Myanmar Girl – The Musical

In order to explain the current Burmese situation I propose a musical called ‘Myanmar Girl’ (see what I did there?)

Along the lines of ‘Springtime for  Hitler’  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springtime_for_Hitler  it would tell the story of the rise of Aung San Suu Kyi  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aung_San_Suu_Kyi  from girlhood to the present day.

The musical would open on a gloomy house where Aung San Suu Kyi is being held under arrest; but after a sad beginning the young woman would rise and sing the song ‘Democracy’, outlining her hopes for Burma.  Behind her is a stone tablet engraved with the principle ‘freedom and democracy for all’.  The song would include some principles of Gandhi (cue Bollywood-style dancers in loin cloths) and the musical would continue with numbers such as ‘No, Mr Junta, I won’t Stand’ and ‘Let Me Out’.  The most affecting scene would be her acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize and the high point is where she is made political leader of Burma.  But after that it all goes downhill and in the second half a chorus of Rohingya Muslims appear to sing the song ‘Let My People Stay’.  The Muslim leader even goes personally to ask ASSK to intervene but she has become selectively deaf: behind her he notices that the stone tablet has been altered and now reads ‘freedom and democracy for all (except the Rohingya Muslims)’.  Disgusted, he sings the song ‘1984’ and leaves.  The musical ends with ASSK alone, deserted by all her followers, sitting in the same house where she began.

A farce, you say?  Inappropriate, you say?

Hmm…

Kirk out

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The Tumbleweeds

I’ve been busy this morning putting together some jokes for Newsjack about the Tory Party Conference, and coming up against the ‘Trump Conundrum’ ie how can you make fun of something that is itself a joke?  Still by dint of Herculean efforts I’ve come up with a few one-liners: if they don’t get on – and let’s face it, they’ll be inundated by such contributions this week – then I’ll post them here.  Not to mention the possibility that she might resign or be pushed over the weekend.

What a fiasco though, eh?  Left to itself the speech would have been dull and unmemorable, the only good points stolen from Labour and the rest an embarrassment of poverty.  Who came up with the phrase ‘British dream’ and what were they on at the time?  Lots of cocoa, one can only assume…  We sat through the turgid flow for several sluggish minutes before OH had the brainwave of putting it on at double-speed; even then it was hardly entertaining.  I would imagine you have to watch a Theresa May speech at x 10 speed for it even to approach fun.

I can’t tell you much about what was in it, since there wasn’t much to tell.  As I say, she’d stolen a few initiatives from Labour, plus a lot of hollow rhetoric about equality and stuff, but the biggest cheers came from remarks about ‘wanting everyone to keep their money’ and ‘enjoying the rewards of all your hard work.’

Hmm.

The contrast with Corbyn could hardly be greater.  But the worst, as we already knew, was yet to come.  First a rogue ‘comedian’ broke in and handed her a P45 (even the Tory party disruptions are dull) and then she broke into a coughing fit* which lasted most of the rest of the speech.  Being Tories they manfully stood and clapped during the battle between voice and phlegm, but no amount of standing ovation could smooth over the car-crash of this speech.  If more evidence of God’s disapproval were needed, an ‘F’ fell off the sign behind her and, for all I know, down the back of her dress.  You’d have thought the Tories could afford decent signage at least.

Ah well – it’s all good fun, as was Amber Rudd’s excruciating interview on PM last night:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b096gjrb

William Hill are giving 9/4 odds on Theresa May resigning this year.  Mind you, I’m none the wiser as I don’t really know what 9/4 means…

http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb/betting/e/11251986/When+Will+Theresa+May+Leave+Office+as+PM%3f.html

Kirk out

*I almost wrote ‘coffin fit’ – Freudian slip

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Do You Have Clergy? Take Our Simple Test…

Do you suspect that you may have clergy in the house?  Here are some fail-safe ways to spot them:

  1. Are there any long black garments on hangers?
  2. Are there bits of paper lying around which when placed in order spell GOD or JESUS?
  3. Is there lots of jam in the house?
  4. At this time of year are there baskets of fruit and vegetables strewn around?
  5. Does anyone in the house go around muttering feverishly jelly, cat food, Mars bars, Bible?
  6. Is anyone suspiciously absent at breakfast on Sundays?

And finally:

7:  are there pouches of cat food which have been mysteriously emptied and filled with jelly and bits of cut-up Mars bar?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to any four of the above then you probably have what experts call ‘clergy’.  Sorry, there’s no cure for this: you’re stuck with it.

All of which is a propos of our weekend in Wales.  Yes, I’ve finally persuaded OH to take his massive brain down to Grosmont for a couple of days in order to veg and to climb some hills.  We didn’t do half the things I wanted to do but we did manage to climb Garway Hill, the highest in the immediate area though nothing of course to the Black Mountains and beyond them, the Brecon Beacons.  Garway features spectacular 360 degree views, sheep, and bundles of bracken destined to be made into biofuel: it is accessed by a drastically steep and bumpy track leading up to a widened spot which is not so much a car park as a place to abandon all hope of your vehicle’s suspension.

Apart from visiting a friend and going to church on the Sunday we didn’t seem to do much else, except that on the Saturday there happened to be a ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert featuring a local choir and brass band.  This was fun, though it would have been more fun if we had not both been so exhausted.  Still it was a good weekend and a restful time.  Getting away is always good.

Oh, and the cat food?  Shall I tell you?  Oh, all right then… the theme of the service Mary was leading was ‘trust’; it being an all-age service she wanted a concrete example of trusting someone in the face of contradictory evidence.  So at very little expense but with a great deal of painstaking (not to mention sellotape) she cut the bottoms off some pouches of cat food and constructed a good lookalike from jelly and tiny bits of cut-up Mars bar.  This she would then offer to a child with a smile and the words ‘do you trust me?’

Kirk out

 

 

 

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Shorthand and (Stereo)typing

In the old days everything was simple.  Your social status was immediately obvious because your clothes, your accent, your demeanour, everything about you – all spoke of your position in society.  Though there was some level of social mobility, it would have been almost impossible to ‘pass’ as someone of a different social class, else there would have been no ‘Pygmalion’  – and even no ‘Educating Rita.’

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/pygmalion/summary.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085478/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

The advantage of this (if you want to see it so) was that it operated as a kind of shorthand.  You could tell at a glance who someone was and how you should treat them.  They could tell at a glance how to behave towards you; whether with deference or brusqueness, whether to give an order or hail you as a fellow.  It made life easier and more straightforward.  It also made it terrible.  It put people in strait-jackets; it consigned individuals to oblivion or slavery before they were born.

Even when I was growing up in the ‘sixties, three distinct social classes were still in operation.  It would not have been remotely funny for two Ronnies Corbett and one John Cleese to do the famous ‘I look up to him/I look down on him’ sketch if it had not expressed a visible truth.  (Women didn’t even figure in this scenario because they derived their social status from the men in their lives; any unmarried working women were either definitely working-class or else practically classless.)

But now we have thrown all this out in the name of equality.  I’m more than thankful for that, don’t get me wrong: the class system perpetuates privilege and injustice and ought to be abolished (insofar as it actually has been.)  But there’s a problem.  Because now that we have no shorthand telling us how to treat people, some of us are resorting to typing.  Stereotyping, that is.*  If you rely on appearances to judge the person in front of you, that’s called prejudice.  We seem as a society to be particularly bad at taking people as we find them.  We seem to need a kind of shorthand to help us with short-term encounters or first meetings.

*see what I did there?

Nowadays men know that they shouldn’t patronise women; white people are better-informed about how to treat ethnic minorities and I hope we are all much better at talking to people with disabilities.  This is not to say that prejudice doesn’t exist; of course it does, but we’re more clued up about it.  We have strategies – and in some contexts, laws – to deal with it.

The problem is that the progress towards equality has taken place – in this country at least – within the context of individualistic captalism.  We may all be equal, but we are all in competition with each other.  We live in a ‘me too!’ society where everyone wants to be at the top; and we deal with this by means of competitions.  Everything’s a competition now – just look at the TV schedules.

There must be a better way to do this.  I just don’t know what it is yet.

Kirk out

PS  Oh, and while I’m mentioning ‘Educating Rita’ I must recall a brief sojourn into the limelight by a friend.  He phoned into Dermot o’Leary’s show on radio 2 to protest at the amount of rap music he played, and was invited to come on the programme and choose one word to describe a song they had just played.  Words such as ‘bilge’, ‘offal’ and ‘dross’ received an outing: the item was called ‘Educating Peter’.

 

 

 

 

 

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Intelligent Design? Think Again, Guys!

A few years back I was struggling to use a gadget that was too stiff for me when another woman stopped to help.  She struggled too; then she said, ‘men design things for their own strength, don’t they?’  It brought me up short, because I’d never thought of it that way before – but she’s right.  And it set me thinking.

It’s not only ‘manly’ gear such as drills and chainsaws that this applies to (though it is annoying to have to grip a ‘hand-held’ sander with both hands in order to stop it going off on its own) – I don’t have particularly small hands for a woman, and yet I have daily struggles with objects that have presumably been designed by men without any thought taken for the 51% of us who might want to use them.

Take my thermos.  It’s one of the elegant metal ones that don’t have a breakable interior; it has no handle and is therefore presumably designed to be held in one hand.  Yet were I to try this I would risk spattering myself and the library with scalding tea.  Oh, sure, I could’ve got one of those nice pink-patterned thermon (I think that’s the correct plural; if I say thermoses OH will have a seizure) but they don’t hold enough tea for any sentient human being to sustain life.  And there’s the rub: if you want any deviation from the supposed norm you have to pay extra and get it in pink.  So that living in this world as a woman you can come to feel a little bit like Gulliver in Brobdignag.

Kirk out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Week is a Long Time in Crime

As regular readers will know, I am a fan of certain types of crime fiction, starting with Ian Rankin and working downwards: and in crime stories, just as in epic narratives, there are universals.  As every epic starts with an encounter, every crime story needs a location.  Plot is hugely important, as is character – but location arguably outranks* both; in fact setting can be a character in its own right.  Who could imagine Rebus outside of Edinburgh?  I feel I know Rebus’s city almost as well as he does; I can picture the seedy alleyways and run-down estates: I’ve climbed Arthur’s Seat, been inside the Castle and visited Warriston Cemetery.  Similarly the Isle of Lewis comes through loud and clear in Peter May’s ‘Lewis Trilogy’.  Islands are good locations for crime as they are finite, bounded by the sea; places where people cannot easily come or go.  They are dramatic and often dangerous.  But a city can be dramatic and dangerous in a different way: and none more so than London.

So it was with deep joy that I pounced upon ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, the latest – and, I assume, the last – in the Nicci French ‘Frieda Klein’ series, in which London is a character as brooding and ever-present as Rankin’s Edinburgh.

Freida, a psychotherapist who lives near the river, is the protagonist of these stories.  But though she lives alone she is hardly ever left to her own devices; apart from her clients she has a succession of friends who both support her and bring their own problems for her to solve.  They are her virtual family, her real family being both unloving and absent.

There is a single villain at the back of all the events in the series; a villain who grooms, abuses, murders and who, for the last few books, has been assumed by the authorities to be dead.  And not without reason, since they buried his body: Frieda, however, believes the body they buried was that of his estranged twin brother; and that Dean Reeve is alive, stalking her and killing anyone who gets in her way.

The series spans a week, starting with ‘Blue Monday’.  I am deep into this latest volume, and if past form is anything to go by, will probably finish it at the weekend.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here’s the series:

https://www.goodreads.com/series/67491-frieda-klein

Here are the Peter May books:

http://www.ur-web.net/PeterMayMain/lewispage.html

and here’s an article on Rankin’s Edinburgh:

https://www.ianrankin.net/rankins-edinburgh/

Kirk out

*or out-Rankins?

 

 

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What Sort of Time Do You Call This?

The day begins at 5 am with sleeplessness and goes on until you give in and call it a – well, a day because now that it’s got to 6.15 there is Absolutely No Point in trying to doze off any more.  Fortunately I don’t have an arduous day – or at least, no more arduous than usual, just work and visiting relatives.  Relatively easy, ho ho.  But as anyone knows who has ever had a rough night, sleep or the lack of it can cast a pall over the most joyous of lives, and if you have problems which on a normal day can be kept under control, on a day like today they run riot.  It’s like a wet playtime in school.

So: I won’t burden you with all the problems I’m facing on a daily basis as I have blogged about these before; but it would have been nice if ‘Newsjack’ had appreciated my sketch enough to broadcast it.  It would have given me a little lift; instead of feeling that nothing ever goes right, I’d feel that one small thing had at least been achieved.

If any of you have ever suffered problems which just seem to go on and on; which get better one day only to get worse the next: which seem in fact to get better to give you false hopes only in order to dash them on the rocks, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

*Sigh*

Apologies for the downer today.  And now, to cheer you up, here’s the sketch I wrote – which I and OH both thought was funny:

Theresa May’s Leadership

 

‘GAME OF DRONES’

 

ATMOS:                             CAFÉ

F/X:                                      BACKGROUND CHATTER, CLINK OF CUPS, HISS OF COFFEE-MAKER ETC

 

JOURNALIST 1:       I give up.  My paper wants an editorial on the current political climate but I don’t understand politics any more.  Nothing makes any sense

 

JOURNALIST 2:       It’s easy.  You have to stop seeing it as politics

 

J1:                               You mean –

 

 

J2:                               Just think of it as popular culture.  Everything’s dumbed down these days, right?

 

J1:                               I guess…

 

J2:                               So take the Great Repeal Bill: it’s just like Game of Thrones.

 

J1:                               Taking us back to medieval times, you mean?

 

J2:                               Exactly.  Repealing every piece of legislation since Henry the Eighth

 

J1:                               Or Sixth

 

J2:                               Or Henry the Fourth part one

 

J1:                               OK – I get that.  But Theresa May is just inexplicable

 

J2:                               No, no – she’s just like that robot in Futurama

 

J1:                               Bender?  The one who bends girders?

 

J2:                               Exactly.  She’s bending the Tories up and down…

 

J1:                               Right and left…

 

J2:                               …over to Northern Ireland…

 

J1:                               …up the Magic Money Tree…

 

J2:                               You’re getting it

 

J1:                               But what about the leadership challengers?

 

J2:                               Well – you know the cat in Dilbert?

 

J1:                               Catbert?  The evil genius?  What about him?

 

J2:                               Isn’t it obvious?  That’s Jacob Rees-Moggy!  All he does is sleep in a corner of the House of Commons watching with one eye open and awaiting his chance.

 

J1:                               That’s brilliant.  I totally understand politics now.  There’s just one thing I don’t get

 

J2:                               What’s that?

 

J1:                               How do you explain Boris Johnson?

 

J2:                               There’s no explanation for Boris Johnson.

END

Kirk out

 

 

 

What sort of time do you call this?

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