The chances of Fidel Castro living to the ripe old age of 90 seemed rather slim given that the most powerful nation on earth has devoted considerable energy, resources and the best part of 60 years attempting to secure his removal and death.
However, the wily old dictator and tyrant managed to avoid the exploding cigars and the foot powder intended to make his beard fall out and escaped the best efforts of the CIA unlike Salvador Allende, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and possibly John F Kennedy. The botched Bay of Pigs invasion was batted away and the Cuban missile crisis saw the Soviet nukes publicly removed from Cuba and the American nukes secretly removed from Turkey. Castro outlived a long line of American presidents, a shorter line of Soviet and Russian leaders and an entire cast of South American pantomime villains from Pinochet to Chavez.
His detractors quite rightly talk of the disappeared, firing squads, a complete absence of democratic accountability and nostalgically yearn for the days when the Cuban people were basically serfs to a family of gangsters. His admirers point to full employment rights and fair pay, quality universal health care and free and comprehensive education. It might be best to ask the serfs which family of gangsters they prefer but do not mention the disappeared in Guantanamo Bay. (more…)
Just when I thought that things could not possibly become any more horrific, problematic or deeply depressing, a rat has apparently taken up residence in the family home. About a week ago, perched upon the downstairs loo I became aware of a scuttling, scratching sound coming from behind the cistern. It was far too early to be the noisy neighbours from next door who tend to do their shouting and screaming after midnight and far too late for the student house on the other side who tend to finish their revels just before dawn. I finished my business and returned with a torch, a screwdriver and a substantial wooden mallet.
For weeks now, the house next door that is occupied by the noisy neighbours has been undergoing “redevelopment” to convert a normal three bedroom family home into six individual “executive style apartments”. The building contractors in their cowboy hats have disturbed a nest of rats quite separate from the slum landlord wishing to make loads of money through housing benefits paid directly from government into his tax avoiding bank account. (more…)
The voting places are beginning to close and in the next few hours the 45th President of the United States will be democratically elected. Unless, of course, one or other of the candidates refuses to accept the will of the American people and challenge the outcome in the courts or there is a repeat of the “hanging chads” fiasco in Florida.
Whatever the result, the divisive toxicity of such a long and unpleasant campaign has weakened America and shaken a once unshakable confidence. That one of the candidates has managed to come this close to White House is deeply worrying and the fact that there are many Americans happy to vote for blinkered bigotry and crass ignorance as the doctrine of the planet`s most powerful nation is a nightmare for us all. Astonishingly, even up to the last day before the poll, some voters were still undecided. (more…)
It`s not clever, it`s not witty or even vaguely endearing and it`s certainly not as important or as significant as Bradele sweeping the board at the It Brawards. Simply prefacing the word “exit” with the letters b and r is lazy, trivial and a crime against both the English language and common decency. Only a complete brarsehole would invent a meaningless compound word to describe the most profound political decision facing this nation. (more…)
After a busy January, show business editors, arts correspondents and the poor souls buried in film archives will be looking through their fingers at an approaching February and the next tranche of celebrity demise. Even the most imaginative authors of obituaries must be struggling to construct an original sentence containing mandatory terms of deferential respect such as icon, legend, national treasure, hugely influential and never to be forgotten. There are times when “person of advancing years with a health condition dies after an illness” simply will not do.
In this information technology age, smart eulogists could simply set up a template, load in a bunch of algorithms and the piece will compose itself well before the print deadline or broadcast. Age (veteran, popular, up and coming), occupation (actor, musician, entertainer, politician,); cause of death (drugs, drink, terminal medical condition, the discharging of a firearm) and a few vintage photographic images guarantees immortality for the sadly deceased and a job well done by the busy hack. (more…)