Shameless Excuse to Recycle Old Joke (no. eleventy five)
Saw the Basil D'Oliveira Story on the box last week. I remember watching him as a kid and remember the Dolly Affair, which, it is not too fanciful to argue, marked the beginning of the end of Apartheid. I must have been about eleven at the time and it was probably the first time that politics impinged on something I really cared about. The programme threw up some interesting and hitherto unknown facts and confirmed what everyone suspected all along; that there was collusion between the Pretoria and the establishment over here to keep Dolly out of the South Africa Tour of '68 and keep the cosy, rascist status quo that was International Cricket at the time.
That Dolly was sold down the river by everyone he trusted should suprise no one, but the strangest thing about it all was the incompetent way in which it was done. Either that or there was someone decent fighting his corner. For instance, Dolly was dropped for the last test before the tour, and, although controversial, a purely cricketing case could have been made for the decision. And when the opening batsman pulled out through injury, Dolly was hardly the first choice replacement as an all rounder who batted at number six. But come in to the team he did and played the finest innings of his career. There was no earthly reason not to pick him for the tour, but they didn't, then they did, and the rest is history.
All this, though, is merely a preamble to the first thing that came into my head as I settled down to watch the programme. It was, of course, the Fawlty Towers episode where the Colonel is reminiscing. "Ah yes," he says, "a woman. I knew one once. Took her to see India. At the Oval. Marvellous day. But she kept calling the Indians niggers. 'Oh no, no,' I told her, 'you can't call them niggers. The West Indians are niggers. These are wogs."
Three posts in four days last week didn't herald a new dawn of regular posting, because, frankly, real life is more fun, except when it involves Englishmen kicking a ball, of course. Bring back El Tel, I say. The man may or may not be straight as a die in his business life, but, more importantly, I don't think he would have tried to sit on a slender lead while his opposite number threw more and more attackers onto the field.
I bow to no one in my respect for what Sven has achieved since the dark days of Kevin Keegan, but when it comes to playing top class opponents, he doesn't seem to learn much. Grab a lead and defend deep worked against Argentina in the World Cup, but it failed against Brazil and it failed against France and it has failed again against Portugal, but in the press conference Sven was unrepentant, so we can expect more of the same in two years time in Germany. Oh well, at least the fans behaved themselves.
I didn't want to join the Couldn't Give a Shit Party, honestly, I didn't.
It's true that I can never work up much interest for local or Euro Elections, but on the day I usually amble down to the polling station to put my cross in the box. I rather like the quaint old fashionness of the voting process - the earnest people behind their tables, the rickety booth, the important looking ballot boxes, and I often think about other countries where the whole thing is a lot less civilised - pitched battles over the ballot boxes and the like. We are privileged to take peaceful elections as read, and I'm one of those annoying people who considers wasting the vote as bordering on the criminal. Even if there's nobody to vote for, there's always someone to vote against and as a last resort you can always scrawl "none of the above". Anyway, what I'm saying is that it's unusual for me to miss a vote, even when I don't take alot of notice of the campaigns.
Unfortunately, I'm not very good with mail. I know what the letters with cheques in look like and know what the bills look like, the rest get binned or put to one side for perusal at a later date. Ones that say "Open Immediately" tend to get left around the place. I was vaguely aware of the postal voting thing and that we were in a pilot scheme area, but hadn't taken a deal of notice, so when the ballot papers came, I just assumed I could take them down the polling station on the day.
Ho no. When they say postal voting they mean postal voting, so when I opened the letter this afternoon I discovered it was too late to fucking well vote. The bastards have disenfranchised me, they don't do polling stations. They don't do metal boxes with slits in and little pencils on string and when they say elections on June 10th they mean you have to post it to to arrive by June 10th, at least in my neck of the woods they do.
So, I have supported the majority party at these elections.
So, Reagan is no longer with us, although to be honest, he hasn't been with us for ten years or so. Alzheimers is a terrible thing, and no one would wish it on their worst enemy, or indeed the effects on their worst enemy's families.
That said, it is the politicians' lot, and the celebrity politicians even more so, to have their entrails picked over mercilessly, although to read much of the press coverage of Reagan's legacy, it seems that he, like Richard Nixon before him, has escaped rather lightly.
He was a strange old cove and no mistake. Probably the first celebrity politician of the modern era, he was some sort of Sarumanesque hybrid. "It is a politician, but one like you've never seen before. He is at home in front of the television cameras, he reads an autocue deftly and exudes an easy charm that makes even his enemies warm to him. What sort of fell beast is this?"
For the Free Marketeers and those of the Libertarian Right persuasion he is an iconic figure, single handedly (well, with a little help from his ally this side of the pond) bringing communism to it knees and bringing us Reaganomics. To others, his unwillingness in foreign policy to deviate from the my enemy's enemy is my friend mantra was enough to condemn him as a murderous old bastard by proxy. And if, as his admirers believe, his implacable hostility to communism did help rid the world of a cancerous evil, it also played its part in giving rise to another, in the shape of Bin Laden and his not so Merrie Men.
But just how crucial was Reagan's reckless defence spending and "Mr Gorbachev, tear down the wall" rhetoric in consigning Soviet Style Communism to the dustbin of history? If we imagine the Cold War as essentially a conflict between two economic models, one amoral and efficient, the other immoral (in a sense, since it was it was run by politicians, who always tend to immorality in the absence of the means to throw them out) and inefficient, there was always going to be one winner. And the gung ho admirers of Reagan surely have it exactly wrong when they try to make out it was his hostility that brought about the change, when actually it was his arms limitation and conciliatory attitude that allowed him to do business with Gorbachev, the greater architect of the end of the Cold War.
And then there's Reaganomics. Well, it's not a word you hear much these days, with good reason, since it amounted to little more than "Aw shucks, ain't taxes just the worse thing?" And in Reagan's folksy, homespun philosophy there was no room for a cautionary exhortation along the lines of "neither a borrower or a lender be," so by the end of his tenure he left a mountain of debt that would have sent your average rancher galloping off into the sunset.
A bit of a hiatus on the blogging front, what with Big Brother and having one of my, thankfully rare nowadays, bouts of intense labour. I've almost forgotten what its like to be slaving till four o clock in the morning. Still, wolves at the door and all that.
What about Kitten, eh? Come on, don't get all high and mighty, you watch it the same as the rest of us, you just don't like to admit it. I'll tell you what, though, I bet there's many an old lefty who watched Kitten with a strange mixture of horror, condescension and a squirmy feeling of deja vu. Gay, straight, man or woman, there's not many of us who haven't made similarly spectacular exhibitions of ourselves in our former lives.
No? Must be just me, then.
So, what's been happening? Oil prices wobble due to terrorism in Saudi, Iraq is reasonably quiet and moves towards June 30th with something approaching optimism, the European elections barely register on the radar and Gwyneth Dunwoody (can't be arsed to check the spelling or link to the story) pulls off the neat trick of making otherwise reasonable people side with the fuel protesters (who in the event didn't protest due to some nifty governmental footwork.)
Did you hear the Dunwoody woman? Spouting on about, if I remember correctly, how protest, legal protest, mind, was anti democratic? Eee, with elected politicians like her about, who needs dictators?
In blogland, things are quiet bordering on the soporific. The Kid is canvassing, Matt T is away, The Edge of Corporate Americas Sword and Samisdata are as dully predictable as ever, Crooked Timber too damned erudite for its own good and the team who must not be named are busy obsessing over those towering adversaries, the SWP and the Respect coalition.