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Showing posts from 2019

My enemy's enemy is my friend, uh, enemy's friend's enemy, um, where was I?

I have a lot of admiration for Diane Abbott.

A pioneer for black women in parliament, for her to have risen as far as she has in the face of the twin obstacles of racism and misogyny speaks to a canny and formidable political operator, for her to have held her ground in the warm beer and curly sandwiches Labour party of the 1980's speaks to her tenacity, courage and intelligence. She has been much traduced, unfairly vilified and highlighted by a media which has carried at times an only thinly veiled racist subtext. Which is why it was all the more disappointing to hear her making an absolute arse of herself about everyone's favourite toxic truth-seeker, Julian Assange, on the radio this morning.

You see, I get entirely why the Labour line has been to oppose the extradition of Assange to the US, her equivalence to the case of Gary MacKinnon has some merit, his crime there is essentially to have embarrassed the military, something which is generally to be applauded. It would be …

Amateur Hour

As some of you will doubtless be aware, in my professional life I work as a chef. It's not something I tend to write too much about, as the industry can be arcane and opaque, and as the inner workings of my kitchen are of little interest to anyone other than other chefs, so I have tended, in the past, to keep details of restaurant life away from the blogging beyond the occasional inchoate howl of tiredness and desperation. But, two days out and suitably calmed from Mother's Day, one of the most fraught days in the catering calendar, there is one aspect of the trade which I would like to share with you all, if only as a cautionary tale, and possibly an injunction not to do This Sort of Thing.

Because Mother's Day, you see, is Amateur Hour. By which I mean it's one of the three days of the year, the others being New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, when you can be certain that you're going to be packed full of the dreaded tribe: People With No Idea How To Beha…

The long march to nowhere.

It's so easy to forget that they exist, poor sods. In amongst all the sturm und drang of this week's "Previously on Brexenders", the midnight meetings behind closed doors, the patently unhinged press conferences, the breathless media coverage, the rancour, the name-calling, golf-club bore Mark "TA" Francois cropping up absolutely sodding everywhere (rumours that it's because his interview fee is only a jumbo bag of pork scratchings, thus making him a reasonable option in these licence-fee straitened times, are a vicious falsehood started by me, just then), the giddy excitement of signing petitions and all the rest, one forgotten band struggles on, ignored and, if remembered at all, only with a mixture of pity and contempt.

Yes, Nigel Farage's Brexit march, for it is they, gamely struggling on somewhere in England's racist East, sustained only by the occasional lay-by snack bar. And to treat them with disdain is, I would argue, largely unfair. Wh…

The Fear

As Brexit day draws nearer with the fetid inevitability of a drunken sales rep making a pass at your wife at a works do that you really didn't want to go to but you'd made excuses for the last five, it is reasonable to say that I've been, at last, gripped by The Fear. Not of the day itself, or it's aftermath; it's been patently obvious to anyone with half a brain that THAT was going to be the biggest clusterfuck since the Somme since the get-go (though argument could be made for mid-nineties Tottenham Hotspur, I still wake up in a cold sweat at the memory of a team containing Dean Austin AND Justin Edinburgh). No, I've long since reconciled myself to having to go to war with neighbouring tribes for the last box of Ventolin inhalers, and have been busy collecting beads which I can trade with gullible natives of richer pastures who I can then infect with my advanced diseases.

The Fear that has clasped me so implacably has been more of an existential funk. It'…

On Failure

I knew I'd have to get round to it eventually, and a rainy Tuesday morning with the conservatory roof making even a light shower sound like the end of days seems to be as good a time as any. I'd like to talk about failure.

Regular readers will recall that at the start of last year I set myself a variety of challenges to accomplish in 2018: reading fifty books, running 1500 miles and spotting at least 200 separate bird species. You will be unsurprised to hear that I failed signally in each and every one of them.

For the record, I managed just over 1000 miles, read 32 books and saw about 102 species. So, by any stretch of the imagination, I fell a long way short. I failed. But then, I always rather suspected I would. the purpose of these arbitrary targets, as I wrote at the time, was more to stimulate myself into getting stuff done; getting out there and interacting with the world with the running and the birds, enriching my inner life and getting back into reading as opposed to…

You're hard.

Sajid Javid, Sajid Javid, you're hard, you're hard, Theresa May, Theresa May, you're hard as well.

Yes, belatedly, here's the Coastalblog take on the Shamima Begum farrago, not so much a hot take as a lukewarm one, I grant you, but what the hell. Now, I hate to be so predictably on-brand about this, but, as I'm sure you've already guessed, I tend towards the view that the whole thing's a misconceived pile of easily-avoided fuck-up with a nice cool glass of racism on the side.

It was when I noticed normally sane people starting to share Katie Hopkins videos that I realised that there was a disturbance in the force. Friends who I know to be mild-mannered and reasonable were quietly muttering about how she shouldn't be allowed back. What on Earth was going on? The facts of the case seemed pretty straightforward: idiot goes and joins ISIS, has a traumatic time of it, loses two children, figures baby number three will have a better shot back in the UK and sa…

Cheers, Andrea

You may remember, back in the dim and distant mists of time, the rise of David Cameron. As he clambered to the top of the landfill pile which passes for the modern Conservative party, David enjoyed warbling about green issues. he would lead "the greenest government ever" he twatted about in the Arctic Circle parping on about huskies.

Whilst this was clearly a focus group inspired shift in the Tory line designed to attract a few Centrists who like to congratulate themselves for doing their recycling (and it worked, to an extent) it did at least signal that the conservative Party had belatedly grasped the idea that environmental issues were a concern for some of the electorate. as time has worn, and the situation has been revealed to be even worse than we thought back then in the heady days of the noughties, this has only grown more true.

Which is why any politician with even the vaguest sense of how the electorate feel would have applauded yesterday's climate strike, in w…

Keeping it in a box

It's coming close to new computer time, and, as happens each time this question rolls around, I toy with the idea of a laptop, temporarily seduced by twenty year out of date images of sitting around in coffee shops writing the novel which I realised ten years ago I was never going to write. It is a sign of how divorced I am from the modern world that this is the debate I have with myself, a choice between two dinosaurs of computing, with my preference inevitably being for the older and hoarier of the two, the good old-fashioned desktop PC.

Why am I not even entertaining the idea of something newer, shinier, smaller, whizzier? And the answer is simple, I don't want the sodding internet with me everywhere I go. I quite like viewing the world as it is, I like a bit of haphazardness, I like accidental discoveries, I don't want to read a fucking TripAdvisor review before I decide whether to go into a cafĂ© or not. I also cherish retaining the ability to do things myself, rathe…

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 2)

What with extreme tiredness truncating my previous list of personal reasons for failing to acknowledge that all is lost last year, I thought I'd better do a second post. I mean, four things doesn't seem like very much, doesn't even seem like a reason to get out of bed, not when faced with the utter shitstorm which comprised the vast majority of 2018. There surely must be more, I here you cry, and, gentle reader, you'd be right....

5) Not everyone's a bell-end

There were a few victories won by the forces of good in 2018. This was one of the first years where I started to feel that a majority of people were starting to get the point that we're heading rapidly towards disaster if we don't start to do something. Now, granted, this, for the vast majority, meant vaguely thinking that they might google some vegan recipes at some point immediately prior to heading out for a cheeky Nando's, or booking the flight for that edgy weekend break in Berlin but at least…