A Far Fetched Resolution

I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council, a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle round the city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. I’ll tell you.. You can’t play politics with people’s jobs and with people’s services.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Freedom to read...

There are considerably fewer readers of this blog these days, since I took a two month rest from posting, and stopped posting about monkeys. (what is it with y'all and monkeys!?)

So, now that I have an "elite" readership I thought I should have some elite topics of conversation. This means no more moaning about my flat situation (GRRRR...). I want to talk to you about the future of socialism. Or rather "The Future Of Socialism".

Since I have been very vigorously not doing a degree for most of the past 6 years,I have read very little of what I would call politics for pleasure.

Obviously I have had *some* time for casual reading - it's just that it was only by convincing myself that i couldn't possibly have the the time or energy to read anything remotely serious that I persuaded myself it was ok to ignore my degree.

A prime example of a book I really feel I should have read, but haven't since it wasn't directly relevant to cramming my entire degree into 5 months, is "The Future of Socialism" by Tony Crosland. Since everyone always cites it as Old-New-Labour writ large and since that's what I sometimes think I would identify as, it's a bit of glaring omission.

Now, I'm not someone who thinks that the answer to the world's problems is in books. I've always believed that, to paraphrase, "politics isn't played on paper".

But the fact is that most of the people you're dealing with have probably read some or most of it, and sadly, far too many of them think they've found the answer in one or other book they picked up along the way. It makes it easier to spot them (and tell them to shut up) if you've read it too.

And there are always ideas, thoughts and views about the world that you may have, and which it is inspiring to read that others share, and to gain new insights into them.

So, what I want from you, dear "elite" readership, is this;

Tell me the books that inspired you. Those political tomes, biographies, pamphlets or other, in history, theory, philosophy or policy that you find yourself automatically paraphrasing whenever someone asks a difficult question. The one that gives you the metaphors and similes you use in everyday life. The one that you think about when you're wondering if it's all worth it. Or the one that makes you angry.

I don't want an obscure academic debate about some turgid theoretical text on a sub-set of postmodernist verbiage. I want real tub-thumpers and appeals from the heart. But they also have to actually say something concrete about the real world.

A few samples of things I have read which I would recommend, but not necessarily agree with, were I you and you were reading my blog;

- The Open Society and It's enemies, by Karl Popper
- Confessions of a Philosopher, by Brian Magee
- The Affluent Society & The Culture of Contentment, by JK Galbraith
- LBJ's three volumes(so far) biography, by Robert Caro
- Intellectual Impostures, By Alain Sokal and Jean Bricmont
- The Gnostic Gospels, By Elaine Pagels
- The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
- Tony Benn's diaries
- Any of Goldthorpe & Lockwood's studies on "the Affluent worker" in the 1950s & 1960s
- Robert Skidelsky's 3 voume biography of J.M. Keynes
- Friends & Rivals, by Giles Radice
- One Of Us, Hugo Young's biography of Thatcher
- Why I am not a Conservative, article by F.A. Hayek
- Rationalism in politics, article by Michael Oakeshott
- Reflections on the revolution in France, by Edmund Burke

Post any responses in the comments - a good argument might be all the more illuminating.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Housing is the bane of my life...


Housing issues come up a lot in work. But I wouldn't want you to think from the headline that for some reason housing issues had been going very wrong in the general sense recently - although you might think that if you were so inclined.

I'm more concerned by housing in the particular.

I.e. Whether I have a house.

My landlord has, at barely 3 days notice, delayed my move-in date to Monday. Which has the happy consequence of meaning that I have to move in on a work day. This would be ok if it meant moving in one go in one day. But he's timed it just so, so that I have to effectively miss two days' work.

At three days' notice.

And of course, all prospect of any help moving my stuff goes out of the window when it's a weekday. Not that any normal person can drop everything and hire a van to lug your stuff accross town with you at three days notice, weekday or not.

So thanks, landlord.

This comes on top of having been in bed for the last two days with a killer cold. Grump.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The big chill

It has come to my attention that there is no cure for the common cold. This is unfortunate.

As is the fact that my physical self (nothing wrong with a bit of Cartesian dualism on a Monday morning) appears to have made the classic linguistic error of equating "common" in this context with "frequent". I am on my 4th cold this month.

The sooner I get my own warm, non-dusty, close to work and homely place to live the better. I believe the nomadic existence is better suited to the Negev desert than to Peckham in a wet October.

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's the final countown (again)

Yes, ladies, gentlemen, and internet weirdos. I have a date.

Not a 'date' date. I don't do those any more since I'm deeply in love with Emily and we don't do 'dates' as such.

I never really did 'dates' anyway.

And I'm not referring to dates as in the fruit either. They are nice though. Call me weird but whenever I eat one I can't help imagining myself like Roman emperor or some kind of Persian Satrap on a couch somewhere lounging around munching them all day and ordering gruesome executions for the amusement of my flatterers and hangers on. A bit like olives.

No. Readers of this blog...the moment you have all been waiting for has arrived...I can now confirm the official time and date at which I will cease to be homeless.

At 2pm on Saturday 28th of October I will sign a contract for a flat overlooking the Oval cricket ground. This is a very very good thing. I can't wait.

There will be no persian style couches or flatterers or hangers on unfortunately. Although the landlord has promised us a bijoux coliseum in the back yard with a couple of circus lions thrown in.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A moving story

My delightful potential landlord (impossible to get hold of, impossibly, nay hilariously verbose once you do) has finally come clean and admitted that this Saturday is frankly, beyond ambitious for a move-in date.

Looking likely it will be the weekend after. Which has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is I now have a relatively free weekend. One disadvantage is having another week of living in someone's spare room.

I might change spare rooms this week in order to further the spirit of variety, which I am told is the spice of life.

I have never had so much trouble moving house in all my life. I started looking on the 29th August, with money in place for a deposit and no fixed ideas about moving date. It has taken nearly two months and I still don't even have a fixed date to move in.

Appalling. Landlords are bad people. Estate agents are bad people.

National Throw Stuff Away Day

The great thing about working in a small office with only a few people in it is that you have a certain amount of control over the office environment.

Yesterday I declared it "National Throw Things Away Day" and, although an investment in a skip was deemed (by me amongst others) an extravagance too far we have so far filled 10 large refuse sacks and are moving on to the crates in the other room.

A redecoration and the ceiling falling in simultaneously has combined with my arrival in a grump about filing and paper to cause a 'perfect storm' of frustration with the age-old filing and we have collectively stretched out our hands to touch the dream of a paper-less office.

And before anyone makes a worthy tree-hugging comment - the papers are all being kept secure until a nice bunch of people from the recycling company come and take them away.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A roof over my head...

Avid readers of this blog, or your friendly local rag (if you live in...west Norwood. Or Brixton. Or Bermondsey. and so on. ) will know that I've recently had a couple of run-ins with ceilings and roofs (Rooves?!?)

However, it is not the predominance of overly-proximous ceilings which troubles me today. It is the lack of a roof over my head.

I have been dossing and making do for accomodation since I came down to start my new job on the 18th September whilst wrestling with the combined incompetence of the entire estate agent/landlord class of South London.

I am now tantalisingly close to establishing a new home, with a good friend of mine, somewhere in Oval. However, in this particular instance the incompetence of the propertariat is manifesting itself in a rampant inability to pick up their phone.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

He Lives!

Yes my dear dear readers.

I know. It is a long long time since you removed me from your blogroll. A long time since you checked if I'd posted recently. A long time indeed since you actually thought "Pickles: Blogger extraordinaire" instead of "Pickles: Person who used to have a blog"

You had given me up for lost. And to some extent I am lost. For the political voice of Pickles is no more. Pickles shall no longer concern himself with the political, merely with the amusing and diverting. For Pickles cannot take the risk of pissing off his employers. They speak. He "supports and enables".

Those of you who know Pickles know that silence on matters political comes easily to him. So worry not.

Meanwhile. If you're wondering what I've been doing this past couple of months...

I have started 1 job, been to 1 Party conference, had 2 flats fall through, slept in 2 spare rooms, been very drunk on only a few occasions (mainly birthday parties of friends, of which there have been in excess of 6 at the last count) , Been back to Oxford for two different reasons (i. To stay with beloved Emily who organised the most splending OULC freshers drinks where more people were recruited than...well..ever ii. To graduate; which was nice),

And had one office ceiling fall on my head in my first week at work. I support and enable but some things are supposed to support themselves. Ceilings for example.

(Yes, I know, they are mainly supported by walls. But a certain amount of the rest of the supporting stuff is done by ceilings themselves. This ceiling was entirely at fault for it's collapse - in collusion with the roof and the weather - and the walls' efforts really cannot be reproached)