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DIY: A Thatcherite plot?

13 Feb 2016 | Re: Political theory | Link-U-Post

Before the Second World War it was unusual for people to do their own decorating out of choice: those who could afford it would hire a painter and decorator to do it for them. (Mr Pooter is a literary example of someone who gets keen on doing his own painting. He is not meant to be typical.) Then at some point between the 1940s and now the balance began to shift, until it became normal to do your own painting, decorating and light-to-medium home maintenance jobs, and it wouldn’t even occur to most people to get someone in.

The results of this:

You know, I can’t think of a single positive consequence.

Now it seems to me that the time when DIY got popular was the 1980s. Just as British heavy industry was dying, or being killed off, or going into managed decline, everyone also starts suddenly doing their own painting and papering, attacking the business of another traditional working class profession. Another way people could leave school at 16 and make a proper living, largely gone from today’s Britain.

So the question is, can it be a coincidence? Or was the DIY trend deliberately started by the Conservative Party and their allies as another way to take respectable, worthwhile, skilled work away from the working classes? I think it may have been. And it gets particularly nasty once you remember that one of the sacred founding documents of the British welfare state, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, is about painters and decorators. No doubt Thatcher herself, having hurled the book aside in an ugly blue rage, vowed then and there to do all she could to bring down the painting and decorating profession. Unable to smash it by edict as she did the miners, she began a war of ideas that would eventually wreak comparable devastation. Some clever Tory PR type hits on the idea of DIY and boom! Lots more money for the Tory-voting owners of big paint and paper companies, lots less for Labour-voting tradesmen. In yer face Mr Tressell.

Over Christmas, I got someone in to do my painting and papering. I recommend this course of action. It’s very convenient and it may be your political duty.

Posted by JOSE IZQUIERDO at 22:10

PS: Since I posted this on Facebook and it started blowing up, new facets of the sick class-aggressive joke that is DIY keep occurring to me. For example:

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Say something, I’m giving up on you

12 May 15 | Re: Where it all went wrong | Link-U-Post

Among the many people wondering where Labour went wrong at the election, Mark Steel in the Independent stood out. He says, “It’s almost impossible to win an election by opposing corporate greed, against a hostile media, unless you have a social movement behind you.” He’s right: a left-wing party can’t just be a party. It has to be a movement. Greece had a movement. The SNP is a movement. Even Obama had a bit of a movement. The Labour Party does not move people. It is not a movement. It’s only a party, and a pretty tedious one at that.

The Labour Party when it was founded, and when it was mighty, was a part and a consequence and a triumph of the Labour Movement. Over decades, the tide of that movement has receded, leaving the party stuck on its own, surrounded by nothing but sand. The Labour Party is now a rock pool, populated by molluscs, anemones and various other dispiriting invertebrates. And shrinking all the time thanks to the remorseless attention of the Sun.

The size of the movement vacuum becomes most apparent when you realise that the closest thing Britain has to a demagogue is Nigel Farage. Such is the craving for a politician with even one idea that Farage, with all his obvious shortcomings, talking complete nonsense, with no obvious connection to ordinary people, or any people, is able to rouse the rabble after a fashion. Explanation: the rabble wants to be roused. It craves rousing. And the rabble should be roused. Not to march on Westminster with pitchforks, but roused at least to vote, and to vote with a punch of the fist rather than a shake of the head or a shrug of the shoulders.

This is why Labour need to lurch to the left. Not because the electorate is to the left of them — it isn’t, which is hardly surprising when nobody is making the case. Labour should go left because once there, they might persuade people to come and join them. It’s actually a lot easier to change minds a large amount than a little. The distance between ideas isn’t a physical one, it can be crossed in a second. And it’s far more attractive to say “It doesn’t have to be like this at all, here’s what we propose instead” than to say “The current government is broadly right but here are a few vague things we’d do a bit differently.”

I wrote before about that famous statement The facts of life are conservative not being wrong so much as short-sighted. If you are dull enough to accept everything in front of you, I don’t doubt that the Tories are plausible. When they and their friends and their predecessors define the rules of the game, it’s no surprise that they tend to win. Labour should refuse to play. They should say, we don’t agree with the most basic foundations of what you are saying. We reject your system. We won’t play by your rules. Your rules are not fair. Your rules were handed down to us by people who had no right to set them. The people who support and defend them do so for their own benefit and no one else’s. But rules can be changed. Changing them isn’t even especially ambitious. It is, in fact, the job of government to change the rules when they need changing.

I wonder whether Labour’s new leader will say any of that. Is it too much to ask that the Labour Party might still get behind, or even contain, a radical?

Posted by DONALD HOWARD at 23:36

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How To Be Angry

19 Apr 15 | Re: Lifestyle guide | Link-U-Post

Followers of @jbc_here on Twitter will already have seen this series, but Tweets can’t be stopped from vanishing inexorably into the past so I’m going to put it here so that I at least can find them if I want to. Here in full, on the blog, is my timeless twenty part guide: How To Be Angry.


#1 Ask rhetorical questions and then insist that people answer them.
#2 Talk to people as if they’re inanimate objects, and vice versa.
#3 Point at everything you mention. (If it’s an abstract concept, you can point wherever you want.)
#4 Keep up a turbo-charged internal monologue that will justify everything you say and do.
#5 If told to calm down, well done! You level up to the next level of anger.
#6 Find everyone else’s names absurd.
#7 Stand for no interruptions (from other people).
#8 Choose a word or phrase you’ve rarely if ever used before and repeat it constantly.
#9 An explanation is not too much to ask for. From people, from companies, from objects, from deities, from the universe.
#10 Any laugh or smile from a listener must be interrogated fully before moving on.
#11 Launch fearlessly into analogies.
#12 Appeal to confused and hapless bystanders.
#13 Gesture from the elbow.
#14 Rarely end a sentence. Target: 4+ ‘which’ clauses chained together.
#15 If you can’t find the synonym you want, “AAARGH!” will do instead.
#16 The correct response to something absurd or ridiculous is not laughter, it’s another breaking wave of wounded fury.
#17 Dare people to accept the concessions you make.
#18 Surprise yourself by using phrases you’ve heard from fictional angry people on TV.
#19 Reveal your masterplan: even your most apparently self-interested acts were for other people’s benefit all along.
#20 Make sure you’re dressed appropriately beforehand. It’s no good having to put on or take off a jumper part way through.

Posted by AURANE WATERS at 22:02

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Back... Further back...

...twins in the bin ...INTENSO MODE ...mad stuntwoman ...move-busting, rotund scholastics ...fourth's the golden eagle ...a list of tired cliches that it will not resort to in any circumstances ...You bet your asthma inhaler ...offend the wizards of Liechtenstein ...absurdly jazztastic and showy ...Your name is Alan Carstairs ...You may feel a little... tingling ...valiant strugglers against the tide of charisma ...we seem to be in some kind of golden age.

Thank you so much to ticket touts everywhere ... Goonrock I find most beguiling ... pole-greasing careerists ... assent past the point of absurdity ... sly one slips from the shadows ... she mutated into something even bigger ... Top Media Geek ... laugh with delight, long and loud ... all the big beat fun stuff.


... only alluded to cryptically via a crossword clue ... he beetled off ... panegyric hosedown ... looking to plagiarise a harvest acrostic.


... hapless Buttons-type character ... fictional Radiohead-appreciator ... The last proper one must be Edward I ... a fortress built out of the blood of thousands of slaughtered bulls ... drummers shivering in vests ... Back to the drawing board, chart-watchers!

... he conveniently says the word fridge about fifty times ... a slight hoarseness or croakiness ... a sepia tide ... he could nearly have scooped Miguel de Cervantes.

Sandal sales boom. Razor sales plummet.

... messing up the next edition of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles ... a carboard signpost pointing the way down Plot Street ... eat old peanuts out of the sofa ... the Funky Giraffe baby product range ... All objections are cant ... jacket-wearing nonsense ... just enough mud sticking ... the arch-users of that particular fiddle ... slack-jawed cogitation ... a full-body frown that exerts every single muscle ... far too much of the intricate robot gubbins.

In Jessie J terms ... obvious Brontë fan Shaun Ryder ... anthem-type music as a Trojan horse ... cutesy hip-hop moves ... Now That’s What I Call Wigging Out.

... characteristically nasal delivery ... too much democracy ... all-killer-no-filler dancefloor bangers ... a grimly eccentric minority ... West End-style camped up non-rock ... a ripping winner’s single ... a lovely lullaby.

... brattish charisma fountain ... Cowardy Custard ... a kind of Platonic Jagger.

Galahad Roger Potter ... to her surprise Aslan appears ... a pink smartphone on a Saturday night ... a thousand eloquent turns of phrase ... someone will invent a great big battery ... the land of tooth obsession ... the virtue of knaves ... an ideal snack for a train journey ... a vaguely arty, continental bloke?

... referrative case ... shaped like Rigel ... poetic pressure ... awful, awful blog posts ... Democratic utopia!

... waxy-surfaced nick-nack ... tip-top, AV-elected representatives folky bits ... Garbage (if you count them) ... poor, poor Lib Dems ... that same train-window feel ... crud scraping ... world wig-out shortage ... brainless fawning over royalistic trivia ... twice as hard next time ... good material for sit-com sex.

No C-word this week, C-word fans!

A great new approach to dinner drinking ... scratchy breakdown bit ... beacon of oratorial skill ... Why, John Power? Why? ... little clumps of fact ... musical alchemists ... a little patch of bad skin on one hand ... feedback squealing vaguely ... the most rational human alive ... you may be exactly the same as me.

... Pshaaaaw! to all of that ... fascinating mechanical clock ... digestives in the shape of a loaf of bread ... endless popgun barrage of short-sentence trivia ... What do we all think about that, eh?

Michael Parkinson ... A train of thought that started with tea ... carrots ... the most generous funny man in double act history ... joining in the great haiku-writing tradition ... long, orange vegetable ... Jay-Z agrees ... unanimous nominee ... distinctive brand of slow service.

... hot buttered soul ... political blancmange ... the ideal is just a little shuffle of the shoulders.

York and Lancaster ... spoiling the line of my trousers ... doughty journeyman ... bop about in one of his fine jackets ... almost worth watching ... Joan of Arc’s canonisation ... recommending expensive food and clothes ... What a silly magazine Q is.

How barbarous ... extra-biblical tradition ... unwitting TV Burp fans ... spend whatever time remains bopping about and grinning ... one-sided Moebius rectangle ... don’t go looking in the Gospels.

But a radical sees a little further ... cute little pickaxe ... a meter not normally assigned to any word in the English language ... an ingenious way to reward superfans ... Not Echobelly ... the company directors probably kept most of the saving ... the smallest Mr Man ... a Lepidus fan who just wants to talk Lepidus.

... answer floats in the ether ... you can boil or steam some specially beforehand ... the Toronto Hobbits.

... distinctly pedestrian raps ... Look on my works and despair! ... Stevland “Stevie” Wonder ... flim-flam and dross ... cooing, benevolent soft-soaper ... metaphor, onomatopoeia, synecdoche, hypallage ... inexplicable pop-up rapper ... cherish loveliness ... named after a moon goddess or whatever ... a birthday on the 39th ... like a heart-shaped coffee spoon ... Victoria Hesketh ... three poorly-dressed blokes ... the Roman geezer ... Maddening cereal design ... a bit of low-level recognition ... the elusive sharp end of Lawro’s wit ... exactly what Marvel Comics need.

Jiminy Jillickers!

... special occasions are going to involve speeches ... “just a fan in a suit” ... commentary box hate figure ... magisterial preface ... the notoriously rigorous UEFA coaching badge ... whoever else she is ... match the style of the master ... another milestone in gender equality ... football-haters, block-heads and innumerates ... fount of bons mots ... exposure to Nick Grimshaw ... good old David James ... slightly surprised ... reasons for messing everything up ... he’s making it up as he goes along.

Prancing about like a nincompoop in the town centre ... music on a razor’s edge ... sausage-fingered musical regressionists ... still preoccupied with 1985 ... jolly, benign busybodies ... my zero followers ... Looks pretty though.

Hardly Hard-Fi territory, I think you’ll agree ... kazoo-and-saucepan bands ... mooching buddy ... Mrs Tolkien put her foot down ... only ever really existed on Planet Bushell ... actually quite a nice sign ... cavorting more than a sportsman strictly ought ... made the mistake of copying Shed Seven instead.

... going from door to door trying all the handles ... ignominious foundering collapse ... There is a lot of religion in it ... answer to that: play better ... He also says that he is dapper ... tour de force of restrained longing ... the word ‘ghastly’ might be involved at some point.

... an idealised dancefloor where the stars have aligned ... unfussy, mathematically minded nation ... the triumph of wide-eyed teenage promise ... fail ... my most up-to-date thoughts ... A-list wigsbies ... a picturesque fragility ... doesn’t always show the expected level of respect ... no sooner buy a CD single than a penny-farthing ... pure dance gold ... instead of onions I substituted eggs ... better without the sides ... I wonder if the Bahranians are watching.

... it just stretches out and fades away ... you don’t actually write all the questions out ... pictures of gurning old women ... a twinkling miscellany of other incidentalia ... especially the boiling cauldron bit ... stripily garish woollen socks ... Santa-suited disco dancers ... in aching anticipation ... the admirable Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ... come on, audio people ... rather takes the edge off the feminist intent ... Britain has never won it ... despotic or bonkers or charismatic ... nostalgia, only for another place ... brain-exerciser ... shovelling junk mail into landfill sites ... got the idea from the prog band ASIA ... that woman out of Madison Avenue ... this panegyric isn’t post-gig euphoria.

I believe the G usually stands for God ... Wrestling fans should have had no problem ... the ‘have mercy’ element can get missed ... a sign made of a grimy blue tarpaulin ... an air of real gravitas ... a nice new dodgy flat in Bristol ... warm and welcoming ... Oirish no-hopers ... lucky country ... as stretched-out as Peter Crouch ... question rate ... the millions of Mills’s minions ... You have to admire the guy.

... What does it mean for God to rest? ... bling bling baby ... gunged up with big hits ... 0.1% of the prize money ... draw back the cloak of invisibility ... oily megalopolis ... zenarchistic pop pragmatists ... legalise at least some drugs ... urchin and Becker fans.

Blast, you've spotted me.

... you STILL get equal boys and girls ... Score one for the Chinese government I suppose ... moan about something that is bound to happen ... Lando is the right answer ... shake their fists at the monitor ... a strange land of mountains, horsemen and tour cyclists ... goats on tightropes ... in the style of Digitiser ... plenty of water in the southern hemisphere, sure ... create your own ... an accordion player called Corn Mo ... a point for drummer ... Sweden and everywhere else ... a bit like the wooden spoon ... O-trivia Newton John ... it would one day be misused by the chief executive of the Independent Schools Council ... out of the bank.

... may not actually have a surname at all ... crew of gangster midgets ... the heirs of the mighty conqueror ... woolly turtleneck ... directional trend-setting demigods ... seven in almost 1000 years ... run-of-the-mill internet raving ... must be time for a second ... pleasantly rounded, like a genial uncle ... only writing LOL if you actually laugh out loud ... replace hat, arrange hair, check hat, take towel ... a facsimile of knowledge ... impossibly dramatic and thrilling ... cool eh? ... you know, for fun ... doesn’t actually answer or even appear to understand even one of the questions ... First post done.

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