rashbre central: June 2019

Sunday 30 June 2019


I listened to Sheryl Crow at the weekend, live from Glastonbury. I realised that Sheryl Crow's second album must have been one of the last albums I played in the order intended, before all of the trixyness of playlists kicked in.

I'd changed jobs and ordered a new company car, which was going to take a while to arrive. So I'd hung on to my blue car with its trusty cassette player and that's where Sheryl lived. My daily commute in those early days was about one side of a C90 and so Sheryl would often accompany my trips to the office.

I'd hitch a ride with a vending machine repairman, take the I 95 down to Pensacola, put on a poncho and play for mosquitos, and beat around the streets like Bandini looking for Camilla.

That was 1998, and I've clocked a few miles since those days. Sheryl said she'd written the second album to get under peoples' skin. Yes, and it makes me happy.

Saturday 29 June 2019

sunshine city

It's officially Glastonbury season now, with the BBC providing BBC Radio Glastonbury as well as comprehensive coverage on TV. Not forgetting Worthyfm.com.

It's a chance to review the year's artists driven increasingly from playlists instead of physical product. Fragmentation is coming on strong. Somehow the Beeb coverage still doesn't convey the vastness of the event, with its one hour walks from venue to venue and tents all along the horizon.

The Other Stage is dwarfed in this snapshot from the stone circle and the top of the Pyramid is just visible.

This festival needs the map more than most, with an estimated population of 200,000 spead over 800 acres.

We've been to other festivals this year. Noticeable is the rising standard of the food on offer. Instead of simply burgers and kebabs, there's an altogether more street food vibe nowadays. That's notwithstanding the corporate tents promoting fizz or whatever.

It's a creeping elegance from the bookfairs and similar. Tom Kerridge does Pub in the Park, and there's a few ritzy festivals around Marlow and Henley too. This year Somerset is sunny, so no mud pictures (okay just one, maybe)

Wednesday 26 June 2019

wine crate bus time

Sometimes you just can't make it up as well as the professionals. "Here's one I made up earlier"

Saturday 22 June 2019

darker arts

Boris gets Royal Borough of K&C tickets for parking badly across multiple bays outside the house of Carrie Symonds. And tickets for not paying the congestion charge. Then it's tickets on tickets, slapped across his green Previa, ignoring the little people parking charges.

They are just a small bump on his £700k income from the Daily Telegraph and other retainers.

Then there's the spoiled posh boy brat that media-savvy Symonds identified in the recent row. No wonder they put a silencer on him during the down-selection and manage him closely whilst the 120k conservative sheep take their toxic no-deal vote. It'll take more than a few pills to remediate the rampant clowning. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ERG and Lynton Crosby have it all worked out. Meanwhile, flash boys short the market, hoping for more examples of Farage's market manipulating antics.

The years of lies of bogus Boris illustrate he doesn't care. Neither does Jacob Rees-Mogg. They, with their well-funded dark practitioners, have the Tory members where they want them - condoning the big take-down.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Postcards from the Edge: Sledge softly and carry a big mallet

A short walk along the edge of the bay and we could feel like we were in the middle of Europe. Sunshine, blue seas, all that kind of thing.

Meanwhile, the politicians had unscrewed the least insane voice from the debate about leaving Europe. It was all a matter of tactics, with the clown's dark operatives sledging the voting like a game of croquet.

Passengers boarded the ferry creating a metaphor for what is happening.

The rum and raisin ice cream was delicious.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2019

Along to Burlington House, for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Always interesting, and a great leveller, with its down-selection from 15,000 to around 1,000 art exhibits, with unknown aspiring artists rubbing frames with Royal Academicians. Last year the show was a little subversive, curated by Grayson Perry, and this year it returned to a more traditional format, under the eye of Jock McFadyen. It also seemed to be even more packed with art than usual, with the entrance area crammed with animal, painted, sculpted and even a tigerish tunnocks tea-cake (although I was bemused to see it also displayed M&S branding.

With this exhibition, I find myself walking around looking for the items that catch my eye, rather than studying them all in depth. There's so much on offer, filtered by the selection committee, and then curated into the rooms with their different themes. Inevitably I found myself gravitating towards some of the anchor points. A Wim Wenders street scene, Anselm Kiefer's unknown island in a treeless world.

There were some references to Brexit, perhaps less than I'd expected, but I suppose the political edit had probably also been performed as part of the curation. Recognise Jeremy Deller in this gallery? And in another, there was Bob and Roberta Smith curation of cosmic illustrations.

One of the more lasting images, for me, was of Parliament(voices in your head), represented by crows, picking through old newspapers.

I'll always pick up the small guide catalogue too, which features maybe one-third of the images. There's all of them listed in the show guide, a price list which ranges from £150 to £70-80,000 and beyond. And yes, it is impossible to gauge the prices with any accuracy.
Of course, that is not the point. There's a value beyond the island in the democratisation of the art on display.

Friday 14 June 2019


I was in a conversation with an architect recently and we were talking about designs for living. His role was to design on a bigger canvas and so it was about whole developments rather than individual buildings. Across the way, we talked about getting around and the idea of permeability. That's the way that a developer can build in the short cuts that pedestrians and cyclists will want to take, to make the whole place come alive.

I recognise the separate paths that run along the edges of fields and railways, clever underpasses and all manner of shortcuts to get anywhere.

Even central London has the cut-throughs, the alleyways and the paths across green areas to help move around. But there's a stealthy new kid in town.

I've just spent some time around Docklands, and its edges remind me of Moscow. In Moscow, there's individual security on the land around every building. It makes for some odd transitions, between well-manicured space and rubble-strewn untidiness. There are uniformed men to protect their piece of the real-estate and tell pedestrians to keep out.

So what's that got to do with London? Try areas of Docklands. As a typical pedestrian, I should be able to follow a route to a landmark, but a new styling blocks the route.

A fence here. A path that leads to a set of railings there. A barrier entry system. Blocked river and dockside access. Metal fences. Locked gates. Plastic chain link. Across what could otherwise be handy paths to create the permeability.

I've walked about in these areas before, and even made the adjustments where a DLR entrance only allows access from one direction or there's the need to skirt along the edge of a building against a traffic flow. I'll even take it for granted that some things are just built that way.

But it hides something. The individual estates don't want you to walk over their land. There's the signs, of course, "Private Property" once used for effect. Just as significantly, there's the estate railings or the colourful chain link that's been draped across any means of passage. It means that as a pedestrian, I'll have to turn away from the building I'm aiming for several times.

Even to have to cross to the opposite side of the road and then back again at one point. The whole of Canary Wharf isn't like this, of course. There are tunnels and malls that link huge areas together. The public realm is architected.

But say hello to the edge zones where the pernicious blocking of permeability occurs. AS well as Streets of London, welcome to the era of "Membership Pavements".

Sunday 9 June 2019


Watch "Chernobyl" I was WhatsApp'd. So I did.

It's all about filling the vacuum. I'm hazy about the facts. That in 1986, the Germans detected radiation that was too high in Sweden before the Russians came clean. The delays and modulations created by the apparatchiks of the Russian bureaucracy.

That a single reactor could potentially have wiped out most of Europe. With a historical perspective, this was ten years ahead of Three Mile Island, right on the edge of Europe.

Chernobyl showed the explosive melt-down of a reactor core. spraying graphite and nuclear dust into the atmosphere. Even the water glowed with ionisation with the extreme fusion let loose.

The series is based upon Alexievich’s book about Chernobyl, published in Russian more than ten years after one of the reactors at the Chernobyl power plant exploded.

The Russian hierarchical authorities do much to protect their reputation and to present "nothing to see here, move along" narratives both to the populous and to the media.

It's a dark tale, shot as workers struggle through contaminated water in a building burning with an irradiated haze. For television story-telling, some of the main actors have been compressed into single personalities. The physicist represents all physicists involved, some of the politicians represent the wider state. The firefighter and his family that are zoomed in upon becomes a proxy for many.

There's a kind of levelling irony that the series shows. After a Shakespearean rallying call, we see the politician Zharkov later being herded onto the same evacuation bus as everyone else.

There's a power gradient. It's downwards. "Do what I say or I'll have that soldier shoot you," exemplifies the state control and the compliance of many to the sometimes apparently irrational commands issued from central briefs, ill-informed to make decisions. Caricature, I know, for effect.

Like the device that was the use of the voice of reason scientists to state the way things would actually play. That was against the "cut the phone lines and no-one leaves" of authority. Seldom did the white-uniformed operations guys get to the grey suits. And when they did they were foaming at the mouth or projectile vomiting.

Confront the power with truth. The physicist explains to the politician, but “Yes, I worked in a shoe factory. And now I’m in charge.” comes the riposte, "have some vodka." It is L. Frank Baum territory but you have to look for the tin man, straw man and lion here. "Contain the spread of misinformation. That is how we keep the people from undermining the fruits of their own labour." The yellow brick road must be followed. Brick by graphite brick. The Central Committee prevails, justice must be blind.

And blind also the scientists that are represented by the Emily Watson character, Khomyuk. She has the omniscience of a showrunner, instantly working out that it is all too radioactive when the window is opened. It's signalling, of course; she is the brains that will face off to Gorbachov.

Then we get to it. The slope of power. The quest for promotion. Many are on this slippery pole and a few misbehave in ways that lead to the terrible outcome that Chernobyl represents.

It should really be a lesson - the cost of truth against the cost of lies? But current times suggest this isn't even on the radar.

Saturday 8 June 2019

box set flashback - never the Dane

Now the box set flashback shows that twenty years ago this leadership hopeful was off the rails like a Withnailian fishing trip- "I will never play the Dane."

In contrast, a similar weighty Boris spinning montage adds dozens of inappropriate colourful themes.

Like we are looking at the Netf(l)ix index wondering what to watch next.

These Nielsen lists worryingly illustrate time already consumed. But like a politiican's CV there's still notable ommissions.

Even with a part two, there's still insufficient data to build the whole picture.

As Marwood put it: "Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, and for once I'm inclined to believe Withnail is right. We are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell."

Friday 7 June 2019

Game Over floats over UK's economy like a Striking Viper

Game Over for the PM comes at the same time as Game Over for the economy, whilst the boys from Eton shout "bully-bully".

The financial institutions have fled, the car companies have declared they are getting out and the high street sinks into retail mayhem, led by a blighted knight.

A well-known trust fund has just crashed to its knees, shorted to oblivion. That Politico cartoon is becoming more accurate by the day.

All the while, we get a roll-call of squabbling politicians using wishful thinking to manoeuvre. Nothing has changed except the remaining length of the road.

Game Over might not float as prominently as in Striking Vipers, but it's there.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

it started before it starts

Trumpi revealed the contents of his executive briefcase when he said that the NHS was 'on the table' for trade talks. He subsequently changed his tune in an interview on morning television, when he retracted the statement.

Perhaps Boris Johnson's £350 million of red bus savings from Brexit will, instead, go to the USA to pay for NHS capabilities?

I notice that there's already a degree of US interest in the NHS. The supplier's list includes several well-known US-based companies. There's Cerner, for example.

Cerner Corporation is a Kansas-based supplier of health information technology solutions, services, devices and hardware. Then there's DXC Technology.

DXC Technology is an American multinational corporation, based in Tysons, Virginia that provides B2B IT services. And then there is Intersystems, a Cambridge, Massachusetts supplier of Electronic Patient Records.

I'm wondering if this is really the way to examine the supplier list? The longer lists show more of the pickle of suppliers in use.
Naturally, all of the consultancy houses are there, mostly with alliances with other suppliers. McKinsey (New York), Boston Consulting (Massachusetts), Deloitte (New York), GE Healthcare (Chicago), Oliver Wyman (owned by Marsh and McLennan, New York)... the lists go on.

Curious too, that all four of the big four are represented. Why have one consultancy when you can have several? An invoice of advisors, to use the collective noun.