Archive for the ‘History’ Category

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Trump Trump, Trumpety Trump, Trump Trump Trump

Readers of last weeks post, ‘Back To The Future‘, will be aware that I recently came across a ‘time-capsule’ of unused sketches, circa 2001-2004. For the most part they are staunchly UK-centric – and even then you would have to belong to a certain age demographic to appreciate or understand the content. That said, they had a certain resonance with regards to the present political situation in the UK so I thought they were worth reproducing. I may post more as I work my through the seventy or so dusty files.

Last night, however, I watched the American Republican hustings on the TV with the usual dumbfounded amazement I reserve for what passes for political debate in the US – especially Republican political debate. Listening to the likes of Donald Trump reminded me that I’d came across a sketch referencing the 2002 US mid-term elections. It satirises both american exceptionalism and the foreign policy of the Bush administration.

To add a little context, Dubya had won the presidential elections in 2000. We are now thirteen months after the World Trade Centre attacks of September 2001. The ‘War on Terror‘ has begun in earnest, and the plans for selling the illegal invasion of Iraq are well in advance. The sympathy of the world is about to be lost.

scripts 2

Vote Republican this Mid-Term (circa 2002)

Update: New Sketch Found

As the American plans for the invasion of Iraq gain momentum, other nations, especially the UK, must be formed into a coalition of the willing…


Mission Impossible ‘3’ – Sketch (circa 2002) ‘The Poodle’

Anvil Springstien.


Nuisance Texts

Woke up this morning only to find I was the victim of nuisance texts from someone called Philae Lander (you can bet your life it’s just a machine and not a real person) who appears to a) know that I was involved in an accident within the last three months that wasn’t my fault, and, b) wants to congratulate me on the 800th anniversary of the signing, or ‘sealing’ of the Magna Carta?

Magna Carta (British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106).jpgIf you live in a democracy you may know from your history lessons at school that the Magna Carta or ‘Great Charter’ was approved by King John on this very day in 1215 in order to avoid a civil war with a number of his wicked Barons, who, sick of nasty John’s greed and power, wanted some of it for themselves.

If you never grew up in a democracy then think Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – that’s the 1991 Kevin Costner one, not the dogs’ dinner that Ridley Scott did in 2010 with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchet.

Cast your mind back to how brilliantly villainous Alan Rickman was as King John’s cousin and representative, the Sheriff of Nottingham. That’s how bad it was back then. People were heavily taxed without any say in the matter, many went missing, were imprisoned, tortured, or killed for no other reason than they opposed the powers that be. Oh, and Christmas was cancelled, often.

If you never saw Prince of Thieves then try and picture a fortnights holiday in Saudi Arabia or the New Caliphate – it’s basically the same thing but with different shaped swords. That’s the real victory of Isis – time-travel – taking us all back to the good ol’e days.

Three is a Magic Number

Moving again in the correct direction through time: Of the sixty three original clauses demanded by the Barons in the original document, only three have any real relevance for us today:

No taxation without representation – that’s the biggie, apparently; then there’s a little clause against arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, and the guarantee of a fair trial from one’s peers; and finally there’s the liberty of the Church (then the Church of Rome) to be free from interference by both monarch and government.

Little did our Robber Barons, who were simply out to get a bit of the action for themselves, understand just how loudly this trio of demands would echo down the ages:

In these three clauses we can see the beginnings of parliamentary democracy, the separation of church and state, and the establishment of a rule of law that all, including those in power, would be held to.

Ripples from the Magna Carta can be seen in John Wycliffe’s (1384) democratisation of the scriptures: he translated the bible into English encouraging believers to read it for themselves and coined the now oft quoted ‘government of the people, for the people and by the people’ – a foreshadowing of all round bad guy Martin ‘Lex’ Luther nailing his scrotum to a Wittenberg church door in 1517.

Following the Reformation, the ‘Three Little Piggies’ of the Great Charter were to influence 18th century thought both in revolutionary Europe and, through continued religious persecution, the British colonies in America – and was ultimately to produce the War of Independence, the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

People of the quality of Paine, Madison and Jefferson were patently steeped in the holy trinity of the Magna Carta.

Greeks with Gifts

This fact that was not lost later on Winston Churchill as Britain stood alone during the dark days of European fascism: Churchill planned to remind the United States of this by presenting them with one of the remaining Magna Carta originals in an attempt to shame them into the war against Hitler.

Had he a highlighter he would have picked out the three clauses in iridescent yellow.

Fortunately, for British posterity at least, someone reminded Winnie that the Magna Carta didn’t actually belong to him – so he could hardly give it away.

Besides, the impending ‘monicker’ of having been the ‘Man Who Gave Away The Magna Carta’ became moot as the Americans were forced into entering the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

Following the defeat of the axis powers the newly created United Nations formed a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt to produce a ‘Magna Carta for all mankind’. On the December the 10th 1948 the United Nations adopted The Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Europe, now on a roll, formed the Council of Europe in 1949 and Britain proposed a European Convention on Human Rights. Proudly chaired by the UK, the convention entered into force on 3rd of September 1953.

Benefit Porn

On the 800th anniversary of possibly the most important document in the history of our species long march to justice, freedom and equality, many of the population in the country of its birth use foodbanks and the most feckless and stupid of the poor are held up and televised as entertainment rightly described as Benefit Porn. Governments prevaricate about releasing numbers of deaths following suspension of welfare payments, and elements of our community, for whatever reason, appear disenfranchised enough to go and fight – and die – for a fascist, misogynist, homophobic, supremacist ideology, an ideology that must have somehow competed positively for the mind-set of these young men and women.

As the poor, the desolate and the desperate watch the rich celebrate today’s anniversary they can reflect on the fact that the British public have recently voted into power a government which stands on a policy of withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Ah, the good ol’e days, eh. It seems the Robber Barons never really went away.

Oops, hold on… another text?

Apparently I’ve been mis sold PPI insurance? How do I shut this Philae Lander thing up?

Anvil Springstien.


Waiting for words…

epa04101663 An undated handout picture made available on 26 February 2014 by the United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) shows Palestinian and Syrian residents of Yarmuk Palestinian Refugee Camp crowding in a destroyed street as food is distributed, in Damascus, Syria.  EPA/United Nation Relief and Works Agency / HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

I’ve been staring at a photo released a while ago by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). I’ve been doing this every other day or so for quite some time now . It’s a shot taken at Yarmuk Refugee camp, Damascus. If you’re American, that’s in Syria, which is in the Middle East. Men and Women – Palestinians (and no doubt Syrians now, too) are queuing for food in a street devastated by the conflict.

They are orderly, static, unmoving – yet they appear as a river, a torrent of humanity coursing through the destruction of war.

The reason I’m staring at this photograph is that I’m waiting. Waiting for words.

Imagery often has the power to move us, and in the above instance – for myself at least – I am reminded of that singularly iconic image of the horrors of modern warfare: the young Vietnamese girl, Phan Thị Kim Phúc, napalmed by South Vietnamese forces in 1972. TrangBang.jpg

AP photographer Nick Ut took that now infamous shot which won him a Pulitzer and changed both his and Kim Phúc’s lives. In a way it changed many of our lives, too. Certainly mine. It’s an image I will carry with me to my grave. I still cannot hear or read the word, ‘Vietnam‘ – even on the now ubiquitous holiday adverts for that very country – without my mind conjuring Nick’s image of Kim Phúc. Oddly, the resolution seems only to sharpen rather than diminish with age.

I’d have dreaded being asked to pen a by-line for it – wouldn’t you? What words would you use? What words would suffice? What words could do justice to it? How long would you wait for them to arrive?

I fear my inadequacy as a writer would be held bare for all to see.

Perhaps there really are no words to describe such an image? Perhaps the image itself is all that is needed?

I’d just about come to this very conclusion with regard to the UNRWA shot – possibly to excuse my own failings: The more I stared at it the more I knew I didn’t possess the words, the skill, or the imagination to write anything that could possibly accompany it. Doomed to simply stare daily at the incomprehensible savagery of it all.

Defeated and feeling somewhat inadequate, I went to close the image-viewer for the umpteenth time. As I did so the wires pinged on my screen with the headline “Tony Blair resigns as Middle East Envoy.”

At that moment I knew that the image didn’t need a description, it merely required placing its instant – its moment – into its wider, greater context.

Nick Ut had The New York Times to position his shot left and centre to the heart of the Vietnam conflict. In our age of information overkill the UNRWA image seemed lost. Waiting for words that would never come. Not from me at least.


Tony Blair resigns as Middle East Envoy“.

It said it all.

Anvil Springstien.

Note: This became more of an article/post than the intended quick-link from the front-page News section to the Tony Blair resigns as Middle East Envoy post. As such I moved it here

Click HERE for the UNRWA image – full-screen

Click HERE for the Blair resigns… post

Thumbnail image © Nick Ut / The Associated Press 1972

UNRWA image © United Nations Relief and Works Agency 2014

Both images are used under ‘Fair Use’ rationale. No copyright infringement is intended.



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A New Zealander and his Burmese business partners were today given prison sentences of two and a half years each for insulting the Buddhist religion by placing a set of headphones on an image of the Buddha.

This from The Bangkok Post:


New Zealander faces Myanmar court over Buddha booze insult

Dec 18, 2014 (AFP) – A bar manager from New Zealand appeared  before a Myanmar court Thursday accused of insulting religion by using an image of the Buddha to advertise a cheap drinks night.

The offending poster, which featured a psychedelic mock-up of the Buddha wearing DJ headphones, has prompted an outcry in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which is grappling with surging religious nationalism.

Around a dozen monks and hardline Buddhists gathered outside the Yangon courtshortly after Philip Blackwood, 32, was led into the building in handcuffs, according to an AFP reporter.

Around two dozen riot police armed with batons were standing by, in a sign of the incendiary nature of questions of religion in the nation.

It was Blackwood’s first court appearance since he was denied bail last week along with Myanmar nationals Tun Thurein, 40, who owned the bar, and manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin, 26.

The trio face possible jail terms if found guilty of breaching the Religion Act with the contentious poster — which was quickly withdrawn from the VGastro bar’s Facebook page.

Under the act, anyone who attempts to insult, destroy or damage any religion can be punished by a maximum of two years in jail, with another two-year penalty for those who try to insult religion through the written word.

“Buddhists are unhappy because for them it is ugly to see the Buddha, who they worship, shown in that way,” said Win Thein, of the Theravada Dhamma Network — a group affiliated with the Buddhist nationalist Ma Ba Tha movement.

Myanmar’s legal system remains opaque despite reforms since the end of full junta rule in 2011 and it was unclear when the court was due to rule on the case.

Some of the bystanders outside the court wore T-shirts printed with the Buddhist nationalists’ “969” logo.

Myanmar is wrestling with growing Buddhist nationalist sentiment driven by extremist monks, who have urged boycotts of Muslim shops and proposed a raft of deeply controversial laws to restrict religious freedom.

Their rise has accompanied several bouts of religious violence between Muslims and Buddhists, mainly in Rakhine State.

The VGastro bar, a tapas restaurant and nightclub in an upmarket neighbourhood of Yangon, was shut shortly after the poster came to light, despite a Facebook apology by management for their “ignorance” in using the Buddha’s image.

© The Bangkok Post 2015

Yup, there’s Laces Stupid and there’s Velcro Stupid. Excuse my ignorance in using the Buddha’s image.

Anvil Springstien.



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There’s Laces Stupid, and then there’s Velcro Stupid.

Anvil Springstien.



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Sorry, had a tech-fart yesterday and couldn’t work out how the new WordPress editor worked when linking to Facebook – it doesn’t, at least not very well. Could be just old age on my part, of course?

Apologies to the people who ‘liked’ it on Facebook but were then deleted along with the photo – yes, it was me who deleted you – not the Caliphate Technical Department. Don’t worry, I think all their skills lean towards video production and photoshop workshops at the moment?

Mind you, credit where credit is due, they’ve done a great job on ‘Jihadi John’ – and that’s not just down to technical prowess, lighting, makeup etc.

A good management team is worth a million virgins as far as I’m concerned.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

Still, good management aside, John ought to be careful to not become a victim of his own success. He is huge now, granted. The Donny Osmond / John Bishop of his day. The Poster Boy of Islamism. How many young pre-pubescent Jihadi’s – male and female, swoon at the sight of those dark North London eyes. But to paraphrase John Lennon – where coincidentally he gets his stage name from; he’s now bigger than Allah – and here lies John’s problem… at some point someone in the Caliphate production hierarchy is going to start thinking ‘Idolatry‘ – and that’s not good. Certainly not for John’s career.

It’s hardly a new phenomena. Both Karl Marx and Max Weber warned us years ago regarding the dangers of the Cult of Personality, especially it’s tendency to divinisation under totalitarian States as they attempt to control the media. Just look at what happened to ‘Uncle Joe’. Yes, he may well become a victim of his own success.

If I were John I’d be feeling a little hot and sweaty around the collar.

Just saying.

Oh and apologies, John, for talking about you in the third person. Everyone says don’t read the reviews, – it’s the first rule of performance, but it’s also the first rule we break, isn’t it, John? I bet you wish you’d had a penny/shekel/insert Isis currency here/diram for every time you’ve Googled “Jihadi John

Don’t feel embarrassed, John, we’ve all done it.

Besides, fame is a fickle mistress. Cast your mind back to September 2013 and the victorious and strategic al Shabaat attack on the Kenyan Shopping Mall. British Muslim Samantha Lewthwaite – widow of 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsey, apparently (if our media are to be believed) led and masterminded that glorious attack on unarmed shoppers and their small children. Headlines invoked an image of this ruthless ‘White Widow‘ – an altogether grander monicker than the comparatively bland ‘Jihadi John‘, I might add.

But where is she now, John? Not even chip-paper. Hell, even Seal Team Six get more column inches than the great martyr Bin Laden – and they’re supposed to be anonymous.

My advice would be to get out whilst the going is good – or at least start thinking about a future without fame – it could happen; It’s not just Samantha… look at Rolf Harris, or Keith Chegwin. What if this Caliphate thing doesn’t work out? What if the bubble bursts? What if the gigs stop coming in? Have you anything to fall back on? Can you do a bit of plumbing or painting & decorating? Are those presenting skills transferable?

I’m not thinking Blue Peter here, John – I think that option’s just about gone, to be honest – but I hear Teaching English as a Foreign Language is in big demand in the Middle East.

Sorry, I know, it’s hardly the bright lights… sorry, just a thought, John. I’d hate you to think I was trying to poo poo your success – there’s enough of that in the industry as it is. No, I merely want to point out the pitfalls of a fickle career choice where people rarely think about things like Equity membership or Personal Pension Plans.

Oh, yeah, also hope I haven’t popped any bubbles mentioning the stage name thing? It’s not illegal as long as you use your real name on your Self-Assessment form. Not too sure if the Inland Revenue will see a Jihadi Wife or two as income? I know you will, John, but will they? Let’s hope not, eh. Still, there’s lots of other stuff you can put off against your tax:

Knife; Knife sharpener; Ninja Pyjamas; Eyeliner etc’.

Don’t be late though, John. The buggers just done me for a hundred quid.


Ps: Top Tax Tip: If you let them see your mouth on the videos you can claim for toothpaste!

Anvil Springstien.



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