I had an unusually long conversation with my daughter Georgia (also now a Goodreader) once when she was seven years old (she's now 16 going on 17, jusI had an unusually long conversation with my daughter Georgia (also now a Goodreader) once when she was seven years old (she's now 16 going on 17, just like in the song) and the matter of eschatology came up, so I asked her directly - well, what does happen when you die? So she laid out what she thinks happens, and I was so taken by the stuff she came out with that I wrote it down. As it's a variety of religious experience I thought it appropriate to include here.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DIE
Heaven has different parts to it. In one part there are monsters, but they're good. In another part they're like orcs but they're good. In the third part there are dinosaurs, and they're bad. Jesus is not in heaven. He is above heaven. He was a normal man but he went on the cross and died and he became magic. He was alive again and turned into an angel. Now he can listen to anyone on the earth just by thinking of their name. When people die they all go to heaven. It could be the good part or the bad part. When you die you turn into a zombie, but then quite quickly you turn into a skeleton and that's when you go to heaven. The skeletons in heaven can't see the Earth at all, but to the good orcs Earth appears like the brightest star in the sky. But they have to look down to see it, because they are all upside down. If you are cremated your ashes float up and turn into your soul. It goes up into a purple porthole. It meets a sorter who asks you what age you want to be and that's what you stay at from then on. In this world everything is slightly see-through. You only spend 1000 years here and then you go to the graveyard and sleep. But one day in each 10 years you come alive again. But this world is not heaven so jesus is not there. The bad people who die become good. For five years out of 1000 they are punished in a house sized prison cell by having to eat all the food they really hate and listen to all the music they really hate. There is a feather of truth and a catch up course, but I can't remember what they are for. People have gone into space in rockets but they haven't seen heaven because it is very small. When animals die, if it's on concrete they fade away and become invisible. If it's on soil, they sink bit by bit into the earth and they become animal zombies. Our hamster Lucy became an animal zombie, but all animal zombies are good, not bad.
Note : don't blame me for any of this, I never allowed her to watch any zombie films intil she was 12! I don't know where she's got any of this stuff apart from orcs....more
Me and a friend hitchhiked around Europe once. Ah, those were the days. On one occasion we were in a line waiting to cross some border or another andMe and a friend hitchhiked around Europe once. Ah, those were the days. On one occasion we were in a line waiting to cross some border or another and there was a Danish guy talking to us. "I am glad I am from Denmark and not from Britain", he said. "Yeah?" "Yeah, because everybody has a beef with you guys. But nobody has ever heard of Denmark, so they are always nice to me."
Everybody has a beef with Britain?
Well, let's see.
FORMER COLONIES (I use their modern names here)
Australia Bahamas Bangla Desh when it was India Barbados Botswana Burma Cameroon Canada Cyprus Dominica Fiji Gambia Ghana Grenada Guyana India Ireland Jamaica Kenya Kiribati Malawi Malaysia Maldives Malta Mauritius New Zealand Nigeria Pakistan (as part of India) Papua New Guinea St Vincent Seychelles Sierra leone Singapore South Africa (part) Sri Lanka Sudan Trinidad Tuvalu Uganda USA before it was U Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe
FORMER PROTECTORATES AND UNITED NATIONS MANDATES ADMINISTERED BY BRITAIN
Austria Bahrain Bhutan Egypt Germany (West - after WW2) Iraq Israel Jordan Kuwait Lesotho Nauru Nepal Qatar Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tonga United Arab Emirates
Okay, nearly everybody.
On behalf of my fellow British people I would like to say that that was then, and this is now, and we do not wish to take over anyone else's country any more.
No, we are not taking over Afghanistan, we are helping them to take over themselves.
No, that's not semantics.
Look, we didn't want to do any of this. It was for your own good, I tell you!
Tony Blair (thumbing through the contents): Hey, this one could be interesting. It's a series of essays about the delicate question of what it actuallTony Blair (thumbing through the contents): Hey, this one could be interesting. It's a series of essays about the delicate question of what it actually means to have read a book. Do you know what I mean?
A talking donkey : Wow, Tony Blair! What are you doing in one of PB's reviews?
Tony Blair: Er - haven't you seen the news lately? Don't donkeys watch TV any more? I'm supposed to be the middle east peace envoy and look at the place - look at it!
(Tony turns tv on to news channel - blam! pow! Nato air strikes! Yemen! Syria! Palestine! Kerrrranng! Libya! Boom!)
TB (shakes head wearily - some of his suntan falls off) : See what I mean?
Donkey : Man, that looks rough. Okay, so you can chill here in a review for a while if you want. (Aside : Man, who else is gonna pop up here? Goran Hadzic?)
A talking Badger (sotto voce) : Sorry, that reference is lost on me.
Donkey : So anyway, Tony, you were saying?
Tony Blair: Yes, well, you see you read books and they have this profound effect when you’re young, and then what happens if you pluck up the nerve, you know, or get led down the primrose path of nostalgia, you know, and read the thing again when you’re a grownup? Is it always a mistake? Is the thing you’ve been carrying in your head all these years really what’s in the book? Or is it some weird construct that you yourself invented? Did you actually understand it when you were say 16 or 17? I mean, in my case, the answer’s obviously yes, but for you it might be, well, you know, no. No offense and all.
Donkey: None taken. I remember crying my eyes out when I read The Grapes of Wrath. I was just a foal. Maybe if I read it now it would seem like some purple-prose tub-thumping socialist diatribe in the guise of a tale of such Brobdingnagian sentimentality that would even turn Dickens green.
Badger: And maybe not.
Donkey: True, true. Maybe not. Did you have a book that particularly floated your boat in your youth?
Badger: Well, we weren’t big readers to be honest. We didn’t have electricity.
Tony Blair : No electricity? What, your parents were hippies?
Badger : Nocturnal hunter-gatherers, really, more than hippies. But there was one book I remember…
Donkey: Which one?
Badger : It was called The Little Prince. Do you know it?
Tony Blair: Oh yes! I read that! What a beautiful fable!
Badger: I could practically recite it for you at one point. Er…
“I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He had never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures.”
Tony Blair : Well well – I see now that this is a very prescient reference to Gordon Brown. I never noticed that when I was nine.
Badger : Do you remember this one?
“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”
Tony Blair : Boo hoo! I remember! Boo hoo! (Tears are splashing down).
Donkey : Sounds like a load of donkey bollocks to me.
Tony Blair : Well you had to read it then! Not now, then!
Donkey : Well probably. Although whether you’re nine or ninety, woffly hello-trees hello-sky proto-new age vapourising wrapped up in a sticky coccoon of cosiness that would warm the very cockles of the hardest of hearts and let the sunshine in and flood barren lives with a sense of limitless possibility…. Sorry, I’ve completely lost the thread of that sentence…
Tony Blair (trying to help) : Woffly, sticky coccoon…. Cockles…
Donkey : Oh yes! I was going to say…. Is still to my mind a cuter but no less meretricious version of jam yesterday, jam tomorrow but no jam today.
Badger : oh you’re so cynical. This actually shocks me a little bit.
Tony Blair : Well he might be right.
Badger : oh and what do you know? Really, Mr Blair, do you know anything? Anything at all?
Tony (dabbing his eyes, rueful smile back in place): Well, I know people seem to find it very easy to criticise everything I do and say…
Donkey : well you make it so easy for them! Anyway, if you’re going to stay in this review a bit longer, maybe you could tell us what George Bush was really like… did you really pray together? Did you? Did you really think God was telling you to invade Iraq? Go on, tell us, we won’t breathe a word. No one would believe us anyway even if we did – he’s a badger and I’m a donkey.
Tony Blair : No no, I don’t think I should. Let’s play Charades instead.
Badger and Donkey (both thinking: There goes a hundred grand from the Daily Mail) : Aw, c'mon....
For black people, Elvis, more than any other performer, epitomises the theft of their music and dance
Helen Kolawole Thursday AugustHe wasn't my king
For black people, Elvis, more than any other performer, epitomises the theft of their music and dance
Helen Kolawole Thursday August 15, 2002 The Guardian
As another celebration of a dead white hero winds up, in this hallowed Week of Elvis, shouldn't the entertainment industry hold its own truth and reconciliation commission? It needn't be a vehicle for retribution, just somewhere where tales of white appropriation of black culture, not to mention outright theft, can finally be laid to rest. Following Michael Jackson's recent outburst accusing Sony chief, Tony Mottola, of racism, perhaps he could officiate and champion all black musicians who have been ripped off by nasty white music business CEOs This won't happen of course. Media arrogance and dishonesty means we are eternally bound to live in a skewed world where Elvis is king of rock'n'roll, Clapton is the guitar god, Sinatra is the voice and Astaire is the greatest dancer. Accustomed as we are to this parade of white heroes, the case of Elvis is particularly infuriating because for many black people he represents the most successful white appropriation of a black genre to date. Elvis also signifies the foul way so many black writers and performers, such as Little Richard, were treated by the music industry. The enduring image of Elvis is a constant reflection of society's then refusal to accept anything other than the non-threatening and subservient negro: Sammy Davies Jnr and Nat King Cole. The Elvis myth to this day clouds the true picture of rock'n'roll and leaves its many originators without due recognition. So what is left for black people to celebrate? How he admirably borrowed our songs, attitude and dance moves? Public Enemy's prolific commentator, Chuck D, was clear on why he felt compelled to attack the pretender's iconic status. In their 1989 song Fight the Power, he rapped: "Elvis was a hero to most/ But he never meant shit to me you see/ Straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain/ Motherfuck him and John Wayne." To contend that Elvis was a racist is hardly shocking. ("The only thing black people can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my music", he once opined.) And, as a dirt poor Southerner raised in close but separate proximity to black people, his racism would hardly have distinguished him from millions of others. Chuck D's attack was not aimed at Elvis the person, but Elvis the institution. But in the face of much black criticism of Elvis, some writers have offered their own theories as to why the singer should be awarded more, not less accolades. Michael T Bertrand's Race, Rock and Elvis contends that the arrival of Elvis and rock'n'roll helped white Southerners to rethink their attitude to race and gave as yet unacknowledged impetus to the burgeoning civil rights movement. And this week the Daily Mirror's Tony Parsons imagined a world without Elvis as a cultural armageddon. "Elvis changed the soul of modern music," he argues. "Without him, Madonna would be a teacher in Detroit." He also quotes John Lennon's remark that "before Elvis there was nothing". An Elvis-free world would have seen black music remaining "underground" and "segregated", Parsons suggests. But the reality is, black music never stays underground. White people always seek it out, dilute it and eventually claim it as their own. From Pat Boone's Tutti Frutti to current boyband sensations N Sync and Blue. This is fine, but be honest about it. Putting Parsons's vision into practice, let's imagine that instead of Elvis mania, Big Momma Thornton - author of Hound Dog - reigns supreme with her ode to no-good men. Big Momma's cultural conquest gives birth to a radical white teen culture and a complete and lasting overhaul of America's putrid racial politics. White teens frighten their parents silly with their extreme bids not to become Elvis's pale imitation of the black performers he witnessed, but the very image of Big Momma. Sounds outlandish? Any more audacious than stubbornly maintaining that this talented - but more importantly white - man deserves to be king of a genre created by black people? Whether we remember him as an obese, drug-addled misogynist or a hip-swinging rebel, let's call him what he is - the all-conquering great white hope - and demand the entertainment industry never again makes such a deceitful claim
Gary North responded, in the Guardian:
Helen Kolawole made a factual mistake. She forgot to look up who wrote "Hound Dog." She also did not know about Johnny Otis' role in launching Big Mama's career. Big Mama had a lot of help from a couple of Jews and a Greek. This makes Ms. Kolawole's tirade look silly. This can happen to anyone who invokes some fact as a symbol of an all-important cultural movement, and the fact turns out to be wrong. But what about her main point? What about the aleged theft of black culture by crackers like Elvis? First, the story of Elvis' roots in black music is as familiar as his legendary pelvis. Second, he really did have natural rhythm – again, the pelvis. What is the problem here? The fact that Little Richard never made the transition to ballads, or that Chuck Berry never ate grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Are reparation royalty payments next? Bill Monroe's version of "Blue Moon of Kentucky" is not much like Elvis' version. There is no doubt that rock-a-billy has a lot of black in it. When Elvis was interviewed for the first time on radio by the Memphis disk jockey who had launched his career by playing his record over and over, DJ Dewey Phillips (no relation to Sam) kept mentioning Elvis' high school, which was a white school. Phillips wanted no confusion on that score. Jerry Lee Lewis' initial piano style was influenced by the black boogie-woogie piano style. His cousins, Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley, were not equally influenced. But to argue that Lewis was not initially part of the white gospel piano tradition would be ridiculous. In his later career, the white country music tradition became dominant. Music is a universal language, like mathematics and money. It knows few borders. (OK, maybe Chinese music does. I hope so, anyway.) Jazz began in the return of black bands from graveyard internments in New Orleans. But the bands played white hymns out to the above-ground graves. Black guilt masters are everywhere. Some of them are doing their best to claim that their people invented the dominant popular music forms. I will let them retain title to rap. But as for other imports into and out of the world of the ghetto, let us say that royalties have been paid both ways. ...more
"Morris subjects the conflicting national narratives of the 1948 war to rigorous scrutiny in the light of the evidence and he discards all the notions, however deeply cherished, that do not stand up to such scrutiny. One example is the tendency of Israelis to hail the "purity of arms" of their soldiers and to contrast this with Arab "barbarism". "In truth, however," writes Morris, "the Jews committed far more atrocities than the Arabs and killed far more civilians and PoWs in deliberate acts of brutality in the course of 1948." "...more
This goodreads review thing is taking over. I want one of those little Dictaphone things high-powered corporate guys used to have where they’d whip onThis goodreads review thing is taking over. I want one of those little Dictaphone things high-powered corporate guys used to have where they’d whip one out and click a button and say
Memo – take over Zoot Airlines – sell Gardening for Acrobats and dump the stock we have in Hydrochloric Acid all over the Pacific Rim
only in my case I would be wandering down Sherwood High Street on my way to Wilkinsons for a new ironing board and I’d be rapping out
Memo – review Mein Kampf, the angle you take is – it’s okay if you read it as black humour – Memo – maybe the same goes for the Koran – no! spike that, too offensive – okay, memo – read Proust and write a review that’s even longer than Proust – okay, mark that under stuff to do when I retire – memo – dredge up some half forgotten science fiction novel by Fred Pohl or Brian Aldiss and tell the people it’s better than Jonathan Franzen – Memo – compare Stockhausen to brussel sprouts – thanks, half a pound please – memo, add a book on English public schools to the to read list and then write a rant about how al Queda should be directing its firepower at those – no, what? An ironing board, I’m looking for an ironing board – aisle four? Thanks – memo – what does Barthes say about ironing boards or ironing or domestic work or male/female division of labour – what? You don’t sell barths? No, dear, I was referring to the French semiologist – huh? that’s a lot for an ironing board, I’m not going surfing on it you know – yes, I know, they’re made of metal and surfing boards are wood, yes it was feeble humour – what ? This is my Dictaphone – I use it to record ideas which I’d forget otherwise, you see , very handy – yes, well, the ideas are for book reviews. Well, sort of. Some of the books I haven’t actually read & really between you & me I have no intention of reading – it’s a website – what? No, … yes…. Okay, can I have twenty quid cash back?...more