Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

Why Wales Gets Angry.

Earlier this week, Cardiff was home to shocking scenes of random violence, which claimed the life of a well loved member of the community, injured a dozen more and terrified people across the city. The motivations for the cowardly attacks by an individual driving a van into members of the public who had no hope of protecting themselves from his actions, are as yet unclear. Certainly though the impacts of his callous attacks will be felt for a long time, and we can only imagine what  will be going through the minds of the children affected by this event the next time a speeding white van comes near them.

The story was appalling, and yet, as the day of the incident wore on, another story developed on the pages of social networking sites. For an attack on a capital city which had affected so many, there was a lingering sense of confusion, and then anger, as to why this merited so little coverage on the news. Early on the same day, Conservative pleb basher Andrew Mitchell had resigned from Government, and it was this that seemed to preoccupy the minds of the national news networks.

No doubt the crumbling of the Westminster Government was newsworthy, but surely on a day when a capital city in Britain had witnessed such widespread attacks on the general public, it could not in any way be considered as the ‘top story’? The following day, the print media community continued to wash over the events of the previous day in Cardiff, preferring to salivate over a prominent politician’s demise. Meanwhile blood stocks in Wales continued to be in critically short supply following the high treatment demand resulting from the van driver’s attacks.

There is a pervading sense that, in general terms, the media simply don’t care about Wales. Certainly there had been plenty of coverage over the tragic story surrounding April Jones, but then, without wanting to be too cynical, the national media will often prioritise a missing child. The sense remains though, that had this been a story breaking in an English city, London perhaps, that there would no doubt as to the leading story, ‘terror in London rampage’ would have represented the tone of the headlines. Yet, if it happens in Wales, it’s probably just not that important. One wonders how many people would have needed to die for this to be considered the most important news story of the day?

Put in context, BBC News have given more coverage and commentary time today to whether or not an English footballer worse a t-shirt, than it did to the events in Cardiff. It is this disparity in coverage that incenses so many in Wales, we often feel like second class citizens in this ‘United’ kingdom, because that is the way we are treated. Sadly, the priorities of all the national news carriers illustrated that even when areas in Wales are subject to attacks that would dominate were they to happen across the border, their locality in this instance means that they are just not that significant.

And that is, one of the reasons at least, why Wales gets angry.

The Ringland Ninja.

South Wales has been abuzz over the weekend with news breaking of a masked crusader protecting the people of Newport. Well, that was the intention at least. The shadowy figure had in fact been caught, unmasked and prosecuted before a single criminal had been brought to book with a colourful ‘POW’ or ‘BAM’. Yet while the Ringland Ninja may have had only the briefest of periods in the limelight, rumours abound that the caped crusader (though sadly, reports indicate that this particular protector of the night had failed to incorporate an almost prerequisite cape into his costume) has already stimulated local copycats, with the Wales on Sunday today reporting accounts of at least two new vigilantes keeping a watch over leisure centre roof tops.

Of course the authorities have been quick to dismiss the Ringland Ninja as someone confusing fiction and reality, a danger to himself more than anyone else. And yet, are the actions of this lone individual something to be discouraged, laughed at, or perhaps praised? After all, how many people can we cite in the Newport area who are willing to protect their community in such a direct fashion? We have no shortages of thieves, drug dealers and thugs with a general disposition towards random acts of violence, all of whom through their actions are committing to undermining and ultimately destroying their communities, when people stand up to struggle against this tide of societal degradation, perhaps we might think for a moment as to who are the real criminals.

Put simply, everyone in and around the Newport area knows of the no-go areas, those places where, once the witching hour strikes, you would only be amongst the fool hardy, reckless, plain stupid or those in search of trouble, to enter. These are the corners where the police presence is, well, not present, they have more sense than that. Okay, from time to time some of the less intelligent of the criminal factions will be brought to rights, but in the main, the police force in this region serve to maintain a healthy balance. A balance in this part of the world which is concentrated on monitoring exactly where the criminal fraternity conflate, and do bugger all about them. So when local citizens decide that the appointed law keepers have resolved to turn their back on their responsibilities, perhaps because of a paper work backlog, we might not be so quick to dismiss their actions. You need to wear the most magenta of rose tinted spectacles to think that all is well on our streets, the reality is far removed. The Ringland Ninja might have been comical in his failings, but the template for community led action is there in the national newspapers of Wales today.

While we are of course in no way advocating such activities, we would at least suggest that the law enforcement agencies might consider approaching the vigilante question in a different manner in the future. After all, we have no real bounty hunting equivalent in our justice legislation, perhaps recent events suggest that the market is out there. We do however look forward to flipping through the pages of the local and national rags, eager to hear of any other masked figures tiptoeing through the midnight fog, and hope that those sticking two fingers up to society in the back alleys of our neighbourhoods might yet be encouraged to think twice before acting, should they hear a creek high above them emanating from the darkness.

BBC Royal Watch: Unharmed and Time to Panic!

Frantic activity in the halls of the BBC this morning as dramatic news regarding occasional Nazi impersonator Prince Harry broke, as it emerged that he was caught in a savage firefight while serving his country abroad. Although details were initially sketchy, it became apparent during the course of the morning that the Prince, arguably the most important member of the royal family* was unharmed. While based at a camp in Violentistan, the Prince was reported as having possibly defended his comrades from a savage attack. Although it cannot at this stage, or at any point in the future, be confirmed that the Prince, having run out of ammunition, picked up a stick and waved it with gusto in the face of his aggressors, it seems almost certain that the young hero did indeed defend the camp, while others cowered around him, possibly praying to the Queen for deliverance in their time of need.

Hero Harry Spits in the Face of the Taliban!

The BBC was quick to repeat that none of these details could be verified, but wanted to make sure that the loyal subjects of the British Empire could sip their Earl Grey tea at breakfast, safe in the knowledge that their Prince was unharmed, and that possible nothing at all had happened to him, certainly news worthy of topping every bulletin throughout the course of the day.

In other news, two US soldiers died in the same attack, but this is really not the sort of thing that the good people of Britain want to hear about over breakfast…so say the good ol’ BBC. God save the Prince and whatnot.

*located in a war-torn region where he can’t embarrass anyone.

Legal Clarification Released on Photographing Members of the Royal Family.

In light of scandalous news coming out of seedy, depraved and morally corrupt France, that one of those bottom feeding rags has dared to intrude upon the sanctity of the Royal inner sanctum, the most relevant and seemingly all pervasive Royal family has today moved quickly to release new guidance as to when it is acceptable and when it is certainly not, to publish images of the Royal Family in a state of nudity.

It is not acceptable when:

1. we have invested all our eggs in one basket.

2. our desire to remain relevant to society after all those summer parties we threw (or received, depends on your perspective) are forgotten, hinges on the public’s love of the target.

3. we would really rather not have to go through all that business again that we had with the last Princess we brought in.

It is acceptable when:

1. the targeted Royal has a history of mischief making

2. boys will be boys

3. the targeted Royal has in the past shown a propensity for disguising themselves as a Nazi

4. the targeted Royal has no shot at the throne anyway, so, you know, who cares

5. we can ship off the shamed Royal posthaste to a foreign war zone and hope for the best.

6. we’ve got a better one.

Take a last look.

This image was one of a series of images used by Visit Wales to promote Wales to the United States as part of a major international folk festival in 2009. Take a long look, because with planning permission relaxations about to be unleashed on the landscape, it could all look very different so very easily. Bigger houses in already crowded areas and new mansions for the wealthy in the middle of landscapes such as those above, can both be looked forward to, all in the name of the economy. Well, if it works, perhaps we’ll be able afford some land reclamation projects from the sea and build some new countryside, but it’s unlikely. What is likely is that those who can already afford to will be allowed to systematically wreck what is left of our landscapes, while making already cramped urban areas unbearable mazes of backyard extensions. It might help the economy, but it will serve to create an island in which few want to live.

Phase 3 of the ConDem ‘bollocks up Britain’ plan is well and truly in motion. Look forward to compulsory military service for juniors next.

 

 

Bonkers attack on Free Prescriptions.

There are plenty of things that you can take the Welsh Government to task over…plenty of things. In general, the most obvious thing you could go after them on is their inactivity. The slow haul towards a legislative Wales has been as painful to endure as it has been uninspiring, even more so given the legal arse up led by Carwyn’s administration over the one piece of post 2011 legislation to get given the Senedd green light. But to attack the free prescription programme, once again, is somewhere between bonkers verging on loopy.

It seems to be the bi-monthly bug bear of the opposition…well, we say opposition, what we really mean is that it is the bi-monthly bug bear of the Welsh Conservatives who seems utterly incapable of just letting this one go, and regularly dust off the cobwebs from their increasingly worn out complaints before wheeling it out once more. Today, led by the ever audible Darren Millar, were the really shocking revelation that since free prescription medication was introduced in Wales, that more people are taking prescription medicines. Jaws must really have dropped when that bombshell was dropped on the Welsh political community. When things are free, people take more of them…take a moment, you must all be in a state of mental paralysis reading this.

It was reported that several Welsh Tory spokespeople were vomiting with horror at the news that the general public were actually getting their hands on medicines, after all, that’s the last thing we want isn’t it? But of course, the whole point of free prescriptions was in response to the fact that large proportions of Welsh society were not taking up prescription medicines, you know, those things that doctors were telling patients ‘you need this to stay alive’, because they were too expensive. Millar was very happy to point out that millionaires can pick up pain medication for free, but duly ignores the fact that Wales is not littered with millionaires, and that it is in fact littered with people living below the poverty line, the very people who stand to benefit from this programme.

It would appear that Darren Millar’s policy would be to price out two thirds of the population when it comes to medication, no doubt resulting in widespread death amongst those troublesome working class voter groups, in turn minimising the Labour vote in Wales…it’s possible at least. Certainly were the free prescription policy to be withdrawn, Mr Millar would be able to enjoy a whole host of new hospital based issues to whine about, as treatable conditions rapidly turn into untreatable terminal illnesses, and already stretched hospital wards become crippled by the sudden influx of deathbed patients, who might have been fine at home, but could no longer afford the medication.

Just a final point on price, the Western Mail reported this morning that while the cost of free prescriptions stands at over £500m, it is a sum that is decreasing rather than increasing. On top of that, given Mr Miller’s determined stance to cut out this unsustainable and unbearable weight on the tax payer, one wonders how he would looking back over his summer indulgences, where he spoke at length and with great enthusiasm about Jubilee celebrations and Olympic entertainments, the combined cost of which would cover free prescriptions for all in the UK (not just Wales) for over half a century…just a thought for anyone wondering how ‘waste’ might be defined.

Olympics End, Reality Bites.

In a scene reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the massed British television audience that has been mesmerised by two weeks’ worth of moving images and flashing lights, will emerge from their homes in a state of confusion, rubbing eyes startled by daylight and sore from televisual staring. In that moment a new instinct will take hold, one forged from hours and weeks committed to watching strangers from foreign lands leap, and sprint, and dive and dash, as their eyes adjust to the outside world they run, charging forwards, their lungs carried by all the hope and expectation that accompanies seeing somebody else win a shiny piece of metal…

…and then, then they begin to remember. A shrivelled corner of their memory sparks alight strangely familiar sensations. On the streets upon which they have just sprinted, where there should be flags of every nation, where there should be lithe individuals being carried aloft the shoulders of adoring crowds, where there should be a nation in which not just post boxes are painted in gold but the very roads and pavements as well, where there should be this ‘great’ Britain that they have been told about for so many days, they find something else…

…the masses would have been safe from the truth had they not stepped out of the front door, had they not left the security of their living room where the BBC and front pages of the Sun would keep them blissfully unaware. Their mistake was to be inspired. Having left their sanctuary and ran out in the expectation of buying several hundred pounds worth of exercise equipment, they found that their local sports shop was no longer there. A sun stained ‘closing down’ sale sign peaks out from behind cracked white washed windows…

…in that moment of deflation, another shock hits the masses, they had just been running, something most had not contemplated for half a decade and more. Feeling a touch on the side of hungry, the masses attempt to remember what they once did for nourishment before a time when Olympic success could sustain them. Each mind strains to recall, and then it comes to them, a powerful image, burnt into their frontal lobes, McDonalds, McDonalds, McDonalds, McDonalds…and would you like a Coca Cola with that…

…heavy with fatty foods and disappointment, they remember, ‘we can always buy those things on the internet’. Ah the internet, home of the Nike sponsored florescent shoes and home delivered exercise bikes. Too tired to run back, they wait patiently, then increasingly less so, for the bus to take them home. As they wait they find people sleeping in corners, in rough clothes…what are these things, these unfamiliar wretches? Surely this is not Britain, there were no homeless people on show in the opening ceremony, so where did these come from? They hand over £3 to ride the bus, littered with shredded pages of the Metro, each tattered page carrying a memory of an athletic hero. The masses remember the faces, the names are on the tip of their tongue…they are sure it will come back to them…

…getting home, internet on…Nike shoes on sale and an exercise bike on its way. It seems a little expensive, but the masses follow the Government example and spend based on dreams and ambitions, rather that which remains dwindling in the broken bank. 3-4 days to delivery…3-4 days to wait. Television had delivered so many heroes recently, perhaps there will be some more while we wait. Eastenders and Coronation Street are our heroes now, and we sit, and begin to fester once more…

…3-4 days later, the Nike shoes and exercise bike arrive. The shoes look great, and are comfortable around the house, in the pub…the exercise bike looks complicated…it is assembled in weeks to come, and serves as the most effective of clotheslines, and dust mats…

Unlike the children freed by Indiana Jones, the masses will not run into the arms of jubilant families in a magically enhanced lush paradise of hope and opportunity, they will instead run back into Britain, and in remembering what is actually going on in the country as opposed to the magical fantasy land so expertly woven by the state, and will quickly wish that the distraction had not left them. As the wise elder spoke to Indy, ‘now you see the power of the rock’…for the masses, they might begin to understand the distractive power of the Games, and for that reason more than any sense of inspiration, they will wish it never ended.

GSTQ Wins Gold.

There was much excitement today as the ‘British’ national anthem took gold in the cycling. The likes of Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan were quick to celebrate the fact that the plucky and humble anthem was able to stand up to the challenges posed by other anthems and take top spot on the podium after a hard day of competition. Stiff opposition came in the form of the Chinese national anthem, which had been bolstered in recent days by having had so many opportunities to be practiced, equally the Americans had been presented with the opportunity to fine tune their anthems performance on several occasions. Yet today it was all about GSTQ.

The anthem had encountered a number of difficulties in recent days, with prominent Welsh sportsmen being roundly hounded by some very important television types for not doing their bit to help the anthem win gold. Further controversy followed a male cyclist, who having done the hard work of winning his event, then spectacularly failed to secure gold for GSTQ in a disastrously silent rendition of the anthem.

Yet today was all about the anthem. As a female cyclist secured the race victory, her name was lost in a blur of congratulatory texts and tweets in celebration of the anthems achievement, as she ensured its position at the front of the field with a heartfelt singalong version. Mayor of London Boris Johnson was first in line to offer his support, suggesting that ‘while the anthem has had some great days in the past, I remember singing it at a rally for some monarch a little while back, that was big, but this is mega, this is huge, London can really be proud that it played host to such a great anthem’.

Hopes remain that the anthem will go on to win more gold medals as the Olympics continue, but on this day, celebrations will go on long into the night, and the anthem can go back to its hotel room and enjoy a well earned rest having finally secured its first gold medal.

N.B. We may have misinterpreted the Olympic coverage, and a cyclist might actually have won the gold…but it could easily be the other way around.

Things we learnt from the Olympics. No.2

The world can like North Koreans.

 

As Kim Un Guk of North Korea danced and waved, something very strange happened, an international (though predominantly British) audience cheered and celebrated the unlikely victory. There can be few environments in which a North Korean who repeatedly salutes his national flag, outside of North Korea that is, where his actions would be celebrated, but such is the effect of the Olympics perhaps. Any questions about the conditions he endured through his training, or indeed the conditions of those in North Korea who are not elite athletes, were put aside for a moment, and he was a hero to all.

Politics aside, Kim was particularly entertaining and could not have done much more to ender himself to the crowd, just goes to show that a smile and a wave really can go a long way.

We are all TeamGB…

(Warning, features strong language.)

So the sporting farce that is the British football team had its first unveiling last night, a lethargic warm down against the youth of Brazilian football. However, little attention is really falling on the 90 minutes of play, and more on the final few minutes before the kick-off, in particular the singing, or non-singing of ‘national’ anthems. Now given the controversy surrounding the formation of a British footballing team, the fears of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish football federations that their existence might be threatened by such a creation, you would have thought those in charge of the team (that would be the English Football Association) might have had a degree more forethought than to select the English (yes, we know, it doubles as the ‘British’ anthem as well) national anthem for the team to sing. After all, there are so many musical alternatives which would not have the connotation of being the song of the English football team to choose from, yet, that is what they plumped for. What did they really expect the three Welsh internationals to do? One wonders if the lack of representation of players from Scotland was more to do with an expectation that any ‘problem’ players who might cause issues with the singing of certain anthems, would be removed from the equation – those good ol’ subservient Welsh will surely step in line though and bleat out the English anthem. But wait, they did not.

Now, we are all supposed to be in this together right? Unity, harmony, Britain together and all that which goes along with the Westminster propaganda machine that has been trying to pursued us that we do actually really like each other. Well, while twitter is far from the most reliable platform for gauging the mood of the nation, it’s about as valuable as those vox-pops which the BBC tend to rely on for their evidence based journalism, so shall we consider for a moment what the reasonable, rational, ‘all in it together to the last’ attitudes of the ‘British’ public were saying about the Welsh players and their ‘failure’ to sing the anthem? Here are a few examples (again, a warning here, some of these feature some very strong language).

‏@ManicMummyat40 Ryan Giggs should be ashamed of himself – sing the National Anthem! #englishandproud #olympics2012

@djmickbrown great to see giggs and bellamy not singing our national anthem..tossers..if they dont want to b part of it properly then please go home.

‏@richardgorman1 Giggs captain? Sing the nation anthem you welsh sheep shagging no mark

‏@ItsCareyBear Ryan giggs not singing the english national anthem #welshcunt

@BiHo1984 Shameful that Giggs and Bellamy weren’t singing the anthem before #GBRvBRA.. Definitely shouldn’t have invited these sheep-shaggers to play.

@Alanmc87 Giggs and bellamy not singing anthem..welsh bastards!!! Ah 1-0 Brazil

‏@BillyRTaylor Lol Giggs won’t sing the anthem, welsh cunt

@ricky_aj_hall Giggs and bellamy not singing the national anthem? Fucking die u horrible cunts! Neymar with the headband reminds me of a young ricky hall

@itisnate Giggs your captaining GB and you don’t sing the anthem you welsh twat and pearce you ugly twat you should of picked beckham #TeamGB

‏@StJakey Ryan Giggs you stupid Welsh cunt.. He shouldn’t Captain the Great Britain team if your not going to sing the Anthem! And you Bellamy #CUNTS

Now, we would be the first to say that this is just a snap shot. There were an equally large number of people celebrating the fact that the Welsh players were not singing the anthem, some sympathetic to the fact that as an English anthem as well, that it would be difficult for them to sing it, while a smaller proportion probably took the most sensible line, and suggested people just get over it. However, it is telling that, with such little prompting, that so much bile can be spilled forth, not just over individuals, but over the Welsh in general. We are sometimes criticised in Wales for being a little too sensitive about the slurs we receive, but the age old response would be to remove the word Welsh from the tweets above, and replace them with the words Black, Jewish, Indian, do that and several of last night’s tweeters would currently be receiving knocks on the door from the local constabulary. But it’s generally okay to say such stuff if it’s ‘just the Welsh’ isn’t it? (Though off course given the state of the British judicial system, it does appear that racial slurs in the football are perfectly acceptable, so maybe we are just out of touch.)

Anyway, back to topic, Giggs and Bellamy ‘disrespected’ the anthem by not singing it, yet there was no Welsh flag waved, no spitting on the soil as the Queen was mentioned, no turning backs and walking to a quiet corner while the teams lined up. There was no protest, this was just a few people choosing not to sing the anthem which represents their biggest sporting rivals. And yet, the hatred that burst through the thinly veiled surface of TeamGB unity is there for the world to see.

So perhaps, when the world comes to ‘London’ as the British Isles is being branded and the picture perfect image of a united kingdom of loyal love all Brits is poured onto the planet’s television screens, maybe we might refer back to nights like this. Nights where the true reflection of Britain, and it’s tolerance to it’s ‘regions’ comes pouring out. We are all TeamGB after all, so long as you don’t show that you are Northern Irish, Scottish or Welsh.