DAY 128: That election

April 26th, 2015 § 0 comments

Many of you will have been asking me about my voting intentions (forgetting that I live in North Islington where they make no difference and the left Social-Democrat Jeremy Corbyn is a shoo-in). They have of course forgotten Lenin’s aleksandr-gerasimov-lenin-on-the-rostrumformulation in The State and Revolution: ‘To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class are to repress and crush the people through parliament–this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary-constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics. But if we deal with the question of the state, and if we consider parliamentarism as one of the institutions of the state, from the point of view of the tasks of the proletariat in this field, what is the way out of parliamentarism? How can it be dispensed with?’ I can’t answer that one, better return to see what Lenin had to say.

Readers who have the good fortune to be on the electoral roll in Seattle have the option of voting for Kshama Sawant, probably the only socialist on offer in the United States. I haven’t the research staff to get together  list of candidates you could support in other  countries (Syriza? Podemos? The PFLP?)

Accordingly, I haven’t, on my brief vacation in Goa, been pondering how best to thrash the Condem machine, or whether the current convulsions in the Middle East herald the downfall of neoliberalism if not the Second Coming. [Talking of which, I’m reminded of what the LRB’s correspondent found at the Islamic University of Gaza:

“The university…was bombed again last on Saturday. 1406989264-islamic-university-in-gaza-badly-damaged-by-israeli-airstrike-_5429956The central building with the bright blue glass facade that greets visitors has been destroyed. The Israeli army’s Twitter account said it hit ‘a weapons development center located in the Islamic University’. From what I can remember it hit the English department, two auditoriums and a canteen. The forecourt was littered with charred exam papers, essays and books. One crumpled sheet considered Yeats’s ‘Second Coming’. The student finds herself in agreement with the poet: ‘the great last day will come sooner or later.’”]

Anyway, a week in India (no phone, no texts) gave me plenty of time to plan for the future – indeed to propose a winning election program. I know this contradicts much of what I’ve said above, but still… It seems to me the key problem is, after we’ve scrapped Trident and saved £100 billion, how will we (I mean I) spend it? My scheme is based on a) the dire impact of youth unemployment – in fact unemployment among the over-70s is a bit crippling too, but let that pass – b) the intense frustration which I, and I’m sure you, reader, have had when calling public bodies, utilities, airlines, even Sainsbury’s, and being kept on hold and played tasteless and nauseating music for at least 15 minutes. Surely, (I contend) with that £100 billion, we could retrain most of the 8.6 million unemployed and then give them decently paid jobs on upgraded and expanded switchboards with the offending companies on the understanding that they would answer the phone promptly, courteously, and efficiently within four rings. (I note that the Grenada Customs and Excise 422466_366119103410068_845373642_ncan do it. If Grenada, why not BT?)  These employees would furthermore have been given the proper training so that they could answer any question helpfully within (say) five minutes. A twelve-year-old with an iPad could do it using Google, (See ‘Nonfiction Matters Reading, Writing, and Research in Grades 3-8’, Stephanie Harvey, Stenhouse, 1998.)

My other, more directly lucrative project, is to get a musical, if not two, on the West End stage by now – given the number there are. Ideas that occur almost at random include:

(i) Fitzcarraldo

(ii) To the Lighthouse

(III) Daesh! – The Musical

Fitzcarraldo is perhaps the most obvious, given Fitz’s obsession with opera – but To the Lighthouse, with its varied cast of characters and timeless themes, lighthouseis perhaps more satisfying; particularly Mr Ramsay’s number ‘If I could only get to Q’, and the trio (Andrew, Lily and Mr Ramsay) ‘Think of a kitchen table when you’re not there’. I know you’re thinking of Philip Glass and the avant-garde for the songs, but I have my eye on Abba. As for my third suggestion, you might think that given the hostility of Daesh to all forms of music,62e17bad-909a-4c25-8cf5-dfee58e17475-2060x1236 the idea was a bit unpromising – as soon (Quakers being a bit like ISIS on music, if not in most other respects) make a musical of George Fox’s Journal. But I’m counting on the Charlie Hebdo factor – merely to announce the musical will unleash a tidal wave of death threats if not actual assassinations; and what could be more calculated to boost sales?

Poetry Corner

Because everyone’s doing Armenis this week, here a couple of evocative pieces by Shahé Mankerian:


She was gone for four days.
Father knew she’d come back
to feed his boys. Every morning

he cracked some eggs and squeezed
blood oranges. We didn’t clean
the table because we kept waiting.

He drove to work, and we walked
to school at opposite directions.
We held hands to cross streets

but refused to discuss the fight
even though Dad finally hit her.
We fried more eggs for dinner.

On the fifth day, when we got home,
she had cleaned the dishes, wiped
the table, and the kitchen was full

of steam from the pressure cooker.

 Mother Gives Dementia a New Name
The television bleats like a kumquat sheep.
The Ojibwa postman knocks on the doorwhen she washes the feet of the dining table.
Lucullus must be her lover; she sees himsitting in the coffee residue. We don’t let her
kiss the demitasse. In the backyard,the apricot tree hangs her Komitas;
her chemise hangs from the terracotta chimney;

she hangs Armenian poems on the clothesline.
When the telephone doesn’t ring, she speaks to it:

The cat likes to sleep in the refrigerator.
She calls all her sons, Rostom, and offers

the cleaning lady lozenge because she coughs
like someone’s daughter.


I was intending to play a track of ‘Goa trance’, until I found out what it sounded like. No offence to those who are earning a crust turning out this genre of music on their synths at 130-150 bpm; but I found it was hard to concentrate on for more than 7 minutes; so, with a complete change of direction (sellout? old fogeyism?) I’m giving you the Incredible String Band’s hymn to Krishna from 1968, ‘You get Brighter‘.

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