Monday, 15 December 2014

Constantin Meunier- Belgian Realist

Yesterday was a real highlight. My charming friend Inna and I visited the Constantin Meunier exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels.
I looked forward to this visit for some time. Meunier was a realist sculptor and painter who lived just across the road from me. To be honest, he passed away in 1905, but I live in an old quarter of Brussels, and if you are ever passing by, then I can show you his house.

The expo was wonderful.

Meunier was a classicist, and his early works owed a lot to Rodin. There was also a strong Catholic influence in his early days, that was to underpin his work throughout his life. He moved on, but those early influences never left him. He spent some time, as a young artist, in Spain. ....and then he really emerged, as he became more cosmopolitan.

Meunier captured the lives of working folk at the end of the 19th century, more than any other European artist (in my opinion). In the steel mills and the coal mines, he saw everything, and he portrayed the trials and tribulations of the working classes.

Van Gogh wrote about Meunier "He is my superior in every way"

I love his realist style - I am grateful to him for capturing on canvas, and in bronze - the suffering, and the pride, of the working classes.

I could write forever about his art, and about his influences, and about his legacy - within walking distance of my home there is an academy and a museum, both named after him. But I leave it to you, dear reader, to make up your own mind....

Details of the expo are here....

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Farage: Legacy of Der Stormer

UKIP, increasingly, are full of shit.

This, however, is my favourite. Apparently Nigel Farage failed to turn up to speak at a meeting because "immigration" caused heavy traffic on the M4.

Who built much of our motorway infrastructure? Ahhh.... that would be Irish immigrant labour. Was it their fault that you were late, Nigel?

My grandfather was an Irish immigrant who served in the British Army in the Second World War. Was it his fault you were late, Nigel? Did you serve in the British Army, Nigel?

The mother of my children is an immigrant. Is it her fault that you were late, Nigel?

My children have Jewish blood from both parents. Is it the fault of the Jews, Nigel? It usually is. According to people like you.

Your own wife, Nigel, is an immigrant. Was it her fault that you were late? Or are you selective about which categories of immigrants that you blame?

One out, all out!

Yesterday we had a major strike in Brussels. All public transport was shut down, and the school dinner ladies had a well deserved long weekend.

The Eurocrats have bought into this, unofficially, as well.

The European Parliament was a quieter place than usual as a result.

One of my friends took the day off, as he could not get in on the train.

He usually drives to work, but coincidentally his car was "in for servicing" yesterday. He lives near me, and I walk to the parliament - it takes me about 20 minutes! Funnily enough, he made it to the pub at lunchtime - the pub in question being outside the parliament!

Incidentally, the cost of this trade union inspired strike equates to 2,000 public sector jobs.

I often wonder, "how stupid are trade union members, to listen to their highly paid union leaders who lose no pay at all on a strike day?" Very stupid, apparently.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Beauty of Ukraine

At an early age I realised that I was not blessed with artistic or musical talent, which is a cruel blow. I compensate by organising events - mostly classical music events, and art expos.

But this week was a highlight. After some uncertainty, lost sleep, but great fun, we opened 'The Beauty of Ukraine', in Brussels.

A Christmas exhibition, featuring the work of my good friend Alona Pylgun, originally from Kyiv, but now living in Belgium.

It was a lovely evening. I was very pleased by the numbers, and delighted that Alona was interviewed by both Belgian and Ukrainian television crews.

The works will be on display until January 15th.

The venue is the newly opened restaurant GOURMAND, at Rue de Treves 4, Brussels 1050. (It is opposite Gare du Luxembourg), and I strongly recommend it if you want a superb lunch.

Many thanks to Randall at euspectator for the video 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What to do....

A terror suspect was considering an indiscriminate Mumbai-style attack and had an address for Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, the Old Bailey has heard.

Well the address is not that hard to find. It is in Connaught Square, W2.

I used to live in Connaught Square, at number 23, right on the corner. That was in the days before anybody outside of CND or MI5 ever heard of Tony Blair....

But I suspect when they see this post, 5 will be frantically checking the records. Tossers.

Blair is, of course, the 'man' who launched us into a record number of wars. You might notice that his son and heir has never served in the Armed Forces. We have a name for such people......

Monday, 13 October 2014

I generally do not approve of capital punishment, but at times like this do I wonder why the security services are issued with firearms.... That this piece of vermin should be released and allowed to walk among Human Beings is a disgrace.

Brighton bomber Patrick Magee has returned to the town 30 years after his deadly device ripped through the Grand Hotel killing five people.
The Republican, who was handed eight life sentences in 1986, planted the bomb that targeted Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Cabinet during their annual conference in 1984.
Magee was back in the city to take part in a panel discussion following a screening of documentary Beyond Right & Wrong at The Old Market in Hove.
The programme follows the story of Jo Berry, whose father Sir Anthony Berry was killed in the explosion, and her reconciliatory journey with Magee.
He previously returned to Brighton in 2004 to take part in a panel discussion with Ms Berry. But Lord Tebbit, who was trade and industry secretary at the time, said he could not forgive the bomber.
The former minister was severely injured in the blast and his wife Margaret was left paralysed from the neck down and needing 24-hour care.
Writing for The Telegraph, he said: “I am often asked if I can find it in my heart to forgive the creature, Patrick Magee, who planted the bomb.
“That, of course, is not possible, for Magee has never repented.”
Staff at the hotel held a minute’s silence to mark the 30th anniversary of the outrage, which killed five seriously injured 34 others.
Magee was released in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement – having served 13 years for the crime.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Fat Cats...

“The whole of British politics has been shaken up in a way that the complacent Westminster class could never even have contemplated,” Nigel Farage said as Duncan Carswell was re-elected to Westminster. “Something big is happening here. People want change. They have had enough of career politicians in three parties who don’t even understand the problems they face in their everyday lives. People want real change."

Yes, Nigel, the nation has had enough of 'career politicians' it is true.
And what have you done for a living since 1999, Mr Farage? Ahhh.... you have been a career politician. 
You also employed your wife, contrary to your own undertakings, at taxpayer's expense. Even now, she is employed as an an assistant by a certain Ray Finch, who in the last parliament was himself employed by you as an assistant. That looks a bit dodgy, doesn't it?
And there was a story in the Sunday Times, a few years ago, alleging that one of your sons was on the payroll too....
Yes Nigel, those career politicians are milking the taxpayer for everything they can get... 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

I really do despair about the state of the English language media.

The following is from today's Telegraph (Oct 9th 2014).

"Mr Cameron has previously suggested that migrants from poor countries that join the European Union should be banned from moving to Britain, David Cameron has suggested."

I understand that commercial pressures have led to the redundancy of most of the real journalists, and that most copy, even in such journals as the Telegraph, is apparently sourced by interns from the wires. 

But can they not find one that actually reads that which they cut and paste?

It's no wonder the country is going to the dogs....

Monday, 6 October 2014

How the other half live....

I had to visit the Commune (Town Hall) today, to get a piece of paper stamped. Don't ask me what it was, I couldn't give a stuff, getting bits of paper stamped is an everyday part of life here in Belgium.

I live in that part of town where most of the embassies are, and it is a nice 15 minute walk to the Commune, so I don't get too stressed about it. I had a really nice stroll, stopped off at my local shop to pass a few minutes with my Sri Lankan chums, talked about cricket, and generally enjoyed the start to my day.

For the first time ever, I noticed the embassy of Madagascar in Avenue de Tervueren. It is very big. Very big, and very grand. There were a number of Mercedes outside - the kind you don't see in the showrooms- big limos with blacked out windows and diplomatic plates. Very impressive.

And all that for a bunch of cartoon animals.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Meeting Oleksandr Vilkul

My day got off to a good start.

I got to interview the former Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Oleksandr Vilkul, I was very pleased to have some time with him one hour before the start of his official press conference.

Ukrainian politics, and the dynamics of that country's political elite are often a total mystery to me, even after some years of engagement. But I make a point of engaging with both sides of the debate. And I am excited to say that today a wee bit of optimism is creeping in for the first time in many months...

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Die Partei ist Farage! Farage aber ist UKIP wie UKIP Farage ist!

If anybody doubted the extent of Nigel Farage's megalomania, then this should dispel those doubts.

Farage believes that Cameron recalled Parliament yesterday, to debate the possibility of military action against ISIS, in order to take attention away from the UKIP party conference.

No Nigel, he waited until yesterday because the Labour Party conference was taking place earlier in the week, and he needed the Labour MPs there to take part in that debate. The UKIP party conference was not relevant, because UKIP has no MPs.

UKIP is hoping to obtain its "first" MP soon, in the shape of one Mr Carswell. Apparently Bob Spink, who was once UKIP's "first MP" has been airbrushed out of history. He simply did not exist. I am so reminded of Nazi and Soviet propaganda tactics.
The sort of stuff we can still see today on Russia Today (RT) - the successor  to наше кино,
Bob, who crossed the floor from the Tories to UKIP was a decent chap. I liked him very much. He soon realised what the game was, and walked quietly away from UKIP. So the official line went from "Bob Spink - UKIP's first MP" to "Well, he was never really a UKIP MP..." The UKIP press office never let truth get in the way of damage limitation. The only difference is that then they used to be able to spell it.

This is a serious business, and the boys on the flightline in Akrotiri are getting geared up to go into action.

And Nigel Farage really thinks it is all about him.

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Chat With One Of My Heroes.....

It is no secret that I love Rock n Roll. I remember once being described as a "former Teddy Boy". That made me laugh....  Former? ... I think not.

Today I was thrilled to have a wee chat online with one of the great names of Rock n Roll - Dickie 'Bee Bop' Harrell. 

Dickie was the original drummer with Gene Vincent's Blue Caps. He played on the original recording of Be Bop A Lula way back in 1956

At this point, anybody who understands Rock n Roll should start to get a bit excited.
I won't go into great detail, but I will share just a few of Dickie's words with you.


Those of us who love the music will know those names well. We will also recognise one of the most modest statements of all time. Dickie Harrell was absolutely crucial to the early Blue Cap sound. The drums and the background screams on Be Bop A Lula, the frantic energy of the first album Bluejean Bop, Dickie is the sound of the Blue Caps.

How wonderful it is to hear such modesty. How wonderful it is to wake up in the morning to find a message from someone I have idolised since I was about 12 years old..... Now there is a real star!

Dickie, incidentally, is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.