Monday, 6 July 2009



A movie adds nothing to Vermeer's work but this movie, from 2003, is, in its own right, fabulous, every scene is a masterpiece of composition, light and colour;
not sure what the narrative is trying to achieve and it doesn't matter; just as a vehicle, an homage, it is breathtaking, no, really, how-the-fuck...? jaw-dropping. If you haven't seen it, abandon cyberspace, cease blogging for a hundred minutes. Death and his grim sergeants come soon enough, this movie, like looking at Vermeer's work, is time well spent.

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Daisy said...

Some Shithead, described as a senior recently retired army officer, has just appeared on the BBC news to confirm that, yes indeed, lives are being lost in Afghanistan due to a lack of helicopters, the proper usage of which would allow the movement of troops to take place without relying on the few, highly predictable, road routes which are, equally predictably, heavily mined and booby trapped. This is a consequence of a lack of funding, said Shithead; in other words, it’s all down to money.

Well, pardon me if I disagree, and seek to place the blame, instead, on people like Field Marshall Sir Shithead being let loose inside the MOD without adequate supervision, or perhaps being shot at fucking dawn.

In 1995, the Army, desperately short of general-purpose lift helicopters, managed to free up some cash in a desperate attempt to acquire some more. The order, of course, had to go to the Westland factory in Yeovil so as to protect the 700 British jobs and our technological knowhow in building helicopters, even though Westland is a Franco-Italian company and many of the bits in the helicopters are American. Twenty-two Merlins, each capable of lifting about four tons, were ordered, costing around £35m each and which to this day are plagued by low availability. (Merlins, incidentally, cannot operate in Afghanistan, due to the altitude and heat, without substantial, expensive, modification and even in Iraq we never managed to have more than five flying from a fleet of twenty-two.).

For the same money, we could have ordered almost twice as many Chinooks, with two-and-a-half times the payload, greater speed and range, reduced operating costs, all of which would be suitable for operations in Afghanistan.

But it gets worse. In 2006 the MOD gave AgustaWestland a billion pounds, for which the Army and Navy will get a fleet of 70 “Future Lynx” battlefield and shipbourne helicopters costing, supposedly, £14m each, with delivery not starting until 2011.

Just for comparison, had we ordered from Sikorsky, we could have had their Seahawk choppers, each twice as powerful as a Lynx, for about £6m each. The Blackhawk, the Army version, comes in even cheaper, at £4 million each. These bulk of such an order would already have been delivered and would now be operational in Afghanistan.

The Future Lynx deal is Merlin all over again. If we'd spent the Merlin money on Chinooks in 1995, we'd have more than doubled our Chinook fleet and seriously addressed our lift problems. Had we spent the Future Lynx money with Sikorsky, we could have had an equal number of Seahawks or Blackhawks, had a more capable machine, got them sooner and still have £580m left - enough to buy another twenty Chinooks, minimum.

If all this had happened we’d now be in the happy position of having a more than adequate supply of helicopters, and 19 year old squaddies who’ve hardly started their journey through life wouldn’t be having their lives thrown away needlessly.

The acquisition of military equipment should never, repeat NEVER, be a jobs programme. How many times do we need to learn that particular lesson? The aircraft carriers we need like a hole in the fucking head, but which are being built, conveniently, in Gordon Brown’s backyard being another such disgraceful example.

But to go back to my issue with Shithead, the problem has never been money but, rather, the decisions taken by the politicians, jobsworths at the MOD and, yes, cunts like him.

Daisy said...

Oh, sorry, Mr Ishmael, nice picture.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, Ms Daisy,

It is a nice picture and it is a nice film. Those of us pissed by issues such as those you raise - amd they self-replicate all across public administration - let alone the pointless death of nearly two hundred squaddies and one CO need to come up for air at times or everything just becomes white noise. That's why I post bits of art and poetry and music, its a mental health thing, a stepping outside.

Having said that, I read your post closely and it's good stuff. The whole JOBS thing has bugged me for years, entire industries can go at the stroke of a pen but somehow defence jobs are within some cordon sanitaire, more, I suspect, for the shareholders than the workers, who are just, like Tommy, shit.

Elby the Beserk said...

Glorious film, and a delight to rest one's sight upon the glorious Ms. Johanssen at her best.

The Editor said...

Thought I'd missed it but I see it's on BBC2 at 9:00pm<.

Verge said...

meanwhile for the lowbrow knuckle-dragging crack-scratching members of the congregation (mirrow, mirror etc) there's probably a showing of "Girl with the Pearl Necklace" on one of the cloacal channels (Press the Pink Button Now to goose Debs from Gateshead...)

Daisy said...

Oh blast! Settled down to watch the masterpiece, looking forward to it enormously, and realised immediately I've seen it. I've actually got the bloody DVD.