Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Woolwich Public Market

I've walked past it on and off now for 27 years (ish) but have never been in or even stopped to look...

Precious Children



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Noam Moan

just me having a bit of a moan I'm afraid.

I do my best under difficult circumstances to communicate with people. I do have particular problems what with being AS and all. However, I think I do a pretty good job, helped largely by recently developed technology such as email, mobile phones, text messages etc.

But in my job there is a culture. a culture of putting your head down and ignoring the annoying people who are "trying to stop you doing your job" - not an actual quote but a good paraphrase of stuff I've heard all through my career.

these people who interfere to stop the work fall into many categories, but they include safety people, quality people, specialist engineers, managers, accountants, lawyers, auditors and now environmental people.

Actually, the way I see it is that those people are there - if they do their job properly, to help you do your job better. When I bother the maintenance managers with the odd hour here, 30 minutes there, probably not even mounting up to a day's work in a year, I am usually trying to find a solution for their problems which they may be trying to avoid, which we know is going to eventually hit them like a car crash. A for instance - Noise is a big issue for us, covering almost the whole of the Greater London area we tend to make noise in lots of different places and almost always at night - when we do our main heavy maintenance. Residents are empowered now to seek redress when they are kept awake at night. This has only been the case for a few years and even fewer years have we had a coordinated response to these complaints.

So when I go into a managers office and explain how to fill out a noise evaluation form and how to use the resources available to them such as advice from the environmental advisors and our noise specialists, and how to make a Section 61 application, and who to go to for support from our customer liaison people, etc. I see myself as offering them a service. If they ignore my advice what usually happens is they upset already quite unhappy residents who complain to us or the council and we get a section 60 slapped on us which can be really expensive. Basically it means we have to stop work, indefinitely, and time is money, so it could potenetially cost millions, possibly forcing us to suspend service on part of our network.

That hasn't happened yet, but as some Local Authroities are getting increasingly hostile to our overtures, it is getting harder to harder to get permission to carry out noisy works. Guess who gets the blame? Environmental advisors are just lumped in with the interfering council and the annoying resdient - we should just all flip off and allow the guys to do their work! They seem to believe we're all working together against them! how they work this out is beyond me!

So there is a culture of trying to avoid talking to people they see as hostile to their interests. When I sent an email to a manager - to help him after one of his colleagues asked for help!! - I got no reply. I visited the site last week and tried to meet with the guy - having already dropped an email I called him a couple of times and left a message and a specific phone number for him to call me. I waited an hour and got no reply. After I left the depot I noticed two missed calls not on the number I left for him to call me - the one I was monitoring - but on the other phone which was in my bag!! It was from him and he did not leave a voice message. In the messages I left I told him I'd be back on the site the following week so could we arrange a time to meet and chat. I also followed that up with an email saying the same thing - sorry I missed you but could we please meet next week sort of thing! They guy still hasn't responded to my email and when he called my phone - twice! - did not leave a message.

So what do I do? I know if i keep calling him he will eventually stop responding to me altogether, I have a long experience of this sort of scenario. I will call him and I will try to pick up his call when he phones back, but chances are I will miss his call as I am often too busy to pick up my phone (meetings) or stuck in a tunnel or similar place with no signal.

I don't know why the guy just didn't respond to my email or leave a message on my voicemail. Why? why?
I'm hardly difficult to get in touch with, I'm one of the most connected people I know - several email accounts, two smart phones, a desk phone, a twitter account, Facebook and a whole office full of people who will take his message if he called my desk phone and make sure I get it!!

I answered the phone the other day that was to one of my colleagues - we are similarly qualified and cover the same areas. He wanted to speak to him. i said he could speak to me and I will probably be able to help. He went really cagey and said it was soemthing he needed to speak to the other guy about and wouldn't say a word to me. Really weird. It wasn't a personal call either, it was a depot guy and he wouldn't even give his full name, or number!

What the fuck is going on?!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My other blogs

Gradually i seem to be working out what it is I want to do on line. 

The plan seems to be this at the moment

Keep this blog as my main blog - a blend of personal, London, interests and political views - and in the future make it more of a show-case for my worked on pieces.

I have a new blog now - to take a more historical perspective on things:

Like all my blogs, this is a work in progress. I have many many thousands of pages of writings, articles and archived material from the past ten years which currently reside on hard drives and in boxes. My intention is to get all of this onto this blog in some form or other over the next few years.
Any entires that start looking rather good will be promoted to my main blog, Just Say Noam, and Twittered to death.
Until that day - please watch this space. Or not....

It will be full of 'plagiarised' bits, unfortunately - i make no pretence that it is all original, though some of it will be. I will reference as much of it as I can, however, when i started this project over a decade ago, I wasn't too hot at keeping notes of where all the information came from, and was much much too enthusiastic just to pull together a convincing narrative for myself. Luckily Google is my friend, and will help a great deal, but that'll take quite a bit of time and is fairly painstaking. 

Also - some of it may turn out to be a bit conspiratorial or speculative in nature. That was where I was a decade ago. these bits should be rewritten, framed in correct context or removed. If you see any bits like that still in there, again, feel free to tug on my coat tails, I'd be grateful for the support.

Meanwhile if you recognise your own works on my blog, not properly referenced or credited, then please do send me a message and I will put it right!

I've also set up a third blog to support this project called Daily Links - just as a repository for articles I find online as my browser links are only available on my own laptop, and they are, I am ashamed to say, rather ramshackle and badly organised and things tend to get lost in there.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

thoughts on Bowie, ramble part one

I find myself with something to say about David Bowie, oddly, after
being a fan for 32 years or so and having been through my besotted
teen phase, my rejection phase in my early 20s, rediscovered him about
10 years ago which coincided with his last recorded output (the
brilliant Heathen, and less brilliant ----- ), I now suddenly find
myself able to listen to his greatest works, the ones in the 70s and
late 60s, with completely new ears.
Bowie himself does seem to have extraordinary talent and yet I think
in his early years you could easily have been forgiven for thinking
him to be one of pop history's also rans. This I think is because his
talent is not the straight forward one that many of the great pop
composers have.
His early songs were rather poor to be honest, or mawkish, with
twinkly bits and corny stories. However, something happened when he
started working more closely with musicians. You can hear it on the
Bowie at the Beeb discs as the rather average sounding songs he wrote
in 1966/67 got turned into somehting completely other through late 67
and 68.
By 69 David Bowie as we know him was more or less there. He was able
to use the talents of his musicians, and the influences he'd subjected
himself to, to produce an entirely new music. On the debut album now
known as Space Oddity you can hear a blend of country rock and folk
throughout the album, with some psychedlic interludes, which very much
is of its time and yet sounds like nothing else. It is London,
English, suburban, very warm and seems to be about the exotic in the
mundane. It's not a million miles away in purely sound terms, from the
sort of albums churned out by the likes of Macca a couple of years
later. But by then Bowie had moved on.
On the second album - which is a clumsier album - The Man Who Sold The
World - Bowie attempts to go heavy. It is all together darker, delving
into myth and the occult. There are great moments - All the madmen
about his brother - some touches on that that were to become trademark
Bowie - varying the speed of the vocals.
No doubt very influenced by Led Zeppelin at the time, who, apparently,
he was rather scared of.
In 71 there came Hunky Dory, which I don't really like too much. It's
whimsical, incoherent and obviously a reaction to his previous - odd
that he'd make his heaviest and then his most accoustic albums back to
back like that. But clearly he was trying things out. This was his
Neil Young / Bob dylan album.

Bowie - a pop tornado - who tore through the landscape ripping up and
everything absorbing some, did really change everything. Did he do the
job the Beatles did in the 60s - I have argued before that left to
itself the US would not recognise its own pop culture, rather it would
go all out to stamp the devient culture out. it really only accepts
the multicutral soup that is Pop, blues, rock n roll and jazz after
the fact and as a nice safe historical artefact.

In the 50s rock n roll was utterly wiped out by the elites that run
America in just a few years. Many of the key early figures were forced
to turn away from rockabilly / rock n roll and turn to country for a
living. Others were destroyed by the press, and Elvis became an
establishment cuddly figure that could represent the sanitised rock n
roll which became the dominant form. The Beatles however shook all
that up.

They revived rock n roll and were instrumental in taking it to the
next phase - rock. While their brethrens the Rolling stones, and all
the other nice middle class boys were intent on rebelling via blues,
the Beatles were far more sophistacated than that and came up with
some original music.

The Beatles took Rock n Roll back to America, and ultimately they were
never sanitised. they were unGodly aliens who were told in no
uncertain terms to Get Back to where they came from. Eventually Lennon
was shot, which effectively ended the Beatles' story.

The other thing the Beatles did, which was probably more subversive at
that time was support black music like almost no-one in America did.
The Beatles, being British, were obviously not immersed in a racist
society. They also idolised mostly black American artists.

I would argue that without the Beatles, and the European support it
helped to bring about, black music would not have been elevated into
the mainstream as quickly as it was. Even so, the music business in
America remained instituitonally racist even in the 1980s.

Of course, the Beatles weren't alone. Frank Sinatra was also a notable
anti-racist who fought the segregation laws.

Bowie then came along after the 60s counter culture that bands like
the Beatles and the stones, the Kinks and Small faces, etc had helped
to inspire. Now we had Iggy and the Stooges and numerous garage style
bands all over America - which in very real terms was where punk

Bowie was almost alone in picking up on the US garage scene -Iggy, the
Velvets, etc. and allowing them to inspire his music. After he'd
worked his way through Dylan, Neil Young, The Beatles and Led
Zeppelin, he started writing songs inspired by this far more extreme
music which had been almost totally ignored by everyone.

It's arguable that Bowie's take on that stuff was much much safer, and
less pure. And indeed I agree with that. But as a way in it was

Without Bowie, who else in the mainstream would have brought this 60s
music through into the 70s?

Fucking Noise

One thing about being AS is my increasing noise intolerance. The noise distraction actually prevents me from thinking freely and if I'm listening to speech, speech going on within ear shot actually interferes with my ability to understand what I'm listening to.

Today I'm on train listening to a podcast which is all speech. All was fine until I got to Lewisham. Nice and quiet. Then this family got on with a small kid. They sat near me. The kid has yapped non stop at the top of her fucking voice since they got on. I'm struggling to hear my podcast. Shut the fuck up, kid.

What normally happens is some twat gets on, sits next to me or right behind me and then proceeds to shout into a mobile phone non-stop for the whole journey. I sometimes feel like going back to when i was a kid and putting my material out through a loudspeaker so I can reciprocate the annoyance I'm feeling.

Yesterday a bloke sat next to me on the tube who's mp3 player headphones were spewing out noise louder than what I could hear coming out of my own fucking headphones!

There is no need for that level of ignorance! My view is that some headphones don't leak, so all headphones should not leak. Some people can talk quietly on their phones and keep the conversation to a minimum when on public transport, so why can't can't everyone. it's just good old fashioned courtesy.

As for loud mouth kids yapping their faces off, I guess there's not much that can be done there, I'm just a grumpy old twat sometimes!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sketch for an article: "Hypocrisy"


As we sit here looking at the arse end of 2011 there is one word that sings out loud and strong over all the bullshit. You guessed it - hypocrisy.
the government, parliament, the police, the press, the tabloids, the city, banks, big tax evading corporations, the middle classes, Liberals, Labour Party - the whole fucking lot. Hypocrites!!!
In 2011 the crisis which was largely to do with the methods that the very rich used to become much much richer. They did it firstly by deregulating the banking system. An early attempt to deregulate credit back in the early 70s led to runaway inflation under Heath, brought under control by Labour, though it left them fatally wounded. Once back into power, the Tories brought the country immediately into recession. That's the recession Labour had spent their whole term in office trying to avoid. So - why?
The root of all that was in the Chicago School of economics. Alan Walters
 visited Chile a number of times in the 1970s and characterized himself as an "honorary Chicago boy" . In chile workers were cheap and had few rights. corporations were able to walk in and do the business they wanted. 

And that is what this is all about. thatcher wanted to make Britain more like Chile. In the process she privatised as much as she could, and deregulated as far as she could in all areas except for the areas that affected the poor or the working class who were subjected to more and more controls, laws, regulations, curbs of freedom; by the time the Tories had finished it was even illegal to dance in a fecking field!

So over the years profits increased. and increased and increased. Private Equities and tax havens sucked the money out of Britain and away from those who could use it to live or for the public's benefit. Governments and the media worked in concert with corporations to do this; academics were bought, we were all sold a lie: that once capital had been set free we'd all be better off. Well, some were better off, and that's where Blair came in. Never in recent history had the rich got so much richer than under New Labour. The Tories may have released the capital, but New Labour made sure most of it flowed to the right people as they continued Thatcher's project of deregulation after deregulation. After all, that's why they were allowed to take power.

And so we had the great orgy of wealth which occurred under New Labour, every Tory's favourite Labour Prime minster until it all went tits up. how marvellous for that was them? They manage to indoctrinate the "workers' party" and get their own crooked man at the top - tony blair the tory fall guy. Well he's getting paid handsomely for his treachery now.

Finally, as the elite - the 1% if you will - decide that it's time to bring the Tories back, we suddenly find out that many MPs were reinterpreting the rules regarding expenses liberally, or creativel even, some to the extent that they went to prison. This was largely used a means to control MPs and hammer Labour just before the election. Even though the Tories who were buying far larger properties and raking in far larger "expenses" seemed to have got off with a lot easier than Labour mps.

The media - and far wider than just Murdoch which we now know about - all fell into line in the general rubbishing of Brown, which made little sense, and was essentially a personal attack. Even the guardian fell behind the Liberal Dems who was being led by elite approved Blair clone, Clegg.

The next set of people who seemed to be interpreting the rules rather creatively were bankers who freely admitted that they would find a way round any kind of regualation the government would impose; and despite huge public feeling against swollen unjustified bonuses, they continued to pay themselves indecently large sums of money.

Look back into the history of the unholy alliance of corporations who were just making money up and then pocketing it, leaving the public with the debt. And you see Enron. Enron were not acting alone but those who should have been auditing and monitoring Enron's activities completely failed, and were never brought to book. Enron was merely the particularly rotten tip of a great festering pyramid of mad labyrinthine accounting practices designed to magic unearned money straight into the bank accounts of the already over-rich.

Democracy has been eroding for years. the gap between what the public want and what politicians delievr has grown ever wider. every elction must bring about a step increase in the number of alienated voters. My own alienation began as long ago as the early 90s as Labour failed to pick up on what was fairly obvious support for a move away from tory politics. Blair was able to ride this obvious desire for change but then failed to deliver change and made the rich richer, and created a whole new generation of disposessed young people who were effectively written out of New Labour's dream of prosperity.

Part of this erosion was due to the corporate media who had most politicians over a barrel. Now we know that there was an unholy truce between media, government and justice system. The full extent of this is no doubt being kept from us still, and the mainstream media is clearly trying to give the impression that what we are dealing with is an isolated instance and in the past. in fact as it unfolds it is clear that it this sort of corruption is the norm rather than a one off anomaly.

It's also interesting how the whole thing is being steered away from being about police, politicians and judges and is now only about celebrities being stalked.

so we come to 2011. those who are now being examined by the media, by the politicians and by the police, as a priority are not the tax evaders, the rule breakers, the corrupt officials, but those who are the poorest in society. We now get news full of benefit cheats, scroungers, those who refuse to work, those who work and still claim, those who sublet their council houses. And this is on the BBC.

And the news never fails to remind us about the august riots. We are invited to morally judge the rioters. the law and order brigade are easy for them lawbreaking is just wrong under any circumstances (oh except for the poor old sainted motorist who is being vicitimised, and occasionally you just have to hit a woman / paki / gay - it's human rights gone mad, and taking a few things from work or fiddling your expenses, that ain't a crime, etc) so they condemn as a reflex.

The liberals condemn because though they sympathise there just is no excuse for criminal behaviour, not even living in a delapidated flat, with no decent school, with impoverished parents, where gangs are the only social order, where crime is the only work, where the police only enter to randomly raid or harass you or your neighbours, where you have to stand up for yourself or stay scared, and where opportunity is like Santa Claus or the Yeti, and what they should have done clearly is sat down and written a stern letter to their MP or got one of those non-extstent jobs that pay you enough not to gradually slip into more and more debt just to keep your head above water, or started a petition! But then we know Liberals don't live in the real world.

And the socialists condemn because while they are pleased to see people rise up and confront the police they're absolutely appalled that these people fail to do it in the prescribed manner, and raid shops to steal a few things that they could otherwise never afford, for themselves, their families and their friends. How dare they be materialistic!

And so the same people who were marginalised by Blair, an kicked in the teeth by Cameron are now being shat on by all and sundry. But as the numbers of the marginalised grow, so will the chances of more riots. I believe that the riots ended not because the police gained control but because the rioters grew weary, and retreated. they will be back despite the appalling injustices they have been subjected to.

while those who fiddled their expenses, fiddled their taxes, bribed the police and politicans, or indeed allowed themselves to be bribed, those who fiddled their system to take an extra few quid, nothing that will make them rich, have been effctively hung out to dry and all the press and the middle class worthies can talk about now is how hard can we punish the poor for daring to complain about being poor.

oh and if all that fails - we can tell the poor how lucky they are that they don't live in Africa, because that's not really fucking offensive at all is it!!