Archive | January, 2014

How ridiculous!

27 Jan

At a time when it was revealed that the 85 richest people in the world are as rich as the poorest 3.5 billion, one US billionaire has compared the treatment of the super-rich with the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews.

In a letter to The Wall Street Journal, Thomas Perkins, who is thought to be worth around $8bn, made this startling comparison. He wrote of ‘parallels’ between the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and what he describes as the “progressive war on the American one percent”.

Perkins was a founder member of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. He continued: “From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent.”

MIT educated Mr Perkins concluded his letter with a warning of a “very dangerous drift in our American thinking.” He added that “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

Another recent news story about Mr Perkins concerned his spending $150million building a super yacht called the Maltese Falcon.

Oh the poor super-rich. How can they possibly defend themselves, apart from buying newspapers and media companies and employing PR companies to promote their image? The 99% are so much better off in comparison.

Also, the super-rich create so many new jobs, if only among house servants in Bermuda and the people who build luxury yachts. And these people have much less access to expensive lawyers than the huddled masses. Tax arrangements are so difficult for the poor dears one really has to sympathise.

Every few years someone pipes up with the theory that the taxes on the rich should be lowered in order to create jobs. I wonder who puts this theory about, Cui bono? As they say in the law. Once the super rich have made their pile they secrete their wealth away from prying tax men by moving out to a tax haven, or their accounts, and live off the dividends. They make less and less of a contribution to society. Mr Perkins is not just a deluded fool, he a symptom of the disease of greed.

Incidentally, taking a mean average of the 85 richest men, one of these is worth as much as 41,176,471 poor people (that is forty one million, one hundred and seventy six thousand, four hundred and seventy one poor people for every one of the eighty five). Studies have shown that the happiest societies are not the richest ones, but those where the gap between the rich and the poor is the smallest. In a global economy we are storing up unprecedented levels of discontent. That is my warning.

…. there’s nothing surer, the rich get rich and the poor get poorer

Back to work

27 Jan

The last performance of the pantomime was Saturday night. My voice is still recovering and the beard is now two days old and hardly showing. I thought it best to shave my beard off as I was playing the dame. If you don’t know the tradition of pantomime, then a short explanation is probably necessary. All I can say is that the tradition goes back a couple of hundred years and has sort of evolved from comedia del arte stuff. The stories are mostly fairy stories, and traditional ones, such as Dick Wittington. One of the characters is always played as the dame, I.e. a man dressed as an unconvincing woman. There was another tradition that the ‘leading boy’ would be a tall young woman with an impressive bust and legs which looked good in tights. This is much more rare these days, but the dame traditon continues. Most years I play the dame in our local pantomime. This is the chief comic character, in effect a clown.Image

So with that project finished I am back to work now

The public approval of a seal, or something like that

25 Jan

Last night was the second of four performances of the village pantomime. We are sold out for the matinee and evening performances today. Both the audience and the cast and crew seemed to think last night’s performance was the best ever, or close to that. This is my fourteenth, and I can’t remember a better one. In a pantomime the audience are a part of the performance, and last night they were really good. As far as the performance went, I have noticed that Friday night is usually best, at a point where nerves and confidence are properly balanced. I am due to leave in a short time to get my make-up on. Two performances in a day is tiring, and Saturday night can be a little loose. I have a few bon-mots planned at certain points. If I get the chance i shall dive back home between performances, still in make-up but without false eye-lashes!

Coffee break

22 Jan

My mother had one kitchen gadget she was proud of. This was an electric coffee percolator. It was an aluminium jug kettle sort of thing with a knobbly glass dome on top. Inside was a perforated aluminium drum with a tube at the centre which was filled with ground coffee. Boiling water would be driven up the tube, hit the glass dome, drip through the drum and collect at the bottom. Had the water made two passes through the coffee it would have been sufficient. I’m not sure that my mother ever read the instructions. She would have the coffee boiling away for twenty minutes or more. The smell in the kitchen was heavenly, but the coffee the percolator produced in this way just tasted burnt and faintly disgusting, if it tasted of anything.

Us Brits, and the Irish as well, are great tea drinkers. The tea we almost universally drink is black tea from India and Kenya, with some better quality teas from Sri Lanka and Darjeeling in India. This came about because, during the age of empire, we took cuttings of tea plants from China and planted it in India and what was Ceylon, later taking it to East Africa. Tea had become the drink of choice in the 18th C for newly wealthy British, but was expensive and came exclusively from China. The cheaper tea from India allowed poorer people to enjoy the drink, especially as promoted by the temperance movement. Tea drinking is credited with improving the health of the working classes. Boiling water killed bacteria. However, black tea mostly tastes pretty revolting without milk, and I am lactose intolerant, so I mostly don’t drink tea, or cappuchino for that matter.

The smell of coffee beans roasting is like Proust’s madelaine to me. It takes me back to a time when I would pass a local cafe which roasted its own coffee. The first coffee I had was Camp Coffee and chicory syrup, in a glass bottle, which was just awful, and very sweet. It was not until I was in my late teens that I learned about good coffee. I have loved the drink ever since. The coffee you often get in the UK is a bit like the kind my mother used to make, and is not recommended. I found that filtered coffee was good and I started out with that. Afterwards I moved on to using a cafetiere, very much in the French Tradition. I still own three of varying sizes. Holidays in Italy introduced me to the delights of Italian coffee in all its guises. For Christmas, Hazel bought an Italian coffee making machine, Bialetti Mocha Express. This is a bit like a miniature pressure cooker and the boiling water below is forced through the ground coffee and into the jug at the top, a bit like my mother’s old machine, but in one pass. It does make very good coffee. My own choice of ground coffee is Java, ground less finely than espresso. It produces an aromatic coffee which is less bitter than a large dose of espresso. The machine makes 6 tiny cups of espresso, but one good mug of Java. It gets used every morning before I start work.

Irony and certainty

21 Jan

There was a story on the MSN UK website yesterday about a speech by Nigel Farage, the il duce of UKIP (Thats the United Kingdom Independence Party, or Deluded Little-Englanders Party [DLEP] as I prefer to think of them). I commented that dear Nigel’s surname was French. After a short while I received a comment that my comment was irrelevant. Errr… it does seem to suggest that the reply came from someone who has no idea what irony is – or what xenophobia means for that matter. Still, I suppose you need to have any sense of humour removed when you become a dedicated swallower of Fascism. 

Other comments complained that other parties and some elements of the press were turning their fire on DLEP. Irony of ironies, what with The Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Star as tacitly supporting the DLEP policies. A UKIP local politician recently had the party whip removed after stating that the recent spate of floods was God’s response to gay marriage being made legal. Stories like this are coming out on a regular basis, seemingly every week. Is this a sign that the press is biased or does it show that the party has more nuts than a fruit cake?

The average commentator on MSN who supports UKIP not only has no grasp on reality, but also has had a sense of humour by-pass. What they do have is certainty. Their ‘facts’ might be invented, their prejudices without foundation but they score on the certainty front. They believe that their spokesman and leader is different from all other politicians, somehow pure and noble. That is a religious rather than a political belief. They bow down and worship him, and no-one can gainsay him on any statement. In their eyes he is perfect. Those with a sense or irony, or the slightest knowledge of history, think differently.

Pantomimes and gender

20 Jan

The final rehearsal proper was yesterday and the dress rehearsal for the pantomime is tomorrow evening. For the second year in a row I have been cast as the dame. That is not exactly true, it was more like I was told which role I was getting. I do understand why. In a small community it is not necessarily easy to get someone to become a temporary transvestite and make a complete prat of themselves. The worst thing for me is shaving off my beard. The facial fuzz / chin pubes have been a part of my face for almost twenty years, and has become a part of my self-image. I just shaved off the beard and I don’t recognise myself in the mirror. Now, I ought to make clear that playing the dame is in no way a piece of female impersonation. The idea is to have a man dressed as a completely unconvincing woman. Even a young child should be able to recognise the character on the stage as a man dressed as a woman. Female impersonators, like Danny la Rue made terrible dames. It is the nature of pantomime that the cross-dressing characters should never be convincing. Sometimes the ‘Leading Boy’ part is played by a young woman, but should have great legs and an impressive bust, in order to look good in tights and jerkin. I don’t think I have seen a panto in the past decade where the leading boy was a girl, but it used to be common. Anyhow, here is me as the dame in last year’s panto. I shall take some photos at the dress rehearsal and post them up before the first performance.

 Image

Do you like the false eyelashes?

Wealth and hypocracy

16 Jan

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne has just announced that he would like the minimum wage to rise to about £7 per hour. At a full time rate that works out about £11k per year. Since coming to office the Tory dominated coalition has failed to raise the minimum wage by a single penny. Only two companies have been prosecuted, under pressure from trades union, to pay the old rate. This is in nearly four years. Under pressure from millions who have been suffering inflationary rises in food, fuel and rent while wages have stagnated the Chancellor makes this announcement. To be charitable it could be regarded as an act of political expediency. More likely it is a cynical exercise in PR. I accuse you, rich twat George Osbourne of being a dissembling git. To sit on the sidelines and watch while the rich bankers who got us into this situation get richer while the poor workers get poorer suggests only one thing to me, that this career politician and patrician is a liar of the very worst kind.

Oh, and many firms in the agricultural sector pay about £1 per hour using exclusively foreign labour to pick fruit and veg. If these jobs were open to British workers this scandal might be highlighted. Same old story for the tory – fu*k the poor!