Thursday 30 July 2009

Talkin Blue

Apparently David Cameron doesn’t know what a tw*t is. At last, an explanation for George Osborne’s career.

Hopi Sen

Tuesday 28 July 2009

My favourite villain

A rainy evening last night and I watched a couple of episodes on DVD of Granada's Jewel in the Crown. Despite the mega cast and faithful adaptation it's still not a patch on Paul Scott's quartet of novels. However it is nice to be reminded what TV with ambition and scope was like. Best of all Tim Pigott-Smith's rendition of one of the finest villains in post-war literature - Ronald Merrick. His suburban vowels, repressed campness and all-pervading chippiness are delicious and unforgettable.

Scott managed to come up with something fresh in the footsteps of Forster and Orwell and no-one has ever bettered his portrayal of the brittleness of the British Raj in situ. The social divisions within the ruling class are as acute as the racial ones between the rulers and ruled. It is so well drawn that it is as painful as it is perfect. Scott created his Indian colonial landscape knowing that the original had come to an end. That's what allows us to wallow a little -- it is historical so we need feel no guilt.

Guilt is not an emotion I want to encourage but sadly Scott was wrong in consigning all those colonial attitudes to the past. I am off to Zanzibar in a couple of weeks and could, should I so choose, spend my time being as Merricky as I like. White expat society in Zanzibar, and many other outposts of the poverty and development industry, is as far divorced from local culture and local people as anything in British India . These neo-colonialists will be snooty and condescendingly uncomprehending with me because I choose to spend my time with Africans in Africa. I have "gone native" and that's simply not "pukka". The language may have been tempered but the underlying attitudes are as raw as they ever were. The Neo-Cols really do seem to despise those they lord over. They just wrap it all up in ghastly management speak and KPIs. Whatever the dressing there are still, as Kipling said over a century ago, two worlds which shall never meet. Nonetheless I think I get a better deal with the locals than I ever would with the earnest sahibs and desiccated memsahibs of the poverty industry.

Friday 24 July 2009

Thought for the Day

"There are more important things than being cool"

David Mitchell

Monday 20 July 2009

A Great Discovery

A fabulous local discovery has been the mountains known as the Carmarthen Vans. Have no idea why I have not found them before but only half an hour away and now one of the Kili Team's training spots. You can get several hours of good striding in with enough ascent and descent to feel you have done something, not to mention great views and a lot of nothing and nobody.

False Dentistry

A barrister friend is currently representing an Iraqi dentist from Merthyr Tydfil. It turns out that the client was a senior figure in Sadam Hussein's Baath Party. At home in Wales he had pictures of himself with Sadam and other members of the Axis of Evil. Somehow he escaped justice or retribution in Iraq and washed up in Merthyr. That's quite an achievement but he then managed to set up as a dentist -- entirely bogusly -- and fool the good people of Mid Glamorgan for years. I can imagine a Baath Party sadist ripping teeth out but repairing them...! What can the mouths of Merthyr be like? It is a bit like Radovan Karadic the healer!

Friday 17 July 2009


"On the ratemyteachers website, Mr Harvey from All Saints, Mansfield, had enjoyed a top rated 5.0 from pupils at his school. After being charged by police for hitting one of his students on the head with a heavy object, his score only went down to 3.7. By today, his reputation has rallied, Harvey is back up to 4.6. Which means even though he's up on an attempted murder charge against a fifteen year old pupil, Mr Harvey is significantly more popular with his students than most of the other teachers, average rating 3.6."

Who do I have to hit to get popular round here?

Thursday 16 July 2009

I wrote a little while ago about the complete losers that are white supremacists. I see from the news that one of their number, Neil Lewington, has been convicted of plotting to cause explosions in pursuit of his sick beliefs.

He fits the mould perfectly. It is difficult to find anything"supreme" about him

Age 43 and still living with his mum and dad

No girlfriend
No friends
Lives in a fantasy world
Arrested for urinating on a station
Makes bombs with a child's chemistry set
If that's not enough listen to how his own lawyer described him: "a silly, immature, alcoholic, dysfunctional twit, fantasising to make up for a rather sad life".

Long live the master race!

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Comment of the Month

From Will Self...
"The only way you will catch me twittering is if a live songbird lands in my mouth."

Willard White in Llandeilo

Last night's performance was stunning. Sir Willard performed his "Paul Robeson Re-Explored" set -- songs and readings taking us through Robeson's remarkable life. He was accompanied by a fabulous group --Neal Thornton on piano, the superb Guy Barker on trumpet and the Pavao String Quartet. St Teilo's church rocked, reverberated and rejoiced.

Sitting at the front watching these incredibly skilled performers at work just makes me appreciate true professionals. There is a depth, an ease, a roundedness and above all a "music first" commitment that only comes with all the hard work, practice and experience of pros. Something we may be in danger of forgetting in the scramble for celebrity of our "Britain's got Talent" culture.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Music Week

Llandeilo is alive with the sound of music. Officially the Festival of Flowers and Music began on Saturday. Unofficially I went to see my friend Cush play an acoustic set in the White Horse on Saturday evening. It was a fantastic night, he really knows how to hold the room with just voice and guitar. Cush's band, The Men They Couldn't Hang, has just released a new album which is very good indeed. The title track, Devil on the Wind, will be a new anthem for them. It had us dancing on the tables on Saturday night.

Tomorrow, back on the official side of things, we welcome Sir Willard White to Llandeilo. Perhaps we won't be dancing on the tables (it is in church) but I am looking forward to it immensely. I love the contrast.