Archive for May, 2010

Politics, Politicians and…Aristotle!

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on May 25, 2010 by prekosifa

I was listening to the radio the other day when a lady from Sierra Leone made a comment about the British voting system being more open to corruption than the one in her own country. The comment raised a few incredulous guffaws from the interviewer as he placed his biased opinion of her wrongness onto his listeners. Ha! The very suggestion that the UK could in any way, shape or form be as corrupt as a West African country was something he could not even comprehend.

But why not?

I look at the General Election voting fiasco the other week, which had people in their thousands unable to vote all over the country, and I also look at what happened to place the Conservatives in charge of the country through a trick of the mind. I also look at how the media make it seem as if one person and one person only runs the country and then witness as that unfortunate Prime Ministers personal life is then left open to ridicule and contempt whenever anything bad happens in the economy.
I listened to my friends tell me I had to vote for someone or else it was a waste of a vote, but my common sense told me that a wasted vote would be voting for somebody you did not want.

I also watched as the policies eagerly promised by the Conservatives and the Liberal democrats before they got into power were thrown away as soon as they got the hands on the door knob of number 10 – and nothing could be done about this? Why are you allowed to blatantly lie just to get votes? Why is this acceptable? Why isn’t this challenged?

I look at the whole political system in this country made up of public schoolboys who act as if the different political parties are merely ‘houses’ they were in at jolly hockey sticks boarding school. There always appears to be an in joke between them. And when I look at them I ask myself, who put you there? How do you represent me?
And the short answer is…they don’t.

Politics is a dirty word, which clearly has a social understanding of subterfuge, lies…and more lies. But that is my take on it, what does the dictionary say?

1520s, “science of government,” from politic (adj.), modeled on Aristotle’s ta politika “affairs of state,” the name of his book on governing and governments, which was in English mid-15c. as “Polettiques.” Also see -ics
Politicks is the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men’s view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed. [Fisher Ames (1758–1808)]

The second part interests me and probably explains why Politicians never have to be fixed on one issue, and they never are. They dodge, swerve, duck, bob and weave through interview question after interview question, debate after debate, policy after policy, exhausting the questioners and pissing off the public. Politics, as a real life phenomenon, needs only an unsuspecting public and the promise of riches, to work. It is a business that relies on having friends in high places.

So back to the election, the public spoke and what they asked for was a Govt that was run by all 3 parties. What we got was a Govt run by two who look like a modern day Bill and Ben, or Ant and Dec, exciting the crowds with their mischievous comedic political antics and their uncanny resemblance to each other. (Let me see the birth certificates!). Politics in this country have always been the playing field of the rich and in bred, their opportunity to treat the rest of the island like a social experiment just to see just how much everyday man can be squeezed, tossed and taxed, (it is a business after all!).

Do I sound negative? Probably. But it’s not all doom and gloom. I mean, looking from the outside in, the politics game is a funny old game. It has its heroes and villains, its plots and sub plots and its reversal of fortunes. The political world is a world of intrigue, of lies deceit, illicit affairs and scandal. It is still steeped in institutional racism and pre 1960’s sexism and combined with the twisted politicians of other nations, it is truly a spectacle to behold. Who needs Holly-, Bolly- or Nolly- wood when everyday on the news real life political sagas play themselves out, all you need to bring is popcorn! Politics is fine from a distance, especially if you can find any of the characters likeable enough to watch.

If you can’t, don’t despair, there are always the other 500 plus channels on your television set and the safe knowledge that this country could NEVER be as corrupt when it comes to voting as Sierra Leone or any other African country.

Yeah right!


Is gossip always bad?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on May 17, 2010 by prekosifa

A friend of mine got caught out cheating on his missus a few months ago. He lived in Brighton and had done so for the past ten years and when he went home to Manchester a few weeks later, everyone knew about it. Understandably he was pissed. Not only had his life been put out there to be judged on, it wasn’t even the true story that was being circulated. He wanted to find out who had started it and confront them, he had things he wanted to say and who could blame him. But, as I reasoned with him I asked, ‘What is the point? The damage has already been done and a confrontation could never end up in your favour’. He surrendered, unwillingly, able to see the bigger picture and made just one further comment

‘I fuckin hate gossip!’.

And who could blame him. When I got my A levels results, by the time I had gotten home an hour later the news had already spread all over Manchester…and Nigeria! I never actually got to tell anyone in my family personally, not even my Dad. A guy in my class had overheard my A in Economics and just…spread the word. I didn’t even know him that well. The Nigeria grapevine was alive that day and yeah, my dad was proud of me but it would have been nice for me to tell him myself.

‘I really fuckin hate gossip!’

Gossip has a negative connotation. It is always assumed that it leads to something bad or undesirable and that the people who gossip are basically evil fuckers who have nothing else to do. Mrs Brown at Number 33, that girl in class who just loves to chat, The National Enquirer! you people know who you are. But at the same time we all love to hear gossip. We want to know about the affair that the guy from number 35 is having with his secretary, or about the latest blonde who bedded Tiger Woods. So as much as we don’t want it done to us, we welcome reading about someone else. Are we all such obvious hypocrites?

You also have to look at the function of gossip. To hurt and ridicule perhaps at face value, but if you look deeper it is just PR isn’t it?, something that keeps the subject of the gossip in the headlines. So in this way gossip must be both good and bad, a real Aristotelian concept, something being both one thing and its exact opposite. This probably means something very deep and cosmic but I can’t remember what exactly so for now, I will steer away from theology and veer towards the dictionary.

The dictionary defines gossip as; 1. casual and idle chat to have a gossip with a friend 2. a conversation involving malicious chatter or rumours about other people a gossip about the neighbours 3. Also called gossipmonger a person who habitually talks about others, esp. maliciously

Not surprisingly all quite negative. But if we go further back in time we have a definition thus follows,

O.E. godsibb “godparent,” from God + sibb “relative” (see sibling). Extended in M.E. to “any familiar acquaintance” (mid-14c.), especially to woman friends invited to attend a birth, later to “anyone engaging in familiar or idle talk” (1560s). Sense extended 1811 to “trifling talk, groundless rumor.” The verb meaning “to talk idly about the affairs of others” is from 1620s. Related: Gossiped; gossiping.

So it would seem that in the beginning, gossip wasn’t altogether a negative thing. Especially when you remember that back then people relied on word of mouth to know what was going on. Now with advances in communication, gossip appears to hold a different position. If people didn’t gossip we wouldn’t know anything. At the end of the day, in their own political way daily newspapers are the most professional of muck spreaders!

But then what about those people that just love to chat your business. They get facts wrong and exaggerate everything leading to people talking behind your back and casting aspersions. In truth nothing can much be done about this, haters will be haters after all but that doesn’t mean that the results must always be bad. When I was in Uni, a girl who I had obviously done wrong decided to warn three of her friends who were due to attend the following year, to stay far away from me. The result was that two of these girls sought me out; I didn’t have to try or anything. There really is no such thing as bad publicity!

But what about when this gossip is coming from inside the family? Can we take it in the same way and not be affected by it? Is that realistic? I mean you tell your sister you may be pregnant and five minutes later your mum is phoning up to congratulate you and your dad to kill somebody! Maybe it is done from a good place but it is still gossip isn’t it? In my family I am the one who spills everyone’s business (my siblings who are reading this I do apologise!). But the reason I do this is two fold. Firstly I truly believe that if they didn’t want the whole family to know their shit, they wouldn’t tell me in the first place. Secondly I think there is something good about there being no secrets, especially in kinship ties. Good relationships rely on a perfect balance of energies between all involved and so anything can push that balance off kilter. A pleasant chat between mum and son will be the opposite if one of them is holding onto something.

Additionally, family gossip is sometimes the only way that family know what is going on, especially where everyone is spread all over the country. Secret successes are made ‘public’ and allows the family to share. Interestingly it is the problems that we refuse to share that end up being chatted about.

Perhaps that’s why I find it difficult to believe that gossip is all bad, even when said maliciously. There is something calming and endorphic about the release of the truth that makes you feel much better inside and good conversation usually follows a bout of good gossip. Now you can choose to focus on the negative side of idle chatter because people can get hurt, but just to be different, why not focus on the positive side for a change and adopt the new mantra that gossip…is good!

So just what is Swagger?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by prekosifa

New words are forming all the time and one which has really got me confused is the word ‘swagger’. I’d say it has impressed me because I was told by a girl my eldest daughter’s age that I had ‘swagger’, and it was definitely a good thing. I took the compliment on the chin and wore a smile for the rest of the day. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that I didn’t know just what this swagger was or what qualities I had that enabled me to get it in the first place. Was it something you were born with or grew into? And did all of my friends have it? Can girls have it? Or is it called something different for the female of the species. So many questions…so little time to find out, but a good starting point is always the dictionary, and I m not talking Oxford or Collins, I am talking etymology. You see to understand a word, you have to really know where it came from, what made up its root. So it was with the internet at my fingertips that I embarked on my epic journey of discovery.

Conjuring up images of a drunken pirates illicit booty, (that’s ‘swag’ by the way),  it would appear that its origins are not too far away.
swag•ger (sw g r) v. swag•gered, swag•ger•ing, swag•gers v.intr.
1. To walk or conduct oneself with an insolent or arrogant air; strut.2. To brag; boast. browbeat or bully (someone).n 1. A swaggering movement or gait. 2. Boastful or conceited expression; braggadocio.
All the ways that you would describe a pirate, meaning both Capt Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp have swagger.

But these definitions are a little dated even if they are basically correct because ‘Swagger’ in today’s language has turned into something good, something to aspire to having, something that all the heads on the street think they have though many come up short and it is more than being arrogant and boastful. The Urban dictionary, which allows people to illicit there own definitions and opinions had over 50 definitions for the term had the following to say

‘How one presents him or herself to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person’s walk’.

‘A person’s style- they way they walk, talk, dress’.

‘Poised, sassiness that can’t be touched. It may be in the walk or it may be in the talk, but there is no doubt it means you own the room and you have that natural charisma. Basically, one with swagger dominates at life’

‘A way of walking, normally showing authority. To swagger is to walk with presence. There are several different kinds of swagger…
The Tesco Bag Swagger – to walk with clenched fists at waist height while swaying as though carrying heavy grocery bags in each hand.

The Terminator – To walk as though rigid, with no swaying whatsoever and as though an android on a mission.

DnGaf – ¨Do not give a fuck¨ swagger – To walk without a care in the world, people get in your way… not a problem!’

And the list goes on and on and on, perhaps because this is a relatively new take on an old expression. With the many different definitions that exist, there appears to be certain things that hold true throughout all of them. so we could say that a combination of things need to be present to have swagger?

Attitude – And not just any attitude. Its a ‘I don’t give a fuck’ kind of thing. It’s not attached, it’s not concerned but it is passionate and it is unforgiving. Its the kind of attitude that makes you succeed in any scenario but best of all, it doesn’t even matter if you fail.

Style – more than just the clothes you wear, it is more about how you wear, the clothes you wear. When i was younger my older bro always use to tell me to ‘wear the clothes – don’t let them wear you’. This problem explains why 2 people can rock teh same outfit and have totally different results

Presence – Being able to walk in the room and be noticed by everyone before you say a word. Gives the suggestion that you exude some kind of magnetism, some energy or force that people react positively to.

Confidence – With confidence, the very essence of your being becomes someone who is cocksure, cool, calm and collected. But more importantly, in control even when they appear not to be

So who do we see as having swagger? Can women have it? And can anyone get it?
Well in the celebrity realm the list is endless, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise, Tyrese, Harry Connick Jr, and even Johnny Vaughan the radio presenter, Women like Angelina Jolie, Thandie Newton, J-Lo, Madonna and that girl from 90210, (although feminine swagger may present with a mix of diva-ness).

You see the more I looked into it, the more I realised that swagger isn’t just one thing, and because it is a combination and what works for one guy may not work for another. So in addition tot he 3 elements above, there are two more things that should be included,

Self Belief and Ownership
The person with swagger appears to have a huge amount of self belief that is the backbone to the above qualities and more importantly perhaps the indidual takes ownership of this and all of the other qualities.

So can anyone get it?

I would love to say yes but then that wouldn’t make me one of the special few and in truth I don’t know if it is that simple

So what do i think?
I think swagger is something else entirely. I think it is an unseen energy, a electromagnetic field that surrounds the individual and from which great things can happen. And this energy field protects the occupant giving him the feeling of invincibility, perhaps. Or maybe that is the stuff of dreams and science fiction. It works for me though and would explain why it is so hard to pinpoint but so easy to recognise.

And when all of these qualities are put together it gives us the ‘special’ walk, the unmissable smile and the likeability factor that makes us recognise this quality even in people we may dislike. The fact that now it is seen as a good thing whereas in the past it originally wasn’t does make me think though. Then again swagger conjures up this image of being your own boss and not taking orders from anyone. Something that a pirate definitely as and something that, in today’s world of Govt control and powerless populations, is an attractive and extremely desirable quality.

Television…what a great invention!

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by prekosifa

I was having a pretty enjoyable Bank holiday today. I  had my son for the weekend, which meant Playstation, play fighting and lots of snacks and it was my mum’s birthday so that meant chocolate cake, fizzy drinks and checking out her latest electronic gadgets, (bit of a techno geek my dear old mum!); and I was looking forward to an evening of quality television, courtesy of whichever channel could produce the goods. I have always enjoyed Bank Holiday programming, a bit of the old with a bit of the new, and films I would never dream of seeing at the cinema, suddenly became something to look forward to seeing with a barrel of popcorn and some fizzy pop!

So, after watching Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen Two, yes they did make another one! I cooked and ate some dinner and then sat down to watch Eastenders, a guilty pleasure of mine. (For you guys overseas think of it like any regular American soap opera minus the model like men, uber beautiful women and fantastical storylines!). .But it was the programme that came on afterwards that really caught my attention. ‘Joanna Lumley tracing the Nile’, was exactly what it said on the tin, Joanna Lumley, that amazing sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and noughties TV actress, famous for her roles in the Avengers, (tight catsuit), and Absolutely Fabulous (boozy floozy!), travelling the length of the Nile, and giving her opinions, thoughts and observations along the way. It was beautifully filmed, wonderful to watch and a real learning experience for many out there who have never travelled to the ‘Dark Continent’, and I use that term, as full of as much sarcasm as I can muster on this one dimensional computer generated page. You see there was no difference between this show and the historical accounts of the rich, ignorant white male explorers of the 18th century.

As I watched I heard of places named after the white people who had found them. Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, lots of other European names in a place that, last time I looked, was still in Africa! I often wondered what the local people of these regions thought about that. Should I not be offended that my family’s continent of origin is ridiculed in such a way? Whatever happened to respect? At one point, the lovely and oh so very British Ms Lumley, was in Uganda and blamed the mass poaching of the wild animals on Idi Amin, who apparently made it hunting season all the time when he was in power, (no question though of the thousands of white poachers who capitalised at the same time).

Highly Dubious or Heavily Distorted?

Look, I am not saying that there is a racial bias here, I am SHOUTING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! Fair enough, I understand where I am located, but is it too much to ask for just a little bit of balance. Yes Africa is the land of wild animals, exotic rivers and people dress like something out of a Tarzan film, but there are also thousands of cities and towns that are as modern as any place in the UK or the US. I get angry because children like my son, will see this kind of programme, and automatically will form an opinion in his malleable mind, as will his schoolfriends. Children can be heartless little fuckas at the best of times and many of them in this country are given the ammunition to be just that froma  bvery young age. Kids believe what they see on the television as do most Sun, Daily Star and Daily Mail reading adults! Do we really think that portraying certain countries in specific lights has no effect ar all on anybody? Yes I am bitching right about now, but this is serious!

Another programme I saw last week was about Nigeria, the country where my father is from. What we got, again from the BBC I guess still doing its bit for ‘Britannia’, was an image of a country full of thieves, poverty and slums. Now I am not saying that these people did not have a valid reason to be in front of the camera, I just think, in fact, I know that there is a hell of a lot more to that country than was depicted on my 32 inch high definition screen. Lagos is a city; people live in houses and apartments, go to night clubs, museums and even take afternoon tea! I am all for an image of any country as long as it is balanced, and when it comes to places in Africa especially, I am calling for fairness across all media. Tell it like it really is and balance the fuckin picture for once because I am sick and tired of seeing and paying for this shit, and then having to explain to my son that things are not really like that.

Phew! Okay rant over for now. I think maybe it was due to a combination of seeing Avatar…again, Pocahontas 2 and Atlantis The Lost City in quick succession. Three Disney films that, I might add, had exactly the same plot and premise. Finally I know Disney’s secret, tell the same old story again and again by simply changing the main characters. Hmmm! now that sounds like a familiar tactic, I wonder where I have come across it before…