One bonobo's view of the world...and stuff.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Nothing to say...except to give a quick cross-link to Pumpkin-a-thon '06.

I have a Hitchens/ Iraq body count posting in preparation, but I've been too busy carving pumpkind. And sewing a dragon costume.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

...and it's a fuckin' ugly head

Welcome to my first 'Guess The Relevance Of The Accompanying Image' competition.

So anyway…on the way to work yesterday, I stopped for petrol at a supermarket (I’ll not mention which one, but if you were to assume that it was whichever one first comes to mind, statistically you’d have a good chance of being right.). When I went to pay, there was an East European lorry driver at the counter trying to get directions – the supermarket is brand new, and he’d fallen off the edge of his GPS. He was getting nowhere in sign language, so I asked him if he spoke German – which he did, some – and pointed him in the right direction. After he’d gone, I paid for my petrol, and the woman serving engaged me in conversation:

“Where was he from?”

“I’m not sure. I think it was either The Czech Republic or Slovakia.”

“Hmmph. See if you went to one of their countries? Nobody would be friendly like that. They wouldn’t give you the time of day.”
(Sigh! Always give them a chance to be educated, though).

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve always found the people very friendly over there.”

“Aye – but see on our estate? They get all these houses for the Russians, and the council pays for it all, and they just fill them with prostitutes…”

I turned on my heel.

“Tell you what – I shouldn’t have to listen to racist garbage like this on my way to work.”

“I’m not a racist.”
I turned and gave her my steeliest of glares.

“Yes you are.”

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…then it probably hasn’t spent enough time in the microwave. But isn’t this kind of run-of-the-mill stuff just soooo tedious?

When I got to work, I phoned the store manager. Give them their due, they’ve taken it seriously and I’m confident that certain working practices will be explained.

As Jeremy Hardy said the other week:

“You have to sympathise with racists these days – they’re having a hard time putting across their point of view: ‘These immigrants – they come over here with their white faces and bland food and fit thermostatic valves to our radiators.’ Hardly has the right force, does it?”

Monday, October 16, 2006

Never return to a god once lit.

More of the headline story in a minute.

First of all...

There has been a pernicious rise in religious extremism of late. The Minister for Women and Equality, Ruth Kelly, is responsible for nursing through the Equality Act, which aims to outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods and services for the LGBT* community. She is also a member of the crypto-fascist Catholic autoflagellant group, Opus Dei. The bill has already been delayed due to meddling by religious groups, and Kelly is pushing for exemptions for faith-based groups. This has caused rows in the cabinet, but she is being supported by Tony Blair, an in-yer-face Christian who is widely rumoured to be a Catholic convert. More information here and here.

Obviously one gruesome aspect of this is the grubby homophobia that so frequently goes with religion. But as a certain George O'Dowd once said, "If God didn't want men to shag each other up the arse, then why did he put the male clitoris up there? It must be some sort of divine plan."

At an even more basic level, I fail to understand why the religious might think they have a special right to be exempted from democratically-agreed laws. This law is intended to limit the effects of individual bigotry on others. What Kelly and her ilk are saying is "Ah, but our bigotry is divinely inspired."

Shit on 'em.

* Sorry - but this always comes out as "LGBLT". My bad!

But back to the title....

I don't usually 'do' religious ceremonies, obviously, but at the weekend I was fortunate to be a bystander at a Hindu ceremony for Dussehra. It marks the triumph of Rama over the 10-headed god Ravana - or the triumph of good over evil. It's conducted around sundown at a time considered to be a new start. First of all we watched a (much abridged!) enactment of the Ramayana in which kiddies in brightly-coloured costumes and monkey tails (Rama's army of monkey soldiers, see?) rescued Rama's wife Sita from Ravana. It was a lot more exciting than yer average nativity play, involving much charging back and forth and brandishing of toy swords. (One of the monkeys had a light sabre!). This was accompanied by evocative hindu hymns, drumming, rhythmic clapping, a pandit spraying the crowd with scented water, and much blowing of a conch shell. Then, as night fell, they torched a giant papier maché effigy of Ravana and let loose with the fireworks. By this time we'd wandered over to a small hill overlooking the site, so we were on a level with all the crackles, pops and wheeees. Only a few shells landed near us.

If you must have religious ceremonies, then let 'em involve fireworks, I say.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

There's always an elephant in the room.

Yesterday was National Mental Health Day. Alistair Campbell was on R4's PM show talking about his history of depression. Fair play to him - he discussed it openly and without stigma. He said that it would be unsurprising that leading members of the government were to suffer from mental health problems, given the amount of pressure they're under.

I wanted Eddie Mair to ask him the obvious question:

"How did you feel when a government advisor was put under so much pressure over remarks he was reported to have made about you that he walked into the woods one night, took a handful of pills and slashed his wrists?"

(The picture is a reference to the Peter Capaldi character in a satirical TV show that currently has as much chance of being repeated as Gary Glitter has of doing a comeback tour.)

Favourite Eddie Mair moments:

  • His opening headline on the day the British government had been accused by Gerry Adams of covert surveillance in Stormont: "Sinn Fein say, 'The British government are buggers'."

  • When he asked the Sudanese ambasador, "How do you sleep at night?"

  • When Elton John won a libel case: "We've just got time to read out one more listener's e-mail. Mrs Jones of Basingstoke writes, 'That Elton John - he's a great big poof.' Goodnight."

More of his wit and wisdom here. He's better than that twat John Humphrys any day.

I've a new photo on my Flickr site. Enjoy!

And while I'm doing quotes from the good and the's a bunch from John Peel.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I never knew they did them in tins!

Jen-yoo-wine purchase from my friendly neighbourhood Iranian food store.

(fnarr, fnarr)