YEARLY ARCHIVE: 2017
Pompeii by Robert Harris
A rollicking, fictionalised account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD which wiped the Roman town of Pompeii from the living map. I say fictionalised, but it is clear from this historical novel that Harris has done his homework.
Of course, Russian sport is corrupt, but then so are the Olympics, Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
Simon Jenkins does an excellent job in outlining the corrupt relationship between the Russian authorities and the IOC and FIFA. But more than that, he goes on to make the point that it is not only Russian sport that is mired in corruption and cheating.
Brexit and the Irish Question: Don’t mention the ongoing Occupation
Just imagine if the Germans still occupied the Channel Islands. Would liberal Britain, let alone the thousands of rabid nationalists still lurking in the corridors of power, quietly acquiesce to mid-20th century German imperial occupation? I think not.
Let’s Turn the Tide on Plastic, Daily Mail
If you want to alter the behaviour of giant multinational corporations you surely need tight government regulation and preferably at a regional or better still, international level. But, The Daily Mail is irrevocably and ideologically opposed to such government interventions.
I Am Not Your Negro, Film Review, Raoul Peck
Baldwin attempts, in his final work, to link together the lives of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the lesser known civil rights activist, Medgar Evers into a coherent whole. And Raoul Peck does full justice to that unfinished work.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
In an age where religion and other assorted superstitions are making something of a comeback, here is a novel that tenaciously works, on every front, to deconstruct all the nonsense about gods, fate and the god-given, subordinate role of women.
Another Country by James Baldwin
What I found both intriguing and shocking about this novel was that some fifty years on, the sickening reality of racial discrimination is as alive today in America as it was in the 1960’s. Just why is this most modern of nations stuck in a social dead-end when it comes to the question of race?
The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts
For a harrowing journalistic account of how a violent, misogynistic patriarchy still rules our planet, you could do no better than to read Sue Lloyd Robert’s The War on Women.
Shooting in the US of A
I’m shooting from the hip, I’m shooting with red hot lead, I’m shooting at the passers-by, I’m shooting till they’re dead.
Shooting in the US of A
I’m shooting from the hip I’m shooting with red hot lead I’m shooting at the passers-by I’m shooting till they’re dead.
Hard Brexit, Soft Brexit, No Brexit – It’s all quite irrelevant really
The EU is, despite some useful social and environmental legislation, firmly in the hands of the transnational corporates and the big banks. Neo-liberal globalism is the order of the day and to hell with the indigenous working class.
Terrorist by John Updike
This post 9/11 offering merely reaffirms Updike as the master novelist the world knew him to be, both in terms of language, plot and theme. It is a sheer joy to read his prose; sparse, taut and invariably authentic.
The State, Channel 4
Someone should be congratulated for having the presence of mind to put this drama onto our screens. Islamic State is not, I imagine, the easiest political beast to get one’s head around, and this drama, while far from exhaustive, was a genuine attempt. The Daily Mail hated it with a passion, so it must have had something going for it.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy is nothing if not an internationalits. Every line of this beautiful novel sheds light on the human condition, even if we humans are described as little more than weevils that have learnt to walk on two legs.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
It was philosophy and politics and sociology and any other ology you might care to name but above all it was damn funny. Blisteringly funny but not of a slap-stick verity. No sir. This was political humour that was both subversive and personal.
Dunkirk: Another Mindless Brexit Film
The acting was wooden, the script banal, character development non-existent and the two hours of mindless patriotism quite sickening. Leaving aside some clever camera work, this film has very little to recommend it. It was, in fact, no better than the originals (1942 & 1958), both produced as morale-boosting pieces of propaganda.
The Men Who Stare at Goats, 2009, Film Review
Apparently based on a piece of non-fiction research into US Army Psychological Special Ops, this quiet little gem, which had escaped my attention until now, is broadly speaking a comedy. More in keeping with the Dr Strangelove/Catch 22 genre, though in places it borrows from the irreverence of the US TV series Mash.
The Handmaids Tale
Fascism can take many forms; religious cult, national fantasy, international utopia, but in all its varied forms it represents at base, capitalism in crisis.
Soul of the Nation at the Tate Modern
Here we were, seventy years on and still the police brutality. Still the racist murders. Still the extremes of poverty between Black America and the white middle classes. Endemic poverty that living under eight years of a Black president could not even shift.
Monument for Margaret Thatcher
They’ve been talking about a statue for Mrs Thatcher Remember her they called her both the Iron Lady and the school milk snatcher Remember her she said this lady isn’t for turning Hold on a…
Monument for Margaret Thatcher
They’ve been talking about a statue for Mrs Thatcher, Remember her they called her both the Iron Lady and the school milk snatcher, Remember her she said this lady isn’t for turning, Hold on a moment, is that the sickening smell of something burning?
Jeremy Corbyn and the Tory Press – ‘I welcome their hatred’
Corbyn’s Labour manifesto is a sort of British New Deal and the owners of both British and foreign Capital hate it with a passion. And the corporate owners of the British Tory press are virtually foaming at the mouth with their own never ceasing vitriolic attacks.
Ping Brighton – Making a Statement, Taking a Stand
Brighton Table Tennis Club has won the beautiful accolade of being the first table tennis club in the country to be nominated a ‘Club of Sanctuary’.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Mr Barnes might have something a little more pertinent, a little more contemporary to busy himself with. But no. Our worthy Mr Barnes chooses to explore the life of a late middle aged, middle class Englishman who has some unfinished romantic business to unravel.
Homeland – Series 6, Channel 4
If you want a realistic appraisal of what the United States is actually like, you could do a lot worse than to watch its leading TV series. In this I specifically include The Wire, The Sopranos, House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy and Homeland.
UK Sport in the Dock
Any national sports strategy and associated funding policy that is skewered obsessively towards international medals is guaranteed to create a dysfunctional and socially regressive climate in the upper echelons of British sport.
Pick up a bat if you see it Have a quick game if you feel it Take on the world if you dare it If the ball comes your way then just ping it
Pick up a bat if you see it, Have a quick game if you feel it, Take on the world if you dare it, If the ball comes your way then just ping it
Martin McGuinness – Freedom Fighter, Humanist and Astute Politician
Can we ever really ever know major public figures? Probably not. And in any case, like all humans, they are always complex and contradictory. But we can at least examine the concrete conditions from which such figures emerged and do so with some degree of objectivity.
A 10-Point Manifesto for the British Labour Party
I am greatly heartened by the totally unexpected arrival of Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell at the apex of the British Labour Party. After decades of Tory and New Labour governments seeking to manage capitalism in the interests of the corporates, here is a leadership team that threatens that agenda.
I’ve been reading Yuval Harari’s Homo Deus – every line And it’s got me thinking and a fretting about the future of mankind I’ve been thinking that maybe we humans have truly passed our prime…
I’ve been reading Yuval Harari’s Homo Deus – every line
And it’s got me thinking and a fretting about the future of mankind
I’ve been thinking that maybe we humans have truly passed our prime
And that Artificial intelligence is going to leave us humans far behind.
President Trump: This Is No Aberration
For those not blinded by the Disneyland and Hollywood fantasies of the American Dream, it is blindingly clear that the US is a nation founded on genocide against the native Americans, grown wealthy by centuries of slavery and endemic racism, and perpetuated by neo colonialism, outright imperialism and an all-pervasive militarist corporatism.
Fake News; Just another Fake Story
We live in a world of fake news. Always have done and dare I say it, probably always will. Only it used to go by a different name; propaganda.
President Trump: Wrong Person with the Wrong Agenda.
Like the infinitely more reasoned and socially responsible Bernie Saunders, Trump has accurately highlighted the deteriorating plight of the American working class at the hands of global capital, but, unlike Saunders, Trump’s proposed solutions are socially toxic and economically fanciful, bordering on the fascistic.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith’s latest offering is a great read. No doubt about that. And I will willingly recommend to all and sundry. But is it a classic novel? Probably not.
British Values – Which Ones Would They Be Then?
Swearing allegiance to any set of values is a mighty tricky game. Best to be avoided at all costs. But Tory Minister Sajid Javid has different ideas. He wants the whole nation to swear allegiance to a set of British values. But this seemingly innocuous proposal quickly becomes a philosophical minefield.
Simon Jenkins: Union Basher
Our liberal media commentators are lining up to condemn the strike action of the RMT and others. Last month it was Matthew Syed in The Times. This month it is Simon Jenkins writing in the London Evening Standard 9/1/17.
Even The Dogs by Jon McGregor
Christmas is the season of good cheer. It is also the season of forced gaiety and consumerist frenzy. It is also the season of bleak homelessness, addiction and other forms of individual and family disfunction. And should you wish to get an insight into the latter condition, you could do no better than to read Jon McGregor’s