Thursday, 29 April 2010

Briefs and a little Satantango

Not sure we learned much new tonight. Clegg looked a little more flustered, Cameron a little calmer yet angrier. Brown less liable to extend the hippo smile. Essential issues: cuts now or later? VAT (on jobs) or not? The responses to the question on immigration was really an auction on who could get the lowest numbers. The affair of Bigot Woman was clearly fresh in everyone's minds. Oddly enough the question did not exactly presuppose the desirability of the auction. It might have meant to, but it didn't. Curious to hear Brown talk about the needs of the middle classes on education when addressing a question from a teacher from a school in a deprived area.

I cannot see Brown winning. No one can. The prospect becomes dimmer with each day that passes. Nor can I see Clegg keeping him in power. Brown is a boxer who keeps throwing the same punch each time with ever less power while walking on to punches that seem to rain on him from everywhere. He's practically out on his feet. So it's prim-mouthed Dave. A relatively weak Conservative government, hobbling through.


Wonderful to hear of Fulham coming through to the Europa Final. I don't think any of their matches have been shown live, have they? A touch disgraceful if not. Liverpool, the bits I saw, looked tired and clueless. End of Rafa imminent. Gerrard nowhere. My admiration of Gerrard as a person has long vanished. I suppose he might still be capable of putting on top performances but he looks a shadow of a man and player at the moment. A full reflection on the football season will follow at some stage.


The question of the art school writing course also to be considered. Thereby. Tale. Hangs. Maybe piece of Tale in the morning. Tomorrow I travel to Bristol and stay overnight.



...Futaki carefully put out a hand as he leaned on his stick and teetered towards the door, his hair tousled, his shirt hanging out at the back, his face as white as lime. With great difficulty he removed the wedge, stepped outside, but the shock of fresh air immediately had him on his back. The rain was beating down as hard as ever, each drop ‘an inimitable messenger of doom’ exploding against the moss-covered tiles of the inn roof, against the trunk and branches of the acacia, on the uneven glimmering surface of the metalled road above, down below the road on the space by the door and on Futaki’s juddering and stooping body as he lay sprawled in the mud. He lay there for long minutes, as if unconscious in the dark, and when eventually he managed to relax, he immediately fell asleep, and if it hadn’t occurred to the innkeeper, some half an hour later, to wonder where he’d got to and shake him into consciousness (‘Hey! You gone crazy or something?! Get up! You want pneumonia?!’) he might have remained there till the morning. Dizzy, he leant against the wall of the inn, rejecting the innkeeper’s offer (‘Come along, lean against me, you’ll get soaked through to your asshole out here, so stop it…’) and just stood, stupid and drained under the pitiless power of the rain, seeing but not understanding the unstable world around him until – another half hour later – when he was utterly soaked he suddenly noticed he was sober again. He nipped round the corner of the building to piss by an old bare acacia and, while doing so, looked up at the sky, feeling tiny and quite helpless – and while the endless stream of water gushed from him in powerful masculine fashion he experienced a fresh wave of melancholy. He continued gazing at the sky, examining it, thinking that somewhere – however far away – there must be an end to the great tent extended above them, since ‘it is ordained that all things must end’. We are born into this sty of a world, he thought, his mind still pounding, like pigs rolling in our own muck, having no idea what all that jostling at the teats amounts to, why we’re engaged in this perpetual trotter-to-trotter combat on the path that leads to the trough, or to our beds at dusk. He buttoned himself and moved to one side to be directly under the rain. ‘Go wash my old bones,’ he grumbled. ‘Give them a good wash, since this ancient piece of piss won’t be around much longer.’ He stood there, his eyes closed, his head thrown back because he very longed to be free of the obstinate, ever recurring desire to know at last, now that he was near the end the answer to the question: ‘What is the point of Futaki?’

What indeed? We may find out...


Dafydd John said...

Fulham's match was live on ITV4 tonight. I think their other matches have been shown either there or on Channel5.

Coirí Filíochta said...

On sheer 'performance', Cameron won it. Or, at least, got my vote. Not for what he said, because he said nothing at all, but as an actor in front of the camera he was the most physically assured. His image was got right. The stiffness of the first debate that his slicked hair symbolised and that swung too tousled the following week, was coiffured sopt on.

Clegg looked subdued, as if there were things on his mind that made him lack focus. Brown was, as you say, punching away but Cameron made the cleverest point that it was under his stewardship the economy collapsed.

I was watching and the novelty had worn off, because Clegg sounded a lot weaker, like someone who is interesting for half an hour until they'd exhausted themsleves and you lost interest, and it was overload, zero being said especially by Cameron who just ignored and refused to say anything of substance about the cap on immigration or anything more than 'values'.

It's like the drama of the American election that eveloved over months, concertinaed into four weeks.

Then I watched Liverpool lose it at the finish. Rafa can't last long now.

I remember at Xmas back in Ormskirk, where soccer is the most important cultural reality, winding up a few pals, saying I would love to see Liverpool get relegated, going down on the last day of the season, against Man U, a Rooney deflection off Gerrard's ballls. He hits the deck clutching his fruit and veg, tears in his eyes, and the ball slowly trickles over the line, as Carragher smashes into the post trying to stop it. Then, Stevie G weeping on camera, apologising to the fans and half of Liverpool in mourning.

I will never forget the looks on their faces. It was akin to being in a pub on Thomas Street Dublin, denigrating the 1916 martyrs.

A sad day all round. The death of political debate, sold out.

Murdoch Media Luvvies 1 - British Intellectual Life 0

George S said...

Dafydd, my abject apologies to ITV4. Channel 5? Not sure about that. Whenever there was a clash (and there always was) it was Liverpool, or Aston Villa, or Everton...

Coirí, I think some questions were answered in the debate, about as many as one might reasonably have expected. Having told us what public services would be protected, they implicitly tell us those others that will not. That is to say, everything that is left.

In so far as public interest is concerned the debates have clearly been a success this time. It will be a little less next time. After that, who knows?

Hard political times ahead. Think of Greece. Not as bad as that, but bad.

Billy C said...

"Hard political times ahead. Think of Greece. Not as bad as that, but bad."

Yes, George, that is, unfortunately, true. Will we see scenes like the ones over the poll tax when taxes rise disproportionately as they always have done? The rich and well off can afford some severe pruning, but try it on the less well off and it can have catastrophic consequences. Where will they find all the new jails to house many of the underclasses who will turn to crime if their money is stopped when they refuse to take a job or any of the other schemes, as they have done since I was a small boy back in the 40's? How will doctors cope with a surgery full of people wanting sick notes?

I'm disappointed that people can be persuaded by spin - slick hairs styles etc. It would be like electing the Poet laureate because he/she were the best looker.

Who will I vote for? I think Gordon's Mob will get my vote (just) because all five of my grandchildren go to a brand new school and are taught by a group of absolutely wonderful, young teachers, attracted into the profession because they saw the investment in education under Gordon's Mob. Before New labour came to power, all we had here was a Victorian building that was often closed for repairs.

According to Cameron and Clegg, that was 'waste', as was all the massive expenditure on education and the NHS during Gordon's Mob's tenure. According to them, we should have remained in the 90's and saved our money for this global financial crash.

Gordon won't be back in power I don't think, but I'll be fucked if I'm going to vote for a pair of slick sods who won't know what's hit them if they do get in power. Neither Cameron nor Clegg are what I would call 'statesmen', which is what is needed in dire times that lie ahead. All their spin won't count for a brass farthing when social unrest hits our streets.

Ah well. I always have my winter fuel allowance to fall back on. Even Cameron didn't dare take on us OAP's. :)

Coirí Filíochta said...

One can only concur Mister C. Very accurate appraisal.

I did alright out of Gordon.

I started at Edge Hill College (now university) in my home town of Ormskirk Lancashire Nowheresville, for someone in my boat when I started the week after 9/11.

I have no A levels and got onto a Writing and Drama B.A. under the college's six-week summer Fastrack scheme, that targeted the disadvantaged and was part of their widening participation goal.

I'd saw the course after returning from Cork in May 2001, to have a molar extracted by a dentist in Aughton, next to Ormskirk, and saw Edge Hill had been running writing programs, degrees and MA's - for the past eight years.

Not having the relevant high-school diploma or A levels to gain admittance into third level learning, I initially thought it would be an impossible dream to get on the course; as having to study two years to get the necessary qualifications to go to university, was all pie in the sky to me then, as an uneducated ex-building laborer and admin drudge.

Still, I went up to ask and spoke to L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet (not that I knew this at the time) Robert Sheppard, who wrote and runs the programs. He told me that it was OK, there was Fastrack, and it started in two weeks. It was really just a course to get people unfamiliar with computers, up to speed, and which, after several years of working as an admin drudge, was easy enough to pass.

During this wonderful summer, I remember thinking of something George terms in his Eliot lecture as, secret levers of the universe; had effected this serendipity that led one back home to learn the very thing I'd decided to pursue and had set my heart on learning since playing Shakespeare's Malvolio in Twelfth Night, as a 14 year old in 1981.

Once the decision to follow my inner calling had been taken, it was as if the gods of Letters had removed all obstacles in my path, and ushered me on the correct course, for the first time in my life.

The writing component could be taken as a minor (quarter), or as half of your B.A. program. Mine was half: Writing Studies and Drama; and on the first day in writing class, a week after 9/11, there were around 45 of us. Some doing English, some Drama, some Film, Media, Womens Studies, and other subjects.

I have the notes from the first through to the final session.


Labour certainly helped me to become who I am.

Billy C said...

Well done Coiri. It's heartwarming to hear of people like yourself who take advantage of what's available. It's when 'what's available' isn't available that I begin to gnash my teeth, and I fear that under Glossy David, 'what's available' will be a casualty of the cuts that are bound to come. More so than the welfare of business. Of course business is important, but then so is opportunity for the disadvantaged.

I know of Aughton. Two of my dearest friends lived there before they moved to Portugal about 15 years ago. I still have friends there and nearby. My late wife was a patient at Wrightington for many years.

I live under an elderberry tree in deprived Stoke-on-Trent. Its cosy here.

George S said...

Well Billy and Coirí, here is a link to one of my regular reads, Norman Geras, who puts it roughly how I'd put it (and have put it), here:

Norm is Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of Manchester.

But it's a close call for me. I hear exactly what you say, Billy, though I was taken today by Nick Clegg's stated fondness for Samuel Beckett. A man who loves something so unpopular, bleak and funny, can't be all bad, I thought.

On the other hand...

Billy C said...

Succinctly put by normblog, George. No need for fancy words or spin.

Perhaps the titles of a couple of Bennett's books sums up this election: More Pricks Than Kicks and Waiting For Godot. The latter especially. Maybe Cleggy is the mysterious Godot and Brown and Cameron are Vladimir and Estragon? Mmmm...the plot thickens. Bush and Blair: Pozzo and Lucky? Yes, this election is beginning to have more than a hint of Beckett to it. :)

George S said...

Just an admonitory note on funding regarding 'what's available'. Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning have already taken massive cuts and many departments have closed or are closing. That is under Labour. It will be worse under the Conservatives, I imagine.

But very good about the hospitals, Billy. School buildings too. I do however fear for the enthusiasm (and sanity) of new young teachers in the worse schools. There are vast tracts of bureaucracy, testing, conformity and pressure out there in the transparency-accountability management culture - and very little support. Labour has done nothing to help with this.