To completely misquote latter-day US film & TV bombshell Mae West “Marriage is a fine institution but I’m just not ready for the institution of monarchy!” No, my problem’s not Harry and Meghan, my problem’s the monarchy. And when it comes to royal events, especially one relieving the public purse of £32,000,000.00, it’s this institution that remains in the dock. It could of course have been done quietly and, God forbid, privately, but to be the effective and powerful symbol it needed to be, it had to be supersized, in glorious technicolour.
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Whilst researching the earlier post concerning data privacy and the impact of GDPR legislation I unearthed some deeply worrying evidence of a post-1984 Orwellian world which is far closer to a reality than, I suspect, we would all believe. Just imagine for a second a society where the majority of our activities and behaviours – where we are, what we are doing, whom are our friends and how we speak to them, what we access online, what we buy and how (or if) we pay for it, whether we game incessantly, exercise daily or download illicit material at al – are constantly monitored and evaluated. And it’s all done with our complete consent.
Act now! You’re important to me. You do still want to hear from me, don’t you? I’ve updated my communication policy and will not let anyone else use your data. Probably. Yeah, right, like I’d give you the chance of bowing out and not receive my raucous rants.
Well what a bank holiday that was – the sun shone and the populist UKIP vote sank without a trace. I don’t know which I enjoyed the most. Mind, the major parties would be wrong to read anything overly significant into the local election results apart from the majority of the UKIP vote naturally defaults back to the Tories. Nothing to see here, please move on.
Last night I had the good fortune to meet two separate groups of pals, friends & acquaintances at the local hostelry. All well and good I hear you say but it did throw-up a certain conundrum that, as a cold, emotionally up-tight northerner, that I’ve struggled with for many a year. A hug, a handshake, a well-intoned nod, an air kiss or a firm squeeze on the forearm – when did saying hello become so complicated? And let’s not forget the high-five, sportsman’s hand clutch, hair ruffle and fist-bump that further muddies the dishwater.
A couple of months ago a pal of mine, a half-decent middle-distance runner decided that, for his birthday treat, he would finally run a marathon. Wanting to avoid the palaver of buying an entry place, early-morning start and getting to the venue, ignoring the roaringly supportive crowds, trouble at the drink stations and having to get his completion medal framed, he simply set his garage-sited running machine to 26.2 miles, opened the door, put the fan on and ran the allotted distance.
Just the other day I bought a book, Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain, where James Bloodworth pulls back the covers on the personal reality of zero-hour contracts, double shifts, social isolation and real-life minimum wage on the British breadline. One such job involved a stint in one of Amazon’s mega warehouses and pretty reading it does not make.
Occasionally I read an article that, for whatever reason, needs no interpretation or enhancement, requires neither spin nor further comment. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage wrote just such a piece this weekend where, with time running out, he proposed the building of a Brexit museum for all us remoaners. As the most seismic event in living memory it makes sense that, when your grandchildren ask why everything is so bad, you can all pop along to its open doors and show them the truth via these top-ten inventive and interactive exhibits.
Several of you have mentioned that, in commenting only upon Vlad the Impaler, I’m being a tad biased and should fill in some blanks wrt the other political chess-players on the world stage. Your wish is my command! In a tale of pantomime quality, the world’s most ambitious leader, Xi Jinping’s backstory is truly one of riches to rags and back to riches and goes some way to explaining why this man is on a mission like no other.
From Salisbury to Syria and back via St Petersburg there’s no denying that Russia has re-entered the world stage with a considerable bang. And embarking on yet another six-year residency, once lowly ex-KGB enforcer, Vladimir Putin is now their longest-serving ruler since the days of Stalin. As befits his shadowy past, President Putin has managed to keep much of his early life, beliefs and personal doctrines largely under wraps, so who is this man, where does he come from and what are his ultimate ambitions?