Monthly Archives: December 2019

The Walkin Dude (with apologies to Randall Flagg)

Goodbye UKIP, you’ve served your purpose… whatever that was

Guess I really was naive last time, as the Tories now have a clear majority rather than a hung Parliament — but I’ll keep going on with my life, as maybe, just maybe, they’ll live up to their promises and not keep screwing over the disabled… then again, a week or so into their next four- or five-year term, this comes up.

(At least the Post Office and Fujitsu have finally admitted that Horizon is broken, and that those sub-postmasters weren’t fraudsters — but too late for the suicide case, sadly…)

I’ve fought my way through a lot over the past few years: this whole blog began in 2012 because I was still recovering from the depression that had hit me the year before, and while I’ve had ups and downs since then, the biggest issues I faced were my unemployment crisis in late 2014 and my cerebral situation from the end of 2016 — though the surgery itself felt more like a mild inconvenience, and while I was grateful for the NHS and paid sick leave (Boris Johnson take note!), I wanted to get back to my life, and job, here in London.

Perhaps that’s why, in late 2019, I’ve been able to drag myself to work even on days when I’ve had a bad back or a severe cold (albeit in both cases with the worst symptoms coming during weekends) — I’m lucky to have what I have, and I want to make the most of the job I was lucky to gain in 2015, supporting my team and employer during a time whem we have a large amount of security-based work to do (and my counterpart’s disappearance means I have to do the daily stuff as well).

No, I haven’t gotten them a new TV, their current one’s already, like, cool and stuff!

It’s also why I’ve been getting (relatively) expensive Christmas presents for my folks, and would have willingly paid for our dog’s recent operation (don’t worry, she’s fine, and awaiting my return) — they’re precious to me, and I’m willing to face such horrors as visiting Oxford Street (and worse, Piccadilly Circus), and carrying heavy packages around, walking everywhere (Tube journeys aside) no matter the effort required or the tendency of my legs or feet to start hurting out of nowhere (as I seem to walk it off, quite literally).

Hey, I’ve been walking a great deal since coming to London — indeed, back in 2007 when I lived on Caledonian Road, there was a period in which I walked down to the Tottenham Court Road area (in search of a weekly computer fair) every weekend!  And more recently I walked a long distance in my old home town, and though I stopped using my Fitbit, I’ve still walked between Warren Street and my workplace in Marylebone (and back again) each working day — and over the years, I’ve built up the ability to walk up and down escalators (nudging smartphone users’ elbows), something which was once excruciatingly difficult and led to me standing on the other side.

(Walk on the left, stand on the right… progressive on the left, conservative on the right?  Or has that one been done to death already?  Either way, I prefer the choice — so don’t make us all stand still on the escalator, TfL!)

However, I don’t believe that just because I can get through all this, anyone who can’t is some kind of pathetic failure, in the same way that I don’t berate myself for not being fit enough to do professional sport or join the armed forces — and much as I don’t look down on people poorer and needier than me for somehow being “lazy” (and calling them all self-entitled scroungers, like some real-life Mr. Bounderby), or dream of throwing the rich off the balconies of their “ivory towers” solely out of envy (even if some lie about making it through their own hard work instead of inheritance, like, er, a real-life Mr. Bounderby).

We’ve all got our own strengths and weaknesses, and each of us is running our own one-person race, while acting as a spectator and supporter for others, cheering them on (and maybe handing over a water bottle).  I think of competitiveness as a risky course of action: it may encourage and inspire some to try harder and reach their potential, but it’s all too easy for others to say “I don’t need to do better, I just need to make them look worse”, which seems to be 21st-century politics in a nutshell (and let’s not forget BA’s “dirty tricks” campaign against their rivals in the 1990s).

To put it another way: when climbing the ladders, let’s not pull on the legs of those above to try and bring them down, and not stamp on the fingers of those below to stop them catching up… and yes, I’m still climbing, but for the exercise, the battle against anxiety, and (believe it or not) the social contact, not to look down with disdain upon those beneath me — especially since my climbing partner would be down there, holding the rope that saves me from a deadly plunge if I lose my grip!

Anyway, I’d better get some sleep, as tomorrow I’ll need to set off early in the hope of getting a train down to Worthing that (a) actually runs*, (b) has seats, and (c) delivers me in time for my mother to pick me up and drive me home without losing her parking space — because the alternative would be a long walk, dragging my heavy suitcase behind me… and while I’d do that for my folks, I’d rather keep some energy and leg strength in reserve, so I can take the dog walkies!

(* This year has the same date structure as 2013, so I’ll just have to hope…)

Never mind Dave-ros, how’s the politics?

Labour = silly but interesting, Tory = sensible but dull?  What a silly idea… they’re not sensible!

Yes, that was a callback to a blog title back in 2013, itself a reference to a Thatcher quote that in turn was a parody of a certain Sex Pistols album title — but it’s about time I gave my own opinions on politics in this country, and whether left or right is the better side of the political… and what the hell “left” and “right” even mean, which seems to depend upon whoever’s talking at the time, especially on Facebook.

(The Internet: serious business!)

I learned the original definition: “the left” were the peasants to the king’s left, and “the right” were the aristocracy to the king’s right, as France tried to put itself back together after the Revolution, and presumably this is how “left=radical, right=conservative” came about — the unrepentant aristocracy wanting to stay where they were (of course), and the rebellious peasantry wanting to change things out of recognition.

More recently this has led to “leftie liberals” who want more equality for minority groups, versus “right-wing neo-fascists” and the “alternate right”, who go on about “snowflakes” and think everyone should toughen up.  But are these related to the left-right spectrum, or is this political line at 90° to the collective “property is theft” extreme left and the “theft is property” extreme right, or just some people arguing?  Or, let’s be honest, the self-styled “right” demanding the right to continue bullying anyone they regard as a viable target.

Actually, I’ve come to think of something my GCSE History teacher said, back in the day: that some believe the political spectrum isn’t a straight line, but a crescent with the extremes almost touching.  This makes sense: a jump from extreme right to extreme left through rebellion (the French and Russian Revolutions) out of bloody vengeance against an unaccountable ruling elite, only to move back from extreme left to extreme right (the Reign of Terror and Stalin’s Russia), simply because power corrupts, and someone always seems to take charge.

After all, if the extreme left, Communism, is supposed to treat all men equally, with no-one in authority, how can it become authoritarian?  That just sounds like the Borg Collective, everyone of no individual value but working together as a single entity, and “raising the quality of life” (they think) for others through assimilation.  Mind you, even the Borg turned out to have a Queen… which implies that it’s Communism for the masses, but not the ruling elite — much as Orwell pointed out in 1984 that the “Middle” tricks the “Low” into helping them overthrow the “High”, when their intent was simply to replace the “High” themselves, and leave the “Low” where they were to begin with.

This is something that seemed to happen after Orwell’s time, with the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia: Pol Pot being anti-intellectual (except for himself) and exterminating minorities, reducing his population to effectively slave farmers, doesn’t seem like equality for all, does it?  As with Orwell’s Animal Farm, it’s more like “all men are equal, but some men are more equal than others” — much as is the case in today’s “communist” China and North Korea (though the former’s bringing in its own class system, suggesting it’s technically moved to the right).

Go ahead and “correct” me, but it seems the left starts with good intentions (wanting Average Joe to be treated with dignity and properly rewarded for, y’know, working), but ends up fragmenting and turning against itself due to so many different ideas (one might almost yell “Splitters!”), and individual desire for power and vengeance (“Come the glorious day, you’ll be first against the wall”) — some are smarter or more determined than others, and feel the need, the need to lead, and while many are willing to work hard to prove their worth, going too far with equality can mean the lazy are treated the same.

Meanwhile, the right is based upon the system of “class”, relatively speaking masters and servants, and so has people in charge rather by default, who (except where utterly incompetent and only there due to privilege) are capable of making decisions, due to a ruthless desire to “damn the consequences” when a choice is needed in a critical situation — but when they’re unrestricted and unaccountable (from feudal lords to capitalist oligarchies), they simply focus on helping the rich get richer and holding on to power for power’s sake, with similar theft of power going on all the way down the pecking order, until the lowest in society get nothing.

Appropriate page positions…

…for both these pictures, eh?

This makes me think (just to continue the Star Trek references) that the left is like Captain Kirk’s “good” half: selfless and fearless but utterly indecisive; and the right is like Kirk’s “evil” half: self-centred and amoral, but also strong-willed and cunning, and the real source of Kirk’s leadership — but under the control of his good half, hence a man who can make decisions with the intention of saving the day.

Sometimes the lesser of two evils must be chosen, otherwise you’re stuck wondering how to proceed — and this is why we need both sides, working together instead of allowing the worst thing in the world, party politics in a democratic society of elected representatives, to leave them divided and trying to undermine each other.  This is why I hope that Thursday’s general election will, as in 2010, leave no party with an overall majority (and hopefully end the “vote the way we tell you” whip system forever), and mean our political class actually have to listen to each other and work towards common goals, and leave behind “that’s a terrible idea, we didn’t think of it first!”

And then there’s religion, which I’m sure you remember me also talking about back in 2013 — the general consensus is that the left tends towards atheism while the right tends towards religion.  I’m in favour of neither being forced on anybody, and while I truly despise theocracy (and have no respect for those who think “faith” means “fact”), banning all religion would itself be a form of theocracy, wouldn’t it?  As I keep saying (and I’m sure you’re sick of me repeating myself), individual faith (or lack thereof) is fine, but it must never be used as an excuse to control others — and while we need to agree our laws on a secular basis (not simply obeying some ancient text, possibly differently to others reading the same text).

There’s vague talk of a “Christian left”, who actually promote helping the poor and sick, y’know, like a certain Man Jesus encouraged — but we hear much, much more from the “Christian right”, the sort of people who are against abortion and welfare, as though they only care about childbirth and not the child surviving for any length of time, and condemn single mothers (especially if they were raped), sodomy (gay or straight) and even contraceptives and voluntary childlessness, either out of a need to control women utterly, or because they believe sex is solely for procreation, and our purpose in life is to reproduce (“go forth and multiply”), not to actually enjoy anything.

(If they weren’t also anti-science, would they be doing a 1984 by encouraging neurologists to “abolish the orgasm”?  Even Islam allows a husband and wife to enjoy sex as an act of love!)

Oh, and ever hear of Billy James Hargis?  I learned of him thanks to Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (the book, I haven’t seen the TV series), and it seems he was so willing to twist the words of the Good Book, he actually claimed that the Genesis story “The Curse of Canaan” (in which Noah got drunk, his son Ham saw him naked, and Ham’s son Canaan and his descendents were cursed for all eternity) justified, nay, necessitated segregation of black people in America during the 1950s and 1960s.

He in turn influenced a general named Edwin Walker, who organised a protest by white students at the University of Mississippi against a black man (who’d served in the USAF) from studying there — which turned into a riot resulting in execution-style deaths.  Funnily enough, Lee Harvey Oswald, ostensibly a Marxist leftie (albeit himself influenced by a manipulator who didn’t actually lean either way), attempted to assassinate him but missed — and then (mythical second gunman aside) went on to assassinate JFK, who was much more liberal and in favour of equality!

(Let’s leave aside how both King’s work and a classic Red Dwarf episode suggest things would have become a lot worse in America if Kennedy had lived…)

This shows how the white supremacists, much like homophobes, use ridiculous interpretations of the Good Book as justification for their bigotry.  I see no difference between Hargis’ claims about black people being cursed, and the whole “one verse of Leviticus condemns gays, but the other bits about clothes, shellfish, tattoos etc. are just metaphors” argument, and reject them both without question.  They’re an element of the political right that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and makes atheism and “leftie liberalism” look preferable.

Ah, but some people on the Internet (serious business, I know) think Nazi Germany was “socialist” (in economic terms), and therefore, bizarrely, left-wing — but since the same people criticise liberals for being so overly-nice and call them left-of-centre, does this mean Hitler wanted to legalise gay marriage at the same time his minions were throwing gays into death camps?  Are white supremacist neo-Nazis, the KKK etc. a bunch of leftie liberal pinko snowflakes, or are they doing something, ahem, “right”?  Are they the victims, and “lefties” the dictators?

— — —

Okay, let’s cut to the chase: where am I politically?  I’m not in favour of Communism (because I have posessions that I feel I earned), but also not unregulated cutthroat capitalism (because I don’t want to be made homeless on a rich man’s whim, or abandoned by profiteering health services); I believe good intentions must be combined with decisiveness (even if not nationalised, public services must ensure that private contractors do their jobs properly — are you listening, Capita?), and that murderous uprising against the corrupt elite is no better than the prospect of genocide being used to intimidate the little guy — evolution, not revolution.  Overall it’s striking a balance between both “sides”, isn’t it?

But those who think any kind of cooperation of this nature is “leftie liberal” are, of course, far right and therefore the people I despise the most — because I’ve never knowingly heard anyone truly “far left” speak, but those who hate tolerance of minorities (and demand tolerance of their own intolerance, e.g. banning gays from their shops) are shouting about it all the time in social media.  You know how rebellious I am against the arrogant and entitled, and it goes double for the self-styled right-wing, who drive me away from anything remotely “right”, and make me feel like I’m some sort of Commie sympathiser when I’m technically in the centre.

(Boy, it sucks having to side with J. Edgar Hoover in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth!)

Of course, some of them are just bully-boys who enjoy upsetting others for a bit of fun (I’d say 100% of those who use “snowflakes” as an insult), and you know how I feel about bullies from what I’ve posted in this blog (too many times to bother linking) — but while I believe in standing up to bullies, and in a wider sense political or economic oppression, I don’t believe in taking things too far the other way and making them the helpless victims (except, maybe, as a brief lesson so they know how it feels), as apart from being hypocritical, it just starts the cycle all over again.

If only Bwian Coleman was still the worst aspect of Barnet’s eternal Tory council…

But enough ranting — how will I vote on Thursday?  Well, much as I’d never vote for a Tory council in this borough (if anything, they’re worse than they were back in the early 2010s — are you still listening, Capita?), so I won’t support a Tory MP, and thus won’t give Mike Freer my vote — despite him being against Brexit, he’s also one of those Tories who voted against a law making rented homes fit for human habitation, for reasons entirely unrelated to him being a landlord himself!

Maybe he’ll be unseated, but if not, hopefully he’ll at least see a massive drop in his proportion of votes, and realise he needs to change in order to better represent the ordinary people of this borough, instead of doing what a lot of Brexit supporters said, and acting like his side won (barely) and that’s all that matters.

I’m naive in my hopes that politicians will actually learn to care about us instead of themselves (and their business cronies), aren’t I?  But let me close with one bit of wisdom: if politicians lie about everything, that means Corbyn isn’t going to re-nationalise public services, but BoJo is going to privatise the NHS and sell it to Trump’s America!

— — —

P.S. I hope you appreciate me spending whole evenings on this attempt at a political essay, instead of playing games or going on dates!  At least my family’s dog is doing well, even though she’s giving her toys the old ultra-violence, and then demanding patient affection…