Surely there is a way that Johnson can give us a treat on Halloween, rather than a trick?

Embed from Getty Images

WARNING: This article contains high amounts of hysterical optimism (or at least non-pessimism)

Here are, to my mind, three significant things about Boris Johnson in the context of the current Brexit dilemma:

1. It is conceivable that he harbours ideas of having statues of himself built in future. When grappling with the choice of being a politician or a journalist, he allegedly once said:

They don’t put up statues to journalists

Continue reading

Irish Travellers deserve our respect – just like any other ethnic group

(Above) #DontTeachHate short video from The Traveller Movement
I was very struck by this quote from Chris Baughurst of the Gypsy,Roma,Traveller Police Association (Thames Valley branch), speaking at the Green party Summer Gathering in Reading last Saturday:

We are the only ethnicity in this country where it is openly acceptable to denigrate us, people to say things, and no one bats an eyelid.

I recently dug through the Twitter archive relating to a recent event (which I will not specify, as it is now sub judice) and found over 100 separate incidents in the last week alone where Twitter users were (in arguable contravention of Twitter’s own rules) “abusive or harmful” in ‘directing hate towards a protected category’, in relation to Irish Travellers (a UK government registered ethnic group).

Most of the relevant tweets used a grossly derogatory word beginning with “p” or an abusive word beginning with “g” and ending in “o”. Some of the worst tweets combined those words with the word “scumbag”, the word “vermin” or a slang word for excrement. All made generalised remarks about the grouping and some expressed the view that drastic action should be taken against that group, in contravention of their basic human rights. (I have reported 90+ incidents to Twitter and I am now having to deal with a blizzard of emails from them asking for further information). The short video above gives even more graphic illustrations of such routine abuse, collated by the Traveller Movement. Continue reading

The thin blue line is too thin and we do not sufficiently punish those who attack the police

I’m going to sound like a misty-eyed old fossil now, but often I find my base reference point, with respect to the police, was the actor Jack Warner playing “Dixon of Dock Green“.

Yes, I know most people under 60 years old won’t remember him. Yes, I know “Dixon of Dock Green” probably gave an idealised version of law and order even when it was broadcast from 1955 until 1976. Continue reading

Rome – a city of two halves

Ostiense bridge, in the less privileged area I visited in Rome

Rome, which I recently visited, has its extravagant treasures, such as in the Vatican. I found these material things rather difficult to reconcile with the idea of faith in Jesus Christ.

While in the city, we went on a Street Art tour, organised by a charity which seeks to interest the public more in the genre. We saw a plethora of beautiful and skilful street art, explained brilliantly by our guide. It all made quite contrast to the Sistine Chapel et al.

I was particularly struck by the work of the street artist Blu. In one case he worked for food and accommodation only, risking his life on ropes at night to cover a social housing project in art. In tribute to his selflessness, graffiti artists have left his work untouched (which is unusual).


Bob Monkhouse: The Last Stand

The video below shows Bob Monkhouse, live on stage at The Albany pub in Great Portland Street, Central London in 2003, interspersed with interviews with comedians and celebrities that were in the audience that night. It was to be his last stand-up comedy performance and shows him at his best. He really was a stand-up genius.

I was fortunate enough to see him on stage at Butlin’s Minehead doing his stand-up in the late 1970s. I was doing glass collection as a staff member. He was fantastic – and quite different from his TV appearances. The following night I saw him again, because I was still collecting glasses. Interestingly, his every utterance, gesture and pause were exactly the same as the night before. This was testament to his supreme skill.

After some great stand-up, in the second half of this video, Bob Monkhouse recalls some fascinating observations on famous comedians he knew and worked with such as Peter Sellers, Benny Hill, Tommy Cooper etc. He really is very frank, incisive and funny on these comedy giants. He then introduces Mike Yarwood, who is seeringly honest about his career and life. This gig was recorded shortly before Bob Monkhouse sadly died. So it is incredible that he puts in a flawless, fascinating and hugely energetic performance.