Everything that was wrong about 2016 on a plate… or not

There’s a broad consensus, that 2016 has not been a great year. Perhaps it’s not been so bad for those who consider themselves ‘winners’ having voted for the UK to leave the EU or for Donald Trump to be Barack Obama’s successor, but the seemingly endless roll-call of celebrity deaths – many far short of average life expectancy – has put a bit of a dampener on things.

While social media has been awash with outpourings of public grief, many have been calling for some perspective, and for more consideration to be given to the refuges of Syria. It’ hard to argue that such a bewilderingly vast humanitarian crisis warrants more compassion than a few dead pop stars and whatnot, but I also understand the way losing a childhood hero or figure one deeply admires and whose work has had a significant cultural impact and has touched the lives of many has a sad resonance. It’s easier to feel something for someone with whom you’ve connected in some way through their music or moves than for large numbers of people of whom you know nothing. I’m not defending it. But by the same token, mourning the loss of an icon does not necessarily mean one feels nothing for the plight of those whose lives have been devastated by war. It’s not a binary question.

But while everyone has their own perspective on what’s made 2016 stand out as one of the (supposedly) worst years in living memory, what the equations of dead celebrities vs the suffering of millions of real people, leave vs remain, Trump vs Clinton (all of which tipped to the wrong side) reveal is a social division which is binary in the absolute.

Things have been heading this way for a fair while now: a vast mainstream culture is countered by an equally vast buy infinitely fragmented array of non-mainstream cultures. Big business is now the dominant force in politics: the role of ‘the people’ and the value placed on them by government has diminished to the point of being negligible. The idea that Brexit was in some way a ‘people-powered’ two-fingered salute to the establishment elite was a myth perpetuated by a bunch of establishment elite looking to con the malcontent in order to achieve their own ends. And while the numbers dependent on food banks continues to soar, so ‘the other half’ are comfortable with iPads for all the family and trips to Disneyland at half term.

Amidst all the shit, daily life goes on, and it’s also shit on a microcosmic scale. My experience today seemed to somehow encapsulate all that was wrong about 2016. Having been to Durham to visit the in-laws, we decided to treat ourselves with a detour toward Whitby to catch the sunset by the coast. The smoke rising from a fire on the moors partially obscured the setting sun, and so we stopped at a pub for food. It was 3:45pm. The doors were open, the lights on but in fact they were closed: the barman, sitting by the bar, was simply waiting for some of the residents to arrive. That’s rural pubs on a bank holiday in 2016, though. They simply can’t sustain opening all hours in the face of rising costs and big-business competition in more ‘key’ locations.

And so we found ourselves at Cross Butts Stables Restaurant. It looked homely enough, boasting locally-sourced produce and ‘proper’ food, cooked to order. It is, as I would later learn from their website, the place ‘Where town really does meet country’. Agh, shit.

We took our seats – well, a seat and a bench with an array of well-stuffed cushions, with squirrels, pheasants, a larger-than-life fox and various other wildlife carved into the towering uprights at the back – at the table hewn from an entire oak tree, not far from the roaring wood-burner and watched twilight’s last gleamings through the windows of the barn-sized conservatory building. Being vegetarian, I wasn’t too concerned by the lack of steak pies, but it might have helped if they’d mentioned that they’d run out before Mrs N ordered one rather than five minutes later.

The Great Yorkshire Brewing Company Lager I ordered had to be substituted too, as it ‘wasn’t pouring properly’. I went for a GYBC Cider instead: on arrival, it was the most lagery cider I’ve ever tasted, to the extent I was suspicious the contents of my glass corresponded with the Coors Light glass it arrived in. To be fair, my brie wellington was great, but the fact the meals were served on chopping boards was not. But 2016 in a single sentence: a portion of chips served in a plant-pot on top of a chopping board.

The game is over. The wheel has been reinvented. And a burger andchips on a rough-hewn chopping board with 3” terracotta pot on top costs £14.

Why does this infuriate me so? Because it’s pointless. It’s beyond frivolous. It’s hyping and pimping stuff and charging over the odds in the name of – what, exactly? It says ‘we’re doing this because we’re so cool’. It’s like Pulp’s ‘Common People’ has been put in the blender and rendered a compote by hipsters who think that charging double for the experience of being poor is the apogee of entrepreneurialism. It’s the celebration of the idea of quality produce, the dignity of labour, saving the planet by cutting air-miles, recreating the spirit of a golden age of simpler times in the cuntiest way imaginable.

2017 will see Trump step into his new role and, in all likelihood, the Tories will invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and lead the UK out of the EU. 2016 was not Armageddon, but merely the beginning of the end. Might as well enjoy the artisanal, thrice-cooked chips now before things get really bad….

 

cross-butts-hotel-and

Image from TripAdvisor

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Taking the Rage off the Page: December 2016 Spoken Word Dates

As is often the case, just when the diary is beginning to look a bit sparse, things happen. There are already things in the pipeline for 2017 – exciting, collaborative things amongst others – and 2016, having been a dismal year on so many levels, will find me back out and yelling at people a couple more times after what’s been my most active year on the spoken word circuit to date.

Two very different events will find me deliverying different sets at opposite ends of York on Saturday December 10th and Sunday December 11th.

The 10th is a fundraiser for Syria, hosted by one of my favourite poetry-writing activists, Laura Munteanu. It’s at the Fulford Arms from 6pm – 8pm. Entry is by donation. There will be a stall, and I will have books on it. ALL proceeds from sales of my books will go to the evening’s nonimated charity, Human Care Syria. The Facebook event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1797569633848781/

The 11th sees the official launch of the Stairwell Books anthology More Exhibitionism. I’m immensely proud, and flattered, to have had a short story selected for inclusion in this prestigious collection. Really, it’s a big deal. I may or may not read ‘Take a Picture’, but I will be performing in the intimate and sometimes intense setting of the conservatoy of The Exhibition pub on Bootham. It’s a 6:30pm start and will be done by 9pm. The Facebook event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/199613443778525/

Both events will be ace.

And in other news, the print and ebook edition of The Rage Monologues is available now via all international Amazon outlets and other on-line retailers around the globe.  https://www.amazon.co.uk/RAGE-Monologues-Christopher-Nosnibor/dp/1326822446/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480802810&sr=1-1 

Buy now and get it in time for Christmas. Give it to someone you love. Or maybe someone you hate.

Rage Book Cover copy

Corporate Christmas

This piece was penned with a view to fitting the ‘Black Friday’ theme of December’s Fictions of Every Kind spoken word night at The Wharf Chambers, Leeds, on 30th November 2015 (which, incidentally, was great, with a good mix of writers of outstanding quality, and a brilliant atmosphere in a super venue).

‘Corporate Christmas’ is a part of the ever-expanding and presently ongoing ‘Rage Monologues’ project, and as such, is designed first and foremost as a performance piece. However, as I’m aware my live performances are few and far between, and tend to take place in the north of England, there are may who won’t be able to hear this material. So, in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share this piece, which doesn’t feature in the tour edition pamphlet of The Rage Monologues, here.

Enjoy…

 

Corporate Christmas

It’s all about the money. But at a certain point, the money becomes theoretical. Top-flight executives, boards of directors, the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy, I get. No, that’s not true. What I get is that it takes a certain kind of person to become a top-flight executive, a director on the board, to scale the heights and reach the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy. A sociopath, no more and no less. I will never understand the mindset, the megalomania that drives such criminal disregard for everything other than money. They’re so far removed from the reality of the everyday, so distanced from the shop floor, they’re effectively exempt. They’re wired differently. They don’t see their employees as humans. They don’t see their customers as human. They never hear the voices of the downtrodden, the weary, the world at large. They can’t hear us cry out, fists raised.

You’ve got the money.

You’ve got the status.

You’ve got the power.

You’ve got the control.

You’re fucking us all over.

You don’t see the planet as a finite resource. Everything exists for your benefit. And nothing is ever enough. You have everything already. What more can you possibly want? More… always more. Because money doesn’t just talk. It buys whatever the fuck you want. Want it? Buy it. Because you can.

What do you want? World domination!

When do you want it? Yesterday!

Competition? You’ve bought the competition, and shut it down.

Regulation? You laugh in the face of it. You’ve bought the regulators.

Government? You’ve bought the government. The parties are in your pocket, paid off with the money not spent on paying tax. You’re not the law – you’ve bought the law.

But the countless other layers of management, from the cringing petty bureaucrats at the lower managerial levels, to the ones who command payola and power but don’t own a fleet of yachts or several Pacific islands… I get where they’re coming from. And they, they’re the worst fucking scum.

You, you’ve also got the money – not as much, but just enough to think you’re special, to afford the finer things in life, not least of all thanks to the company credit card, the expense account. Like you fucking need it on your salary – pleading poverty while cruising in your Audi, smugging it up, your 2.4 kids in private schools and destined for top universities and to follow in your patent leather footsteps.

You’ve got the status – not as much as the real high-flyers, but club class will do. You’ve got enough to flash it around, to swan off on management away days and three-hour “working lunches”, plotting espionage and tax avoidance on your iPhones while chilling in first-class lounge suites making like your lives are so pressured, while not having the first clue what it’s like to have to worry about the bills – your pampered wives sipping Pinot Grigot from balloon glasses on leather corner sofas in front of a 60” flatscreen while wearing a white fluffy dressing gown, perish the thought they might break a nail in a five-bed townhouse with the heating cranked up to thirty.

You’ve got the power – not world domination, but you’ve got a hotline to the gods of business, and they know people who know people who know people who know people and the next thing, you’ve bought into Europe and you’ve got steer on the TTIP… so you’ve got power enough to throw around, enough to make you feel good while holding others down. You need to hold them down, keep them in their place.

You’ve got the control – just enough to live out your fantasies of power play. Those rebels and potential usurpers… you know how to dispense with them. Dissent? Crush it! Remove it! Yes, there are ways and means to sidestep legislation about unfair dismissal and discrimination… show them the door. No-one’s going to stop your march.

We need to make cuts to boost profit! The shareholders have spoken! The directors have spoken!

So what do you do? What do you do? Front-line staff every time: you’ll never see management voting for a cull of management, a stripping back of the layers of the hierarchy, no. Because it’d be like turkeys voting for Christmas. You’ve got just one interest, and that’s self-interest.

So you stand there in your sharp suit with your company laptop rucksack, your sharp haircut and your buzzwords, making like you actually give a fuck as you apologise for the cuts, the redundancies as you lay off yet more staff, just to protect your own bonus. Cunt.

You think you hold the power, that you have ownership. But you’re all part of the same system. The capitalist system. You’re still climbing over one another to attain material goods, more and more and more, and nothing is ever enough.

You don’t own capitalism: capitalism owns you. You’re still a part of the system, a system the purpose of which is to make people buy shit they don’t need with money they don’t have.

A Night off with Viewer, Muttley Crew, The Wharf Street Galaxy Band, and Sherbert Flies at The Fleeting Arms, York, 15th May 2015

I spend a significant amount of time writing about music. So much so that recently, my literary work has taken very much a back-seat position on account of my reviewing work. What can I say? I’m drowning in CDs, downloads and streams, and I hate turning things down, especially free gigs.

Tonight was about taking a night off. I could use one. Recently, I’ve been working beyond fatigue. But sleep’s for wimps and eating’s cheating and who needs drugs when you’ve got sleep deprivation? Anyway. Not only am I a huge fan of Viewer, but I’ve also known front man AB Johnson, who I was proud to feature in the last Clinical, Brutal anthology I edited, for some 21 years now. The fact they were set to play alongside a cracking collection of artists I also know and admire in varying capacities, at a pay-what-you like event at a venue I’ve been meaning to check out for a while made it a night I knew I really ought not to miss.

And yes, about the venue: The Fleeting Arms, as the name suggests, is a pop-up pub, a venture whereby a collective have taken on a former venue on a short-term lease with a view to making it available for all things arts and more. It epitomises boho chic, not out of some hipster fetish for retro and artisan, but out of necessity, and the assorted freecycle furniture, coupled with the various old-school consoles situated in the bar (MarioKart on the N64, anyone?) is integral to the easy-going, community spirit of the place. It feels welcoming on arrival, and the fact it isn’t Wetherspoons or in any way designer and more resembles someone’s living room is perhaps the reason why. It’s also pretty busy by the time I arrive shortly after 8pm, just as Sherbert Flies launch into their lively set.

If writing about their ‘slacker’ style and suggesting they’re heavily influenced by Pavement smacks of lazy journalism, so be it. I was supposed to be taking a night off after all. But their casual demeanour (at one point singer Elliot Barker announced that they’d probably be releasing a track as a single tomorrow, adding, “If anyone wants to hear it, I’ve got it on my iPhone”) and wonky riffage has a definite charm, and made for a thoroughly enjoyable set.

The Wharf Street Galaxy Band are something of a supergroup, comprising members of Neuschlafen / Orlando Ferguson and Legion of Swine / Inhuman Resources. Donning some bad shirts and wielding an array of shakers, wooden blocks and a cowbell they crank out some repetitive grooves and shards of dissonant guitar noise by way of a backdrop to Dave Proctor’s off-kilter ramblings about puffins and selfie sticks. I could write at length about their semi-improvised avant-garde performance style or highlight the all-to-obvious similarities to The Fall circa 1979, but instead, the 7-song setlist that found its way into my hands after the set is likely to be just as illuminating and more amusing. It also reads like a piece of abstract poetry in itself: ‘Shoreditch / Puffins / We Can Help / Sergio / Walking / Selfie / Bellends’.

While I’ve seen Muttley solo a few times, this is only the first or second time I’ve seen the full Muttley Crew lineup, and it’s immediately clear that they’re a band who understand that less is more. The songs are built around simple, repetitive three-chord repetitions, at which they bludgeon away for six, seven, eight minutes, building layers of sound into hypnotic swirls overlayed with squalling noise. But it’s all about the rhythm section: bass and drums are impressively tight and forge an instinctive groove, and their drummer is my new hero. You want motoric, mechanised and metronomic? You got it. There’s nothing flamboyant or fancy about his style, no big fills or flourishes. Instead, he plays like a machine, plugging away at a relentless rhythm and holding the maelstrom of guitars together perfectly.

Viewer are all about a different kind of groove: thumping techno provides the backdrop to Johnson’s sneering monotone in which he couches acerbic socio-political comment. With the visuals playing up, Tim Wright is rather more active on stage than usual, although you couldn’t go so far as to describe him as twitchy. On this outing, the songs seem to have been tweaked, giving a more stripped back and direct sound that inches toward Factory Floor territory at times. The last track of their set, which I didn’t catch the name of, was dark and pounding, and accompanied by grainy images of riots and Anonymous masks, hinting more toward the likes of Cabaret Voltaire and Test Department. Like the other acts on the bill, they sounded great, and Johnson’s reversible bodywarmer is something special.

 

Viewer

Viewer: a groove sensation

 

There’s a lot to be said for simple rectangular spaces when it comes to sound, and in keeping with the Fleeting Arms ethos, this event was very much about people coming together and doing stuff, no budget, no agenda other than being creative and getting it out there.

The fact there were so many people present I knew only made it all the better on a personal level, but there’s a broader resonance to emerge from this microcosmic experience. It shows that we don’t need to smash capitalism, and while Cameron’s post-Thatcher is capitalism seems intent on crushing the country’s collective spirit (not to mention its pub trade and heritage), after the music industry as we knew it already succeeded in facilitating its own demise, there are people doing what they do for the right reasons, and there are people who appreciate it and will happily support it. It’s not about money. It’s about art, and community. This is exactly what we need right now.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Rage Monologue #4 – News

The Rage Monologues was devised as a spoken-word project built around an in-progress and expanding collection of pieces that would evolve over time, developed and adapted to suit different audiences and settings and, where necessary or appropriate, tweaked to be up-to-the-minute current. It was never about producing a fixed body of published work. However, sometimes events overtake plans, and this piece I began performing a few months ago is probably more relevant now than it ever will be again, so I’ve decided to share  it with the world as it’s currently written.

 

News

 

It still seems to be a fact little acknowledged outside certain domains – media studies, sociology and the world of Charlie Brooker, for example – that the news media is biased. It seems to be even less understood how the mainstream media – the big providers, like the BBC and Sky – is highly selective as to what it covers. The post-election ‘Fuck The Tories’ protests, like Occupy’s pro-democracy protests over in Parliament Square before them, were largely ignored in favour of, well, everything. The revolution clearly won’t be televised. It will be suppressed, ignored out of history until it ceases to exist. How do you fight back against the international media?

If the mainstream news media were to be believed, things are once again quiet in Gaza, and the Ukraine situation is altogether more settled. There is peace. There is calm, but we can’t get too comfortable because the terror threat is as high as it’s been since 9/11. It’s all a strategy. Keep the people on edge. Keep them compliant.

All of the new legislation is for our safety, about preventing terrorism. It’s not about control. Oh no. Only a conspiracy theorist would suggest that. Keep the public’s focus on the things that keep them scared. Keep them indignant. And keep them distracted with entertainment. Give them the news they want. But wait.

Sports news is not news. It’s news about sport.

Celebrity gossip is not news. It’s gossip about celebrities.

So you’re wondering what’s happening in Syria while shitting yourself silly over ebola. The next time you’re reading OK! Magazine, Heat Magazine, People magazine, Grazia, The Mail, The Sun, The Mirror, Metro or any other wretched tabloid arsewipe, take a moment to think and consider this:

X-Factor is not news.

Strictly is not news.

The Voice is not news.

The Beckhams are not news.

Harry Potter is not news.

Big Brother is not news.

Celebrity Big Brother is not news. Most of the contestants aren’t even celebrities.

Dr Who is not news.

The weather is not news.

I’m a former D-List Celebrity, Get me Out of Here! is not news.

Britain’s Got Talent is not news. And if anything, this programme proves the precise opposite of what the title states.

Simon Cowell is not news.

Rhianna’s pierced nipples are not news.

Katie Price is not news.

Made in Chelsea is not news.

The Only Way is Essex is not news.

Joey Essex is not news. He’s just an idiot who can’t tell the time.

The love life of some slapper off The Only Way is Essex or some cretin off Made in Chelsea is not news.

Footballers’ wives – the TV show or actual footballers’ wives – do not constitute news.

Suzannah Reid’s short skirt is not news.

Diet fads are not news.

A nip-slip or so-called wardrobe malfunction is not news.

Frankie Boyle saying something offensively un-PC is not news.

Bruce Jenner’s sex change is not news: give the guy some peace.

Justin Bieber is not news.

Miley Cyrus is not news.

Myleene Klass is not news.

Robert Pattinson is not news.

Daniel Radcliffe is not news.

Kristen Stewart is not news, affair or no affair.

Emma Watson’s hair is not news.

Somebody parking badly is not news.

How some comedian deals with a heckler or someone whose phone goes off during their performance is not news.

Eastenders / Emmerdale / Hollyoaks actors and actresses scrapping outside restaurants is not news.

Naomi Campbell being a bitch is not news.

Kate Moss sunbathing topless / on coke / being a bitch is not news.

Katy Perry and Russell Brand are not news. Never were.

Bickering celebrities regardless of their status is not news.

Pete Doherty on / off / on / off / on drugs is not news.

That little tosser with the bouffant hair from One Direction: whoever he’s dating / shagged is not news. Nothing he does is news.

Kim Kardashian’s oiled buttocks are not news.

Kate Middleton’s disappointing breasts are not news.

The opinions of the masses are not news.

Facebook comments are not news.

Katie Hopkins is not news.

Madonna posing topless again in her 50s or falling off a step is not news. Madonna is yesterday’s news. Let’s be honest. More like yesterday’s news 20 years ago.

My Big Fat cunting Gypsy Wedding is not news.

Whatever bigoted bollocks spills from the mouth of Jeremy Clarkson is not fucking news.

‘Celebrities’ bickering on Twitter is not news.

What people have said on Twitter in response something somebody people follow on Twitter said is not news.

Miley fucking Cyrus, I repeat, is not news.

Sleazy, corrupt MPs are not news. Apart from when they’re murderous paedophiles, in which case you won’t hear about it, so it’s still not news.

 

Fuckthetories

This is not news. Nothing to see here, people. Move along, now, and fast, or you’ll feel the strong arm of the law hefting a baton at you. Pic: Mail Online.

 

Essex

Now this, this is news. Look at his lovely white teeth and tended eyebrows. What a wholesome, sincere lad. No, it’ doesn’t matter that he’s a fuckwit, he’s the salt of the earth. He’s got a new haircut, too. Don’t you feel much calmer and happier knowing about that rather than worrying about those ultra-left brutes who are trying to bring anarchy to the city’s street with their offensive placards and dungarees?

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Election Aftermath

In the immediate wake of the shock election result on Friday, there has, predictably, been a tsunami of commentary and debate, and I’m largely inclined to steer clear of it, not because I’m apolitical, but because I’m no political commentator. However, as a writer, I am an observer of people and social interaction, and politics, and perhaps this election more than ever, has shown that politics does affect everyone, whether they like it or not.

As such, my observations that politics in Britain is extremely divisive and extremely personal on individual levels may seem banal, but are nevertheless particularly important.

I live and work in the York Central constituency, a red spot in an ocean of blue, and so it’s perhaps not surprising that only one of my colleagues has openly aligned himself with the Conservatives. I might describe this guy in his early as a hipster, but given his ever-changing appearance, it would be more accurate to describe him as a fashion victim, and to hear him qualify his support of the party by citing Cameron’s ability to speak well in public and how he’s well-presented and professional-looking and less ‘freakish’ than any of the other contenders for the position of Prime Minister correspond with the chameleon-like fashion victim’s focus on style over content.

Friday morning saw the hipster swagger into the office with a jaunty step, and before long he was crowing about the emerging results. When pressed as to why he was so happy, he held forth with confidence: “We’ve got the best economy in the world, and I want more of that. We’ve got safe jobs, look, well, relatively safe anyway, I’m doing alright, get to go on holiday, buy stuff, why would I want to vote another party in who are going to stuff it all up when things are going good? They got us out of the trouble Labour left us in, it’s all good. Keep on with it, I say.”

Which, of course, is pretty much what Cameron’s been saying. Only surely a gullible idiot would swallow the slippery schmoozer’s fabrications or buy the fact that the Labour government were alone responsible for what was a global financial meltdown

The irony here is that we work for a major financial company, and this hipster deals with complaints about how poorly investments have been performing. His job involves explaining to disappointed investors how volatile stock markets worldwide have meant returns haven’t been so great, how the recession led to commercial property values and rental returns slumping. And yet he really seems to believe – or happy to regurgitate arguments churned out by the slick Tory propaganda machine, fronted by that slick, smooth-talking propagandist representing them – that somehow, this was all the fault of the previous government.

None of this sat too well with the woman who sits a few desks away from this trend-influenced lippy bozo: a mother of two children under 11, her husband recently lost his job. A family man who’s not workshy and has been in the same job for some eight years, he’s vowed to take any job going to pay the bills, but has so far been rejected by a cleaning company on the grounds that he’s male, and is being kept in suspense – three weeks and counting – over whether or not he’ll be entitled to any benefits. It doesn’t feel like the world’s best economy to her, it doesn’t feel like business is booming and that there are jobs readily available for those who are willing to take them.

Perhaps that’s because it’s all a myth. By making many benefits much harder to claim, meaning that many who would have previously received benefits illegible, and by making the process to stressful that people feel compelled to simply quit, or by declaring half the disabled populace fit for work and thus stripping them of benefits, the Conservatives have shown that it’s possible to slant the statistics and cut the welfare budget in one fell swoop. By farming out investigations into benefit claims to private, third-party companies (doubtless selected for their low-budget tenders rather than their efficiency and ability to operate fair and efficient systems of investigation, a process I’ve found myself on the wrong end of in recent months), they’re again able to cut costs and produce more favourable figures.

But people prefer to believe good news than bad. The fashion victim bozo has got it good: he’s young enough, doesn’t have any children and is in good health and a job that pays ok in relative terms. He’s also of the age to have parents who’ve done well out of the boom years, and probably bought their house for a tenth of its current value and retired at 55 on a final salary pension.

This microcosmic and extremely personal scene is emblematic of the contrasts between the haves and have nots are precisely the social divisions on which the election ran. The Conservative way, the espousal of laissez-faire capitalism and a privatisation is all about giving it all those who already have it, is great for big business and the wealthy.

Those at the lower end of the fiscal spectrum are hardly going to be leaping for joy at the prospect of the new government raising the threshold for inheritance tax to £1M, and when you’re looking at a family of four whose breadwinner has been tossed out of work because employers are downsizing and cutting costs to maximise profits (on which they’ll pay reduced tax under a Conservative government), it’s hard to see how raising the personal income tax threshold will help if they can’t claim any benefits (working tax credits and child tax credits for example require both parents to work at least 16 hours a week – and how is a parent supposed to apply for jobs and be available for interviews at limited to zero notice when they’re looking after a child?).

As the protests on the streets of London demonstrate, Britain is a nation divided, and a nation with an extremely flawed election process, one whereby a ‘majority’ government clearly does not represent the majority of voters (let alone those who didn’t vote, for whatever reason).

And yes, I am angry. I’m angry because I didn’t vote for this 9and let’s be clear, I most certainly did vote). And maybe I would still b angry even if we did have proportional representation: as much as I’m angry about the outcome of this election, I’m angry at the electorate. Because what the actual voting figures show is that we live in a country where half the population have empathy and a desire to support one another in times of need, to provide free healthcare and welfare, not just for the needy, but for all. Because they – we – understand that it’s i8mpossible to predict when you may need this support. Public transport, general public services, from libraries to road maintenance – benefit everyone, regardless of status.

We understand that immigration is a two-way street and that freedom of movement within the EU is a good thing, and appreciate that it’s the wealthy who usually retire to sunnier climes and accept that’s their prerogative. Because while they’re tanning themselves to leather in Spain having quite work at 55, the eastern Europeans who serve us excellent coffee and maintain the well-stocked, open-all-hours off-licence on the next street work had and provide excellent service. And pay their share of tax.

I’m angry that the selfish rule the country, not just in parliament, but in the street. And I’m angry that we live in a society where the idiots who don’t actually consider the ramifications of their selfish votes get to screw everyone else over. It’s the ‘I’m doing ok’ attitude that is precisely what seals I for the Tories: moreover, the attitude that as ‘I’m ding ok and I couldn’t care less about anyone else.’

And while the majority of the people I keep company with on social networking sites share my views (I chose my (virtual) friends carefully, this is exactly the spirit of the Facebook generation: the endless selfies, the snaps of your luxurious holiday, your plush house, pampered pooch and posh dinner, which say ‘my life is better than yours’ and shamelessly rub the noses of your friends in the shitness of their ordinary, poor and inferior existences.

Shame on you all. And I hope the beds provides by your private health plans are comfortable and that you enjoy long and prosperous retirements funded by your private pension plans and vast inheritances which also provide enough to pay off your childrens’ university debts, because otherwise we’ll have all endured this austerity agony for nothing.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Easter, Christianity and the Big Corporate Con

I lost count weeks ago how many times I was asked the question. “Are you doing anything nice for Easter?” people were wanting to know. Family, friends, work colleagues, they were all asking… I hadn’t really given it much thought, but after a half dozen Easter cards from various family members had dropped through the letter box, and I found myself at the checkout queue behind a guy making the most of their three for £10 offer by filling his trolley and bagging 50 quid’s worth, I started to wonder if perhaps I ought to get to thinking. What was everyone else doing?

Days out, egg hunts for the children, generation-spanning family gatherings for roast feasts, couples splashing out on super-sized deluxe confectionery for one another. Clearly, doing nothing was not an option unless I wanted to position the Nosnibor household in that minority bracket of those who exile themselves from society by refusing to participate in any kind of festive activity. In the week and a half before the Good Friday holiday, social networks were aclog with images of fluffy bunnies, cutesy chicks, lambs (all thoughts of slaughter completely dispelled) and people gurgling about their imminent trips away. No, doing nothing was not an option. To do nothing would be to miss out. But on what? And why is Easter such a big deal?

Flick on the news and the BBC New Channel are cutting live to York, where the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, was busy waterboarding some zealots in the street in front of the Minster. Fair enough, you might say: Easter is after all a Christian festival – arguably the most important. The birth of Christ may be cause for celebration, but it’s the crucifixion and resurrection upon which the religion is built. Why not take the opportunity to reinforce the Christian aspect of the religion’s major festival when it’s under threat of becoming just another excuse to cut loose and enjoy four consecutive days off work (unless you happen to work in retail) by revisiting the Middle Ages? Well, the fact that Easter is another example of the Christian religion superimposing its own calendar over the preexisting pagan calender – specifically the pagan holiday of Ēostre – in order to obliterate the worship of ancient deities and nature is one very good reason.

Baptisms

A picture speaks a thousand words, especially when you can’t speak because you’re drowning in the name of Christ

 

Baptism 2

Grinning Christian sadist with a beard and the Archbishop of York reach the apex of spiritual ecstasy while drowning a young girl in the name of God

 

For a full and unbiased report, go to the BBC.

But all of this notwithstanding, what’s curious is the massive upsurge in the popularity and commercialisation of Easter in recent years. Could it really be that the economic downturn that began around 2008 prompted a bunch of cynical marketing companies representing big-money commerce decided the best way to boost revenue was to promote Easter-themed products in order to spur a cash-strapped society to part with their limited disposable income on things they neither needed nor wanted? And, on seeing a bandwagon rolling, the rest of the business world decided it hop on board for fear of being left behind? Well, quite probably.

Could it equally be the case that, depressed by the general shitness of life and working conditions – for those fortunate enough to still be in employment in the wake of the credit crunch – the majority of the population decided that actually, they were drawn by the mass-marketed idea of a celebration that happened to coincide with the slow emergence from a dismal winter marked by long, dark days, even longer, darker nights, destitution and flooding, and thought the antidote to their malaise could be to indulge in a colossal bout of retail therapy? Quite probably.

 

Chick

Multicoloured fluffy chicks: what’s not to love about Easter?

The celebration of spring is noble and something I’m keen to get behind. The springing of new life, the longer, warmer says, the buds, the blossom. It’s truly profound, remarkable, something far greater than human comprehension or existence. And far beyond the great capitalist con. Since when did spending money you don’t have on shit you didn’t need to make yourself feel better enter any kind of spiritual equation? Is this what life’s about now? And yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

Corporate Easter cash-ins? Just say no….

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk