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Apparently we can disregard that last entry as today fun arrived in the post:



I ask you, what a rabble. Nice to see them being as honest as ever although I don't know which is more laughable - Marty Millar and his millions in a little semi in Coolnasilla, Stalford in the Braniel or Gauleiter Hiddleston in a wee tumbledown terrace in the back streets of Cregagh. I'm sure they all own their alleged abodes as politicians here invariably are also rack renting landlords, but who the hell are they trying to kid giving those as their home addresses?! As much as I can't stand the woman at least Little-Pengelly is being a bit honest about her mansion.

At the risk of repetition the election to this tinpot jaw-factory is as meaningless as they come but I'll most likely go through the motions anyway and submit a 1-2-3-4 of Mervyn, Kerr, Burns and Bailey and be done with it. So apologies in advance to all four of you as, given my track record, defeat is now inevitable. Ah voting, if it had any impact they'd have abolished it years ago.

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Priapism

I've avoided discussing the RHI scandal on here as it's just such a depressing microcosm of what a waste the Northern Ireland Assembly really is. Equally I resisted the temptation to gloat about the political retirement of the utterly detestable Martin McGuinne$$ as we always knew he would be replaced by an equally faceless collaborator who would continue on the same devolutionist-unionist path and sure enough along came Michelle O'Neill who was also up to her neck in the same scandal. Plus ça change!

But with all that having been said, the scandal has brought yet another Assembly election on our heads and the circus rolls on as ever. Well, for most of it does as the way things are looking just now I appear to have been disenfranchised for this particular one. Yet again I will find myself in Scotland on the day of the election and on that basis I requested a postal vote but the other day a normal polling card arrived at my house and, as I'll be off in my spiritual home at the time, it appears that I'm to be denied the chance to vote for a losing candidate. Quel Dommage!

I may get up in arms at the drop of a hat but on this occasion I really don't care if I don't get to vote. Since the Tories took over in England it has been clear that the Northern Ireland Assembly, already a pretty weak institution, has been relegated to the role of talking shop. Certainly, the speed with which the hated welfare reform was forced through by the Secretary of State indicates that any important decisions will always emanate from Westminster and Stormont will just have to grin and bear them (ditto Holyrood and whatever the hell the Welsh chatter-house is called, by the way). Effectively the Assembly has been left somewhere between a glorified council (I shit you not, one of its major decision was changing the layout of bus stops in Belfast city centre) and a bribe to the elites as a way for them to keep their useful idiots in line. It's jobs for the boys up there, be it MLAs or their truly pointless Special Advisers so it will continue even though it has no real function any more in a fine example of sod you Jack, I'm all right. Sacrebleu!

If by some miracle they do decide to give me my postal vote I am faced with a very limited selection of candidates from which to choose, although of that mob I would most likely go for People before Profit. Even if they won a plurality in the Assembly (not going to happen) they would still be able to do sod all but they at least talk the talk about austerity and a few more of them on the hill would be preferable to yet more Sinn Fein and DUP apparatchiks (or indeed UUP, SDLP or Alliance ones for that matter). They haven't a hope of getting a seat in "leafy South Belfast" of course (a cliché that always ignores the pile of loyalist estates we have in this constituency too) but if I get the opportunity they can have my vote anyway. Nice to see that the previously mentioned John Hiddleston is back yet again for another election. Pleased to see my exposé had such a great influence! Mind you in these days of the Azov Brigade, Brexit, Donald Trump and (let's hope not) Marine Le Pen I suppose having a past in the National Front might even help him get elected. Zut alors!

But whatever happens no doubt the same old crap will continue. O'Neill will find a way to work with Arlene Foster or possibly a replacement and the gravy train will rumble on, achieving nothing apart from feathering the nests of those involved. Meanwhile the republicans and loyalists on the ground will continue to suffer but will be content that "our ones" are in charge, despite all the major decisions being dictated by our Der Führer Theresa May (and hi Teesie, seeing as the Investigatory Powers Act means you're reading this now). Brûle en l’enfer!

Posted from my Acer Aspire ES 15

Long-term readers, if any, will recall that I started updating this crap from home back in 2009 after I finally acquired my own laptop. Well guess what? Yup, I've finally acquired laptop number two and this post is the first to be delivered from it. Yay!

Inevitably I'm still trying to find my feet on the new effort, adding the bits and pieces that I'm used to but which do not come as standard and attempting to iron out teething problems as I go. I've been a Windows Vista man since I first started using my own machine and so the sudden jump to Windows 10 has been a culture shock and, as things stand I hate bits of the new set up (switching between internet windows specifically, as well as the inability to resize pictures in that poor excuse for a replacement for Picture Editor or whatever it's called). Still, moves are always traumatic and happen things will settle down when, for instance, Microsoft office has finally arrived (and by God but hasn't that become eye-wateringly expensive).

In some ways I'll miss my old machine and it's still standing at the side in case I need it, notwithstanding the seemingly daily warnings that 2017 is the year in which Vista is going to be killed with fire. But in saying that the clamp that holds the broken hinge and casing place, the sheer weight of the bloody thing, the space bar that only occasionally worked, the "m" key that regularly broke and its general slowness this last year or so can all do one right now. Music and sundry files still need to be transferred over but for now all that can wait until I familiarise myself a touch more with things.

But otherwise woah, new stuff and junk.

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You'll forgive me if I pass on the end of year survey thing this time out as, for more reasons than I care to remember, I'll have little desire to recall 2016 in the future. But nonetheless I'll draw a veil on this most egregious of twelvemonths in my own time-honoured fashion:

Top 100 Artists of the YearCollapse )
With what moral authority can they speak of human rights — the rulers of a nation in which the millionaire and beggar coexist; the Indian is exterminated; the black man is discriminated against; the woman is prostituted; and the great masses of Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Latin Americans are scorned, exploited, and humiliated? How can they do this — the bosses of an empire where the mafia, gambling, and child prostitution are imposed; where the CIA organizes plans of global subversion and espionage, and the Pentagon creates neutron bombs capable of preserving material assets and wiping out human beings; an empire that supports reaction and counter-revolution all over the world; that protects and promotes the exploitation by monopolies of the wealth and the human resources of whole continents, unequal exchange, a protectionist policy, an incredible waste of natural resources, and a system of hunger for the world?


Back on here, so guess what's coming

Hell, even I think I've been away too often recently. The joys of growing up in a warzone, I suppose. And let it be known too that the following load of old rambling nonsense should have been published yesterday but my internet provider decided to give me a day of no service just to remind me who the boss is. Thanks as ever Virgin Media, I would denounce you as vermin but recent events have drawn me closer to that class of creature. Intrigued? Didn't think so but read on anyway, it's good for chilblains.

Read more...Collapse )

Nedderbury

Such is the regularity with which I go to Edinburgh these days that it hardly seems worth mentioning.

But let's anywayCollapse )

Highway to the danger zone

For several years since his shady, drug-related death in 2000 UDA killer Stephen "Top Gun" McKeag has been commemorated by various murals in the Lower Shankill area that was formerly his home. Rather than give you the full details of his sordid life I'll just point you in the direction of his Wikipedia article which is in this case both reliable and readable, a true classic of the website (yes, I did write the vast majority of it).

A recent bout of redevelopment saw the most recent version removed and a sigh of relief breathed by the relatives of the victims of one of the most prolific sectarian killers of the later years of the Troubles. However a couple of weeks ago a new version went up in the same vicinity (albeit not the exact location) leading to an outcry as well as the inevitable Housing Executive response of "we've no immediate plans to remove it". Well, the UDA's backs are up since Boreland and the Exec have never been the bravest of agencies at the best of times.

Leaving aside any outrage, the mural itself is one of those photo-based, screen-printed efforts that have become the norm on the Shankill in recent years where the sudden surge of ultra-nationalism that followed the horrendous flag protests and culminated in the loyalist support for the extreme right "leave" option at the last referendum (despite the EU having effectively been propping Northern Ireland up since the economic collapse, but hey - foreigners) has apparently killed off any notion of murals as an art form. Be that as it may, this is the result of their efforts:



Just take a moment to drink that in and realise that that is on the side of somebody's house, twenty odd feet high for the whole world to see. I didn't know McKeag personally (not one of the biggest regrets of my life, I must confess) but I've seen the odd picture and I'm pretty sure he had a complete head throughout his life. It does rather beg the question as to why, in that case, his photo-mural tribute has a head that stops immediately above the eyes with a little beret plonked on top, presumably to stop the world seeing his exposed, pulsating brain matter. I mean, was it really that big a rush job that the designer couldn't take a little time to actually make it look vaguely realistic? Or did they accidentally hire a Fenian who decided to have a bit of fun with it? Whatever the rights and wrongs of commemorating a piece of scum like McKeag if you're going to do it at least do it right. Whatever that is supposed to be it is an absolute laughing stock and frankly the UDA themselves, never mind the Housing Executive, should be removing that with their faces beetroot-red whilst doing so. He may have been "Top Gun" but my breath was certainly taken away by that travesty.

Sep. 11th, 2016

A very early kick-off for Donegal Celtic in Ballyclare today conspired to deny the chance to attend their match for the second week running. But Saturday football has become such an ingrained habit now that it simply must be and so I searched around for an alternative. DC were in action in the truly pointless Steel and Sons Cup, a competition for the worst League and best non-league clubs from (approximately) counties Down and Antrim so, glancing at the fixtures I decided a half two kick-off between Glentoran Under-20s and Dundela in that competition would satisfy my requirements.

I have no particular love for Glentoran but they have one asset that appeals and that is their home ground, the Oval. Housed in the back streets of east Belfast, deep in the heart of UVF territory, it's a big, ramshackle, decrepit old ground that gives off the vibe of being really rather unsafe. But I love it and reckon it's everything a football ground should be. When the first team are at home it can get pretty raucous but for me it's best appreciated when the reserves are playing and there is an eerie calm to the place.

And soCollapse )
You know one of these days I'm actually going to have something to say on here and it will all be terribly profound and meaningful. Not today though, it's far too hot. Please can summer end soon, I'm far too hairy, heavy and old for all this heat and far too Celtic for all this sunshine. If I didn't split the soles of my shoes so readily I would love winter more than my own lovely life.

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Trained to fight and proud to die

Back at the tail-end of 2013 I briefly touched on the UDA internal feud in north Belfast but at that point it hadn't really advanced too far beyond "aye, yer ma" and "i'll knack yer ballix in". But on Sunday night shit just got real as veteran racketeer and former UDA brigadier John "Bonzer" Boreland got whacked by one of his own. By my reckoning he is the first loyalist to be killed by his own since the UVF bumped off Bobby Moffet outside the Ballygomartin Tesco (where I had been a few hours earlier) in 2010 and the first UDA man to be killed in an internal dispute since former East Belfast brigadier was lured to his death in 2005 by a gang that apparently included not only several former friends but even his ex-boyfriend. Even in death Doris Day had to be over the top. Either way it could lead to a spell of fun and games involving loyalist paramilitaries killing each other at a level not seen since the days when Johnny Adair was looking a one-man war with the UVF.

So, just who was Boreland? Well his Wikipedia page summarises the main points pretty well (it should do - I wrote about 95% of it and I'm so good at Wikipedia that even the South Side Advertiser has taken to plagiarising me). It should be added that the buzz on the street was Boreland and Shoukri had effectively re-established a puppet regime in the North Belfast Brigade, installing some unidentified loser who had made his name at those moronic flag protests around the same time as this all began. Said loser is apparently now in Scotland having made enemies of both the notorious Mount Vernon UVF* (who have been flexing their muscles of late) and Shankill-based veteran UVF top dog (and long-term British agent) John "Bunter" Graham. I'm sure it's entirely coincidental that after his faction made such powerful enemies Bonzer is now a goner. And pigs will fly.

Unlike some loyalists killed by their own (the aforementioned Jim Gray springs readily to mind) Boreland had friends as well as enemies. It seems unlikely that those friends will just shrug their shoulders at this and a lack of retaliation seems at best unlikely. It may be an isolated incident but the demand for some comeback is bound to be loud and these things have a nasty habit of spiralling once they begin. "Interesting" times ahead for the residents of Ballysillan, Tigers Bay and the Shore Road it seems. I may have to give Seaview a miss for a while.

* During their heyday of violence and drug dealing the Mount Vernon UVF were led by the malevolent Mark Haddock. And, you guessed it, he was a British agent too. Still don't believe the Troubles was being directed from Westminster?

Open

All things considered it has been a peculiar close season. It is normal that in an even year I find the break more bearable thanks to televised tournament football but the Euros largely passed me by this time for some reason and indeed not since the 1994 World Cup (when I was still in my painful teenage intellectual phase, trying to force myself to hate football - worra wanker) have I paid so little attention to a finals. Happen regularly attending live matches has ruined the TV version for me, maybe it's a general distaste for the overpaid multimillionaires that populate the sport or it could be that as my distaste for "patriotism" gets worse with age national team football has rather lost its appeal. Either way, didn't really get into it and the conclusion, with a very limited group of moaners and cheats in Portugal winning, seemed apt somehow.

Still today marked a return (of sorts) to genuine competitive football locally. Due to certain personal circumstances and an unwritten rule I have that I don't leave the confines of Greater Belfast for a pre-season friendly I have missed the entirety of Donegal Celtic's build-up and instead have had to content myself with, apart from my previously discussed London escapades, matches at Cliftonville, Crusaders, Immaculata, Harland & Wolff Welders and Dunmurry Rec. Glamour doesn't begin to describe it. I even managed just after last season to squeeze in my first and only women's match, as I watched Cliftonville and Newry City's ladies teams play out a 2-2 draw at a standard of football that could charitably be called basic. To be fair one of the goals was good and there are some fine female footballers about (the girl Marta for instance) but our local version? Oy! In saying that I might well go again given the chance as you can't fault their commitment and you get in for nitto.

But today it was back to the real deal. Well, sort of. The top division began today but I didn't fancy any of them so I opted for a League Cup match between the PSNI and Banbridge Town. Bad idea. What a pile of rubbish it really was. The filth were a bunch of leaden-footed cloggers, stomping about like Uncle Oojah whilst Banbridge tried to cover up their complete lack of skill by being the biggest bunch of niggling, gamesmanship-driven moaning minnies you've ever encountered. Seven notes to get in and they don't even offer you a cup of char. ACAB. That and the long, narrow and pavement-free road up to their ground could, I felt, have been a bit more dangerous as there were actually a few seconds when I didn't think I was about to get ran over by the passing traffic.

But I mustn't grumble. I'll finally get back to my own lads as DC face Dundela next Saturday in the first game of the league campaign and, handily enough, old Wilgar Park is nobbut a cockstride away (well, three miles but that's nowt to a slender chap like me). Close season has been quite the slog and my first game back was less than auspicious but getting back to the ones that I know and the team that is mine should make it all worthwhile. Hopefully.

How the chimney sweepers cry

The short version of this is that London was rather good apart from the going and the coming, which were hell on earth. On the off-chance that anybody is still reading this (and I note in my extended absence that I am now down to one person submitting regular updates on my friends list) I shall expand at some length about what took place.

The Austrian stork nurtures the kitesCollapse )

Jun. 14th, 2016

Normally by now tournament fever would have me in a grip stronger than the thighs of Elizabeth Seitz but so far I've struggled to really immerse myself in Euro 2016. Perhaps it's the relative lack of excitement in many of the matches, a general ennui with the whole build-up, the nagging fears of the fascist nightmare that will be visited upon us when the turkeys of England vote for Christmas for all of us on the 23rd, the undeniable fact that a 24 team tournament is far too big and at least a third of the qualifiers just scream "making up the numbers", who knows? Still, Euro 2016 is here with its high-kicking and low-scoring on the pitch and its war by proxy being waged by boneheads off it.

Being a man who long since disavowed patriotism I have no particular team to root for and that hasn't helped. Before the whole thing started I declared, in a fit of contrariness so typical of me, for Iceland but my heart was never in it and, whilst it would be a delight to see the smallest country ruffle a few feathers, life will go on if they lose all three matches. I did derive a surprising amount of pleasure from Italy's victory over Belgium last night but I suspect it was an isolated incident rather than my rebirth as a great Italian.

As to what we've seen so far, little has really grabbed my interest. I even turned over halfway through the England-Russia match the other night and buggered off shopping rather than stick with the Republic of Ireland's dreary outing against Sweden. Still, I've never been an Ireland fan and the fact that they're now led by an axis of evil every bit as contemptible as Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane seals the deal. Meanwhile the occupied territory represented the real recrement of the tournament, serving up some of the dullest, stalest, olid Pulisball since that awful Romanian team that annoyed me so much that time. Boy was I glad to see them lose and I will be even more glad when they exit the tournament. And yet this happened. Well, it would have been rude to say "no".

I remain hopeful that the malaise will lift. Maybe my eye will be caught by some heavenly Hungarians, maybe the goals will flow as a rampant France put a dowdy Albania to the sword, maybe when the wheat is finally separated from the chaff in the second round things will hit top gear, maybe Michael Gove and Boris Johnson will spontaneously combust as Asmodeus rises from Gehenna to reclaim the debased souls long since promised to him. Either way - must do better, Euro 2016.

A rare Colonel Blimp moment

In between the bouts of running around and waiting on phone calls that have dominated my life these last few weeks I recently discovered a shock few spare minutes which I proceeded to waste watching This Morning for the first time in several years. I know that at the best of times it was always an odd show but even by their standards it was out there. Pip Scofe and Willoughbooby were sat there as usual, facing some numpty who was sitting on the floor for some reason. It was then that I noticed said numpty was dressed head to toe as a fucking Dalmatian!

I've never been a Moral Majority sort of person and I know we're supposed to be terribly broad-minded and acknowledge and celebrate every perversion we encounter these days but I don't think I've ever had a hell-in-a-handbasket moment quite like the one I did watching some tosser in a dog-suit demanding attention for his weird ways. Apparently he was there to promote some "documentary", inevitably on Channel 4 (who apparently decided to take a rare break from kicking the poor and underprivileged for this dreck) about human pups, indicating that there are loads of these bastards wasting thousands on this crap. As I say to each his own but the more I encounter nonsense like this the more I am forced to concede that the human race has officially ran out of ideas and appears to be heading to the end of its natural purpose. What do you think, Julian?



My sentiments exactly, champ. See me about that spelling, though.

If I may I'll sum it all up with a bit of apt doggerel:

One, two, I smell poo
Three, four, dog-shite on the floor
Five, six, something about dicks
Seven, eight, this rhyme idea isn't great
Nine, ten, you're not dogs you idiots. No matter how much you spend on daft suits you're still men.


The scanning is a bit off but the message stands. If they really want to live like dogs de-ball the weirdos and then destroy them. Sheesh.
Apologies for (yet another) extended period of radio silence but shit's a bit too real at the moment for me to get into. Anyway I'll quickly do this meme that I requested from purpledonna sometime around 1992 and then get out of your hair. On the off-chance that anybody remembers my existence and wants a letter do let me know.

Something I hate : Objectivism - hateful and hate-filled, bitter, Satanic bollocks. It's a mystery to me why people so consumed with contempt for their fellow humans even bother living.

Something I love : Oranges. Love is a bit strong but I do enjoy them and O is a hard letter.

Somewhere I've been : Ormeau Road. I live on it. As far as I can recall I've never been to any town that begins with O. Not even Omagh; I haven't lived.

Somewhere I'd like to go : Omdurman. It's always been my lifelong dream to visit Sudan. Actually I'm lying, I just can't think of anywhere beginning with O I want to visit.

Someone I know : Oliver, the permanently angry and belligerent deputy headmaster of my primary school. He seemed quite intimidating at the time but he just needed to get laid, really. Could be dead for all I know.

A film I like : Oklahoma. Just kidding, no idea. I know nowt about films.

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I've never been a member of a political party in my life but, unbelievable as it seems now, there was a time when I would have identified Sinn Fein as "my" party nonetheless. So long ago. As disillusionment set in that honour was handed instead to the Irish Republican Socialist Party but a combination of the INLA's totally pointless surrender (seriously, they have gained absolutely nothing from their ceasefire unlike the Provies, who at least get huge grants from Her Majesty's Government for being good little boys) and the party's gradual drift to moribundity saw me give up on them ages ago. I mean, apart from that wee office on the Falls do they do anything any more? My days of identifying with one party are long over. If I was pushed I would say that these days I most admire the effort of Eirigi but even then I differ from them on several issues and consider them the best of a bad lot rather than my spiritual brothers.

Of course given that I live in leafy South Belfast there is no Eirigi interest in my constituency and so I am left with rather a motley crew to choose from when it comes to voting tomorrow. Sinn Fein or out of course and would have been even if their candidate wasn't the utterly despicable Millionaire Marty, unquestionably my most detested member of the party outside their two leaders. Their cohorts in that vile, Tory-lapdog rabble up on the hill- the DUP - are out of the question too of course and stick their Little Pengelly up their Stalford if they think they're getting my vote (although apparently they don't as they never canvass my area). As ever the Alliance have addressed several pieces of literature to me, apparently believing that I'm their man (or perhaps that I'm a kinsman of one of their candidate) but their support for the current set-up rules them out, as does one of their candidates' pasts as a flag waver for David Cameron. Due to their pro-Assembly and, by extension, pro-austerity stances both the SDLP and Ulster Unionists are out as well.

Which leaves me, as ever, scraping around in the bottom of the barrel to pick which losing candidate I'll be blowing my vote on. Well UKIP are running for starters. Not bloody likely. The Progressive Unionist Party are having another tilt but they can hit the road too, having lazily sent me the exact same sectarian manifesto as last time with the bit about Protestant boys bad performance at school being priority ahead of Irish Travellers and Roma, both of whom perform worse. Bigots and racists it seems. As previously covered at some length Hiddleston is running for traditional Unionist Voice but I don't vote for apartheid supporters. Ben Manton is, as ever, running for the Tories but, also as ever, he can go swive himself.

There are a couple of loyalist independents running too. Ex-DUP extremist Ruth Patterson is one option although, given that her campaign manager is fleg moron Jamie Bryson, I rather suspect she isn't really aimed at me. Indeed she seems an ideal candidate for the Protestant Coalition, our local attempt at a loyalist arm of the extreme right Britain First, but that seems to be pretty much dead these days. There's also Billy Dickson of course although his manifesto left me rather cold. A former Belfast City councillor, Dickson was a veteran of the dark days of Paisleyism, a staunch opponent of civil rights and a paramilitary on the Donegall Road. He's been through various other parties since, including the Tories and the TUV, but now claims to be leading his own party called the South Belfast Unionists. His literature stated that it was imperative south Belfast has its own unionist party but offered no reason why that was so. I'm sure it's important to him as no other party will offer him a candidacy but it can't be that important as his South Belfast Unionists are unregistered and he is competing as an independent. Next!

It's South Belfast so there are no dissident republican candidates and instead I'm left to pick amongst the debris of the lefty also-rans. There's an independent named Brigitte Anton, one of several running across the place as part of the Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee, but I've never been a fan of the British parties setting up shop here so, whilst I still respect Jeremy Corbyn, I reckon I'll give her a swerve, not least because she didn't bother sending me any bumf so I don't know what she wants. I find the Green party generally a bit wishy-washy but Bailey will probably find her way onto the ballot, most likely in third place. That leaves me a straight choice between Seán Burns and Lily Kerr. Burns in running as an independent, although his posters say he is Cross-Community Labour Alternative whilst he is actually from the Socialist Party. Confused yet? Normally he would be nailed on but his campaign has left me rather cold. Both he and his East Belfast counterpart Courtney Robinson are mere babies and this has been a big part of their campaign but the whole "vote for youth because it means progressive" thing has never really worked for me. As I've said before Tony Benn is the classic example, given how for much of his political career he was a fairly standard Labour Party apparatchik before emerging in his older years as a radical dissident of the first water so that younger = better jazz doesn't wash with me. Also for me this election is about austerity Burns seems much more interest in other issues such as abortion and gay marriage, neither of which strike me as priorities given the "Fresh Start" agreement is about to turn this place Third World. He is the only candidate with a moustache admittedly but I'm rejecting that as a criterion, along with picking on the basis of best looking (Clare Bailey, who has a bit of a mumsy Carly Rae Jepsen thing going on). As such I'll be going with the Workers Party again, the only ones in this constituency to really hammer home the anti-austerity line as the priority it deserves to be. Burns can take second and Bailey third so commiserations in advance to all three on their inevitable defeat.

For whatever its worth (sod all), that's how I'll be going but I fully expect the same old sectarian shite to rule the day and us to be faced with another five years of money-hungry Sinn Fein and DUP scumbags doing whatever the Tories order them so long as they can protect their own interests. Meanwhile their potless voters will be much worse off, having once again followed the same old "keep the other side out" line regardless. Heck, there's so little between the five main parties that they might as well all merge as their all cheeks of the same (admittedly very deformed, given there are five of them) arse. As ever grim prospects lie ahead thanks to England and their propensity for forcing the Tories on us.
Every time I post to this now I seem to begin with a note to excuse my absence due to the paucity of updates. What can I say, less than auspicious days recently. In the meanwhile however a standing engagement in Edinburgh took me across the sea once more and, as ever, I shall betell the events.

Lay on, MacDuffCollapse )

Come into the parlour

I rather fear I say this every year but it wants repeating - St Patrick's Day can take a flying leap as far as I'm concerned. Despite my Irish republican tendencies I'm no patriot and as such a day given over to displays of nationalistic fervour is never going to sit too well with me. Still, for the most part I can generally ignore it, pull up the covers and let the mayhem take place but today that certainly wasn't the case.

I have a severely disabled uncle who lives a couple of miles down the road from me. No longer able to walk, his place has fell into severe disrepair to the point where the Fold has ordered a big overhaul or else he's out on his arse. My auld doll is his next of kin so much of it has been dumped in her lap and, in turn, been passed on to me as his only other relative (ignoring all his other nieces, nephews and their offspring, none of whom can be arsed) so these last lot of weeks have involved a load of fannying about on my part, sorting, rearranging, humping heavy loads and various other bits of donkey work that invariably get dumped on you when you are huge like me.

Today however - a three hour wait for a delivery from Argos. Of a bin.

A fucking bin!

I might not care for donkey work but carrying a bin a few streets would have taken me about ten minutes instead of three hours of sitting with sod all to do, having had to battle my way through scenes of unmitigated carnage on the Ormeau Road where seemingly the entire under-25 population of rural Northern Ireland had descended to get royally pissed. Beyond repeating five or six phrases, more or less at random, my uncle (who has had several strokes, the first of which was in 1989) is more or less unable to communicate and I had already done all the sorting I could so there was literally nothing to do for those three hours other than wait for a doorbell to ring. Ordinarily it would have been the responsibility of the person in charge to let the delivery man in but she's wangled herself a few days off so yours truly was in the firing line once again.

It was well after five by the time I got out of there and the buses were running on a skeleton service so once again I was forced to walk up the Ormeau Road, where all the bais had a day's solid drinking behind them and were all the more obnoxious for it. Put it this way, when I first went down the road at just after 1 there were chaps whipping their knobs out on the main road for a pish so four hours later things were a lot worse. One house appeared to be on fire, which was a source of amusement to the assembled morons, some idiot was doing cartwheels before one of his number did us all a favour and belted him and the harassment of the female population had begun in earnest, again to the amusement of the assembled morons (the rabid misogyny of so many young - and not so young - men these days is really disturbing). Hell, that was just the tip of the iceberg as I didn't stick around but suffice to say days like this make the fact that haemochromatosis severely restricts my alcohol intake seem like a blessing rather than a "Celtic curse".

So St. Patrick's Day - you can keep it. Vulgar, drunken idiots supposedly celebrating an accident of birth by living down to every negative stereotype about their kind, the sort so blind with sectarian hatred that they wrap themselves in a made-up green, white and yellow tricolour flag because they're too bigoted to don the colour orange that makes up one third of Thomas Francis Meagher's banner. Future Sinn Fein leaders in other words. The only day of the year that kind of makes me wish I had been born a loyalist, this might have to join the Twelfth as an excuse to quit this backwards dump for a while in future.

Not waving but drowning

Woah, it has been a long time. I may not update as much as I once did but this is possibly the longest I have ever left this old edifice to rot in my puff. There has been more than a little real-life shit going down this past month or so and that has distracted me so you'll forgive my silence, gentle reader.

Which, to be honest, is about all I have to say for now. I shall return when I have something of substance to add but as it stands this is just one of those "alive and well (?) and living in" posts.

Nerd

It may not be obvious given how rubbish this journal is but I've long been a devotee of the intricacies of the English language. I'm not sure when this started given that I have a rather poor memory when it comes to details of my own life but certainly one of the things that at least helped to bolster my love of words was getting a copy of The Insomniac's Dictionary by Paul Hellweg when I was around fourteen (about three years before I became a chronic insomniac in fact). For those unfamiliar with the book it contains eighteen chapters of unusual words arranged according to theme (chapter seventeen being the place I first came across my old favourite "zaftig", for instance) with the last given over to word games. It's the last to which I wish to address myself today.

Hellweg introduces the concept of univocalics, a name he gives to poems in which only a single vowel is permitted. Taking as his example "Mary Had a Little Lamb", Hellweg offers up a univocalic using only the letter "e" thus:

Meg kept the wee sheep
The sheep's fleece resembled sleet,
Then wherever Meg went
The sheep went there next;
He went where she heeded her texts,
The precedent he neglected;
The pre-teens felt deep cheer
When the sheep entered there.


Outstanding stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Hellweg then issues the challenge to the reader to replicate his effort using the other vowels. Well, after over two decades of trying (albeit with a bunch of other stuff happening too - I've not been slavishly trying this night after night) I have finally risen to the challenge and present my own effort using only a:

Martha had a small lamb
That had a jack as a pall
And all walks that Martha had
That small lamb had and all
That lamb was at a class all day
Alas a bash at a law
Small madams and lads all lark and play
As that lamb at class all saw


I should point out that Hellweg himself supplied the first line and, as an American, is of the peculiar belief that y is a vowel too, hence Mary becoming Martha. Equally I should point out that "and all" is a common dialect expression in Scotland, northern England and parts of Northern Ireland meaning "also" or "as well". A few unusual turns of phrase and a tense shift are the inevitable price to pay for such an unusual restriction. Still, I'm rather pleased with that, specifically as my version managed to retain the rhyme.

Well, as I said once before, who says a bucket list has to be glamorous after all? Now all that remains is for somebody daft enough to attempt to do it with i, o and u. No takers for y?

It's no illusion

In the latest revelation to cast further light on just how dirty the so-called Troubles really were it now seems that the British security forces were forewarned about the 1993 Shankill bombing by a prominent Provo tout but decided to do sod all about it. Another one for the list then, although a rare example of an incident where the victims were those declaring their loyalty to the crown, a loyalty that once again is demonstrated to be one way.

With the proliferation of informers at the top level of the paramilitaries (seriously, there was a time in the 1980s when the heads of the UVF, UFF and IRA were all in the pockets of the security forces) and the realisation that so much of what went on was known in advance to the powers that be it becomes increasingly clear that, far from being the great war of liberation/defence that it was sold to young republicans and loyalists as, it was yet another example of the good old divide-and-rule tactic that has been the British Empire's stock in trade for centuries. How many hundreds, thousands even, died with the foreknowledge of a state that made no attempt whatsoever to save those lives? The Stevens Inquiries may have revealed a fraction of the collusion that went on between the UDA and the British but it was the tip of the iceberg, and a process hamstrung from the start by being instigated by the same British state that was involved in the dodgy deals. Like the supposed investigations into Westminster paedophile rings, can we really expect the establishment to condemn itself? Really the more you hear about the Troubles the gloomier it becomes - all that bloodshed for what? So as a tout can get big money for himself and his cronies by sitting in government, toasting his queen and doing the bidding of the people that have been paying him for decades.

A dirty war, dirtier than we could ever imagine, with communities on both sides put to the rack for the supposed forces of order to pursue their own twisted agenda. It's no wonder that any deal on "legacy" has been consistently tossed out as every man-jack of them is up to their necks in filth with their hands soaked in blood. Meanwhile Sinn Fein will continue to use the names of Bobby Sands and the others during their forthcoming election campaign to the collaborationist institution up at Stormont and the useful idiots will tramp out and put them back in to continue cosying up to the same state that oversaw the butchering their relatives. By fuck, this place is disgusting.

Ashes to ashes

Whilst I can undoubtedly recongise the influence he had on what came after him (although his tendency to see new trends and copy them was, like that Nazi phase, often ignored or written off as his "staying relevant" where for other older performers they would be labelled "desperate") I've never been a fan of anything David Bowie did. As such, whilst I acknowledge he deserved a period of public mourning despite my personal tastes, can we please wrap it up now? We get the point, a 69 year old with cancer died and you liked his music so boo-hoo but you didn't know him so let's move on. it was eleven days ago but a good proportion of the internet still seems to be acting like they've just watched their granny melt before their very eyes.

I really do suspect I'm alone in this as I've yet to meet any other genuine music fans who didn't at least partially worship at the altar of old Odd-Eye but enough already.
I am nothing if not a procrastinator and yet I appear to have been rather on the ball this year (well, all ten days of it) when it comes to my holidays. As such I find myself with the annual London and the Twelfth thing already booked, not to mention a run out to Edinburgh towards the end of April. The latter, itself becoming something of an annual tradition (albeit a movable feast), was prompted by the return visit of Shonen Knife and the sudden desire to see them once again. Happily a ticket for said event has already been secured and I can look forward to seeing them - or indeed any live band - for the first time in six years. The way the football is falling may also mean a return to Dunfermline but we'll worry about nearer for the time and instead concentrate on Shonen Knife = yay.

So yeah, that's the lot. I must return to the darts final as I appear to be winning at a canter (well, Scott Waites is but we've already established he is my doppelgänger) and I don't want to miss my triumph.

2015 thing

Two days running? God, it's been years since that sort of rot. Anyway:

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Left the Atlantic Archipelago (that's British Isles to you imperialists).

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Never do, never will.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Two of the Donegal Celtic mob died - one from cancer, the other took his own life. To be honest though I didn't know either of them that well.

5. What countries did you visit?
France, Scotland and England. I actually visited a personal best of 24 towns and cities this year, with Larne, Newry, Dun Laoghaire, Banbridge, Paris and Dunfermline all new to me.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Cash on demand, same as every year.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm very stereotypically male about remembering dates so none.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Dunno.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Dunno.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Usual haemochromatosis plus my vertigo has kicked into overdrive to the point where massive turns are now a daily occurrence and some can last for several hours. I've started having the odd fall as well.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
As noted recently, Mirel Wagner albums.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Oh, you're all great.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Here's a shock - Sinn Fein. I'm not sure if I mentioned that at any time last year.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Music as ever. Trips and that too I suppose.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Don't be silly.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
"The Road and the Miles to Dundee" by Jim Reid And The Foundry bar Band or "Pasties and Cream" by Brenda Wootton. Neither are available online though so I can't link to them (is it just me or has YouTube removed about half of its music videos in the last week or so?).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? about the same
b) thinner or fatter? ditto
c) richer or poorer? ditto

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Nothing in particular.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Again, nothing springs to mind.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
It's already over so....

21. What was your favourite month of 2015?
No idea. August maybe.

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Don't be daft.

23. How many one-night stands?
Mind your own business.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
I've pretty much given up on TV these days. I don't even bother watching the football on Saturday nights sometimes any more.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't think so, although my opinion of Simon Danczuk is really starting to harden.

26. What was the best book you read?
No idea. Been mostly short stories and non-fiction this year. Of the former William Beckford's "Vathek" was probably the best.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Mirel Wagner, as discussed yesterday.

28. What did you want and get?
A new article to get published in When Saturday Comes (in shops 14th January).

29. What did you want and not get?
The new Extreme Noise Terror album, although a copy is winging its way to me from Germany. I'll believe it when I get it and not before as it's fast becoming the new "Things may Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on for Ever" for me.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I think I saw a total of two films on TV this year (Midnight Run on ITV Four one night and Despicable Me dubbed into French in Paris) and none in the cinema. Any interest I ever had in films has long since died off.

31. What did you do on your birthday?
Watched Nortel defeat Mossley 4-2 at the Mossley playing fields in the second round of the Border Regiment Cup. It was even less glamorous than it sounds.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
As ever, isn't this essentially the same as question six?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
I wouldn't. I haven't changed a lick of my image in years but to call it a "fashion concept" would be completely ludicrous. If pushed I'll go with "man who looks a lot older than he is dressing to his wrongly assumed age".

34. What kept you sane?
Assuming I am sane, then the match.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Demi Lovato. I may have the makings of a dirty old man. But come on, eh?!

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The quiet death of Irish republicanism and its rebirth as Tory collaborationism, all with the tacit approval of the victims of this development.

37. Who did you miss?
Cigs as ever.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Can't think of anyone. I've not really met anyone new this year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
No.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Poor old horse, he must die".
Nothing quite like this time of year to bring the vermin out is there, be it the drunken scum littering the streets from the early afternoon or the filthy politicians rewarding their cronies with their plastic "honours". Pah, they can stuff this particular arbitrary date in the calendar where the sun doesn't shine as far as I'm concerned. But I've established my own tradition for this specific date and I must keep it going regardless so:

Keresaspa's top 100 artists of the yearCollapse )

Dec. 24th, 2015

'Tis the season, is it not? Indeed 'tis the season - the season when I reveal

Keresaspa's top ten albums of the yearCollapse )

Oh and a merry Christmas to you and yours. Have fun, won't you.

Odoacer at the gates

Cast your mind back if you will to 4th March 2006. A battle in more ways than one at the Hawthorns with a Chelsea side at the height of gittery (King of Divers Arjen Robben red carded for a two-footed assault on the mighty Jonathan Greening, Didier Drogba in his original incarnation before his rebirth as a modern saint) nicking a 2-1 win off the home side. Jose Mourinho also clashed with his hapless opposite number Bryan Robson although to be fair there was little actual clashing with Robson meekly backing down from the strutting Portuguese. Two things happened that day for me: (1) it confirmed in my mind that the mythical "Great Escape" had been an aberration and Robson's side were going down (2) Mourinho was a complete tosser. Up to that point I must admit I had rather enjoyed his antics in a love-to-hate kind of way. Sure, he had the devil about him but the devil in question was Mephistopheles, twirling his moustache, tipping his top hat and seducing cygnine maidens with his rakish ways. From then on he became Beelzebub, a buzzing, fussy annoyance no longer amusing on any level but rather deeply irritating.

As such the travails he now finds himself in fill me with more glee than is perhaps healthy. Not since the chaotic Leeds United side of 1992-93 have I witnessed champions make such an unholy mess of their defence of the league. Even then it doesn't really compare as Howard Wilkinson's title winners had always been rather a shock, a collection of odds and sods that somehow, against all wisdom, nicked a league title (not a million miles away from Claudio Ranieri's knockabout Leicester side, a team to whom I must doff the hat despite my personal distaste as an anti-racist and a Japanophile at Vardy) and who were undone the following year by a certain maverick's taste for a certain team-mate's certain (pre-trout) wife. No names, no pack drill. Certainly they weren't comparable to the current Chelsea side, upon which a king's ransom has been lavished by a cartoon supervillain in pursuit of kudos.



All poetic justice, of course, for his treatment of the daphnean Eva Carneiro, a woman hung out to dry by the ever hubristic Mourinho who at the same time sent the message to his players that the possibility of a permanent brain injury for one of their number was of less import to him than a result in a routine league match. That in the course of doing what she was there for a woman should be so publicly humiliated by Mourinho means that he deserves all he has coming to him. With her untamed hair and dark eyes she may look the sort of lady to draw a dagger from her garter and plunge it into the weasel's black heart, her bosom burning with a fiery passion that no mere man can cool (steady on, old chap, you're getting carried away) but back in the real world she was always within her rights and her treatment appears to have dampened morale considerably in an already out of sorts squad.

Beyond that remains the éminence grise of John Terry, a figure every bit as malevolent as Mourinho but possibly even more influential than the self-appointed Special One. In times gone by when Terry was at Mourinho's shoulder it all went swimmingly but now that he is slowly being sidelined he re-emerges as a dangerous internal check to Mourinho's power, filling the last days of Steven Gerrard role to Mourinho's Brendan Rodgers. With players out of sorts, frustrated and disinterested, Mourinho no longer has his captain to call upon in order to do his dirty work, leaving him looking increasingly lost. Mourinho has defended the indefensible manys a time where Terry was concerned but now the relationship looks dead in the water and in the power struggle that ensues Mourinho might well prove the casualty. And it couldn't happen to a nicer fellow.

Despite their plastic nature, that putrid core of National Front and Combat 18 boneheads that have always infested their support, the loyalist connections, Abramovich, Terry and the rest I don't necessarily hate Chelsea as an entity. When erudite lounge lizard Carlo Ancelotti took them to the double I had no issue with their success and indeed was glad to see Ferguson's lot being put in their place for a change. But with Mourinho in charge they just tip over into the realms of pure diabolical evil and as such I wish them all the failure in the world. As such, to witness the crumbling of the empire as Mourinho enters his Romulus Augustus phase is a joy indeed, with the Special One left looking terribly normal and his expensively assembled rabble of individuals being made to look as nothing. Joy of joys and long may it continue.

Pronounced "armour"

And another thing about Sinn Fein.... No, even I'm sick of me going on about them.

I'll not waste any words over the upcoming bombing of Syria either. I'm sure you can all guess my opinion on that score and I'm equally sure that it will carry about as much weight as Sarah Jessica Parker during Oscars week.

Instead I intend to turn my insights on the local press.



Something of an institution in Belfast (or not), South Side Advertiser is your one stop shop for local business adverts masquerading as stories, local school news masquerading as stories and public domain human interest nonsense stolen from the internet. And ads obviously. If you want a plasterer or a chimney sweep in Belfast it's the place to go but an august work of quality journalism it is not. In the most recent issue one of the filler pieces was as follows:



All very interesting stuff, even if its blighted by a glaring error in the title (the area they are describing is where the numbers begin on the Ormeau Road and so is actually "Bottom O' the Ormeau" with the top up at the junction with the Saintfield Road about three and a half miles away). One big problem however - it's actually a word for word copy of this bit of Wikipedia. Yup, in what is meant to be a "Belfast is great, isn't it" bit of airy-fairy nonsense they even left in the bit about the pass being a racist hellhole! I know journalists have come in for grief in recent years for becoming over-reliant on Wikipedia but (assuming the SSA counts as journalism) just copying it entirely with no changes whatsoever - the very definition of lazy, right there.

Of course I probably wouldn't have noticed it all were it not for the fact that the Wikipedia piece they copied is almost entirely the product of my own fair hands. Yup, one of mine immortalised for the ages in one of the finest press organs in the world and I didn't even get any credit for it. South Side Advertiser, I swear to God if you have a slow week and end up reprinting my UDA South Belfast Brigade article in full I'm coming round your houses and sorting you out. Cheeky buggers!
Several years ago I already expounded at some length my opinions on Peter Robinson so I have little to add about him now that his time as First Minister is up and indeed I stand by what I said back in my (relative) youth. Still, I will add that today's little pantomime by the blood-sucking bastards in Stormont is yet more proof of just how much Sinn Fein are now part of the British-controlled establishment and, furthermore, is a slap in the face to the homosexual and Islamic minorities that Robinson has treated so appallingly during his tenure. Once again money goes ahead of principle for $inn £ein.
I cock an eye to the Morning Star every now and then, even though it's hardly perfect. On English issues it's generally on the money with its analysis and it does fairly well with the international scene but when it comes to the Celtic fringe it's usually wanting. The soft unionist stance they took with regards to Scottish independence (the logic seemingly being "why should the Jocks get to escape the Tories when we don't?") seemed at odds with the rest of their rhetoric whilst when it comes to this dump they same to slavishly trot out the Sinn Fein line, regardless of how much that party seems to lurch to the right. Heck, were The Hibernian still around it would probably be available in every SF "advice centre" these days.

Seven months ago Martin McGuinness appeared in the pages of the aforementioned paper to announce that he wouldn't abandon the vulnerable. Yesterday he did just that, bowing down to Theresa Villiers and accepting the deep and invasive cuts that the Tory government government has already rent on Britain. At a time when poverty and unemployment are on the rise, McGuinness happily signs off on deep cuts to welfare and tax credits, plunging more and more people into deeper and deeper poverty. Still, it'll have no impact on him and his coterie of stooges, whose big money from the Stormont gravy train is now protected for another few years. With the local health service at breaking point and crisis being declared on a weekly basis he happily signs off on big NHS cuts and public sectors redundancies. None of which will apply to the nepotism factory that is Stormont, where money will continue to be blown on "special advisers", whose only expertise appears to be possessing the same DNA as Assembly members. Meanwhile the so-called republican has also signed off on increased spending on police activity against dissidents who, as Martin claims, are a disgrace to the ideology and should be joining him by showing their republicanism through praising the British queen, upholding and celebrating the British soldiers who butchered our people and participating in an arm of the British government and delivering the demands of the Conservatives.

Don't get me wrong, all five parties are as culpable for this but Sinn Fein's crime is the greatest. The Unionist duo make no bones about being right-wing, the Alliance are the local arm of the cuts-happy Liberal Democrats and the SDLP have been trotting out the "business before people" line for so long that their name is a complete joke but Sinn Fein, when it suits them, still claim to be of the Left and indeed down south are campaigning for election on the very basis that they are democratic socialist. Yet in the North they have once again crapped on the very working classes that elected them in the first place and have delivered them to further and deeper crushing poverty just so as they could protect their own interests. Hell this current "fresh start" is actually a much worse deal than the already egregious Stormont House Agreement that McGuinness rejected recently. How this cretin has lasted so long is beyond reason.

Let's face it, the Assembly has been an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, a bloated, toothless talking shop in which a bunch of completely powerless children can spend hours squabbling over flowers and street names but who, when it comes to the crunch, defer to their masters in Westminster at all times. That I personally voted no to the Good Friday Agreement is cold comfort because all of us are now reaping the thorns of that particular surrender. Resistance is the only option, although it has been made all the harder by the headlong rush that McGuinness and that great Pontius Pilate Gerry Adams made to disarm and castrate the IRA, leaving behind only a poorly armed and informer-riddled dissident rump.

In his classic 1978 psychological study of National Front members Fascists (excellent book, horrendously unimaginative title) Michael Billig demonstrates the tendency of one of the NF members he interviewed to what he describes as "meaning-shift". The man in question talks consistently about his support for voluntarily repatriation but when asked to describe what he means unequivocally endorses compulsory repatriation and yet refuses to alter his language, despite clearly stating that participation in the scheme would be mandatory. The phenomenon of meaning-shift has become an increasing part of the mainstream in recent years, where we have "volunteers" who are forced to work for nothing under threat of the withdrawal of social security or we’re told how we're all in austerity together where "all" actually means just those with very little money to begin with. So let it be the same here now as a bleak future looms for us all, apart from the folks on the hill who have pulled up the drawbridge and ensured that, like their Westminster masters, when they say "we're all in this together", they mean all apart from them and the big companies they have chosen to favour. Dark times all round and Irish republicanism as an ideology is on life support right now. I await the rank hypocrisy of the Easter Rising commemorations next year not so much with bated breath but with an air of morose resignation.

And of course there's one other major reason why McGuinness has been so prepared to sell out his supposed principles for thirty pieces of silver and why right-thinking people should detest the slimy bastard with every fibre of their being, but were I to get into that this load of old toot would most likely be closed down and my sorry arse hauled off to Maghaberry. Frankly I Should Hope Every Reader Maybe Already kNows.
As I believe I mentioned a few months ago during my time in Paris my most visited area was the Boulevard Voltaire, that I tramped up and down several times each day. I'm sure I must have passed the Bataclan at least ten times, although for some reason I never took it under my notice and don't actually remember having seen it. Still, pass it I did, as well as one or two of the other places attacked and it brings it home to you. Terrible scenes for a wonderful city to have to endure and unquestionably all sympathy must go to those touched by these tragedies. That such carnage is a daily occurrence in places like Gaza, Baghdad and Beirut and that their tragedies are ignored by the media says a lot about Western priorities and how unimportant we view non-White deaths, as is the overwhelming likelihood that the deaths in Paris will be used as an excuse to continue carpet-bombing Syria at will.

Inevitable too that the Islamophobes are out in force, placing the blame for insane fanatics on an entire belief system (yet the same people never launch on the Archbishop of Canterbury when some Bible-thumping nutjob in the Deep South blows up a family planning clinic) but that has become the default reaction to every such attack now, once again fired up by the media. Kind of what the Irish got in the 70s. The Daily Mail and their ilk have already done a number on the lumpen when it comes to the Syrian refugees but expect any lingering thread of sympathy for their plight to disappear as the people fleeing the excesses of ISIS get the blame for what they have had to endure, much like the German Jewish refugees in the Second World War.

A grim time all round with innocent people suffering at every wheel and turn under the yoke of belligerent militants and equally belligerent governments. Pray for Paris by all means, but remember all the victims around the world and never confuse the status of the victim with that of the aggressor.

That's the day they pass the buck

Oh I wish I'd looked after me teeth
Because the pain is giving me grief
Little kittens are noice
I was in MI Foive
Shite, I've really bollocksed me teeth.


It may not be pure Pam Ayres but you get the idea, it's close enough and I couldn't really be buggered googling it, so it'll do you. The point nonetheless remains that I suddenly seem to have developed sensitive teeth. Now for several years I convinced myself that I already had them because of pains from eating steak or the odd spurt of blood from an apple but I was just being a big Jinny-Anne and it is only now that I know the truth of that affliction.

Vile it has been for these last three sennights that I have switched to using toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth (admittedly sourced from Poundland, but sod it, they all do the same thing anyway) but, whilst it has taken the real extreme edge off things, the problem remains nonetheless with both cold and hot foods now a chore. It's still not so bad that I am considering the dentist, as both the lack of available surgeries and the eye-watering expense prohibit me (the realities of life under Cameron right there), so instead I'm forced to grin and bear it, albeit with virtually no grinning involved.

I never understood what people meant about middle age giving you constant reminders but, what with the bald pate, the increasing joint pains, the inability to pick up dropped coins and now this I am starting to see what the veterans mean. Woe is me, terrible time.

Wear it with pride

Lest we forget

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate

These last few years of spending my Saturday afternoons (and occasional week-night) trailing around watching local football have delivered many things but not an abandonment, something of a surprise in itself given the awful weather we frequently endure in this part of the world. Well, that all changed today in some rather bizarre circumstances.

With my usual mob not in action I decided to check out Rathcoole's match with Sofia Farmer in the Ballymena League out in Newtownabbey. I hadn't heard of the latter club until this season but so far their few matches all seemed to end in very heavy defeats and, given that Rathcoole's last outing was an 8-3 win, I reckoned I had a chance of seeing a real hammering. Given that the Diamond lets you in for nitto the deal was sealed and so off I set.

Sure enough things went according to the script. Sofia Farmer played like eleven strangers and were 2-0 down within about five minutes. Rathcoole completely dominated and went four-nil up early on. Then however the pace slackened and the visitors came into their own a little bit, pulling a goal back to go in at half time 4-1 down.

The end of the first half and the start of the second half saw some flared tempers. Rathcoole's number 9 and Farmer's number 18 seemed rather poorly disposed towards one another whilst more than once the referee was surrounded by members of both teams disagreeing with decisions or demanding cards be shown for fouls, real or imagined. One member of the Sofia Farmer team in particular, a Neymar-lookalike whose number I didn't catch, got especially annoyed with the treatment he was getting and complained incessantly to the referee. In some cases his moaning was justified in others it was overreaction to what was fairly typical of this level of football. A fifth Rathcoole goal followed but the match continued in the same increasingly fractious spirit.

Then it happened. Out of nowhere the Neymar wannabe, at the end of a long whine, kicked his marker full force in the back of the leg. The ref whistled but the victim lost his rag and chased the Sofia Farmer player, quickly joined in his aggressive pursuit by three or four of his team mates. Next thing everybody was flying in with the vast majority of the players pulling, hauling and swinging at each other. As if that wasn't enough members of the Rathcoole coaching staff invaded the pitch, with one little man in a beanie hat aggressively swinging his head here, there and everywhere. By this point the referee had completely lost control and stood back watching as the mayhem ensued. Finally Neymar walked off the pitch and called the rest of the team with him. A few resisted and tried to calm things down, with a few Rathcoole peacemakers now also wanting to restore order, but there was no shifting the majority of Sofia Farmers who buggered off back to the dressing room. So that was that, match abandoned.

Shameful scenes didn't do it justice and where this leaves Sofia Farmer is anybody's guess. Indeed, given how poor their start has been, I wouldn't be amazed if they just pulled out of the league altogether. Still, if punishment is to be dealt out (which, presumably it must), it would be wrong not to deal with both clubs. Neymar's unprovoked attack on his marker followed by the walk-off is so far removed from the norms of football that it's ridiculous but the home side didn't cover themselves in glory either. The way they chased after the attacker with vengeance on their minds was deplorable and the fact that members of their staff jumped onto the pitch to get involved also needs to be dealt with, as the Diamond was far from a safe environment for its visitors today. Rathcoole is hardly the most welcoming place in the world as it is (not specifically the people, who are in my experience as much of a mixed bag as those anywhere else, more the paintings of machine guns that greet you when you enter), whilst Sofia Farmer had no supporters, only one man who wasn't playing and there were several young guys boozing at the ground (none of whom, I hasten to add, got involved in the melee but still provided a threatening backdrop for any opposition). There's also the fact that at least nine of the Sofia Farmer players were BME and, as far as I'm aware, they're all immigrants, something that a few members of the crowd had already commented upon during the course of the match. None that I heard used specifically racist language, but nonetheless the ethnic identity of the opposition players was deemed worthy of comment by more than one supporter. Mind you, I personally didn't hear anything to do with ethnic or national identity said during the brawl so, for my part, I'm not making claims in that direction. Ultimately the referee's handling on the whole incident was very poor, although again the lack of assistants and fourth officials at this level meant he was effectively on his own so I can't really blame him for bottling it. It's catch-22 of course - increasing the number of officials at matches like these and you price a lot of these smaller clubs out of the game and force them to drop down to the junior levels.

Ultimately football was the big loser today as a bad-tempered match turned into a violent farce and two clubs are left with a cloud over their respective names. I was able to catch the last half hour of an altogether more uneventful encounter between Rathcoole's next door neighbours Rathfern Rangers and their opponents Donard Hospital but I found it hard to concentrate after what I had just witnessed. A bad and crazy day for the local game.

Blue day

What is it I'm missing about this Chelsea Wolfe character? Everybody rhymes about her like she's queen of the dripping-pan but that last album struck me as a whole load of nothing and I've yet to hear anything by her that rises above the mediocre. Jenny Hval, she's the same. I picked up her album in Scotland after hearing it praised to the moon and I checked out thinking "is that it?".

In a strange sort of reverse sexism on my part I do tend to be a lot more open towards new non-metal/punk music by female artists. What I would dismiss as hipster shite from the chaps I'm more than prepared to tolerate from the chapesses and yet here I am, singularly unimpressed by that which I was confidently expected to love. Whilst the trait has often served me well (my beloved Mirel Wagner was discovered through that route, along with others I've enjoyed recently like Weyes Blood, Waxahatchee, First Aid Kit, Torres, Julie Zenatti, Trash Kit, Angel Olsen and others) I'm still left with the feeling that, especially with Wolfe, I really should like this stuff and am missing something by not doing so. But, having give both a few goes, I'm really not able to warm to either.

I do otherwise have my blind spots I suppose (despite my progressive rock leanings King Crimson don't register with me, whilst my metal taste has never taken in Iron Maiden or anything involving Ronnie James Dio) but for some reason these two have rather annoyed me. Perhaps one or other will click eventually but, no matter how hard I try, neither Chelsea Wolfe nor Jenny Hval appeal to me a fact that, for some reason, just seems wrong.

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Hello

Such is the regularity with which I visit dear Edinburgh these days that it hardly seems worth kicking this thing into life just to describe the latest visit. Still, it's a pattern I've established these last twelve years or so and as such it must continue. If there is a moral to this story let it be thus - don't walk backwards, it gets on everybody's tits.

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Forty years ago

When the history of the Troubles is written some days get more attention than others and, perhaps inevitably, some that were notorious at the time become forgotten in retrospect. Thursday 2 October 1975, forty years ago today, is one of those days, now largely forgotten in the wider consciousness despite the destruction and mayhem unleashed. In Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, W.D. Flackes and Sydney Elliott cover it in one sentence - "In a series of UVF attacks twelve people killed, including three women and four UVF men, and forty-six injured". As descriptions go its inadequacy is as undeniable as its accuracy.

In what to that point had been an unprecedented move by the group, the UVF went on an orgy of bloodshed, the death toll of which could easily have been much higher. In an attack carried out by Lenny Murphy and other members of the Shankill Butchers, a raid was carried out on Casey's bottling plant in the Millfield area at the bottom of the Falls Road. Four employees were shot and killed in the attack, sisters Frances Donnelly (35) and Marie McGrattan (47) and Gerard Grogan (18) dying that day, with a fourth, Thomas Osborne (18), dying of his wounds three weeks later. The group had entered the premises by pretending to have an order to be filled before launching the attack, Murphy personally shooting all except Donnelly who was killed by his accomplice William Green.

Ronald Winters (26), a Protestant who managed the London Bar in east Belfast (an occasional haunt of UVF members) was killed whilst visiting his parents' house close to the bar. Winters' killing remained unsolved and no motive was ever advanced, with those who knew him claiming he had no paramilitary involvement. Thomas Murphy, a 29 year old Catholic photographer, was the next UVF victim that day, was killed when two gunmen entered his premises on Carlisle Circus (close to both the loyalist Shankill and republican New Lodge areas) and shot him in the chest, before planting a bomb in his shop. The resulting explosion saw a female passer-by lose her leg. The next target was the Catholic-owned McKenna's bar in Aldergrove, County Antrim, where shots were fired and a bomb thrown from a car. John Stewart, a 35 year old Catholic merchant seaman, was killed and several others injured. In Killyleagh, County Down a no-warning bomb was exploded outside another Catholic-owned bar, the Anchor Inn. Irene Nicholson, a 37 year old Protestant woman, was killed as she was passing by in an attack that the perpetrators later claimed was supposed to be "a small one to scare them".

The final deaths of the day were to be four UVF members, Fred Aubrey Reid and Samuel Swanson, both 28, and Andrew Freeman and Mark Dodd, both 17, who were killed close to Coleraine when a bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely. Three loaded guns were also found in the wreckage of their car. Reid, from Belfast, was later named in court as having been involved in the murder of Brendan Doherty, a Catholic shot and killed in Derry in February 1974, with Reid named as the driver in the attack.

That there weren't more deaths was a near miracle however. Pubs in Leeson Street, Belfast, Ardmore, County Derry and Annaghmore, County Armagh were targeted in bomb attacks, along with a seamen's hostel in Sailortown and a sweet shop on the Antrim Road, both in Belfast. In all the UVF detonated thirteen bombs in that single day.

Returning to Flackes and Elliott the following day is summed up even more succinctly with the words "UVF declared illegal". Yes, all of this had been carried out by an organisation that was completely legal. In a move supposedly aimed at turning it towards politics, Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees had unbanned the UVF in May 1974 (the same day Sinn Fein were unbanned, a move never extended to the IRA). In between, this legal organisation had killed 33 civilians in Dublin and Monaghan thanks to a series of car-bombings, launched the notorious murders of the Miami Showband, killed dozens of Catholics in random gun and bomb attacks and even turned their guns on members of both the RUC and the UDA, all whilst recognised by the British government as being fully in compliance with the law. Indeed the ban was only brought in after the UVF leaders held a meeting with senior NIO officials, at which they were again asked to slow down on the killings. No chance of that – the Shankill Butchers would unleash the brutal killings that made their names soon afterwards.

Despite the bloodshed, 2nd October 1975 has been relegated to the status of a mere footnote in the history of Northern Ireland, rarely recalled at all, let alone discussed in any depth. But forty years on it's worth remembering just what a nightmare scenario the Troubles really were when 11 innocent people losing their lives could be seen as just another day. That those days are gone is a good thing but the people whose lives were stolen should not be forgotten. With the still extant UVF increasingly seeking to exploit its own supposed anniversaries by emphasising the Edward Carson incarnation (a completely different, albeit equally sectarian, organisation that just happened to have the same name, but that's for another day) as an attempt to minimise what it did in the Troubles it also serves us well to remember of what they were capable.

All is vanity

See the world, right? Can we just end it now? When things come to this it's hard to see what purpose there is in continuing.

So far reaction seems to be universally negative but I have little doubt that the brain-dead, technology-obsessed morons who make up the present generations will quickly sign up this crap in droves, just like they did with Facebook, geocaching, apps and all the rest of the pointless, snooping shite that everybody falls for hook, line and sinker. Fortunately my own continuing lack of a Facebook account means that I'll spared the slew of one star ratings that a gruff, technophobic, taciturn, Wednesday's child like me deserves but I'll say now that were I involved I would happily rate the two creators of this nonsense as one star people and even more happily describe them as the pair of complete and utter wankers that they are.

Orwell, you were miles off mate, as even you couldn't have imagined things would turn out as truly awful as they have. Sodom and Gomorrah times again.

Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home

Despite the fact that it was released on Allende Day I sit here still bereft of the new Leaves Eyes album. Thirteen whole days and yet here I sit without my much-needed fix of the beautiful tonsils of Liv Kristine. And yet they constantly complain that their trade is dropping off a cliff because everybody is going over to downloads and/or ordering online. Well pardon me but if you're not even going to stock the new release by a band with a worldwide following like that then what option are you leaving us? In general I don't like ordering new albums off Amazon because of their tax dodging ways and (probably more importantly if I'm being honest) the fact that they're often more expensive regardless of all that extra money but I am rather running out of alternatives.

I'll give it to early October as I'll be in Edinburgh again and the HMV there is a mighty beast of a shop but if they don't have it then the high street will, by their own choice, have to lose my coin on this one. Lord knows I'll never shite a tech-head's turd and to an extent I do revel in my own Luddism but when it's the only game in town what option do I have? Be better at shops, the high street!


As ever at this time of year remember Chile and all who died unjustly, regardless of their nationality.

Paris

Hello you *waves*. Yeah, just back from Paris and that, which, of course, means I have to go on at length about the last week. Apologies in advance if this gets a bit incoherent but you should all be used to that by now.

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Last straw

These tablets and smartphones and what have you have a lot to answer for as far as I'm concerned. Their tiny screens and limited capacities mean that they struggle to cope with proper websites and so need their own crap versions. Yet, how many websites, looking to cut costs, just think "sod it" and make one across-the-bard site with a lot fewer features aimed at the mobile market but forced on those of us still welded to desktops? Add last.fm to that list of good sites butchered to please you touchscreen sheep. Good God that new version is abysmal. a mass of pointlessly huge images, needles white space and very few actual features, all in the name of chasing the mobile moron squad. My favourite site for a long time (an accolade it has lost to rate your music in recent months, at least until they balls it up in a few months) the new version is just horrendous and so far removed from the wonderful old version that I'm actually questioning whether or not it's worth continuing to use it. God knows I love the statistical aspects of music listening (seriously, I'm very OCD about it) but it's nearly impossible to follow now and after a few days of the new site I'm finding it terribly frustrating.

OK, realistically I know stuff like this doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things but I had got very used to it the way it was and don't want that taken away from me. Reaction across the board has been negative too but I doubt they'll change it back, instead adopting the same "we know best" attitude that sites always take until finally they look around, realise they've made a total MySpace of things, but realise it's too late as everybody has already buggered off in disgust. The sad demise of a once spectacular and virile website.

So whilst it lasts I'll take this opportunity to share with you, under the cut, the ten songs I have listened to most thereon since I took up my membership in January 2009.

So long ago.Collapse )

At home drawing pictures of mountain tops

If Greece has taught us anything in the post-Classical world it's that it is actually possible to enter the Eurovision Song Contest with a genuinely good song. OK you might not actually win, or even come close for that matter but.... No, hold on, that wasn't it. Let's start over.

If Greece has taught us anything in the post-Classical world it's that if you want genuine change to take place liberal democracy is not the way to do. Much was made of the home of democracy having an eruption of people power by electing Syriza but I was less enthusiastic than many of my fellow travellers and now, alas, I've been vindicated as Tsipras has proven to be yet another politician and as such his word isn't worth a brewer's fart.

As a consequence I'm not placing too much stock on the surprise lead being held by Jeremy Corbyn in the bunfight to take over t'the Labour Party. As much as I allowed myself flights of fancy when Jez for Prez seemed like a pipe dream I don't imagine there would be too much difference under a Corbyn premiership as he would still be governed by the same capitalist base and superstructure as all of his predecessors and as such would be limited to more tinkering. OK, some of the railways might be renationalised and the worst excesses of Iain Duncan Smith might be reversed but the same old banks/the City/Siralan/them-durned-immigents shit would continue as ever and as such the much required root and branch change would be rendered impossible. True change comes only from revolution, not from elections, or else the wholesale slaughter of black youths by racist cops wouldn't still be going on under Barack Obama

In saying all that, if on the very off chance that some Labour Party member is passing, doesn't know who to vote for and feels that my opinion will sway it for them (it could happen) then I would still endorse his leadership. They can say all they want that only Blairism will win an election but what really would be the point of somebody like Liz Kendall being Prime Minister instead of George Osborne/Boris Johnson? She would just do the same thing as the Tories anyway given all her vile attacks on the poor, whilst Cooper and Burnham are a pair of faceless, oily bastards who blow with the wind and would be equally pointless and easy pickings for Johnson (though possibly not Osborne). The measure of Andy Burnham is that, in a shameless attempt to seize the left-wing vote, he claimed to be against Tory attacks on the victims of austerity and yet refused to vote against their attacks on the welfare state. Hypocrite and liar.

Corbyn inevitably will struggle to win any election if he does become leader as he would have to overcome everybody from the Torygraph to Woman's Own pushing the radical right neocon agenda, not to mention his own party colleagues and has-beens like Gordon "financial meltdown" Brown and Tony "war criminal" Blair, kicking him at every turn. Hell, if they put half as much energy into attacking the Tories as they did their own they might actually have got somewhere. But he is the only candidate to offer a genuine alternative and to treat party politics as a genuine struggle between political ideologies rather than an extension of the public relations industry.

So all the best to Jezza but excuse me if I don't leap for joy whatever the result. The home of true democracy has already shown us that as an organ of radical change its representative offspring is a dead duck and, if the planets somehow align to give PM Corbyn, I don't think that will change very much. But if nothing else it would be a change to have an actual human being as Prime Minister rather than yet another plastic stooge of Rupert Murdoch. Chance would be a fine thing.

Can pay, won't pay

It really is a pity how decrepit poor old livejournal has become. This place used to be buzzing all the time (well, not this specific journal, which has never attracted any interest in its 12 years of existence, just the site in general) but now the malaise seems terminal. I mention this purely because I have just switched over to one of those plus account things after my paid subscription expired. When I've been on my uppers in the past this has occasionally fell over into a basic account but certainly I can never recall a time before when I've had the pelf and yet decided not to hand any over. Plus account at least protects my pictures, having a bunch of icons is hardly important to a middle-aged dullard and I have my adblockers in place so I can no longer see any point in subscribing. A shame really for an era to end like that but I suppose that's how it has to be as long as this place continues its graveyard impersonation.
I really should up date this thing again at some point.

Until I can be arsed here's a waxwork of Ian Paisley:



Now isn't that the creepiest thing you've ever seen? Don't have nightmares.

Jeremy's iron

A rare word of congratulation must go to the over-gorged rabble of collaborationism that is the Parliamentary Labour Party on their shock decision to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate for leader. It says it all for how far the party has fallen that the only genuinely left-wing candidate is also the only one with no chance of winning but kudos to old Beardy-Buck nonetheless. Let's face it, Yvette Cooper is a Blairite failure, Liz Kendall is a Tory in the wrong party and Andy Burnham is a faceless wishy-washy and all three of them are wedded to watered down versions of austerity and thus will offer no alternative to (presumably) Boris Johnson come 2020 (Jesus, do we really have that much longer of this pile of bastards?!).

Under Corbyn Labour might well end up getting hammered in an election but who knows, the British electorate might finally discover a spine and decide a left-wing alternative is precisely what they want and do a Greece. Unlikely, but you never know and besides, they're equally likely to get a hammering under any of the other three. That and Corbyn's individual personality might actually be a rare antidote to Johnson's schtick, something that the other three faceless middle managers will never do.

It's all a pipe dream of course as we all know what will happen, with Jezza finishing bottom of the polls and Liz Coopham leading a bland, bourgeois-orientated party to its inevitable defeat before being replaced with somebody equally uninspiring and the whole grotesque farce playing itself out again ad nauseam. But hey, for five seconds let's just dream that it might be possible and the bearded one might actually let us all experience a Trotskyite paradise for a while. Now, wasn't that nice?
Well, it turns out I'll be going to France in August after more of that unorthodox holiday money turned up. Should be a grin. Staying in Montmartre too, your one-stop shop for stairs and prostitutes. Nothing much to add except you know, yay and that.

Anyway enjoy this whilst I think of something more substantial to write about:

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