Thursday, 1 July 2010

A highly smackable face, airbrushed or not

Ho; I say! Blighty is not faring very well. Turns out Gordo isn't even PM anymore! Instead he's writing a book about the origins of the banking crisis and how he had all the ideas for Star Wars. From what I can piece together, a crossbow cannibal briefly wrested the premiership from Brown before the Tories were able to slash the national crossbow arrow budget, leaving the cannibal helpless.

Enter David Cameron, who inspired across the land -- even before cutting the country's budget to the bone -- a most visceral feeling of disgust. "He's trying too hard and he's just got a face you just want to hit. I'd love for him to knock on my door, I'd give him what for," said Jeanne King of East London during the election. Ms. King didn't likely vote for Cameron, and the rest of the country certainly didn't. But Cameron is now in charge, thanks to the unfortunate alchemy of the UK's mix-n-match American/European electoral system, wherein only two parties gain serious votes, but when neither gains quite enough one of the two Goliaths must make deals with with their putative David. This year, the slingshot was wielded by Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, a Europhile polyglot with a Spanish wife and Dutch mother. He was sick of the same old politics, but cured when neither the Consvervative or Labor party earned enough votes to make their man prime minister. Then he was kingmaker!

Clegg is now deputy prime minister, a post that as far as anyone can tell involves keeping Cameron's seat warm when he's not there (literally) and bringing him coffees and cakes when he is. He recently made an official visit to Germany, where he spoke in German, presumably proffering a formal apology for his German cactus arson.

Cameron's real right-hand man is George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer (a fancypants name for finance minister), who last week delived the axe blow to what the Tories see as a bloated budget bequeathed by Labour. The new budget is a bit of a gamble (as was the last), with Obama telling Cameron, "Chill, dude," taking the philosophy that our nebulous malevolent overlords the markets are at heart a video ho, wooed by the flash of cash and the swagger of a rapper borrowing record label money to lease a Bentley, or in the markets' case, a country borrowing yuan to lease a future.

Freedom Chips has no idea who's right but is excited 'cause not only is it a gamble, it's a gamble we can gamble on.

Freedom Chips 1 : 0 Jellied Eels

Freedom Chips is ever so pleased to return to blogging today. As some of you may know, I've spent the last three months in a coma induced by an accidental overdose of jellied eels.

What news of the country and world? I can find so very little information on the latest doings of Gordon Brown; I assume he's gone to South Africa to cheer on our boys?

Go England!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Price blitz? Really?

This seems a bit off: Tesco, one of the country's biggest supermarket chains, is offering a "price blitz on entertainment and books". High prices are certainly an enemy to all Britons, but it seems in poor taste to use the word "blitz" to advertise discounts on Billy Elliot and MarioKart, especially when there are people alive who experienced and remember the German bombing campaigns on the UK. Compare Tesco's price blitz with the previously best known blitz:

Price Blitz

London Blitz

I don't know, maybe I'm just being a sensitive, emotional American. But I hope no American chains are offering in 60 years to fly a plane into prices.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Irony deficiency

I was recently approached by a Liverpudlian wearing a corporate t-shirt and waving a clipboard. Did I have a minute to spare, he wanted to know.

Having worked for the NHS last year, accosting innocent shoppers at retail parks and signing them up for some newsletter they didn't want or need, I felt it in my karmic interests to stop and speak to the lad. He told me about some service or product and asked where I was from, guessing not Liverpool. "Newcastle," I replied. "Oh," he said, cocking his head, "you don't really have a Geordie accent." I agreed and allowed that I'm actually American. His face lit up. "That's great!" he declared. "Good on you for learning sarcasm!" But then he worried. "Do you have a British bank account, then?" he implored. I did not at the time. "No worries," he said, and took his leave, urging me to "keep up the sarcasm!"

Oh you bloody Brits. Americans are actually very handy with sarcasm. How else do you explain the Simpsons? (I've actually asked this question of an Englishman, who replied, "Well, the Simpsons is very British.") Listen--just because some fat South Carolinian tourists missed your mordant zinger when asking directions outside Paddington Station doesn't mean that irony escapes us all. (This nefarious stereotype is steadily reinforced by the liberal, Jewish, hemophiliac media.)

I think the difference that divides us is just when and how we use irony, and to what effect. Take for example a short clip from Ian McEwan's new book, about the protagonist preventing someone's queue-jumping:

Abrubtly, driven by shameless rectitude, Beard stepped forward to deny the man space, and felt [the queue-jumper's] briefcase bang against his knee. At that moment Beard turned and sought out his gaze and said politely, though his heart beat a little harder, 'Terribly sorry.'

A rebuke poorly disguised as an apology, pretending manners to a man he would rather at that moment kill. It was good to be back in England.

Many Americans in a similar situation would turn to a sharp "What the hell, asshole?!" instead of irony. Similarly, an American driver trapped under the front of a truck and dragged for a minute along a highway would probably not say, regarding making a call (to emergency services) while driving, "I wasn't on hands-free, but I figured I wasn't really driving the car." One can imagine an American cursing the driver's idiocy and announcing intentions to sue.

So, my British friends, when you come across an American being direct, just know that it's not because he's chosen to not be ironic, or unable to be; rather, Americans revel in being direct and feel little shame in expressing anger or disapproval straightforwardly - just ask national hero George W. Bush.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Britain minus London a "huge soup kitchen-cum-industrial theme park"?

A London Evening Standard columnist derides a proposed London-Birmingham high speed train:

"At least the French have thriving regional economies to travel to and from. By contrast, we have a modern economy in the South-East with a huge soup kitchen-cum-industrial theme park attached."

Freedom Chips is of course based in Birmingham and so felt many emotions after reading this: anger, jealousy, shame, tea-drinking. But what do the actual British readers of this blog think? How true is this statement?

Exit Through the Gift Shop

If it ever crosses the pond, Americans should check out the new movie by Banksy, a graffiti artist notable for marking up the Israel-Gaza wall. The film starts as a documentary on street art and ends a sardonic take on the selling out of a genre born untame and unowned. In proper Banksy style, there's no direct judgment--the mockery of street art's co-opting is effected by (and Freedom Chips is only guessing) Banksy's manipulation of events depicted in the documentary.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Hungry Brummies

Hungry Brummies cooking a curry at home must be sick of supermarket naan (and, creepily, I know that some FC readers are indeed Brummies, thanks to Lord knows this faux-Brummie is fed up with the stuff. But never again will we have to make do with Sainsbury's ersatz Asian bread: I've recently found the Kurdish Stone Bakery in Sparkhill, where the staff put a graceful hurting on the dough and fling the finished product like a frisbee:

The menu:

I tried the کولڊ with cheese and while the cheese was nothing special, the bread was perfect. Supple without being soggy, slightly crisp but not dry, it's a fully rounded flat bread.

The bakery is easy to find, not too far up the road from Fashion 2000 Babies:

Sparkhill is a bit of a Little Karachi/Mogadishu/Dhaka and constantly bustling. It's a nice place to visit, but I was glad to return to painfully British Moseley, only one neighborhood south but a world away.

Moseley: quaint but sorely lacking in sari stores and Islamic centers

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Gordon Brown namesake turtle also a bully

"I don't think it helps that, as a more mature Snapper Turtle, Gordy has quite a jowly chin and a grumpy face," says Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary manager Alex Blackman.

"Please think twice and thrice before acquiring a prime minister. It is cruel to take home that cute baby on an impulse if you cannot provide permanent quarters. Prime ministers are living, breathing beings and not playthings. Please award them the compassion they deserve." -

Monday, 22 February 2010

"Get this bill passed or I'll tell the House of Lords you're gay!"

Oh touchy feely Europe, what you need is more pickup trucks and less universal health care. You're going soft!

Friday, 19 February 2010

When Chavs Attack

or: Freedom Chips' Harrowing Evasion of Cans of Pomegranate Seeds Hurled Through the Mean Streets of Liverpool

Chavs are urban and suburban tribes of shaven-headed, tracksuit-clad, English-mangling ruffians. Unlike the toff tribe, which maintains home bases in the cities of Oxford and Cambridge, the chavs operate in independent cells of young men and boys. They have a thing for draping themselves in fake gold and hoodies (so to better hide from the CCTV).
Chavs in action

Freedom Chips' exposure to chavs has been heretofore limited as they rarely appear in the countryside and its small towns. This blogger has only been able to observe them on a pair of ocassions, when several would be stationed outside the Sainsbury's, drinking and cursing and harassing customers carrying groceries to their cars. A valiant security guard once ordered them away, only to be slandered and threatened.

Chavs are neither common in Freedom Chips' current outpost of Birmingham, where the white working class seems to have been largely replaced by immigrants. (Interesting to notice on the bus the other day more women with their hair covered, in everything from modest hijabs to full burkas, than not.)

So your faithful correspondent was ill-prepared for the burst of chavvish aggression which befell him yesterday eve as he walked through the city center of Liverpool (pron. livapyool). He was even more perplexed by the quick succession of events and the cast of characters. The scene, courtesy of Google Earth:

Coming towards the viewer, your blogger enters the scene walking along the street next to the gray and blue modern building (blue arrow). He happens upon a group of eight or so feral chavs, ranging in height from maybe 4'10" to 6'5" (red arrow). Agitated and wild-eyed, the leader is yelling something inscrutable, save for the word "fookin'". Freedom Chips keeps it rollin as the chavs ascend the driveway behind the sloped brick wall to the left (yellow arrow). He notices a group of Spanish tourists stopped just ahead (pink rectangle), baffled, apparently, standing there watching the chavs disappear. Had it been a quarrel of chavs vs. Spaniards?

No time for analysis: as this blogger reaches the position of the man at the lower left, the bombardment begins. SMASHfizzzzzzzzz! A Coke can explodes in the street. Your correspondent turns and sees only brick wall. Best to shuffle. Clipping down the street, BASHcrack!, a can of something pinkish, some pink food, bursts on the sidewalk before him. Its innards disgorge, looking like so many pink kernels of corn. Are those...pomegranate seeds? Wtf? Where did they get a can of pomegranate seeds?

The American and the Spaniards scuttle down the street to find deliverance from these can mortars. A Spaniard wonders, "Era para nosotros?" I don't know, amigo. Maybe it was, or maybe it was meant for me. The chavs' motives are not to be known by we foreigners. In their tactics, weapons, and general comportment the chavs have mystified us all.

What drives you, chavs?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Oi ginger!

"Britain has racism, it's just not very good at it. Y'all give it a go...but, like, ginger-haired people...that ain't even a race but y'all lay into them like...." -- American comedian Reginald D. Hunter

A disorientated BNP voted to include non-whites on Sunday and took the opportunity to get back to their roots and exercise the oldest British discrimation of all, as Hunter astutely mentioned--antigingerism:

This headline is especially grabbing because the story appeared in the Times and was written by the very journalist on the receiving end of the dreaded five-finger ginger nose clutch.

Another minor item in yesterday's news concerned the Serious Organised Crime Agency (formed to fight only the gravest organized crime or possibly to replace a previous whimsical and libertine Organised Crime Agency). They claim British police are more vulnerable than ever thanks in part to - you guessed it - our benevolent but jealous overlord Facebook. It seems gangsters search for police who note their professions on the site. Those with such likes as "moral relativism," "living above my means" or "meeting in shadowy alleys" become prime targets.

Freedom Chips will be in Liverpool tomorrow in order to take part in a drunken brawl with Malaysian sailors.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The evolution of primitive thinking

"Kick out the foreigners" crazies collective the BNP will be searching their souls this weekend after landing in a catch 22: a judge has ordered them to allow non-white members under anti-discrimination law or face prohibition. They vote today on minority inclusion.

Well, you might say, that's all pretty silly; what self-respecting British Asian or black person would ever want to join? Very few, of course, but don't forget about the people with no self respect. Like Islamocynic Rajinder Singh, who admits he only wears a turban for photo ops:

Singh, a Sikh who came to the UK from India in the sixties and who plans the join the BNP, does not quite see the big picture: "I've had people shout 'Paki Go Home!' when I walk down the street," he says. "But that speaks much about the 'Paki' reputation – it's a negative reaction to Pakistan." Alright then. Singh lost his father in the partition of Pakistan and India, but doesn't blame Britain for causing the fighting that killed two million people: "[T]he violence sprang from the Koran. The Muslim answer to reasoned argument is knife, dagger and bomb." Singh is right in time for the probable transformation of the BNP, which, to survive, will need to narrow the focus of its loathing. Britain's Muslims should prove a fitting target.

[Quick background: The BNP was and is of little import, but gained a national profile last summer when their leader Nick Griffin won a seat in European Parliament. (They also hold a handful of city and town council seats.) They pop up in the news from time to time, such as when Griffin, a former member of even further-right party National Front, was given a seat on respectable BBC political debate show Question Time.]

The BNP's base is obviously angry, confused and outdated white males who need something to hate. To carry on, they'll be forced to incorporate the hatred of people they hate, but hate will always find a way, apparently.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Onward and upward

Freedom Chips is pleased to announce the conclusion this week of field research in the English countryside (nice castles, very quiet). In order to more closely observe the urban tribes of Britannia, all operations will now be moving to the Forbidden City of Birmingham, pictured above.

Birmingham is something like Britain's Pittsburgh, if the US were so small that it had no other options and its second city had to be the home of the Steelers.
Like its American counterpart, Birmingham is a former industrial power horse that's been trying for a few decades now to reforge itself as a center of commerce and research and development. Things seem to be going pretty well, as evinced by the poncey new flats and restaurants that have sprung up around the city's once putrid canals (of which they have more than Venice, which means very little in a city like Brum).

Luckily for a curry conoisseur like this blogger, Birmingham is also home to a lively Indian cuisine scene, the jewel in its crown being balti, a tomato-based Kashmiri fusion of Indian and Pakistani curries that somehow popped up in Birmingham. They say it's not even available the Indian subcontinent.

No man can live on curry alone, of course, so Freedom Chips looks forward to trying the ninth best fish and chip shop in the UK, according to the Times. Expect a review some time next week.

British pragmatism: Build and adapt

The UK, like the rest of Europe, just isn't making enough babies. The country now has more old people than children. Now, the government could try to spur babymaking by offering monetary incentives to prospective parents and pumping Isley Brothers records from public speakers. But that's too much effort. Instead, they're just handily adapting to the situation at hand, as you can see here:

That's right, the UK has assigned grumpy pensioners children status, in some bizarre Hindu-inspired circle of life scheme. The British government is now building senior citizens their own play areas in parks. Perhaps with a little moxy and old-fashioned know-how these geezers will build enough strength to attack Martin Amis. Gertrude, stop hitting Mortimer!