The Plastic Hippo

July 2, 2014

Nat King Cole



Decades before Will Smith`s fictional Fresh Prince migrated from West Philadelphia to Bel Air, singer and pianist Nat King Cole tried upward mobility for real.

As the first African American entertainer popular enough to have his own television show in the 1950s, Nat King Cole`s success brought him enough money to buy a large house in an affluent, all-white suburb of Los Angeles. Soon after moving in with his family, his wealthy, white neighbours invited him to a party to welcome the famous newcomer. However, the invitation made it very clear that he was expected to play and sing and as a reward might be able to have some chitlins and corn bread with the servants in the kitchen. Ever the gentleman, Cole politely declined, explaining that he made his living by playing and singing and helpfully included the contact details for his agent and manager should the host and hostess wish to arrange an engagement subject to a binding contract and the usual fee. The host and the hostess did not make a booking. (more…)

May 21, 2014

One trick pony

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 11:15 pm
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Setting aside the slapstick buffoonery and deeply unpleasant hate-mongering, the one they call Nigel Farage has already achieved something quite remarkable. Before a single vote has been cast, he has managed to engineer a febrile atmosphere where the local and European elections will be contested on one, single issue. That single issue is the one they call Nigel Farage.

The audacious strategy is based on the assumption that the electorate are stupid and that if you scratch the surface of a patriotic British voter then unbridled racism will ooze out regardless of any connection to actual facts. (more…)

May 13, 2014

Flag of convenience

Filed under: Politics,Society,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:02 am
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A bird on a spike

A bird on a spike

There is much to be admired when a nifty bit of lateral thinking neatly side-steps an obviously embarrassing problem. In the strange world of Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, the invention of creative excuses is informed by a wonderful surrealism that would merit the municipal equivalent of the Turner Prize.

Even the most apathetic and innumerate Walsall council tax payer must have raised a quizzical eyebrow at the news that it costs 10 grand to move the flagpole that sits proudly atop the big house on Lichfield Street. In a moment of unusual lucidity, supreme leader Councillor Mike Bird said: (more…)

April 13, 2014

Careless in the community

In imagined nostalgia, there was a time when a community was defined by its pub, church, post office and school and life in merry old England revolved from cradle to grave with reassuring certainty. In present reality, however, dark forces are at work hatching dastardly plots intended to subvert our culture by infiltrating communities with hard line, fundamentalist extremists hell-bent on imposing warped dogma and alien ideology.

The pub is now a Tesco Express and the church is falling down but remains a lucrative long-term real estate investment opportunity. The post office is long gone and has been replaced with a food bank next to a loan shark. The school is now an Academy named after an unfamiliar sponsor and the community is now defined by hedge funds rather than hedgerows. (more…)

February 21, 2014

Last orders

Park Tavern 9-00am

Park Tavern 9-00am

In those far off mid-summer days, when the sun was shining and England had a manly test cricket team, this blog mused on the sudden and mysterious closure of the Park Tavern on Broadway North in the sleepy, picturesque village of Walsall. The mystery is now solved; the boozer is to become a granny farm.

Granny farming has become rather lucrative since both national and local government abandoned any responsibility for the care of senior citizens in their twilight years. Caring for pensioners is expensive and time consuming as they do tend to go on and on about how they defeated fascism, how they created the NHS, how they fought for employment rights, a decent education for their children and how much tax and national insurance they have paid since starting work in factories, mills and coal mines at the age of seven. No longer paying tax and now claiming state benefits; Derby and Joan are becoming something of a burden on an economy that requires greater profit margins and increased bonuses for bankers. (more…)

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