Archive for the culture Category

George Osbourne has moved me to poetry

Posted in culture, ramblings with tags on March 28, 2012 by bridbeast


Georgie and the Pies,

by Bridbeast


If you want a pasty, roll or pie.

Heated up, the price is high.

But if you should be short of brass

You’ve now joined the cold pie class

So you wanted something warming

Forget it son, George is transforming

Our tax system for the wealthy

And who cares for warm pies in Chelsea?


But seriously.


Forbidden places

Posted in culture, ramblings with tags , , , , on February 20, 2012 by bridbeast

Going through a stack of old files yesterday I found a set of CDs with lots of scans of old slides on them. The pictures are a random mish-mash from about 1990 to 2008. I’m going to post a few of them up here over the next few weeks. To start with are a few pics from places which are a bit more off-limits these days than they were then.

Euphrates River, Syria

Farmer girl by Euphrates, Syria

Mahmoud, Painter and Decorater, Pakistan

Mahmoud, Painter and Artist, Pakistan

Woman, Kabul, Afghanistan.

Woman, Kabul, Afghanistan.

Porters descending to Hispar glacier, Pakistan.

Porters descending to Hispar glacier, Pakistan.


Posted in Climbing, culture with tags on January 27, 2012 by bridbeast

Re-reading my last post, it is obvious that I need to Man the Fuck Up. And how better than an inspirational video? I think I have found just the thing (even if us goray are the badies).

However I don’t think I’ll be incorporating the “catch a chicken” exercise into my training plans just yet.


Masters of the universe

Posted in culture, current affairs, ramblings on December 4, 2011 by bridbeast

I had a deeply depressing conversation last night. My cousin started a course at the London School of Economics this year and reports back that all of his contemporaries want to become investment bankers. Even his friend, a physics undergraduate at another London university, has in the space of months changed her ambitions from academia to finance.

I suppose part of it is youthful skittishness and enthusiasm. Bless them, they’re barely a few months away from school and A-levels and all of a sudden they think they’re ready for Goldman Sachs. Partly it’s the sense of entitlement that comes from attending fee paying schools and arriving at an elite university.

But it still troubles me.

They’re smart kids who’ve lived through the biggest financial disaster for 80 years, the result of a credit bubble whose formation was mainly due to the actions of the financial sector and the politicians who pandered to it. All they have to do is read a newspaper for a week and they’d discover that Britain really doesn’t need too many more bankers. Instead we need innovation and science. We need to nurture our creative companies, whether they’re creating green technology or world-beating TV formats. We need the smartest kids to teach our most disadvantaged to raise up the dismal standards of education and productivity.

But no. Already the talk is of internships, of preferring research to trading, of how they’ll only do it for a few years before getting out. As D said of his friend: “She wants to do research in physics, but she doesn’t want to be poor.”

Well no one is claiming you’ll make big bucks as an academic, in fact given the effort to get there it’s shoddy. I found this in a few minutes this morning, and whilst the upper thirties is hardly a great salary for someone with seven or eight years of higher education plus a bunch of experience, it’s not poor.

Poor is the ladies who serve in the university canteen, or the cleaners who vacuum the office blocks of Canary Wharf in the dead of night. Poor is the white van man pulling £250 a week and trying to raise a family on it. Poor is the dole and JD sports and spliffs at lunchtime, the waste of smart kids who can’t get a foot in the door and go quietly mad with frustration, poor is two jumpers from November to April and reusing tea bags.

What poor isn’t, is an intellectually demanding job with a good salary that unfortunately happens to be ten times less than that offered by a bank.

Perhaps I’m expecting too much in the way of imagination from what is, essentially, a school for technocrats. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from kids, barely a few months away from school and A-levels, to resist these warped temptations, or to understand that right now something different is required of them if our society is to recover from this disaster.

Flying chappatis.

Posted in culture with tags , , , on July 29, 2011 by bridbeast

Pure south Asian genius.

Dance music

Posted in culture, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 17, 2011 by bridbeast

Having a bit of a dance music renaisance at the moment, and have discovered Sound Cloud. It’s like having a massive box of DJ tapes to dip into every so often, brilliant! (That last sentence probably reveals my age, or at least the era when I dicovered electronic music.)

Here’s what I’m listening to today:

Ignore the odd warblin tarts track and get down with the euphoric house sounds. There’s a really great mix from about 35 to 43 mins. Enjoy!

Stuck in America

Posted in culture, ramblings with tags , , , on July 14, 2011 by bridbeast

The classic DJ mix “Too Many DJs” has many superb tracks, but one of my favourites is “I was born for made for lovin’ you”  – a prime cut of sleazy German electro if ever I heard it.

Except of course it isn’t, at least not quite. As I only recently found out, it was originally performed by American spandex pantomime rockers Kiss. I was quite surprised, being a bit of a heavy metal/hard rock fan, but there you go. In a way it’s no wonder I didn’t know this; although it was one of Kiss’ few chart successes in the UK, it only reached the heady heights of No 51 back in’79.

Yet Kiss are – or were – massive in the States. I think all you can say is: “America – what the fuck?!” I mean, men made up as kitty cats?! Kiss are one of those very few pieces of American culture that don’t make it across the Atlantic. Obviously there’s something about a bunch of guys dressing up as the Star Man and the Star Child and singing “Detroit Rock City” that doesn’t chime with a British audience. Only David Bowie could get away with it, and then only as a phase. They have Kiss, we have Spinal Tap.

Kiss’ failure is unusual. From JR to Woody Allen to Elvis to Jane Fonda’s workout video to OJ’s glove to Jay-Z, we’re saturated in American culture. So it got me thinking as to what else doesn’t travel so well to our shores.

First up: the Grateful Dead. I mean, I’ve never heard a Grateful Dead song, as far as I know, and I used to have dreadlocks. That’s saying something. Yet once again, they’re massive in America. They’ve been touring continually since the sixties and, as I write this, their next date is Saturday 16 July in Bethel, NY, should you feel inclined to catch them.

I just looked at “” and found this: “It’s hard to believe that a year like 1982, which included so many excellent shows, has only been represented once on an authorized Grateful Dead release. We’re making that “wrong” a “right” with Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 4. This awesome three-disc set delivers an indisputably fine show from that underrated year: the complete Philly Spectrum 4/6/82 concert, with a heapin’ helpin’ of the 4/5/82 Spectrum show to round things out.”

People will buy an album from live shows from 1982? That’s what I call a fanbase.

I feel in the nature of research I should go and listen to a Grateful Dead song but I can’t bring myself to. At least not right yet. I guess they’re not going anywhere fast (except to Saratoga Springs next Tuesday).

Third up in my transatlantic no-shows: Ayn Rand. The only time I’ve seen Ayn Rand mentioned on mainstream TV in the UK was a month or so back in Adam Curtis’ documentary “Machines of Loving Grace”. She was the scary Russian lady, a fanatical rationalist and anti-communist who wrote long books that no one has heard of in England but which are massively popular in the US. When the Republicans don’t cut enough taxes for you, then head over to the Rand camp where you can, erm, live for yourself and campaing against taxes. She was the house philosopher for Alan Greenspan, number cruncher, chairman of the Federal Reserve and overseer of the financial crisis.

It would be too easy to note that a lack of irony runs through my three choices of American culture without a passport. When I discussed this idea with a friend, well travelled in America, he suggested including the American breakfast. Now there is indeed no trace of irony about an American breakfast, no sneaky saying one thing but meaning another. It is what is is – a massive Saturn Five of a meal to launch your day in calorific orbit, amped up with enough free coffee refills to wake the dead. The all American breakfast is a glorious thing. And unlike Kiss songs, Grateful Dead shows, and The Fountainhead, I have enjoyed many a three-egg omlette and blueberry pancake, nodded yes to that fourth cup of coffee, and left a few spare dollar bills atop the formica.