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She was only a grocer’s daughter.

11 Apr

From spotting the first “ding dong, the witch is dead” comments on social media, it became quickly clear that Margaret Thatcher had died and a lot of people were rather happy about it, as crass as that seems.
Now, this is primarily a blog about popular culture, film and music, and directly political posts would seem out of my self appointed remit, but Thatcher’s influence on the arts (and music in particular) is the tangible link I’m going to cling to for her inclusion in the blog.

Thanks are also due to The Blow Monkeys and their 1987 album title for inspiring its use as the title of this blog entry. I’d like to think of it as a mark of respect to be honest; Margaret Thatcher came from humble beginnings and showed us that through hard work and dedication you could become arguably the most powerful woman in the country.

Not that my opinion of her is all that positive. Here’s what I said on Facebook two days ago, in response to other posters (many much younger than myself or just ill informed) who seemed to have little or no idea about why she was attracting so much vitriol. I did draw the line at suggesting we should throw a street party, I feel I have to add! Here’s what I said:

I’ve seen comments (some from people who were born after Thatcher left government) saying that the response to her death has been ‘a bit harsh’ and ‘out of order’. Out of order? A bit harsh? Like what happened in the riots of 1981 was out of order? Or the systematic destruction of the coal and steel industries? Or the disproportionate power given to the City while the economy was not supported elsewhere? She brought down the left, the Labour movement and the work of post-war social democracy, which some of us hold quite important…we are in a society that is still in the shadow of Thatcherism, as it still does not truly represent the working man and woman. This is not Ancient Rome; we don’t have to deify our dead leaders. Millions of people feel the same way and the right to express it (for some of the reasons mentioned), whilst causing no harm to others, is our absolute right. While it must be a sad time for her family, she was a politician, and should be judged separately on that fact.

But I wasn’t finished there. Oh no.

..and the harboring of a south American mass murderer. The sanctioning of the Hillsborough cover up. The purposeful degradation of Republican areas in Northern Ireland. The almost complete selling off of the north sea oil fields for what has turned out to be just a dollar a barrel royalty. I could go on to mention devastating effect of the plundering of the social housing stock and other things but you get the picture. Not to mention her support for apartheid. (which I obviously did mention!)

Now, perhaps in retrospect that was a bit biased to the Left, but then again I am a Guardian reading, equal rights supporting, environmentally aware Leftie git with no more interest in any right wing activities than, for example, (and to use a blatant stereotype here), fox hunting than, well, say a fox.

However, when you consider that some of the most convincing and creative endeavours can come as a response to something an artist really doesn’t like, then it’s not hard to see how Thatcher has inspired at least one generation, even if it was ‘only’ strapping on an acoustic guitar, writing some lyrics and doing a Billy Bragg. Artistic triumph in the face of adversity; socking it to The Man, or more particularly in this case, The Woman.

Anyway, here are a few of my favourite anti-Thatcher sentiments, as expressed musically. Many are actually from the ‘80s and the heart of the strong feeling projected towards her cabinet’s policies. Hopefully the Youtube links stay around for a while.

Morrissey: “Margaret on the guillotine”

Elvis Costello: “Tramp the dirt down”.

Billy Bragg: “Thatcherites”

Crass: “Sheep Farming in the Falklands”

The The: “Heartland”

Choose your own adventure- US politics style. Would the real Bin Laden story please get told.

11 May

The world stage, as many have come to call it, is increasingly looking like a badly mounted production, where the script is unfinished, no one knows if they’re saying the right lines and someone has crashed an expensive prop into the set (a helicopter apparently). So it looks pretty shoddy…or at the very least a school pantomime or a mediocre Disney film.

Yes, Disney. Old Walt would have loved this: the evil sorcerer who wreaked havoc ten years ago has been finally destroyed, and the Princess has been married off to her Prince. But, we’ll come back to the British Royal family another time. Believe me, we’d be here all day with the dramas that have gone on in that camp. So back to the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the story we’ve been fed (badly) through the media.

The problem is, even this surface sensible ‘happy-clappy’ script keeps going through regular public changes. The US government couldn’t even decide on which version of events was actually the truth, although when I use the word ‘truth’ here I’m not particularly using the Dictionary definition. Make that Truth with a small ‘t’….I don’t think you’ll find it in there at any rate. Now, I’ve see Obama, Hilary Clinton and the rest of the elite crew watching supposed footage of Bin Laden’s assassination. Maybe they actually were, who knows. I can’t see what they were watching, but from the humour free face of the President and Clinton’s shocked expression perhaps the Police Academy series has started up again.

So, was Bin Laden (evil sorcerer/leader of Al Qaeda) armed or not?  Did he push his wife in front of him so she could take a bullet? Was he starkers? Did the Pakistani government know he was there? Was he living in a shack?  A modest house?  A mansion? Which is it, because the official story has included all three! And what the hell was that helicopter doing?  The mass populace won’t question most of this, and will go along with whatever they’re told. That’s the only real truth I’m getting out of all of this, and what a depressing and disconcerting truth it is.

What is most insulting about the whole charade is how publically hypocritical and inconsistent the US government are. The hunt for Bin Laden would appear to allow for all kinds of unethical behaviour, such is the glory of the prize. Fair enough, a lot of people died in the Twin Towers, but does this excuse the huge stench of BS coming from across the Atlantic? Torture your prisoners to find possible whereabouts of Bin Laden? Oh yeah, no problem, they can do that.  Invade a sovereign country to get him? Er…yeah, go on then. Shoot an unarmed man? Ahh, yeah, what the hell. The most laughable part was the guff about Bin Laden’s burial being in the Muslim tradition. Yeah, right. Is that the Muslim tradition where a body is rushed off from the scene of death (in a time scale that makes Speedy Gonzales look a bit shuffly) and then dumped at sea? Hmm, er…that wouldn’t actually be a Muslim tradition then. And what Navy SEALS were doing nowhere near water is another wonder. I’m not even going to try and explain away the crashed helicopter. And all this cacophony of tales is all concerning a man who has never been oficially named as the man behind the 9/11 tragedy. He’s become the face of terror for the US populace, even if someone else was truly or directly responsible, and Bin Laden and only Bin Laden would do. At Kentucky Fried Chicken, if it’s the Colonel’s face on the bucket, he must be making the chicken, right? It beggers belief…..Where was the script editor in all this lunacy, because this episode of global politics has more holes in it than an Emmental.

What this ludicrous chain of events shows us is how apathetic the human audience has become in the face of a powerful hierarchy who can’t even be bothered to get their story straight.

There were seasons of Dallas that used to make more sense than this.

So stay tuned for the next exciting episode. After all, sat in front of a TV screen believing every word is probably where they would most like you to be.