Archive for April, 2005

I saw the BNP (British National Party) Election broadcast on the television a couple of nights ago. It immediately made me think of Bob Roberts the american political film by the very excellent Tim Robbins. The BNP’s use of a custom written folk song soundtrack coupled with leader Nick Griffen’s assertion that his prosecution on grounds of incitement to racial hatred was simply a result of his “telling the truth” was very reminiscent of the film.

The folk song accompanied pictures of a homeless ex-servicemen and included lyrics like “they find homes for the Afghans and Iraqis but not for me.” This is absolutely classic BNP territory, the Falklands veteran treated badly whilst Johnny Foreigner comes in and takes all the houses. This is emotive rhetoric but is of course Cloud Cuckoo Land. It is not mentioned that the Falklands war was a war by a rich ex-colonial nation against a considerably poorer Latin American country over some islands thousands of miles from Britain and on Britain’s back doorstep. (Funny that Britain didn’t go to war to protect Hong Kong.) Of course the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were quite different circumstances, after all very little infrastructure was left in the country and the West had made such a thing about the threats of the respective incumbent regimes so it would have been somewhat churlish to refuse those seeking asylum from that persecution. Then again the UK has done it before, if we look at Zimbabwe a regime consistently castigated by the British when it suits them and yet traded with as and when necessary and asylum seekers and refugees are regularly sent back.

[For those not au fait with the British political climate the BNP are the ‘reformed’ Nazis, by which I mean they now wear suits and ties and seek to come across as serious politicians but the policies are still the same and in their closed door meetings the rhetoric is startlingly familiar. For some time the BNP has been canvassing particularly in impoverished working class areas and picking up the disaffected Labour voter who feels disenfranchised by Labour’s move to the business and middle class sector. There are around 15 BNP councillors in Britain and perhaps that rise has only been halted by the British electoral system which favours the large parties over the smaller ones.]

The BNP have sought to change tack in the same way as their European counterparts have and in public leave behind their fascist bully boy image. It should be asserted with vigour that no matter what clothes you are wearing or how you seek to dress it up fascism is fascism and the BNP are fascists. The waters have been muddied somewhat by the refusal of the major political parties to adopt a firm stance against this, in fact Labour and Conservatives are positively competing on the BNP’s territory on the issue of asylum and immigration.

The trouble with extreme right-wing politics is that it gives people an easy option, the option of blaming someone else for anything going wrong. Why aren’t things going well in this country at the moment, because there are too many illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers here. Furthermore this is now being used as the justification for the repressive anti-terrorist legislation after it emerged that a failed asylum seeker killed a policeman during a raid some weeks ago. Said asylum seeker was an algerian and allegedly an Al Qu’eda operative. This plays directly into both the idea that it is the evil foreigner to blame for all the ills, it also helps the socially repressive in their attempt to continue the positively draconian measures in legislation that stems from their undertaking to convince us that we should be living in fear, terrorists, muggers, rapists, murderers, anti-social youth, burglars etc. etc. lock your doors, bolt your windows, quake in your boots.

I heard Frederick Forsyth yesterday attempt to claim that he could not be a racist because he had travelled to other countries. It is alarming that someone who writes books could have such an appalling grasp of language. Racism does not mean implicitly that you hate other people in their own countries, after all the BNP have no particular beef with Africans in their own countries, it generally means you do not want them in yours, but it stems from a belief in your own national or racial superiority and this does no preclude travel to other countries at all. I would like to say at this juncture that Frederick Forsyth is, in my humble opinion, a twat.

Song Of The Day ~ That Petrol Emotion – Lettuce

Original Comments:

protagonist made this comment,
Ah, british politics. so much i don’t understand. but i do understand calling someone a twat – and i appreciate the sentiment. forsyth sounds like a tool – i hate him. mandrake
[Redbaron responds – You want to know anything about British politics from my subjective standpoint mate you only have to ask! As for the solidarity comments on that tosser Forsyth, your support is both appreciated and made me chuckle always a bonus!]

comment added :: 25th April 2005, 21:35 GMT+01
Lynne made this comment,
RG, having spent the af’noon listening to Political Twats try and smarm votes from my regs -all whilst schmoozin’ the press o’course…


Visit me @

comment added :: 26th April 2005, 18:52 GMT+01
Bob Red made this comment,
Sad fact of the matter is that due to the current state of the country, a lot of people are prepared to swing from one extreme to another. The amount of times ive heard “this time im voting BNP… thatll get the bastards out” is more common than a satellite dish on a council estate! One of the wards near me is already under BNP control and is now a crime hotspot. Its amazing how they dress their true intentions up and play on what is angering most of society.. but i agree they are nothing but nazis in suits and if they ever get in, they wont get out very easily. Maybe its worth everyone taking a minute to stop and think about what biggest single issue that needs tackling in this country is. Personally i think crime and personal safety should come top of the bill. but then thats just my opinion
Visit me @

comment added :: 29th April 2005, 17:38 GMT+01

I got to thinking about other places I had lost and there’s more. What worries me is there are few if any places that I can think of that have some connection to my past that still exist, at least ones with pleasant connotations, the bloody school’s still there, every bloody school I went to is still there! I was pleased to find this picture tho because this was my first stamping ground, this is the King’s Rd. in Chelsea and if you look at the picture and follow the road down and turn right there at the end that is Park Walk where I used to live. Minor interest point there, who knows one day maybe I’ll have been notorious enough to have a blue plaque on the wall!

There used to be a proper pancake cafe on the King’s Rd about 200 yards from where I lived called Asterix, Joan Armatrading used to eat there in the 70s she wrote a review about it. Apparently even tho’ Asterix went it remained a Creperie, I don’t remember it after it wasn’t Asterix. When we moved from Chelsea we ended up a couple of years later in Latimer Rd which is the shit side of Notting Hill Gate, near Portobello maket was Obelix the sister cafe. It was laid out quite French in style, I remember the black cherries that I used to have in my crepes and the jambonfromage gallettes. I think there was a waitress called Anna or Emma, blonde and gorgeous but I could be imagining things! Asterix due to its location has a little more archive history, Obelix was more off the beaten track and a google search reveals sadly nothing.

In the King’s Rd days my Ma used to wheel me along in the buggy and I used to chat to all the shopkeepers in my garbled gibberish, the butcher’s (Coenicke’s I think) would insist on giving my Ma sausages for me every now and again and the greengrocer would do the same with a piece of fruit. I don’t even know if they have greegrocer’s anymore. My Mother’s favourite restaurant was as I recall on the Fulham rd, it was a greek place called the Wine and Kebab. There was also a restaurant on the Fulham Rd called Dominic’s. I’m not sure we ever ate in there, going out to a restaurant in those days was not something that happened very often, at least not on our budget. There was also the nearest thing to a supermarket that I remember it was called Oakshotts and it was like a fairly small convenience store I think it became a Cullen’s. I don’t remeber ever seeing large supermarkets then. I don’t know if the Chelsea District library is still on the King’s Rd., huge redbrick building, I think somewhere I still have a book called ‘The Cat Who Couldn’t Get Down” it was due back in 1973! (FYI if you look the title of the book up it is a Googlewhack – which probably means I’ve got it wrong, strange since it hardly seems an outlandish title). I loved that book as a child, it used photos of this ginger cat, I think my Mother may have tried to take it back but may have relented due to my apoplexy, I didn’t lose my temper that often as a rule but when I did I really threw my toys out of the pram!

Of course the omens were not good for the survival of buildings that I had frequented since St. Stephen’s Hospital on the Fulham road where I was born was demolished some time ago!


I have a section now for cinemas -I suspect at least in England that everyone over about 25 has a beloved cinema story. I have 4! Firstly when I was a kid Victoria stn and Waterloo stn each had a Cartoon Cinema with I believe a picture of Tweety Pie outside. They basically showed a 1 hour loop of cartoons and Pathé-style newsreel, The newsreel was still black and white (as of course were most tellys in them days) So you’d come into the cinema and either stay until your train was due or until you’d watched the whole loop, or in my case until Dad finally couldn’t take any more after we’d already gone round the houses at least once! I still love cartoons! (Quiet – Rachel!) These were the proper ones from the 1930s & 40s no dialogue on the whole just orchestral music,

large large-1







(I remember it more as the second pic but the first one I think is a nicer representation)

The Wimbledon fleapit, can’t remember what it was actually called, I don’t think it was the Wimbledon theatre altho’ I went there too. But the other cinema was where I saw my first film -Bugsy Malone 1976 I think. Shortly after that Dad took me to the Dominion Leicester Sq to see Star Wars on the screen the size of a small town!

That was all pretty mainstream cinema, the place that introduced me to the alternative stuff was the Scala which in those days was near Goodge St. I think there is now one in Kings Cross but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the one I used to go to.


The Scala was great it showed what to me was stuff I’d never seen before like Metropolis which was the film I remember most. There were others in something of a Forbidden Planet style, sci-fi and such like which weren’t so difficult to get kids into. They showed a lot of other films that I wasn’t allowed to see, cult stuff and British-made thrillers. I saw a cartoon film with Davy Jones from the Monkees in it and I can’t for the life of me remember any others by name. My Dad took me a couple of times as did the bass player that my Ma was going out with so I was there quite a bit, I loved it, it was a bit scruffy and not very mainstream and I guess that’s me all over! They often did series runs of things like King of the Rocket Men and Harold Lloyd. The sort of things which in those days were still quite popular and would get the 6pm slot on BBC2 most nights. The Scala was my first experience of the genre now known as ‘arthouse’ basically anything that requires a brain or an eclectic mind especially foreign language stuff and I still tend to gravitate towards that sort of film now.

I do lament the loss of the old picture palaces, the Art Deco style buildings, the ornate interiors, faux velvet, intermissions etc. Going to the cinema seemed more of an event then or maybe I am over-romanticising but bearing in mind I remember you used to get to the cinema, see some adverts which always had the groovy Peal & Dean music (Altogether now -Ba-ba ba-ba ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba, ba-ba ba-ba ba-ba-ba-baaaaaaaaaaaaa da! – This may seem strange to the Americans and others but trust me no-one who has seen that at a British cinema can ever forget that music!) Anyway then you had the pre-film, which might be a nature documentary or in the case of Star Wars it was Hardware Wars -a classic in its own right. Then you had some more adverts usually extremely funny low budget ones for local Indian restaurants, then some previews – then the ‘Main Event’. So the whole thing went on for hours – most people with children went to the Saturday matinee and it was the day’s activity. Now I know this may sound like decades ago to the yoof out there, actually bollocks it is decades ago it’s nearly 30 years since I first went. I am now off to wave my stick at some hooligans and talk about ‘in my day we had a bit of respect for ours elders’ and how ‘a spell in the army would do ’em good’! Bastards.

Song Of The Day ~ Kings Of Convenience – Sing Softly To Me

Original Comments:

baracuda made this comment,
Raised on songs and stories,
The heroes of renoun(sp?)
The passing tales and glories
That once was Dublin* town…
Ring a ring a rosie
As the light declines
I remember Dublin* city
In the rare oul’ times

*replace with London.

Visit me @

comment added :: 19th April 2005, 17:39 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
I enjoyed viewing your jam-packed blog.
MJD from Indiana

[Redbaron responds – Hi MJD, thanks very much for taking the time to say that, it’s always rather nice when people enjoy what one has done.]

comment added :: 20th April 2005, 03:23 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
See you next week at the Help the Aged drop-in centre Baron. 😉

[Redbaron responds – Excellent, can we drink real ale and moan about the youth of today not knowing they’re born?!]

comment added :: 23rd April 2005, 17:17 GMT+01
protagonist made this comment,
Ah, rememberance of things past. I understand, dear Baron. I think often of my old stomping grounds at the University of Chicago. I miss the place, dearly. I hope you only form good new fond memories where you are now. Moving sucks. I will have to move soon – I will miss, I hate to admit, Ann Arbor. Even with everything I’ve said about it – I will miss it. Hope you’re well. Mandrake
comment added :: 24th April 2005, 22:58 GMT+01

I was anticipating a day of some productivity getting my house in order and building the bunk beds that I brought back from Ikea in a comedy stylee on the motorway yesterday. However I had been up for a little bit, had just had breakfast and I turned round to look at something and something went crunch in my lower back and at that point the brain went into ‘back spasm red alert mode’ which entailed making a struggled move to the nearest bed whilst the pain reached levels that resulted in my language becoming steadily more rooted in the vernacular. Hence I haven’t had the day I expected so I needed someone to take it out on, and what better target…?

I just can’t help it the bloody Monarchy really get on my goat, partially because of the institution exacerbated by the fact that the ones we have are such utter morons, and the more I think about it the more a Winter Palace scenario seems called for -can I really hold off until 2017?

To my mind I simply cannot understand how you can justify such a situation with this bunch of imbeciles who have hardly a grain of talent to rub between them, except the ability for self-publicity and I suspect much of that comes from the aides who are keen to stay in their cushy jobs before marching to the House of Lords, God’s waiting room!

In a purely capitalist sense it is illogical because capitalism thrives on the (false) assumption that everyone can do everything it’s just a question of financial prudence and hard work, well when you have a family who are in a position of considerable influence based only on birthright how can this project a meritocratic image to the people? Furthermore they cost lots of money and produce very little. They are not efficient.

My solution is ‘Royal Big Brother’ [copyright Redbaron Blog 2005-with possible rights sharing with Jimmy Sunshine] -I’m sure it’s an idea that has been vaunted before I believe Comrade Chairman Sunshine and I may have discussed it but this is my version refined over periods of boozing. You take them all to start with. Put the whole family including all related spouses and hangers on. Obviously you have plenty of space in Buck House where it would be filmed and who better to film it than the domestic staff after all they seem to be observing and making transcripts of conversations anyway. Basically the premise would be that to start with you would have to quickly slim the numbers down, after all there are shit loads of them, so after 1 week the bottom 50% should be removed, obviously there would need to be an incentive to stay so those in the rejected 50% would either go into exile or be removed from the Civil List (for the non-brits amongst you the civil list is the money allocated by parliament to pay for the blue-blooded freeloaders.) The remaining lot, well it would be fun to get them doing mundane things so cleaning the house weeding the garden etc. As there’d be quite a lot of them you’d need to get rid of their waste so some pigs and a cesspit would be needed and these would have to be cleaned regularly. Every week one of them would be voted off but the catch is that they wouldn’t be allowed to leave the grounds of Buck House they’d simply be cast out of the house and forced to live within the grounds surviving on their wits. I mean already correct me if I’m wrong but this is sounding like quality entertainment and having got rid of 50% already it is saving the public purse a fucking fortune, it’s a win-win situation!

On a totally unrelated note -Blog City profiles -why did they put USSR in as one of the countries? I couldn’t resist it I mean it just stood out a mile rather than scrumming in with all the other UK lot I now have a country profile area all to me muwahahahaha -splendid! It does open up a new sphere of blog diving, profile diving and blog diving from a profile. I’ll grant you it’s a bit voyeuristic but therein lies the sport.

Song Of The Day ~ The Pixies – Here Comes Your Man

Original Comments:

isy made this comment,
Yes, but who would ‘win’?
What would their prize be?

-Redbaron responds – hmm, you’re right, I hadn’t really considered who would win. I guess my hope was that they might all end up killing each other and save the taxpayer millions, the plan could have a flaw if one of the buggers were to survive, we’d have to think up some suitable “reward” I ought to consult with our Minister of Prizes Citizen Robespierre about that!-

comment added :: 11th August 2005, 08:49 GMT+01 ::

I half-inched this from Rainy who in turn graciously admitted to having nicked it from Kimba who got it from Marla. I just thought I’d pop a little something non-political in. Normal service will naturally be resumed shortly.

I’ve Never Kissed A Member Of The Opposite Sex — False
I’ve Never Kissed A Member Of The Same Sex — False
I’ve Never Crashed A Friend’s Car — True
I’ve Never Been To Japan — True
I’ve Never Been In A Taxi — False
I’ve Never Been In Love — False
I’ve Never Had Sex In a Public Place — False
I’ve Never Been Dumped — False
I’ve Never Done Cocaine — True
I’ve Never Shoplifted — False
I’ve Never Been Fired — True (More luck than judgement!)
I’ve Never Been In A Fist Fight — False (But the last one was 20 years ago when I was at school)
I’ve Never Had Group Intercourse — False
I’ve Never Snuck Out Of My Parent’s House — True
I’ve Never Been Tied Up — True,
I’ve Never Regretted Having Sex With Someone — False
I’ve Never Been Arrested — False
I’ve Never Made Out With A Stranger — False
I’ve Never Stolen Something From My Job — False
I’ve Never Celebrated New Years In Time Square — True
I’ve Never Gone On A Blind Date — True
I’ve Never Lied To A Friend — False
I’ve Never Had A Crush On A Teacher or Professor — False
I’ve Never Celebrated Mardi Gras In New Orleans — True
I’ve Never Been To Europe — False (I live in Europe)
I’ve Never Skipped School — False
I’ve Never Slept With A Co-Worker — True (Sad but True!)
I’ve Never Cut Myself On Purpose — True
I’ve Never Had Sex At The Office — True
I’ve Never Been Married — True
I’ve Never Been Divorced — True
I’ve Never Had Sex With More Than One Person Within The Same Week — False
I’ve Never Posed Nude — False
I’ve Never Gotten Someone Drunk Just To Have Sex With Them — Er, I’ve never suceeded!
I’ve Never Killed Anyone — True
I’ve Never Received Scars From My Sex Partner — False
I’ve Never Thrown Up In A Bar — False (But in the toilets under control after a pub crawl!)
I’ve Never Taken a Hallucinogenic Drug — False
I’ve Never Purposely Set A Part Of Myself On Fire — True
I’ve Never Eaten Sushi — True
I’ve Never Been Snowboarding — True
I’ve Never Had Sex At A Friend’s House While They Were Throwing A Party — True
I’ve Never Had Sex In A Dressing Room — True
I’ve Never Flashed Anyone — True
I’ve Never Met Anyone From Online — False

Song Of The Day ~ Feeder – Feeling A Moment

Original Comments:

A visitor made this comment,
damn, you’ve led a more exciting life than i have!! i’d be writing ‘true’ against most of them!
sarah, the envious twin

[Redbaron responds – You still have time hon, most of my exiting stuff was 9 years ago!]

comment added :: 17th April 2005, 16:26 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
I knew we were kindred spirits. 🙂

comment added :: 17th April 2005, 19:14 GMT+01
moog made this comment,
why would anyone want to set themselves on fire?
comment added :: 21st April 2005, 00:06 GMT+01
Rina made this comment,
Two of yours answers confuzzle me.
comment added :: 24th April 2005, 02:12 GMT+01

Sorry is it just me being obtuse or do other people see the bullshit arguments being attempted by the mainstream political parties? There are after all so many to choose from (bullshit arguments that is, not political parties) but the one that seems so blatantly ludicrous is the whole public spending and tax cuts debate. Once again I am going to assume that it is my failure to grasp the complex elements of macro economics that means I cannot understand the debate but let me wade in and see whether I get out of my depth.

Now for simplicity so that my non-mathematical brain can keep up let us break this down to simple household expenditure. Let us call public spending ‘shopping’ and taxation ‘income’. Now it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that if I want to go shopping I need to have some income. Hence if my income exceeds my shopping bill I am in the black but if my shopping bill exceeds my income I am in the shit and it’s bread and water for the last week of the pay month! Now were I to have the ability to set my income at what I wanted it would be folly to set it below my prospected expenditure but equally it would be unlikely I would be allowed to set it a great deal higher. Let us apply that model to the national economic model. There is state public spending, ie the money spent on public services such as the NHS, Education and the state infrastructure etc. Only a buffoon would argue against public spending, most of the time the arguments are as to how much and where. Obviously the money for public spending comes from taxation, public spending is, in essence, money spent by the public for the public. So the revenue from taxation must in theory cover the amount needed for public spending. The greater the revenue the greater the capacity for public spending, we will leave for the moment the issue of specific governments and whether they use the capacity or not. By the same token again it is not rocket science to see that the less taxation revenue the less money available for public spending. So if a party are offering you tax cuts, what you are getting is more money in your pocket every month and the likelihood that you will be required to spend more of it on things you used to get for free.

Therefore for politicians to attempt to offer a system of good public spending whilst at the same time offering a reduction in taxation is simply a cynical ploy in the hope that people will not really look too closely at it. You cannot have something for nothing and the sooner people realise this the better. At least then we might be able to have a more adult debate about who is best placed to pay for it. After all until it is accepted that the rich pay for what the poor cannot afford we aren’t going to get anywhere. I have made my views on taxation abundantly clear and therefore whilst it is no surprise to hear the Tories talk about tax cuts, after all only an idiot would think that the Tories were going to invest in public services, it would be a gross understatement to say that I was disgusted by the Labour pledge to keep the top rate of tax the same at 40%

There has been a lot of talk today about the Liberal Democrats who have announced in increase in the top rate of tax to 50% (this will however only affect 1% of the population those earning over £100,000/year) further to this tax rise is the proposal to introduce a local income tax to replace the arbitrary council tax. Analysts and critics have been focusing very much on those who would lose out the ‘middle-income bracket’ by which they are referring to those at the bottom of the rate affected and in this case households earning over £40,000. Whilst I appreciate that there is a problem in this country now that many such earners have been saddled with huge debts due to the inflated house prices etc. I cannot deflect from my view that this remains an intrinsically fairer way of gathering revenue. It is said by the Liberals that 50% of households will be better off and this will undoubtedly be the poorest half and this cannot be a bad thing. It is not without faults but remains one of the more progressive policies of the election campaign. To my mind I would be quite happy if limits were put on the local income tax such as deductions for those with children or student debts etc. This could all be subsidised by those at the top of the earnings brackets. It is about time those who have been allowed to milk the system for their own benefits were forced into putting a great deal of that back for the good of those less fortunate. It has been 26 years of halcyon days for the opulent and that has to end. Whilst I see why many people would think in the current climate that since the Liberals are the most left-wing of the major parties and the most socially progressive that they deserve the vote. The quadry is that the Liberals are still only a centre-left party, they have no pretentions to drastically change the system, they would do a bit of minor tinkering in the electoral system but they are like a version of Labour Lite and as such whilst increasingly more acceptable than the Labour or Tory lot they remain very establishment figures.

On a related note I hear the IMF has been in town telling the Labour government that they must reign in public spending or taxes will have to rise. Now one must not forget that institutions like the IMF and World Bank are populated by quite a lot of cunts. The IMF is a freelance global receiver, freebooting into countries and forcing a neo-conservative agenda on them by blackmailing them to sell off public utilities and services and general assets in exchange for loans. After what the IMF has done to Latin America I would have thought someone in the Labour government would have had the good sense to tell them to ‘fuck off’ but of course Labour are now the party of “wealth creation” rather than ‘equal wealth distribution.’ Kier Hardie must be spinning in his grave. Just over 100 years after the founding of the Labour party to represent the majority working class for the first time in mainstream politics I think it is time to admit defeat on the current lot and start again. Let us hope that Respect stay true to this tradition and become that movement, I have my reservations at certain points as I have said before but they are currently the only ones with even the glimmer of hope because they are the only ones attempting to do so.

Song Of The Day ~ The Futureheads – Hounds Of Love

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
The Lib Dems have been touting the local income tax for some years now. Not only would it be fiscally fairer, but would be simpler for people to understand.
One area that any government may reduce spending is to trim some of the fat in their own departments, thereby leaving more funds available for essential services (or tax cuts, I suppose). I notice that the parties talk the talk, but rarely follow through.

Visit me @

comment added :: 16th April 2005, 13:10 GMT+01

So Tesco became the first British company to ever post profits of over £2 billion ($3.83bn). Tesco is now in the top 3 retailers in the world along with Wallmart in the US (who own Asda in the UK) and Carrefour in France. Tesco’s success is based fundamentally on their supermarket core but has become far more than that as supermarkets in the UK have changed radically in the last decade becoming more like American grocery stores.

Tesco operates more than 2,300 stores in 13 countries including Japan, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, and a joint venture in China. The UK remains its largest market, where sales for the year rose 11.9%. Non-food sales rose 17% to £6bn, with the group highlighting a 28% increase in sales of its clothing range. Profit at its online operation grew 51.8% to £36m, on the back of sales of £719m. Tesco said sales at its international operations in Asia and central and eastern Europe were up 13.1%.
Tesco’s underlying profits figure excluded profits on disposal of assets, integration costs and goodwill amortisation. Including these, Tesco’s pre-tax profit rose 24.5% to £1.96bn.

Tesco’s claims that it plans to create 25,000 jobs globally this year of which 11,000 will be in the UK.

Now obviously my views on capitalism are clear and I see it as profane that since Tesco shares have risen by about 25% in the last 12 months there will be a number of middle and upper class people who will be reaping the benefits of this increasing mall based culture that is altering the buying habits of the working class more than anyone else.

However what intrigues me is that in the wake of this information from Tesco’s are items such as the Federation of Small Businesses which has said that this should be ringing alarm bells since it is signalling the continuation of the demise of the traditional independent shops and the High st. in general. More specialist retailers such as Marks & Spencer have seen a steady decline of their sales as Tesco’s has increased it’s coverage in their principle business areas such as clothing, consumer electronics, home wares etc.

It is no doubt that the rise of retailers such as Tesco’s and Wallmart lead to a homogeneity across the retail sector that leads to what people may see as an increase in their choice within a shop but is a lack of choice outside of that. Whilst many analysts say that consumers in Britain have started to become annoyed with Tesco’s dominance and will often take their business elsewhere the following graph illustrates not a trend away from this type of spending pattern merely a choice of a different conglomerate retailer. Whilst consumers may not want to go to Tesco they are still wooed by the notion of having everything in the same shop.

What I’m afraid I fail to see is why anyone can be especially surprised or upset by this dominance of the market of the big players. This is the nature of capitalism where success is ultimately measured in your ability to outdo the competition. This is why I see capitalism as an essentially flawed basis for a system because it works on the premise that consumer choice and freedoms are paramount but on the flip side the companies have an ultimate goal of monopoly because this is the true measure of their success. You doubt this? Well it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of precedents for it, Microsoft being but one prime recent example. You see in the capitalist system a company must appeal to its consumers whilst in its infancy. It must expand its appeal and broaden its market and attempt to compete with its rivals. To do this it must move in on their territory, take their customers, undercut their prices etc. etc. The way I see it Tesco is the embodiment of a successful capitalist enterprise. You don’t have to like it, but to expect capitalism to work in any other way is simply naivety. Or am I missing something?

Song Of The Day ~ Buffalo Springfield – Stop, Children What’s That Sound?

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
I had a really heated discussion on this subject a few years back when Walmart bought Asda. While the conglomerates meet the buyers’ demands, they do so at the expense of the smaller retailer. It is the smaller retailer who is left with the high risk, low turnover goods. So you can buy pet foods in Tescos, but the small pet shop who relies on these to make a profit goes under. Now where do you buy, for example, your hamster? Or if, like me, you are into exotics, your reptiles? People often fail to see the implications of pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap retailing. Until they can’t get a hamster for love nor money, that is.
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[Redbaron responds – You are exactly right Mark, the big supermarkets do not like to be left with high inventory, part of their strength is that they buy in huge bulk because of the ability to shift such a vast amount of stock. The lack of high-risk low turnover specialist items is not good for the options of the consumer and will not be fulfilled by the specialists who’s margins have been eroded by the MNCs under-cutting them for the peripheral items. Your pet shop example is a good one, you can use the same sort of analogy about electronics. I could buy a new stereo in Tesco’s but I have around 500 records and where do I go if I need a new stylus?

You have therefore provided yet another reason as to the paradox of capitalism where the nature of the system is always going to mean that the interests of the business are the antithesis of the interests of the consumer and these only work for a brief period in time in a capitalist economy’s infancy.]

comment added :: 13th April 2005, 15:25 GMT+01
Katie made this comment,
They do make a rather nice wild mushroom cannelloni though. You can’t argue with economics, in an ideal world there would be perfect competition but there isn’t. Tesco (et al) gives people what they want i don’t like it, you certainly don’t like it, but that’s the way things are. Are you going to prohibit them from selling cat food? What gives us the right to do that? I particularly don’t like the way that tesco metros are springing up everywhere wiping out small local ‘grocery’ stores however, the other side of the coin is that it’s now cheaper to buy beans from your local shop. Market forces dictate what companies do, if “we” didn’t want it then it wouldn’t happpen. Government intervention to prevent full monopolys is the best and fairest thing that we can hope for and that’s what we currently get. Then again though, I’m a capitalistic microsoft bitch.
Big hugs, Katie x
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[Redbaron responds – Sorry hon but this is the typical bullshit New Labour neo-liberal argument. That classic “capitalism isn’t great but it’s the only show in town”. Why is it? We have been spoon-fed this notion that Communism is a good system in principle but can’t work in practice whilst all around us we are forced to settle for a system that is neither good in theory and reality shows us that it is fatally flawed in practice too. Your idea of state interventionist capitalism contravenes the concept of Free Market economics whilst you have a very naive assumption of the benign nature of supply and demand. Whilst it may be true that consumers can drive the market if they excercise the power, quite often in the case of the big retailers the trick is to give us the perception that we have a choice whilst directing us to what they want us to buy. Market forces only dictate company policy if companies passively allow it to.

But you’re right, you are of course a capitalist microsoft bitch not to mention a Daily Mail peddling one!]

comment added :: 13th April 2005, 19:01 GMT+01
baracuda made this comment,
I read somewhere that something like £1 out of every £8 spent in Britain is given to Tesco. That’s not £1 in every £8 that’s spent on food that’s in 1/8 of all the money spent in total.
I just find that statistic to be a bit scary.
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comment added :: 18th April 2005, 15:51 GMT+01

So we encounter once again the anodyne eulogies and the outpouring of grief for the death of the pope. The poxy pontiff died finally after a long illness and people take to the streets to mourn. He had a good innings living well into his 80s, more than can be said for so many catholics in this world. I am reminded in more ways than one of the days after Diana died. One of the principle links that connects the 2 for me was the sense of the undeserved nature of the adoration. I’m sorry if people feel it is disrespectful but the pope was a reactionary religious fundamentalist and in many ways did as much to subjugate people in countries like those across Latin America and Africa. The pope was the head of a church with its densest demographic in the world’s poorest nations. We are told the pope was instrumental in the bringing down of communism and was against totalitarianism in all its forms, was he, was he really? What better illustration of totalitarianism is there than the monolithic catholic church? Archaic, conservative, obstacle to progress, repressive, dogmatic the list goes on.

And yet I do not doubt the grief felt by many catholics is genuine just as the English grieved for their pampered overpaid princess killed whilst putting the lives of everyday Parisians at risk as her car sped dangerously thru’ the streets trying to avoid the paparazzi. “But she did a lot of work for charity” well bully for her, you take away all the day to day worries I have like accommodation, education for my children, utility bills, car maintenance, whether I can afford a holiday sometime this decade and I’ll fucking work tirelessly for charity. Of course she did, she’d have been flaming bored stiff if she hadn’t.

When it comes to mourning a death I am more inclined to mourn the great legend that was Tommy Vance who died earlier this month. His BBC obituary is here. If you had asked me 12 months ago who the most influential DJs of my life were I would have said John Peel and Tommy Vance. Where Peel gave me an appreciation for the eclectic and played things that you may never have heard anywhere else, Vance was the Rock DJ with the voice to match. The Friday Rock Show from 1978-93 was something that made such a profound impression on me that long after he had stopped doing it I did my own Friday Rock Show on a pirate station that we had set up at college. It was an homage to the great man tho’ I never did manage to perfect the voice. I heard the last show he did for Virgin Classic Rock and it was like a compilation tape of all the rock tracks I have in my record collection. With the passing of Vance and Peel the generation brought up on Radio 1 in the 1980s find themselves bereft of their principle figureheads and that is something we will only learn to live with over time. I will never forget that Tommy and I both shared 2 particular things in common, a love of rock and a good pint of Tetly, I guess it’s my round then Tommy.

Song Of The Day ~ The Cars – Just What I Needed

Original Comments:

haywood made this comment,
still here my friend, just lost the will temporarlily.
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comment added :: 6th April 2005, 05:37 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
Good post Baron.It’s about time someone wrote something like that about the Pope. Still Diana is begining to be seen in a new light these days, I’m pleased to say.

comment added :: 6th April 2005, 17:26 GMT+01
Diogenes made this comment,
Ironically, the Pope is praised for his work with Solidarity – but Solidarity now is so unpopular in Poland it virtually doesn’t exist…
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comment added :: 8th April 2005, 00:00 GMT+01
Jen Tate made this comment,
It scares me that some can have so much love for one and so little for others.
comment added :: 11th April 2005, 22:38 GMT+01

So, here I am, the first full day after the move. It has been fairly frenetic getting shopping in and such like, that has partially taken my mind off the fact that I am now an absentee father in totality. That part will take some considerable getting used to for all parties and my ex has no intention of smoothening that transition but ultimately she is now an irrelevance in all but matters concerning the kids. I have spoken to no-one other than in shops today and yet I still feel more like I have a life, slightly less like the boy in the bubble. I am more in control of my destiny now, in so far as whilst I do not believe in an ethereal fate type of destiny I believe you can cede control of your direction to other people and this has been very much how I have lived the last few years.

As an interesting little experiment and being a right morbid bastard I took this test before I left and took it once giving the answers of my previous lifestyle and once with the prospective lifestyle that I fully intend to have now. The results are below, not the most medically proven of things I’ll grant you but for a sound basis to back up my good intentions to change it does the job.

You Will Die at Age 64


You’re pretty average when it comes to how you live…

And how you’ll die as well.

and then hopefully the way things will be:

You Will Die at Age 76


You’re pretty average when it comes to how you live…

And how you’ll die as well.

Bit of an eye-opener when you see it like that eh?

Song Of The Day – KT Tunstall – The Other Side Of The World

Original Comments:

protagonist made this comment,
Dr Mandrake’s gonna live until he is 70, giving me 42 years of fucking shit up.
[Redbaron responds – Doesn’t that mean we’re both going to die in around 2047?! Spooky macabre connection, we’re Death Brothers mate!]

comment added :: 3rd April 2005, 19:08 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
Congrats on the move. I know you’re happy to have it (nearly) over. Interesting, the change in years. Good things to come, Baron. Good things to come.

[Redbaron responds – You were of course doubtless referring to the email which I will get round to sending you very soon!]

comment added :: 3rd April 2005, 20:34 GMT+01
moog made this comment,
it sounds like a great thing that you have done for yourself! am very happy for you! :)glad you are back with us too!
comment added :: 4th April 2005, 12:00 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
congratulations, twin (on moving and adding 12 years to your life!).

sarah []

comment added :: 4th April 2005, 13:04 GMT+01
moog made this comment,
i got to live till im 88!! 🙂
[RB – Poser!]

comment added :: 4th April 2005, 14:44 GMT+01
Katie made this comment,
Fifty-fucking-eight. I’ve only got 38 years left, even with your old situation I’d die first. How could you share with me something that gives me news like that after i’ve been so nice lately. Hmph
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comment added :: 4th April 2005, 23:38 GMT+01
protagonist made this comment,
Thanks for your great comments on my blog – you had me in stitches!!!!!!
comment added :: 5th April 2005, 03:51 GMT+01