The Independent reports today: “It ain’t me, babe. Bob Dylan to be played by a woman in his life story“. Could Bob be exploring his feminine side as he approaches 60 and looks back over his myriad relationships, which, as he once sang, “have all been bad”? The recent photo of him with Jessica Lange from the preview of his new film Masked and Anonymous, wherein he sported a long fringe of blonde hair, would perhaps bear this out.
The governments the world over are now busy studiously “ignoring” all the demonstrations from Saturday. It really is hypocrisy of the highest order because the next time they want our votes they’ll be waving whatever carrots they can find under our noses. I don’t think people’s memories will be that short this time, though. Why don’t these dickheads just have it out between themselves in a boxing ring when it’s obvious that so many ordinary people don’t want to be part of their war? It seems clear to me that Tony Blair has had his day now. I guess the only problem is who’s going to replace him: would a new Labour leader really make a difference or would the party just eventually spin itself back up its own arse? The Tories are absolutely pointless, Duncan Smith the living definition of a platitude, and in any case I wouldn’t want them back in. Maybe Charles Kennedy’s ship really is coming in; could the Liberal Democrats really be The Third Way?
The Stop the War march today was truly amazing. It was only the third march I’ve ever been on (the first being immediately after September 11th when we were all terrified the US would lash out in retaliation, and the second last autumn, also against the impending war). My wife and I got to the Embankment at about 2pm and shuffled along with the good-humoured and highly cosmopolitan crowd, a great swathe of ages, backgrounds and political persuasions. There was a fantastic sense of humour present on the placards people were holding, such as a picture of Bush with his head split open in Monty Python fashion and an arrow pointing in saying EMPTY WAR-HEAD, a wooden placard stick with BUSH IS A PLANK written on it, and a picture of Blair’s face with his eyes replaced with Bush’s and the slogan BLUSH. This image was a very shrewd revamping of the old Tory “demon eyes” campaign, where Blair’s eyes were replaced with the Devil’s during the 1997 general election. We all thought that was very tacky scare-mongering at the time, but who’s the tacky scare-mongerer now, eh?
I attach a few photos, including some from Hyde Park. We got there too late for the speeches, partly because we stopped into a café in St Martin’s to thaw out after the 90-minute trudge from Embankment to Trafalgar Square. By the time we got to the rallying point it was nearly dark and there were all these little groups of people huddling around tiny bonfires they’d made from placards and leaflets to ward off the bitter cold. Overall it was a very positive day. I carried a “Not in my name” placard all the way home and two complete strangers stopped me to chat for a moment about the march, both of them supportive and one of them saying he was from an army family but still disagreed with taking military action on this occasion. Surely I was dreaming – strangers? Talking to each other?? In England??? It’ll be highly ironic if this (potential) war ends up bringing people together more effectively than politicians ever could.
We’ve got Martin Bashir grilling Michael Jackson, while Tony Benn slowly marinades Saddam Hussein. Surely it should be the other way around? Meanwhile, Tony Blair proves too slippery a fish even for a Paxo stuffing. Who’s going to step into the ring and make mincemeat of George Bush – “Laughing” Aynsley Harriott or “Naked” Jamie Oliver? Or could Delia Smith be persuaded to come out of her recently-announced retirement and give all these bananas a no-nonsense roasting? Yes – the global situation definitely requires the involvement of more women; Condoleeza Rice must not be allowed a monopoly. Too many men are spoiling the broth.
The artist who sent himself up, from today’s Times, reports on an unemployed actor who posted himself to the Tate Britain in a wooden box. Dan Shelton said the idea came from the technique used by inventors who seal plans in a postmarked envelope to prove when they came up with a concept. Shelton and The Times should be aware that this technique is also used by certain writers as a cheap alternative to copyright registration: you send yourself a copy of what you’ve written and leave it unopened somewhere safe before sending it to a publisher or whoever, so that if someone else steals it and makes millions out of it you can prove the idea was in fact yours all along and sue them. Of course it’s all a bit vain because it presupposes that your idea is so brilliant that someone would want to rip you off, which nine times out of ten isn’t the case. Anyway, I hope Shelton made sure he was signed for, so that in the unlikely event that someone else claims to be him, he can sue them.
The Times reports today (“Close shaves beat death by whisker“) that “men who do not shave every day are 30 per cent more likely to die of heart disease and nearly 70 per cent more likely to have a stroke”, according to a study by the University of Bristol. Apparently this is to do with the fact that men who don’t shave regularly tend to lead more dissolute lives in general. The article ends with the mysterious observation that “men with beards were excluded from the survey”. Are the University of Bristol going to conduct a separate study of bearded men’s propensity to heart disease and strokes, or should it be understood that all men with beards are either guaranteed never to suffer from these ailments or are all about to pop their clogs? I think we (or they) should be told.