Monday, December 29, 2008

Seasons Greetings!

Despite Woolworths closing.

Unless of course you're in Gaza, in which case you're subject to a blockade. And bombing by the Israeli air force which killed more than 300 people.

Bombing and killing in excess of 300 people. Jesus Fucking Christ. With the most sophisticated weaponry known to the western world. Shit. Merry Fucking Christmas Israel. And no, there was no joke intended there.

So Gaza has been blockaded by Israel. And people are starving. They cannot receive food(unless by Red Cross?). So there's Hamas retaliatory rocket fire, murdering innocent Israeli civilians in the nearest towns across the wall.
Nobody can do anything. Can't go anywhere. Nobody can function.

Sorry? We're worried about Woolies closing, or fucking Whittard? Or some rebranding of Virgin's high street stores? (a whole industry which now thrives online) called Zippa or something?

Please. Let's get real.

First off, I like Israel. I like Tel Aviv, Eilat, and Jerusalem especially. I like Jews. I like Israelis. I like Jewish Arabs. I like Arabic Jews. Are you understanding me here? I have spent more time in East and West Jerusalem than is healthy for me. I like people there. All of them. Except the Zionists. And some of the Settlers.

The vast majority of Israelies want peace. The overwhelming number of Arabs want peace.
I like Jordan. I like Egypt. I like Syria (not sure about Damascus). I like Iraq, especially Baghdad, before hostilities of course, and I lurve Lebanon. I could go on, and on, about the Middle East, but let's just say I have no problem with anyone there. I like the UAE too.

But I don't like murderers.

In every quarter of every area you can possibly imagine, Jews and Arabs co-exist. I've been in every single country you can name. I have met rabid extremists on both sides including the Israelis who think "they're driving us into the water" and he Arabs who think all Jews are bad. Thankfully, they're the minority.

The only solution is peaceful co-existence. Israel and Palestine side by side. There is no alternative. That's the only way it's going to be. Seriously, think about it, there is genuinely never, ever going to be any other alternative.

How long will it take?

Er, Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Burn the Clocks - it's nearly Monday.

It's the shortest day of the year and we're going to burn all the clocks.

But first we need to try to not burn lunch which was prepped for a 3pm kick off and it is now nearly 4pm. Being fashionably late in the Groucho Club is all well and good but when you've got perfect roasties in goose fat turning before your very eyes into blocks of rock then it is unacceptable. How do you like your lamb? Grey and overcooked, well that's just as well as that's how chef is preparing it.

When guests finally do arrive - it was their idea to meet first in the pub and not congregate in the living room over a glass or two of Lidl Prosecco (£3.99) the temptation is to say "where the f*ck have you been?" without a hint of amusement while throwing red hot rocks (spuds) at them as they run off back to the pub. But I show some civilised bonhomie and smile, while wielding the electric knife with unusual elan.

Fully scoffed we repair to the seafront where Brighton's age old pagan festival "The Burning of the Clocks" is about to take place on the beach. Historians and antiquarians have argued over the precise date at which this ceremony was first recorded - some say it was 2001, some say in the millenium before that! Who knows indeed. All I know is that there's going to be some fireworks - whooppee!

It's like a vast Pet Shop boys video, with very groovy music, and children wearing illuminated clocks on their heads, like those Swiss Railway clocks, available in Conran, rather than some broken little Ikea thingie. The procession of lanternbearers who have walked slowly - very slowly, they were late by my reckoning - from the city centre hand over their lanterns which are ponderously carried out by the clock children to a stage set on the beach where they are ceremoniously thrown inside into a big pile. Of discarded lanterns (I'm assuming they had clocks painted on them, as that's the name of the thing - as opposed to the Burning of The Lanterns). This goes on for a bit then the time-meeces scarper and the whole thing goes up in flames - whooosh! - really quickly, as this spectacular photograph testifies.
A HUGE pall of thick black smoke rises up into the night sky but since it's dark you can't actually see it. Black smoke. Black sky, had it been during the day there would have been a call to the emergency services but instead we are distracted by the fireworks which last a good ten minutes and are whizz bang brilliant.

We then repair, or in some people's case, return to the world's greatest pub where the most fantastic musical night unfolds before us - everything from the 78rpm deejay to Brighton's best guitarists strumming away in unison and almost always in tune.

Suddenly it's midnight and the year's shortest day has melted away. It's cold, there's a recession on, but a paper hat or two and some Lidl prosecco have seen them off. Until Monday.

I don't like Mondays.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hey OJ! How ya doin?

.................BREAKING NEWS...................

Whoa! Let's leave aside any improper thoughts we may be having about Judge Glass - she is hot - this is breaking news folks and it ain't constrained by network execs so I can like the judge all I want! - and OJ's talking! In Court! In Vegas!

Hey OJ!
Let me ask ya something - if you're all cut up about some sports memorabilia (you didn't seem to be a few weeks ago) howcome you weren't so cut up in 95 when you thought you might be going down for a double murder that you walked away from?
Age mellowed you?

Judge Glass (phew) is telling him, with a disarmingly steely gaze that PREVIOUS COURT APPEARANCES do not count here in Vegas, it's what you thought you could do here that matters. Because you can't. Guns. Violence. All on tape.

What we call BANG TO RIGHTS. That's a legal technical term.

CJ Stewart, the partrner in crime, gets 15 years and then OJ gets a whole shebang of concurrent sentences but there's a consecutive one or two in there. 15 years minimum, we'll have to wait because Sky are all over the place, CNN are running Christiane Amanpour's heavily trailed event programme, and the BBC are just transmitting it with comments here and there.

"Do not" says Judge Glass "think this is payback"
Let's see what the headlines say tomorrow, shall we?

But a few minutes later pere Goldman and daughter are out on the court steps - just as they used to do every day in LA as they watched their own justice system get derailed by greed and politics and race and money to the extent that a double killer walked free under the greatest spotlight in the modern world - thrilled to see him in chains, thrilled to see him walking back into jail. But of course it has no connection, etc etc. But they're pleased that their pursuit may have pushed Mr Simpson to create a crime. Go Fred.

The lawyers are out too. "Innocent" and yes, yes, we'll await the appeal, I can hear the pencils being sharpened now, but bail has been denied.
OJ's in jail.
For real this time.

Hey Judge Glass.

Can I buy you a drink?


Thursday, December 04, 2008

You say non! We say oui!

I'm wondering if a blog is really just a vent for complaining because while I'm travelling around France and generally enjoying myself as if I'm on some kind of holiday, instead of this gruesome workload that involves eating in restaurants and staying in hotels and so on, I'm not really brimming over with the milk of human kindness. I'm kinda irked by small things, although sometimes elated by even smaller stuff, but really really annoyed beyond all reason by tiny, tiny, miniscule microcosmic things that even an electron microscope would have difficulty identifying.

There are big events happening in the world - massacres, famines, economic downturns - which I'm temporarily divorced from as I pootle about seeking this and that. So probably a blog is the best place to park all this flotsam and jetsum of Western frippery.

People who work in hotels should not, under any circumstances, be snooty. They should only ever be welcoming. They should only ever be helpful. They should never prey upon innocent guests, never ever treat them like shit, and if in doubt check the manual of Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons who became the world's biggest and most successful because their customer service is second to none. If you're behind the desk of a five star superlodge, or a downtown flophouse chain, just try to remember that you're there to help. Not to be so fucking awkward that you're about to order another £30 taxi for this idiot's five minute journey to the local village, or to stare blankly at a normal request as if it's a demand from Planet Zuton. ("Newspapers? Noooooooo, we're a hotel")

Stop it with the frozen food. I can go to Iceland and get frozen food. I do not want frozen grapes with my cheese and I especially do not want frozen Brie de Meaux with my main course veal and mushrooms which are otherwise exemplary. Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal - do you know what you've done? You've frightened other chefs into this.

Is it possible to have human beings back as cabin staff please? And maybe more than a bag of nuts? Or seeds or whatever it was.

And Britney Spears. Please. Go away.

I have been overlwhelmed with kindness and help and generosity by 'ordinary' French people from Paris to Dijon to Toulouse to Bordeaux to Paris, people who had absolutely no reason to help, who could have gone about their daily business and ignored me, but didn't. People who interrupted their jobs, recognised that I was passing through, and did the decent thing. I thank you Mrs Shop Woman, Ms SNCF desk attendant, Mr Waiter, Mr Barman, Mrs Van Driver, Mr Gendarme, Mrs Bus Driver, you are the reason we don't just like France, you're the reason we love it.

Apart from the food and the vin and the weather and the Citroen DS. And possibly the Eiffel Tower - just count yourselves lucky it wasn't called Le Tour Bönickhausen. You know what I mean.