Can You Spot a Trot at Twenty Paces?

I had a day out in London on Saturday, going to the Left Unity meeting. There were about 30 of us there, half men and half women, and in general it was a good-humoured and productive meeting. In a packed programme bristling with amendments, motions, addenda and standing orders, it could easily have been a giant yawn, but the morning proceeded at a fair old lick and over lunch we discussed a split in one of the local groups. This is the sort of thing that makes my heart just fold up and go home and I was not looking forward to the afternoon’s discussion. But! Lo and behold the whole thing was settled by an eminently sensible woman who proposed the amalgamation of two motions. Thus everyone was relieved and the problem stands a good chance of being sorted. Terrific!

This experience caused me to ponder on the theme of conflict-resolution. The history of the Left has been fraught with splits, as parodied by Monty Python in “The Life of Brian”:

You don’t need me to go into it – we all know the issues back to front. But everyone in Left Unity, from the washiest liberal to the hardest-line Trot, understands that without resolving our differences we are going nowhere. Which is why the situation on Saturday gave me such heart – because it wasn’t just talking about conflict-resolution – it was putting it into practice, right then and there, when it was needed.

And here’s the thing.  What often happens is that people start labelling each other.  I once attended a local council meeting with my CND group, lobbying the council to declare itself a nuclear-free zone – and during that debate one of the Conservative councillors got up.  Pointing a finger at us, she said, ‘I can spot a Trot at twenty paces.’  Hardly a helpful contribution to the debate.  Labelling is far too easy: it sets your mind at rest but it closes down debate.  We’ve all done it – ‘Tory bastards., .liberal wimps’, ‘hard-line Trots’, Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist etc etc etc: whatever you use, labels are damaging; but never more so than when used within a group who are aiming to be unified and to work together towards a particular goal.  So as Gandhi said, let’s be the change we want to see, and affirm that whatever our disagreements we are all Left Unity.

Or whatever we end up calling ourselves.  But that’s another argument…

Kirk out

Holy Flying Circus, Batman! You MUST Watch This!!!!

Yes, today’s theme is religion and philosophy and instead of just sitting here and giving you the benefit of my thought (LOL) I’m going to recommend a programme.  Nay, ‘recommend’ is too weak a word: I absolutely INSIST that you watch this on iplayer the very second that you finish reading this post.  For here, most unexpectedly, is the most eerily and brilliantly accurate comedy biopic I have ever seen.  Directed by Owen Harris (‘Misfits’, ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Skins’) and written by Tony (‘The Thick of it’) Roche, it is in the same mould as the Kenny Everett biopic I blogged about earlier, but even better.

‘Holy Flying Circus’ tells the story of the furore following the release of ‘Life of Brian’.  Starring Darren Boyd as Cleese (he’s Dirk Gently’s sidekick in the recent series) and Charles Edwards as Palin (and Palin’s mother) and including Steve Punt as Eric Idle, this film features a style of acting which is uncannily like the real thing: something half-way between interpreting a role and doing an impression.  The two stars in particular are so good you’d swear you were watching Palin and Cleese, while Graham Chapman sits and puffs his pipe in the background and makes us all feel nostalgic for when he was alive.

The climax of the film is the famous chat-show, Friday Night and Saturday Morning where Cleese and Palin debate with Malcolm Muggeridge and a Bishop on the morality of the film, chaired by a terminally gentle Tim Rice (Tim Rice?).  Here’s a bit of the original:

There is a brilliant, multi-layered script featuring God at the end played with consummate brilliance by Stephen Fry; and lots of subtitles pointing out ‘satire’ and other such Python-nesses.

So I insist that you watch this NOW, before it disappears from the iplayer:

The Bishop looks thoroughly dated and extremely patronising, unlike the other Bishop I encountered unexpectedly yesterday going into the Turkish restaurant on Narborough Rd.  Yes, Rob Freeman (for it was he) and Chris were just going in as I was passing, so I nipped in and surprised them at their table.  They are dropping in on the Martyrs later so I will catch up with them then.  Rob is utterly sensible, very humorous and just about the most down-to-earth bloke you will ever meet.  And he’s Bishop of Penrith:

Happy Sunday – enjoy the sunshine.  And come on, Andy!

Kirk out

At the reference library

Not a bad morning’s work, considering.  Now at the reference library on the computer withadodgyspacebar.  It rattles every time you press it.  I’m tired!  Only 5 hrs sleep last night.  there’s no point in going home before 4 because the house will be full of kids doing science.  It’s something about optics again today.

Read a bit of a Robert Rankin – quite funny.  I really want to read “the Brentford Triangle” because I’ll probably recognise some of the locations

Mark is going to start Latin again.


Valete lecti.  *

Kirkus outus

* I think that’s Latin for “goodbye readers”.  Remember the bit about conjugation in “The Life of Brian?”  the library computer won’t let me post a link though

“Romanes eunt domus?  Romans they go to the house?…This is motion towards, isn’t it, boy?

Back home – let’s try