- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
I’m dabbling in Brylcreem, pampering my locks with the ‘County Chemical’ of Birmingham, coating the hair with wax, so each hair stands to attention where appropriate and streamlined back adjacent to my ears, if you can imagine a mature Beckham conventional Mohican behind a frontal quiff; my hair embraces the era ‘Brylcreem’ was cultivated for; devised for unruly thick tufts of hair; the wax variation more-so than the ‘creem of Bryl of 1928.’ Those who ‘Brylcreem’ are incessantly reminded of the longevity accomplishment of ‘Bryl’ hair styling the creem have caressed scalps, been combed-in amorously ‘Since 1928.’ This ‘Bryl’ patriotism is indented on all their product packaging on par with being proudly British – or maybe the brand should be ‘Bryl-tish’ – the red lion logo is only two short of being three lions on a shirt. At least there are no ambiguities in regards to their target audience, unlike the floral androgynous hair products of ‘Wella’ / ‘Shockwaves’ which seems more interested in scenting hair with sweet floral aromas, than styling, while on a lad’s night-out – basically, effeminizing men! across the nation, gruffly spoken rough nuts state: “Er, you smell gorgeous, I smelt your Shockwave scented hair when I got my pint. You’re definitely on the pull, my boy.” ‘Brylcreem Wax’ has a cocktail of fragrances, namely: elastic rubber bands, the inside sole of a pair of new shoes, and the reference section of a library. Along with a musky, sweaty scalp mixer - the scent is just about manly enough for me - the main reason why I purchase ‘Brylcreem Wax.’
Of course over the years ‘Brylcreem’ have marketing wise thrown themselves in to the ‘odd wordage melting pot of idiocies.’ ‘Wella,’ it’ll be rude not too – it is all part of the lucrative world of male grooming now. I’m informed ‘Brylcreem Wax’ indeed displays abilities that a Rugby Coach would growl at his players: “Controlle-d…. Strong-g Hold… and again … Controlle-d…. Strong-g Hold.” ‘Brylcreem’ does expand on these buzz words; ‘a classic strong hold wax that adds control and structure to short hair.’ Due to extensive usage of applying this product at differing hair growth, I can confirm that short hair doesn’t require as much wax control or structure than say hair which is several inches long. Considering ‘Brylcreem’ has controlled and structured hair since 1928, you’d of thought ‘Brylcreem’ perhaps could aided their short-haired consumers better via adding, at what length must hair be so that ‘Brylcreem Wax’ can be most effective – is it 17 mm or 20 mm long? Length matters. A graph of hair lengths along with ‘control and structure effectiveness’ I’d even go as far to mention, add a ‘wax control and structure duration;’ in hours preferably. To have that incessant ‘Controlled Strong Hold’ applying and reapplying on a daily basis tends to make your hair plastic stiff – visually your unmovable hair emulates ‘The Fat Controller’ - by this stage, (never now), I know I’ve overdone the ‘Controlled Strong Hold;’ and fear that if a dopey wasp dive bombed in to my nest of wax, it’ll get stuck! As a rule I always allow enough leverage for a flying insect to remove itself from my scalp unaided - This is where a ‘Strong Hold’ is a curse, ‘Brylcreem?’ – I’m no mumpsimus, hair wax is a magnet for summer cretins and autumn leaves.
Packaging resembles an ice hockey puck; the dimensions are; 42 mm in height and the radius is 70 mm. Don’t be fooled in thinking 75ml of wax is in the puck, always check before you queue, I’ve found mysterious wax subsidence, at first glance / sniff – it could be a ‘Brylcreem’ manufactured air pocket or perhaps one of those profiteering wax ‘crop circles’ whereby a sizeable ice-cream scoop has plunged in without a thought for those who partake in hair waxing rituals - not forgetting those who tweak ‘Dali’ style moustaches or those engaging in the ‘Victorian Beard Movement,’ but add a modern twist via manipulating in to a point. The Vaseline consistency may appeal, although I’ll refrain from putting it anywhere near my nostrils; as much as I’m in favour of the masculine scent of: elastic rubber bands, the inside sole of a pair of new shoes, and the reference section of a library; I prefer not to be permanently reminded. My hair is such a durable task as it is, I simply don’t have the inclination for facial hirsuteness and the grooming paraphernalia which comes with it. Then again a waxed hirsute chin and a waxed head of hair become two targets for summer cretins and autumn leaves to aim for. One of my recent nightmares was dreaming of a ‘beard of bees’ - such sights do shape your mindset – I blame an advert for ‘Magners.’
Today, I’m in a quandary whether to opt for the usual retro hair shape, or opt for the slick-back Elvis Presley look of the 1950s? To be fair, having a full head of hair gives me so many options when I sculpt with ‘Brylcreem Wax.’
Our ancestors would combat any irksome situation with the phrase: ?Don''t worry for now, come over this afternoon, we''ll sit down with a nice cup of tea and sort it out, once and for all.? Modern day foreign policy could take the same tact: "Vladimir, forget all about our recent disagreements and our flirtation with silly embargoes, we''ll sit down together with the world press around us and have a nice cup of tea and sort it out, once and for all; Twinings Lady Grey Tea, hits the mark." Instead of seeing terror cells as our enemies, the developed world can approach this in a different means, go into these camps of terror with thousands of Twinings Lady Grey Tea bags strapped to your middle saying; ?I''ve come in peace, the greatest eighteenth century prophet Thomas Twinings wants to reward you for your tenacity, your fight to the death attitude has brewed up many stirrings in foreign lands; the prophet Thomas Twinings has sent me to you with tea, you can have this arrangement for ''eterni-tea''; forget the forty virgins parables, they''re only virgins once, as with these bags you can dunk them into hot water twice or thrice, the experience is just as good as the first time. Come, this is your reward." Twinings pale golden tea could solve global problems, if we think outside the box and into a bag with a piece of white string attached.
Leave the tea to brew for three to five minutes, or until you think it is ready. Then drink black, or with a slice of lemon or orange.'' Odd really because on the paper sachet the words ?zesty, orange and bright'' is highlighted ? why add fruit to what is already zesty? I can only deduce that after three hundred years of instructing the public of how to make tea, Twinings marketing team decided to have a brain storm; ?Ah, now what else can we suggest apart from adding hot water to a tea bag? think, think; how about actual slices of fruit along with the fruit infusions already in the bag?? The blatant irk I have with this suggestion is? why then add the fruity infusions into the bag when Twining suggest you add real slices of lemon and orange? This ?We Suggestion'' policy seems to have caused weighty problems across the spectrum e.g. ?We Suggest, you Buy One and Get One FREE!'' Basically, suggesting adding something to what you already have; ?We Suggest'' by reputable brands like Twinings is incredibly seductive, a huge proportion of us have tried the suggestions.
You can tell via taste and smell Lady Grey is part of the Earl Grey blended family, her fruitiness sets her aside from the bold flavour of Earl. Her fragrance endorses a cathartic sense of familiarity, perhaps even homely. To taste, it is better served hot and can only be sipped not gulped, that alone will be a valid advocate for any peace mission. Kettle boiled - duty calls.
BBC 3 to be axed. Do you agree?
87% of us are against the axe.
- - -
To dissolve a national institution of media powers will only lead to greater tyrannies and totalitarianism. The world?s last media giant is the BBC, with along all its faults and recent mires it unequivocally continues to be a world service, doing far more than just titillating individualisms viewing fancies, but the establishment is worldly renown for the ?eye in the storm? reports / minute by minute commentaries. Furthermore, the BBC reputation overrides other national stations by which have caved in due to dire funding practices. Yes, the BBC rules the broadcasting waves in all developed states. Now, isn?t that worth the license fee alone?
Sympathy has to be given when a media man of the youthful charm of Danny Cohen (Controller of Channels) sullenly claims the demise of a much loved TV channel ?BBC Three? had to be brought sooner into the fore for cost saving measures; sources state 50 million pounds, exclamation mark. Our democratically elected governance has felt it right to starve a leading light in world broadcasting of revenue, meanwhile we continue to send humanitarian aid to China, notably no logical nuance plays apart when it comes to political foreign policy. Although it can be successively argued the best product that has ever come out of Britain has been the BBC, its balanced mantra sits at the helm of every developed state?s consciousness.
The ailing viewing figures of BBC Three are the result of the success of non-live-streaming data from online - whereby non TV license-holders view content for free. Paid for by those who?re loyal to the BBC impartial ethos ? sadly, these are a dying breed ? hence, why receipts are down and along with the nefarious governance media cuts, creativity is now very thinly spread across the show production platform. Broadcasting material on the BBC Three platform is filtering out over the next year (2015) alas, it isn?t the end of the ?actual? channel as it will be integrated into the new iPlayer programming ? a pity for our conventional viewers who watch TV as a family unit ?Gogglebox' style - albeit, on a tablet the BBC Three will have been rejuvenated into a pristine jewel of an app icon, you?re expected to click on to ?3i? or ?Three iPlayer? whereby you?ll be able to seek out the best of Russell Howard?s ?Good News? or watch James Cordon in an uncouth tracksuit. The market is endless especially if Cohen affiliates with ?YouTube? in a bid to seek out emerging talent. Inadvertently, BBC Three isn?t necessarily a lost cause or will be left on a forgotten pile in a dark corner of a warehouse where obsolete channels reside having croaked their last broadcast. BBC Three is too iconic for it to be bronzed into BBC folklore, well not yet anyhow.
I don?t accept that a loss of a channel would resolve fiscal irks ? on the contrary it actually costs more to infiltrate or re-brand an already recognizable icon into a different format, whether it has to be interactive or i-media orientated. All forms of re-branding is a lucrative expense, however you observe the bigger picture, at present Cohen ambiguity says a lot about BBC Three?s future, it fills me with trepidation when I think beyond 2018, especially if the next administration systematically follows this austere formula we?re currently endorsing. Generic subscriptions of the style of 'Sky' would alienate a generation although, I agree those who?re unrelentingly creaming off the ?not live? iPlayer format predominantly for more than six hours a week have to be tied into a subscription agreement, just to cover technical data buffering fees and bandwidth costs. I?ve lobbied for something similar, to protect the loyal BBC license-holder from paying extra costs to cover the shortfall of lost BBC revenues from the BBC Three demographics that?ve never forked out for a home license. Systematically sticking up a Jack Whitehall ?Bad Education? finger up at establishmentarianism; smugly claiming they?ve duped the license enforcers, this is a myopic approach that spells out ?Bad Education.' ?If all of us did as those license shy app users do, they?ll be clicking on to their BBC apps and wondering why no news would appear, within five minutes BBC Three demographics will be hand stretched waving in large circular motions while walking in their cul de sacs seeking BBC connectivity; marking the end of freebie transmission."
The more the funding is starved, the lesser an impetus the BBC will have on protecting human rights / reporting tyrannies, coups, and injustices such as ethnic cleansing to corporate corruption - only the BBC can hold the rich and powerful accountable to their misdemeanors, and determine share price rise and falls. Regardless how frivolous you believe it is in losing a BBC TV channel ? it is that bit closer to a non transparent world when a BBC channel bites the dust due to lack of funding; make no qualms about the reality, the current Crimea debacle would?ve sparked off a cold war, without the steady stream of updates from the BBC, mellowing the fever of aggression. So, I ponder whether BBC Three would be spared and become firmly lodged in all our cerebellums as a national treasure under the term ?guilty pleasures' and happy to call the channel so. May I consider viewer pulling programmes such as: ?Katie Hopkins Does Benefit Street? - ?watch this so-called hardworking Tory toff, wake the residence of Benefit Street up at 4 am to tell them about the joys of doing a hard days graft for our glorious chancellor? ? or perhaps a TV show called: ?Big Brrrovver? ? ?whereby 24/7 coverage is set up in board rooms of Energy Companies so we know who to blame for energy price hikes.?
It will be a dire day when you click through the BBC channels without seeing ?Three? ? for a start numeric skills will suffer greatly - the young ?may? think ?Three? means ?Free? because it?s online. Thank goodness for the loyal BBC TV license-holder.
Established in 1995
- - -
Surely there has to be a generic term for our beige cuisine establishments which glares at you from the darkness with its customer friendly freehand signage pleading for custom; the generic term is: "pick me, I'm customer friendly!" Frankie scribble Benny's branding fits this genre of 'pleading' eatery. Their hand-written logo scribbled in red emulates Tracey Emin's 'I Promise to Love You' collection of neon lights appears somewhat 'needy' and definitely 'knead-y.'
To differentiate between one F&B to another, you have to have some kind of food critic training - as I'm a standard punter, my F&B knowledge morphs into one collective experience. Neither is this a senile condition or due to alcoholic consumption - but a genuine case of 'F&B logistical and experience morphing.' Been in one - yep, you've been in them all - all part of the beige brigade of American-Italianism that has invaded our entertainment malls; I first noticed 'F&B' being a restaurant film fad derived from Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer's box office hit 'Frankie & Johnny' made in (1991) - which involves a restaurant stroke diner, where romance blossoms over a hot dog. All euphemisms linked with hot dogs have been removed from this review as being distasteful, and any needless discourse about whether the place was too crowded, or included any negative stipulations while ordering, which they failed to fully comply herewith - what's wrong with simply leaving what you don't want on the plate? When it comes to F&B, this will inevitably happen regardless; those who lean to coprophilia, F&B won't disappoint; notably, the experience overrides the perverse condiment choices - the joys of amalgamating American food with Italian.
F&B prides itself on the Latin American marriage culinary and tribally, evidence is plagued on the walls draped Latin American artifacts, faded pictures, faded due to being in the same vicinity as all that is beige, it drains the colour out of everything. The wooden floors are wax sticky, according to the chief greeter who tags who and what you are before being arm waved in the direction of an area of ordinariness, somewhere between no-man's land and the tables of beige. I still recall underfoot the floor being non-waxy sticky, more of a 'Wicked Vodka' or 'Red Bull' sticky. Mandatory across all F&B restaurants, I put it down to out of hours 'Red Bull' parties the youths of today go sugary mad for. After being place strategically out of the way in a darkened area, away from couples with little tigers in high chairs, I catapulted the boat out and ordered a 'Peroni' (draft) always better that the economically non-viable bottled beers the Romans insist on giving tourists, instead the 'Peroni' long glass disguised the quantity perfectly, it's tulip beauty made for a pleasurable vessel to drink from. From 'Frankie's Mains' I decided to have meat balls and spaghetti; 'The Godfather' style. Playing homage to Brando, not exactly out of character either, F&B is trapped in the 50s, my waitress had Monroe to a tee, I immediately made my mind up to increased her fee (tip). She kind of knew I think, she was attentive to my needs - normally, I would mark an establishment down if staff were too superfluous. Then again, I suppose it depends on whom it is - homo sapiens fickleness rules. I had five tomato sauced pork meatballs (four and a half were edible) on a lumpy mattress of spaghetti - Frankie tried to incorporate dried basil into the sauce - sadly, it wasn't as flavour-some as it sounded. If, Miss Monroe had stated the dish was left-over from the 'Red Bull' party from the night before I've nodded and said; "more like the night before last."
Admittedly, the restaurant chain is family friendly and even on Mother's Day on 30th March 2014; generous Frankie scribble Benny is giving away bottles of wines to Mothers' who book a table at F&B - a grand gesture as well as a day off from using your own packet meals. I will shy away from venues such as these as the avalanche of mini feet and high-pitch shrieks could break my steely patience, to the point I will have to deduct points off of eating establishments. Overall, I found my meal satisfactory - alas; I neither had the space nor wanted to risk anything artificially sundae sticky - I had enough of the sticky stuff within the first few minutes. My meatball dish was 11.25 GBP along with the 4.25 GBP tulip glass of 'Peroni' - my bill came to 15.50 GBP - Miss Monroe got a tenner tip, no doubt she'll spend a great proportion of it on lip balm.
No Madness offers for me, Suggs law
I eat alone, therefore didn't qualify for the 'March Madness' deal of 20% OFF your food bill - to qualify you had to eat two main courses, now that would be gastric madness; or simply eat with someone who can stomach 'Frankie's Mains.' Plus, as it wasn't 'Madness Monday' I didn't qualify to have 25% OFF my food bill either... I didn't qualify for any 'madness;' 'Suggs law.' I left with my sanity intact and a spring in my step, well it is March!©1st2thebar 2014
Belsize Park - London
Established in 1998
- - -
Before I bit the bullet of entering a Giraffe; of my own accord - I did envisage the establishment via logo and brand as an affiliated joint connected to 'Glee' comedy clubs; 'having a Giraffe, laugh!' Easy mistake to make for a brand fiend such as myself, the elongated Giraffe type-set deemed mildly satirical, blatantly friendly; perhaps on the goofy side of serious humour. Funnily enough Giraffe's branding portrays nothing what it is... yes, it is a restaurant. I was deeply disappointed that satire wasn't at the foremost of thought, but it gave me food for thought. I then scanned earnestly to see if giraffe was on the menu, I was again let down. Why 'Giraffe' then? They are having a giraffe, laugh! I felt - until, I delved into the philosophy of 'Giraffe' to find a leafy connection. Here it is... "Giraffes are so tall they see a different view of the world. We LOVE fresh ideas." There you have it, just in case you pondered why Giraffe is called Giraffe - I suppose I get the gist a little more if all their establishments were situated on skyscrapers, hilltops and at 18 feet, 5.5 metres (height of an adult giraffe) above sea-level. Maybe if the restaurant chain manifested a menu from tall leafy trees and developed berry orientated concoctions that giraffes would daily chomp on - and then swilled down with some 'Boost' vegetable or fruit swamp juice, I could relate to 'Giraffe' better? I confess; I take branding literary after having a poetical brain-wave while digging my pearly whites into a 'Byron Burger.' Will I feel a foot taller after entering a 'Giraffe?'
Noticeably, there were no six foot six Peter Crouches when I entered, alas, there were no dwarfs either, most were of normal stature perched on sturdy chairs and slab bulky tables, reminiscent of Safari eateries. Designed to muscle out mass animal table invasions, the food won't survive, but the table may do. The 'Giraffe' furnishings are not exactly built for comfort or for a long grazing; their model implies 'fast-food' and service for small intimate groupings of up to four. Easy mobility is high on the business model, although seems cluttered when it comes to the décor. Odd, considering that the spacious interior is airy and has a decent amount of natural light - 'Giraffe' works well as a recognized chain of restaurants which is different to the agglomerative wine-bar styled eateries of the mid 1990s, however now 'Giraffe' has expanded to 43 establishments across the land. I wonder if their uniqueness has been diluted because of their notable establishment influx; the cultural eatery concept is no different to a 'Nandos' - I would even put 'Giraffe' in the same encampment area.
The menu is mongrel; why? There is a combo of Asian, Mexican, Italian-American dishes, fusions of continents under the umbrella of an African animal - absolutely... mongrel. "It's about exploring the wonderful foods from around the globe and opening our ears to music from around the world." As described by Juliette and Russel (with one 'l') 'Giraffe's' hands-on founders, who're London based. The menu doesn't say giraffe to me; on the general knowledge that giraffe's natural habitat is in Africa, mainly in Chad; sadly they're diminishing in numbers. 'Giraffe's' menu says, 'Goat' to me, because goats' eat anything. If you want to experience Jean Michel Jarre instrumentals that remind you of cows walking in a meadow while tucking into a meaty burger, 'Giraffe' is the place for you. I opted for the 'Chicken Schintzel Kiev' and perused over Robert Fisk's Kiev.
You know you've been served well and efficiently when you're aware of the smoothness of the 'order of service operation.' Thankfully, no deplorable idiotic recommendations of offers you've no interest over, or any emotive offloading of lip smacking or any weird introductory; such as, "My name is... Mishka; your sunny giraffe waitress; so imagine yourself somewhere in Sydney to Israel and I'll bring it to you in a form of a meal." I was disappointed that the staff didn't have long necks or long eye lashes or grind their molars in concentration, or moved with long legged grace - perhaps I should mark the establishment down for not recruiting giraffe orientated elegance, a noted corporate identity flaw you cannot ignore. My breaded chicken breast was succulent and had a giraffe kick to it; inside drizzled out garlic butter which moistened the well seasoned bed of mashed potato; the roasted fruits was plausibly from a giraffe diet cooked in the stifling African sun; thumbs up there - the garnish was rocket salad and char grilled lemon; this freshened up the palate and complimented the taste of garlic - all washed down with a frothy latte and an iced tap water and I observed the chaotic primitivism displayed on the walls, to try to make 'head or spirally tail' of it - I failed; maybe it suppose to encourage world travel discourse, but all it reminded me of was Prince Harry's art course-work several years after puberty, printed in the 'Observer' during a quiet day.
As I left a crisp twenty pound note for the service which covered the bill and then some leftover for my server's trouble for popping to my solitary table four times - I nearly said to an immigrant server while leaving to spend the crisp note on some orange town-hall chairs, I didn't, I smiled and nodded my gratitude instead. Well, Juliette and Russel (with one 'l') would approve of my smile, because a smile goes along way according to their website business ethics - in my case it went three feet towards the door. Again, you don't want to overdo it, otherwise the giraffe staff would think you're having a laugh. Worth noting also, I didn't gain an extra foot either but found out on a A4 note stuck pedantically beside the sealed outdoor menu I can go in on Orange Wednesday and get 20% OFF before going to the movies. Not all giraffes have this offer; therefore check beforehand as it appears the offer is an endangered species, close to extinction; just like the four-legged-kind whereby only 200,000 now exist. Shocking because man kind is making it tougher for giraffes to survive by industrializing Africa - the irony is, 'Giraffe' the chain of eateries could fill the African giraffe void in forty years or so. The diabolical fact is... 'Capitalism supersedes Conservation.'
Great food, curious sounds - 'worth hanging about in' - surely that's monkey business!©1st2thebar 2014
If Independence was a condiment to go with fish, Salmond would do a Victor Kiam styled 'Remington' advert and buy the condiment factory; "I liked Independence so much, I bought the factory" ; broadly speaking it sounds ridiculous, how can you buy into a condiment which has an incredulous amount of fishy content? Naturally, a fish-monger may have a nose for this kind of stench and grow immune to the pungency. Kosovo's is comparatively a walk in the park; not that there is anything comparative to throw a stick at. The extremes / comparativeness is not dissimilar in asking an adolescent lad whether he'd prefer ten minutes in a hotel room with 'Susan Boyle or Kelly Brook?' I did something far more exciting; don't snort in haste - I deliberated over Alex Salmond's published thoughts - an 'Independent' side dish from the main dish titled 'reality.'
From the off, I had sympathy for Salmond as he expressed anguish over the FPTP (First Past The Post) electorate system - no doubt it must be demoralising to be led by an administration who had won just one seat in government north of the border. This is the equivalent of paying for an all exclusive eleven day package holiday for four on Fernandos, courtesy of 'Lollypop' to find out you've just got a signed photograph of Paddy McGuinness drinking cocktail on a sun-lounger... with the words... 'Wish you were here!' in a speech bubble. The disappointment must be unimaginable, a democratic outrage indeed - the disparaging content of Alex Salmond's published thoughts makes you ponder... didn't he know all this before he became the first minister for Scotland? I say this on premise he has been elected as a majority government in Scotland in 2011, alas it has taken him three years to work out this cumbersome detail - hence, why he informs us about the far-fetched political outcome as 'absurd and laughable;' Salmond states - er, I'm not laughing, I feel bad I'm not laughing even cynically, duly because I've been conditioned to expect the worse scenario and hope for the best from the scenario. I digress to compare it to the depleting radius of the confectionary brand the 'Wagon Wheel' for thrice the original price - 'you get less Wagon Wheel for more coinage' - economically wise; a mighty fine example of paying more for less - notably, engrained as austerity - worse still it is accepted, on the basis a large proportion of our populous are Imperialists.
Since 2010, the drop in generic living standards has immersed itself into the political austere ideology - part of the mainstream Coalition mantra. Of recent, the once called 'North Sea Oil' has been renamed overnight as 'Scottish Oil' - I hasten a guess that the two are indeed the same oil, rigs and contractors. Unless of course the bleary eyed Tartan Army has invaded by using unfair tactics of plying rig contractors a vast amount of Scotch, delivering the SCOTCH arsenal as a means to momentarily disable and disarm them of their contractual obligations. The problem is, what happens when the sobering process worms back? Will 'Scottish Oil' the brand survive, I fear not. I am sure Salmond would relish the chance of having a televised debate on Scottish Independence with his English counterpart in Scotland, where it is all happening, where the campaigning is in full flow and where the referendum is taking place for Independence (in Scotland only) - it would be car-crash TV. 'Radio Four' seven months ago indeed went to Scotland and did an 'In or Out' debate, the result was total carnage - a case of 'radio gaga.' I'm surprised the Sassenachs got out of the amphitheatre unscathed. Deflecting from the debate invitation Salmond then said this: "What is important is that people in Scotland; often the most vulnerable are suffering from the impact of a government they didn't elect and which cares little or nothing for their lives." I'm left scratching my scalp and wonder if the 'Barnet Formula' which has subsidised every Scot (regardless of the colour of administration) since 1979; is so entrenched into the fabrics of the Scottish psyche it is now deemed a human right, the Lord Barnet formula was only suppose to be implemented for three years initially based on populous - now the formula appears to have manoeuvred towards health i.e. 'NHS' according to Salmond, as mentioned here: referring to Barnet formula... "privatisation leads to cuts in public funding for the NHS in England this will lead to cuts to funding in Scotland. So decisions taken in Westminster by governments we didn't elect have damaging long-term consequences for people in Scotland." Therefore by opting to go independent will stabilize Barnet formula funding from Westminster? No, it doesn't. This is incredibly tough to grasp, duly because Salmond has implied the Barnet formula is pocket-money - a funding allowance an adult would give to their children to bridge a financial gap for example. Independence means the funding is not valid or legally required - hence, the word 'Independence.' I may suggest to Salmond that his campaign strategy should be renamed 'Scotland's Devo-Max' or (not so heavy-handed Independence) namely 'Independence Lite' they suspiciously look and sound like soft beverages by the way. Both fiscal autonomies are not full blown political independence, thus has an allegiance to the UK which does imply monies may have to be exchanged in taxation (like a mini-EU). Then again, if a Republic of Scotland wanted to be an EU member more monies will have to be spent via EU membership. Amusingly, one minute, Salmond is complaining about funding cuts from Westminster for the long-term (which hasn't happened via Barnet formula) which means he is 'for' a fiscal allegiance with Westminster - and in the same week his right-hand women, Sturgeon claims that "Devo Max clearly falls short of what Scotland needs." She continues... "The proposals for fiscal devolution mean that responsibility for the vast majority of Scottish taxes would remain with Westminster; significant economic taxes, including oil and gas revenues." Curiously, Salmond leans towards 'Devo-max' while Sturgeon stabs on it with her 'Devil Wears Prada' stilettos. Baffling, you could believe the 'Independent' campaign trail is in disarray.
After months of campaigning the Independence condiment is smelling fishy
Whenever, Salmond's discourse filters into Westminster's attitude on social security I cannot disagree, but it isn't an excuse to file a divorce from the union - if we all took that approach in our home life the courts would be inundated with marriage break ups filing for child custody on the grounds that the 'Champions League football' had viewing priority over 'Doc Martin'; a child should never be subjected to witness such blatant cheating; adults in shorts who're paid millions every year to kick a ball - simulating diving for any reason, to dupe a referee who's on a pittance in comparison. He's an unfit Father! Salmond personalizes matters in the same vein about Cameron and co - from poking Tartan fun about his mullet, claiming he is a bully, bluffing about the pound, the list is endless - we're all sick of the Tory discriminate mantra, this isn't news Salmond? Instead Salmond should be applauding the wonders of the 'groat' - original tender worth four-pence in old money terms (yea, doesn't mean much to me, yet - but perhaps it is duly on the premise the Independent campaigners haven't advertised it) - less than 200 days before the referendum. No wonder 'Standard Life' has made plans to move to London.
I shrieked in astonishment (and that is not often) when Salmond published this: "Far from being the oil-dependent economy depicted by those opposed to independence, Scotland has diverse strengths and our public finances are healthier than the UK's." In the same article he published this... "So, the issue for people in Scotland is not if we can afford to be an independent country; after all, we are one of the wealthiest nations on the planet." As far as I'm concerned Scotland was still part of the UK, the 'Bank of England' determines their interest rates and still pays subsidies to every Scot. Their education is free, health-care, subscriptions is predominantly free. If an English student studied at St Andrews University his / her fees would be charged per annum. Salmond also doesn't enjoy debating the finances of 'RBS' (Royal Bank of Scotland) which is owned by the UK taxpayer (UK not just the Scottish taxpayer). You cannot divide national finance with such assurance when Scotland's economy is intrinsically entwined in the UK's economy.
I do wonder though whether the Scottish public realizes the seriousness of the Libor fees that the 'Bank of Scotland' will be charged? Illegal lending to many thousands of clients will no doubt be a major issue in the coming months (the fraud office has only just started phase one of the investigation) - timed just before the Scottish people make their long awaited referendum decision. Good luck, although the 'Independence' condiment smells decidedly fishy, albeit, probably goes with several bottles of 'Glenfidditch.'©1st2thebar 2014
Atlantic Books 2010
- - -
I bought the 'Hitch-22' paperback on 15 March 2013; I know, due to having used the receipt as a permanent bookmarker, randomly moving up and down the spine of a section of interest. You see, 'Hitch-22' is no ordinary memoir whereby the author succinctly page by page draws you in, No 'Hitch-22' is intellectualism; you can't just methodically turn page by page when it comes to Christopher Hitchens, no, curiosity jumps to the vast index and before you know it, you're reading about Hitchens youthful jaunt to El Salvador or 'New Statesman's' Graham Greene endorsed quips such as 'angling for a mangling,' 'aiming for a maiming,' 'strolling for a rolling,' or Hitchens favourite, 'thirsting for a worsting.' Tough to prise yourself away from amusing anecdotes which shout out of the page in a poetic prose - therefore, I treat 'Hitch-22' merely as if a reference book - now, it is nearing twelve months of dipping in and out and having read 22 chapters more than once at times, I feel at least I'm not jumping into writing this review after a good cram; hence, the title; don't be lured into buying into the premise it has anything to do with Joseph Heller's (1923 - 1999) 'Catch-22'. I'm aware of his foes and comrades due to reading much of his journalism for the 'New Statesman', New York's 'Washington Post', 'Slate', 'The Atlantic Monthly', 'Vanity Fair' and books prior to reading Hitchens memoirs; it helps because in parts he only mentions first names of authors - 'Martin' and 'Salman' from the outset. He refers to his mother as 'Yvonne' and Pa as 'The Commander' - sounds suspiciously officialdom - but his writing style is far from it, a raw honesty and humanism is expressed, quite unexpectedly from a voyeur's view-point of a polemist. Horrendously, Yvonne, his mother was murdered in Paris by her partner who was a religious fantasist, he commit suicide in their hotel room the same day - the chapter: 'Yvonne' is dexterously constructed. Deep reflection of his six decades of being Christopher, (he was never a Chris, his name wasn't to be circumcised) rather than being the famous polemist and intellectual - a different style of memoir from what was expected, nevertheless it is uncompromising; unapologetic to those whom he'd condemned in pen. A mild assuredness is evident; 'Hitch-22' still scratches a few irresistible itches.
One rule was to not engage in perpotation before 12.30 pm; this hampers the ability of sesquipedalian. He famously poses with a Mac and whisky during writing these memoirs, digging out the old photos' the picture of him 'pursuing his studies at Oxford in 1968' (Hitchens being led off by two police officers) is true to form of a youthful polemist. Galvanising Trotsky ideologies and experimenting with all genders - something one did for amusement, between tasting the nectars of life. It amused him that critics, journalists alike waded on about his daily drinking ritual, after a generation, you could see how his patience grew thin. The same types also wondered why he got his children baptised. He did so to keep the peace... matrimonial bliss comes first, your 'life manifesto' second - Hitchens infamously stated life priorities change due to circumstances and responsibilities change; youthful socialist vigour is replaced with intellectualism; as read in the chapter: 'Decline, Mutation or Metamorphosis?' this is notably, very Hitchensian as depicted in Peter's (Christopher's brother) book 'The Broken Compass;' much of the affiliated content is deemed misconstrued by Christopher who'd had the urge to wear a garlic necklace whenever he was in the book's vicinity - albeit, found it graciously thought-provoking claiming... 'that people do undergo significant changes of mind, this may happen more than once for a serious person, it is rather surprising how much is made out of it - and how many critics try to confect a mystery where none exists'. Altering one's opinions (strength or otherwise) over time is part of the evolution of human intelligence, evidence of this is apparent in John Bunyan's (1628 - 1688) 'The Pilgrim's Progress' initially published in 1678 and the second part in 1684. Was there a Puritan revolution? So-called dissidents, including Bunyan were inanely treated by the CoE and imprisoned. Friend and comrade Salman Rushdie would've been sentenced to death for the publication of the 'Satanic Verses.'
Chapter: 'The Sixties Revolution in the Revolution;' identified Prague's 'Czechoslovak Communist Party' was morally and intellectually disintegrating, purely because people had been permitted to raise the most elementary questions about reading Franz Kafka, twenty or so years after the Nazis banned Kafka's literature. This was a 'new frontier' of pseudo-liberalism, embarking on a façade on par with demonstrating the historic bankruptcy of Stalinism, at the same period when a British Labour government was disabled by a racial dogma in colonial Rhodesia: a handful of decades on... the West is *still* disabled (foreign policy wise) when it comes to Zimbabwe and the woeful plight of their people. Enter Peter Sedgwick (1934 - 1983) author of the works 'PsychoPolitics' (1982) - Sedgwick was the Marxist who shaped Hitchens understanding of alternative history of the twentieth century, such as Leon Trotsky's profound struggle to mount international resistance to Stalin - herewith, remnants of the struggle remains and that the class issue is far from dead; the movement has strong principles on the shop floors of factories, unmasking capitalistic inequalities and shouting about it from the roof tops and on pavements; moving onwards - the despotism of Thatcher muffled their voices. Marxism's 'Left Opposition;' Hitchens broadly speaking was a self-claimed 'militant socialist' prior his studies at Balliol College Oxford, not while studying at Oxford - you learn his memoirs are to correct the personal misconceptions of his critics whom fail miserably to research efficiently; a criminal act against fact.
Hitchens first employment was at the Oxford Playhouse, a stone throw away from the infamous utilitarian 'Bodleian Library' and the drab and un-swept 'Kings Arms' pub, where he had met James Fenton a youthful Oxford Professor of Poetry and had a Bloody Mary whilst deliberating on the worthiness of second class degrees, regardless of the flowery subject studied - The bombardment of air kissing and 'hello lovies" greetings at the Oxford Playhouse amused and engaged Hitchens into the world of theatre, poetry and plays. Which was shared by Peter his brother, you could say a shared 'light relief interest' - unless, of course the drama is about events in 1953 - Günter Grass's (1927 - ) 'The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising' - the play satirised the East German regime and celebrated the workers revolt against the oppression, twenty years on, in 1989 the red flag of the Brandenburg Gate was ripped to shreds - A premonition maybe, then again you can't underestimate the creative arts - hence, worth reading Hitchens; 'Love, Poverty and War;' to get the full gist about literature's role in combats.
As a rule, I tend to leave the penultimate last words to Christopher Hitchens - this is no exception. "The most intense wars are civil wars, just as the most vivid and rending personal conflicts are internal ones, and what I hope to do now is give some idea of what it is like to fight on two fronts at once, to try to keep opposing ideas alive in the same mind, even occasionally to show two faces at the same time." It is dishonest to believe you feel the same issue deserves the same views or treatment all of the time. Only the great intellectuals comprehend this, those who don't are delusionists and therefore not intellectually minded; they're in abundance. Christopher Hitchens joins the 'intellectual' giants and likes of George Orwell by having an 'ism' added to his name, while discussing their ideologies - this is the greatest honour, better than any rusty knighthood.
Highly recommended.©1st2thebar 2014
Should the Elgin Marbles be returned to Greece?
An extract from Lord Byron's 'Curse of Minerva' 1815: "She ceased a while, and thus I dared reply, to soothe the vengeance kindling in her eye. Daughter of Jove! In Britain's injured name, a true born Briton may the deed disclaim. Frown not on England; England owns him not. Athena, no! Thy plunderer was a Scot."
- - -
I have a deep embedded moral compass at the core of my psyche, whereby only doing the morally right suffices - particularly the Parthenon sculptures, to call them the Elgin Marbles is disingenuous. Thomas Bruce who was Scottish and the Ambassador for Constantinople from (1799 - 1803) looted from the Vassal State i.e. the Ottoman Empire. British authorities have refrained from rightfully sending back the Parthenon forms due to the Greeks inadequate facilities and ability to host them - yet, in 2008 the grandiose, atmosphere controlled, monumental Acropolis Museum in Athens had finished; a perfect stage set for the Parthenon sculptures...so perfect in fact that the Acropolis Museum has made replicas of the British Museum friezes - hence, why the Parthenon sculptures must be returned back to Athens for reunification.
Prior to Thomas Bruce's becoming the Ambassador for Constantinople, he had conjugal pressures which came with being the husband to Mary Hamilton Nisbet in 1799, who was audaciously influential as well as affluent. Bruce had to forge his own influence / worthiness so to speak, to prove his nobleman mustard, and so the legally naïve Ottoman Empire was his focus - he had to use his diplomatic links / guile to manipulate an already frail legal system to attain the Parthenon sculptures, for his beloved Mary's pleasure - basically, endeavouring in major artifacts corruption to facilitate his forge of a marriage; Bruce managed to ship precisely half of them back to England. Mary and Thomas's marriage ended in 1810; five years later the British Museum purchased the marbles for less than forty percent of the alleged price Thomas Bruce claimed he had paid for them (equivalent to 5 million pounds in today's money); albeit, no documentation or receipt of proof has ever been available. Typically, British imperialism turned a blind eye to such a minor detail, and continues to do so by keeping the Parthenon Marbles. Undeterred the bas-relief frieze of the Pan-Athens convoy of over 190 warriors and comrades were a commemoration to their bravery, having fallen in the 'Battle of Marathon' in 490 BC against Persia. No-one in their right mind would chop up the epitaph, sell it and worse still the establishment keeps hold of the part - saying it is for reservation purposes? It is wrong on many levels, especially as the frieze is a storyboard devised by the people of Athens for the people of Athens, under the watchful direction of the great Phidias. You wouldn't dream of viewing the sliced canvas of Van Gogh's Sunflower masterpiece and marvel at its composition knowing the other half is in Athens would you? The chances are, you'll think; what a barbaric thing to happen.
Those who don't have a firm grasp of historical content or artifact legalities in ownership / protection will shift to the side of the British Imperialists; who're addicted to galvanized scare-mongering, by claiming it'll set a "precedent" of a mass scale whereby all of our artifacts which reside in the modern world would be lost to other worlds wanting their artifacts for any reason, if the Parthenon Marbles were returned for reunification in Athens. This is a profound belief to engage in the twenty-first-century; it is as if 'law' stroke 'judiciary process' isn't apparent yet! Such "precedent" ideologies would exist a quarter of a millennia ago. Notoriously the Greeks are an advocate for spreading their historical content worldwide - 'narration via sculpture'; alas, returning the Parthenon Marbles is a moral obligation, not a "precedent" - purely a gesture of righting wrong-doings. This isn't the case for the 'Koh-i-Noor' for example, duly because it belongs to the 'British Raj;' apparent in the Victorian era. Those who're not history orientated tend to put all artifact conspiracies / theories in to the same box - anomalous, considering each artifact's story is individual. The "setting a precedent folk" who follow British Imperialism's Parthenon Marble stance, must wake up in the dead of night in a cold sweat thinking that the Babylonians had taken the Pope hostage while going through his draws looking for treasures which may have or not have a receipt - Fearful that a precedent had been chiseled into stone at some point in history which entitled the Babylonians to storm the Vatican. Total absurdity, as is the reasoning of damaging the Parthenon Marbles if they were to be removed from the 'British Museum'. Presumably they were not disfigured in any way when they were installed in 1816, which I would remind the scare-monger is nearing two hundred years ago. Has our artifact transit capabilities got worse over this time period? Well, you got to remember in 1816 'horse-power and wooden wheels' were at the height of their technologies and the roads were silky smooth from Scotland to London - Plus, this was pre-Brunel!
I wince when the alarmists' state: "the Elgin Marbles have been perfectly preserved in a perfect preservation environ if they would've been left in Athens they'll be dust." No doubt they've never been to the 'Acropolis Museum' and seen the other half of the Parthenon Marbles, even just to gauge on their wear and tear.
Most of the alarmists' don't even know such a museum exists and that the 'Acropolis Restoration Service' is world class. They recoil in angst when they hear unwanted truths about industrial cleaners using 1930s laser technology via electromagnetism to systematically turn marble in to dust. They don't like being reminded that infra-red lasers have reach Athens and that the country is civilized and takes pride in their heritage - and the 'Acropolis Museum' is the most modern of European museums. It's time for reunification.
Publisher: Vintage 2011
Page Duration: 306
Consists of twelve chapters
- - -
Intrinsic investigative journalism is admirable at the best of times although very few authors have managed to go beyond iron-curtains like Westerman has. Unleashing insight into a Stalinism (1924 - 53) we know little of pre-twentieth-first-century, highlighting Socialist Realism. Westerman's Soviet journey embarked in 1997, duly having a newspaper correspondent role in KorPunkt a Dutchman in Moscow, and an ex-engineer, not exactly double-dutch. 'Engineers of the Soul' (a Stalin terminology for 'man of steel' a concept which artists and writers had to manifest in their works - they were literary bound to a factual 'socialist' reality). Stalin felt the need to enrich his populous to the dogma of communism and teach them to think like a communist, devoid of weakness and frailties - Communism's focus was on great endeavour and iron-will. Even three decades on since the demise of the old Russia, Stalin's machinations from the 1930s convey a raw reality of communism endurance. The 1930s conveys brainwash evidence in the art of communistic optimism; threads of it evident today, as the old Soviet shadows are shifting clandestinely in hierarchical circles - the iron-curtain residue remains, iron-casqued in history; you can't help but have a sense that the heaviness of the past entwines the present, in the shape of a spectre wielding a hammer and sickle. *Kandinsky's compositions were engineered to a fine precision, even his free-hand expressions had a constrictive verve / ultra control, no doubt Stalinism adhered to; you'll be forgiven if you thought Kandinsky painfully worked to the block by block paint-by-number map, all visually mapped out as if Stalin himself had orchestrated the compositions. Ideologically engineered to pulverize free thinking, and expression, pulling the human soul towards a one-dimensional statement - naturally, this is / was the Soviet way; the threads are evident - embarking on popular culture (s) to invigorate a Stalinism mantra, which worked as a dehumanization process, enroot to the soul.
Such was the evil of the sacerdotal form of creativity entrapment; the works borne out of Stalin's repressive reign still flicked the curiosity switch to a much wider audience. Yes creativity escaped the iron-grasp of the dictatorial fist you could conclude; *Anton Chekhov (1860 - 1904) brazenly did so, albeit many years after his death. Westerman filters onto something not that widely known to the West's comprehension, 'Stalin's Cherry Orchard' the play really called 'The Cherry Orchard' bewitched the 'GlavLit' (originally set up by Lenin in 1922, to aid governance statistics) was morphed into the so-called surreptitious Soviet censorship. The only Chekhov play that was performed unremittingly and with guile to the Soviet people; the communists deemed it being anti-aristocracy - therefore a propeller for Stalin's propaganda machine. Dispelling aristocratic views and underling the regimes; nevertheless, history informs us that communism's levers worked correspondingly to an Orwellian prose - censorship via 'GlavLit'. Censorship had neither face nor identity however a dark presence it had in the dead of night shady agents from 'GlavLit' would descend on Moscow's post office via the back entrance, and work on telegrams, writings and letters - checked over, and dispatched via a hatch, anything of suspicious thought or material or shape duly enters another realm of scrutiny known as; 'competent structures;' and dealt with competently.
Maxim Gorky (1868 - 1936) featured greatly in the foundations of the Socialist Realism literary ideology, certain folk saw him to be the demiurge of the engineers of the soul; and was viewed as Stalin's passport to the Soviet public's psyche. On completion of the Belomor Canal, (in the Chapter; 'Belomor') Gorky's valedictory speech stated; _"I congratulate our wise Party and its leader, the man of steel, Comrade Stalin. You have awakened the enthusiasm of no fewer than a hundred writers; that's of great importance. From now on, our literature will be raised to a new pitch, to the level of your grand accomplishments."_ Westerman depicted Gorky's audience were canal soldiers who barely could write let alone unlock a creative passage of their own doing. Much of the exhaustive hard graft was implemented by the Belomor prisoners; their reward was for them to learn at first-hand their labour aided Stalinism and its literature - facilitating great minds and securing a future for a plethora of generations to come. Dozens of writers were enlisted by Gorky to travel on the 'Iron Silk Route' during the early 1930s, renowned as the 'Trans-Caspian Railway.' One Socialist author Paustovsky traverse the 'Iron Silk Route' and wrote; 'Kara Bogaz' (1932) about the 'annihilation of a desert'; industrialising it; endeavouring in salt mining on the lip of the Caspian Sea. The bay at Kara Bogaz resembles an infant at the breast of a women bent with care - the umbilical cord in tact. At a glance the surrounding countryside would appear to consist of empty desert and nameless highlands. 'Engineers of the Soul' excavates more than a few surprises to what originally deemed as fact concerning the works of the young Paustovsky.
In the chapter; 'Oriental Despotism' or in other words 'quality tyranny;' by Karl Wittfogel (1896 - 1988) This communism played a vital part in the Soviets exhibits in New York World's Fair in 1939, showing the dreams and aspirations of the Bolsheviks of 1917, whom Gorky campaigned avidly for; politically and funding wise. The World Fair highlighted their prowess of hydraulic engineering, deploying Five Year Plans and more importantly winning over the hearts and minds of the Soviet public. Read Tony Swift's 'The Soviet World Tomorrow' for more information in regards to the World Fair of 1939 - Westerman pays homage to it as credible engineering master-class. He pulls short to credit Socialist Realism and questions 'social reality'; not dismissing the use of anthrax and mustard gas. Two of the integrated threats, if the known artists of their field forgo orders from their so-called messianic leader Comrade Stalin - the truth is still out there Westerman has unraveled some of it, as disparaging as it sounds, I find hindsight is a better judge; 'Stalinism is dead, alas, Marxism is thriving.' Westerman merely sniffed at Marx's ideology and instead delivered a compelling history lesson of part of the story. I hasten a guess Gorky is in the thick of it - being subservient to communist content and tired of the 'circus tricks' by innovators and experimental creative types. Gorky was no more inspirational as he was manufactured by an unstoppable propaganda machine.
Worth noting, if influences were measured by 'engineering the soul' the creative likes of Western artists Mondrian and Klee were notable benefactors, alas adding their unique naturalism twist, illustrating that inspiration comes from unnatural resources, not necessary from a brand of what's in vogue or deemed aesthetic.
Worth a read, especially if hydraulics whets your appetite - Four stars.©1st2thebar 2014
Unless you live underground, you're probably aware that the UK is flooded - Then again, if you do live underground I'll suspect your living in an elaborate muddy water-feature, incessantly being woken up by water trickling pass your ear. As most of us reside above the ground... flooding is now normality - water-wings, canoes, kayaks and sails sales have shot up and rescued those who're waterlogged and the UK economy - pretty oar-some stuff eh!
I especially enjoy viewing the pictures of the water chiefs at COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) which is a secret location for crisis discourse and response - discussing with Cameron the plan of attack. Yes, the plan of attack, yes, sadly, we in Blighty are at war with water. I know, because of the image stills of concerned faces and 'Dad's Army' maps, black lines and pen pointing that operation COBRA is in full flow and on BBC News reports are reporting on the battle with water on an hourly basis and fluorescent yellow jacketed water-experts have flooded the areas of concern. Indeedy, our banks need to be fortified against the enemy, in 2008 the enemy was the sub-prime markets, and today it is a far worse one... 'Nature' - though I feel slightly reassured the British Army have been deployed in the areas water has invaded our lives, thanks to the vital work of COBRA. Even though the floods are rising there is a sense of 'work in progress' when you witness the army wearing water-wings and boots that go up to the thigh, carrying sandbags which look as if the equipment was used in WWI . Reports of red-cheeked damsels in distress claim. "Oh we really needed the MAN power today, lord knows what we would've done if they hadn't turned up, oh yes!" BBC viewers may've thought they'd just turned to 'Carry on Camping' with all the flush cheeks and flirty poses and gestures going on in a tea tent. Don't they know how serious this all is? If you observe foreign correspondents in tents abroad, a great devastation is etched all over the faces of those marooned in tents. Take a leaf out of their book, they know how to get the world to feel unrelenting apathy, dig deep in their pockets or call to make a charitable pledge... 'FLOOD CRISIS IN LEAFY GREEN WRAYSBURY; please pledge 369.99 GBP for a kayak, it'll save a Tory vote as well as allow them to go to their Rotary Club and coffee morning meet-ups.' We don't portray crisis at all well here; even a flood victim who was removing floating turds from his front room with a seaside bucket shied away from the TV crew when his own flood of tears hit his cheeks - the cameras' moved swiftly on, to calmer unemotional waters - 'fears for tears.'
The problem is Blighty prefers to not stoop as low as doing a global beg-a-thon - in fact, I suppose biblically - 'Hell would have to have frozen over for that to happen.' In reality it did quite recently in the US during their big freeze crisis - hence, another idiom banned from our glossary of metaphors. One of the marvels of this administration is explaining economic policy like Barker's 'Arkwrights' in 'Open All Hours:' "Mmmooonney is nno object when it comes to your hhhapiness mmmy bunnny cheeks. Whatever mmmoney is needed, it will be sssppent." I coiled in angst when our leader announced this 'money no object' rhetoric to fix this crisis. Only yesterday our country was bankrupt, sparking off unprecedented austere measures which didn't hit front-line services, such as dredging, clearing waterways, and rural maintenance programs - hence, why the Somerset council were not ignored when they sent an urgent plea to our governance, dredging was called for having taken note of the water level on the plains. Perhaps the 'plain talking' wasn't understood by Eric Pickles the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: "Money for plane clearance... well, that's silly isn't it, I never knew the cider county had an airport, now then, what shall my reply be... hmmm, let's see now... NO; how ridiculous, they can't pull the wool over my current eyes." Plain speaking only comes apparent when Pickles gets in a pickle over who is to blame for the plains debacle? You may have thought the magician Paul Daniels perhaps could offer some assistance (apart from his aging but lovely assistant Debbie Magee) but alas, the supreme magician offered a science lesson; one I won't forget I admit; you'll like it, not a lot, but you'll like it anyhow, because I say so, hmmm, yes: _"the deeper the waterways the greater volume of water could pass by at a greater velocity. The greater velocity means that flooding would be minimal and for a smidgeon of time, compared to what we're enduring; inadvertently, lessening the misery."_ Then there is the Paul Daniels magic pack you can purchase via paperback telling you how to make your abode rise six feet whenever floods are in the vicinity, not something he has done on stage during one of his crusty tours with the assistance of the lovely Debbie - alas he admitted his abode had indeed been lifted from the fear of flooding. Not sure why archaic magicians feel the need to exercise biblical magical terms as if the lord himself had intervened to save Mr & Mrs Daniels from having soggy slippers. Normal folk would say; "Well, thanks to great workmanship our home is protected from the flood, so we're warm and snug, albeit, sadly we're severely hampered." I was just thankful that the Beeb had forked out on an Air-Rescue Helicopter to transport Mr & Mrs Daniels from their abode to the BBC studio to inform the nation of the floods, and tell us of the current situation - Unless of course Paul Daniels and his lovely assistant Debbie Magee perfected teleportation. Then again if they had I hasten a guess Mr Daniels and Debbie would be teleporting themselves around the flooded areas of the Thames, and stating the obvious... "As you can see it is flooded here... here... here... here...here...here and here, and now back to the studio." Better than hearing hydrologist jargon on effluence - on such uttering this notably has the tendency to gravitate one to high velocity waterways in a bid to drown oneself.
In 2007, the UK received 120 odd million to help with the flood crisis from the EU, which overall estimated to be 3 billion. A drop in the flood water of course, alas did pose the question why it takes a repeat performance for reports of EU crisis funding to emerge. Naturally, by not being in the EU the UK wouldn't have that safety net, regardless of size of fund. It is at least 'funding' - however you look at it. For Blighty to grasp the EU crisis funding again in 2014, Cameron has to eat humble pie, which for the electorate makes his leadership farcical, especially when the quote 'money is no object' is fresh in ones' mind. The alternative is worse than death itself, that is... dare I say it 'Global Charitable Aid' - meaning the media will have to go into these flooded homes in leafy green Wraysbury and snap images of floating turds circling white ankles while the inhabitants sit on designer couches looking decidedly woeful. The shame of such a poster image would be too undignified; therefore we plod on... regardless.
"Crisis, what crisis? No, of course it isn't a crisis; being flooded three times a year is part of normality now. Anyway, the wife likes to decorate."©1st2thebar 2014
Published by William Heinemann 2010
Page Duration: 246
'You can have information or you can have a life, but you can't have both' - Doug's Law.
- - -
Douglas Coupland has the capacity to ram down the reality pill into the readers' esophagus. Do not concern yourselves you won't choke or splutter on the 'reality pill' because it dissolves into the blood stream of your consciousness, and the results resemble a narcotic sedative. Player One, doesn't come with a government health warning on the basis it is devoid of emotive and reactions to what is occurring Armageddon as it so happens. Nowadays, Armageddon is a far too often occurrence; in reality and also in text. Written of in differing analogies, differing cities and differing mindsets, Player One differs from all the 'end of the world' narrative clichés: no, before you ask, Coupland's Armageddon doesn't coincidentally happen when all of the world's habitants are sitting on a lavatory seat, singing Bob Marley's 'One Love;' disappointing as it is... the chosen destination is in a Toronto airport hotel bar... Coupland chooses five characters to populate the vicinity; one of them mindfully escapes through being 'Player One' - in a video game - portrayed as avatars the not so pixel-orientated kind.
Player One consists of six chapters: Five numeric hourly ones: Hour One, Two and so forth and lastly the 'Future Legend' chapter, which consists of 31 pages of glossary, orientated semi-neologisms and explanations to help the reading pleasure, apparently - words such as 'Trans-human' (technology made by humans that end up smarter than humans) and 'aloneism' which denotes (someone who doesn't believe in anything other than themselves) - however aloneism gets the Coupland treatment; instead it states 'aloneism' is a form of individualism that involves brain mutation, done on a mass scale; so expect self-denying, weird defragmentation (s) of observations and concepts of anything outside their own entity or comprehension. A fine example of this comes from Player One's autistic Barbie girl avatar Rachel and crook pastor Luke who has stolen 20K from a church fund: Luke states; "Yup, I no longer believe in God." Rachel replies - "Oh. Ok. Why is that?" Luke seriously says - "Because one morning, I saw a sparrow yawn." Rachel questioningly asks: "Yawning as in waking up yawning?" Luke replies with a "Yes." Coupland illustrates how a superfluous observation can flip the coin of the psyche for the good; in Luke's case the bad. Fads in popular culture interchanges like the wind and Coupland underlines it's blatancy in within the handful of characters - forced together under environ uncertainty. Well the price of oil has shot up to 250 dollars a barrel, the news alerts spreads like a bubonic virile, over crude - 'how rude.'
Next come the Derek Jarman phase, when really Hitchcock's profile and pipe shadow should descend on the TV monitors, before the power goes out... then on again... and then flickers uncontrollably, imitating Mary Shelley's electrifying eye-lids of Frankenstein, then above the audio of the electric fizz you hear the doomsday vocals of Sir Christopher Lee. Instead Coupland states... "And then the TV stops working." The script really just played homage to Jarman, the master in the visual square cloud of electric fizz. Nothing dawns on our motley crew until gadgetry Googling was deemed a mere pipe dream, their realization dawns. Without the divine word of Google, the nomads are all at sea, in an airport hotel bar - not a bad place to end your days, then again this one replicated an establishment from the Balkans - Lovely. Perfectly apt for 'God's little Dumpsters' (Hour Three's: Chapter line), these are consumer's children, who wrapped themselves up into a lifestyle of technological coincidences. Karen gambles on love on a dating website - forty, or is she faulty? Hoping that the avatar she has swooned over is indeed real (Hi, I'm Monster) and could be the next big or small thing in her mundane existence. Coupland identifies the profound trust we have in the world of social media, falling in love with a mass of pixels which percentage wise could be a huge facade of being some-one's odd and elaborate game - sad in many ways, just because they can. Player One brings this apparent-ness to the fore. Not that the readership gets the gist of course, many can't compute outside the realm of the pixel; for Coupland, the pixel is as emotive as a bendy cardboard cut-out finger pointing, pointlessly to nothing in particular, no different to interactively reading "Click Here," and finding nothing of worth, apart from disappointment. Does this click a bell, or can't you tell?
As Armageddon rolls on, closer than it was an hour or so ago, (no different to reality) - God's name pops up. "What if God exists but he just doesn't like people very much?" 'They' say miracles doth happen and first on the list of modern day miracles is an airport hotel bar in Toronto, only the evangelists talk of miracles - it is their occupational spiel. Salesmen instead say 'best bargain ever' - this is their miracle word. If it really was the 'best bargain ever' and miracles daily happened, there would be no point in saying it - the wording gravitas would have zero pull. Faith and hope is what we all strive for, daily, we incessantly seek answers alas don't know the questions. The author's comment of witnessing a miracle you'll automatically unravel the meaning of life and the fabric of the world, no religion or being can provide the formulaic of a miracle, yet vacuously blind us with miracle talk. Coupland's theoretical stance damns popular culture, yea; it'll take an event such as Armageddon for humanity to think beyond the interactive arm of Google - we'll be forced to think for ourselves if handheld devices lost power and connectivity 'to popular culture.' But I fear that popular culture has embedded itself within our thought psyche to the point of no return, 'we are nothing without it' - doomed - rightly so too, Coupland's last chapter title: 'The view from inside Daffy Duck's hole,' employs a reality we 'all' make stuff up if we don't comprehend it, and seek out popular culture neologisms to comfort us from perilous circumstances - Daffy Duck's anus is a suitable avatar, who said God doesn't like cartoons?
Player One is not really fiction as we know it, but a play on what we are and what we've become. An intelligent read, stroke lecture - the converse embodies what we are... and that is a trivial pursuit.©1st2thebar 2014
Immigrants Banned From Receiving Welfare for Two Years - Is It Fair?
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
To even consider banning immigrants from receiving welfare for two years as a valid policy beggar's belief, it infringes on human rights - this is an example of sanctimonious 'pick-n-mix' politics, from governance keen to invigorate support from the odious Tory right-wing. The subject is inline with Cameron's long-winded anti- EU stance - long-winded because Britain's EU future i.e. (UK's bid to renegotiate new EU policy/rulings) is proposed for 2018. Immigration / Benefits is a main priority; which at present states that banning welfare for immigrants for an unfair period (unfair compared to current UK nationals) breeches EU Law; under the human rights discrimination act. Moving the benefit goal-post to a further 21 months; 3 months to 24 months, until benefit validity is considered is a blatant breech. Naturally this is all grossly rhetorical, and has no bearing on actual reality; well it is until 2018 when allegedly Britain could remove herself from the EU. In turn, endorsing four years of European connected uncertainty; hardly a confidence boost for 'EU - Britain entrepreneur-ships, investment and enterprises is it?' Not so long ago, the combo duo of Johnson, Osborne did a whistle-stop 'yellow-hat' tour of Beijing claiming; 'Chaps, we are open for business,' going to the Chinese on taxpayer's money (in excess of 67K) and saying...
"Hello dear chaps, we are from Britain, it is a little island just off France, and we once had a great empire you know. We don't care about human rights now that's old hat; last century; guffaw. Britain is becoming more like you now, immigrants are banned from receiving benefits for two years; see, we are as one; our doors are open for business, welcome dear friend."
Pandering to superpowers is what we excel at; we did the same to the US in the 1980s - remember the numerous of cosy meets Thatcher and Reagan had? Britain has to now be seen as an inequality state of the ilk of China; hence, why our poor have got to be poorer, why the Welfare dependents have been vilified. Welfare cut to the point it is deemed as a cull, breaching human rights by targeting the Welfare dependent is a nefariously easy target, without the yield if they tackled tax havens - the same goes to immigrants who come to Britain who seek a better life and find they're unable to claim welfare having been an employer's slave for several months, now potentially has to complete slave labour for two years. Cue zero-hour contract debacle; whereby employers use the term 'enhanced flexible working hours,' in real terms, 'be at my beck and call.' Having such flexible working hours explodes 'employee turn-over' this isn't a myth - Immigrants are duped into thinking this system is designed with them in mind; they're paid well-below the minimum wage at a staggering ease, all based on their payment naivety. The Low Pay Commission has reported that nearly half a million low paid workers (mostly immigrants) have been exploited by UK corporation (s) myopic stance on unfair pay. Astonishingly, only two UK businesses been reprimanded of this charge! Iain Duncan Smith the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions stated: "Demonstrate that you are committed to the country, that you are resident and that you are here for a period of time and you are generally taking work and that you are contributing. It could be a year, it could be two years, and then we will consider you a resident of the UK and be happy to pay you benefits."
The statement puts the onus on to the immigrant to prove their worthiness of a human right. With the cost of living at crisis point, the worse for over fifty years - you may think parliamentarians might adopt a fairness it deserves; if immigrants are allowed to work here, surely their well-being is paramount - offset with a comprehension, welfare is part of that deal; yet this unsavoury ideology stinks of anti-humanism which perfectly illustrates the era of Lord Shaftesbury (1801 - 85); when slavery was openly regarded as a fundamental nugget of society. The words of Duncan Smith... "It could be a year, it could be two years, then we will consider you a resident of the UK and be happy to pay you benefits;" leaves me a pungent taste in my mouth. Perhaps it is the word 'consider' as in to 'mull-over' your worthiness as a UK resident, arm in arm with the duration flippancy of a year or two years - this has the tendency to mean ultra ambiguity, prior to the next stage of being considered for benefit, to rub salt into the human right wound, Duncan Smith used the word 'happy' to pay benefits, have you ever known a Tory administration claiming they're 'happy' to pay benefits? I rest my case.
I've found the comment could apply to other matters... "It could be a year, it could be two years, then we will consider you a *valid government* of the UK and be happy to pay you *tax*." Or maybe a memo from Beijing: "It could be a year, it could be two years, then we will consider whether you make a valid trading partner to China or not and be happy to pay you billions from our economically active, vibrantly young workforce, the younger the better, sifting out raw materials on disease ridden landmasses." Hindsight is a marvelous thing; in the 1960s mass hysteria written on placards and shop windows hit communities when an influx of different nationalities hit our shores. Generations on we now rightly say: "How shockingly vile these communities were to them. No wonder segregation was the only option for ethnic minorities." What on earth will it be like in 2060? "How shockingly vile it was how the UK government treated immigrants forty five years ago, they were slaves to the economical system for many years. No wonder the black market exploded, it was their only option for survival." Welcome to Britain, Land of Dope and Poorly.
Established in 1980.
Shining out from a maze of concrete blocks a Los Vegas round red chip baring the brand name of Brewers Fayre flicked my curiosity. They have 120 plus outlets across Britain, traditional pub food, blocked wooden furniture and a chrome bar, manned by chrome bar staff. They're not as industrialist as French bar personnel who incessantly flick imaginary dust particles with a pristine clean tea towel. Instead what stood before me resembled an ear-studded cocky jack-the-lad type whose head wobbled on every word spoke and called everything or person 'matie.' One good thing he knew what the table number 14 meant and was able to read Premium Beer logos and pull a pint as well as take food orders. Having observed my suit he drummed up some small-talk for small-talk sake... "Do you watch the news, matie?" - I replied: "Yes, I do, when I can." On this reply I half-expected him to surprise me and come up with an anecdotal from the likes of Robert Fisk. Sadly, he then scratched his head somewhat and wise-fully for him stated: "The Syrian Crisis... is not good, not good at all matie." I admired his ability to come up with the obvious, most of these types start working life in the Brewers Fayre and then three years on... run councils. Brewing up to less worthwhile occupations - I trudged my way back to table 14; and waited for my Steak and Ale Pie as if I was waiting for a life-changing phone-call.
My ears kept picking up of a sound of a muffled duck quack. I found out it was a guy's voice-box, vibration he was communicating nine to a dozen; really enjoying himself - helped by the fact the pub wasn't too busy at Monday lunchtime. I noticed attentiveness from the staff - not something you observe usually in a bustling Brewers Fayre. Each table was exhibiting erect concertina menus, depicting an elaborate art installation. Duping the clientele in thinking the Brewers Fayre is a fine dine establishment, food will be symmetrically inline with each other. Chips cut to precision, glossy garden peas perfectly spherical that you can hear pop between the molars and broccoli are shaped like miniature old oak trees from Seven Oaks - now sadly depleted in number, gobbled up by the great storm of 1987. Notably, they must've got in the Industrial Cleaners after the weekend due to the 'Shake-N-Vac' scent wafting from passersby, walking in high-heels on the carpet inspired by the cubists. Women who do lunch noticeably are suited and high-heel booted. A mix of professionalism and femininity, not that their discourse embarked on anything remotely professional from table 16; eavesdropping has become a fascinating pastime since I've had my ears de-cluttered, since which I can conclude Blighty has a pandemic of 'thoughtless men.' For me the Premium Beer works as a nepenthe, on that thought I was alerted to a white oval plate descending from above my head and was immediately given a spiel of condiments. I recoiled at the thought of BBQ sauce on a Steak and Ale Pie, but I suspect many punters would grasp at the freebies regardless of whether it'll go with the dish.
The pie was more about puff than steak. The ale was of a meager drizzling, could've been watered down plonk for all I know. It may surprise you that the table layout of neatly erect menus in the centre doesn't mean the food resembles anything of neatness. Chips were the size of my little finger at a push, soggy rather than crispy - the peas looked as if they had argued with each other by which were battered and bruised and several were worrying wrinkly, probably exposed to the microwave heat for too long. The steak itself in the pie had the consistency of 'Pedigree Chum' heated up of course although after several mouthfuls I could decidedly recall I'd eaten a Steak and Ale Pie at a Brewers Fayre before - the memory came flooding back. A bit like planning to meet an old-school-friend, and after ten minutes in being in close proximity you realize why you lost touch. I wondered if all of this applied to all of the Brewers Fayre clientele waiting to make a food order - the pub-chain banks on you forgetting the poor quality of food after a few alcoholic drinks.
This pub-chain is a master of it; it revamps itself as a semi-new-age-wine-bar-lodge - the foyer is delivers a grand gesture of a mighty fine experience, double-doors galore, leading up to them is a runway of the light fantastic. The car park design is a marvelous example of spatial design, in other words in how not to walk far. Those who have mobility issues can be assured they've been thought of in this department; unless of course you need the lavatory - sadly a double traipse upstairs spoils that illusion - obviously the thought-process was left outside when it comes to the immobile powdering their noses.
My bill was 7.99 GBP for the meal and 3.45 GBP for a pint. I lost approximately forty nine minutes of my life in the Bicester branch, I won't get it back, nor am I planning another visit. Several hours later, I lost another twenty minutes due to walking off flatulence. I therefore conclude the alluring attraction of the grand gesture of a double-door foyer and cheap pub-grub equates to a loss of dignity and time. Time is the essence - the substandard food isn't Fayre, alas is Fayre.©1st2thebar 2014
Publishing House: Atlantic Books Ltd in 2011
Translation in 2011 - Frank Wynne (Houellebecq), Miriam Frendo (Lévy)
First published as; 'Enemis Publics' by Flamarrion / Grasset & Fasquelle in 2008
28 letters in 166 days, equates to 5.93 days per letter (Jan 26th - July 11th 2008)
Paperback duration: 309 pages
- - -
Anything published with slanting text boasting on the cover: "The New York Times Best Seller" warrants a waspish expression on my face. Any nodules of intellect trashed in one sentence, a prostitute to capitalism, no different to a North Korean army of 'Best Seller' books before it. At 9.99 GBP I would've bypassed it without question - yet for 2.00 GBP I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised of its letter formatted structure, small chunks of text, knitted together in one book - for those who advocate towards the bite-size market, for even smaller chunks of information; each letter is dated and simply summarized in a couple of sentences in a 'Glossary' at the end of 'Public Enemies.' What you have is two ideological extremes, Lévy (the Philosopher) in one corner and Houellebecq (the Novelist) in the other; writing to each other , all agreed over a meal; emulating prize-fighting French cocks, preening their peruses and amuses; depicting Rodin's 'The Thinker' - French intellectuals with axes to grind with themselves and the world around them. Too egoistic for the majority, perhaps - devoid of narrative, definitely - alas captivating all the same.
Houellebecq starts off the exchange of letters in Brussels on January 26th 2008; apparently every letter has to inform the reader of the date, just as if the timescale of each response has a kind of deeper meaning, being a Philosopher I guess that Lévy may deliberate longer than Houellebecq; six days later Lévy replies, after absorbing the debate's terms, Houellebecq ... passes on the debate baton. Two days later Houellebecq responds, my impression of Lévy the Philosopher cemented, however, contemplative philosophizing takes that bit longer, compared to the average discourse. Maybe I'm being unfair; Lévy being in Paris may have been busy at the time, negotiating with the likes of Sarkozy, sticking in his thumb in regards to French foreign policy. Discussing 'eczema' no doubt was a relief from the monotonous itching of French foreign policy, eventually the itch became a priority: "Oh yes, eczema... Are you familiar with those tremendous pages in Cocteau about just that, eczema?" 'La Belle et la bête,' Jean Cocteau's 1947 Journal d'un film is a painful read - carapace of cracks, ravines and itches - corals of fire. From eczema to the baying of blood namely Charles Baudelaire's blood, the French and Belgium hierarchies' state claim for his long-winded demise, at the age of forty six in 1867 - Baudelaire's 'The Flowers of Evil' stokes up the fire of his ill-health - hard to believe that it was he who pioneered Romanticism - the marveled symbolism of love and romance, two bywords denoting what it is to be 'French'; evidently profoundly influenced by the 'literature-hater' Edgar Allan Poe, whom which Baudelaire translated from Poe's Native American - the Romanticism movement's ideology derived from the darkest of moroseness.
Ambiguities lie within the text from the contemplative duo, to alleviate the excitement out pops out Sartre, like a 'Jean-in-a-box', a French Philosopher who supposedly made sense of two types of reality; notably in: 'Being and Nothingness;' humankind's conscious state, deciphering over what you are conscious of and not. I had to pinch myself just to see if I was conscious of pinching myself. Considering I made a conscious decision to pinch myself I concluded that I needn't put myself through the pointless pain of a pinch - being conscious at the time helped enormously. What Lévy and Houellebecq commonly required was a much needed literary airing, a chance to alleviate burdens simultaneously - whatever the result, or book sales 'the experiment' seems like a bid to massage self-esteems, intellectualisms and oil their contemplative mechanisms - after six months, 'Public Enemies' was borne out of their predicaments - the closest to a "repent-a-thon" I've acknowledged in print. Notably, is their blatant candor - yeah, probably one of the strengths of 'Public Enemies' - albeit, the content of craving for an audience that isn't nondescript / nonchalant in regards to their work's responses, was tirelessly tedious. Every author is a dramatist and demands attention - sure, I get that; slightly needless I felt from two so-called intellectuals in the eyes of the 'New York Times' - No wonder Ricky Gervais's 'The Office' rose and went down like the Hindenburg in 1937; in New York they're still waiting for the punch line.
On March 21st 2008, (by now the dates are tedium). Confessions teeter on the satirical, designed for the blabbermouths to mock - as quick as this embarks, as quick as this ends. On grounds that the authors aren't humorists, not that they didn't intend to flirt with the comedic; Houellebecq is the author of 'H. P. Lovecraft: Contre le monde, contre la vie.' Translates to: 'Against the World, Against Life' theme in the genre of literature is the darkest text written in the twentieth century. A lighter shade of darkness resonates in the comment about 'The Good Soldier Svejk 'by Jaroslav Hasek - who wrote of a drunkard who outwits bureaucrats and military figures - words such as: "disobedience and lack of respect, shirking the silent revolt;" was the satirical flake on an ice-cream sitting on a cornet. It appears Houellebecq's fortified pacifism is a sitting 'duck confit' for Lévy's revolt - indeed, this was fascinating, principally because of the name Austin Malroux entering the fold, with his words: 'making war, without loving it' - (Malroux was an educator and member of the French Resistance, in WWII; he perished in 1945). Questions 'violence with reaction' - like with Nazi-ism and Kafka? Within Kafka's works lay prophecies which were deemed reactionary; the retort fanned the embers of the warmongers. Words are powerful, although some are less so than others - hence, why the letters are of mild amusement to read, rather than provocative. Lévy does what he does best via quoting literature's scholars, other people's work and Houellebecq illustrates his bleak wit, a wit stroke demeanour writing style which you can read between-the-lines; 'my way, or the highway.' Read the highly acclaimed; 'The Map and the Territory' this is a mightily good example of Houellebecq - 'the man and his fought as one.'
Friedrich Nietzsche, you know the so-called Philosopher, dramatist who quoted: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger," got a mention on page 254 - I was waiting for his introduction, and I yawned when he arrived, with a spellbinding thought. 'Future man should have two brains, one for science and one for the rest. The rest is to include art and love as well.' On that note, I quickly concluded that two brains aren't necessarily better than one, especially when it comes to co-authoring a slap-dash book of two Frenchmen contemplating. I'll much prefer to read the football millionaires Thierry Henry and Patrick Veira musing over Louis Pierre Althusser's modern Marxism; now that would be 'la comédie.'
Page duration: 370
Publishing House: Bloomsbury
- - -
If a book was supposed to be written by a particular author; 'The Finkler Question' unquestionably was meant to be written by Howard Jacobson, who's critical peruses can be read in the Independent. Jacobson was a 'Man Booker' winner in 2010 with this book 'The Finkler Question'; a reward for avant-garde literature that stands tall above the rest. Of course with Jacobson being Jewish enabled him an unwritten license to use the word 'Finkler' which translates to 'Jew' - any non-Jewish author wouldn't have the right or would be given so much acclaim by touching on the subject let alone questioning its fundamental values in the twenty-first century. What is Jewishness? My mind filters back to Salman Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses' published book in 1988 and despicable treatment he endured in the aftermath of its publication - it endorsed serious death threats, multiples of round-the-clock protection teams deployed to keep alive 'one' man; an author! At the time Rushdie was the most hated man on the planet - perhaps the book 'Satanic Verses' was a question of bad timing and 'The Finkler Question' was a question of good timing; in either case you can't have a bigger divide in response / reaction to each publication. It makes you question humanity not just faith, (Jewishness) - 'The Finkler Question' has the covetous mustard to do both.
Jacobson's lack of verbosity is evident in his weekly articles, the same goes with writing novels. Maybe a lot to do with F R Leavis his English Lecturer at Cambridge - a sharp, to-the-point literature critic who'd influenced young Howard, for the good, allegedly. What engaged me to Jacobson is his clever use of converse it is attention grabbing, it draws you in - for example:
"Please don't leave. If I wasn't a rock before, I will be a rock from now on."
"You won't. It isn't in your nature."
"Don't I look after you when you're ill?"
"You do, you're marvelous to me when I'm ill. It's when I'm well you're of no use."
The dialogue depicts the mood, an unquestionable dose of reality, their characterization's stripped for all to read, warts and all. Real people and the characters emulate this in Sam Finkler - the admired self-made man of Jewish Philosophy - Then there is Julian Treslove, who subsequently is a non-Jew, who once was a BBC radio producer and now full-time celebrity look-a-like - marooned into superficial-dom or town; well it is the same place or thing - he makes a living being like them. Also there is Libor Sevcik an aging Hollywood journo struck by bereavement due to the death of his adorable wife of six decades - A true love that never fades, vibrant and butterfly-bellied as a youth's first-time experience of love. 'The Finkler Question' dismisses the notion made about senior citizens that their feelings and desires are diminished under the husks of confused recollections blurred by passages of time, this is far from the truth. The terrible thing about old age is, you recount your heyday better than yesterday, and there is no release in longing for it back - deemed as more of an entrapment of what has gone, and therefore an incessant reminder of who has gone. 'Terrible yet wonderful' - and this leads me on to the saddened reality that 'The Finkler Question' was dedicated to three friends of Jacobson who died in 2009, he stated they were; 'the givers of laughter.'
A dawning that Jacobson's 'The Finkler Question' is a type of anecdotal compromise of what has transcended - a realistic portrait of twentieth and twenty-first century Semitism, the problem of Yiddish - a so-called converse seen as demonic, a dilution of language use subsequently watered down Jewishness, was systematic realism, devised to help integrate Jews into new homelands. Generations on, you see the bigger picture; 'The Finkler Question' only magnifies that reality. Treslove's uncompromising obsession to get to the bottom of Sam Finkler's Jewish Philosophy - by any means represents the immoral aspects of how anti-Semitism has encroached on Jewish lives almost as a default mechanism, his blatant contempt for Finkler the person by name and what he stands for, - even the Semites disengage to the horrors of modern day Jewish de-franchise. Dying traits such as Libor's pro 'Isrrrrae' (Jacobson's over insinuated accent whenever Libor converses on Israel) a vocal demonstration by adding a fourth 'r' to irritate Finkler out of pathos. Yes, his wife Tyler who has her own inner humiliations goes to her grave - too late to be saved. Of course, shades of Orpheus, a somewhat theatrical triumphant trumpet hoot somehow drowns the sorrow - moments of tenderness of great loss comes in the form of wardrobe elegant attires - hand-picked to show-off her beauty; such loveliness never lasts long enough. 'The Finkler Question' could so easy be a play - stylishly questionable and anecdotal, without too much on stage at one time - a sixteenth century playwright floods to mind, not forgetting the gentle melodic strumming and a smoke ring floating and gradually turning into oblivion - the symbolism starkly replicating Jewish-ness.
The comedic filter purely rests with Tresloves wannabe Jew quests - delving into trysts of the unmentionable kind getting more than he bargained. The others are the cake mix to his scrawny cherry - each devoutly true to stereotypical Semite; Judaism too although for me deity has little to offer in this book - however, it certainly makes for a fascinating debate regardless what fence you're sitting on - Arab or Israel rhetoric. The book is neither political as it is about humankind craving to fit into European, American, South American, North African societies. As Sam Finkler's Jewish Philosophy snaps into a fashionably accepting light - he finds a deeper divide in the group he's known for years while joining ASHamed... Ashamed at Israel. By deliberating over its Philosophy - his questioning has no bearing on being Jewish, or honing in on Judaism any longer, but instead steps inline as if a global consensus - and that affects us all.
Tyler, Finkler's wife as portrayed in this book has the intellect and mindfulness to turn heads; beauty on its own is only short-lived, if intellect wanes -'The Finkler Question' continues...to ask questions, of what it means to be a Jew.
Written with a political and social agenda of its own accord. Highly recommended.©1st2thebar 2014