7 December 2016

So will Trump 'drain the swamp' or will he jump across it?

When America voted for 'President Trump' they seemed to be voting for someone who they believed would burst the 'Washington bubble'. Today, I wonder if they think that their man will actually do that or have they actually put the fox in the chicken coop?

When voting for Trump, as opposed to Clinton, the voters seemed to believe that they needed someone who was 'their' representative rather than a career politician. By extension, they also seemed to believe that Trump would make decisions in their favour rather than in favour of Washington and Washington lobbyists. But, whilst they seemed to want a businessman in the Presidency, they seem to have ignored that, being a dealmaker, Trump may well bring the perspective of a businessman to his decision making. Is Trump actually going to make decisions which favour the ordinary voter and which are damaging to business more generally.

Trump's latest comments about the cost of Boeing's new 'Airforce One' are a case in point. Yes, a budget, which could reach $4bn, is eye-watering for two airplanes but, when he is fully informed, will Trump cancel the project? Will Trump go up against the military-industrial complex which has a track record of going over-budget on most projects and which has powerful friends 'in the swamp' who are all members of the Republican Party.

It will be interesting to find out what Trump actually meant when he referred to 'draining the swamp' and it will be equally interesting to see how he enacts that promise and if the voters feel that he is still 'their man'.

1 December 2016

I was getting worried..........

Given that I will have a busy social diary over the festive season, I was really worried that I might not have the right shoes for stepping out. Then I saw this article and realised that my worries were over.

The article observes:
With the appeal of conspicuous consumption waning, Buscemi and like-minded brands are emphasizing the uniqueness of well-made products, and the value of providing an experience for today's luxury consumer.
"Buscemi is an incredibly smart combination of modern and traditional luxury," says Ana Andjelic, senior vice president and global strategy director at Havas LuxHub, a consulting firm specializing in the luxury sector.
"He provides ammunition for one's lifestyle and creates culture codes -- versus status symbols -- that express certain tastes. Luxury today is less about having money to buy something expensive, and more about having taste to know what to buy."

Aha, now I get it, conspicuous consumption is on the wane and proof is in this pair of $132,000 trainers. Aren't you relieved?

29 November 2016

An email to Eric Bristow

Mr Bristow,

I read with great disappointment your comments in relation to the abuse scandal which is coming to light in professional football. Speaking as someone who, as a boy, watched the rector of our school target the more vulnerable pupils, I am all too aware how damaging and long-lasting his actions were.

Given the comments that have been attributed to yourself, it is unsurprising that abused individuals would remain silent, about their experiences, in their adult lives. If your comments have been reported accurately, they make you complicit in the abuse in that your attitude decreases the chance of the abuse ever being publicised. 

I hope that you will reconsider your comments, possibly by apologising to the courageous individuals who have had the courage to speak out. You might also thank them for making the abuse public so that other youngsters might now be saved from the same experiences. 

Yours sincerely, 

Niall Connolly

17 November 2016

Another butt-plug

Its best to try and maintain some sort of perspective when considering current events and, certainly over the last couple of months, a sense of perspective has been something of a necessity. Brexit was a bit of a shock although the cavortings of the various interested parties has lent an air of farce to the proceedings. And now we have Trump in the White House which is following the Brexit template and providing plenty of entertainment, even if the idea itself is somewhat disturbing. Oddly, one common element between the two has been the presence of Homer Simpson, otherwise known as Nigel Farage, who seems to be determined to hitch his wagon, and that of his comrades, to Trump's unreality show. But, again, this is just an echo of the behaviour of Bliar's seeking a relationship with Dubya and maybe Farage will fulfil the same purpose. I can't think of a better candidate.

Lets hope that when the Republicans decide to do away with The Donald, Farage isn't at his side or he may become collateral damage. But there again.................

1 October 2016

A good man, gone too soon...........

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Michael Fraser-Hopewell. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Michael was a resident of Somerton and, in late 2009, became one of the leading lights in the opposition to an industrial development at Badger's Cross, on the outskirts of the town. It was during that period that I first met Michael and he struck me as someone with great spirit and determination.

In October of 2009, Somerton Town Council staged a mass resignation and Michael, with the commitment that was his hallmark, stepped up and sought election to the new Town Council. The election was held in early 2010 with Michael being elected to the new Town Council and subsequently being elected Chair.

Michael led the Town Council with clarity and he was clearly determined to set a raised standard with regard to the Council's behaviour and conduct. He also sought to make the Council's activities as transparent as possible.

Sadly, his election as Chair made him a lightning conductor for the animus borne both by those who resigned and by their associates. Thus, the next 30 months of Michael's life was, in part, taken up attempting to deal with attacks of a personal and professional nature and those attacks finally led to his stepping down from the Council in May of 2012.

Michael bore this trial with characteristic stoicism and, whilst his spirit was intact, the experience certainly took its toll on his health.

I met with Michael on a number of occasions since May 2012 and it was clear that he had put the experience of the Council behind him. He had more time to concentrate on the house and the garden and his craft skills were self-evident.

Michael was a thoroughly decent man who had a mischievous smile and a great sense of humour. He was committed to his family and I cannot begin to consider the sense of loss that must be experienced by them. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends.

23 September 2016

Temporary insanity?

Kathy Miller, a campaign chair for Donald Trump in Ohio, has resigned because of comments that she made regarding the current state of race relations in America. Miller is quoted on the Guardian website as saying:

“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you,” she said.
“You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly."
“I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this … Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”

Now, Kathy Miler may well be a 'rogue chair', a 'lone wolf' working on their own and misrepresenting the Trump campaign and Trump's own beliefs. But I doubt it. Just as we have seen here in the UK, post-Brexit, there is a permission in Trump's public pronouncements which encourages others to give in to their basest beliefs. Maybe Kathy Miller was just describing what America is likely to be like should Trump succeed in his presidential campaign. The Brexiteer's views seem benign in comparison.

PS Have a look at another view of a Trump presidency here.

28 August 2016

Locking the gate...........

The Guardian carries an interesting piece about public opposition to high-rise buildings in London quoting Heritage England saying that historic London's skyline is under threat. Its an interesting article which really proves just how short our 'community memory' actually is.

If your knowledge of London extends back, say, 5 years, then you might take Heritage England's comments seriously but if, like me, your memory goes back 10 or 20  or 30 years, you will know that London's historic street scene has been steadily eroded for decades.

Possibly the first time that I paid any attention to the damaging impact of unrestrained development was in the 1980's when I became aware of the opposition to the redevelopment of Little Britain, just off London Wall. At the time I seem to remember that a group of 5 and 6 storey victorian buildings were to be demolished to make way for an office block and photographer Malcolm Tremain made some images of the area as it was then. Its fair to say that Britain, at that time, was a pretty grim place but the perceived wisdom of the time was not to renovate or refurbish but to demolish and rebuild in a glossy and superficial manner with little reference to, or interest in, the past.

Now this might suggest that I agree, to some extent, with Prince Charles about the state of British architecture but I don't. Anyone who has visited Poundbury will know that Prince Charles embraces a 'theme park' view of what he thinks is British architecture, all façadism and no substance. How much better might it have been had the good Prince campaigned to protect  worthy original buildings, like those in Little Britain, ensuring that, at the same time, they might be juxtaposed with contemporary architecture of the highest aesthetic and build quality. Instead, the Prince promoted facadists like Quinlan Terry who seek to perpetuate the past through their apeing of what their selective interest suggests the past looked like, ignoring what it actually was.

The Guardian article, about the threat posed to London by the wave of applications for 'tall buildings', ignores the fact that historic London has all but been erased (certainly in the the Square Mile) leaving only the street plan as a guide to the past. These new developments have nothing to do with London's heritage and everything to do with making money, which, more today than in previous decades, is the only reason to build anything. And the continually overheating London property market will ensure that this remains the case, as long as our selective inattention allows us to ignore it.