuff as I could into a minute and a half of movie

What remains are scenes of a road blocked by floods, with part of its surface washed away, (incredibly, despite the 'Road Closed' signs, people were still trying to drive through the damaged/flooded section), some woodland which has been transformed into a fair facsimile of the Louisiana Bayou and, finally, some drainage ditches so badly flooded they have effectively turned into streams. Sorry about the disappointingly poor quality of this entry. There just wasn't time to remount any shooting. Hopefully, next month's movie will be better!

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Obsessive Behaviour

So, this week has consisted of nothing but disruptions.  First there were power outages, (fingers crossed, we're so far on a hat-trick of outage free days), then one of my web stats services went down for the better part of a day, now the other service I use, (it's always useful to use two to act as a check on accuracy), is pretending to be suffering from a denial of service attack, so I only have intermittent access to its stats.  All of which makes me feel as if I'm flying blind with regard to The Sleaze.  This sort of thing is especially frustrating when there's a new story up on the site, as it makes it difficult to gauge its initial popularity.  Of course, what really irritates me is that all of these things, to one degree or another, disrupt my normal routines.  And I hate my routines being upset.  I'm afraid that I'm very much a creature of habit - there are certain things I like to do at certain times.  They are almost like rituals - if I don't perform them, then everything feels out of joint, further disruption is bound to occur. 

All of which reveals an alarming degree of obsessive behaviour on my part.  But it is just the tip of the iceberg: I have to park my car overnight in the same space, pointing nose in - if somebody else has parked there, I obsessively spend all evening going out at regular intervals to check whether they've moved.  If they have, I move my car into the space.  Bizarre, I know, but I get very agitated if I'm prevented from parking there.  Still, I have at least broken some of these rituals - most of my under wear is no longer on a strict schedule, with every item having to be worn as part of a specific sequence, with like-for-like replacements for items that wore out.  It's only my t-shirts which are on this schedule now - the socks and boxer shorts are on much looser schedules, with two alternating sets of each, which can be worn in no particular order.  That's surely a positive sign.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Lost World

There have been many adaptations of Conan Doyle's The Lost World.  However, most people are only aware of two of them: the 1925 silent move, which featured Willis O'Brien's stop motion dinosaurs, and Irwin Allen's 1960 colour version, which, sadly, features photographically enlarged lizards masquerading, very unconvincingly, as dinosaurs.  Indeed, even you haven't seen the 1960 film - which still turns up quite frequently on TV - you might  well have seen the dinosaur sequences, which have been used as stock footage in many subsequent films and TV series.  Apart from these two films, some people might recall the two part BBC adaptation of 2001 or the 1998 Canadian TV series.  But there have been several lesser known versions, including a 1992 film which relocates the action to Africa - it also spawned a sequel the same year titled Return to the Lost World - and the subject of today's random movie trailer, this 1998 version, which was presumably designed to cash in on the 1997 release of the Jurassic Park sequel which had stolen Conan Doyle's title.

Like the 1992 films and the Canadian TV series, I've never actually seen this version.  Few people have, it seems.  Updating and relocating the action to 1930s Mongolia, it's only 'name' actor is Patrick Bergin, playing the perpetually mis-cast role of Professor Challenger.  Judging by the synopsis on Wickipedia, like most other versions, it takes considerable liberties with the source material, (most notably the introduction of a female character, Conan Doyle never seemed big on female protagonists).  Of course, any adaptation of the story ultimately stands or falls by its dinosaurs.  On the basis of what we see in the trailer, the dinosaurs here a combination of life size puppets for close ups and fairly crude CGI for the rest.  An improvement on those bloody lizards from the 1960 version, but still not up to the standard of special effects expected by post-Jurassic Park audiences.

Being an aficionado of the 'lost world' genre of film, particularly those involving dinosaurs, I've seen quite a few and, going by the trailer alone, it seems that this film suffers from the same problem as most others of its ilk.  Namely that it seems to treat its subject matter as primarily an adventure story, with the dinosaurs as window dressing, an afterthought almost.  The 1960 Lost World is typical in this respect, with the dinosaurs merely a plot device to get the protagonists to the South American plateau and pretty much simply a background peril thereafter.  Indeed, you can't help but feel that they might as well be hostile natives, stampeding elephants or an avalanche in terms of their role in putting the main characters at risk.  The perfunctory nature of the dinosaurs in the 1960 version (lizards with stuck on frills and horns) just makes this all the more obvious.  But I've strayed from the subject of the post - the 1998 Lost World.  What more can I say with only this trailer to go on?  Well, it at least has better dinosaurs and looks better shot than the 1960 version.  If only it was as easy to see as that film, though....


Monday, February 24, 2014

Black Out

Living in Crapchester is beginning to get to be like living in a Third World country.  Or one of those ex-Soviet block countries.  Now, those of you who know the fair city, sorry, urban conurbation, that is Crapchester, will probably be saying 'What's new about that?'  However, whilst this is a much maligned place - it is nowhere near as bad as most people (who have never been here) think it is - I have to say that having now suffered power outages for two consecutive days, I'm beginning to feel as if I'm living in South Sudan.  Having suddenly found myself without electricity yesterday lunchtime, as I was about to shave (with my electric razor) before I went out, resulting in me arriving at my mother's house heavily bearded, I really wasn't expecting to arrive home from work today to find myself back in the same situation.  The power was this time restored within an hour and a half of my calling the electricity suppliers, (I don't know how long it was out yesterday, it was back on when I got back home in the evening), so it wasn't as bad as the twenty hour outage we suffered in this little part of Crapchester a couple of years ago.  Nevertheless, this sort of thing shouldn't be happening with such monotonous regularity in the middle of a major population area.

Anyway, several questions arise from these latest outages.  Most significantly - why am I, inevitably, the first and usually only person to call them in?  My neighbours apparently seem happy to sit in darkness just hoping the power might come back on - it never seems to occur to them to phone up the electricity company.  After all, to be fair, the electricity suppliers aren't going to know there is an outage unless someone tells them.  I'm guessing, that like many people these days, my neighbours just assume somebody else is going to make that call so they needn't put themselves out.  The other big question is why these outages keep occurring - they clearly aren't directly linked to meteorological conditions. Despite one of the operators I spoke to at the electricity company valiantly attempting to link the latest outages to flooding, as I pointed out to him, the sub-station in question is never affected by flooding - this part of Crapchester is too high up to flood.  I gather that the last two outages have been resolved by replacing blown fuses at the sub station.  But this is only treating the symptoms - it begs the question of why the fuses keep blowing.  Clearly, there needs to be a more thorough investigation (there supposedly was after the twenty hour outage, with much excavating going on around the sub station, but this obviously resolved nothing), but that would cost money, which the privatised electricity companies seem reluctant to spend.  So I'm bracing myself for further outages.   


Friday, February 21, 2014

Real or Satire

God help us all - there is now a site people can go to which will check whether a story they've come across online is real or satire.  Whatever happened to the idea of simply engaging you critical faculties?  It should be obvious whether a story is true or not.  Indeed, the simplest way to tell is by looking at the site you found it on - if it isn't a reputable news source like the BBC, CNN or a serious newspaper, then it is probably bollocks.  The subject matter is probably a big clue, as well: anything about David Cameron appearing in porn films, the Queen being a nymphomaniac or Prince Charles being a serial killer are most probably satire.

I became aware of this site as a result of seeing it as a referrer in my server logs.  Incredibly, it has a database of sites it thinks are satire sites, including The Sleaze.  It ascertains their satirical status by such methods as reading their slogans, straplines and sub-titles.  In addition to this extensive examination of mastheads, it also checks their 'About' pages for clues!  Surely just a quick look at the stories these sites carry is the biggest clue as to their status?  I really do find it most depressing that there are people out there incapable of doing these things for themselves, is this what we've come to?  A world where having the words 'Political satire, news parody and surreal humour' prominently displayed at the top of each page, next to the site name, plus the words 'UK satire and humour' as part of the article's browser display title, isn't sufficient warning to people that what they are reading is a pack of lies.  I despair.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Floods of Refugees

OK, I'm not finished with these floods yet - there's still mileage in them.  The thing that's been perplexing me of late is the question of those people who have been displaced from their homes by the flooding - aren't they just refugees and/or asylum seekers?  As such, shouldn't the government be treating them the same way as they do other refugees?  Because, right now, I'm worried about the impact they could have on our communities.  I mean, it's all very well people from Somerset, Berkshire and Surrey getting in their boats and sailing off on the flood waters in search of new accommodation, but what if they come here to Crapchester?  We've got problems of our own, including flooding - how are we going to accommodate these refugees?  Our social services and hospitals are already full and, as for accommodation, we've already got long housing lists of local people.  Why should these outsiders jump the queue just because their houses have gotten a bit wet, eh? 

So what's the government going to do about these refugees, then?  Personally, I think they should allow us to set up frontier posts at the county boundaries and turn them back.  I know it sounds inhumane, but I'm sorry, Shiteshire is full and our services and infrastructure just can't take any more people.  They have to go back to where they came from.  After all, it isn't as if they face any real danger back in their own homes - they won't be persecuted or anything - just some damp.  Of course, some will undoubtedly sneak through, in which case we need to get the police to round them up and hold them in some kind of detention centre until they can be repatriated to Somerset, Berkshire or Surrey.  It isn't as if they don't come from wealthy counties - why should we subsidise them with our council taxes when they could be back in their own counties, where they belong?  I'm just surprised that it has taken this long for anyone to raise this issue - UKIP have really dropped the ball on this one, haven't they?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blue Waters

Maybe I'm just being cynical, but I couldn't help but notice that the government didn't bother taking this flooding business seriously until potentially large numbers of Tory voters found their homes at risk.  Sure, the Tory-voting Somerset Levels were flooded for some time before they acted, but, in reality, it was a relatively small number of homes at risk there.  The turning pint undoubtedly came when all those Tories in the Thames Valley suddenly felt the water lapping around their doorsteps.  I can guarantee that if it had been housing estates full of predominantly working class people in social housing being flooded, Cameron and co would have done bugger all and stayed at home in their mansions.  Indeed, I know this to be the case.   Here in Crapchester, which isn't that far from the Thames Valley, we've suffered flooding, with people forced to abandon their homes.  Rather than being a river bursting its banks, the source of this flooding was badly backed up drains, unable to cope with the huge quantities of rainwater falling in such a short period.  And, rather than being nice middle class people in twee riverside homes, the victims here were the denizens of a somewhat run-down housing estate.  Remarkably, neither Cameron or royal princes have turned up to help and commiserate.  Not even Crapchester's Tory MP could be bothered to put on their wellingtons and put in an appearance.

Still, we're probably just imagining this bad weather.  At least, I'm sure that's what bonkers Education Secretary Michael Gove thinks - I'm waiting for him to come out and claim that it is all down to left-wing academics and those pinkos at the BBC distorting the actual situation, so as to denigrate Britain.  In reality, thanks to the government's prompt actions, decisiveness and forward planning, the floods were beaten back in another glorious triumph for Britain.  In fact, I'm waiting for him to claim that the floods are actually down to time travelling left wing academics who, having seen the triumphant victory against the floods and the adulation it brought the Tories, have came back in time to sabotage the government's anti-flood efforts and retrospectively turn victory into defeat.  It's obvious really, when you think about it.  Well, to Gove it's obvious - history has been rewritten by evil left wing historians from the future, determined to twist it to their prejudices.  Which begs the question, of course, as to why they haven't changed the past to eliminate Gove himself.  Or maybe he's part of the plan - they've engineered the rise of this shitty government and its lunatic ministers like Gove as a warning to future generations.  Which would explain a lot - I  mean, how else could a group of individuals as arrogant, incompetent and venal as this government rise to power otherwise?

Labels: ,

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Fitting Tribute

The other night I found myself watching the beginning of a film being shown by Channel Four as a 'tribute' to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I say 'tribute', but I have a sneaking suspicion that Before The Devil Knows You're Dead was scheduled long before the actor's untimely demise.  As I watched the film's opening scenes I couldn't help but wonder if this really was a fitting tribute to Hoffman.  Don't misunderstand me - I'm not impugning the quality of the film itself.  After all, it was directed by the great Sidney Lumet (his last film), of whom I'm a great fan, so it goes without saying that it was an intelligent and well made film.  It's just that as I watched Hoffman's character huffing and puffing as he sweatily made love to his screen wife, Marisa Tomei, doggy-style, I couldn't help but ask myself whether this was the way anyone would want to be remembered in a 'tribute'.   Not that it was bad acting, I can testify from personal experience that this kind of activity can leave middle-aged men of a certain girth wheezing wrecks, fearing they are about to suffer a coronary.  It's just that I'm not sure it was an appropriate tribute to the man. 

Anyway, as I watched this scene, my mind couldn't help but wander, (the further from his desperate humping the better).  What if his character was to suffer a fatal heart attack, mid-stroke, I thought.  Taking her from behind, as he was, his prone body would inevitably collapse forward, over his wife, leaving her trapped under his, not inconsiderable, bulk.  How would she get out of that, I wondered.  After all, it would be unlikely, lying flat on her front, the breath knocked out of her, the poor woman would be able to move his dead weight.  If a bedside phone or mobile wasn't within reach, there would be no way of calling for help.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that there was a small-scale art house movie in this situation.  The sort of thing which wins prizes at Cannes: ninety minutes of a woman struggling to escape from beneath the bulk of her dead lover.  We could follow her attempts to physically move, then to get help by shouting, tapping messages in morse code on the wall.  Maybe there could be a few flashbacks exploring her relationship with the deceased to open things out a bit, maybe also some interior monologues for her.  Whichever way you look at it: a winner,  Now, if only Hoffman had made that film, then it would have been a more fitting tribute to him!

Labels: ,

Friday, February 14, 2014

On The House

Storms, moral panics over internet drinking games and the Winter Olympics have pushed some significant stories off of the news agenda.  Amongst these is the matter of all those mansions in London - bought back in nineties and noughties by multi-millionaires, many of them foreign - which have stood empty for years, with some now slipping into states of extreme disrepair.  The last time I saw anything on this was on a TV news programme, where some apologist for the wealthy, was piously telling us that the fact that there properties were standing empty made no difference whatsoever to the housing situation for poorer people, characterised by insufficient numbers of affordable properties and social housing.  What a cock.  Those empty properties are symbolic of what is wrong, not just with this country, but the entire global economy.  A small elite have accumulated so much of the world's wealth that they can simply buy anything, just because they can, regardless of whether they ever actually utilise these possessions or not. 

If they limited their acquisitions to just expensive cars, or luxury yachts, say, then it wouldn't be so bad.  The problem comes when they acquire resources like property, and deny the wider community its benefits.  Really, if they let those mansions out, even to other rich bastards, then it wouldn't be so bad, at least they would be utilised.  But, getting back to my rambling point, in their empty state, they are symbolic of the increasing privatisation of resources, leaving our use of them at the whim of wealthy absentee owners.  I know it is terribly unfashionable to champion the concept of public ownership, (and damn near illegal to suggest that restrictions be put on the activities of private capital), but really, do we want to live in a world where it is OK for the super-rich 1% to purchase large swathes of property and then just abandon it?  Not that I'm advocating the nationalisation of empty mansions - but local councils should surely be able to slap compulsory purchase orders on them, pay the owners a pittance, then pull the old piles down and put up social housing in their voluminous grounds. It'll never happen, I know, but it's a nice thought. 

Anyway, I'd better hurry up and post this, as the wind is battering the house, (for those who care, the roof was repaired yesterday), and the lights are flickering...

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dangerous Drinking?

Another day, another moral panic.  This time the root cause of the media's hand-wringing is the supposed social media game 'Neknomination', which is currently being blamed for every drink-related death in the UK.  It's amazing that something the overwhelming majority of us hadn't even heard of a scant week ago is now being hyped as the greatest threat to Western civilisation since Genghis Khan's Mongol hordes swept across Asia Minor.  Because, apparently, there aren't idiots out there who drink dangerous amounts of alcohol if it isn't part of some 'game'.  Believe me, people, especially young people, have been drinking like idiots since alcohol was invented.  Usually to impress their friends, potential girl friends or even just some random onlookers.  The only thing that has changed is that they don't have to do it in some grotty town centre pub, (or under a motorway flyover if they are underage), to an audience of fellow idiots.  No, now they can do it from the comfort of their own living room whilst their mates (and some random onlookers) watch via their webcam.

But that's not the way the media wants you to perceive things.  If we're to believe them, then none of the 'victims' of this 'game' would ever have tried to down a pint of vodka in one, (with fatal consequences), if it wasn't for the existence of Facebook.  Actually, I'm pretty sure they would have.  The fact is that it is drinking like an idiot and not respecting alcohol which kills people, not online drinking 'games'.  Damn it, when I was a student, I remember drinking some pretty stupid amounts of beer and some pretty ill advised alcoholic combinations - and the internet hadn't been invented then, let alone social media.   But the media loves a good moral panic, where they can blame something they don't understand or approve of for all kinds of moral degradation. Believe me, the fact that the press have latched onto this story at the same time as there is yet more discussion about setting minimum prices per unit for supermarket alcohol is no coincidence.  Just as it is no coincidence that only the other day we had a supposedly independent report trumpeting about how awful it is that, thanks to the web, we're all now only a couple of clicks away from hardcore pornography and that - surprise, surprise - people access it on their smartphones and tablets, oh, and children have smartphones and tablets, at the same time that the government is still trying to justify its censorship of the web by stealth through the alleged threat posed to children by internet porn.   That's enough ranting for now - someone's just challenged me to drink a pint of crème de menthe, so I've got to go... 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

That Badgered Feeling

Is the flooding of the Somerset Levels the consequence of a botched attempt by the Department of the Environment to cull badgers in the West Country?  Despite denials by the government, rumours persist that, having been defeated by the badgers during an earlier cull attempt last year - according to the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, the badgers 'moved the goal posts', frustrating attempts to shoot them - it was decided to instead drown them en masse, by flooding their habitats in the region.  "It's all got out of bloody hand!" seventy three year old Somerset farmer Archie Giblets told a local newspaper.  "They've pumped so much water into the area that we're the ones being flushed out, whilst those furry black and white bastards have all escaped to a safe haven!"  Indeed, several witnesses are claiming to have seen local badgers commandeering boats, dinghies and canoes, often by force, in order to make their escape.  "My mate Barty Bellowes swears he saw this gang of badgers ambush a boat carrying a family of five to safety as it passed some trees," claims Giblets.  "The bastards leaped out of the trees and swarmed all over the boat like bloody pirates!  They were biting and clawing the occupants until they were forced to abandon their boat and swim for it! Last he saw of the boat, it were heading south east with a badger at the tiller and at least fifteen more as passengers!" 

Many believe that the badgers are heading for the new Sussex badger sanctuary recently set up by former Queen guitarist Brian May.  "The bastards know they'll be safe there, while the rest of us drown," grumbles Giblets.  "It's bloody typical - townies bastards like that Queen bloke will spend millions on badger sanctuaries, but there's not a bloody penny to spare for flood defences to save our homes!"  The Environment Department has hit back at the allegations that the flooding was a deliberate anti-badger tactic by claiming that, on the contrary, the flooding was actually caused by the badgers, as part of their retaliation for last year's attempted cull.  "They haven't just moved the goal posts this time, they've water-logged the entire pitch," said a spokesperson.   "It turns out they spent the entire time between the suspension of the cull and Christmas filling drains and ditches across Somerset with earth from their setts, not to mention dumping tons of dirt into the rivers so as to silt them up!"  According to the spokesperson, the flooding isn't the only retaliatory action carried out by the badgers.  "We're pretty sure that they were behind the gassing in their homes of the families of several of the pest control agents involved in the culls," he claimed. "Then there's the recent attempt at political assassination which has left Owen Paterson in hospital with a detached retina after a crazed badger ambushed him as he inspected flood defences in Chertsey earlier this month!"   

Labels: ,

Monday, February 10, 2014

That Sinking Feeling

With reports claiming that the desperate inhabitants of Cornwall - cut off from the rest of the UK since the severe storms battering Britain destroyed rail links into the county and flooded road links - have been forced to turn to cannibalism in order to survive, Britain's media has been accused of over-dramatizing the current weather crisis.  "Nobody has eaten anyone else," Truro councillor Adrian Pockles claimed in a call to BBC Radio Five Live.  "If you were to believe the press, we've all reverted to a state of savagery here, just because of some gales and torrential rain!  It's all nonsense!"  Despite the councillor's protestations, the press has continued to allege that civilisation has broken down completely in Britain's most westerly county.   "Not only do we stand by our earlier reports, but we've now learned that the natives are engaging in wild pagan rites down there," declares Eddie Rippass, West of England correspondent of popular tabloid the Daily Norks.  "Apparently, they are all running around stark naked down there in the pouring rain, their bodies smeared with woad, worshipping idols of King Neptune in the belief that these storms are the result of mankind having angered this mythical sea god!  It seems that they are preparing a mass human sacrifice of virgins in order to appease him!  Believe me - this is a foretaste of the chaos which will engulf the entire country if the government doesn't get a grip on these floods!"

Haunted by the prospect of cannibalism in the Home Counties and obscene pagan rites in a flooded Thames Valley, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has moved quickly to try and assuage public concerns that the government has failed to take the situation seriously, apologising for his administration's failures and promising to take decisive action - starting with using his gargantuan arse to breach the break in Dawlish's sea wall in order to allow the mainline from London to reopen.  Pickles has announced further initiatives to alleviate the threat of flooding in Berkshire and Surrey, where hundreds of homes in traditionally Tory-voting areas are currently under threat from rising waters.  "Even as we speak, I've authorised teams of engineers to set up powerful pumps and a new network of drainage channels, designed to divert the encroaching waters from the houses of these hard-working, middle class, people, and divert them to the inadequate drainage systems of inner city housing estates in Reading, Staines and West London," he told a press conference.  "After all, we're all in this weather together and it is only fair that the flooding should be shared by those not living anywhere near a flood plain or river.  This move will also minimise damage and cut insurance claims - the sort of people living on these estates won't have anything like the sort of valuable possessions middle class people have and most of them probably can't afford home insurance.  Besides, they're never likely to vote for us, anyway, so if a few of them drown or die of water-borne diseases, all the better."  

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 07, 2014

Double Standards

It's amazing what a difference a year or so can make.  At the height of the Jimmy Savile furore the question being asked was why the police, BBC and anyone else in a position of responsibility didn't take seriously and act upon the allegations made against the DJ during his lifetime.  There was (and still appears to be) a widespread assumption that all of the claims of sexual abuse made against Savile are true, leading to him being accused of hundreds, if not thousands, of offences.  The BBC, hospital authorities and (to a far lesser extent) the police, continue to be vilified for their failure to stop him.  Fast forward to this week.  Coronation Street actor William Roache is cleared in court of allegations of historic sex offences against young girls.  The testimonies of his accusers have been discredited in court, leaving them branded as, at best, fantasists, at worst, just liars.  The police and Crown Prosecution Service now find themselves vilified by the press and friend of Roache for bringing a case against him on the basis of these testimonies.

Now, I'm not apologist for Jimmy Savile.  God knows, I found him a creepy fucker when he was on TV during my childhood and I was always convinced that he must be up to something unsavoury.  I have no doubt that many of the allegations about his conduct are true.  However, none of that stops me feeling very uneasy about the double standards being exhibited by the press and many commentators with regard to Savile and Roache.  The fact is that many of the allegations against Savile date as far back historically as those against Roache and seem, on the face of it, to have a similar level of 'credibility'.  Yet in one case the police are lambasted for acting on them, in the other they are lambasted for not acting on similar evidence.  The difference, of course, is that William Roache is still very much alive and is, rightly, able to successfully defend himself in a court of law.  Jimmy Savile, on the other hand, was dead as a door nail before the allegations of his sexual misconduct became public, meaning that the press could happily accuse him of every sex crime under the sun with impunity.  Now, I know that might seem a bit hypocritical on my part, bearing in mind that I've banged out enough Savile stories on The Sleaze, but at least I don't present them as anything other than satire.  The media, on the other hand, present as fact what are actually still unproven allegations/  I'm not saying his accusers are liars, but as the Roache case has shown, testimonies based on events which allegedly occurred thirty or forty years ago are, in the absence of any supporting physical evidence or witnesses, are inherently unreliable.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 06, 2014

A Noble Sacrifice

So, 'Call me Dave' Cameron is taking personal charge of the 'War on Weather' and has declared that he will do everything necessary to help those affected.  Whilst I'm sure that what he has in mind, bearing in mind his innate sense of superiority, is standing on the beach at Westward Ho! commanding the waves to go back, I'd like to suggest that human sacrifice might represent a more fruitful approach.  After all, in days of yore, it was believed that the gods could be appeased with such things.  Good harvests, in particular, could apparently be ensured by killing someone.  Indeed, at one time it was thought that, in particularly dire circumstances, it was the King himself who had to give up his life for the good of the community.  It's even been claimed that King William II didn't actually die in a New Forest hunting accident in 1100, but was ritually sacrificed by his nobles for this purpose.  Of course, as time went on, Kings made out sure that, for sacrificial purposes, they were represented by a proxy, who would die in their place, usually after being 'crowned'.

So, can we hope to see Dave offering himself up for sacrifice in an attempt to end the current weather 'crisis'?  I mean, we must surely have offended some deity or other to have incurred this seemingly unending series of severe storms, which are slowly but surely sinking the country?  Obviously, if I was in UKIP, I'd say it was gay marriage causing the problem, but if I was in UKIP I'd also be a moron.  Perhaps Dave should take the weather as a judgement on his government's record: destroying social services, cutting benefits, giving tax breaks to the rich and pissing on the NHS - what god wouldn't be offended by all that?  So, when can we hope to see Dave burned alive in a huge wicker man on the cliffs above Land's End?  After all, he is, as Prime Minister, effectively a proxy for the monarch, (most of whose powers are delegated to parliament, over which he presides), and he's always boasting of how he's distantly related to the Queen, which makes him sort of a real King in the sense of being of royal blood.  Even if torching te smug bastard doesn't stop the wind and rain, it will at least give the poor bastards in the West Country currently without electricity something to warm themselves by.  It would also make me laugh.  The only problem I can see is that the wicker man will probably be too waterlogged to catch fire...


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Class Politics

I see that bonkers education secretary Michael Gove is back to that hoary old favourite of the reactionary right - that state schools need to be more like private schools if they are to improve their standards.  All of which presupposes that private schools are 'better' than state schools in the first place.  I've argued here before that the alleged superiority of the private education sector is a myth, an illusion perpetuated by the privileged elites that attend them and consequently occupy positions of influence in politics, industry, finance and the media.  Central to the myth is that the private school system imbues its pupils with a degree of confidence which allows them to advance themselves and occupy these top positions, beating their more numerous state-educated contemporaries to the top spots time after time.  Except, of course, that their success has less to do with the standard or style of the education they receive, than it does with the fact that they generally have wealthy parents whose contacts can ensure them a leg up in life, in whatever field of employment they choose to enter.  Moreover, having spent several years at school mixing with other privileged and wealthy offspring, they build up their own network of well-placed friends and contacts: the so-called Old Boy's Network.

Then there's the question of whether private schools really do produce better results.  It wouldn't be a surprise if they did.  After all, they have smaller class sizes, far more resources (all paid for by those exorbitant fees) and frequently have better facilities.  Yet, in truth, they don't produce significantly better results.  Despite all the other advantages that money can buy, it can't buy the best teaching talent, it also can't buy intelligence - many private school pupils are, to put it bluntly, thick as shit and academically useless.  In truth, as I've said before, what the private school sector is good at is in teaching its students to have an overwhelming sense of entitlement and instilling in them the idea that they belong to some deserving elite.  They exist to reinforce the status quo and  prevent 'social mobility'.  In reality, they are the ones who could learn much from the state sector: that education isn't just for an elite and that everyone's aspirations should be encouraged.  But that isn't this government's mission, which is instead to drag us back to feudal society with an ossified social hierarchy where the peasants are taught just enough to be useful as cheap labour and al know their forelock-tugging place.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Number One Gun

So, we come to our the third and last trailer in our brief Lindsay Shonteff season of random movie trailers.  Well, I say trailer, but this - the only footage related to Number One Gun that I could find anywhere online - looks more like a promo reel of the sort you'd show potential distributors.  Indeed, I know that Shonteff had real problems getting any distributors, anywhere, to buy this movie.  He took a big financial hit as a result.  As far as I know, it was never distributed in the UK or US, which would explain the lack of an English-language trailer. 

Anyway, this is the third and final film to feature the UK's 'Number One' secret agent, Charles Bind, played by yet another different actor.  Whilst Number One's previous incarnations, Nicky Henson and Gareth Hunt, had both enjoyed relatively high-profile roles on TV (and in Henson's case, film as well), Michael Howe, who took over the role for this outing, was a relative unknown, reflecting, no doubt, a drastically reduced budget, (which, bearing in mind the shoestring budgets of the previous two films, is really saying something).  Best known for having played the lead in a children's TV drama in the early 1970s, Number One Gun didn't make Howe into a film star, although he continues to make guest appearances on TV, appears in the occasional film and has enjoyed a successful stage career (I believe he's currently appearing in the West End in the Lloyd-Webber musical Scandal).

Another sign of the reduced budget is the fact that Number One is now toting only a single magnum revolver, rather than the pair sported by both Henson and Hunt in their outings.  Indeed, the footage in this trailer generally looks far less slick than in the previous films, with the appearance of a TV episode rather than a feature film.  Most interestingly, whilst the first two films were clearly parodying the then contemporary Roger Moore Bond movies, this one seems to parodying those first two films, with every scene apparently played for laughs.  Of course, by the time Number One Gun appeared, Timothy Dalton was 007 and the Bond series had taken a more serious turn. 

So, there you have it, three trailers representing the career of a low-budget film maker who managed to a carve a reasonably successful career at a time when the, according to populat wisdom, the British film industry was all but dead and buried.  Yet Shonteff continued to find funding and continued to make films - most of which actually made money.