Category: politics


Jo_CoxThis is a blog post in defence of a tweet I wrote this morning which read as follows:  “In honour of Jo Cox & in opposition to the haters & racists, Brits must vote remain on 23/6″

In an excellent article in The Guardian, Polly Toynbee wrote of the “corrosive” anger aroused by the forthcoming referendum on whether Britain remains or leaves the EU.The venomous reaction to my tweet could be construed as evidence of this. Here are a sample of the numerous comments I received:

  • You really are despicable – exploiting her death for political gain
  • Your comment is absolutely disgraceful and shames the Remain campaign
  • You are a heartless, opportunistic ghoul.
  • Shit for brains.

I stand by what I wrote but feel motivated to explain / defend myself beyond the 140 character limit. Continue reading

treetoclub
“One cannot expect a little tree that has been turned into a club to produce leaves”

Michael Burber (from Paths in Utopia, 1958)

SPOTLIGHT directed by Tom McCarthy (USA, 2015)

 oscarometro2016spotlightHoly shit! Never has this exclamation carried more significance.

Based on actual events (isn’t everything?), the shit uncovered by the Spotlight team of fearless reporters of the Boston Globe at the turn of the Millennium indeed had the holiest of stenches.

The Roman Catholic priests in Boston who molested and abused young boys and girls turned out the be the tip of a dung heap of global proportions. As the credits roll, the printed list of subsequent cases found in parishes around the world is enough to make Jesus and the rest of us mere mortals weep.

Anything which widens the scope of the negative publicity against the hypocritical church establishment is welcome but I doubt that the Pope is quaking in his satin slippers after seeing this lackluster movie. In toning down the sensationalist elements of the story, it becomes more of a celebration of investigative journalism than a full-blooded indictment of this holy disorder. Continue reading

BRIDGE OF SPIES directed by Steven Spielberg (USA; 2015)

220px-bridge_of_spies_posterAs a self-confessed movie nerd I can’t get enough of the ironic post-modernism to be found in directors like David Lynch, Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch. I identify strongly with the cynical and often surreal gaze they direct towards the modern world.

In my book, The Coen Brothers fit squarely into this category so it comes as something of shock to find Ethan and Joel’s names (alongside British playwright Matt Charman) on the screenwriting credits for Spielberg’s very conventional drama. Apparently, their remit was to add some zip to a story which, with shades of Fargo, is “inspired by real events”.

Lawyer James B. Donovan played by Tom Hanks is the decent, upstanding all American family man appointed to defend the devious Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) in what is initially conceived as little more than a show trial.

I suspect it is the Coens who came up with the best line in the movie when, in response to Donovan’s comment that Abel never seems to worry, the spy asks “Would it help?” This is funny the first time around, but when he poses the same question on two further occasions, it loses its novelty value. Otherwise, the script is tight and workmanlike although has none of the wisecracks or lively verbal exchanges you come to expect in Coen Brothers movies. Continue reading

IF I DIE IN A COMBAT ZONE by Tim O’Brien (First published 1973)

Nowadays, few are prepared to defend America’s invasion of Vietnam in the 1960s but, at the time, anyone who opposed the draft were seen at best as naive beatniks, at worst as traitors.

In times of conflict, propaganda machines of the state and media go into overdrive. Dissenting voices are ridiculed or silenced. Lip service is paid to alternative perspectives but killing continues to be routinely sanctioned in the bogus name of patriotism and justice.

Tim O’Brien’s first book was written, or begun, while serving in the combat zone of Vietnam then completed at graduate school when the war was over. The short sentences and plain language are reminiscent of Hemingway but this is no celebration of machismo.

On the contrary, O’Brien’s first instinct was to escape to Canada or Sweden. He ended up signing up; not because he believed in the cause but out of “a fear of society’s censure…..fear of weakness, afraid that to avoid war is to avoid manhood”. Continue reading

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