Monday, 22 January 2018

Sound Advice Is Not Victim Blaming

Three days ago, the cyber version of my local freesheet reported on the sexual assault of a 13 year old girl. As sexual assaults go it was not that serious - try telling that to the judge - there is no suggestion she was raped, and appears to have simply been fondled. As you might suspect, the police are looking into this as a priority. Although details are virtually non-existent, the paper reports this assault took place on a Saturday morning, at 3.50am.

Unsurprisingly, a number of readers have commented on this report, the consensus being what the fuck was a thirteen year old doing out alone at this time of the morning? Nobody blamed the girl for this assault, but the parents, that is a different matter. Would you allow your thirteen year old daughter, or son, out alone at that time of night/day? If you answer yes, then clearly you are equally unfit to be a parent. Yes, the person responsible for whatever happened to this child is first and foremost our as yet unidentified assailant, but are the parents not responsible?

Now transfer this to a woman who is out drinking, perhaps too much, is she not responsible if she gets into a car with a man she doesn’t know or trust? Is she not responsible if she gets drunk out of her mind and wakes up next to a stranger without remembering or claiming not to remember having consented to sex ? Are the police and hospital A&E departments victim blaming when they advise women not to act so? According to the sisterhood they are, but women should not put themselves in that position, and the same applies to men who might just find themselves falsely accused six months or six years down the line in the current insane climate.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Me Times Two

December 20: I arrive in Humanities 1 from the Newsroom just before 14.15 and ask for my books. The assistant gives me a pile in a foreign language and says I have more. Would I like those too?

These aren’t mine, I say. Would you believe they were for a different A. Baron? And there was me thinking I was unique.

Actually, it’s amazing how often this sort of thing happens. There are two journalists named Duncan Campbell, two named Jill Dick, and two named Matthew Kalman. And let’s not forget Alexander Baron (1917-99), the one who was merely famous rather than notorious!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Notes From A Contrarian

My adoptive mother was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and that is being diplomatic, but she was right about one thing: I would argue black is white, she would tell me. I’ve always gone against the grain, and still do out of habit, but I never go public until I am absolutely certain. Yes, we are surrounded by lies, bombarded by them constantly: religion, spirit mediumship, political propaganda, and in this supposedly enlightened age by all manner of chimeras such as sexism, homophobia, and even microaggressions. But, and this is a very big but, leaving aside argumentum ad antiquitatum, if an idea, taboo, belief, shibboleth, law...has been around for a long time, there is usually a reason for it, and more often than not a good reason.

Don’t buck the status quo just because, and when you are wrong, admit it. When you have been duped, admit it, as soon as you realise it. Throughout history some incredibly intelligent people have been fooled by con-men and shakedown artists; there is no shame in admitting you have been conned, and if you don’t, you may waste the rest of your life promoting some ridiculous idea or lost cause.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Further Decline Of Trafalgar Square

Wow, it gets worse! No screens or music like in previous years, and even smaller crowds. Down, down, down. So small in fact that there was never any problem getting in and out. The fountains were of course boarded up as usual, even more so, and it was so low key that there was no meaningful security. Yeah, there were police and stewards; on the way back at Embankment Station there were police armed with automatic weapons, but it was clear that no suicide bombers were expected, and the pickpockets must have been extremely disappointed.

True, there was a spectacular firework display at midnight that was clearly visible, but when you’ve said that, you’ve said it all. Even worse for me were the travel arrangements. I ended up taking the Underground to Balham then a train to East Croydon, upon boarding of which I decided to get off at Streatham Common, whereupon I found a Morley’s Chicken where I demolished an extremely nourishing bargain basement meal before a long walk towards Crystal Palace when my luck changed, and with two bus rides I was home some time after 3am.

Not sure what I’ll be doing next year but probably not Trafalgar Square as it stands. That is assuming I have not departed this Earth.