Monday, 19 December 2011

Occupy Grows Up

Of all the amazing things that Occupy London have done, what they did today trumps the lot. They have chosen to move from the steps of the Cathedral. Rather than risk a violent confrontation with the forces of Satan, embodied in the Corporation of London, and their agents in the High Court and Metropolitan Police, Occupy LSX have voted to move of their own volition. And in doing so they have shown themselves to be bigger and better than those who would seek to have them removed.

Be in no doubt. This brave and courageous decision will be portrayed in The Daily Mail, the Murdoch Press and other organs of the owning classes, as an admission of defeat. It is No Such Thing. It is an adult, mature and grown up recognition that this fight, and as a pacifist I applaud it as a fight, is going to be fought on their terms, no one else's. In recognising the strength of the forces lined up against them, the mad, bad, and disposessed currently encamped at the cathedral have shown wisdom and discernment. More so than any other player with a part in this pantomime. And for that we should applaud and admire them.

Rest assured. There are other places that need to be occupied. St Paul's have said a 'remnant shall remain'. Will you do the same? Have you a churchyard? A garden? A driveway? If so, then invite them in. Make space for a tent. Make space for the argument. These people are committed. Are you?

Friday, 16 December 2011

Being Dead

This being dead lark. What's all that about then? I'm informed by the internet that Christopher Hitchens, a well known polemicist and advocate of the illegal invasion of Iraq, ceased breathing earlier today and is consequently held by many, to be 'dead'. As a direct result of his respiratory failure, I am £16.45 better off. (I sold two copies of books what he wrote today.) I am also informed by the internet that his ceasing to breathe is a 'sad' thing. Much weeping and wailing has passed across my screen today. And that's where I become perplexed. Let me try to explain my perplexedness.

My job, insofar as I have one, is to make books available to people who want to read them. I confess, I engage more with the end user than I do with the creator. Which is not to say I am not enamoured of, often in love with, and a little bit envious of those who have sorted their lives in such a way that enables them to write them. It is also true that the point of books is to write them, not read them. However, most writers I know, want their books to be bought and to be read. (Adjust the order as you will.)

I have no idea of the current ability (or otherwise) to breathe, of the people who wrote the text in the books pictured here. What I do know is that I learn about the death of authors by a spike in thier sales. Christopher Hitchens fucked with at least two of my friends. He wont do again because he is 'dead'. What he will do, is be read by more people this week than last. And he's not in any position to complain about that. BTW. George Whitman died on Wednesday. If you don't know who he is - Google him.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A very quick post

This is very hasty post. But you should know what the French are saying. Thanks to Le Monde and Edward Hughes for his translation. What follows is Friday's Leader in Le Monde

This newspaper likes Great Britain. France hasn’t forgotten Britain’s role during the war. We respect her history and admire her culture. We know how much democracy owes her. And we’ll never have room, here, to list all the things we care about: from habeas corpus to the BBC, from Elizabethan poetry to John le CarrĂ©, from rock to the inventions of the sixties, from springtime concerts in London to Wimbledon, not forgetting Liverpool FC – the list of things we find appealing across the Channel is infinite, and would include a nice plate of fish and chips of course.

But Germany, France and most of the other EU members were right, in the dawn of Friday 9 December, to say no to London.

What it was about, once again, was saving the euro. This means changing the treaty which governs the way the 27-member Europe functions.

The plan is to fix more draconian budgetary discipline rules. London is afraid that will mean stricter regulation of the financial sector. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, threatened to veto this modification to the treaty unless it included an exemption clause for his country.

Most of the Europeans gathered in Brussels refused to accede to London’s request. The 27-member treaty won’t be changed. But a “17-member treaty” will be set up – without the United Kingdom, but including half a dozen other states among the non-Euro zone members.

Let’s be fair play about this. The Euro crisis isn’t the fault of the British. They bear no responsibility for the inability of euro-zone leaders to solve their sovereign debt problems.

But there is something logical, too, about the fact that the British are standing aside from a move towards greater economic and budgetary integration. They don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in the European idea. They are foreigners to the (nowadays somewhat becalmed) project which nonetheless now seems to us more essential than ever: forging a single entity which can exist as such amid the other great powers of the 21st century.

No one should regret what happened in Brussels. An ambiguity was swept aside. Deep down, the British (who entered what was then the European Economic Community in 1973) are only interested in one thing in the whole affair: the single market. The rest of the European project leaves them indifferent – when they are not frankly hostile.

The Brussels summit traced the outlines of better budgetary governance for the Euro zone. That is good. It is not enough. There needs to be a counterpart: directly or indirectly, the ECB has to be more active in solving the crisis.

The agreement is due to be finalised on Friday. Let’s wait and see before judging. For, as the British have shown us, the devil is in the detail.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Rubbish Collection

I knew I'd end up blogging about my rubbish collection. I just knew it. But I never thought it would be like this.

For many months I have engaged in correspondence with Ms.Catherine Cook at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets about her personal shortcomings, as exemplified in her failure to facilitate the collection of empty wine bottles and soiled cat litter from my doorstep on the appointed day. She never did, by the way, allow me to call her Catherine (emails forwarded on request to those unacquainted with this sorry tale) but nevertheless we did engage. Right up until she deemed me to be a Level Two complainant when she kicked me upstairs to a dreary technocrat who, for all I know, may as well be running Italy for all the good he's done me.

What happened today? I get home and for the first time in months my bloody rubbish has been collected on the right day. Obviously, a moment's calm thought would reveal to me that the Veolia employees responsible for this outrage are not 'public sector'. But they bloody well ought to be. And they ought not to have been collecting my rubbish today.

I'm so cross, I'm going to go and live in the Churchyard until the world is put to rights. At least I'll be able to see off the Grave Robbers.

Where's my blunderbus?

Except of course,they'll probably be on strike.

Workshy bastards.