The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the tag “US politics”

Back to the (No) Future



You have to hand it to The Donald – he has succeeded in uniting the world. The show of solidarity across nations is impressive. Particularly with women. Particularly with people who won’t be taken in by grubby, rabble-rousing politics delivered by a rebooted Mussolini brought back to life as a Simpsons character. Particularly in Scotland – but then we’ve always been united in our disgust for the big bully who Trump-trampled his way over large areas of our bonnie land.

Everybody knows the story regarding the Scottish connection now. The young Scots lass leaving the Western Isles to seek her fortune in the U.S. Which got me thinking – surely a new version of Back to the Future is on the cards? In this one the main character would travel back to make sure sweet and gentle Lachlan from the local croft ends up with the young Mary and not the big American blow-hard visiting businessman*. Get it wrong – history is changed and the world is doomed.

There are lots of other Twilight Zone style twists in the real tale. The grandfather settling in America only because he got kicked out of Germany. For the full – and chilling – story check out Matt Frei‘s excellent documentary on Channel 4.

Back to the real world though so I guess we just have to get on with it. That doesn’t mean sticking your head under the duvet and self-medicating with your drug of choice  – however tempting that may be. Get up, stand up and don’t let the big bully win!

*Biff was based on Trump – spooky!




Erich McElroy’s Imperfect Guide to Picking the Perfect President

2015ERICHMC_UBI like political comedy but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. US politics has a bit more of a universal appeal though. Maybe it’s the dumbing down of the political message and the jaw-droppingly awful gaffs and infomercials that can get us non-Americans chuckling and feeling superior. That, along with there not being much in the way of political comedy this year on the Free Fringe means that Erich McElroy is onto a winner. It also helps that he has put together some cracking material, has great timing and has a very likeable and engaging personality.

Erich starts out by telling us he’s lived in Britain for the last fifteen years and does an effective routine about his young son pestering him for a balloon from the UKIP stand during the election campaign and the fact that he just happens to support Chelsea makes Erich fear he may have bred a racist.

Next Erich helpfully illustrates where the two US parties fit on a diagram of left and right UK political parties – with both being worrying to the right. And while Power Point and multi-media in general seems to be gratuitously in just about every other Free Fringe show Erich has a good reason for using it and he uses it expertly. So we get to see some of the aforementioned gaffs and infomercials which are both hilarious and chilling.

Funny, informative and very entertaining – the hour flew by. Whether you’re interested in US politics or not you should let Erich be your very far from imperfect guide.

Muppets and Mammon

Black FridayI must admit I felt pretty good about myself yesterday as I schlepped back from Asda, not with a flat-screen telly under each arm, but instead with bags full of cabbage, broccoli, carrots, okra, lemons and other cancer and diabetes busting items. Yes, they were still trying to peddle the whole greed-is-good-on-Black-Friday thing so my little corner of the store away from the electrical goods was deserted. I did have a sneaky peek at what once-in-a-lifetime deals they were offering up and saw they had knocked forty quid off a flat-screen which meant you only had to shell out a mere three hundred. Wow! Sale of the Century indeed! People, on average, were snapping up two at a time. I guess that means they would have £80 to spend instead on multipacks of fizzy drinks, cheap burgers and oven chips to be consumed as they watch ‘I’m a Celebrity… ‘ in vomit-inducing HD, maybe avoiding the local food bank for a day or two – well, they try and palm you off with ‘healthy’ food these days, don’t they?

A bit harsh? A bit Andrew Mitchell / Emily Thornberry / David Mellor? The thing is though – I can slag off the feckless working-class because while I am the latter I refuse to be the former.

Meanwhile on the other side of the pond, on actual Black Friday just there, groups of African-Americans made a brave stand to dissuade other African-Americans from worshiping at the altar of Mammon on the holiest of consumer days, in some way hopefully highlighting the inequality of the US judicial system if you have non-white face. Maybe not surprisingly they didn’t have much luck. Most of the people they targeted failed – or refused – to see the connection between consumerism and basic human rights. And while it’s a particularly potent subject for black Americans – with the whole pimped up bling cultcha of ‘replacing the chains of slavery with 24 carat ones’ representing some kind of freedom – it’s a similar thing for working-class Brits. However instead of Beverly Hills Bling it’s more Aldi Aspiration with us over here exercising our inalienable right to purchase cheap(er) electronic goods that give us potential to access a world of knowledge but you just know will be used to watch cat videos and Jeremy Kyle.

But whatever colour you are or whichever side of the pond you find yourself – if you weren’t born ‘to the purple’ or with a silver spoon in your gob – things will be tough and not fair, rest assured. However if you think splurging on overpriced tat and getting into debt will improve your life in the long term – think again. Who was ever inspired or spiritually fulfilled by a trip to the shops? So don’t be a consumer muppet – read a book, write a book, speak to friends, make some new friends, cook yourself a decent meal, go for a run – there are a million things that are cheap or free and will make you feel so much better about yourself. For inspiration follow this link to find out about the brilliant Karen Washington and her Garden of Happiness in the Bronx.

Karen speaks movingly about being considered ‘trash’ before she started her garden because she was judged by her urban environment – a dumping ground for rubbish. She’s a marvelous example of having the courage to transcend her surroundings – no tat or flat screen tellies involved!


Worth the Trek

ImageWent to see the latest Star Trek film the other day. Hugely enjoyable. As with most action movies these days it gets the obligatory terrorist attack set piece out of the way pretty early on. And while it touches on the issues of US involvement in other lands – whether to be an observational, peace-keeping presence or a regime-changing force – it moves along at such a rattling good pace you don’t get enough time to pontificate on whether America really should be wherever doing whatever. Captain James T is still that big lug with a head – and possibly brain – the size of a planet, an audacious but flawed line in leadership and a preference for one-night stands with a variety of species (hmm… maybe he is meant to be America but let’s not go there..)

Spock, of course, provides the (un)emotional counterpoint to Kirk. But shock, horror it looks like he’s well on the way to letting the human override the Vulcan with the climactic scene of the film…well it was on the cards with him hooking up with Uhura, wasn’t it? So, as Spock starts to exhibit his emotional intelligence it’s left to brand new superbaddy Benedict Cumberbatch to rock the ice-cool detachment.

What’s particularly good though is there are no out and out villains (well maybe the Klingons but they don’t have enough screen time to present a back-story). The crazed-genius-scientist is driven by a desire to play the long-game to achieve inter-planetary peace. And Khan has been shaped by colonisation (it’s a nice twist that he’s played by a Brit but the yanks don’t have to worry about opening old colonial wounds with GB, do they?) But as I’ve said there’s no need to worry about political symbolism – just sit back and enjoy the big inter-connected, inter-racial, inter-species, roller-coaster ride. Oh, and Simon Pegg is brilliant, by the way – although he is more Glaswegian than the original Aberdonian Scotty. A case of ‘Ye cannae change the laws of genetics’?

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