Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - the year of ?

In Gaeldom, years were once known by epithets rather than simple numbers. Hence we had Bliadhna Theàrlaich (1745), a' Bhliadhna a Ghais am Buntàta (the year of the Highland famine) and more recently Bliadhna a' Chac which can refer to the year when either Thatcher or Blair came to power. What will this year be known as?

Here's some ideas from the preceding twelve months...

January saw Irish hackers gain access to the website of religious heid-the-baw Ian Paisley's party, the DUP and leave messages in and supporting Irish Gaelic as well as apologising for the party's many homophobic statements. One wonders who the DUP would rather god smited first, Gaels or Gays?

February. Not for the first nor the last time do we see and hear those Ordinary Blokes at Top Gear acting like a bunch of KKK hicks guffawing at the corpse of a young black kid they'd just lynched. This time they targeted Mexicans and their cuisine from the safety of their warm tax payer-funded BBC studios. Despite two thirds of the Top Gear team having had privileged private school educations they don't actually seem that well travelled. Anyway, I'm sure Clarkson didn't mean it. After all he looks like the kind of sad fuck who eats more nachos, beef and cheese than is good for him. Hey! Lets all laugh at these barmy foreigners and dark skinned pickaninnies!

March and a tsunami of world events hit the insular telly screens of Grate Brittann. The wave of water that left chaos in Japan also extolled the dangers of nuclear power and reminded us of what a dangerous and expensive white elephant it is. The British film crews meanwhile hovered over stricken Japanese gesticulating to them like English lager-louts stuck in a Spanish village and asking bemused locals for directions. The Arab Spring was also in full swing and the 'rebels' in Libya were rioting against Gaddafi. Strangely enough it seems as if the Libyan rebellion had its wheels oiled by French special agents. Cameron then miraculously found a lot of money that he'd previously claimed was unavailable to public services and promptly bombed the fck out of Libya. Cue human rights atrocities on both sides and finally the man who'd kissed, hugged and tortured for many world leaders only months previously was set upon by a mob and killed. Thus, the people of Libya are now free. More importantly, so is their oil.

April was officially declared the Month of Saxe-Coburg due to the Anglo-Germanic Prince Wilhelm having found a suitable receptacle for the royal poor-man's custard. Marriage and royalty in one horrendous package and fodder for the tabloid X-Factor generation. I understand that in the spirit of things, future winners of Britain's Got Talent will be deemed immediately eligible to marry a lesser member of the royals. Unfortunately, Prince Harry is thought to be too close for comfort.  Sickening stuff indeed but a good excuse to roll out Laibach's take on Engerland's nashanull anthem.

The month of May saw a merry Bealltain for Scotland's march towards independence. Who could forget the glorious combination of a slick and savvy SNP and a Unionist opposition whose campaign was so feeble and lacklustre that it could be perceived as anti-Scottish...
"Why bother with the Scottish parish assembly?", "Hey, mention Thatcher and the proles and Weegies will  vote for us anyway", "Dinnae bother using spellcheck on those election leaflets."
- and these were just the Labour Party quotes. In fact, Labour high-heid-yins were so cocksure on being elected by their 'safe' constituencies that some such as Andy Kerr boasted to Scots Parly workers on the day before the election, 'See you next week hen'. Ho-ho... how the mediocre fall.

Hence, the Lib Dems' ludicrous Tavish Scott, the Tories' dusty and arid Annabel Goldie and Labour's er... who?... were all sent packing. The subsequent leadership contests were just as dull. Even now, Salmond has no-one to match him as Ian Bell reflects upon here in the Herald. Roll on independence.

Flaming June and it was time to show some respect for the boys and gals 'we' send to become Taleban fodder in Afghanistan. Armed Forces Day was just another opportunity to wave a few Union Jacks and gloss over why the fck we're still involving ourselves and our kids lives in various foreign conflicts. Scotland unfortunately, including many SNP figures, is obsessed with our martial past. Get it over it lads and tell London to stuff their Eton-accented praise and wage a war on poverty.

July was a month dedicated to dirty tabloid lowlifes and a Jeremy Clarkson disciple with a gun. Indeed, this was a mad, mad month with EDL heidbangers marching and churches in Scotland getting their knickers in a twist over music in churches and gay ministers. Dontcha just love the religious right?

Things came to a heid in August when England's cities and Gloucester burned like Arab conurbations. Jeremy Clarkson was invited to protect Engerland's architectural heritage and fly a flag for lawrenorder but strangely declined. Cue a prolonged period of navel gazing, retribution and witch-hunting in the Land of Hope and Glory. The three millionaire leaders of London's political tribes condemned the rioters out of hand. Nick Clegg in particular plumbed depths so deep that he discovered hitherto unknown lifeforms living around an aperture between Cameron's buttocks. The bleating from the Eton boys sounded even more hollow when it emerged that they too had been involved in criminal damage and arson during their 'hoodie' years. The icing on the cake for Scots came when Unionists in North Britain were outraged at claims that the riots hadn't hit Scotland. Apparently, pointing out the fact that all the rioting happened in England did not make the riots an 'English' issue. Thus, the Labour Party and Lib Dems north of the border proved that they hadn't learned anything from May's humbling at the polls.

September and some rummaging around the Facebook pages of Scottish Defence League came up with Celtic's hot-heided midfielder Scott Brown apparently bonding with some small-town hicks in their campaign, I'm not sure. Edinburgh's Evil News picked up on Tocasaid's fearless detective work and Scott Brown was forced to come out and act dumb, which he did very well. Whether or not the SDL are racist, sectarian, homo-erotic or just the footsoldiers in the Army of Christ's war on foreskins - as our Christian Bible demands - no-one can tell. Whatever, it doesn't wash well with Celtic FC's claims to the moral high-ground and eternal victimhood. Allah moves in strange ways however and next we'll be told that Celtic FC even employed a war-criminal and former Commander of the British Armed Forces as their chairman.

October was quiet-ish apart from the simmering stooshie over plans to allow gay marriages and the totally unconnected case of Liam Fox who had to resign his job in the Ministry of Bodybags due to his relationship with his best man. Oh, and Blair and Sarkozy's auld friend Gaddafi got butchered.

Gay marriages are still opposed by some.
November and the month of Samhain sees a coffin load of horrors released from Jesus freaks to misogynist Labour MPs to obnoxious young Tories in St Andrews. The campaign against gay marriage intensifies with bible-bashers getting themselves in a bigger froth about either the private lives of others or the rights of other religions to the word 'marriage'. The Wee Frees warn that allowing gays to marry is the start of a slippery slope towards paedophilia and bestiality. That's a guid yin! Pity they also said that about Sunday ferries to the Isle of Lewis. November was a month of anti-sectarian unity too with both the Ugly Sisters of Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic - do I detect a geographical pattern here? - uniting in attacking the Scottish Government's anti-sectarian bill. Various neo-Abrahamic sects from the Roman Catholic Church to the million and one Presbyterian splinter sects in Scotland also united to stop others from using the word 'marriage' on a piece of paper to describe a relationship between two persons of the same sex. Those two could be Liam Fox and Adam Werrity perhaps. Or maybe William Hague and his bedfellow. Or even the new Tory leader in Scotland who is, unlike the rest, open about her sexuality.

Lastly, the dark dreich month of December ushered in a flurry of black humour at the expense of others' misfortune. Clarkson again. This time wading into the public service strikers who took to the streets in numbers not seen for many a year. The fat toff would do well to remember that his girth is a product of public subsidy via the BBC. Maybe he's hoping to inspire another right-wing gun nut to act out his fantasies for him? Clarkson wasn't the only one though. English media wee-sacks Matthew Wright probably outdid Clarkson when he guffawed at the murder of a 16 year old in the Isle of Lewis. Now that Wright's show has been axed by the crusading Channel 5/ Daily Express TV, the wee nyaff has probably hit the bottle again. Like a character in Taggart.

Having been all high and mighty about others mining tragedy or poverty for laughs... I have to admit a bit of guilt in this department too. My cheap shot at the demise of the Scottish Labour Party was below the belt. Never kick a hypocritical, London-centric, bloated and corrupt auld jakie when he or she is down. Shame on me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Gove Bible, Hitchens, Winterval and Sectarianism

It's the great dark winter of austerity but Michael Gove, the testicular-faced education Caesar south of the border has found enough pennies in his sporan to send a new copy of the King James' Bible to every school in Engerland. Not only that, but this new edition will be prefaced by the Book of Gove.

Let us worship, with Gove.
Will the hitherto undiscovered Book of Gove be Old or New Testament in its leaning? Will kids be introduced to the vengeful, jealous and totally psychotic tyrant of the OT - the one who sends firestorms to engulf His creation and who has a bee in his bonnet about foreskins? Or will kids be given a hypocritical taste of the nice god - via his son, who is also er... himself... - who wants us to turn the other cheek except when marching into oil-rich nations to free their fossil-fuels for our use? Or will it be a kind of religious 'nice cop, nasty cop'?

There are some parallels to be drawn between the bipolar god of the bible and some Western politicians. In the bible, god creates people, draws up the parameters of their existence, insists they give him 'praise' for him choosing to create them and then melts them in fire if they don't toe his line. Equally, we have seen a number of tyrants 'created' by US and UK powers for decades now, usually for our short-term economic gain. However, like earthly sinners, they too face firestorms when they stop tugging their forelocks in the White House's direction.

Will this mass of contradictions be explained to England's schoolkids? I fear it may be left to a few 'rogue' teachers to balance things with the works of AC Grayling, Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens has many a tome which could easily be distilled and offered for consideration by young minds. Especially at this time of year when the sheer amount of bullshit forced upon kids in the name of 'Christmas' is staggering. Lets hope some of the content of Hitchens' The Portable Atheist or God is not Great is provided a.s.a.p.

Here's some of Hitchens' finest quotes on the subject:
“[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

 “The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.”

“To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?”

 “Organised religion is violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children.”

“Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of 'the flock.”

Who are your favorite heroines in real life? The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their beauty to defy the foulness of theocracy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi as their ideal feminine model.”
I may use the term 'Winterval' to take the piss. There are those who are furious that anyone uses it. Instead, we are meant to accept our kids being brainwashed by fantasy and nonsense that isn't even in the Bible. The 'Good Book' is ludicrous enough with its mass of contradictions, hate and general mania. Even this book, on which our religious are based, does not make any mention of Christ's birthdate. Neither are there any wise men nor a star to follow. As Dawkins said of Catholicism, 'these guys are shamelessly making it up as they go along'.

The Wee Frees - Scotland's Real Proddies Continuing - are right in at least one thing. Christmas is simply an auld pagan festival that's been remixed over the centuries by the Pope and his closest men.

This leads me onto to Scotland's form of sectarianism which is actually pretty mild compared to the crazy form they practise in Iraq or Israel. To be precise, I wonder how the Orange Order and thousands of Glasgow Rangers' fans can continue to partake in such pagan and Popish idolatry? The Scotland of my maw's day all worked at Xmas. A friend of mine whose Irish mother grew up in a West Lothian town some 60 years ago tells me that hers was the only house with a Xmas tree in it.

This then is the peculiar thing about Scotland's sectarianism. On one hand you have thousands of... braindoners to be frank who hate Catholicism but who break the Sabbath by playing/ watching football, partake in Catholic/ pagan festivals and who don't really go to church anymore. Yet they still think they are 'oppressed' by the Pope.

On the other side, you have thousands of deluded Celtic fans who were born in Scotland often to Scots born parents, who speak Scottish and are culturally Scottish but who claim to be 'Irish'. I've met these 'second generation' Glaswegian Irish in the Gweedore Gaeltachd and they stick out like sare thumbs. You can meet the young lads speaking Irish and carrying hurley sticks or going to a session in a local teach before encountering swaggering loud Glaswegians with Celtic tops and gold chains. Now, who are the real Irish?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SOS bus arrives for Labour

Just as well that Glasgow got its SOS 'Boozebus' rolling this weekend. All three of North Britain's Labour leadership hopefulls (is hopelesses a noun?) represent constituencies in or around Glesgae. With Captain Gray having jumped ship, the last three mammals left aboard hobbled forward to fight it out in a contest to be skipper.

Bus for Scottish Labour, next stop nowhere.
And what a contest it wasn't. While we're on the nautical theme, Captain Pugwash was more exciting and relevant to the future of Scotland. Seaman Staines, Master Bates and Roger the Cabin boy didn't exactly clamour to be party leader but were more content to be lapped forward a little by the ripples resulting from departing leader Gray's farewell breaking of wind.

In all seriousness though, the messages coming from Labour regarding their future direction have been confusing to say the least. High heid yins like Douglas Alexander have acknowledged that Labour strategy for the past years in dealing with the SNP has been to spread fear of 'separation'. When fear fails, get bitter and twisted. Others have questioned the need for Labour to be obsessed with 'saving the Union'. It has been acknowledged that Labour 'hasn't listened' to Scotland and that the constant negativity emanating from their elected representatives turns people off.

Johann, Joanna, John, Joan... whats in a name?
You'd think that Iain Gray of all people would know all this. However, his parting shot at Salmond was less than gracious. I can't recall his exact words but the general gist of his rant was, 'Salmond you fkng fat poof, you've made me a laughing stock... we used to have it so comfy in Scotland but...' before he was led away sobbing by Lord Foulkes to a local hostelry.

It surely is a sign of the poverty of the imagination in the Scottish Labour camp that Henry McLeish is being constantly wheeled out like some wise auld sage though his warnings that Labour are too obsessed with the Nats are true enough. If he is Labour's Christopher Hitchens-type big thinker then the dawn of independence will come quicker than a Nick Clegg change of ideals.

Step forward Johann Lamont - or 'Yohann' according to Sky News who seem to think Labour's new leader here is a male Scandanavian though even some Scots shamefully call her La-mont instead of Lam-ont which is closer to the Gaelic roots of the name. Whatever,  Sir Johann de la Mont said, through gritted teeth, that she didn't hate the SNP and that they patently had a mandate to do what the fluk they wanted to. Seemed to me as if she was just going through the motions as if in some Winterval Panto matinee for the local nursery. In the same breath as acknowledging this mandate she then demanded that the SNP call the referendum a.s.a.p. But... aren't the SNP just sticking to the manifesto that the majority of us voted for? And, is that not called er... a mandate?

Labour don't get it. The king is dead, long live the king. They've been a festering sore for years and took the Scots for granted at every election. Scotland will be independent sooner or later. Labour could be a constructive part of that or they could wither away like the old Liberals did.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cheap laughs in other people's misery

The recent stooshies surrounding the humour of some English media types is probably heaven-sent propaganda material for certain right-wing tabloids who will use it in their latest campaign against 'political correctness'. Some in the London-based media would just love it if they could call a spade a spade and come out with the kind of hate-filled bile that even the BNP are scared to speak today.

Ha! Another murder!

The Matthew Wright incident is harder to brush off though as the predictable objections of a few lefties. It does however shine a spotlight on the hypocrisy that surrounds both the tabloid media and the kind of shock-comedians and presenters who make cheap laughs and money out of the misery of others.

Wright's employer is of course Channel 5 which is interestingly enough owned by Daily Express czar Richard Desmond. The Express, it should be remembered, is a campaigning paper and likes to see itself as being 'tough on crime' - as much as despised journalists can be. Desmond by the way is also the owner of various porn mags and one time donor to Blair's Labour Party - could this all be more righteous than it already is?!  Paxman's interview with Blair, if you can find it on You Tube, makes for classic viewing.

Wright though peddles a different kind of porn - and not one than young lads can have a quick hand-shandy to - poverty porn. This is usually bad enough - watching the smug bully that is Wright revel in the problems of various 'schemies' and 'chavs' confused by their 15 minutes of fame and hyped up on free coffee. However, hearing Wright and his fellow bullies smirk and guffaw at their own jokes about the murder of a teenager in the Isle of Lewis really does make the stomach churn. Like all of his ilk, he chooses his targets wisely though. This 'may only be a laugh' but why doesn't he laugh at the deaths in his own family? Why not laugh at soldiers blown apart in Afghanistan? Why not IRA victims?

Strange how these folk can come over all PC when it suits them.

Hope their families are watching.

Wright is not alone. His case swiftly follows that of yon fat buffoon Jeremy Clarkson. Hearing a bloated ex-private school windbag who drives cars for a living at the tax-payers' expense courtesy of the BBC, saying the striking teachers and nurses should be shot makes even this atheist wish for a wrathful God to suddenly demand Clarkson's biblical-style circumcision. How would JC fare in an inner-city school trying to teach the offspring of society's detritus? Would he have picked up the pieces of human bodies after London's many terrorist bombs over the years? Cannae see it somehow.

Or as someone else put it:
A Banker, a School Teacher, a Tory MP and a Daily Mail reader are sat around a table. In front of them is a plate, on which there are ten biscuits. The Banker scoffs nine of the biscuits, then the Tory turns to the Daily Mail reader and whispers in his ear "Watch out, that teacher is after your biscuit."
Which role would Clarkson play?

Whit ye waiting fur? Jist git oan wi it!

Scotland has its own prize hypocrite though. Billy Connolly. His laughs came from the beheading in Iraq of Ken Bigley. Ho-ho! However, I can't recall his jokes about Princess Di's early demise? Maybe his friendship with Prince Charles and the Royal Family has something to do the 'Big Yin's' selective political correctness? If not, I look forward to hearing his jokes about Chas' uncle, Louis Mountbatten - "1st Earl of Burma" - who the IRA infamously assassinated in 1979. Maybe the famously working-class Connolly does have some boundaries after all?

Not all school bullies grow up to become policemen.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Skins, bagpipes and thrash - Oi Polloi at 30

Some may argue that any punk band that has been together for 30 years isn't a punk band. Some like the UK Subs and GBH never went away. Others like the Pistols, Damned, Subhumans, Skids and even bizarrely Anti-Pasti have at some point reformed. However, I guess that if your music has 'ranged' from basic Oi! to tuneful Sham 69 type punk via the likes of hardcore metal and grunge with some fiddle and bagpipes thrown in then the band has always 'reinvented' itself. A bit like Madonna.

This is not achieved without a turnover in members. Polloi's members have included punks from the schemes as well as ex-pupils of private schools. Not surprisingly, political activists have been there in some number. Most notably were activists for the likes of Anti-Fascist Action and the Hunt Saboteurs. One was even outed as a BNP member which ended up being more painful for him than embarrassing for the band. Lyrics have been equally varied. Some of the early simple ones are still the best in terms of effect and audience reaction - the likes of Apostles cover Pigs for Slaughter, Americans Out/ Hands off Nicaragua and Let the Boots do the Talking. Even the later switch to singing in the medium of Gaelic hasn't deterred the punks from singing along to Carson? or Union Jack - Thall is Cac! Indeed, the funky Killing Joke-esque anthem for the Naked Rambler, Ramalair Ruisgte is so catchy that even Tocasaid's non-punk better half has shaken her tòn to it. Some songs like Meine Augen, THC and Sex with Strangers too much like Crucial Youth for my liking though.

The lyrics generally haven't shied away from their political stance. I remember seeing one - amusing - confrontation in a Dublin nightclub when some local non-fascist but very Roman Catholic skinheads objected to When Two Men Kiss. The pro-land rights song Take Back the Land is an excellent and angry piece of satire. Willie MacRae also goes where a lot of anarchists don't. Even the decision to record only in Gaelic a few years ago is a bold statement and embodies the spirit of the political philosopher who said that learning a minority language itself was a revolutionary act. Polloi have shown that indigenous struggles are just as important at home as in Mexico or Nicaragua.

Learning languages has also bizarrely got Oi Polloi in trouble. In Germany, a rather strange anarchist subsect known as 'Anti-Deutsch' sees speaking German as 'making people proud of Germany' and therefore anti-semitic. In their eyes. As Polloi's singer Ruairidh is a fluent German speaker this has prompted threats from this small but irritating subsect of anarchist moonies. Singing in Gaelic was also not cool. However coming from 'punks' who voiced support for George W Bush in his 'war' against 'anti-semitism', I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Back in Alba a few years ago, similarly dour anarchist types - with accents that made Prince William seem like a prole - forced a film-crew from BBC Alba to flee the punk festival on Cramond Island. As the posh dirty ones explained between swigs of Sainsbury's cider, co-operating with the evil BBC, even in Gaelic, was a counter-revolutionary act. Oi Polloi were, simply... and I quote here, "the voice of the British state". The irony of an English anarchist berating a young Highlander, enthusiastic for new challenging Gaelic music, coming to film an anarchist punk rock band when only 3 decades previously Highlanders were punished by the 'British State' for speaking the same tongue was lost on these 'liberators'.

The tales are many and give credence to the statement that life is stranger than fiction. Some can be found in this interview on Viceland.

I look forward to the book. But until then, its time to get out the DMs and Sandanista Tshirts and get along to Bannermans for the anarchoi than never went away.

Oi Polloi on BBC Alba's Rapal program.