South Park Me

[sticky post] Political Grandees and the House of Lords

In the hagiography that greeted Mrs T's death, other politicians of her era emerged out of the woodwork. I was intrigued. How many of these old fogeys were still knocking about? The oldest that I was certain of was Tony Benn (88). I also knew Peter Tapsell, Douglas Hurd, Shirley Williams, Norman Tebbit (all 83), Dennis Skinner, Nigel Lawson (both 81), Roy Hattersley and Michael Heseltine (both 80), were still alive. But who else? My findings threw up some interesting names...

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South Park Me

Exactly eight years ago...

...I arrived in London to settle here permanently. The photos below were taken on the night and subsequent morning of that memorable journey. It was my first flight to Blighty in three years - and I only stayed a night on that occasion - so this was actually my first proper visit in nearly four years. I was over the moon, making childhood dreams come true and all that jazz.


With mum at check-in in Muscat (then Seeb) International Airport. Dad had a separate flight that night to attend a conference in Italy. I think my sis was still in India. You can see bits of my Liverpool jersey that I was wearing in honour of the Champions League Final that was taking place as we were flying towards the Continent. The Mighty Reds were taking on The Rossoneri (AC Milan) in Athens. The pilot was kind enough to give us two score updates along the way. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1.

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South Park Me

Reflections on the general election

This is what I wrote on Facebook yesterday afternoon:

"Gutted about the result but congratulations to the Tories for an extraordinary victory. Did not see that coming at all. An absolute bloodbath in political terms for the opposition. A country divided unlike ever before. A broken electoral system. And an impending escalation to the austerity programme. I do hope the vanquished dust themselves off quickly and work together in every way possible to fight for the cause of social democracy. Unfortunately, the voices of liberalism are all but dead in this Parliament and worse still, perhaps for another generation."

Douglas Alexander, Danny Alexander, Jim Murphy, Charles Kennedy, Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, David Laws, Ed Balls, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. It felt like the political equivalent of that climactic scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone ordered all those assassinations while attending his nephew's christening. Lynton Crosby, like Clemenza before him, had carried out all the dirty work, leaving Don David Cameron to take all the credit and assume absolute control.

Five years ago I voted for the Lib Dems and I did the same again on Thursday night. We've gone from our first stint in government since the War to the edge of obscurity. There will be a lot of soul-searching in the years ahead. The legacy of Jo Grimond, Jeremy Thorpe, David Steel, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy lies in tatters. The rise and fall of Nick Clegg feels like a modern adaptation of an ancient Greek tragic hero. Yet, the optimist in me believes our day will come again. I sincerely hope so, particularly for the cause of British liberalism.

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Geetopadesham

Highgatehill Murugan Temple



The Highgatehill Murugan Temple was the first Hindu temple that dad visited in England more than thirty years ago. And therefore it has a very special place in his heart. Every time he passes through the city, he pays his respects and last weekend was no different. This is how it looks today after a front extension upgrade giving the appearance of a Tamil abode of worship. Dad (along with many other devotees) paid towards its construction. The two statues in gold colour are of Muruga and Ganesha (the elephant-headed God) who are the sons of Shiva and Parvati. Muruga is often referred to as the God of Tamils and wherever in the world you are, a Murugan temple is the best evidence of a Tamil community in the area. Mounted onto the inner-side of the window, halfway between the two gold statues is the Hindu symbol Om depicted in Tamil. And just above the main entrance are two sculptures of peacocks, the traditional vehicle of Muruga. If you're ever in the area, the temple serves a simple yet delicious free lunch consisting of just three Tamil dishes every day around noon. All are welcome. And here's a cheeky photo I took of the main Muruga idol inside the temple a couple years ago.

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South Park Me

View from platform 1 of Blackfriars station



I travelled through this station for only the second time since its significant rebuild a few years ago, and it's got the best view from a railway station platform. The platform spans the length of the bridge. St Paul's Cathedral can also be seen from this spot, but just missed out to the left of this panorama. However I did manage to capture: Tower 42, the Cheesegrater, the Walkie Talkie, Cannon Street station, the Canary Wharf skyscrapers, Tower Bridge, the Millennium "Wobbly" Bridge, the Shard and the former Bankside power station that now houses the Tate Modern art gallery. The station itself is a block of concrete.

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India Flag

Tamil film song inspires American hip-hop artist



It's not often an English pop song is a copy of a Tamil film song, but one example is American hip-hop artist will.i.am's "It's My Birthday", a UK number one hit single last year. It's surprising how this song escaped my notice, but it's always a pleasure to make such discoveries. Wikipedia confirms the connection between the two songs. Indeed there is a reference to the Tamil original in the opening lines of the English song. To come across this while listening to piano renditions of English pop songs on Spotify was especially gratifying, because I had just wondered whether Spotify also stored piano renditions of Tamil and Bollywood numbers. I still don't know the answer to that question, but you could be fooled into thinking there was at least one in the database.

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