07 March 2011


March days return with their covert light

March days return with their covert light,
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.
Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.
O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,
so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets.

-Pablo Neruda


  1. Morning Deano and all.

    Minus 3 on the ground, but a brilliant sun melting the windscreen. Looks like a dry sunny week, so not too long on the 'news' this morning!

  2. Meanwhile, in news not concerning paedophilia in high political and royal places, not only are we all to become a little more American, but we are all going to travel back in time to an era when the poor really did know their place and were shackled to it forever.


    NHS reforms will return health service to 1930s

    The government’s NHS reforms will return medical care to the standards of the 1930s and 40s, a leading doctor has warned.

    Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA’s hospital consultant committee, said proposed changes would create an “increasingly tattered safety net” for people suffering from complex illnesses such as heart failure, diabetes or obesity.

    He claimed that for patients in some parts of the country, care would return to “what we thought we had left behind when we founded the NHS in 1948”.

    Private healthcare firms could “cherry pick” patients with the simplest conditions to treat while local hospitals could face closure if they are forced to compete with independent, profit-driven healthcare providers, he said.

    This would leave the NHS as a “provider of last resort” for patients denied treatment by private practises because their conditions are too expensive to deal with. [...]

    He warned that the UK’s healthcare system could resemble the United States where there are “quite big geographical disparities” in the care available and where “tens of millions of people can’t get access to high-quality treatment”.


    My mother sometimes told the story of a woman living in a village near where we grew up. The story probably goes back to about the time of WW1.

    She had a sick child, who was about ten. The doctor lived about five miles away, through hilly lanes. The woman had no transport and nobody to help, so she carried the child on her back to the doctor.

    When she got there, he said: "There's nothing I can do" and closed the door.

    So, it is not quite "Make sure you do not grow old or sick under a Tory government."

    It is more a case of:

    Prepare for the future - Invest in a sturdy wheelbarrow.

    Better get a shovel, too, while you are at it. Just in case.

  3. Atom - read that article, Portman mentioned heart failure.

    I have heart failure - thank god I live in Wales!

    I can remember stories about the (lack of) gynaecological health in the East End of London during the 40's.

    Quite simply appalling.

    Angry???? Incandescent with rage is more like it.

    When are we going to rise up and get rid of these craven, greedy, arrogant, selfish SOCIOPATHS!!!!!!

  4. Lets be clear our LIVES are being threatened by these apologies for human beings!

    They deserve no quarter!

  5. @Anne:

    ”...When are we going to rise up and get rid of these craven, greedy, arrogant, selfish SOCIOPATHS!!!!!!”


    In other news... bonjour, tout le monde.

  6. Shiloh - I think you are wrong there.

    In the end I think we will - but it may take some time.

    and its more "a boot stamping on a human face forever" than "bonjour tout le monde".

    The difference between the age of the blue lamp and now is that ordinary people didn't expect much then.

    Since WW2 we have learned to expect more - take it away and the worm will eventually turn (into a lethal venomous snake).

    If the condems continue like this the inevitable consequence will be that we have nothing to loose but our chains.

    If this goes on, inside a generation those on low incomes will no longer be able to get mortgages. That on its own will result in the working class becoming much more volatile.

  7. Anne

    As long as the species exists there will be those who are happy to stomp all over others to get want they want. Call them what you like sociopaths, psychopaths, greedy, inhumane bastards, there will always be shits around - its part of the human condition, we're a flawed species.

    Theirs would be the philosophy of the greatest good to the smallest number....and hey presto you have the world we live in. Still the sun has finally come out and the temperature has risen above freezing so think I'll take a stroll.

  8. Sorry, Anne, and with respect for your years and your theories, but you’re wrong. The best that will happen is that the electorate (remember them?) will turn out in four years’ time, vent their electoral (remember that?) spleen, and boot this sorry lot into the dustbin of history.

    It’s part of the reason we have elections (remember them?) and not revolutions in this country, after all – to offer a fig leaf of legitimacy to the government of the day, and to act as an escape valve for pent-up frustrations in the system. A feature of our political landscape we do not of course share with the fractious Egyptians, Bahrainis, Yemenis, or indeed, Libyans.

    That being said, I’d be very happy to be proved wrong, of course. A violent revolution would be “just the tonic” given the morning I’m having.

    PS The “bonjour was” to show my impeccable, educated m/c credentials – casually wielding another language in jest, don’cha know?

    PPS You’ve got a short memory. It’s only a couple of generations since renting was the norm. Certain sections of this nation have been sold the dream, and become crazily obsessed with home ownership and property.

  9. Morning all,

    In other news, Ed Milivanilli, leader of New New Labour, and so keen to distance himself and party from the old New Labour, has only gone and appointed a certain Ms/QC/Judge Cherie Booth/Blair to chair one of his shiny new policy review whatsits. Cheréèëęê will be examining how to help women in 'poorer' countries get involved in business and public life, presumably because she's such a fine example herself!!

    Happy (early) International Womens Day, ladies!!

  10. AB - Does anyone else keep getting this from Blogger?

    "We are sorry but we were unable to complete your request."

    Yes, when attempting to post recently that's all I'm getting

  11. Afternoon. You all know who I am. I will start with linking a harlot's progress by William Hogarth, here because it's an apropriate scene setter for the tale I am to tell (although a rake's progress might suffice). Both deal with the naive country boy/girl moving to the city and getting corrupted.

  12. Hello all.... sorry for the long absence....I have missed much no doubt but have pretty much decided that after being put, yet again, in pre-mod on CiF, I am going to disable my account.

    I really can't see the point anymore. Any thread of any real value is immediately targeted by trolls and astro-turfers, the Groin/Observer pays dubious homage to revolting Lib Dumbs and the status quo. Fuck it, I've had enough and I'm sick of getting a slapped wrist from people who don't know me and yet seem to allow huge levels of really dodgy, abusive posters to continue unchallenged.

  13. moonwave

    I learnt some time ago that, much as all the little quirks and inconsistencies and failings of Blogger make it appealing in a ramshackle, chewing-gum-and-Sellotape kind of way, it is always wise to adopt the safety code:

    Save early and save often!

    Then, once Blogger as told you it cannot possibly help, everything is off the menu, please clear the area, women and children to the lifeboats - just click the back button once (it will ignore you and refuse to co-operate) then click it again and it will say, "Oh, well - I can do that, like, obviously!

    Then you are home and dry.

    Paste the work you have saved into the empty box and Blogger will rush to do your bidding like a Big Society volunteer on a nil-time, nil-contract, nil-bonus scheme.

  14. Life is too friggin' short..... also, am giving up smoking - unaided - strictly cold turkey this time...and so I thought might just strangle two addictions at once.... CiF always makes me want to smoke anyway.

  15. So... today I had one of these back to work training type things, similar to what Atos does, and people like Arec Balrin and others have desribed.

    '10 o'clock it starts' I thought, ok I'll have to go into the city centre early, then come back again before having to go back in later this afternoon for other commitments, but it'll only be an hour long or something. I thought, 'yeah it'll be the clicehd old CV skills crap, but it's only an hour' thought I.

    Turns out it is essentially 9-5 every day for 2 weeks, doing literally, fuck all. I've been unemployed for years, well forever, I know how the fucking game works (but I'm unemployable anyway because I spent nearly the first 4 years of my adult life depressed and dysfunctional and going through various psychiatric and psychotherapy treatments (although there probably wasn't really anything seriously wrong with me--if anything it was a toxic family situation- which I've finally left.....and got f-ing nowhere). So, yeah, I'm really going to put on my CV just that.

    Psychopaths, psychopaths. It also makes it easier for me to spot the nutters- really, just machines, we may as well be cattle or cardboard boxes. Of course they're a private company so raking it in. Off the state's back too.

    So I told them I was going to visit my unwell father down south tomorrow and I did not know that the even lasted for 2 weeks (I didn't). This meant they had to phone my benefits adviser at the JC and I repeated the lie to her, if I miss this they have a 'disciplinary panel' or whatever jargon it is, and failing to attend means they will review my claim (like I give a fuck, I got my £500 ILA).

    By the time I came out, I was almost tearful, not just from the stress of it, but because I had to tell an deliberate and intentional lie for my own gain. I don't want to spend 2 weeks doing what I could learn in 2 hours on the internet or down the library. Really, lieing out of my teeth, a catologue of lies really jsut isn't my thing. This is me, the Hogarth character, corrupted by the city. Especially having to use my disabled dad as a get out clause.

    DO they honestly expect me to do a 9 to 5 for 2 weeks, when I have plenty of other commitments, including actual socially useful things like volunteering. And I wouldn't even mind some kind of unpaid skills training as long as it is in depth and specilaised, not... 'we'll show you how to use a computer to set up an email adress' or yet a gazillion other CV writing skills. I'm doing pretty advanced fucking university work, for fucks sake. We spent an hour this morning jsut reading our the flipping rules and regulations of the building, fire safety, health and safety, don't turn up drunk or stoned, don't go down the pub in your lunch break etc

    And a pity that almost all the others in our group were bored 16-17 year olds. While they would certainly not be my my social set if I was there age again, the way they are treated by the system it's not surprise that they grew up indifferent, defeatist, monosyllabic and uncaring about anything, which the rightwingers use as 'proof' that the plebs are inherently scum. ( note- contrary to popular belief I never said I did hate them- just the ones that made my childhood difficult)

    Is this how we treat our youth, FFS. No compassion, what do you expect. I'm home now and depressed, Especially after last week where I had an awful time. but like a phoenix from the flames, new thought, ideas, plans fill your head.

  16. Interestingly, in trying to post that, I got:

    "Your browser's cookie function is disabled. Please enable cookies and Javascript in order to use Blogger."

    A complete pack of lies, of course, and the back button again came into its own.

    I expect Google is just collecting data on everyone at the request of the American terror-industries.

  17. Where did my first post go, about half an hour ago (yeah it took me half an hour to write that above).

  18. @undercover

    Comments sometimes go into the spam bin for no apparent reason. You have to post asking whoever's around with administrator authorisation to fish it out. Nothing sinister.

  19. La Rit

    Good luck on the giving up.

    I use the same method. Just say no and stop.


    I think your post is there again.

    They seem to go and come back again.

    Sorry about your experience, but the possible good which may come from it is that once tens of thousands of people start going through this - and many of them, people who thought their middle-class status was signed, sealed and assured - the lies may start to leak out into the public arena.

    Oil price rises are already making Osboron start to look a bit jittery.

    Watch what happens to Mr Squeaky once the shit really starts to hit the fans.

  20. La Rit, that's pretty much the same conclusion I came to and while you can't hold the Graun responsible for the influx of News International paywall-dodgers, CiF is very happy to have them there.

    Everything else is down to CiF editorializing. Lowest (and I do mean lowest) common denominator BTL conversations, shaped and pushed towards that end by deletions and the pre-mod weapon of choice.

    What it boils down to is the only thing that counts is page-hits. No one should feel out of their depth, so they're making it a very wide, very shallow puddle. Hanman's job is to build on the increase in traffic that Seaton built, and this is how she's chosen to do it.

  21. Well, yes Atomboy. I suppose they can get away with it becuase they largely deal with lower working class/underclass, who are less represented in the media, althouhg to it's credit Cif allows people like Arec Barwin to get the truth out. There have been maby thread on cif these past year or so where people of a more middle class and much older than adolescence have had to go through these sham 'courses'.

    If I see another "we need 50% of women in the boardroom"/single issue article in teh Graun-- head will explode

    Give me some soothing music.

  22. @LaRit

    Damn. If you're really set on leaving CiF, write something here and tell me how long you've been posting on the Graun (I know it's a few years like me) and I'll post it on CiF, since I'm not pre-modded.

    Good luck with giving up the evil weed! Watch your weight. Since giving up again in October, I've put on a couple of stone that I'm going to have to lose. My own stupid fault for starting the cigs again in 2009. It's like alcohol: you're a recovering smoker for life, never an ex-smoker, and for me, it's 50 a day or nothing.

  23. Atomboy:

    Cheers for the support ;0) .... it really is the only way to beat it... I've got me 'Battle Plan' and 'Success Chart' stuck to the bathroom door and am going for it all guns blazing... thank fuck withdrawal is not a permanent state of being!! At the moment and for the next 3 or 4 days, it's going to be an hour-by-hour battle....


    That about sums it up esp. the 'editorialising' (so bloody obvious) 'very wide, very shallow puddle' So bloody true. I really do not post anywhere close to the same levels as I used to and I put it down to that sense of 'what's the fucking point' that eventually overwhelms me.... anyway, the pre-mod is a sign I think. Time to hang up me gloves, step away and find something more meaningful to do ;)

  24. I was going to say the sense of CiF ennui always finds it's outlet in lots of swearing and throwing caution to the wind!

  25. @undercoverNapping:

    Rescued 1st post from the spam bin.


    I installed the Disqus comment system on UT2 late last night and put up a thread for you to play with it to see if it's an improvement over Blogger or IntenseDebate. please take a look and leave comments -- even nonsensical ones, if you like -- so that we can figure out if it's more reliable. The only way we found out that ID was going to be as problematic as Blogger was when lots of people actually tried it.


    Oh -- and I'll put in a good word for Chrome & Opera as browsers. Both are fast and I rarely have any trouble with commenting here. I use Opera most of the time.

  26. Spike:

    Hey! Yes, I really think I am. I will do a 'prepared' piece as soon as I think what I'm going to write to the Moderators and before I 'disable' - I've been posting there since 2006, which come this June/July will be 5 years....

    As for the smoking.... I succeeded for 5 months last year with patches and then at the very end when I was almost 'free'- I started again. Ever since then, it's been a series of failed attempts with nico-replacement and it was only because Mr LaRit pointed me in the direction of a website for addicts with really good, practical help, that I thought "I need to bite the bullet and do it cold turkey." and I was really impressed that you and AB had done it this way and had succeeded!!

    Feeling pretty positive but have decided on no booze for a month at the same time, just in case, I just don't want to fail again.

    I'm also very aware of putting on the weight, first and longest time I gave up smoking (3 years) I went from 7.5 stone to 10.5 stone - 3 stone!! It was horrible and I only lost it when I moved to London and started waitressing and running around London like a loon! So I reckon I'll be looking like a carrot of a piece of celery before the week's out!

    'Recovering smoker' is the right way to look at it and I might as well be a 'recovering alcoholic' for a month too ;0) x

  27. Cheers Montana - will check it out! x

  28. Nap

    I suppose they can get away with it becuase they largely deal with lower working class/underclass, who are less represented in the media...

    Yes, it's not quite what I was seeking to imply but there is certainly some truth in it.

    I read a bout a woman whose husband had suffered a massive stroke. Obviously, she was distraught and sought advice from the consultant.

    Speaking through a mouthful of sandwich, he said: "You husband is now a vegetable. Get used to it and get on with your own life."

    Despite being an intelligent, successful, middle-class woman, she felt unable to cope in those circumstances in connection with her husband and the bureaucracy of the hospital.

    So, she went to a friend and asked for help.

    Her friend bundled her into the Bentley, which she almost drove through the hospital's reception window and stormed in, demanding to see whoever was in charge - before she called her solicitors.

    Suddenly, it was all action and all grovelling apologies and things started to get done in the way that we might expect ordinary, decent humans to behave towards those in distress.

    And a pity that almost all the others in our group were bored 16-17 year olds. While they would certainly not be my my social set if I was there age again, the way they are treated by the system it's not surprise that they grew up indifferent, defeatist, monosyllabic and uncaring about anything, which the rightwingers use as 'proof' that the plebs are inherently scum.

    The main pity is that these people are unlikely to speak up for themselves and equally unlikely to have anyone to help them do so.

    Easy meat for the Neo Nasty mincing-machine.

  29. La Rit

    Yes, you do have to take each hour as it comes, rather than look at how it stretches out before you.

    I think I was lucky in having a mind which is both easily distracted and happy to concentrate on things.

    This meant that whenever I thought, "Oh, time for another fag!" I could distract myself with something else which needed some concentration.

    Gradually, the intrusive "Oi, get them fags aht!" gets less and less frequent.

    I would say it is wise to do the booze and fags together for a while.

    They are such inseparable, pestering twins.

  30. Oh yeah...well sorry for using the pseudonym (not very catchy) just wasn't sure about saying all I said under my own name, especially after I blatantly lied to them earlier on.

    I was talking to my dad and his friend/neighbour the other week- both had given up smoking and both were complaining about gaining wieght. Didn't know it was so common. I've never smoked in my life and I'm quite light, God knows how much lighter I'd get if I started :)

  31. Hmm. On UT2, I logged in on Yahoo and posted twice with no problem, but when I went to post a reply to Atom, it made me log in again. Did I do something wrong?

  32. @Nap, AB

    My own encounters with the Child Support Agency and the Jobcentre over recent years showed clearly the type of people they expected to be dealing with. That is, deadbeat fathers on benefits and deadbeat wasters not bothering to look for a job. The forms have no scope for other people's problems - older workers made redundant, 'professional' types being downsized, working fathers already paying privately agreed maintenance, people with mortgages and so on - apart from an undersized 'any other business' box.

    The old model is still in operation, it seems, and a lot of people are going to become frustrated and angry as I did, and as Nap apparently is.

  33. PeterJ

    Yes, it may not make many of them feel any happier to know that they have, basically, been called wreckers, fifth columnists, saboteurs and spoilers of the wonderful life we could all be enjoying if they had not poked their nasty noses into the affairs of business.

    Who would have thought that civil servants would become figures of hate, to the degree that some villages around Witney are already building bonfires and burning them in effigy?

    Why is Dave pinning his hopes with a sort of bloody-fingered desperation on small businesses and entrepreneurs, though?

    It couldn't be, surely, that the big business and banking and globalism to which governments have successively proffered their splayed backsides have finally proved that they never will pay proper taxes or contribute to society, so we have to have a type of trickle-down begging-bowl operation.

    "Look, the big boys won't pay and the little people are going to be squeezed to the bone and hung out to dry. Even then, there is just not enough money any more. That's where you come in.

    "We are going to clobber the window-cleaners and corner-shop owners, the garage proprietor and local builders.

    "You will still vote for us at the next election, though, won't you?

    "We love you!"

  34. Re Disqus, tried logging in but wouldn't accept password and no option for either changing it or finding out what is was in the first place.

    The only other way to post is type e-mail address and name with each comment which is bloody faff on to say the least.

    Anyway, if anyone knows the correct logging on proceedure any ideas would be welcome.

  35. La Rit -- two weeks tomorrow am, no booze or fags, so second Atoms on doing both together.

    Pressure washer, chainsaws, branch shredder, etetc, time to get in the frogmobile and earn some € to pay for that Kronenbourg Sans Alcool.

    Bon courage, for those in need of same,

    but ARE we really downhearted?

  36. Atomboy
    A very illustrative story, which goes to show that class isn't just about job type, income, lifestlye etc. Middle classes have always been 'facilitators' and are able to use their network of contacts for their own gain. I think someone on cif wrote with regard to the library closures how the people in middle class areas would mount letter writing campaigns, write to MPs etc to save their local library (which they hardly ever use) and so libraries would be more likely to shut in the working class areas where they were more needed.

    PeterJ- too right. It was ok for 17 year old males (and even then only a minority who have real issues like no qualifations), but if I was a proffessional, or a tradesman with decades of experience,- hell on earth.

    Anyway, thanx for the support, all. Will come back on here tonight.

  37. "Working Girls" on BBC3 tonight.

    As the Government pushes ahead with its welfare reforms, this timely series takes work-shy benefit scroungers and teams them with inspirational mentors who hope to show them the value of a good day's work. First up is pampered, preening 20-year-old Kaycie who reacts to the degradations of menial work by flouncing out of her first placement, then launching a foulmouthed tirade at her second mentor. You'll have to resist throwing a hefty book at the screen in frustration. Aside from the reality show trappings - the struggles; triumph over adversity; "the journey" - there is also social commentary about the fight for women's rights and a genealogy aspect in which Kaycie is shown that she comes from a line of independent, hard-working women.

    Sounds like a fair, even-handed portrayal of people on benefits. And apparently the Radio Times reviewer thoroughly approves.

    Good to know the BBC is so clearly on message with the Tory party, despite its "institutional left-wing bias" (!).

  38. Kudos to you guys for giving up the booze and fags. I've given up giving up. As its miraculous I've reached the age I have without any major health catastrophes and am slightly surprised every time I wake up alive, I might as well go on fagging and boozing - in moderation at any rate. Not very good at setting examples, what with my carbon footprint and all.

  39. Spike

    Having looked at the TV guide I notice that the "Working Girls" prog is followed by one called "Hotter than my daughter." Gawd knows what that entails - think I'd rather not know.

  40. @Sheff:

    First you tell me you have an iPhone... then along comes a Kindle... and now you casually mention a bloody carbon footprint! I can’t help but feel I’m really missing out on the good times here.

    Anyway, “Hotter Than My Daughter” reminds me of going out with a girl many years ago because I fancied her (divorced) mother and harboured various ill-thought out, vague yet lustful teenage plans for getting better acquainted with her...

  41. @ Nap
    If I see another "we need 50% of women in the boardroom"/single issue article in teh Graun-- head will explode
    +1 on that.
    Good luck in enduring the crapola from the A4e types. Have had so many punters who've been obliged to go on their courses and not one, not a single individual benefitted, those who did progress did so through their own efforts, (maybe with the support of the odd good local project), and their success had nothing whatsoever to do with the agency, who nonetheless sought to claim all the credit. As for the horror stories of ignorant 'tutor', wholly inadequate premises and courses devoid of content and purpose, well they're all true from the reports I've received.

  42. Shiloh -

    Sorry not to get back to you earlier -

    I do remember when most people rented that wasn't the point.

    The point is that when you have a mortgage you loose a lot if the bank forecloses. Makes you think twice before going on strike etc.

    If you rent you just pack up and live with friends or in a cheaper place. You have no investment in rented property.

    Sheff (& Shiloh) if you really believe that then why bother to fight at all why bother to go on the 26 March?

    We do need to be aware of this problem though and find a way to combat it.

    I that fundamentally we need to learn to stand yp to bullies as soon as they show themselves to be the dangerous people they are.

  43. swifty

    badpenny had a go at me last night for my carbon footprint because I'm flying on me jollies next month. The iphone was my daughters cast off. Waste not want not and all that.

  44. Chekhov, I'm pretty sure you don't have to put username plus email down each time on Disqus - it's the same process as with the UT and CiF. Create your Disqus account and unless you log out, you're automatically logged in (via cookies I presume) when you next go back.

    Oh and the Scott Trust Board has 8 men and 3 women on it.

  45. @Sheff:

    I am joking about the iPhone, old girl, I remember you mentioning it was your daughter’s. And apologies, I was unaware of the proverbial badpenny’s accusation, I don’t tend to read the “night before” thread as a rule. Life’s too short. Anyway, going anywhere nice?


    Firstly, yes, I understand now what your point was re. the mortgage thing, I apologise for misconstruing your post. But on the second point, you’ve always maintained you’re agitating/educating/organising for a Marxist revolution, right? In the UK?

  46. Nap

    I have heard so many reports like yours.

    Contrast this approach -the assumption that all 'clients' of A4E are stupid , thick and unmotivated with the complexity of app forms for IB or DLA and there seems to be a deliberate manipulation. The simplicity of A4E is designed to humiliate; the complexity of the forms to deny people benefits.

    Treating A4E clients in this way is, I believe, designed to disempower them - make them more pliable .

    As for the younger people - not all inarticulate people are unintelligent. Were A4E to lift their courses to a higher level their tutors may well find themselves in confrontation.

    Allowing people to think is dangerous; teaching them more skills - or allowing them to use those they already possess- could be too challenging for those running the courses who see themselves belonging to the dominant more successful group.

  47. Spike

    I think we can construe who the intended audience will be for the programme from this:

    You'll have to resist throwing a hefty book at the screen in frustration.

    I'm assuming this is a leather-bound three-volume set of War and Peace we are talking about, thrown from the leather chair by the man with the monocle and smoking-jacket, as he spills his whisky from the cut-glass, er, glass.

    Otherwise, it would be chuck a tin of Wifebeater at the screen or hurl the spike-collared pit-bull.

    Wind them up and watch them go, basically.

  48. Anne

    Sheff (& Shiloh) if you really believe that then why bother to fight at all why bother to go on the 26 March?

    I said we're flawed as a species Anne, that a percentage of us will always behave badly towards others to further their own interests and they're often very powerful - you are not saying that's not true are you?

    That doesn't mean I think everything is hopeless and we should just roll over and give in, just be very clear what we're up against and the huge effort it will take to make society more just.

  49. @Atom

    Just the Wifebeater and pit bull, I think. The bloke with the monocle wouldn't be watching the BBC in the first place.

  50. swifty

    Off to Cairo at Easter to see a couple of pals. Am flying (obviously) which seemed to annoy badpenny, he/she having such high environmental standards and that.

  51. Spike

    Yes, I suppose you are right.

    We are talking more aspiration than actuality.

    A bit like: "I have a car on HP and a mortgage I cannot afford and we go on holiday, so we are middle-class."

  52. @Sheff:

    Sounds like a fun trip. Just make sure to clear your arrival with the Revolutionary Council and that your helicopter is cleared to land at an officially-designated airstrip... oh, and don’t on any account pack any of that Semtex in your knickers (beyond the small amount for personal use that you’d ordinarily carry in your underwear, obviously).

    And I’m astonished, because I just didn’t realise badpenny also had the corner on eco-hectoring. They’d never given any indication of it previo-zzzzzz...

  53. Meanwhile, the Guardian Media Group's board has 9 men and 2 women on it.

    Bit of a blind spot there I'd suggest. It's a bit like the Graun using companies housed in Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands for tax dodging purposes. Or sending a Graun reporter round to climb up Saif Gaddafi's arse. It's somehow 'different' when they do it.

    The only difference I can detect is that they have the considerable brass neck to be sanctimonious on subjects where they have no place to talk. I fear the mid-afternoon sun in Tuscany has cooked one too many liberal left brains.

  54. I am agitating educating organising to change the way our economy is run so that it is based on sharing not competition. A society where everyone can live without fear of destitution and can contribute to society.

    This does not mean a regimented undemocratic dictatorship but real democracy.

    No-one expected the events in N Africa and the middle east, it seemed to come out of nowhere. These events will have an effect on people everywhere it may take years or even decades before it happens here but if things continue on the present path people wont put up with it for ever. Even here in the UK.

    After all would anyone have expected TU action and demonstrations by workers in the USA?


    Modern evolutionary theory suggests that nature will chnge gradually for very long periods of time. Then a tipping point is reached and you get sudden major changes in the flora and fauna.

    Human history may well the same. maybe we have also reached a tipping point? Its up to us to make it tip in our favour I think.

    Marxism is a scientific way of looking at history in that sense it is the changes ocuring in whole populations that count. This does not mean we believe in ignoring the rights of individuals, it does mean we watch the changes in society and oeganise to push those changes in the direction of a fairer society.

    I don't believe the bastards will always win, there are more of us than there there are of them, if enough of us rise up we can change things.

    Many of the things we are now loosing were fought for and won by people who believed they could change things for the better.

    We cannot, must not betray them, the socjopaths I spoke of are essentially bullies - the only solution is to stand up to them, preferably before they get as entrenched as Gaddaffi has.

    Ordinary people can be incredibly brave and can face dangerous odds in the name of freedom. They are doing so in Libya now.

    WE are as human as they are aren't we?

  55. Sheff- just be very clear what we're up against and the huge effort it will take to make society more just.

    Absolutely - its a war isn't it?

    "Blood sweat toil and tears" but for us not them!

  56. Swifty

    I think badpenny is a chancer who just picks on whatever he/she thinks might give him/her some mileage.

    Am steering clear of semtex, the ukba get a bit upset about it when you're flying but thought I might get away with a few leaflets on the joys of first past the post democracy and the benefits of giving up your industrial base to become the financial hub of the universe.

  57. Just as an idle bit of space-filling and time-wasting, I telephoned earlier to get the results of my recent blood tests, following the pain in my side - now pretty much gone.

    After the usual, "I'll just check those for you" and then coming back to say, "I won't be a minute, just checking" I was asked to make another appointment with the doctor.

    I had been poised to say, "OK, good, fine, thanks very much" in response to the expected, "Yes, it's all back and everything is fine."

    Then, having noted down the appointment with the doctor, the receptionist phoned back to say, "Actually, would you mind coming back in for another set of blood tests and then we can make another appointment with the doctor after those come back?"

    So, I am now working on the basis that they have either discovered that I am actually an experimentalist hybrid made from the intestines of a slaughtered robot, discovered in the water-trough at the side of a muddy cow-field, along with the DNA of an extinct species of cartoon elephant - or they just dropped or lost the original samples.

    Not being especially inquisitive, I didn't bother to ask.

  58. AB

    That would be an hilarious clip if it wasn't so close to the actualite.

    They've probably discovered that you have a gene for world domination and would like you to share it. Don't let them have it!

  59. RapidEddie

    Good to see they've got Brent Hoberman on the board.

    You may remember him from such internet success stories as LastMinute.com - the company once valued at something like 300 billion and now almost entirely forgotten - and QXL - the company whose name is supposed to sound like "QuickSell" and was going to take down eBay - and is now completely and utterly forgotten by everyone.

    No doubt he heads up CiF's internet presence.

  60. sheffpixie, my comment was in response to your statement that "we're given just enough to keep us quiet and locked into the consumer economy".

    Which I just coudn't reconcile with regular leisure flights to Egypt and Morocco. Perhaps you meant that you yourself are far too aware and too intelligent to let your own enthusiastic embracing of the consumer economy 'keep you quiet'. You are courageous enough to speak out whilst lesser mortals mutely succumb to the temptations and pleasures of capitalism. Well done.

    I admire anyone who can happily enjoy the concrete benefits of an unfair system and simultaneously seem to occupy some sort of moral high ground simply by posting platitudes.

  61. Sheff

    They've probably discovered that you have a gene for world domination and would like you to share it. Don't let them have it!

    More prosaically, but probably more accurately, Atomgirl thinks they have cunningly spotted that it is mainly butter running through my veins and I have blown up their cholesterol-o-meter.

  62. As a variation on the old Tony Benn story about how you share out the food on a lifeboat - and to prove that re-cycling works:


    7 March 2011 3:32PM

    harvested from Facebook:

    A banker, a Daily Mail reader and a benefit claimant are sitting at a table sharing 12 biscuits. The banker takes 11 and says to the Daily Mail reader, ‘Watch out for that benefit claimant, he wants your biscuit.’

  63. Wonderful comment on BBC News about Bob Diamond's £24m of income last year.

    I don't know who the guy being interviewed was (missed that bit). He said Diamond's pay and bonuses were normal for a bank CEO, but we had to ask ourselves if it was right that anyone - a bank CEO or a footballer - should be getting more money in a year than most people earn in a lifetime.

    I'd like to know what circles he's moving in, where only "most people" average less than 500k a year in their working lives. I'd have said "more in a year than any ten people I know are likely to earn in their lifetime".

  64. Spike - that is more than your average 24 people are likely to earn in a lifetime. (Rough thinking: 50 years of work at an average of £20K per year - which is probably generous.)

  65. AB Love the biscuit comment.

  66. Sheffpixie

    Help yourself to any of the photos you want.

  67. Here I am trying out another browser ~

    Common People – like Cameron, Osbourne, Johnson…

  68. Bitey

    Thanks, I will. There are some I'd love to borrow to beautify my desktop.

    I admire anyone who can happily enjoy the concrete benefits of an unfair system and simultaneously seem to occupy some sort of moral high ground simply by posting platitudes.

    Life's full of contradictions badpenny, as I expect you've noticed; but glad mine keep you happy, although why they should is a mystery.

    Now, I'm just nipping off to confession to be absolved of my wickedness and then I can retire, cleansed, to the pub. Night Night.

  69. "Now, I'm just nipping off to confession to be absolved of my wickedness and then I can retire, cleansed"

    Blimey, that's gonna take a while, innit Sheff? I've been meaning to say, for a couple of days now, that the Tom Waits you played was great.

  70. Now, I'm just nipping off to confession to be absolved of my wickedness and then I can retire, cleansed, to the pub. Night Night.

    Being a bit optimistic there aren't you Sheff?The local priests are going to have to work in shifts to hear your confession so i doubt you'll make the pub tonight. .Maybe we can sponsor you for every hour you spend in the confessional and give the money to good causes.Look upon it as the UT contribution to Red Nose Day.:-)

  71. I thought the UT *was* the confessional....

  72. Forgive me, thauma for I have sinned, It has been a week since my last confession.

    I have had unholy thoughts about arsewipes that turn up on here, looking for a fight. I have shamed myself.

  73. Forgive me thauma for I too have sinned... and it was great... :o)

  74. It would appear that the Big Society has been undergoing dummy runs to see how it works in practice, before it is rolled out into the wider world:


    Tanzanian woman 'kept as slave'

    (UKPA) – 3 hours ago

    An African woman was kept as a slave for four years in the London home of a retired doctor, a court has heard.

    Mwanahamisi Mruke, 47, who was flown over from Tanzania in October 2006, was summoned by a bell to carry out chores for Saeeda Khan, 68, around her Harrow house.

    A jury at Southwark Crown Court heard Miss Mruke was forced to sleep on the kitchen floor, even after she had an operation on varicose veins in her leg.

    They were shown an interview with the Tanzanian national in which she described to police her normal working day in which she was expected to wake up at 6am and not go to bed until midnight.

    She did cleaning, gardening, cooked meals and accompanied Khan's disabled son on walks, often in the middle of the night, because she wanted to support her 23-year-old daughter through college in her home country.

    Miss Mruke said she was paid £120 for her first year's work, just £10 a month, and received no pay for the following three years. A total of 50,000 Tanzanian shillings (£21) was sent to her daughter each month for two years.

    Miss Mruke did try to complain, but she was sent a letter from another person in Tanzania to warn her that she must obey Khan, and that if she talked to anyone else her life may be in danger.


    Gradually, all those little throwaway snippets from the great and the good start making sense.

    A cashless society is obvious when the slave classes will soon have no need for money.

    Living in the post-democratic age is sensible when slaves have no need for a vote.

    So, start revving up the aeroplanes at Heathrow and put out a dustbin for us all to throw our passports into as we step into our shackles.

    Bags I get to sleep on the floor next to the oven.

  75. I haven't sinned (well, not today), but I'd really quite like to.

  76. Meerkatjie, no, I haven't today...

    Christ, Atomboy, that's just horrific.

  77. shaz

    Yes, it is, isn't it?

    The fact that it is actually quite commonplace amongst the international jet-set and super-rich makes it even more horrific.

    Anyway, time for floor, as they say.


  78. @habib

    10 bloody Mary's and 10 How's your fathers

  79. Atomboy

    Horrific story there but one i feel it's more common than most people realize.

    I don't know how many people are trafficked into this country every year to work as slaves whether it be in the sex industry, domestic service, collecting cockles on Morecambe Bay etc but i imagine it runs into hundred maybe even thousands.It pisses me off that the Guardian is quick to express it's outrage about human rights abuses abroad but too often has fuck all to say when the abuses are going on right here in the UK.

  80. This comment has been removed by the author.

  81. Miss Mruke said she was paid £120 for her first year's work, just £10 a month, and received no pay for the following three years. A total of 50,000 Tanzanian shillings (£21) was sent to her daughter each month for two years.

    Obviously I'm being very naive here, and I'm not in the employer mindset, but how the fuck can anyone think they can get away with that? And why would they want to?

  82. Now back and giving it another try... after that heady success.

    When I soon develop blood-pressure problems, can I sue Blogger?

    Have ended up with Safari, simply because it's the only alternative this computer will accept, for reasons which are not comprehended by me. Time will soon tell if using another browser helps.

    Atomboy's footage of the garcely employment lecture sketch was both very funny and very sad, because of its absurdities being not much of an exaggeration.

    A relative, who I've mentioned before, who has been unemployed for some time, due to sheer bad luck; and is well educated, very experienced, but over fifty; had to spend a good part of last week at sessions to do with stuff like how you use a phone, present your c.v., promote yourself ... snooze ...

    And why in answer to the question - why do you want this job? - are you never allowed to say - because I need the money? Why does there always have to be this charade, when everyone know that's the reason?

    He volunteers at a charity shop, which keeps THEM happy; and then THEY decided that he should go on a work placement - to do some exciting new training and find new opportunities? - no, to a shop of the same charity in another town... It's so daft, you just can't make it up.

    Also they were instructed about networking... 'Networking?', he says, 'who with?! - nearly everyone I know is unemployed.'

  83. Seems to be working so far...

    There have been reports of cases like that unfortunate lady from Tanzania before, and those are only those cases which get discovered. Some of them come in with their foreign employers, as there are parts of the world where keeping what amounts to household slaves is a common practice. Then there are a few of our own country's people who take advantage.

    I have no idea how one person can treat another one in that way, but on a worldwide scale there are now considered to be far more persons, especially women and children, in a condition
    that's the equivalent of slavery - that is, being bound in some way to the will of another person - than in all of history.

    There has always been a 'slave class' - financially helpless and exploitable - and we were getting too far away from that, and that error is being put right.

  84. And when, as happens, the slaves are kept by diplomats, there's absolutely nothing that can be done when they have diplomatic immunity and their own country doesn't want to prosecute them.

  85. don't bother asking me to confess my sins Thauma; even if I subscribed to Roman Catholisism I doubt there are enough RC priests on the planet to listen to all my misdemeanours!
    Btw; I'm heading off down the A1 to St Albans tomorrow and it's a long slog to do in one go from Tyneside so an overnight stop off at a halfway point would be appreciated. I'm low maintainance and I can pretty much sleep vertically!

  86. BTW; I don't want to sound like a "luddite" but I'm not convinced that switching blogging sites is necessarily a good idea. Ok we have "spam" problems but they seem to get resolved quickly enough. Maybe it would make more sense to allow more posters with "de-spamming" rights!

  87. And when, as happens, the slaves are kept by diplomats, there's absolutely nothing that can be done when they have diplomatic immunity and their own country doesn't want to prosecute them.

    I think diplomatic immunity is a great big, steaming pile of horseshit. No one should be able to keep slaves or assault people and not be prosecuted for it.


    We wouldn't be moving to a new site. We'd still be here, just with the Disqus commenting function rather than Blogger's own. Disqus seems to be quite a bit more flexible & I really like the "file preview" thing -- it would make the YouTubing sessions that tend to break out here a LOT more user-friendly without slowing things down like embedded videos would do.

  88. Well, the joke today about how I/we articles like '50% of women need to be in the boardroom' has kind of being superseded.... in the name of international women's day... '100 of the world's most inspirational women'.... Thatcher stares down at us from teh Graun's front page.

  89. @Montana; if you want to switch formats that's fine with me as long as you know I'm a bit thick and you will have to spell it out in monosyllables!

  90. Leni/Alisdair/Princess

    Arec from WADDYA has posted a link to THIS GUARDIAN ARTICLE about a Parliamentary Committee looking for feedback from disability benefit claimants in Burnley who've been affected by the pilot for ESA that's been taking place there since last October.

    Dunno about you but i get a sense that this is simply an exercise in going through the motions for the sake of appearances.Especially as the process starting the nationwide migration from IB to ESA started a week ago.And note the article wasn't open to comments .