Monday, 28 November 2011

A little Bit Of Context

I had been on the point of posting a blog excoriating the truly dreadful Sir Alex Ferguson for his vindictive, small-minded and scheming post-match remarks last Saturday when the horrible news of Gary Speed's suicide emerged and quite properly took attention away from the Glaswegian gobshite. Which is the only good thing to emerge from the whole numbing business. Well perhaps not the only good thing if it generates a little more serious understanding of mental illness. We should turn to that famous son of Cannock, an unlikely hero but a man who (and on this I'm afraid I have become an unwilling expert) gets it right when he tackles depression. God bless you Stan Collymore for this articulation,

If your mind is empty, your brain ceases to function, your body is pinned to the bed, the future is a dark room with no light and this is your reality, it takes a massive leap of faith to know that this time next week, life could be running again, smiling, my world big and my brain back as it should be. So what do some do? They don’t take the leap of faith, they address a practical problem with a practical solution to them, and that is taking their own life. And sadly,too many take that route out of this hell.
I’m typing and my brain is full, cloudy and detached but I know I need to elaborate on what I’m going through because there are so many going through this that need to know it’s an illness, just an illness. Not bad, mad, crazy or weak, just ill.
Not bad, mad, crazy or weak, just ill.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Lives Less Ordinary

I have a thing for the talented but overlooked. I suspect this reflects a large degree of deluded wishful thinking about my own place in the grander scheme. No matter, here is an exampe of the sort of thing I mean - read the obituary for Jackie Leven and then track down some of his music - Leven Obituary

Monday, 21 November 2011

Tres Amusant

je ne regrette rien
I don't know why I've not blogged this before because it has been very, very funny since God was n'but a wee lad. The index of the leading quoted French shares is called the CAC 40. Now, I'm sorry but that is bloody funny.
Today the said index of cack shares lost 3.5% of its value. Which has ceased to be either interesting or even remotely surprising. Nor should we be surprised that Michael Heseltine was yesterday telling the Beeb that the Euro remains a necessity and that Britain will some time join it. We should distinguish here between something necessary and something inevitable. The Euro is not necessary but the arrogance and stupidity of the political class may very well make it inevitable. But don't worry, the technocrats have arrived and will lead us to the promised land.

Off to that London again tomorrow to get me some of that city book learning. This means the joy of the early train from Tamworth - actually not too bad and admirably fast, but sadly prone to the plague of inane mobile telephone chatter. What did we do without them? Thought for ourselves that's what and actually had the decency to leave some aspects of our lives inaudible. But despite the noise pollution I will arrive in that London and feel a touch of excitement at its sheer bigness. As the Eagles said in a totally different context,  You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave.
Note to self: when I learn guitar I will play the solo from this. Badly.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Advance Of Le Grand Projet

It suits some tastes to describe Booker and North's The Great Deception as polemic. It is better than that, though undoubtedly partial. At the time of the second edition in 2005 the authors were unwise enough to think that the rejection of the EU constitution in French and Dutch referenda might signal a brake upon Le Grand Projet. This underestimated the righteous momentum of the ensconced bureacracy and the wretched indifference of the populace. So the Trojan horse of the Euro has today rolled into Rome (not a good metaphor but you know what I mean) and Le Projet has bloodlessly carried of its greatest prize - a whole bloody great country, very much the size of Italy, in fact, well, Italy.
A quite large part of Europe
The laughable but duly elected Berlusconi has been despatched to spend retirement with his billions and his pecadilloes. In his place the EU has parachuted in one of its own. No need for anything as troublesome as an election, no what was needed was a technocrat, a safe pair of hands, a man equipped for leadership by past service as an EU Commissioner. Bugger me, what's next, Kinnock, Mandelson or Leon Brittan as our PM? Last one out switch the lights out.

The new Italian PM will be Mario Monti. In 2010, Mr Monti was one of the founders of a European federalist initiative known as the Spinelli Group, which seeks to promote greater EU integration. Other members include former commission president Jacques Delors, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer and Green MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Nuff said. Mind you that Europe's going to have a bloody good football team once it's all sorted out.

Our Great Departed

We sing our great departed
Whom none may disallow
Strong souls whose tasks are ended
Sweet voices silent now.
Their memory leads us forward
To still uphold the fight
To strike at wrong and falsehood
And guard the truth and right.

(from the school song of King Edward VI Aston School)

Taken out of context these words might seem rather silly. In the context of the school I attended, a force for good in my own and countless other lives, they are rather fine and I was proud to sing them again last night at the Commemoration Dinner.

Throughout my life the voices of a certain type of progress have been trying to close the school, which provides a particular kind of free education to a particular type of young man. Those voices are pernicious and persistent. They shall not prevail. Italy may fall (of which more anon) but Aston must not.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Being British

Being British is wearing a poppy but not being fascistic about those who choose not to.

Being British is certainly not about this sort of vile nonsense- Muslims Against Crusades

This is British:
Julie Siddiqui of the Islamic Society of Britain had been organising a counter-demonstration for Friday.
She said: "In one sweep, Muslims Against Crusades display an unspeakable disregard for the feelings and common bond of our countrymen and women, a contempt and rejection of our hard-earned democracy and its institutions, a disdain for the majority of British Muslims - who do not share their views - and a violation of the example of the Prophet Muhammad."
I have been known to slag off politicians on occasion but plaudits today for two quiet and principled Britons from opposite poles of politics. I just feel well-disposed to men who clearly care and are serious about societal breakdown.
Frank Field -we like him
Iain Duncan-Smith we like him too
Overgraduate is off to make a speech tonight. Will report if all goes well. If not, silent sulking. Bit of Shakespeare, bit of Denning, few crumby jokes. It ain't what they call rock and roll.

Boots are blacked, dress shirt is washed and will shortly be ironed. It's nearly time to take the show on the road. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

What Do We Want?

This is the commencing chant at all good protests. 'What do we want?'  'Full grants.'   'When do we want them?'   'Now.' Those particular details are of course extracted from a favourite demo of my youth, but you get my drift. That particular demo did as much good as a chocolate teapot by the way, but it was better than being in the library - the location of which I never did establish with any certainty.

All of which brings me nicely and a little mystified to the encampment at St Paul's Cathedral. Mystified because the campers lack a pithy message and I find myself unusually reluctant to lambast them. The message seems to be, 'What do we want?'   'Well a variety of vaguely impractical things actually.'   'When do we want them?'   'At some time in the future we would imagine but can we stay here and be on the tele for a while please.'

The major damage achieved by the demonstrators has been to the Church of England which has managed to look even less effectual than usual, quite an achievement in fact. But even here I find myself less entrenched than usual. What precisely could our established church have done other than agonise and vacillate as it has done? Sent in the bailiffs? Admirably decisive but possibly unchristian. Bring them in off the streets and take the lead against capitalism? Definitely decisive, decidedly unchristian, at least as practised by your average anglican. No, my major criticism of the Cof E remains that so few of its ministers actually give off an air of actually believing in God. Oh and Rowan Williams should get a haircut. You wouldn't get a pope looking like that.

Monsignor Fallon
Which brings me to something I should have written a while ago. Monsignor Tom Fallon died earlier this year. He conducted our wedding ceremony. He took my first confession. He officiated at my first communion. He radiated benevolent godliness and I, like thousands of others, viewed him as my priest. They were busing them in from London for his arrival into the church in Hockley. A great and a nice man. Requiescat in pace.

As it happens I did once ask Monsignor about camels and eyes of needles- his answer centred on the need for humility before God and man. What would he have made of the St Paul's protest? He would have sympathised with the protesters and ministered to them. As for the rich bankers working in the City - he would have sympathised with and ministered to them. This strength can easily be mistaken for ambivalence. It is not. In the hands of great men, such neutrality itself is greatness.