I’m not racist but…

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…is a phrase you know is going to be followed by the most racist comment you’ve heard for a while. And it seems we are in a constant battle with the “racist” card being played all the time.

Only this week we have seen how Benedict Cumberbatch got himself into trouble for using the word “coloured” – a word that Nelson Mandela always used about the black population of South Africa –  in an interview when trying to support the widening of acting roles to all ethnic backgrounds where possible. Thankfully David Oyelowo came to the defence of Benedict, but you wonder whether the rise of the political right, BNP and UKIP are making us panic over everything we say.

Obviously this is not condoning racism in any shape or form as it is wrong to discriminate or denigrate those from a different ethnicity purely on their skin colour or country of origin – the UK is a mongrel nation anyway. Anyone who has seen the crap that Nigel Farage, Nick Griffin or the English National League spouts, it’s common sense to ignore it but I think it makes everyone panic about everything they say. For example you can’t discuss religions, immigration or even awards ceremonies without it becoming a problem.

On hearing the nominees for this year’s Brits the group Clean Bandit commented that said the dominance of “white boys” in the main categories was “a bit weird and a problem”. Why? If the best artists this year just happen to be white why is it a race issue? They suggest that MNEK, Labrinth and Kwabs should be nominated, but is it those three or Sheeran, Ezra and Smith who have been sharing the number one position in the album chart over the last few months? It should be on merit not on making it equal regardless of ability.

The Oscars were exactly the same with an all white acting contingent, but I could as easily argue that Jennifer Aniston was snubbed as much as any actor of ethnicity. Anyway when did we start taking award nominees as our guide to society’s moral compass or race relations? I am not saying there is not an issue – there obviously is – but you can’t blame Eddie Redmayne or George Ezra for being white, because that’s racist…

The main issue that these types of things bring up is that those behind the scenes in the entertainment industry need to stop seeing roles as ethnic specific unless the original text states it has to be a certain face. Producers and casting directors, label managers and talent scouts need to get the best talent on screen and in recording studios regardless of race; that’s where the issues lie.

Racism is alive and well and we have seen over the last few months in places like Ferguson in the US that it’s not something that has been “fixed” even fifty years after Martin Luther King and the election of the first black president. We need to stop trivializing the issue by pointing at bauble-giving ceremonies and shouting “racist” – instead let’s deal with the issue in the playground, in our communities and in our day-to-day lives. The only way we truly stop casual racism being a social norm is by challenging it wherever it appears.

By taking control back from the idiots and addressing the issues honestly rather than “controversially” we would see the political right lose their grip on the electorate and the issue. We do need to talk about immigration – of course we do – but we need to do it based on fact not on emotion. We need to be honest enough to say that a fully open door policy to immigrants cannot be maintained as our public services are being stretched to breaking point in some places. I can’t go and live in Australia or the US just because I turn up on their doorstep – we need to consider a more rigorous policy without race relations being an eggshell minefield.

Being honest and being racist are two different things – stop looking for the racist slant to a story and look for a solution to the problem if it exists. As always educating the ignorant will do a lot to redress the balance in this issue.

JD

That Monday feeling…is gone

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It’s Monday again – but it’s not a day I mind anymore. It used to sneak up on me as I was relaxing on a Sunday watching football or catching up on my Sky+ shows. The headaches would start around 2pm and last most of the rest of the day as the pressure built towards the start of the week.

Genuinely I would start to feel ill on a Sunday afternoon when I was teaching because of the workload and the expectation that the job would bring. I don’t know how I did, or any of my fellow teachers currently do, manage it. Maybe it was an allergy thing but now it’s such a different experience having a job which you can mostly leave in the office on a Friday and come back to on a Monday. Any work you do over the weekend is purely because you come up with a good idea or want to do something – not an expectation.

Now on a Monday – or any other day – I actually enjoy going to work. Sure there’s always the enforced getting out of bed which can be a bugger if I’ve not been able to get off to sleep until late because my sedatives kick in and ensure a good night’s kip from the point it starts. Apart from that I’m enjoying this new challenge and the people I’m working with. While I enjoyed many parts of teaching I just couldn’t go back to it now because the volume of work you have to do for the pay it ridiculous when you look at it. I know many who really enjoy the job and without them the system would not do as well as it does.

Those hardworking, selfless teachers deserve our utmost respect for all they do. Everyday, all day the educators are planning, marking and coming up with new ideas. They are the superheroes of society alongside nurses, police, fire service and other emergency services and we don’t appreciate them enough. For many that Morning feeling – especially during this long and difficult term – is a struggle. I’m so glad it’s me anymore – and I’m also glad I don’t have that negativity towards work now that I had over the last few years. It cannot be healthy for people to trudge through the weekend only to see the dark shadow of Monday being cast across days off, but I understand it’s not a choice for many people and that I am lucky to find myself in this position.

No headaches, no dread, no regrets. Long may it continue.

JD

 

The richest 1%

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By all rights this story should make me angry, but to do that would miss the point. Yes there is an issue with the wealth of the planet being proportioned in this way but what can you and I actually do about it? The real answer is nothing – and perhaps that’s all right.

It’s easy to point fingers at those with all the money and privileges and treat them like pantomime baddies but most of them aren’t. Many have worked very hard to find themselves on lists in Forbes Magazine and the like. Also there is a large section who are massively philanthropic like Bill Gates who has given away millions upon millions of dollars to aid illness and poverty across the poorest countries in the world.

Those who have gotten their heads down and worked hard shouldn’t be punished for their endeavours, instead we should learn from them on how to improve and develop our own entrepreneurial skills. The only issue I really have is the inherited wealth of some which seems unfair – but if it were me there wouldn’t be a complaint. So you can see why I don’t feel angry about this as many are trying to make me at the moment.

The wealthiest in society should pay their way the same as the rest of us and many do. The Mansion Tax that the Labour Party proposes I think is hugely unfair – why should you have to pay money just because you are fortunate enough to have a large house? I much prefer the policy of the Lib Dems that say that we just need to change the Council Tax to accommodate the rising prices of houses. Yes they should pay more, but only in line with the rest of us.

To hammer, vilify and belittle the rich misses the point and falls into the far left’s  idea that they should share their wealth regardless. I can’t agree with that. There are too many examples of those who donate to charity, too many who reinvest the money into their businesses for the benefit of their employees and the potential new employees. There will always be a small group who are the C. Montgomery Burns type, but then there will be a Sir Tom Hunter who constantly donates to charity.

In the same way as you cannot look at all poor people and those in poverty in the same way, then the top end must be afforded the same courtesy – despite how uncomfortable it makes us. In a perfect world we’d all be comfortable and poverty would be eradicated, but this haranguing will not bring that about.

JD

“A Steaming pile of nonsense”

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Well done to Ruth Davidson for standing up to the Government. The Scottish Conservative leader said that the edict from Westminster to lower flags to half mast for the death of the Saudi King Abdullah’s death was wrong because of his record on human rights. I would have gone further and pointed out all the examples of the regime supporting terrorists and the grovelling turds that continue to support them.

It’s no secret that the Saudis are up to their necks in trouble over human rights with recent beheadings and the sentence of one thousand lashes to a blogger – but their sponsorship of terrorist groups is hardly a clandestine fact either. Eleven of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabians but we wouldn’t attack them with “Shock and Awe” – no instead we went after more easy targets and ones weren’t friends with.

The Saudi royal family are bezzies with Bush senior and junior and they also have close ties with our own monarchy here in the UK so for Ruth Davidson to speak out was a brave move . To lower the flag is bad enough but the outpouring of kind words about the man by world  leaders is an embarrassment. From Cameron and Obama to Israel’s Prime Minister – yes Israel of all countries who have been on the receiving end of some of the funded terrorists and their actions.

While we can acknowledge the passing of a human being, let’s not dress it up as a sad day – if anything the replacing of a 90-year-old with a 79-year-old committed to continuing the ridiculous policies and anti-rights actions it’s tragic in some ways. For the leaders to all stand up and pretend that they didn’t have an issue with the man and his actions is wrong. As Davidson points out to lower a flag for such a man creates a precedent for us to do it for all leaders regardless of their actions.

If Putin died tomorrow I would be seriously pissed off if anyone in the UK lowered a flag to that racist, homophobic and dictatorial twat. Just because someone dies doesn’t make them a good person. Obama hedged his bets by saying that he “was always candid and had the courage of his convictions” – the truth was he was a nasty piece of work and so is the rest of the family.

But then who needs to be nice when you are that rich?

JD

Scott Commission vs The SNP

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So three days ahead of schedule the Scott Commission has published the final version of the new powers that the next UK Government will put into place for the devolved Scottish Parliament. It was based on a cross party group with those from both sides of the fence – but already Nicola Sturgeon is on the grump.

She claims that the proposals and powers have been watered down – maybe they have but in the world of grown up Nicola it’s called compromise. Having lost the referendum Sturgeon has done nothing but moan and bitch about everything since, a skill learnt from her predecessor. So compromise was the only option.  You can guarantee that everyone round that table had to give some in the negotiations otherwise nothing would have happened.

The other consideration here is that more power whilst still part of the UK as a whole is not a bad place to be for anyone of any political persuasion. The more the SNP can prove that Scotland could look after itself then the more likely Independence would be. Consider the current halving of the price of a barrel of oil and we can easily see the dangers of going it alone at this point in time. Also it suits the “Unionist” parties because they still have the UK as a whole but the more federal template that is emerging will allow a common sense approach to our national and local politics.

As much as the SNP will moan and complain about this Commission Report they have to realise that largely it represents the will of the people. We didn’t want independence so we’re not going to get anything like home rule and those demanding it need a reminder of the referendum result. Also the idea that the SNP are going to hold the balance of power in the next General election is a brave claim – one in which Alex Salmond sees himself as the new deputy Prime Minister. Don’t think so Eck! You need to get voted in first and you’re in my district of Gordon which is a traditionally Lib Dem constituency.

As always with the Nationalists you have to take them with a pinch of salt. What we saw in the campaigning of the referendum was that the people on the street, online and in town halls were the ones with the power and politicians need to remember that regardless which parliament they sit in and what colour their rosette is. While the SNP are in power at the moment in Holyrood we are still part of the UK and have to ensure we get the right result in May to keep out the extremes of UKIP from our political system first.

JD

Here’s a really good breakdown of the powers being proposed in a simple format:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-30215512

Ed Sheeran

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Ed-Sheeran

 

“The pop star who can do no wrong” as one newspaper put it the other day – although you know they’re digging to find something on him. He is a young, British, successful internationally acclaimed singer songwriter and he’s only 23. Bastard.

His first two albums, the EPs and deluxe editions with extra tracks show what a diverse and clever writer he is. He can move from a traditional pop ballad like “Thinking out loud”, which has echos of Van Morrison to “Sing” a funk fuelled anthem that is as fresh a pop song as you could ask for. Many thought that his first album would be it for him – that “difficult second album” would be a stretch too far. They were completely wrong as he has somehow improved on a perfect album.

There are few artists I can think of who’s first two albums are as good as his. The last UK artist may well have been Coldplay – and I don’t think the similarity between the artists stops there. Like Chris Martin & Co he doesn’t actually care about the image, the opinion and trend setters, the bullshit that comes with the job, both are purely focussed on writing and performing music. Both have a core but wide audience base from teens to the golden oldies. A rare thing to achieve in this day and age of the music industry.

Songs like “Afire Love” are amazing from one so young – and I don’t mean that to be patronising, it’s just the depth of emotion and clarity of vision the lyrics have are mature and well constructed. “Autumn Leaves” is a beautiful track from the Deluxe edition of the first album and “You need me, I don’t need you” is a fantastic piece of writing with the cracking line “You say I’m up and coming like I’m fucking in an elevator”. This shows his humour too – thankfully he appears to take himself with a pinch of salt – but he obviously takes the industry very seriously and has a long-term plan and vision for his music.

Self-promotion was his starting point with YouTube, social networking and non stop gigging his path to stardom. But overall it is his great voice – which has a surprising range and tone to it, able to change for different types of song – top drawer songwriting and performance level that has made his rise stratospheric. I saw him at the Music Hall in Aberdeen and was completely blown away by him. Despite what Noel Gallacher (the sad old grumpy twat of yesteryear) says I know that playing to 80,000 at Wembley will be as good as an intimate gig in front of 200 fans. He has the talent to do both.

While his songs are on repeats as I drive around I still find something new in songs I’ve listened to a dozen times before. I can’t wait for the next album so I can add to my playlist and we see even more of this young man’s genius.

JD

 

Boobs and Hypocracy

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The First Editions Of The Sun On Sunday Hit The Newstands

Could it be? After forty-five years it has finally happened? Has the Sun got rid of all the tits? No. Not when Richard Littlejohn still writes for them. But the norks, jubblies, boobies and indeed titty-ma-boobers are supposedly a thing of the past. Is it hypocritical though to want it removed from the paper after we’ve just had the whole “free speech” discussion concerning Charlie Hebdo?

I don’t personally see the point (either of them) of Page 3. It belongs in the 1970s with Carry On films, saucy postcards and “Confessions of…” films. Don’t get me wrong I love boobs but is there really a place for them in a national newspaper? Well then there’s that issue isn’t there – The Sun isn’t really a newspaper. Both it and the Daily Star are pathetic publications that claim the moral high ground whilst filling in the space below with tawdry and lascivious articles, photos of “wardrobe malfunctions” and double entendre about young females in the public eye.

So there’s the quandary – do we ban it and remove the freedom that the females who do it and get paid for it have, or remove it and try to empower females in other, better ways? Is the ban a removal of freedom of speech? I’m chasing my tail on this one because I should defend their right to print it, but I don’t want it to be something my daughter grows up with (the idea not the paper – wouldn’t let it in my house). Yes the girls who do it are not enslaved and are relatively well paid for all they do, but the whole reason it is being printed in the first place is wrong.

Go online or get a top shelf magazine if you want to look at naked women. The “Phhhwooaaar” brigade is not a reason to keep it going as they letch over girls young enough to be their daughter or even granddaughter. There is still too much male domination in society and this in its own small way undermines women. You have the male leaders of the political parties on the front page represented as statesmen but with the turn of a page you have the polar opposite representation of females. And before the calls of “it’s so out-of-date it’s now ironic” are only kidding themselves.

Also it annoys me that I agree with Rupert “The C#nt” Murdoch on this that it’s “old fashioned”- if that doddering old cesspit is calling it out it must be a problem. We, and I mean men, need to stop treating women primarily as sexual objects; if a woman chooses to be one then that’s her choice but not in a newspaper that can be bought by anyone off the street. We need to have a bit more self-respect than to have that in our biggest selling daily paper.

Here’s the thing I’ve found with this blog. I wrote two pieces called “Teaching Porn” and “The Side Boob”; the first about the idea that schools should use pornography in sex ed classes and the second was about the trend for women’s dresses to only cover the middle of their breasts. Both these posts get five or six views a day and I can guarantee it is sad men Googling the terms to get a quick thrill. I don’t want that represented in a daily newspaper – can we have better role models and strong female ones at that instead please.

JD