Is the law really an ass?

Is the law really an ass, as Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist said? Or does true knowledge come from experience, as St. Augustine of Hippo maintained? Something you all need to think about. There’s a lot of asinine legislation to consider: Health and Safety, Islamic terrorists, smoking in cars, you can’t smack your children etc etc There an awful lot if it about, isn’t there – some provisionally, it must be said?

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a women to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store and mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day. Here’s the best one, in the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

Ridiculous, you have to admit.

There are plenty of other ‘laws’ but I’d be here all day, if I tried to go through them all of them!

A system of laws promotes freedom, makes planning easier, promoting economic growth and social justice, not to mention the protection of the environment as well. Additionally, there are laws to enforce the ethics accepted by society. In the case of an individual doing something wrong, it is considered by the law to be wrong too.

Fair enough, by this last point.

So, the fundamental aim of having a legal system in society is therefore, to create social cohesion or harmony.

Well now, I’d like you to think about the Nuremberg trails. They all acted legally at the time but was it legal to execute them? A hum drum question that has jurisprudential thinkers going round the bend for years. The law being as ass again, depending on what your point of view is?

Political correctness does detach one from the truth, however unkind it is. On the other hand it does bear witness to the equal society we live in (well, some would say ‘equal’ others would object to it!). You really must take in on the chin and love it or supremely dislike it. With Parliament deciding how we should think, what else is there? A few years locked up in disgruntled turpitude no less.

The law really is an ass but then, where would we be without it? Here’s a question for those who would do without society or a system of laws.

Chaos, would be the end result.   

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Feminism? – EP

You must have heard this recent mess that is going on about ‘political correctness’? Well, if you haven’t you must be more ignorant of current affairs that I am and that’s saying something! The Americans are taking it to new height (you can forgive Trump for having a go). Universities are trying to take the male/female out of the learning agenda – how you are supposed to do this, is beyond me. Virginia Wolff or D H Thomas? He or she? Heaven knows. It’s as sturdy rebellion of words, that’s it.

There’s the sexism debate in Parliament, in charities and everywhere else it seems. I’d be scared to take a girl out now……not that there’s a remote hope of that, my lady wife keeps a watchful eye over all things feminine!! You can see what I mean though, can’t you?

Men are the targets and they’ve got a big red bull’s eye on their chests.

You can’t say this, and you can’t say that. It’s becoming a nightmare and a tiresome one at that. I’m all for equal of pay, it’s only right and proper but there’s one thing missing in this great debate (well, not exactly ‘missing’ but not given a chance to be fully aired). The choice that women have to exercise childbirth. This is a choice. Nothing more nothing less. Some choose it, some don’t. Well, all I can say to this, it’s a woman’s right to choose.

I have two girls. One has chosen to have two children and the other has chosen not to. All is fair in love and war and I can’t say that either of their decisions has bothered me one way or the other. It’s their bodies and that’s that but it does have implications on their career prospects. The ‘stay at home’ mother does risk this playing out in her work but if she’s prepared to do it, so what?

And this is the problem I’m talking about. Child care is expensive and no-one can avoid it, it’s the world we live in. So, if the government can do something about this, then all the better. As usual it comes down to the government but who else is to blame? Who, indeed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting fed up of all this shouting and balling amongst our politicians, particularly where this infringement of human rights is concerned. They do have better things to do. As Oswald Mosley said back in the ‘30’s, politics is a right mess (not that I’m a follower of that gentleman) but he did get this right.

Politicos need to get their act together and stop tearing each other apart. We’d all live in a far more peaceful and pleasant land, wouldn’t we? 

Politics?

Politics, religion and money! At least these were things I was taught never to discuss at a dining table. Well, you can do heavens knows what with these three – abominable topics of conversation that they are!

Now I would like to begin with politics – I have never been heard to discuss this but there we are! Do you know, I don’t know what all the fuss is about with this Brexit thing. The Prime Minister doesn’t know either and is being hauled over the coals for it. Her Party is equally ignorant – so is the Labour Party. What’s new? Every Prime Minister I can think of, has been up before the Jury on something or other, and they have survived. Maybe Theresa May is playing daft just to keep in place – there is no other candidate and whomever wants the job anyway? Dealing with the Single Market and Customs Union, no thanks.

In my opinion, she’s just playing smart and good luck to her too. Jeremy Corbyn could try it but I’m not so sure. Everything in politics is simply wait and see, let’s hope we don’t do too much waiting! It’s all about respect for another and we haven’t seen much of that lately. Corbyn’s Momentum (Left of Left) group is causing chaos and the Tories appear to be in the same inedible soup. That’s politics for you.

Carwyn  Jones, the Leader of Welsh Labour at the Assembly (I don’t know why I’m wring about him, he’s finished), is ducking to allow Mark Drakeford to take over – I know I’m not supposed to predict but I just can’t cannot  help it. So, that’s it for Welsh Labour, they will soon be kicked out of office and can spend the next 20 years wondering how it all happened. Chance would be a fine thing!

I’m not going to get into religion or money, politics is far more interesting – that’s if you are political maniac such as myself. But it does fascinate, all the comings and goings. Who is going to resign next? Who is going to be in a sex scandal? All grist to the political mill. The truth is, I cannot ‘predict’ anything, it’s a shower of political will and we the people, are at its mercy.

‘We the people’ is an interesting comment to make. Do just remember, that it is we that have to make up our minds. We, who decide who rules us. We might make mistakes but it is as sure as hell falls at our doorstep.

Think upon this!

Computers – EP

The media are creating a stink about sexual harassment, Gays, sexual annoyance, LGBT, Brexit and what on earth do we do next? I’m scared of telling a joke that might upset some do-gooding bleeding heart!

It’s all going berserk.

Natural offence is fine but do we need all this nonsense? We can’t do this, we can’t do that, and all from the trials and tribulations of a television screen – and computer violation, better not leave that out. Its bombastic deliverance is more subtle that the television!

It’s all going to hell and I wonder when it will ever stop. I switch on my computer and come across all the hateful rants fired at me – can’t say they annoy me, I find them quite amusing – but should anyone have to put up with this? I mean anyone, celebrity, pop star etc They are all human beings and should be treated as such (if  you don’t know what I’m saying I suggest you go read some IT blurb).

Technological deliverance they call it. Mind by machine. I call it the breakdown of human thought. Simple but effective, just like our computer and smart phone capabilities. Try and fill out a form these days? It’s so simple. On your computer and bang that’s it – in your dreams! If you are anything like me, it just gets sent back with a note saying ‘Incomplete’.

Brexit. Now here’s a delight in media recrimination. The Government is going to do this and you had better watch out. How about just waiting for the final word? No one knows what the outcome will be, so why don’t the media just shut up about it? Come to think of it, they can be quiet on a number of things, can’t they? A hopeless wish.

As reading is going by the board (apart from the intellectual sorts), so what are we left with? A generation that is only used to pressing buttons. Heavens above, that’s some legacy isn’t it? You can press a button now, to have a burgher on toast! What next!

It’s gone into a nonsensical world of vision by screen, realty by sight and talk with a machine. How ‘nice’. But and here’s the thing, but where are the people in all this? A shadow of humanity speaking through a microphone pretending to be ‘it’. Well, this all we’re creating, so let it be.

We shall all be non-creative beings in no time at all! It will devour us.

And that’s the last word I’m  saying on it……well, for now anyway!  

Books – EP

I’m sitting and staring at all the books I’ve read over the years. Politics and history, what a boring combination! My study is lined with the tombs on Lloyd George and the rest of political shenanigans. Tedious to the eye but well meant – I can’t understand why all these people try to do a disservice to them but there we are. All is well that ends well.

It seems that reading is on the decline – apart from Waterstones recording a profit on children’s books. Newspapers? Forget it. What about adult literature that is what I want to know? We scribble and hope that this is it, but what about the readers? No-one can trust a publishers figures so that’s all there is to it. Heaven knows what is happening to my books but there we are. Despite popular belief, the ebook is selling well – for now.

Buy, buy and buy! That’s all I’m saying at the moment and I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I’m saying it!

The truth is, that young ‘uns only know how to press a keypad, so there is no hope for books or newspapers in print. The next generation will be looking for swift and fast story telling on a scale unknown to the likes of me. Change is coming (if it already hasn’t happened!) and everyone had better look out. I can’t say I’m against it, change that is, but I’ll be long gone when it eventually happens.

All of life is about a difference of opinion. Some like this and some like that. It is about acceptance, acceptance of a new order. Many of you readers may not like this but it is happening. Think what you were doing 30 years ago and you will know what I mean. Technology is taking over from the main stream of thought and particularity. It is hovering between the things that we know and things that we might have.

Gives me the creeps – on a quiet and trouble free day.

Consider the ageing population. I have a 95 year old father in law living with me and my wife. It’s hard but one is always faced with a moral obligation. A home for the elderly of not? We have decided on the ‘not’. A good decision? Only time will tell.

And this is the key to it all. Time. We shall see what it brings. Technology will be sweeping this country and others, it is in definitive. It’s likely to bring some semblance of order or not. Well, I won’t be around to watch it, so all you techies do your worse!

A bit depressing that, but who knows.

NHS

The NHS, crisis, crisis and more crisis. So much trouble in the great turmoil in the public at large. We hear every year that it is a system in free fall – nothing new here then. Flu, ageing population etc etc

It’s all in a mess.

Here are the facts: Tony Blair raised Doctors salaries and asked them to work less hours and ended the night time cover, throwing it all on the NHS. The Assembly has underfunded the NHS since 1997 – a policy I was against, but what can you do about 3.1 million people having right to self-governing against a national population of say, 62 million. All crazy party political nonsense.

So here is the start of it.

All too recently I was in hospital for a hit and run – I was the ‘hit’ merchant. After seven odd weeks I had to ask for the stitches in my head to be removed, nobody had done anything about this. I had to sign myself out because the nurses couldn’t decipher that I was bed blocking etc etc – the Doctor I was under was exceptional, you should have the row going on between he and the work station! He agreed with me. Emergency care was excellent but thereafter I cannot find the words to describe the predicament I found myself in.

Hospitals – if you have any sense you will keep away from them, mind you if you have your brain knocked out then who knows?

There those who say the NHS is the best in the Universe – I can’t understand this but there we are. If this is so, why don’t that powers that be ask everyone to pay for it? In 1948 the problems it is experiencing could not have been anticipated – the ageing and rising population etc. A hit on National Insurance payments would be accepted by the general population – those who do not work for a living, the NHS is free at the point of service.

I wouldn’t object to paying, would you?

It is time we got rid of the Holy Cow that is the NHS. The politicians must come up with a reasonable payment structure for those of us to dig into our pockets and pay. I have friends who are Doctors and all of them agree with me. The politicians know that this in the only way – some of them are too scared to say it.

Well, it is time to stop prevaricating and get on with it, otherwise we shall have a NHS that is permanent decline and serves no one. Ambulances queuing up, bed blocking, people dying waiting for treatment, it goes on and on.

The best in the Universe, give me a break. I’ll believe this when I see it! I was in hospital in the 60’s and ‘70’s, what a different world it was them!  

 

Equal Pay?

The Equal Pay Act, isn’t this causing a problem or two? On top of this we have Harvey Weinstein causing a bit of trouble in the wings too – sexual harassment etc. It’s all a bit of a mess, and really I can’t understand why?

If a woman does the same hours, the same job and so on, why should there be any difficulty with equal pay? I’m all for it – I can’t help but feel that women would do a better job than men but there we are. They’re more in tune with the human condition and so on, and more capable. In all my employment years I never had a difficulty with those of the fair sex. They could be tough but that’s the nature of law for you. I had wholesale respect for their female deliberation (some were cleverer than me – mind you, that’s not saying much!), not so where some of my colleagues were concerned, but then this was another time and another place. The 1970’s. We’ve moved on from the prehistoric nonsense of years gone by.

Unfortunately, the media hasn’t fully explained the argument that goes along with equal pay. They have mentioned the child caring commitment of parents and here it is in all its glory. Who looks after the children? Now it’s a woman’s place to have children (we men can’t have much to do about this!) and if she doesn’t want them that is fair enough. Can’t we find a package that deals with child care? And gives a woman equal rights? When one thinks of all the complexities that go on in this world surely this is not a mainstream problem. We have come a long way since the 1960’s, improvement to women has been a tangible success but it needs to do more. Much more.

We have women that lead governments etc but there’s not enough of them. We have women who take companies to the forefront of perfection but again there’s not enough of them. Women need to take the bull by the horns and stand up and be counted and they are doing this and being relatively successful at it.

But they do need to do more.

I’m all for equal pay, I’m all for women getting to the top but they should grab the opportunities when they arise and not spend so much time on the quaint deliberation that goes along with it. Fight, fight and fight again if you have to, you deserve it. Let not this ‘manly’ world get you down. Heaven knows there’s plenty to scrap about as it is!

Things are much better but you have to prove that you are up to it.

 

 

  

Artistic endeavour?

The ‘Age of Entitlement’ is over.

And we in Western economies had better start getting used to the fact.

‘Living on Less’ has to be the new 21st Century mantra. Corruptions of Beveridge humane but temporary social insurance are no longer viable, and the same applies to ancient and unrealistic Bevanite gratuity.

Credit cards have been maxed out. There’s no more room at the Inn.

Western economies are wallowing in a mire of stagnation and there is no easy exit, indeed this writer must argue that escape routes will not appear for at least a generation, or even two. Affluence was gratifying while it lasted, but like most good things it has come to end. The annihilation of middle class thrift and industry hasn’t helped.

Priorities have to change. The Welfare State and Social Justice have to adjust.

So, where does State funding for the arts fit in to this brave new world?

Put simply, where aesthetic deliverance is concerned: poetry and conceptual art, or more investment in the future and how Wales will prosper in a modern global economy eg more IT provision in Welsh schools and more foreign language tuition?

NB Only 22% of Welsh schoolchildren are learning a foreign language. 11% in some areas.

The argument for Arts subsidy has largely been won. The prevailing view in the Arts world is that non-commercial activity ie say opera, theatre, museums etc can be good for tourism, hospitality, local economies and so on, as well as driving inward investment and being a generally good thing for society.

Where Wales is concerned, the concentration of patronage for the arts is in the hands of one body ie the Welsh Assembly. This inevitably imposes some degree of standardisation on the character of taxpayer funded works. The only result being success for the mundane and mediocre and obstacles for the new and innovative.

The Arts Council of Wales, Literature Wales and the Welsh Books Council are the arbiters of who gets what when it comes to Welsh artistic endeavour.

Allow me to deal firstly with books.

There is an argument is there not, that publishing is a purely commercial activity and brings none of the benefits as stated above eg inward investment?

Indeed, millions from the public purse going on Welsh books written in English (Welsh language books are an entirely different matter)  that don’t sell and no-one reads, hardly adds to societal fibre, does it?

And what about the ebook?

£80-100 will see it published on Amazon, job done as it were and at virtually no cost to the taxpayer. Whatever one’s romantic attachment to print books, they are on their way out. To quote Tom Wheldon of Penguin Random at the London Book Fair this year, “Print bookshops are disappearing.“ Not to mention the fact, that Waterstones are only going to last as long as its Russian owner is prepared to indulge in an expensive hobby.

In James Daunts (CEO of Waterstones) own words, book sales were “torrid.”

Poetry and conceptual art, or more investment in the future………?

It is apparent that the Arts Council of Wales has questions to answer and not only in respect of quality control where the Welsh publishing industry is concerned.

Its accounts are to be scrutinised by a Public Accounts Committee shortly, there are also at least two investigations into its management of public funds taking place by the Wales Audit Office as I write.

7 Arts Council of Wales officials (yes, that’s 7 in case anyone is thinking of taking a trip to Specsavers) going to the Biennale to support a Welsh artist exhibiting the recording of a man snoring in a telescope, each claiming £2000 (approx.) from the taxpayer for the weekend break. £25, 000 for a Welsh poet to seek out other poets in South America. £25,000 for another Welsh poet to remove himself from a place of comfort, in order for him to think and contemplate?

Thousands of pounds in bursaries/subsidies (some receiving multiple handouts) going to well-off Welsh celebrities, Welsh academics and Welsh media staffers and presenters eg BBC Wales, ITV Wales, Western Mail. All documented, all fully verifiable.

So much for an independent Welsh media?

The above are just some examples of ‘entitled’ preferment, and be in no doubt that there are plenty more. Indeed the above are just the tip of a towering iceberg.

These awards, these handouts do nothing for the Welsh economy, they do nothing for the betterment of society. In many instances though not all, a culture of entitled taxpayer subsidy for Welsh arts merely serves to suppress creativity:

“I’ll get my £10,000 anyway, so what the hell!”

In days gone by, those aristocrats of the Welsh working class, the miners, maintained some of the most magnificent libraries in the land.

Their blackened sweat and shovels paid for them.

They did not feel entitled.

Subsidised Welsh arts, forfeited any claim to noble intent a long time ago.

 

 

Happy New Year!

All of you will be making New Year resolutions – and good luck to you! I will make a resolution or two which I intend in braking just a few minutes after I’ve made them. All fairs in love and war, as they say. I’ve had a Christmas that would delight and move – have I hell, I’ve just sat on the sofa with a face that would do the memory of Nightmare on Elm Street fine but there we are. Christmas is gone and the New Year is upon us, champagne corkscrews and an eyeful of bunting to help it on its way.

Thinking about these ‘resolutions’, why are people so dull enough to make them? This is a wonderful cop out for human nature, isn’t it? I won’t do this anymore, I won’t do that – dear me, it sounds so right somehow. Spot on………then the morning arrives and all the resolutions have gone on Father Christmas’s chariot. Nice while it lasted.

So to conclude, I resolve to do nothing about resolutions. Nothing comes of nothing and that’s just the way I it like to be.

Anyway, now it’s all over and the New Year is just beginning, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Let joy be your companion in this we call ‘life’. For some it’s a difficult process, for others it’s as easy opening the front door. For many it just is.

All I can say is, that look out for the ones that struggle and experience a hard time. They deserve more consideration. Certainly they deserve more than me. The New Year is upon us and so the challenges get greater and more complex. The European Union will get heavens knows where, the debt crisis will get ever so burdensome and the NHS will get worse. It’s all plain sailing really, depending on your point of view.

In the final analysis, all we can do is to keep our fingers crossed and live in hope (‘hope’ is a trendy word at the moment). Hope that the New Year will be better than the last one.

And there we are, ladies and gentleman. That’s all we have left, hope, anything else is just pie in the sky!

Happy bloody Christmas!

It’s Christmas again. I don’t know about you but I can’t stand it. The house turns into a nightmare of gifts and goodwill to everyone – not that I give a hoot for ‘everyone’ but there we are. My wife goes off her trolley, dealing with the presents to all in sundry. It’s her day and that’s that.

The family come and go, leaving the house in a mess. The father in law laughs at the pointlessness of it all, meanwhile I sit in my study and try with a cold heart to avoid it all, Christmas, God help us!

But here’s the thing, I might not like the festivities of it all but charities do get my conscious going. The Sally Army, pets and so on. I dig into my pocket and find something, for the charity that is. A little giving does bring some meaning to it all. Some purpose.

And this is what Christmas is all about.

There’s a hot story going around that Father Christmas climbing down the chimney is all nonsense. Not so I say. Christmas is all about gratitude and thankfulness for the things that we provide and for the recipients of our unselfish demeanour – hang on here, I’m not against the festivities that I like to make out!

On Christmas Day, we sit at home wrapping paper and stars all around us, food waiting to be guzzled down. We wallow in the joy of today. So, let’s just see how many of us stop and think of all those around us who do not experience such a happy occasion? If we can, we should all be wary of the dispossessed, the unwanted and show a promising feeling for them all.

It’s Christmas, and goodwill to all men and women.

And if you can, express some even handedness to those without, it’s Christmas after all and I assure you, your heart will feel better for giving. It is better to go at it with an open hand.

Happy Christmas – and it’s not as bad as I make it out to be. On a good day anyway!