Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Paying Peanuts

Why do we pay nurses so little? This question is asked over and over again by an incredulous public who simply would not wipe old people's arses for a pittance. The simple answer is, we pay so little because we can.

It's an unpalatable truth that practical economics decrees that we pay what we need to obtain the goods and services we want. If we don't want to shop around we pay more for that convenience, like it or not. If we want to be seen as discerning to a specific audience we pay extra to flaunt the labels. No matter that the same quality is available for less outlay; if fashion floats your boat you have to pay for your proclivity.

The same goes for wages. We accept what we are paid simply because we do. If you're unhappy you can seek alternative employment, or ask for more..

Or you can withdraw your labour. In the case of the nurses, some of them decided that nursing was too high a calling to be doing with all that wiping, so they reclassified themselves, took some more qualifications, got admin jobs then employed cheaper, lesser labour to 'andle the Andrex. It's how it's always been.

It's not pretty, it's certainly not 'fair' but what you get paid and your personal balance of payments is - tragic indictment of humanity that it is - actually a measure of your true worth to society. The bankers milk the system because they can. You get paid a bugger-all because you can easily be replaced.

All of which is why I believe today's strike is going to be ineffectual in achieving the aims of the strikers, although it will probably do nicely for both the union leaders and the government. The public sector workers will return to their desks - those that still have them - and they'll put up with it because they have little choice. If they're not happy they are free to leave and seek other employment; that's how it works. But then maybe they'll see why so many on the outside did not support them.

I doubt whether many MPs and union officials will take pay cuts, lose their jobs or end up working longer as a result. They are themselves subject to the same economic rules though, so if you really want change, think about how to change them.

The only thing likely to actually alter the balance is the sort of revolution seen in the Middle east recently. But the outcomes of such action are uncertain and the playing field, far from becoming levelled, simply tips in another direction.

"If the people are united..." If you can achieve that, then bloody good luck to you.

Celebrity Squares

I don't 'get and never have 'got' celebrity for celebrity's sake. Talent. yes, I'm a huge fan of talent, but there seems so little of it around these days, especially given how much air time appears to be devoted to searching it out, fluffing it up and splattering it (thinly) on our screens. And then mining that talent in search of the much more lucrative nugget of celebrity hidden within.

I remember watching Barrymore building, it seemed, his entire act on a rip-off of John Cleese's silly walk and being unable to discern, sitting quietly amid the guffaws of the rest of you, why such blatant plagiarism was seen as sensational. He wasn't even an impressionist (was he?) but apparently Bobby Davro was/is - I can mention BD because it's nearly pantomime season and twenty-first century panto desperately needs pre-owned impressions of Frank Spencer and Harold Wilson. I am often unmoved by second-hand hilarity in this way because I crave originality. I need newness, I want wowing.

And I do try to take an interest. This week alone I have been exposed for one reason or another to Stacey Solomon and Olly Murs, both of whom I am ashamed to say I 'researched' on Youtube and today, I did the same thing for a 47-second clip of a dog called Benton, or it may have been Fenton - I find it hard to care - who did nothing unusual, but still managed to attract worldwide news attention by simply following a natural instinct for being in the headlines and chased some big rabbits around a park.

'News'? News? This is news today? Have any of you been paying attention to the state of the world? No, you're too busy watching dogs chasing babies using iPads to frighten kittens on skateboards. What is wrong with you????

But I draw the line at spending my time trying to discover what the fuck this 'Bieber' I keep hearing about is; I will never get those precious seconds of my life back. See, I'm forever online, infinitely connected to the wonderful world-wide web of wonder, yet I'm not a slave to it. It's not like I'm on Twitter all the time... Oh. Still, moving on...

It's the same with fashion and this is nothing to do with my seniority; I've never understood popular culture. Back in the nineteen seventies, when everything was suddenly mohair I looked at the price tag and thought, no, no, no, polyviscoseacrylonylonvinyl will do me just fine. Or I could simply wear my ancient woollie ganzie and save a fortune. I just don't get how modern mankind is still in thrall to baubles, bangles and beads.
(Another panto reference there - Aladdin, HMS Sultan, 1991*- see how it all fits?)

So, imagine my sheer, outraged, purple-faced perplexity at the belated realisation that fame and 'celebrity' are used to promote the equally nebulous notion of 'fashion'. Posh Spice sells frocks and her husband flogs specs because you let them!

So, let me get this straight.You buy expensive, sophisticated technology just so you can both watch and communicate to each other about the progress of X-Factor, sneering at the wannabes while envying the sparklier ones. Then you go out and buy magazines to read about their squalid private lives, succumb to the marketing hype in those magazines you paid for and seek out the clobber and bling because everybody else does and as a result of that you have to work longer hours until all you have the energy to do at night is watch mind-numbing celebrity advertainment in order to learn what to wear tomorrow while you clutch a fashionable skinny latte in a manicured hand on the work truck to a job you hate but have to do because the television told you?

There's your world economic problem - and solution - right there.

Next on my fix-list - world peace.

*Writer and director. 
I also won the RN's 'Oscar' for best actor that year when I 'gave' my Joe in John Chapman and Jeremy Lloyd's Keeping Down With the Joneses
See? Something of a celebrity in my own rightJ

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

It's Chriiiiistmaaassss!

Bloody Noddy Holder. I blame him. And Roy Wood, it's his fault too. And while we're at it, let's have a go at Greg Lake and Jona Lewie as well. Yes, you all know what what I'm on about, with your smug little baubles and your twinkly, twee trees and your Jolly-Merry-Happy-Clappy greetings forced through gritted teeth. Well I'm not having any of it and I'll get this out of the way right from the off: - Bah and furthermore, Humbug! Happy now? Are you happy? Are you happy because you made me say it?

Recession? What recession? Watching telly it's as if the last few years never happened. The soul-sapping seasonal seduction saturation is in full swing, with 'the girls' once more tempting you to buy all manner of stuff you don't need, won't like and will never use. It's said it  is better to give than to receive; that's because your own meagre receipts, despite your bravest, it's-what-I've-always-wanted face, may spark a smouldering resentment toward any errant giver. Especially after all the thought and effort you went to to choose their present!

Sodding Christmas grottos are springing up everywhere, with their fake snow, fake elves and fake, suspect-paedophile Santas. They're in garden centres for heaven's sake; muddy cul-de-sacs bedecked with grubby cotton wool and strewn with tacky tinsel. When did Saint Nicholas become the patron saint of gazebos? Where will it all end?

When I were a lad - oh yes, you're getting some of this as well - our dad used to go off up down t'market on Christmas Eve on our only form of transport, a hoop and a stick, to pick up the festive fare. We'd be happy with an apple, an orange and a few nuts in a sock. And then, when he'd beaten us senseless with that we'd use it to stuff the goose; none of this new-fangled turkey rubbish. "It's Christmas. Don't you just fancy some really dry, fibrous meat for a treat?" Then, come Boxing Day we'd tidy up and go back to work.

Christmas! Yuletide! Winterval! What a travesty it's all become. Joyous anticipation foiled by the cancerous disappointment of cold reality. 'Tis the season to be jolly mad at all the misplaced optimism. "Oh yes, what I reckon we need to do to boost the economy is for the whole country to down tools, abandon all reason and have a couple of weeks off. Maybe when we go back (if the gates aren't locked) the world's financial crisis will have solved itself. Egg nog, anybody? Quality Street?"

Have a thought for the wives beaten senseless by drunken layabout 'partners', kids palmed off into the care of PS3 so the same parents can suck resources from the NHS, while abusing the staff at A & E. Then, all together again, the awful fantasy of family harmony as generations of people who never really liked each other cram together in small rooms to complain about the dire television offerings until eventually the fighting starts again. Why do you do it to yourselves? Oh yes, because you are incapable of rational thought. It is Christmas, after all. 'Tis the season of social trauma, waking nightmare, horror and genuine harm for some.

Then the dragging on of the false jollity of lights and decorations, etc, until some horrible, cold-turkey cut-off point some time in mid February, when you emerge, shivering and blinking into the slightly longer days of ice and hard light of the hardest bit of the winter and the realisation that three months of denial was not quite the medicine you hoped it would be. You're broke, you're older and a little bit more hope has slipped away, just as a little bit more interest creeps daily onto your groaning, overloaded credit card. Your New Year resolutions never stood a chance and your festive spending will now weigh you down with each step as you trudge through the snow to gather sticks to heat your hovel.

Happy Christmas? Isn't that just a fairy tale?

Now that's off me chest I'm right cheered up! Merry Christmas, peasants.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Death of Politics

Well, it seems you can't please everybody. Who knew? They say you should never discuss politics or religion, but it's such fun winding up the god-botherers to the point where they turn purple and mutter something about it not being meant to be taken literally, having argued from that standpoint all night, that to proscribe it would be a real shame. I consider the occasion when a Catholic priest tried to strangle me for merely suggesting that the bible wasn't the literal word of god was a minor triumph in my journey through the  mundanities of life. (True story - you know who you are, Father Donovan)

But politics, it turns out, is a bit of  minefield. Somebody should have warned me. Surely everybody ought to have a view? No view, no vote, or rather, no meaningful vote. It turns out that what appear to be opinions are very often more what you might call traditions. "Ah votes Labour cos ah'm a labourer, like." "We vote Conservative because mama and pater say it's the only thing between us and barbarism." "I vote Lib-Dem because I really don't understand politics at all and I want people to like me."

There is only so much space to go around. Only so much money, so much oil, steel, coal, food, etc, that a vote in practically any direction involves real consequences. Ultimately, who do you want to feed? And it's not always who you intended. Vote left and millions of children starve because the sweatshop, their only industry, is shut down. Vote right and some different children end up being bombed. Vote Lib-Dem and, er, absolutely nothing changes because all the other parties carry on regardless and make wanker gestures behind their backs.

For all the posturing, the manifestos, the plans; for every policy, action, tax-cut, tax-hike, tax-break, there are undesirable outcomes. A good civil service pension means a sub-minimum wage for a private sector worker. For every new degree, a new door-slam for perfectly competent, but 'unqualified' applicants. Even thoroughly apolitical actions have dread consequences; for every X-factor vote, Simon Cowell grows richer; for every two-minute silence there's a devaluation of the currency of mourning. And every time you add to the collection another choirboy quietly grits his teeth.

Humans, we're scum, as the great philosopher Rab C Nesbitt says.

The trouble is, we're scum with the power to alter the world around us yet the selfishness to not work in concert. Like all animals we're driven to look after ourselves first and others second, if at all. It's interesting that this instinct is often strongest in the sectors of our society we consider the least evolved. But don't fool yourself; your altruistic streak is no such thing. It is merely another way in which you exhibit traits that will attract others of your species. Ask David Attenborough - he knows more than most about human nature. It has, after all, been his life's work and legacy.

So, in the new United Dingdom, there will be no politics, no internecine squabbling, unless it's pointing at religion and guffawing, no votes, no industrial action, no revolution. I will make you all happy. And if you're not happy, I'll have you shot. Fair enough?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Balancing Act

I seem to have put a couple of noses out of joint with that last tirade. Good to see the system works, eh? But I'm nothing if not easy to manipulate, so in the interests of balance let's turn our attention to the private sector - pension-accruing or not - and see if there isn't room for improvement.

While the public sector - beyond the essentials of road-mending, schooling, bandaging-up and dinner-ladying - dreams up ever-inventive ways of spending your money by stealth, the private sector is very much in the open. As long as humans continue to prove Mencken right, insofar as intelligence is concerned, the private sector will find ways to part you from your money voluntarily. And laugh in your face while it does so. It doesn't mean they're not parasites, so let's start a list:

Peddlers of proprietary cures and enhancers from radium pills to power balance bands are devious, malignant predator scum and should be hunted down and force-fed their own remedies until expiration ends their torment. A fitting punishment, I feel, entirely in keeping with the contempt in which they hold their victims. (The power balancers will have to, literally, run themselves to death.)

Private clamping operators who maliciously exploit the vulnerability of many solo drivers to extort hideous fees by  employing intimidation and menace should be clamped to a post and publicly ravaged by a randy gorilla until every last spectator has had their fill.

How do you feel about salespeople? I don't mean those who await your interest and then helpfully guide you to a purchase. No, I mean those who invade your life via clipboard or phone or leaflet or email and are too cowardly to come out and say, "Do you want to buy my stuff?" Instead they enquire, "Would you like to be lovely/manly/happy or cool/groovy/sick or rich/powerful/retired and then use their own made-up language to part you from your money for what can only be described as 'shit'. Why can't they just ask, "Do you want to buy some of my shit?" then gracefully accept rejection and get a proper job? No punishment is necessary for these people, further than the abject revulsion with which they must surely view their own souls.

I'm in two minds about the Avon Lady. She dutifully shoves her catalogue through my door and then comes back on Tuesday, when it's pissing it down, to pick it up off the doorstep. On the one hand it's annoying that I have to remember to leave it out for her, on the other hand I think her job is already punishment enough.

So, here's the thing. I have nothing against the strikers per se, just the notion that a strike will achieve much of value and that their particular protest in this instance is without sympathy from those who do not have any kind of job security. We'd all be better off aiming the right kind of action at the right targets. You want to get back at the banks? Form your own cooperatives and look after your own money. Hate the politicians? Stand outside their houses with pitchforks until they resign. Don't like McDonalds? Don't eat fast food. Hate Tesco? Shop at the local market.

If you seek justice for all, the answer is in your own hands. Of course, everything you do will result in a shrunken global economy, but if you're prepared to actually tighten your belts and live within your means you might just give the globalisers a bloody nose.

I ain't holding my breath.

School's Out for, er... Wednesday

So, the public sector strikes en-masse, comme  Les Français on Wednesday? There is an expectation that nine in ten schools will close for the day, medical operations will be postponed and the UK entry process may grind to a crawl. Town halls throughout the land will ring with the sound of absolutely nothing being achieved, so at least there's little change there.

I think it is brilliant! How absolutely wonderful that so many people are prepared to give up a day's pay to help in the recovery. I am assuming, of course, that the nation's few remaining actual tax payers are not expected to fund what for many will simply be a day at home, or an opportunity to take their kids Christmas shopping. The turnout for strike ballots has been remarkably low, as if the majority sense the public mood is against them, as indeed it is. Many will strike simply because they've been told to, by confrontational, scaremongering union officials, scared for their own future.

The notion of jobs for life is gone forever and it's dog-eat-dog out there. If I had a relatively secure - compared to the private sector - job, at a reasonable rate, with a bloody good, if not exactly opulent, pension at the end of it, I reckon I'd be selfish and keep damned quiet about it. Because if I were a public sector boss, I'd be keeping a very close eye on what actually results from Wednesday's stoppages.

We definitely need public servants - privatising everything would be a huge mistake - but we don't need half of those we've got. Any non-front-line NHS staff, 'diversity' workers, or anybody with 'coordinator' tacked onto their job title ought to be in real fear next week. The clever bosses should monitor the disruption - clearly, some patients may be put at a tiny risk (very few operations are really that urgent), public transport deficiencies may enrage travellers and delayed bin collections will upset a few - but I guarantee a whole lot of absences will go utterly unnoticed.

The kids will miss nothing at all - at this time of year all they do at school is wait for Christmas. And while many hands-on administrators in other areas may be missed, they may well wish a second day off for their leaders, as they will catch up so much more quickly without their interference. Relatively few public sector workers fulfil such urgent functions that a day's absence will cause any genuine hardship - just examine the sickie-count for a start.

But those whose petulant, pouting, shouting day off causes no problems, no loss of productivity, or is not even noticed should return to find their door locked and a redundancy notice pinned to it. This action could be a greatest opportunity yet to work out exactly where to trim the fat off the the bloated corpse of Britain's public sector.

Mr Cameron, take note. You could easily apply the same principle in Westminster; I bet you, nobody would miss Nick Clegg for a month, let alone a day.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dumb down, deeper and down

So, I just sat an exam. It was easy, too easy. I got 100% but I'm no expert. Okay, I am an expert, but I'm not boasting here, it really is an easy exam. But not, it seems for many of those who take it. Ordinarily I'd say any exam should have a healthy failure rate in order to validate its rigour. It's the three bears test - Everybody passes = too easy; everybody fails = too hard. You want it just right. But the exam's not the problem here.

Ever since I first started school the 'progressives' influencing education policy have striven to drive down the average IQ while maintaining a steady grade inflation, giving the impression of progress. If I remember correctly, Winston Smith's job was much the same; massaging the figures, distorting history and keeping the population in thrall. I'm not sure that was the intention of the lovely liberal fools, but it's certainly been the outcome.

Because, the reason candidates fail this easy exam is not because they don't know the answers, it's because they can't read the questions. Really, reading and understanding plain English is now a rare skill and whole generations since the nineteen sixties appear to be functionally illiterate, with numbers being an even more mysterious Narnia they no longer have the imagination to visit. Bluntly, our masses are thick and destined (some apparently determined) to remain so.

If you can't - or don't - read, all you can realistically do is shovel shit. But even the steaming mound of bullshit spouted daily by politicians isn't enough to go around. So, in the United Dingdom we have two options; we can work hard at producing enough shit for all - creating work for shovel-makers and pushers - which is what the UK has done for years. Or we can rise above all this, get ourselves properly educated and then maybe, we can lift our snouts from the dung heap and go in search of less shitty things to do.

It isn't even a choice, really, is it? Education, education, education, droned a millionaire former manipulator, with his fingers crossed as he said it. What he was thinking was schools schools, schools, hospitals, hospitals, hospitals, votes, votes, votes and all the while seeing the world though dollar signs for eyes.

You have to be cruel to be kind - Nick Lowe said that - so next time you see your kids with a piece of technology, stamp on it, throw it in a bin, take the batteries out... anything. Then stand behind them with a weapon of your choice until they write out - on a piece of paper - the entire Chambers Dictionary*, word for word, etymology included. Accept no excuses - real dyslexia affects a miniscule number and ADHD is an invention of the makers of Ritalin(TM) et al - no effort, no reward.

Only when the population has the ability to understand all the words will they begin to have the ability to apply reason and if they apply reason they will see that our political 'elite' is a left-leaning, apathetic, ineffectual assortment of gurning morons with shit for brains and subjugation at heart. Michael Gove - love him or hate what he stands for is quite right about reintroducing real competition and elitism. It's how progress comes about. It's how we beat the malaise.

You know it's the truth.

(* Not the OED: Despite its lofty status it's still wrong.)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

It's your own fault.

I saw a great documentary last night, well worth watching: "Your money and how they spend it", in which the BBC's Nick Robinson explained how successive governments have taken up the challenge of spending to stay in office. Currying favour with an increasing illiterate, increasingly needy and politically detached electorate seems to me the essential flaw at the cloudy heart of the democracy diamond. There's no point in "asking the audience" unless they understand the question.

In other news, the green tax on fuel is to increase in order, as Chris Huhne explains, to reduce your fuel bills and yet more of our dwindling tax-take is to be flushed down the continental pan as investors ditch the Euro like it's, like it's... er, like it's going out of fashion. "The Euro, dear?" they say, "Oh that's soooo last year!" (we can only live in hope) In how much contempt do our supposedly elected leaders hold us?

Well, I'll tell you how much. A letter, written by an offender, has come to light, blaming the victims for the crime. I reproduce the letter here in all its sneering, dismissive glory.

In other revelations, global warming is all your fault, Mrs Stibbings, spinster of Weymouth. Arthur Jenkins, unemployed, of Tamworth is personally to blame for the housing crisis and the culpability for the rising cost of living is laid firmly at the door of one Mr Wayne Smirk, community something-or-other outreacher, of Heckmondwike.

As future King, I am making notes.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Kiddie Power

Daft Dave has come up with a belter of a plan to beat the strikes planned for next week. Instead of sensibly ordering the army to shoot every striker on sight, he's decided instead to shame them back to work by getting down with the kids. At least that's what I think when I see the headline:

Sounds brilliant. It's the public sector lot who are going off on a jolly so how will we know? Ordinarily I'd say let 'em and see if they are missed, but this is much better. Don't take your kids to your work with you, take them to the strikers' workplaces and let them run things for a day.

Given the plethora of non-jobs that make no difference to anybody's life, such as Equality Outreach Officer, Stakeholder Engagement Manager and Future Shape Programme Coordinator, would it come as any sort of surprise to discover that a five-year-old with a crayon and a Pritt Stick could be just as effective? And they will probably do the job for the strike-beating wage of a go on the Postman Pat ride at Asda and a chocolate Cornetto.

This is too good an opportunity to miss!

Addicts Anonymous

Your loveable local celebrity enjoys nothing more than basking in the limelight, or at this time of the year, Christmas lights. They are never happier than when they're opening a new shop or signing an old photo of themselves in a line up of motley X-Factor neverquitegottabes. Failing that, they'll grab the headlines wherever they can; spilling out of a dress next to the red carpet at a premier; falling out of a cab near a nightclub for which they're not on the guest list.

Or how about hopping off the wagon of whatever the addiction of the day is? Good plan - and what a choice they have these days. You've got your run of the mill alcohol problem, or if you're a bit more laid back you could try kicking your tried-it-once heroin habit. You can book into re-hab for addictions of all shapes and sizes; Tobacco, work, working out, chocolate; take your pick. You can even become a sex-addict in treatment for the purposes of raising your profile. ('Addicted'? To sex? Really? I mean, I tried it once and it wasn't so bad, I suppose, but 'addicted' to it? Where do you find the energy?)

But you've heard of all those before, right? They've been done, they're old hat. The new, up and coming addiction is coke. You heard, coke, or to be more precise Coke, with a capital 'C'. That's right. This nugget* thinks he's hooked on the real thing.

What a knob. Or, more accurately, what a lazy, lardy-arsed, gullible moron. The story says it hasn't caused him any medical problems. Really? Has he actually seen the photo? I can have no sympathy whatsoever and that goes for pretty much every addiction in the book. By the way, you'll see no mention of fat-bloke's occupation in the article, I wonder why.

For a teeny-tiny minority I can accept that there is such a thing as addiction, but for the rest of us it is a convenient excuse for laziness, stupidity, introspection and plain old lack of moral fibre. Before I get letters, I don't care. Pretty much every real addiction can be cured by going cold-turkey and although I'm no doctor, I'm sure that the made-up ones like this can be cured by catching yourself on.

But, it's okay, I have a solution to the travails of Mr Jones. As outlined in my manifesto, we all have to pull together in these troubled, austere times. I plan to feed the obese to the unemployed and by the looks of him he'll go a long way towards making it a hearty and festive Christmas.

(* I say 'nugget' because it is more polite than "fat twat")

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Every one's a winner!

So I put all my spare money into the pub syndicate to win the raffle, right?. Not just my local pub, you understand, no this was a special regional affair. They came round after the whelk man, once I'd had a few pints and they made me an offer. Pay us, they said, a hundred pounds a week and you can join our club. And in return you will be entered into all the regional pub raffles and you'll win all your money back with interest in the end. Plus, they said, it would help do all sorts of good things for local charities.

If I'm honest I didn't really want to and I wasn't sure how the charities would benefit and I couldn't really afford it, but everybody else was doing it, they said, so I had to borrow the money in the first place and now I work overtime to be able to afford it. But it was a great idea they said, it was in my interests they said. This was an offer I couldn't refuse. This was a few years ago, you understand?

I wasn't fully convinced, but I went along with it - because, they said, it was best. I tried to work out the odds; a ton a week is quite a lot and I could look after myself quite happily on that, so I asked around all of my neighbours who were doing the same. Nobody else knew the answers either, but they all thought it might be better than just keeping our own money and saving for a rainy day. Probably. Possibly.

I noticed one neighbour, the one without a job, had a new kitchen fitted. And another one got a better car. And another one put a caravan in his front garden and moved in all his family from outside the area... and then they all got new cars. This seemed odd until I was informed that they too were in our syndicate and they'd come up in the raffle. Good for them, I thought. When I asked my out-of-work neighbour how he managed the £100 a week he said, "Do what, mate?"

Over the next few years, the street started getting a bit crowded. All my neighbours on the south side of the street have to do something to keep their spirits up (because they don't have jobs, poor things) so they have all sorts of parties. Some to the left of my position, some to the right, but they all sound exactly the same and in the middle of the night I can't tell what side they're on while I'm trying to get to sleep. I have to get up for work in the morning; somebody has to fund all their winning streaks.

I'm not bitter about it, jolly good luck to them I say. But I'm hoping that I'll win the raffle one day and then I can have a party as well. At the moment I'm still 'investing in the project' as they call it. Oh, and it's gone up to £200 a week now, because some of my working neighbours have moved away and left the club. Short-sighted fools! They'll never win the raffle now. (Although they can afford to go on nice holidays, it appears. I get postcards. "Get out now!" they say. I think they want me to come on holiday with them. Bless.)

I'm never quite sure when the raffle is actually drawn, so I've never been there to see the process in action - they do it in a pub miles away from me - but I'm sure it's all fair and above board and I'm convinced that one day my numbers will come up - the syndicate keeps telling me it would be daft to pull out now. And it's not like I'm chucking my money into a black hole, is it?

As for saving for that rainy day? It's absolutely pissing it down out there, so I hope our politicians have something put by - it doesn't look like our numbers are coming up in the big raffle any day soon.

Monday, 21 November 2011

It's all gone quiet over there...

Empty vessels make the most noise, they say and when those empty vessels are politicians, boy, is there a cacophony. During the recent turbulent weeks in Europe, every blogger, columnist and politico has been bellowing at the injustice of it all, proffering no solutions but plenty of banshee howls of indignation. Fair play to them.

But it's all gone eerily quiet. In the news today there is absolutely nothing noteworthy regarding the future of the European dream (or nightmare, if you have any sense of the real nature of humanity). There has been no effective voice of opposition since 'Red Ed' took up office, the Soft-Dems are happy to fall into Euro's embrace and the whips have menaced the mainstream Tories into submission, while somewhere in a locked room Merkozy's team of mad scientists are bent on creating a genetically-modified Stepford Dave.

Because, when the clamour dies down, you will learn of the backroom deals being brokered right now. But by then it will be too late.

It's as if all the shouting has cathartically expunged all the fight and after the haka all teams have left the field before kick-off. Nigel Farage, the only person to present an alternative to Eurogeddon, got six minutes on yesterday's Politics Show but was more or less sneered at by John Sopel and guests, who had already made up their minds not to rock the boat.

When our plastic Prime Minister emerges, shining from the lab, beaming beatifically, will you all meekly accept his magical conversion into an advocate of a single-Europe? I rather think you just might.

Wake up, folks. It's all going horribly wrong.

1600: STOP PRESS THIS Told you so. :-(

Currying Flavour

Reacting to the 'crisis' in our curry houses Eric Pickles, the fat owl of Greyfriars and our favourite comedy bloater has proposed Curry College. (Go on, read it.)

I love how the Guardian has to pretend it is utterly colour-blind when it says that the college "[would] train British people from all backgrounds to become chefs specialising in Indian food..."  The term "all backgrounds" of course means Bradford, Birmingham and Tower Hamlets.

I'm just a tad sceptical:

This idea is part of the government's integration strategy which apparently sees a shift in emphasis away from promoting  local community cohesion and instead moves towards greater integration - whatever that actually means. According to the Guardian article " follows David Cameron's Munich speech earlier this year when he criticised "state multiculturalism" and argued that the UK needed a stronger national identity."

We already have a national identity. Bland. Boring, uniform, humdrum, soporific monotone. We mostly prefer it like that; it's what put the 'Great' into Britain. But just now and again we crave a bit more colour and on those occasions some of us go out for a curry.

Were the nations's curry houses to employ insipid, callow youths of an Anglo Saxon persuasion, then goodness, gracious me, we might as well all be Going Out for An English.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

My Re-in-Coronation

I watched Ken Barlow (Actor, Bill Roache) on BBC's Sunday Morning Live*, talking about his belief in reincarnation. During the show several people attested via Skype, via email, via text and Twitter of their proven, evidential reasons for also believing. Their proofs? "It happened to me/my mum/my spirit guide..." It was hilarious.

I have a number of beliefs - I write about them here - but I don't pretend to have undeniable evidence for them, despite their palpable truths. I believe that idleness is generally a bad thing and that idle people breed more idle people. I think that locking people in prison does prevent them from committing crime and that the chance of rehabilitating habitual offenders is slim and expensive, so I further believe that keeping them locked up is far more effective at curtailing their activities than letting them go. (I have an even better solution to 'really bad people' but it's been tried before and the soft-of-stomach don't like it.)

I think that every day that passes in which no proof whatsoever is presented in support of the existence of any kind of god should be taken as evidence against. And that after many thousands of years of this we should maybe start to catch ourselves on. Palmistry, the occult and psychic healing are actually demonstrably bollocks with known harmful effects and yet some people still choose to believe in them rather than give in to the simple notion - Occam's razor and all that - that what we have, here on earth, is all there is.

So, I've been doing some research and this is what I discovered:

My survey revealed that nine out of every eight people would have preferred not to have been interviewed in the first place. Of those nine, ten of them said they would back a UK-wide referendum on the viability of referenda in a democracy, with three in seven asking me to explain what a democracy was. Further, 105% of them declared their literacy, numeracy and IQ to be 'above average' although 23% did not understand the question. (One respondent thought it was something to do with Swedish furniture) Asked to name the president of the European Union, ninety-percent said, "Do I get my McDonald's coupon now?" The final question, "If you were a turkey, would you vote for Christmas?" was warmly received with most asking "Will there be presents?" Yes, my dears, you'll be stuffed full of them; parsley, sage ,rosemary and thyme...

This, I think you'll have to agree, is conclusive proof of my thesis that almost nobody either understands or really cares what happens next. In or out, rich or broke, in the name of Uncle Albert, gawd bless Hooky Street. So I believe I have proved there exists a massive mandate in favour of me doing exactly what I like as king, so long as the KFC remains on tap and we continue to smuggle in cheap, counterfeit booze and fags from east Europe.

Job done; a bloodless coup. Which way is Westminster?

(*Yes. It is hosted by Susanna Reed, coincidentally. But I'm really not a stalker.)

Lyin' Eyes

I had a Daily Mail guilty pleasure session at about 0400 this morning. Always good for material, the Mail.

Anyway, I found this. The Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice are going for the big cover up. Should we dismiss it out of hand? Maybe, maybe not.

See, the Christmas lights are already on display in the window of the house opposite mine. I don't need that in my life, although on the basis of the eyes being the window of the soul, maybe the windows are the eyes of the household and I now know all I need to know. On the plus side it does save me expending any energy in making their acquaintance.

I make this an argument in favour of the cover up. Out of my sight, save me going out of my mind.

But here's another. Gail Porter has finally cracked and had herself utterly defaced with tattoos. She has nice eyes, so if she covered up all but her eyes we'd have no idea that she's an unhinged fruitcake and we need to know that stuff before making any kind of overture - we've all been there, after all.

Cover up, or don't cover up? Given that the eyes are the biggest liars in town maybe we should cover up all except our worst bits. That way, our snap judgements have a better chance of being on the money, even if we have to endure a few horrors. No, I now have a head full of images that have no place in any sane landscape.

Unless we adopt some form of universal branding mechanism - and don't think I haven't thought about it - the only rational way is to let it all hang out. Bollocks, that means I get to see Christmas lights from November to February again! Where did I put my sunglasses?

Bishop Bashing

So, the clergy are at it again, supposing to know anything at all about anything at all. Why anybody would give credence to utterances from men in frocks who believe in fairy stories is beyond me, yet time and again the press behaves as if the word of the such fantasists deserves anything other than mild curiosity.

Today, the BBC News reports that a bunch of bishops are criticising the government's plan to restrict welfare payments to £500 per week per household. The report cites that the  bishops believe the cap to be "profoundly unjust" to children in the poorest families and that they have a "moral obligation to speak up for those who have no voice". Well, far from having no voice, it seems those on welfare have plenty of voice - the voice of these bishops for a start.

But what about those who truly have no voice? Those who choose to get on with it, those, in fact, who pay the bulk of the taxes to cover our over-generous handouts to job-dodging scroungers? The vast majority of those in work earn far less than £500 per week and somehow - apparently against the odds - manage to raise their families without holding out their hands to government. When will there be some form of social justice for these horny-handed sons of toil?

Remind me what it is the church have told poor people forever? Oh yes, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." and "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven." You fuckers are just as responsible for poverty as anybody else, promoting your fearful heavenly lottery system and ruling by fear. And don't even get me started on the inquisition or kiddy-fiddling.

But I'm nothing if not fair and I'm all for a bit of social justice. In the United Dingdom you will be judged by your actions and not by your words and you will be judged by those you have both harmed and helped. So, if the balance of your life's doings is in your favour you should have nothing to fear. The bishops will have their day and I suspect that on that day there shall be a great weeping and rending of garments and gnashing of ecclesiastical teeth shall be heard throughout the land.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Are we Human or are we Bison?

So, it's been a busy old week; early starts, late finishes and a brain stuck in a go-slow rut of apathy, over-capacity and sheer can't-be-ars-ed-ness. But now, a prisoner to the tyranny of the task of transferring my hundreds of CDs to hard storage and backup, here I am at my desk with a whole weekend stretching ahead of me. Apart from work stuff, what to write (in between disc-changing every seven minutes)?

Well, I just popped up the shops and, as usual, contact with the teeming masses has provided dozens of opportunities to rail against the stupidity, thoughtlessness and downright idiocy of humans. I thought I was going to use the sequence in last week's Frozen Planet - where the musk oxen herd saves the calf from the wolves - to illustrate how pitchfork-bearing mobs of thick people beating at the doors of paediatricians are blindly following instinct, rather than revealing adherence to any higher moral code. But sod that; far too deep for a weekend.

No, no, I got mad about far more mundane stuff than that this morning. For instance the idiot who pulled out into an impossible gap in front of me when there was nothing behind me for another hundred yards (before you ask, yes of course it was a Beemerwanker). The pedestrian who decided to press the pelican anyway, then cross the clear road, causing several vehicles to later pull to a halt and wait for a green light for no reason whatsoever. The woman in the self-serve checkouts with a giant trolley containing no more than ten items - I'm prepared to bet she drives a 4x4. They all deserve my contempt and I have plenty to go around.

But today I was most incensed by a bloke accompanied by a whining, but fully able-bodied, ten-year old in a parking space marked something like this:

For balance you'll notice that I've scoured the world for signage in 'foreign', to show that this is an international phenomenon. The sign shows, quite clearly, a mother and a small, dependent child. We all know this. Such is the skewed nature of our non-rational, blindly instinctive attitude towards children that we put these spaces closer to the supermarket entrance than the disabled spaces. Oh yes, the herd mentality prospers; protect the sprog, reject the weak. Had there been wolves around this morning, the old dear hobbling in the zimmer-frame would have been dead meat, literally, but at least the ungrateful, pre-pubescent wunderkind would have been spared.

I'm mad enough about all of this stuff generally but it's not even that general injustice that made me see red today. Look at that sign again, bloke. See what it says? It clearly illustrates the natural order, mother and child. So you had no justification whatsoever for using that space. Your kid wasn't helpless, you only had the one sprog with you and you had no buggy or other paraphernalia to manhandle - for those incumberances I might have forgiven you. What I'm not forgiving you for is parking in a place designated by a picture of a girl.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Broken Record

So the imbecile, Cameron, warns that the EU will be in peril without reform, does he? What an utter, flaccid, ickle, tiny penis he really is. Just a little, posh prick, really.

The EU is a dangerous, expensive experiment, doomed to failure from the outset. At a time when the Führer is urging even greater political union, is it really right for our unelected 'leader' to be 'doing a Chamberlain' and appeasing her? How long before he proffers a piece of paper? I seem to remember that it didn't really work out for Neville.

Just saying, over and over again, that it would be bad for Britain to leave the EU doesn't actually make it true. This has been the ploy of religions since time immemorial. Ever since Moses brought some rocks down a mountain and pretended the squiggles he'd carved on them were commandments from something he called God, religions the world over have singularly failed to provide any evidence whatsoever for the existence of any kind of deity... and yet the gullible still believe!

H. L. Mencken said. "The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos." So, is the EU a modern-day sacred cow? It seems so. And to the believer any rational argument is heresy. But just because you dare not challenge it, CameRooney, it doesn't make it right.

The EU is as proven as astrology, homoeopathy and phrenology; as real as unicorns, gryphons and free broadband and as reliable as an Austin Allegro, or a Berlusconi promise. You don't believe in it, so who has offered you what to pretend that you do? Or is treason simply the way you roll, you whey-faced poltroon??

Successive governments have repeated the "EU-good, Independence-bad" mantra for too long, with absolutely no substance to back up their argument.
Broken record? Criminal record, more like.

Over the Top?

Much hand-wringing at the state of UK border control this last week, with illegals apparently sneaking in unchecked. Makes a change then, from the former Labour policy of welcoming them in with open arms, a nice bouquet, a National Insurance number and a sack full of benefits, so in a way it's a step in the right direction.

But here's the thing I don't get. There are rules of entry, surely? And - let me get this clear in my head - if you fall short of the requirement we are not obliged to let you in? Or am I missing something here, because if you try and get into a night-club the bouncers, sorry doormen, will not let you in unless they want to. Those doormen are big, intimidating types all right, but on the UK borders we have policemen with guns! In fact the state of dress of the average airport policeman suggests a full-blown alien-alert, SWAT team, with itchy digits fondly fingering triggers.

But actually, you only really see PC SWAT on the inside, hovering around the duty-frees and menacing the airport branch of W.H. Smith. It's all well and good policing those heading for the Costa Blanca - and fair play to them for that - but entry into the UK is normally devoid of anybody other than a few bored Border Agency staff in ill-fitting, one-size uniforms. Our national security appears to be no better than me putting this around my garden:

Well, I used to have a fence like that and a fat lot of good it did me; the German Shepherd next door always used to jump over it and shit on my lawn... and his dog was just as bad. (Ba-da-bing, folks!)

This is no good at all. No, no, no. When I'm king I'm building a proper fence all the way round the United Dingdom. It will be strong and tall and menacing, with frequent command posts housing snipers. It will be electrified and fringed with a moat and a minefield on the outside. And it will have spikes on top - like this:

Le's see that bloody dog get in my garden kingdom now!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Euro Trash (2)

Phew, we can stand easy, we at last have clear and unequivocal guidance on our stance towards the Euro. The mighty hand of god himself has spoken and the way could not now be clearer. Abandon ship and get out, out, out.

Whatever the Lord Tony Blame of Shame says, we should immediately do the direct opposite. He has always pointed us the way. Just the wrong way. Wrong about crime, wrong about the causes of crime, Blair's mantra was, as always, his own personal edification, edification, edification. As a sociopath, it is easy for him to say one thing and believe in quite another with none of the discomfort an honest person would feel.

Bliar also famously said "I can only go on way. I have not got a reverse gear." Well we have and we'd better engage it right now. With that in mind I have a new symbol for the failed and pointless European currency.

Here it is:

As Thick as Thieves

Oh yes, I do love it when a saying is illustrated so beautifully:  Police Beer Trap reads the headline and the article goes on to tell you what you've already worked out for yourself. None of this is remarkable; police the world over have resorted to many such cost-effective methods of getting villains to drop their guard and turn up of their own volition. Good cop, good cop, I call it.

No, what is alarming is the mindset of some of those who responded to the article. Many of the nutty, woolly-headed lentil-wearing sandalistas thought it was unfair, that it smacked of entrapment, that it was indicative of a heavy-handed police state. Well, fine then. Tell you what - let's carry on doing what your years of socialist government have reduced us to. We'll prosecute the victims instead, because they are so much easier to find and so much more trusting and so unaware of their 'rights' because they think the police are here to help them.

Reports in the more socially responsible press has, for years told us what happens to you when you dare to protect your family and possessions. Politically correct police diktat has made it nigh-on impossible to do anything other than persecute the generally well behaved. If you don't think that's true, you really should read this. (You can get it on Kindle for less than the cost of a pint)

If you choose to look or behave differently from the rest of us that's fine, that's your right, but don't expect justice to be totally blind; if you dress like a thug, there's a better than average statistical chance of you actually being a thug. If you wear the beard of a terrorist don't be surprised if you are stopped and quizzed more often than the man in a nice suit. And if you are a known criminal you simply should not be afforded the same courtesies as law-abiding, reasonable people.

Or did you prefer it when the only approach was the dawn raid with battering rams and truncheons drawn?

(I wrote this yesterday, but forgot to finish it - D'oh!)

Last of the Summer Whine

Nick who? Is he still there? If, like me, you have no idea what our supposed Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Illiberal Autocrats is supposed to be doing for his pay packet you'd be excused for assuming he is just like any other X-Factor reject headed for rehab. Unlike foggy old Vince Cable, Clegg has never had a real job and after his trembling voice-over work for Peter Sallis dried up he was reduced to living off compo.

So low has his profile and apparent purpose sunk that he craves the sympathy of the public and has accepted the embrace of the Daily Mail in seeking help for his crazed drug addiction. Like so many before him, the former Cambridge student has fallen on rocky times and resorted to chemicals to help him not quite lead the country.

He has auspicious political antecedents; Churchill supposedly fought the Battle of Britain on a whisky-fuelled world war wampage (apologies to Elmer Fudd) and Anthony Eden was on a benzedrine  bender throughout much of the Suez crisis. A vodka-less Yeltsin would have been an unimaginable pantomime and Hitler was so wound up on amphetamines that genocide seemed the only logical distraction.

So, while  the continent totters on the edge of financial ruin, European ex-leaders hog the headlines and the two-headed Merkozy monstrosity laces up its Franco-Teutonic jack-boots, Clegg is reduced to a plea for help for his smoking addiction. What? Is he smoking crack; chasing the dragon?  No, much worse. Apparently he is getting through as many as five, yes five cigarettes a day!

Just as you, I was shocked. Appalled. As I long suspected, his envy of Cameron goes much deeper than mere throne-envy. Look at his past; he attended Westminster School.

For five fags a day he should have gone to Eton.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Judge ye Not

They say judge not lest ye be judged. Well, bring it on!

Never judge a book by its cover? Well have a look at this and tell me you're unsure if it's for you.

Any blokes interested? Thought not. On the other hand though, appearances can be deceptive and who's to say what constitutes 'good'? Opinions differ, apparently.

Sir Jimmy Savile undoubtedly did lots of good but who can deny that if he hadn't been renowned for his charity he'd have been hearing the cry of, "Now then, now then, stranger danger!" wherever he roamed? Mother Teresa's Nobel Peace Prize was universally considered well-deserved until the sordid details of her drugged and debauched Calcutta sex-industry days were exposed (or do I just really, really want that to be true? What is wrong with me?). And if the bible is to be believed (clue: it's not.) Satan, Lord of Darkness, seems to have been at the forefront of all that is hip and happening for the best part of forever. (He also has all the best tunes, apparently.)

So, 'as it 'appens' then, it seems sometimes you can and sometimes you can't judge by appearances. Bugger. There goes a lifetime's instantaneous impression-forming prejudice.

All of which brings me to Martin-BigPig-Mor. Scary looking lad, isn't he? But, according to his Twitter update he hasn't played World of Warcraft (whatever that is) and is therefore, by all accounts a decent cove. He also looks a lot more like me - as we share a recent common ancestor - than I suspect either of us would really choose. But I am nothing if not open-minded, so if anybody gets to see one of his gigs, let me know what he's really like, would you?

I have a book he might fancy.

Friday, 11 November 2011

A Grown Man Crying

It's that time again. For one day each year I avoid contact with others because I can't really trust my reactions and I don't want to embarrass them, because, let's face it, a grown man blubbing and bubbling snot is hardly an edifying sight, is it?

I can handle workaday things like personal admin, shopping, cleaning and work stuff, but I have to leave the room if I'm in company and not just during the official silence. The slightest reminder of the selfless acts of the dead and forever-scarred, people who acted with bravery through belief or blind obedience, sets me off and I am incapable of speech. (Some who know me are grateful for that respite.)

Even looking at the cover of the book in this link to Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong is enough and I'm fighting back the flood as I type. I'd like you all to read it. And weep.

Whatever you do to mark the day, whether you care or not, whether you cry or not, my silence begins now.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Out through the In Door

I have it, the solution to Greece's problems! Greece? You say... problems? Oh yes, that's right, last week's news. You'll remember that Papandreou wanted to have a stab at democracy, with the possible result that Greece might have opted to stand on its own two feet, adjust its currency to suit the market and make Agean holidays an affordable treat once more? But then the big kids wouldn't let them and made them stay in their team, because it was their football?

Well, the bigger boys - especially that rascal, Angela - with an attention span of, wow, look at that, have got themselves all distracted about some Italian bird called Silvia and they're all busy at the opposite end of the playground, bullying her now.

Well, here's the plan. We'll hold open the loose panel in the fence and Greece can slip out quietly while nobody's looking and come to play with us. We've got an old tennis ball we can kick around out here; it'll do for now and it's just a much fun, only cheaper. And if anybody else wants to make a quick getaway, I reckon now's the time. Come and play with us and yah-boo-sucks to Big School.

Truancy. The answer to Europe. I knew it would be simple, once I'd thought it through. (No eed to thank me.)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Move along now...

So, there you go. The Guardian headline appears to show the police got it right for today's protest march. Whether or not the preemptive letters were the reason I'd say the fact that only a quarter of the expected numbers turned up was a result. The paper reported one protester as saying, "People who were involved in the protests last year were sent letters, police are threatening to use plastic bullets – I think it's put a lot of people off..."

Despite organiser Michael Chessum's comment that the police had, "...made it more likely that trouble will occur." no such effect was observed. Which goes to show that, as always, students may have youth on their side but they are students precisely because they still have much to learn.

And talking of learning, compare and contrast today's peaceful, if p
ointless demonstration with last years' mob-rule affair and I think you'll see that a valuable lesson has indeed been taken on board. If the threat of plastic bullets put off three-quarters of the work-shy soap-dodgers, just think how much more effective it would have been had they been threatened with the real thing? 

All of which is why, in the United Dingdom, The Polis will be armed to the hilt and shoot on suspicion. That'll keep the backlog in the courts down to manageable numbers, free up prison spaces and create lots of employment in the arms industries. I'm struggling to see a downside here. 

Mind how you proceed, citizens. ;o)

Protesting too Much?

Today I saw this. Written in the usual, slightly shrill tone adopted by The Guardian whenever it has to deal with 'tradespeople', in this case the police, it manages to suggest that The Met is being heavy-handed by letting potential troublemakers know, "We're keeping an eye on you, sunshine."

Did they do this by beating down doors? No, they sent a letter to those with form, those previously arrested on public disorder grounds in similar circumstance to those of today's impending protest.

The letter says: "It is in the public and your own interest that you do not involve yourself in any type of criminal or antisocial behaviour. We have a responsibility to deliver a safe protest which protects residents, tourists, commuters, protesters and the wider community. Should you do so we will at the earliest opportunity arrest and place you before the court." Sounds pretty fair warning to me. Start lobbing missiles, intimidating others and inhibiting the normal functioning of the city and we'll have you.

Surely this is a pretty reasonable bit of proactive policing? Not according to the student child, Michael Chessum, organising the rally. He said, "What the police are engaged in is a cynical attempt to stop people from attending the demonstration and to pre-criminalise the protest … they should be getting on with their job to facilitate protest."

Aw, diddums. Well, Michael, old chum, that isn't actually their job. Their job is protect law-abiding citizens from the pseudo-anarchic activities of some of the idiots who will hijack your lost cause for their own mayhem-making merriment. 
I'd love to hear your opinion on all of this once you have paid taxes for a few years, but right now your right to protest is an indulgence that many countries would not afford you. Why not belt up, just get on with it and try not to set anything alight today, okay?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Whose Rules?

The police do their policing by consent. If the shit hits the fan there are - as was proved in 'Nam (Totten-Nam) -  far more of 'us' than there are of them. When I say 'us' I am of course referring to you, the great unwashed of the UK. (Here in the United Dingdom I maintain an enormous police presence, cos rules is rules.)

When the numbers are not on your side you do as you're damn well told.

Which makes it all the more curious that so many are bowing before the Fourth Reich of Nicolangela Merkozy; there's only the two of 'em and they're both short-arses, so why don't we just take them on? Or better still, just ignore them and let them fuck up Europe without us?

Because that's what the crims do. Laws, rules, regulations, entreaties and pleas only work if the target audience respects or fears them or simply chooses to respond to them in the expected manner. Low-level crime is largely unpunished in the UK because the perpetrators have no respect for the law and stick the bird to the police. What chance do the coppers have? They have neither the numbers nor, now, the moral authority to do anything useful, so turn their policing to punishing the generally law-abiding by means of punitive raids on double-parking and thinking-out-loud.

So, while our so-called leaders are wringing their caps in their hands and whinging on about how we can't leave Europe and we must support the Euro, despite having absolutely no moral mandate to do so and no evidence for any of their predictions of doom if we don't, why don't we exercise a bit of initiative and simply leave? We don't need to tell them, we just go ahead and give them a good ignoring-to.

When the MPs discover the locks have been changed at Westminster and the seat of government has been quietly shifted to my living room - because I talk more sense than every last one of them - they'll have nowhere to turn because their constituents will stick their fingers in their ears, shut their eyes and speak in tongues until the politicos get fed up and wander off.

When the spineless Camerooney says he'll stick his hands in your pockets for yet more Euro-bail-out dosh, the bloke at the exchequer - probably Ken, if he fancies a go - will just 'forget' to mail out the cheque. And so it goes, because you can't forever be beholden to rules you don't respect and there's so many more of us than them that all we have to do is ignore the entire European issue and in the end it'll just have to pack up and go away.

Fight for your rights by using your numbers. No referendum? We already had one, Clegg old son and we decided not to play. As Hancock said, "Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?"

Monday, 7 November 2011

Those who can...

It was grist to my mill to see this report today about illiterate, inumerate teachers. Long have I bemoaned the apparent decline in standards both in school and in the wider world, pointing to said decline from my lofty position as a, er... as a, um... teacher. I regularly rail against the abandonment of all that was sacred; spelling an' grammar an' that.

But it isn't just the edjumacators, is it? Competence everywhere is in deadly decline; as the world's technology gets smarter its users get dumber and as the world's users get dumber they acquiesce all the more readily to anybody that displays even the slightest hint that they might know something. Anything. Anything at all - honest , we're so thick we'll believe even what the Daily Mail prints.

All you need, these days, to be declared an expert, is a set of balls. Yup, pick up a pair of colossal cojones, preferably coupled with an admiral lack of self-awareness and the world will lick a path to your drawers. But there's no room for self-doubt, so a certain amount of ignorance is essential if you're going to carry it off. Ignorance allows you to spout with ineptitude without ever suffering anything so debilitating to your success as, say, a shred of doubt.

Warming to my theme I try to think of an example and I am rewarded in spades. Bankers spring immediately to mind, complete with onanistic rhyming slang. Then, anybody offering any sort of financial advice; all I have to do is point at my dismal pension-cum-share portfolio. Look! Too late, it's gone. Scientists who predict the future are always fair game - Sir Clive Sinclair, anybody? As is absolutely any politician you care to name, of any political persuasion.

How do these morons get away with it? Not a single politician anywhere in the world has any idea, whatsoever, about anything over which they have such immense control; not industry, not immigration not the economy and in many cases, not even their own private lives. None of them, not one, knows anything... about anything. Not a thing. Not a single, fucking thing.

I mean, just look at the Euro. Just look at it, will you. It is my earnest wish that, soon, that will not be possible, but I don't expect my wishes to come true. Nobody knows anything at all about what will happen next; it's all just conjecture. Kick out Greece, save Greece, help Italy, fuck Italy, protect Spain, persecute Spain. Nobody tests them, nobody actually believes them, yet nobody votes them out, because we are all too thick and our balls are too small. And because they will simply ignore our vote, after all, what do we know?

In the insane world of Hollywood, William Goldman had the rare prescience to state that "nobody knows anything". It's about time our supposed leaders had big enough bollocks to admit the same.

We used to say, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. And those who can't teach, manage teachers." Perhaps we should extend this to, "Those who can't even manage teachers, lead nations."

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Because You're Not Worth It!

Watching Sunday Morning Live with the droolorious, dribbleicious Susanna Reed* I am struck once again by this whole issue of entitlement. As I sweat and pant - I'm watching this from the gym, naturally - I hear time and again about 'rights'. The rights of people to affordable housing, adequate healthcare and freedom of speech I can go with. I'm all for not having to scrimp and scrape  to get along, although a bit of thrift would do us all no harm whatsoever.

Free speech? Of course; I'm exercising my right, er, right now.

But then it all starts to get a bit less tangible. Rights not to be offended? Oppressed? One man's oppression is another man's kinky cop-off and offence these days is something you take on behalf of somebody else. Among the loonier lower levels of our society, think-tanks are dreaming up ever more abstract ways to offend with a minimum of perceptible effort. (I'm sure even my drawing breath is anathema to many.)

We seem to have got to a state where every whim is expressed as a right. I wanna be famous. I wanna straighter nose. I wanna feel better about myself. I wanna be treated like a princess. I wanna be envied. I want 'rispeck'. I tell you what I want - I want to smash your face in, you whiny reject.

"But I'm worth it!" you wail, "I deserve it!", you whinge.

Really? What have you done today, to deserve what you have? In most cases you use your mere existence as collateral against all manner of rapacious acquisitions. You know what you've become, now? Greedy, that's what. Simple, fundamental, covetous, grasping, greed is human nature in the raw and maybe we've let it go too far.

In the United Dingdom you'll all get everything you want - or learn to accept what you have - just as soon as you knuckle down and realise that the world owes you nothing.

Right, that's the economy and society fixed. No need to thank me. I'm just doing my job.

Time for a nice cuppa. And maybe a biscuit... because I'm worth it.

(*Yes, yes, I know. But I'm honestly not her stalker!)

Traitors' Gate

So, the gate is just there. Do we go through it, or do we check first exactly what is on the other side? No-brainer, you'd think. Yet, time after time, nobody has been allowed to question what lies beyond. Well I, for one, am sick to death of the weakness of our politicians who dare not ask us, the electorate, what we want.

Yes, most of us are pretty thick, but the truly thick tend not to vote, except for more benefits. Ask us an important question and it's a fair bet that the free-thinkers will want to answer. And I can't think of a much more important question right now than, what the fuck is the point of the EU?

Sarkozy's talking it up like it matters, but he's a Brie-devouring-surrender-primate, taking his country's alert state from 'run away' to 'capitulate' at a single bark from the Rottweiller Merkel. Has France learned nothing from the Vichy years? I bet the French people - those not too thick to vote - think differently from their president. I'm not even going to use the phrase 'jack boots'. Oh...

It's clear to me that the European project does not have, at its centre, the welfare of its many millions of people. If it ever did, those aims have long since been surrendered to the vested interests of big business. Politicians do not have the power to control the corporations in whose pocket they reside. If they did, they could hold referenda to obtain a democratic mandate.

And yet, time and again in recent years, democracy has been denied and promises broken. The only end to this must be popular revolution. Well I ain't happy with that. The population will lie down to have its tummy tickled just so many times before taking the law into its own hands. The riots of the summer were nothing to do with any of this. Those riots were about the freestyle acquisition of goods by the unworthy for minimal effort and were universally reviled by decent, working people.

The riots against the tyranny of Europe will be heartily endorsed yet regretfully entered into by a majority of honest, hard-working hard-put-upon voters, who see no point in voting when their wishes are simply ignored by the spineless so-called leaders who dare not challenge their corporate masters. This should never have to happen. but it's looking like it will.

Now, I'm not going to put my neck on the block here, but I'm thinking the wholly independent, sink-or-swim-by-our-honest-endeavours United Dingdom is looking a far safer bet in the long run than anything our current crop of ineffectual politicians can muster. The Dingdom is a vanity project, a gag, a vehicle for my thoughts alone but if I have to throw my cap in the ring, I really think we need to rethink the whole European 'thing'.

UKIP is the only party which seems to grasp how important our voice is and who will give us a choice before we take the traitors' gate. Man up. Reject the status quo and try possibly the only alternative to the Fourth Reich.

PS: I'm really fucking mad about all of this.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

We Are All Individuals (I'm Not)

I've been called a misogynist. Well that's only half true. You could equally say I'm a misandrist, which is also only half true. For the full picture, the word you're searching for is misanthrope. Yes indeed; a more curmudgeonly, crotchety, cranky character you'd journey long and hard to find.

But even that's not really true. I'm actually quite a nice bloke, honest. Yes, I do see humanity revealed through its failings. I do rail against the preposterous notion that anybody, anywhere has the faintest clue as to what it's all about. I rejoice in the downfall of the pompous, I'm quick to ridicule the mentally feeble and although I can't bear to watch it, I do understand the freak show draw of X-Factor.

Just because I despise humanity in general, it doesn't necessarily make me a bad person. Whilst I can't empathise with those who suffer from their own stupidity and delusion, I weep freely in the presence of selflessness, even when the object of that devotion is itself unworthy. My chest swells with absurd pride at acts of unthinking bravery, whether or not I espouse the cause. And I am just as susceptible as nearly 56-million other people to cute stuff like this(If you don't like ickle kitties, don't click on the link.)

But I abhor the sheep-like devotion to trite, aphoristic notions such as everybody having a reason for being, or the idea that humans are anything other than opportunistic animal organisms, fighting each other for space, for food, for fortune. And I really don't 'get' the current adulation of the infant; to me, kids are just learning machines and how they turn out is entirely your fault. Philip Larkin was spot on, almost. He forgot to include the counter corollary that you, in turn, are fucked up by your kids.

And so the great human experiment stumbles on, blindly, from one mistake to the next. All seven billion of you 'individuals'. The only certainty, death, life itself is pretty pointless so the best you can do is stave off the boredom while you're waiting.

I understand your obsessions, your hopes and dreams without having to share them or respect them.  I understand it because I am just the same as you, every single one of you... only better. J So you can have your kids and your X-Factors, your flash cars and your daft ambitions. You can pretend you're all equal and equally gifted if that floats your boat and you can even meddle with the system we call society to try and make those wishes come true.

But don't coming crying to me when the true nature of the world creeps into your dreams and you wake up, screaming, into cold, hard, competitive reality.

Gosh. That's a bleak way to end, isn't it? Well, when I'm down in the dumps, when reality has hit a bit too hard, I find that looking at somebody worse off helps enormously.

We all love a good gurn, don't we?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Old Bangers - A Parable

With Bonfire Night fast approaching, I thought I'd write about bangers*. Old bangers.

Once upon a time I used to walk to work. I was independent and it cost me very little; a bit of shoe leather, sturdier socks and replacement of both every now and then. Occasionally it rained and sometimes it was icy, but on the whole it was reliable and I was in charge. Never late for work.

Then one day, tempted by the profligacy of friends, I bought a car. It seemed like a good idea, because everybody else was doing it. The initial outlay and the insurance and road tax all seemed a good trade off for comfort and speed. Besides, I could afford it and there would be so many other benefits, so no worries.

But as time went on I realised that cars are very needy things. They need petrol and oil and tyres and occasionally they break down, which requires tools and time or else paying somebody else to keep them on the go. While I was driving and spending, spending to drive, I began to realise that more and more of my income went on feeding the car. I had to put in overtime just to afford the wheels. And I couldn't afford the gas to go anywhere except work. Who was driving who now?

So now, my working day was longer and as the roads got busier the car journey got more stressful, especially as the motor was getting needier, breaking down more often, making me late and eating up all my cash. But as I 'invested' more and more money on the car I was loath to buy a newer one because, surely, that last repair would keep me going for months? And nobody I asked could agree whether it was better to trade it in or to keep it going, or offer any other alternatives. Nobody knew, but they all cautioned against abandoning my grand automotive project; to not have a car was just unthinkable.

One day, stuck in traffic, I was overtaken by a pedestrian and I thought, fuck it, I'm going back to independence.

The Euro is the political equivalent of my old banger; governments are going to keep throwing money at it until it breaks down completely before they finally see the light. Why not just park it up at the side of the autobahn, set it alight and walk away?

Can anybody give me a straight answer?

(*And back to Bonfire Night - get your proper bonfire bangers from Stu at Taylors in Coventry! I can thoroughly recommend the Welsh Dragons - yummy.)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Pants on Fire

If you eat an apple pip, a tree will grow in your tummy. When Mr Whippy sounds his jingle it's to let you know he's run out of ice cream. And Father Christmas will only come to call if you're good. Yes, all you caring parents, what consummate liars you are; you should be in government.

There is no doubt that a good old-fashioned, whiter-than-white fib is fab. Far better for children to hear about Santa's magical powers than the truth that the jolly man in the big red suit is likely to be an unemployable, alcoholic, sexual predator with a predilection for pre-teens.

You then tell your kids that if they tell the truth, they won't get in trouble. But how soon do they realise that was just a cynical ploy to get them to dob each other in? Nobody likes a grass. And as for the one where you say, "This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you." Hah!

Now your credibility is all but gone and soon your charges will become better liars than you and run rings round the old folk - then you know your job is done.

Kids grow up, learn the facts of life, then leave and begin new lives of their own. When the poor orphan, Greece, was found mewling on the doorstep, the kindly faces of Gunther and Genevieve looked down on her puckered-up features and agreed to adopt. "We'll keep you safe from yourself," they said, "we'll let you stay in our house."

Good people lie when they need to. Fools continue the lie long beyond its useful life. The bad parents of this Euro-soap have lied and cheated and deceived and conspired and connived and told not white lies but wholesale untruths about Europe. They told so many lies that now they can't see the truth and - caught out in the lie - stick to the story no matter how increasingly fantastic that story sounds. If you keep pulling that face, Germany, France, it will stay that way. (And if you play with it too much, Berlusconi, it will drop off!)

Now Greece has woken up to the lies, faced up to dad and may soon fly the coop. It's always a struggle, making ends meet after you leave home. But how much better for all of us to accept the challenge and get our own houses in order before we worry about keeping the old gang together. Time for a reality check.

Europe? It's been a pack of lies - on all sides - since day one. Thank Jones for our independent state. The United Dingdom.

Don't join us, we'll only lie to you. (Now that's an honest politician for you!)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

British Sausage Week

Imagine my surprise and unbridled joy to learn we are in the middle of British Sausage Week! And what better week than one that ends on Bonfire Night?

Callooh-callay! Oh, frabjous day! The joy of sausage, the sizzle of saveloy and the sheer purple pleasure of pork, spitting on a griddle, fried in fat or bubbling in an ocean of gravy ready to anoint a mound of mash. Food heaven? I very much think so.

It is no longer the grainy nineteen-fifties. We live in the age of full-colour information and today the Goon Show's Bluebottle would not have to beg and wait for his 'sossinges'. No, he'd simply hop online and order up his links via the miracle of electronic communication.

You heard it here, folks, sausages by email from Taylors. Job done, now where's me fork?