Daily Archives: January 23, 2011

#oneaday17: Robin Hood or Robbing Us?

When you read this short but important statement issued by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra I must admit, I worry, once I understand the context:-

“We are committed to shifting the balance of power from big government to big society by giving individuals, businesses, civil society organisations and local authorities a much bigger role in enhancing the natural environment”

Our ancient forests are going to be sold to private companies, why?

So, with horror, I have read about the UK Government’s stated policy to sell some of our ancient woodlands in a bid to reduce the deficit (here we go again) by some £700 million, a pretty small sum all things considered – think the cost of Wembley Stadium. This includes land in The New Forest, The Forest of Dean  and Sherwood Forest as well as much more.

Government ministers want to transfer power and ownership  from the nation via the Forestry Commission, which owns 18% of woodlands to private business and ‘the big society’, claiming that  this move will giver greater public control. Quite what the logic of this is actually beyond me? I suppose when the land is sold off, then more people may be in control than currently, ie the civil servants, but that is a completely bogus argument.  Apparently a public consultation will begin  next week and a bill to enable the sale is due to go before the House of Lords soon after. Let’s hope the Lords, famed for their independence and propensity to check recklessness by Government, calls this policy into question.

The pressure group 38 Degrees carried out a poll via YouGov and found that 75% of the 2,000 people it polled were against the plans and 84% agreed that that forests should stay publically owned. So far some according to Channel 4 News tonight 130,000 people have signed the petition run by 38 Degrees, it will be interesting to see if this number will rise substantially as the media begins to focus on the issue. For once, this feels like an open vote issue, many traditional left, right and centre voters being united that they want forests to stay free and hold back the small band of private property owners who wish to put their profit, not the environment, first.

Look what happened when the railways, energy companies and airports were sold off in the 80’s. We have ended up with a ludicrously expensive and disjointed railway system, our energy prices are sky high and under foreign ownership and Heathrow, owned by a massively over leveraged (ie skint) Spanish company, can’t get rid of snow and ice as quickly as they should. I am neither pro or anti private ownership of national institutions, but I would like us to weigh up the consequences. For a paltry £700 million do we really think this is the righ thing to do?

Since I watched Channel 4 News, the number of people who have signed the petition has risen to 178,350. If you fancy signing, here’s the link. This is a very sad state of affairs.


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#oneaday 16: NEDS – To be someone is a wonderful thing?

I watched N.E.D.S last night and it was absolutely brilliant and I say that having seen some amazing films so far this year and the back end of last year including The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Black Swan, 127 Hours, Another Year, Get Low,  Made in Dagenham, Barney’s Version, Four Lions, The Wildest Dream and of course Inception. But if you are British, went to school in Britain, were ever in a gang, firm or crew, or wanted to be in one, and above all wanted to ‘be someone’, whilst wanting to be yourself, this film is a must.

Set in Glasgow in the 1970’s , it centres around a young, bright lad, John McGill who is faced with the choices of gang membership, class prejudice and a total wanker of a pissed up, wife beating father (who is played by the film’s director, Peter Mullan). The sets, scenes, costume, make up, haor and props are all spot on. One thing you notice is the complete lack of clothing brands, there is a style and identity, but no badge to make the point.  Only in the eighties, did branding become important to youth gangs, a way of identifying and separating them from mainstream society.  So John is a clever kid, and wants to win by coming top of his class each and every time he is tested. His determination is his drive and if there is no outlet for that drive, not end result, it produces frustration and anger.  His brother is the leader of one of the gangs on his estate and his dad is a twat. The rest of the characters are rich and wild, the story is brilliantly told and the acting,  largely by the non actors, is compelling and above all realistic.

I can relate to John’s story in many ways, mind you my father is the best man on the earth and never drinks any alcohol before one assumes too much.  However, the sense of wanting to ‘be someone’, as Paul Weller wrote and The Jam performed ‘is a wonderful thing’. To  belong to a peer group, to prove you can handle yourself, to show your mates you will never back down, always front the opposition. Indeed not only do you not take a step back, you actively seek out and attack the enemy – preferably on their own patch, on their manor, in their face. Anyway,  I was very lucky and although had my fair share of ‘japery’ including a couple of nasty wounds, I had opportunities and the chance of a very good education, even though I managed to drop out of school (or expelled as the letter from school said), went off the rails a tad, but had enough confidence to make my way in the world.

I won’t spoil NEDS. It is too good a story and too well told to need an amateur like me to pimp it. This is a really essential British film and one I would urge anyone who ever wanted to be someone to watch.

Meanwhile, enjoy a couple of corking, relevant tracks from The Jam. Not of the time of NEDS (that is more T-Rex and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band), but the lyrics and attitude sum up the spirit of the age.

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#oneaday 15: Toilet etiquette – everyone loves targets

Whether it was a slow news day or just  pre-Christmas japery,  I must admit I did find the story about SEGA’s Toilet Game very amusing. You know, the one exclusively aimed at and for men and one which could revolutionise men’s public toilet time forever. I for one would really appreciate this sort of ‘added value service’  which sounds like great fun. It would be far fun  than the bloke hanging around the toilet hand basins trying to ‘give’ you an array of cheap aftershave, toilet water in fact, in return for a ‘tip’.  These men are nothing but a complete and utter nuisance and a fragrant (sic) infringement of our privacy. That aside I wonder if SEGA’s game will be seen in years to come as one of the key turning points when our beloved ‘computer and video games’ industry became the ‘interactive entertainment’ industry? Is this SEGA’s attempt to trump the Nintendo Wii?

Continuing the theme of men, toilets and their behaviour, we have a phantom ‘dart board misser’ in our office at work, someone who really cannot get to the point and meanders hither and thither. If you visit the ‘Gents’ post prandial at our office, you are likely to find a number of ‘hits’ that have fallen outside the target area so to speak. Collectively we think we know who it is, but we can’t be absolutely sure and it is not the sort of subject you really want to raise in the office, is it?

However, according to the fantastic people at PopBitch there are a number of different approaches to the etiquette of the lavatory, stepping into the pooh on the way. The Guardian maintain typically PC approach, very much keeping everything to the left with a gentle, socially mobile approach to the tricky subject of people making a proper mess in the loos. Mind you the Guardian management decided to dump the poitical correctness and aim the memo to their male staff only, I guess evidence must have pointed this way:-

 “In the event that you are, ahem, inconvenienced when visiting the toilets, please use the brush handily situated at the side of the toilet to clean the bowl after yourself.”

 Meantime, over at TV production company Endemol, they are a little more ‘free market’ and ‘to the point’:-

 “Stop pissing all over the lavatory like a fucking animal. What is wrong with your penis? Is it a corkscrew? Does it flick around like a hosepipe?”

Whichever style floats your boat, or indeed anything else for that matter, it is pleasing to know that we men are all in this together and whilst most of us try to keep to the straight and narrow some clearly prefer to go off piste more times than not. Does this prove that the centre is preferable to the extreme left or right? Who knows, but I wonder if any of those who create the mess will ever take the time to clear it up….

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