Friday, 29 June 2007

Taking Liberties

An excellent rabble rouser. This rabble is well and truly roused!
The Michael Moore lineage of juxtaposing appalling fact with the absurd (demonstrating that the two are by no means mutually exclusive) is unashamed and the film doesn't pretend to be in any way objective in its portrayal of the Blair government's erosion of civil liberties in UK.
However it makes enough salient points to more than get away with this in my view and simultaneously manages to avert its own anus in the self-righteous stakes, although the overuse of animation borders on the annoying at times, much as Michael Moore's visual gimmicks ridiculing human beings often jib, and the coverage of the Counter Terrorism exhibition came across as somewhat amateurish and surprisingly underexploited as a rich vein of material.
This is one of those instances moreover where the facts of the subject matter are often so horrifying in themselves, such as the 'terror' detainees who have lost years of their lives imprisoned and subjected to maltreatment without charge, and the deliberately-targeted arrest of the octogenarian WWII pilot for daring to protest against an element of society he never fought for, that scarcely any dramatization is needed.
Although it ultimately came across as a bit of a pro-mo for Amnesty and Anti-Iraq war protesters (and why not?), I was surprised there was no allusion to the animal rights protesters, anti-globalisation protestors and others similarly being mislawfully persecuted in their right to peaceful protest by our boys in blue.
It was however, gratifying to note that my long-held suspicion that the Police have become a state and corporate private security force and are no longer 'servants of the people' who pay their wages via our taxes, is not just a conspiracy theory in my own head, but in the heads of a growing number of fellow citizens and backed up by increasing evidence to this effect! As if it's not bad enough that those we elect to represent us couldn't care tuppence about serving us (rather than themselves) and honouring our rights as citizens, our own Police force is quite happy to treat us as criminals - presumably to save time later - when they outrage us enough to actually *become* outlaws!
Then again there is only so much material that can be squeezed into 120 minutes and this film did a reasonable job of covering the topics it set out to cover, though perhaps it could have squeezed a bit more in with fewer animations! Such as the way the state has actively sought to 'dumb down' the populace to gain more control over our lives with idiotic laws, lower exam passes, fancier job titles, more buzz words and hype to distract from substance extraction, greater persecution of the law abiding, and enough red tape to help us lose the will to live if all else fails to crush our spirit - all no doubt to ease the relentless march of the ID card and national human database (another disastrous long-term policy for UK, but who cares about the long-term?).
Great to see right-on band Seize the Day with the Shackle Shuffle (aka Guantanamo). Funny indeed how such catchy tunes never make mainstream pop station playlists when gangsta rap quite happily celebrates non-state violence - many times a day!
The Mark Thomas contribution was inspired and I am thinking as I pen this of my contribution to his mass monthly individual London protest. 'Periwigs for all Men' springs to mind, though I'd quite like to protest against all this societal shallowness and inappropriate post-ironic humour which has claimed me also as its victim if I can think of something suitably snappy in the buzzword dept. I'm sure I would have been a lot smarter had I been immunized against the all-pervasive and perverted kultcha of TB before the rot took hold.
Watch Taking Liberties, and lol after, if you still can. If you're as disturbed as I am by what I thought I already knew, see you at a protest soon.
In the immemorial words of Tony Hancock (also woven into the film) " Did Magna Carter mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?"
Use it or lose it, indeed.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


And as I stood there in the middle of Wainsburys,
I was suddenly racked by a tide of emotion
for the Fyffes banana I had just put back,
on account of a slight dark patch just below the stalk.
I found myself ruminating on the casual cruelty of the selection and rejection process,
And the unfairness of the banana having no say in how unblemished the consumer who chooses, purchases and eats it.
And in a defiant spirit of positive discrimination towards bananas
I chose the most beat up unbranded economy banana I could find.
It would be ok on toast.
But how does an economy banana know it’s an economy banana
I wondered,
And grow just that little bit blander than a deluxe one?
© LS King

Friday, 15 June 2007

A friend of a friend...Friday's Child

Well I am a member of the cat 'n' corduroy trouser brigade - they give them out at poet school passing out parade!

Actually this is the cutie I have been looking after this week for a good friend.

She's very talkative and shares all her wisdom with me.

I may in turn share the benefit with you if 'Thoughts of Chairman Miaow' transpires sometime soon.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

"Waiter! There's a breast in my soup." (on the new UK 'anti-discrimination' legislation)

So if other diners are not permitted to consume their own food on restaurant premises, what makes babies so special?

Sorry, but much though I'm convinced by the health benefits of breastfeeding, I also believe in the right of other diners to the experience that they are paying to enjoy. Is it not bad enough that many a dining experience in this country is marred by someone's darling little anklebiters running amok?

And what of the dignity of mother and child? Is there some strange new phenomenon causing every recent mother to experience a yen to transform herself into a militant breastfeeding exhibitionist who seeks to deliberately foist her most intimate bonding moments onto a non-appreciative captive audience?

It goes without saying that cafes and restaurants should provide baby facilities and maintain said in hygienic condition. However there is also a good argument for SEPARATE cafes and restaurants for young families in my view. Surely there'd be a ready market for them? How much better that a new mother should have the easy camaraderie of other new mothers around her, and for any respective older offspring to network new friends simultaneously?

Of course breastfeeding is 'natural', but then so is defecation, and few people have yet begun to do this in public, just because the public facilities for doing so are often less than desirable.

Finally, rights aside, nothing outclasses human dignity for cultivating the greatest respect for the needs of others.

NB: On the subject of older children running amok in cafes and restaurants (and ok I admit there's a touch of 'green eye' here on the part of a former anklebiter who was forced to sit still and silent with a colouring book for many a tedious hour), I witnessed a canny piece of marketing and toddler control on the part of a cafe owner the other day. Two under-fives at the next table astounded me by talking in whispers and behaving impeccably for the duration of a family lunch. As the family got up to leave, all became clear. The cafe owner rushed up to them and rewarded the children for being 'such good girls!' with a large gold chocolate medallion apiece, and was in turn rewarded by two huge gappy grins and the sure and certain knowledge that he had effectively 'groomed' two determined mini marketeers who were not about to let their parents dine anywhere else in that cafe-heavy city centre, old fashioned though his establishment was by comparison, with not a cappuccino machine in sight.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Life is Cheep

'Three chickens for a fiver!'
Bellowed the market stall holder.
I avert my eyes
From his three-for-one life buys.

Roll on the dawn of the GM factory hen.
No head, no feet, no nuisance waste of beak.
Just the meat and nothing but the meat, then.

© LS King 2007

Thursday, 7 June 2007


man in dustbin!
man in dustbin!,
originally uploaded by i am yj.

I tried to re-cycle a boyfriend once.

But the council fined me £120 for my civic mindedness.

Apparently I'd put him out on the wrong day in the wrong bin...

Carbon Trading Coup!

A good start to the day today.

I sold my neighbour my excess carbon trading tokens to offset his new swimming pool.

Nice, huh?

At last I can afford to put my central heating on more often!

Monday, 4 June 2007

The First Eco-Warriors

There's Eco-Warriors and eco-worriers...


Bubble and squeak at least twice a week
They grew their own nil-food mile organic vegetables.
Kept their own GM-free chickens during the war
Had a bedtime routine of unplugging everything,
Lit and heated only the rooms they were using.
Two suits and three dresses of daily use and Sunday best
Every envelope, bag, bottle and bit of string re-used.
Furniture circa 1926 wedding, and 'til death did they part.
Evenings were whist, being good neighbours and mending,
Indulgence was following the Shell Guide in a dormobile
Around Britain in fifty five summers,
And two flights in their seventies, reluctantly persuaded.
Disgusted when the television broke down after only 23 years
And couldn't be fixed.
Appalled when the vacuum cleaner blew, a mere stripling of 19
Loathe to admit defeat and throw anything away.
My grandparents were committed environmentalists
For people who didn't know the meaning of the word.
The maddest they went was a Fridgidaire
When fifties white-good fever swept Britain in 1955.
Even the TV was a retirement present from Grandpa's firm
Fashion didn't exist - there was no temptation they couldn't resist
And they died contented in their late 80's in the early 90's
Still blissfully unaware that the purpose of existence is spending
And consumption had moved on from TB.
Or perhaps they knew it alright, but chose to disregard.
I think about them as I put my bottles in the bottle bank
My newspapers in the paper bank
And get back in the car
For the five minute drive home.

© LS King 2006

Friday, 1 June 2007

What Happens to Historic Houses When They Die.

Further up Iffley Road

An Englishman's home is his rabbit hutch...

Never mind, at least they kept the old gateposts to keep the Oxford tourists happy!

(click photo to enlarge)

How Oxford Treats its Heritage

Three of these four houses in Iffley Road (see pictures below) have been awaiting demolition for some years, in a city where an empty house ought to be a crime, let alone a handsome house in keeping with its area and capable of housing a good 5-6 tenants to earn its keep.

Now you may think the fact that planning permission to demolish the Victorian houses was turned down by Oxford City Council secures their future, but you'd be WRONG.

No, what the owners of such houses then do to achieve their aim of a juicy empty plot in a prime location is:

A. Allow the houses to deteriorate to the point where they can be decreed 'dangerous' and therefore there is no contest about their demolition. (Roof tiles are routinely removed and windows smashed, to abet the elements in this task.)
B. Repeatedly submit demolition applications to the council until they wear them down or a new, less heritage-friendly, Planning Officer comes along and finds a way to help out.
C. Hope a 'mysterious fire' takes hold to settle the matter - as with the empty 1930's pub further up the road which has now been successfully razed to the ground, conveniently for a new development.

Now don't get me wrong, I speak as a POOPER (priced-out-of-property) person myself.

But THIS is not the answer! Notwithstanding, I wouldn't be able to afford any of the squalid battery-hen sized flats in the soulless block built in place of any of these houses, even if I could live in one without needing to take anti-depressants to do so.

Incidentally, for those of you visiting our fair city for the first time, bear in mind that Hitler (a keen mediaevalist) left Oxford alone in WWII, except for the aircraft factories bordering the city. No handy bombing gaps between buildings here for 'brave new' monoliths to sprout up. All the architectural vandalism that has since been visited upon Oxford has been inflicted by its own Council in league with property developers and the University. Small wonder then that our Cornmarket street came third in Worst Streets in England three years ago.