Tuesday, July 27, 2004

In The City

I absolutely love living in London. London is so alive in a way that no other city on this planet is.
Had one of those great London nights out last night. Met up with people from work first of all to celebrate Brizie's birthday, we then moved into town for a meeting cum social gathering of a group calling themselves the "Sohemians" - and a very interesting bunch they were too. They concern themselves with anything that has a link to Soho (hence their name) and include the likes of high Tories, liberals and a smattering of lefties.
At closing time, four of us went off to an Algerian restaurant for some wonderful lamb and cous cous, followed by whiskies and beers in a couple of late opening bars. Got home at around 4am, but, with no work to attend, felt fine after a lie in.
Just about to head off to catch train to Irvine with the boy. Packing his gear earlier I noticed that he wasn't going to take his new Celtic top, this as a result of me telling him about a couple of Tic fans who have been violently attacked and killed by neanderthal huns in recent years for simply wearing the hoops.
After a quick word from Reidski that we always wear our colours with pride and that he should never be intimidated by fascists and thugs, said top was duly packed.
Looking forward to catching up with family and old friends over the next few days.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Party Til You Puke

The boy's party today. It was fun. There was a bar. The bar was shut.
The started with many boys convering on chez Reidski at around 10 am. Two car loads then drove over to Lee Valley ice centre, with those who I was driving annoying passers by with shouts of "I've got your number" "I know what you did last summer" and, bizarrely, "Do you want to join BT". The boys had fun.
The ice skating people weren't quite ready for us when we arrived, so game of footie on the grass outside ensued.
All the kids enjoyed the ice skating which followed and another game of footie which followed after that.
Reidski's head expanded at the end when older teenage kid who came along said to me: "Did you used to play with a semi-professional club?"
After they departed (well, most of them as two are having a sleep-over tonight) it struck me and 'er indoors that we are unlikely to see them all together again as they all disperse into different secondary schools after the holidays. To say that this is sad is a huge understatement.
They are an magnificent bunch. They are always polite, some are hugely funny and entertaining and they are incredibly loyal to one another. On the ice rink there always seemed be one of them around if another fell over. On the football field, it was all big and meaningful apologies if a tackle went in a bit too hard. Not one bust-up the entire day, quite an achievement for a bunch of 10-11 year old boys away from home.
With the boy busy upstairs, an opportunity arose for me and 'er indoors to finish off the second series of Six Feet Under. She's still bubbling away 45 minutes after its ended. It's certainly powerful stuff. Now want to start on series three as a matter of urgency.
Night out in Soho didn't work out last night. Brizie, whose 40th birthday we were supposed to be celebrating, has switched off his phone and refusing to respond to messages. Methinks that middle-age crisis has hit the lad pretty hard. Did have a nice meal with the family, though. Mexican style steak was lovely, washed down by one of my favourite beers, Dos Equis. The pina colada's were nice, too. As was the flirting with the absolutely gorgeous waitress. The waiter was quite a stunner, too, now that I think of it!
It's time to open another bottle of Reserve Saint Marc, so that's all from me.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

I'm A Cuckoo

The boy's birthday and it's been a little laid back so far.  Presents included Gamecube, a midi hi-fi system, Franz Ferdinand and Blink 182 cds and, the highlight, proper Celtic top.
After listening to his new tunes I played him some of my new sounds. I went for a late night trip into town last night, mainly to get a haircut, but couldn't avoid visit to Virgin megastore. I hate that bearded twat Branson, but his shops are good.
Hair's now cut in number three style and new cds are on the decks and a real mixture of old and new they are too.
Representing the new are Alphabetical, Modest Mouse and Killers. The not-so-new are Belle and Sebastian. And the old are Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Cany0n, Beastie Boys Ill Communication (which contains one of greatest songs ever in Sabotage) and the New York Dolls.
I also purchased the Damnded's vastly underrated Machine Gun Etiquette as birthday pressie for Brizie who I'm seeing later tonight for celebratory drinks in and around Soho.
First up though is party meal out with the boy and his mum at local restaurant.
Tomorrow is the boy's party, which involves taking him and around a dozen of his friends to ice skating in Hackney for the day. It promises to be fun - hope there's a bar.
Just before I go, 'er indoors has just come in with the shopping, part of which is Sainsbury's Chocolate Caramel Shortcakes.  Try them. They are delicious!
And finally. Why all the fuss about Mandelson getting a job as EU commissioner? I think he'll fit in rather nicely with the rest of the scum that represent the fascist superstate project.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Funky Days Are Back Again

What a great day that was/is.
The boy has been on superb form for the past two days now - things are looking up. He's currently in his room with his mate who goes back home to Iceland at the weekend, so the boy won't see him until the holidays are over. At least they are going to the same big school after hols.
Work today was great, with important stuff to get on with coming my way. I'll tidy all that away tomorrow in readiness for my week's leave.
I'm popping back home to Irvine next week, so hopefully a pint with tnr and radical postman will be in the offing, although the latter is on the by-election trail for the SSP at the moment.
The boy will get the chance to catch up with his Jock cousins, which always thrills him.
I came across a great piece in this week's Spectator, with the wonderful title of "The Tories are in such a poor way that they have to start telling the truth." The title alone makes one read it, but it is a great analysis of the opposition.
One has to go through a registration process to log into the Spectator website, but, at no cost, it is well worth the brief hassle as it contains some of the best political writers around. Most are on the right, but they are entertaining, nevertheless.
There's also an unintentionally funny piece from Leo McKinstry in which he argues, quite rightly, that with the Treasury spending plans that have been announced this week, Blair is buying his way back into the affections of the traditional Labour vote. This, McKinstry says, means that Britain is being pushed against its will further and further to the left!! Yes, dear readers, to the left!
While we can shake off McKinstry's more absurd claims of Blair taking us on the parliamentary road to socialism, the writer does have a point about the PM trying to buy the next election.
The nonsense that Blunkett came out with this week, Brown's spending plans, Darling on transport (generally welcome, but not quite thought through) and Reid on the NHS, all short-term measures to try and get the third term.
What's missing from Blair's own calculations, however, is that the majority of the British public think he is a lying bastard.
That doesn't stop his friends in the media slavering over his every word, however.
Take the absurd comment from the BBC's political commentator Andrew Marr on the evening after the debate on the Butler inquiry when he said, without any hint of irony, that, although the majority of the public no longer trust Blair, in terms of the commons debate "he came through that unscathed."
The political elite certainly live in a cocooned world. That little square mile around Parliament Square is a world apart from the lives the rest of us live - and very scary that can be at times.
Back to the mundane, Stiff Little Fingers are on the turntable and I'm off to uncork a bottle of wine.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Wheels On Fire

Today was a shitter, only punctuated by an excellent lunch break with Brizie, Anonymous, Guitarman and the Anarchist. As well as not feeling well at all, those at the staff meeting (which I didn't attend due to fear of impending vomiting, which, luckily, didn't materialise) took a decision that I was really pissed off about. The boss, in an effort to promote a healthy work environment and healthy lifestyle, put in place a policy where those who don't smoke get extra day's leave.
But there are those who decided that this is divisive. 
So it's not divisive to spend half your day going out the office for a fag and rely on the non-smokers to cover for the selfish fag-smoking "workers" then?
Now, I'm not saying that all smokers are selfish workshy lazy sods - oh, alright then, I am!!
The company also subsidise gym membership, so next thing we'll hear those very same smokers and their idiot allies saying that, because they can't be bothered to exercise, this subsidy should be shared by all employees in their pay packets. Well, they can fuck right off!
The other thing that I was pissed off about today was the fact that I missed one of the great  sporting spectacles - that of the Tour de France  making its way up one of the highest peaks of the 21 stages, L'Alpe d'Huez.
I love Le Tour and believe that it is one of THE sporting achievements and makes for great viewing on the box.
Eurosports' commentators are always a treat. Although I've kept an eye on the reports of this year's Tour, I've not really watched it much, next to nothing of it actually.
Lance Armstrong is heading for an unbelievable sixth triumph in the event. I read his autobiography a couple of years ago - a great read, an inspirational invidual, with the only down side being his recent friendship with US President Bush. I suppose we can't all be perfect, though.
The boy has just gone out to play, with a watch on, so hopefully there'll be no late returns like we've had over recent days.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Home Is Where The Hatred Is

Prizes galore - okay, pint for when I see you - to whoever guesses (no, there will be no searching on google) whose song is the title of this post. And...has anyone noticed the musical references to some of the other posts' titles on Reidski's blog?
Come on, tnr, I know you know.
Anyway, the title tonight refers to my deep domestic depression, which is only ebbed by visits to work, to play badminton and to the gym.
Things between Reidski and the boy are not going well, although they did perk up a bit when I took him to see the mighty Celtic put on an entertaining show at Fulham on Sunday - but 90 minutes of fun in an otherwise shitty few days is not good enough.
Two bright spots on the cultural front at the moment.
One, still making my way through the entire works of George P Pelecanos at the moment, having, in the last week, finished both Shame The Devil and Shoedog. While the latter is certainly not anywhere near his best, the former is a classic. The thing about Pelecanos is not just the great noir crime writer that he is, but also the street smart and progressive outlook in his books - to say nothing of the excellent musical references. I'll revisit this post soon and link it to his website...this man is definitely on the side of the angels.
The second cultural wonder of the past week is the fact that 'er indoors and Reidski are currently working our way through the second series of Six Feet Under on DVD. Totally missed the first series, passing us by as the classic TV that it is.
But, after buying a friend the first series on video (remember them?) we thought: "Must watch the rest."
This has meant a long wait for second series to come out on DVD, with, meanwhile, third series having been broadcoast, which we had taped from TV.
With fourth series about to hit our screens any day now (is this all sounding rather confusing?), it has meant rapid watching of DVD - 10 episodes in the last week alone - with third series to follow in rapid fashion.
Everything about this programme is excellent - acting, directing, writing and the rest.
If anyone posts a comment that includes what happens next, in the words of the Pixies: "You fuckin die!"
Come on, cheer me up you motherf******!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Setting Son

A watershed moment arrived for those inhabiting chez Reidski today - the boy's days at primary schoold ended.
An extremely emotional event it was too, by all accounts. The Reidski himself could not get the afternoon off work, but 'er indoors was there and witnessed the kids crying their eyes out, leading to parents crying their eyes out and general sadness all around.
But a group of nine of them decided they would have an end-of-school party. The venue? Yes, you guessed it, chez Reidski!
It was nice to come in from work to be greeted by some really great kids. All polite, all saying thank you when given anything, all saying goodbye and thanks at exit time. A lovely bunch, indeed!
Getting back to not being able to take time off from work, I could have really done with a few extra hours kip. It was work's day out yesterday and much drink was drunk. In fact, far too much drink was drunk. Had a great time, of course, as I always do when out bevvying, but this was a particularly superb day. Joined another couple of Scots immigrants in singing flower of Scotland at the Karaoke, followed a little later by Bohemian Rhapsody.
Performance at the singing was only just beaten by performance on the pool table. Took on all-comers and beat them all. Me and co-worker won around the first dozen or so games, before the halos slipped. But on they came again and we done the same again.
Reidski, for those who don't know, has never known when to stop when it comes to slugging bevvy, so, on arrival back in London, carried on drinking. Chinese meal and beer, followed by whisky, followed by more beer on arrival back home.
Did have a hangover, but certainly had a lot worse.
Certainly going to take it easy on the alcohol front over the weekend, however. Well, that's the plan anyway.
Got tickets to see Celtic on Sunday, they travel south to take on Fulham at the Cottage, my favourite football ground in england and certainly the prettiest in the world - can't wait.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Oops! They've gone and done it again.

The Morning Star today published yet another article by London's political boss, Ken Livingstone. Following the article that appeared on 3rd July, outlining the mayor's position regarding the current dispute with Tube worker, Pink Ken gets another chance to air his anti-union views.
Now don't get me wrong, I am all for debate and discussion and airing our differences. But this is no internal labour movement roundtable talks we are having.
To put it in its simplest terms - an industrial dispute is class struggle. Livingstone is on the side of the ruling economic class in this particular struggle and the Tube workers are on the other.
The Morning Star is supposed to be the paper of the labour movement. More than that, Livingstone has urged Tube staff to cross RMT picket lines.
It is one thing - and the Star is correct with it - to quote the bosses in a news piece. But to give over the pages to them is quite another.
This one defies explanation. Particularly as the Star has so far failed to comment on the dispute in its editorials. So we await developments...
On the domestic front, the boy's last week in school is upon us. Today, it was prize giving. A very uninspiring event, I thought, with very little said about the wonderful achievements of the students, both academically and in their social skills - I know much about the latter cos half the class seem to spend most of their time in the boy's bedroom at the weekend. They definitely are a good bunch.
The boy picked up a few prizes and I'm glad I went along. Nearly didn't as a result of him saying last week that the event wasn't for adults. He then asks us last night if either of us are going and we replied: "But we asked you last week if it was for parents and you said no." His response? "I thought you meant were the prizes for the parents" - he can be strange at times, our little boy!
So, I goes off to other side of London to start work at 8am. Waited for first person to take over from me at 8.45. Tube ride all the back home. Attend school prize giving. Tube ride all the way back to work. Bloody knackering it was, too.
Must dash to pick the boy up from his footie training.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Age of Cretinism?

That term - "the age of cretinism" - comes from a film I watched recently, The Barbarian Invasion. It's a great film which I would recommend. French-Canadian and, therefore, sub-titled, it's a reflection on a dying man's life.
There's a scene where he and his friends are looking back at what they have been involved in, saying something along the lines of: "We have been communists, socialists, marxists, leninists, stalinists, trotskyists, revolutionaries....but we now live in the age of cretinism."
That quote has had a powerful effect on me and my political thinking.
I thought about it again tonight when, accidentally, I switched on to Sport Relief. I hate those televised charity appeals, the way in which they horrifically manipulate people's emotions to achieve the victorious aim of beating "last year's total."
It's also sad the way that working class people, with the greatest intentions it must be said, donate money on such occasions in the belief that they are making a difference and making the world a better place.
This is not to say, by the way, that nothing good comes out of such occasions - I would be loathe to say that someone's local community centre shouldn't benefit from a Sport Relief grant or that some poor and dying kid in Somalia or the Sudan shouldn't be given something to eat for a week or two. And I don't mean what I have just wrote to be a flippant remark.
But, rather, these are matters of the State and not the individual do-gooder - and this is where the "age of cretinism" comes in.
Working class people today face an assault on their lives, thoughts and beliefs in way that no previous generation have ever had to face.
Private Eye, which I read and enjoy, can joke and satire our dumbed-down society, but it is certainly no joke.
I also think of cretinism when I see and hear the voices on the left who try and qualify the trial of Saddam Hussein by saying that Bush and Blair should be on trial too or, even more outrageously, that he shouldn't be on trial at all cos the Iraqi government that is trying him is a puppet regime.
When was Saddam a friend of any progressive in his own country or in any other. I may be wrong, but I thought he was only ever a friend of international capitalism.
I say, I couldn't give a fuck who is trying this despotic madman cos he is a despotic madman, full stop.
Yes, Bush and Blair may need to face their own trials, but that is a completely different argument.
The cretinism also surrounds the latest hoo-ha about whether Brown is about to replace Blair - it seems that, once again, politics is all about individuals.
I have no answers as to how we get rid of the age of cretinism, but I am sure that there are answers out there.
I don't think that my generation are going to provide them, but I have high hopes that our children are going to turn this society upside down - and I hope I am still alive to see it!
Footnote: listened to some great sounds today - Pet Sounds, Woody Guthrie's Dustbowl Ballads and, at the moment, Costello's Spike. All absolute classics and maybe if more listened to such sounds that cretinism would be banished. You never know!!

I know there's an answer

What a great day: the sun is shining on the capital, 'er indoors has gone off to Dungeness with mates for the weekend, the boy is at friends hoose, Pet Sounds is blasting out the speakers - yes, a great day, indeed.
I may have mentioned in earlier post that one of my favourite authors is the great US crime fiction writer George P Pelecanos. I'm currently on the fourth of his DC quartet series, Shame The Devil.
Here's a taster:

"The Capitol loomed dead ahead, crowning the street. On this particular winter day, the press and public were fixated on the alleged extramarital affairs of the sitting president and giving odds on his possible impeachment. It was the media event of the decade, the subject of sarcastic lunch conversations all across town. But few talked about the real crime of this city, not anymore: American children were undernourished, criminally undereducated, and living in a viper's nest of drugs, violence and despair within a mile of the Capitol dome. It should have been a national disgrace. But hunger and poverty had never been tabloid sexy. Beyond the occasional obligatory lip service, the truth was that no one in a position of power cared."

Pelecanos - he's good. He's very good. He oozes cool and his writing is packed with great musical references. Visit his website and find out more info on this great writer.

Great music

This is a very short one...
...just put on the Damned's Machine Gun Etiquette on the turntable, it is quite amazingly one of the greatest albums ever!

South East Side Story

I know - far too much comment on the boy, but, come one, let me indulge a bit cos he's leaving his little school shortly.
...he and schoolmates performed excellently in the musical.
The good thing was that there was no main characters so most kids in the class got a line or two.
It was a good gang v bad gang scenario, with the boy in good gang cast.
Good gang won in the end cos they had (in the play) got martial arts training (hence the Kung-Fu Fighting scene) and beat off the bad guys, who accepted they had got done over.
Not sure of the message - i.e. fight violence with violence - but there we go.
Anyway, the boy did have a great part and was there in the duet at the end with the girl singer (classically trained).
Tears definitely formed when that was going on - they made a great couple!
And what about the others?
Ewan's romantic oppo also done a great version of "Somewhere", while we also heard "Tonight,Tonight" and "Maria - I just kissed a girl named Maria" - both absolutely astounding.
Back to the boy - ever so proud of im and, even though he does my head in at times, I love him sooooo much.
Today, well....finished work at 11am and then had a mega session at the gym followed by a mega session at pub.
Then it was Morning Star chat when I met up with former colleagues at that newspaper and had great afternoon in pub with them.
What followed was nothing to write home about, other than the fact that I fell asleep in cinema watching The Cooler - nothing to do with the film, just that I was pissed and not wanted at home!!
'er indoors is off the morra, so, hopefully, the boy and I can have a nice dad and his lad type weekend.
I am actually so pissed that I must stop typing now.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Can you handle the truth?

Came across this great article in this week's edition of The Spectator magazine.
Please, if you anyone out there feels the need to comment on this, please digest the contents of the article first and don't jump to any knee-jerk liberal Guardian-style response.

"Let Slobbo speak for himself

John Laughland says that the case against Milosevic has all but collapsed for lack of evidence

For a few hours on Monday, the world’s human rights establishment was seized by terror. Slobodan Milosevic had been due to begin his defence at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, but instead discussion focused on the former president’s fragile health, which has been made worse by the rigours of the trial. When the presiding judge, Patrick Robinson, said that a ‘radical review’ of the proceedings would now be necessary, many do-gooders feared that their worst nightmare was about to be realised — that the international community’s main trophy in its crusade for morality might, if only on medical grounds, be allowed to walk free.

Few human rights activists had ever contemplated such an outcome, still less an acquittal. The presumption of innocence has never counted for much in the highly politicised world of international humanitarian law. One war crimes expert, James Gow, said on Channel 4 on Monday that it would be better if Milosevic died in the dock, because if the trial ran its course he might be sentenced for only relatively minor charges. That ought to be awfully embarrassing for those like Gow who have assured us that he is as guilty as hell. Fortunately for them, the ICTY is not really in the business of acquittal. As one academic specialist on the ICTY, Professor Michael Scharf, has noted approvingly, the ICTY’s rules were designed ‘to minimise the possibility of a charge being dismissed for lack of evidence’, a sentiment of which the Queen of Hearts would have been proud.

As it stands, the judges seem poised to impose a defence counsel on Milosevic. Far from helping him, of course, the intention here is to weaken his defence by requiring him to be represented by a lawyer who knows the issues far less well than he does. Such a move would fly in the face of the judges’ earlier rulings against this idea — and the new presiding judge himself was, in the past, especially firm that this would be contrary to the defendant’s rights. It would at least provide comfort to the beleaguered prosecution. When he is not trying to get the court to force Milosevic to give up smoking — a certain death sentence for any Serb — Geoffrey Nice QC, the lead prosecutor, has repeatedly sought to accomplish this switch, not least because the two-year prosecution case has been a nearly unmitigated disaster.

Since the trial started in February 2002, the prosecution has wheeled out more than 100 witnesses, and it has produced 600,000 pages of evidence. Not a single person has testified that Milosevic ordered war crimes. Whole swaths of the indictment on Kosovo have been left unsubstantiated, even though Milosevic’s command responsibility here is clearest. And when the prosecution did try to substantiate its charges, the result was often farce. Highlights include the Serbian ‘insider’ who claimed to have worked in the presidential administration but who did not know what floor Milosevic’s office was on; ‘Arkan’s secretary’, who turned out to have worked only as a temp for a few months in the same building as the notorious paramilitary; the testimony of the former federal prime minister, Ante Markovic, dramatically rumbled by Milosevic, who produced Markovic’s own diary for the days when he claimed to have had meetings with him; the Kosovo Albanian peasant who said he had never heard of the KLA even though there is a monument to that terrorist organisation in his own village; and the former head of the Yugoslav secret services, Radomir Markovic, who not only claimed that he had been tortured by the new democratic government in Belgrade to testify against his former boss, but who also agreed, under cross-examination by Milosevic, that no orders had been given to expel the Kosovo Albanians and that, on the contrary, Milosevic had instructed the police and army to protect civilians. And these, note, were the prosecution witnesses.

Serious doubt has also been cast on some of the most famous atrocity stories. Remember the refrigerator truck whose discovery in the Danube in 1999, full of bodies, was gleefully reported as Milosevic was transferred to The Hague in June 2001? The truck had allegedly been retrieved from the river and then driven to the outskirts of Belgrade, where its contents were interred in a mass grave. But cross-examination showed that there is no proof that the bodies exhumed were the ones in the truck, nor that any of them came from Kosovo. Instead, it is quite possible that the Batajnica mass grave dated from the second world war, while the refrigerator truck may have contained Kurds being smuggled to Western Europe, the victims of a grisly traffic accident. The realisation is now dawning that lies were peddled to justify the Kosovo war just as earnestly as they were to justify the attack on Iraq.

The weakness of the prosecution case was underlined by the fact that its triumphant conclusion in February was to broadcast a TV documentary made several years ago. This suggests that its two-year marathon has not served to advance knowledge of the truth beyond the tall stories peddled by telly hacks at the time. Even professional supporters of the ICTY now admit that the only ‘proof’ of Milosevic’s guilt has been General Sir Rupert Smith’s stated ‘impression’ that Milosevic controlled the Bosnian Serbs, and Paddy Ashdown’s statement that he ‘warned’ the former Yugoslav head of state that war crimes were being committed in Kosovo. In February, the chief prosecutor herself, Carla del Ponte, admitted that she did not have enough evidence to convict Milosevic on the most serious charges.

The supposedly impartial judges have been deeply complicit in this prosecution bungling. The ICTY has long been characterised by an unhealthy community of interests between the judges and the prosecutors; I have myself heard the first president of the ICTY, Judge Antonio Cassese, boast that he encouraged the prosecutor to issue indictments against the Bosnian Serb leaders, a statement which should disqualify him from serving as a judge ever again. In the Milosevic trial, the judges have admitted a tawdry parade of ‘expert witnesses’ who are not, in fact, witnesses to anything. In Britain, the role of experts is rightly under the spotlight after the convictions of some 250 parents found guilty of killing their babies have been thrown into doubt precisely because they relied on this kind of testimony; but in the ICTY you can be a ‘witness’ without ever having set foot in Yugoslavia.

Numerous other judicial abuses have been legitimised by the ICTY. The use of hearsay evidence is now so out of control that people are often allowed to testify that they heard someone say something about someone else. It is common for the ICTY to offer reduced sentences (five years in one case) to men convicted of hideous crimes, mass murder for instance, if they agree to testify against Milosevic. The use of anonymous witnesses is now very widespread, as is the frequency of the ‘closed sessions’: a glance at the ICTY transcripts shows pages and pages blanked out because sensitive issues have been discussed in court — sensitive, that is, to the security interests of the Great Powers which control it, the USA in first place. The ICTY’s nadir came last December, when the former supreme commander of Nato, Wesley Clark, testified in the Milosevic trial; the court agreed to let the Pentagon censor its proceedings, and the transcripts were not released until Washington had given the green light. So much for the ICTY’s transparency and independence.

Ironically, Slobbo has one objective ally: the British prime minister. The possibility is now real that a conviction of Milosevic can be secured only on the widest possible interpretation of the doctrine of command responsibility: for instance, that he knew about atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs and did nothing to stop them. But if Milosevic can be convicted for complicity in crimes committed by people in a foreign country, over whom he had no formal control, how much greater is the complicity of the British government in crimes committed by the US in Iraq, a country with which the UK is in an official coalition? This is not just a cheap political jibe but a serious judicial conundrum: the UK is a signatory to the new International Criminal Court, and so Tony Blair is subject to the jurisdiction of the new Hague-based body whose jurisprudence will be modelled on that of the ICTY. So if Slobbo goes down for ten years in Scheveningen jail because of abuses committed by his policemen, then by rights his cell-mate should, in time, be Tony. "

© The Spectator: July 10, 2004

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Midweek tiredness

Wednesday night is the night of the week I enjoy most, even though it makes me most tired.
No, radicalpostman, not that. I play five a sides every Wed after work, a most thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and healthy exercise. The problem we had tonight, however, was the problem we have had on a few other occasions since we started a few months ago - namely, not enough people turn up so five a sides turn into four against three. Well, when you're on the side with just three, it is non-stop running, whether defensive running or attacking. I maintain every week that the point of the exercise is just that - exercise - but it's great when you bang in the goals like I was doing tonight. I think final score was 19-18 to other side - close, no cigars, but plenty of calories burned to smithereens.
A lot of calories put back on in the pub afterwards, but not too many, as tiredness means get back home after not too many pints.
Anyway, got home and in walked 'er indoors, the boy and mater of 'er indoors from the boy's first night in school performance.
Before anyone accuses me of ignoring boy in school play, by the way, Reidski is attending tomorrow night's performance.
The boy was buzzing and high as a kite, while 'er indoors and 'er mater raved about whole performance of all the kids.
Can't wait till tomorrow's show!
The boy's school is ace. Stuck in the middle of an estate - no, that is not a negative - and with all cultures and many students whose first language is not English, the teachers perform miracles. They treat the national curriculim with the disdain it deserves, but, obviously have to meet the criteria that the State demands.
And, while league tables are one of the most disgusting things about our education system - treating schools like football teams - the boy's schools defies the odds and gets the results which only the faith (i.e. state funded, but privately aided) schools can match - a stirring example to others!
We told the boy recently that we would give him a fiver for each level five (i.e. the top mark) he achieved in his exam results this year. Oh dear, the boy got level five for all disciplines. So £25, plus £10 bonus for perfect marks, going to the boy.
Weird thing happened to me on the way home from work yesterday. After session in the gym, Reidski decided to spurn use of Tube and walk through central London on the way to overland train station.
Down near British Museum, approaching pub which I had no intention of going into, I saw someone outside who looked the spitting image of my sister's hubby. It was him, down from Lincoln for training course and he had just got off the phone to my sister to ask for my telephone number. So had a very pleasant few pints with him and then went off home, finding the whole episode very strange indeed. A city of around 9 million and you just happen to bump into a relative - weird, man.

Monday, July 05, 2004

The boy

Now, when this blog started, I never thought that I would use it as a vanity publishing exercise. But, I came home from work - and the pub - and found that the boy had written a poem. I think it's good and I want to share it with others. Remember, the boy is 10 and this is exactly the way that he wrote it:

The fierce Saliten with four strings like tails and four horns on its head
Stood in the bushes with a lion which was dead
Yes, this fierece creature killed lions and ate them for lunch
And maybe a gorilla; now that was brunch.

Now this creature lived in the great Bingaboo jungle.
Where the trees were yellow and you'd often come across the tree of bungle.
The leaves were blue
And the dirt stuck like glue.

He lived in the trees and hung from his tails
With his horns sticking out like protruding nails.
He killed every animal and was the only one of his kind.
And had but one enemy: the Jalekanian wart hog, this beast he could not find.

And he would eventually kill him too.
And would eat him with his chicken stew.
But the Jakelanian was prepared.
And both fighters were never scared.

For when this fight had begun.
A hunter came along, the next day their heads were hung.
In a museum of heads.
Yes both fighters were in their death beds.

(The boy: 2004)

Sunday, July 04, 2004

More money matters

I'VE WON AGAIN - HURRAH HURRAH! Not much, mind you, but twenty quid is handy all the same.
Saw the odds (Greece at 4-1) and thought: "That cannot be ignored." So I didn't ignore and put a fiver on them.
The game itself was superb and Greece thoroughly deserved to win this championship. Has a team, in the history of either World Cups or European Championships, ever had a harder route to the trophy. First they beat the host nation. Then they draw with Spain. A blip agains Russia follows. Victory against title-holders France, followed by a win over a Czech team who, up until that point, looked as if they would have beaten any side in the world.
And then it was back to Portugal.
The game got interrupted a few times by negative comments from our house guest. The mater of 'er indoors arrived today, staying until Thursday. She's down to see the boy perform in his school musical, a kind of West Side Story meets Fame on the streets of south-east London for the 21st Century, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday. The boy plays the romantic lead, no less.
Earlier today, we thought that the boy would maybe need to have heavy make-up to play the part as a result of being punched in the face by one of a gang of older boys who wanted to steal his ball and mess with him and his friends. A chase ensued, but the boy and friends survived intact.
No sign of swelling or bruising yet, so it looks like the boy will be allright on the dramatical night.
It's very strange all this sort of stuff. Eighteen months ago, the boy was never allowed out on his own, but as time has gone on, you have to give some leeway. That has meant more and more times when you don't see your kids for hours on end. That has its good side - being able to get on with things or just getting on with listening to loud music and drinking alcohol and relaxing, with no children around. But it has its down side, too, like not knowing where the fuck they are and who the fuck are causing trouble with them.
But, as I say, you've got to let go at some stage, I suppose.
The other freaky thing about the boy is that he has only two weeks left of primary school and then it's summer and then it's the big big big school.
I'm wandering aimlessly through my head at the moment, so I think I should just say goodnight and see ya later.

Strange Day

Funny old day, really. Go up late (just before 11). Done a bit of tidying up while 'er indoors took the boy to his kung fu class (keep in mind: don't mess with the boy, you folks out there).
Then thought "it's now or never" for the re-putting up of the towel rail in the bathroom, which, although only took around 10 minutes, I hated doing because I hate doing anything that is remotely conncected with DIY, except for painting.
I didn't do the planned painting duties - window panes on the outside and other external parts - as a result of the promised showers. The showers never arrived.
Went to the newsagent to get the Morning Star and, shock fucking horror - a page is given over to Ken Livingstone to explain why he encouraged Tube workers to scab during the strike on the London Underground during the week.
It is one thing to allow some dodgy types in the labour movement to air their views in the so-called "paper of the left", but Ken put himself outside the movement altogether last week when he made his pro-scab comments.
The Star has been going downhill for some time now, highlighted when they done everything to promote the crackpot Respect during the recent elections - which, I may add, was against the wishes of the Communist Party of Britain (whose programme is supposed to be the editorial policy of the Star).
But to allow the bosses (for that is what Livingstone is in this matter) to write freely, attacking workers, in its pages is a step too far.
It's not the first time that Livingstone has attacked a group of strikers, of course.
Back in 1998 journalists at a national daily newspaper took strike action (six long fucking weeks on the cobbles) in defence of their editor who was sacked on the most spurious - and politically motivated - grounds, with an organisation by the name of Socialist Action behind these attempts to destabilise the paper concerned.
Those strikers won their dispute. During the strike, an MP close to Socialist Action tabled a motion attacking the strikers - not one other MP signed the motion, however, and, such was the outrage among his fellow Socialist Campaign Group members, the MP was forced to withdraw the motion.
The management were subequently kicked out of the newspaper and the editor was reinstated.
The MP in question was Ken Livingstone and the newspaper was the Morning Star.
Now, that same editor allows Livingstone to attack another group of workers in his paper.
Weird how history comes around like that, innit?

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Good news, bad news.

First the good news: Went to a great gig in town last night. Some may remember the N'yah Fearties, a group of raucous rebellious Ayrshire types around in the mid to late '80s, some say them in the same mould as (very) early Pogues. They did, I think, tour with Shane and the lads at some point.
Anyway, some of them are back as the Junkman's Choir and they played at the St Moritz, a great little club in Wardour Street (as in "There's an A-bomb in"). The place was heavin' - which had its down side as getting to the bar proved very very difficult indeed (in fact, Reidski only drank two pints in the two and half hours or so he was there, believe it or not).
On the up side, however, the band were outstanding and a lot more is yet to be heard about them, no doubt. Got home at three this morning - NOT DRUNK!! Not even merry, for fuck sake! But a great night out, nevertheless.
I may even go and see them again tonight as they are playing in my local in New Cross - and it's guaranteed that, if I do go out, I will get blootered out of my skull - but I'm not sure.
Now for the bad news: I have just seen on the news that Marlon Brando has died. He was, without doubt, one of the greatest actors of all time and starred in a few crackers. Streetcard Named Desire and On the Waterfront being only a couple of milestones in an impressive career.
Just a note on On the Waterfront, by the way. There are those, and I've heard them, say that this is cinematic union-bashing. I beg to differ, rather seeing it as a bit of corruption-bashing.
But, on Brando himself, he was a strong supporter of, among other fine causes, the civil rights movement and for the rights of the Indigenous American peoples.
I'll raise a glass to the great man tonight, but first I'm off to the gym to pump some iron and to run on the treadmill for half an hour or so, followed by a nice 15 minutes or so in the steam room. Sounds good, eh? Come and join me some time. You're all invited.