Friday 31 December 2010


I wrote some time ago on the nature of faith and on the whole I was happy with the balance. It was at least a start, but unable to sleep last night I remembered another more earthly bound inspiration; the need to be of use. Perhaps this is a common denominator.

However I’m sure it’s a combination of sometimes competing factors that give us reason, though I suspect we are ill-suited to maintain our grasp on all those applicable; more likely the existence of one compensates for the lack of another. And that’s probably just as well. What of a future where mankind becomes extinct not through famine or war, but through reaching a zenith in securing the source of happiness and having nothing left to achieve.

Thursday 30 December 2010

The love of human beings

Helen says to Jane “you think too much of the love of human beings” and though I understand the context in which this is said it stays in the mind of this non-believer (I still find it difficult to say atheist), I suspect until long after I finish. On the Wikipedia page for Jane Eyre are listed numerous adaptations; missing the one of which I am most familiar and noting another being released next year. I’ve seen several and though the religious element is there I’ve never felt it forced; maybe I’m making allowances for the time or my psyche provides a natural filter, or perhaps such elements as they are have been downplayed for more modern sensibilities.

Any Human Heart television series
It contrasted with a scene in William Boyd’s recent adaptation of his own novel, Any Human Heart, in which an irritating member of the clergy who after having been earlier rebuffed by a declaration of atheism is finally told to “fuck off”. That jarred a little; I thought it at first a rather clumsy and unnecessary scene, a sop to atheists, since I’ve never met a religious practitioner quite as inept. Yet Logan Mountstuart was the antithesis to that ghastly picture of a perfect human being; it is what makes his story so interesting - it is why we care. His reaction demonstrated not superiority but his ability to strike out, his flawed humanity. Jane describes it well in a ‘victory’ of her own:
Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.

Tuesday 28 December 2010


Since I have some time free before returning to work, a week no less, I am resolved to lock myself in a room where I cannot be disturbed and do something useful with my life: read a book. Since this will fail I am resolved to allocate some time to myself during each day in which to read. Since this will also fail I can only hope that the resolve I showed last night in actually switching off the television will be maintained for the short time I have left – before I start making excuses again.

Last evening’s sacrifice was to skip the opportunity to complete the Die Hard experience with Die Hard 4.0; a film that is from all accounts awful but something I need to see for what I believe is called closure. Come to think of it, though I enjoy the original there’s a particularly nasty scene near the end where John McClane’s new friend Al, deskbound because of an accidental shooting, learns how to kill again. I was sure I’d written about that in the past but a quick search on my blog reveals that I haven’t – either that or the search isn’t working.

Instead I read, and of all things I have started with Jane Eyre. I confess my choice was encouraged by the knowledge that classic literature on an eBook reader is free, and if nothing else I am cheap. It’s good; I’m already on chapter ten and though the chapters are pretty short, let’s accentuate the positive.

Santa bought me a Kindle - I didn’t want one but now I have one I quite like it. I figure 30 to 40 more classics will cover the cost; parsimony will make me a more rounded person!

Jane’s friend, Helen Burns, is dead; and I’m sure there’s something I wanted to say, prompted by her instruction concerning the nature of love. Similarly I was struck by the numerous adaptations of this story compared to a recent adaptation of Any Human Heart, the portrayal of religion and such, but I must save that for another time, gather my thoughts if I’m able and do them justice. That'll be the day.

Sunday 26 December 2010

The friendly beasts

I put it down to weariness. A series of weights that alone we can lift, but together cause us to buckle; maybe it’s the other way around. I am glad for Christmas, and my relief that my daughter retains the magic is tangible, but I am so tired. The day before Christmas Eve my Mum had her long overdue operation and she wasn't discharged until today, Boxing Day. I’m thinking I should have bought more drink.

I coast along on the kindness of others; the Tesco till attendant, the girl in the bookshop who admires the colour of my calendar, I have a feeling I gave the same one last year, the Starbucks barista whilst waiting on John Lewis. Or the family pet that sidles up and nudges you with his nose... he doesn’t know any better, but he looks happy.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Accent this day

A blog is good for many things, though I'm not sure what makes a good blog. One moment I decry the tribalism of political life, the next I'm all too happy putting the boot in. Last night I had a dig at those complaining about Russell Crowe's accent, today I say the following:
...except for the accents in Oliver Stone's Alexander; those were terrible.
They were rubbish; which unfortunately says as much about me as it does the film.

Feared by the bad, loved by the good

What an odd film the new Robin Hood turned out to be. I’ve no complaint about the accents, it strikes me that any such reviews are rather puerile, but I’ve not seen a film nosedive that badly since I Am Legend or maybe Lady in the Water.

It was a film with possibilities, it had Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett in the leading roles and Ridley Scott threw them away - or did he lose interest? Despite the worrying subplot involving Maid Marian and the lost boys of Sherwood Forest I thought it redeemable - and then just as the pace picked up the script bottled it. As if in sudden memory of the (from all accounts) Kevin Costner helmed comic-book predecessor we were ambushed with a few hammy one-liners and it was downhill from there, culminating with the absurd sight of Marian and her mini friends arriving in time to give battle to the French. What a waste.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Which of you shall say you love me most?

I am not a fan of Vince Cable; which is a polite way of saying I think he’s a bit rubbish. Neither however am I fan of The Telegraph; which is a polite way of saying I think it’s a bit shit. Contrary to popular belief I don’t think it handled the MPs expenses scandal at all well, stirring up public contempt without any constructive comment has resulted in the waste of public money that is IPSA. Yesterday’s entrapment of the Business Secretary wasn’t to uncover any illegal activity, merely to discover the extent of any tension between the coalition partners.

To see his very public ‘will he, won’t he’ performance on the recent vote to raise tuition fees (he did) was to witness someone trying to balance his job with a desperate need to be liked, an all too common failing in our parliamentary representatives; thus Vince Cable becomes a fair target. I suspect my mistrust is a reaction to the ‘economic guru’ status he acquired by virtue of having had a job in the real world - as an economist, no less – but the feeling remains that he doesn’t appreciate the responsibilities of someone in his position, though given the revelations today of his 'declaration of war' on Rupert Murdoch he may not have that problem for much longer.

As bad, however, has been the behaviour of The Telegraph who ‘revealed’ that people in different political parties have different opinions and argue as a result, also that Vince Cable has a rather inflated view of his own importance. In fairness it was a good read but the method used to obtain this story, posing as Liberal Democrat voters to a Liberal Democrat MP, does no one any favours. The result will be politicians even less inclined to be open with the very people they are supposed to represent. It’s another tale of a politician who thinks a little too much of him/herself ‘exposed’ by a newspaper wielding its destructive power to the detriment of the people – quelle surprise!

Monday 20 December 2010

There and back again

My penultimate working day of the year was a drive to the office, followed by some documentation and then, once it was obvious the snow was going to be a problem, an early and very slow drive home again. There was a moment when I reached 30mph on the one clear-ish lane on the motorway - whoosh!

Thursday 16 December 2010

Idea of the week

It's the kind of misleading headline I get so angry about - ‘Idea of the week’. Am I about to reproduce something special? That would depend on your definition of ‘special’ or to put it another way, “No”. This week’s idea is courtesy of the Labour party’s fresh ideas website. Since it would appear to have no policies of its own, or as it puts it a “two year blank piece of paper”, it has invited the general public to make suggestions and after careful vetting the best… er… ideas appear in the comments section:
Unemployment payments to u25's should be increased for those with better academic qualifications. This might cement into place the idea of how important education is especially to those 14-16 year olds.
Words fail me - which is probably just as well.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Boggis and Bunce and Bean and Ruse

Boggis and Bunce and Bean and Ruse
One fat, one short, one lean, one obtuse
Three with the money
The other not funny
“He came out of nowhere” his excuse
Despite earlier protestations it turns out I could kill an animal. Goodbye Mr Fox; you were fantastic – until I hit you with my car.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

No one puts baby in a corner

I think I should be congratulated for steering clear of two ‘big’ political issues, or to be more accurate I am congratulating myself on steering clear of two ‘big’ political issues. The other day I wrote an ‘up front disclaimer’ to presage an oncoming rant on either AV or the subject of tuition fees but wouldn’t you know it, either the anger dissipated or the apathy kicked in. Hooray for me!

So do I dare disturb the universe? As if I could, the presumption! Even as I write I am engaged in a Twitter discussion, if such a thing is possible, that illustrates my predicament; several tweets questioning the intelligence or honesty of one side of an argument, followed by a tweet bemoaning that side’s negative campaign tactics, followed by this: logical reason to support <other position> beyond selfishness has been presented to me
And I am not immune to this pattern of argument myself. Not so long ago on a blog rightly critical of the “Tories take pleasure in punishing the poor” narrative, I applauded the critique whilst describing the left as “sinister”, thus revealing myself to be... well, a little bit stupid too. Whoops.

But isn’t that what a blog is for, to have a not-always-coherent rant at whatever happens to annoy? It’s not the only use, occasionally we may wish to make a cogent point, but as a vent for our frustration it really comes into its own. Unfortunately it’s easier too and it’s when we confuse the two that we come unstuck; for no matter the righteousness of our cause, who was ever persuaded through being boxed in and called an idiot?

Saturday 4 December 2010

I grow old

Up front disclaimer: apart from the aches I rather like growing old. And the worsening eyesight, the need for sleep, I never use to need sleep, apart from these things. And losing my train of thought, the sense that I’ve not always been the person I once imagined I would be. I know I haven’t. Not keen on death either, or more accurately the pain that often precedes it. And I’m trying to be less judgemental. But this thing about getting more so as you get older is complete bollocks. I think that must be my favourite swear word – in that I seem to use it a lot. On this blog anyway. But it is you know, bollocks, though you’re right to point out I would say that, wouldn’t I.