- The 5:2 inventor on ‘mini fasts’ and his new secret to rapid weight loss
- Review of Baia Azul Hotel Funchal Portugal
- Wheel in the Daleks, Doctor — whatever it takes to exterminate the BBC’s bias
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- More American Aggression: The War Against the Turkish Lira
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Category Archives: Politics & Random Musings
Dr Michael Mosley is in the business of making people healthier, not upsetting them. Whether he is talking about people struggling with eating habits, or the food industry pushing unhealthy snacks, he always chooses his words carefully. But the man who revolutionised eating with the 5:2 diet is frustrated by the speed at which things change.
NHS nutritional advice tells us first about the importance of eating your five-a-day, and then it says that your meals should be mainly based on starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. So the NHS is telling us to keep up bodies constantly charged with carbohydrates, as if we have learnt nothing about the benefits of the intermittent fasting that was popularised by Dr Mosley. Continue reading
But we are not quite on that track yet, because my daughter continues to watch past series of Doctor Who — in fact, she watches them when the current series is on.
She wants a Dalek fix, much as we all do from time to time. What she doesn’t want, she says, is to be struck over the head each week by the monkey wrench of fatuous BBC liberal propaganda, with a few crap aliens thrown in here or there as a sop.
A perfectly balanced, all-boxes-ticked, ethnic and gender-balanced team trying to help Rosa Parks sit where she wants on that bus (episode three), or partition in India, the consequence of British wickedness, in which Muslims show how absolutely bloody marvellous they are (episode six), or the misogyny of witch trials and so on and so on.
My kid isn’t alone. The audience for the current series has dropped by more than a third. The kids don’t like it — they get all that tendentious rubbish at school “enrichment” class, when they should be learning how to add up. Me, I’m down with the kids. They’re right. Continue reading
Why is the war raging against the Turkish lira?
More accurately what is going on can be described as a battle against the Turkish lira as part of a war to protect the position of the U.S. dollar.
With a huge proportion of external debt denominated in dollars; some $300 billion in private as opposed to government debt amounting to about 50% of Turkish GDP, Turkey is an easy target. That the U.S. has a political beef with Turkey is merely a bonus.
Remembering that, for the United States, maintaining the position of the dollar as a reserve currency is key to the survival of the country, this war is very important.
What we are seeing at the moment is an inevitable response to the ongoing process of de-dollarisation.
There will be responses and counter-responses but the biggest single risk, in my opinion, is that the actions currently being taken by the United States tend, whether successful or not, to lead to the outcome that is least desired by the U.S. Continue reading
Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Donald Trump and Meghan Markle and not three obvious names you might think are likely to come together in one article.
What about I throw some Brexit in?
In an internet forum discussion (ostensibly on Donald Trump but frequently on other things) recently, a bloke said this to me:
Read up on Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi and his views: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_von_Coudenhove-Kalergi#Views_on_race_and_religion
Well, I’d never heard of Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi. But from the link I found an interesting quote:
“The man of the future will be of mixed race. Today’s races and classes will gradually disappear owing to the vanishing of space, time, and prejudice. The Eurasian-Negroid race of the future, similar in its appearance to the Ancient Egyptians, will replace the diversity of peoples with a diversity of individuals.”
I’ve often thought this was someone’s “grand plan” for humanity. If you go back through popular culture, you’ll find it everywhere for decades as a gentle sort of propaganda.
The media is foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a war between North Korea and the USA. Is a nuclear war likely between North Korea and the USA? Are Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un likely to go to … Continue reading
Although fifties-styled clothing was not readily available in High Street stores, revivalists were catered for by small shops, who frequently sold goods through small adverts in music papers. Perhaps one of the best known is Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop at 430 King’s Road, Chelsea, which opened in 1971 as ‘Let it Rock.’
The shop initially sold original fifties clothes, but Westwood soon started to produce new copies to sell.
These were not exact copies; colours tended to be brighter than the fifties originals, and featured camp detailing like fake fur or lurex trim.
As a youth tribe, the new Teds in Britain were not far removed from the skinheads. Both movements were almost exclusively working class, and they were both known for racist behaviour and general aggression.
But the teddy boys were far more flamboyant, from their gaudy suits to their authentically charged style of dancing. Even their choice of car was crucial-in the mid 1980s, a car magazine, commenting on the very American looking Ford Consul Capri of 1962, noted that many of the surviving vehicles had tears in the cushion of the driver’s seat-attributed by the magazine as being caused by metal combs sticking out of the seat pockets of the driver’s trousers.
Teddy boys were still around at the dawn of the punk age; indeed, contemporary pictures show than some punks adopted a certain amount of punk gear, with drainpipe jeans or trousers being notably popular (no flares!).
Not that the two factions were united-Poly Styrene, the leader of the punk rock group X-Ray Spex had her market stall of kitsch trashed by a gang of teds. But by the end of the seventies, only the most dedicated of teds remained.
The fifties had by then featured in several high-profile films and television shows, most notably Grease and Happy Days. Although these were American products, they both had a considerable impact in Britain too.
By the 1980s, nostalgic perception of the 1950s was quite different to what it was in the previous decade. In the 80s, cod-1950s style was far more archetypally American, typified by the leather jacket/blue jeans/white 6 t-shirt look. Although the yearning for the past survived, any historical accuracy had been obliterated. Continue reading
This is a large estate on the edge of a village, built within a small forest, the construction of which required annihilation of most of the foliage. All the roads are named after trees, and the style of houses all 7 conformed to an olde-worlde stereotype of leaded windows, canopies over front doors and fake half timbering. But why do so many people favour the traditional over the modern? It would appear that to many, the past offers reassurance and security. In Traditional Interiors, which is a book from the USA published by the Architectural Review, the notion is suggested that “In a marvellously comforting way, the past is forever there; the rules are established; the mistakes have been eliminated.
A sort of purification has taken place, and the trends of the moment have been eliminated”2 . The idea of the traditional being away from the realm of fashion is an important one when considering architecture, or home fittings and furnishings. Nothing dates as quickly as the ultra contemporary, and as the purchase of a home and/or its furnishings represent a considerable outlay, people tend to be wary about that which will date quickly. Traditional designs are a safe option; while they will never be terribly fashionable, they probably will never be particularly unfashionable either. Another interesting parallel to note is that both the inter war years and the period from the eighties on have both been periods of remarkable growth in domestic consumer technologies. While the earlier period saw the introduction of scheduled radio and limited television broadcasts and increasing ubiquity of the telephone, the later one has so far.
Traditional interiors. Los Angeles : Knapp, 1979. 8 seen mobile phones, powerful computers, the emergence of the internet and a glut of television channels all become a part of everyday life. The unprecedented levels of mass communication achieved in both of these eras served to considerably alter perception of time and space-speeding life up as well as making information ever more accessible. In a world where the unfamiliar constantly becomes the normal, people can feel the need for something tangible and familiar to grasp on to.
The future is not the certainty of an exciting new world that it was in the two decades following the cessation of WW2. Indeed, the problems associated with modern design and architecture of this period are well remembered, and add to a suspicion of the ‘new.’ Even the lack of regional variation in recently built estates can be perceived as offering reassurance. In an age where people’s jobs can easily lead to them relocating to an unfamiliar part of the country, the similarity these developments have to each other almost eliminates the need to get used to the new area, which is something that seems to have been happening over the last couple of decades in terms of global standardisation as well.
The irony is, though, that people who are quite happy to live in a modern ‘traditional’ home, with ‘traditional’ furniture could also be the kind that would turn down living in a genuinely old (but modernised) house or owning antique furniture. This is illustrated in a brilliant quote from a book on the Channel Four series Sign of the Times (broadcast in 1992) which was a show about the nation’s taste in home décor. One of the participants said that “I’m put off real antiques because to me they look old and sort of Barker, Nicholas and Martin Parr. Signs of the Times: A portrait of the nation’s Tastes.
In summary, domestic nostalgia, despite its detractors, offers the consumer a retreat from the high speed world that we live in. The mistakes made post war in relation to ‘the new’ have remained in people’s consciousness for a long time, and even today, the traditional is associated with quality, and a slower, more peaceful world. It is a completely idealised vision of the past, but because of this rose tinted depiction, a home built or decorated in this style provides a symbolically safe environment for its occupiers. Continue reading
Along with the Lido to the south, the Ocean Hotel (sometimes known as the Grand Ocean Hotel) is another fine example of thirties seaside architecture in the south coast village of Saltdean.
Indeed, it was constructed by the developers responsible for the Lido and much of the actual village, the saltdean Estate Company, formed by speculator Charles Neville in 1924.
The Ocean Hotel was acquired by Butlins and opened its doors for business in May of 1953 after an extensive refurbishment. Six months of hard work had gone into restoring the near-derelict building to its former glory.
As luck would have it the hotel turned out to be excellent investment for Sir Billy Butlin. With its close proximity to the bright lights and night-life of Brighton, the hotel proved a very popular destination for honeymooners throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies.
It stayed in their ownership until Rank Leisure, the owner of Butlins, put all of the Butlins hotels up for sale in 1998. They went to the Grand Hotel Group.
There is so little demand for accommodation in the hotel now, that plans are being made to house asylum seekers there, which is currently rousing local protest.
Unfortunately, the front view from the hotel (which faces north-east) was blighted in the 1950s when the countryside opposite it was redeveloped for housing.
However, the hotel appears to be in good condition, retaining many original features, including glass-brick columns flanking the main entrance, and the mouldings on the ceiling of the foyer. Due to its slightly off the beaten track location, it is not somewhere you would find without looking for it, but it is a beautiful building. Continue reading
Embassy Court is one of the most striking buildings on the seafront at Brighton and Hove, although the reasons for this have differed over the years.
When built in 1935, the building contrasted sharply with the more sedate and ornamental architecture of King’s Road; but by the 1990s, the structure drew comment because of its terribly run down nature.
The building made the local press after chunks of render and windows fell from the building onto the street below, and it appeared until recently that it may suffer the same ignominious fate met by the West Pier sat opposite it, which finally succumbed to the elements (and arsonists) in early 2004.
Luckily this proved not to be the case – a consortium formed by residents and owners were able to wrestle the freehold of the building from the previous ineffectual management company, and with the assistance of the Conran group, restoration commenced in 2004.
The decline of Embassy Court was all the more worrying due to its significance in architectural terms. Although there are several blocks of flats in the Art Deco style in Brighton and Hove, none encapsulates the boldness or prominence of Embassy Court. The building was designed by the architect Wells Coates, a Canadian/Japanese designer acknowledged as one of the masters of the machine aesthetic of the 1930s.
One year previous to this, Coates had been responsible for the design of the Isokon flats in Hampstead, London, which were intended to provide affordable housing with a communal slant, and in the year that Embassy Court was completed, one of Coates’ most iconic designs appeared on the market – the striking Ekco AD65 radio set, housed in a perfectly circular bakelite cabinet, and now highly collectable.
Embassy Court was intended to be luxurious, and this was reflected in the well off (and sometimes famous) occupants in the building’s early life.
One of the features of the building was a restaurant in the basement to cater for residents; and even though this meant that kitchens in the flats were rather small, they still featured built-in cupboards with integrated Electrolux refrigerators, a feature practically unheard of in British homes of the period. The building also incorporated the first ever penthouse flats to be built in the UK.
Like the Isokon flats, Embassy Court was uncompromisingly modern; the sole concession made to integrate the building with its neighbours was the way that the windows were designed to line up with those of its neighbour.
However, such was the contrast between the two styles of architecture, such a subtle gesture went largely unnoticed. The failure of the building to blend in with its surroundings was a frequent criticism, but its appearance found favour with one very significant man. That man was Herbert Carden, who had been a town councillor for Brighton since 1895.
Carden was a great believer in what was referred to as Municipal Socialism, and had been responsible for the formation of Greater Brighton in 1928, leading to a knighthood in 1930. So taken was Carden with Embassy Court, that in a booklet commemorating the Royal Jubilee in 1935, plans for the complete reconstruction of the seafront area were revealed, which would have entailed mass demolition of the original Georgian properties to make way for a slew of new and ultra modern blocks.
Thankfully, such destruction did not go ahead, leaving Embassy Court as the only modern building on the seafront until the construction of the Cavendish hotel and the Kingswest Centre in the 1960s.
By the time that these two buildings were constructed, Embassy Court was in physical decline, a situation exacerbated by a cheap and shoddy programme of refurbishment in the 1960s. The fabric of the building was also in poor condition; the steel framed windows were highly vulnerable to the salty sea air, as was the steel reinforcement of the concrete structure of the flats.
Maintenance work on the block was skimped, and by the late 1990s, the block had a reputation that was at best bohemian, and at worst, downright dodgy. The proliferation of absentee landlords did not help matters, and it appeared that the block would face more years of neglect until it was razed to the ground, despite listed status.
The state of the building was so poor that it was impossible to get a mortgage on any of the flats; and it was not until the management company Bluestorm formed by residents were able to gain control of the building at the turn of the 21st Century that work could commence on reviving the block.
This is currently in process, with repairs being carried out both externally and internally, with the intention being to restore the block to something approaching its original state, although with some modernisation such as the replacement of the centralized heating and hot water system with individual units for each flat; but it would appear that once more Embassy Court will become a building that strikes one because of its unique and uncompromising appearance rather than the semi-dereliction that had affected it for such a long time.
The pictures on this page were taken in 2001, long before any work had started, and show how poor the condition of the block was externally. At the time of writing, work is being completed on the restoration of the side of the building that faces the seafront, and the scaffolding that shrouds it is due to come down soon. Continue reading
The De La Warr Pavilion was erected between 1934 and 1935 in the otherwise sleepy seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, following a competition held by the mayor, Earl De La Warr. He sought a design for a new leisure complex for the town, and this was to be the winning entry.
The design was by Eric Medelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, both celebrated designers of the modern movement. It was truly a stunning design, with a welded steel frame and cantilevered staircases, and even today it is considered to be one of the most significant modern movement building in the United Kingdom.
Although the building has never been subject to some of the indignities or neglect that many of its contemporaries have, over the decades there had been some unsympathetic ‘modernisation’. Happily, the pavillion has been Grade 1 listed since 1986, and the building is currently undergoing a gradual but sympathetic restoration. Continue reading