The chime of twelve in any particular time zone is meaningless in the great scheme of astrophysics and is of no consequence when it comes to the geological nature of an unremarkable speck occupying an insignificant part of the universe. Happy New Year.
However, an artificially created waypoint in time is somehow culturally important to humanity and remembrance of things past marks a new beginning. Many have left us during the past 12 months. Some have left the world a better place than when they arrived and some have departed leaving the world better place for their passing. So today we celebrate the lives of Etta James, Whitney Houston, Levon Helm, Ray Bradbury, Jon Lord, Maeve Binchy, Gore Vidal, Marvin Hamlisch, Bernard Lovell, Neil Armstrong, (more…)
December 31, 2012
December 29, 2012
There was a time, in the days of vinyl records and Top of the Pops, when speculation regarding the chart topper for Christmas generated genuine interest. It might now be a condition of growing old, but these days some of us look forward with greater enthusiasm to the release of cabinet papers under the 30-year rule.
In 1982, Beat Surrender by The Jam was kicked off the top spot just before Christmas by Renee and Renato singing Save Your Love. Describing Save Your Love as a novelty single is insulting to both the Smurfs and the Wurzels but it provided an apt conclusion to the year of the Falklands War and an appropriate harbinger of the year of the Thatcher government landslide re-election. For some, reading cabinet papers from 30 years ago might be as pleasurable as listening to Renee and Renato on permanent loop but for others, especially for those who lived through those times, they give a fascinating insight into the government many of us so fiercely opposed. There is also a sense of how history is made and how history determines the present and the future. (more…)
December 24, 2012
`Twas the third night after the winter solstice, when all through the workhouse not a creature was stirring, not even a louse. Iain Duncan Smith was safely abed ready to confirm his Christian based morality in a Christian church that considers half the planet as inferior.
Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863) was the first to associate Saint Nicholas with reindeers and a sleigh in a remarkably popular poem published anonymously. This rather strange leap of imagination was soon adopted by a manufacturer of a certain soft drink who converted the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, pawnbrokers, children and students into a character that most sensible parents would report to the authorities. With his strange garb and ability to enter bedrooms undetected, this old man Santa Claus was probably employed at Radio One in the 60`s and 70`s. (more…)
December 22, 2012
When Arsenal winger Santi Cazorla took a dive worthy of Tom Daley to be awarded a penalty against West Bromwich Albion, the resulting goal led to a Baggie`s defeat. Arsene Wenger did not like the accusations of cheating.
A week later, mop topped Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini secured a draw against Stoke City with a deft, skilful header. Sadly, the footballing heroism did not involve the ball but rather the skull of Stoke`s Ryan Shawcross. The referee did not see the incident and Fellaini remained on the field of play. Cameras, however, did record the nutting and Fellaini received a deserved three match ban. Cheats, one would hope, never prosper. (more…)
December 21, 2012
Ask any passing Mayan for an opinion on the imminent apocalypse and you will probably be on the receiving end of a very blank look. There is no evidence anywhere in Mayan culture that predicts Armageddon on December 21st 2012 but, unsurprisingly, a little bit of nonsense is always good for business.
The Yucatán peninsular in Mexico, the geographic centre of the ancient Mayan civilisation, is currently enjoying a boom in tourism due to thrill seekers wishing to enjoy the end of the world at close quarters. Add into the mix the supposition that a bloody big asteroid impacted there 65 and half million years ago causing the extinction of dinosaurs in a maelstrom of glass particles and hot iridium and you have the perfect spot for the holiday of a lifetime. Even the sublime Douglas Adams could not have foreseen that the restaurant at the end of the universe was located somewhere within the Chicxulub crater. The fruit cakes predicting dark meteor impacts, supervolcanoes, megacaldera, floods, foxes transmitting cancers to dogs and then dogs transmitting cancers to humans and a mysterious unobserved planet heading this way seem happy to don a blindfold and wave a stick at a philosophical piñata suspended tantalisingly above their heads. Okay, there has been some flooding in Hampshire and in other places and for some reason it has proved to be impossible to publish images on this humble blog but that is no justification to say “Oooh, that is so spooky”. (more…)