The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Archive for January, 2012

26 January
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Why Do We Like These Clips? Maybe Because Most Of Us Regard Criminals As Slimeballs…

If you read the UK Guardian or watched the BBC you would think that the people of Britain are always very concerned about police brutality and criminals “rights”. In truth most feel the pendulum has swung too far in that direction, particularly in working class areas where thieves and thugs often make life a misery for the law abiding, tax paying majority.

Which is why there are still fond memories of Inspector Regan and Sgt Carter in “The Sweeney”, a 1970s police series based on the Flying Squad, a special detective unit that focussed on London’s violent professional criminal gangs (Sweeney Todd=Flying Squad in cockney rhyming slang)

The Sweeney viewed all criminals as slimeballs leeching off the hard work of the law abiding and their dealings with the underworld could rarely be described as “nuanced”

So popular was that style of policing with the general public that the character of Inspector Gene Hunt in the recent (2008-2010)retro series of “Ashes to Ashes” (set in the 1980s) briefly sparked a Gene Hunt for Prime Minister petition…

This suspicion that we have exorcised the fear of the law from the criminal mind with soft policing and a “caring” judiciary is often reinforced by the actions of the law when an ordinary citizen seeks to defend his or her property or physical safety when confronted by lawbreakers – hence the frisson of delight most of us have in movie scenes where the tables are turned on some criminal who expects his victim to be terrified into meek obedience when faced with the threat of violence by knife….

…or by gun…

Alas, lawyers and judges will probably ensure that those clips remain just….fantasies…

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24 January
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Any Swing Fans Remember Charlie Barnet and Skyliner?

Charlie Barnet was not the biggest name in Swing but he was well respected as a musician by many of his peers, including Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Syrupy smooth sounds were never part of the Barnet formula and “Skyliner” with that electric interplay between brass and saxes is as exciting as big band music could get.

It was the theme tune of a late night big band programme on AFN Munich in the late 40s and became a major influence on British jazz musicians because in those days listening to AFN was the only way we could get away from the constraints of the rather sniffy play it safe BBC.

So sit back and get ready to return to the 1940s when music was about men who could really blow….

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20 January
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Todd Palin Stands With Newt – Is He The Sort Of Man You Would Like By Your Side?

Todd Palin has written a letter to American conservatives spelling out why he supports Newt Gingrich for President. It’s short, sweet and to the point and tells us as much about the man who wrote it as it does about Newt.

I don’t know about you but having this man by my side would mean more to me than 50.000 endorsements from politicians, media pundits or assorted social conservative pontificators.

Remember what Mark Burnett, ex Para and TV producer said?

Todd is like Captain America. This guy, this guy is super tough. He can actually do it all.

On the other hand there is always David Frum….

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19 January
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Yes, I Also Have Been Sorely Tempted To Punch Will Shakespeare On The Nose…

As a former schoolboy (a long time ago) and a teacher (now retired) and an amateur actor (still mumbling) I must confess enjoying a moment of guilty pleasure when I watch that Blackadder clip…

It came to mind when I learned a day or so back that I had just landed myself a part in our amateur theatre group’s Shakespeare spring production of “The Winter’s Tale”….not a particularly big role but, as Private Eye might say, it’s small but perfectly formed…..

I love being involved with a play, be it on or back stage. For a few weeks you are part of a joint endeavour with a group of people for one common purpose. You share all the ups and the downs, the crises and the celebrations, the laughter and the tears. Forget those familiar dividing lines of social intercourse age, sex or experience. You are pitched together like a close family battling the world. Then the set is struck and you go your separate ways. Once or twice the bonds made during a run might hold long after the scripts are filed. But more usually, once the play is done, the connections dissolve and disappear down memory lane.

The Bard, however, raises different issues for he is the broccoli of drama. We are told how good he is for us yet so many leave him on the side of the plate. Amateur groups feel he has to be performed even though quite a few tickets will be left unsold.
Shakespeare is often the amdram equivalent of a loss leader.

But he shouldn’t be. The characters are fascinating. The language is powerful and vivid. The themes are universal. He is part of every school’s curriculum.

We all have studied Shakespeare – and there’s the rub.

He is studied because he is a Good Thing. In school we have all analysed and dissected Billy S like a specimen on a laboratory bench. We have discussed characters, motives, meanings and symbolism, turned over metaphors and deconstructed references and laid bare every bone, muscle and sinew. His words are revered like a biblical text, a scientific hypothesis or a philosophical treatise. There is a vast Shakespeare industry employing thousands of actors, academics and gushing media scribblers and talking heads.

The guy’s works are being adulated to death – so here’s a thought.

Let’s turn off the tap for five years. Embargo the puff pieces. Deep freeze the academics in a cryogenics unit. Remove Stratford’s name from all road signs and sat navs. Ban Billy S from being mentioned in the school classroom. Perform the plays with zero hype. Hang anyone who dares to say “the bard”

Shift his library classification from the doom laden “Literature” to cheap and cheerful “Entertainment” – because that was how he was regarded by the noisy, bawdy riotous townsfolk who watched his plays in Elizabethan and Jacobean London.

As a schoolboy in 1950s England any chance of appreciating Shakespeare was ground out of my consciousness by hour after hour of mind numbing analysis until the very mention of the name would cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to slip into neutral.

Then one evening in 1955 I went with my bus driver dad for our weekly cinema visit. He had misread the bill and was expecting to see a gangster movie. By the time we realised it was Laurence Olivier’s film of Richard III our tickets had already been purchased so we went in, expecting to be bored to tears.

How wrong we were. It was magical.

At the end, as the final credits rolled the audience in that packed cinema in a working class suburb of South London sat motionless and silent for a few brief moments. Then as we walked out into the night there was a massive buzz as we all began to talk of what we had seen and my dad looked at me and said “That wasn’t the Shakespeare that was hammered into me at school. That film must be the real Shakespeare….what have I been missing all these years?”

So, unlike Blackadder, it’s not the real Will Shakespeare I want to punch on the nose – it’s the polystyrene cultural idol created by the termites of the Shakespeare industry that I would like to target with my custard pie.

Mind you sometimes I do find Colin Firth a tad irritating……

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18 January
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Maybe It’s Not Time To Dump That Newt Stock Quite Yet….

The March of the Zombies (aka the Republican Party’s Presidential Primaries campaign) suddenly caught fire with this interesting duel between Newt Gingrich and Juan Williams

It is fascinating to watch because Williams clearly played the race card and Gingrich trumped it with the personal responsibility card. He gave a masterclass in detoxifying a liberal left attack point with a rebuttal using cold hard facts delivered in a calm, logical manner.

The audience loved it – not just because the race card was and will always be the key weapon in the Democrats defence of Obama but it is always good for the soul to see an establishment media figure cut down to size.

Even better – it irritated Chris Matthews and Dave Weigel

Straws in the wind? The inevitability of Mitt Romney dented? Who knows – but it earned Newt some kudos from the “totally irrelevant” Frum disdained Sarah Palin and Robert Stacy McCain seemed to put his Rick Santorum lovefest (whoops, nearly said Herman Cain…) briefly on the back burner while he blamed feminism for the Italian cruise ship disaster…..

Allahpundit at Hot Air, ever eager to use the governor to gain traffic, described Palin’s remarks as an endorsement. It wasn’t, of course as can be seen from the clip. But then, of course he could never really get a handle on Palin’s praise of Newt and the impact it might have on Tea Partiers because it would need major surgery and a decade of therapy to unscramble the little neural glitch he has about both Palin and the Tea Party in his brain.

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16 January
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You Knew It Had To Come…..”Margaret Thatcher Should Be Sentenced To Death For Mass Murder”

It’s inevitable. Mention Thatcher (or Palin or Bush or Blair) and the looney tunes pour out of the sewers.

So stand aside Stalin with your NKVD killing squads and your gulag. Get to the back Mao and your famines and Red Guards. Ignore Hitler’s SS and death camps. Forget Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killing fields.

There’s a new mass murderer in town.

Margaret Thatcher.

That’s right. Elizabeth Farrelly’s snarky little memoir of her brief sojourn in London at the height of the “Thatcher Regime” smoked out a comment which referenced one Paul Treanor, a passionate opponent of the nation state and crusader for collectivism who uses Russian statistics to “prove” that free market economies shorten life expectancy and since Thatcher’s free market ideas were copied by countries all over the world she is clearly directly responsible for mass murder.

If the free market has caused about one-third of all deaths, in market economies, over the entire period of their existence, then the market has killed hundreds of millions of people. More than all wars, and more than the impact of a one-kilometre meteorite

Treanor believes that Thatcher should be tried and sentenced by a special tribunal and, naturally, there could only be one outcome.

A European Tribunal for Thatcher would be a sign, that Europe intends to remedy this defect of the British nation state. Such a tribunal should have the power to apply the death penalty, the most appropriate penalty for mass murder.

Of course, being a tankie, Treanor would be quite familiar with tribunals imposing death penalties. He would also assume that statistics published by the Soviet Union were totally honest, though others might disagree. But the true significance of his ill constructed ramblings has nothing to do with facts and figures or with constructing a case.

It is about the construction of a narrative. A narrative which aims to sabotage the argument for individual responsibility and limited government that underpinned Thatcher’s policies – for what worried the collectivist consensus was her popular appeal and the impact her electoral successes had on subsequent political generations.

So the counter myth of brutal Thatcher capitalism gained currency in those elite circles that had the most to lose from the decline in state power – the cartels….the bureaucrats, the academics, the planners and the pressure groups who all depend on the public teat for their well financed comforts.

Treanor’s looney tunes ramblings are merely a useful tool to justify their convictions – and in today’s climate it is more than likely that some BBC documentary maker or Hollywood producer could use them as the basis for a smooth piece of Michael Moore style agitprop that would mainstream the concept of Thatcher and her free market ideas as the willing agents of the grim reaper.

They wouldn’t deny the slaughters of Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot, they would merely slip her into the discourse using the sly concept of equivalence.

The Stasi support group GRH are only the tip of an iceberg, comrades….

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12 January
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Thatcher’s Alzheimer’s Is Karmic Revenge Say A “Usual Suspects” Media Hackette…

Elizabeth Farrelly is a leading Australian architect and newspaper columnist. She has been described as a Renaissance woman during an Australian radio interview with an irritatingly pompous BBC type clone but, in fact, she came across as relatively down to earth with some surprisingly sensible comments about feminism and climate change.

Unfortunately, in a piece on the recent film about Margaret Thatcher, “The Iron Lady”, she comes across as nothing more than a standard Guardianista media hack parroting the North London chattering class dinner party musings that all too often are allowed to pass by default into an accepted universal mythology.

Farrelly, we are told, lived in London for a few years during the eighties – so, should we be ready for a shrewd and perceptive historical analysis of the times?

If only….

Everyone I knew, even the toffs, hated Thatcher with a passion. It was not just disagreement. It was hate.

That tells us more about Farrelly’s narrowly circumscribed social bubble than it does about Thatcher’s government. If indeed that were true how would it have been possible for her to win three elections in a row with ever increasing majorities? Those votes didn’t just come from London and the south east. The Tories dominated the industrial midlands and made substantial inroads in the north. Quite a large chunk of those votes also came from working class voters. To portray her as some sort of southern middle class dominatrix grinding the faces of the lower classes is merely one additional facet of the left/liberal mythology ceaselessly promulgated by our media elite.

Then even more false memory syndrome.

To shrink the whole of Britain into London, then remodel that vast relocated wealth into something as ugly and brittle as Canary Wharf was bad policy, pure and simple. To require the selling of council flats was also wrong, in social as well as urban terms.

Farrelly obviously had no experience of living on a council estate during the 60s and 70s. Poorly managed by disinterested and unresponsive bureaucracies most council tenants were perceived as a leaden lumpenproletariat by patronising local politicians of all parties. The right to buy at generous terms liberated hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people and gave many families their first opportunity to actually benefit from a capital asset once regarded as the reserve of the middle classes. The resulting transformation of many of these estates from untidy sinkholes to neatly ordered urban landscapes was in itself a vindication of Thatcher’s policy.

Radical architects hate not being able to impose their will on the sweaty multitudes because they crave a uniformity of taste and style. That’s why the Farrellys of the world hated Thatcher. She valued the individual above the masses. She was absolutely certain that the gentleman from Whitehall did not know best.

I did not even warm to her personally. The pearls and handbags, stagey voice and sprayed hair all seemed old-fashioned, phoney and tasteless. I was among those who, hearing that both Thatcher and Reagan had Alzheimer’s disease, took it as karmic revenge.

Karmic revenge..

Funny how the liberal/left are allowed to vent their spleen in quite unpleasant terms and assume they are allowed to be given a pass. Yet at the end of the day it’s really Farrelly who is the museum piece…old fashioned, phoney and tasteless. That anti Thatcher horse was flogged to death many years ago.

You see, Ms Farrelly, unlike you I lived in Britain during the pre Thatcher days of the 50s, 60s & 70s and I can assure you it was no golden age…….

BTW…link to Farrelly’s piece fixed, thanks to my eagle eyed son...

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07 January
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So Glad The BBC Now Believes That Prison Works….

The whole UK media, spearheaded naturally by the BBC, has been in maximum emotional overdrive with the Lawrence case.

Fine…..

It was a vicious murder and two men have been sent to prison – indeed there is already pressure to lengthen the sentences even though, according to the law, since they were juveniles when the crime was committed, they had to be sentenced as juveniles.
So, all the great and the good at the BBC are agreed, hurl them into the slammer and throw away the key.

That’s good.

It means that for a few weeks we won’t have any of those tear jerking hand wringing BBC pieces about how prison doesn’t work and how even hardened criminals need to have the opportunity to be rehabilitated by a swift return back into the outside world……

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04 January
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