Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Hello! I'm still here even though you might say otherwise judging by the frequency of my posting lately. Work is somehow building up to the annual crescendo of hordes of Italian tourists which marks the end of the season. Italian tourists travelling in groups are noisy, they seldom speak anything else than Italian or Louder Italian, are impatient right up until the the moment they're being served at which point they lose all sense or urgency and consideration towards those waiting to be served after them and can come across as a little bit ignorant.

I'm not saying that's all Italians, I'm only pointing out what I have personally observed. I'm also glad that these same Italian tourists have a sense of humour. They laugh at the fact that they don't understand what I'm saying or that I don't understand what they're saying. There's a lot to be said for the remedial properties of an espresso. Or the fact that someone knows how to say please and thank you in Italian. But click your fingers in my face one more time and I will magically run out of espresso just as you're coming up to collect yours. Just saying.

Anyway, I took a few snaps the last few days. Apparently one of our neighbours is hiding a pot of gold under their house. I'm sneaking over tonight with a shovel just to be sure. And then there's that sunset. I actually sat on our front step for a while, just admiring it. Our neighbour's fat doggie waddled over to keep me company. How she managed to crawl under the fence I really don't know, I'm expecting to see her stuck there any day now. So there. That's what I've been at. I'll get back to you with something more relevant next week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Predicted Riot

Nobody within earshot of a radio or television, or with internet access or the day's newspaper has escaped the horrid scenes all over the UK over the past few days. It's like scenes from a post-apocalyptic cultural breakdown and the end of all civilisation. Only this isn't a novel or a movie, it's what's actually happening to people in their homes and on their streets.

It started with a protest on August 6th. It was a peaceful protest, people demanding more information, and in doing so were perfectly within their rights to do so, I might add. What followed has nothing to do with Mark Duggan or his family. Four nights or rioting, looting and arson. Four nights, four lives lost, millions worth of damage caused and thousands of people waking up to a world that somehow doesn't feel safe anymore. People have had their property destroyed, looted and burnt down to nothing. Why?

The "Hug A Hoodie" -movement seems to think this is all society's fault for not providing enough funding to create more activities for youths. For not providing more funding to support an educational system that can keep the kids in school, see them through further education and see them become productive members of the workforce. For "marginalising the poor". Basically, this is the proletariat rising up to The Man and getting their own back, right?

Wrong. This is nothing but a bunch of opportunistic little ball bags seeing that the police is unable to do anything other than wait for them to get close enough to use their batons on them. And being the little cowardly shits that these looters are, they're not going to chance getting that close. They are throwing anything deemed fit enough to do some damage at the police, covering their faces while doing so, and then running away to set another car on fire or to destroy someone else's livelihood. These masked vandals representing the country's "poor" were wearing several hundred pound's worth of clothing and filming their criminal activities on smart phones worth easily £200 if not more. These are the same people who supposedly are living on £2.20 per week. Is anyone else seeing the gaping hole in the logic there?

The police have finally been sanctioned by David Cameron to use water cannons and plastic bullets to deal with these thugs on the streets of the UK. In his statement Cameron said "We will do whatever is necessary. Nothing is off the table." And the hoodie huggers were up in arms yet again, treating this as some sort of a watershed moment which is about to ring in a new age of totalitarian police state in the UK, where the police force will randomly gun people down on a whim and douse them with water cannons whenever the mood takes them. Because that's what's going to happen, right?

Wrong. The only thing that is going to happen is that these rioters will realise there is a consequence to your actions. If you choose to break the law, you will face the consequences. If you have proved your lower than average IQ by posting photos of yourself on Facebook or Twitter posing with your loot, you deserve a plastic bullet to somewhere it really hurts. And you deserve to go to jail. The courts are sitting in through the night to deal with the ones that have been arrested and I'm sure they'll continue to do so to make sure all those responsible will be brought to justice.

These events will be analysed to death in the coming weeks, months and years. There will be those who refuse to place any blame on the actual perpetrators of this hideous vandalism and violence and choose to blame the society and surroundings of these thugs for making them what they are. These people know what they're doing is wrong. They wouldn't cover their faces otherwise. There's no point in saying that they don't know any better because the society has let them down. Okay, fair enough, let's say the society has let you down and you feel as if your government is marginalising you, pushing you aside, brushing you under the carpet, and you finally decide to rise up and protest. What would be your first port of call? The government buildings? The police station? The social welfare offices? Something symbolic, surely, to hammer home the point of who you feel has let you down. So I guess the poor, marginalised people of London, Birmingham, Liverpool and other cities are angry with HMV, Tesco, several jewellers and sports retailers.

There is no political, sociological, economical agenda to these acts of destruction. They are malicious, evil and opportunistic acts with no other purpose than maximising the damage and filling their own pockets with as much free stuff and possible. This is no social commentary that will be in the coming years analysed and seen as a turning point in the UK history. This is a small minority of mindless cowards hell bent on causing as much trouble as possible because they've been swept up in a mob mentality. Sheep following sheep.

I want to say one thing, though. In amidst all this there are stories emerging which are going some way in restoring my faith in humanity. Communities working together to protect their streets and their properties. People showing up to the thankless task of cleaning up the streets just because they want to help. And below, the photo that had me in tears of hope while watching the live coverage on BBC: a couple serving tea to the police officers securing their street. I will focus on that.

00:38 9/8/2011: Camden Town, London

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Saving The World

Save the world.
End poverty.
Cure disease.
End global warming.

For some reason we have been afflicted with all of the above on our collective "to do" -list. It's only fair, after all, we've been blessed with a planet nice enough to tolerate our race of humanity for thousands of years, it's seemingly time to earn our keep. Does anyone else get the feeling we've been staying in a posh hotel for a few weeks only to find out we're stuck with the bill of the last two occupants of our room as well as our own? No? Just me, then.

I am environmentally conscious, of course I am. It's practically impossible to be these days. I recycle, I buy organic, I buy local. At the same time, I buy clothes I know I won't be wearing for more than one season before getting rid of them, I drive to work alone and I -prepare to be shocked- often get the disposable plastic bags when doing my shopping. But it's an expensive business this saving the world, isn't it?

Organic food is always more expensive than food that isn't organic. I'd like to think you can taste the difference, but it could be just my brain trying to justify spending twice as much on organic tomatoes than the bog standard, stores own-brand tomatoes. As much as many of us would like to contribute to this collective task of saving the world, it often proves too expensive. When faced with getting week's worth of potatoes as opposed to two day's worth for the same amount of money, the principal shopper of most families will more than likely opt for the former. And can you blame them?

We're getting the guilt trip for using our cars too much, not sharing lifts, not using public transport and all that comes with it. I wouldn't mind getting public transport to work. Too bad that where I live, it doesn't exist. Cycling surely is an option, but these roads are so badly kept and so narrow that cycling into work carries the risk of losing a limb or your life. It really is not being made easy, is it? This saving the world business.

And it is a business, isn't it? Huge big productions, events and shows are being staged all over the world to draw our attention to the cause du jour. To make us appreciate what we have and share our good luck with those less fortunate. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just think that it should be easier being green and that it shouldn't have to cost us the earth, either. What I'm saying is, that it could be made a lot easier on us.

Could the governments of the world not decide to make it easier to grow organic produce and therefore reduce the cost of the produce to the consumer? Or, instead of guilt-tripping people travelling by aeroplane, guilt-trip the ones who use their private jets to hop over distances that could easily be covered by train? Or while we're on the subject or air travel, I find it utterly ridiculous that travelling by train is often more expensive or not significantly cheaper than travelling the same distance by plane. And while private cars are critisised and public transport being bandied about as the greener way to go, nobody is extending the same comparison to private jets versus commercial airlines.

At a time of a global recession and international debt crisis, everyone is tightening their belts. Is it possible that now is not the time to save the world, but to try and save you own daily life more or less intact while we're waiting for better times? Let's combine the wages of the top 20 Hollywood stars for whatever movie they're filming next with the wages of the top earners of the Premier League footballers for a month and we'll see how much closer to our world-saving target figure we are.

Enough to keep us on track with the saving and curing and ending until we're all back on our feet financially and we can all actually contribute. How about that?

John Bishop has some funny points on the matter.