Thursday, June 30, 2016

Boris Buggered

Ha ha ha ha hah ha!  Excuse me whilst I laugh myself stupid having seen Boris Johnson's political career judder to an abrupt halt today.  Actually, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.  I mean, he orchestrates a political, economic and constitutional crisis the likes of which hasn't been seen in decades, entirely for the purposes of putting himself in pole position to succeed Cameron, then when opportunity arises, he seemingly loses his nerve.  Thanks Boris.  Who knows what made him choke at the last: did he finally doubt his own abilities, realising he just wasn't up to to the challenge?  Or was it that he realised that he simply wasn't as popular, even in the Tory party, as he thought he was?  Whatever the reason, spared the threat of Boris as Prime Minister, we still find ourselves facing a truly unappealing line up of contenders for the Tory leadership.  When you find yourself thinking that Theresa May is the best we can hope for, you know that the country is well and truly fucked.

Because the opposition isn't offering any alternative, let alone leadership, is it?  I won't go into all the ins-and-outs of Corbyn's woeful lack of leadership and, worse, his increasingly self righteous and obnoxious supporters here - I'm saving that for an upcoming editorial over at The Sleaze.  I will say, though, that I'm getting tired of them labelling anyone in the Labour movement who disagrees with them a 'Blairite' and accusing Corbyn's critics of all being middle class right wingers.  The fact is that the party members who propelled Corbyn to the leadership are themselves a bunch of middle class nouveau 'socialist' entryists who are no more representative of the 'working classes' than Tony Blair.  I've met their kind before - when I was a student they were the types who joined the Student Socialist Workers' Party.  Smug middle class political dilettantes rebelling against their well off parents, with a penchant for referencing Karl Marx, but not liking it when you quoted him correctly at them.  Interestingly, none of them actually studied politics or history, which probably explained their lack of understanding of the reality of politics and the class system.  Anyway, I've ranted about politics again, haven't I?  I just can't stay away from the subject.  I'll try to move on to other things tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

RIP Bud Spencer

"...And that's what happens when you vote to leave the EU." I couldn't help but make that observation in the pub last night, following England's defeat by Iceland.  Actually, I think that Roy Hodgson should have played the Article 50 card, refusing to leave Euro 2016 until it was triggered.  'England humiliated', the pundits were saying.  Get used to it, I thought, it's going to be the first in a long line of humiliations following Brexit.  Indeed, if Gareth Southgate is the favourite to succeed Hodgson as England manager, then God help us all.  But I said last time that I was going to try and dial back on the political rantings, (let alone the football ones).  So, let's get on to the real business of today's post: Bud Spencer.

The death, at the age of 86, of this great Italian movie star of the seventies and eighties was announced today.  Forever linked with Terence Hill, thanks to the string of films they co-starred in, Spencer was hugely popular for a couple of decades, appearing in all manner of Italian films from westerns to action comedies, pirate movies to giallos.  Dubbed into multiple languages, his movies entertained audiences across Europe and the US.  Only the UK seemed resistant to Spencer's charms, with releases of his films here being somewhat patchy.  Perhaps this was down to the fact that Spencer was the unlikeliest of leading men: a huge. hulking figure, usually sporting a huge beard, he specialised in playing curmudgeonly reluctant heroes, more often than not drawn unwillingly into other people's fights, but always ending up doing the right thing.

But it wasn't just physical presence that Spencer brought to his films, he was also curiously charasmatic, often displaying genuine sensitivity and tenderness behind the rough hewn and irritable facade.  Whilst playing the lead in his own right in films like Bulldozer, Banana Joe and the Flatfoot series, Spencer will undoubtedly be best remembered for the films he made with Terence Hill.  In essence a sort of Italian Laurel and Hardy, their double act generally saw Hill's chancer characters - who were never as smart as they thought they were - dragging a reluctant Spencer into his schemes.  Like Oliver Hardy, Spencer's characters would spend much of their time exasperated by their partner's apparent idiocy, struggling to contain their simmering fury. The films, which started as more action than comedy, but quickly began to emphasise the comedy elements, always involved a number of incredibly well choreographed fight sequences, which highlighted Hill's athleticism and acrobatic skills and Spencer's brute force.  These would usually feature Spencer ignoring the increasing chaos around him, refusing to help Hill and attempting to mind his own business despite provocations, until he finally snaps - usually because someone spills his drink or something similar - and starts demolishing his antagonists.  The films always culminate in a huge fist fight, with Spencer, apparently impervious to pain, taking on the villain's henchmen by the dozen, whilst simultaneously being hit over the head with chairs and the like.

The movies varied wildly in quality, both Spencer's solo vehicles and his collaborations with Hill, but are always entertaining, with their joyous revelling in destruction and mayhem.  Among the best are probably the two Trinty spaghetti westerns and Watch Out, We're Mad, both collaborations with Hill, and Spencer's solo Flatfoot series, in which he plays an Italian cop.  In a tribute to their immense popularity in the seventies, the Spencer-Hill collaborations even spawned a series of imitations, featuring Paul Smith doing a fair impression of Spencer.

Of course, Bud Spencer wasn't actually Bud Spencer - he was really Carlo Pedersoli, (Terence Hill is really Mario Girotti).  But back in the sixties, many Italian actors and directors adopted American sounding names for the sake of the box office.  (Not just the overseas box office: Italian audiences were deemed more likely to watch a domestically made film if they thought it was US made).  According to legend, the Spencer part of Pedersoli's nom-du-film was a homage to his favourite actor, Spencer Tracy, whilst the 'Bud' part came from the fact that he was drinking a bottle of BUdweiser when he came up with the name.  Whatever the truth, as Bud Spencer he provided audiences worldwide with plenty of entertaining, if generally undemanding, films. 


Monday, June 27, 2016

A Rudderless Ship

Yes, I do understand democracy.  I also understand the British constitution.  A referendum might well be a democratic expression of public opinion, but it is not legally binding upon Parliament.  As David Lammy MP pointed out over the weekend, it is only advisory.  You see, we don't have direct democracy in the UK (nor in any other nation I can think of off of the top of my head).  Instead we have a representative democracy, whereby we elect representatives, who we hope are better informed than us on a range of issues, to make political decisions for us.  Moreover, here in the UK only parliament is sovereign - only it has the power to make binding laws for the whole country, the legitimacy of its decisions deriving from the fact it is elected by the people.  I feel that I have to say this after a weekend of utter confusion politically, following the EU referendum, during which I had to endure a lot of crowing 'Leave' morons spouting utter bollocks.  I'm amazed that they don't seem to grasp the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, as they've been banging on about how the EU usurps this sovereignty.  But the fact is that nothing can become law for the whole UK unless it is passed by parliament.  This includes all those EU laws 'imposed' on us - all have to be ratified by parliament before becoming UK law.

But now we have an interesting situation: on the one hand we have a less than decisive referendum vote to leave the EU, on the other we have a sovereign parliament elected by these same voters only a year ago, in which all the members but a single UKIP MP were elected on pro-EU party tickets.  Arguably, it would be perfectly legitimate for parliament to ignore the referendum result and simply take it as an indication that the government should return to Brussels to try and negotiate a modification of the UK's terms of membership.  Of course, all of that is entirely academic as, until the now infamous Article 50 is invoked by the government, the UK remains a member of the EU.  And right now, it doesn't seem that that will happen before September and the election of a new Tory leader (and, by default, new Prime Minister).  Even then, it is unlikely to happen for quite some time.  Meanwhile, the UK continues to drift, rudderless and leaderless, with, apparently, nobody at the helm of the Ship of State.  Or even on lookout duty, for that matter.

Usually at times like these we'd look to the opposition for a lead.  But instead of offering any coherent way forward, the Labour party is busily descending into civil war.  Now, I'm no particular fan of Jeremy Corbyn - I respect his principles and his attempts to conduct himself in a dignified manner, but I also don't like the sort of disloyalty shown by much of the parliamentary Labour party.  That said, he has failed to privide any strong leadership and I'm still not really sure what Labour is supposed to stand for under him or what its policies are on most issues.  As an opposition, Corbyn's Labour party has been woeful, missing open goal after open goal and utterly failing to hold the government to account.  Also, whilst Corbyn might have been elected by a huge majority of ordinary party members, the fact is that he still has to have the confidence of Labour's elected representatives, which he clearly doesn't have.  Even more importantly, Labour, under any leadership, has to appeal to more than just its own members if it hopes to win elections.  Sadly, under Corbyn, it seems to be a long way from doing that.  Sure, I know there are some polls giving Corbyn a higher approval rating than Cameron, but let's face it, right now dead dog could get a higher approval rating than Dave.

Finally, I keep coming across 'Leave' voters complaining that they are, by association, being labelled as racists.  But we voted to leave on principle, they say, or because of long held, perfectly legitimate reservations about the EU.  Yeah, but the fact remains that you lined up on the same side as Farage and his UKIP fascists and the official leave campaign was happy to accept their support and failed to condemn them or other far right groups for their racist scaremongering. It's a sad fact of life that when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.  OK, I promise that I'll try harder to stop ranting about politics for the rest of the week.  Only try mind.  In the meantime, after my despair on Friday, I've decided to take a leaf out of Professor Quatermass' book: at the end of the film version of The Quatermass Experiment, after he's electrocuted the hideous monster threatening London that his former colleague had become, he's asked by an assistant what he's going to do now - 'Start again', he replies as he marches back to his rocket project.  

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Voting for Christmas

OK, let's get this out of the way: if you voted to leave, just pour petrol over yourself and strike a match.  Yeah, I know, I'm a sore loser.  But only because I'm exasperated by the sight, yet again, of people voting against their own interests.  It perplexes me that, in England and Wales at least, many of the areas which voted to leave were those who have benefitted most from EU grants and funding over the past few decades.  Turkeys voting for Christmas come to mind.  They don't seem to have thought this through, do they?  Sure, voting to leave the EU was sticking it to the establishment which has marginalised you and done nothing to stem the economic decline of these areas,  But the trouble is that by doing so, you've also just cut off the only major source of funding you had.  Yeah, that'll show those establishment bastards, won't it?

By contrast, many of the strongest bastions of the remain vote were here in the south where, by and large, we've not received so much EU money.  Clearly, here in the south we're far more altruistic than those northern bastards, who now deserve everything they get, (or don't get in terms of EU funding).  Well, parts of the south.  Crapchester voted to leave, despite my best efforts of spraying the word 'Murderers' across as many of their posters as possible.  However, I have a new found respect for the people of Winchester, Guildford, Reading, Alton and other local remain majority areas.  (I was in Alton for work yesterday morning - it was such a contrast to Crapchester, which had wall-to-wall leave posters. I didn't see a single leave poster in Alton - it was all remain.  Perhaps I should move there as they are clearly more on my wavelength than Crapchester). 

But to return to the point, sure, I'm a sore loser.  But I think that I'm entitled to be - the entire leave strategy was predicated upon lies and the narrowing of the 'debate' to immigration, playing on people's worse prejudices.  Besides, I've had to put up with decades of the anti-EU brigade whingeing away when they were in the minority, so fair's fair, I say.  Now it's my turn.  But really, my biggest concern is that so many people I know who voted leave simply don't seem to grasp the potential long term consequences for the UK of leaving the EU.  Quite apart from the economic risks, (sterling and shares have already taken a battering), there are the constitutional risks, with the break up of the Union, via a second Scottish independence vote now a very real possibility.  Then there's the small matter of the vote having effectively delivered the governance of the UK into the hands of an extreme right wing elite - and I don't mean Nigel Farage and the other UKIP clowns.  Indeed, I strongly suspect that Farage could be finished politically - he's served his purpose and now the really dangerous right wingers like Gove, Johnson and Redwood will have no further use for him.  No, it's that latter group - people dedicated to the dismantling of the NHS and waht's left of the public sector, who are the really dangerous ones - they now have the upper hand in the Tory party.

As for David Cameron - shed no tears for this political opportunist. He was the architect of his own downfall - too spineless to stand up to the right wing of his party, he instead pledged to give them a completely unnecessary referendum in return for their compliance during the last election.  As for me - where now?  I've been on the losing end of two political contests in a year.  I'm tired.  Tired of arguing with idiots, (yes, that's right, I think leave voters and Tory voters are idiots, I'm allowed to).  Tired of seeing reason thrown out of the window.  Tired of seeing debate descend into hate mongering.  Tired of seeing right wing extremists being treated as somehow acceptable by the mdia.  Tired of seeing intolerance on the rise.  Tired of seeing everything good about this country denigrated and destroyed.  Tired of seeing turkeys voting for Christmas.  But now isn't the time to give up.  Now is the time to regroup our forces and take up the battle again.  That said, I think I might spend some time here focusing on the pop culture stuff for a while.  It's probably the only way of staying sane.  OK, I'm now going to watch a trashy European movie with subtitles,  Before they ban them.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Au Pair Girls (1972)

I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks ranting about the EU referendum and, whatever the outcome, I'm sure that I'll be ranting about it again tomorrow.  So, I thought I'd take advantage of this interlude, while we're all voting, to have a quick look at some smut I've recently watched.  Made back in those (just) pre Common Market days of 1972, (see what I did there?) Au Pair Girls occupies an interesting place in the history of British sex films.  Arguably, with veteran British director Val Guest at the helm, it helped make the genre more 'respectable'.  Whilst Guest wasn't exactly an 'A-List' director, he was, by the early seventies, a hugely respected and reliable professional, with films like The Quatermass Experiment, The Day the Earth Caught Fire and Expresso Bongo under his belt.  Determined to preserve his reputation, Guest ensured that his excursion into sex films wouldn't simply be a parade of naked female flesh and continuous couplings loosely linked together by a rudimentary plot.  Instead, he emphasised the comedic and dramatic elements and focused on establishing his protagonists as characters.  Au Pair Girls also predates the first of the Confessions films, (which was also directed by Guest), which effectively set the template for subsequent British sex comedies.  Consequently, it doesn't follow what many casual viewers of such films might assume to be their standard 'formula'.

Rather than follow some hapless young bloke as he struggles with a new job, falling into bed with a series of beautiful women under the most unlikely of circumstances, Au Pair Girls is effectively a portmanteau film, following the hectic first day in England for four au pairs.  The four intercut stories vary tremendously in quality and tone.  Danish Randy (Gabrielle Drake), spends most of her day in a series of car-related escapades (which, obviously, result in her losing her clothes) as her new employer's son (Richard O'Sullivan) tries to drive her home.  Astrid Frank's Alita, from Sweden, causes chaos at the home of the straight-laced middle class, middle aged, couple she is supposed to be working for, with her penchant for unselfconciously stripping off.  On her first night out, after some misunderstandings at a casino, she ends up going home with Ferdy Mayne's wealthy sheik.  Whilst these tow strands are enjoyable comedic, (thanks in no small part to engaging and likeable performances from O'Sullivan and  Frank), the other two strands are somewhat darker and more melodramatic.  Me Me Lay's Chinese Au Pair Nan Lee finds herself staying at a remote gothic mansion, where she is expected to be the 'companion' to her employer's adult son, who has had virtually no contact with the outside world.  German girl Christina (Nancie Wait), finds herself with a suburban family and spends her first day being inducted into the 'swinging' pop scene by the household's teenage daughter.  Her night ends with a tryst with a pop singer.  To her disappointment, she soon realises that she is merely another groupie to him.

The emphasis upon the female characters and the darker, more dramatic, elements make an interesting contrast with later, more obviously male centered sex comedies.  Rather than present a parade of topless and horny beauties whose only purpose is to bed the hero, Au Pair Girls makes a largely successful attempt to give its female leads actual characters and presents them as being far more in control of their bodies and sexuality than many later films would.  Here it is the male characters who are mainly window dressing.  The closest thing to the typical Robin Askwith-type sexual blunderer in the film is Richard O'Sullivan's character, enchanted with, yet terrified of, Randy.  It's definitely the comedy elements which work best in Au Pair Girls and one can't help but feel that this influenced subsequent movies in the genre, which increasingly emphasised bawdy comedy over hard core sex.   The movie also establishes another staple of the British sex comedy: guest appearances from well known and highly respectable British actors, in this case Rosalie Crutchley and John Le Mesurier.  The latter, playing O'Sullivan's father, even gets to leer over his naked secretary, laid out on his desk, in a dream sequence.  He never got to do that in Dad's Army.  Maybe he thought it was all an hallucination brought on by all the funny fags he smoked.

All-in-all, with its insanely catchy theme tune, decent production values, assured direction and likeable performances, Au Pair Girls remains an enjoyable, if cliched, by today's standards, watch, providing the viewer with a vivid slice of seventies Britain.  A Britain, incidentally, which despite being 'free' of Europe, still seemed to be full of foreigners coming here to work...


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brexit Coup

With the EU referendum looming, disturbing reports as to the 'Leave' camp's contingency plans in the event they lose the poll have emerged.  "They just aren't going to accept a vote to remain in the EU, regardless of the margin of victory," says Tiberius Fooker, a former 'Leave' campaigner who has recently defected to the 'Remain' camp.  "They're on a mission to seize control of the UK and implement their crackpot schemes, the EU referendum is just a convenient excuse.  If they can carry out a peaceful coup by winning the poll, all the better, as far as they are concerned.  But with opinion polls indicating that the result is on a knife edge, they're preparing military action!"  According to Fooker, the 'Leave' camp has a whole paramilitary structure ready to seize strategic institutions.  "A lot of it is down to Iain Duncan Smith and his military background," explains Fooker.  "He's recruited all these ex-squaddies from his old regiment and has got them ready and waiting to seize post offices, police stations and town halls all over the country.  In London, they are planning to seize all the main government buildings and departments."  This paramilitary coup has been in years in the planning, Frooker claims.  "What do you think all those cuts in defence spending over the past six years were about - austerity?" he asks.  "The idea was to weaken Britain's armed forces sufficiently that they couldn't even defend the UK from being taken over by a bunch of retired old soldiers armed with shotguns, walking sticks and cricket bats!  It's not as if the army could even put any tanks on the streets to protect parliament - they've all been scrapped to save money."

Once they've seized power, the 'Leave' campaign is planning to quickly implement its plans to free the UK of what it sees as pernicious foreign influences.  "The supermarkets will be the first targets," Fooker says.  "They have teams of specially trained storm troopers waiting for the supermarkets to open on Friday morning, when they are going to pile in trash those aisles filled with Polish foods they all have now.  They won't stop there, either.  Any other foods originating in EU nations will be under threat, too.  All that pretentious French bollocks, German sausages and anything pasta-based will be out.  Stuff like curries and Chines food will be OK, though, as that's seen by the Brexit brigade as being traditional British food."  Specialist Polish shops will also come under threat.  "They've got squads of kids, each one issued with a brick, ready to smash their windows," Fooker reveals.  "As for Italian and French restaurants, even as we speak, they are preparing the firebombs." A ban on croissants is also on the cards, with Fooker claiming to have overheard UKIP leader Nigel Farage opining that having anything other than toast for breakfast is traitorous.  "They won't stop at foodstuffs - they are also planning mass round-ups of pets, particularly dogs," the campaigner says.  "What they see as 'foreign' breeds are likely to be interned and destroyed - dogs like German Shepherds, Irish Wolfhounds, French poodles and the like.  There are plans for legislation to prevent people owning any dogs other than good British breeds like King Charles spaniels, Jack Russell terriers and bulldogs.  Cats might be luckier, most of their foreign breeds, like Siamese, Persian and Burmese cats, come from outside the EU.  Nevertheless, all such felines will be subject to investigation of their residency status, as they could be illegal immigrants and taking up positions which could be filled by British moggies."  Challenged over these allegations, senior Brexit figures refused to comment, with Boris Johnson merely mumbling and waving his arms about and Nigel Farage braying like an ass. 


Monday, June 20, 2016

Witchcraft by Mail?

Before proceeding any further, a note to Facebook, which greeted me today with the declaration that today is the beginning of Summer: no it isn't - in meteorological terms, (and when it comes to weather and seasonally related maters, no other terms mean a thing), Summer starts at the beginning of June, not the solstice.  That's why June, July and August are characterised as being the Summer months.  Unless, of course, you live in the Southern hemisphere, in which case those are the Winter months and Summer starts with December.  Oh, and while I'm setting Facebook right on basic matters of fact, you were wasting your time yesterday telling me it was father's day: I'm not a father and my own father died more than a decade ago,  Cheers for that.

OK, on with today's post proper.  I get a fair amount of spam emails, in the past it was all about Russian brides, erectile dysfunction and penis enlargement, then it switched to Nigerian bank scams and other fake 'business' opportunities.  More recently, it's got downright weird, with offers to put me in touch with MILFs and (most bizarrely) offers to sell me discounted nappies.  But yesterday I received one which topped them all in the weirdness stakes (I've removed the sender's name and other details, obviously):

I am by name Dr Xxxxx Xxxxx ( The spell caster) I am a witch doctor who helps people to retrieve back their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend. I am well known as one of the best witch doctor across the world. Is a gift from my father to help those that are in serious spiritual problem. Do u want your ex relationship back? Are you searching for true love? Are you afraid of losing your lover and u want to put that ultimate stamp on your love relationship? Or you have been disappointed in you day to day life? You need that supernatural breakthrough in your finances?All you need do is to contact me at my Email: 
I have been giving the power from God to save His people from difficulties and I know you can't contact me without having a solution from GOD to put an end to your problems. I hope to hear from you soon if ready to get out of that problem.

Best wishes, Dr Xxxxx Xxxxxx"

It's nice to know that the reach of the traditional witch doctor now extends worldwide, rather than just being confined to some parts of Africa.  That said, it's all very confused, mixing the idea of black magic with Christianity.  I suppose it's all part of globalising the brand: you have to appeal to pagans and non-pagans alike.What puzzles me is why anyone would think that someone in Crapchester, England might need help with a 'spiritual breakthrough' from a witch doctor in, presumably, Africa.  I mean, there are enough supposed witches and other assorted weirdos around here if I wanted such help.

Still, it makes a change from all the MILFs and nappies, I suppose.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Eye of the Storm

It's like we're in the eye of a storm.  With campaigning in the EU referendum suspended as a mark of respect to Jo Cox, a curious peace has settled, at least temporarily, over British politics.  With arguments and the bigots silenced, for now, all the heat, hate, fear and anger has dissipated. Enjoy it while it lasts.  The sad thing is that it has taken a brutal murder to achieve this oasis of relative calm.  I say 'relative' because we already have some people, (on the right, of course), complaining that various columnists and commentators are 'politicising' Jo Cox's murder by playing up her alleged killer's possible extreme right links or by trying to place it in the context of the UK's increasingly angry and hate-filled political discourse.  They're aided and abetted by much of the right wing press, which have been trying to play up the suspect's supposed mental health issues, (the usual 'dangerous loner' nonsense - no doubt they'll highlight any 'weird' hobbies like building plastic kits or having a model railway, always good indicators of mental health problems for the tabloids), as it's always better to stigmatise mental health sufferers than neo nazis. 

One honourable exception was the Daily Star, which had a fantastic headline along the lines of: 'Killed by Brexit lunatic'.  But for the rest of the press, to concede that the suspect might have had political motivations, possibly fuelled by the extreme right wing agenda which also underpins parts of the Brexit campaign, would be to admit some degree of responsibility for helping promulgate this agenda and for stoking up the atmosphere of hate and fear which has characterised the referendum campaign.   To return to the point, it's impossible not to politicise these appalling events when the attacker shouts 'Britain first' and has extreme right wing links.  Incredibly, though, the crazy conspiracist wing of the 'Leave' campaign, (is there any other wing, I hear you ask), have already started claiming that the assassination of Jo Cox is in fact a 'false flag' operation, that the 'Remain' campaign actually arranged the murder and 'sacrificed' her in order to drum up sympathy for their campaign!  That's right - the killer is, like Lee Harvey Oswald, a patsy for an evil conspiracy by those shadowy political elites.  In many ways, I find these people even scarier loonies than the killer himself.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dark Days

There's really no telling what events you will find most affecting.  Or, indeed, just how they will effect you.  Today I found myself feeling deeply upset over the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, who was slain on the street in broad daylight.  I don't know whether it was the sheer brutality of the attack - she was apparently both stabbed and shot - or the fact that it has left two young children motherless, or just the fact that it is so damned appalling that this sort of thing is happening on our streets.  Anyway, I had to pull the car off of the road when I heard the news conference on the radio when her death was conformed.  I can't remember the last time I felt so, well, sad.  And despairing.  A lot of people on social media are characterising this murder as the inevitable culmination of the harsh and uncaring society we've been busy creating, where hatred and fear have become our main political currency.  The current EU referendum campaigns seem to embody these new hateful politics, characterised by lies, fear-mongering and crude xenophobia.  'Hate the other!  They aren't like us so they must be against us', seems to be overriding message of the right.

Not that the left is innocent in this coarsening of political discourse: New Labour was certainly fond of engaging in the tactics of fascism with its denials of the validity of any viewpoint other than its adherence to neo-liberalism.  With the language of politics becoming ever more violent and the very idea of showing tolerance for others views, we perhaps shouldn't be surprised by today's terrible events.  According to one witness, the killer shouted 'Britain first' during his murderous attack, implying an affiliation to the far right organisation.  Maybe he, maybe he didn't.  I wasn't there.  But there's no doubt that Britain First is one of those quasi-fascist organisations we all like to dismiss as rabble.  They peddle racist stereotypes and the idea that we somehow need to 'take our country back' from foreigners.  Sadly, as the EU 'Leave' campaign has shown, such ideas and imagery are now close to being at the core of mainstream UK politics.  Whilst I wouldn't want to imply that the 'Leave' campaign are in any way responsible for a murder - I'm guessing the perpetrator was a nutter of the type who will always latch onto anything, be it politics or religion, to justify their actions - there's no doubt that they've helped stoke up the anger which currently pervades UK politics.  They really need to tone it down.  But then again, I've spent a lot of time ranting on about the need for a revolution and the violent overthrow of capitalism - maybe I should cool it, too.

These are dark days for our society, with our politics dominated by hate and anger, xenophobia and isolationism on the rise.  The recent parliamentary committee hearings involving Mike Ashley of Sports Direct and the whole BHS debacle have served to underline how venal and just down right mean business has become in the UK.   Employees treated like chattels, cheated out of parts of their pay - when they are being underpaid already - whilst the bosses help themselves to huge chuncks of cash from their companies and their pension funds.  I'd like to think that, if anything good can possibly come out of Jo Cox's murder, today's events mark some kind of turning point, when everyone takes a step back and has a long hard look at what's happening to our society.  But, sadly, I've reached the stage where I doubt that's possible.  I fear that things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hoologanism by Royal Appointment

"I couldn't believe my eyes at first, but it was definitely Her Majesty," convicted football hooligan Tommy Tupper told top tabloid The Shite.  "She was right in the thick of it, rallying the British fans against those Russian bastards!  I never knew that she was into football, but there she was, hurling chairs and bottles at the Russkis like a pro!"   Tupper, who was tear gassed by French police in Marseilles during Saturday's pre-match ruck between English and Russian football thugs, has sensationally claimed that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II spent part of her 90th birthday weekend at the heart of the violence which has marred Euro 2016.  "Obviously, she had to be back in Blighty in time for that party on the Mall on Sunday, so she was clearly making the most of the time she had there," Tupper claimed.  "At one point I saw her engaged in a bare knuckle fight with this huge Russian thug - she was getting the better of him when three of his mates turned up and surrounded her!  I thought she was a goner for sure, but then Prince Philip appeared out of nowhere, leaping in and felling one of the bastards with flying drop kick, before taking out the other two with a roundhouse kick!"

According to Tupper, it wasn't just Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh present at the street battles between fans.  "I spotted several top British politicians there, presumably at Her Majesty's insistence," he told the tabloid.  "Mind you, most of them weren't anywhere near as enthusiastic as the Queen.  I saw David Cameron cowering behind some dustbins as everything kicked off - typical bloody Villa fan.  Michael Gove wasn't any better - he kept saying 'You wouldn't hit a man with glasses on, would you?' to every Russian hooligan who came near him.  Thankfully, they all would, it seemed."  But the most effective political intervention in the fight turned out to be a complete surprise.  "At one point the Russians had a group of us cornered in an alleyway, battering us with chairs, paving slabs, bottles, anything they could lay their hands on," recalled Tupper.  "Then who should come down the alley after them but Labour leader Jeremy bloody Corbyn!  He was dressed in chain mail and riding a horse!  He was a bloody revelation, I'll tell you!  He just waded in, swinging a sword and shouting 'For the EU, Tony Benn and Karl Marx!'  The Russkis just scattered, utterly terrified!"

Tupper's claims have been widely dismissed, with official sources denying that either the Queen, David Cameron or Jeremy Corbyn had been involved in the outbreak of hooliganism.  Indeed, there have been suggestions that his claims might be related to either the tear gas he inhaled or the blow to the head he suffered when hit by a bottle thrown by a Russian hooligan.  "I know what I saw," he retorted.  "Why is the idea that Her Majesty might want to lead her loyal subjects against some foreign bastards?  There's nobody more patriotic than England's football hooligans - she was obviously proud to be leading us from the front.  It was like Henry V at Agincourt all over again!"  Indeed, Tupper has claimed that the Royals were clearly keen to get back to the action in France.  "Didn't you see Prince Philip telling the driver to put his foot down during the motorcade down the Mall on Sunday?" he asked.  "He and the Queen obviously couldn't wait to get the event over and back to France and the violence."


Monday, June 13, 2016

Red Blooded Bigotry

"God damn it, we've got to take this opportunity to pump these limp wristed homos full of good straight redneck blood," the Reverend Horatio Dump told the media as he organised emergency blood donations in the aftermath of the mass shootings at an Orlando gay nightclub. "Once those boys have had a couple of pints of blood group hetero, they'll be true red blooded American males with eyes only for women's breasts and butts and a desire to stick their privates in the right orifices!"  Dump has been accused of trying to exploit the tragedy in Florida in order to advance his own homophobic agenda, something he strongly denies.  "Look, there's a reason they don't let these gay boys and lesbian ladies donate their blood in this state," he declared.  "They don't want to take the risk of their tainted blood turning good straight folk the other way.  So, the only way to save the injured is to pump them full of good straight blood.  I'm just trying to ensure maximum survival rates by recruiting the fittest most virile donors available - who all happen to be strapping heterosexual rednecks."

He also denies that his belief that homosexuality can be cured via blood transfusion is unscientific nonsense.  "What's nonsense is this cock-eyed modern liberal mumbo jumbo that being gay is somehow 'natural' and in the genes - it's a disease," he asserted.  "Like all diseases it can be transmitted through blood, kissing, sex and sitting on toilet seats.  But it makes those infected weak - not just morally but physically too - so a good dose of stronger, non gay infected, blood can overcome the sickness!"  The Reverend Dump has form for attempting to 'cure' homosexuality: six years ago, after being arrested for sexually assaulting young men behind his church in the Miami suburbs, he claimed in court that he was so heterosexual himself that he could, quite literally, bugger the homosexuality out of gay men.  "My manhood has been blessed by the Lord and I brandish it like a crucifix," he claimed in his defence. "My semen, likewise, has divinely inspired healing powers, able to cure the gay sickness when injected into a diseased body."   He is currently on parole, having served five years of a ten year sentence for sexual assault.  Of the shooter in the Orlando incident, Dump admits to having mixed feelings.  "On the one hand I'd like to say that he was doing God's work, by providing this opportunity to bring a cure to so many gay people," he mused.  "But on the other hand, he was one of those filthy Muslim heretics, so I have to believe that he was inspired by the devil to kill these good American boys and girls.  They might have been homos, but as Christians at least they have the chance of salvation, unlike that Muslim devil, who will be condemned to burn in Hell eternally!"   Dump has been disavowed by other local church leaders, who described his religious beliefs as: 'Highly confused'.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Queen's Rain

You know what? I'm glad that it rained all over the Queen's 90th birthday party.  You know why?  (Apart from the fact that, as a taxpayer, I footed the bill but wasn't invited, that is).  Well, I can still remember the Diamond Jubilee when, instead of simply creating a new, one off, bank holiday to create the four day weekend for the official celebrations, they moved one of the existing bank holidays forward and it poured with rain all that long weekend.  Which meant that I couldn't go out and enjoy the bank holiday and was instead forced to stay in and watch all the deferential Jubilee shit on TV.  Of course, the day when the bank holiday would usually have been scheduled was warm and sunny - but I was at work.  Once again, the ordinary working person was shafted by our parasitic ruling classes.  So yeah, I'm bloody glad it rained on her sodding birthday.

I must admit that this Queen's 90th birthday weekend has rather passed me by - I didn't even realise that it was this weekend until nearly the end of last week.   If there were any street parties organised for it around here, I certainly wasn't invited.  Just as I wasn't at the time of the Diamond Jubilee, either.  Mind you, I never get invited to neighbours' barbecues either - not that I actually want to go to such things, but it's a matter of principle, isn't it?  Anyway, to return, more or less, to the point, I've celebrated the Queen's 90th birthday by watching some of the finest films made on these shores during her reign.  Namely Lindsay Shonteff's 1969 proto-slasher flick Night After Night After Night, Val Guest's 1972 sex film dabbling The Au Pair Girls and I'm now preparing to view Derek Ford's 1970 examination of the world of pop fandom: Groupie Girl.  I know my idea of 'finest films' undoubtedly differs from that of most critics, but, quite honestly, I can't help but feel that movies like these tell us more about what Britain was really like in the late sixties and early seventies than any mainstream productions ever can.  God Save the Queen and long may it rain on her reign.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sinister Right Wing Bastards

I'm afraid that I can't avoid revisiting the vexed issue of the EU referendum.  Two key questions are: do you really believe, as the Brexiters claim, that the UK would save £350 million a week if it left the EU and, if that were the case, that they would spend that money saved on the NHS?  Whilst the the £350 million pound a week saving claim is utter nonsense, the idea that the likes of Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and Boris 'The Buffoon' Johnson would, if in government, redirect these 'savings' to funding the NHS is laughable.  The NHS is underfunded as the result of political decisions made on a purely ideological basis by a government that they have either happily served in or supported for the past six years.  Moreover, some of these Tory Brexiteers, notably Gove, are on the record as favouring the privatisation of the NHS.  So please, don't try and tell me that they've suddenly become bleeding heart liberals with social consciences overnight.

Leaving aside the economic lies and insincere promises being made by the Tory Brexiteers, the aspect of the 'Leave' campaign which has most troubled me is the opposition many of its proponents have to the very idea of human rights.  They clearly see leaving the EU as an opportunity to scrap all those pesky bits of legislation guaranteeing civil liberties, which they seem to associate with the EU.  Obviously, the notion that human rights are some kind of filthy European invention is manifestly false.  The Human Rights Act which they all seem to hate so much doesn't actually accord anyone in the UK any more rights than they had before - it simply gathers them all together in one piece of legislation, rather than them being scattered throughout various previous pieces of legislation and obscure parts of the constitution.  It also means that you can try to protect your rights through any UK court, rather than having to go to the European Court of Human Rights.  Furthermore, the Act merely enacts formally into UK law the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the UK is not only a signatory, but also the main architect.

Yet we have a seemingly endless parade of shady ex Special Forces and intelligence types telling us - via the pages of the right wing press - that being a member of the EU hinders our ability to protect ourselves from these amorphous threats which assail us from every side, because of all the human rights nonsense it forces on us.  Even our ability to fight wars is under threat because of those damned human rights according to one retired ex General.  He didn't explain exactly why this was - I can only assume it is because he thinks it unreasonable that British soldiers can't just kill who they please without repercussions, just so long as they were 'the enemy'.  Strangely though, that's been the case since before the Human Rights Act or our membership of the EU.  It has to do with the Geneva Convention, which considerably predates the EU.  But it originates in one of those filthy European cities, so it's all the same to them, I suppose.

So, the third question we need to ask is, do really believe, as these Brexiteers do, that human rights are such a ludicrous idea?  Are they really something only for foreigners?  I mean, what is so fantastical about the notion that we should have some kind of legal (or, preferably, constitutional) protections against the arbitrary use of power by our rulers?  Is the inalienable right to life, liberty and all the other stuff such an insane concept?  I suspect that even the Brexiteers don't believe any of those things - they just don't think that such rights should be universal.  Indeed, they shouldn't be a right, they should be a privilege conferred only on those who deserve them.  Being wealthy and coming from the right social class are undoubtedly among the most important criteria for being deserving.  The poor, the sick, the disabled, the unemployed, well, they certainly won't be deserving.

There are many good and valid arguments for leaving the EU, (although I don't find any of them compelling enough to vote 'leave'), but none of them have been advanced by the official 'Leave' campaign, which has instead focused on peddling economic lies and trying to appeal to knee-jerk reactionaries on the issue of immigration.  Which shouldn't surprise anyone, as the movement is led by a bunch of sinister extreme right wing cunts opposed to any form of social welfare or public ownership, let alone civil liberties. The danger is that, if you vote 'Leave', you could end up delivering the government of this country into their hands.  God knows, Cameron is right wing enough, but these bastards make him look like Karl Marx.  You have been warned. 

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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Hot and Sweaty

There's a post title guaranteed to pull in the dirty raincoat brigade, but it's a pretty fair description of how I've been for the past few days.  It's amazing how we spend most of the year craving Summer weather of the kind we've been experiencing this week, yet when it arrives all we can do is complain about the heat.  That said, my main complaint is that this latest hot spell arrived this week when I'm back at work, rather than last week when I was off.  Mind you, if it had been this hot and sunny last week, my kitchen would never have got painted as I would have been out wandering around the countryside, or down on the coast.  Whenever I hear the siren call of fine weather (and I'm off work) I find myself lured out of the house and into the country.  By contrast, when it is sunny and I'm working, I end up spending what feels like hours in a scorching hot car. It doesn't take long for the interior of a car to become a furnace on a day like today - and it just seems to stay that way, no matter how many windows you open or how high a setting you have the fans on.  Of course, I could try using the air conditioning, but I've never been convinced that it actually works.  Plus, judging by my experiences with the air conditioning in previous cars I've owned, not only would it put up the fuel consumption, but it would dry out my throat, leaving me coughing all day.

There's something about driving for work in hot weather which just makes one hotter and sweatier than when driving on holiday.  Part of it is that, for work, you are always in a hurry to get from one place to another - when I'm on holiday, I tend to drive to wherever I'm going in a far more leisurely fashion: I like to enjoy the journey when it is on my own time.   Also, when I'm working, it's all 'start-stop', which means that the car is sitting idle for periods when the heat can build up inside again.  Moreover, it's also bloody hot outside the car, but there's still enough of a differential in temperature that as soon as I'm back in the driving seat, the sweat starts rolling off of me all over again.  Still, at least today I didn't end up feeling exhausted and dehydrated, as I did yesterday when I finally got home.  Sure, my shirt was severely sweat stained, but I didn't feel too bad.  Which is partly down to the fact that I took more water with me today and remembered to take a hat with me - I increasingly find that wandering around in the sun hatless leaves me with a mild touch of sun stroke.  The Calippo ice lolly I had when I finished today helped too - I'd spent all afternoon thinking about that orange Calippo and it tasted every bit as good as I'd imagined.  Apparently it is going to be a bit cooler tomorrow, which will be something of a relief.  Ideally, of course, it should then be a scorcher over the weekend, when I could enjoy it, but, inevitably, rain is forecast.  At least I won't have to water the garden, I suppose. 


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Cool it Carol (1970)

British exploitation legend Pete Walker's stab at a sex comedy, Cool it Carol is a surprisingly likeable slice of 'Swinging London' nostalgia, with engaging performances from all involved.   There's nothing hugely original in its plot - the film is a cautionary tale of two young people from the sticks going to London to try and fulfill their dreams, but finding sleaze and exploitation instead - but Cool it Carol more than makes up for that with the level of late sixties/early seventies detail it captures.  A pre Confessions Robin Askwith plays Joe, a village butcher's delivery boy who tries to impress teenage petrol pump attendant (and local beauty contest winner) Carol (Janet Lynn) by telling her that he's about to leave for the bright lights of London and a job as a salesman in a luxury car showroom. She takes him seriously and persuades her parents to allow her to accompany him to the Smoke for two weeks, to pursue her modelling ambitions.

Askwith's job is, of course, entirely imaginary and Lynn's modelling prospects stymied by the fact that she is too short to be a fashion model.  The inevitable downward spiral ensues, with Lynn becoming first a glamour model, doing nude shoots, before dabbling in prostitution to make ends meet.  Askwith, finding that getting a job in a top end showroom is all about who you know and who you went to school with rather than sales skill of automotive knowledge, first contemplate bank robbery, before unwittingly becoming Lynn's pimp.  This is the point at which the film suddenly veers away from comedy, into a darker and far more downbeat mood, with Lynn finding herself servicing five sad middle aged, middle class men in a night, for a fiver a time.  Realising that they've hit rock bottom, the pair contemplate returning home, but the arrival of the photos and money from Lynn's earlier photo shoot propels them back into the more glamourous world of clubs and minor celebrities, where Lynn is spotted by a porn producer, courted by fashion industry gurus' and sought after as an 'escort' for politicians and wealthy foreign businessmen, with Joe now acting as her manager rather than pimp.  Whilst this all pays much better than the earlier brush with prostitution and is far more glamourous, the pair quickly realise that it is just as emotionally and spiritually empty and decide to return to their former lives in the village.

As noted before, all pretty standard.  However, what lifts the film out of the ordinary is the sheer seediness with which Walker portrays this scenario.  When Joe and Carol arrive in London, they land in the absolute fag end of the 'Swinging Sixties', with any idealism supplanted by grasping and grubby profiteering, as various disreputable characters try to squeeze every last penny out of the the rapidly fading glamour of the era of  'peace and love'.   The contrast between Joe and Carol's initially rosy eyed view of the capital with the grimy reality is deftly handled by Walker, with their rapid decent into small scale vice portrayed in distinctly downbeat terms: Askwith is forced to awkwardly sit in the living room whilst Lynn audibly has sex with a punter in the bedroom of the punter's flat.  It gets worse as, the next night he is forced to sit on the sofa with a queue of punters as they await their 'turns' with Lynn.  For her part, Lynn engages unenthusiastically with her 'clients', in some of the least sexy sex scenes committed to film in a British sex comedy.  Indeed, none of the sex scenes are presented as glamourous or erotic, just full of embarrassed fumbling and sweaty gropings. 

Most of all, Cool it Carol gives us a portrait of a Britain long since gone, where London, far from being the sleek and shiny foreign owned metropolis of today, was tired and dirty, desperately trying to maintain a glamorous, yet shallow, facade.  It also makes one nostalgic for the days of old style petrol stations sat in the middle of nowhere, with rows of those noisy mechanical pumps, which were apparently made of tin, and bleak forecourts devoid of anything but the most basic of facilities.  The cast all give decent performances, with Askwith and Lynn engaging and likeable in the leads, (it's a real pity that Lynn, who imbues Carol with a combination of naivity and steely ambition, never seemed to go on to anything noteworthy in her subsequent acting career), and Jess Conrad memorable as an arrogant and amoral rich London playboy.  Walker is frequently denigrated as a directot by mainstream critics, yet in Cool it Carol he delivers a well crafted and entertaining hundred minutes or so of entertainment.  Very professionally made, despite a tiny budget, Cool it Carol reveals Walker as a solid commercial director, skilfully capturing the true seedy essence of a particular time and place.


Monday, June 06, 2016

Boris Goes Bananas

"It was his own fault - if he hadn't gone near that child it would never have happened," a spokesperson for the Metropolitan police told the press following the shooting of former London Mayor and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson earlier today.  "People saw this great hulking beast holding a small child by the arm and they just panicked - it was like that business in Cleveland all over again, when they shot that gorilla after that kid climbed into its enclosure."  The full circumstances of the Boris Johnson incident still aren't entirely clear, all that is known is that the right wing buffoon was campaigning in South London, addressing a public meeting when the child somehow managed to climb onto the podium.  "All Boris was trying to do was to remove the child from the podium to a place of safety," one witness claimed.  "But a section of the crowd - probably remain supporters - assumed that he was putting the child at risk and started screaming at Boris, which just panicked him and put him on the defensive."  Other witnesses, however, are adamant that the former Mayor was behaving aggressively.  "He was holding the child over his head with both hands and snarling the the audience," another witness claimed. "I don't see how that can be construed as being 'protective' - quite frankly, I was convinced that he was about to scale the nearest tall building, dragging the kid with him!"

The family of the child say that they have no idea how he ended up on the podium with Johnson.  "We weren't even attending the meeting, we were just walking past," said his mother.  "I only took my eyes off of him for a minute and the next thing I knew, everything was kicking off!"  The mother believes that her four year old's fascination with great apes was undoubtedly what led him into mounting the podium.  "He obviously mistook Boris Johnson for some kind of hominid - an Orang Utang, possibly - and saw an opportunity to actually get closer to one than he'd ever been able to at the zoo," she explained.  "Whilst I understand that his sudden presence must have startled Johnson, there really was no need for the brute to manhandle my boy like that."  In the chaos which followed Boris' interaction with the child, armed police were called to the scene and a single shot fired, felling the former Mayor.  "It was completely unnecessary," opined one animal rights campaigner.  "There are no recorded cases of Boris Johnson ever harming a child - left to his own devices he is basically a passive beast, not known for its intelligence."  The police spokesperson took a different view, pointing out that Johnson does has form for violence.  "Whilst it is true that he has never harmed a child, his kneeing in the groin of a German player in a charity match was seen on TV," they said.  "Then there was that business of him trying to arrange to have that reporter beaten up on behalf of one of his friends.  In view of such incidents, we just couldn't take the chance."  Luckily, Johnson wasn't seriously injured thank to the copious rolls of fat on his body, which absorbed most of the bullet's impact.  However, he is expected to be off the Brexit campaign trail for at least a week.  In the meantime, his place will be taken by a gorilla in a blonde wig.  

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Friday, June 03, 2016

Black and White in Colour

OK, so lets get the kitchen stuff out of the way - the first coat of paint is complete and it is all looking pretty damned good.  Not that painting the kitchen was all that I did today.  Oh no. I also paid an arm and a leg, (not to mention a kidney, a lung and half a liver), to get the car serviced and have various bits of work done on the suspension.  Cars, eh?  They just eat up money.  Unfortunately, mine is essential for work, so I have no choice but to keep it going.  But way from all this mundane domestic stuff, I've also used these past two weeks off work to catch up with some essential pop culture.  The big news is that I've finally managed to catch up with notorious British sleaze/slasher movie Don't Open 'Til Christmas and Naked England, the Italian mondo take on swinging London.  (I'll be able to tick another piece of British schlock off of the list tomorrow, when the Horror Channel screens Virgin Witch).  To be entirely accurate, rather than Naked England, what I actually saw was Inghilterra Nuda, the original Italian language version.  Whilst I don't speak Italian, I think I gathered the general gist of the movie, (although I'm still somewhat mystified by a couple of sequences).  I'm still hoping to eventually turn up the version with Edmund Purdom's supercilious English language commentary, (coincidentally, Purdom also starred in and direct Don't Open 'Til Christmas).

But discussion of all those films is for another time.  This week I also finally caught up with an old Ministry of Information film from World War Two, Welcome to Britain, which was aimed at US servicemen arriving in the UK for the first time.  Fronted by GI Burgess Meredith, the movie attempted to introduce our American allied to such British customs as the pub, advising them on the correct etiquette to adopt in order to avoid upsetting us native Brits. Other topics included the extent and affects of British rationing, how to pronounce our whacky place names and understanding British money, (in which Burgess is aided and abetted by Bob Hope).  But the most interesting section to modern eyes is the segment involving attitudes to race, in which an old lady happily invites a black GI to tea, prompting Burgess to remind the audience that segregation doesn't exist in the UK and that many Britons had no problem in associating freely with 'coloured boys', (to use his terminology - back in the forties 'coloured' was considered more acceptable than 'black').  It's quite startling to be reminded, in these days when racially charged hate speak seems prevalent in the UK and immigrants are demonised, that there was a time when Britain was considered racially tolerant.  Certainly more so than many parts of the US.

Indeed, I remember my father telling of what a big hit the black GIs were with British girls, being considered not only 'exotic' (more for their American accents than anything else) but also very courteous and well behaved compared to their white colleagues.  Although there was still prejudice toward them from some quarters, in my hometown of Salisbury, the boxer Joe Louis, whilst serving as a GI, was infamously turned away from a cinema because of his race.   But at least the bigotry wasn't institutionalised.  But it still seems jarring that Americans would have to be reminded of this fact.  Then again, I believe that there had already been problems in the US, when sailors recruited from the segregated South were in leave in New York large scale fights broke out when they found blacks and whites freely associating in jazz bars.  Anyway, enough of my musings on historical race relations - I've got more pressing concerns.  Like putting that second coat of paint on the kitchen walls.    


Thursday, June 02, 2016

Another Day in the Kitchen

Well, the repainting of the kitchen is going well.  Now that I've finally skimmed all the really dodgy bits of wall and applied undercoat to the repaired areas, the actual painting is finally gathering pace.  I have to say that, even with only the first coat on in abut two thirds of the kitchen, it's looking better than I dared hope.  It still isn't very exciting, though.  The new paint also stinks to high heaven before it dries, (it's all the stuff they have to put into specialist kitchen paints to make them water and grease resistant), which means that I have vacate the kitchen once I've got a large area covered.  Now, if the weather was better, I'd just go out somewhere, but when it is overcast and threatening rain, I end up spending a lot of time on the news aggregator app on my tablet.  So I could tell you about all the horrendous murders, reporting of which seems to proliferate there.  Especially popular are sex murders involving some kind of perversion on the part of the killer - necrophilia or, at the very least, the implication of necrophilia seems to be particularly popular.  Also, anything involving dismemberment, especially if the victim is female, appears to be favoured.

If it isn't horrible murders, then it's showbiz gossip. with anything to do with Game of Thrones being particularly popular.  I've never watched it, but I now know that some bird got her kit off in a recent episode.  Quite why that is newsworthy, I don't know, as I've been given to understand that nudity is fairly commonplace in this series.  After all, Ian McShane did describe it as being 'only tits and dragons', and Count Arthur Strong had earlier characterised it as being 'all bare bums and dragons', indicating that female nudity is a running theme.  But right now, dominating the showbiz gossip are the allegations of domestic violence surrounding Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.  Speculation is rife as to who allegedly did what to whom.  Personally, I'm going to reserve judgement until the dust has settled on the divorce and other legal actions and we have more of the facts available.  I will say, though, that I was always somewhat puzzled as to why Amber Heard ever married Johnny Depp, as I'd been told that she was a lesbian, (the source of this information was my brother, so I really should have called it into question at the time).  I remember that this really threw me at the time - it's like Jodie Foster all over again, I recall thinking as I tried to get several fan letters back from the post box.  But enough of the trivia - there were some actual news stories on the app.  More often than not they concerned refugees - but only if they had recently drowned.  'Refugees successfully reach Europe' just doesn't cut it as a headline any more, I'm afraid.  It seems that we only want to hear about death.  On the largest scale possible.  Apart from that, it's whatever the latest lunacy and lies have been spouted by the warring factions of the Tory Party in the run up to the EU referendum. 

Hopefully, paint fumes permitting, I'll actually have something to write about tomorrow...