Yesterday didn’t go as planned. Just after I blogged about intending to spend my day drawing, I got a delivery through the post. It was some hay fever tablets I’d ordered after finally accepting all the weird symptoms I’d been experiencing the last few weeks (sore eyes, sneezing, pressure in my ears) were explained by the ridiculously high level of pollen at the moment (linked to reduced car pollution, which normally binds with pollen and pulls it to the ground). The upshot: about 1pm yesterday I took one Benadryl. I could have saved some money by just running into a cupboard door.

The symptoms of my hay fever did ease and, yes, I feel a lot better today, but I don’t for a moment believe the back of the box where it says “rare cases of drowsiness have been reported”. I must be rare. Exactly one hour later, I was asleep in my chair. That never happens. Anyway, the fugue lasted most of the day. By the time I went to bed, I was wide awake so I could fully appreciate the 31 degree temperature in my room. Crap night’s sleep.

Have I mentioned before how I hate summer? Hate it. Despise it. Would move to Sweden for the summer months if I could. Anywhere where I could feel the odd Arctic blast.

A podcast today, though not sure what’s also planned (please let it be thunderstorms). Looking at the news, it’s all the predictable ping pong politics. The talk of the day seems to be a long interview that the actress Maxine Peake has given to The Independent. In it, she calls for the downfall of capitalism, says a few sharp things about Labour, and repeats the claim that US cops have been trained in Israel.

It’s the stuff that either side can leap on but none of it seemed that controversial. Nobody knows the future but the downfall of capitalism has never sounded that likely to me. What she said about Labour is by-the-books leftish talk about the struggle of compromise and whether the harder Left can tolerate a man like Starmer (or Blair before him) who they do not like. Even the stuff about Israel didn’t immediately sound that toxic. I’d noticed a piece on Amnesty International’s website, that claims that the militarization of America’s police force has links to the rapid growth of the security sector, where Israel leads the world. Yet perhaps it’s broader than that. It might be more gestural: Israel being cited because they’re the stock villain of the Left. The problem with the ‘I’ word appearing anywhere is that people leap to the assumption that it’s antisemitic. As with so many of these arguments, where you stand (or sit) seems important to how you read a headline. It’s too early in the day for me to unravel all of that. (Links to Israel are disputed [Here] and asserted [Here]. But like I say: much too early to unravel the facts from the falsehoods.)

What I did notice in my brief browse through the headlines was that one of the most vocal opponents of Peake, spouting all kind of militaristic patriotic bullshit, led to an account where they predictably labelled themselves a believer in “classical liberalism”. It’s become something of a game I play: guessing which accounts will use that formulation to excuse the racist, anti-immigrant, Anti-European, pro-England-cos-we-killed-Hitler nonsense. One in five is my usual score. There are a lot of them out there. I drew this cartoon a few months ago but never found a reason to post it. I have now.

But going back to Peake, the key word that’s being overlooked is “actress”. A person’s profession shouldn’t automatically discredit their arguments, but nor should it generally do the opposite unless that professional is relevant. Perhaps this is a flaw of capitalism, that bit that needs modifying to make the system work better. We have to stop caring about what famous people think. I notice Philip Schofield is now advertising We Buy Any Car. Always surprises me that these deals still work. James May or Jeremy Clarkson, I’d understand it. But Schofield? Feels a bit like asking the Pope for advice about buying your next skidoo.

The last thing I noticed was the headline about a white actress quitting a Netflix animated series where she’d been voicing a black character. “Black characters should be played by Black actors” ran the headline. In the current climate, this gesture seems timely and well made, yet I know it will only drag out the old “James Bond can’t be black arguments”, which bored me long before the last Bond movie sent me to sleep (and I hadn’t even been taking hay fever tablets). Myself, I really don’t care either way. I’ve got used to a world in which Hamlet can be female (Peake again) and Dev Patel can play David Copperfield. In this case, however, I think it’s a little bit more complicated than that. The cartoon’s diversity was disguising a lack of diversity in the cast (The Simpsons had the same problem). This then becomes a case of hypocrisy and, god knows, we need far less of that in the world.

Speaking of which: Robert Jenrick, Marxism, and the business affairs of a former porn baron…

But, no. Not going there. I have to prepare for a podcast.

6 thoughts on “Drugged”

  1. Resisting the urge to jump down your throat have your views on the article now changed since its hit the headlines in a big way this afternoon? More directly; do you think Starmer was right to fire RLB?

    1. Ha. I was going to write on this but I’ll quickly put it here instead.

      I think Starmer is right to show he takes it seriously but I think there’s part of this which is political. He wanted to show that he takes it seriously. I’m sure he’s also quite happy to get rid of somebody close to Corbyn. As I mentioned about it being broader than what was in the article. There’s quite a bit about this that’s about tone and a systemic “blame Israel for the troubles of the world” mindset, which is synonymous with antisemitism. When I heard Roger Waters say the same thing, about the knee being part of the standard practice of Israeli security forces, it certainly raised a red flag.

      That said, I think Amnesty story was merely highlighting a known problem with the militarization of police forces. Any country which has a highly developed security service is going to be part of the problem of the industrialisation of policing methods. I’m in the middle of editing the podcast so I haven’t got the time to go looking for it but do you remember some story about British handcuffs used by terrible regimes involved in torture? Our ex-soldiers go working and training all manner of bad folk. So, if the American police force has been trained in Israel (and some certainly have) or ex-IDF have been teaching methods in the US (again, obviously it happens), then that would be a problem in the very same way as I have problems with ex-SAS types teaching this stuff to people who don’t or shouldn’t need to know them. That’s not antisemitism. That’s merely having a problem with a morally dubious industry.

      Where it slips into antisemitism is when it’s signalling and I think that’s where Maxine Peake’s words do begin to feel like antisemitism. AFAIK, it hasn’t been proved that the knee to the neck is an Israeli invention or a technique taught specifically by their instructors. Without that clear evidence, then this does feel like it’s picking Israel out for special condemnation. I’m sure people could find images of other police forces using the same technique. Selectively picking out the IDF then becomes an indicator of something else.

      Okay. I’ll now await you leaping down my throat. 😉

  2. That’s mostly reasonable. My issue is that she could have made the point about the ‘morally dubious industry’ that you refer to in a dozen different ways without mentioning Israel. I also don’t believe for an instant that she mentioned israel by accident. But yes very political as well for starmer. Also enables him to compare himself to BOJO who cant being himself to enforce discipline.

    1. It’s one of those days when I probably shouldn’t have blogged on a story I’d only noticed in passing (certainly didn’t expect it explode like it has). Really wanted to post something because I knew I’d distracted with the podcast for most of the day. Haven’t followed her response but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was no nuance. Our politics is rife with people who use coded language around certain issues. It either gives them plausible denial when they’re being racist or antisemitic or they genuinely don’t think through what they’re saying and they end up repeating an idiom that is systemically rotten. Neither is innocent.

  3. Ha!, loads of people use Benadryl as an alternative to sleeping pills, no joke. Use Cetirizine if you need an antihistamine.

    1. Ah, cheers. Just added some of that to an order I’ve git coming tomorrow. Beginner’s mistake but I don’t normally suffer hay fever beyond slightly itchy eyes. This year it’s been horrific.

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Why Dunciad.com?

It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?


Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.