Syphilitic loon

August 31, 2008 at 7:33 pm (AWL, Human rights, Jim D, liberation, Racism, stalinism, thuggery, truth)

From the present issue of the Weekly Worker

“Syphilitic

“Given the AWL’s position of not condemning Israel were it to launch an attack on Iran, I was interested to see what they would have to say about Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia and the Russian response.

“After all, this is an organisation that advocates the right of self-determination for Tibet and for Kosovo without regard for what the consequences of that might be for workers’ unity in these areas, and which puts forward no programme based on proletarian internationalism as a means of resolving these issues. It is an organisation that in the case of Kosovo considered the issue was so important that it thought that the bombing and cruise missile attacks on Belgrade by US imperialism were “good” in trying to bring an end to them. Surely, an organisation that tells us it is one of “consistent democrats” would be consistently democratic in condemning Georgia’s ethnic cleansing of South Ossetia, and would tell us that the Russian response was “good” to stop it, wouldn’t it?

“Well, actually, no. Almost a week went by before the AWL could find words to give us a “provisional” response. In the meantime, long-time AWL cadre Jim Denham did come out with a response fairly quickly in his Shiraz Socialist blog. But rather than condemning Georgia’s murderous attacks on South Ossetia, which the United Nations now says have created around 150,000 refugees or about half the South Ossetian population, he quotes from an article by David Clark in The Guardian, which says: “By any reasonable measure, the impact of Russian policy has been uniquely destructive in generating political divisions in the Caucasus … Whatever his faults, [Georgian president] Saakashvili is no Milosevic – and wild Russian allegations of genocide have no independent support.”

“Denham tells us that he finds this argument “a lot more convincing than the crazed anti-American conspiracy theories and pro-Putin triumphalism”. In other words, it is a blatant attempt to minimise the murderous attacks by Georgia on South Ossetia. Worse, even after TV had been showing pictures of the devastation in South Ossetia caused by the Georgian action, and the vast number of refugees forced to seek refuge in Russia, Denham argued with me: “Arthur: all your last statement is just bullshit and bluster (as I suspect, you know full well): even if (as I don’t, in fact, believe) what you say about Georgia’s role in South Ossetia is true, it still doesn’t justify Russia’s actions …”

“But the incident is a good example of AWL politics. Denham later suggested that I was in some way afraid to reply to him. When I pointed out that the reason I had only just then replied was that that was the first I had seen of his posts, Denham accused me of lying. This was followed by the now usual AWL bureaucratic tactic of suppressing an argument if you can’t defeat it, and a threat to ban me from the site – I’d only ever posted a handful of posts there anyway – in addition to the AWL’s previous decision to delete my posts from their website.

“This is now clearly a very degenerate Stalinist organisation. Trotsky called Stalinism “the syphilis of the labour movement”. We should treat the AWL accordingly.

“Arthur Bough”.

Jim D replies: At risk of opening up another futile row with this lunatic, I repeat: where and when have I (or anyone else on the left) ever defended Georgian actions in South Ossetia? The liar Bough cannot produce one single shred of evidence.

Bough: I defy you – once again –  to find a single quote. Chapter and verse, please.

You are, quite simply a liar. Or a lunatic. Or both.

PS: What do you think about reports of Russian-inspired ethnic cleansing of Georgians in South Ossetia?

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UCU dispute update

August 30, 2008 at 12:06 pm (Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, left, unions, voltairespriest)

There’s an interesting update on Harry’s Place. It states that Joe Quinn, author of the article to which Jenna Delich linked on a UCU email list and thus precipitated the now well-known squabble that has spread across the net, has responded to HP’s allegations. Apparently he claims not to be a racist and to have no time for David Duke, and that his article has been removed from Duke’s site.

Well, the second point is factually true, but as to the first, does he think the rest of the world came down in the last shower? Anyone on the left who shows the likes of Quinn any time at all is a hopeless arse at best, and an example of left anti-semitism at worst.

That having been said, I’m inclined to agree with Dave Hirsh of Engage about the treatment of Delich herself. He says that the issue is not one of her actions personally, but of an institutionally racist culture within swathes of the UCU. This, of course, is a point which could just as easily be made about the wider left. It is that, and not the humiliation of a single academic (who may or may not be a racist, but is certainly a fool), which should be the focus of our attention.

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A Marxist on Nacton Beach

August 28, 2008 at 6:25 pm (Andrew Coates, history, labour party, Marxism)

The Orwell Estuary, Nacton Shore. A place to stand in the sunshine, look, and think. To put aside all thought of Jenna Deltrich, Harry’s Place and UCU. Or the hyperlink to claims that the “ubiquitous “conspiracy theory” – ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government) – actually be closer to a conspiracy fact?” Or those who make excuses for self-proclaimed pro-Palestinian activists who dwell on such ‘alternative’ ideas, http://leninology.blogspot.com/ .A countryside haven. Victorians wrote doggerel about nymphs and fauns cavorting here. Freston Folly faces. http://www.freston.net/tower/guidebooks.html The residence, to one poetaster, of a Suffolk Leander pining for Hero on the other bank.

Upstream beyond the Orwell Bridge, and marinas that stud every inlet, the New Ipswich is visible http://www.regattaquay.co.uk/regattaquay.html. It’s a startling growth of blocks of flats, restaurants, the Dance East centre, and University Campus Suffolk – complete with eco peat-bog roof (well, grass covered). These are built on long-gone warehouse and industrial sites such as the last operating quayside flour mill, Cranfield’s. The commercial Port is now downstream, only the redundant Custom House remains of the maritime trading past. To the Ipswich Evening Star (27.8.08) these developments are a “symbol of hope.” Long-gone engineering works, Ransomes and Rapiers, and Ransomes Sims and Jeffries, a justified source of local pride, have made way for the usual array of high-price apartments, penthouses and cultural venues that rise in every corner of the country,.

Behind the Waterfront lies an area that was up to mid-20th century a slum rookery, known as the Potteries (kilns date back to Anglo-Saxon times). In the 1840s the Chartist John Cook ran here an Infidel Repository in Upper Orwell Street. He sold radical and militant secular literature. Ipswich was visited in the late 19th century by socialists such as William Morris, and had branches of the small socialist organisations of the time (Socialist League and Social Democratic Federation). An active Trades Council was a focus for a working class left. The Potteries district elected the first Labour councillor in the town. The quarter still has many pockets of poverty. It is very multiethnic. Portuguese, Poles and Balts are amongst the newest arrivals. The Ward, much larger, now is represented by Liberal Councillors, in municipal coalition with the Conservatives, the Liberal-Tory Junta. No guesses who they stand for in a contest between Quayside apartment owners and the Potteries poor.

The dramatic fall in house prices (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3155582.stm) may mean construction ebbs on Ipswich Waterfront. Will it be caught in a broader receding tide? Nearly every town and city has similar projects. Property magnates, builders and councils have raucously trumpeted them. Now, less loudly, many development plans are facing disarray. Despite Ipswich media boosts the same is clearly happening here: selling prices are cut, flat rents reduced, commercial letting unfilled. Nationwide it looks as if the present schemes hover on the brink. Like the 1960s building boom, which began as the acme of modernity, and ended with cracked concrete and urine smelling underpasses. Is the crisis an opportunity for socialists to think about alternative urbanisation? A future beyond these private schemes that gate communities and marginalise the working class and poor. Something worthy of those Ipswich Chartists who fought for workers’ rights and democracy.

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What a Diff’rence a Day Makes

August 27, 2008 at 1:44 am (David Broder, jazz, Jim D, music)

Bloody hell! We’re turning into Two Way Family Favourites:

“Cue the great Dinah W:

What a difference a day made, twenty four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers where there use to be rain
My yesterday was blue dear
Today I’m a part of you dear

Is this on YouTube, Jim?”

Bruce, of BFPO Manchester requests this for all his old pals back home at AWL Akrotiri:

…That was the hit commercial recording (very nice )…but here’s some rare film of Dinah performing it live with Louis Jordan’s Orchestra…

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Every Child Matters As Long As it’s Not An Asylum Seeker

August 27, 2008 at 12:35 am (asylum, Human rights, immigration, Jim D, Racism, thuggery, youth)

From Neil, of the Sots

The United Kingdom is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. All fair and nice cuddly politics. Now the UK has a general reservation against the UN Convention on Rights of the Child. That means the UK can ignore the Convention in pursuit of its border control and immigration targets. That strikes me as being wrong, unjust, unethical, immoral and just an all round bad thing.

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture argues

The general reservation states that: “The United Kingdom reserves the right to apply such legislation, in so far as it relates to the entry into, stay in and departure from the UK of those who do not have the right under the law of the UK to enter and remain in the UK, and to the acquisition and possession of citizenship, as it may deem necessary from time to time.” 
The question is timely, 2008 being the year that the Committee on the Rights of the Child will scrutinise the UK’s record of compliance with its Children’s Convention obligations.
So how does the reservation affect child survivors of torture? According to the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), it “allows the UK to apply its immigration laws without having them interpreted in light of the UN Convention”. In other words, it allows blanket discrimination against foreign national children in the interests of so called “effective immigration control”.
 

 

 

 

So the UK government discriminates, in contravention of the Convention, against children who may be survivors, or witnesses, of torture just so that it can meet its immigration targets That is managerial target-setting entering the door and throwing ethics and morality out of the window. Such is the reign of managerialism in the UK in 2008.

As the Medical Foundation says

It is paramount to send a clear message that the UK finally recognises its full responsibilities by formally and publicly removing the reservation. An act which at least for children would be every bit as important as the coming in to force of the Human Rights Act 1998. 
For Medical Foundation clients and all other children who have suffered serious harm, Article 39 of the Convention can then be demonstrably implemented to the fullest effect: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.”
 
 

 

 

And, as the government keeps telling us, Every Child Matters. So, make it so.

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Think before you link

August 26, 2008 at 9:25 pm (blogging, blogosphere, Free Speech, KB72, Rosie B, unions)

Harry’s Place has been shut down by the service provider evidently because of a post that was put up about a UCU activist (Jenna Delich) linking to a David Duke site, which she thought was a good place to find factual material on Israel and Jews. She sent this useful information round via a UCU mailing list.  Some of the UCU activists took exception to, well, not to Jenna Delich’s ideas of research but that Harry’s Place had pointed this out, and now a complaint has been made to the service provider (presumably about possible defamation) and the site has been shut down.

The material on this affair has been put up on a temporary site here.

Note to self and others:- if you do inadvertently link to a neo-Nazi site or any other dodgy site for information and this is pointed out to you, apologise and say that you are totally mortified.  In fact, it would be excellent if you felt totally mortified.  Then the whole business will go away.  But don’t sound huffy and annoyed like Jenna Delich – how were you supposed to know what a neo-Nazi site looks like?  (Same thing applies if you produce leaflets talking about the Holocaust and omit to mention its main and best known victims.  See comments to post here).

Also, if you have been found out, don’t resort to defamation laws or apply pressure through service providers.  Many bloggers might dislike the site you are attacking, but there is some solidarity among bloggers – first of all they came for Harry’s Place, next they came for me – and they will flash this story around the blogosphere.  From there it may be taken up by the mainstream media and you will look very bad trying to shut up critics, and especially bad if you are a union for academics. 

More information on how to detect a neo-Nazi site here.

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The Politics of Showbiz

August 25, 2008 at 10:43 am (Democratic Party, Democrats, elections, Obama, United States, voltairespriest)

Race for the White HouseGripped as we all have been by the important, world-altering matter of the AWL’s recent internal dispute over Iran-Israel, it may have escaped your attention that this week also holds the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Given that the likelihood of a Broder-Matgamna youth and experience ticket has receded in recent weeks, it looks like we’ll just have to deal with Obama-Biden instead.

As I’m in a small minority on the left in the UK for advocating any kind of support for Obama, I probably batted more of an eyelid than most when he made his VP pick and chose Joe Biden. It’s a bit of a ho-hum choice as far as I’m concerned; Biden is known most over here for having nicked one of Neil Kinnock’s speeches during his failed 1988 Presidential run, thus effectively ending his ambitions for the White House. I’m not terribly sure what drove him (initially) to run this time; he was a no hoper from the beginning and (a couple of gaffes aside, which McCain has already leaped on) looked like an out-rider for Obama through most of the primaries until he dropped out. He’s a steady hand on the tiller in the main, and pretty much a formulaic choice by the Obama campaign given his foreign policy experience and Obama’s lack thereof.

I’d be surprised if anything much departs from the playbook this week; the Democrats have gotten a lot better at running tight conventions since Bill Clinton first took a grip on the fractious party in 1992. Even Hillary is unlikely to do much to disrupt it: she herself has employed a 40-strong team of whips to ensure that “her” delegates do no upset the Obama applecart.

This of course leads us to one of Obama’s problems – he’s so smooth that you never get to see him really looking like he’s connecting with the sort of people (non college educated Democrats) who he needs to mobilise in order to get a firm majority in November. They memorably swung behind Clinton – also previously seen as too smooth – when an attack on his wife in an early 1992 debate led to the candidate losing his temper on television and laying furiously into Jerry Brown, a primary opponent. Off-message this most certainly was, but it made the candidate “real” to those often socially conservative Democrats in a way that Obama has not (yet) managed. It will be interesting this week to see if Obama is sufficiently willing to take a risk and depart from the script laid out for him. I doubt it, but he needs to.

The other thing that I hope the Democrats finally do, is stop shutting up about the issue of race. It is infuriating to watch them flounder in front of Republican attack ads which insidiously seek to inject race into the debate, or even Rush Limbaugh openly stating that Obama is only the candidate because the Democrats didn’t have the guts to “criticise the little black-man child”. The reality is that McCain’s coalition is in part composed of open racist votes and racist backers, and everybody knows it. If Obama’s campaign really came out swinging on the issue, with a populist economic message and an anti-war, pro-engagement with the world foreign policy, and was unabashed about its message of a real new direction for the country and the world, then at least they’d be giving it a go. As it stands they risk playing the same “tacking” game that centre-left parties worldwide have been doing for over a decade, the same tired tactic that has seen the Labour Party here turn into a right-wing non entity with no core electorate at all.

Either way though, the convention will be spectacular. And besides, I don’t get a vote, so it’s only a bit of fun. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

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The AWL, Israel and Iran

August 23, 2008 at 9:02 am (AWL, David Broder, Iran, islamism, israel, Marxism, trotskyism)

(This is a guest post by David Broder, formerly of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and a vocal “minority” advocate in recent political debates on Iraq, Israel and Iran – VP)

The furore over the recent article by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s Sean Matgamna excusing an Israeli attack on Iran has now died down. The four pages splashed across Thursday’s Solidarity belie the silence that has fallen. There have been hardly any comments on the AWL website about the issue for a week; except for a short piece by Matgamna proving that the CPGB have upset him in the recent Punch-and-Judy, the articles in Solidarity are all old reprints from the website discussion; the statement circulated between around a dozen AWL minority comrades did not make the paper; and the discussion bulletin promised for August 17th never materialised.

This was hardly surprising – the participants in the discussion all had totally different parameters for debate and therefore the argument ran into the ground without any new conclusions being drawn. This despite the one glaring similarity between the Matgamna position and the so-called “kitsch left” position, namely that neither side is aware of the difference between the interests of the working class and their ‘national’ ruling class and therefore have no option but to line up behind the “lesser evil” bourgeoisie, whether that be the “anti-imperialist” rulers of Iran or Israel, which Solidarity labelled “the most democratic society on Earth”.

The level of debate was appalling. Sean Matgamna – who admitted at our North London AWL branch meeting when challenged that he could not name a single Iranian trade unionist and was unaware of strikes taking place in Iran – simply assumed that the Iranian rulers were all al-Qaedist suicide bombers and that they were developing nukes. Anyone who knows me will know that I am no apologist for the Iranian regime, but you have to take the dynamics of the situation seriously. Khatami has repeatedly criticised “hard liners”, preaching moderation, civilian nuclear energy only, and Iran-US negotiations. A brief search on Google reveals that Iran’s “Supreme Leader” Khamenei issued a Fatwa against the development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons in August 2005, unlike Mohsen Gharavian – a disciple of Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, who is close to Ahmedinejad – who in February 2006 said that it was permissible to use them. I would certainly not advocate alliance with sections of the regime opposed to Ahmedinejad or support for “reform” Islamists, but they are a real factor in the situation.

Furthermore, the argument was characterised by ridiculous personal attacks. On the AWL website Mark Osborn wrote that “in an ideal world [Workers' Power's] Richard [Brenner] would be well balanced and a foot taller”, called Bill Jefferies “Bill Braincell” Ben Lewis “Benny Boy” and made a Welsh/sheep-shagger joke about the CPGB’s Mark Fischer. Tom Unterrainer wrote that “when it comes down to it HOPI will strain every sinew to excuse and defend the actions of Iranian clerical fascism against the Iranian working class”, without any explanation. If only the AWL leadership really did devote as much time building links with Iranian socialists as they did to squabbling with the rest of the left, their position would be a little more credible. Not that any of the Iraqi socialists they would talk to refuse to call for “troops out now”; similarly, I doubt the Iranians would be too delighted if the Israeli jets came and the AWL “refused to condemn” it.

You might be wondering why I’m moaning about all this: of course, none of this behaviour is new. After the close vote on Iraq at the AWL conference in May, Mark Osborn had loudly heckled that the group was full of “Maoist youth”. Last summer there was a pathetic fight between the CPGB and AWL, with lengthy, rambling personal attacks in both papers and the bizarre spectacle of the AWL’s Paul Hampton picketing the CPGB’s Communist University holding a cornflakes box and making chicken noises. I can’t quite remember what the dispute was about: I’m sure some trainspotters of the “blogosphere” will. Solidarity has just as much bumpf about left groups as any other paper.

While I had generally disliked the culture of AWL internal debates, which are usually characterised by a few people rallying around the EC and blandly asserting that their critics are “ill-educated” or “outside the tradition” without any explanation, what really changed my mind about the possibility of “reforming” the AWL was a specific incident that took place at the group’s office, where I have worked on-and-off, two weeks ago.

It started when I received a phone call from Tom Unterrainer that morning. As soon as I had said “hello” he said “I hear that you’re organising a faction”. Tom said that Sean and him were concerned about my recent “behaviour” in the Israel-Iran debate and wanted me to come to the office and discuss it with them.

Unsurprisingly, at the “meeting”, Sean repeated the age-old claim that I had pieced together a “rotten bloc” of minority comrades who I allegedly “actually” disagreed with.

But, much worse, in a series of paranoid slanders I was also repeatedly accused of supporting and goading on “kitsch left” attacks on the AWL; questioned on what links I have with the CPGB (a group I left over the question of Respect more than four years ago, aged 15, having been a member for barely two months) and Workers’ Power; and questioned over my motivations for having a personal friendship with Ben Lewis, who is in the CPGB.

In a breathtaking accusation of disloyalty, they asked what meetings I had had with the CPGB and Workers’ Power. Even to ask the question is an open expression of mistrust. (Thinking back, I once did go to meet Luke Cooper and Richard Brenner from WP, and did go to the Communist Students conference… in both cases having sought the AWL Executive Committee’s permission in advance!)

In this vein, I was asked how come the CPGB and I “use the same formulations to polemicise against [Sean]“. By “same formulations” they meant: I recently criticised Sean for “excusing” an Israeli attack on Iran, then a few days later the Weekly Worker had a headline criticising Sean with the word “excuse” in: as if the mere word “excuse” were some new invention of mine.

So not only was I accused of having been provoked the whole debate (since it was I who wrote the first response to Sean’s article on the website: apparently the article itself was not the cause of the row), thereby giving some sort of passive encouragement to the “kitsch left” to attack Sean: but I was also accused of active collaboration with the CPGB and Workers’ Power.

The one thing not up for discussion at the “meeting” was the politics of Sean’s article: Sean said he did not want to discuss it since my response was “not political” but rather “a stream of personal attacks”. He couldn’t cite any specific personal attack though, which made me think that they can’t have been particularly hurtful, and he turned down my offer to show him the article so that he could point out where all the personal attacks were.

Indeed, at this “meeting”, after repeatedly expressing my objections, I was mandated by these two Executive Committee members to produce a statement repudiating the CPGB and Workers’ Power and affirming my loyalty to the AWL, which Sean would then “vet” and make “suitable” for publication. When I sarcastically commented that rather than “vetting” the statement, maybe Sean should write it himself and put my name on it, he paused and then said – apparently entirely sincerely – to Tom, “I’d prefer to do that, but then he’ll claim afterwards that he was forced to do it”.

Indeed I was forced to do it. But I didn’t – to write a “statement of loyalty” and stick it up on the AWL site would have been grotesque. The culture in the AWL is not “Healyite”, but this was along those kind of lines.

I instead wrote a message to the AWL’s email list explaining what had happened and why I wouldn’t do it, which was met with a cavalcade of responses from all the usual suspects, most of them claiming that it was in fact I who was acting undemocratically since I should have written my response to Sean on the National Committee email list rather than publicly. Quite why I am to blame for “starting” a discussion for writing the second piece in it (you see, without a second post it wouldn’t have been a discussion, just an article… although it was entitled “discussion article”, which implies that it should be both…) is beyond me.

In a bizarre rant, Sean said that the cause of the problem was that… “David has bought into some commonplace anti-Bolshevik mythologies: he clearly does not agree with the organisational norms of the AWL, or of the political tradition that we trace back to the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik Party. He sees or construes things – in this case the ‘meeting’ – to fit the anti-Bolshevik caricature of organisations like the AWL.” I was furthermore an “anti-Bolshevik” and a “centrist-anarchist”. People took sides on the “meeting” according to their views on Israel and Iran.

A discussion bulletin had been mooted, and the “meeting” was meant to be discussed at the next National Committee. Of course, there is no way in which Sean Matgamna and his ally Tom Unterrainer could have been censured by such a meeting.

There is, indeed, no prospect of replacing the EC of the AWL with another set of people, and that stymies all other discussions. If Dan Randall’s “troops out” motion had got a few more votes at the group’s conference and secured 51%, that would not have changed anything, since the same people would write the same articles about Iraq, perhaps calling their pieces “discussion articles”. The same people would be in charge of educationals and set the tone of all debate and discussion, and indeed even if the AWL had voted for “troops out of Iraq” Sean’s piece would still have appeared and had all the same outcomes, including the heretic-hunting “meeting”.

All debates are in any case largely between people on the leading committees of the group and have little input from the rest of the membership: I was amused by the suggestion that I am just angry at not being on the AWL EC, given that any vote on that committee on any issue would have been 6 against 1. In this case, Sean Matgamna decided that he disagreed with the conference policy on Iran and thus wrote an article saying we should not oppose an Israeli attack against that country: now it is universally believed that this is the AWL position, there is a moratorium on discussion, and so he has got his way.

With all that in mind, Chris Ford and I agreed that it was pointless to continue fighting in the AWL. There are lots of dedicated and intelligent comrades in the AWL who I was reluctant to break with: but they also will hit a brick wall (and the same kind of behaviour) if they attempt to fight the leadership. The only real alternatives are to leave or to bury yourself in your “own” campaigns and activism while semi-ignoring the “big politics” spouted by the AWL leadership. The latter is of course pointless – you can be a perfectly good activist or union militant without advocating any of the ideas expressed by the AWL.

Presumably all AWL “dissidents” want to advocate independent working-class politics, re-examine the state of our movement and the tasks of the working class and articulate a vision for a communist society. They will have much more chance of doing that with Chris Ford, myself and others who were not in the AWL than they will by remaining in that organisation.

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When we were kids

August 22, 2008 at 9:46 pm (literature, Rosie B)

I’ve just seen Clive James, who filled the Queen’s Hall (capacity 800-900).  He did a free association ramble from the Olympics through to celebrity to how if you wash Y-fronts frequently they end up as Q-fronts. He finished with this poem:-

When We Were Kids

When we were kids we fought in the mock battle
With Ned Kelly cap guns and we opened the cold bottle
Of Shelley’s lemonade with a Scout belt buckle.
We cracked the passion fruit and sipped the honeysuckle.

When we were kids we lit the Thundercracker
Under the fruit tin and we sucked the all day sucker.
We opened the shoe box to watch the silk-worms spinning
Cocoons of cirrus with oriental cunning.

When we were kids we were sun-burned to a frazzle.
The beach was a griddle, you could hear us spit and sizzle.
We slept face down when our backs came out in blisters.
Teachers were famous for throwing blackboard dusters.

When we were kids we dive-bombed from the tower.
We floated in the inner tube, we bowled the rubber tyre.
From torn balloons we blew the cherry bubble.
Blowing up Frenchies could get you into trouble.

When we were kids we played at cock-a-lorum.
Gutter to gutter the boys ran harum-scarum.
The girls ran slower and their arms and legs looked funny.
You weren’t supposed to drink your school milk in the dunny.

When we were kids the licorice came in cables.
We traded Hubba-Hubba bubblegum for marbles.
A new connie-agate was a flower trapped in crystal
Worth just one go with a genuine air pistol.

When we were kids we threw the cigarette cards
Against the wall and we lined the Grenadier Guards
Up on the carpet and you couldn’t touch the trifle
Your Aunt Marge made to go in the church raffle.

When we were kids we hunted the cicada.
The pet cockatoo bit like a barracuda.
We were secret agents and fluent in pig Latin.
Gutsing on mulberries made our lips shine like black satin.

When we were kids we caught the Christmas beetle.
Its brittle wings were gold-green like the wattle.
Our mothers made bouquets from frangipani.
Hard to pronounce, a pink musk-stick cost a penny.

When we were kids we climbed peppercorns and willows.
We startled the stingrays when we waded in the shallows.
We mined the sand dunes in search of buried treasure,
And all this news pleased our parents beyond measure.

When we were kids the pus would wet the needle
When you dug out splinters and a piss was called a piddle.
The scabs on your knees would itch when they were ready
To be picked off your self-renewing body.

When we were kids a year would last forever.
Then we grew up and were told it was all over.
Now we are old and the memories returning
Are like the last stars that fade before the morning.

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He asked for it… so give him your answer, do!

August 22, 2008 at 2:52 pm (blogging, blogosphere, Champagne Charlie, internet, left, media, politics)

Dave’s Part: what is to be done?

[NB: having been warned by one 'Ms Stroppy' that this piece might confuse the hard-of-thinking, let me make it clear that what follows is about the blog 'Dave's Part', with which we at 'Shiraz' have comradely relations / rivalry,  but no more than that... so it's not about us. OK?  All clear now?- Charlie].

bloggers.gifAfter being upbraided by a couple of regular readers – in the comments box on the post below – for increasingly frequent lapses into ‘cringeworthy’ populism, I’ve been pondering the issue of whether my current blogging style and strategy is actually the right one.The idea has been for Dave’s Part to mix fairly straightforward serious coverage of politics, international relations and economics with forays into such areas as the Bridgend suicides, the Bellfield, Wright and Dixie murders and knife crime.

The justification in the latter instance is that these are matters that the left media traditionally rarely touches, but really should do more often. Such topics are what people discuss in workplaces and pubs every day, and raise important political issues about the social relationships that obtain under capitalism. Not the least consideration is that they attract new people to this website.

I have frequently pledged to myself to give up completely on far left sectariana. But I keep going back there, because I secretly love it really, and so – I suspect – do the core readership. Look at the number of comments such posts attract.

Usually I do know what I am talking about. Believe it or not, there is sometimes some erudition behind the words I type. Now and then, I make it up as I go along, as all journalists do to some extent. But because posts tend to be knocked out in my lunch break, detailed research is usually precluded.

I presume I am doing something right, because the number of hits continues to rise steadily. But all media outlets benefit from feedback. You lot are Joe Public in this instance.

So, let’s have your comments please. What do you like about Dave’s Part? What do you dislike? Where do I come a cropper and make myself look a prat? Are the humourous posts actually pretty unfunny? What do you want to see more of, and what should be scrapped?

Oh, and don’t hold back. I can take it. I think.

 

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