The Paris Massacre and despicable political point scoring

Charlie Hebdo peace demo - Paris 2015

Charlie Hebdo peace demo – Paris 2015

The terrible sequence of events in Paris on Friday 13th have rightfully been covered to saturation point, and for the most part have been covered responsibly and impartially. This isn’t the appropriate time for knee-jerk reactions and it certainly isn’t the time for people of any political stripe to attempt to make cheap capital out of an appalling tragedy. Nor is it the time for certain celebrity obsessed media luvvies to overdose on their own senses of self righteous indignation in order to sell newspapers.

We don’t need to go into specifics, we don’t need to name and shame. The bandwagon jumpers are there for all to see, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves. All the finger pointing and posturing won’t bring those poor victims back. Any reasonable human being regards such behaviour as cheap and nasty.

Show some respect and back off with the one-upmanship bullshit. At times such as this people should be standing together and condemning the murderers and all they stand for. And while we’re at it we should also consider that similar horrors are played out every day somewhere on this great big blue marble we call Earth. Our outrage is spurred by proximity and familiarity; Paris is only a relatively short train journey away, bringing the realisation that it could have been us.

By all means support Paris and condemn the murderous fanatics who perpetrated this outrage, but do so for the simple reason that you’re a human being. Not only does cheap political point scoring serve no purpose – it disrespects the memories of the victims who had their lives so cruelly snatched away from them under the most appalling circumstances.

Ted Pemberton.

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2 Million March For Peace, Freedom Of Speech And Harmony In Paris – Nigel Farage Goes Down The Pub (Allegedly)

Where's Nigel?

Where’s Nigel?

Following the horrendous terrorist attacks in Paris last week, some 2 million people took to the streets of Paris in protest, including an array of European and world political figures in a display of unity and defiance. Many carried ‘I am Charlie’ placards in reference to the slaughter at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, yet strangely, UKIP leader and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage was nowhere to be seen.

According to our source – a bloke up the shops who hangs around on a bench all day, but who is usually reliable – Nigel, the ‘people’s politician’ couldn’t be arsed with all that nonsense and probably went down the pub for a sneck lifter.’

Nobody knows quite why Nigel chose not to attend the protest march, but one renowned political analyst posited the theory that the UKIP leader was battling demons related to his abstinence from the drink since the New Year.

“You’d have expected Nigel to be giving it large for maximum publicity and proper milking it over there in Paris,” the renowned political analyst – who requested to remain anonymous – told us. “But for some reason, that didn’t happen. I can only assume that he’s been missing the drink something terrible – because he likes a pint or nine does our Nigel – and he’s succumbed to his demons and finally buggered off down the Dog And Duck.”

The bloke up the shops who tipped us off about this blockbuster story was reluctant to come out and openly say that Nigel had submitted in his battle with the drink.

Nigel - On The Drink With One Of His Mongy Mates Last Year

Nigel – On The Drink With One Of His Mongy Mates Last Year

“I never said he was supping pints,” our source declared. “I just said that I reckon he went down the pub with his mates. Probably to watch the Arsenal match on Sky. Don’t put words in my mouth – for all I know he could have been supping Diet Coke as he cheered the Arse on. He probably wasn’t – he was probably getting the drink down his neck like a champion, but I’m not allowed to say that. I’d get crucified by Daily Mail readers.”

In the final analysis, we can’t explain Nigel Farage’s conspicuous absence from the Paris march, and we aren’t altogether sure whether he’s embroiled in a battle with the drink or not, and we can’t explain his silence on the matter, although it’s probably fair to say that he is a bit fonder of the drink than of our European kin and he’s probably not all that keen on free speech either. In short: We haven’t got a clue.

What we do have a clue about though, is the overwhelming outpouring of support from the good citizens of Paris – citizens of every race, creed and colour, who took to the streets yesterday to denounce terrorism and defend at all costs the right to free speech, so that the likes of us can publish our drivel, safe in the knowledge that if some gun toting nutter storms our office and shoots us all up to shit that at the very least we hold a firm grip on the moral high ground.

Paris – We salute you!

The Café Spike Team.

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Je Suis Charlie – Nous Sommes Tous Charlie

I am Charlie, we are all Charlie. Never let freedom of speech die.

I am Charlie, we are all Charlie. Never let freedom of speech die.

Je suis Charlie, nous sommes tous Charlie. I am Charlie, we are all Charlie.

I was supposed to carry out some major updates on Café Spike yesterday; suffice to say that as events unfolded in Paris during and after the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, it got pretty hard for me to focus on humour. I didn’t feel it appropriate, out of respect for the victims who were callously murdered for having the temerity to poke fun at a religious Godhead.

Following my initial revulsion I looked at the footage with a slightly more clinical eye. The masked gunmen certainly didn’t appear to be the cowards the far right would have us believe. They acted with well drilled military precision, not dissimilar to a special forces unit or a SWAT team, and to my untrained eye my guess would be that they were wearing body armour, aside from being heavily armed. These guys looked like experienced urban fighters.

Why did they commit this atrocity? Sure, I can understand that they were righteously indignant over Charlie Hebdo’s blasphemous treatment of their spiritual leader, but the crux of the matter remains that 12 people were gunned down because the shooters couldn’t deal with the fact that somebody who didn’t share their beliefs had the audacity to mock them for their extreme fanaticism.

Mockery of the great and the good is something of a European tradition. We all do it, or at least most of us do, and we take it for what it is – poking fun at the pompous and the self-righteous. It’s called satire. Not many people do it well, but those who have perfected their craft do it very well indeed, often striking a nerve or two along the way. The vast majority of us just tend to have a laugh about it and then move on. It’s like a tennis match – you win a point, then you lose one. It’s just a game.

Nobody in their right mind would ever suggest that the Jimmy Carrs, Frankie Boyles or Russell Brands of this world should be murdered because they caused offence to a particular group or individual. Most people see it for what it is – a publicity stunt, or simply a bad error of judgement when men like these cause offence. We cringe inwardly occasionally and then we get on with our lives. It’s the British way, and the European way.

As the day unfolded, so began the arguments, from the guarded; “Charlie Hebdo knew what they were doing and they brought this on themselves” to the outright fanatical; “We should declare war on all Muslims.” My response to both of these reactions in turn would be – no they didn’t – and – no we shouldn’t.

My opinion obviously won’t carry a great deal of clout, and if I’m honest with myself it isn’t the most intellectual analysis, simply my own interpretation of what I see – as an ordinary Joe – going on in the world around me. I wouldn’t dream of condoning or justifying in any way what happened in Paris, but there is one word which sums up most of what I see as being wrong with the world:

Extremism.

Extremists of all stripes, be they right wing, left wing, Christian, Muslim, Governments, the global media, dictators, bankers, industrialists, power brokers, serial killers, paedophiles, – they all share a common and rather despicable human trait; they refuse to countenance any form of compromise, only believing in one way. Their own way. And to a man they are ruthless and ready to kill at the drop of a hat in order to pursue their own warped agendas. Most of us just want to live our lives in peace and freedom, yet the truth is that our freedoms are being chipped away at, and that our little piece of terra firma diminishes a little in size as the clock ticks through the days, weeks, months and years.

It’s been said that satire is the ultimate weapon of the weak against the powerful, but satire is just clever words and pictures – it doesn’t come equipped with body armour and assault rifles.

If the gun really is more powerful than the pen – no matter who is pointing that gun – then we may as well just put down our pens and wave the white flag as we are marched to our respective places of execution, for then the lunatics have not only taken over the asylum – they’ve started the purge.

Martin Shuttlecock. 07/01/2015

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Brief Encounter avec mon ami Lynton!

Fortunately CJ's Passport Wasn't Up For Renewal

Fortunately CJ’s Passport Wasn’t Up For Renewal

So there I was just the other day, wandering around St Pancras International trying hard not to tread on the frogs and desperately looking for a fresh baguette to scoff on the Eurostar to Paris, when who should wander idly by with that typically vacant look on his face, as if he wasn’t quite sure what day of the week it was…..? Well knock me down with a feather duster and get caught trousers down shagging sheep in Hyde Park! “Quelle surprise, I gawped as I did my third double take. “If it isn’t me old mucker and partner in literary crime, Lynton Cox.”

Coxy was with a woman which was unusual! So I didn’t immediately smile at her because I couldn’t be a hundred per cent sure it really was his beloved wife . Mainly because I’ve never met Joelle. But also because I’d always presumed Missus Coxy looked like some tall slim bird of prey with a sharp beak, whereas this lady was petite, gently alluring and lacked that alarming red-eyed look of the lethal serial killer.

Nevertheless, I quickly ascertained this might well be the terrifying Joelle, even though she wasn’t dragging Lynton by the ear. Best say nothing, I thought. Steer clear of trouble. This could be her. Alternatively, she may be Lynton’s diary secretary. Or his secret lover. Or perhaps a friendly prostitute taking pity on the old boy and leading him back to her business HQ for a midday freebie. No need to make a scene, I decided. No fuss necessary. Best to ignore her.

I was off to Paris for a couple days. On no particular mission other than to show my delinquent daughter where to find the best piano bar in Montmartre, teach her how to walk along Clichy after midnight without being pestered by the punters – and make the case for pastis being a far safer choice of aperitif than absinthe. And importantly to argue my long held belief that the gloriously decadent dancers of the Moulin Rouge continue to further the mysterious cause of womanhood, far more effectively than the current crop of common-as-muck flesh-flashing sluts such as Rihanna and the Cyrus girl. With the great La Goulue it was always what the men didn’t quite get to see that drove them into spasms of wild desire.

But these idle thoughts of slim ankles and the can-can have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with mon ami Lynton Cox, he of the grey beard and laughing eyes.

London This Morning With A Bus

London This Morning With A Bus

One of the few nicer things about growing old is that one occasionally surprises oneself by the lightning speed that ones increasingly febrile brainbox is still capable of assessing a myriad of complex issues in far less than a split second. Thus, my own rusting old box was immediately able to understand that catching sight of the lesser-spotted Lynton at St Pancras International was just about one of the most natural sights on planet earth, like the nuns in St Peter’s Square and West London foxes rummaging through black rubbish bags at the dead of night.

Yes, Lynton lives in France, within striking distance of Paris. So whenever he’s not bringing the ancient jalopy over on the ferry, he’s sure to be a regular on Eurostar. Pangs of guilt trickled down to my untroubled conscience: I should have rung him. I should have telephoned the dear chap. If only to say I was coming and to offer up a suggestion that we share a few glasses in his home territory for a change Rather than the bar at Waterloo or the Coal Hole in the Strand where us stalwarts usually meet up. I should have called him. No doubt about that.

“Lynton old bean, what a lovely surprise,” I enthused. He smiled. A typical Lyntonesque smile but with no sound. Looks like the old prof’s gone ga-ga, I thought. Might even be early-onset alzheimer’s. He spoke. But alas I couldn’t understand a word he said. Partly because I’m stone deaf in one ear and there was a lot of noise about. But also because he spoke with a thick accent, un Pont Neuf too far for my schoolboy french.

So that was it. To be or not to be. Was this the real Lynton who has finally gone off his rocker.. Or was it some ill-begotten, frogborn, lookalike wannabe of absolutely no consequence? Come to that, has CJ finally gone mad? Or was this a perfectly simple (and rather boring) case of mistaken identity? We await further details and a full explanation for all these strange goings-on – with bated breath.

Par CJ

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