Saturday, July 04, 2020

Fiction Books update

Total fiction books = 11
The most recent is Darkness in Durrington

My fiction books are as follows:

The Mirror of Eternity Series

The Mirror of Eternity

Salt Wars 

The Miranda Revolution

Defending the Sangreal

Domain of Dreams

Space Dog Alfred Series

Space Dog Alfred

Planet of the Dogs

Durrington Detective Agency series

Durrington Detective Agency

Death in Durrington

And a collection of short stories

Pot Pourri

Non Fiction Books

My friend Google thinks that "essays on works of art or literature" should be included in the category of non-fiction books. So this is the list of my seven non-fiction books

Classroom Teacher Manual

Death Agony of Capitalism

Letters to Lara

Socialist Reviews

The Concept of Evil

The Role of the Hero 

Xavier's Cook Book

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Do Not Resuscitate

Toby Young, described by the Daily Record as a "pound shop Peter Hitchens" has laid bare the thinking of the Conservatives. He takes the view that it is a waste of money to keep old people alive. Of course, Toby Young is rapidly becoming old himself.

Thanks to Tory cuts, the NHS is unable to cope with the "normal" needs of the population and they are already talking about the "tough decisions" which will have to be taken.

GPs have been advised to consider "Do Not Resuscitate" discussions with elderly patients. One practice (Llynfi Surgery in Maesteg, South Wales) jumped the gun somewhat by sending out a note to patients saying that those with a life-limiting illness should opt for DNR.

One patient told Sky News,  "...It made me feel worthless. I've lived with cancer for eight years and I want to live another couple of years. I'm not digging my grave yet."

The advice is that GPs should have *discussions* with elderly patients. That is different from bullying them to sign a DNR form. That is different from making people feel worthless.

The original text of the Hippocratic Oath contains the phrase, "I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course."  This is often shortened to "do no harm".

The government's pathetic failure to "ramp up" testing for the virus is part and parcel of Toby Young's thinking. It is much cheaper not to test and if old people die as a result that's all to the good in his twisted philosophy.

When all this is over it is the Tory government which will need resuscitating and the public might consider DNR in that case.

Derek McMillan is a writer in Durrington-on-Sea.
He has written 11 works of fiction and 7 works of non-fiction including Socialist Reviews

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Police State

In the Peak District over-zealous police officers reacted to new powers like Tigger with a new toy. They poured foul black dye into a picturesque lake to discourage tourists. The likely effects on wildlife and the environment were less important than being tough. 

Even the rightwing journalists of the Spectator have been constrained to criticise the police for the ludicrous overreaction to gaining new powers in the C-virus crisis.

This is the article

" 'A hysterical slide into a police state. A shameful police force intruding with scant regard to common sense or tradition. An irrational overreaction driven by fear.' These are not the accusations of wild-eyed campaigners, they come from the lips of one our most eminent jurists Lord Sumption, former Justice of the Supreme Court."

Giving the police extra powers under any pretext is a stupid move. It is a knee-jerk reaction to the government's previous refusal to take the C-virus seriously and their continued failure to protect key workers from the virus.

The police themselves have suffered from Tory cuts and they have had many officers taken out of the equation by self-isolation. However, there are some police officers for whom brute force and ignorance is the only solution for any problem.

To give Boris Badenough (and therefore his puppet master Dominic C) dictatorial powers for an unlimited period will be an example of a cure being worse than the disease.

The working class (mainly the trade union and political activists) will draw the appropriate conclusions from the abject and pathetic failure of capitalism to cope with the C-virus.

It is a good thing, for example, that NHS staff are no longer being charged for parking at NHS hospitals. The scandal is that they were ever charged in the first place. And Boris Badenough supported every austerity measure which made such penny-pinching inevitable.

Capitalism is incapable of dealing with this crisis. The profits of billionaires like Branson are more important than the lives of key workers. Socialism could be the only way out of this situation. Listen to how people are talking in the street. This system has let them down catastrophically and the Labour movement needs to provide answers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Criticising the Rep

In theory, the school union rep is elected annually and no doubt there are schools in which this actually happens. More frequently the rep turns up at the meeting and announces they can no longer do the job for family/workload/sanity reasons and calls for volunteers to take over.
Everybody sits on their hands.
The rep is persuaded to stay on for another year. Often there is applause.
One of the growing number of headteachers who are union members was invited by mistake to a government seminar for heads. The speaker, a master of the flip chart, made a list of the problems which heads have to contend with. One was “the union rep.”
The union head innocently asked how this problem should be dealt with. They were told “load them with more and more work until they shut up.” Other heads laughed at this excellent joke.
The union head did receive an apology after the event but the attitude which led to this faux pas is still unfortunately with us.
There is another role in the union, that of criticising the rep. This is one for which there is no end of volunteers.
Did anyone deduce from this that I ended up being the union rep? It was, in fact, a very positive experience but there was a downside as I have indicated.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Socialist Party online meeting

The Brighton Socialist Party has invited me to a meeting tomorrow. It will be an online meeting (obvs) and will be about the lessons of the Poll Tax campaign.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Beyond the barricade, is there a world you want to see?

This is a first-class film. We were surprised to come out of the cinema and find out it had been three hours since we went in. The momentum of the film never stops and there are some fantastic performances by Hugh Jackman as the convict, Jean Valjean, Anne Hathaway as the sacked factory worker, Fantine and Russell Crowe as police officer, Javert, . The comic talents of Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron-Cohen provide a counterpoint to the serious side of the story.

“Les Miserables” (powerful words inadequately translated as “the poor”) are the focus of the original story. It is not a narrative Hollywood was likely to like. Tom Hooper concentrates on the romance at the expense of the social message. Nevertheless, they have not succeeded in emasculating the story.

The story, based on a two-volume 19th Century novel by Victor Hugo is not miserable at all because it contains within it a message of hope that things can be changed.

It is worth comparing the revolutionaries in Les Miserables with those other revolutionaries in a 19th Century novel – the bloodstained monsters depicted in Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” Although the revolution of 1830 was defeated, Victor Hugo sees the revolutionaries as human beings and evokes sympathy for the cause for which they are fighting.

To say it is a revolutionary film would be pushing it. It is a film about revolution and about the appalling injustices of society but the message is about individual salvation through love.

The central character, Jean Valjean, is imprisoned for five years for stealing a loaf of bread, then another 14 for trying to escape (not an exaggeration of the penal code of the period). On release he is condemned to carry a yellow passport – an ID card which is as effective as a brand. Even outside the prison, he is not free.

A priest  seeks to redeem him with an act of kindness and (without retelling the whole story) the narrative rests on the consequences of that act of kindness.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the original story is the casting of a policeman, a perfectly respectable upholder of the law with no sympathy for the poor, as a villain. We are accustomed to seeing “crooked cops” but Javert isn’t crooked; he is as straight as he can be according to his lights. He simply enforces an unjust law because it is not his place to change it.

The most powerful scenes involve the street fighting in Paris during the 1830 revolution and the idealism of students and young people who are depicted as simply and selflessly fighting for the poor of their own city.

“Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!”

Without the music the words give you some idea of the emotions stirred by the powerful song. I am aware that people talk cynically about “not a dry eye in the house” but it really is an accurate description of how people in the audience respond to this.

In the final scene the selflessness is rewarded when, with Les Miserables, they ascend to heaven. Dickens, for all his compassion, would have had them going to the other place!

The same songs are repeated with a different emphasis at different times in the film but the message of what happens when society offers no future to the poorest members of the community could not be clearer. We really will all be in it together!

“At the end of the day there's another day dawning
And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise
Like the waves crash on the sand
Like a storm that'll break any second
There's a hunger in the land
There's a reckoning still to be reckoned and
There's gonna be hell to pay
At the end of the day!” 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

C Virus - windfall for profiteers

Whether you are under house arrest, self-isolating or just working from home, that C virus has a lot to answer for.

Yet it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Budgens supermarket has attracted media attention by hiking the price of a toilet roll by 60 percent. All the supermarkets are expanding their workforce in hope of making a killing (no pun intended). Will their underpaid employees benefit from the largesse of the millionaires who own the supermarkets? This is not likely.

The government's response to the C virus has been to hand out money to the rich with the promise that some of it will trickle down to the working class. In the past, such schemes have always seen the money remain attached to the sticky fingers of the millionaires. They didn't get where they are today by being generous to their employees.

McDonalds, before they were forced to close, were trying to get their employees to work without basic protection like hand sanitiser. You can bet the bosses were well protected from the virus.

As reported in The Socialist Richard Branson has demanded billions from the taxpayer while insisting the people who make his money for him can manage without any for eight weeks.

And if the working classes start getting uppity because they are not being paid? Boris Badenough has 20000 troops on standby, just in case.

The TUC has been co-operating with the government. It is time for the union leaders to take the government warmly by the throat and insist that the working class should not pay the price for this crisis.

If the TUC were to get off its knees it would find there is a lot of support in the country. Listen to what people are saying in the supermarket queues. There is a lot of anger which needs to be channelled by the Labour movement.

The Socialist Party has proposed a Workers' Charter to fight the C Virus. The link is here