Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Two Countries separated by a Common Language

To any American journalists lurking around here, please take note:

There is no such thing as the “London Subway”. It’s called the “London Underground” or, to the 8 million Londoners who live in this fair city, it’s “The Tube”. Don’t try and bend our language to fit your lazy journalistic standards.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Pop Goes the Weasel

And another day of wacky “transport ‘n’ terrorists” mayhem kicks off in London, with some dude getting five rounds pumped into him at point blank range by undercover cops on a train at Stockwell Station.

I wonder if anyone can help me reconcile these two conflicting statements that the police keep giving out when something kicks off in London: “stay where you are” and “carry on as normal”. Huh?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

AKA’s Movie Round-Up

You know what they keep telling writers with tedious regularity?

“Write what you know.”

Well, right now I don’t know shit. Apart from a few things about movies, those celluloid confections that give me a two-hour window into a life that isn’t mine. So, it’s time for me to chew your eyeballs right out of their sockets with what is Good and Right at your local cinema emporium and all fine purveyors of cinematic wonders. So, let’s do this:

Kung Fu Hustle – Imagine Shaw Brothers meets Looney Tunes, or Kill Bill’s Crazy 88 doing dick ‘n’ fart gags, and you just about scratch the surface of Stephen Chow’s retina-scorching love-letter to the golden age of martial arts cinema. Neither as cute or laugh-out-loud funny as Chow’s Shaolin Soccer, but still a solid use of a couple of stray hours that you need to fill. Like a throwing star to my frontal lobe, this kept me pinned to my cinema seat. Or maybe that was something sticky under my chair…

The Consequences of Love (Le conseguenze dell’amore)
– The words “existential Italian thriller” may fill you with balls-shrinking dread, but this little gem is one of my favourites of the year so far. Any film that can keep you rapt for over an hour without even getting the story started must have a little something special on the go. Or maybe someone smeared Crack on the screen. I don’t know. Either way, this is a beautifully shot, meticulously paced character study of one man’s seemingly aimless existence, held together by the mesmerising central performance of Toni Servillo.

War of the Worlds – Watching scenes of mindless destruction and helpless death a week after the London bombings made me look at this film in a different way, and it certainly wasn’t the mindless bubblegum diversion that I expected it to be. Surprisingly dark, brutal and increasingly bleak, Spielberg proves that he still has the chops when it comes to edge-of-the-seat set pieces, even though, despite the note-perfect closing of the criminally underrated The Terminal, he shows that he STILL hasn’t worked out how to end a film, adding this to his growing list of “Great Movies That Just Don’t Know When To Stop”, along with AI Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back by Dope Demand

Hi, I’m blogger AKA. You might remember me from such blog entries as “Hate Crimes” and “Brother, Can You Spare A Job?” .

Yes, I know I haven’t been blogging much recently. But, dammit, I’ve been out of work for a month now and I don’t have a hell of a lot to say for myself. I have no “a funny thing happened on the way to work” anecdotes. No “moronic bullshit spouted by my hateful colleagues” stories. No “I saw this weird thing, and here are my irrelevant observations on it” type of meanderings.

Nevertheless, nature abhors a vacuum, so I’ll just keep ploughing on with this shit regardless. Here’s the short version of my last month of job-hunting: Applied for about fifty jobs so far. Managed to get one interview, but I didn’t get that job either. So despite my best efforts, I’m no closer to finding a new job at the moment.

I still have a few plates that are spinning away merrily, so I’ll just stay positive and keep on hammering at it. I don’t have any other choice. It’s either that, or go suck on an exhaust pipe. I’ll go with the former for the time being.

Other than the very occasional foray beyond the front doors of my humble abode to sneak a movie or two, I haven’t seen anyone or done anything of note. I am now officially the Crazed Hermit Man who mumbles into his stubble and glares at strangers in public. Oh yes I am.

When I’m not looking for work, I’m keeping my eyes on young Buttercup. She has now mastered the art of crawling, and I can’t look away for a second, because she can scoot across a room like a horizontal Peter Parker, getting herself entangled in all manner of seemingly innocuous household objects.

Another pitfall of Summer Unemployment is my weakness for Big Brother. Yes, I know I’ve written extensively about my hatred of Reality TV, but I’ve always had a debilitating weakness for this particular Freakshow. And with 24-hour live streaming, I’m always in danger of losing hours to this televisual time-thief.

Fuck me, my mobile keeps ringing while I’m trying to concentrate on writing this. But not one call is job-related.

Right, I feel like my writing muscles are now suitably limber. Thanks for the warm up. I’ve now got to go off and write some old boring shit that may or may not get me a well-paid permanent writing post with some fancy London-based company. Wish me luck. I fucking need it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Brief History of London Under Fire

Well, we certainly do live in interesting times.

With London such a fundamental part of my DNA, it would be inappropriate to ignore the events of last Thursday by refusing to mention them at all. It goes without saying that it was a horrible and unpleasant sequence of events that will leave a mark on my city. But it’s important to put things in perspective. So, here goes:

New York & the Pentagon - September 11 2001

Death toll: 2,986

Bali – October 12 2002

Death toll: 202
Wounded: 209

Madrid – March 11 2004
Death toll: 191
Wounded: 1,460

London – July 7 2005
Death toll: At the moment, over 50 confirmed
Wounded: Over 700

I’m not trying to diminish the events of last week. Without a doubt, it was a terrible day for London. But other cities have faced carnage far in excess of the London bombings last week. Let’s bear that in mind.

Putting things in historical perspective, London has faced far, far worse itself over the years. Look:

The Blitz – September 7 1940 – May 16 1941 (although bombing continued until the end of the Second World War in March 1945)
The Nazis carried out sustained and intensive bombing of UK targets, resulting in 43,000 deaths and the destruction of a million houses. And we are still standing strong.

And let’s not forget the frequent bomb attacks on London by the IRA from the Seventies right through to 2001. I can’t seem to get my hands on exact data for this at the moment, but London has a history of being bombed and attacked by the IRA. And we are still standing strong.

David Copeland, the London Nailbomber, targeted London’s gay, black and Asian communities in 1999. On April 17 1999, his first bomb went off on Electric Avenue in Brixton. His second bomb targeted Brick Lane, the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community. Copeland’s third and final nailbomb went off in the Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton Street, a popular watering hole for London’s gay community. Three people died and over a hundred other people were wounded and maimed by the nails in the bomb. I was in a pub a street away when the Soho bomb went off. The pub shook ever so slightly. And then Soho was full of noise: the thwacking rotors of police helicopters in the sky; the streets blanketed in sirens and the desperate, insistent chirpings of mobile phones.

But back to last week. The bombers aren’t the only villains of this piece. There are others. Here are a few objects of my ire:

George W. Bush on July 4 2005, three days before the London bombings: "We're taking the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home."

Is that right, motherfucker? Tell that to the families of those injured and killed in Bali, London and Madrid. Time to find another angle for your spin to justify your continued atrocities all over the world in the name of “freedom”.

Here’s a doozy. This from Fox News’ top anchorman Brit Hume: “My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"

What a colossal, venal, shit-sucking scumbag. Want to respond to Mr. Hume? His e-mail address is brit.hume@foxnews.com and his office number is 202-824-6300.

All of London is back to work today. London’s the John Wayne, the Lee Marvin, and the Clint Eastwood of world capitals. We take a licking and keep on ticking. Don’t fuck with London.

I'll leave you with the words of London Mayor Ken Livingstone, which I think says it all best: "In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

(Special thanks to The Huffington Post and Wikipedia for helping me with the research for this piece.)