keresaspa: (Diggory)
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 kites )
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
It will come as little surprise that my knowledge of the genre of music entitled "liquid funk" is minimal to say the least. As such when I heard about a scandal involving a sexual video by Wilkinson my immediate thought was "nobody needs to see that, Howard." But as for the rest of this little bit of silly season frippery, the players are very well-known to me.

The Good Shepherd Church is but a two minute stroll from where I live and, whilst I wasn't baptised there (that happened here) both the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation were administered to me within those walls. Equally well-known to me is the parish priest, for in another life Father McKenna was the head honcho (or President as he insisted upon) of my secondary school. In the role of President, McKenna was virtually invisible for much of the year, only to emerge every so often when some function or other was held during the day at the school. Inevitably certain parents would be invited to said functions and McKenna would spend much of them sucking up to the invitees. Equally inevitably the invitees would be those with the most money, brought in to have their arses kissed in return for throwing a little green in McKenna's direction. Given my experience of the man and his worldly ways I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have ensured the famous Wilkinson laid down a bill-fold before undertaking any of his nefarious practices. "Women, priests and poultry have never enough" they once said. A slur on all three as each group is a mixed bag but as I remember McKenna the President he always wanted more. Still, it gets him in the news at least and might bung a few hundred on the plate next week. And equally those of us who had never heard of Wilkinson now have, so all publicity is good publicity in both cases. And all money.

Now if you'll excuse me I must go as this Algeria-South Korea match is proving to be a lot more interesting than I anticipated and I would like to give it a little more attention. Mon the Fennec Foxes!
keresaspa: (J Wellington Wimpy)
Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, has never hid the fact that he comes from the "pray for Catholics but hate Catholicism" school of Evangelical Protestantism. That he believes whole-heartedly in his personal interpretation of the Bible is something that he has never sought to hide and so, like all religious fundamentalists, he must, as a matter of course, be an unreconstructed bigot against all other religious belief systems. After all, who thinks he has the indisputable truth but is happy to accept all wrong viewpoints as equal? Robbo has a long history of attacking the Roman Catholic Church and other more moderate Protestant churches who seek to reach some form of rapprochement with what he personally once termed "the evils of Romish worship" so can we really be surprised with his recent Islamophobic outburst? Apparently those Muslims who believe in Sharia are unacceptable to Robbo, which kind of strikes me as saying you don't have a problem with Christians, apart from those who hold the Ten Commandments. The inevitable backtrack has followed although I don't personally think he needs to bother as Northern Ireland lives by its own rules and public expressions of hate by leading political figures are pretty much the norm. Had it happened in England he would be today's fish supper paper already but here he can say what he wants, especially given how ingrained anti-Islamic sentiments are in Northern Ireland, despite the fact that Muslims are a very small minority here and there have been no attacks whatsoever.

James McConnell, the "pastor" behind the hate speech and the head buck cat up at the oddball fundamentalist freakshow that is Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle (formerly Robbo's church of choice) is hardly a stranger to hatred. He's a lover of Enoch Powell (he might want to re-read "Rivers of Blood" - it doesn't mention Islam), considers Barack Obama a Muslim (he might want to re-read the Books of Ezekiel and Zechariah - they don't mention Islam or Russia) and of course belongs to the aforementioned anti-Catholic tradition. Homophobia, of course, looms large in his discourse but when Iris Robinson was bonking for Britain a blind eye was turned. Again, anywhere else (apart from the Deep South, I suppose) he would have had his chips years ago but not here.

Let's face it, the DUP repositioning itself as some sort of moderate group has always had the whiff of nonsense about it. The likes of Ivan Foster may be gone, but creationist nutjobs like Edwin Poots and Nelson McCausland remain in leading positions, the embarrassment that is the Singing Nun William McCrea remains in office as MP for South Antrim and a new generation of enlightened young fundamentalists headed by David McIlveen fils waits in the wings, ready to assume power when the original dinosaurs finally go. Robinson is simply expressing the hate-infused opinions rife within his party and indeed Northern Irish society as a whole (on both sides I hasten to add - where in the past anybody killing British soldiers was feted by republicans they have joined the tabloid-led hysteria against Muslims as readily as their loyalist counterparts). In a civilised society he would be out on his ear but in a civilised society he would have gone years ago and he hardly looks out of place in the new UKIP-loving, Muslim-hating Britain anyway. Religious intolerance, bigotry and hatred have never been considered problems in Northern Ireland and they're not about to become problems. Robbo will continue as boss, McGuinness, for all his big talk, will continue as his stooge and McConnell will continue to spew his vile invective every Sunday unenlightening his captive audience on the Shore Road. If it's tolerance you want, you're in the wrong place. What a horrid little shitehole this place can be sometimes.
keresaspa: (Cartman)
I've been desperately trying to take some crumb of comfort from these election but I can't. Swept on by the biased "reporting" of the BBC and all the tabloids bar the Mirror, those hateful shits of the UK Independence Party have come top in the European elections and done fairly well in the council elections (although their head cheerleader Nick Robinson is talking shite by calling 163 councillors out of 2,101 an "earthquake"). If there's any justice they will follow the lead of the now virtually irrelevant (outside Pendle at least) BNP and become victims of their own success. After all the BNP's brief period of success in the early to mid 00s led to to them splitting into several little factions and saw their thuggish, frequently barely literate, councillors make total prats of themselves at every opportunity. Mind you, the BNP were fighting against a cordon sanitaire, something UKIP won't have to worry about given that they had the sense to get in some tokens in advance. I swear if I see Nigel Farage's hateful, smug, buck-toothed, squinty-eyed, batrachian face once more I'm a gonna kick this screen in! And an especial boo to all the Rangers-supporting knuckle draggers in Scotland and all the forelock tuggers in AndWales for following their English masters in electing that rabble too. Pish on the lot of you.

Elsewhere Little Miss Le Pen has come top in France to show that the British lurch to the extreme right is not unique. Given France's unusual history with right-wing extremists (along with Italy, it's the only Western European country where being a self-declared neo-fascist is no bar to a leading role in public life, as the likes of Alain de Benoist and Dominique Venner have demonstrated) and the mess both major parties have made of government it's no surprise but still a real shame. Meanwhile in Finland the rightist Finns Party have added an extra seat, the Poles have returned their usual quota of hardcore Catholic racists who claim the label "centre-right" with straight faces and even in Greece a left-wing victory has tempered by three seats for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Stygian gloom the continent over.

Locally we are still waiting on the final results of an election held last Thursday but so far, as I predicted, Sinn Fein have topped the poll and Anderson is back in, with Diane Dodds likely to follow soon. Ho-hum. beyond that it's pick-a-dick between Jim Nicholson, Alex Attwood and Jim Allister for third place with Anna Lo not in the running and bloody UKIP even managing twenty odd thousand votes here. In the local elections the Sinn Fein vote pretty much held and, whilst the DUP shed support, it all seems to have gone to the Ulster Unionists (for reasons unknown) or rewarded the bigoted Strasserism of the Progressive Unionist Party or the reactionary High Toryism of the Traditional Unionist Voice. In among all that the dissident republican campaign got nowhere, with Eirigi, Republican Network for Unity and various independents getting almost nothing (OK, one exception but I'm not much of a 32 County Sovereignty Movement fan personally). Hell even bloody UKIP managed to get three seats here and the total mess that is NI21 took one. If I am to finally take that one crumb of comfort I spoke of earlier it will be from the good people of Black Mountain electing Gerry Carroll, a man I very vaguely know, to Belfast City Council instead of yet another faceless Sinn Fein nobody. On his own and stacked up against the cabal of the big five I can't see him being able to make any real impact on the new council when it finally splutters into life next year (that's right, the old council is continuing for another year in a colossal waste of money) but the fact that somebody, somewhere was prepared to vote against oppression and for the people is heartening anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me I think I'd like to find a pile of coats to hide under for a while.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
Why I didn't wear a poppy this year )
keresaspa: (Henrietta emo)
When we examined the Twaddell Avenue protests recently you will remember that they included banners with the command "respect our culture" thereon. Leaving aside the benefits of occasional iconoclasm and the fact that not so long ago this, this, this and this could all be termed culture but are now thankfully condemned to the scrapheap where they belong the order was there - whatever we do is culture so love it or leave it.

In that case I presume the same courtesy must be extended to the other side. Apparently not:



Yup, a recently painted mural celebrating the league success for the traditionally republican Cliftonville club as well as their (non-existent) communist heritage is defaced with a dose of nakedly sectarian graffiti expressing fairly irrelevant disapproval for the pontificate of Francis I. So I suppose it's a case of "respect our culture but we reserve the right to crap on everybody else's". Good to know where you stand I suppose - special treatment for a chosen people and the Fenians must know their place as the second class citizens they once were. And I'll resist the temptation to end with some bitter rebuke to the concept of "shared future" as even I'm getting tired of that sign-off.

Cor blimey

Jul. 17th, 2013 10:13 pm
keresaspa: (Albert Gladstone Trotter)
Hello you. Yes it was London time again recently but I got back too late last night to record my exploits. Never fear, I'm here now to "entertain" the reading some with every minor detail. "Enjoy".

Hit it )
keresaspa: (Cartman)
Well I don't often write on here at any length any more but thanks to the timely intervention of [livejournal.com profile] bombardiette I am about to. Finally a meme that has allowed, nay forced, me to think deeply and even allowed me the opportunity to get all ideological on your arses. Corking stuff. So anyway -

The rules: "Comment to this post and I will list seven things I want you to talk about. They might make sense or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself."

The seven topics I have been given are as follows:

1. The Irish Diaspora
2. America
3. The Catholic Church
4. The EU
5. Literature
6. War
7. Look at the city from an outsider's perspective. What do you see?

Very long-winded and pretentious waffle herein )

That's one from the golden days of livejournal when people used this as a forum for extended free form essays before Twitter and Facebook killed off brain cells and reduced communication to a couple of half-formed sentences. Well, I certainly enjoyed doing it even if you didn't enjoy reading a little of it before thinking "sod this" and playing Angry Birds instead. O tempora o mores!
keresaspa: (Meg)
Every year the stretch of the Ormeau Road (where I live) that runs from the south bank of the River Lagan up to the Good Shepherd Church is dressed for the Twelfth with a flag draped from each lamppost, a Union Jack from one, an Ulster banner from the next and so on up and down that whole stretch of road. The same thing happens on other loyalist roads in Belfast, albeit with the inclusion of UVF or UDA flags (depending on who controls the area), so what's the problem? Well, quite simply the Ormeau Road is by no stretch of the imagination a loyalist road. The whole area is mixed and, whilst traditionally it has been more Protestant, the demographics have shifted markedly in recent years to the point where there are now two shops openly selling First Holy Communion gifts (unthinkable in the past) and the only bar that could be identified as one side of the other is the Parador, which is firmly Catholic. OK, Annadale flats and the surrounding streets remain loyalist but these are some distance back from the main road and the streets in between are definitely mixed and always have been (I lived there as a kid and my ma's cousin lived there until her recent death).

So with all this in mind why ever year do these triumphalist reminders have to be rammed down our throats? We keep hearing the same old rhetoric from Peter Robinson about shared futures (there speaks a man worried about the fecund Fenians breeding him out of office) and yet the same old crap continues. You can call it Orangefest and show as many pictures of happy, smiling Orange children as you want but the Twelfth is still the definition of "know your place" in which said Fenians are reminded of their role by the streets being taken over by thousands or noisy bigots waving flags in their faces with the air still heavy with the polluting stench of immolated tyres smouldering from the night before.

The supposed leader of republicanism in the north makes a public display of deference and fealty to the British monarch and yet none of this superannuated bigoted crap changes. Shared future my arse. If it is truly to be a shared future triumphalist symbols need to come down from roads that are already "shared". What with this, the fact that the Village looks more and more like a war-zone every time I go through it and all hell set to break loose once more at Ardoyne I am very glad that I had the foresight to book my annual trip to London for next week as quite frankly I couldn't stand another round of the same old "Derry's Walls", Whiterock Flute Band and sham fights crap that destroys every summer. On top of that I have it on good authority (from a member of the Pride of the Lagan Valley Flute Band no less) that the vans at the field charge all the morons eight quid for a lousy burger. Enjoy your BSE, I'll be glad to be away from it!
keresaspa: (Daffney)
If there is one thing guaranteed to get royally on my tit-end it is one of those patrician old English Catholics. Typified by the Dukes of Norfolk, these are stuck-up old monarchist boot-lickers who wedge their lips permanently to E2R's arsehole despite the fact that Crown of England is by its very nature an anti-Catholic institution. The sort who spend their Mass praying for the queen and would never dream of sharing a church with the sort of rowdy Irish immigrant Catholics whose very presence has helped to secure the strong reputation of Liverpudlian weddings as the world's most violent.

Well it seems that one of the main exponents of that thankfully decaying stereotype has bit the dust, in the shape of Norman St. John Stevas. For some reason the man of straw that was the fiercely heterosexual Baron Stevas always rubbed me seriously up the wrong way. OK he was of the old English Catholic stock that by its nature vexes and he was a Tory which is a big enough sin but there was something less tangible that pushed to a level of annoyance which at times nagged at me. Leaving aside his racist comment that the Irish are "not known for their cleanliness"1 I can think of no one who so encapsulated that almost paradoxical combination of supreme self-satisfied arrogance with Uriah Heep2 levels of toadying that sums up a snob who is also a staunch monarchist. Gyles Brandreth is perhaps the only one to come close and, surprise surprise, he's an old English Catholic.

I rather suspect that the root of my extreme distaste for the upper class English Catholic set is the fact that, despite enjoying a degree of influence, they were happy to stand by and let their supposed faith brothers in my neck of the woods be denied their civil rights and thus indirectly played their part in causing the Troubles. Either that or it is just that Norman "he loves the ladies" St. John Stevas was just a hateful little bugger in his own right. No tears here, folks.

1 OK, so we're a dirty shower of tinker hillbilly dirtbags but that's not his place to say and there are plenty of English soap dodgers out there too.

2That's Uriah Heep as in David Copperfield not Uriah Heep as in Dreammare. And come to think of it that's David Copperfield as in Betsey Trotwood and Clara Peggotty not David Copperfield as in the plastic-faced, leather-trousered, Claudia Schiffer-bonking thaumaturge.
keresaspa: (Seagull)
Were Belfast a normal city the neighbouring Falls and Shankill roads would link directly at a minimum of eight locations i.e. Clonard Street/Lawnbrook Avenue, Waterville Street/Canmore Street, Conway Street, North Howard Street, Northumberland Street, Percy Street, Boundary Street and Townsend Street. However a history of rioting, burning houses and killing each other means that of these links only one remains and that is Northumberland Street. Even then both the road and each side of the pavement has two sets of gates that can be locked from either side with an eerie stretch of no man's land in between. There are other links between the Shankill and its republican neighbours, namely Lanark Way, the West Circular Road and Springmartin Road, all of which lead to the Springfield Road, and the junction of Ballygomartin Road and Whiterock Road (although this is in the mountains and only one nutjob lives there), but for those seeking a direct route from Shankill to Falls Northumberland Street is the only game in town.

There exists within the Catholic Church in Ireland (and perhaps further afield for all I know) a tradition for November dead lists where during the month of November people can submit lists of dead people they know to be prayed for at a specific church. As a favour to my auld doll I volunteered to deposit copies of said lists at any such church I passed in Belfast and to date I had managed five viz. the Good Shepherd round the corner, St. Mary's and St Patrick's in the town, St. Paul's on the Falls and the Holy Cross on the Crumlin Road. Today I endeavoured to add St. Peter's Cathedral on the lower Falls and the Holy Family on the Limestone Road to that list. St. Peter's was easy enough but the issue then came of how to get to the Holy Family, which is in north Belfast. The wishy-washy route would involve going back down the Falls, crossing past the front of Carrick Hill, going up Clifton Street to Carlisle Circus then the Antrim Road up as far as the Water Works and so onto the Limestone. Such a route however is over two miles and is designed with the motorist rather than the pedestrian in mind and with rain clouds a-gathering I knew I could save time with a straight run down Northumberland Street, Agnes Street and Clifton Park Avenue (a continuous route despite the name changes) before cutting down Brucevale Park onto the Antrim Road. As such for the first time in my life I made the journey from one end of Northumberland Street to the other, completing a rite of passage in Belfast life taken by only few. This being Belfast murals loom large and the end/beginning of each side is marked by wall painting, each of which provided an interesting insight into the ideologies driving republicanism and loyalism respectively. The final republican mural on Northumberland Street shows Frederick Douglass surrounded by other images relating to civil rights, the struggle against apartheid and even feminism. The first loyalist mural I encountered bade me welcome to the Shankill Road but showed me images of the Orange Order, poppies, King Billy, Linfield and fists just in case I took the welcome too literally. So on the one side it is equal human rights on the other it is militant Protestantism and a dig in the bake. I believe I have demonstrated that, despite my partial commitment to republicanism, I have no problem with the Shankill Road but this time the Falls well and truly has them licked and it is another sad reflection on the faults of loyalism that it responds to genuinely admirable people with the same old tired unionist clichés. If you look to the examples of Douglass and Rosa Parks barriers will come down if you look to the Orange Order and tired old symbolism then the gates will be there forever.

And having just consulted the ever reliable (aye right) Google Maps I have now learnt that my "short cut" is actually about the same distance as the wishy-washy route and, inevitably, the rain clouds caught up to me as I made my way down Duncairn Gardens and I got the inevitable soaking I deserve. Still going down Northumberland Street makes one dead hard so there.
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
As long term readers of this will be aware one of my most consistent targets for venom down the years has been Silvio Berlusconi. As such it is with some joy that I greet the recent news that we are to be rid of the little shit. Again. Obviously we have been here before so I welcome his departure with some caution as the other Teflon Don has a tendency to come back from anything and will no doubt join the cockroaches in the post-nuclear holocaust world. But surely, finally this has to be the end of the road for Il Cavaliere as a politician at least. Mind you, given what he has come back from in the past I am not fully convinced. Let's remind ourselves of a selection of his previous crimes, none of which have inhibited his place as Italy's political godfather since the 90s.

• Berlusconi was a member of the Masonic lodge Propaganda Due, a shadowy extreme right group involved in the 1980 bombing of Bologna in which eighty people were killed and which was active with extremist movements and regimes in Latin America, including with the Dirty War in Argentina. He got off in 1990 after an amnesty was declared for members of this mass murder organisation.
• He has consistently been shown to have been linked to the Mafia, dating back to his early years in business, but has always dodged prosecution through shady means. When he was younger and looked like a human being rather than a capuchin monkey wearing an orange ski mask he proudly advertised the fact that he packed heat.
• Down the years he has bribed more judges than I've had hot dinners and yet has always weaselled out of prosecution, usually through the statute of limitations, something that has got him away with more crimes (including a litany of tax evasion and embezzlement) than you've had hot dinners. To think that Berlusconi sought to present himself as a clean new broom after the mess of Mani pulite!
• He formed governments with radical right parties such as the Lega Nord and the "post fascist" Alleanza Nazionale and then later admitted the Alternativa Sociale into his rag-bag coalition. Under the leadership of former nude model Alessandra Mussolini this alliance of unashamedly fascist parties included the Forza Nuova of Roberto Fiore, a veteran of the neo-fascist terrorist networks of the 1970s. We all know I detest David Cameron but could you really see him forming a coalition with the BNP and English Democrats and then later adding a bloc consisting of the National Front, British Peoples Party and the International Third Position?
• He sullied the good name of our own Tessa Jowell by forcing her against her will/entirely without her knowledge/it never happened (delete according to which excuse she is currently using) to become involved in bribery.
• Bunga bunga. Not only did the whole grubby affair sum up the crassness of this poor excuse for a human being but it also demonstrated how much he blew with the wind. He supposedly learned it from his great mate Colonel Qaddafi but as soon as the tide turned against him Berlusconi rushed to get sticking the knife in. With friends like that etc.
• Lest we forget he still faces trial for bonking an underage girl although I have no doubt that he will worm his way out of that.
• He claims to be a serious politician and yet he gets plastic surgery that makes him look like a burns victim, he flaunts his sexual proclivities in public despite having Veronica Lario at home (and despite consistently trying to present himself as the bastion of the Catholic vote), he brands German politicians Nazis despite sitting in government with self-declared fascists and praising Benito Mussolini as benign, he consistently makes racist jokes about Black people being “tanned” (not least at Barack Obama), he tries to make rape into something to laugh about, he makes crass jokes at the expense of his own people left homeless by an earthquake and tells a litany of crap and offensive jokes directed against (in no particular order) gays, Jews, women, the Spanish, Muslims, the Chinese and the Finns. And he releases albums. Albums, for God’s sake!
• And above all the regular public appearances made by his revolting, shrivelled penis mean that he is the biggest criminal to ever walk the face of the earth. Put it away you horrible old man!

There is an interview that they frequently show in which Tony Blair is grilled by Jeremy Paxman over his relationship with Richard Desmond. At one point (around nine minutes in) Blair visibly squirms as Paxman reads out a list of Desmond's rather more salacious publications. Could you imagine the same interview taking place with Silvio Berlusconi instead of Tony Blair? He would probably get to his feet and start thrusting his emboldened member into the camera. Such is the measure of the man who has been the absolute disgrace of Italy for two decades and has done more to damage the good name of the country that gifted the world the Renaissance since Mussolini. I hope upon hope that this is the last the world sees of the tight-faced old bastard but I retain the fear that his clammy hands will be back on the steering wheel before too long, inaugurating another corruption-riddled government of porn stars in which he uses public money to fun his own taste for whores. Good riddance but please don't come back.
keresaspa: (James Connolly)
Dear voters,

On 27 October 2011 you will be called upon to make an important decision that will impact on the future of your state when you vote for a new President. Although seen by some as a mere figurehead the President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann) is a vital figure who presents the public face of your great nation to the rest of the world. Whilst Taoiseachs come and go the President remains as the representative of Ireland to the world for seven or fourteen years and carries with him or her the joyous burden of spreading the love for Ireland globally. As a result it is imperative that you make the right decision on election day and choose a candidate who will embody all the best qualities that make the Irish welcome everywhere. As such there can be no better choice for the Presidency of Ireland that Martin McGuinness, surely one of the pre-eminent Irish men of this or any age. By taking a leading role in a devolved government that has overseen the collapse of the Northern Irish economy he has shown himself to be a leading economic thinker. By spending the early part of his life waging war on Britain only to end up a paid member of a British devolved government he has shown himself to be a man of principle. By actively involving himself in the random bombing campaigns of Seán Mac Stíofáin whilst continuing to identify himself as a devout member of the Catholic Church and Pioneer Total Abstinence Association he demonstrated his hatred of hypocrisy and duplicity. Throughout his career in public service Martin McGuinness has been the model of the grand Irish ideals of saying one thing and doing another whilst making sure that you feather your own nest along the way. There can be no better man to represent Ireland internationally so use your vote well and elected Martin McGuinness as President on 27 October.

Or if none of that works for you at least think of your oppressed brethren in the occupied six counties and vote for the clown without make-up to take him off our bloody hands. We have suffered more than enough so please do like you did with Gerry Adams and take him away.

Yours hopefully

Keresaspa at all, at all
keresaspa: (Captain Mainwaring)
I see the annual tradition has continued apace and every lamppost in the fabled Ballynafeigh from the Ormeau Bridge to the Good Shepherd has been decked out in either the Union Jack or the Red Hand of Ulster. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of the area is mixed or even majority Fenian the boys still need to impose their cultural terrorism on the second-class citizens. And Belfast City Council has the cheek to include the word "inclusive" in their description of the Twelfth, or "Orangefest" as they insist on calling it now. It's about as inclusive as an English Defence League rally and in case you ever forget it there will be some bonehead along to drape the butcher's apron from the nearest pole.

And speaking of hateful bigoted shites from Northern Ireland I see Ireland's favourite fascist (apart from Justin Barrett) Gerry McGeough is looking to his paymaster the Queen to get him out of jail. Well, he's already enlisted the Red Hand Commando to get him out so why not add her majesty to the mix? As far as I'm concerned he should rot in jail for the rest of his life for that ridiculous little hatesheet The Hibernian that he published a lot of years ago (and whose forum reprinted one of my entries in its entirety without my consent) but if this current ruse doesn't work I'm sure he can always ask the SAS or Norman Tebbit to get him out. After all without Gerry on the streets how will people be able to find about the next Society of St. Pius X tea-dance or how Denis Fahey proved that Jews were responsible for foot and mouth? Throw away the key!

Still, it's not all bad as at least Roberto di Matteo is back in the game. There can be no denying that Albion improved after he left but I was still disappointed to see Bobby D go as he was a decent sort who played the game well and built the basis of a fine Albion team. I always felt that he was a loss to the game so I'm glad to see he's landed a role at Chelsea. He's bound to get plenty more success there and it will be good to see him back at the Hawthorns next season. Nice one.
keresaspa: (Jabberjaw)
Ye gods, but it has been windier than Fred "the Shockmaster" Ottman after a bucket of bean and cabbage surprise these last couple of days. Ordinarily I find wind to be a minor inconvenience at worst but when schleps out to scenic Newtownabbey and the picturesque Newtownards Road are required it becomes a bloody nuisance, especially when it is accompanied by the sort of diluvian rain that requires one to hide in the somewhat phallic bell tower of one of those terribly convenient Catholic churches that some smarty pants inevitably builds in the middle of loyalist estates. Still it's an adventure although I'm tempted to wonder if our friends in Iceland with their volcanic activity might have a connection to the sudden outbreak of drastic weather conditions. Not contended with destroying the banks and thus unleashing wave after wave of poverty on the world Iceland now feels the need decimate the aviation and tourism industries too, for the second year running no less. Am I the only one who misses the old Iceland with its Eddas, salted fish, steroid guzzling truck pullers and crazy little avant-pop pixies? Mind you it's a shame for our new friend Harold Camping that all this didn't happen last week as it might have leant some credibility to his apocalyptic prophecy. Apparently October is the next date for our diaries according to the biggest overnight sensation since John Bishop. One would think that a man who proclaims himself a Bible scholar would have encountered Matthew 23:13 ("Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh") but I suppose knowing not the day attracts not the radio show listeners and nets not the big money donations.

So anyway it's windy, it's Iceland fault and Harold Camping has misinterpreted the Bible and these three facts are all connected in some way. At least, I think that's what I just said.
keresaspa: (Stan Ogden)
Had Linton Kwesi Johnson's origins been in somewhere like Turf Lodge or Ardoyne rather than Chapelton, Jamaica then you suspect that his finest hour Di Black Petty Booshwah would have been retooled only slightly to instead spit his ire at the SDLP. For if anybody seeks position off the backs of their own or sides with the oppressor when the going get rough it's the Catholic petty bourgeoisie that make up the rank and file of the Stoop Down Low Party. From a group that, to give it its dues, contained men prepared to put their heads on the line in the name of equality (many of whom turned out to be sell-outs, mentioning no names - Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin) they have transmogrified into a party aimed only to get scraps of power for the Catholic middle classes. Far from having anything to do with social democracy or the labour movement the SDLP have become simply a rerun of the old Nationalist Party, espousing a Catholic conservatism aimed to protect the shitty little positions of the fenians chasing influence. For a united Ireland perhaps but as long as they can lord it about they are happy to wait and take what Britain will give them. As such it comes as no surprise that they have opted for Margaret Ritchie as their new leader to replace the nonentity that was Mark Durkan. From what has been said Maggie is another who thinks that the world revolves around the good old US of A so we can expect the SDLP to pursue its well honed policy of brown nosing Yankee capitalists in a desperate attempt to secure some piddling little investment in this place. And whilst I am known to at times show solidarity with my feminist sisters (riot on, grrrls) I am not of the belief that any woman getting influence is a good thing. Ritchie is about as radical the 1922 Committee so I'll not be celebrating her advancement. Let's not forget that Ritchie is also the one who happily addressed the Ulster Unionist conference and spouted tired old slogans so there is no doubt that she will equally happily back the middle class consensus in the Assembly to the hilt. Heck the SDLP and the UUP might as well merge as there seems sod all difference between them to me. Remind me why I voted for these morons last time. Better yet beat with a wet fish for being such an idiot. Full of flaw indeed, LKJ!

Elsewhere, apparently we have gone back to the mid 1980s as the BBC is under the impression that there are people in the British Isles who actually care about the Supperbowel or whatever they call that collection of flabby chaps throwing a miniature rugger ball about. I appreciate that the Americans like to crack on that this load of old stop-start pony is the biggest sporting event there is (even though we all know that it is actually the World Cup in every other country bar about five) but what possible justification can there be for the main national broadcaster in the UK giving five hours over to it when it is at best a minority sport? Besides, as any sensible human being knows, the name Colts should only ever be used by youth teams and a sporting event that needs a bunch of old granddads like the Who performing in the middle of it is clearly not good enough to sustain interest by itself. Can you imagine in five months time the players from Spain and the Ivory Coast stretching half-time in the World Cup final out to an hour to let the Dave Clark Five belt out their hits? There would be a riot. By all means show the blasted thing for the five people who care about but stick it on some rotten channel like ESPN America and leave BBC One for its proper late night purpose - signed repeats of Holby City and rolling news.
keresaspa: (Awesome Kong)
A piece on the BBC site about sex education in schools piqued my interest today. I don't really have an opinion about the merits or otherwise of teaching children about getting their freak on but it did bring to memory my own experiences of the dreaded sex lessons in school. Those were the days, unfortunately.

One must bear in mind before I start that your author received a Catholic education and as a result sex education classes were coloured by the need to push a not outside marriage, missionary position, single glass of water agenda. My first brush with the whole fiasco was in the final year of primary school when letters went home to parents asking if they approved of us attending talks on our bodies and development. My own auld doll signed the consent form, the rotter! For this series of classes, held in a room up a side corridor that nobody ever went, a special instructor was brought in from outside. The lady in question (at least I think it was a lady) stood around the same height as a bunch of ten year olds, was as wide as she was tall and apparently shared a tailor with Paul Shane as she favoured spangly waistcoats. Alongside this she had a huge lump on one of her eyes and looked suspiciously like she was picked as they wanted to find the most unappealing person possible to put us off sex for life (a waste of time, given that my primary school churned out teenage pregnancies at a rate comparable to that at which Eton churns out dickheads). I can remember little about the lessons themselves, apart from something about leaving potatoes sitting out overnight and a couple of people fainting. God, I feel sick even typing this.

Secondary school was a different matter altogether. I can recall little from the first few years, although we did have a weekly Tutorial class that may have featured some of that stuff. Every year for the first three years in Science class however we did cover reproduction and, contrary to what the God-awful Grease 2 would have you believe, this was not a cause for widespread rejoicing as the woman who taught us the subject, who was cursed with a slight speech impediment that made her decision to teach secondary school somewhat odd, made the whole thing sound about as exciting as a mechanical process that is of moderate importance to the plastics industry of Beccles. The real fun started in fourth year when we were given the horrendously named Education for Love classes. The gentleman who taught these was the sort of teacher who likes to be a bit of a lad and pretends he's your mate by telling crap Irish jokes at the end of class. Perhaps they felt that this made him a suitable candidate as it gave him a likable air but there was a slight problem in that about a year before he had been tossed out of his house after a drink-driving arrest and we the pupils got front row seats on a very public breakdown as weeks of stubble piled upon his face and his beloved zip-up cardigans began to be changed less and less often. To an extent this damaged his credibility from the word go but it was not helped by the fact that he visibly cringed every time he had to use phrases like "monthly cycle" or "testicles". Mind you, I thought I had it bad in his classes but God help his poor daughter who somehow wound up in the class with me and had to sit and listen to her dad talking about this stuff.

Put it this way, sex education can be a harrowing experience but in a Catholic school it leaves permanent scars, to the point where I am still sniggering whilst writing this guff. I'm not sure what the answer to all this is but one thing I am damn sure about is if a school offers talks on bodies from a woman with a carbuncle on her keeker the size of a Brussels sprout then run like the flaming wind. Now if you'll excuse me I think I need a shower!
keresaspa: (Default)
So at long last Ian Paisley is buggering off. Only about thirty years too late but what are three decades between friends? I happened to catch a bit of BBC Newsline, a show I don't normally watch given BBC Northern Ireland's virulently pro-unionist stance, in which they interviewed a sample of people from the Falls and the Shankill for their reactions to the news. The Shankill mob all largely said "good riddance to bad Lundy" but I was sickened by the reaction of the Falls crowd who, to a man, all said he was a sad loss on the basis of his participation in a power-sharing government for the last year or so. From then on we have been hit with a bunch of insincere eulogies from New Labour lovies and Sinn Fein collaborators about how great the big man is. Bollocks! Methinks it's time for a bit of realism about that old tosser. In truth Paisley's career has been one based on militant populism, religious extremism and Janus-faced hypocrisy of the worst kind.

Paisley likes to present himself as a man of God but in truth his religion has been of the fundamentalist sort that is so bigoted that even a 16th century Anabaptist would have thought him too extreme. Paisley based his entire act on a complete denial of any say to Catholics and was summed up best by his verbal attack on John Paul II, a childish outburst from a man supposed to be a statesman. Paisley hounded Terence O'Neill out of office because he had the temerity to hold talks with a 'Papist' like Sean Lemass and stood completely against the civil rights movement, making a mockery of his claim to be a democrat by opposing OMOV. Indeed he even went as far as to lead gangs of armed bastards to attack their marches, making him no better than the redneck morons who attacked Dr. King and his followers. Paisley's attitude was summed up in 1966 when he and 11 stooges set up the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee to protect "Protestant Monarchy" and to ensure that the fenians didn't get a sniff of anything. As for power-sharing, forget it! Even hard-liner William Craig was dropped like a hot potato when the Vanguard leader suggested sharing power with the so middle class it hurts SDLP.

A Doctor by virtue of being awarded the title by his good mate Bob Jones, Paisley launched Save Ulster from Sodomy, a campaign to ban homosexuality, in 1977 despite having happily had John McKeague, a UDA founder member whom the dogs in the street knew was gay, as his bodyguard and despite turning a blind eye to the Kincora House scandal and the antics of his friend, gay pederast and founder of the Tara terrorist group William McGrath. Surely as a man of God one would expect mercy, but not from Doctor P. When the UDA murdered retired Sinn Fein activist Maire Drumm in her hospital bed in 1976 his reaction was to gloat about it. What a righteous man he is.

Paisley's other big thing was "Sinn Fein/IRA" and how much he hated supposed terrorists. Odd coming from a man who was so closely associated with loyalist paramilitaries for most of his career. It's on record from the likes of Gusty Spence, who should know a thing or two about this, that Paisley's rhetoric was the main recruiting tool for all the loyalist groups but even ignoring that he had plenty of direct connections that are never mentioned. However much he may say that he had washed his hands of them Paisley was the founder of both the Ulster Protestant Volunteers in the 60s and Ulster Resistance in the 80s and they were both responsible for bombing campaigns and stockpiling illegal weapons. In the 1974 and 1977 Ulster Workers Council strikes Paisley worked closely with the UDA and became their effective political voice, using them to ensure compliance by Protestant workers in his strikes to the point where four of them were killed by the loyalists in the second debacle. Add to this was the further hypocrisy of Paisley, a regular preacher at funerals where full "military" regalia was used in the ceremonies, turning on the UDA after each strike and dropping them like a tonne of bricks to the point where UDA leader Andy Tyrie even wrote a play in 1982 about what a wanker Paisley is.

OK in the last couple of years he has changed the habit of a lifetime and took up in government with a castrated Sinn Fein, but so what? Devolution is not an end in itself, it is merely a souped-up form of local government and should only be considered a triumph if it starts to deliver results. So far, Paisley's administration has done bugger all except bring in water charges and provide opportunity for his corrupt son to feather his own nest with shady deals. Alongside this, Paisley gained his support from being anti-Agreement yet he is working fully within that Agreement so the Shankill mob are perfectly within their rights to denounce him as a hypocrite. Above all, his time in charge has exposed just how poor the local shower are at real politics and how much they are elected on the basis of tired old rhetoric and bigotry. So excuse me if I don't shed any tears about the resignation of this man but for me it's good riddance to bad rubbish. As for his probable replacement Peter Robinson, I doubt there will be any improvement there as, despite his delusions of being a commando in his youth, he sums up the bitter blandness that characterises right-wing unionism in this dump.

In other news, a fond farewell to Gary Gygax. I haven't role-played in years but when I was a lad I was quite the aficionado of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and took hours of pleasure out of Uncle E. Gary's stuff. Amarast, old friend, see you in Elysium.
keresaspa: (Sea Captain)
International weekend in the old footer. Often quite a tedious time when you don't follow one of the ‘home nations’. I sat through most of the England-Estonia game, although I was apparently watching a different match to the BBC and most of the Waynes and Darryls who texted in to teletext. The Wayne Rooney I saw had a frustratingly pedestrian game that once again exposed his shortcomings as an international class forward. Quite different to the second coming of the boy wonder that was trumpeted elsewhere. Still, what do I know? After all I felt that, a well-taken goal apart, Shaun Wright-Phillips' passing was as wayward as a parallel parking attempt by Gilbert Montagné. Still, he must have had a great game as his stepfather said so. I've gone on record before as saying that this England team will qualify for the European Championships and I stand by that. The days of England missing tournaments are over, especially as they are all so big now that it takes a supreme effort by the big countries to miss out. Even the result against Russia is largely irrelevant as I know they'll do enough in the remaining games to clinch it. Still, in the tournament itself they will get nowhere, although I doubt that will stop the tabloids going into hyperdrive come next summer.

Still, at least the shock qualifier isn't dead everywhere. The African cup of nations finally completed qualification over the weekend and I was surprised by some of those who made it. Sudan and Namibia as group winners and Benin squeezing through as runners-up? Should be interesting. Let's hope the BBC give it some half decent coverage and don't leave it languishing on the waste of airtime that is BBC Three.

There again, if all else fails in the qualifiers you can always take a leaf out of Ancona's book and call in God. That's one way of doing things, I suppose. Wonder where this deal leaves the powerhouse that is the Vatican national team? I could just see Steve McClaren now - "an away trip to Stadio Pio XII in January is a tough prospect for any team".

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