Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

Fathers Day yesterday, so the Wee Guy took me on one of my favourite day trips; down to Greenwich on the DLR [he can pretend to drive it] and go to the Maritime Museum where he can pretend to be a deep-sea diver, a naval gunner or an ocean-going yachtsman.

We saw HMS Ark Royal drawn up right next to the ashen hulk of the Cutty Sark; the aircraft carrier looking stunningly beautiful, and not at all warlike. I explained to the Wee Guy about the lifts that bring up the fighter jets, folding out the wings, and the comic-looking ramp at the end of the flight deck, designed on the back of an envelope for the Falklands War. “They should have used a trampoline!” he said. “Matey, they tried, but the ramp was better...”

At the same time, Falklands War veterans paraded in Westminster; heroes to a very man. More of them have suicided out than died in combat; sadly, our country has chosen not to protect the ex-servicemen who, not counting the cost to themselves, defended us. It denigrates us all. I have often argued that a substantial part of the Task Force’s success derived from the brevity of it’s orders; advance to South Atlantic, expel Argentine forces with minimal casualties, assert lawful UK rule, home in time for tea. Our soldiers are at deadly risk in their current overseas adventures because they do not have a finite agenda; mission creep kills.

Drew Mishmash

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Coolest Thing In The World.

I'm a bloke; I like things. It's in my code.

Some of those things might have sentimental value; like my Grandfather's long service certificate from the The Working Mens Club and Institue Union, or the curls from the Wee Guy's first haircut.

But, like most blokes, the things I like best are Cool Things; things no-one else has got. A dinosaur bone. The first Philosophy Football shirt, the one with Albert Camus on the back. A Wittgenstein first edition. A denim iMac. A Philippe Starck juicer. The Scotsman edition reporting the first day of the Scottish Parliament. Et seq.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Harrods Rocks guitar exhibition. The show was comprised of three main topics; the history of the electric guitar; design ideas for the Stratocaster from contemporary graphic artists; and Donal Gallagher's collection of rare, provenanced guitars used on famous [mostly Irish] recordings. Phil Lynnot's Danelectro, Van the Man's Gibson semi, The Undertones' woolies special.

Donal is Rory Gallagher's brother, and in memory of the sadly departed Boy from Ballyshannon, the exhibition included a large screen looping footage of his blistering live performances. While watching this screen I realised that over my right shoulder was a single glass case, apart from the main galleries. Rory Gallaghers infamously beaten up Strat. Bought for a hundred quid in Cork; doctored and modified by Rory; stolen, ransomed, and left in a peat bog for three days; and [jokingly] loaned to the roadies every night to nail the heavy duty amp gear together with.

The coolest thing in the World.

Drew Mishmash

Friday, April 20, 2007

Free Stuff!

A couple of weeks ago I joined a fantastic web-based group called Freecycle.

If you are like me then you no doubt have lots of stuff you will never use again, but don't want to chuck out because

a) it was expensiveat the time, or

b) your sister/mate/colleague/neighbour might need one sometime.

Freecycle links you with people who will take this clutter off your hands, and give it a grateful, recycled, home. You register for your local group, and choose between email alert or forum access. Then you get in touch with anyone offering what you want; or you can post a special request for something you need.

I've already picked a Rotel CD and amp, almost as good as my current set-up at home, that I'm keeping for a soon-to-be-announced community bookshop project. And you get to meet nice people too.

One of it's shortfalls is that you can't post photographs with your offers; so I'm trying a bit of an experiment here. The picture above is the baby buggy I want to give away. It's a MacLaren Volo, in good nick, doesn't have the sunroof but does have a rain cover. And like everything on Freecycle, it's free. I'm going to link the offer listing into here so that prospective recyclers can have a look at the buggy.

But mostly I'm encouraging you all to go out and subscribe to Freecycle today - especially those of you who live in London, you should join your boro' group and the main London group - and just have a look at the offers.

Drew Mishmash

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Break In Transmission.

I've been away for a while; unwell; wrathful. Feeling like Willard in the Saigon hotel room; getting lazy and out-of-shape, while all the time Charlie is in the jungle, getting stronger by the day.

A short trip to Scotland was needed, to see family and friends. My neice Lexi, who cheerfully shouts "Hiya!" at every chance; my nephew Sammy exasperated at my poor [ie zero] score on Nintendo Sponge Bob Square Pants. A curry with Mr W, and a beer with Dave W.

Back to London with a slightly firmer resolve to get to work on the plans for the new bookselling idea! If the two cheerful chaps at Crockatt and Powell can get a whole page in the Guardian, it can't be all bad.

Watch this space.

Drew Mishmash

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More Scary Stuff.

I read in the paper last week that fifteen of lovely modernising David Cameron's front bench were Old Etonians. I was shocked, to some extent because I mistook this to be the Shadow Cabinet, which numbers around twenty.

But Peter Hitchen's documentary last night quoted almost the same figure; on his reckoning it's thirteen.

Mrs Mishmash [who used to work in politics] put me right on my terminology. The front bench is the Cabinet [or in this case the Shadow Cabinet] and their junior Ministers; a total of about fifty.

So somewhere between a quarter and a third of the proposed Tory government went to one tiny school, and played one weird kind of football.

That's not modernisation; that's just scary.

Drew Mishmash

Monday, March 26, 2007

Scary Stuff.

I read something truly frightening in the newspaper over the weekend.

Sir Ronald Cohen, once Chairman of Apax, one of the largest private equity groups in the world, was sketching out his ideas for community development schemes in the UK.

A Social Investment Bank, created and funded from derelict bank accounts, insurance funds and premium bonds, would invest in voluntary groups and social enterprises not currently supported by the retail banks. Gordon Brown likes Mr Cohen; and reading his article, so do I.

But look at the opening premise;

“Governments are just not powerful enough to maintain social cohesion. The wealth chasm between rich and poor is widening and the result will be violent reactions from those left behind”.

Perhaps governments are not powerful enough; perhaps they are not creative enough; perhaps they do not care enough. Whatever the reason, it’s a scary proposition.

Drew Mishmash

Monday, March 19, 2007

Toot. But Not Sweet.

It’s coming to light that the Tutankhamun exhibition coming to London in November of this year will not include the precious funerary death mask. The show has attracted more that three million visitors on the American leg of the world tour; and the non-appearance of the golden mask is attracting rage from ticket holders.

Like many young children, I was fascinated with King Tut, the Pyramids, and the Pharaohs; but having no conception of travelling from Scotland, I made my parents life a nagging misery when the treasures visited London in 1972, culpa Blue Peter.

I have seen the death mask twice since then. Firstly, on its last excursion from Egypt, in a breathless Köln Messe in 1982; and then later in The Egyptian Museum in Cairo in 1992.

I chose my time to visit carefully in Cairo, toured the other galleries of the Museum the preceding day, and ascertained the location of the Tutankhamun mask without actually seeing it. I enjoyed a heated argument with an Egyptian historian about why, if the ancients could make steel as he claimed, they had chosen not to document this among the impressive records of their artisan building skills. Then I went out into the sun.

I returned a few minutes before the Museum opened the next day, went straight to the room in which the mask resided, and was rewarded with almost an hour alone with the dead King of Kings. He is shockingly beautiful; the opulence of the gold fades quickly and you find yourself just longing to kiss those lips. The serenity of his almond eyes mesmerise you, as the vulture and cobra in his crown wait to strike. His features are not those of any race, not identifiably Arabic, African, or Asian; and they are completely androgynous too. I very slowly began to feel, as his servants intended, that I was looking at the Face of God.

I left a changed man.

Drew Mishmash