Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ipswich: Reclaim the Night demo

Unfortunately, I couldn't make the demo due to having a cold/sinus problems. Jim from Daily (Maybe) attended and has written this good report on his site.

Saddam Dead

Saddam has been executed. I will not shed any tears . I will though state my concern at the trial and an execution that will likely turn him into a martyr, which is one of the reasons I do not a support the death penalty .

Before Sham goes off on one, I'm not defending Saddam. He was guilty of crimes against humanity, the trial though was flawed . It was at times farcical and there was intimidation of witnesses, judges and lawyers on both sides. It needed to be above criticism and unfortunately it was not. The ongoing trial should have been completed and the many other cases of crimes should have been brought into the legal process . This may of course have thrown light on the role of the West in supporting his regime when it suited.

I also accept he received a legal process that his victims never did, but surely a post Saddam Iraq should have had a trial beyond reproach. The old saying justice needs to be seen to be done is important and never more so in the case of a murderous dictator who is then exectuted. Similarly as when the abuses in Abu Gharib came to light, to say ahh it was worse under Saddam is not good enough. Nor is it good enough to state how evil he was or accuse those who call for due process apologists for him.

Call me a liberal (well actually don't!) but the rule of law is important. Richard Dicker from Human Rights Watch sums up my views on this :

"The test of a government's commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders.
"History will judge the deeply flawed Dujail trial and this execution harshly."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Best things I have done in 2006 by Louisefeminista 37 years and 5 days....

Tagged by Janine

It's ... the seven deadly things I did in 2006 ...Sorry, meant to say seven best things I did in 2006.

Oh crikey, seven, that’s a hell of a lot of things to have done in a year and best things as well. Oh fvccant! Here goes….

1. Got promoted twice in a couple of months in my job (OK, OK, a bit too work ethic but it reduced my overdraft)

2. Meeting the Stroppy One on Comrade O’s site in the spring. Our virtual eyes met across a male dominated comments box. So romantic and hey presto, a blog was born. Funny how strange the internet is for meeting people or should that be funny how you meet strange people on the internet.

3. OK… connected to 2 …is the creation of Stroppyblog. Steep learning curve as I know ficken all about the intricacies of blogging and still do know sod all. But hey, it has been fun. Hope it has been good for you as it has been good for us.

4. Still connected to 2 & 3 (yeah, I am a cheatin’. So what?). The blog wouldn’t be complete without the commenters….. A blogsphere made up of reformists, centrists, socialist feminists, radical feminists, third campists/Shachtmanites, revoluntaries, Marxists, Trots, socialists, Blairites (hiss boo), ulta-left adventurists (and honestly I mean that as a compliment Southpaw), Green socialists and if I have left you out please tell me. And this coming from a Pabloite revisionist like myself.

Ok, Ok, I know, you are not labels but real virtual people.
And I have met some of you in the flesh……….

5. Not missed an episode of Dr Who. Should I admit to that? Oh well, what the heck, you all know I lead a sad empty life…

6. Went to Brighton Pride for the first time in years, which was very good. Especially the stalls and the amazing sexy gadgets you can buy for us women.

7. Finished reading the Collective Works of Lenin. Now that was a joke. Whaddya mean you thought I was being serious?

---Oh and mustn’t forget being elected steward for the floor I work on. Is that a good thing or just plain masochism?

Now who shall I tag? I can see you hiding in the back there. Nah, I can't be arsed to tag as the last ones I tagged (Yeah and that means you lot at Jon Rogers) didn't do what they were supposed to. Oh, what the hell.

Is anyone out there interested in telling us the best things they did in 2006? Whaddya mean no!

Well, rock 'n' roll 2007!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Staying Alive: The Blair family's runway drama

Dunno what is more embarrassing for the Blair family, their plane (the other passengers had no knowledge they were on there) involved in a runway drama or that they are having a freebie holiday courtesy of one of the Gibb brothers better known as the Bee Gees?

I mean, how deep is Blair's love (for freebie holidays)?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Saddam Hussein loses appeal

So Saddam Hussein has lost his appeal and will be hanged. When and where is still in doubt as no date has been fixed but it has to be within 30 days. He is currently facing a second trial but the gallows still beckon even if court proceedings are still under way. Yeah, I am sure Donald Rumsfeld doesn't have to worry any more about being implicated.

According to deputy White House press secretary, Scott Stanzel: "Saddam Hussein has received due process and legal rights that he denied the Iraqi people for so long, so this is an important day for the Iraqi people,"

But a travesty is a travesty especially when the occupiers are only too keen to keep their old buddy quiet.....

Saddam Hussein executed today (30th Dec). Think this report in today's Independent sums it up.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas Dr Who.....

Ah,utter disappointment, Clive Owen and Salma Hayek were not lurking in my Xmas hold-up this year and neither was a joyriding rampant rabbit. Not even a Cyberman mask or an 'ickle Dalek. Maybe next year......

Well, I am stuffed (cheese 'n' biccies and chocolates), had a snooze in front of telly but got it together to watch the classic film, Some Like it Hot ("nobody's perfect"!).

A little bit of advice though don't buy organic booze from Waitrose as the one I have been knocking back is well... horrible. I knew I should have gone for the revamped Blue Nun probably would have tasted nicer than this Waitrose trash.

So now, so bored and I aint got any decent booze left so it is the decaf herbal tea (Stroppy One save me from this hell.............). To cheer myself up I watched the Xmas Dr Who and what an Indiana Jones style jaunt it was. Scary santas, cloaked aliens, a runaway bride played by Catherine Tate and an arsey arachnid who wanted to bring her spidey mates back from the earth's core (some serious science here folks...) and they were a tad peckish. I mean, if you have been snoozing for billions of years you too would be hungry. Anyway, I liked this action adventure romp as it woke me up from drinking too much herbal tea. I can't wait for the new series and we did get a taster of what's to come at the end.

Oh and I must not miss Pauline Fowler getting bumped off in Eastenders ('ere, what's goin' on?). One day someone should write a script where the characters are speaking as though they have stepped out of the Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Babs Windsor as the Wife of Bath. Can you just adam 'n' eve it?

Back to the herbal tea methinks. Or ye olde public house maybe.....

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sensationalist storylines......

I don't normally watch the BBC drama Casualty but I saw the blurb about it in some magazine that described one of its main characters, Josh being stabbed by someone with a mental health problem. My heart sank as it was another case of lazy scriptwriting. They wanna get rid of a character or increase the number of punters who watch so they create a rather sensational story. So it relies on the stereotype of any old nutter will do.

And this time they have chosen the controversial label of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy developed by the discredited paediatrician Roy Meadow. I think when people hear of MSP they think Beverley Allitt. It is interesting that when the enquiry was set up to investigate Allitt and the events surrounding the killings, they chose not to highlight the fact the ward she worked on was understaffed, there had been cuts in care, lack of communication and bureaucracy instead the Clothier Report argued for better ways of screening out of the health service people who have been labelled with mental health problems.

'excessive absence through sickness, excessive use of counselling or medical facilities, or self-harming behaviour such as attempted suicide, self-laceration or eating disorder are better guides than psychological testing'. It was also stated that 'applicants who show one or more of these patterns should not be accepted for training until they have shown the ability to live an independent life without professional support and have been in stable employment for at least 2 years'.

At the time (1994) of the publication of the Clothier Report the mental health user movement (I had just got involved) was campaigning against and highlighting the recommendations arguing that just because you have a label doesn't mean you are a potential threat. And it did give over zealous Occupation Health departments licence to ask intrusive and personal questions about your mental health and it wasn't just the health service it was extended to other sectors as well. If I, for example, had been interested in training as a nurse in the mid-1990s my application would have been turned down because of my past mental health history.

How do you think that makes someone like me feel? The idea that I could be some potential killer who has to be screened out of nursing. But how exactly do they define mentally fit?

I have written a complaint to the BBC re: Casualty storyline and have sent it to the organisation Mental Health Media who monitors the media around mental health issues.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Louise !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Louise, who is being grump below about it, is another year older .

Hope your birthday includes nice chocs, alcholol, something Doctor Who related and the odd sex toy :-)
Perhaps even a new red trotty anorak.
Its not time for the cocoa and slippers yet .

Joe Strummer

Spotted a couple of posts up on the blogs marking the fourth anniversary of the death of Joe Strummer four years ago.

TWP had met Joe and filmed his last US tour. There is a good clip there so pop over and have a look.

DSTFW also have a clip and a link to another site. Glad to see they are taking some time out in their disagreements with HP. I am though disappointed that Will is not going to mudwrestle with Wardy whilst wearing only a thong.

The Clash are in my top five bands , which varies in order depending on my mood. I saw them live and they were excellent.

The clip above is the same song as DSTFW but has some good pics.

Big Bonuses for the City Slickers...

Tis the season to be jolly....

Well in the City it is at any rate, as the greedy capitalist City Slickers have obviously been good this year as Santa has awarded these grasping bastards with handouts from £319,000 to £51million. Hmmm. It is safe to bet that Goldman Sachs didn't give the cleaners a bonus this year. They coulda had a collection but hey that would have dented their increased profits this year. The Greater London Authority (GLA) has argued there should be a windfall tax that could be used to fund the Olympics. Yeah, but not in the coffers for the Olympics. It should be used for social housing and for fighting poverty. I can just hear those City Slickers choking on their Belle Epoque.

Happy holidays and all that to you all.

I am off for 2 weeks (way hey) but I will post on important topics such as my disappointment at the Xmas telly (I have marked-up the programmes I want to watch in my bumper edition of the Radio Times...).

We will be around for New Year though.

I am off to celebrate my birthday now. A year nearer to the grave. I am such an optimist, Gramsci woulda been proud.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I like this post from TWP at Unknown Conscience and hope she doesn't mind that I am linking to it. On both personal and political levels I was able to relate to what she writes. Sexuality, for me, isn't something that can be straitjacketed or pigeonholed accompanied with expectations about how to behave correctly.

I grappled with my own sexuality as a teenager and felt lost as I couldn't tell my friends or family (yep, good wholesome homophobic god squaders. Who could ask for more????) that I was attracted to women. I mean, my mum never ever came into my bedroom as just the posters on my wall scared her half to death and once when she ventured in (I was around 15 years old) she found me lounging on the bed reading Socialist Worker. My mum's response was: "Stop all this nonsense and find yourself a boyfriend"! When I replied that I wasn't interested in blokes she looked like she was ready to have a coronary.....!

But that is the thing with sexuality is that it is not static or inflexible it changes. At different times in your life you can be looking for different things. I have been sexually attracted to both men and women and still am. I am not championing bisexuality as the end of the day it should be about who you are attracted to, and to be open about that and not feel obliged or under duty to be someone you are not. Sexuality shouldn't be a prison it should be liberating. And free to fancy who you want without the ignorance, the pressure and the oppression.

Sheridan and Celebrity Big Brother

Is he or isn't he . Dave reported initially that Sheridan was going to appear on Celebrity Big Brother, then said it was not happening.

Today there is a report on the BBC news site :

Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding, MSP Tommy Sheridan and Baywatch's David Hasselhoff are said to be among those lined up to appear on the show.

Now ideally I would love to see Galloway and Sheridan eating bugs and wading through spider pits on I'm a celebrity get me out of here. As thats not on the cards two egos such as Hasselhoff and Sheridan could prove interesting .

Though more comfortable than the jungle it does seem the house is designed to have even less privacy than the last time and to make the likelihood of Vanessa Feltz meltdowns more likely.

I note also that :

The house, which features glass walls throughout, has been reworked by designer Peter Gordon.
There are now more one-way mirrors than ever before to keep an eye on the contestants.

I do hope they provide lots of full length mirrors and a tanning bed as well .

Pic of Galloway. Cheap shot of course , but hey what's wrong with an easy target sometimes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


A little while back I posted about why we had been deleting some comments. Much of it was spam but some was from a sad troll who has been on other sites spewing his poison.
As I said at the time we have no problems with disagreement and debate. We are not in favour of censorship and as people can see from the comments there are all sorts here , including Tories, Blairites and puritans who come and argue with us. The more the merrier.

Since that post we have had the troll still coming on posting very long comments which often make no sense at all and are not political arguments but sick comments. These include that we should be raped and unpleasant comments about my mother who recently died.

The response from commentators has been that we should ban this person as they are not engaging in any sort of debate, rather getting some sick kicks. I must admit I am unhappy at having to do this, but the comments are not political, don't make sense much of the time and are also clogging up posts and affecting debate.

So Will, our hero, has installed haloscan. We will use it to ban the fuckwit troll but I want to assure people we will not use it to close down debate or ban others. People can swear, disagree and insult as before. Hey this is stroppyblog and we don't have a naughty room :-)
Can people use the haloscan comments from now on.

So thanks to the twisted genius that is Will ...

Update: Just noticed you can edit posts . Now of course I would never do that, but I must admit to some temptation the next time Jim D pops over . Not that I want to be responsible, again, for driving him to drink and making him unmanageable .

T&G/Amicus merger

"Delegates to today's special Transport and General Workers' Union conference have voted to create a new trade union by a merger with amicus, which will form the UK's largest union with around two million members".

Tony Woodley: "If this merger is about one thing, it is this: working-class unity, the historic aim of our movement. That is why I believe that this new union, the best hope for the unity of the working class in Britain and Ireland, will become a beacon of attraction for other workers, other trade unions looking to fight back and win in the workplace."

Interesting post over at Jon Rogers site about the proposed merger. I have to say that when I mentioned the merger to T&G members in my own workplace (and they are good activists) they didn't seemed that concerned etc. That kinda surprised me as I thought there might be some debate around "super-unions" and democracy but nada. There were a few laughs at the proposed names though and who can blame them as they are lame beyond belief.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh come... all ye faithless this Xmas

Tis the season of lowering the tone but at Stroppyblog we don't need an excuse....

As I was in Brighton last week I passed the sex shop Tickled where I stuck my nose against the window and gazed at the paraphernalia. Unfortunately, I had a train to catch so didn't have time to check out the stock. Yeah, ok, I did kinda weigh up the options i.e. "train" or "sex shop", "sex shop" or "train". Train won but with the amount of time I had to wait at East Croydon I may as well have paid a visit. I bought a "little something" at their stall at Brighton Pride (Sh also had a stall..) but when I asked what they would recommend they were a tad shy. What? Don't they try out the goods? They coulda at least mentioned they don't include the AA batteries......

Anyway, the top selling sex toys according to "gone a bit racy" Ann Summers this Xmas include different types of Rampant Rabbits (a bit pricey too) but hey, they have various speeds for pulse and stimulation! There are disposeable cock rings aka The Joyrider (£15 for a 3 pack), and who needs batteries when you have the rechargeable ergonomic Sinnflut but at £80..... but it's Xmas and c'mon, you deserve that extra special gift and you save soooo much by not having to buy batteries. But the piece d'resistance is The Cone. Why, you can use it any time, any place and anywhere and it gives a whole new meaning to"Hey look, no hands"! The downside: 3 C batteries required. The plus side: Orgasm on tap.

To all our women readers (and chaps) who needs Trotskyist chat-up lines when you have sex toys. For starters, they don't quote the line......

Seek out your inner rabbit this Xmas. And remember.....a rabbit isn't just for Xmas either.

McDonnell/Corbyn - The 'Dream' Ticket ?

Over at Dave's site he reports on a rumour that Jeremy Corbyn is going to throw his hat into the ring for Deputy. All well and good. I hope that he works alongside and campaigns with John McDonnell. It would be a nice development if the left in the parliamentary Labour party (PLP) got their act together on this and worked as a team.

Dave calls it a hard left 'dream' ticket. Hmmm. Sorry to be gripey but what does it say of the state of the left in the PLP, the Labour Party and the wider movement that a dream ticket is two middle aged white 1980s straight men. Yes I know the PLP is not overflowing with lefty women. Bloody hell it was the Tories that had the first woman PM!

Look at the great and gorgeous leaders such as Galloway and Sheridan. One anti abortion and anti legalisation of prostitution and the other , whatever the truth of the stories, a preening egotist who thought nothing of attacking women in misogynist language .

There is a planned meeting in January , feminists4John. I hope as well as offering support, and not making the tea, it will also ensure that women are central to the campaign.

And Shiraz, you can stop calling us the Harriet Harman fan club :-)

John Reid unveiling plans for ID cards

This is a quickie post about John Reid unveiling plans for ID cards. You don’t need any explanation why ID cards are a very, very, bad idea.

"Opponents, led by the NO2ID grassroots group, argue that the database will be prone to both error and hacking, and that the card itself is being proposed for a medley of reasons - from terrorism, to fraud, to identity theft, to immigration".

"Currently cards are expected to be issued with new passports from 2009 and then made compulsory from 2010".

Monday, December 18, 2006

John Hutton: war on the poor

Those of you who notice things other than Iraq and other things connected with the war on terror will know about John Hutton’s latest offering about people who could work but prefer to remain idle while drawing Incapacity Benefit at the expense of the poor old taxpayer.

The Welfare Reform Bill gives John Hutton the power to make regulations to say what a person must do, how they must do it and when they must do it to stay on benefit. Remember that this is about people who are facing serious health problems and disabilities: the people that the current social security rules deem unfit to work. With Hutton’s rant against the “workshy” who “choose” to live on Incapacity Benefit it seems that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being lined up for a serious amount of bullying.

If Hutton follows this through then he will be producing punitive regulations that victimise people for being ill or disabled. People with long term illness or disabilities will be the new target of all the target of all the reactionary bile that New Labour, the Tories and the gutter press love to whip up. Asylum seekers will have company as the people at the bottom of the social pile who can be freely abused and treated like human garbage, their basic needs dismissed with a dismissive and moralising wave of the hand.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

“Lenin” on prostitution and capitalism: What isn’t to be done

I am in an arsey mood today. My narkyness worsened when I read the Young Pretender aka ‘ickle Lenins’ post on the events in Ipswich.

This is stroppyblog so here’s one major strop. Why is it when it comes to discussing the finer points of Leninism they flex their so-called intellectual fucking muscle? Well, even then, pontificating about big ideas in your cozy socialist armchair leads to a big fat zero as it rarely relates to the real world.

But when it comes to showing some real thinking and understanding around oppression of women, many on the left stumble and stumble badly.

What’s my beef with the ‘ickle one? The post attempts to explain the events around Ipswich with a general interpretation of women’s oppression. It is an ill thought out mish mash of ideas and it fudges the issues.

The post looks at how sex is commodified under capitalism and how this relates to prostitution. And that prostitution is an extension of labour exploitation. So far so ok…ish. Then ‘ickle Lenin jumps straight into examining the role of the family and the position of women within the family. There is no mention of the dreaded “P” word. P = patriarchy.

“The family unit has been the chief way in which the reproduction of labour has been guaranteed under industrial capitalism”

Yeah, but Lenin lets expand on that a bit. Hey, let your hand wander along your book shelf until I say stop. Yeah, yeah, warm, getting warmer, boiling hot. Whoa there, pull off that copy of The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State by Engels and have a butchers. I would also recommend Evelyn Reed’s Woman’s Evolution as well (you can borrow my copy if you don’t have it).

As Engels pointed out, with the rise of private property, monogamous marriage and the patriarchal family, new social forces came into play in both society at large and in the family setup which destroyed the rights exercised by earliest womankind. From simple cohabitation of pairing couples there arose the rigidly freed, legal system of monogamous marriage. This brought the wife and children under the complete control of the husband and father who gave the family his name and determined their conditions of life and destiny.”

But Len, you can’t explain women’s oppression by capitalism alone. There is a dialectical (Oh sacre bleu! I have mentioned the dastardly “d” word..) relationship between patriarchy and capitalism. Unfortunately, Lenin reduces his arguments to workerism.

“The woman’s subordinate role in the household and in society has ensured that the exploited male worker can go home from an exhausting, brain numbing day, and have time to recuperate in a small, controlled environment in which in can consider himself to be the boss”.

But why is that the case? Capitalism feeds off patriarchal norms and that includes the family unit. What is also left out of Lenin’s analysis is the “F” word. The important role feminism has played in highlighting oppression and demands the women's liberation movement made. And the wealth of feminist literature that is available deserves a read (you should see my book shelves, Len).

'Ickle Lenin ends by stating: “The oppression of women, as I have tried to indicate, illuminates and intersects with every other axis of oppression and exploitation in society”.

True, but …

We are saturated with sexual imagery and sexualisation overall but just to reduce it to workerism and economism fails to understand the contradictions, and complexities of patriarchal capitalism. Patriarchy is the power relationships that exist in this society between men and women. These relationships are alienated as the result of both commodification and the alienating effects of the patriarchial nature of the relationship between men and women.

I support decriminalising prostitution and unionisation of sex workers as it is about showing solidarity at the end of the day. But Lenins' collection of demands include, “outlaw of Page 3”. Why? Will censoring Page 3 "protect" women? Will it make women less of a sex object? No. Women are objectified under patriarchal capitalism but will censorship improve the position of women? No. What is the position of women in countries where pornography is banned?

Do we just join the revolutionary party and fight for the Glorious Day? Or do we build a vibrant dynamic socialist feminist movement? Do we struggle against oppression in all its forms or do we prioritise some forms of oppression over others…with surprise surprise the oppression of women at the bottom?

I am a socialist feminist, 'ickle Lenin. Go figure.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The 'Red Flag'

Wondered if any of the stroppyblog readers could help out.

As you are aware my mum's funeral is Friday. Dave has accessed a Red Flag to drape the cardboard coffin. I am still though trying to track down a good version of the Red Flag to play. Dave and Louise are also looking.

Does anyone know where I can get my hands on a CD copy quickly ?

Anyone got a copy I could borrow (you would need to be in London or Brighton).


Louise, the star that she is, has traipsed round the record shops of central London and got her mitts on the Robert Wyatt version of the CD.

Thanks to those who have been in contact with suggestions and help.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I was uneasy watching the news last night about Ipswich. It was the report about women who have been murdered in the town. The place looks like a ghost town. What concerns me is the fear and panic this will instil in women and will the advice be that women should be prisoners in their own homes? It is also reminiscent of the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper aka Peter Sutcliffe though I just hope that the cops are more enlightened in their attitudes towards women who work as prostitutes. But there is a difference between hope and expectation.

As the English Collective of Prostitutes say: "The Suffolk police must not use the criminality imposed on sex workers by the prostitution laws as an excuse to deny women the protection we are all entitled to by law."

If the cops want women who work as prostitutes to be more co-operative and helpful then they should stop criminalising them. Criminalising women who work as prostitutes pushes them onto the margins of society makes them more powerless. Enforcing ASBOs, for example, does nothing to reduce the stigmatisation and the hostility women face instead it makes it a whole lot worse. And the cops are known to be utterly dismissive to crimes against sex workers.

"In another case, a street sex worker wanted to report an attempted rape. There was a warrant out for her arrest, so a support worker called the local police station, asking if it could be temporarily waived so that she could report the attack. The police refused."

If the cops want help from women to catch this killer then they will have to change their attitude towards them by overhauling the sexism prevalent within the police. Certainly solutions include decriminalising prostitution and the drugs industry which are integral to this situation .

But in the mean time the cops have got to treat women with respect and equally. During the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe the language used by the cops in charge of catching him was significantly different when describing women who worked as prostitutes and women who didn't. Women who didn't work in prostitution were described as "innocent women". In death these women had their lives fleshed out while women who worked as prostitutes were reduced to one-dimensional mugshots staring from the television screen. Who cared about these womens lives certainly not the cops?

These women were not afforded the same equality as other women. And it took the police many years to catch Sutcliffe. In her book, The Street Cleaner, Nicole Jouve Ward describes reporting about the hunt for Sutcliffe and witnessing first hand the appalling misogyny between the cops and the media and how this had a negative impact in tracking down Sutcliffe. Grim reading. But I hope lessons have been learned in how to conduct a proper investigation.

All women deserve justice.

Update: This quote disturbed me somewhat. Are women sex workers fair game then unlike "other" maybe more "innocent" women?

"Every woman is now asking themselves the same question - what if he runs out of prostitutes and starts attacking other women?"

Hat tip: The F Word

Another update: Today's Guardian features a piece by a woman called "Jasmine" who writes about her life as a prostitute.

"The attitude of the police makes this work so much more dangerous for us. At the moment, in the area where I work, the police have got a purge on street prostitution. The place the women in my area usually work is all cameraed up so we feel safe there - but when the police move us on, it means that we take more risks".

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bah humbug: It's Xmas.... well sorta

“It’s Xmas”! shouted fellow west Midlander, Noddy Holder on “Merry Xmas Everyone”.

Ok, not quite there yet but in most high street shops Xmas has a tendency to start in September. But I am of the “bah humbug” brigade as I really, really dislike this time of year. Stress levels rise, depression and suicidal feelings as people feel under pressure. Oh and the compulsion to play all happy families. I know I am a miserable dystopian grouchy depressive (hey, I do have the optimism of the will) but having worked on a mental health line run by MIND during the run up to Xmas and listening to people who ring-up the stress is pretty apparent. And I sure know how that feels.

The only thing I like about the “festive season” is the parties and thankfully I have two in two days. One is a tapas bar somewhere in London that has been seized control of for the afternoon and the other it at my old work place. So… hopefully will blot out the sickly Xmas cheer with copious amounts of booze and will end up dancing badly with tinsel hanging around my neck. I will be re-surfacing sometime in a couple of days probably with a hangover from hell so see you then…..

And well, if any of you bloggers are off to parties this week or next then have a rip roaring riotous time. Yes, especially dedicated to the Unison Wild Bunch who have probably started rocking 'n' rolling around the Xmas tree already. I will raise a glass or two..... in honour of all you bloggers in the blogsphere. Cheers....Oh and bah humbug!


Carter Review: free legal advice going down the drain

Karen Buck MP for Regent's Park and North Kensington has organised an adjournment debate in Parliament on the 13/12/06 at 3pm around the changes to legal aid. During the summer the Legal Services Commission (LSC) in conjunction with Lord Carter published a review which will massively overhaul legal aid and totally change the face of advice. It is very bad news.

I posted about the review in late October but things have started to hot up and now there's this adjournment debate taking place this week. One area in which these proposals are causing consternation is the idea of fixed fees.

This is very problematic as some cases take longer than others i.e. organising an appeal where someone is being turned down, say, for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), homeless cases, cases which have complex and multiple problems, immediate risk cases such as woman escaping domestic violence and immigration cases. And complex cases are longer to organise therefore more expensive. Pressure will be put under advisors to take on shorter cases.

Fixed fees will also have an impact on London based services as the LSC will treat London as the same as everywhere else in the country and no concession will be shown even though the capital city is more expensive to live. These proposals will impact on quality of advice and time spent preparing a case. Law centres, for example, are over stretched already and people are turned away but it will get far, far worse if these proposals go through.

A study published by the Law Centres Federation (LCF) have found that law centres are under considerable pressure and have more clients than they can physically help. Certain areas such as immigration, housing, employment, and welfare and debt law are becoming more difficult to access for clients.

Worryingly, immediate legal help, for example, a woman escaping domestic violence who needs an emergency injunction will have severe problems as many law centres don’t have the capacity to provide this service and finding solicitors to take on the case has also proved problematic. Under the Carter proposals things again will get much worse. The Law Centres Federation has voted to boycott the review’s implementation unless significant changes have happened and solicitors are threatening strike action.

The changes will happen next April 2007. These proposals will impact most on the poor and powerless in society.

And yet Bridget Prentice (Parliamentary under-secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs) in a letter in Friday’s Guardian states that: “It is about protecting consumers, increasing choice and improving standards. And it is about putting the consumer at the heart of the system for the first time”.

These people use words like “consumers” and “choice”. Who exactly are the consumers? And how can you have choice when advice agencies are shrinking and diminishing in size because of being starved of funds?

Criminal law is also being targeted by the Carter review. Legal aid is essentially about:

1. All citizens can be confident that they can enforce their rights and are held accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities;

2. People accused of a crime are assured a proper defence;

3. Vulnerable and disadvantaged people are protected so they are not denied access to justice because of their inability to pay for it.

Yet the government's aim is to provide advice and representation to clients in a way that (see how the language has changed):-

Is proportionate to the issues at stake

Helps to ensure timely and effective procedures and trials, thereby supporting the objectives of the criminal justice system

Achieves maximum value for money

Achieves control over spending.

Make no mistake, Lord Carter wants to cut legal aid to the bone and marketise advice. It is all about cost cutting at the end of the day. People who desperately need access to legal advice in any area of law will have severe problems as it won’t be about equal entitlement to justice instead it will who can afford it. It will be rough justice for the poor under the pretext of “consumer choice” and “value for money”.

Get your MP to attend the Adjournment debate. And I hope John McDonnell can make it.....

For more information see Access to Justice Alliance

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Butcher of Chile is dead

Pinochet has died. Even as an atheist I hope he burns somewhere nasty. Thatcher is supposed to be very upset. Don't despair, Margaret, I am sure you will join him soon.. Fingers crossed!

When is she gonna do the decent thing..?

"Misunderstood" Ian Duncan-Smith

So Thatcherite bullyboy, Ian Duncan-Smith, is whinging about being misunderstood. But do you believe him? In your dreams. This is still the nasty reactionary Tory Party and no matter how many new improved makeovers and rinses they go through, the touchy-feely mask they have created for themselves is slipping further and further into the gutter hopefully along with Proper Gent, David Cameron.....

Here is their attempt at Back to Basics mark 2.

Conspiracy theories and Lady Di

Now, I don't give a damn about what the hell happened to "Queen of Hearts" Lady Di. The trials and tribulations of these "poor misunderstood" overpaid, selfish, lazy reactionary boors don't appeal to me (Viva la Republique!) But I am sick to the back teeth hearing the various conspiracy theories about how Lady Di and Dodi Fayed met their deaths. One being the "other car" that was either driven by MI5/MI6. Or even, this is my favourite fantasy, driven by Phil the Greek aided and abetted by cosh-carrying Ma Windsor.

Well, as everyone is jumping on the conspiracy bandwagon then here's my 'ickle thoughts on the matter. Lady Di got into a car without "clunk clicking" on this particulat trip with a pissed driver at the wheel. Gee, what an outlandish conspiracy theory.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Baker report: blood for oil....

This is an interesting piece by Tom Hayden. The game at the moment for the occupiers in Iraq is whether they'll get want they wanted in the first place..... the oil.

EDM 335: immediate withdrawal from Iraq

Contact your MP now
Commons motion for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

There is an urgent need to secure support for the Early Day Motion calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, submitted to the House of Commons on 28 November by John McDonnell MP. The motion was drafted with the assistance of Iraq Occupation Focus.


That this House notes with alarm the conclusion of the October 2006 Lancet report that coalition forces in Iraq have been directly responsible for the deaths of at least 186,000 Iraqis since the start of the 2003 invasion; recognises that according to a September 2006 Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) poll, 78 per cent. of Iraqis believe that the US military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing; recalls the conclusion of the April 2006 US National Intelligence Estimate on global terrorism that `The Iraq conflict has become the cause celébre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement'; further notes the recent statement by the Head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, that British forces should be withdrawn from Iraq soon because their presence exacerbates the security problems; further notes that there have been over 118 British military deaths in Iraq since the 2003 invasion; and calls on the Government to withdraw all British forces from Iraq immediately.

Although the motion represents the majority view in both Iraq and Britain, only eight MPs have signed so far:

McDonnell, John
Corbyn, Jeremy
Wareing, Robert N
Cryer, Ann
Galloway, George
Davies, Dai
Cohen, Harry
Abbott, Diane

Please contact your MP urgently.

Marilyn Monroe exhibition

The most evocative and fascinating icon, for me, is Marilyn Monroe. She was one of the most photographed people in the world. She was stunning and gorgeous whether captured on photograph or on the celluloid screen. She oozed sex appeal, she was bright, funny and wisecracked with utter aplomb. But she was still perceived a "dumb blonde" but Marilyn was more than that.

There's an exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery, London, of several unseen photographs taken by one of Monroe's favourites, Eve Arnold. Arnold and Monroe forged a friendship when they met in the early 1950s and this bond lasted until Marilyn's untimely death in 1962. Out of the masses of photographs taken of Marilyn she is the one photographer who captures the ordinaryness, the vulnerability and sexyness of Norma Jean Baker.

The exhibiton is on until the 31 December 2006. Maybe I will raise a glass as a toast to the goddess that was Marilyn Monroe.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tea: it's healthy!

Friday daft post……….

Well, it isn’t strictly daft as it is based on scientific fact. Drinking 3 or more cups of tea is better for you than drinking plenty of water. Researchers have dispelled the myth that tea dehydrates (all that caffeine…). It was found to protect your heart and against some types of cancers. Here’s the science… it’s all in the antioxidants apparently.
And surprisingly, less people are drinking tea, which is kinda strange as I was brought up drinking tea.

So tea, hydrates, fights various nasties, protects your heart, teeth and is better than sex, well according to Boy George. Even I like my 10+ cups of decaf tea (caffeine makes me ill) a day but if I had to choose between the two…. sorry George! Sex is sex and tea is well, just boring old tea.

But....Hey, with all these successes maybe tea should be free on prescription….

The small print at the bottom says the Tea Council commissioned the research. Mmmm. Very independent.

Now, it’s time for my mid-morning decaf cup of tea and expensive biccies. Cheers.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Goodbye to a bloody fine socialist...

Ok, probably to pissed and spaced out to be posting, but what the hell.

I may not be around to much. Today my mum died. She was tired of life and wanted to die,I was there with her at the end.

I just want to pay some sort of tribute to her. May do a better one when sober.

She was the original stroppybird. From a long line of stroppy strong scots women.

She was a socialist, an atheist and a bloody strong feminist.

Her funeral will involve an eco pod coffin and an atheist service, perhaps with drag queens, but definitely with a playing of the red flag.

I owe everything to her strength in the face of adversity.

She was a true working class strong woman.

Hated Blair. A rebel to the end....

I just want to say thanks to my friends, including Louise, and to Dave for supporting me through all of this.

I am quite pissed....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Best Dr Who ... Ever...

It was a combination of watching Torchwood (I do think it is improving. No?) and the Stroppy One informing me there was a poll on the BBC website about who was the BEST DR WHO. And well, you know, I couldn't miss the opportunity to post something about this very important and utterly vital poll.

My favourite is scarf wearing jelly-baby munching Tom Baker. Oh and he's favourite at the moment.

William Hartnell 8%
Patrick Troughton 10%
Jon Pertwee 15%
Tom Baker 50%
Peter Davison 10%
Colin Baker 2%
Sylvester McCoy 3%
Paul McGann 3%

No Christopher Eccleston in the poll. The the actors who played Dr Who after Peter Davison weren't up to scratch at all and the programme was going downhill fast by then anyway.

So, there you have it. Who is your favourite then? I would say more but I am off to watch the final episode of the re-runs of This Life.

Stunning life I lead. Pass me the jelly-babies by the way.....

More on the City cleaners campaign

The T&G are stepping up their campaign to fight for the rights of cleaners who work in the City of London.

Have a butchers at this short film made by indie film maker Ross Curran who has been following the campaign.

Oh and the Gold Vacuum Award goes to (drum roll)…………Goldman Sachs (hiss! boo!) for sucking cleaners dry!

Goldman Sachs partly owns ISS one of the world’s biggest cleaning contractors. And you can see they are making some healthy profits off the backs of the cleaners....

Goldman Sachs recently appointed 100 new partners, a quarter of them based in London, who can expect to earn more than $10m (£5.3m) from annual bonuses on top of their seven-figure pay packets. But sod all for the cleaners.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who is Robert Gates....?

US Defence Secretary nominee Robert Gates has told a senate committee that the US is not winning the world in Iraq.

The committee approved him to replace Donald Rumsfield who resigned last month. The Senate should vote by the end of the week, approval expected.

"Our course over the next year or two will determine whether the American and Iraqi people and the next president of the US will face a slowly but steadily improving situation in Iraq or... the very real risk and possible reality of a regional conflagration," he said.

Regarding Iraq, he was asked by Democratic senator Carl Levin, if he believed the US was winning, Gates replied: “No, Sir”.

He also stated that the US should attack Iran only as a last resort and would not back military action against Syria.

Called for a broad bipartisan on how to fight war on terror.

Gates was described as a "refreshing breath of reality" and was promised a speedy confimation.

What is this? Bush et al becoming all humble, changing their direction on war in Iraq and open to ideas. Was it a Road to Damascus life- enhancing experience? Get real. These are still the lying cheating warmongering terrorists known as the Republicans. Just what have they up their sleeves?

What is the real story here and who the hell is Robert Gates? It is said that Gates and Rumsfeld sip from the same “ideological Kool-Aid jug”.

Gates is ex-CIA. He was nominated for CIA director in 1991 and confirmed. Hmmmm. Lets look a bit further into the murky background of Gates. He was questioned for allegedly giving intelligence to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. He was also investigated for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.

In 1991 Senator Tom Daschle had deep concerns about Gates becoming director of Central Intelligence. He argued:

''if Robert Gates cooked the books to advocate the ideological position of the administration while serving as deputy director for intelligence and deputy director of Central Intelligence, is it possible that U.S. intelligence under his guidance will continue to politicize intelligence? My answer is, 'We cannot afford to take that chance'.'

Bush has got an ex-spook who is partial to overthrowing democratically elected governments, manipulation and "cooking the evidence" (allegedly).

Make no mistake Gates is a cynical operator and is gonna cause a hell of a lot of trouble for anti-imperialists everywhere. I wonder if he has a "special brief" for Venezuela?

Ann Clwyd booted out as PLP Chair

Not to keen on Ann Clwyd , so pleased to see she has lost the Chair of the Parliamentary labour Party :

Former foreign office minister Tony Lloyd has been elected as chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, ousting Ann Clwyd from the post.
Mr Lloyd won 169 votes, while Ms Clwyd gained 156. She won last year's chair election with a margin of 11 votes.
Ms Clwyd is the PM's special envoy to Iraq and was seen by some backbenchers as being too close to Tony Blair.
As chairman, Mr Lloyd, an anti-war rebel, will be charged with ensuring ministers know of backbench concern.
In Tuesday's election, 92% of Labour MPs took part.
Ms Clwyd was said to be "extremely upset" following the vote in London.
Her election loss is the first time in about 25 years that a sitting chairman has been voted out.

Quotes before the vote included :

MPs say it has become harder to voice dissent in recent years. "The view is that Ann is a bit of a government patsy," said one backbencher.

Even one backbencher who praised Ms Clwyd predicted that Mr Lloyd would be "a little better at more forcefully representing the views of the independent backbenchers in difficult meetings with the prime minister and other senior ministers."

Given the weakening of the cabinet, let alone the backbenchers, I'm not sure how much real difference there will be. Perhaps I'll be proved wrong.

American Imperialism goes into space ?

Report on the BBC news page :

US space agency Nasa has said it plans to start work on a permanently-occupied base on the Moon after astronauts begin flying back there in 2020.
The base is likely to be built on one of the Moon's poles and will serve as a science centre and possible stepping stone for manned missions to Mars.
The US has already said it plans to build a new lunar spacecraft to succeed the last Apollo mission in 1972.
Funds will be moved from space shuttle flights, due to be scrapped in 2010.

Wonder if they will find the WMDs up there ?
Is it imperialism?
Will they find aliens and are they aliens if its their own planet ? Or are the Americans aliens?
Will they find people like the ones on the 'smash' advert?
Perhaps the Borg really exist and will 'assimilate' the earthlings.
I liked seven of nine(see pic), but she became a bit to human. (Star Trek references )

I have a bad cold btw and taken lots of remedies (recommended by Louise , as they have interesting side effects). I may be talking more nonsense than usual.

I think I need to take to my bed ...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blair, religion and HIV/Aids.

Oh dear, I have a confession. I have just read something Blair has said and agreed:

Tony Blair has said the scale of the Aids problem meant religious leaders needed to end their ban on condoms.
To mark World Aids Day, Mr Blair said religious leaders needed to "face up to reality" and drop bans on condoms to help protect health.
Asked on MTV whether the Vatican's ban on condoms was hampering the fight against Aids and HIV, he said: "I think if all the churches and religious organisations were facing up to reality it would be better."

Mr Blair said on Friday that he feared a blanket ban coming from religious leaders would discourage people from using condoms in "certain circumstances where they need to - to protect their own lives".

The response from the Catholic Church :

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales says money used to send condoms to Africa should be spent on drugs for Aids treatment.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said it would be "much better" if the cash was spent on antiretroviral drugs.
He said African bishops had spoken of dioceses being "flooded" with condoms which had led to "more promiscuity".

It should not be either or, condoms have a preventative role to play. Both drugs and condoms are needed.

He adds :

"The way to combat Aids is primarily, as everybody should know, behaviourally - keeping monogamous relationships between a man and a woman."

Lets live in the real world . If we want to prevent the transmission of HIV/Aids we need to work with human behaviour, which is not always monogamous . People do not tend to have one relationship for life. He also seems, to conveniently, ignore the message that its about risky behaviour not groups. Hence 'man and a woman'.

But hey, even married couples aren't given any slack at the moment :

But he said Pope Benedict XVI had commissioned a report looking into allowing the use of condoms by married couples where one partner is affected by HIV or Aids.

So are they supposed to practice abstinence or risk having a child with HIV/Aids ? I'm sorry but that's heartless and lacking any compassion .

I now expect a lecture on the merits of abstinence, possibly from those who do not practice what they preach.


Here at Stroppyblog we do not censor. We are happy to have debate and criticism and no problem with insults either. Recently though there has been a troll with a little to much time on their hands. Or perhaps hand, one typing and the other...
I think Sappho has it right, some spotty 14 year old who needs to get out more.

It seems that this troll has been on other sites. They are posting lots and lots of long comments. Mostly they do not make any sense in terms of an argument. They consist mainly of crude sexual, homophobic and sexist abuse. They have started insulting other posters and they are clogging up the debate in the comments boxes.
They seemed particularly bothered by women talking about sex.

My initial reaction was to leave it up. I don't like to delete or censor debate in any way. It has though continued with very long comments which are a stream of bile.

We have discussed this with regular commentators and the general feeling is this is not an issue of free speech. It is seen as off putting to other commentators and the nature of the comments (both very crude and insulting and also nonsense ), ones that people seem to want us to delete.

I hope this is not seen as censorship. Some of the comments are still up and you can judge for yourselves whether they constitute debate or just the disturbed ramblings of a troll.

So for now we will delete and hope they get bored, or their mum takes their laptop away.

Oh and there has also been quite a bit of spam we have had to delete. We will probably change over to haloscan to help with this.

Chavez wins.....

Hugo Chavez has won the Venezuelan election gaining over 60% of the vote. The quotes below are from the Hands off Venezuela delegation blog.

"The opposition today made no attempt to disrupt the election, but as has been reported they have made plans to assault the people once more, possibly in the coming days (the 5th perhaps)."

"The power and spirit of the people of Venezuela is at a burning high, this mood is in harmony with the pressing tasks at hand. The huge margin of victory for Chavez is a confirmation to proceed".

Viva Chavez!

Greatest living icon....

BBC are doing this greatest living icon of all time and you get to choose from:

Paul McCartney
David Attenborough

Look, if you don't like the top 3 then complain to the BBC. No women in the list, funny that.
I just voted and as it was a private ballot I am not telling you which way I voted.
Ok, Ok, I voted for........ Morrissey. Yes you heard, Morrissey!

I adored The Smiths and bought all their LPs and singles. Nowt like Hatful of Hollow to wile away the hours as a miserable and misunderstood teenager ("I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour/But heaven knows I am miserable now"). Morrissey knew how I felt and I could relate to his lyrics. How I wished I could have escaped from the confines of Birmingham to Manchester. I used to sing at the top of my voice, "I am human and I need to be loved/just like everyone else", which at that point my older sister would shout at the top of her voice, "Shut-up"!! Christ, she should talk as she was a Whitesnake fan (double ugh!!)

The Morrissey and Marr combo, who could beat them. I mean, that guitar riff at the start to This Charming Man still blows me away. The LP and single covers were so cool as they included Alain Delon, Elsie Tanner aka Pat Phoenix, Diana Dors, Shelagh Delaney and Charles Hawtrey

And I spent many a happy hour in my bedroom when I was 14 trying to recreate This Charming Man on my own guitar along with the upbeat intro. to the seminally depressing Love Will Tear Us Apart (Ok, I was a Joy Division fan as well..). By the way, did I say I was depressed? I ditched the guitar practice for Trotskyism when I was 15.....

Morrissey went down hill as far I am concerned after The Smiths broke up. Christ, even David "yoof" Cameron named This Charming Man as one of his favourite tunes on Desert Island Discs ("Noooooooo"! I shrieked).

It makes me want to listen to How Soon is Now (12inch version). The intro. was sampled so well by SoHo's Hippychick way back in mists of time that was 1990......

Ok, I have finished my in defence of Morrissey/The Smiths. You can all come back in now....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Myleene Klass

We at Stroppyblog like the delectable JimD . We are quite concerned that he could become unmanageable and driven to drink now that he can no longer watch I'm a celebrity get me out of here.

He particularly admired Myleene for her intelligence I believe. Hmmm, Volty seems to think there may be other reasons. So this clip is for JimD.

Still its back to listening to Radio Galloway for Mr Denham.

Venezuelans going to the polls

Well, in Venezuela 16 million people will be voting today and the polling stations will shut at 8pm GMT.There has been a glut of articles and posts on Venezuela and Chavez. I wasn’t gonna contribute but then I thought, oh go then why not, so here’s my tuppence h’alfpenny on the political situation.

Thanks to Liam’s blog there’s an interesting debate about Permanent Revolution’s position on Chavez. I was also reading a piece written in Solidarity (AWL) by Martin Thomas. Funnily enough, I disagree with both positions put forward but for quite different reasons.

The AWL think that all politics can be reduced to a basic sort of class politics as understood in the countries of the imperialist heartland, such as Britain. It is not possible for the ordinary people of Venezuela, whether workers or peasants, to do simple trade union work etc. At some stage they will need to deal with the jackboot of imperialism and the effects that it has on the politics of their society. This is where Chavez has got it at least partly right and the AWL have got it totally wrong.

Chavez and the movement around him are the start of a process that has the potential of to develop into a revolution. I would guess that all revolutionary processes will start like this…including when it happens in Britain in the 35th century.

PR are kinda quibbling in their article, presumably for their own ultra left reasons. It is a bit strange that a current called “Permanent Revolution” fails to understand that there is a political process underway that needs defending.

The online magazine IVP is closer to the mark in that it understands that the process in Venezuela needs to be deepened and the opportunity that exists to build organisations based on the activity of the masses needs to be taken. Criticising Chavez from the sidelines for being a petit bourgeois nationalist is to miss the point entirely. Perhaps Chavez is this or something similar. Certainly if he sticks to the politics of being the President things will be driven to a political dead end. This does not have to be so though. If the masses take the opportunity that they have to organise this will mean that things will open up into a very exciting situation indeed.

Part of doing this though will be to defend the process as it is from its enemies, this (sorry Permanent Revolution) will mean defending Chavez from Rosales and from those both inside and outside of Venezuela who will be looking to defeat Chavez and all the positive things he represents.

Viva la revolucion!

Btw: check out the blog from the Hands off Venezuela campaign

"Mentally ill" on a murderous rampage....

The Sunday rant………………..

“One person a week killed by mentally ill” screamed the front page of today’s Observer. Yeah, still "mad", "bad" and "dangerous" to know!

That stigmatising and unfortunate headline narked me beyond belief. Read the piece and it is about how people labelled with mental distress are being assessed who then allowed to go out and kill. And interestingly, they have also lumped suicides by mentally distressed people as well into the mix.

Instead of highlighting the inadequacies of psychiatry and so-called patient care the piece lays emphasis on the homicides committed by low-risk nutcases. I was considered low-risk when I was in the bin many years ago. And now we have the publication of Avoidable Deaths by my old favourite, mental health “tsar” Louis Appleby. I just wonder how the government will react especially with changes to the Mental Health Act recently published and I also just wonder how much political pressure Appleby was under as he should damn well know what impact stigmatising people with mental health problems does.

Instead of looking at ways to improve patient care, better communication and so on the government will believe they are justified to increase the powers of compulsory treatment and ways of locking up people with an untreatable “illness” that is personality disorder. Protecting the public outweigh the rights of people labelled with mental distress. Marjorie Wallace, that doyen of the lock ‘em up brigade though under the pretence that she cares, argues:

“In order to respect the human rights of a patient, it seems you become cold to the pleas and warnings of families that they have to be deteriorating and not taking medication”.

Well Marjorie, you’ll possibly get your way with the new changes to the Mental Health Act. Advocacy and rights of the user will disappear. I am not getting into a discussion this time about the role of carers but what I will say is that the voice of the user gets lost along the way.

In 2002 there were 873 homicides and less than 5% were attributed to people with mental health problems. This is where the dishonesty of the statistics comes into play as for most people the chance of being killed by someone with mental health problems is very low but on the surface of this article especially the headline it looks like we are all fair game to the nutcase lurking in the bushes.

In the States, it is estimated that someone labelled with a psychosis is more likely (14 times) to be a victim of a violent crime than to be arrested for such crime. The British Journal of Psychiatry (1999) published a study by Taylor et al about care in the community and perceived dangerousness, concluded: “There is no evidence that it is anything but stigmatising to claim that their living in the community is a dangerous experience that should be reversed”.

Sensationalist and stupid headlines do nothing to stem the stigmatising of people with mental health problems, it makes things worse. There is more newspaper space devoted to negative stories regarding mental distress as opposed to anything positive. But hey, positive stories don’t sell papers.

Years ago I lived next door to a woman who I was friendly with as we were both crime fiction fans. I used to look after her cat when she was away and I used to browse her enormous crime fiction collection. One day she told me she was rather “disturbed” that the council were planning to develop houses in the street for people coming out of long term psychiatric care. Her nimby reaction shocked me as well as the fact these plans had an impact on her liberal sensibilities. I always had her down as a leftie (means nowt, I know…).
I explained to her that only recently I had been in the psychiatric system and I had lived in the kind of houses the council were planning to create when I was a teenager. She looked me up and down and replied: “But you don’t look like one of them”.

Yeah, but what does one of them look like anyway?

The butcher of Chile in military hospital

Augusto Pinochet is in a military hospital after having a heart attack. He's in a military hospital as he is under house arrest. According to hospital staff, "His condition is serious but stable".

I really hope el cabron is in agonising pain. Or indeed this could be a ruse to get him off house arrest. Pinochet does experience impressive"medical breakthroughs", eh? I mean, who knew that flying halfway around the world would "cure" his Alzheimer's.

Well, get worse soon, Pinochet!
I just hope your pals like Kissinger and Thatcher won't be too far behind.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hitch a ride on the Shortbus

I was gonna attend the demo at Brize Norton today but I pulled something vital in my knee after overdoing it on the cross-trainer in the gym (ha! serves me right for trying to get fit!). So to cheer-up I took myself including knackered knee and hobbled to the cinema (with painkillers)to see the film Shortbus and thankfully there was a lot of leg room to stretch my aching joints!

Shortbus set in New York is a very funny, poignant, depressing and realistic film with unsimulated sex thrown into the mix. It is directed by John Cameron Mitchell who also acted in and directed the excellent Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

As one of the characters says early in the film, "voyeurism is particpation" and as a viewer of the film that's precisely what you are doing. Voyeurism is what partly shapes the film.

The film revolves around a couples' counsellor who has never experienced an orgasm, a fed-up and unhappy dominatrix looking for a way out and a gay couple who are contemplating having an open relationship. All of the characters collide at a place called Shortbus where people come together to have sex presided over by mistress of ceremonies, Justin Bond. Shortbus offers intimacy, confidence, friendship, liberation and closeness from isolation and alienation. Sexuality kinda goes out of the window and so do inhibitions. Other minor character weave themselves into the lives of the main characters.

I liked the film because of its realism. The script and the characters development were improvished. The sex isn't your average polite choreographed Hollywood film with fantastic lighting and moaning and groaning on cue. No, it's sweaty, honest and sometimes spontaneous sex.

Shortbus is place where people don't just indulge in sex but talk about how they feel and friendships are formed. The two characters I sorta related to were James and Severin, both deeply unhappy lonely people (one being suicidal) who live a lie and find it hard to tell people they are close to how they truly feel. Both express themselves through film and photography. There is some kind of resolution for all the characters but even then that's left open. No happy Hollywood denouement all neatly wrapped up in a pretty bow.

OK, it is not a laugh out loud a minute film though it does have some fantastic one liners such as Sophia (couples' counsellor) sitting with Justin watching people screwing. He turns to her and says, "It's like the 1960s but with less hope". If you are looking for pure escapism then there's a dreadful romcom film coming up called The Holiday (urgh!!). Well hey, if you like that kinda thing.

I really recommend Shortbus. It is not about sex it is how people relate to sex. People feeling like square pegs in round holes and not knowing precisely how to communicate, understand and relate to each other. Well, I know how that feels.

Oh and I will never listen to the Star Spangled Banner in the same way ever again....

You Tube

A few blips with putting youtube up, so that's why I have taken down the Sex Pistols post.

I was getting all carried away as well and wanted to put some new bands up to prove my taste extends beyond nostalgia .

Anyway that clever, funny, good looking articulate and all round disturbed geordie that is Will is going to help sort it.

Where would we be without the twisted genius :-)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blog from Oaxaca

Check out this interesting blog from Oaxaca called Expedition Mexico.

Hat tip: Liam's blog

Cliff Richard calendars

Picked up one of those tat freebie papers on the tube the other day.
There was a list of the best selling calendars :

Overall 2007 Calendars (sales so far)
1 Robbie Williams
2 Dr Who
3 World Wrestling Entertainment
4 Sir Cliff Richard
5 The Simpsons
6 Kylie Minogue
7 Pirates of The Caribbean
8 Westlife
9 Take That
10 Girls Aloud

Top 10 Women 2007
1 Kylie Minogue
2 Girls Aloud
3 Keeley
4 Hollyoaks
5 Jennifer Ellison
6 Pussycat Dolls
7 Kelly Brook
8 Gemma Atkinson
9 Jordan
10 Sugababes

The top tens are based on sales so far for Danilo, Europe's biggest official calendar company.

The headline was that Robbie was tops. What caught my eye though was the fact that :

Sir Cliff Richard, who has been in the top 10 for the last 20 years, has rocketed up two places to fourth place.

Somebody explain why ?

When Bill Grundy met the Sex Pistols....

It is 30 years since television stalwart Bill Grundy’s career disintegrated over night. Well, what did he expect when inviting a new phenomenon called the Sex Pistols onto his respectable tea-time telly programme, Today…?

I have watched the segment so many times where Grundy is goading the Pistols into saying something outrageous and ya know, they just couldn’t disappoint especially as Grundy comes over all like a letch towards Siouxsie Sioux (part of the Bromley Contingent. Bromley? Oh, how Bromley has changed!). “You dirty fucker” ended Grundy’s career and the Sex Pistols had arrived. Two-fingers to the establishment and anarchy in the UK.

Sex Pistols, I salute you!