Monday, 8 June 2015

Homeless people in the UK and metal health.

This morning driving through the shitty county town near where I live, I drove past a homeless man. I knew he was homeless due to his matted hair, untamed beard dirty out of date clothes and his peculiar mannerisms. I decided to go back home that way after completing my errands to make sure that this was in fact a homeless man and not some hipster in much need of a wash.
I drove back down the street to see the man a measly 30 yards from where I’d originally spotted him. He was sat on wall frantically looking around and chatting with himself. It became obvious that this poor man was struggling with some metal health issues. Now there was no strong lager in sight but its possible that alcohol maybe played apart in this mans unfortunate state, that said most pissed heads have already started drinking on the streets by 8:30 a.m. if they are punctual drunks that is.
Now I did not stop to see if I could help him out in some way, which I would have liked to, but fact of the matter is I’m skint myself and that is the only reason I did nothing. Sounds like I’m trying to justify it to myself and maybe I am I mean I could have ushered him in the direction of some clinic or something that may of gotten him the help he needed. But instead I drove on, I put the kettle on made myself a coffee and sat down and straight away thought about this poor man and the system that “works” and how it has failed him and how I as a human sort of failed him as well. It reminded me of a time; in fact the only time I’ve ever used the London underground. So I’m sat there on the tube surrounded by middle aged white men in suits and women in their smartest knee length skirts and blouses when a little old lady literally walked down the carriage and asked very politely for some money. Now her plea for money was accompanied by a bit of a sob story of which I’ve blacked out, as I’m sure if I remembered it, it would really haunt me to this day. I sort of recall it being about needing money for somewhere to sleep, there may of even been a child involved but it was a long time ago and I have done a lot of drinking to forget shit like that in my life. When she’d finished her little sob story and held out her frail little hand I looked around at people who really could spare a couple of quid and I watched them avoid her like she wasn’t there. Looking anywhere but in this poor old lady’s eyes. Now little old me from small county town probably should have done something but little old me from small county town was scared incase this was a scam or incase I pulled my wallet out on the underground and all of a sudden found myself at the bottom of a dog pile of youths who in turn emptied my pockets and left me with no money to get home nor a phone to inform anyone of where I was. But what really gets me is the fact that this helpless little old woman seeing that no one was going to give her anything, thanked us anyway and moved on. She was probably genuine and I probably let her down as I did today with the homeless man. I understand the people on in the carriage for not giving her anything as if you encounter a similar thing everyday on your daily commute it must get a little annoying and at the end of the day you can’t give money to all of them as you would probably have to get another job to fund your homeless giving habit, which in itself could escalate and leave you broke and homeless in some sort of ironic circle of events. These events do however leave me to question the state of care in this country. That some one in need doesn’t get the duty of care they deserve as a basic human right. At the end of the day the reason that these people don’t get the help they need is due to money, that five letter word that controls everything and everyone. From lack of NHS drop in centers to understaffed and underpaid mental healthcare professionals to the fact that most people don’t have a lot of disposable income to help others.
Unfortunately this complicated matter has know clear cut solution, nor does it appear to be getting any better while nothing more is being done.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Royal Mail, UK in Debt and the legalization of a plant

Well that’s it folks. George Osborne is set to sell off the governments final 30% share of Royal Mail, raising £3 billon of the £30 billion the government needs to find. Now apparently the NHS and schools are protected from cuts but when you can amend laws like…erm I don’t know the human rights bill, I guess you can do anything. I mean it’s not like human rights are important, they were only set up to stop things like WW2 happening again, but who cares about 6 million dead Jews, right?
Now on the front end of this I can see that the government need to raise some funds and selling Royal Mail is going to have a lot less backlash than selling the NHS, which I’m still convinced the Tory party will try and do at some point in the next 5 years. But have the government explored other options? Or have they acted like the ignorant, narrow minded, middle aged white men that they are and decided that the only way to raise money is the tried and tested “sell off government shares” method, allowing for the privatization of industries, the same one that brought this country to its knees in the 80’s (thanks Thatcher).
Now I think the problem here is stuffy nosed, upper class British tradition. The same one that makes the rest of the world look at us and think of afternoon tea and cricket not forward thinking politics. Well okay I guess the U.S.A look at us with their two party system and their privatized health care but they only see those things at face value they don’t see the NHS cuts that cause the 8 hour waits in A&E or the fact that the majority of the country could be left wing inclined but have their votes spread across three parties and go on to elect a right wing majority government.
But back to the subject at hand this £30 billion deficit that needs reducing in three years and the measly £3 billion that the sale of Royal Mail will gross. It seems to me that an answer to our problems lies just across the pond, and then across some land and mountains to finally arrive in Colorado. Yes, Colorado U.S.A. home of the Denver Broncos and the Denver Omelet/Omelette and John Denver… well actually not John Denver. But Denver is in Colorado, which is what I was trying to get at.  
Colorado amendment 64 is what we are talking about here, which allowed the legalization of cannabis/marijuana/weed/pot/wacky backy meaning that in January 2014 shops opened that sold drugs legally. What idiots, making drugs legal would lead to vast crime and chaos and have no possible positive effects at all...apart from the $53 million that was raised in taxes from the first year of sales. Going on today’s market that’s nearly £35 million from a state with a population of 5.3 million people less than 10% of the population of the United Kingdom.
I truly believe that this may be the fastest way to clear that £30 billion. And for anyone who thinks that it’s a bad idea I leave you with this. People will do drugs whether they are legal or not, but this way drugs can be taxed the same way alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, aspirin or whatever are. As well as this I believe it’s the perfect way to cheer up this pretty hostile little island.
Pot cookies for everyone!

Further reading:

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Friday, 11 July 2014

Smoothies – Super foods

Currently I am on a bit of a health kick. This has come in the form of smoothies. I wasn’t completely sold on smoothies but decided to get a smoothie maker (glorified blender) and give it a go.
I started by looking and different recipes online when I remembered and article I read which was an interview with Woody Harrelson (Cheers, True Detective, White men cant jump, Natural Born Killers.). In this interview Woody was drinking his supposed favorite smoothie which consisted of; Kale, Kiwi, Plum, Pineapple, Cinnamon, Hemp Seed and a mix of berries (I used strawberries and blueberries when I did it). So I started off with this as my first smoothie attempt, guessing the amounts of each of the ingredients and the Internet didn’t help with that part and it was really good. I have since had banana hemp seed and kale which was also gorgeous.
The ingredients I have brought after doing my research online are:
Goji Berries
Grapes (frozen red and white)
Low fat vanilla yoghurt
Hemp seeds
And I plan on getting some acai to try soon as acai goji berries and hemp seeds are supposed to be extremely good for you.
I think smoothies are a great way to get all the fruit that you normally would not touch in your system as its quick and easy.

Banshee - Season 2

For those of you who haven’t caught the Cinemax TV show Banshee yet, you should.
I discovered Banshee last year when a couple of episodes had already aired and after watching one episode I was hooked and had to catch up with the episodes I had missed.
An action packed, sex romping, bullet flying array of twists and backstory that never fail to excite is how I would describe Banshee. Cinemax really have got a good one here. The executive producer of the show is Alan Ball, famed for writing American Beauty and HBO series True Blood, the reason I mention this is that there is one major similarity between True Blood and Banshee. Those of you familiar with True Blood will know the character Lafayette played by Nelsan Ellis, a sassy black man who is androgynous as well as being out and proud, for me he was the best thing about True Blood, his laugh out loud one-liners gave an element of comedy which the show needed. In Banshee there is a very similar character played by Hoon Lee named Job (pronounced Jobe). Job is a transvestite computer hacker who is handy with a gun and can kick ass whenever needed, he also as Lafayette has some cracking lines that have me in stitches. I love both these characters and find it hard to pick a favorite as they are so similar but in completely different worlds. It’s also worth noting that these LGBT characters are both ethnic minorities adding a double hit for liberal TV.
I have just finished season 2 of Banshee, which held up well against the first, nothing worse than a good first season followed by a shit sophomore season after a year of waiting. Banshee came back and had me addicted from the start. More violence, sex and story that make it a TV show that is very easy to binge on. The show also adds additional new characters that look as if they are going to have a bigger role in season 3.
Banshee also deals with many issues a favorite of mine of which is the coming of age aspect of people in the Amish community and the rebellion that sometimes occurs. Issues of Native Americans are also shown in the series notable the hierarchy of the tribes and their chiefs. There is also the subject of people from different backgrounds and beliefs integrate in the melting pot that is the United States of America and the possible repercussions of this happening.
I easily think that Banshee is on-par with shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, True Blood, Game of Thrones etc… but I don’t think Banshee will have the following of these shows, but I cannot figure out why. It is as well written as these shows, it has an incredible cast, it’s beautifully shot and is edited in a unique and very clean, crisp way.
At the moment Banshee is my personal favorite TV series on right now and I urge anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to begin watching it.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

My first tattoo

I loved tattoos when I was younger. I remember seeing people with them and thinking how awesome these people looked. I was probably about 6 when I first started noticing people with them and right away I got hooked on those little transfer tattoos which I’m sure loads of people had when they were kids.
None of my family members had tattoos at the time so this obsession came right out of the blue. I decided I had to have one, but wasn’t sure I could take the pain and there was also the fact that I fucking hate needles. If I couldn’t stand the pain then I was never going to be able to look like these heavily tattooed people that I aspired to look like, so the only way to find out if I could take the pain was to man up and get one. The only problem was I was only 12 at the time of these thoughts.
One week after my 14th birthday I decided to apply the same tactics to getting a tattoo that I had previously used to getting served in pubs. This was a complicated process that took months to plan out and… I’m just kidding it was simple. Shave my head and grow a beard. So that’s what I did I walked boldly into a shitty little tattoo shop in my home town and got a small tattoo on my hip, just to make sure I could take the pain. As it turned out I could and now 8 years later I am covered in the damn things. But I always remember the angst of the first time I walked into a tattoo shop. Most people who get tattooed under age get a friend of a friend or some two-bit scratcher to tattoo them, which is an experience I have never had.
I still have the tattoo and have no plans to cover it or get rid of it, but I don’t recommend getting tattooed that young and especially not by some guy who is tattooing out of his house and hasn’t got a portfolio of work that you can look at.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Revolution & a bit of Music

I always like the word Revolution. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention and my ears prick up with the intent to be inspired. I also like protest and it always makes me hum “power to the people”. Yet modern revolution seems to be in vain, long gone are the days of the civil rights sit-ins and the gay pride marches both of which got results. I can’t help but wonder why? Modern protests aren’t really doing anything different so why is there no change? I think a recap of worldwide protests is in order, along with the music that helped inspire them. After all every great movement had an accompanied soundtrack.
The 1960’s were all about peace, free love, anti-war and expanding your mind. Fueled by the music of two of the most inspirational music artists ever to live, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Bob Dylan especially did a lot for the civil rights movement in America very often playing these pro civil rights gigs which being a very popular white act at the time brought white media and focus to the movement this along with many sit-ins, protests, demonstrations and courage from beautiful beings such as Rosa Parks who inspired the 1955 bus boycott made The Civil Rights acts of 1964 & 1968 happen, outlawing discrimination of people based on color or creed and allowing people from all walks of life to have equal opportunities (except the gays we’ll have to wait another 20 years and then some for that to get moving but we’ll get to that). All cogs in the civil rights machine, all of which had an equally important job to do.
Then on to the 70’s, which did not disappoint in the U.K. with the punk movement inspired by The Sex Pistols, The Clash and in America The Ramones and New York Dolls. Although I think that U.K. punk was more punk than American, America sort of glammed it up a bit and wasn’t as anti-establishment as its English counterpart. This was music that inspired a generation of people to say; “Fuck you government!” which can’t be a bad thing can it? And this all from a corporately put together band like The Sex Pistols that were seen as a money making band rather than a revolutionary.
To the 80’s and to the ultra camp, cross-dressing, make up wearing revolution that was all in the name of gay. Boy George with his long dreadlocked hair and colorful make up made the world sit up and take note. Gay was the thing to be in the 80’s music scene as well as Boy George’s Culture Club there was; Frankie Goes to Hollywood the leather wearing, moustache having gays who were very much the stereotype for gay men, David Bowie’s androgyny (even though he’s only half gay), Bronski Beat and their lead singer with the very high voice who if you were hearing it on the radio for the first time would swear it was a woman singing, as well as acts like Erasure and not forgetting the closeted George Michael from Wham! And Freddie Mercury of Queen. I believe that if aids hadn’t turned up to ruin the party that this would have lead to the legalization of gay marriage. Its almost as thought aids turned up on purpose to stop the gay revolution in its tracks, as though someone didn’t want this to happen and wanted to stamp it out. Best I don’t say anything more about this or men in black coats may appear at my door to take me away where I’d disappear off the face of the earth, kind of like that scene in V for Vendetta when Stephen Fry gets kidnapped by the mental right wing party in power.
The 80’s also saw the Brixton riots where people pissed off by the recession decided to protest, which with the arrival of the police turned ugly (as it always does) and there was “Panic on the streets of London”. This seems rather similar to the 2010 riots although the recession was an after thought in that instance but we’ll get to that.
1989 also saw student-lead protesting in China’s Tiananmen Square where they dealt with things calmly and rationally by running people over with tanks in a massacre that lead to 241–2,600 deaths and is still being covered up to this day (if you didn’t get that from the ambiguous numbers of the death toll).
The 90’s were interesting in America with cops kicking the shit out of Rodney King being seen by millions worldwide as though it was the first ever viral video. This lead to riots in L.A. mainly by African-Americans, who were outraged that the “protect and serve” police of the LAPD would brutally beat a man due to the color of his skin. N.W.A’s “Fuck tha police” was never more poignant and these events would inspire Body Count and their song Cop Killer. Yet these riots were somewhat futile as although they drew focus to the events not much has changed as still to this day cops worldwide get away with murder (sometimes literally).
In 1999 anti-globalization activists protested at the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Seattle, Washington causign the conference to end early by taking direct action. Infact there’s was even a film about this made called Battle in Seattle, which I have been meaning to watch but have never got around to. On the music side of things we had Rage Against the Machine one of the most pollitically charged bands ever with songs like Take the power back and Sleep now in the fire.
In the 2000’s everything changed when in 2001 we all had a common enemy in the form of Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization that attacked the twin towers on September 11th. What an odd thing to bring everyone in the western world together until the war on terror took hold and the people protest both George Bush and Tony Blair for taking us to war with Afghanistan then Iraq. No more blood for oil was the chant on many American’s lips along with “Fuck Bush!” which I still am not sure as to whether this was a tongue in cheek pun or just a coincidental bit of innuendo. Bush would not be president for much longer as America seemed finally ready to have a black president and one with and Islamic middle name at that. Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister in England and let Gordon Brown a Scottish man who nobody voted for run the country for a bit, unsuccessfully but still he had a go before the next election when the British people in what can only be described as an act of naïve nostalgia decided to bring the 80’s back to Britain with a capitalist, right wing government who would run things into the ground even more. I’m getting ahead of myself a bit there so lets move swiftly on to the ten’s, the ten-ies, the worst decade we’ve had for giving an abbreviated shorthand nickname.
The 2010’s opened with The Arab Spring in 2010 a political movement that soared throughout the eastern hemisphere. The Arab Spring started as the people were pissed at their own governments. These protests were a triumph of the modern day revolution and by December 2013, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt (twice),Libya, and Yemen as well as civil uprisings erupting in Bahrain and Syria; major protests had broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and the Palestinian territories.
A year later in the west we had the Occupy movement which started as OWS (occupy wall street) in September 2011 but then spread through America and even the U.K. Very little was reported about why this movement started the media instead focused on the fact that there were people camping out on wall street. This was an anti-capitalist movement that used the term “we are the 99%” which referred to most of America’s wealth being held by 1% of the population. Unfortunately unlike the Arab Spring governments didn’t seem to take any notice of this movement, which is still going on as we speak. I find it odd that such a leftwing anti-capitalist movement such as these seems to have had no effect especially not here in the U.K. where things seem to be getting more and more radical rightwing due to immigration and failed attempts at benefit reform. To be honest I think it’s amazing that there was a movement at all due to awful musicians that stand for nothing but still some good ones such as Tom Morello from RATM inspired and joined the fight. Hell the next generation are fucked based on what they listen to Justin Bieber and One Direction, wouldn’t surprise if this shit was made with the intension of dumbing down a generation, making them melancholy and boring. I think we may have just hit something their folks, this shit music is a government funded fight back to insure a generation of stand for nothing brain-deads.
The reason I felt the need to right about any of this if I’m honest is due to the anti-austerity protests here in the U.K. on the 21st of June, which was in fact just last week. These protests took place in London where tens of thousands of people marched along with Russell Brand to show their anger at the austerity measures introduced by the government. 50,000 people were there none of which were the British media, who at the time were busy reporting Kate Middleton’s son walking at Wimbledon. That right there is real news folks some rich baby walking, good job BBC, ITV etc… you really know how to keep people informed about the real things that matter.
As much as I like Bob Dylan and everything he stood for I do not believe that “the times are a changing” at least not any time soon.