Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Marine 'A' still behind bars despite his conviction being overturned. Why?

Sgt Alexander Blackman, often referred to as 'Marine A', was expected to be released from jail last week following the overturning of his scandalous murder conviction, appears to still be in the cells.

We are now told that he can expect to be released within the next two weeks.

Why was his release delayed?

Was it because of last week's attack in Westminster by an Islamist terrorist?

Perhaps it was thought that the release of Sgt Alexander, who - quite rightly in my opinion - sent another Islamist terrorist off to paradise on the battlefield of Afghanistan - might upset Muslims?

How spineless our country has become.

Monday, 27 March 2017

"No Motive" for London Terror attack. Really...?

So let us get this right: six weeks ago so-called 'Islamic State' outlined, via mobile phone messages to their supporters, a list of possible victims and 'perfect targets' in Britain including politicians. 

In the post was an illustration - titled 'Fight Them' -  of an ISIS terrorist dressed like Jihadi John holding a sword in front of Big Ben, as a fireball engulfed the background with a tattered Union Flag flying in the wind.

Six weeks after this call to arms was posted via Telegram, terrorist Khalid Masood, who converted to Islam and was radicalised in prison, like many of them, launched his  attack on the Houses of Parliament, in the shadow of Big Ben, killing four people and injuring many more.

(Despite the fact that Masood was implicated in a plot, as recently as 2010, involving a planned bomb attack on a Territorial Army base in Luton, and despite the fact that he had visited Saudi Arabia twice, "after carrying out a risk assessment and looking into his background, it was decided he did not pose a terror threat." - the police and the Home Office will be working frantically behind closed doors to cover their politically correct backs even as I write).

Telegram was also used by fanatics before the attacks on Nice in July 2016 and Berlin in December last year.

And the Metropolitan Police are saying that they may "never find out" the motive for this mass murder.

Are they stupid?

Apart from the background of Masood, who ticks just about every box as far as Jihadists go, can I offer the Metropolitan Police another clue as to his motive?

The website al-Islam proclaims that "Jihad (Holy Struggle) is an Obligatory Duty". They justify this by referring to their holy book “O Prophet! Strive hard agaunt the infidels and the hypocrites, and be firm against them, and their abode is hell, and evil is their resort.” Holy Qur'an (66:9)

Just to simplify this for their more simple readers, they go on to say that "Muslims should defend themselves if being attacked in order to preserve their faith, spread Islam, and stand against tyrants and oppressors. Allah made jihad obligatory, in all its forms, whether it is the jihad of society or self, speaking a word for the sake of preserving Islamic call Da'wah, or defending the sanctuaries of the Muslim nation. Jihad is considered among the best forms of worship with Allah, the Most High... The martyr who sacrifices himself and dies for the sake of his faith finds his place in Paradise."

Al-Islam describes itself as being the "official website of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community - an Islamic organization, international in its scope, with branches in over 200 countries".

This is quite an old group, founded in India in the 19th century. It teachings all assume that Islam is practiced in the context of a Caliphate. The stated aim of Islamic State is the creation of a new Caliphate.

I could go into far more detail, but should Scotland Yard's finest read this, they might find the clue they are looking for regarding a motive for Wednesday's attack.

Its really not that hard, Sherlock.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Legacy of Martin McGuinness


I would not ordinarily wish death upon even my enemies, but in the case of Martin McGuinness I have long made an exception. 

I took great pleasure in writing his obituary yesterday, it is a shame it took so long. I look forward to doing the same for Gerry Adams.

I wish for his surviving family members, and his close friends, the same fate that he inflicted upon his victims, many of them children.

The front page of today's Daily Mail sums up what this piece of uneducated shit brought to the world.

McGuinness claimed to be a practicing Roman Catholic. If so, I hope that in accordance with his superstitions he is now learning just how hot the fires of hell can be.


Read: Martin McGuinness Dead http://eutoday.net/news/mcguiness





Monday, 20 March 2017

Hieronymous Bosch at Eurantica

The gentleman in the picture with me is Rob Camp-Vos, a Belgian art dealer with a passion for Early Modern prints, and with a particular penchant for, and a great knowledge of, the Dutch masters.

We met him at Eurantica, an annual fine arts fair in Belgium just a few days ago.

The print he is holding is a 17th century Hieronymous Bosch. So it is rather late, but in superb condition, and very rare.



He was not only happy to talk about this extremely rare print, he even took it out of its frame and allowed us to touch it. If it was mine, I wouldn't let anybody else even look at it.

To describe Rob as passionate about his subject is really an understatement, and it is no surprise that having gone from start-up to where he is now as an art dealer has taken just 14 years. The collection he casually offers to buyers is superb, and he knows the story behind every single print.

This particular print has stood the test of time well, but has undergone some slight restoration on one corner, but I certainly couldn't see it. Therefore it is for sale at what is a very reasonable price for a Bosch print of that era - €25,000.

You can contact Rob through: www.lex-antiqua.be

Learn more about Eurantica at: http://www.eurantica.be/

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Meeting a Living Legend

Very lucky to get to meet and talk with Ivan Marchuk a couple of days ago in Bruges. 

He is one of Ukraine's most famous artists, and in 2007 was named by the Daily Telegraph as one of the top 100 geniuses of our time.

During the Soviet era he was banned from painting - his work was considered to be 'too patriotic', in that it was highly evocative of Ukrainian traditions, and folk culture. The Kremlin had a history, of course, of stifling Ukrainian culture, and tradition it continues to this day.

The exhibition 'Looking into infinity' was held to mark 25 years of Ukrainian diplomacy in the EU.


Marchuk in Bruges: Art Expo Marks 25 Years Of Ukrainian Diplomacy In EU
http://eutoday.net/news/marchuk-1

Monday, 13 March 2017

Today Is Commonwealth Day!

Today, March 13th, marks Commonwealth Day. When I was at primary school in the 1960s this was a great event - we would write letters in advance of the day to schools in Australia, NZ, Rhodesia, Canada, India, etc,etc,etc.... and we would receive their news by post as well.

Then we sold the Commonwealth out big time by joining what was then the Common Market, abandoning our traditional partners, causing economic problems for them, and leaving them to find their own way out of the mess. NZ in particular, with its vital sheep farming sector, lost its biggest market almost overnight, despite promises to the contrary.


I had always assumed that there would be no way back from that betrayal. I was wrong.

The British Commonwealth survived by re-inventing itself as the Commonwealth of Nations, always receiving the greatest attention from Queen Elizabeth II, whose enthusiasm for the Commonwealth has never diminished in the slightest.

Following the Brexit vote, the first countries to come knocking on the door of 10 Downing Street (figuratively, and in at least one case, literally) were the Commonwealth nations - the big ones!

52 countries, 2.2 billion people, almost all of them young and rapidly developing economies.

And as was once said of the British Empire - The Sun never sets on the Commonwealth!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Sweet Gene Vincent

George and I went to the theatre tonight to see High School Musical. It was great. Full of energy, and the mostly teenaged cast gave a superb performance.

And I found a little gem......

In the foyer and bar of the Rhodes Arts Centre in Bishop's Stortford there is a collection of memorabilia, mainly old posters of some of the acts who have performed there over the years - some big names.



But this one really caught me, as I am a big fan of Gene Vincent.

This poster dates from 1964, when Gene was recording for Columbia records. It was a difficult time for him.

He had been seriously disabled in an accident during his service with the US Navy. His left leg was in a brace, and was in constant pain. Performing onstage was an agony for him. He was also still suffering emotionally from the death, in 1960, of his close friend, the Rock n Roll legend Eddie Cochran. They were involved in a car crash near Chippenham, in England, in which Eddie sustained injuries from which it was impossible to recover. He was just 21 years old.

Gene never recovered from this incident psychologically, and his physical condition deteriorated.

However, England and France loved him, and although his career waned in his home country, the USA, he played to packed houses in Europe until the end.

He died in 1971, a broken, but much loved, man.

I love the line at the bottom of the poster that states the first 50 girls will be admitted to the concert free of charge. Gene had a bit of a reputation in that department, but 50....?




Saturday, 4 March 2017

Gathered Leaves - Alec Soth




American photographer Alec Roth is attracting a lot of attention with his expo 'Gathered Leaves', a set of four collections on his work, 'Sleeping by the Mississipi' (2004), 'Niagara' (2005), 'Broken Manual' (2006), and 'Songbook' (2014).

He is currently exhibiting at FOMU (foto museum) in Antwerp, his first showing in Belgium.

His work depicts ordinary Americans in their natural surroundings, and often emphasizes the sheer scale of the North American landscape in his work.

I found Broken Leaves particularly interesting.
This looks at some rather eccentric, and sometimes disturbed, people who don't quite fit the the mold, and have tried to break away. Many of his subjects have withdrawn from mainstream life and are living outside society, including in remote areas of the desert.

An excellent documentary is also showing alongside the Expo, in which he talks to some of his subjects about their lives. It is well worth seeing.

FOMU always has expos on each of its three floors; I have spent many an hour there and never once have I come away disappointed. This one I certainly recommend.

www.fomu.be

An Afternoon With Picasso


As one who has, shall we say, conservative tastes, I have always been somewhat skeptical as to the merits of Picasso.  I always assumed that when he studied art he must have skipped the 'how to draw faces' module.

So I approached the Picasso Sculptures expo at Bozar, in Brussels, with mixed thoughts. I was only ever even vaguely aware that he sculpted at all. Was I in for a lesson!

In fact, his paintings were very often of his own sculptures. He created his own models, first from paper, and then, often, from scrap metal, and occasionally concrete.


He used to use bicycle saddles a lot. I have a wonderful image in my mind of the Paris police in the 1930s investigating a spate of saddle thefts in Montemarte. 

I am reliably informed that he also used to steal items from the Louvre, and take them home to study them.

Try to steal from the Louvre now and see what happens to you!
The sculptures themselves are fascinating: from every angle you see something completely different.

But above all, they are fun. 

Almost as much fun as watching the devotees who search endlessly for the true meaning of Picasso's work. One lady even brought her own chair and spoke briefly to one work before sitting down and staring intently at it. What was going through her mind we can only imagine. She may even be still sitting there now.

Due to incredible demand, the expo was extended, but draws to a close this weekend.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A good hair day....


Spotted in Hertford recently. Now this is how a barber shop should look :)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

London Underground: Service As Usual

I switched on the BBC news this morning in the somewhat vain hope that there might be something of substance, rather than the endless 'heartwarming' pieces about children's charities and dogs surviving diabetes, but alas, it was service as usual.

It is service as usual on London's public transport as well, apparently.

Of the 14 lines (underground and overground) that make up the central system, no less than 4 go from 'severe delays', through 'partially suspended' to 'totally suspended'. 

This is totally normal, and it is totally unacceptable. The London Underground is one of the most expensive metro systems in the world, literally millions of people depend on it every day, and it doesn't work.

I understand that it is very old, some of the tunnels date from the reign of Queen Victoria (the Metropolitan line first opened in 1863), and they require a great deal of attention. But that is not the real problem, is it?

The real problem is privatisation, or rather, the legacy of a failed privatisation that should never have happened in the first place.

This left much of the infrastructure in a dire state, due to the inevitable under investment by the carpetbaggers  who moved in to slash costs, and to strip out all the profit they could, paying themselves and their shareholders mega-bucks, before going bankrupt and leaving the taxpayer to clear up the mess.

Also high on my own private hit list is the RMT, the trades union that many transport workers belong to. It is their decision to hold yet another 24 hour strike that has led to today's misery. Former RMT leader, the late Bob Crow, famously had a bust of Lenin on his desk; so you get the picture as to their position.

The fact that most lines are working today confirms the fact that the unions are losing their grip - in the 1970s it would have been "one out, all out", and the brothers would all retire to the pub to spend their strike pay and to prepare for the arrival of the worker's paradise.

My own experience is that the system becomes even worse with every tranche of staff cuts. Ticket offices are largely closed now, so forget about asking travel directions there, and if the ticket machines are out of order, you ain't going nowhere, mate.

Of course, if you have an Oyster card you can always top it up with cash at a newsagent or a corner shop. Mr Patel will respond to any gap in the market almost instantly - guess why Asian small businesses are so successful!

But the big disgrace is the lack of staff manning exit barriers. After the horrific 1987 fire at King's Cross, in which 31 people died and more than 100 were injured, it was revealed that when the fire took hold passengers were unable to escape through the barriers to safety quickly enough, meaning that many were blocked in with the flames and the smoke.

As a result it was made a legal requirement that all exit barriers should be manned at all times so they could all be opened immediately in the event of an emergency.

That requirement seems to have been quietly forgotten, and in the event of such a catastrophe occurring again in the future, the guy who would have opened the gates to let everybody out will at home filling in job applications.

The current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who I have a lot of time for, clearly understands the plight of travelling Londoners, and has moved to cap fares.

The problem with the underground, however, is that fixing it will require many years, decades even. Governments think in terms of electoral cycles, and so the foremost question in their minds is always "can we fix this before the next general election, and buy votes with the glory?" So its unlikely to be fixed any time soon, if at all.

My prediction is that it will be allowed to rumble on as it is until every penny of revenue has been milked out of it, then we will start to see some of the older lines being closed and abandoned.

(Caution: Video, whilst hilarious and a very accurate depiction of the commuter's life, does contain language that some may find highly offensive)












Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Little Corner Of Hertfordshire...

 I occasionally find myself in Hertford, a lovely little town in east Hertfordshire.

Taking a different route into the town centre yesterday I came across this little gem. It is the Church of the Immaculate Conception & St Joseph, in St John's Street. It is built on the site of Hertford Benedictine Priory, which itself dated from 1087, and which was destroyed by King Henry VIII in 1539.

With its cloister and garden, complete with fountain, it is absolutely beautiful - an oasis of peace and tranquility.