Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Layer 79 Spiders, Government, Doctor John and the Dome.

Having a shower last Saturday I noticed a medium sized black spider, not the common or garden variety, hanging around where the wall tiles meets the ceiling. I’ve never seen a spider in the bathroom before, and have never seen any flies in their either, for that matter.

Nevertheless, as the shower filled with steamy damp air, the spider became very active and started dropping down on a line all the way to the water control knob, attaching the line, and then climbing back up to where it started, then down again, and so on. It had attached about 4 or 5 lines by the time I’d finished showering, by the time I needed to crank the water knob back round to the off position and destroy all its work.

Unlike Robert The Bruce, who was seemingly inspired by the persistence of a spider, I could only conclude what a futile and desperate business life on earth is, for the most part. The spider dumbly assumed the shower control, and the shower cubicle for that matter, would make a suitable website. Think of all the dumb things we humans think, and do, and waste our time doing.

Wikipedia has some interesting stuff on Robert The So-Called Bruce, who’s never been what I would see as an inspirational figure. Wiki says,

On 21 March 2008, Dr. Bruce Durie, academic manager of genealogical studies at the University of Strathclyde, opined in The Guardian, "that despite his romantic reputation, Robert the Bruce was an absolute scoundrel". "The first thing he did after taking power was destroy Stirling castle and he was a self-serving, vainglorious opportunist who was determined to be king at any cost," Durie added. Sounds like most of the politicians who are striving for power and influence today.

As a non-historian who’s now more able to read history, the first thing I notice when I take time to read about ancient times is how appallingly nasty and violent life was for the majority of people, especially when the so-called leaders and monarchs spent most of their time planning to attack and kill people in order to increase their power and prestige.

Spiders ought to be role models in that they catch insects only in order to stay alive, insects that arguably catch themselves by venturing into sticky webs, and they have no wish to dominate, control and exploit other spiders.

Robert’s ego, of course, let him imagine that the spider was an inspiration to make even greater efforts in his self-serving murderous quest to become the head honcho. From the average peasant’s point of view it doesn’t matter a damn which particular King, ruler or oligarch is in power and using brute force to maintain their ascendancy and exploit the population in general. The struggle for existence goes on regardless.

As is the case today, of course.

Major news at the weekend was a meeting of head honchos from around the globe, getting together to discuss what’s to be done about the world-wide financial crisis, and the planetary chaos that’s been unleashed now that the tipping point has been crossed.

Bringing order to chaos that’s the inevitable result of worldwide deregulation of finance and capitalism is a pretty tall order. We have a European Parliament, and there are regional forums on every continent - so why not a World Parliament? Is there any other way of ensuring a world order that’s based on human values, justice, peace, love and concern for the weakest? Because that’s not what we have in the world.

First, of course, we’d have to agree on a guiding ideology. Maybe the current situation will be a big enough shock and a spur to do just that. Even our own Chancellor of the Exchequer is now talking about “economic imbalances”, which I take to mean economic injustice and desperate poverty in too many countries. At least these things are under discussion in certain quarters. And there’s more chance of these issues of justice and human values being addressed in the big one, the USA, if Obama wins the presidency.


The real power on the planet, however, is wielded by wierdos and werewolves like the super-rich and their henchmen - the oligarchs of every nation, along with the Rothschilds, the Bullingdon cliques, the Mandlesons and so on.

Marina Hyde, whose writing in The Guardian is invariably funny as well as bullshit-revealing, had this to say on Saturday:

Even a Bullingdon baronet can struggle in the rarefied air above democracy.

Osborne's Corfugate error was to break the club rules of the powerful rich who, sweetly, let political types appear important.

Poor George Osborne. He is a sort of anti-Groucho Marx. One cannot help but suspect he has spent his life desperately caring to belong to clubs that don't really want him as a member.

To class Osborne as socially out of his depth in all of this might seem odd: he has led a gilded life, after all. But reading this tale of yachts and billionaires and people who need not trouble themselves with anything so vulgar as democracy, he seems a mere parvenu, whose maladroit grasp of etiquette now threatens to destroy him

George's family are in wallpaper. Trade, I suppose you'd call it for a laugh, and though he wouldn't be required to use the back entrance - his father is the 17th baronet - there is much to suggest he has always been more Charles Ryder than Sebastian Flyte.

At the Bullingdon Club he was known as Oik, on account of having gone to St Paul's as opposed to somewhere proper like Eton or Harrow. It's only surmise, but one suspects he was rather more often the Bullingdon's raggee than the ragger, with one such ragging a neat metaphor for what has been happening to him all week. The young Osborne was held upside down by his fellow members, who banged his head on the floor each time he failed to answer correctly the question: "What are you?" He got it eventually. The unexpurgated answer was: "I am a despicable cunt."

Whatever goes on in the rarefied air above democracy will always be politicians' dirty little secret. If it wasn't such a dirty big one, that is. The only mystery is why we seem to restrict use of the word oligarch to Russians.



This weekend was New Orleans weekend in London, or some parts of it, at least. American football was in town, with the New Orleans Saints (geddit?) playing the San Diego Pirates at Wembley. I’m not sure why. The game, on Sunday, was televised by the BBC, and was quite entertaining, if you like that kind of thing, but the real entertainment was at the O2 where Festival New Orleans was taking place on Friday and Saturday, with the best and most legendary New Orleans musicians having been flown in to perform free concerts in the concourse areas of the dome throughout those two days.

It was an absolute gift to people like me who’ve been wanting to see Dr John play live for decades. Whilst I’d much rather have seen him in some little club, like Ronnie Scott’s, the temporary Dome stage (not the O2 auditorium itself) with its poor acoustics and cavernous space was just fine, or at least adequate. Dr John’s live album, “Trippin’ Live”, was, incidentally, recorded at Ronnie Scott’s in 1997, and is a brilliant piece of work, as was this concert on Saturday.

The best American blues and jazz musicians just have a quality that’s truly arresting and outstanding. The drumming and bass playing was tight and crisp, languid almost, and yet dynamic. The guitarist was a good soloist. The horn section adds another dimension, especially when the trumpet, sax and trombone can also play fine solos.

And of course there’s Dr John’s piano and Hammond, ranging from good-time upbeat grooves to delicate, edgy, soulful blues. He was in really fine voice too, though not really comfortable in such a strange venue, I suspect. Certainly there was relatively little communication and rapport with the audience going on.

Unlike Alan Toussaint, who preceded him on stage, who spent part of his set joyfully flinging New Orleans memorabilia - Mardi Gras masks, etc, - into the crowd.

A fairly strange crowd it was too. Ranging from same-generation long-time fans who seemed to find a spot and stay there transfixed and enthralled throughout the set, to youngish folks who spent most of their time hyperactively pushing and shoving backward and forward through the throng, annoying the hell out of the people they were jostling, who were actually trying to concentrate on the music.

Which is what happens when you give a free concert and people just turn up because they’ve got nothing better to do on that particular night - people who know nothing about the music to begin with and whose cloth ears can’t appreciate the quality of what’s going down.

The dome complex itself - tacky, gaudy and visually quite nasty; full of over-priced fast food outlets, cafes and ‘bars’ of various ‘international’ persuasions - seems permanently full of grim-looking young people congregating in an effort to ‘have fun’. It’s a kind of out-of-town ‘leisure’ complex where people shove their way through a fairly narrow ‘street’ full of chain outlets, in the hope that something enjoyable will ensue. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to it in the ‘recession’. Probably not much.

Incidentally, I loved the story about Mandleson, Osborn, Rothschild and Deripaska, the King of Russian Aluminium, leaving the ‘yacht’ and going out to eat in a 60 Euro per head taverna on one of the Greek islands. As one commentator said, that’s a bit like paying £50 each in a hamburger joint.

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