Having watched, pondered and re-watched Paxman’s interview with comedian Russell Brand on last night’s Newsnight, I’m still not sure what to make of it. My initial response was that Brand is a pretentious, incoherent idiot, spouting a lot of pseudo-revolutionary hot air and half-digested anarchistic platitudes. But several people I’ve spoken to today told me they were impressed by him. So I’ve watched it again and have to admit that, after a facetious start, he becomes more sympathetic as he gets angrier. But I still think he’s a prat – and a banal prat at that – and wonder what the hell the New Statesman is playing at, hiring him as a guest editor this week.
Judge for yourself…
…and feel free to let us know what you think.
Tom Sharpe, comic novelist, born March 30 1928, died June 6 2013
Tom “PG Wodehouse on Acid” Sharpe, who died today, was the laugh-out-loud author of farce-cum-satire, probably best known for his ‘Wilt’ books about further education and ‘Porterhouse Blue’ set in an Cambridge College. But he was also a savagely witty critic of apartheid in South Africa, where he lived and was politically active in a low-key sort of way (as a social worker) between 1951 and 1961, when he was deported.
He excoriated white South African racism, arrogance and stupidity in two wonderful books, ‘Riotous Assembly’ (1971) and ‘Indecent Exposure’ (1973). Here’s a little taster for you:
Riotous Assembly (excerpt from Chapter 2)
Miss Hazelstone was telephoning to report that she had just shot her Zulu cook. Konstabel Els was perfectly capable of handling the matter. He had in his time as a police officer shot any number of Zulu cooks. Besides there was a regular procedure for dealing with such reports. Konstabel Els went into the routine.
‘You wish to report the death of a kaffir,’ he began.
‘I have just murdered my Zulu cook,’ snapped Miss Hazelstone.
Els was placatory. ‘That’s what I said. You wish to report the death of a coon.’
‘I wish to do nothing of the sort. I told you I have just murdered Fivepence.’
Els tried again. ‘The loss of a few coins doesn’t count as murder.’
‘Fivepence was my cook.’
‘Killing a cook doesn’t count as murder either.’
‘What does it count as, then?’ Miss Hazelstone’s confidence in her own guilt was beginning to wilt under Konstabel Els’ favourable diagnosis of the situation.
‘Killing a white cook can be murder. It’s unlikely but it can be. Killing a black cook can’t. Not under any circumstances. Killing a black cook comes under self-defence, justifiable homicide or garbage disposal.’ Els permitted himself a giggle. ‘Have you tried the Health Department?’ he inquired.
It was obvious to the Kommandant that Els had lost what little sense of social deference he had ever possessed. He pushed Els aside and took the call himself.
‘Kommandant van Heerden here,’ he said. ‘I understand that there has been a slight accident with your cook.’
Miss Hazelstone was adamant. ‘I have just murdered my Zulu cook.’
Kommandant van Heerden ignored the self-accusation. ‘The body is in the house?’ he inquired.
‘The body is on the lawn,’ said Miss Hazelstone. The Kommandant sighed. It was always the same. Why couldn’t people shoot blacks inside their houses where they were supposed to shoot them?
‘I will be up at Jacaranda House in forty minutes,’ he said, ‘and when I arrive I will find the body in the house.’
‘You won’t,’ Miss Hazelstone insisted, ‘you’ll find it on the back lawn.’
Kommandant van Heerden tried again.
‘When I arrive the body will be in the house.’ He said it very slowly this time.
Miss Hazelstone was not impressed. ‘Are you suggesting that I move the body?’ she asked angrily.
The Kommandant was appalled at the suggestion. ‘Certainly not,’ he said. ‘I have no wish to put you to any inconvenience and besides there might be fingerprints. You can get the servants to move it for you.’
There was a pause while Miss Hazelstone considered the implications of this remark. ‘It sounds to me as though you are suggesting that I should tamper with the evidence of a crime,’ she said slowly and menacingly. ‘It sounds to me as though you are trying to get me to interfere with the course of justice.’
‘Madam,’ interrupted the Kommandant, ‘I am merely trying to help you to obey the law.’ He paused, groping for words. ‘The law says that it is a crime to shoot kaffirs outside your house. But the law also says it is perfectly permissible and proper to shoot them inside your house if they have entered illegally.’
‘Fivepence was my cook and had every legal right to enter the house.’
‘I’m afraid you’re wrong there,’ Kommandant van Heerden went on. ‘Your house is a white area and no kaffir is entitled to enter a white area without permission. By shooting your cook you were refusing him permission to enter your house. I think it is safe to assume that.’
There was a silence at the other end of the line. Miss Hazelstone was evidently convinced.
‘I’ll be up in forty minutes,’ continued van Heerden, adding hopefully, ‘and I trust the body-‘
‘You’ll be up here in five minutes and Fivepence will be on the lawn where I shot him,’ snarled Miss Hazelstone and slammed down the phone.
The Kommandant looked at the receiver and sighed. He put it down wearily and turning to Konstabel Els he ordered his car.
As they drove up the hill to Jacaranda Park, Kommandant van Heerden knew he was faced with a difficult case. He studied the back of Konstabel Els’ head and found some consolation in its shape and colour.
If the worst came to the worst he could always make use of Els’ great gift of incompetence and if in spite of all his efforts to prevent it. Miss Hazelstone insisted on being tried for murder, she would have as the chief prosecution witness against her, befuddled and besotted, Konstabel Els. If nothing else could save her, if she pleaded guilty in open court, if she signed confession after confession, Konstabel Els under cross-examination by no matter how half-witted a defence attorney would convince the most biased jury or the most inflexible judge that she was the innocent victim of police incompetence and unbridled perjury. The State Attorney was known to have referred to Konstabel Els in the witness box as the Instant Alibi.
Telegraph obit here …
and the Graun‘s here
Above: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
The prisons in Perm and Mordovia are some of the harshest camps in all Russia, known for severely unhealthy conditions, a complete absence of privacy and a brutal social hierarchy where convicts are subject to abuse and sexual violence by both prison guards.
This summer, Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, began two-year prison sentences there for daring to stand against Vladimir Putin. Now Nadezhda has been hospitalized after toiling in prison yards around the clock — and sources say her life is in danger.
Media attention this summer already caused Putin’s puppets to stop pushing for the maximum penalty and pardon one member of the group. Don’t let Nadezhda become a martyr for dissent: call for Pussy Riot to be transferred to a Moscow facility now!
PETITION TO VLADIMIR PUTIN AND RUSSIAN PENAL AUTHORITIES: There is no reason to deny Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova the right to serve their two-year prison terms in Moscow to be closer to their children. The world is watching: Transfer Maria and Nadezhda now!
Thanks, — The folks at Watchdog.net
P.S. If the other links aren’t working for you, please go here to sign: http://act.watchdog.net/petitions/2390?n=15462140.Vmv12W
H/T: Rosie H
Re-blogged (with very minor changes) from Tendance Coatsey
Charlie Hebdo has published some new Mohammed cartoons.
Middle East onLine reports,
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Wednesday anyone offended by cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo could take the matter to the courts.
But he emphasised France’s tradition of free speech. “We are in a country where freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature,” he said on RTL radio.
You can see some of the cartoons (including the most controversial one) on this video-clip here.
The Editor of Charlie Hebdo, Charb, (Stéphane Charbonnier) is a supporter of the Front de Gauche and the French Communist Party (PCF).
Charlie itself is one of the last living representatives of ’68′ gauchisme.
There are many, including not a few on the French left, who will accuse it of ‘provocation’.
This is like complaining that chilis are hot.
A minority on the French left, like the Les Indigènes de la République,* self-appointed enforcers against Islamophobia, will be up in arms about the cartoons.
Indigènes de la République excelled themselves this weekend by physically threatening gay secularist Caroline Fourest at the La fête de l’Huma and preventing her from speaking (you can see a video of their violence here).
Emboldened by their menaces against a lesbian feminist, and, according to those who were at the fête, a North African woman steward, they will no doubt rage against Charlie.
As will many, many, others.
This is Charb’s response,
More extensive interview with Charb in Libèration (in French), «Pas plus de provocation avec l’islam qu’avec d’autres sujets».
The leader of the French Communist Party (PCF), Pierre Laurent, is cited in the same paper,
Charlie Hebdo fait partie d’une certaine tradition. A ce que je sache, le délit de blasphème n’existe pas dans notre pays. Après, il y a des gens qui aiment et des gens qui n’aiment pas Charlie Hebdo.
Il n’y a en France qu’une dizaine de salafistes. Il ne faut pas exagérer la situation et ne pas faire de la publication de ces caricatures un drame qui n’en est pas un”
Charlie Hebdo comes from a specific tradition. As far as I know blasphemy is not a crime in our country. There are, following that, those who like and those who dislike Charlie Hebdo.
In France there are only a dozen Salafists. We should not exaggerate the situation, and not create a drama out of these caricatures when none exists.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Parti de gauche) has just said on his Facebook page,
La caricature est un droit dans ce pays, et la protestation tout autant : le tout dans le respect de la loi.
* Indigènes de la République‘s particular interpretation of “anti-Zionism” (sic) has led them to support Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Wikipedia.
I first heard ‘Ukelele Ike’ when I was 8!
I was ukelele mad and my father searched far and wide for any ‘uke’ records to satisfy my addiction. Little did I know that an ‘Ike’ record would set me on a career in vintage jazz.
‘Ukelele Ike’ (or to give him his real name, Cliff Edwards), has been almost totally forgotten in the history of jazz, cabaret, film singing, etc. But he did it all! Space doesn’t permit me to list his achievements, but the only well-known and commercial aspect of his career was that he was the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Walt Disney cartoon version of Pinnochio. This brought him great success and money, but, as always with Cliff, it never quite worked out.
Edwards had made lots of money over the years (a reputed four thousand dollars a week in 1925!!), but he seemingly got divorced more times than he got married.
He didn’t really understand the tax laws and was partial to a drink or two. It’s easy to see him as a tragic character, but I don’t think he was — he loved life and lived it to the full.
While on tour of in the USA years ago I met a chap who’d been a pal of Edwards’; I of course asked the question, “What was he like?” The old gent replied, “Every day with Cliff was like New Years’s Eve!”
This Upbeat CD of Edwards is a gem. The balance of the content is superb — early vaudeville hits, hot jazz recordings, sentimental ballads, Howaiian exotica, British recordings, and a few naughty ‘party’ recordings. Using original records, the sound quality is warm and clear. Some radio transcriptions give us a chance to hear the man in a different setting. I have never previously heard the title track, I Did It With My Little Ukelele, so hats off for finding this beauty.
Mike Pointon’s research for this album is incredible; the sleeve notes alone are worth buying, but this is the studious, caring approach that we have all come to expect from the Pointon pen.
I know I’m biased as I’ve spent the last 30 years championing Edwards, but I can wholly recommend this release. It’s all here, and I defy anyone not to find all of it charming. In fact, when I listen to Edwards sing Just like A Melody From Out Of The Sky, it’s not just charming, it’s class that we just don’t hear these days.
Three cheers for Cliff!
This is a slightly edited version of Spats’ review of the Upbeat CD I Did It With My Little Ukelele that appeared in Just Jazz magazine, February 2012.
It is my intention to have an arts, TV, cinema or music article every Friday: if you’d like to contribute, please let me know, via the comments box, or to firstname.lastname@example.org -Jim D.
“But, now that we are all at last preparing to act, a new form of social organisation is essential. In order to avoid further uncertainty, I propose my own system of world-organisation. Here it is.” He tapped the notebook. “I wanted to expound my views to the meeting in the most concise form possible, but I see that I should need to add a great many verbal explanations, and so the whole exposition would occupy at least ten evenings, one for each of my chapters.” (There was the sound of laughter.) “I must add, besides, that my system is not yet complete.” (Laughter again.) “I am perplexed by my own data and my conclusion is a direct contradiction of the original idea with which I start. Starting from unlimited freedom, I arrive at unlimited despotism. I will add, however, that there can be no solution of the social problem but mine” – Shigalev, a character in Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed.
Anyone foolish enough (in the light of his pompous bleatings today) to take the self-important charlatan Assange at his own, inflated, estimation, should ponder the man’s willingness to grovel before autocrats and denounce their opponents to them, his evident belief that he should be above any law, his support for, and employment of, a notorious anti-semite and neo-Nazi, his crude sexism (whether or not he’s actually a rapist)…but most of all, this (from the Daily Tech):
David Leigh of England’s Guardian newspaper has leveled a shocking accusation against Mr. Assange in the special.
He recalls a meeting he was invited to about the publication of the war memos. He remembers pleading with Assange to redact the names of tribal elders and U.S. informants who were exposed cooperating with the U.S. and could be the subject of deadly retribution. He comments, “Julian was very reluctant to delete those names, to redact them. And we said: ‘Julian, we’ve got to do something about these redactions. We really have got to.'”
“And he said: ‘These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die.’ And a silence fell around the table.”
Mr. Assange seemingly denied the allegation calling it “absolutely false… completely false.”
But he qualifies, “We don’t want innocent people with a decent chance of being hurt to be hurt.”
The possibility is left open that Mr. Assange views U.S. allies (such as cooperating tribal leaders) as culpable accomplices, and is obfuscating the fact that he indeed wishes them ill.
It is unknown whether the publications have caused any deaths, but Newsweek reported last year that the Taliban, a violent Jihadist fundamentalist insurgency in Afghanistan, were using the war memos as a rally cry. Allegedly they brutally murdered a tribal elder, whom they claimed the leaked documents exposed, and promised more executions.
PS: just a few things the reptillian attention-seeker had to say in the course of his bleating from the balcony today, are true – that Bradley Manning, Pussy Riot and the jailed Bahraini dissident Nabeel Rajab must be supported. They’re genuine heroes and victims. But as Bob points out, Assange’s attempt to identify himself with these honourable dissidents, may be yet another example of the man’s overweening cynicism.
PPS: it goes without saying that the UK government’s ludicrous and empty semi-threat to withdraw diplomatic immunity from the Ecuadorian embassy has only aided Assange’s claim to be some kind of “victim,” and provided grist to the mill of the the populist demagogue Correa’s “anti-imperialist” posturing.
|George W. Lowen Coxhill (19 September 1932 – 10 July 2012), generally known as Lol Coxhill, was an English free improvising saxophonist and raconteur. He played the soprano or sopranino saxophone|
THE last time Tottenham burned, the local Labour Party was quick to takes sides. ‘The police were to blame for what happened,’ announced council leader and later MP Bernie Grant. ‘And what they got was a bloody good hiding’.
By contrast, current Westminster representative David Lammy has been quick to distance himself not only from last night’s disturbances, but from the events of 1985 as well. The comparison between the two stances illustrates just how far Labour has travelled over the last 26 years.
Over the next few days, condemnation will be heard from across the mainstream political spectrum. So it is worth asking such basic questions as ‘why did this happen?’
For the stupid right, it was an outbreak of thuggery, plain and simple. For Telegraph blogger Nile Gardiner – a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst, no less – the underlying problem is that the Coalition has ‘not gone far enough in reining in the deficit, and has not been forceful enough on issues like crime’.
Let me run that past you again. The proximate cause of the unrest was the action of the Metropolitan Police in shooting a man dead. Just how ‘forceful’ does Gardiner want the cops to be?
At the other extreme, past experience shows that sections of the far left regard riots as good things in and of themselves. ‘FANTASTIC TOTTENHAM – BRUTAL MURDERING MET COPS GET WHAT WAS COMING TO THEM’, proclaims obviously breathless Ian Bone.
‘Have not seen a riot like this with so much hatred, property damage and lasting into daylight since Toxteth 1981 … At last the working class have re-entered the arena. BIGTIME. THE REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN TORY BRITAIN HAS BEGUN!’
You just can’t beat a bit of good old fashioned property damage, can you? The insurance industry will of course reimburse the chain retailers for the looted plasma televisions. Let’s hope the burnt out small shopkeepers were similarly well covered. But the impact of the riot on an already depressed local economy is hardly going to be positive.
I am not a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst, or one of Britain’s best-known anarchists, come to that. My home in N16 is about two miles down the road from N17, in a broadly similar area, and I have lived in inner city north London for most of my life.
I can see the poverty and the dereliction from the window of the room in which I am typing this. I can see the racist policing, the homeless alkies, the untreated schizophrenics, the wheelchair-bound beggars, the street violence and the gang culture on an average trip to the shopping centre.
All of this goes on just a short bus ride away from the fabulous wealth of the City, which is where I work, and where million pound bonuses continue to be dished out with the same regularity as P45s are handed to low-paid shopworkers. I’m all in favour of beginning the redistribution of wealth in Tory Britain, but I’d rather start it with the hedge fund boys than the local Asian convenience store.
The argument will go that the way to change this state of affairs is through the democratic process rather than the petrol bomb. But such is the degree of disconnect between all the major parties and the street that the chances of positive engagement are next to zero. There is instead the recourse of riot.
The depressing thing is that nothing has changed since the violence in Brixton, Toxteth, Handsworth and, of course, Tottenham, that scarred the Thatcher years. New Labour had 13 years in which to address the multiple problems of areas that consistently return Labour MPs. Despite some useful initiatives, its essential commitment to neoliberalism meant that it was unable to do so effectively.
Now we are back with a Tory-led Coalition determined to enact policies that will make matters worse. As a result, the Met last night got yet another bloody good hiding. Isn’t that enough to bring about a serious rethink? Maybe we should phrase it more diplomatically than Bernie did, but the least Labour could do is to make the case.
NB: Dave lives in neighbouring N16