Quickness…

23 12 2009

Just a really quick pointer to a new link added to the BBC History magazine’s blog. It’s worth a read as it invites articles from various public historians (including, at the moment, Dan Snow on the gluttony of Christmas). Have a look, the link is on the right.

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Christmas Songs…

22 12 2009

In an effort to feel Christmassy, and because I was accused of being a scrooge yesterday at work by a girl who I think genuinely detests me, I’m going to post a couple of my favourite Christmas songs in video form for you to enjoy.

And…





Growing Up…

22 12 2009

The good thing about blogging is that you can find out what people have searched for in order to arrive at your site. For me this causes much merriment as at the moment I am receiving hits from people searching for “bobcats for sale” and, perhaps even more bizarrely, “comebacks for innuendos about sausages”. I cannot recall ever having posted about either of those subjects, directly or otherwise. Of course I welcome the readers, but am afraid that having arrived at the ‘Field looking for bobcats you may leave disappointed. Naturally I will tag this post with both ‘bobcats’ and indeed ‘sausages’, meaning that you are more likely to arrive here and read this post and be disappointed than you were before. It’s something of a catch-22.

Anyway, onto the real point of why I wanted to blog today when I’ve found a few spare minutes. I was in the pub last night chatting with a mate about many a thing and we moved onto, roughly, the idea of growing up, and how much we’ve grown up since both the first year of university, and indeed, since we have graduated. For me this is brought home by what I considered important then, and what I think of it now.

Take BULS for example. I hadn’t checked their blog for roughly six months until about a week ago, and aside from the painful new layout, the quality seemed to have tailed off into nothingness. Having checked it again today to see if this had improved, I instead find an appeal from the only current writer it seems asking where the conservative opposition which once lit up the comments on pretty much every article has now gone. I think the point is that the writer isn’t producing enough to keep people caring, nor is the style, written and otherwise, particularly appealing.

However, whereas once upon a time I would have had online debates on any given subject on both this blog, and the BUCF site, now I feel a sense of something else. It is a mixture of sympathy and pity. The trouble is that the stuff they are writing is the same stuff that can be found, articulated much better, on any number of websites, or in any number of newspapers. Thus their writing seems almost pointless. Obviously I remain encouraged that people are engaging with politics, and at university is a good place to develop and stimulate political opinion, however it is their continuing sense of self-importance which makes me feel sorry for them. They are small fry, part of a blogging statistic rather than the significant political player they would like to think they are.

Likewise I now look at the university’s Guild of Students, and think how much time I spent there, as well as the time I’ve spent thinking about how to improve it’s involvement in the university. It’s beginning to seem all a little pointless now though. For all intents and purposes I cannot say, from what I’ve seen, that the Guild as both a building and as an institution has developed significantly since when I first started university, despite all the posturing of the council, the officers and other such folk. The devil, I suppose is the scale of things. Whilst at university these things are the world, they involve everyone and need to be fed by the students in order to live. Once you are outside of this circle though there is this amazing thing called ‘the bigger picture’. You come to realise that your university life, your contribution, was nothing but a pointillist dot on a Seurat canvas.

In the world outside university, it matters not that you contributed to this or that, other than it being a CV filler of course. What matters is the person themself. How university has shaped you is more important than what you did whilst you were there. The lasting effect of ‘you’ is more important than being able to say ‘I wrote for the uni’s paper a couple of years ago’. It was important at the time, but it just isn’t anymore.





Christmas Number 1…

20 12 2009




All the Rage…

20 12 2009

So, after weeks of interest, it has finally been confirmed that Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ has been named Christmas number one, beating the X Factor winner into second place. And this could not be better news.

Personally I have never even heard Joe McElderry sing. I don’t know if he is good, bad, or merely another sterile voice produced by Cowell’s manufacture pop machine. Nor do I particularly care. The point is that this battle was not about Joe. Nor, really was it about RATM. Instead it was about the people fighting back against Cowell and the X Factor. The months of hype about the pathetic pop battle between people who, for all intents and purposes sound really very similar , is, after so many years, now tired. The artists come out sounding the same. Cowell’s manufactured pop has been a dominant force on the music scene for much of the past decade. And finally the people have had enough.

The success of Rage is a stand against the X Factor dominating the music scene. I’m not sure it will be the last either, as it has now set a precedent. It may not be Rage, but it will give a bit of hope to artists thinking of fighting against Cowell’s musical juggernaut. It also shows that Facebook has the power to influence so many people in such a short space of time.

In short I’m delighted at the result, not because I particularly like the Rage song, but because I dislike the X Factor, and indeed Simon Cowell’s smugness.





Over the Dinner Table…

5 12 2009

Tonight my parents have had a dinner party, with a small band of their friends encircling our dinner table to laugh and talk about various things with a few bottles of wine handy. As seems inevitable, the conversation turned to politics. Having been invited in to grab some pudding, I found myself unwittingly dragged into the conversation (I hesitate to use the word “argument”), and found myself understanding so many things about the frustrations of the older generations.

To say I became scared of some of the stuff they were saying is perhaps taking it too far, but, through the course of the hour or so I spent listening, there was a frightening amount of stuff that the BNP’s publicist would have been proud of. Starting off with the premise that there are simply too many people in the country, thus necessitating a dramatic cull (we moved from Nazi Germany – with echoes of Nick Griffin’s comment about Hitler going just a bit too far with the Jews – to modern day China in the conversation), one particular member of the party exhibited his own take on the state of the country. Those we kick out of the country (roughly the 15 or so million people which would see our population be taken back down to about 50 million) would have to go somewhere else. Anywhere else. It doesn’t matter, as long as they aren’t on British soil. Look after your own first, then see what’s left to share with the rest of the world.

From there we moved through the problems of industry, religion, education, and class. The continuing theme was not, as I was perhaps expecting it to be, the fault of the current government in these issues; but was instead the larger issue of the psyche of the population. The phrase “white underclass” was one which was casually tossed around and seemed to be the common denominator in the matters. Laziness is to blame for the lack of industry in Britain (we have the know-how, so why don’t we do it anymore?). Religion is emphasised by varying gang cultures which is a product of the “underclasses” (I must have spent roughly ten minutes trying to explain that not all knife and gun crime is committed by black people). The education system is too saturated with children who know too much about the dole, about how to play the system to maximise laziness and reward. So ran, in a nutshell, most of the points that were made.

However, it was not only the fault of the white underclass, it is also the fault of immigrants (we take in way too many for our resources to cope). Having tried to explain Malthusian principles of a checking factor to the group, the response was that it will not be disease as we will simply find a cure. In short, for too many years we, as a country, have been to lax with too many things that we are now at a point where we are going to suffer greatly. Our import/export ratio is woefully imbalanced, our manufacturing industry is all but gone, and our gas and oil reserves are all used up. Or, to put it another way, we’re doomed.

Nor is the future any better, as younger generations are being taught too much in the way of other religions (apparently being indoctrinated into them) by our schooling systems, and they are being taught about gay rights from the age of four. They are becoming adults too quickly, a problem exacerbated by shops selling clothing which encourages them to grow up and act more like an adult from a younger age. Kids aren’t allowed to be kids any more. Apparently.

The problem was, that despite all these problems there were no real workable solutions offered. Getting rid of 15 million people to somewhere else and looking out for ourselves was the ideal principle. Cutting our imports down to provide a stimulus for our manufacturing was another suggestion (but failed to ignore the knock-on effects that that would have on various other trades and indeed, other countries who then grow disillusioned with the severence of economic ties). Starting again and establishing British industry once again to its former levels should be the aim. This industry which grew out of the industrial revolution will be pretty east to kick start as we have all the know-how, it’ll just take a bit of hard work. Apparently.

And yet, despite all this, they all freely admitted that they would not be joining their local political party. They would not be taking any actions as there is simply nothing they can do to stem this tide. And it was at this point I began imagining the same conversations happening in living-rooms, kitchens, dining-rooms, or over the garden fence up and down the country. Whilst the BNP are still largely discredited, it suddenly became so much clearer to me why people would want to vote for them. I maintain it would still be a protest vote, but it is not, as I’d thought, a protest vote against politics, it is a protest vote against the country. And it was then I began to feel uneasy. I’m pretty sure most of the party tonight would not vote BNP, as, for all their gesturing and posturing, they are not racist fools. The tide with which politics is battling is not against the BNP, as I’d have thought. Instead, politics must grapple with the consequences of the last 50 or so years, the decline of the empire, the industry, the rising dissatisfaction at all that has come to pass.

The Conservatives will likely come to office next year, and will be faced with the same problems. Industry will still be gone, the number of migrants will still remain “too many”. Bureaucracy and red tape will have to continue as a definition of our society. What seems to be needed is the foundations of stability need to be relaid. Industry played such a large part in British life for so many years, something needs to replace it, or it needs to be re-grown. I’m really not sure what the solutions are, if indeed there are any.

Tonight was an interesting eye opener, and it was nice to have another view of the world. However the hugely annoying uneasy feeling with which I left the conversation as the coffee arrived still lingers in my stomach, and I’m really not sure how to combat it.