Posts Tagged ‘ London ’

The Parable of St Paul and the Protester.

St Paul’s Cathedral is certainly attracting some attention in recent days. Fingered as the biblical little bitch of the economic beasts that reside nearby, the protests that began as part of the ‘occupy’ campaigns that are scattered across the globe directed at big business, government and those that hold the purse strings of the world economies, seems to have descended (or ascended depending on your perspective) into a full blown assault on the Cathedral and its management itself. Following the wider media coverage at the moment, you would be forgiven for thinking that St Paul’s and those who huddle inside are actually those solely responsible for the economic crises and social hardships faced by those camped outside (though of course there are no shortage of well off middle class semi retirees in the crowd who can afford to take the time off from their oh so pressured lifestyles to go on holiday in central London, who realistically have very little to complain about in the real world, and have no tangible grasp on the concept of ‘social hardship’, but that’s something to rant about on another day).

Of course, in no way can St Paul’s take the direct responsibility for many of the ills upon which the Occupy protest is speaking out against, but equally it does little to cover its own back. Big business partners have been cited, the Cathedral for instance being firmly in bed with the financial devil thanks to the support it is offered by its friends in the commerce district. Yet people speak out in its defence, ‘this is a place of worship’ they cry, a place for prayer and reflection, not a place for the disgruntled mob of this generations political protesters to make a mess of with their candles and their placards and their tent tether ropes. Should a place of worship be singled out for what is made out to be such a disruptive protest (though how a group of people camping out next to, not in front of, and certainly not in front of the doors, can disrupt anyone from praying is beyond me)?

Again, St Paul’s does little to cover itself in glory. This ‘temple of worship’, this ‘place of god’, is hardly the most welcoming of institutions. After all, anyone can come into St Paul’s, anyone can come and admire of that which was inspired by God…so long as you have a spare £14.50 to give for the privilege. No shortage of signs outside the Cathedral ask ‘what would Jesus do?’ Well, one imagines the very first thing he would do is tear down the ticket office and chastise and humiliate the person responsible for putting a charge on the door of God’s house. Come to west Wales good pilgrims, come to St David’s Cathedral instead. Here you will be able to enter God’s house for free. Donations are requested, but that is your choice, your free will to decide if, and only then, how much should be parted with to gain entrance to such a sanctuary.

Put simply, St Paul’s has long been symptomatic of the problems seen in London, and many places elsewhere. It is a commercial enterprise; in practice its spiritual core, its ethical centre, has been eroded to make a profit. No doubt they in the Cathedral will speak of the need for such fees for the maintenance of the building. Well St Paul’s, plenty of other Cathedrals manage just fine without ripping off the pockets of those who wish to look upon the inspiration of God, why can’t you?

St Paul’s and its direct affiliates may not be responsible for the economic crises and all of its implications, but it has put itself in bed with the devil of the coin. In entrance fees and its financial partners, this institution has very firmly turned its back upon the principals of its foundation, and stood up to be counted with all that goes against that what it preaches to stand for. St Paul’s is not responsible, but it is certainly due its share of the blame. So cheers to the protesters, give ‘em hell, because due to the decisions made by the hierarchy of the Cathedral, they have committed themselves on a path in that direction already.

Lembit Opik – Not Welsh, Now Go Away.

 Poor Lembit Opik, or at least that is what we once used to say. Always one of the more obscure politicians, who you would be hard placed to put a policy or a decent PMQs contribution to his name, yet despite being an almost non entity in Parliament, we all knew about him. Thanks to his entertaining personality, his political irrelevance was always something we could find a way to look beyond. Then the worst thing happened to someone in the public eye, he began to believe his own hype. Worse perhaps, he seemed to make a concerted effort to live the lifestyle that his audience (those of the gossip columns and salon gossips), rather than his constituents, expected him to.
As time went by, and more and more stories and pictures emerged of Lembit doing everything apart from his job, our collective sympathies began to wilt. Even after he lost his seat, there was a modicum of support, a sense of ‘never mind Lembit, we’ll look after you’, and then came the stand up career, another sad reflection of ‘believing one’s own hype syndrome’. Sympathies might have survived had he stayed in a state of political retirement, but no, an abortive attempt at the London mayoral seat soon followed.
One wonder who is advising Lembit these days, though it would seem a safe bet to conclude that he is largely advising himself, because had he of actually taken the Liberal nominations, it would seemed to have been an impossible task for him to make any meaningful dent in the actual Mayoral campaign. Nominated or not, another defeat would have followed, another battering to a broken political profile. Still, we might have been of a mind to say ‘well done for having a go at a comeback’, were it not for the Mandela line. Again, issues of advise spring to mind, as for Lembit to blurt out a comparison with one who ranks amongst the greatest of political figures of history, seems baffling and idiotic.
Now, there is a good chance that Opik meant this as a joke, and he has certainly attempted to play it that way following his use of the Mandela line. Yet, as the results of his stand up career might indicate, it was not a joke destined to be well received. In many respects, Opik’s constant reliance on falling back on funnies is an indictment on his current approach to politics. He seems out of touch with anyone who might be voting for him, and devoid of idea and strategy. Frankly, patience has run out with this plucky bizarre little former MP. For his own sake, one must hope that he takes his own advice, and embraces some wilderness years, and maybe take the time to acknowledge that, thanks to the choices made in recent years, there is no political future for him anymore. Time to hit the hay Lembit, and leave the scene while there is some faint trace of sympathy remaining – because there is not much left.
Now, it’s worth dwelling on why Lembit is being discussed in a Welsh blog, and why this blog is so keen to see the back of him. Simply, Lembit is still seen as a Welsh politician, and many still turn to him as a political voice of Wales. Let’s be clear, Lembit Opik, is not Welsh. He is not a Welsh MP or a Welsh AM – and seems to have no interest in becoming one. He does not represent Wales, he does not speak for the people of Wales. The fact that he still does is the main reason for this column wanting him to quietly leave the stage. Embarrassing yourself is one thing Lembit, but with every gaff and political folly, you embarrass Wales as well. We seem incapable of shaking you, when we would dearly love to do so. As a result, it is indeed time to take your wilderness years, take them and go far away. Hopefully, by the time you come back, should you do so, the taint of Opik on the Welsh political scene will finally have been washed off, and we will no longer have to put up with the London media holding you up to be the clinical example of a Welsh politician.
Thanks for the laughs Lembit, but please go away now.

London’s Commuters –Rancid Humans

Time for a bit of a random rant I feel. While comment could be passed on the oddities of Wales World Cup squad, or the excitement of everything going on in Libya, instead I want to reflect on an abortive attempt to manoeuvre through London’s public transport system with a disabled travelling partner. Now, I would like to qualify this by saying that every member of staff we encountered, everybody suited or parading shimmering florescent coats, did what I felt was a great job of assisting, when assistance was required. However, it took some impressive degrees of oafery and ignorance for assistance to be required in the first place.

One wonders what people think when passing a slow moving individual, trailing a heavy leg while supporting themselves with crutches? You would hope those people would think ‘ah, person with an injury/disability, time to slow down and makes some space’. This would be the expected response of someone with a degree of social decency. However, London offers us the rare opportunity to engage with people for whom the concept of social decency does not apply, a people who embrace the concept of ‘move forwards first – think later’. With said partner, initially her injured foot was the subject of a massive trauma inflicted by a Spaniard who clearly seemed to view my partner’s foot as a mini ramp upon which neat jump tricks could be performed. Perhaps the Spanish travel bag riding Tony Hawks equivalent of 2011. Following this initial impact, an Arabic fellow, possibly Libyan in origins, either celebrating or consoling himself following the recent events of his home country, took it upon himself to flail a shoulder bag into her side – while she rested from the first assault. The collective behaviour of the travelling scum class, intent on getting where they are going, and ignoring anything that might get in their way.

It might be harsh to point the finger at London as a whole, or London commuters, for on both occasions, foreign nationals were solely to blame for the injuries imposed on my partner, but there is something quiet dark and sickly about the behaviour of many who make use of public transport systems, not just in London, but in many major cities. V Gordon Childe once compiled a 10 point categorisation list for what defined a city in the ancient world; were he to write it today, he might consider an eleventh point that notes ‘those in cities with designs on travel, will endeavour to inflict harm and injury upon other surrounding commuters’. Certainly it is a pattern of behaviour mirrored in many of what we today recognise as cities, and it is rotten. When people are rushing so far and so fast, that they cannot take the time to move aside and make way for the injured, disabled or elderly, then things are moving too far and too fast. Whatever you are doing is unlikely to be so important as to warrant hurting others around you, so take the time and slow down, you might turn out to be a little less of a selfish shit stain on society, and more of a vaguely acceptable excuse for a human being.

London: the rotting generation

(You won’t like this, but…)

So London burns, again, and voices from both sides start to point the finger at each other in a merry-go-round farce of avoiding any sense of responsibility. It’s nice in some respects writing this article, because the events that triggered, or at least serve as a backdrop to the rioting, have long since stopped having anything to do with the initial incident. Yet attention is drawn back to the story of ‘popular local man, loved by all, painted by the police as a savage and gunned down in cold blood’ as a starting point for the troubles. From there, fingers are pointed as the police, ‘they didn’t do enough some say’, ‘they don’t care about this community so they let it burn’ say others, no doubt the same voices who complain about too many police carrying out stop and searches in the very same community – yep, that’s why they are there, because they don’t care… Then it is time to defend some of the rioters. Of course while there are some burning buildings and smashing up shops with the intent of doing it, they are only doing so because of the economy, because they can’t get work, because life is just so damn hard that the only thing anybody can do is smash something up ‘The voice of the people’ they cry, the masses yelling at authority in a vain hope of being heard…yeah, that’s what all that was about.

While no doubt some, perhaps all of these elements above have some contributory factor to play in the spreading unrest, pointing the finger at authority, at the police, and the government and failed welfare and social programmes, doesn’t change one simple issue. Many of those involved in these riots are there because they are enjoying it. They are there through social networks, planning ahead to meet up and have a night out smashing up society. We see similar outcomes from organised football fans, planning their ‘mash-ups’. Of course in that instance, the premeditated planning of violence is part of thuggery, in the case of London, this was simply a cry for help, or at least that is how many will try and spin it. But what underpins all of this, is the fact that we are witnessing the emergence of a generation of children and teenagers, who think that this is the way to do things, that consequences don’t matter, we can do whatever the hell we want because it’s not our fault we are like this, its societies.  

Unemployment, economic hardship, welfare failings, none of these things will put a knife in a child’s hand, none of these things will foster a gun upon someone and encourage them to shoot a twelve year old in the name of honour, and none of these things will force a mob to run out into the street, hurl bricks at police and burn innocents out of their homes. To defend these actions along any of these lines is to set about ignoring the problems endemic in British society.

You need not look only to London to see the same issues bubbling up. Go around any of our south Wales cities, stroll around the outskirts, or towards the darkened alleyways, and the same people are there. A rotten generation, raised in an environment that says ‘we don’t need earn what we want, because it will be given to us’, and were it not to be given, ‘then we’ll take it’. The same lost generation that can be seen charging around London in the name of ‘justice’, are in every one of our towns and cities, loitering, but not with intent; intent would show some manner of direction in life; just loitering, waiting for an excuse to smash something, or steal something, or to stab someone. It has been a slippery slope and Britain as a whole has tipped over the edge. The concept of discipline is gone from our education system, the concept of responsible parenthood lost in a heap of tracksuits and tweaked baseball caps. Say what you will about policing and Government, until families can start taking responsibility, no, are forced to take responsibility for the rotten produce of their diseased wombs, then the images we have endured from London will keep coming back. Not because of race, not because of unemployment, not because of strike breaking, not because of independence, not because of police brutality, not because of unjust wars, not because of banking, not because of anything so constructive upon which to base an uprising. No, this will be based on an uncontrolled desire to damage and destroy, driven by no reason, no logic, only a festering desire to tear society down. The thing that should make us drop our heads and weep, is that this generation is not being discouraged, there is no meaningful deterrent, and so they will breed, and spread their disease further. Like a societal bubonic plague, we will be all be brought low by this, if its source is not cut off now.

Although this article tends to hold to fairly liberally inclined views, it makes no secret of encouraging a right slanted view here. Some manner of parental licensing must be brought in. If that which is broken in society is allowed to breed without control, then they will spread, and their attitudes toward society will spread as well. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that this will trigger some great reform of the way our world works, that out of the wreckage a new golden era will be born as the masses tear down the structures of government and authority, it will not. It will leave a shadow, a shadow of what society used to be, of where aspirations used to be born and were allowed to grow, not given over to the decay, which will smear everything left with a taint of shame and sadness. Yes, authority has its share of the blame, but it goes much deeper than any Government policy or economic boon could fix. There is a seed of malaise in the youth of the country, and it is growing with every riot, and every day.