Thursday, March 31, 2022
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Alexander Dugin's The Theory of a Multipolar World is a cheerful and optimistic view of a future in which humanity will reach its highest development. However, it will not be the uniform humanity pictured by the globalizing and leveling schemers and manipulators. Instead, old artificial borders will be dissolved and new natural divisions installed. Mankind will blossom in its manifold manifestations, namely the distinct civilizations and the ethnoses that breathe their souls into them. Drawing from a variety of philosophies from both the Right and Left, Dugin maps out the immediate goals and ultimate vision of this theory, and what is required to implement it.Multipolarity is the tapestry that creates a myriad of colorful potentialities rather than a single dead-end passage, whither an anonymous human mass is herded to languish till the end of days. According to Dugin, the Westphalian system of the sovereignty of nation-states has long since become obsolete and ceased to function. In its place will be erected a continental system of "large spaces" (in the Schmittian sense), where individuals are integrated in the social whole based on the insoluble bond of kinship and common tradition. It will be a time of high adventure, boundless curiosity and the rediscovery of what it truly means to be different and therefore able to think of unique solutions in lieu of standardized ones.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Last night, John, my brother and nine years younger than me, told me the greatest story I have ever heard about being brought up as an observant Catholic.
Years ago, and after I had left home, he and Kirsten (his girlfriend at the time) were invited to a Saturday night fancy dress party. It was a good way away, so they were going to drive there and stay overnight. That way they could have a social drink and come back on Sunday.
Dad's ears pricked up at this. When, with Sunday's schedule vague and indeterminate, would John be going to Mass? Inspiration struck. Drive round to St Paul's now this minute. The Code of Canon Law (can. 1248), you see, permits Catholics to fulfill their Mass obligation by attending Mass “in the evening of the preceding day.”
John was packed into the car and off they went with John already in his Abraham Lincoln costume. And, this story being a gift that keeps on giving, sporting a week's worth of beard from which, Lincolnesque, he had moments ago shaved the mustache.
They arrived just in time and crept into the back pew. So far so good, but come communion Dad made him queue and receive in character. In the image in my mind's eye John is wearing a stovepipe hat as he approaches the altar.
Back in Bronwydd, Kirsten, already in her Statue of Liberty costume, is making small talk with mum. A detail I'll grant you, but one that elevates the whole yarn to a stratospheric level of sublimity.
What is it like growing up around sane people? In our family we can only speculate.
Monday, March 28, 2022
Ukrainian forces have been holding Russia back from taking The Black Sea. We embed in the south of Ukraine, to see what the impact is for those living there.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Saturday, March 26, 2022
I may be inadvertently paraphrasing, but I am pretty sure that the great Zlatan Ibrahimović once said something along the lines of:
My father is a Muslim and my mother is a Catholic; none of that has got anything to do with football.
Here are some unwise words. Holding a press conference in Brussels following meetings with the G7 and NATO, our dear leader was asked whether he would support the idea of Ukraine being given a bye into the World Cup Finals, due to be held in November and December. "Sounds like a good idea to me," he said, seemingly unaware that a free pass for Ukraine would eliminate two of Great Britain's constituent countries.
"Let me put it this way, given what Ukraine has been going through, given the privations that Ukrainian footballers have had to endure, I'm sure that every possible sympathy and allowances should be made for them."
Bell end. Why not just award Ukraine the Jules Rimet Trophy now and have done with it? This kind of platitudinous cobblers makes my blood boil. Everything we have seen over the last month or so suggests that Ukranians have balls so big they have to carry them around in wheel barrows. These are men who would be insulted by the patronising insinuation they needed help unavailable to others to achieve anything.
This distaff side of this lazy sloganeering is equally reprehensible. Last week, the British sports minister Nigel Huddleston increased the pressure around Russian involvement in tennis by suggesting that their players might have to make some kind of political declaration in order to participate in Wimbledon. Why the feck should Daniil Medvedev have to abase himself with a McCarthyist loyalty oath to a man who looks like he would have been bullied out of his lunch money at school by any red-blooded contemporary?
My father is a Ukrainian and my mother is a Russian; none of that has got anything to do with
- table tennis
- ice skating
- roller skating
- ice hockey
- horse racing
- figure skating
- rock climbing
- sumo wrestling
- water skiing
- jet skiing
- weight lifting
- scuba diving
- wind surfing
- sky diving
- hang gliding
- bungee jumping
Update: I bashed out the rant above this morning before I looked at the news.
DUBLIN, March 25 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of trying to cancel Russia's rich musical and literary culture, including composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninov, in the same way he said it had cancelled "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling.
I don't know if Putin channeling me or I am channeling him. Anyway it is not a good look for either of us, but then again quod scripsi, scripsi as Pontius Pilate said.
Further, what would we do without Daily Mail exclusives? Free speech to get legal supremacy, says Dominic Raab as he unveils plan to stop democratic debate being 'whittled away by wokery' in major victory over cancel culture.
How on earth is that to be squared with Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston's comments that Russian players "need some potential assurances that they are not supporters of Putin" if they want to play at Wimbledon this summer? Next thing you know they will be allowing people whose views on climate change haven't been formally approved by Greta Thunberg to play.
Friday, March 25, 2022
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Theatre two nights in a row! "The ambassador is spoiling us."
Actually we had to rearrange AVA (passim) at the last minute because its run was cut short. It wasn't over busy last night, truth be told. It would be a pity if it was curtailed due to bad box-office, I thought it was great.
We had dinner before the show with Peter at Sam's Riverside. Handy as it is in the same building as the theatre. I still can't seem to manage to chisel him out of the Fortress of Solitude long enough to attend an actual production, but he did walk home along the Thames after his meal "as it was a nice night."
Not too shabby for a man in his ninth decade, sir. Not too shabby at all.
Come to think of it, Simon Curtis - Elizabeth McGovern's ever-loving husband - worked as an assistant director to Peter back in the day. Perhaps I should tug on PG's sleeve and ask him to pass on our regards to EMcG via SC.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
To the Coronet last night for the The Norwegian Ibsen Company's production of "When We Dead Awaken." 80% of it was in Norwegian.
Sad sweet dreamer
It's just one of those things you put down to experience
|What a beautiful day! What a beautiful day to fill your tights with sand, stand on your head and say, 'how's that for an egg timer?'|
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
This month's Audible credit is in. Let's see what I have added to the wish list over the last four weeks or so.
- There Is Nothing For You Here, Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century By: Fiona Hill
- The Return of Holy Russia, Apocalyptic History, Mystical Awakening, and the Struggle for the Soul of the World By: Gary Lachman
- The Brothers Karamazov By: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Taste, My Life Through Food By: Stanley Tucci
- Born to Run By: Bruce Springsteen
The first three would seem to be inspired (if that is the right word) by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Number one, Fiona Hill, not obviously I will grant you, but she was formerly the senior director for European and Russian affairs on President Trump's National Security Council.
Four and five are recommendations from my brother John. And the winner is......... Bruce Spingsteen!
Herewith, the "for why." Bruce's narration of 'Born to Run' is 18 hours and 12 minutes of meaty goodness. John and Lorraine listened to it driving up here from Cardiff last Friday and on the way back to Wales on Saturday, but there is still plenty left. Apparently it is so compelling she has forbidden him from finishing it unless they are in the car together. This is despite apparently never having exhibited any interest in The Boss whatsoever before. Could there be any higher praise?
I am reminded of the deafening silence that descends if you are ever out socially with a couple and one of them inadvertently reveals that they have independently watched a few more episodes of a shared Netflix series than the other.
Monday, March 21, 2022
On Saturday, Facebook reminded me I was skiing eight years ago, then yesterday Google Photos showed me pictures of Ben on the slopes four years before that. I guess the whole Whitton team used to go in the same week each year. I have never realised that before, I just used to sign up for whatever Dave arranged.
The picture on the right reminds me that I never felt the slightest remorse about getting permission to take him out of primary school for a week to hit the slopes. He is at the top of a mountain in it with half of his body in Italy and half in Switzerland. We don't understand borders in the UK because we live on an island and this confuses our relationship with, and understanding of, the Continent. How it can be that Putin, for example, doesn't understand the boundary between Russia and Ukraine as something immutable, but rather a regrettable constraint on the narod*. I don't think it is in our domestic curriculum for four to 11 year olds so the visceral geographical sense of it Ben would get passing from one county to another as he made his way down a mountain counts as education.
Sunday, March 20, 2022
Saturday, March 19, 2022
Friday, March 18, 2022
May the standing desk rise to meet you.
May the ergonomic pillow be at your back.
May the fluorescent office lights shine warm upon your face,
The consistent coughing from your coworker fall soft upon your ears,
And until you’re able to work from home on Friday,
May that guy learn to cough into a tissue or his elbow
And not the goddamn palm of his hand.
- - -
May you make an Irish goodbye from the office’s Thirsty Thursday mandatory drinks a half an hour before your boss knows you’re gone.
- - -
May your social anxiety be as fleeting as rain.
May you not get any coworkers’ names wrong.
May there be leftover pizza in the breakroom,
That keeps you full all day long,
Because in your morning rush to get out the door you forgot your lunch
And there’s no time to run out and grab something.
- - -
For each petal on the shamrock,
May it bring a wish your way—
Free donuts, few distractions, and a desk near your office crush,
For today and every day.
- - -
May some of your work clothes from 2019 still fit,
Enough for at least three days a week in the office.
And even though you wear the same black pants every day,
May ne’er a coworker notice or care.
- - -
May you never take work home with you,
Except on Wednesdays and Fridays
When you’re allowed to work from home.
- - -
May the meeting rooms you reserve always be free.
May they comfortably accommodate everyone on the team.
And when you realize that no one else from the meeting is in the office,
And you made the thirty-five-minute commute just to take it on Zoom,
May the frosted glass walls of the conference room
Muffle your banshee-like scream.
- - -
May your presence in the office be like a rainbow —
Very visible, but no one can reach you.
- - -
May you escape to the bathroom and remain
To your needy coworkers unseen.
And while you’re away,
May you remember to lock your computer,
So no one spots your updated resumé on your screen.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
God knows there is more than a hint of the yellow-jowelled, thinning-haired pub bore about me at the best of times, but I am not sure I want my subconscious pointing it out over an empty stomach of a morning.
I prescribe twenty four hours of quiet reflection. See you tomorrow.
“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” - Virginia Woolf
“When you quiet yourself, open your heart, and really listen, you can find enlightenment anywhere, including in the trite garbage I just rattle off the top of my head in order to sell you books.” - Deepak Chopra (attrib.) The Onion.
Monday, March 14, 2022
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Yet another good Skype chat - my brothers, my mother and I - yesterday morning. Vince steered the conversation to the flats that mum and dad rented after they were married and before we moved to Rhiwbina. One was in Hamilton Street and one in Pitman Street. I record them here because although I sorta remembered I had also sorta forgotten. In one of them, friends called the Triggs lived upstairs. Mum remembers snorting with derision when daddy Trigg told her that a new band called "The Beatles" were going to be a success. "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah? You have got to be kidding!" Oops. Chalk that one up to experience.
Just around the corner from Hamilton Street, my siblings tell me, there is a place called the Purple Poppadom that won Best in Wales last year at the British Curry Awards. I must add that, and specifically its seven course Chef’s Tasting Menu, to my back-in-the-bosom-to-do list. It joins Lab 22 (passim) and Home by James Sommerin (passim).
While we are on the subject of my Port Out, Starboard Home life, there are a couple of theatre gigs recently booked that I don't think have stained these spindrift pages to date.
"When We Dead Awaken" The Coronet Theatre & The Norwegian Ibsen Company, Tuesday week. "That sounds like a barrel of laughs," I hear you cry as you grind your teeth in envy.
Jerusalem, Apollo Theatre, June 14th. I am pleased with this one. It was sold out when I first set my hat at it, but more tickets were released last week.
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Initially, and briefly, I imagined this was criticism of the heavy handed break up of the "unofficial" vigil itself but no such luck. I remember, when it happened, being ashamed to be living in a country where the police were brutalizing women (what was the pretext, COVID?) in public in a park twenty odd minutes from my house.
It seems to me that we have sleep walked into a situation where the state arrogates* all sorts of arbitrary powers to itself without even a fig leaf of due process or appeal.
Take, for example, the fall out for Chelsea FC from the Government's sanctioning of Abramovich. The government's "special license" has set a limit of £20,000 per team per game for travel to and from matches. Where on earth has this figure come from? One can't but suspect it has simply been pulled out of the air. How is it to be challenged or justified. Government by diktat?
I have dug up the Law Society Guidance on the UK sanctions regime, but I haven't read it yet. The Cretan needs feeding and I have to dash out of the door for my yoga class.
* an earlier version of this post said "abrogates," but I am blessed with pedants as readers. Well one in particular.
Friday, March 11, 2022
Don't be fooled by the rocks that I gotI'm still, I'm still Nicky from the hoodUsed to have a little now I have a lotNo matter where I go I know where I came from (from the Wood)
Thursday, March 10, 2022
I saw the son and heir for a beer and a curry last night and noticed he had two fingers strapped together.
"I had to punch someone outside a night club."
"Ah, that would explain it then." I suppose he must have won as he didn't seem to be marked anywhere else.
He also told me that he is going to come back to yoga when he returns from visiting Rayburn (and new baby son) in Florida. Also, inspired by West Dean, he is going to start "working with wood," in addition to his drawing and sketching. I have always thought it healthy to have other interests outside, and in addition to, violence.
When I got in I put my feet up and turned on the TV. Nothing live being of much interest, I fired up YouTube and found a video Putin's Religious Mission, Gary Lachman had been recommended for me.
What are the deeper religious and philosophical currents informing Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
Gary Lachman is the author of the recent book 'The Return of Holy Russia: Apocalyptic History, Mystical Awakening, and the Struggle for the Soul of the World'.
In this conversation he argues that we have to understand the deep well of Russian philosophy and understand how Putin sees himself and Russia's historic mission.
How does YouTube know so much about me? Surely this tip must be related to me reading and writing about Vladimir Putin's ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“ and having Lachman's The Quest For Hermes Trismegistus: From Ancient Egypt to the Modern World in my Kindle library, but I am not sure that I am entirely comfortable with Google going through my garbage, as if I was Bob Dylan, just to bring it to my attention.
Interesting fella Gary L: In a previous career, he was a founding member of Blondie and in 2006 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was intrigued by what he had to say though as I thought it threw a lot of light on Putin's confusing religious and philosophical musings. He also confirmed a lot of what I remember about internal Russian conflict between its Slavic and Western leanings. An idea I first encountered in Franco Venturi's "Roots of Revolution" all those years ago. (I wonder where my copy went?)
Holy Russia is on Audible. Maybe I will get it with this month's credit.
Wednesday, March 09, 2022
- Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“ July 12, 2021 http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181
- "The Long Telegram" George F. Kennan 22/2/1947. https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/coldwar/documents/episode-1/kennan.htm
Tuesday, March 08, 2022
Monday, March 07, 2022
Sunday, March 06, 2022
Saturday, March 05, 2022
I was very surprised this morning, using the search button top left, that not one single reference to Marc Bolan has appeared on these pages before today. I mean, I even attended when a plaque honouring him was unveiled in Tooting last year. It is on the wall of the Tesco Express on Garratt Lane. Something else very exciting must have happened for me not to have recorded that red letter day in deathless prose. Also, when I lived in Mortlake, and then Putney I would often drive or walk over the bridge on which he was killed in a car crash and notice poignant tributes left on, or at the foot of, a tree.
He was on my mind because Andy Tea mentioned Rick Wakeman at the pub yesterday, spurring me to pass on a heartwarming story I heard Wakeman tell Danny Baker on the radio once.
One day in 1971 the recently married Wakeman found himself £8 short on his rent. Desperate for work, he took the tube to Tottenham Court Road and walked to Denmark Street looking for a session in a Southern Music recording studios in Tin Pan Ally, and then onto the studios of Regal Zonophone on Oxford Street, where he could always earn a couple of quid playing a demo session, but nothing was happening.
He was in a Wimpy Bar on the corner of Oxford Street nursing his cares with a coke when producer Tony Visconti walked in. “Rick, session tonight in Trident Studios, midnight, for Marc Bolan’s new single. He wants you to play piano.”
Wakeman asked how much. “Nine quid.”
Later that night he went to Soho’s Trident Studios with Marc Bolan and T. Rex plus King Crimson’s Ian MacDonald on saxophone.
“All I want you to do is this,” said Bolan and he ran his hand down the piano keys in a glissando.
“But you could do that.”
“Do you want your nine quid or not? I could give you it, or loan it to you, but you wouldn’t take it would you? So you can earn it."
That is the story behind the sub-second piano part six seconds in the track below. If you are not moved you don't have a heart.
Friday, March 04, 2022
Finally, the all clear to visit mum again. It is too late for me to organise getting down there tonight or tomorrow morning. Ben flies out to Florida the next weekend, then John and Lorraine are visiting me the weekend after which puts the kibosh on that, so it looks like Saturday 26th is my best bet.
Fingers crossed this will give me a boost as well as my mother. To be honest, I have been in a rut for two years now ever since the Prime Minister ordered us to stay home in March 2020. Can't get restarted on anything. Tried to get out somewhere last night but had forgotten about the tube strike. Retreated from the chained-shut station to the Standard, drank Stella and ate crisps reading philosophy on my phone's Kindle app. Highlight of the evening: a barmaid took pity on me and gave me a McVitie's Penguin bar.
Late night and early morning low clouds
Chance of showers into the afternoon
With variable high cloudiness
And gusty winds, gusty winds
With a chance of fog
At times around the corner of
Sunset and Alvorado
Things are tough all over
When the thunder storms start
Increasing over the southeast
And south central portions
Of my apartment, I get upset
And a line of thunderstorms was
Developing in the early morning
Ahead of a slow moving coldfront
With tornado watches issued shortly
Before noon Sunday, for the areas
Including, the western region
Of my mental health
And the northern portions of my
Ability to deal rationally with my
Disconcerted precarious emotional
Situation, it's cold out there
Colder than a ticket taker's smile
At the Ivar Theatre, on a Saturday night
Flash flood watches covered the
Southern portion of my disposition
There was no severe weather well
Into the afternoon, except for a lone gust of
Wind in the bedroom
In a high pressure zone, covering the eastern
Portion of a small suburban community
With a 103 and millibar high pressure zone
And a weak pressure ridge extending from
My eyes down to my cheeks cause since
You left me baby
And put the vice grips on my mental health
Well the extended outlook for an
Indefinite period of time until you
Come back to me baby is high tonight
Low tomorrow, and precipitation is
Thursday, March 03, 2022
I hope that none of the twelve million quid the Duke of York is reportedly paying his accuser is coming from an oligarch. If so, a rethink may be in order. Could the Queen's Sovereign Grant contribute I wonder? I wrote last year (Icons passim) that it was £85.9 million in 2020-21 but has now been boosted by £220m per year. A modest 256% increase. It never ceases to amaze me how this sort of thing gets nodded through, then forgotten by everyone except me and the recipients.
While I'm in Cassandra mode, what about OneWeb? Russia holds OneWeb rocket launch hostage, issues conditional demands.
I said that the Government pumping about half a billion quid of ours into OneWeb was madness on:
Wednesday, March 02, 2022
As Russia claims it has taken over the Ukrainian city of Kherson, he has sent me photos from his 2016 posting there.
The one on the right is of a tribute to the fathers and sons the oblast lost in 2014.
The memorial below, their helmets and dog-tags.
Almost inexpressibly moving.
Yesterday, Joe Biden fluffed a key line in his State of the Union address, saying “Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people, ” as Vice President Kamala Harris mouthed “Ukrainian” and shuffled uncomfortably in her seat behind him. Rod M would be a better leader of the free world in 2022. This is a statement of fact not a rhetorical trope.
Tuesday, March 01, 2022
I am writing yesterday about a story "The Gift of the Magi" by a party named O Henry, when who do I hear from but Rod M. Now this Rod M gets it in his head that what I really mean is "The Three Wise Guys" a tale that a newspaper scribe, who goes by the moniker 'Damon Runyon,' uses to extract the folding stuff from the editors and readers of Colliers Magazine back in 1933, what with there being an ever-loving Mrs Runyon and several little Runyons in need of food and also lodgings, plus this and that, none of which comes for free in this man's town.
Now while Rod's take is nothing but great foolishness (the Magi being published in 1905), and as a rule I am likely to give anyone who questions my literary credentials the chance to reconsider as they plummet twenty or thirty stories down an empty lift shaft, it also strikes me that Rod M is Rod M.
Rod M being someone that acronyms (EU, FCO, OSCE, UN) are given to inviting to see what he can do to help in venues such as DR Congo, Afghan refugee camps, Ukraine, Mali and the Sahel; and that while I do not know exactly what he does do there it is probably not sorting out the candy floss concessions. Further, if I contradict him he is apt to think me lacking in the social graces, and that I do not want a guy who can likely field strip and clean a Kalshnikov rifle quicker than I can, to think of me as lacking thereof in any way, shape or form.
Thus I throw him out a very large thank you indeed and on Christmas Day this year, "The Three Wise Guys" being seasonal, I am willing to lay a little 6 to 5, we have the first Yule Yarn since 2016:
One cold winter afternoon I am standing at the bar in Good Time Charley’s little drum on West 49th Street, partaking of a mixture of rock candy and rye whiskey … I am feeling as if maybe I have a touch of grippe coming on, and Good Time Charley tells me that there is nothing in this world as good for a touch of grippe as rock candy and rye whiskey, as it assassinates the germs at once ..........