Category: politics


THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING by Naomi Klein (Allen Lane, 2013)

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding” – Upton Sinclair.

Alternative titles to this brave and important book could have been ‘Everything Must Change’, ‘Everything is Fucked’ or even more despairingly, The End Is Nigh.

Whatever way you look at the situation that Naomi Klein presents, it is clear that humanity is well and truly up shit creek climate-wise.

It would nice to report that this book also provides us with some metaphorical paddles but, sadly, this is not the case.

Klein presents the scale of the problem but in terms of solutions ultimately offers only a faith in the essential resilience of the human spirit. Continue reading

PRIDE directed by Matthew Warchus (UK, 2014)

pride-poster Although I was living in London in the 1980s, the time this movie was set, I confess to ignorance about the unlikely coalition between a small mining community in Wales and the left-leaning activists of the Lesbians And Gays Support The Miners (LGSM) operating from the Gay’s The Word bookshop in Bloomsbury.

I take comfort in the fact that Bill Nighy, one of the excellent ensemble cast of this movie, admits he didn’t know about this either until he was sent the script.

Perhaps this is not so strange given that the tabloids were only interested in shock-horror put-downs of “homos and “perverts” while the broadsheets seemed to have all but ignored the story. Continue reading

INTERSTELLAR directed by Christopher Nolan (USA, 2014)

Looking to the stars for hope.

Should we stay or should we go?

Brion Gysin , the English-born painter and poet who introduced William S Burroughs to cut-ups believed that leaving the planet was the only thing that gave any purpose to life on earth; “we are here to go”, he said.

This perverse notion is one that Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan transform into the interstellar overdrive of their extraordinary cinematic vision – a space odyssey of epic proportions.

Reasons to go are indeed pressing since Earth is rapidly becoming uninhabitable with crops literally turning into dust. We are not privy to the precise reason for this state of affairs but Professor Brand (Michael Caine) alludes to humankind’s selfish tendencies as being a primary cause. This is also something Naomi Klein, in her book This Changes Everything, has rightly identified as a key factor in climate change.

If, as seems probable, the future of humankind is due to the largely man-made catastrophe of global warming, it begs the question as to how we are going to prevent fucking up another planet too. The mysterious Eureka solution that saves the world suggests that a last-minute reprieve is possible; a central message that is as delusional as it is dangerous. Continue reading

Maggie Thatcher and Hilary MantelThe best kind of  killer is one who can hide in plain sight  and  is able to pass unnoticed in a crowd.

Hilary Mantel does not look like an assassin. On the contrary, she seems so prim and proper.  I’m sure she often gets mistaken for a Tory.  She is always well turned out, wears pastel shades and her hairstyle is not so dissimilar to Thatcher’s.

This is what makes her short story The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983,( published in The Guardian) seem so out of character.

It has caused a minor storm in a tea-cup among those who still misguided enough to argue that Thatcher saved, rather than ruined,  the nation. To those who merrily sang Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead las year, Mantel is an unlikely heroine. Continue reading

The sixth in a series of 13 book reviews from my pre-blogging years. 

WORKING-CLASS CHILDHOOD. AN ORAL HISTORY by Jeremy Seabrook (1982)

When I was young, the children ran around barefoot. Now it’s their hearts that are bare”. This quote is that of an old man from Sheffield and establishes the main theme of this book.

Drawn from a wide variety of sources, Jeremy Seabrook explores the changes in society between the 1930s and 1970s mainly from the perspective of children, though mostly taken from the memories of older interviewees..

The hard, often cruel, upbringing in the pre war years prepared kids for the harsh world of adulthood. Discipline was strong and communities close-knit as people faced up to the common threat of poverty.

Seabrook highlights the way the increasing dependence on material wellbeing has brought many benefits but has  fundamental drawbacks; he writes: “All the talk of change turns out to be changing people so that they fit the modified needs of cold economic processes; the only revolution turns out to be the revolution of the fixed wheel”. Continue reading

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