DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT DEMOCRACY?

I, like you and next 98,000 in line, believe in democracy. The people will tell the truth and justice will prevail. If enough people have their say, you cannot argue with the outcome. Right?

Wrong. The issue here is ‘how many is enough?’ Will two do? Or do we get a more balanced verdict from a dozen, as in a jury. Yes, that’s a system that works. People get to vote on life and death matters quietly, away from the public glare, away from the accused. This enables them to evaluate every shred of evidence and decide on whether to send the defendant down, or let him, or less likely her, walk free.

But what happens if we increase the numbers, not by a lot, to say, 23…a nice odd number so you can’t get a draw? And you make the voting public, so that everyone can see whose hand is going up for and against? Is this fair? Are people affected by the presence of a hand going up on their side a split-second before they’ve made up their own mind? Does the Mexican Wave exist within a society of free speech?

This was the farce I faced today. Thankfully, no-one’s neck was on the line, but the idiocy and cowardice of peer pressure voting reared its sequacious head.

There we were, witnessing a Strategic Planning Committee (I won’t say where) discussing a project supported by the local people at a ratio of roughly 1000-1 in favour. Unfortunately for us, that ’1 opposed’ was in the room. He had the floor for a full 5 minutes without recourse. He said whatever the fuck he wanted within the technical safety net of a ‘debate’. He’d buttered up his pals before-hand to stick to the script.

In the play-it-by-the-book corner, we listened, having stated our case in half the time and defended it to the hilt as it came under scrutiny of the most obscure order.

Rules is rules, but is one rule for one side and one rule for the other a fair set of rules in a democratic world?

Let’s vote on it.

All those in favour, expose your right knee.

All those against, call the local bobby.

LABOUR PARTY ELECTION – THE MOVIE

Cast

Yvette Cooper – Carey Mulligan

Andy Burnham – Colin Farrell

Liz Kendall – Tina Fey

Jeremy Corbyn – Judi Dench

Tony Blair – himself

ACT 1, scene 1

Open on a working man’s social club, somewhere.

A man walks up to a jukebox and a track starts. It’s Life In A Northern Town by The Dream Academy.

The man walks up to the bar.

Burnham: “Gizza pint there la.”

Barman (Tony Blair impersonating Dirty Den with a clipped Cockney accent): “Usual bottle of hand-made craft ale, Andrew, my old china?”

Burnham: “Ya kiddin? Pinta mild, and make it warm la. And 3 bagsa pork scratchings.”

Barman: “Andrew, you can drop the heightened Scouse accent. Here’s your wasabi-coated pistachios.”

A woman dressed as a man walks in.

Corbyn: “Mint tea…on the rocks.”

Burnham: “Hey Corbo, what’s with the lashes?”

Corbyn: “Decided my campaign needed a little sexing up, so I got myself some falsies.”

Two more real women walk dressed as real women.

Kendall & Cooper: “Who’s calling us falsies?”

Burnham: “Easy tigers.”

Corbyn: “Tigresses. We’re an equal opportunities party, even when it comes to colloquialisms.”

Cooper: “Off the record, we’re not all equal.”

Kendall: “Speak for yourself Coopsy, I’m playing it straight. More than can be said for him.”

Corbyn: “Just what are you insinuating, Comrade Kendall?”

Cooper, Corbyn and Kendall start brawling.

Burnham climbs onto bar and starts to sing: You’ll Never Walk Alone

Blair, as Dirty Den, throws them all out.

Scene ends.

THE JARUG

BREAKDOWN OF A BREAKDOWN

Cars hate us. They resent our misuse of them, our abuse of them, our fuel-injected swearing when our journey snarls up. Like today.

Stuck. Stationary. Stranded. These things we call automobiles are increasingly auto and decreasingly mobile. I await a mechanic who once knew how to mend every nut, bolt & fuse of his patients, but now, in a computerised world, his monkey wrench is as helpful as an anvil.

He’s here early, even though this is no emergency. His pleasant nature will offset his ability to fix my car and get me going. But it will be beyond him. So, I weigh up how long to leave it before I say ‘it’s fucked isn’t it’. I hold back and imagine my morning’s journey by pony and trap, but the dream sours when the wheel rolls off, tap-tackling the pony who ends up lame and has to be put down. Must stop this dark-day-dreaming.

If the future of travel is our legs, then the future of destination is omnipresence.

Science says it will. Commuting and journeys will dissolve as we inhabit space, place and experience without actually ever being there. This is where we’re heading. Exactly where we’re standing.

Eight billion Dr Who-a-likes giving each other just enough elbow room. Welcome to the outdoor Tardis.

NATIONAL PEN DAY (# 74,863)

VALSE – A NAUTICAL BALLET


For 12 boats


When you do dance, I wish you

A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do

Nothing but that


Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, 1.140


Boats are numbered 1-12


Boats line up in couples facing counter-clockwise


All boats circle twice

All ease round until couples face centre in single circle

All sail to centre then sail back to edge


Boats split into 2 circles, odd numbers form outer circle, even numbers form inner circle

1, 4, 5, 8, 9 + 12 are standing

2, 3, 6, 7, 10, are kneeling


Standing sail in front of the kneelers

All turn starboard

All sail in small circles – 2 follows 1, 3 follows 4, etc

All sail to centre


All sail in small circles of three – 2 + 3 follow 1, 5 + 6 follow 4, etc

All turn port

Repeat sailing in circles

Turn on stern resolving into 2 straight lines – 12 aligns with 1, 11 with 2, etc


All sailors bow, all sails curtsey

Bouquets fill the ocean


End

OUCH

What happens to our brains when we miss an entire night’s sleep? Does it sue the body for damages? This is the tug ‘o’ war I find myself in right now. Delirium. Grab a can opener and work your way around my skull and have a look inside for me would you?

Is it a Ukrainian dogfight in miniature? Or are Crossrail in there tunnelling from one ear to the other? All I know it is hurts. Like hell. An imploding avalanche of numbness as these words clamber out in a dislocated mess. I hold my thumb and index finger to my nose and blow in a vain attempt to pop the pain. This only balloons the thud to the outer reaches of my head, like a turkey chick in a hen’s egg.

What caused this ouch to the power of infinity? Well, to paraphrase Tom Waits, the keyboard has been drinking, not me. On that growling note, I’m off to find a new head at Argos. I may be gone some time.

20 THINGS OVERDUE A REINVENTION

  1. Teabags
  2. Fingernails
  3. Spectacle screws
  4. Email
  5. Fame
  6. The word ‘like’
  7. Euthanasia
  8. Sat nav
  9. Chat shows
  10. The sandwich
  11. Confession
  12. Air travel
  13. Bibs
  14. British rivers
  15. Keys
  16. Stand up
  17. Interviews with footballers
  18. Ownership of anything
  19. Turmeric
  20. David Cameron’s accent

FOR THE LOVE OF ARTEX AND EQUALLY HATED DECOR

At the age of 14 my dad finally said to me I could have my own bedroom. The one condition was I had to build it. So I did.

The room I built wasn’t cantilevered out from our first floor as I had dreamt, but it did live within the roof. It wasn’t the most functional of shapes. A 42ft long A-frame room with walls 12 inches high. It made a train carriage feel short and stocky. But it was my teenage home. In those days, Artex was all the rage. A sponge in a plastic bag dunked into Artex then splodged onto the sloping ceiling. After a year of sleeping beneath this shepherd’s pie texture I covered it in newspaper clippings, all 82 x 6ft of it.

The next time I really stared at Artex was on Saturday night. In the intervening 34 years I’d grown to hate Artex, but in this derelict school, surrounded by the working progress of the artists in residence, I was once again fixated by the ceiling. This is where I stop talking and start showing:

WINDOWS CAN TALK

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