Friday, 27 March 2015

Send in the clowns!

So, Parliament is putting on the dust covers as we near the last frenetic month of this long, long fixed term. Five years with no remission? We must at least be due compensation, but instead we must now endure a seemingly endless barrage of down-and-dirty, full-on party politicking as characters we have hardly seen return to their constituencies to kiss babies, talk bollocks, pretend to be ordinary folk-like-us and generally annoy us all into voting; they ought to be more careful what they wish for.

But while nowadays we see the rise of the political dynasties, in the past few were born into politics and came into what they saw as service from a whole variety of colourful backgrounds, bringing with them a wealth of experience won on the battlefields of real life. From postmen to personnel managers, plumbers to town planners; but none with so colourful a past as John Major who famously ran away to join the circus. A new volume of his memoirs is about to be published and in it he describes a hitherto unknown aspect of his life in the ring.

For a while John’s act was the most popular in the whole show, as he ran with the clowns, but what was most surprising of all is that he was very popular indeed with the ladies in the audience. Every night after they took their bows, queues of swooning admirers would mob his caravan to catch a glimpse, bag an autograph… or cop a feel.

But the other clowns were furious and jealous of his popularity they tried to work out the secret of his success. They set to watch his routine carefully and analyse his every move, but after a few night’s work they were still none the wiser. Okay, he had the whole clown get-up, but so did they all; the nose, the whiteface, the scary permanent grin. Yes, he did have that odd internal moustache, but come on ladies, really? It couldn’t be that. The only makeup feature that stood out was his enormous, back-combed, jet-black, Afro wig. But surely that was more likely to inspire coulrophobia than lustful craving?

Maybe it was his act? They examined in detail his every move, from blocking out in rehearsals to the final finished performance, but there was little to it. In fact, if anything there was so much less ‘business’ from Major than some of the principal clowns – a Pierrot he was not, as he wobbled about the arena. In fact his whole schtick seemed to comprise nothing more than pretending to drink an entire barrel of beer and stagger around as if drunk and dazed.

The chief clown decided to confront John himself who, it turned out, was no wiser and somewhat perplexed by all the attention. And so it was decided that they would have to ask the women – who often came night after night to touch the outsized hem of his garment – just what it was that drove their passion. That night, after John had donned his enormous fuzzy wig and big red nose; after he had apparently downed several gallons of strong ale marked ‘XXXX’ and after he had staggered ‘drunk’ from pillar to post for several minutes, the troupe of clowns personally escorted John backstage to his caravan before addressing the throng of lovelorn lassies.

Dit-dit diddle-diddle dit-dit dah dah!
Parp parp!

“Ladies, ladies, calm down!” said the Chief Clown “John will be out in a minute.” The women screamed and a few threw knickers. The speaker raised and slowly lowered his arms to command silence. “But before he does” he continued “we need to know the answer to a burning question.” The crowd fell silent and waited. “What is it” he asked “that drives you so wild?” For a moment nobody said a word; you could hear a pin drop. Then one of the women – it may have been Edwina Currie herself – shouted out, “Surely you realise John Major is a well-known afro-dizzy-act?”
(I'll get my coat...) 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

NHS Saving

Dateline 08th May 2016

Well, one year on from David Cameron’s close victory over Labour, the SNP and the Greens who together tried to deny the will of the people and block the Queen’s speech and it looks as if Cameron’s ‘alleged’ decision to intervene and remove Alex Salmond’s political teeth has paid dividends. UK Plc is firmly back in business, the deficit is going down pretty much as planned and investment is pouring into the country as, one after one, the southern European countries follow Greece and leave the doomed Euro to the Germans and the French. Alex Salmond is still eating through a straw, but few now remain to object… or care.

One of the great triumphs of the Conservative minority government – with the backing of the remaining LibDem MPs (on whom sufficient blackmail material was gathered to ensure their cooperation) – has been the resurgence of the National Health Service. Despite all of the opposition’s best efforts to sabotage recovery and rabble-rouse the health workers’ unions into punitive action, the NHS has not only endured but triumphed under new management. Strikers have been summarily dismissed with the authority of new emergency powers granted to hospital administrators promoted entirely from the ranks.

The top-line managers who were displaced and objected about it have been taken out and shot and all nursing degrees have been annulled, returning nurses to front line service under recalled matrons. So far few complaints have been received and given that a punch in the mouth from a ward sister is a likely outcome for time wasters, the throughput on those wards has increased two-fold. There is a belief that people are too scared to be ill for very long and as a result, even though the economy is booming, the NHS is now treating more people, more effectively, for less money while still affording handsome pay rises to nursing staff, paramedics and the blokes that service the machines which go ‘beeeep’.

Who would have thought that a tired old format could be resurrected with such success? But resurrected it has been and with ex-Army Medical Corps staff training up the triage nurses the number of malingerers, hypochondriacs, violent drunks and psychotic drug abusers clogging up A&E departments has dwindled so far that security staff have been let go and police officers released to go back to catching criminals. Despite the charge of cronyism, David Cameron’s appointment of a personal friend to lead the new NHS has come in for little in the way of serious criticism, the results speaking for themselves.

Just a little prick...
This need not hurt a bit

Due to the no-nonsense approach and a ruthless cutting out of unnecessary services, treatment for imaginary ailments, alternative therapies and touchy-feely pastoral care, the NHS is playing a major part in getting people off the disability registers and back to work. They say it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good and the new boss has form with tired old formats. Under the stewardship of Jeremy Clarkson Britain once again has the finest health service… in the world. And on that bombshell…

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Troubled Waters

In Rochdale, one-man Labour meltdown Simon Danczuk, not content with trashing his party’s big wigs, rejoices in the hoisting of the Pakistani flag. It can’t just be me… and of course, it isn’t. No less a scrapper than Katie Hopkins has waded in to condemn his transparent vote-seeking with a widely reported exchange on the good old Twitter. Danczuk’s oh-so-worthy riposte that “Rochdale has had its problems and no one has spoken on grooming more than me. But to equate every Pakistani with grooming is a racist slur.” falls on deaf ears. This noble statement is supposed to recall every attack dog to heel and make us see the error of our ways. Good infidel dogs!

Meanwhile Pakistani muslims burn Hindus alive for ‘disrespecting’ the koran. ISIS rages across the Middle East, burning, pillaging, raping, hanging and beheading, and now random gun-rampages are breaking out all over the world – and all of this is in the name of the religion of peace. The direct threat to the United Kingdom from islamic terrorism has the security forces admitting profound weaknesses in our defences. And a fifth column comprising a significant number of ‘British’ muslims – millions-strong – fails to condemn those barbaric acts. There is a problem and it is a problem of one thing and one thing alone – islam itself. There is no such thing as a moderate muslim, because islam demands total submission to the imaginary will of a medieval madman and to a devout muslim this subjugation is more important than life itself.

You cannot reason with a muslim – islam just doesn’t allow it and any protestation otherwise is simple taqiya designed to mislead. The blind following of any superstition – islam, astrology, Christianity, Tarot, tea-leaves, Voodoo, Joojoo or no-kan-do – is incompatible with any twenty-first century civilisation. There is no cure for islam; only its extinction offers any hope for the peace its apologists insist it promotes while demonstrating the opposite whenever challenged about its atrocities.

Intelligent, free, thinking people have choices about what they believe, how they behave, how they dress and organise their lives and how they interact with others inside and outside their immediate communities. There is no intelligence, freedom or thought in a religion which demands blind obedience… or at the very least the turning of a blind eye to the horrific inhuman crimes perpetrated in its name. But apostasy is always an option, no matter what penalty some bearded fuckwits in sandals and bedsheets living in the Stone Age has dreamed up. Say no to slavery, say no to ignorance and say no to islam. Walk away and stay away. The choice is yours, mohammed, it is not mine.

Woggery in action
Burn our book, we burn your family - alive.

So, Simon Danczuk, you will excuse me if on this occasion I side with Katie Hopkins and condemn your stunt as just that – a naked attempt to appear to pour oil on troubled waters. The trouble is, those waters are stirred by an irrational hatred far deeper than any atheist or Christian society could even begin to muster and in case you haven’t noticed as you prise the lid from the oil barrel, those waters are well ablaze already.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

These foolish things

Now I’m as devout an atheist as any, but the bible – for all that it is based on an unprovable and basically childish premise - contains some wise words. For example, verse eleven of the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians states: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” To those of us who have long worked for a living and long now for a return to more childish pleasures in our dotage this is a passage which invokes a truth we have experienced personally.

You can still have fun, still enjoy a youthful interest in novelty and wonder but our wilder excesses are tempered by that steady counsel – empathy. I may not sympathise with your cause but I can pretty well empathise with how you will feel if, for instance, I invade your personal space with my rancid and unappealing opinions about you and what you stand for. And while I might have a go on Twitter, or blog about you in distasteful terms I would draw the line at throwing eggs in your face, painting a swastika on your door or turning up mob-handed and scaring your kids.

I well remember the Rag Weeks at university – oh what witty wags we all were back then when we were so sure we were the only generation to ever have discovered drink, sex and spectacular swearing. But the idiocy of our cocksure strutting was quickly brought into sharp focus when the world of work opened its doors and we discovered, quick-sharp, that the time for play was over. But some people can’t seem to relinquish their grip on these foolish things and one such thing is the belief that maintaining the soothing fictions of your cosseted world of academia will sustain you into adulthood.

University is a privilege not afforded to all and often unappreciated by those who benefit. It is a time for experimentation with ideas, lifestyles and allegiances which will ultimately shape your world view and your future self. But it is supposed to be a period of transition from the child you were to the adult you will one day become; it is not meant to be a blueprint, Peter Pan-like for your forever-land. Barrie called it Neverland for a reason and only the lost boys remain trapped there, in infancy. This week, one little lost boy – the still-a-student-after-more-than-a-decade – Dan Glass - tossed his rattle out of the pram.

This former Sussex University union president is now in his early thirties but prefers to cling to the na├»ve affiliations of his student days, hitching his horse to any old bandwagon so long as it has the right new-age, lefty, any-cause-will-do credentials, furthering his bent for petty headline-grabbing with a succession of high jinks and pranks posing as political activism. From what I can glean, no tiresome juvenile crusade-du-jour goes un-banged-on about. Climate, gender, page 3, breastfeeding, HIV ‘rights’, etc and any activity, it seems, that wage-earners engage in, is fair game for disruption.

What cuts? No idea, but I might get on the telly...
Free the aberrant apostrophe!

We have a right to protest in this country and even the likes of Dan Glass are allowed – quite rightly - to express their opinions. But others have rights also, which is a counterpoint often unacknowledged by those whose opinions are formed in the lukewarm crucible of the school of soft landings. Those of us who have experienced Big School, the one with the hard knocks, have no time for these annoying, squabbling, half-formed ‘kidults’ and just one piece of important advice for the likes of Mr Glass. Grow up.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Things we won’t say, but are true...

I’ve been watching the debate unfold since Trevor Philips’ documentary on race relations in Britain, which was shown last Thursday night on Channel 4. He told us what we always knew, that his team thought – as did Ingsoc – that if you can prevent people from expressing ideas, they will stop thinking them. Oh, I well remember the New Labour days and saw 1984 being played out in front of my eyes on the telescreen daily, but as hard as I shouted out, the party faithful shouted me down. I thought then that it was only a matter of time before the book-burning began.

Phillips says now that he and his cohorts were wrong, but the book-burning has been underway for some time now, or it may as well have been. If you don’t have the attention span for in-depth analysis in print, where you can ruminate, cogitate, challenge, write in the margins and develop an understanding in your own time, how can you rear responsible adults with a real understanding of the world we live in? The Internet, for all its fabulous content, is largely used to disseminate information in pre-packaged, pre-digested, spat-out chunks of polemic and propaganda. That, porn, poker and pictures of kittens, natch.

One thing that Trevor Phillips said was that – shock horror – stereotypes are often largely true. He then went on to say some things that a white presenter would still have to couch in the most cautious of terms; basic stereotypical facts about race, nationality, socio-economic background – all the new-taboos. And while he disagreed with much of what Nigel Farage had to say he nonetheless recognised Farage’s charge that many on the left of politics had helped bring about the current shitty state we find ourselves in. Actually, I have some sympathy for Philips’ crusading because, compared to the seventies, we are in an undeniably more harmonious balance now, with young people far less likely to hold hideously racist feelings.

Unless, of course, that racism is turned on their own. There is a peculiar urge in the soundbite-attuned young to rebel against what wiser heads have organised; the very society that has raised them thus far. And such knee-jerk urges should debar them from a say in proceedings until their heads have levelled out and they have seen the true contradictions of human nature. The internet and social media of course, manages to maintain those child-like urges well beyond the age of majority nowadays, with yesterday’s attack on Nigel Farage and his family a typical example of a political agenda driven by sheer ignorance and none of the maturity of Phillips' stance.

Predominantly juvenile white protesters said: "We will not succumb to Farage's prejudice. We will create the world we want to live in. A world beyond UKIP.” Marvellous, kiddies. And do you have any idea what such a world would look like? A world where the expression of opinions with which you disagree are prohibited and such prohibition enforced by the threat of violence? You may have thought you were having a bit of fun and attacking ‘the Nazi’, but your own actions were far more Hitler Youth than anything Ukip has ever inspired.

All it takes is for good people to do nothing...
It's happening again...

Things we won’t say but are true? Some people are stupid. Some people are ugly. Some people are idle. Some people work harder than others. Some people steal. Some people succeed and some shouldn’t breed. Some people are black, white, brown and yes – some people in Ukip (as in any party) are afraid of a world changing too quickly for those changes to be assimilated. But some people are too ignorant of anything that matters to deserve to live in a tolerant world that decent people have built and want to preserve.