britain

London Calling

Sport and I have never really seen eye to eye. In fact, we’ve never even really seen eye to navel, what with my general interest in athletic endeavour being somewhere in the neighbourhood of my enthusiasm for the idea of working deep in the very bowels of the Greater London sewer system; other people can do it if they want, but please don’t try to include me or engage me, don’t bring your passion for either into my house, and for fuck’s sake stop going on about it because I really couldn’t care less. For me, the seven year march of the London (copyright LOCOG) 2012 (copyright LOCOG) Olympics (copyright LOCOG) represented nothing more than a £10 billion sports day we couldn’t afford and that was being run for the sole benefit of the corporate sponsors and all the fitness nazis and sports bores who get off on physical displays of repetitive tedium. So, when I sat down to watch the opening ceremony I did so fully expecting to have my abiding cynicism cemented by a cringe-making, cack-handed farce that presented Britain as a nation of deluded spanners. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be proved wrong on an absurdly epic scale. Read more “London Calling”

Nation’s Healthcare Sodomised

This week, one of America’s most deserving candidates for urgent attention from a mental health professional, Rick “Frothy Mix” Santorum, decided to make a stale start to the new year by doing pretty much the exact same thing he’s been doing for all the previous ones; opening his mouth and squeezing out words that remind one of the now commonly accepted, and rather unpleasant, alternate meaning of his surname. As is so often the case with his fellow patients in the rubber room of American politics that is the Republican party, Rick sprayed the airwaves with a hail of dung bullets in a drive-by shitting that consisted of blaming the collapse of the British empire on the National Health Service (among other social programmes). Other than exposing his ignorance of history, and a blatant agenda of protecting the US healthcare industry by slamming “Obamacare”, it demonstrated, once again, that American politicians (who no doubt have private health coverage out the arse) really need to shut the fuck up about the NHS. Read more “Nation’s Healthcare Sodomised”

Baby, I was bored this way

Ah, there’s no better way to enjoy the beauty and essential poetry of the English countryside than by indulging in the old-school romance of a journey by train. Unless you go by car, of course, because then you can not only set off whenever you like, stop for a rest whenever you like, or purchase food from vendors that don’t have a loan-shark’s attitude towards pricing, but you can go right up to the countryside and touch it in its green and pleasant, cow-poo scented face. And, obviously, when I say “old-school romance” what I actually mean is “21st century exercise in psychological torture”, most train services these days tending to deliver an experience that fits somewhere nicely in between vacation and suicide. Yes, as you can probably guess, I’ve written this from one of First Great Western’s finest examples of an extortionately priced mobile cattle shed with windows … and it depresses the living shit out of me. Read more “Baby, I was bored this way”

Radio 4 Radicals

One of the bizarre things I’ve discovered about getting older, at least for me, is not that I find myself worrying about nature’s great, big, ticking, death-shaped clock of impending mortality cessation; nor is it that I’m concerned with checking off the list of things one is supposed to be in possession of at this point (wife, kids, mortgage, dog, massive sense of futile despair at one’s interminable existence etc.) – it’s more that I’ve come to feel like I’ve sort of always been this “age”, as if my personality were a suit that was at least 14 sizes too large and was just waiting for me to grow in to it. The suit might have had one or two minor alterations over the years, nothing drastic, but it otherwise remains pretty much exactly the same as when I first got it. As your tastes, opinions, and beliefs begin to coalesce in your twenties and thirties, you develop a far clearer understanding of who you are, what kind of suit you’re wearing, and what radio station you should be listening to. Read more “Radio 4 Radicals”

Dear Mr. Murdoch

For the past few days, the news here in our rain-soaked island paradise has been dominated by one, particularly large, story. It’s not a new story, in fact it’s been around for a little while, but this week it managed to achieve a certain measure of grotesque commonality with the funeral-bound corpse of King Henry VIII. I’m thinking specifically of how, as we were all basking happily in yet another warm and sunny day, possibly commenting to one another about what a lovely day it was, it unpredictably, and unceremoniously, exploded, leaving everyone feeling very, very sick. It’s a story that we can’t even refer to as “the elephant in the room” any more because it’s now “the enormous pile of elephant shit in the room” (the elephant having fled the scene in order to calm down, re-group, and work out who best to blame for the massive, festering pile of crap it left behind). Read more “Dear Mr. Murdoch”

Fool, Britannia

So, did you go? Did you see it? Wasn’t it amazing?! Such a grand and special occasion; a celebration to bring everyone together; black, white, rich, poor, we were all, for a brief moment, joined in patriotic and emotional unity as the whole world shared the most important day in the ever unfolding drama of the greatest love story of our time. The ceremony, the dress, the spectacle, the beauty … the bullshit … Read more “Fool, Britannia”