The Plastic Hippo

April 15, 2013

Happy birthday Kim Il-sung

Filed under: History — theplastichippo @ 12:39 am
Image via the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea

Image via the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea

There is no evidence to suggest that Bessie Smith was complicit in placing nuclear missiles on Cuba and there are no recordings of Nikita Khrushchev singing a salacious version of You Got the Right Key, But the Wrong Keyhole in a Tennessee jazz club. If, however, horoscopes are to be believed and who can possibly doubt the exact science of astrology, then the fates of the Empress of the Blues and the cold war Soviet leader were guided by the same planetary influence as both came into the world on April 15 1894.

Other notables born on this day include Leonardo da Vinci in 1482, Henry James in 1843, Jeffrey Archer and Benjamin Zephaniah. Samuel Johnson published A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755 and the very first McDonald`s opened in Des Plaines, Illinois exactly 200 years later. (more…)

April 14, 2013

Q tips

Filed under: Media,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 1:50 am
The Bird is the word

The Bird is the word

After the playground custard pie fight in Walsall Council Chamber last Monday night, we are still none the wiser as to the identity of the mysterious Councillor Q.

It might be presumptuous to imagine that the representatives of local democracy would wish to explore the circumstances surrounding the recommendation from the Ombudsman that three of their number should have no further input into a suspicious planning application, but it seems that the matter has been noted and is now closed. The local press, including the Advertiser that initially broke the story, consider that there is nothing to see here and it`s time to move on. The increasingly ridiculous Express and Star offered a bizarre piece from a barely literate hack describing his attempt to survive on £53 a week, left-over turkey sandwiches, tea at his mother`s house and “down-sizing” to half pints of beer. Including an image of the woeful hack looking miserable in a pub was consistent with the editorial line of scrounger rhetoric but the E and S missed a trick by not bringing up the usual bilge about flat screen TV`s, computer games, booze, fags, class A narcotics, tattoos, piercings and horse meat to feed to the trophy attack dog. Earlier, the Express and Star nailed its colours to the mast with a laughable piece extolling UKIP`s barking mad Nigel Farage with a drooling dollop of nonsense under the headline “This charming man”. Standards are obviously slipping at the paper where a former editor wrote the “rivers of blood” speech for Enoch Powell. Surely clear evidence of impropriety would result in the press pursuing the story and stir councillors from their slumber to ask what the bloody hell is going on. (more…)

April 10, 2013


Filed under: History,Politics — theplastichippo @ 2:19 am
Image via

Image via

Okay, I know that there is plenty of stuff to get angry about but could I please, please, please ask broadcasters, journalists, politicians and social media types to please check the definition of the word “decimate” before using it.

Decimation was a strategy used in ancient Roman legions to discipline mutinous, unruly or cowardly soldiers and it is thought that the practice originated in the wars between the last King of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and the Volsci Tribe that inhabited the area around modern day Velletri in Lazio. Later on, Crassus used decimation during the Third Servile War against Spartacus. The process is disarmingly simple; if any cohort is suspected of being disloyal, weak or lacking the ability to comply, they are divided into groups of ten. Lots are drawn and the one in ten is then beaten to death with clubs and stones by the other nine. Another more merciful variation was to stand an entire legion on the edge of a cliff and push every tenth man off. The practice ended when it became known that, unsurprisingly, decimation was bad for morale.

Decimation, however, continued throughout history with the imposition of taxes and tithes of a tenth of produce or income and the tactic of executing one in ten civilians for any act of war time resistance. From the Latin, “decimate” means a reduction by one tenth and not destruction, annihilation, obliteration, abolition or something that we do not like very much. So, for those saying that social care, the NHS, education, defence, transport, public utilities, trade unions, human rights, the legal system, social security and society itself have all been “decimated”, you are wrong. It is far worse than one tenth; it is the whole bloody lot. This distinction is, of course, totally pedantic and utterly futile but in a febrile atmosphere when the word “scrounger” is applied to a fellow human being dying of cancer and “entrepreneur” is the nomenclature of choice for a brazen criminal, semantics become important.

Just yesterday, the BBC ran a story suggesting that the World Snooker Tour would be decimated by halving the number of players participating. It`s the little things that betray trust and sets the agenda for blatant propaganda.

So please, don`t say “decimate”; say devastation instead.

April 8, 2013

Walsall Q and A

Filed under: Law,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 12:20 am
Do pay attention, Bond

Do pay attention, Bond

The whole point of a Secret Service is that it should remain secret in exactly the same way that a Public Service should remain public.

In Walsall, however, expedience decrees that open and accountable local government must, for the good of its beneficiaries, draw a discreet veil over some of the more “sensitive” issues that require our busy councillors to devote so much time and energy to resolve. Tonight (Monday), the next episode of the long-running hilarious Sitcom “Full Meeting of Walsall Council” is certain to be the funniest yet. The plot involves some dubious developers, tenacious local citizens, unlawful annexation of public green space, council maladministration causing injustice and the rather sinister behaviour of a mysterious Councillor Q. (more…)

April 6, 2013

Walsall fantasy football

Filed under: Birmingham,History,Media,Sport,Walsall,Wolverhampton — theplastichippo @ 2:47 am
Image via

Image via

Today, Walsall Football Club celebrates 125 years of history, triumph, disaster and survival; year number 126 might just prove to be the best yet.

In 1888, when Walsall Town Football Club merged with Walsall Swifts Football Club to become, unsurprisingly, Walsall Town Swifts, Queen Victoria was on the throne and the Marquess of Salisbury was Prime Minister. The year brought to the world T.S. Eliot, John Logie Baird and T.E. Lawrence and witnessed the passing of Matthew Arnold, Edward Lear and Louisa May Alcott. The Financial Times was first published, Jack the Ripper was doing his worst in and around Whitechapel and Van Gogh cut off a piece of his own ear. More importantly, the Football League was founded. The first 12 clubs included Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Walsall Town Swifts would become founder members of the Football League Second Division in 1892 and would be renamed as Walsall Football Club in 1896.

The more recent and financially troubled past has been thoroughly documented elsewhere and given the current economic turmoil affecting Cyprus, it might be best (more…)

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