The Fight Starts Now, Right After Mummy’s Made My Supper


You’re reading a blog written by a bloke who seems to be one of the few who has yet to watch the Kony video. I was forwarded it by The Incumbent, who had in turn been sent it by her son. I didn’t watch it. My daughter asked if I’d seen it ‘yet’ (presuming some sort of inevitability about me watching it).  I hadn’t, and I haven’t. She should know me better than that by now.

I dunno if my complete lack of bovveredness about this latest in a long line of bandwagons rolling by is due merely to my growing awareness of my position standing on the wrong side of the age-gap, my long-held and well-founded deep suspicion and mistrust of social networks and their ensuing campaigns, or whether it’s the fact that this really does seem like a very old story indeed to me. Don’t get me wrong – it is a horrific-sounding story, and one which has been covered endlessly by the quality press over the years. You know the quality press ? They’re the lot who’ve been labelled as useless and corrupt thanks to Levenson Inquiry. For those reading this from the Twittersphere, you’ll find the quality press on the shelf in the newsagent ( that’s the shop next to the laundromat) below Heat Magazine and the Glee fanzines.

Maybe it’s because ever since I witnessed those middle class teenage wankers ruin a perfectly enjoyable and effective student demo last year, including throwing fire extinguishers off buildings at the coppers below, I’ve been less than impressed with the present crop of activist. Pater must have been jolly miffed with them when they returned home for evensong.

Then again, it could be my opinion that citizen journalism is a dangerous, un-policeable threat to well-researched, fact-checked and verified copy (this blog aside, of course), or maybe it’s because there are a million other things happening in the world to worry about, starting with Syria, the invasion of Iran, missiles from Israel, Banker’s corruption, and the disbandment of the NHS. Working my way down the list from there, past Scottish Devolution, which colour hat the Queen will wear at Ascot, the Downton Abbey plot and who’s going to win Masterchef until we arrive at the fate of Joseph Kony.

These views won’t of course be universally popular, but there’s something grating to me about the Teeny Tots of the Twittersphere presuming they can change the world cos they know how to shorten an email link and can use the letters OMFG with impunity. Labeling someone a “Douchebag” or calling each others efforts “Awesome” does not a New Model Army make (by the way, that’s the last time you’ll read either word here).

And there my thin and badly thought-out argument rested. After all, I haven’t actually seen the film and you wouldn’t expect one so level-headed as I to attack something I haven’t seen, would you ? Then I watched Charlie Brooker last night, and he has saved me from ever watching the sodding video. I never knew the film-maker was, in fact, an evangelical, bible-bashing, doucheb… there, you nearly got me at it. Turns out there is more to these videos than just saving little children.

Thanks Charlie.  Not further questions, your witness. Oh, sorry, did I disturb your Facebook session ? Oh never mind, let me know what you think if and when you manage to get out of bed. And do hurry up, your mum’s made lunch.

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It’s Tin Hat Time


Just a couple of items raised a monobrow today. I notice my beloved Blackheath is to receive some help from a terrorist attack. Which is nice.

BBC: London 2012: Olympics missile sites considered for Blackheath and Shooters Hill


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering plans to install surface-to-air missiles in Blackheath and Shooters Hill during the Olympic Games.The MoD said it had taken military advice to identify sites to base the defence systems to protect the skies over London in the event of an attack.Eltham and Plumstead MP Clive Efford said he was concerned at the “lack of consultation”.

The MoD said no final decision had been made to use the air defence systems.Mr Efford said he had now written to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to complain about not being consulted.The Labour MP said the first he heard about the plans was when half a dozen trucks and trailers arrived at Oxleas Wood, near Shooters Hill in his constituency.

‘Alarmed at news’

“I accept there has to be security for the Olympics and inconvenience but there are proper processes to go through,” he said. “I would have expected a full briefing from the minister. This is a site of special scientific interest so I was alarmed when I heard. I have no idea of the scale of this plan and what damage might happen.”

Whether or not the local MP is a little bit naive expecting a full briefing is a moot point, but if the MOD could point their Exocets towards the heavy lorries that daily get stuck in the Blackwall Tunnel, that would help immeasurably. They’d get a perfect view from the top of Shooters Hill too.

Then there was this in The Guardian today:

As a metaphor for the London Olympics, it could hardly be more stark. The much-derided “Wenlock” Olympic mascot is now available in London Olympic stores dressed as a Metropolitan police officer. For £10.25 you, too, can own the ultimate symbol of the Games: a member of by far the biggest and most expensive security operation in recent British history packaged as tourist commodity. Eerily, his single panoptic-style eye, peering out from beneath the police helmet, is reminiscent of the all-seeing eye of God so commonly depicted at the top of Enlightenment paintings. In these, God’s eye maintained a custodial and omniscient surveillance on His unruly subjects far below on terra firma….

…Critics of the Olympics have not been slow to point out the dark ironies surrounding the police Wenlock figure. “Water cannon and steel cordon sold separately,” mocks Dan Hancox on the influential Games Monitor website. “Baton rounds may be unsuitable for small children.”

In addition to the concentration of sporting talent and global media, the London Olympics will host the biggest mobilisation of military and security forces seen in the UK since the second world war. More troops – around 13,500 – will be deployed than are currently at war in Afghanistan. The growing security force is being estimated at anything between 24,000 and 49,000 in total. Such is the secrecy that no one seems to know for sure.

During the Games an aircraft carrier will dock on the Thames. Surface-to-air missile systems will scan the skies. Unmanned drones, thankfully without lethal missiles, will loiter above the gleaming stadiums and opening and closing ceremonies. RAF Typhoon Eurofighters will fly from RAF Northolt. A thousand armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams will patrol an Olympic zone partitioned off from the wider city by an 11-mile, £80m, 5,000-volt electric fence.

All this should give walking around London this summer that warm, cosy feeling. It’ll be just like a Richard Curtis movie. Especially the ones he directed starring Wesley Snipes and Liam Neeson shooting the fuck out of everything. The English Tourist Board must be loving it. And all this just to make wads of cash for Seb, Boris and their cronies. Maybe my missing out on tickets for the heats of the Individual Synchronized Swimming was a blessing in disguise after all ? Are they putting frogmen in the pool ? Buster Crabbe sitting at the bottom of the deep end, should the famous Al Qaeda Underwater swim-team decide to invade ?

I’m not sure how much concentration I could manage if I was competing in the Archery or the 1 yard Air Pistol if I could sense either a ground-to-air missile at the other end of the field, primed and ready to go; or the threat of a hooded loony’s AK47 spitting bullets all over the place.  I’d want more than a BB Gun or a bow-and-arrow to defend myself with.

The English Cricket team have got it right: They’re bad enough without going out to bat in Sniper Alley in downtown Lahore. I’m not sure I’d be able to pick a googly if I thought the mad mullahs were using my temples as target practice. So they refuse to play in Pakistan. They’d much rather be humiliated and beaten in the UAE. I wonder how long it will be before Olympic national teams decide not to visit a country marked down in the book by religious extremists as Satan’s Little Helper ?

Maybe not. That would be taken as a huge diss and insult to the Old Country. They wouldn’t dare upset old Dave.

This Happy Breed


Happiness. It’s good to be happy, innit? With the country on the Fritz, the economy in freefall, your trusty black dog scratching at your bedroom door to persuade you to get up and face the world, and with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel (apart from the light of that oncoming train) it’s amazing what small Murphys we thank heaven for, what little ray of sunshine peaks through the clouds and lifts our hearts to cheer up our miserable fucking lives.

Take the recent romp and pomp up in Westminster Abbey. Now I like a wedding as much as the next bloke, though I’d much rather be an innocent bystander than active participant, of course. I can’t imagine flying across the world, or even hopping on a train for 40 minutes to go and celebrate the wedding of a couple whom I’d never met, nor ever likely to meet. But that’s what a million or so folk did last Friday. Unbelievable. I haven’t seen that many happy people in London since Robert Maxwell went for a dip off the back of his boat


Oops! Sorry, wrong one.


Tented villages appeared along the pavements in The Mall and Whitehall as people camped out overnight, overnight mark you, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the happy couple. Union flags (or is it Jacks?) were waved by small children and large Americans in front of the mass ranks of cameras as the world’s tv crews went in search of the happiest/daftest/fattest fans of the soon-to-be Duke and Duchess of Neasden South, or wherever it is.

So many smiling faces. So much glee. So much joy. The BBC’s Welsh anchor (subs please check) Huw Ewards (fablaas) led us through the streets of London like a fat Ralph McTell pointing out the who’s who and the where’s where of the unfolding events. He never did quite manage to explain who and why a bunch of guests were crammed into minibuses, or indeed who was in charge of the beer and sandwiches therein. Nor did he quite explain fully what an avenue of trees  was doing inside the Abbey but suggested it was “Catherine’s idea”. It was unclear whether Huw offered this as an explanation or an excuse. No matter, nothing could dim the crowd’s enthusiasm for anything and everything on this, the most British of Days.

Inside the Abbey, the mood was a little more reserved, but none-the-less joyous. Not that you’d know it from the faces of Charlie, Liz and Phil.T.Greek. They don’t do unbridled rapture, that lot, so you had to look for clues elsewhere. The cameras cut and panned from guest to guest, accompanied by Huw’s less-than-Dimbleby-esque commentary. The Incumbent and I settled down agog (or is it twogog) in front of the tv set to see who was wearing what and why. Ah there’s the Queen Mother and at least she looks like she’s enjoying herself.  There’s even a little tear in her eye, though I’m suprised she was allowed to bring a corgi with her….hang on…wait a minute.. that’s not the Queen Mum at all. She’s dead for starters. No, no, no…that’s Elton John. And that corgi’s her husband!

Souvenir Royal plate by Vic Reeves and Alan Parris. http://www.aylesfordpottery.co.uk/

Mrs Cameron looked like she had just popped out for a bottle of milk. The Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice pulled off the coup of out-uglying both the Duchess of Ming (she must never be queen) and Tara Palmer Tompkinson combined (there must surely be a by-law that prevents them being let out in public?).

Outside the hordes of happy little people waved and cheered and waved some more as if it was the happiest day of their lives and they didn’t want it to ever end. My feelings were different in just two ways. For me it was nearly over almost as soon as it begun. No sooner had the welsh commentator introduced the welsh Archbishop of Canterbury, the organist wound up the opening bars of Guide Me Oh thou Great Redeemer and the BBC quickly cut back to an interview with a welsh harpist, I found myself uncontrollably feeling for the off-switch. But I was headed off at the pass by The Incumbent who was finding the whole proceedings hilarious. Apart from wondering why they hadn’t gone the whole hog and held the wedding at Cardiff Arms Park, I had to agree. There was much mirth to be had, if you looked in the right places.

I may not have been smiling for any of the reasons that those bedecked in red white and blue were smiling, but the whole day had for a moment distracted me from unemployment, poverty and my general chien noir malaise. If you can’t titter at a guardsman saluting mid-air as the Queen gets out of the car via the wrong door then you are dead from the neck up.

Talking of which, at time of writing we’re still yet to see the photos of Osama Bin Laden‘s corpse. Many people out there still refuse to believe that the US military finally caught up with the Al Qaeda Laeda and are demanding proof. For others, the news of his death proved too much for them and their happiness was all-too-apparent as they jumped up and down in the streets of Washington and New York, waving the Stars and Stripes (or is it strips?), merrily singing USA! USA! USA! (words & music by George and Ira Gershwin).

Wave after wave of baseball cap-wearing college student chanted and waved for any poor cameraman unlucky enough to have been given the assignment to go film them. The waving of flags (and indeed the burning of them) seems to be a pastime especially made for the cameras. Over the years the amount of US, British, Danish, Israeli, Hamas and Iraqi flags which have been waved and/or burned for the benefit of “news” organisations is really quite staggering. If the camera hadn’t been invented the flag-and-cigarette-lighter industry would be in grave peril of collapsing altogether. As it is, there were no shortage of gleeful Americans who were happy to party like it was 1994 for the benefit of CBS, FOX or the BBC. They’ll be the same ones who will shout insults and hurl abuse at the Muslims doing similar after the inevitable Al Qaeda retaliation. Ho hum. Pass me that tin hat will you, dear?

The CIA and the Whitehouse are discussing whether the pics of Bin Laden’s mashed-up body are too gruesome for public viewing. Having seen the Royal Family in their full glory last week, I doubt if the Americans have anything to frighten us.

Be Happy.

On Manoeuvres


The Israeli military is to investigate the behaviour of its troops in Gaza. Many around the world will wonder if this is just another whitewash, to be seen to be doing the right thing, a sham investigation as so many have been before. But what exactly has caused the uproar this time ? More use white phosphorus against the indigenous population ? The massacre of the innocents ? Contravening international laws on human rights by boarding ships laden with aid for the starving ? No, not this time. This is potentially much worse.

According the the agency AFP “the matter is currently being investigated by the battalion commanders,” a terse statement said, with media reports saying those involved were likely to be punished for “inappropriate conduct during a military operation.”

That doesn’t sound very good does it ? You be the judge:

It’s a difficult one to get your head around, isn’t it ? On the one hand we all have our own opinions on the Israeli state: Either a tyrannical occupying force who slaughter innocents willy-nilly across the disputed territories; or a nation defending itself against Palestinian terrorists, preserving a Jewish state in the Holy Land, while being surrounded by Arabs, Palestinians and other aggressive neighbours, all of whom have claims to the same territory. There’s no point arguing the toss here, you’ll probably guess which side of the fence I’m on.

However, of all the atrocities which have taken place in the Middle East, six conscript squaddies line dancing in a street when they’re supposed to be on patrol seems a little trivial. The world will scream “shame!” and want them disciplined. Doubtless these lads will be up before the beak, an example made of them. But I wonder. I dunno about you, but it’s the politicians who should be strung up, not the poor sods they send into battle. A long succession of Israeli Governments, aided and abetted by the Yanks and the Brits of all political persuasions are those who should be in the dock, not these blokes.

Your Israeli youth has no choice but to join up. Countless conscripts have been killed since 1948 and there seems little end in sight. There’s no doubting that they face an organised and determined foe, and that life on the front line can be no fun. So who can really blame them for letting their hair down, releasing the tension and having a little bit of R&R before the next sniper or bomber targets them ?

Oooh ! that’s a bit serious, MB, lighten up, mate !

Yeah well, sometimes (not often) but sometimes The Sharp Single goes off at odd tangent, and this is one of those times.

I was searching Youtube for the video to see what all the fuss was about, and what really offended me was the lack of preparation these guys had put into their routine. Full-pack or not, there’s no excuse for being out of step or out of time, especially when there’s only six of you. The world is watching, so for god’s sake pull your finger out. That’s what you get from conscripts I suppose.

Now a PROFESSIONAL outfit knows how to choreograph a dance routine. The British Army has, over the years, shown the world a thing or two in the theatre of war, and this is no different. I’m not so sure they really are SAS (it matters not one jot), but as a prime example of off-duty troops, in a hell-hole where they really don’t wanna be, making the most of it and having fun, I’ve seen no better. A tradition which started with synchronised waltzing at Rorke’s Drift, through to mass Lambeth Walking at Ypres, it’s good to see there’s some things our boys still excel at. Do carry on.