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77 year-old Terry Hutt (no relation to Jabba) camped outside St Mary’s Hospital in London awaiting the royal birth
77 year-old Terry Hutt (no relation to Jabba) camped outside St Mary’s Hospital in London awaiting the royal birth

A human female has miraculously given birth to a human baby and everyone seems very pleased, if by everyone you mean the mythical, classless, fawningly deferential Great British Public conjured up the TV news.

This year, millions of people will modestly reproduce with little fanfare outside their immediate social circle. But when a rich lady who married into planet Earth’s foremost line of inbred genetic mutants does the same, the media seizes it on as a cause for jubilation. Kate Mountbatten-Windsor has strenuously plopped another organism out of herself like a fleshy Thunderbird 2 messily depositing Thunderbird 4, and that deserves respect. So does every other act of reproduction in the world.

Having gone through the most obsessed-over gestation in human history, George Alexander Louis Mountbatten-Windsor can get on with gurgling and defecating obliviously while the rest of us are subjected to constant updates on his progress. Thankfully, though, there has been a principled whimper in amongst the general sycophantic uproar, as left-wing writers take the media to task for its nauseating deference, eye-wateringly pro-Royal bias and general un-journalistic conduct.

The reliably excellent Laurie Penny meditates on the grim contrast between the royal birth and how we portray teenage single mothers with her standard panache. The Mirror’s Brian Reade says what we can assume a fair slice of the population is thinking about the insane levels of Baby Cambridge coverage. And in a simple, humble press release, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett congratulates every new parent in Britain whose offspring will have to share their birthday with their eventual unelected head of state.

The Bemolution wishes the Royal Sprog a nice life. We’d even go so far as to say we were pleased it was a boy – in an era when the pressures on young women to be slim and flawlessly attractive at all times are already unbearable, the life of a prospective Princess of Cambridge would’ve been a paparazzi-hounded nightmare. Since it was a he not a she, its existence will be moderately easier.

But for a more politically sound end, we’ll finish by quoting Keir Hardie’s speech to parliament marking the birth of Prince Edward, heir to the throne, in 1894: ‘from his childhood onwards this boy will be surrounded by sycophants and flatterers and be taught to believe himself as of a superior creation. A line will be drawn between him and the people whom he is to be called upon some day to reign over … and the end of it all will be that the country will be called upon to pay the bill’.

Laurie Penny: http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2013/07/babies-we-dont-care-about

Brian Reade: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/royal-baby-news-wish-wills-2079208

Natalie Bennett: http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/07/22/green-party-leader-congratulates-todays-1983-(estimated)-new-parents-in-britain/


John Sentamu and the Living Wage

John Sentamu with Rowan Williams
John Sentamu with Rowan Williams

Organised religion is an eternally frustrating phenomenon. Spouting bigotry, spreading ignorance and fermenting irrational hatreds, it’s grown rich at the expense of millions of earnest on-the-ground believers. On the other hand, it can occasionally shock by actually doing what it says on the tin, preaching love and compassion in the public realm. Since the establishment is less wary of vicars than shouty socialists, some of the more radical commentary that manages to poke its way into the mainstream comes from religious figures. Ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams somehow managed to combine being one of the most prominent critics of the post-crisis socioeconomic status quo with heading one of the country’s most conservative institutions. Archbishop of York John Sentamu is a more difficult figure – funny, charismatic, passionately for social justice, but, at the same time, still holding firm to the Church’s standard Neanderthal view on homosexuality and gay marriage. Here, though, in a brief, brilliantly clear bit of writing, he makes the case for the Living Wage.

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/20/john-sentamu-living-wage-scandal

Crisis in Burma

Burmese Rohingyas sat in the boat they used to flee persecution
Burmese Rohingyas sat in the boat they used to flee persecution

This month we land in Myanmar, more typically known by its pre-military dictatorship name ‘Burma’, where decades of government-stoked prejudice against a Muslim minority have flared into violence, then humanitarian crisis, as some observers chillingly predict genocide.

Junta-ruled since its army seized power fifty years ago, Myanmar stands out as one of south-east Asia’s most profoundly troubled countries. Awareness of Burma’s repressive military leadership is unusually high in the West, largely thanks to high-profile political prisoner turned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Less publicised is its often abject poverty, widespread use of both child workers and child soldiers, popularity among human traffickers and, topically, institutionalised racism.

Last year, violent riots broke out in the country’s Arakan region. Buddhist and Muslim Burmese clashed after it was alleged that a group of the latter gang-raped one of the former. In retaliation, ten Muslims were murdered by incensed Buddhists. Thereafter violence quickly escalated and the Burmese army was sent in to keep the peace. It wasn’t long before soldiers were accused of leading rather than preventing attacks on Muslims. Continue reading “Crisis in Burma”

You Need Love (Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton)

Noisy but chart-friendly ‘60s psychedelic pop-rockers The Yardbirds sound embarrassingly tame by 2012 standards, but at the time their experimental forays into feedback, fuzz tone, distortion and a plethora of other then-radical guitar effects marked them out as the bold innovators of the pre-Hendrix era. They also churned out three of the most famous guitarists in rock and roll history, which isn’t exactly a bad record of achievement. Jimmy Page went on to pioneer the crunchy proto-metal of Led Zeppelin, the most influential band of the 1970s, Eric Clapton sprung from the ‘Birds to Cream to solo success with his wholesome blues-rock, while Jeff Beck, the strangest and the best, was nowhere near as successful as either but by far the most interesting. Continue reading “You Need Love (Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton)”

Stagger Lee (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)

Having spent three days squinting into its goggle-box eighteen miles due east of the festival site, the Bemolution is almost qualified to pass judgement on what variously went down on Worthy Farm last weekend. That said, being ill-informed has never stopped us before, and it’s sure as mud not going to stop as now.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best bits of Glastonbury had absolutely nothing to do with the bombastically-billed headliners. It was Night Of The Living Dead both biologically and artistically speaking over on the Main Stage come Saturday night, as the Rolling Stones creaked their way through a rambling set of their greatest hits. It was fairly entertaining at times, but so are two monkeys fighting over half a fig. Continue reading “Stagger Lee (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)”