Here’s a good example of anti-social behaviour: my own.
Some time ago I was cycling along one of my regular routes near my home in North London. This route takes me through a great park, with football pitches, children’s playground, water play area, and outdoor gym. The park also includes a dedicated (and demarcated) cycle path as a main thoroughfare for cyclists heading to and from the north of the capital. As I was cycling along I saw ahead a gang of about 6 or 8 teenage boys standing around on the cycle path. They weren’t doing much, just standing there, chatting to each other. Right, I thought to myself, I’m not going to be forced off-course by these lot, and I hunkered down and swiftly shot through the middle of the group, in what was barely sufficient space and causing at least two of them to exclaim at my unexpected presence. A victory, I decided, even as I stopped at the traffic lights a mere 10 metres on, heart pounding, determined not to look over my shoulder, I had struck some sort of vague and poorly defined victory for common folk. But fear and/or aggression makes us do stupid things. [Read more...]
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A [guy/gal (delete as appropriate)] is interviewed on the radio about [politics/current affairs/history/sex/science/money/their mother]. They (shocker) try to avoid answering a direct question be relating it to some other matter. A completely fictional example:
Interviewer: Prime Minister, did you take us into an illegal war, which had no international legitimacy?
PM: Well, what’s important to remember here is that international legitimacy is not the only mandate for going to war (there’s other stuff like oil too, he coughs).
Interviewer: But then surely that begs the question regarding why we have international bodies like the UN who can legitimise wars in the first place, doesn’t it? [Read more...]
Let’s start again. Go on. Pretend 10 years didn’t just pass us by. (Only now the tune is called ‘Things Can Only Get Wetter’). It seems that Brown’s promotion brings with it a new optimism, refreshed and cleansed by the recent downpours that cleanse our Country of the stale history that would otherwise encrust this brave new world. [Read more...]
When was the last time you switched on the radio to hear reported a bishop claiming that recent natural catastrophes were God’s revenge on us all? It had me listening. It goes without saying that the floods in the UK have caused devastation to thousands of people and should not be considered anything less than a national emergency. I don’t want to even begin to imagine the distress of families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by the water. But I do want to take a moment to reflect on how this natural disaster has been interpreted by those of us fortunate enough to remain dry. [Read more...]
Yes OK, the title is a little dramatic. Altruism isn’t really dead. But that’s only because, like the ether, it’s a myth that never existed to begin with. Now before you start accusing me of cynicism, nihilism, or any other ‘ism’, let me explain these opening remarks. [Read more...]
Here’s an idea: I’ll work for you. I’ll work for your area and the interests of your community. You tell me what’s going well and where there are problems, and I’ll do my best to fix what’s broken, improve life for you, and make sure you are represented when decisions are made which affect you. In return, you’ll all club together and pay me a salary to do this job. In a very literal sense I will work for you. You are the boss. What’s more, when I’m working for you, and, you know, incur expenses like train fares, hotel bills, quad bikes and the like, I’ll let you – the boss – know about it and look at my claims form. After all, it’s your money I’m spending. Sound reasonable? Apparently not to Conservative MP David Maclean, whose amendment to the Freedom of Information bill was passed by the House of Commons in May 2007. [Read more...]