Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Sky's the Limit!

The Sky's the limit!

What a wonderfully aspirational line! Out there, in this brave new world, there may be no limits to what one may achieve. Set your sights to the very furthest of the horizons. For those who are prepared to work the rewards may be absolutely limitless. Perhaps even Mars may be that next horizon.

It's not actually the case, though, is it? Unless, maybe, we invert the 'imagery.' And tweak the translation. 

Imagine, instead, staring down into a puddle, perhaps upon a stretch of industrial wasteland... a wasteland, let us conject, that has been slowly poisoned into surrender through decades of unrestained, deregulated toxic abuse. We perceive this puddle as being of a curiously unnatural turquoisey colour, close and yet not close enough to anything that mother nature might hold within her pallet. 

There is a glistening sleekness to the surface, such as spilt oil might leave. A seemingly-almost-infinite array of abandoned plastic tat- partially submerged, afloat, encircling, or otherwise 'arranged' about the immediate area- has gathered about in order to further adorn the scene. McDonalds Happy Meals and Toys R Us feature proudly here, the whole Glimmie clan of several 'collecible' dozens may be found, and a vertable herd of My Little Ponies, several generations of Sylvannian Families. Everything has been coated under a fine grey dust, serving to mute the effect, and to bring about some sort of contradictory unity to the blaze. Empty Walkers crisp packets bumble across the land like so many abandoned kites. If the site is deemed worthy, maybe the very latest-bar-one model of Apple's iPhones will soon be welcomed with open arms, or at least a freshly dug pit, to their ancestral  home. Redundant Sky boxes nestle amongst pauperised TVs and other screens, usurped in turn by the newest, very latest in upgrades, none deemed any longer worthy.

And there, just there at the furthest shore, where the sub-soil-layer of supermarket plastic bags is just visible at the waterline, when the cold breeze desists and those blackened indeterminate flakes settle, there, peering deep into the murk we may glimpse the poorly reflected image of 'our limitless' Sky. 

Doesn't it look small?

Several years back I, solely as a fan of the game of cricket, decided to give Sky TV a go. I won't here revert to type and deride the then-government's God-awful decision to sell our national side to an Australian oligarch... leave it at that on the cricketing front. But I did then relinquish a teeny-tiny bit of my soul. 

So, there, in the package, we had high definition options- admittedly not quite as many as might be 'on offer' today- maybe a dozen rolling film channels, and those standard Sky options- Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts, Sky One and Two, a bottomless bargain bin of other tat channels, and four (was it) stations of continual 24-hour sport. 

Now, when I write 'sport,' what I more accurately mean is 'activity.' To describe the amorphous array of 'options' on offer as wholly sport really pushes the bounds of credibility way, way beyond... eh, credible. I think conkers and table subbuteo were in there somewhere, kite flying, arm wrestling, stuff! Stuff that nobody in their right mind would choose to watch! Was sewing in there... somewhere?

But, there was lovely test cricket! If memory serves, I also seem to recall that each and every ad break may not have been devoted to bolstering the UK's then considerably less-widespread gambling addictions. But that was then. And, it seemed affordable... obviously not as affordable as when the UK was able to watch its own national team playing at home via the BBC, or Channel 4, but (resentfully) affordable. 

Think of the package as a rather large cake. For the purposes of this allegory, think of it as tall and rich and currently uncut. Slendiferous! 

Some time after buying in there came the realisation that the cost, by stealth, was creeping upwards, although 'creeping' really doesn't quite describe the ascent. Most of the film options were eternally the same, on an ever-revolving loop- all of the most recent releases were only accessible via 'pay-to-view' options, anyway- so the film channels went. The depth and diameter of 'the cake' remained the same, but there was a hefty slice missing, or now set aside. Less for more! 

The chronology now escapes me, but many of the formerly-accessible high definition options were 'suddenly' on the wrong side of an emergent divide. Others, essentially high-definition channels, stealthily slipped through, and were gone... over to the dark side (newer package options). The cake was essentially the same cake- the 'potential' cake- but the slices, those upon my plate, were becoming thinner. And drier, and less appetising! 

As marvellous as cricket, test cricket, truly is, there were those moments when the never-ending football season would swell to swamp particular sports stations, that part that was actually 'sport.' There were the play-offs- surely defeating the objective of a league that has really already concluded, but never mind. There was the transfer window- window? What is happening, this isn't even actual sport, is it? And there were times when cricket was absent, not the stamp collecting, the tiddly-winks, or the blow football, but there was sometimes an absence of cricket, test cricket... and now for the cost of an oligarch's ransom!

So even the sport went. Thus, effectively removing that aspect of the package for which the deal was initially sought.

The remaining slice of cake was so thin as to appear almost as if not really there, wholly transparent in certain lighting conditions. Yet the ransom still kept creeping.

That one thin remaining slice of cake would bow in a gentle draught. 

So Sky was finally jettisoned! Or, that was the plan...

At which point the Sky became far darker and stormier. Should one accidentally assume too much freedom Sky will quite liberally wave the legal card... not quite so much about providing entertainment all of a sudden! 

One is expected, no required by diktat, to undertake 'a conversation.' The purpose of which is to convince one that Sky is not only essential to one's leisure time, but also suddenly again, and by some sort of miraculous process, almost affordably reasonable. And, should one be so foolhardy as to open that door a tiny chink, one might easily find that Sky is again on the payroll. Slightly cheaper for a short while, but soon to find itself back on that upscaled spreadsheet.

Look, just there, at the far shore, where the oil has accumulated- to the right of the tsunami of plastic straws, behind that raft of cotton-buds... no wait, the strange black flakes are settling- there, under the discarded, half-buried TV remote, there, isn't that the reflected Sky, just there?

Doesn't it look small...

and insipid... 

and such a pale imitation. 

What ever would one term that colour?

Wednesday, 3 October 2018


There's an awful lot of money wrapped up in those Private Finance Initiatives, an awful lot! A lot of of people in really elevated positions have invested serious money here.

On a wider and a deeper note, there's one Hell of a lot of money invested in the concept of deregulation. Many CEOs and their entourages are heavily dependant upon weighty deregulation. We might yet find out that the Italian motorway road bridge at Genoa was somewhat dependant upon certain levels of deregulation, prior to its catastrophic collapse, or rather we might not find out! Early days, but even at this juncture we know that something preceding the incident was not right! Somewhere a corner has been cut, and corner cutting runs an awful lot more 'efficiently' when deregulation has been brought into play.

As with Grenfell and as with the Genoa motorway road bridge, corner-cutting often has consequences. Sometimes those consequences are small enough for the system that enables them to then hide them from the wider public gaze, or else to repackage and to relabel them- they are now almost everywhere, virtually 'propping up' certain chunks of the UK's economy- but sometimes the deceit is just not possible or plausible. Either way, somewhere along the line someone (or someones) has decided, and continues to decide, that 'these are corners worth cutting!'

In the UK those invested with the current housing (shall we refer to it as a) pledge will be keeping a very beady eye upon any resultant tinkering with the current levels of deregulation. Thus, billions are currently wrapped up and holding a figurative breath within the construction industry. We already know that, with regards to social housing, the current government have vowed to link costs and rents to those currently 'operating' in the private market. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have been at pains to make this much clear, also they have pointed out that the current government's 'commitment' to building seems to have been designed far more not to undermine the private bandwagon, than it has to addressing the real issue... that being that of affordable and accessible homes for the UK's population.

Education and Health have been, and are being, monetised. Entertainment, especially that of sport, has mutated into not so much an entertainment-first construct as one of an unregulated and unrestrained gambling bonanza!

When the coalition removed certain regulations from the pension sector, several years back, presented as 'enabling greater flexibility for the pension holder,' it really must have come as no real surprise that pertinent criminal enterprises were already up and waiting. Today, the true figures for lost pension assets may remain unknown, in great part due to the shame felt at being so duped, but it is known to have already run into the millions. Still our TVs (ads) send out the smiling message that 'happy' pensioners can easily access one of the many equity release deals on offer. Perhaps those who have already lost much of their pensions will be amongst the first to want to offset their remaining home against a small hole-plugging measure?

Yes, as the UK shuffles ever closer to that deregulated garden of delights so the zero-hour-economy is truly partying! Although, it should also be noted that, even here, safeguards should and have been taken... as have those of Reese Mogg who has already moved business interests to the Republic of Ireland. Curious, we might consider, given the man's poisonous dislike of the EU.

Anyway, there is a system fully established and in operation here in the UK. And it is a system which reaches out its long arms also to incorporate much of the UK's Main Stream Media (MSM).

The UK's is not an unresponsive, nor is it an obviously compliant, MSM, which presents all as if it is soft and fluffy and beyond reproach. Under the current flag that would be foolish! No, instead it presents, or seeks to do so, as a 'viable' MSM which takes on board lessons from the past and duly evolves. Evolve or die! But, in such circumstances as those of the UK, evolution is not always such a pretty nor is it such a pleasant thing.

So here, in the heavy wake of such a system, we should take a moment to reflect, and in this light we should consider those recent allegations of anti-semitic behaviour amongst leading Labour figures.

Is it about the hill?

But, before this and in order to contextualise the 'story,' I suggest that we might first want to consider Thatcher's endorsement of General Pinochet. She had, we should remember, at least in part, orchestrated the Falkland's or Malvenas War (1982) at a time of her own rising unpopularity. Even the heavily right-wing press of the day was not able to deflect from her unrelenting hostility towards (curiously) her own nation's working-class families, and Britain's playful obsession with pseudo-colonialism was, at that time, again fading. The good ol' days that never really were had cyclically lost much of their lustre... so what better solution than to enter another imperial war?

Some sixteen years after the conflict, in 1998, Pinochet of Argentina-neighbouring Chile, was still widely regarded as a war criminal, responsible for the death or disappearance of some ten-thousand Chilean citizens and over twenty-seven thousand instances of human rights violations, following the CIA-funded and supported coup of 1973. In consequence, in 1998 and in the light of his travel to the UK, Spanish Magistrates wished to extradite Pinochet from the country, where he was awaiting surgery for a herniated disc, and to try him for the war crimes for which the world-at-large already knew him to be guilty.

Thatcher's words, then, were repulsively warm regarding the general. "Senator Pinochet was a staunch friend of Britain," she gushed, as Tony Blair and Jack Straw contrived to inefficiently do absolutely nothing for the victims. Thatcher was showing that Pinochet's loyalty to pseudo-empire during the Falklands/Malvinas conflict, albeit partially covert, was treasured by her as being above thousands of human lives.

Of significant note- seemingly entirely 'overlooked' by the MSM- Thatcher was the UK's PM during both Jimmy Savile's inglorious time and the Sun Newspaper's shameful reporting of the Hillsborough Disaster... and she was a PM who 'prided' herself upon keeping fully abreast of national and global politics. It surely would not be beyond the realms of reason to assume that she knew far more than has yet been reported. Orgreave may yet have it's time.

The UK's MSM reported the Pinochet incident with almost distasteful balance, and this dreadful man duly escaped justice. The MSM did not roundly condemn Thatcher for her support of the known war criminal! Nor has it yet chosen to speculate upon Thatcher's murky secrets.

Secondly, we could recall Blair's puppying decision to follow the US Military into Iraq (2003), based upon then-known-to-be (certainly by Blair himself) questionable evidence of WMD in the country; the use of the term 'questionable' here being overly generous.

Given also that already-seen reports had warned of the likelihood of Iraq descending into sectarian chaos, Blair's choice might be regarded as doubly criminal. Given additionally that the innocent and considerably-more-honest Dr David Kelly was questionably judged to have committed (convenient) suicide, we might be left to conclude that Blair is almost a more easily despised human-being than is Thatcher.

Blair was demonstrating that, for him, the money that the US- that more reactionary contingent- might afford him as his bloody fee easily trumped the cost to human life... an immense cost which continues to spiral to this day.

Our MSM was less forgiving of Blair, but this same MSM is today struggling with balancing their more-recent-dislike of the man against their support for his adopted stance regarding the current leader of the (no-longer-New) Labour Party. An unreasonably light touch by the MSM, I am going to suggest, for the man judged by many, and in this same profession, to be an international war criminal.

Is it about the van?

Thirdly we might consider the already slighted Jack Straw's hand in cases of illegal extraordinary rendition of Libyan dissident, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, and his pregnant wife, Fatima Bouchar, to Libya, where they were handed over to the CIA who had, prior to this and for many decades, been subjecting individuals to torture techniques. Of course, and by association, this might be judged to have further implicated the terminally-unrepentant Blair.

The extraordinary rendition issue is actually far greater than merely the afore-named victims; hundred of instances were known about, and yet still the MSM arguably under-reacted. But Blair's, and by association Jack Straw's, love affair with the MSM had effectively ended!

Jack Straw, we may remember, also presided over the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdul Basset Ali al-Megrahi, argued at the time to be verging upon a premature death. Jack Straw quite openly favoured talks with Tripoli and the reviled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Our MSM- most of it- have rather tended to forget about the human rights issues (at least by association) for which Mr Straw should stand trial. And yet, I would still wish to point out that Jack Straw was remarkably comfortable with the ideology that favoured oil over selective human-rights.

On an arguably brighter note we might consider the late Mo Mowlan's 1998 talks with the IRA and the UDA. She kicked off her shoes, whipped off her wig and asked Sam 'Skelly' McCrory (UDA) for "a smoke." She behaved in similar fashion with Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair (IRA), again in open discussion with another of Europe's most dangerous terrorists.

We will, perhaps, recall Blair's reptilian smile- him again- sliding away like a shed skin, as the gathered (New) Labour Party roundly stood and long-applauded Mo Mowlan at the 1998 Labour Party Conference. He consequently rather swept her aside and arranged for the early release of prisoners, in exchange for the handing in of weaponry, the 'Good Friday Agreement.'

Lest we should be tempted to glean a smidgen of respectability for Blair here, we should also note that the political 'decline' of Mowlan can readily be traced back to this moment. The deathly whispers of the likes of henchman Mandelson or the more bumptious actions of Campbell perhaps?

The focus anyway should instead be the reaction of the MSM. Mo Mowlan, no longer with us, became rather popular with much of the MSM, but she was significantly terminally ill at the time. The UK's MSM might, quite rightly in this case, struggle to damn her dialogue with known terrorists, in the light of both Mowlan's health and Northern Ireland's hugely reduced tensions.

Or there's Nelson Mandela, hailed latterly as perhaps the ultimate amongst world leaders, for the manner in which his government conducted their post apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. The process openly worked with the perpetrators of state-endorsed violence towards its own citizens, bringing them and their victims together in, surely, the only manner in which widespread bloodshed could have been avoided. Still, the South African State, of which Mandela was head, very openly colluded with many violent human-rights' abusers... but then who bar Nelson Mandela could have led a nation better and so quietly, from the depths of such darkness?

If to 'burden' Mandela with such individual high praise seems overly selective one should consider the more recent slide in the standards of the current South African Government.

Whilst still in office Thatcher referred to the South African former political prisoner as a member of, "a typical terrorist organisation," and she steadfastly resisted all pressure to impose sanctions upon the apartheid regime, during her time at Number 10.

The MSM's response to Nelson Mandela had once been variably, but often less-reservedly, hostile, morphing gradually and in pursuit of popularity, as first apartheid crumbled and collapsed, then Mandela was released. The UK's media was given to display the whole chamelic pallet with regards to this world leader.

Much as the MSM, especially the Sun Newspaper, have latterly attempted to do with regards to their reporting of the Hillsborough Disaster, today they would likely much prefer to bury mention of the bulk of their earlier Mandela stuff. Greatly missed- especially in the light of current global politics- aside from those saccharin sweet tabloid articles, Mandela would today likely prove far too much of a hot potato for much of the UK's increasingly reactionary MSM.

None amongst the above mentioned individuals has or had adopted a wholly unreserved stance upon Israel and Israeli actions. Each of these individuals held or still holds stated reservations regarding the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as they currently stand. Nelson Mandela was the least accepting and Thatcher the least critical, but we could easily have predicted or expected this much. Even Thatcher, though, was not always comfortable in her dealings with the State of Israel.

Is it about the car?

'Blooded hands,' though, they are a rather different  matter! But, even here, things are seldom as convenient as much of 'our' MSM would have us believe.

Set, as they sometimes must be, in the context of world political history, it should be recognised as (virtually) impossible for leading political figures to advance either (selfishly) themselves, (variably) an espoused cause, or (more altruistically) global or national politics, without the risk of falling foul of such an accusation as 'bearing bloodied hands.' It almost matters not that often the hostility may be woefully misdirected... cite the Sun Newspaper's reporting of 'Hilsborough'

Entirely dependant upon how and by whom those crucial moments are reported we in turn might lazily adopt any number of responses... and yet we may still unforgivingly expect certain political advancements to be achieved. 'Bloodied Hands' (and their vast array of accompanying synonyms) should then be regarded as a variable term, and in the hands of an irresponsible MSM it can be a most dangerous term!

Unless one is either an idiot, or else of reactionary inclination, it is difficult to assume anything other than a nuanced approach to the current State of Israel or Israel's actions, although we could quite easily fall into the trap of believing this not to be deemed acceptable. The action of President Trump, to relocate the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, should be considered, at best, stupid. But even this is really overgenerous, it is in all likelihood a deliberately provocative act, likely to prove internationally inflammatory! Perhaps he is again looking to deflect from other misdemeanours or incompetences? Neither is Benjamin Netanyahu currently working well at easing the obvious tensions in the region.

The subject of East Jerusalem, one of several areas cited in the UN Security Council's 'Resolution 242,' is a volatile one at best. And it should not, in any way, be regarded as being anti-semitic to suggest that Israel should give serious consideration to withdrawing from the area. Despite Trump's provocation even the US currently regards East Jerusalem as an occupied territory. Palestine and the Palestinian people will need to be acknowledged!

As with most, if not all, nuanced political situations, peaceful solutions are most unlikely to result from the shutting down of discussions. And it could be easily argued that this is not only what the IHRA definition upon anti-semitism (with its unreserved 'examples') is currently doing, but further that this is what it is, at least in certain hands, intended to do.

So, I am going to argue that the best way forward and towards a less conflicted globe is to instead open up discussion, upon both Israeli (State) actions and the Israeli State. Much as certain factions in the Labour Party are, or were, attempting so to do.

The UK's MSM have, in significant part and especially in relation to the recent Labour-antisemitism allegations, fallen woefully short in their widely stated and (mis)assumed aim of informing the wider public on the thorny issue of Israel. It is possible to find (far too) many sites where the indignant condemnation of Corbyn, and the likes of Ken Livingstone, is given loud and copious 'voice.' But, it is far more difficult to locate areas of frank and open discussion upon the pertinent issues.

In order to emphasise quite how skewed our MSM had/has become, with regards to the reporting of 'anti-semitism within the Labour Party,' I should just mention that, for almost the entirety of the elected and on-going 'story,' it has remained almost impossible, without considerable digging, to unearth, exactly and unedited, what (allegedly and/or actually) was being said by the cited individuals. Of course, as soon as one is able to do just that, the reasons for such sparsity of detail becomes obvious, this being that there is no serious case to be answered... with the unfortunate proviso that it should be noted that an uncertain online element has now also entered the affray- an 'uncertain online element!' 

However, having written and believed this (MSM's lack of substance behind the 'headline') to be the case, a recent two-part documentary upon the subject of British Jews (BBC 2's 'We Are British Jews') was unexpectedly enlightening, yet further contextualising the ongoing discussion.

The programme aired the varying 'perspectives' of eight people from the British Jewish Community, following (most of) them eventually on a research trip into Israel. If it is still available it is well worth a look, or indeed a second look. With the exception of perhaps two of the individuals the various members of the group were all able to further inform the wider debate. Shame indeed that almost all of the MSM, including the bulk of the peak-time BBC's, news coverage prior to this was given to suggesting that the anti-semitism issue, particularly in the Labour Party, is far more black and white than is the reality.

For those with a mind to discovery, one member of the 'British Jewish' group was even able to add some much appreciated insight to the situation regarding Israel's methods of 'policing' of the occupied territories. Others within the unit were either variably open to new information, or else they were initially hostile. But, as a jumping off point, this much was inevitable and to be expected.

Somewhat better informed, should we choose to further open ourselves up to the real issues, we would do well to take a far more considered and factual view of Israel and its place in global politics.

Or is it about something else entirely?

The current Labour Party, it should be argued, is likely the best placed (maybe the only) political party to properly open up this debate, hopefully before certain dubious and covert forces are able to do quite the reverse. But, this honest debate necessarily (currently) comes with a price-tag, that price being that all of that money wrapped up in Private Finance Initiatives, all of that cash invested in wholesale deregulation, all of those mighty powerful CEOs and their entourages with their financial interests, all of these things and individuals that elect to skew society to their bidding, all of these people and their respective 'worlds' might then also feel more threatened!

Most certainly these 'characters' will not want any debate whatsoever- currently the Israeli one- that might later then go on to question any wider societal perspective, by further validating (or not further seeking to invalidate) the political party best placed to ask other 'awkward' questions. Far better, these disingenuous 'characters' might consider, to jump upon any bandwagon that seeks to derail, distract and to undermine this process.

Sadly, it is certain factions within the same aforementioned Labour Party- the party in part seeking more to open-up the debate- who, from a diametrically opposed position, seem the most determined to shut the anti-semitism argument down. Or is this perception also the overly-mighty hand of the MSM? It must be hoped that the Labour Party's controversial full adoption of the IHRA's definition of anti-semitism (plus examples) will not further compound and stall much needed and robust debate.

Any suppression of political free speech is unlikely in the longer term to reap anything like the right kind of rewards. Resultant frustration may then instead bring forth anger, and this in turn may fuel aggression, manifest often as hatred and escalated violence. And this, in turn, may be misused as justification for a more determined and further closing down of the debate.

A stance of 'less suppression of free speech, leading ultimately to fewer bullets and bloodied hands,' is most likely to hold the key to any progress to be made. However, owned by and operated at the auspices of some of the UK's (and other's) wealthiest individuals, it would appear that this is not yet a step forward that our MSM is prepared unreservedly to take.

Far more likely they will wish to continue to represent, or to misrepresent, 'their chosen cause' through their own means of assassination.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

An Icarian Perspective...

... on Evolution.

It's so easy to be negative. Or to criticise. Or to poke fun. Or to be dismissive. Or frustrated, or rude, or confrontational! Of course it is, but it's also increasingly far more difficult to be positive, or to take seriously, or to endorse either the actions, or else the intent of many of 'those' with authority and/or the means to advance their own interests over and above those of others.

Why on Earth would we elect to behave in any way, other than in opposition to the vast majority of that to which we are every day required and expected, often instructed by decree, to adhere to and to obey?

We have found that there is currently in operation a particular system which now always presides. And it currently presides in one very specific and efficient way for some people... whilst presiding in an altogether less forgiving manner for most other people. Arranged about the vast acreage between these two extremes there may be the aspiring climbers, or else the tired descenders. And there may well be others, lesser royalty, beta-landed gentry, the currently powerful, and those who are now becoming less so. But the vast majority of us are still pretty much pitched and paid in the camp labelled 'recipients.'

We- that is the 'we' who are of recipient class- may well delude ourselves that we are, in some small manner, participants, that we have a modicum of investment within and for the system. And, we sort of of do... but only sort of. And this 'sort of,' for the most significant part, is also much of an illusion, so much smoke and mirrors, slight of hand, prestidigitation. Yet even so, our part is such that without it those other parts would not also be possible, and even should we continue to play this role those other parts will most likely prove ultimately to be unsustainable.

Should such as our current niche situation transpire to come about in the wider animal kingdom- and we would be arrogant to consider ourselves in any way superior to these other creatures- a given species may respond in any of a number of ways. It may seemingly compliantly succumb yet also adapt accordingly to quickly cut, or otherwise ameliorate, its loses. It may simply die out. It may search out an alternative habitat. It may bite or otherwise fight back. Or it may investigate other and further-afield alternatives. Never does it really remain static, always instead dynamic... nature is most ingenious and it is most cunning! 

It may evolve! It may evolve or it may die!

27th October 2015

I was glib enough, in a previous post and several months back, to have suggested that the mega-wealthy no longer even breathe the same air as most other people. And it should be recognised that they are well able to access vastly different qualities and quantities of the air, water and land than are 'the rest.' Better sunshine, better ocean tides, better living spaces, better food, better healthcare, better transport, better education, better light, better pretty-much-everything really. We might well consider this accumulation of variables to constitute an entirely different habitat. And, isn't this how a single species branches out and gradually evolves to become more than one species?

Perhaps the topmost offshoots will have (or may need) smaller lungs, differently coloured eyes, cleaner complexions, better teeth, less robust skeletons, more delicate stomachs, certainly larger hands!

Those left behind, as 'twere, may be left to inhabit the 'off-cuts.' They may all breathe the less rarified air, drink of more soiled waters, occupy the more cramped spaces, but will they all elect to simply flow along precisely the same evolutionary stream?

7th November 2015

God, who despite not existing, we are often encouraged to believe as having entrusted us with free-will, so, will we employ this free-will for good, or will we otherwise, and once again, squander it? Either way the evidence to date would seem to very strongly contest that we will not be acting collectively. Instead, perhaps, some might elect to act to reduce the impact of such inferior habitat, whereas others may elect, albeit unconsciously, to further compromise their lot. Battling, often individually, invariably in harmful contrast to one another, we shall likely tier even the leftovers.

Much as have those Galapagos finches, we may effectively simply end up with slightly larger or smaller bills, and further a greater or lesser means to settle those bills. Or maybe the differences will be significantly greater than this?

Maybe one of those 'differences' will gradually (or conceivably quite swiftly) evolve blue or multicoloured skin, emblazoned perhaps with all manner of text and illustration? There will be misspellings! There will be geographic, historic and other inaccuracies, but there will be a map, of sorts, of the evolution of the species... how cool would that be? 

Hinges may appear as if screwed behind the knees. Tights may not so much be worn as secreted from the flesh, offering neither warmth nor the appearance of such, wholly holey... not so much cool then as chilled?

10th July 2016

Conveniently, or perhaps not, this potential-species-offshoot may effectively read like a book- not necessarily a very well written book- laying out for the future scientist almost traces of the evolutionary pathways. Several earlier cultures will perhaps also be in evidence, misrepresented through the accumulated rainbow clash of historical mis-facts.

Whether it is to be the stretched-hollow earlobe of the Karen peoples, or else some powerful Maori tattoo, perhaps a pincushioned face, maybe a split tongue, it is most important that the assimilated culture is referenced much as a superhero comic book might be. "Those hieroglyphs there? That means 'Chelsea F C reigns supreme in our hearts'" Or maybe not? 

Or will it yet be the turn of those devoid of peripheral vision? Of course, they do not really need it anyway, able to hasten along any given footpath or walkway without so much as a glance to the side, ahead even. Is it even likely that, for these immersed souls, peripheral does not actually exist? We see them ghosting past but they are not really there at all. Should we venture to reach out and test the theory we may find that their image is now little more than a trace, a memory, of those who they once were, before having transcended the virtual plain. Perhaps they now inhabit some parallel and 'virtual' dimension, but who's really to say? Perhaps it is our's that is the illusion, and their's the reality? If we dare to peer into the tiny screen will we also be drawn towards that brighter, more sparkly, more perfect world?

6th November 2017

Perhaps the liars, those who are no longer able to effectively communicate beyond their own kind, will rise to the fore. Although the serious likelihood of such 'creatures' being able to even eke out an evolutionary niche for themselves seems, at best, tenuous. Whatever, if not, will then become of those who have basted so long in the exuded juices of the false prophets, those mouthpieces of the CEOs and those of higher office? Perhaps they will yet be able to turn it around and to once again reside amongst those who they have thought to rise above and excrete upon. Or will such a greyer and far-lesser reality be beyond and below their powers to adapt?

Their false Gods and their masters will by then have abandoned them, and will have pulled up the ladder. So, will the new reality sting their eyes, will it offend their ears, will the air taste too fowl for them; will this evolutionary branch simply soon fizzle out altogether? Will Douglas Adams's Gilgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B at long last be fighting its way from the archives and into a belated reality?

12th August 2014

On the surface the world would appear to have little to offer those who will have spent their respective lifetimes pretending and arguing that their false world presides over everybody else's real one. But then, within this type there resides the most slippery and evasive of humankind. Is it not true that these 'peoples' have effectively exuded the oils upon which the Icarians have slithered into the ascendancy? Whatever else there will surely be more than enough oil to go round! Perhaps then another of the evolutionary offshoots will simply render them for fuel?

Deeply immersed within a cloying sediment of subterfuge, lies and misrepresentation, the human species prepares itself for its next stratospheric evolutionary leap! It's not going to be a very pretty sight!

Having clawed their (respective) ways to the position of an assumed supremacy over all other (remaining) lifeforms- to have become the 'dominant' species for the short duration of just 200,000 years- yet (seemingly) set to continue this questionable reign, the Homo sapiens group curiously died out suddenly approximately 500 million years ago. Around this time, evidence from gathered fossil and plastinated evidence would seem to imply that, at least four known great ape species from the Homo sapiens group were eking out their own respective toeholds upon the third planet.
Homo icarians
Homo hyacinthum
Homo telefono
and Homo mendacium  
Catastrophically, this (apparent) divergence chanced to coincide with the planet undergoing its seventh mass extinction event (biotic crisis), significantly hastened as a consequence of the activities of the Homo sapiens complex. Toxification of the global troposphere and of the water tables, however, appears to have merely hastened the rise of a fifth (recognised) ape-mimic (or pseudo-animal) classification, that of the Plastiforms, more specifically the Digerendum plasticus race. The evolution of this 'species' appears to have taken place ostensibly, although not exclusively, upon the mass of the newest (eighth) continent. The rapid toxification of the planet may also have been one of the factors that effectively hastened the sudden diversification of the Homo sapiens group, immediately prior to its ultimate demise.   

Devaluation of the Species
Charles-phenol A Cyber-Darwin (The year of our creation 5,000,000,001)

Wednesday, 8 August 2018


When we remark that 'the vultures are circling,' we usually mean to imply that something's about to go tits up or, more likely, that it already has! Like the economy, for example. We are remarking, more specifically, that someone or someones is/are hoping to cash in on this mishap or misadventure.

Although, at the time of starting this entry, England's football team were still poised and surely looking to be the favourites to progress into the World Cup Final against France, so the economy, along with much accompanying late night revelry, was taking a bit of a boost. Airline tickets to Moscow, booze and barbecues seemed to be contributing somewhat disproportionately.

Empty rental space
     We hope to be able to watch at least some of the semifinal, and really do wish the team well. Out of nothing more than some sort of devilment, I shall leave these opening paragraphs, but amend with an appropriate footnote, should things not go quite to plan. So, the nation's mood at the outset and then at the conclusion of this post might turn out to be somewhat different, but the general thrust will hopefully be maintained throughout. Let's see what happens, shall we? Fingers crossed!

Our small family unit did not, in fact, watch England's progress through the quarter finals. Instead, we had a pool pretty much to ourselves. Clearly our five-year-old granddaughter was not going to miss out on two hours in virtual command of an outside swimming pool,  but even she was interested enough to listen to the regular updates from a couple of lifeguards who would rather have been watching the game.

Shrinking Amazon?
Anyway, vultures!

Having spent some time at reasonably close quarters with various species of vulture, I would have to concur with any wildlife enthusiast, that vultures are most certainly not deserving of their flawed reputation amongst those who have not bothered to discover more. Vultures are, in stark contrast, quite magnificent beasts! Non-enthusiasts who have, at any point, spied one of Africa's Lappet-faced Vultures might require a modicum of further persuasion but, surely, even they cannot fail to have been impressed. This aside, the vulture is moreover a vital cog in the planet's ecosystem, acting as one of nature's more refined vacuum cleaners- something from which humanity could perhaps learn a timely lesson.

So, imagine if you will, we have something struggling to hold on to life, or worse, and we have those who might hope to benefit from this misfortune, both the 'allegorical' and the 'actual' of this post thus far perfectly align. Where they then violently diverge is in the process of mopping up.

The charity question!
Real vultures feast upon the death that they have not caused and they remove the decay, thereby seriously reducing the chances of diseases spreading, before returning to again most perfectly adorn the skies and the landscapes. Allegorical vultures feast upon and beyond societal decay, and so upon the living, effectively becoming the disease, which goes on to adversely affect and then to feast upon the wider population.

Upon a shortish stroll through the fine city of Norwich I took a number of images that might compile to tell rather a story.

When the vultures, with their excellent eyesight, consummate patience, and pinpoint sense of smell, detect death there is invariably an avant garde species. This might be a larger or more aggressive vulture, maybe one with a particularly well developed sense of smell. The American Turkey Vulture springs to mind, thought by some to have a most acute sense of smell, known by many to have a wonderfully 'angry' red head, perfectly bald and thus so well suited to dealing with the blood and ragged flesh of the mammalian (and other) corpses.

Hot on the heels!
Not sharing the same continent, so differently avant garde, the African Lappet-faced Vulture- one of my very favourite birds- relies far more upon bullying the smaller bird species off the meat. Although not quite comparable in size to the stately Marabou Stork, this monster presents as the optimum scavenger and never seems to defer to anything outside of the mammalian species- even a few of these (carnivorous mammals) will tend to wait in turn, rather than to risk a tussle with the Lappet-faced bird.

There is something most comforting in knowing that all is in order!

I can still vividly recall sitting with a friend, at a breakfast table in northern Tanzania, watching those characteristic helical towers of such birds, sliding across a bleached summer's sky, knowing that somewhere at least everything was in order. African White-backed Vultures, and (especially) Ruppell's Vultures, often bulked out these groups. Marabous invariably seemed to hang lower in the skies, either late to the group, or else perhaps looking to steal a march on the competition.

Also in the melee!
The only real reason for such diversification of this group of birds would, of course, be niche separation. Southern Africa boasts nine vulture species, although the European Griffon Vulture tends not often to drift quite so far south. The vulturine Bateleur is considered to be a short tailed Eagle, more closely, so I am advised, related to the snake eagles, but it all too frequently presents more like a cross between a vulture and some sort of hang-glider or large (man-made) kite. Anyway, nine species!

The smaller birds in this group- although 'small' in no real sense can describe any vulture- never seem to bother to compete at the larger gatherings. Why would they? I guess that there is only so far to slide down the pecking order, before a species effectively bumps clear off the bottom of said 'order.'

Niche separation?
Wherever I encountered vultures like the Egyptian, or the Hooded Vultures the larger species were completely absent from the scene. The one White-headed Vulture that I connected with was itself almost absent from the scene- I found one and one only of this species, and it was almost cute!

Palm-nut Vultures, flying more like something designed by a committee, don't even partake of the meat- isn't diversity in nature so very wonderful?- instead feasting mainly upon (surprise) palm-nut husks, occasionally upon the likes of crabs. 

Prey is varied.
The most massive of the 'vultures' are maybe the condors. I have not yet- I doubt I ever will- seen the mighty Californian Condor, but have been privileged enough to have encountered a few of the Andean Condors. Being quite the size that this species is one would imagine that it might fare rather well in the pecking order, but alas often not! Not as witnessed by myself.

Clearly scale must play a massively significant role in the specific determination of certain ecosystems, how could it not? So, whereas several of the more diminutive bird species almost seem to be oblivious to the human species, seldom is this quite true of the larger species. We might have to factor in 'self-interest' here, feeding and suchlike.

Where a genuinely, fully-wild and larger species is concerned, there is almost always a noticeable wariness- think Grey Heron, for example- whereas this is quite often not the case with very small birds- hummingbirds and the like. It strikes me that there might almost be a sort of subconscious awareness at work here- too small to snack upon, too large to be a threat? The Andean Condor, except in the vicinity of feeding stations, is then a most wary bird. Even where there is no real apparent threat these birds will often hang back, almost as if they are half-expecting some sort of trap!

Bully or bullied?
Okay, so maybe Condors aren't actually vultures either? But I think you'll find that, from five through to eleven, all of my illustrations quite perfectly conform.

The promised footnote. The 'three lions on the shirt' nation- heraldry, not colonialism- sadly does not (as of Wednesday evening, 11th July) any longer have its hand upon that football World Cup. No doubt it would have suited Ms May for the England team to have triumphed in this tournament because, drifting away into the Atlantic, it is difficult to imagine which sort of Britain she and her ilk are hoping soon to present to the world. Take a walk like the one that I recently undertook and the image is not one of any sort of healthy ecosystem!

We could set aside the highly questionable role of the charities themselves. But who could deny that, in any (genuinely) thriving economy, any street that is peppered with charity-based affairs does not usually represent any form of economical buoyancy! Empty shops and overly-high rents are also often simply two sides of the same coin, yet, even so, we should all question the logic in quite so many premises remaining empty, for quite so very long!

Maybe, because 'our society' has normalised homelessness, it is thought- not really thought- by the likes of IDS, Rees Mogg, and Edwina Curry that charity shops in the high street might somehow fare better? But we know which came first in this particular chicken or egg scenario, don't we?

Preying upon both chicken and egg!
Two days ago I happened to visit one of Norwich's outer ring-road garages. At the till I was confronted with an 'add an amount for charity' option. Quick, press the screen, others are watching and applying the requisite peer pressure! Why, it's almost as if there's another, and this time unspoken, plan for a UK sub-economy? Is it really any wonder that so many 'high-earning' bands and sports stars are quite so very keen to be associated with charities, although far less so with their tax havens?

Old man Murdoch, or his remnant odour in the guise of Sky, is simply quite desperate to sink his gnarled vulturine talons into seemingly each and every popular sport. Which is where (TV) we are most likely to often encounter reference to the online vultures, care of Messrs Winston, Ferdinand, Kamara, Barnes et al., virtual, virtual vultures! 

... of body or nation?
Upon the Norwich high street I encountered seven 'species' of virtual vulture, only two fewer than those flawless creatures who collectively, and most efficiently, span half a continent in Africa. Obviously the African vultures are infinitely more majestic, infinitely more beneficial to a healthy ecosystem, and supremely adapted to best fit their niche! Such contrast!

7th and 17th!
So, and in awful conclusion, in our very English and flawed ecosystem, of normalised homelessness, re-emergent slum landlords and other vultures, the signs are multiplying. As a trading nation we are currently ranked an 'impressive' seventh amongst the G7 nations, and seventeenth amongst the G20 nations- pity those lagging behind even this! Yet still we have been hoodwinked into believing that it is our more successful 'partners' who are holding us back?

Don't ask!
Is there not also now more than a nagging doubt, regarding the reasoning behind reducing the hours by which those wishing to avail themselves of further information might endeavour to learn more?

Of course there is desperation! Of course there are vultures! 

In 2018 the Norfolk sculpture theme was hares, maybe next time it should be vultures? And I already have several suggestions regarding the positioning of a few of the works.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Can Eat Overindulgently?

Cuts for Everyone in Obedience?
Calculating Excessively for Oneself?
Contract surely Exceeds Omnipotence?
Comfort in Excess of Opulence?
Claims Exceeding the Over-expensive?
Costing Easily Over-the-Earth?
Could Easily be Omitted?

CEO? Whoever really knows what the acronym might be screaming into the wind? Chief Executive Officer seems most unlikely.

We have learnt, again and again and again of late, that Britain is not faring so well amongst the 'more advanced' of the industrialised nations. Mmmm?

Value judgements.
So towering inequality isn't actually working, then? All those zero hour contracts and slum tenancies have failed to lick the nation into the required shape, have they? Re-voting in, time and time again, the political parties endorsed by the Main Stream Media (MSM) has not served up quite the menu we were 'promised?' Of note, said 'promise' was also made by that same MSM, amongst others. The nation's 'leaders' are far more akin to those First World War generals, than they are to serving the wider nation, are they? It wasn't the fault of the French, or the Germans, or the other European nations, really? We honestly don't have a special relationship with the United States of America? Questions, questions...

Well, this state of affairs hasn't really snuck up on us, has it? How on Earth can we, the UK, possibly hope to maintain these stratospheric levels of inequality, whilst pretending that 'the dregs' count for anything? Indeed, how do we even begin to pretend that someone on a zero-hour contract counts for anything at all? Dilemmas, dilemmas...

Perhaps, more to the point, how can we in the UK convince those in the higher-paid non-jobs that they (the non-jobbers) actually contribute anything of value? If we cannot, then it might well be the case that we are failing excessively at both ends of the scale!

I have learned, and have almost certainly mentioned before, that the UK (as of July 2018) ranks seventh amongst the G7 nations, and seventeenth amongst the G20 nations. I have learned also that it has been calculated, based upon various surveys, that approximately a third of the population are planning or hoping to leave or change jobs in the next year.

That last piece of information we could easily dispute, based upon, as are all such things, surveys and questionnaires given to a representative cross section of our society. In the MSM, unless it does not suit their current agenda, such information might easily be disputed- they might question how it might ever be possible for a whole third of the population to reshuffle jobs at almost the same time. They will not, of course, elaborate, that many people are trapped, through financial commitments to family or buying a home, and therefore realistically are unable to seriously consider quitting their job.

Think though! Should the cleaners at your place of work not do their rounds for a day would you notice? What about a week? Longer?

What about the CEO, or what might substitute for a CEO (Christ, Enough Other-People's-Opinions!)- a CEOPO?- what if they were absent for a day, a week, a month, or for the rest of their given days?

We know we'd miss the cleaners. Imagine having to clean up after ourselves, after a full day at work. At least we wouldn't moan quite so much about the missed bits. But the CEO? Would we? Would we really?

I'd go so far as to suggest that the only way that most of those in the real jobs would miss the CEO- always assuming that someone doesn't step into his or her shoes and perpetuate the skewing of the office hierarchy- would be if his or her salary suddenly stopped and the amount was more correctly reinvested into the workforce.

Also of note and relevance, more than 25% of graduates quit their jobs within one year of starting- it's actually closing in on 33%. And almost a third of teachers quit the sector within five years.

I'm guessing that someone- many someones- is noticing the fact that a third of the workforce are disillusioned, also that quite so many young teachers are not hanging around for as long as the pupils they teach might be.

And, some of the most excessively paid CEOs are in charge of the worst-performing companies... who'd have thought it?

Acronyms, don't you just hate them?

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Slippery Exodus

I have been something of an insomniac for well over a decade now, but one of the things that seems to work reasonably well (at getting me off to sleep) is listening to the radio. I think that it is likely that a settled mind best lends itself to sleep. I am given to believe that for many insomniacs the issue is more specifically that they (insomniacs) struggle to get to sleep whilst in bed, that is whilst actively trying to get to sleep, whereas reading a book, watching TV, even attending a lecture often seems to ease the process, whether this is always convenient or otherwise. Isn't this the basic premise behind 'counting sheep,' introducing to the mind the process of 'simplifying and decluttering?'

Specific (radio) material works best for me. I find that topical comedy will too often have quite the opposite effect. Classical music and some forms of jazz work reasonably well, as does ponderous conversation, but the subject matter must be worthy of attention; that is to write, no contemporary pop, or any conversation/broadcast that might somehow involve Piers Morgan. Invariably the more interesting the subject matter the more likely it is to aid transition. Focus the mind, shut out the peripheral clutter, and we're half way there... sometimes.

Of course, this doesn't in any way guarantee that I won't be wide awake again by half-past-one.

Quite naturally a great deal that is selected is from the pallet of BBC Radio, invariably BBC Radio 4. Featuring prominently in recent months I have found 'Woman's Hour' to be both highly listenable and thus wonderfully conducive to sleep. The subject matter is colourfully varied, invariably contemporary; I don't recall it being quite this good when I used to listen to Radio 4 a great deal more  when I was a student.

West north-west
Anyway, several months back, Jenny Murray (Woman's Hour) was speaking with a guest, a mother who had recently served a prison sentence for the non payment of council tax arrears. The woman in question had been trying to 'catch up,' she was juggling with more than one job and trying to look after her school-age son. The third party in this conversation was a lawyer, and she (the lawyer) pointed out, for the interested listener, that the UK (and even so only in England and Wales) is the only country in Western Europe that currently still operates debtor's prisons, much like it did in Dickensian Britain.

It was also pointed out that whilst serving time any 'debtor' is liable to lose both home and job, and therefore much of the means to best catch up on arrears. The two jobs that the lady had were both zero-hour affairs, so were not really proper employment at all, but her home and the home of her child? That was very real!

I was expecting Jenny Murray to reasonably sympathetically cajole from the lady the more specific details and then, in some Woman's-Hourly manner, to lay down some sort of critical view of this practice. But instead, and quite shockingly so, she stuck steadfastly to the government line. She instead held the woman to task and repeatedly questioned her recounting of the events leading up to her eventual imprisonment. '"We' have been told that it was £10," Jenny contradicted her guest, "not £20."

The lawyer was able to clarify that the lady had been paying off £20 a week of her arrears, ahead of the court ruling of £10, because she had wished to more swiftly get the system off her back. "Many 'just-about-managing' families would have little sympathy with your predicament," Jenny led the neutral listeners to conclude. "You have then made yourself, and your child, intentionally homeless," Jenny contested, without breaking stride.

Quite how it was so 'easily possible' for Jenny Murray to 'imagine' attempting to survive and to escape debt in such circumstances is difficult to fathom. The guest remained all the while entirely subservient, meekly accepting of Jenny's contentions, judgements and consequent condemnation. At no point did Ms Murray elect to encourage or to entertain any more empathic thoughts. Much like we may have witnessed upon numerous other BBC programmes, she seemingly blindly toed the governmental line.

Those of an older generation  may well recall a time when the BBC was regularly accused of harbouring swarms of old communists and socialists, simply because a more balanced approach was sometimes sought. In reality the 'communist and socialist' accusation never reflected the reality, but as Lenin was once quoted as having said, "Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth." Even though our (BBC) airwaves and screens are now quite awash with old Conservatives, and rather too many old-New-Labourites, the likes Of Edwina Curry are still eager to 'regale' us with the tired-ol' Tory line, tell a lie often enough, eh Edwina...

West north-west
Anyone who may have spent more than about half-an-hour in my (author of this post) company will have quickly deduced that I am no fan of our government, but even so I was surprised to learn that quite so many of our citizens are currently incarcerated within debtors prisons. And I would contest, until my dying day, that such practice is highly indicative of a 'society' that has slipped up!

Do we always need to slip quite so very far before such a howling glitch is addressed? Or, is the question more, who's interest is best served when such slippage occurs? 

I think also on Woman's Hour, although the issue has been known about for a while now, the topic of up-skirting was recently discussed. Here at least there is not a governmental 'concern.'

The up-skirting article was seeking to highlight the growing problem for both female staff and pupils at some of the UK's secondary schools. For anyone who is unaware, up-skirting is the practice of surreptitiously lowering one's mobile phone until the camera is able to 'see' up the skirt of any female and then taking a photograph, which may shortly be shared with other 'friends' (usually boys), or/and posted on social media.

I doubt that there would be many people who would be bold or stupid enough to openly celebrate this act, so the questions are, 'who benefits through the practice of allowing pupils phones on to school premises?' and, 'in who's interest is it not to more stringently police social media?' Or, more generally, 'who most benefits through every child having in their possession, all the while, his or her own mobile phone?'

Have we allowed standards to slip, and in who's best interest is this?

The appreciation of any sport may be a very subjective matter, but then one can only appreciate from the array of sports that are on offer. I am going to suggest that it is quite probable that many amongst us may not have watched any reasonable form of proper cricket (test matches or one day internationals) for an age or, in the case of many younger citizens, 'ever!'  Of those who have rightly grown to appreciate the wonders of test cricket even many of these will not have properly watched the spectacle for a while. Instead, many will have quietly had to settle for the services of BBC Radio 5 LiveX, a non-visual format. Maybe, at the end of the day, or late into the night, they will have salvaged the 'highlights,' presented as if every ball is either smashed to the boundary, or else gloriously dispatches the batsman (or woman). Wielding his cleaver like a mighty war axe, the editor will have hacked the spectacle to within a hairsbreadth of its life!

Speaking briefly, for those I know who like(d) to watch and listen to cricket coverage, 'we' enjoy the subtleties and the ponderings of the game, we enjoy the speculative side of the game, the tactics, the immense skills of spin or swing (and reverse swing) bowling, the spectacle of blistering pace against the best of batting prowess, the setting of field placings and traps, all these things and many more. We do not so much like to speculate about which ball in the over will be a (potentially preordained) no-ball, about which ball will be dispatched for a six, about how many balls in the match will be lofted over the boundary ropes, and we do not like to spoil our enjoyment of the game, by speculating with sums of money which we cannot afford to lose, which players will best defy or confirm what the bookies will have predicted and to which they will have apportioned most-ungenerous odds. Thus, we are not so much fans of the fish-bash-bosh form of the game that is Twenty20.

For we fans who are also fans of BBC Radio 5 LiveX things are about to change. TalkSport, yet another branch of some Murdoch Empire conglomerate, has just snatched one last ember from the dying Ashes (pun half intended) of that which once was a proud tradition of wonderfully accessible cricket coverage upon various BBC channels. That is to report that they have snaffled 'Test Match Special.' I have found it to be the case that the Sky is seldom these days anything other than very murky!

So, the same megalith group who currently presides over, or colludes with, the frequently and easily corruptible betting groups, and with Twenty20 cricket, now holds all of the aces. One might sensibly conclude that any deck that never deals the aces to anyone else might be a deck best avoided but gambling, we know, is not based upon any degree of sensibility.

"We want the whole nation to get behind England's cricket team!" I seem to recall Alistair Cook, then captain, once requesting of the fans. Quite how this might be best achieved he did not go on to elaborate. Michael Vaughn might have an opinion, more likely he'll have an official and an unofficial one. That we cannot, without conforming to at least some of Murdoch's demands, watch or now instead listen to our own national side playing matches at home upon it's own national ground suggests that something is not right!

So, have we again allowed standards to slip, and in who's best interest is it this time?

East south-east
As with all political subterfuge we invariably find that nothing ever evolves in complete isolation, although it may well be pretended and presented as such. Turn over enough rocks and there we are likely to discover the constantly creeping fibres of spreading political mycelium... follow the money, perhaps!

If we were to speculate upon the 'evolution' of the UK's police forces we might be here a while and thus discover more than a few fingers in that particular pie. And, given that numbers are undoubtedly down, we would all likely agree that dealing with the UK's abuse of vehicular exhausts is not likely to be topmost upon a daily-growing list of should-be-police-priorities. Yet a more open-ended debate could scarcely fail to recognise that this is an issue that has escalated, and done so because it has been permitted through neglect to fester. Leave a toe to fester long enough and we might well lose the toe, lose the whole leg, the entire living entity! It really doesn't take a genius to draw the conclusion that if 'children' are encouraged to make enough noise, then they will soon be looking to find out what else may be up for grabs.

Blighted neighbourhoods, escalating instances of aggressive and dangerous driving, fatalities, road rage, yet another manifestation to heap onto the mountainous tip that is so amorphously labelled as, 'pollution?' It's not just shiny pipes and a questionably-warm throaty growl, is it, despite what the advertisers might have us 'believe!'

Have we yet again allowed standards to slip, and in who's best interest is it this time?

Speed bumps we find are swiftly replacing the sleeping police forces; sleeping policemen in exchange for sleeping policemen? But the bumps do tend to knock the street-life off the best of vehicles- we can literally hear the years falling away- so not everybody is losing out. And so much of that political lobbying is being done behind closed doors, we find that it eases the transit of all that cash!

In who's best interest is the slip-up this time?

East south-east

Watching and being rightly horrified at current news stories, regarding the huge volumes of plastic litter in our oceans, 'we' might almost be forgiven for 'seeing' this as somehow a recent development, except to write that in no way is this really excusable. Such is the current concentrated news coverage that it might yet help to obscure the fast sinking Grenfell tragedy or to somehow dilute the Windrush debacle. Today is a good day to bury a bad news story, as might these days be said of so many (news) days and stories.

Others, with a less easily distracted eye, might well contest that litter, especially that of a less biodegradable nature has been a ballooning issue for, at the very least, the last few decades. The over-packaging of 'goods' has been argued against for a lifetime, and some! What will the supermarkets, amongst others, be doing to redress this concern, we have been encouraged to think, then to re-think, then to unthink, then ultimately to forget about! Which to bury behind which... litter, sugar... sugar, litter?

Is it really in anyone's interest to allow this one, or two, to slip? You can bet your life that it is!

It might almost be better if the issue concerned solely plastic litter, almost. Have you walked along many supermarket-adjacent lanes recently? Recycling, we've got it covered! Of course we have! Or somebody has... just as long as their questionable 'coverage' doesn't result in the rest of us also being covered! Voluntary codes in the wrong hands can be such slippery things.

It could be contested that the above listed matters are all separate and individually-separable issues, that we are merely in the throes of an unfortunate and unique concentration of many different, variable concerns. If this were indeed the case it would be fair also to contest that any beneficiaries, should such happen to arise, might not always transpire to be from one and the same small group, although, curiously enough, invariably these days they are. And if we in the UK are to consider ourselves operating in the guise of a democracy- naive admittedly- then we would have to consider that much of this 'unique concentration' is slipping by design, through exactly the same fingers... or at least greasing the same fingers... again and again and again...

If we in the UK were a functioning democracy then surely the beneficiaries would be almost instantly traceable, invariably by virtue of these same beneficiaries invariably being us. If only!

Spread the benefits adequately and, highly satisfactorily, there should actually be far less need for benefits. We might also be able to dispense with food banks, operate ideally no zero-hour 'contracts,' need no longer concern ourselves constantly with the paucity and poverty of the nation's housing, need not redraft 'our' 'education' 'policies' every season... no longer need to adopt such a moving target mentality! 

Of course, 'those' like Edwina Curry will always be on hand to happily thrust a frightful face at any camera and to boldly state that, "Food banks are far more a cause of the problem than they are a solution." Curiously far fewer breadline families are lining up to agree.

Were the UK a functioning democracy we wouldn't need to ensure that our much-heralded 'free' press was always to be concentrated in the hands of so few invested multi-millionaires, most being happy to report such bilge as that spewed by Edwina as a given fact. Were democracy more at hand we might well by now have solved our currently insurmountable plastic ocean-islands issue... if not solved then we may well have headed it off at the pass!

You see, it's not really so very slippery... that is, it doesn't need to be.

A sudden and most welcome upturn in the weather recently saw us (family) enjoying our local park. We had bravely, or perhaps foolishly, elected to remove the stabilisers from our granddaughter's bike. This once peaceful recreation now involves a great deal of crouching at speed, with the accompanying greater volumes of anxiety. One can't wrap them up in cotton wool, if only we could... Still, let's at least try to minimise the dangers!

'We'd' just dismounted- standing at the edge of the playground area- when I happened to detect a discernible rise in the intensity of the buzzing of the wakening insects- another subject we could add to 'the list.' "Should this be a swarm it might be best to alert other park-goers at the soonest, rather than to wait and to observe potential developments," I had mused.

Of course, it wasn't a swarm, neither bees nor wasps, instead it was a drone! This somewhat hefty device was seemingly fixed at a constant height, perhaps 80 feet above the busy park. Decidedly miffed, I scanned about for the childish dolt at the 'helm'... nothing!

"Mmmm,' I considered, "I wonder if our 'friend' has considered the damage that 5kg of fast falling plastic and metal might cause to any child's skull, should the device suddenly lose power?" The government site is jolly helpful in this regard; it completely set my mind at ease (not) when I referenced it later that day. Take a peek, why don't you?

I have, more than once or twice in recent years, been given cause to consider the potential consequences of any sudden spurt in the ownership of variously-sized-and-or-capable drones in and about our cities and our countryside, so to have found this site came as little real surprise. It is both helpful and it is not, entirely dependent upon how slippery you wish such things to be.
I thought that I would just cut and paste some 'highlights' for your perusal:

Drones are readily available on the high street and Internet, and are being sold in their thousands... they are great fun to fly or operate, and have great utility.

Essentially your responsibilities are:
  • to know how to fly your drone safely, and do so within the law
  • to understand that the operator is legally responsible for every flight
  • to keep your drone in sight at all times – stay below 400ft
  • not to fly your drone over a congested area, never fly within 50 metres of a person, vehicle or building not under your control
  • ensure any images you obtain using the drone do not break privacy laws
  • avoiding collisions – you should never fly a drone near an airport or close to aircraft. It is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight
There are several other things to think about – what is your drone going to do if it runs out of power or fails? Is it going to land/fall somewhere safe? Are you far enough away from people, buildings and more importantly airfields if you lose control of your drone?

Now, stick with me here, if you will. I'm going to suggest that anyone who might consider that they have all of these bases covered either lives and intends to operate their 'toy' in a desert or, far more likely, that they intend to pick and to choose which guidelines to consider- and they are still presented much as guidelines- and which to ignore, entirely reliant upon their own peculiar wants, much as they did as an egocentric child. "Oops, did we forget to ask the customer if he was a diagnosed sociopath?" It's the UK's equivalent of the US gun laws. I'm obviously hoping that we'll keep casualties down to around zero on this side of the Atlantic. 
We can expect to see the first government redraft fairly hot upon the heels of our first child fatality. I wonder what the drone-owner's equivalent of, "He's never shown any signs of wanting to attack and kill a child before," might be. Hell, let's not beat about the bush, many drone-inclined males- this group is going to comprise almost entirely of males- are highly likely to be already proudly numbered amongst the nation's dangerous dog owners.

'Hidden in plain sight' has perhaps become a somewhat cliched term... perhaps? To clarify might I just point out that it means, 'to obscure without hiding, by virtue of an item/event/whatever nestling amongst other, perhaps more obvious, choices?' The concept itself is almost self evident, although the frequency of its regularly-amended usage appears these days to operate often more counterintuitively. So, when we hear the term 'hidden in plain sight' it may now be clearly appended to that to which it refers... thus not actually hidden at all. So, now that we are made 'aware' the enveloping chess is required to have effectively upped it's game! 'It' may well be hidden (or rather displayed) in plain sight, but the 'it,' waved before our eyes, may no longer be quite the 'it' that most urgently needs to be addressed. The term has become rather a slippery one.

When Thatcher sold off all of those council homes, supposedly to their respective tenants, the idea was, we may now easily surmise, to transfer ownership into the grasping hands of the landlordly classes. She may not have been the biggest fan of democracy, but 'democracy' was to serve as her cloak of convenience. The electoral minions had already fallen for the privatisation of the nation's social foundations, gleefully opting in to the markets and effectively out of any sort of social cohesion or responsibility. With the proffered crumbs to hand the minions behaved as if unaware of the slicing up of the real loaf! They barely noticed that the markets remained all the while immune. They barely noticed those homes slipping through their fingers! Yet, the design was all the while kept in plain sight... almost.

So, when the market-unsavvy tenants gained 'control' of their knock-down homes, it was reasoned to be only a matter of time before many of those same homes also became marketable commodities. Result, a highly marketable housing crisis that is currently being sustained by the bigger crumbs, in order that they may rest slightly closer to the top of the accumulated debris, and ever-so-slightly closer to the cleaner air... 'investment' homes ltd.,' care of your updated BBC.

Heavens, why make decent housing accessible? Why make education any less market-fodderable, why consider 'public' transport for ordinary people to be an essential service, or the general public's health to be a social responsibility? Instead, why not consider giving every youth £10,000 to reinvest in the markets? Re-balance society!

It really doesn't need to be quite so very slippery! If only the wrong people, with entirely the wrong vested interests, weren't constantly greasing the wrong poles! And, lest we should for a moment doubt ourselves, seventeen 'identified' as 'unnecessary' procedures that NHS England is proposing to cut should more correctly be understood to mean seventeen procedures that have been lined up for privatisation. The slippery exodus is well underway!

* I think that it is called a Hextaptych?