Every single day during his presidency, Barack Obama read ten letters. He committed to this on his first day of office, becoming the first president to undertake such a rigorous, continuous, on-going daily conversation with the people of the US. Late each afternoon, the ten ‘representative’ letters, drawn from the often 10,000 pieces of correspondence the White House received from all manner of American citizens, would be taken away by Obama and personally read, and answered, that very evening.
Being a child of the 70s, long players, or LPs as they became known, were the staple of my musical upbringing, with my first purchase being a dubious 1972 Marc Bolan & TREX compilation, Ride a White Swan. Long before random, shuffle, skip & repeat became the norm the LP represented an almost cultural event, one that you listened to in its entirety – side one first before flipping it over to listen intently to the other side. Skipping songs presented an almost unavoidable opportunity to permanently scratch your precious vinyl and was to be avoided at all costs.
Ah, our lovely holiday season: wild & windy in the West Country, shivering in sleety Scotland, tanning in Tuscany or hitting the sangria in Espana. Usually, at least. Apparently, the talk amongst the chattering classes these days is as much about the ubiquitous unplugging, aka ‘digital detox’, as it is about where they’re off to and what they’ll be getting up to. It’ll come as no surprise that this doesn’t matter a great deal to me as I didn’t even take a phone this year but my escapades did provide the opportunity of observing my fellow travellers, and their digital habits, at very close quarters.
Calm down, dear, I’ve been on me hols. Paraphrasing Cameron’s jibe at Angela Eagle reminds me, lest we ever forget, the whole purpose of the referendum vote was to quell the fractious decades-long, almost generational, bickering & backstabbing within his then-party. Not only did it achieve exactly the opposite, it succeeded in contaminating the whole nation with its polarised, side-taking approach.
If you haven’t yet treated yourself to the youtube clip of Double Diamond Danny Dyer’s interview with Piers Morgan wrt to the host’s biggest bromancer, Dave Cameron, please do so without further delay. Calling-out the ex-Prime Minister, and begetter of Brexit, was truly something to behold and the former Brexiter’s explicit use of the ‘T’ word (as well as the unforgettable ‘trotters’!) ensures his position within the pantheon of unabashed remainers for life. I’m expecting Danny to replace Vinnie as leader of the Liberal party before the week’s out.
Someone pointed out to me t’other day that the most innovative advancement of their shiny new iPhone8 was that they were able, via a special pad, to experience wireless charging as opposed to going through all the hassle of…er, plugging in a cable. At the risk of pointing out the blindingly obvious that, with the pad still needing to be plugged in you can still only charge the device in one place, are these marginal, and seemingly irrelevant, advancements what we’ve come to expect from technology?
T’other day I caught a glimpse of myself in a heated debate concerning a subject that divides the nation, pits father against son, mother against daughter, polarises opinion wrt leave or remain and currently engulfs the majority of media airtime, and let me tell you a pretty sight it wasn’t. Yes, Love Island’s back on the tele and you need to decide what side of the divide you’re on.
We live in such an inquisitive society today that when someone pegs it we invariably want to know why and how, and did they bring it on themselves or could they have dodged the bullet? I’m now at ‘that’ age where I’m slightly more aware of my mortality than I used to be, and, like most of my peers, do obsess a little about my health and likely longevity. However, I drink too much and, if you’re one of the few who consider midnight doner kebabs to be bad, then I certainly have a highly questionable diet.
OK, OK, enough already. Having served-up for your delectation the analyses of Vlad the Impaler and Ming the Merciless it was only a matter of time before THE BIG ONE was to follow. But with so much opinion already out there, most of it highly subjective and polarised, it’s difficult to get to the fact of the matter and the heart of the man. Let’s start with some unabashed truths…
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.