Saturday, 31 January 2009

Weirdos

Last night while at work was one of the more unusual pair of people that I saw get on the bus. It was a man and a woman, or more lile a boy and a girl, they were both barely 25.

The boy skipped onto the bus. Drunk. The girl (who I can assue was his girlfriend) toppled on. She then staggered and laid herself on the cab's assault screen. She started to fumble in her bag for her pass. She continued to fumble. And continued. Meanwhile, the boy starte to laugh. Not a hearty laugh, but more like a snigger. Remember Beavis and Butthead? Yeah, like that.

So they sit down. THroughout the journey they both seem to be in their own world, although they are both sat next to each other. THroughout the journey, the girl gets up as if she wants to vomit, but manages to contain herself. The boy continues to laugh. Yeah, like that.

Well, she couldn't contain herself, so after spewing the lower deck wth her insides, they both got off. At the bus stop, the boy started to beat the shelter up. But not in a manly way, or aggressive. Just weird. Yeah. Like that...

Friday, 30 January 2009

Terminal 4

I was at the airport today, seeing off people. I know at the moment that it is fashionable to bash Heathrow, and with the opening of Terminal 5 needing some serious PR work in order to convince the world that it is working, I may just seem to be another little blogger jumping on the bandwagon. Of course, there is the third runway. Just for the record, I can see arguments both for and against the third runway, and so at the moment I am a complete fence sitter on the subject.

At just under twenty-three years old, Terminal Four is not the oldest structure at Heathrow, but it was looking a little bit tardy until recently. I have used it quite a few times in the past, especially when BA used to fly to Seychelles. And to be honest, if you decide to drive into Heathrow, Terminal 4 is the easiest one to get to, built in the spirit of the 1980's! Now BAA have decided on an overhaul of the terminal, something that is long overdue.

Oh dear.

On entering the car park, I knew something was very wrong. Poorly lit, just like, well, a multi-storey car park, there was nowhere to get a luggage trolley. The lifts, simply smelt of piss. All this for a tenner.

Then came the terminal itself. You could check in at Zone A (huge and empty), B (equally empty as there were no flights for the super jumbo leaving) or E (past the hoardings, pass more hoarding, yeah, that's it, right at the end, in the corner, where the lights dim out because we cannot replace the bulbs, that queue, well actully, that crowd, yeah, we managed to spare three check-in desks for you, that's all right, that's where you got to go). It took an hour and a half to finally check-in. Goodness knows where their bags have ended up.

Oh, we haven't come to the best part, something to eat. While I am fully aware of the rip off at the airport, at least I would like to get ripped off. However, at Terminal Four you have the choice of the following: a branch of a nationwide chain of newsagents, a branch of a coffee shop franchise, an overcrowded pub (also part of a chain) or a hotel (there are only three of these in the world). That's it. But, there are four money changing facilities available, should you wish to directly consume sterling! Terminal 4 must be the only airport building in the country where money changers outnumber eateries.

To say Heathrow is a disgrace is a cliche. But for the first time, I really was disgusted at London. Yeah, we know London is a dump, it is ill planned and all that. But, it has character, and it does it in a fascinating way. Really, would it have been so much effort to close Terminal four while it was being rebuilt? And could they rebuild it in such an incompetent way? Because at the moment, there is nothing to that terminal. It may not get the news or glamour of T5, but surely, someone else must have noticed how sickening that building is. As a first impression of Britain, it is soul destroying. As a final two fingered salute to the departures from this island, it does a bulldog proud. Spare yourself the insult that is T4 and head somewhere else. Anywhere else. Even, (gulp), Terminal 2...

Thursday, 29 January 2009

What the Flock?

I have three web browsers on my computer, and I only just discovered, after being on version 1.2.something for umpteen weeks that I needed an update. So bang, I visit the flock website and find out that there is already a version 2.

Well, what do I think. Flock is not my main browser, but I use it to manage all my CWP biz. It is simply convenient to have all the listings up on the side bar with all the accounts remembered for me.



I also like the way that the newsfeeds easily line up on the side. In the 'morning', with my tea and toast, I like to read the news on my compie and so flock is a good way to wake up. And flock does look nice. Things like posting a blog or uploading photos are pretty easy and there are some great firefox tools that come with it.

However, for pure 'business', I prefer to go with other, faster browsers and ones that, to be honest, are simpler. For me, Flock is great as it appeals to my sense of frivolity and fun, and using flock is an enjoyable way to surf the net. However, you do need a fast computer in order to truly appreciate it and the bundle of uses you can get from it. However, if I want to write an e-mail or do official things, even (sorry flock) online shopping, I prefer to use something with less clutter. Also, it would be great if there were auto-update reminders that would appear. Updating my browser is something that is not entirely painful, but it is no something I do automatically. Luckily, my other applications do them almost automatically, but Flock did not tell me of its Christmas gift to the world.

Well, do I recommend Flock? If you are simple net user who just reads the news and checks e-mails then no. You do not need it. However, if you love your social networking, gotta have the latest news, 'goss' and blogfeeds streaming in, and enjoy mucking about with online gadgets, than I heartily recommend it. One thing however, make sure you have a powerful machine. It takes up a lot of juice to run this particular browser.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Fantasy Journeys

I have been very lucky to have extensively travelled over many pats of the Earth. Usually I travel to places that I want to see, places that have captured my imagination since a young age, fantasies that have built up in my mind. Other times, I take a quick holiday somewhere, just for the curiosity. Always, the sense of adventure prevails and there is always a sense of good that I feel whenever I simple head off somewhere unknown.

Later in the year I am off to Assam. The North East of India has fascinated me since I first learnt to read maps. How it existed, so cut off from the rest of the country, dominated by the Brahmaputra river running through it. With the Bay of Bengal on one side and Tibet on the other. It is only for two and a half weeks, but I cannot wait. It will be an adventure, and the best thing is that I know very little about the place...

Monday, 26 January 2009

Dear Investor

We are writing to you, esteemed investor to reiterate and reassure that our fine establishment is fine!

After all, we are well funded, are still making money and let us be honest here, we are never going to surrender!

See you at our next AGM where there will be caviar and champagne for all who are invited*, and do not worry about us, we will still be making money, come what may!

Tutty bye-bye!

Lord Toffington

(CEO Big British Banking Corp)

*Champagne, Caviar, Prostitutes, Limosuines and Corporate jets will be provided to the biggest 6 shareholders** only. These include myself, Lord Houghty Toughty (Chief Operating Officer), Lord Mason, Lord Mybestbuddy From School, Lord Truscott Moonie Taylor Snape and Sir Someone not that Important.


**We do not really count the government as a shareholder. After all, they roll over whenever we tell them to, hahaha!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

What January?

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't today the 25th January 2009? That means there are only 340 days until the end of the 'noughties', and more worryingly, the first month of the year is nearly over. I do not know whether it is the effect of weekly vlogging or near near daily blogging that brings it home so keenly, but how quickly does time pass?

Oh well, off to the studio! Tune in!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Crossings of the River Thames 19: Vauxhall Bridge

Late last year I was at the southern end of Vauxhall Bridge just as a random visit to another gyratory system in South London. And last night I was again in Vauxhall, but for very different reasons. And last night too, I crossed Vauxhall Bridge the gateway to Central London and the beginning of 2009's Crossings of the River Thames.



Now, from a distance, this does not seem to be much of a bridge, especially after the fantastic examples of late last year. But this is quite a whopper of a bridge. Allegedly 80ft wide, it has bus lanes, cycle tracks as well as carrying the traffic trying to escape London's Congestion Charge. It's big and chunky to drive across, daunting if on foot. Admittedly the surroundings do not do it any favours. Also it is surprisingly rusty...



But I like this bridge. For it has one of those little quirks that truly makes it a Londonesque bridge. Figurines. Statues, representing the arts and the sciences. Of course, being London, there is no way in hell you can actually get a decent view of these sculptures if you are on solid land, as can be seen:



Eight statues, on the downstream side they represent Local Government, Education, Fine Arts and Astronomy. On the upstream side Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering and Pottery are fashioned out.


(Miss Pottery in all her glory!)

This is one of those times when it is definitely better to be a water rat than a cyclist. I was lucky enough to have been treated to a cruise down the Thames and the Vauxhall crossing was one of my favourites, simply due to the statues that were there.

And so, back to the bridge. At just over a hundred years old in its current guise, it has taken its toll with a quiet dignity. Linking Pimlico with Vauxhall and on a grander scale, linking the Inner Ring Road across the river, Vauxhall Bridge is in a fascinating place. On the North Bank of the Bridge is the Tate Gallery or as it was more recently branded, Tate Britain. I have only visited this particular gallery once, not being a big fan of the arts itself. Although I admit to being a philistine, the building itself is quite nice.



However, no visit to Vauxhall Bridge is complete without a take on MI6. This gargantuan structure on the South side of the river is pretty, well, obvious for the Secret service. It also serves to remind the taxpayer how much cash we actually generate for the Exchequer. Everytime you surf for porn on the net, a little light bulb goes off in this building. Everytime you type in the phrase 'Osama is my Hero', two light bulbs go off. (Remember, the name of the president of the USA is spelt with a B not an S).




Getting there and away:

Phew, this is going to be a big list. Nearest Rail/Tube is Vauxhall. Bus routes are a plenty, including the 2, 36 (24 hours), 77, 87, 88 (24 hours), 156, 185, 196, 344 (24 hours), 360, 436, N2, N87 and the N136. Or if you're in Whitehall, just walk along the tunnel...

Friday, 23 January 2009

The River Thames so far...

My journey so far has taken me on a rich and varied path across London. From my humble beginnings at Hampton, I have slowly followed this water course through England's only Metropolis. At first it felt that I was only flirting with the city. Green spaces and woodland marked my path on the Surrey and the Middlesex banks. But slowly the sprawl grew more intense, the traffic more dense and yet the course held true. Once a month I would head down to the river and discover a little bit more about the city I call home.

Through the mighty streets of West London I cruised, stopping to take in the architectural delights of the riverside. I continued this journey through London and now I have turned a corner.

At Vauxhall, my next crossing, I would have reached a major milestone. The beating heart of the Capital, I have arrived at. During the bulk of 2009, my course will take me through the Centre of town itself. Not only will my journey be filled with history, but landmarks itsef. People from all over the world come to marvel at this stretch of water. Parliament, the South Bank, St Paul's, Bankside and The Tower will vie for my attention in this short stretch of the Thames.

I, like many other Londoners, do not really appreciate the city that I live in, the wonders of my hometown, but during this journey I have discovered and shared with you, what I have learned. I hope you continue to enjoy and follow my travels downstream as I continue to Cross the River Thames...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

What might happen if Britain defaults on its debts?

At the moment, we in Britain are spending like there is no tomorrow. We have an infallible belief that things can only get better and so are busy hoovering up banks left, right and centre as well as committing ourselves huge projects such as Crossrail, the 2012 Olympics, new Nuclear Submarines and a couple of aircraft carriers to boot. Oh and there's that new Super Train from Terminal 6 and other big things to keep the economy afloat.

Now as much as I love the Olympics coming to London (we beat Paris, that's all) and Crossrail (finally!) the fact of the matter is that we cannot afford a single thing. Britain is bankrupt, there is nothing coming into the coffers and as jobs keep on depleting, we are heading into another tax black hole. Welcome back to the future, welcome to 1979...

Okay, it may not be that bad, and I can only gleam from the text books. But for the very first time, there is a feeling that Britain cannot keep on paying its debts. In other words, we as a nation are going to miss out on a loan payment. Default. Oh hell, we have all skipped payments. Well, maybe not all of us, but you know those red-lettered bills that come through the door. Imagine one that is for the whole country, all 60 million of us.

Ah sod it, it's not our money and all those stupid people who were dumb enough to lend to us deserve what they get. Well, yes, but no. And for one good reason. We are not a part of the Euro.

If we defaulted and we were a part of the Euro, then it would not matter as we would not bankrupt the currency. However, we have kept our Sovereign Sterling. Minus any gold that was meant to back it up. In other words we have a lot of paper with the Queen's head printed on it and nothing else to save us from bankruptcy. The only reason people want to accept Pound Sterling from around the world is that they believe it will get them something and not because QEII is smiling at them.

If we default on our national debt (a possibility) then the price of Sterling will plummet as investors will take their cash anywhere but here and Iceland. Now a weak currency is good for manufacturers but a currency that is too weak is next to useless, and for good reason. We, as a nation do not make a single thing.

Take tea and biscuits. A simple, traditional British snack. Well, the biscuit is made of wheat and as a nation we are not self sufficient in wheat, we import a lot of in from Europe. Sugar comes from the West Indies (for the biscuit and the tea) and going back to the Continent we also need our milk from France. Of course our Tea comes from a variety of places such as India, Kenya and Sri Lanka. And it goes much further than tea and biscuits. A lot of our food products are imported and no cut-price war amongst the supermarkets can disguise the effects of not being able to import food. There was rationing in WWII as we had the Germans bombing the food convoys into the UK. At that time the population of the UK was 10 million less than it was today. And the UK had an Empire where it could grab food from. There is no such luxury today. If the Pound drops, then we starve. Time to start uprooting those patios in the back garden...

And it will not stop at food. Oil and Gas are now imported by the UK, so expect rationing and/or blackouts to accompany the collapse in currency. And you can forget about getting that new widescreen TV made in China...

Also do not forget the value on savings that will occur as Sterling drops. Money in the banks will be worthless. Feel like a crime spree?

Essentially this country has nothing to give to the world but its taxpayer's cash. If that can't happen...

Well, the UK has not defaulted on a debt since the formation of the Bank of England (the original debt bundle). But with the levels we are talking about plus the fact that we are taking on not just any ordinary company's debts but the debts of money lenders, then, we are f**ked!

Expect to be taxed to the hilt. 20% VAT, 25% basic income tax, road tax through the roof and petrol duty to rocket. Oh, and liquor is going to be an easy target in this country for any government to tax...and do not expect a job if you are in the public sector...either that, or we as a nation starve...on the bright side, corporation tax will probably come down as a final stimulus to business (should have been the first thing to happen).

I don't often agree with the view of these guys, but he has a point...especially that last paragraph.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Tax is Taxing

All life has been brought to a standstill, thanks to the taxman. The fact, that I have to find cash by the end of the month and pay up. It is amazing how much hassle I have to go through because of my brief venture into market stalls. Oh well, that will not be happening again. Sad to say, but it is far better driving a bus!



It is the paperwork that gets me

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

We've been here before...

A once thriving industry is now teetering on the edge. An industry in which Britain led, nay in fact invented the industry itself and an industry that has been so successfully copied round the world. This industry has unlocked the doors to economic development and has facilitated the expansion of globalisation. However, events 'beyond our control' have led us to this crisis. The industry has been overstretched and is suffering from a lack of confidence. This has led to numerous assets that are no longer viable. We are looking for a safe way in which to rid the industry of these bad decisions that were made in the heady atmosphere of yesterday but are now unviable in the clear economic light of the 'morning after'.

Therefore we have decided to take charge in these challenging times and are nationalising the railways. We aim to run them for a profit, while maintaining the social cohesion by providing low cost services to small out of the way areas around the country. Thereby we can justify our continued investment into this industry by using taxpayers money not only to save jobs and businesses from the difficulties that may face them if their rail service is cut, but we are also going to propel Britain's railways into the future! For the railways underline the basis of Britain's economy. And we are not about to let Britain collapse under the mighty pressures that abound.

---

Same words, a different era.

It will be interesting to see where the banking industry will be in 10 years time (shows promise), 20 years time (let's give up), 30 years time (an attempt at modernisation that will be ill thought through), 40 years time (sod it, we'll try some rationalisation on the sly) and 50 years time (Back to the Future)

Monday, 19 January 2009

My last article for a while



I have decided to round off my Citizen Journalism for a while to concentrate more on the filming, especially as the next few months will be critical. I am one of the most distracted film makers out there and so I am hanging up my pens for a while to really go all out on the filming side. It is again, one of the reasons why I am also giving up internet bumpf, but not yet blogging.

However, the article is a good one and over the past year, I am proud to have written some great articles for OhmyNews covering a wide variety of subjects, many of which would hav never been covered in the mainstream media, such is the power and breadth of Citizen Journalism.

My interview of Lara Farrar about the future of the media - click to read!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

And that WAS the weather...

Was anyone out and about last night? Well, for those that decided to brave London, it was the first storm of the year. And what a storm. Gales, sheet rain and even hailstones buffeted much of the capital las night. Puddles were everywhere, making London look like the Sub-Continent around the monsoon rather than a world class city. And no matter where you were, suicide takers were on te up as everyone acted like it was a balmy summer's evening. The full moon must have been out for the cab drivers of the city with their 'tooing' and 'froing' across the breadth of South London.

The calm, when it came was incredible. At around 2am-is, the storms just dissipated. Completely stopped. There was a couple of showers in the night, but they were a dusting compared to what occurred earlier.

The winter storms are horrific, as we here in the Capital are complete pansies when it comes to any sort of weather. But from the shelter of a house/bus/whatever, they are dramatic to look at and witness.

Just don't try cycling through it though...

Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Boys are back in town...

For those that know me, my current bus driving job is my second incarnation in the role, and is one that occurs primarily at night. Yes, I drive a Night Bus through London's streets while my days are spent obsessing with floating milk bottles and railway tracks (don't ask).

Yesterday, I was asked to do a day job, as a 'favour'. Now, I hate working in the daytime. One, it f**ks with my body clock. Secondly, I actually have to work. It is busier, it is filled with traffic, spotters, you're getting scratched up all the time, people actually want to pay for their ride rather than simply puke up in the aisles. In other words, I have to pay attention to what is going on and keep a look out. Nights may screw up with your body clock, but they are infinitely more peaceful than days.

But one thing that was good, was that I had a chance to meet up with some of 'da boys' from the other garage who are slaving away during the days. While I am still working for the transport, I will not give too much away, but we were the 'Kings of the Streatham High Road' The common phrase is that all bus drivers are wankers. Well, that's a pretty mild assessment of us, especially on the trunk routes in, out and around London. And yeah, we get up to mischief. Not in a bad way, but we are all little devils in our own unique way. Anyone who has worked or is currently working for London Buses knows what I am saying and what I am not saying.

Anyway, it was good to meet up with the boys at the terminus, a chance to chat s**t and chew the cud. Honestly, the job itself is not that great, in that you have to be careful at it. It requires concentration. But some of the guys on the job are best jokers around.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Gambleaware? Drinkaware? Or just Mickey Mouse?

Unlike smoking, booze and gambling are freely flaunted on every available screen, newspaper outlet and hoarding around as well as being hawked everywhere on the net. For me, smoking while a filthy habit is not as socially destructive as gambling or drinking. But anyway, it is all about choice, that for me is more important than the imposition of one person's morals over another. Enjoy your life and your body, that's the way I look on it.

But what makes me laugh is the way that during an advert for gambling or drink are the two websitres that apppear somewhere in the corner. Drinkaware and Gambleaware. Look at the funders and backers for these sites.

For the those with an awareness of getting drunk, you probably won't notice that the backers are the drinks companies. That includes the retailers (pubs and supermarkets) as well as the manufacturers.

For those with an awareness of gambling too much, the backers are more subtle including these guys. You're not drunk, so you might actually notice the irony if the casinos/bookies are directly backing Gambleaware.

Now in terms of effectiveness, these websites are about as useful as dirty knickers. I love the bit about having an open chat with your kids about the pros and cons of booze. Or the self assessment test to discover whether or not you have a gaming problem.

No one who drinks, smokes or gambles is unaware of the problems that come with it. After all, we have TV alongside the down and out of London town, the filled drinks cabinets of suburbia and of course, fast internet connections for that 'online buzz'. These pathetic websites are useless sops to whoever wants them. After all, we will do whatever we want. But what is more pathetic is the government support for these things. After all, if it weren't for th taxes paid on drinking and gambling (as well as smoking) then there would be very little left in the state coffers...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Bye Bye Facebook!

This is probably going to be the lamest blog this month and that includes the fact that January has had a pretty low word tally per post. But the fact is that I have been reviewing my online lifestyle (how gimpy is this blog going to sound) and I really have to ask myself, is the big blue yonder from California really worth it?

It was fun at first, and the stalk factor was always amusing. But now it is just tedious. And like friends reunited before it, this fad is slowly dying out. Less photos are being uploaded, I have not been poked in ages, and even the recent friend request from another gimpbook virgin has failed to titillate me.

Now that my status updates are done through twitter, the beauty in being able to communicate in 140 characters or less appeals to my sense of wasting precious bandwidth. And the honest truth is that people who I really want to communicate with, I already do on a regular basis, through e-mails, on their blogs or via their own twitters. I probably have their phone numbers and, shock horror, I also meet up with them!

But, as we've always known, gimpbook is just a waste of time. So I have decided to attempt to erase my profile off the internet's greatest stalk engine. Note that this is an attempt, as the actual process in deleting a facebook account is fraught with more stress than a commute from Morden. So while Jan 31st is the target, do not hold me up to it if I cannot actually rid myself of this disservice.

Now before you think I am an internet naysayer, I am not. I love the internet. Okay, I don't. I despise it like the plague and in fact all things with a microprocessor should be destroyed. Do not even try and get me with the irony of my near daily blogging, the fact that I run two websites or the fact that I use digital cinematography rather than film. The fact is that I love what I do, but I despise the process. Does that make sense? I suppose it is akin to enjoying a hot bath, but I hate waiting for the tub itself to fill up. Facebook is like filing a bath with a pipette, an exercise in sheer futility.

Now, the deletion process is fraught with hazards. Firstly, I will loose contact with all my friends. Well, it has happened before, so what the hell. My attitude to life is that you always manage to keep the important ones close. Secondly, and more importantly, it is damn near impossible. The genius in Facebook is that it is parasitical. Like herpes (you need to get to the 18 minute mark to enjoy the joke or you can click here for the dialogue), you just can't get rid of it. You can do it superficially, but ultimately, your details are still there, floating in cyberspace. Oh well, it has been mildly amusing, and so until the next social fad, I bid you all, farewell...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Vlog 101

I will be blunt as I am blogging after a night of passion with my computer.

Vlog 101

Monday, 12 January 2009

Team Jazz!

(From the wise words of Larrs Grooven)

After a few days hacking away, a slightly better game than last week's attempt...
Give it a moment to load, and turn your speakers on.


and don't forget to check out the vid below where El Director will be flexing his pyrotechnical skills!
- El Maestro

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Children...

Spawn of the loins, the scourge of society, scum and vermin. It is a wonder why we bother procreating. Sure, they are cute enough when they are young; only needing food, water and changing. But soon they grow up and that is when the trouble begins. Me, me, me, more selfish than my own ego, then come the teenage years. Experimentation and full rights but sod all responsibility, kids, spawn of other people's loveless relationships are tearing away on the streets. It would be easier if they were shot.

---

Calm. Chill. Relax.

---

I am not a big fan of children, one of the big reasons for not having them. When you see other people's offspring, it is a wonder why anyone would freely choose such a path to doom. after spending years trying to escape my own childhood, having to suddenly skull around for sex, bend over backwards for the whims of others ad the continuous conflicts makes you wonder if it is worth the hassle.

---

Yet to be convinced of the merits of children.

---

So as my generation slips into the years of child bearing, I wonder how many of my contemporaries will decide to take the plunge and not use contraception, deliberately. Anyone with stable partners are looking likely, and being in our late twenties, it is the time that we started to think about this. After all, with only six billion people on this world, we need to add our own unique genetic patterns to the soup. To reach out to infinity, beyond our own meagre lifespans. And after all the disappointments of our own personal dreams, what better way to justify our own existence than to get children. Then instead of doing things for ourselves, we can justify another mediocre existence with the phrase, 'I'm doing it for the kids'.

---

Smug families and the highlight of their own lives is free the parent and child parking spot at the supermarket.

---

At this moment in time I do not feel ready enough for children. The major one being the lack of a stable partner (ah, to believe I am five years younger). The lack of a stable career is a hindrance, but that is only an excuse. Also the lack of interest. I am too wrapped up in my own life, in what I want to do. The twenties are the years that we lay the foundations for the rest of our lives, assuming it is not cut short by some driver skidding around on red wine. I still have over a year to go and the honest truth is that children are the furthest thought from my mind along with the thought of finding a long term partner. But as the sun set on my twenties and the new dawn of my thirties approach, there is one question I have to ask...

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When shall I actually begin to act my age, and not my shoe size?

Friday, 9 January 2009

-ging

A few titbits this morning, as I am far too tired to go in depth (the CWP blog should have something far more useful later on today).

Firstly, this shitty cold is not going. Last night I kept my neck in a scarf while working, felt like a prat, but still no better this morning. The fact that I cycled home with five layers and did not sweat should tell you how ridiculous the weather is. My respiratory system does not like the cold!

I hate skip hire companies. All wankers.

Right, off to snooze...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Blog-

I've been thinking...I have something in my head...it has been bubbling for a while...but when it comes to putting pen to paper...something is amiss...maybe it is the poor weather...maybe it is this lousy sore throat...but for aome reason my fingers have turned to fudge...so no change there...oh, and have you noticed how quickly 2009 is passing by...only 51 weeks left until 2010!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Sri Lanka article: the comments stack up...

Yesterday I published an article analysing the fall of the LTTE capital of Kilinochi and I took a look at what the end game could be in Asia's longest running war as well as asking how did it get so bad in the first place.

Predictably, a barrage of comments came my way that painted Sri Lanka as a utopia that has been destroyed by the arrival of the Tamil Tigers and that I am simply a Western stooge trying to disintegrate the country. The bulk of the comments missed the point of the article and as always looked like the rantings of stoked up nationalists.

---

Comment number one described the economic situation of the Tamils in Sri Lanka being better than the Sinhalese. A visit to the North and East of the country quickly dismisses this fact, but as this area has been decimated by the civil war, it is understandable why the Tamils are in a far worse off position on the island. This is the reason why Tamils are poorer than Sinhalese. Missed the point.


Comment two states that the Tigers will revert to hit and run terror tactics rather than conventional warfare. This is a strong possibility, but their strength will be greatly diminished from their previous high at the end of the twentieth century.


Number 3 misses the point of the article. Again. It states that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka are amongst the most privileged minority in the world. If so, then answer the question that I asked originally. How were the Tamil Tigers able to dominate the life of Tamils in Sri Lanka when they brutalised the local population with punitive laws on personal liberties, extorted money from locals and recruited children into their ranks. Such an organisation could not have existed without corporation from the populace and so they obviously did not feel the privileged status within Sri Lanka in order to accept such treatment 'from their own'. Probably because it was better than the continual rapes by the army of Sri Lanka. I also suppose that torture does not really do any favours for officialdom either.


I will quote directly from Comment 4:

'you say "the state religion of Buddhism" - this is false. Sri lanka does not have a state religion. Buddhism just has to be protected by the state under the constitution.'

I think that qualifies Buddhism as a state religion. Also the comment talks about the happy utopia of the Tamils (again why have the LTTE existed for so long if this is true) and the international groups include the UN.


Five (this is getting tedious) is from 'Doc Ok'. I am just simply going to quote him:

'Your writtig,Mr. Duke, shaws that you just don t know the facts. Tipical wetern style pundith writting with no real insight. Please, if you don t know-do us a favour-don t report.It does more damage than good.-Thanks.'

My spelling is usually atrocious, but he makes me look good...


Number 6 is very true in that Malaysia does favour Malays over other people in the state, but in keeping English were able to avoid one of the most basic facets of the Sri Lankan war, one of language.


Comment seven is also a balanced one, although we agree to disagree on the details, mainly on my claim on the mistrust between the peoples of Sri Lanka.


#8 was a simple comment. The internet makes it easy. You keep writing my little friend.


Number nine makes me laugh in every way. From the description of my skin colour I knew this was going to be fun. And again, the comment completely missed the point of the article: How did the LTTE ever come so big? Simple words are not enough to cause a civil war, it requires far more than that, otherwise Bradford in Yorkshire would have become New Warizistan. The fundamental reason why the LTTE were able to become so big was that the mis-treatment of the Tamils became so unbearable, they decided to run into the arms of the Tigers. Out of the frying pan...


10, I agree with the divide and rule strategy of Britan that was successfully continued by successive administrations in Sri Lanka and by many other former colonies. However, the worst victim of divide and rule, India, has managed to overcome a lot of the worst of this, but is still not perfect, there is more of an effort there than in Sri Lanka. It depends on the will of the leaders, something that was lacking since independence in Sri Lanka, where which the government has simply relied on the 70-80% Sinhalese majority.


11, yes I agree, the Tiger's leadership has not changed, and I will be glad (like everyone) to see the back of them. But even the best state sponsored terrorism could not exist without the will of the people. Why else did the IRA last for so long? It requires support from ground level.

Why does support come from ground level? It is due to the belief of the people that their conditions would be better under militants than under a legitimate government. The UK were able to stop the IRA as they addressed the legitimate concerns of the Catholics in Northern Island. While no paradise, the Omagh bombing and the lack of support afterwards was one of the major turning points in bringing an end to the troubles in Northern Ireland. That never happened in Sri Lanka and so when the LTTE and the SLA went back to war, there was support from the ground up for the LTTE.


Twelve, when you compare to other Asian Diasporas such as Indians, Chinese, Malays, Filipinos, Thais, Pakistanis (in Mirpur), Bengalis (in Sylhet) the investment by Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka has been pitiful.


Comment 13 hit the nail on the head.


Comment 14 it is true that many Tamils have managed to achieve high positions in the capital. Having a command of three different languages is a start. Something that many Sinhalese cannot claim to. In effect it is in spite of the conditions in Sri Lanka, and a result of the higher rate of education amongst the Tamils, something that continues today despite the Civil War.


Number 15 , which is the final comment so far talks about the happy utopia of Colombo. A walk along the streets of Colombo will distill much of this particularly when in the Tamil areas. A sharp knock on the door produces fearful scurries inside, worried about security patrols in the area. Yes, I was mistaken for the army many times on my visits to the island, when knocking on the door of friends and family, unexpected. And yes, I will worry about the forces after the war. There are a lot of arms in a lot of peoples' hands. The numbers of troops employed now, will not be needed once the war ends. Are they really going back to the paddy fields to scratch a living from the earth?

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Right, that's my usual reply to a Sri Lankan article. As always, and something that I knew would happen, there would be comments stating that the Tamils are to blame and that Sri Lanka is a peaceful world that was disrupted by a few Tamil Tigers. There was no way the LTTE could have gained so much strength without the support of the people. The only way to have gained that support is if the Tamils thought their lot would be better with the Tigers rather than with the Sri Lankan government.

There is still (unfortunately) widespread support by ordinary men and women for the Tamil Tigers and this support is unlikely to waver anytime soon. How the state of Sri Lanka will address this was one of the big questions asked by my article. Despite the wide range of comments and views, this one fundamental question was not answered. More fearfully, the government of Sri Lanka does not seem to have a solution for this either...

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Suicide...Indifference...South London

What makes a girl walk into the middle of a busy South London Road. Drink, weed, youth?

What is making that girl weep in the middle of a busy South London Road? She's stubbed her toe, she's been dumped, she's being abused?

What is making her cut her wrists open in the middle of a busy South London Road? Suicide, insanity, desperation?

Why is she digging into her wrist rather than slitting along the vein in order for a quick and instantaneous death on a busy South London Road? A lack of knowledge, the wrong tool for the job, or the fact that she really does not want to die.

Why did a a driver stop in the middle of a busy South London Road in order to give assistance to this girl? Shock, Pity, Kindness?

Why did another driver go past this girl on a busy South London Road? The fact that he does not want to get involved, the fact that he could be blamed for something that has nothing to do with him, the fact that she could sue him if he survives the bleeding?

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No matter what happened this morning on that busy South London Road, the city kept on moving, the world kept on turning and life continues as we know it...

Friday, 2 January 2009

World's worst places to ring in New Year...

Croydon.

That's all I have to say.

The worst way to ring in the New Year. What a way to make 2009 absolute crap. Oh well, 12 months to go until 2010!