Amongst my Christmas Cards yesterday morning - a letter informing me of a rent increase for 2011/12 of 6.1%.
Happy Christmas to you as well! There are not many certainties in life, but one is that whilst Hackney Council's tenants are to experience a rent increase of 6.1%, few if any of those tenants will receive a pay increase of anything like that.
I could only catch the first hour or so of John Pilger's "The War You Don't See" - having twins who are a couple of weeks old does not sit easily with documentary films that are nearly two hours long.
Of that first hour, you saw Pilger at his best when it comes to his basic understanding of the media - what it by and large is, and what it does on the big issues. It supports and serves the state and capitalist interests. And those interests, in this case, were to go to war. Of those interviewed I had not seen the excellent Mark Curtis before, and Rageh Omar was surprisingly radical. David Rose, author of a series of articles supportive of the invasion of Iraq was a real surprise. Here Pilger was on less sure ground - whilst Rose may have recanted and now regrets allowing himself to be used by the security services in 2003, he has long been categorised as a 'journo-cop' by activists, with a history of dubious articles going back to the mid-1980s. Pilger could have gone further in his questioning here, but lacked the tools to do so. Photographer Guy Smallman was also interviewed. Guy has more than worked his ticket since falling out with anti-fascists in 1999, and his testimony here was both moving and effective. On a personal level having once lied to me about his relationship with the alleged anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, I have little time for Guy (it is not good enough to say he merely took pictures for Gable and co, when he has sold Searchlight and eagerly defended it from anti-fascist critics) but that will not detract from his interview here.
Weaknesses? Pilger appeared to have one silly line where he referred to Iraq as 'defenceless' - something palpably not the case - but in many ways the weaknesses lie not so much with the material, but how it is used. What is tragic about Pilger is how easily his core message is forgotten or traded - certainly those in the leadership of the anti-war movement quickly traded the idea of a war for resources or American imperialism for the fashionable idea of a 'war against Islam'. As the likes of Mark Curtis point out, the US and UK ruling classes have always happily worked with the most reactionary Islamists possible.
This drags out old warhorse John Pilger to consider how the media's approach to military conflict has changed since the First World War. Of more interest is that alongside Dan Rather and Rageh Omar, amongst the interviewees is scheduled to be Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Resistance to the Con-Dem cuts is now aimed at all levels of power.
One tweet from a Sky News journalist yesterday commented that virtually no one was at the NUS candlelit vigil, where a succession of the usual speakers from the Labour Party bleated the same words we have heard at every march for a generation. The masses were instead on the move. The lies of Nick Clegg have radicalised a generation.
Amongst the messages yesterday was this one to Charles and Camilla - behold your future executioners.
Westminster insider Guido Fawkes has launched the standard defence of Green on his blog, namely that he creates wealth, and that those who criticise him are 'killing' the country. We rely on people like Sir Philip, according to Guido. I wonder how much wealth Philip Green would create tomorrow if all his staff phoned in sick? Political analysts such as Guido should be asking whether the UK would have a budget deficit at all, but for the tax avoidance of companies like Top Shop and Vodaphone? Instead we get the tired old right wing mantra that you make the rich work harder by taxing them less, and the poor work harder by taxing them more.
Strolling along Mare Street today, I felt almost nostalgic as I spotted a group of Socialist Worker sellers outside Primark.
Once Hackney would have seen seven or eight different Socialist Worker pitches each Saturday, today it is rare to find one. At this particular sale the old technique of asking for signatures for a petition was used, alongside the traditional wobbly pasting table. What was encouraging was that whilst the rhetoric concentrated on getting behind the students to fight the Con-Dems, the average age of these Socialist Workers was a good 45+ - my balding head would actually have added some youth to proceedings.
Why is this encouraging? I am rather hoping that the student rebellion will be remain as it is - led by students and school pupils. Lets leave the SWP outside Primark, muttering into their loudhailers. The beaten generation needs to step aside.
Yesterday, at just five days old, my son Leonard received his NHS number.
I like to think that in his cot he was yelling "I am not a number, I'm a free man" but it is more likely he was requesting a nappy change. His brother appears to have resisted being allocated a number by taking the somewhat drastic step of hiding in the intensive care unit, where the bureaucrats are yet to find him.
This is now six days of freedom for Reggie - and counting!