Tag Archives: Truth

Camden Greed

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I don’t usually get caught up in what might be construed as political rhetoric, and I don’t think what I am about to say is as political as it is about greed. Ever since money became the way we do business, it has become the prize many have gone for no matter what has to happen to get it. We know it as greed, one of the 7 deadly sins offered up by Christendom, especially the Roman Catholic branch. The problem is, the more money a person or organisation accumulates, the more greed rears its ugly head. This includes the Church.

Well now, call it what you will, you can see evidence of it everywhere in today’s world. More and more. There are those who want nothing more than to get as much cash as possible to support a lavish lifestyle that is thought to be deserved. Maybe it is. But more often than not, it is to the expense of so many others’ wellbeing and involves some degree of chicanery and larceny on the part of the takers of this world to afford the kind of exclusivity they crave. Those and no conscience.

There is something to the old bartering system that remains essentially honest….for the most part. I’m sure some of those guys (and they were guys way back when) cheated the people they traded with. Greed is as old as time. Seems humanity has a touch of magpie or raccoon in it. Of course we would say that in the animal world this is instinct. For humans there is an element of this that has passed down through eons of evolution, but, in the end, we ought to know better. The old ‘do unto others’ golden rule you find in the good books of every culture was not written there by chance.

Lots of folk have forgotten that rule. The implementing of it shall save the human race. The abuse of it shall be our ruin. At the moment, all signs would lead you to believe we are heading for ruin. I could cite many recent cases where the abuse of riches and the instances of greed are pervasive in today’s society. Cite the recent demise of BHS (British Home Stores) run into the ground by high-flying ‘Sir’ Philip Green. I’m sure you have stories chez vous. There are simply too many to tell.

But the one I want to talk about involves a favourite place of mine, the Camden Locks Market and the attached Horse Hospital market, a meandering mishmash of bohemian boutiques and now you see ’em, now you don’t market stalls. That was the charm of the place in recent years. Folks who made jewellery of all sorts as you wait, beer bottles made into clocks, leather-bound journals with weird covers, any vintage vinyl album you could want (at a reasonable price), crafts of all descriptions and Indian goods that were cheap and cheerful. Lots of vintage clothing, posters from every era and anything bohemian you can imagine.

Then a billionaire started grabbing up parts of the market and now has it all. He has grandiose plans for the market, which might be a good thing except that it involves dismantling the unique character of the place, turning it into a high-end, expensive shopping mall for the rich Euro trash to have as their London playground. Like they need another part of London for that. They already have Knightsbridge, the South Bank and St. Katherines Dock etc., etc., etc.

But my concern is with Camden Town, home of Bob Cratchit. He could never afford to live there now, especially if he was a real person. And it’s getting worse. Local vendors and developers try to get every penny out of the rest of us. They are also eroding the traditional fabric of the area. Leather shops, vintage clothing, tattoo parlors, souvenirs and probably the myriad music venues are sought by greedy land-grabbing developers. They can’t wait to get their greedy mitts on this choice land and turn it into a playground for rich, high-flying foreign oligarchs.

And now this billionaire has most of the Camden covered markets. What was once a hospital and service stalls for horses that pulled canal barges and a gin factory became a market. But it had kept its history alive with bronze statues of horses and men shoeing them and the rest dotted all over the market grounds. They’re gone. Much of what has made the market a bohemian treat is gone. That’s the problem with billionaires. They never think what is good for the area and for ordinary people. They have in mind upscale shopping for the rich.

Rent has gone through the roof, shutting out the average artisan. I spoke to one chap who operated a gin distillery, something new in the market. He said rents had gone up drastically and many vendors lost out. I won’t get into the nationality of many of the business people moving to the market. Everything British is being sold off to foreign investors because the Brits don’t want to own anything. They just want cash so they can buy big homes outside of London and go on cruises and such. Unless something changes, Brexit is going to be a joke, if it isn’t already.

And there you have it. Who to blame? Everyone. The ones who sell, the ones who buy, those who own land and develop it, those who make the rules regarding who owns what, and the mob of complacent folk who say and do nothing. Am I one of them? Well, I hope not since I refuse to go back to shop there. And places like it. I’m tired of ‘upscale’ places charging the moon for not much. And let’s be clear. Greed is rampant and so things cannot end well in a society that cares more about the bottom line than providing good service and good value for money. If you don’t see it, you are part of the problem.

A call to arms? Nah. Just a call to common sense. Without it, you may as well let Kim Jong-un, Trump and Putin nuke the world and let it get back to basics.

 

 

JAMES for PM

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The Truth Will Out

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The Truth Will Out

I have not always told the truth. I try. I really do. But every so often I find I have to make stuff up in order to amuse myself if no one else. It’s more imaginative fiction than truth-telling. Telling lies is in another realm altogether. We’ve all told them at times, some bigger than others. But lies they are. You know what I mean….paying compliments you don’t mean, why you can’t be at that function when you really can and so on. You know them all. We call them white lies. Doesn’t matter. The word lies doesn’t get removed. I’ve told some big ones too. Mostly to my parents (who are both gone and are not going to read this). As we all do. When I was 25 years old my mum was quite ill. I was in her room one day and she asked, with those pleading eyes that said I’d better be truthful, “Larry, have you ever kissed a girl? I’m serious. I want to know.” I said, “No mum.”

I have been known to embellish a story or two, here and there. Who hasn’t? The history books we used in school have been doing the same for centuries. Both heroes and villains have been made out of story enhancements. Legends arise from exaggerated tales of daring do and self-sacrifice. Most of the real heroes you’ll never read about. Hollywood is an enormous purveyor of taking real life stories and turning them into blown-up versions of the truth. Whenever they print ‘Based on a true story’ at the beginning of a movie, you know it means ‘We’ve stretched the truth to make a better story’….one they can sell. Watch ‘The Blind Side’ then read about the real man behind the story. He doesn’t like the way he was portrayed. Not really who he is, he says. Hollywood lies to tug at our heartstrings.

Once-upon-a-time I was a Christian missionary….back in my religious days….trying to convert Muslims to Jesus. Why? That’s what I thought I knew at the time. Before I went overseas, I had a Jewish boss at lace where I worked. When I told him I was leaving the business to become a missionary to muslims, he offered to support me financially. He hated Muslims so much that he was willing to back a Christian to save Muslims from Islam. That is the truth. No exaggeration. But I digress. One of my fellow missionaries and I got into an argument one time about American news broadcasts. She was from Philadelphia. She had said that all you get from Arab news transmissions were lies. I said all news services slant the news one way or another to suit their purposes, even in America. She shot back that all US news networks tell the truth because they were not allowed to lie. Fox News. I rest my case.

The man who tried to teach me Arabic at the mission centre, a former Syrian army major, told me the following joke:

A man died and went to heaven. As he sat waiting at the pearly gates, he noticed a tree over the way covered with bells instead of leaves. Every so often a bell would ring. Sometimes a couple at the same time. The man turned to St. Peter, who stood behind a podium in front of the gate ready to grant access to new arrivals, and asked what kind of tree this was and why the ringing bells. St. Peter told him this was the lying tree. Every time someone on earth told a lie, a bell would ring. Suddenly, the whole tree shook and every bell was clanging. The noise was deafening. “What on earth is that?” the man asked. “That was the Syrian News Broadcast” replied St. Peter. Brave joke from a Syrian about his own country.

Sales people have told me lies. Politicians certainly have. Friends lie to me sometimes and I have lied back. My kids have lied to me and I’ve told them a few porkies (Cockney rhyme….pork pies, lies) as well. I try not to, but sometimes it’s easier. I guess it goes back to getting our hands caught in the cookie jar. We’d rather lie or transfer the blame than accept what is and face the consequences. We don’t want to be in trouble, look bad or to be found wanting. We’d rather smooth over a tricky situation than complicate it further. No one really wants to hurt someone else’s feelings. So we lie. It’s a part of life. You’re a liar if you say it’s not.

I prefer imagining to lying. A good story told that tells the truth using fiction grabs me every time. It’s usually a good tale about good versus evil that works for me….Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or even one of Joseph Conrad’s books do a great job of it. The whole Harry Potter series is another contemporary example. Fanciful rather than trying to tell a real or a ‘true’ story. That’s the way to do it. The caption over my Blog page reads, ‘Where Reality Meets Imagination’. Where truth can actually be stranger than fiction, but fiction feeds reality. Besides, truth is in the mind of the beholder, just as with beauty. We interpret everything we see and do and experience. Our individual personality filters dictate the outcome of our thoughts and feelings.

I’m not talking about deliberate deception here. That’s a human trait that can have quite sinister results, unless you’re at war. But war is an entirely different subject and not one I care to engage at this point. Though war fascinates me, it mostly horrifies me. And the term ‘a just war’ is a lie too….in my opinion. There you go, you see. My truth is my opinion. And I don’t pretend to have all the facts of every situation and issue to know the truth about anything really.

So, imagine a world as John Lennon sang where none of the things that have created nastiness exists. See humour in the darkest places. Never take yourself too seriously but take everyone around you very seriously. Not everyone sees humour in dire situations. Not everyone can be funny for whatever reasons. Not everyone is who he and she says they are. Not everyone lets us be who we are. Guile is everywhere. Trust is hard to come by. But somewhere along the line, in the greater scheme of things, the truth will out. The truth, after all, is out there. Ain’t that the truth.