Is That Really Ai Weiwei?!

Many of you probably know Ai Weiwei as a highly influential Chinese contemporary artist, noted for his architecture, photography, film, and his openly critical stance on democracy and human rights in China. So you can understand my surprise when G told me Ai Weiwei had joined the likes of Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations), Boris Johnson and David Cameron who have all ridden the Gangam wave (groan). I know, I know…not that again!

When I first saw the video I thought it was yet another parody of Psy’s Gangnam Style. Surely that couldn’t be the man himself! But as Huffington Post UK has confirmed, it really is him! I’m not quite sure what to make of it — but as Sam Parker has said, “perhaps by remaking the global internet hit of the moment he is hoping to draw further attention to internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China, where raunchy pop videos extolling materialism are generally frowned upon.”  It hasn’t gone viral yet like Eton Style, but who knows…it just might?

Have You Got Eton Style?

Have you ever disliked something so much you end up talking about it all the time, to the point where you’re not even sure if you love or hate it anymore? Well that’s sort of how things are with me for South Korean rapper (if you can even call him that) Psy’s insanely annoying song Gangnam Style, which apparently Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson are also fans of. There’s no escape — it’s literally everywhere I turn!

I still can’t believe that was the first K-pop song to break through the Western music market. And there seems to be no end to it, from tube signs to friends making their own parodies and even the poshest of pupils remaking the song into their very own Eton Style! The Eton video went viral on YouTube after only a day of being uploaded, gaining a whopping 43,326 views. It made me cringe, just like the original did but for different reasons. That said, I liked that I could actually understand it and the lyrics were quite funny (and spot on).

“We may awkward, frustrated, lonely and insecure (hey), yes insecure (hey),  We’re not too social, can’t talk to women, although we try (hey), we’re just too shy (hey),
If you approach us then we’ll just break down and cry.”

If I was forced to choose which one I ‘liked’ more (rather, hated less), I’d have to say Eton Style. Posh or not, they really are no different than your average teenager. Okay, well they could work on their dance skills a bit more — painful but entertaining to watch!

The Truth is Out: Pasties and Petrol

As much as I can’t stand politics, all the media mayhem over petrol and pasties is so ludicrous that it’s hard not to follow just for pure entertainment.  Last week the nation was rocked by three major crisis, a false petrol shortage, an increase in the cost of stamps, and most outrageous–a proposed VAT on pasties (which could possibly lead to a bakers’ march).

All the controversy over pasties doesn’t end there.  In fact, it gets better! Never mind the lies that David Cameron told about having a pasty at the West Cornwall Pasty Company.  Our trusted friends at the Daily Mail have discovered that the PM indeed sampled some Greggs treats when visiting the bakery last year, but it was in fact a sausage roll, not a pasty.  Pastry, pasty, all the same when sold warm – all VATable.

But one question still remains, as I asked before, how warm is warm? I scoured the internet for the most simplified answer and forgive me for quoting the DM twice in one post, but I couldn’t have put it any better. If the pie is hotter than what the ‘ambient temperature’ is in relation to the food,you’ll pay VAT at 20%. “Cold or lukewarm and you grab a bargain, cheat the taxman – and maybe get a free dose of food poisoning.” Well said, Paul Harris!

Truth be told, what this nonsense about pasties and scaring people into hoarding ‘jerry cans’ of spare petrol (I think I even read somewhere that a woman in York suffered 40% burns when pouring petrol into a jug in her kitchen with the gas cooker on) really highlights is how out of touch the current government is with the people. I’m not sure what the Labour lot were trying to prove when they decided to jump on the pasty bandwagon, but to be fair, you can’t fault David Cameron for having a privileged upbringing. He had no say in it, really. But there certainly is a huge gap between Tory politics and what the people need.

Troubled Nation: Petrol, Stamps, Pasties

This week the nation braced itself for a false fuel-shortage due to rumours of tanker drivers going on strike.  Panic-buying ended up causing traffic jams and fights among those queuing for petrol.  Around the same time came the announcement that there would be a 30% rise in the cost of first-class stamps, from 46p to 60p, as well as a 39% rise for second-class, from 30 April.  As a letter writer, I have one word for that. Rubbish! And then came the triple whammy of a proposed 20% VAT on hot takeaway food items, where the debate on the tax somehow catapulted into a ‘Pastygate’ scandal.

Does it matter if George Osborne can’t remember the last time he had a Cornish pasty or whether or not David Cameron has ever eaten one?  On the surface, the obvious answer to these questions is ‘of course not’!  But it does matter that Cameron blatantly lied to the country about having one, further adding to the ludicrous debates centering on the humble meat pie.  Oh, the lies!

I’m not going to sit here and make false claims about how much I love a Cornish pasty.  Don’t get me wrong, they do make for a tasty snack.  Truth is, the last pasty I had was ages ago in Canterbury from the West Cornwall Pasty Co.  Piping hot. Premium quality.  Ah, but what if I get one now and it’s only lukewarm? Is that lukewarm pasty VAT-able? According to the new change, “all food (with the exception of freshly baked bread) that is above ambient temperature when provided to the customer is standard [VAT]-rated”.

Confused? I am!  What if I buy the pasty cold and have them heat it for me after I’ve purchased it? Does that help me work around the new tax? All joking aside,  I am in strong opposition to such taxes, as it affects a lot of hardworking people struggling to put bread on the table.  That is the underlying point of all these debates right?  Yet the Conservative crew seem to have turned it into a (failed) PR stunt and now the nation seems to be more frustrated than ever.  I pray this doesn’t spell riots, although I wouldn’t be surprised if this all led up to future premise for some version of the Hunger Games.  *Shudder*

Not O-Kay

The results are in from the UK 2010 general election and it would appear that the voters of Britain have made history in producing the first hung parliament since 1974.  Unsurprisingly, there has been growing speculation as to what could happen as a result of the negotiations that will follow.  Again I’ll leave the analysis up to the experts, but who really knows what goes on behind those closed doors?

I suspect that even Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Nick Clegg aren’t even sure themselves at this point, especially not on the wee bits of sleep they’ve gotten over the past few weeks.  In-party tension is rising, and so are blood pressures.  Meanwhile, I’m left to wonder if the media could back off a bit and let things run its course.

I say this because I was shocked by Kay Burley’s interview of a protester in favour of proportional representation outside of the Lib Dem meetings.  Why interview someone if you’re just going to shout over them?  That’s a bit out of order, if you ask me.  And what’s with thinking that 65% of the British public voted for a hung parliament? Somehow, I get the feeling she’s been misinformed.

Surely, 65% of the voting public voted for their party of choice, which unbeknownst to them would result in a hung parliament.  There wasn’t a box to mark with ‘hung parliament’ on it.  I don’t know much about Kay Burley, but she reminded me a lot of Bill O’Reilly.  Kay, darling, a word of advice: learn to have a bit more tact and leave the bias out of your reporting, please.  It’s giving me a bit of a headache.