Friday, 31 December 2010
My inspiration is a piece of ‘performance art’ (for want of a better term) called the Art Strike, which a similarly named, similarly aged prankster called Stewart Home carried out from 1990 to 1993. Google it if you’ve never heard of it.
Like my sometime associate Home I regard anything I do for fun, rather than to pay the mortgage or for my family, as an experiment, and almost everything else as an utter bore and a complete waste of time. I started the print column because I was invited to and so will continue that until I’m disinvited, but I started the blog as an experiment, so when it is not interesting to blog, not interesting to observe the reaction, then there is no reason to continue. Or maybe I’ll just observe what happens when I don’t blog, because that may also be interesting.
One reason for the Manx content has been that I never understood why nobody else was doing it when so much nonsense goes on here and, for strictly economic reasons, the local press will not talk about it. But I also never understood why, once I’d proved it could be done, nobody else joined in.
And I never understood why the level of analysis or research by commentators on local websites…......well, frankly, why there isn’t any! If I’m terribly honest, I also despair of many 'atheist' websites and organisations too, for the same reasons.
Does nobody ask the most basic questions of news stories?
Where this or that assertion, statistic or ‘fact’ comes from?
It ought to be patently obvious to anyone who has even briefly encountered ‘media studies’ that at least 80% of the local, UK or international press is written by PR companies, government spin-meisters and pressure groups, so why do they not ask where the story came from?
Or why they planted the story?
Or why the Manx government spends millions on PR projects which they tell us are meant to improve the international image of the island, but which even the thickest, most academically illiterate marketing assistant in the naffest local company or government department should know from their sub-GCSE marketing course notes is actually a piss-poor attempt to make locals ‘think positive’?
Oh, so many questions, so little time. So, I’m off, to read books, study and try other projects I’ve had tucked away if I find the time, or just (as every disgraced Tory politician says) to spend more time with my family.
No, I’m not bored, or angry, or disheartened. No, I’m not available for anyone else’s projects which they can’t be bothered to see through themselves.
I’m just not here for the next 365 days.
If that’s a bother, it took me about 20 minutes to set this blog up from scratch with no IT experience. I did it for the same reason I churned out punk fanzines when I was 18 and have contributed to all manner of odd, obscure publications ever since.
Nobody talked about anything that related to the world I live in. So if that’s true for you, stop whining and do it yourself.
Go on punk, make my day.
See you in 2012.
Saturday, 25 December 2010
But instead of beatitudes, or even platitudes, all I found was, well.......... tweatitudes.
This (http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=31926 ), for example, from an unelected political parasite, imposed on us by foreign dictators.
This (http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=31947 ) from a Minister for No Fun, who asks that we live our entire lives as lies.
And this (http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=31855 )from an enforcer for unscrupulous gangsters, whose fellow thugs at this time of the year like to stop ordinary car drivers at random, mainly in order to keep the road clear for drunken civil servants and legislators on the way to or from one of a myriad of publically funded events.
I think you see the problem at once.
There is just no voice of moral authority any more. Nobody on the island who I can offer to my small daughter as a reference for anything good, or decent, or human.
But I suspect, from her dealings with various po-faced liars who turn up at her school, she may be gathering that already. She’s going to have to work it all out for herself, as are we all.
Oh well. At least life is never dull if you spend it making up the rules as you go along.
Have a Cool Yule, and try to spot the jokes, rather than electing or otherwise subsidising them.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Because smack bang under a warning that a virulent new strain of MRSA may have hit the island I found http://www.manx.net/news/1037/christmas-on-the-hill-st-johns-christmas-eve on the Manxnet news page.
Well, that saves me having to warn Manx people that St. Johns is again becoming a Yuletide Disaster Area. But as the police have mentioned it, I’d recommend the rest of us just avoid the area altogether for a few days. Leave it to the fundie throwbacks, the BNP and similar Manx rednecks no decent person should be seen around or risk catching something nasty off.
One other question. If the local police are doing advertising for publically subsidised flat-earth gatherings like this, doesn’t that suggest that it is high time for a new Police Liason Committee?
The two key figures of that unelected committee (whose new members are selected by the current committee, not the police, the DHA or Tynwald) are not only fundamentalists but run the shopping centre next to St. Johns Hill which will reap any financial benefit from this event.
That, I would have to suggest, is another joke. Much sicker, if very indicative of the real way in which Tynwald goes through the motions of ‘consulting’ the public on government policy.
Tucked away in the Order Paper for Tynwald this Tuesday (see http://www.tynwald.org.im/papers/orders/2010-2011/ko21122010.pdf) we see as Item 4:
“The Hon Member for Glenfaba (Mr Anderson) to move –That under Standing Order 4.34, on the petition of the Promoters, John Bingham, Robert Terence Easton and Avril Kneale Teare as the Trustees of the Broadway Baptist Church, and as the Trustees of the Alpha Centre Trust, and of the said John Bingham, Robert Terence Easton, Avril Kneale Teare and Clive Graham Swift as the Trustees of the Well Trust, the petitioners having certified the required compliance with Standing Orders, leave be given to introduce the Broadway Baptist Church Bill 2011.”
So, what’s that all about?
Well, if anyone was to ask officials at our second most bonkers local evangelical cult, they’d probably explain that the 19th century charitable trust which established the church was a little out of date, and so they’re tidying up a little, also combining the charitable trusts which established their bookshop/café and their various ‘outreach’ programs.
This is true – sort of – in that charitable trusts can only carry out the tasks mentioned in their charter, and benefit those named. Charity law – even on the Isle of Man – is irritatingly obstructive to faith-based fraudsters and tax dodgers, especially if the trust was drawn up way before the modern business and charity law which paved the way for our offshore finance sector.
But closer analysis of the Bill reveals more interesting things.
What the Batshits are actually doing is winding up the trusts, in particular the 19th century one for the church itself. The problem is, winding up a trust requires that you hand what assets are left over to the named beneficiaries, who my guess would be are something like paid up bona fide members of the church or other local Christian worthies, and my other guess is those now controlling the gaff don’t want to do that.
What they actually want is for real ownership and power to pass from ordinary local Christians (who can’t be trusted to go with the program the cabal running Broadway Baptists are drawing up) and to an English silent partner in their shady deals. The way they seem to be planning to do it is to close the charitable trusts and regroup the assets and enterprises into a limited by guarantee company, which will also be registered as a Manx charity.
The main advantage of this is that a limited by guarantee company has named guarantors (usually three or four folk playing a trustee-like role who agree to contribute a token pound or so if the company is wound up) not named shareholders. So, the real ‘owners’ of the company are not on record, or even traceable through any nominee shareholders who represent them.This would be extremely advantageous if those owners were, say, a religious organisation in another country which doesn't want the world at large to know it has offshore assets, or religious zealots in an offshore jurisdiction to know that their place of worship is owned by money-grubbing foreigners who will flog it to the highest bidder.
The real clue comes in section 8 of the explanatory literature, that dealing with dissolution, where it casually mentions that “The ultimate beneficiary shall be Spurgeon’s College”.
Just a short guide to trust law jargon here. Trusts have ‘beneficiaries’, who are individuals or institutions who the person or institution settling the property of the trust wants to have some day to day benefit – could be, for example, a relative of the settlor needing school fees, the homeless or someone getting a grant to study something. The ultimate beneficiary is the person or thing that gets everything when the trust is wound up.
Another clue is in the blurb about the ‘Statement of Faith’, and the desire to change this so as to fit in with the Evangelical Alliance ‘basis of faith’. The EA has come up in this blog a few times (for example, their attempts to prevent civil partnership ceremonies, their opposition to schools tackling bullying of seemingly gay pupils, their strange decision to revise the definition of a ‘cult’ so as to allow the dangerous Jesus Army cult to join the Alliance), but would be familiar to anyone who studies nutjob evangelicals of the UK.
To anyone else - they’re Fruitcake Central, with numerous links to Westminster, seats on all the QUANGOs going, and also pretty much run the religious advisory bodies at the BBC. Most baffling of all, although they’re amongst the most homophobic and sexist elements of the UK Christian community, their head honcho, Joel Edwards, sits on Equal Opportunities bodies on the dubious basis that he and a few other EA figures are black, ergo nasty educated liberals and gays are somehow ‘discriminating’ when they object to the theofascist cretinism sometimes spouted by EA affiliates as ‘sincere’ faith.
Spurgeon College , which is named as ‘ultimate beneficiary’, is, by the way, the EA’s ‘educational resource’ – more accurately, a fundie bible college which actually detracts from the sum of human knowledge.
This, added to various adverts which have been appearing since early 2009 in UK Baptist newspapers and magazines unsuccessfully appealing for a new Broadway pastor, suggests that the place is in serious trouble.
Will it close?
Sadly, I fear not, and I also doubt that it’s a sign that pitifully poorly informed civil servants and politicians will finally pull the plug on dubious ‘social outreach’ schemes which run from the Alpha Centre.
What it might signal is that the only serious asset the church has left, i.e. the property, is being lined up for sale and redevelopment at a convenient future point. The area immediately around it is deteriorating fast and, as coincidence would have it, the property developer most likely to snap it up used to employ the retiring Attorney General (to whom the whole current deal has to be referred) and also the only local legal authority on ecclesiastical law.
Convenient coincidence or cunning planning?
We may have to wait another year or so to find out.
Friday, 17 December 2010
To be blunt, they were conned (and I include local organisers in this), and they haven't.
To get some idea of the parties really behind this scam take a look at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/12/sarah-palin-haiti-visit , and note the stories of past 'aid projects' from 1994 and 2001.
I could also tell you that, a few years ago, I spoke to a Lutheran minister in Romania. She was one of a remarkable group of clerics led by a bishop whose sermons were so popular that, when the Securitate tried to break them up, it kickstarted a chain of events which eventually led to the overthrow of Ceacescu.
This cleric told me that, frankly, Samaritans Purse and other evangelical US missions were the cause of more community tension than Ceacescu and his crew ever managed to stir up in order to keep themselves in power and privilege. Foreign 'charity' was simply not necessary in communities where neighbours looked out for each other and shared what they had.
Local churches worked perfectly well and perfectly openly and were respected even by non-religious neighbours. Local public services, schools and hospitals were staffed by dedicated, if underpaid, professionals despite the open corruption of Romanian politicians.
Actually, it is a good thing they do, because after a quick photo or two for next year's publicity appeals, as in the Palin example, the SP are gone. The boxes, if ever distributed, go as a sort of token dividend to poor folk who've signed up and paid up through the nose to US churches, most of whose profits go back to the US.
Franklin Graham's empire has a $500 million annual turnover in the US alone, and being a religious 'charitable foundation' pays no tax. It owns planes, fleets of trucks, printing presses, state-of-the-art film and recording studios...... Do you really think it needs your £1 coins too?
Or look at it another way.
Romanians, like people in most of the countries where religious scams like SP work, show a level of community solidarity that puts us to shame and which we long ago lost. They may have older houses, cars and clothes than some of us, but it isn't a problem to them.
They get by and, unlike us, look out for their neighbours. The idea that a pensioner in, say, a dormitory village like Kirk Michael could fall over and lie on their kitchen floor for a week without a neighbour noticing is unbelievable to my friends and relatives in East Europe.
So why are you helping pondlife like Graham to not only steal from those communities but destroy them?
On 10th December, in a piece entitled Isle of Man ‘End of Life Care Project’ set for launch, some of those who contribute most to the sum of Manx human misery when folk die told us that:“The Department of Health and Macmillan Cancer Support have joined forces on a new initiative aimed at improving end of life care on the Isle of Man.
The two year project will work with patients, carers, health and social care professionals and the voluntary and faith sectors on the Isle of Man, to produce an agreed end of life care strategy and to develop an implementation plan for improving end of life care across a wide range of life limiting conditions. “
Which probably sounds very impressive to an innocent reader, especially if they or folk around them are likely to die in the near future.
The con artists continue: “The Isle of Man End of Life Care Strategy will aim to identify what people’s preferences might be at the end of life and examine existing health, social care and voluntary support systems that will enable people to die in the place of their choosing. “
That is a bare faced lie.
To understand why, consider these three things.
Firstly, in the life of the current Manx parliament there will be an attempt to introduce a Bill on assisted dying.
Secondly, in the last two decades, care of the island’s terminally ill has left the hands of the public health service and gone to an ugly coalition of private and pseudo-charitable business interests. They have a tidy little racket going whereby the lives of the terminally ill are spun out as long as possible, and each painful unit is costed out at the maximum possible rate to vultures ranging from aromatherapists and other unqualified floggers of unregulated alternative woo-woo through to those with some semblance of professionalism but who also, in practice, do little more than pat semi-corpses on the head while extracting the contents of their wallets. If you’ll excuse the pun, it is one sick business.
Thirdly, the current Health Minister is a pro-lifer. To be fair, he is absolutely open about this and, for example, lists his membership of CARE (Christian Action for Research and Education) amongst his parliamentary interests. He holds his views and expresses them as a Christian, not a medical expert, and, to my certain knowledge, has not taken a penny from any company or individual which benefits financially from the current status quo. In that alone he is head and shoulders above many of his fellow political layabouts, whose inability to, for example, award a government contract without a skiing holiday, ‘fact-finding mission’ to exotic countries, seat on the board of a company when they retire from politics or (in the most extreme 1980’s cases) holiday homes in sunnier climes is a national disgrace that puts us on a par with their worst Irish role models.
Note also that the entire pseudo-project has been underwritten, not by government, but by one of the bogus health charities with most to lose if dying people were able to get the deaths they actually want, not ‘choose’ from a menu of overpriced, whimsical nonsenses, and that it will be conducted by an employee of a faith-based partner in crime.
While we’re at it, we should also consider that vacuous fluffy quote from Cicely Saunders, founder of the UK’s hospice con. In order to understand the true mentality and morality of Saunders, it is only necessary to know that, in 1981, she won the Templeton Prize. For those who don’t know, the founders of the Templeton Prize (until 2001 known as the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion) intended to emulate or even dwarf the prestige of the Nobel prizes. The only way in which they truly outdid the Nobels was to offer more cash. Otherwise, it’s just an open £1,000,000 bribe to any public figure, preferably with a scientific/medical/philanthropic or quasi-scientific/medical/philanthropic background to come up with reasons why such fields should be dominated by religious, not rational, thinking, or to muddy the waters in such a way that it is impossible to go about those disciplines without one leg in a barbed wire garter. Once you know that, the year after Saunders, Billy Graham got it you can appreciate what 24 carat crap the whole deal is, what kind of moral pygmy takes the loot and why you should dismiss anything they ever said about anything.
My advice to anyone who is approached by this survey is, firstly, insist on written communication, not a verbal interview, and secondly ask if assisted dying is on the menu for discussion. If it isn’t, then, say you don’t think it is a true research project into what dying people and their friends and relatives want and refuse to co-operate further. And make sure you get all this in writing.
It is important that you do this.
Firstly because this survey is a deliberate attempt to only allow participants to give answers those behind the scam have pre-decided, in order to pretend it is ‘what the public wants’ and further excuse the lack of choice and theft of public funds.
Secondly, because this survey will work itself into the arguments used by such parasites to derail an assisted dying bill.
Thirdly, because when they do all this, it is important that we can challenge such nonsense, and provide evidence of the way in which our attempts to give our true opinions were blocked by those, in theory, charged with gathering such opinion.
Bogus research is a growing industry in Manx government circles, increasingly used to excuse the most outrageous waste and theft of taxpayer money. It is our civic duty to stop it dead.
Sunday, 12 December 2010
I suspected then that the local twin-set and pearls mafiosi must be just going along with their UK godmothers. What I hadn’t realised until last week was just how serious this particular organised crime spree is. Seemingly, it goes right to Downing Street itself.
This BBC report for example (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11923107) shows beyond doubt that not only are the deranged fantasies of superstitious, upper middle class whackjobs taken seriously by others who miss the institutional rent boy racket that passes for ‘private education’, but that the Old Girl Network is as prolific as the better known boys club in Westminster.
The more serious worry is that this also has shades of Tipper Gore and the infamous PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre), the bandwagon-jumping, horse-frightening US campaign which caused ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on CDs, and whose side-effect was to guarantee sales for any potty-mouthed rapper on major labels only sold through chain stores, while hastening the demise of independent record and video labels and stores in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Thus, while principled musicians (from Frank Zappa to Jello Biafra) fought the censorship and exposed nonsense like the ‘Satanist lyrics on LPs played backwards’ myths (through lengthy senate hearings and court battles) the sexism, homophobia, violence and other genuine social evils the PMRC might have tackled actually increased in popular music.
Perhaps God-fearing middle American parents just don’t worry about that sort of stuff. Certainly they have a long record of sponsoring it.
But what really makes me laugh is that the Mothers Union is run by a bloke (unless Reg Bailey is some Joyce Grenfell clone of a gym mistress whose sexual realignment isn’t complete). Whoever he is, I don’t want him or any of his sex-obsessed friends anywhere near my child, and neither should any sane parent.
Note again that the ‘research’ they did is confined to Mothers Union members. Therefore it does not represent the reasoned views of well balanced, well informed parents who engage with the real world, but of paranoid ranters afraid of the dark and unhealthy interest in child sex some of their best friends haven’t managed to sublimate or deal with properly. Just because media-illiterate Christians are filthy-minded pervs who can’t bring their kids up that doesn’t mean everyone else is.
Oh Eddie, really! The world laugh at a place populated by folk who not only let you take executive political decisions while skulking in a government broom cupboard but even pay you, even though you can’t get elected? As if!!
The sadder thing was that the main hold-up to a fairly modest bill was the Bishop needing an assurance (which he got) from fellow unelected political rejects and chancers that if a clergyman was to be illegally passed information from a confidential register of transgendered people, and refused to conduct a marriage of that person, then neither the clergyman nor the faith-biased and homophobic civil servant would be prosecuted.
Some people wonder why I laugh when Manx church leaders or government departments try to tell us they want to stamp out racism, sexism or homophobia.
But a few weeks ago I noted another blatant example of the kind of tasteless tat that passes elsewhere for a ‘dignified’ church ceremony. Take a look at http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/847874-dog-gets-elaborate-church-blessing, where some herbert spent £1,000 having his dog blessed in a village church. And there was me thinking those ‘bring your pet to church’ Sundays local bunny-huggers love so much were a bit over the top.
It does make you wonder about all those Manx church pretensions to high mindedness and solemn dignity. As one of the more personable senior clergy once grumbled to me over a decade ago, he’d never known a place like the Isle of Man for rich, thick and sentimental punters, and church advisors who’d sign him up to fulfil their oddest whims at the right price. “Anything that can’t run away, they want me to pray over. If it’s got legs, wings or fins I’ve been asked to christen, marry or bury it. If it doesn’t move they want me to bless it.”
By comparison, I’ve yet to hear of any Manx gay couple with such poor taste that they wanted to get married in a church. Some people just have to much taste, and self-respect.
Which makes Manx Christian objections to gay marriage ( and even the long overdue, yet to be implemented, arrangement for civil partnership ceremonies) all the more risible.
Saturday, 4 December 2010
That includes a grief-mining local politician, lifeboat volunteers whose obligatory attendance required time off from work, directors of the foreign-owned, over-mortgaged ferry company which poses as the national ferry service and some Scousers on a freebie holiday.
The number of people at the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights (see http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=48956 ): 6.
These were the Chairman of Ramsey Commissioners, his daughter and one other kid, someone from the bank sponsoring the lights, someone from the bank’s nominated charity and the obligatory health & safety officer.
Sometimes people wonder why Ramsey’s retail and tourist sector is in decline.
Could it be because neither the Black Death nor Foot and Mouth hit the town?
Or is it just that Ramsey events are only run for the benefit of the retired, the feckless and semi-professional parasites, and while those whose taxes keep them in comfort are at work (mostly in Douglas as there are no Ramsey jobs, and no government policies for creating any)?
Monday, 29 November 2010
One John Eoin Douglas, of Edinburgh, wrote to congratulate South Africa in supporting a recent UN vote to remove sexual orientation from a resolution calling on countries to protect the life of all people and to investigate extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions that are motivated by prejudice and discrimination.
Mr Douglas went on to opine:
“It would seem that South African politicians have finally realised that appeasing the homosexualist lobby and accepting this perversion has led to many of the current fractures and ills in their society. In addition to removing favourable treatment for homosexuals from their Constitution, perhaps they will now also get round to reversing their 1961 adoption of Decimal Currency which most right thinking people see as the start of the slippery slope to untramelled liberalism.”
Which had me both amused and completely bemused.
Was this guy for real? He wouldn’t be the maddest Brit to write to the Manx press in vague hope of putting a paranoid delusion into print, so it was hard to be sure. On the other hand, I was sure I’d seen that name before somewhere….
Eventually, I asked Garry Otton, writer of Scottish Media Monitor and author of Sexual Fascism, the book which names and shames every scumbag involved in the attempts to spread homophobia and retain Section 28 in Scotland. If anyone knew this character, it would be Garry, who let me in on a running joke I just have to share.
High culture satire fans will remember William Donaldson’s Henry Root Letters, in which Donaldson’s alter-ego wrote to the great and the good with wild suggestions, and subsequently collected both the letters and their replies in a best-selling book.
But in Prick Up YourEars, John Lahr’s biography of the common as muck and twice as shameless queer playwright Joe Orton, we can read about Edna Welthorpe, a snobbish lady literary critic whose bizarre opinions dotted the letter pages of the regional press, and who later concentrated her spleen on Orton’s plays. Orton, a prankster whose many other hilarious outrages fill the first half of the book, WAS Edna Welthorpe.
So, ladies and gentlemen, before anyone writes to the Indie, may I refer you all to the long lost funny bastard son of Henry Root and Edna Welthorpe,whose collected letters to many uptight publications who really ought to know better may be found at http://johneoindouglas.blogspot.com/ .
Saturday, 27 November 2010
It was the Reverend Doctor Peter Hearty, who runs Platitude of The Day (see Fave Sites & Fellow Travellers list) who spotted the link at http://www.notashamed.org.uk/about.php.Take a peek, and try not to die laughing.
11,510 whining bigots as of the time of writing this, and the campaign doesn’t even launch officially until December 1st. It makes a belief in transubstantiation look almost rational by comparison.
All the usual suspects are lined up. If you ever wanted to know “where do clapped out professional bible-bashers go, when even the nitwits who employ them decide they’re totally senile and/or crackers”, you now have an answer.
I only know of one open Manx link to the CCFON, though knowing the depths to which Manx fundie asinity can plunge I don’t doubt other twonks will be quietly affiliated. Friends and Heroes, the biblically bolloxed cartoon made (or at least reproduced) here in Ramsey got the one and only ‘award’ it will ever see from a CCFON front group, which acts as a sort of marketing agency for Christian/family values media morons.
Frankly, the fairy tale view of Christian 'persecution' fabricated by Not Ashamed , and the bonkers characters involved, would probably be too far fetched for even kiddie cartoons. Though I probably shouldn't propose it in case some numpty fundie tries anyway.
Friday, 26 November 2010
The thing is, I can only think of one large building on that road which is set back enough from the road for anyone to smash that many windows without either the racket alerting the neighbours or the glass covering enough of the main road to bring traffic to a standstill.
That would be the Department of Home Affairs offices.
So, in addition to demonstrating what the Great Manx Public really thinks about those who misrun our police and prison services, this incident also suggests that there’s not much work going on there. Either that or the civil servants and self-selecting advisory committees who claim to be ensuring we can sleep safely at nights are deaf and blind.
I’d suggest they need a decent Neighbourhood Watch scheme, except that the last time I looked the Manx Crimestoppers project was effectively under the thumb of Group 4 Security, which many suggest obtains more money under false pretences from the court and prison services (and therefore the public) than 'official' criminal types would dare to in their wildest dreams.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
We’d promised to take an elderly friend to a concert at the Villa Marina. She’s German, so in Ramsey she might as well be from Mars. Her Indoors and The Prodigy seem to attract such folk, and usually they’ve had interesting lives and can broaden my daughter’s experience of the world, so it’s no hassle spending a few hours a week with them.
So, it all seemed harmless enough – a French themed afternoon with noise provided by the imposingly entitled Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra, and matching movement from local dance schools.
After jumping up and down for two national anthems (Manx and French), with most of the audience badly miming words to the Manx for fear of losing their benefits and warbling by a minor celebrity soprano impressionist to guide us through the French, the racket started in earnest.
To be honest, I wish it hadn’t, but not half as much as I wish they’d tuned up before the concert started (rather than after the third item, when it seems to have first dawned on the players) or that they’d invest in a metronome.
Curiously, playing or singing in time seems to be a common problem for Manx musical ensembles: maybe Traa Dy Liooar (Manx Gaelic for ‘Wait until tomorrow’) applies to music as well as (non-) working practices.
For the second item one of the dance groups took to the stage. I’m guessing this may have been planned to divert attention away from the bum notes of the orchestra; unfortunately a bunch of plump farm girls crashing round a stage like so many heifers in tutus doesn’t really cut it either. At least at Young Farmer shows the comedy is intentional.
By this stage our elderly friend was humming along happily enough while we three were biting the backs of the seats in front to stop laughing. And it got worse.
The final item of the first half was a Ravel violin solo where, for some reason, Ravel chose to mimic gypsy violin tunes without actually incorporating any. Don’t ask me why; maybe he was just another Gallic racist who ripped off others without a tenth of the original’s flair.
An item like this is always going to be a problem to this family. In Hungary, so many gypsies can play that Csardas thing before they can walk that they’d have to stand on their heads and juggle chainsaws at the same time before punters would pay to listen.
So, admitted, bar a little high here and I don’t care if today’s soloist did study at the Royal Northern. In Budapest, if I threw a stick, any gypsy kid I hit would have made him look just what he was; a musician who hadn’t practiced the solo and didn’t think the audience would notice.
It was the one time in the gig I got genuinely annoyed (rather than highly amused) at the breath-taking arrogance of some local musos, and I wasn’t the only one. A Polish couple in front we’d got talking to turned and raised ironic eyebrows: an orthodox Jewish guy in the row behind actually had his head almost in his lap and his hands over his ears.
Then it was the interval, and yet again my daughter and I experienced the inadequate Villa catering facilities for all except alcoholics as we queued for ice cream, only for yet another bunch of well heeled geriatric gobshites to push in after we’d been there 15 minutes.
So, another important lesson for a small Manx kid. Doesn’t matter how old or how rich they are, the Manx ‘great and good’ have far worse manners than any sink estate five year old, though if other locals weren’t willing to be used like so much human bog-roll they’d have sorted it out years ago instead of voting such pondlife into office.
There was a part two to the concert, though we slept through most of that too. A Saint-Saens symphony which finally provided a chance to utilise the Villa’s most expensive white elephant, a church organ.
You’ve probably never heard it (the symphony,though no-one’s ever heard the organ either as it has a far from adequate amplification system), but it might be described as an entire orchestra fannying about like a French waiter for 15 minutes before the organist butts in with the theme tune from Babe.
After it all stopped, they handed out flowers to every muso and clodhopper in sight and the audience ran for it before the cheeky sods could sit down and start an encore. Apparently there was a guest of honour from the French consulate, so I hope this doesn’t cause a diplomatic incident.
Luckily, Manx ice cream is also great, so with luck there won’t be tears before bedtime. And after today she won’t be half as stressed about her violin progress either.
Just been a busy month with other things, and others had more need of my time or this computer.
Still, I should at least give a plug to the inaugural meeting of a Manx dying with dignity group. Following a well attended talk by a Death with Dignity speaker a couple of months back(hosted by the Political Action Group) around 20 folk showed enough interest to take things further.
Things get started at the small meeting room of the Archibald Knox, Onchan, on Thursday 2nd December at 2.30. That’s the flashy pub behind Onchan Shoprite if you don’t know the area, and so, yes, there’s adequate parking space next door to the venue. Quintin Gill, who was one of two MHKs behind the Tynwald committee which reported on similar matters a few years back, has agreed to speak on where things are at present.
As the organisers readily admit, not the best time for all who might like to get involved, but it’s a start. Look out for press reports, and if they’re not as full as they should be, I’ll do my best to fill in some gaps here.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
We know this because Radio Cowshed said so today (see http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=48290 , though if you’d rather read what they were told to say and by which press officer from which church organisation you could have read it yesterday at http://www.manx.net/news/615/island-s-churches-acknowledge-tynwald-s-commitment-to-an-inclusive-society ).
I was intrigued to know that: “ In making the presentation, Canon Alger, who was joined by representatives from other churches in the Island and who is soon to retire from his ministry at The Church of St Mary of the Isle, said the Covenant for Mission, in the spirit of Freedom to Flourish, reflected a desire of the Island’s churches to move forward, recognise differences and work collaboratively in mission. He added that the churches’ recognition of diversity was mirrored by that of Tynwald which similarly acknowledged the importance of shared awareness and mutual respect.”
Oh yes, and pigs just flew over the Tynwald building in a perfect V formation.
The thing is, even the reason both Brendan Alger and Robert Paterson have to appear in the presentation picture might be food for thought. One reason is that Mr Paterson is an unelected politician with our upper house of legislative layabouts, and was effectively chosen by his own management and Downing Street, not the Manx public or even church. Mr Alger may be nominally head of Churches Together In Mann at present, but the executive of that body is just four men (and it always is men) from the four largest church denominations, who can overrule any decision made by the working committees who advise them, and who in turn have continually voted to exclude certain denominations from membership.
The most embarrassing example of this was when local Quakers ran the only Manx charity to gain off-island recognition (rather than discreet investigations from Interpol) and in order to trade in on it, a Quaker had to be granted special observer status to a CTIM sub-committee set up in order that CTIM could present 'evidence' to Tynwald, which in turn claimed the charity as an example of local Christian endeavour when reporting back to some international bunfight (sorry, 'conference') which a couple of elected layabouts were using as an excuse for a foreign holiday at public expense.
And the other funny thing there is that for years there’s been a tradition where the Catholic and the ‘free churches’ representatives at either committee or executive level ring the chairman ahead of such meetings. If the other party is going to be present, they don’t turn up.
In fact, in previous years, some ‘free church’ representatives have been so sectarian they wouldn’t even attend the Tynwald ceremony if there was a guest from a Catholic country. And in general, the evangelicals prefer to do their government negotiations separately and in private (often via Noel Cringle as it happens), rather than risk the Bishop at the time relaying a CTIM message to government which reflects the broad church view, not evangelical economic interests.
And even leaving aside the continual in-fighting, sectarian hatred and editing out of all but the most powerful religious cult interests, it’s who and what the churches are deciding to collaborate against that should really worry us.
Because, in general, they are collaborating against the rest of us, against decency and honesty, against progress. In fact against anything that brings to an end their centuries of privilege, and their ability to hold us all back with their hate, their ignorance, and in particular their fear of democracy.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Can anyone remember when one of the Wedding Cake's inmates welcomed anything that wasn't rubbish, and/or expensive, and/or involving free foreign holidays or brown envelopes full of used fivers?
Still, ever optimistic and expecting a rare piece of honest reporting, I went to http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=48258 for a closer look.
Sadly, it was just a political layabout trying to make something out of the astoundingly dull if sensible news that two villages will use the same dustcart.
The only remotely newsworthy aspect of all this is that an elected official from our Deep South actually had enough braincells to suggest it, and that others could be dragged away from the church or lodge meeting long enough to vote.
Still, if any MHK was that serious about waste, they could always jump on the cart, instead of the bandwagon.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
On October 15th Michael Roberts was commuting to work through Memphis International Airport, when the sheer effing pointlessness of a ‘routine’ security check made him snap. You can read his account of it at http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/roberts-m1.1.1.html , and a follow-up supporting article by another pilot at http://www.lewrockwell.com/spl2/in-praise-of-michael-roberts.html .
I’m sure there are other accounts of this matter by the kind of muesli-munching ‘civil liberties activists’ that kneejerk lefties approve of, but I quite like the cranky, downhome mix of libertarian headbanging you get from Lew Rockwell, so I’m going to stick with that.
For example, more recently a bod called Michael S. Rozeff goes a stage further.
As he says:
“Flyers now have the option enforced against them of either being scanned or groped. What a choice!”
Then he says something that really made me grin, when he suggests:
“What I wish is that all flyers would organize and boycott all flying, or organize sit-down strikes at all the airports on a given day and hour, or organize some sort of widespread protest action or actions at specific times so as to make known their true inner feelings.”
And he continues, quite reasonably:
“Groping and scanning are both searches. Both are equally vile. Both are unreasonable searches. Both need to be rejected.
Why should I submit to a search? What have I done to merit that? What criminal record have I accumulated in my 70 years? When have I uttered a threat against an airline? When have I encouraged anyone to blow up an airplane?
Where’s the probable cause? Where’s the reasonable basis to grope me, frisk me, x-ray me, or otherwise invade my person or property? There is none.
Where’s the warrant obtained from a judge? There is none.”
Because for 'the Septics', as Ian Dury memorably dubbed them (Septic Tank = Yank), this is covered in the Fourth Amendment, which demands that:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
And just the next day, there’s another joker going for it with an open letter to the Walt Disney Corporation at http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/krolman1.1.1.html. Read it and wet yourself.
Of course, this isn’t America, neither the Isle of Man nor the UK has a written constitution, and as most of my fellow Manxies are way too indolent or worried about what the neighbours might think to protest about anything (other than why Ramsey Pier hasn’t been restored or why some of us not only have to go to work but are actually expected to get off Facebook and do some when we get there) Martin Luther King wouldn’t make many converts here.
Then again, as King’s hero Ghandhi once slyly suggested, if sitting around doing nothing is the culture you live with, why not do as little as possible and pass it off as a campaign?
Yay! A campaign for social change that doesn’t involve anything but sitting at home and/or extracting the Michael out of dumb corporations who offer tastless tat in a country no sane person would bother travelling to. Bring it on.
If we get really worked up, we could even wander down to Ronaldsway Airport en masse and…well, sit around staring out the window for a few hours or something.
Sunday, 17 October 2010
According to a Radio Cowshed report (see http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=48050 ) the main parties behind the destruction of Douglas town centre, closure of small local businesses and the blocking of affordable consumer goods from efficient retailers want us to ‘Do your bit for carbon emissions’. Gullible members of the public were being asked by Douglas Development Partnership to give up their Sunday lie-in and lay the surface to a new cycle path into Douglas.
It all sounds very laudable, until you remember that it was DDP who got rid of all the small local shops from Strand Street in the first place, to make way for a new multi-storey car park and the same high street chain stores the greens hate so much, who have now pulled out in a recession leaving the place dead as a dodo most weeks.
It was also DDP who engaged companies who like to demonstrate caring, organic wholewheat credentials to redesign parts of Strand Street in such a way as to prevent homeless people hanging about too conspicuously. For example, benches which can be hosed down, but are also – deliberately – too thin to lie across overnight and so physically uncomfortable that people move on after resting for no more than 10 minutes.
And another thing is the way in which the once lively street culture on Strand Street has been…well, let’s just say disabled and misdirected towards the pointless.
In the 1980’s – before DDP destroyed Strand Street – it was the place to go if you were a local political campaigner. I have first hand knowledge of this, from protests on everything from nuclear weapons in the early 1980’s with the short lived Manx Peace Group to homelessness in the later 1980’s with a trade union led lobby group that wanted to start a Manx branch of Shelter.
There was always something of a gentleman’s agreement between the police and protesters on these things. You could hold a banner, ask for petition signatories and hand out your leaflets, but not block shop doorways and physically hinder people walking about or shopping. We didn’t apply for police ‘permission’, we just turned up, did our thing, and as long as we didn’t provoke an argument or harangue shoppers into signing stuff, and as long as we made some effort to clear up the inevitable thrown away leaflets, the bobby on the Strand Street beat stood back and let us get on with it.
Funnily enough, that ended when Tynwald went through the motions of setting up police liason committees. In practice, then and now, the only way people get onto those committees is because the business lobby chooses them. There is no way government, the Department of Home Affairs or the local business lobby is going to put up with a police force answerable to or even approachable by the general public.
So, inevitably, one of the results is the current tendency for dull as ditchwater ‘approved’ buskers who make your shopping experience (if possible) more painful than usual. Another is ‘political’ street campaigning only by groups which have sought police permission and have nominally green and ‘developing world’ goals decided and underwritten by government and elements of the local business community so right wing that even the offshore finance sector won’t touch them.
By comparison, when genuine ordinary members of the public have a grievance (see http://www.energyfm.net/cms/news_story_119182.html for example) a protest confined by DHA diktat to almost a single figure turnout is accompanied man for man by the police ‘in case of trouble’.
So, thanks, but no thanks, Chris. Maybe the general public can think about joining in your token community work when you and your fellow developers think about rejoining the community.
She was watching their Sunday morning 10 AM (unintentional) comedy show.
This is supposed to be a quasi-religious chat show about modern morality, where people in funny headgear and back to front collars mingle with ‘plain speaking’ media commentators (i.e. twattish motormouths from right wing rags) and a token person with a three figure IQ. The predecessor had a live audience, but that seems to have abandoned because even the Beeb and their religious advisors must have noticed how dim the churchgoing public are when allowed to rant freestyle to a camera.
There are now three 20 minute ‘questions’ and the viewers are supposed to text or e-mail 'Yes' or 'No' to instant polls. That way, the respondents are just as dim, but at least the Beeb recoups their dosh from the phone companies. I say this confidently, because, in all honesty, who but a superstitious numpty would bother paying for the privilege of registering their worthless opinion on a publically subsidised TV show?
My wife was laughing because Peter Tatchell was the token literate guest, and the first question was prompted by Hungary’s decision to lower the age of consent to 14. Peter was there to say it made sense, because 14 year old kids often have some sort of sex life anyway so why not help them through the messy adolescent years instead of dragging them through the courts.
More precisely, my wife wasn’t laughing at Peter, but because a Hungarian lawyer being interviewed via Skype was shut off rapidly. His ‘crime’ was to point out that a century ago religious zealots were so horrified by the idea of teenagers masturbating that even that was, technically, illegal. He was probably about to say, "haven’t we moved on", but the presenter, the vicar and the right wing hack were all so startled by the word ‘masturbation’ that they nearly fainted and the presenter ended the interview right there by saying it was inappropriate for that time in the morning.
The other reason my wife was laughing was that the presenter (young, female) had a blouse on that displayed her cleavage like melons on a market stall, and the camera angle on cutaway shots was so low that the view up her short skirt bordered on the gynaecological.
The lesson, I guess, is that uptight churchfolk can safely have a sly one off the wrist over an attractive TV presenter while, in theory, considering the moral mess our society has got itself into, but using a medically accurate term to describe the practice before the watershed is right out.
Incidentally, the poll showed only 16% supported Peter’s decriminalisation argument. This was taken by the vicar, the hack and the godly media tart as ‘evidence’ that the moral majority had spoken.
No, what it actually means (though Peter was far too polite to be this blunt) is that even 16% of the kind of lardarsed Daily Mail reader who’s too lazy to go to church so watches religious TV instead thought the vicar and her chums were talking bollocks. In fairness, this may have only been because it was a black lady vicar, and religiously handicapped Daily Mail readers probably hate them even more than outspoken gay men.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
And other days you read garbage like http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/david-quinn-why-there-were-no-atheists-in-the-mine-2380534.html in what is, supposedly, the shiny modern end of the Irish media.
And Irish people complain because the world jokes about their intellect!
Of course, the biggest joke is that if Chilean Catholicism’s favourite son, Pinochet, had still been alive and in charge he’d have demonstrated his ‘faith’ by shutting the mine, engineering a media blackout (not that the current media frenzy in reality amounts to objective journalism), leaving it for God to sort out & opening another bottle of shampoo with whichever cardinal he was collaborating with to move local money out of the country and into a Swiss bank account.
Then again, Ireland doesn’t have a mining industry, so what would this pillock know about mining communities and their legendary ability to pull together against adversity and injustice? As a far more on the ball Liverpool fan put it the other day, for instance, can you imagine Thatcher’s rage knowing the only news stories in town on her 85th birthday involved miners and Scousers?
Because the UK also had a mining industry – once, before Thatcher – and UK mining communities also know all about the tragedy of underground disasters, the bravery of work colleagues and solidarity of families, friends and neighbours. Especially in the face of government neglect, or government spin merchants trying to steer the media away from the mismanagement of nationalised industries, a total disinterest in safety measures or the destruction of whole communities.
And I also suspect that, if only anyone in the media can see past the spin, there’ll be more stories like http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/9785/ , which gives a far better picture of the true relationship between mineworkers and ‘management experts’, and a far warmer picture of the true nature of workplace solidarity. Very similar, in fact, to many of the tales I heard from those in the mining and steelworking community where I grew up.
And interestingly, I can also recall a far more positive image of a mines safety engineer, and how his faith shaped his work, his relationships with the local community and in particular his determination to do his best for other miners.
This engineer was a man called Jack Smith – an almost cartoonish stereotype of a miner. Face streaked with coal dust, rode everywhere on an old Raleigh bike and wore a donkey jacket every day of the week except Sunday, when he wore his Salvation Army uniform and played in the band with my Dad and Granddad.
You’d never have guessed from Jack’s broad Derbyshire accent, modest dress and house, or the lack of a car, that he had a B.Sc. and was one of the key safety advisors in the local mine. He got his degree the hard way, mostly through night school, only studied because it was the best way he knew how to look after his fellow miners, never left the same street as his former shiftmates. He was the man who persuaded my Dad (who’d left grammar school at 15 because his teacher said kids from council estates didn’t go to uni) and also me (same story but 16 in my case) that being ‘educated’ didn’t mean being middle class, didn’t mean walking away from your community. In fact, if you were determined enough, it could mean you could contribute more to it.
Jack had some disappointment later in his life. Joyce, his daughter, threw away a good education to marry some drunken waster of a Scouse actor. A total chancer whose family, even after this loser supposedly divorced her, managed to keep Jack’s daughter, and later his grand-daughter, away from Jack’s positive influence.
Thankfully, Jack was long gone by the time his grand-daughter, another bright girl, had married a similar chancer (this time a former public schoolboy) who went into politics. In fact, if Jack ever knew how Tony and Cherie Blair went on to betray absolutely every value he held dear, even Jack might have lost his faith.
That’s right. Despite Cherie Booth/Blair’s famous commitment to Catholicism, her real intellect and drive came from a side of the family and a tradition that has been edited out of history. A Derbyshire miner, a Salvationist, a pillar of his community and lifelong Labour supporter of the sort Thatcher crippled when she shut the mines, and New Labour finally killed off.
Jack would have understood the solidarity and faith of the Chilean miners, would have been first down the mine to help them out if necessary, but (it is far more likely) would have fought tooth and nail to ensure they were never exposed in the first place to such criminal working conditions and destruction of community. Crimes which the Chilean government, burying all analysis of the true nature of mining community solidarity with all those fairy tales about religious faith, is trying hard to ensure we never hear about.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and lawyer, Houtan Kian, were arrested along with a German journalist and photographer in Tabriz on 10 October 2010 at 1900 hours local time.
The security forces raided the lawyer’s office where an interview was taking place and arrested all four, and the four have not returned home or to their hotels since. Their whereabouts are currently unknown and no news has been received of their situation since the arrests.
While the Islamic regime has now confirmed the arrest of the two journalists, it continues to remain silent about her lawyer and son. But we can be sure four people were snatched as, ironically, one of the journalists was on the phone speaking with Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson of ICAS ( International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution) when the Iranian plod burst into the lawyer’s office.
To sign a petition protesting this latest atrocity by rug-butting fascist scum, go to http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/4155 , sign with your name and then add your profession, organisation name (if signing on behalf of a group) and location in the comments section.
Sunday, 10 October 2010
I am probably wasting my time trying to accomodate people who appear to be braindead and cannot even spell honesty, never mind define it or practice it. But for the sake of all local humanists, atheists and agnostics with infinitely more patience than me, who attempt to press their arguments for a sane and rational island in an unfailingly polite manner which should offend no reasonable person, let us try once again.
(sighs, grits teeth, counts to ten.......)
From this point onwards I shall follow the excellent example of Chris Hitchens and describe my position on religion (and indeed all forms of blind, unquestioning belief) as 'contrarian'.
I argue about these things for the hell (and very heaven) of it. I do not seek or claim to represent anyone else.
As I have always said, and repeat once more, I deliberately set out to wind up fundamentalists of all stripes (atheists included) until they explode. And I do this merely because it amuses me, and those as bored with any type of kneejerking conformism as me.
I have no agenda, seek no position or reward, and don't even care if I am widely read. If what I write gives some comfort to anyone else who has to put up with similar nonsense in any other place where just waking up in the morning and daring to think is regarded as a heinous crime, cool.
Is this clear enough?
Can we move on?
Friday, 8 October 2010
Sod that. If the Manx government was serious about saving energy they’d close Manx Heritage and their other MONGOs.
If you'd rather get involved in something far more beneficial to humanity instead take a look at International Committee against Stoning’s latest at (http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/4123) .
Because Sunday is also World Day against the Death Penalty, but when you’re dealing with cyber-attacks on your campaign website from theocratic fascist states, death threats in the country where you’ve sought asylum, problems with your visa because your continued presence in that country gets in the way of secretive business deals between unscrupulous politicos…..and so on and so on… it can be a mite difficult to let the world know about that.
Thankfully my good mates at ICAS have their site up again (see links to the right). If you’d like to join them and many other hardworking genuine human rights workers without cosy government subsidies in a resolution to stop state-sanctioned barbaric (almost inevitably faith-led) killing of the innocent and oppressed go to http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/4118 and sign up.
Could be the best thing you do all weekend.
Thursday, 7 October 2010
And as if it isn’t bad enough that the Christians stole Saturnalia. Now the cheeky sods want to copyright Spring too.
Apparently the Anglican Area Manager has “welcomed the launch of The Real Easter Egg, the UK’s first and only Easter egg to mention Jesus on the box.”
Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
It seems his firm and other voodoo merchants have teamed up with the misleadingly named ‘Fairtrade’ mafia and other do-gooders to try and guilt-trip us into buying dodgy chocolate. This so they can continue screwing over Africans the way they used to screw over everybody else, I suppose. You can read more at http://www.manx.net/news/449/bishop-welcomes-first-easter-egg-to-mention-jesus-on-the-box if you want a good laugh.
I particularly loved:
“ …there will be educational resources available in January 2011 with The Real Easter Eggs being delivered early in 2011. It is hoped that staff will use the arrival of the eggs to teach about citizenship, the meaning of Easter, the role of Fairtrade and the place of charitable giving. The supply of eggs can then be given as rewards for students who have worked particularly hard in exploring these themes.”
Christians as good citizens? That’s about as unlikely as condom machines in the Vatican, I’d have thought.
And don’t even mention Traidcraft in this house.
The local Fairtrade group would like to claim that they work in a non-discriminatory way with the local community. Unfortunately they can’t because that would be such a whopping fib that people would laugh aloud, even more than they do already.
I still remember when they handed out free tea and coffee to local churches, but not other faiths or community organisations. The irony was, many if not most of the groups they snubbed were practicing fair trade well before the godbotherers.
As Traidcraft’s head office just blanked those who pointed out not only this, but that some of the recipients have the worst Manx record on racism, sexism and homophobia, we decided that maybe they knew what they were doing, and were just getting churches on board the only way they're ever made to pay attention to the real world. When they get something for nothing.
As for giving money to a UK charity for natal care – why? Don’t the Brits have governments to provide adequate health services? If their natal care isn’t good enough, let them lobby their politicians.
It’s not so long ago that they were trying to stop Manx resident pensioners from getting emergency treatment if they got ill while visiting English relatives. And that included pensioners who’d paid into the English NHS all their working lives before retiring here for a slower pace of life.
In short, there’s about as much chance as the BNP flogging me Easter eggs as this bunch of chancers. Because at least the BNP are upfront about their prejudices and policies, instead of trying to pass them off as ‘charity’.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
This might seem a bit ‘off-topic’ for me, and there are tributes everywhere, but you have to realise that Norman was this town’s best known resident before being confined to a nursing home ‘down south’. He was also a genuinely nice guy who spoke to everyone on Parliament Street, and indeed who was on first name terms with many older locals. The bi-polar opposite to every stereotypical, tight-arsed, arrogant tax-dodging nonentity who arrived on the island after him, in fact.
And, speaking as someone who knows the hard way (from street-performing) about physical comedy, Norman was the most accomplished comic craftsman since Stan Laurel. Michael Crawford in his heyday, or maybe Jackie Chan, are the only ones who could pull off similar stunts. But their film stunts are the 99th take, while Norman could do it, live, every time.
Take my fondest memory of him, in Ramsey, in a tiny room in front of 50 pensioners.
I was there to report for the local paper on teenagers putting on a panto for pensioners at Quayle’s Hall (now, sadly, lost to the heritage racket). Norman turned up to cheer them on and something went wrong backstage. As the kids panicked, he stood up and, without missing a beat, turned as if to say something to the old dear behind then fell flat on his face with a huge crash.
Then he shot back up like a rocket, and for the next 20 minutes chairs and small objects flew about and people shrieked with laughter as he stumbled, rolled and bounced around the room like a human disaster zone. If I’d attempted the same, costumed up in my clowning prime, I’d have been black and blue, breathless, and probably sued by someone in the room for damages when a trick misfired. Norman was then 74, wearing his normal street clothes, and had gone into the entire routine unrehearsed at a second’s notice.
As the stage curtain finally parted he brushed his hair back, sat down and watched the ‘real’ show like very other pensioner in the room. Except they were fighting for breath and he wasn’t. Then afterwards, as he left, he collared me and with a wink said: “Don’t tell anyone I was here son, just give the kids a good write-up."
A comedy masterclass, for free, from a real gent. Because making folk laugh was what Norman did. Period.
Via my Dad, who’s also a real gent, I also have a report of a more recent performance. A sadder one, but it still deserves to be mentioned.
Dad, who’s been a professional musician all his life, ”forgot” to tell me he’s been lugging his accordion around the island’s retirement homes a couple of afternoons each week for the last few years to play for free. And he totally neglected to tell anyone that one of them is the one where Norman was moved by his family in 2008. Up until a few months ago the highlight of the gig, every three months or so, was Norm, increasingly disorientated but always responding to a well known cue, getting up to sing Don’t laugh at me, ‘cos I’m a fool.
Dad probably has the dubious honour of being the last person to perform with Norman, and some of his last audience probably thought they were watching him on the TV, or dreaming. But Norman always looked like he was enjoying it, and his audience certainly were.
He was making people happy all his life, almost until the day he died. What better way could you live?
Saturday, 2 October 2010
This is explained in some depth in a barefaced lie posted on behalf of the (badly misnamed) Department of Social Care entitled Island Hosts British Irish Council Meeting On Community Development at http://www.gov.im/lib/news/socialcare/islandhostsbriti.xml . Thanks to Manxnet’s policy of not allowing unattributed ‘news reports’ you can even go to http://www.manx.net/default.asp?id=18&articleid=11572 and find who wrote it. More public money wasted on a Freedom to Fester spin merchant then. Why do these simpletons bother?
The excuse for this nonsense was a visit of the British Irish Council. I can only suggest that if the visitors believed any of this twaddle then they’re as unfit to be living off taxpayer money as their hosts. I’m tempted to say ‘bring on the public sector cuts’, but you just know that when they come more genuine public servants will be out of a job while these buffoons will not only be left chuntering to each other but given a payrise.
Amongst the horror stories we learn that:
“During its visit to the Island, the group met with representatives from the Red Cross, Crossroads Caring for Carers, Age Concern and the Manx Befriending Network to hear about opportunities for voluntary organisations to work together to provide support to older, disabled and ill people at home.”
If they’d have knocked on the door of any random household containing such a disadvantaged person they could have found out the real situation. There aren’t any, just a semi-retired civil servant who sits in on most of the above groups, where he swaps idle banter with gin-swigging socialites and other layabouts who’ve never had to work for a living, then slips them another government cheque or invites them to sit on yet another MONGO (that’s 'Methodist Orientated Non-Governmental Organisation' for those who aren’t in on the joke.)
And it gets worse, because the Festering Freeloader then goes on to inform us that:
“The group then met with Rev Cannon Nigel Godfrey, the Cathedral Business Advisory Group, Faith in Action and Scripture Union to hear about the significant contribution of faith organisations in mobilising volunteers, providing services and rejuvenating communities.”
(Falls off chair laughing, climbs back up, considers the afore-quoted as serious evidence of government policy, holds head in hands and groans)
It may be of interest to those who can no longer be bothered to track the incestuous antics of the faithful to know that Canon Godfrey, working under the close supervision of the Archdeacon, set up the CBAG – mostly as a means to ensure his faith factory, the Cathedral, is branded as a heritage site (even though it’s the Edwardian equivalent of a Barrett Home) and a public asset, rather than having some civil servant accidentally uncover the extensive government survey of island churches produced a few years back (co-funded and ‘guided’ by church and heritage interest) which, since it decided that the Cathedral (along with around 50% of island churches) is a white elephant and totally unfit for purpose, was promptly buried in Tynwald Library without even the required afterword by a former bishop which was a condition of church cooperation in the survey.
The Archdeacon also has a minion who is tasked to keep Faith in Action under surveillance for signs of any worrying liberalism, inter-faith influence or general signs that it might get public support and/or interest. And he effectively decides SU policy, projects and staffing because without Anglican underwriting and the Bishop’s legally compulsory dictatorship of the Education Department’s Religious Education Advisory Committee SU would be defunct. As it is, we’ll just have to rely on the good sense of most schoolkids, who quite rightly dismiss SU as a lunchtime club for lonely losers with learning difficulties.
In short then, business as usual amongst the island’s great and good.
Sunday, 26 September 2010
Well, I think it must be an art installation, because it has a touch of the Tracy Emin about it. On the other hand, as ‘proper’ Manx artists tend towards either (a) insipid oil or watercolours which suggest more than a passing acquaintance with the art therapy room at a long term mental institution or ( b) cack-handed ‘explorations’ of ‘Manx identity’ which get easy heritage money it can’t be their work. I would happily recommend this piece for an arts council grant, but it’s far too interesting and professionally executed.
So, the ‘installation’ is placed just outside the church within the yard and consists of a white toilet inside a little shed with the door open, facing the street. It has notices on the roof and sides, but as you’d have to enter the yard to read them I don’t know what they said.
As I mentioned recently (‘All Over Bar The Touting’) it’s Back To Church Sunday today, and the Methodists decided to throw their house open for the entire weekend, with little flyers distributed to all the local houses. The installation, I suppose, was meant to draw folk into the church for their display yesterday, but as even whimsical humour couldn’t get this family through their doors I’ll just have to pass on the ‘real’ explanation and wonder instead.
My first reaction was, is it a cruel teetotal reference to the euphemism ‘Talking to God on the big white phone’?
For those who lack imagination (or have no memory of Freshers Week at university) that refers to the moment when a hopeless drunk is on his or her knees in front of a pebbledashed toilet bowl, having regurgitated several meals he or she has no memory of eating, moaning “Oh God”.
But, on a Saturday night, how crazy would you have to be to leave a toilet in plain view on your property if it lies the opposite side of the road to a major pub with a bus-stop outside it?
Or was it just a bizarre attempt to cash in on the unwitting public service offered by one of the town’s odder cults, also close to that pub?
The thing is, the alleyway on the side of the pub offers faster relief to the weak of bladder than queuing for the pub toilet. Patrons of a charity shop housed there are already asked not to leave donations in bags overnight outside the shop.
The doorway of a small church at the end of the alleyway isn’t an obvious makeshift toilet, partly because it is at the crossroads of busy walkways joining local streets, partly because the bloke in the house facing it breeds Rottweillers. On the other hand, the back of the church is more sheltered, and must see far more congregants around Friday or Saturday midnight than the inside ever sees during Sunday opening hours.
Who says churches cannot offer a valuable public service to those in desperate need?
Saturday, 25 September 2010
It seems the local jam and Jerusalem brigade want to encourage a new generation of women to wear sensible shoes. They have an odd way of showing it: or maybe they’re just odd anyway.
Because the W.I. are putting on a major lecture in November with a star speaker to get some new blood.
And that speaker is............(drum roll, pause for dramatic effect)........Anne Widdecombe.
(Cymbal crash, nervous cough, stunned silence)
Yes, Anne Widdecombe, former Tory MP, leading light of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and well known campaigner for the rights of women and other folk held back by bronze age belief systems.
For example, Widdecombe (until then a devout Anglican) converted to Catholicism in 1993 along with fellow Tory John Gummer in protest over the decision to allow women priests. And in 1996 Widdecombe, then prisons minister, defended her government's policy of shackling pregnant women prisoners with handcuffs and chains when in hospital giving birth.
Then there’s her more recent attempt to become the UK’s Ambassador to the Vatican. Amusingly, for once there she met with opposition from nutters even more stuck in the dark ages than she is. Because Benny and the boys know – infallibly - that the only true position of women in the Catholic church is barefoot, pregnant and polishing the church baubles.
Oh, another joke too. She’ll be giving her lecture at the Gaiety Theatre.
Is this wise, knowing Widdecombe’s views on gays?
Along with fellow prominent CCF throwback Edward Leigh she led attempts to prevent the repeal of Section 28. And in 17 recorded government votes on issues which would help equalise the legal position of gays, 15 times she voted against, with two no shows.
The poster prominently states that the purpose of the W.I. is ‘inspiring women’.
Never mind "And did those feet in ancient times". They’ll be running for the hills after this farce.
Something I spotted outside the Broadway Baptist Church has me both amused and intrigued. Smack bang outside the front door this week was a car with a bumper sticker reading “My other car is a broomstick”.
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the kind of fundie headbangers who solemnly teach the dimmest parents and social workers that teenagers in black T-shirts are trainee Satanists were under some sort of psychic attack from real local witches? Though the local witch and warlock community are almost as batty as the Baptists, and equally wrapped up in ‘timeless’ folk myths of recent – often urban – origin.
Take their grandaddy Gerald Gardner, who ran the old witchcraft museum at Castletown.
Gardner arguably kickstarted the whole modern witchcraft phenomena with a 1950’s potboiler, Witchcraft Today, opportunistically published just after the repeal of the old witchcraft laws (repealed on the grounds that nobody in the mid-20th century believed such old wives tales). Gardnerians are like the High Anglican version of witches, and funnily enough Gardner had also been both a church warden and a high ranking freemason – so not exactly an anti-establishment figure.
The other hilarious clunker for those who’d like to see him as re-introducing ‘timeless’ Manx tradition is that his book was based on his personal experiences in a New Forest coven and (now discredited) theories of Margaret Murray about ‘the Old Religion’, sexed up with some supplementary material from Alistair Crowley. It’s even alleged Gardner bought his impressive sounding rank within OTO (Crowley’s cult) at a time when that other shady shaman was little more than a penniless dipso about to pop his clogs in another run-down seaside resort, Brighton.
There is a well documented tradition of Manx faith-healers (known as "fairy doctors"), for example in various local Edwardian publications, though they were always at pains to stress they weren’t ‘proper’ witches, just folk with enough plant knowledge to concoct something for your lame horse or hens who weren’t laying.
Funnily enough, the nearest to a ‘witch craze’ we’ve had over here was when the local fundies started offering ‘help’ in case kids were dabbling with ouija boards or might get tempted to sell their souls to Satan while going door-to-door singing Hop Tu naa (Manx version of Halloween dressing up, well before Trick or Treat was invented).
This was a bit of a bad joke when the only known cases of the problem were sessions which had happened on the premises of evangelical churches in the 1980’s, and involved some of the same ‘youth workers’ who a few years later were offering ‘help’. Few other teenagers could have been bothered to waste their time on such twaddle, which might explain why most went on to decent jobs while the superstitious minority still beg public funds or flog woo-woo to the impressionable rich and thick.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
I’ve known Peter Murcott for years – ever since the years when he set up a Manx branch of Mary Whitehouse’s mob, then when he ran a Keep Sunday Special campaign, and so on ever since. He’s one of those dependable godbotherers who can be guaranteed to put up an argument on any moral issue, and I almost admire him.
He must realise he’s unfashionable, he must know people snigger at some of his views but he doesn’t seem to care. He gets flattened time and time again in debates – at least in the view of those who listen long enough to hear the arguments and evidence. Even Manx government ministers and civil servants cringe when he kicks off in public - and very few of them display intellect, honesty or open-mindedness.
This time he seems to be the only one willing to put the contrary view in a local debate on assisted dying with Jo Cartwright from Dignity in Dying. He sets out his stall at http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/Should-we-be-allowed-to.6537771.jp .
Poor man doesn’t seem to have new arguments since the retired Oxford psychologist Jeff Garland flattened him amicably enough in a Manx Radio debate a few years back, when a Tynwald Select Committee was gathering evidence for a possible Bill. But Peter’s a tryer, we should give him that.
The debate is being put on by Positive Action Group, at 7.30pm on September 27 at the Manx Legion Club in Douglas. More details on their website at http://positiveactiongroup.org/index.html .
Monday, 20 September 2010
The papers and TV stations have been so full of pointless twaddle about it (and resolutely blocked every attempt to question it) that there’s really little more to say or little point in saying it.
So I’ll confine myself to two observations.
(1) Aren’t Susan Boyle gigs getting more surreal? Who on earth was that odd old tranny in the ruby slippers warming up for her at Glasgow last Friday?
(2) Some people might think £10 Million and a disability scooter with bulletproof windows is far too much public money to spend protecting UK children from one German pensioner. But as anyone with kids knows, NO amount is too much to keep our little darlings safe from dangerous freaks.
Of course, it is inevitable that the Deluded Herd will try to make a few bob locally on the back of it all. It’s even more inevitable that at least one politician who’s a complete waste of space will jump on the bandwagon too.
This, in short, explains an upcoming disaster known as Back To Church Sunday, which you can read about in original form, untouched or unclaimed by our local press as their own work, at http://www.manx.net/default.asp?id=18&articleid=11478 .
Energy FM, to their credit, at least attempt to put their own spin on it at http://www.energyfm.net/cms/news_story_117762.html . I suspect when it comes to other media outlets, all those years of IOM Steam Packet advertising put their way by Mr Corkish before he ‘retired’ and became an elected layabout will have their price.
But as the zombie worshippers are trying to play us for a bunch of poor misguided kiddies who ran away from home and might be made to feel guilty about it, let’s stick with that analogy and hoist them by their own petards.
As the late Quentin Crisp so sagely remarked, the problem with all those teary-eyed tales of teenage runaways is that, in nearly every case, absolutely the worst thing anyone can do is send them back home. There are good reasons why kids run away, just as there are good reasons why most people (once they’re big enough to say ‘No’) refuse to go to church.
Let’s see… sexism, racism, homophobia, child abuse, fraud, dishonesty, bullying, sheer stupidity, boredom…..
Need I go on?
Saturday, 18 September 2010
What a comedown when your 'state visit' to the UK - costing the taxpayer something approaching £100 million - kicks off with you acting as support act to Susan Boyle.
Never mind, at least all those faith leaders can get together today to commiserate the great British public's total disinterest in their faith-based pyramid schemes. And amongst them (see http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=47475 ) will be a gentleman whose unelected presence in our upper House of Fun was decided by his former area manager and rubber-stamped by Gordon Brown.
Oh well, I'm sure they'll have a great time telling each other how nobody loves them and nobody understands. If only we could persuade politicians and civil servants to share our lack of interest the world could move on.
Because it's funny when you think about it. If you want to voluntarily help out at a kiddie football team you need to pay for a police check which can take months (and probably won't be accurate). If you want to be Bishop of Sodor and Mann and interfere with the political process at the most senior level nobody checks you out anywhere. It isn't just that the Manx public have no vote, even the busybodies in government whose main role in life seems to be to prevent democracy (or even community) are asleep on the job.
Yes, there’s more sensationalist twaddle from the Deluded Herd on the IOM Newspapers website (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/Mothers-Union-speaks-out-against.6535250.jp ). This time it’s the Mothers Union on about the ‘commercialisation of childhood’.
Oh crikey, what a shock, and how on the ball. Moral crusaders have wittered in an ill-informed way about this ever since reading failed PR guru Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders in the 1950’s – and probably well before if we could be bothered to look.
What next in this return to Victorian Valium? Perhaps a Manx Rechabite Lodge revival, or the return of the League of Decency?
This report is equally clueless; in fact it should probably itself be reported to the ASA as misleading and offensive advertising. If you can be bothered to trawl through a bag of over-emotional excrement for yourself you can find it at http://muenterprises.org/byebuychildhoodmu/impact-report/ . What you won’t find (you’ll notice at once) is convincing evidence, sources, or even a clue as to how the information was gathered, who from, what methodology used to ensure fairness or accuracy…. and so on and so on.
In short, a complete fabrication, based in part on paranoid conspiracy theory and in part on some zombie worshipping dimwit’s cunning plan to scare us back to church. As ever, it’s a snapshot of just how far out of touch these herberts are, and how desperate they are to spread any sort of wild rumour that might panic us into paying attention to them.
The funniest thing for those who like to watch the local antics of the ‘DH’ is that these blue-rinse bozos are actually the radical wing of the clown show. I kid thee not.
In the early years of the 21st century even the MU had to operate like the Militant Tendency – secretive gatherings of Tory matrons sworn to bring about change to the Diocese from inside. It wasn’t until Graeme ‘the invisible bishop’ Knowles arrived that they could even get a senior cleric to officially attend their shindigs.
How sad is that?
Saturday, 11 September 2010
I don’t doubt the basic story (though judging from the ‘ex–team’ website at http://exteammembers.blogspot.com/ the former cultists seem a few apostles short of an apotheosis themselves), but I’m amused and intrigued for several reasons.
For one thing, I don’t see why yet another oddball cult here makes such a difference. The place is such a haven for them already. For example, one equally odd one has been fleecing rich new agers for years from a rural venue not 5 miles away from the Crossags. It has large adverts in Johnston Press’s various publications every week, and an input into various flakey ‘alternative health’ and ‘spiritual’ groups with whom it trades punters, ‘life coaches’, leads on access to government advisory committees, public funds and facilities….and so on.
For another, what’s this about 'the Team' only beginning to set up an island base? At least two associates have been peddling their talents around evangelical churches and Christian youth and ‘outreach’ groups for over a decade. I warned Christians Together in Mann’s youth subcommittee about them in 1998, and far more recently (judging from their schools work) a heritage group was not only using other bampots from other dodgy evangelical sects but had taken on board a suggestion first made back then by the Team’s ‘undercover squad’ for tourist development at one of the island’s best known historical venues. Then again, as that venue in turn has a long and ignoble connection with an evangelical chancer/ property developer who counted Billy Graham and Richard Nixon amongst his friends what‘s a few more freaks at the historical freak show anyway?
I’m intrigued because (as I frankly don’t believe either the Bishop’s advisors or any major church group are genuinely concerned) it would be nice to know what the real motive was for feeding IOM Newspapers the story, and indeed who fed it to them.
When the area around the Crossags has so many bampots, conspiracy theorists and hidden agendas why pick on this one?
For example, there have been previous behind the scenes campaigns to stop development around the Crossags. These include a plan to build holiday accomodation in the late 1980’s blocked by local Rotarians, who had a prominent member and schoolteacher point out the ‘danger’ to schoolkids from increased traffic on the road to the Crossags.
Except schoolkids don’t use that road. In fact the only danger on it is from flying golfballs on the adjoining golf course – whose membership revolves around such Rotarians and where it’s a source of huge frustration that the selling off of public land and cutting off of public rights of way cannot extend to the road because it is the main footpath to Albert Tower.
Also amusingly, one silent party behind the proposed development was closely connected to the Anglican management, and the elaborate plan involved a trust which would run the Crossags as a faith-based charity as part of a growing ‘empire’ also involving other Christian children’s charities close to government.
Because again, Nigel Chaplin has been trying for years to set up some sort of lifetime possession trust arrangement for the Crossags which would have allowed him to retain a home for his aged mum and live out his days, with the facility then preferably passing to the sort of church-based groups who use it most. Problem is, the ‘interest’ church groups have in kids is not their healthy development and preparation for a socially useful adulthood, but in grooming them as tithe-payers when they start earning.
They would love to gain control of a nice little facility where kids can run riot in the fresh air and camp safely for weekends (and where Nigel has helped them arrange such things –with the groups concerned often never paying back the full costs of amenities they run up). They just, somehow, seem to view it as Nigel’s ‘Christian duty’ to hand over his heritage so that they can run it – tax free – at a nice little profit.
The backroom intrigues and battles between such imbeciles would make amusing reading should they ever be revealed. I suspect they never will be. Shame, as even Teutonic twerps allegedly running cults might then prove less bizarre or amusing than the homegrown variety.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
The cause was an item on Radio 4, and I’m sorely tempted to ring them up and swear at them. The item was so unbelievable that I had to watch the TV news on both BBC and ITV…… and then Channel 4 too, and I still couldn’t believe it.
The source of my amazement was hearing the voice of an invisible man – the island’s previous Bishop. A figure so obscure that when I once referred to him by name instead of his ‘proper’ title in a letter to a local newspaper the sub-editor put the title in brackets afterwards, just to ensure the Manx public knew who I was referring to.
The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles (as he now is) was a determined careerist who never really sought the Manx Anglican Area Manager job. It was just a necessary evil for him to acquire some political experience – preferably in a low risk environment – before being able to apply for the cushy London job at St. Paul’s he really wanted; and which he now has.
While stranded here on Lambeth orders, this Teflon parson was careful never to express a controversial opinion, never to take sides in an argument…. Never, in fact to do anything except nod and smile politely.
Meanwhile church membership figures plummeted, and even a Manx government report into church buildings co-commissioned and substantially dictated by church and heritage interests managed to conclude that around half of local churches are surplus to requirement. It also accidentally revealed who the diocesan management were planning to flog them to, but that’s another matter!
His final sermon was delivered to a captive audience of government bigwigs. Nobody else bothered to go: indeed most folk simply didn’t know it was on, who he was, that he’d ever arrived here or done anything - never mind that he was leaving again.
Now our Graeme has an equally pointless existence, helping Anglicans suck up to a Westminster government with no future to offer young people by inventing ever more useless ritual ‘celebrations’ for older, more privileged dullards.
Yesterday it was remembering (carefully edited) stories about the Blitz. Tomorrow ….well, I’m sure he’ll be up to something just as bland, safe, and dull as ditch water.
And just in case nobody on the Isle of Man can believe it, catch the grey one’s dull sick tones at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11209078 .
Watch, listen and laugh.