Friday, 31 January 2014

Union Blues

Yesterday’s Twitterings started off with the great left-right debate and brought forth many accounts of bitter memories of the strike-ridden shithole that Britain was during the sixties and seventies. The Shop Steward was king and wildcat strikes could be called at the merest hint of management daring to consider, for one moment, the possibility of increasing efficiency. The sight of a ‘Time & Motion’ man with his clipboard was enough for the whole of British Leyland (remember them?) to down tools, man the barricades and fire up the braziers.

After wave upon wave of strike action successive governments were terrified of upsetting the true fat cats of the day – the union barons. With the country heavily reliant on nationalised, manpower-intensive, heavy industry the likes of Jack Jones, Derek Robinson and Joe Gormley strutted around parading their power like Third World tin-pot dictators while nightly power cuts kept the general public, quite literally, in the dark. As the summer of 1978 faded into autumn, little did we then realise that the next Christmas would be in the midst of our Winter of Discontent.

This was the backdrop to a series of talks at a medium-sized engineering firm, now defunct, in the Midlands as management and workers’ representatives were locked in a bitter battle over the working week. The factory gates were closed and pickets stood guard. To a man the strike was solid and workers stood firm as talks continued. For weeks it dragged on and the days got colder and shorter. Concessions were proposed by management but the union stuck to its guns and the men stood firm and turned their offers down.

Eventually, one grey, drizzly mid-December day the doors to the conference room were thrown wide and the press allowed in. Flashbulbs popped as hands were shaken and papers waved for the cameras. Invited to comment, Jimmy Gobshite, the union convener declined, saying that until he had told his men the good news it wasn’t for wider ears. Jimmy strode out of the factory and across the yard to the heavily fortified main gate where his comrades were waiting, the press pack streaming behind him. At a gesture the heavy chains were removed and the factory gates opened. Jimmy mounted a hastily erected podium of pallets to address his members.

He waited a moment for silence and then: “Brothers” he declaimed “I bring you great news. The capitalist lackeys have bowed before the might of our argument and capitulated to all our demands” A great roar came from the crowd and Jimmy was hoisted aloft on donkey-jacketed shoulders for a victory lap of the factory yard before being returned to his podium. “From now on, Comrades, all wages are to be doubled and paid holidays will be extended to twelve weeks a year!”

Once more the crowd went wild and once more he was carried victoriously, this time for two laps of the yard, as flat caps were thrown into the air and workers hugged each other in joy and celebration. Flashbulbs crackled like automatic fire and from somewhere fireworks had been produced and fired off into the late afternoon skies. Eventually, after several wild minutes, Jimmy was once more delivered back to his podium.


Breathless now with exhilaration Jimmy fought to recover his composure as the crowd cheered on. People were breaking out in a sporadic rendition of The Red Flag as he delivered yet another message. “And from now on, brothers” he yelled above the cacophony, “From now on… We only have to work on Fridays!” He flung up his arms to encourage a cheer, but the crowd stopped, dead. Jimmy looked out over a sea of stunned faces. 

Jimmy knew he’d struck a good deal but he was surprised at the stupefaction on their faces. He could only imagine it must be gratitude. Seconds passed and the silence hung thick in the air. Even the birds had stopped their song. Then one lone, angry voice came from the back of the crowd. “What?” challenged the voice “Every bloody Friday?”

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Right or Wrong?

We’ve been here before – the old left-wing/right-wing conundrum. The origins of the terminology go back to the French Revolution apparently, but whatever they originally meant the shorthand is now generally perceived to mean this:

Left Wing
Caring, sharing, ‘progressive’, happy people of light and love and happiness bringing you a better world and yes it might cost a bit but you can’t put a price on equality, can you?

Right Wing
Vicious, cruel, privileged establishment bully boys, craving only power and control over the poor people they see as nothing more than labour and war fodder.

Put that way it all seems so easy, but surely everybody knows it’s far more complicated than that? How about the work ethic of the right mixed with the morals of the left? We’re all intelligent enough to be able to find a combination that works, aren’t we? And why does it matter what labels politicians want to put on things anyway?

It matters because that simple divide is what Labour is relying on in the absence of any credible, costed policies or frankly, the first hint of the beginnings of the genesis of a single, solitary economic clue. The seesaw of the next election will teeter-totter between a simple choice of left or right. And lest you naïvely believe the electorate to be cleverer, or somehow more sophisticated than they have proved themselves over and over again to actually be, consider that even in the height of our resurgence as a modern, functioning nation, it wasn’t on policy that the Conservatives lost; that nice Mr Blair just smiled and said, "Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes!". And we all know how that ended.

So forget about the incisive commentary of experienced political thinkers like Douglas Carswell or Dan Hodges. The average voter doesn’t read analysis, doesn’t watch The Daily Politics or Newsnight; the average ‘customer’ will cast his vote depending on how he is told to feel, not on what he thinks. Which is why Labour’s frankly disgraceful attempt to once again fall back on blaming “Fatchaa!” will resonate with left-wing voters, even those who weren’t even born when she left power.

To my way of thinking, the simpler it is to tell a story, the greater its veracity and I’ve always marvelled at the left’s propensity to construct complex narratives based on deep and interwoven historical conspiracies and pseudo-intellectual fictions of human nature, instead of just telling it straight. Maybe the right are just far too busy working to have the appetite for the bullshit.

To help I hereby present my handy, cut-out-and-keep guide to the two main sides in this battle for the hearts and minds (votes) of the British people.

Left: It’s all about fairness. How can it be right that some people earn so much more than others and can buy nicer things? And then 'they' want to pass those things onto their own families. We will pursue ways to prevent that happening by taking from the rich and not so rich to give to the poor and not so poor. That’s fair.
Right: The harder and smarter you work, the more you get.

Left: Everybody is different, but everybody is also equal. But don’t worry because we have drawn up a comprehensive scale of privilege depending on your race, colour, creeds, proclivities and gender self-identification and by plotting your position on this crystal-clear chart we can find your intersectionality quotient and compensate you appropriately for your birth-bestowed life chances, thus achieving equal outcomes, going forward...
Right: Everybody is different. Get used to it.

Left: No child must be left behind, so to be certain we do not inadvertently advance those born with inherent academic abilities, from households that care about such things, we must make sure that everybody is educated at a pace that suits the slowest and divert the bulk of resources to those least able to benefit from them. This way, all school leavers will finish their time in education at the same level.
Right: Stream them, keep order and stop spending so much money on the thick kids.

Left: We must define Human Rights. To that end we will devote billions of pounds of resources to fund hundreds of studies, recruit thousands of lawyers and create from scratch an entire industry devoted to arguing over this fundamental concept. In the process we will invert the usual criminal/victim relationship and create daily headlines of outrage as we remind the public of the good work we are doing on their behalf.
Right: Play nice, or else.

Left: Democracy is too difficult and too subtle to be left to the proletariat who, after all, don’t really know as we do, what is right for them. To ensure correct voting outcomes we will pursue an aggressive policy of border adjustments and import as many new voters as possible, whether or not they can directly benefit our economy. The right, after all, must have their evil noses rubbed in diversity. This will, of course, cost billions and people will feel disenfranchised but we think it’s a small cost to create the appearance of effective suffrage.
Right: Quite correct. Democracy is too difficult to be left to the people. But at least we’ll try and let you keep most of what you earn.


The political contortions the left seem to thrive on all seem so bloody exhausting. One minute we’re all equal, the next some are more equal than others and despite the daily evidence of your own ears and eyes, you have to keep telling your mind that success is failure and failure is achievement and up is down and the next minute you’re apologising to the world for something you didn’t do. We, the sheeple, are always going to lose, so as a simple soul, I’d far rather be beaten with a stick I can actually see. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The worm will turn!

Well, I am outraged I tell you. I was in Paperchase yesterday, trying to buy a Happy Birthday card for my old dad and in the end I had to take my rapidly increasing pulse, bulging eyes and dangerously elevated blood pressure out to cool in the street. I looked around to see if I could spot a police-boy – well, they’re all so young these days, aren’t they? Fortunately I came to my senses before I did anything rash but, short of involving the authorities, what can I do? I may have to content myself with a strongly-worded letter, yet that seems such a cliché: “signed, Brigadier Slightly-Worrying (retired), Brize Norton”

The object, or should I say objects of my ire? The subject matter of ‘dad’ card illustrations. Golf, fishing, gardening and cars– stereotyping much? How do they know my eighty-year old, old man isn’t a huge Daft Punk fan or a devotee of Strictly Come Dancing? Or maybe he’s into social networks; why not an iTwitterSpace themed selection? But no; golf, fishing, gardening and cars – I feel we’ve all been put in a box like so many discarded toys. We’re not just objects, we have feelings too. And ideas. We can still make a contribution to the new power industries of diversity, inclusion and industrial strength offence-mongering… should we become sufficiently arsed with it.

And then I got to thinking of the other ways in which casual blokeism rears its ugly and insidious head every day. ‘Sir’ they call us, without any suggestion that we may or may not be married, or have honours heaped upon us… or just not identify as ‘sir’. And they never bother to ask; for all they know I may prefer to be addressed as Lord… or just plain Marjory, much that they care. Or, and this is far, far worse, ‘mate’. I tell you, I will swing for the next pubescent, pustule-laden, moon-faced simpleton that dares leer at me and address me as an equal.

And try and buy clothes, for heaven’s sake. It’s not enough, as a man, that we have to brave the blaze of spring colours and delicious soft pastels all the way through the Marks & Spencers ladies’ department to get to the elevator, we also have to suffer the indignity of being forced against our will to pretend not to notice the shimmering rows of saucy, provocative female ‘nether garments’ on display. And then, when we get to the menswear department- hidden away shamefully on the second floor - we are faced with a drab sea of greys and fawns and everywhere the terrible reminders of our violent nature; why are all the suits black and blue for god’s sake? Haven’t we attoned enough without being always reminded of the Stan Collymore that lurks within?

I just want a coffee, damn it! A plain, ordinary, no-fuss, simple mug of steaming hot coffee. I have no idea what a mocha-chocca-fucky-wucky-love-a-duckie-maté-latté is and nor, do I believe, will I ever want to know. How dare you make us choose? And by the way, you’re a spotty shop assistant not a bloody ‘barista’ and no, I’m not your sodding mate and HOW MUCH???? You’re just taking the piss now. Oh and for gawd’s sake I never want to see a frigging heart drawn in my froth, or for that matter a sodding shamrock on my Guinness. But no, you never bothered to ask me what I wanted, did you?

Everywhere you go, you realise the modern world is just not made for men. We are discriminated against every minute of every day and nobody cares one jot for our feelings. If we’re not being laughed at by Loose Women we’re being attacked in the pink pages of the national press for not understanding those same loose bloody women. We are stereotyped as not caring and not listening, but the simple truth of the matter is that nobody has anything to say to us that we care enough about to listen to in the first place. What you see as discourteous, we see as saving precious minutes. It’s about time we men took a stand. Nobody else will defend us; we are not born with natural disadvantages, while others have far more than their fair share.

Full set - some people have ALL the luck!

We say “No!” to every day sexism and we reject the labels the world tries to stick on us. We men must stand together and stand firm and erect on this issue. Join me at Men Against Raging Sexism and help launch our campaign - Sexism Has to End, Dummy! Yes the men from MARS will rally around the SHED and together we will fight for equal treatment… if that’s all right, dear? Oh and my dad’s card? In the end I got him a My Little Pony one. Fuck it, he’s blind, he’ll never know. The lucky bastard.


(Note: Before you, as a feminist, a woman of colour or a muslim decide to take up cudgels either for or against my cause I should explain that the foregoing is just a joke. I only mention this because I appreciate that all three of those conditions appear to come with a sense of humour as only an optional extra.)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Agenda of a Dope

He writes a good polemic, I’ll give him that. Yesterday, Owen jones wrote this piece under the rallying cry of an "Agenda of Hope". You can read it all if you like, but here are my abridged study notes with commentary. Like all the lefties Owen has comprehensive and infallible answers to the intensely complex problems that generations of politicians and economic ‘experts’ have failed to solve; largely because real solutions involve unpalatable actions. *cough*eugenics*cough* But, hey-ho, let’s look at what the Boy Wonder has to say. He starts off with an emotive little story, loaded with triggers to get the Tory-hating classes’ juices flowing.

“The alarm goes off. It’s dark outside, and Mary wakes to get ready for work at the checkout of a local supermarket. Like most of Britain’s poor, she has a job that leaves her and her children trapped below the poverty line.”

Of course, ‘poverty’ in Britain does not mean what poverty means in the rest of the world. It’s an inflated definition of want posing as need, invented for gesture politics and designed for the very thing Owen perpetually condemns the right for doing – dividing the population. But then, as a socialist OJ is no stranger to hypocrisy.

“She finds herself competing with colleagues for overtime, just to earn a few more pounds to spend on her kids. Even though her employer makes hundreds of millions of pounds of profit a year, it is the taxpayer who has to step in and subsidise those poverty wages to give Mary a chance to pay the bills and feed her children.”

Oh, do give it a rest, Owen. Now you’re painting a dog-eat-dog world where the poor squabble over the scraps and the fat cat toffs sit at high table and throw half eaten swan’s legs to the floor for their dogs. Or is that a scene from Animal Farm? Also, why is a company’s profit always a bad thing? So a 5% margin for a multinational is obscene, whereas a 100% margin for a fag smuggler is simple social justice, the little man driven to crime to buck the system?

“Mary had a rough night’s sleep because it’s nearly time to pay the rent.”

Yep, greedy grasping landlords again, ripping off the poor. Owen loves to busk on the theme of predatory slumlords, terrorising the weak and fearful. Shame that his rhetoric is spoiled by the huge number of landlords who were enticed into buy-to-let mortgages, with rents barely meeting the costs, every void month an outright loss and capital values plunged into negative equity territory. But no, in Owen’s world landlords are overwhelmingly evil and overwhelmingly rich pantomime villains.

“And so Mary leaves for a gruelling shift at the supermarket, working hard to earn her poverty.”

Aw, gruelling? She's on a checkout, not down a tin mine. This, of course from a man whose idea of gruelling is taking on yet another commission to write Dickensian sketches from his garret, portraying rickety children and gin-soaked washer-women on the fringes of society – such extreme hardship as Owen experienced first-hand during his penurious time at Oxford University.

“Mary isn’t a real person, but there are millions of people in this country who share aspects of their lives with someone like her. We all have to pay, literally, as poverty-paying bosses and rip-off landlords milk our welfare state.”

You can bet your sweet bippy Mary isn’t a real person Owen. If she was and you met her she’d soon see through your ridiculous posturing. Practically every single one of your ‘vulnerable’ poor, if elevated to higher wages, would slam the door in the face of the tax collector in any way they could. To suggest otherwise – that high earners are natural greedy, while low earners are naturally honest is divisive posturing of the most obvious kind.

“The Government and much of the media have answers for people like Mary. “Instead of being angry at your situation,” Mary is told, “be angry at unemployed people, immigrants, public sector workers, or disabled claimants instead.” It is an Agenda of Fear [that] makes sure that the real solutions to the problems faced by someone like Mary – and the nation as a whole – are never even discussed.”

But yes they are discussed, me laddo, and they are discussed endlessly by many people far more informed and engaged than you or I. Iain Duncan Smith has spent ten years thinking of little else and has been roundly applauded (from all sides) for his work yet, driven by your class war agenda, you label him as just another 'cruel Tory'. Furthermore, your caricaturing the coalition as Machiavellian puppet masters, engaged in a plot to subjugate the proletariat is exactly the same lazy tactics you have just decried in the above paragraph. Irony much?

But Owen has not only melodramatised the problem he’s got the imaginary solutions as well. Let’s just pray that his nine-point manifesto, his “Agenda for hope” isn’t based solely on magic beans. Honestly, why we ever let him go to market on his own is beyond me. Anyway, here we go:

1) A statutory living wage, with immediate effect, for large businesses and the public sector, and phased  in for small and medium  businesses over a five-year Parliament.

Oh, how disappointing, the magic beans are deployed in his very first item! Obviously, as a history graduate he is an authority on wage fixing. And how soon before the minimum wage is eaten up by inflation? And what IS a living wage? £20k? £40K? Better yet, £100k, then item 3 can kick in all the sooner. Business? Oh, that fled long ago to healthier economic climes.
           
2) Resolve the housing crisis by regulating private rents [and] reduce taxpayers’ subsidies to landlords.

Ah, more magic beanery. There’s a theme here – increase wages, lower rents, magic up some dosh to build council houses. But wait, you already lost the businesses and hence the real tax revenue with point 1.

3) A 50 per cent tax on all earnings above £100,000

Genius! So, the sooner the minimum wage rises to £100k, the better. Bring on the Weimar rates of inflation please, so we can reach this Nirvanic ideal in a matter of months.  

4) An all-out campaign to recoup the £25bn worth of tax avoided by the wealthiest each year.

No need, pal. They’ll have all fucked off already (see above)

5) Publicly run, accountable local banks.

Sounds good. But will it work? Given that there will be little in the way of private enterprise left, the big money jobs will only exist in state-owned institutions. Give it five years and the state banks will be rife with corruption with devious practices imported from the very worst of both banking and the public sector.

6) An industrial strategy to create the “green jobs” and renewable energy industries of the future.

Again, magic money… If the green machine can’t compete without subsidy you are effectively doing to the regions what the ruinous propping up of the coal industry eventually did to those same areas. Sooner or later, you WILL run out of other people’s money and put your precious working class back on the scrap heap.

7) Publicly owned rail and energy [and NHS] democratically run by consumers and workers.

Hail the glorious Bolshevik revolution! And have another turnip, comrade! Haven’t we been here before? Unlike Owen I was actually alive during the period when ‘means of production in the hands of the workers’ had us tagged as ‘The sick man of Europe’. No thanks.

8) A new charter of workers’ rights fit for the 21st century.

In other words, extend state control not only to wages and rents but to how businesses are actually managed. Sorry, did I say businesses? Silly me, there won’t be any, will there?

9) A universal childcare system that would pay for itself... 

Oh, behave! A system that pays for itself? And did you read that sentence through before you hit ‘Save’? You really believe that, don’t you? And for that handful of beans you sold the whole fucking cow? You stupid, stupid boy.


But let’s look on the bright side. All we need now is for Labour to adopt your Dope’s Agenda, extending the dead hand of state to stifle every individual initiative and control every natural urge and we will have the perfect communist state. A telescreen in every room and Victory Gin for all! Huzzah! What’s that you say, children? They’d never do it? We’d never fall for it? Look out – he’s be-hind you!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Rantalogue

Fanatical Feminists, Yobbish Youngsters, Irate islamists, Grotesque Greens, Antagonistic Ant-racists and Garish Gays? It sounds like a new series of Horrible Histories but it’s all so much more in the ‘clear and present danger’ arena than that. Forget the Fabians and Labour and their perpetual motion money machine madness. Any fule kno that’s just yet another diversionary populist device to draw the fire while they try once again to make two plus two equal five. “Go on Ed, just one more try; maybe this time..?” Smoke and mirrors, because Labour can only affect the economy in one way. But let’s look at some of the ‘successes’ socialism has brought us:

In the last couple of weeks the Feminazis have been trying to turn Chris Rennard’s wandering hands and Nigel Farage’s simple truths into a holocaust-scale attempt to dismiss their cause as ‘a bit shouty’. Whipping themselves into a frenzy of hatred for all mankind - and any womankind who dares to see their point - they counter charges of some women maybe not being suited to some high pressure jobs by blowing their tops and unleashing the sort of screechy, high-pitched indignant shouting that Louise Cooper demonstrated on the Daily Politics. Luckily only dogs and a few children actually hear frequencies that high, so old duffers like me could only witness what looked like a mimed version of Edvard Munch’s most famous painting… with added, jabby pointing.

Then Labour, once again, cynically revealed a proposal to give sixteen-year olds the vote based on the utterly non-sequiturial logic that they can legally marry and join the army. As both those actions require parental permission, presumably they would have to get a voting consent form signed by both parents. That in itself would pose a bit of a problem as every single one of those sixteen-year olds will have been born under New Labour, when the presence of a father of known whereabouts was not only frowned upon but, given another term, may very well have become illegal.

Meanwhile, in another astonishing LibDem own goal, A Liberal Democrat activist nutjob called Muhammad Shafiq took it upon himself to organise a personal jihad against Maajid Nawaz for the outrageous crime of not being offended by something pretty inoffensive. The Jesus and Mo cartoons are a mildly amusing, poorly drawn, but sincere and deliberately provocative attempt to persuade islam to get over itself and as such are to be applauded. Trouble is those distant ripples of applause sound a lot like automatic gunfire to the rabid mullahs of Middle Earth, so be prepared for another outbreak of pointless propheteering some time soon.

The Grotesque Greens? Not content with Climate Change’s Inherent Uncertainties and a sensible wait and see approach, successive governments have been bamboozled by bullshit promulgated by an increasingly self-affirming lobby into handing over billions of our precious pounds to pepper the landscape with frequently useless wind turbines. Such a shame the investment all went overseas but, hey, a self-sufficient industry like wind has got to be a good investment, right? Right? I’m sure the German giant Prokon’s collapse into insolvency will be a mere blip. Felled by a freak of nature they'll claim, perhaps?  

Then there’s the looming battleground of the next election. The economy, you say? Nah, the Tories are riding high while the Red Eds are offering fantasy appeasements to scare off business. No, it’s the elephantiasis in the room; immigration. Boo, racist, you cry! And if you want an illustration as to exactly why children should not be given the vote, Channel Four – for what ghastly PC reason I can only imagine - asked them for their opinion on it. They trotted out well-indoctrinated fluffy lines like “We shouldn't say you're not allowed in, but then send all our old-age pensioners to Spain.” and other such meaningless guff. But what do you expect from the children of Blair? THEY think it’s the government, not them, that’s ill-informed. Bless. Now get on with your sociology homework.

Now, I love a good gayer, me. But marry one? Do me a flavour, John! One of the best recent examples of manufactured approval was the rushing through, out of the blue, of last year’s same sex marriage bill. Despite what the majority opinion may have been at the right-on Islington, same sex mother and toddler groups, the overall national appetite for gay marriage was a big fat, meh, yet it was pursued as relentlessly and urgently as if the Kaiser’s big gay zeppelins were already overstepping our aerial borders.

So, what’s it all about? I’ll tell you, it’s the tyranny of the minority, it’s the very antithesis of democracy. These days it seems there is no cause so insignificant it cannot be swiftly raised to national consciousness and then on to COBRA-level emergency. If this carries on, what with equal weighting being given to every cause, no matter how trivial, soon there will BE no minorities. And THEN who will we get to feel superior to?

Lazy stereotype stock photo (posed by models)

Ah yes, I know; the one group left who can only ever have status removed and worth devalued. White men – the bastards! While I was looking for a conclusion to this rant, I was supplied the perfect 140-characters-or-fewer summing up on Twitter: “An inconvenient fact of history for some is that the foundations of modern civilization were laid by dead, white, & yes, mostly males.” When you need us we’ll be in our sheds, quietly getting on making stuff.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Hooray for Hollywood!

The Dream Factory. The thrills, the action… the glamour. From the early days of silent Chaplins through the coming of the talking Jolsons and then in glorious Technicolor we have been in thrall to the romance of Hollywood. The big bold epic dramas, the gritty war movies, the zany comedies and the ditzy musicals – something for everyone… and then some.

We wanted stars. And more than stars we wanted intrigue and delight and love stories. Enter Hollywood’s golden couples. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Bogart and Bacall, Curtis and Leigh; the list is endless. Towering above us on the screen, their perfection setting standards with which we could never compete, we swooned at their perfect figures, their perfect skin, their perfect teeth and hair and… oh my!

And off-screen too we wanted to see perfection. But we’re human, so perfection is never quite enough; we wanted a touch of scandal, too.  The Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy saga, the on-again-off-again Burton and Taylor. We wanted the car-crashes, the melt-downs and it turned out we had a near insatiable appetite for Hollywood gossip. And the lawyers got richer and richer.

But some stories were kept secret for many years and it is only now, some sixty years after the event, that we can reveal some of the transcripts of the court records in what modern newspapers would describe as the ‘infamouse’ divorce case that would have rocked Hollywood had the public known. Walt Disney himself paid a small fortune to keep Mickey & Minnie off the front pages as they fought a bitter battle for a settlement in 1954.

Back then uncontested divorces were unheard of, so a court case was always convened, but there appeared to be a problem with Mickey’s petition. Infidelity, if proved, was grounds, hence the pack of camera-ready ‘detectives’ eager to earn a sleazy buck by setting up a guy in a hotel room with a hooker. Violence or cruelty were also admissible, but none of these legitimate reasons for granting a decree had been presented. The judge looked over his spectacles and addressed Mickey Mouse directly.

“Young Mr Mouse” he said, “my wife and I have enjoyed your films immensely and you have brought great joy to millions of children the world over. I can fully understand, however, that the intensity of the industry can bring many stresses and that working so closely together all the time can bring a strain on any marriage. So, I am saddened to see you in my court, seeking a separation from your wife, Minnie. But, as much as I would like to accommodate your wishes, I cannot possibly countenance a divorce on the grounds that her teeth are not perfect.”

The way they were.

There was a silence in court, then Mickey leaned over to speak with counsel. After a moment, Mickey’s lawyer asked to approach the bench. “Your Honour” he said, “I believe you are perhaps misreading the case notes. If you care to read the papers again you will see that the reason my client wants a divorce is that his wife is fucking Goofy!”

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Angry Mob

The Benefits Street argument just won’t go away. But the unassailable fact is that some people are simply worth less than other human beings… and some of them do quite well for themselves. There are crooked lawyers, coppers, businessmen, sportsmen, entertainers and politicians – you don’t have to be broke to be bent – it’s human nature to grab the opportunities and it takes a lot of training to overcome the temptation.

But it seems there are good crooks and bad crooks. When some ‘loveable rogue’ hijacks the welfare system to live off the labours of others, anybody daring to condemn them is howled down by a chorus of righteous leftie frenzy, yet when it’s an elected official legally claiming expenses or a high earner legally avoiding tax the same mob turns on them instead of their persecutors. Tell me, are there different versions of legal depending on your social status? It’s always seemed that way, but this is the reverse of the traditional ‘them and us’ divide.

On the one hand, some hold that there is no such thing as the undeserving poor – everybody is equally wonderful – but on the other, there is such a thing as undeserving rich. I believe we are mining a very rich seam of hypocrisy here, where it’s fine for Polly Toynbee to be paid much more than most people for writing about the heinous inequity whereby some people’s labours are worth less than others. And it’s fine for millionaire career politicians to dishonestly lay claim to a humble start because they say they speak for the ‘most vulnerable in society’, but it is not okay for other millionaire politicians to accept their good fortune without apology?

Owen Jones repeatedly bemoans the lazy stereotyping and ‘demonisation’ of the Chav – a creature we all recognise as one of questionable values, low education, poor taste and minimal social merit – who contributes little if anything to the sum national worth. But it’s absolutely okay for wee Owen to simultaneously repeat the lazy stereotype of Tory Toff, whose (admittedly enviable) privilege rarely costs the country a penny.

It’s a real conundrum for Labour and the left; how to plough the equality furrow without straying into the politics of hate and envy. Some, indeed, are more equal than others. But Labour long ago lost their working man ethics and are desperate to re-establish any credentials to support their repeated but false assertions that they are champions of the poor. All of which made Prime Minister’s Questions a tricky obstacle course for Ed Miliband yesterday – he had to steer clear of the economy and employment pretty much altogether. And as for Ed Balls, Labour’s front bench Rottweiler remained firmly muzzled as he has been for weeks.

What a shame that the righteous indignation of the left allows them to give no quarter to a supposed enemy – anybody doing what they see as their job. For all the hatred Iain Duncan Smith attracts, for all the brickbats lobbed at him daily, his is the one mission, throughout the whole system of British politics that Labour should be backing to the hilt. Getting people back to work? Ending automatic, lifelong benefit dependency? Attempting to lift people out of the poverty of both mind and pocket? How dare he?

Labour - So angry they could throw the phone down.

And – the horror – what if he succeeds? What if aspiration and self-reliance make a comeback? Will Labour just have to hate everybody then? Or will they just do what they’ve done for almost four years - stamp their feet and jump up and down like a demented little Mr Angry… from Purley?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Exterminate?

In Davos, a bunch of jokers who believe, or at least proclaim, that they represent the populations of the First World are meeting to discuss… what, exactly? What conclusions have they pre-planned to arrive at and what decisions will be made which will affect us all, yet have no basis in anything remotely linked to democracy? In fact how many of the world’s ‘leading’ countries can even lay claim to the dubious distinction of being truly democratic?

Following the current LibDem determination to tear themselves apart over the Lord Rennard debacle, former leader Paddy ‘PantsDown’ Ashdown, without a hint of irony, spoke about how ‘the people’ MUST conform to the ‘new standards’ of morality and acceptable behaviour. The people yes, but obviously not the politicians who routinely behave in ways that reveal their susceptibility to the most base of human frailties – greed and lust feature high on an MP’s CV. Surely people in public office should be held to higher standards first?

Labour talk the talk about being the party of the working class… or is it the middle class now? They talk tough on welfare and making work… er work, yet they oppose every measure the coalition has introduced in order to do just that. But this self-proclaimed Party of the People is so far removed from those same people as to be indistinguishable from any other mob in Westminster. While some of its lowly and increasingly elderly back benchers are grounded in the honourable Labour Movement, the glorious leaders have eyes only for power and the prizes power brings – an invitation to Davos, perhaps?

Meanwhile the Conservatives, long supporters of the wealth producers, seek to remain firmly in the wealth confiscating European Union, approval to join which has never been asked of the British people. Even now, reminiscent of the worst kind of conjuring trick, they hope to fool the people into believing a referendum will both be offered and fought on a level field, while the fifth ace is clumsily sticking out of their sleeve. David Cameron must barely be able to contain his glee at the charade of the private members bill, currently being timed out by the supposed opposition tabling a litany of amendments whose transparently flimsy nature oversteps the border of contempt.

What not one of the established parties has is a valid and representative view of the bulk of the people they seek to control. In fact what most people want from government is not interference in the minutiae of their every waking moment, but the freedom to get on and follow their own paths. The last thing happy people living fulfilling lives are interested in is politics. As more and more freedoms are curtailed and behaviours proscribed, even “the government must do something” is more an expression of impotent frustration than any genuine desire for more top-down interference.

Left to their own devices most of the population will sort themselves out. The only state involvement they need or want is light touch regulation and a bit of law and order. But the group that actively need government are the only ones they tend to squabble over. What a shame then that those people most reliant on the state understand and trust authority about as much as they understand and trust joined-up meat. All they want is bland, Turkey-Twizzler dole-dispensers who will maintain their lifestyles regardless of what it costs everybody else.

On all sides the out-of-touch ‘liberal’ types rail against ‘demonisation’ of those wholly on benefits and say to all who listen that they want nothing more than to be in work, that they need our sympathy and support to become productive members of society. But ask anybody who lives on a large council estate and they will point out the criminals, the idle, the dossers and those who pop out sprogs as if they didn’t know how to stop it. The only thing they want is to be left alone with their benefits.

Which way to the conference?

So, while the political classes squabble over the small number of people who need their charity but won’t vote, the largely uncomplaining majority work on, wondering just when a politician, any politician, will say a single thing to suggest that they understand. When Davos concludes that what the world needs now is love, sweet love, more wind turbines and more EU-style ‘democracy’ it might be helpful to remember that politicians on the whole represent nobody but themselves.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Plastic Fantastic

They are everywhere. They walk among us and they are barmy, or indiscreet, or just plain stupid. They lie and cheat and steal and embezzle. They provoke conflict and cover up sleaze (Whatever that means; there’s yet another word that has changed its meaning during my lifetime.) They make promises they subsequently deny or quietly forget. They make decisions without merit for tactical gain. They make confessions and apology which are legally neither. Can you tell who I’m talking about yet?

Yep. Not a week goes by without yet another example of the simple humanity of politicians. By humanity, I mean failings. From the expenses scandals, influence for sale and colossal waste of national funds to the bizarre ‘and finally’ examples of local councillors deranged enough to believe in biblical reckonings and alien abduction. And watching the wriggling of the LibDems trying to distance themselves from the man who many credit with their recent temporary stint on the government benches is too farcical for mere words. Before any Labourites start to ‘smug-up’ I’d just add… the ‘Reverend’ Paul Flowers.

It’s not just members of Parliament though; we also have to consider those who vote for them. Most of us are insufficiently savvy to make good choices. We are swayed by sentiment and tradition and fooled by fine words. Our memories are short, our instincts partisan and our intellects inadequate to grasp the difference between electoral ploy and credible doctrine. It’s just not good enough, which is why I bring you the politician of the future:

Tomorrow’s MPs will be made in identical moulds, mass-produced to order and programmed to suit their party allocation. They will have no past life to research and rubbish, no skeletons to uncover and the only closets they will be capable of coming out of will be the ones they are stored in between duties in the house. Given that MPs stopped representing local people quite some years ago, constituencies will be abolished and a true proportional representation system will be introduced.

Following a thorough census the cultural programming of the 647 new members – a prime number to prevent neat carving up of the vote – will match that of the eligible electorate as closely as possible, with extremes being filtered out of the mix. Thus there will be many more cloth caps and many fewer Oxbridge PPE graduates… and virtually zero climate change nutters and green activists. Accents will be a happy neutral, to prevent pre-judging the efficacy of policy on class or regional grounds.

Of course, PMQs will lose its bear-baiting character and members will defend policy on facts alone, but on the positive side voting will become a matter of pragmatism and not mere party allegiance or in return for favours. Given that the allocation of seats will depend purely on the overall numbers no individual member will have a seat to defend and as they wear out they can simply be replaced with a newer model.

Cabinet Photograph - 2020

Of course, politics will become efficient, routine and boring but, as we’ve shown we dislike anything that could be mistaken for personality in our MPs, that may be no bad thing. There will be no touching, no affairs, no back-handers, no directorships, no elevation to Lords – the Upper House will be unnecessary . It will be democracy in action and power to the people… and freedom for Tooting, no doubt. And best of all, should an MP go rogue he will simply be scooped up and melted down for scrap. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Conspiracy!

Now, I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man but I never expected to stumble across this story which will rock the supposedly free world to its core. I was researching the influence of over-ripe Camembert on the French philosophers during the turbulent period of Cardinal Richelieu’s undue power over King Louis XIII’s monkey court in the Indian jungle and I was concentrating my readings on the search for man's red fire when, quite by chance, in Dan Brown fashion, I uncovered an audacious plot. Read on and be amazed.

A number of verses of the King James Bible contain the valuable advice, meted out for centuries: “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” “Do unto others...” And “what goes around comes around.” Shakespeare’s prince of Denmark tells us “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Oh yes, forget the ex-Tory, now ex-UKIP fruitcake who blamed the floods on gay marriage, it’s so much worse than you imagine and it goes back many years.

Just suppose you were a Middle East nation with designs on world domination were it not for the damned British and American infidels who dared to trespass on your land and make it give forth its secret hoard of untold wealth? And suppose you wished to punish these same nations for their daring to bring you education, roads and hospitals. Such designs against the express wishes of allah-baba that you remain ignorant in your barbarity could not go unpunished. And then, to add insult to injury... Israel. The religion of peace was well peaced off.

Thus the Arab League held secret talks and plotted and planned and made divers conspiracy to establish a fledgling insurgent cell in Europe that infiltrated an organisation which later came to be known as the European Coal and Steel Community, itself an offshoot of earlier attempts to communise the countries of Europe by violence alone. Forget the jihadis – they are just an elaborate distraction to keep the authorities’ eyes focused elsewhere. No, the real destruction of the British kaffir is to come about by biblical means. No, neither smiting nor locusts, but... read on:

Long before Anthony Charles Lynton Crosby Mohammed Blair was busily orchestrating an elaborate ‘war on terror’, Ralph Miliband was being cuckolded by Sheik Yahbhouti of Syria and his cuckoo inserted into the house of Marx at the heart of the Fabians. Yes the strings of the Labour Party are pulled by a mysterious race of desert-dwelling lizard kings and Edward Samuel Aziz Mustafa Miliband is their latest heir apparent, on course to keep our appointment with self-destruction any time now. Every word of this is true.

The Arabs hate us for our water; it’s the one thing we’ve got that they haven’t and so they have carefully orchestrated the setting up of a malign dictatorship throughout Europe, swamping administrations with ever more grandiose visions and ever larger taxation to pay for it all. From political correctness to regional grants for skateboard parks the excesses of the EU leviathan are designed to distract from a little known part of the Common Agricultural Policy  - the subsidies to encourage the deforestation of our hillsides.

Ed Allahband

Yes, my friends, while we are being exercised by bendy bananas, free movement of peoples and working time directives, while we are waging war with the barbarians at the gate and squabbling amongst ourselves, slowly but surely Britain is drowning... and not just in red tape. It may sound plausible now, to blame the weather on UKIP but now you know the truth it is incumbent upon you to act. The fighting fund accepts PayPal – you know it makes sense! 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Inspector Moth

“It’s a hard old life, being a moth, especially a moth in the Metropolitan Police Lepidoptera Division. You spend so much of your life flapping against window panes, dusting for fingerprints. It takes its toll.” Inspector Moth sighed as he lay on the couch and poured his heart out.

“I feel like my whole life has been a waste of time. I've been at the same job for twenty years and I don't just hate it, I'm revolted by it. The people I have to work with and the people I have to catch. I can barely summon the strength to drag myself in every day but I have no choice because I'm in debt up to my compound eyes. The idea of doing this job for years more just makes me sick. I tell you doc, I’m nearing the end of my tether.”

“Could I just say…”

“I've grown apart from my wife. She's no longer the woman I loved, and I can barely stand to be around her but I feel guilty for feeling that way about her. Doc, it just eats me up inside. My daughter's shacked up with a guy I can't stand who's terrible for her and she dropped out of university, but she won't listen to reason and it breaks my heart.”

“Maybe you should…”

“And my son! Doc, I just don't know if I love my own son, because he reminds me of everything I hate about myself. I look into his eyes and see the same servile, snivelling cowardice I know everyone sees in mine. How can I demand he makes something of his life when I’ve done so little with mine?”

“But I…”

“Some days I just want to end it all, but I can't even work up the courage to pull out my gun and blow my brains out. I feel like my entire life is nothing more than a fragile web of lies just barely holding me back from the screaming abyss." With an enormous sigh, Inspector Moth slumped back and lay staring up at the ceiling. A slight froth laced his lips and a sheen  of perspiration made his face gleam eerily in the harsh white light. His breathing relaxed from a frenzied pant to a measured, shallow calm. “Thank you doctor, I feel so much better already, just getting it out there.”

The hovering figure paused a moment, then said "You do seem to have a lot of problems, but I'm just a podiatrist. You need to see a proper psychotherapist, a psychiatrist even. Why did you come to me?"

I don't know who I am any more!

For a moment an uneasy silence hung between them. Eventually Inspector Moth replied, “I had no option,” he said, “your light was on."

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Butterflies

Chaos theory says that complex dynamic systems can be affected by changes so tiny as to be effectively impossible to identify. Thus a butterfly may flap its wings in the Amazon and several years later Michael Fish takes a beating for not quite forecasting a hurricane. Yet the events that make up a complex dynamic system can each often be explained in quite straightforward terms. Some things are as simple as ABC. Or 1 + 1 = 2.

That said, 1 + 1 = 2 only makes sense if you know what numbers are, how they represent values, what the operator  ‘+’ means and you accept and understand the mathematical notion of equality. For many otherwise well-educated people, let alone the great unwashed, mathematics beyond a few very basic principles is a subject best avoided and for most of us, we run out of the language of numbers very quickly indeed. So why should we feel we understand the monstrous complexity of ‘the economy’ or are equipped to tackle the thorny issue of bankers’ bonuses or banks’ market share?

Given that the best economic brains on the planet are demonstrably unable to agree on a policy or to come up with genuinely accurate forecasts is it any wonder that approval of the validity of national fiscal plans are based not on dispassionate knowledge or experience but on the emotive and shifting sands of public opinion? Thus the idea of a banker on a million-pound salary gaining the same again in bonuses is political dynamite, but Wayne Rooney earning twenty times that amount is rarely the subject of Parliamentary debate. One of the things we elect a government to deal with is money. We just don't know enough to know what's good or bad or downright stupid, basing our trust and our vote on a vague sense of who might turn out to be least incompetent.

In recent weeks Labour have vomited out a whole series of economic pronouncements based on nothing so much as whether they chime with the electorate’s feelings of how things should be. Rent controls, land grabs, minimum wage levels, job guarantees, energy price caps… every one couched in terms such as “Labour will [insert name of impossible/undesirable to control function here] when we  get into power.“ Given their record to date the triumphal assumption of taking over the reins should send a chill down your spines. But it doesn’t, because people don’t understand; they really don’t.

Which is one reason why @RogTallBloke suggested yesterday that people should be taught economics in school. I agree. In fact, why wait for school? Here, in a nutshell are some of the very basics:
  • Everything costs something. For every pound you spend on one thing you have a pound less to spend on something else. Labour will happily promise to spend every pound they take in tax three times over. This seems to be a central, rotten plank of British socialism.
  • The more there is of something – e.g. manual labour – the lower the price. This is ‘supply’ and it’s why New Labour opened the borders, so British industry could pay ever lower wages and kick off what they are now calling the ‘race to the bottom’.
  • The more people want something the higher the price it can command. This is ‘demand’ and people’s desire for things they can’t afford – yet have been told they are entitled to – is why payday loan companies can charge the interest rates they do.
  • It’s always more complicated than you think it is, but what people get paid is largely based on how their value is calculated by the industry they are in and the ease or difficulty with which that industry can replace them.
  • Everything is connected, often by threads you cannot see, even in retrospect. A single small event can ripple through the system until eventually an unforeseen wave engulfs another apparently unconnected part.

Of course, as Rog also pointed out, a totally free market economy wouldn’t work either; millions would starve. Poor people wouldn’t get healthcare. The Law would be the exclusive preserve of the wealthy. And some of those people currently parked on permanent benefits (because it’s actually cheaper than to try and employ them) would riot. So we have to have some government, else it would all get very messy indeed; it would be like Mad Max... or Tottenham. But given the record of government – any government – on almost anything it attempts to manipulate, we should be seeking the lightest touch necessary.

So just remember that everything and everybody has its price and everybody is for sale. That includes factory workers, builders, bankers, footballers, judges, politicians and senior policemen. If you want what they’ve got you have to pay the price and any attempt to alter how the market values something will have a knock-on effect somewhere else; pay a nurse more and somewhere along the line, Chaznée is getting evicted after taking out a Wonga loan for a boob job.

Where's that net?

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, they say, but every time a politician – any politician – says they propose to directly interfere with a market, you can at least ask yourself what could possibly go wrong and then watch events carefully. You’ll soon see how inevitably the law of unintended consequences leaps up to bite the arses of ministers rash enough to promise things they don’t properly understand. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon… and in 2015 Ed Miliband sets out to bankrupt Britain. Again. If only we could splat that fucking butterfly! 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Class Act

Does my memory fail me, or was it only a few months ago that Ed Miliband said Labour was going to bring back socialism to Britain? Cue much cheering from the trade union stalwarts and a raft of accusations of puppeteering behind the scenes from the, er, the opposition, for want of a better descriptor. Ah, the soap box days, the up-close smell of the great unwashed among whom Ed walked to heal the sick and bring comfort to the dying. How quickly we forget; Ed’s latest big, new, policy-free election campaign gambit is to appeal to the middle class.

Does he know who the middle class are? Traditionally they would have been among the staunchest of the anti-Labour vote. They were the small business owners and white collar workers, the people who paid the bulk of the tax. But thanks to social engineering John Prescott’s 1997 announcement – greeted with derision then – has come to pass. Yes, “we’re all middle class now”. Social boundaries have blurred to the point where a person’s profession no longer reflects their income, status and, crucially, their voting preferences. Nobody knows who the middle classes are any more.

Luckily Labour have managed to ease the solution to the ‘what class am I’ conundrum by wiping the working class off the political map altogether. Not by the promised route of raising their aspirations and their opportunities and elevating them to the hallowed middle class plateau but by progressively lowering the prospects for everybody else. What we used to call working class are either mouldering in idle obscurity, appearing on Benefits Street or else they simply aren’t even British any more.

So which is it? Appeal to the middle class – whoever they are – or bring back socialism? Luckily the answer isn’t far away; yesterday on the Daily Politics, former Labour MP Chris Mullin actually stated that it was important to "bind the middle classes into the welfare system" That’s right, once everybody is on some form of benefit they all belong to the state and socialism - at least of a sort - is reality. What’s next Ed, going for the bankers vote? Whoops, too late, they already moved abroad and moved all their money with them.

You know, the old class system wasn’t so bad - at least you had a place to be kept firmly in and you knew who to look up to…or down upon. Now nobody has a bloody clue to what ‘class’ they belong. Equality is just a crock of political bullshit, meaning that once everyone is equally subjugated we can label them as we wish; the classless society, where everybody is pegged at attainably mediocrity.

They both work for me now. I win

This illusory egalitarian disease is no respecter of boundaries either and manifests itself across party affiliations. The Conservatives used to have the middle class but if Labour are claiming that ground then sod it, enlarge the already discredited honours system, give out gongs for, say, services to hairdressing and pasty making and cat grooming and maybe once having had a job. Arise Sir Jedward, arise Lords One Direction, ‘ey up Lord Scargill: arise, arise and get thee to a mongery. Best get extending the second chamber, we’re going to need it. We’re all Upper Class now. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Smash the Cis-tem!

“What’s this country coming to?” Was almost the last tweet I saw last night, in reply to exactly what I didn’t bother to find out. It could have been the second instalment of Benefits Street, or possibly the news that the muslim Brotherhood have set up shop above a disused kebab shop in Cricklewood. Or maybe it was a response to @IDS_MP’s latest effortless and always entertaining trolling for untermenschen off Twitters rocky shores. Social media is like a wrecker’s beacon luring to their doom the earnest, the agenda-driven and those bowed down by the weight of heavy causes. It’s like the ultimate shit magnet, collecting faecal matter in a never-ending storm of ordure.

And always quick to heed the siren call are those whose brief twitter biographies are nevertheless revealing of deep anguish and unnecessary pain. Yes, I’m talking about the passionate ones. I worry about passion; after all it’s another way of saying “I probably care about this particular subject more than I should really be telling you.” You should never have to tell us you’re passionate about your family – it would be odd if you weren’t. But to describe yourself as passionate about, say, cream teas or a political party borders on the uneasily obsessive.

‘Enthusiastic about’ or ‘supporter of’ or even ‘backing’ are all reasonable descriptors of your interests, although I remain to be convinced whether such declarations are necessarily the best introduction to potential followers. Imagine greeting a new acquaintance with “Hi, I’m Danny and I am a fearless and unapologetic defender of our religious freedoms!” And a string of vaguely related hashtags is another giveaway that your life and thoughts are dominated by preoccupations that may make you incapable of always playing nicely with others.

Once you acquire a passion, of course, the next essential lifestyle accessory is a label. Labels, labels labels… it’s that lefty obsession with over-complication again. While ‘the right’ tend to shrug and accept things, getting on with the world as it is and overcoming adversity during the week, leaving the weekends free for a spot of downtime, there really does seem to be a passion for lefties to immerse themselves, 24-7, in a good fight or two. And it isn’t enough for ‘a left’ to believe in something, passionately or otherwise. No, once they have had their meetings the task is to bend everybody to their will.

Thus it was that yesterday I was informed that, as a ‘normal’ I am no longer allowed to use the word ‘normal’ in the normally accepted sense. Some of you were there and saw the ridiculousness of the stance while others were there and helping along the ridicule. Yes, it was that troublesome word, ‘cis’ a microscopic wordlet, too small to survive alone in the wild and chosen, no doubt, for its oddness, to describe those who hitherto needed no such label.  A tiny, tiny… tiny minority of people are unhappy with the physical gender they were born with. It’s complicated for them and they deserve support and compassion but browbeating the rest of us is no way to gain sympathy.

What? You don’t know what ‘cis’ means? Well it describes a gender identity where your self-perception of your gender matches the sex you were ‘assigned’ at birth. Just read that again; if your birth certificate says you were born a girl and you grew up happy to be a girl then you’re no longer just a girl, you’re now a cis-female, whether you like it or not. In other words, you’re normal… except that word is now verboten, you nasty oppressor. How dare you.

'Duane' Abbott - gender uncertain

Being me, I tend to shrug off such things, because they make absolutely no difference to my life, but it seems that’s just not allowed any more. For those who are ‘passionate’ (or ‘deranged’ as evidenced by their tenacity) about such things it is not enough that we just get on with our own lives. We must bend, once again, to the will of the minority. And if we don’t comply, no doubt another term will be coined to label us as the hateful humans we are. Take the rat out of racist and what have you got? It’s not normal, I tell you.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Keep it simple, stupid!

Be nice, they say, be kind. I don’t doubt that those who have “Save our NHS” and “Fight the cuts” in their Twitter bio, usually accompanied by a string of hashtags trumpeting those causes and rendering said bio meaningless and all but unreadable actually believe… er, something. Twitter abounds with these noble folk, fighting the cause of ‘social justice’ from their council flats and old folks’ bungalows. Some of them, no doubt, are actual activists getting out and about to help in their local community. The majority, however, are simple keepers of the absurd and contradictory faiths of various forms of leftism.

But the simple facts of life are these: However you do it – inheritance, investment, business owner or employee: tinker, tailor, soldier, baker, rich man, poor man, welfare-taker  – you need to make a living. If you are poorly educated (blame who you like) and have grown up with a hatred of any kind of authority and have never been pushed, or mentored, to rely on yourself and if you are so inclined, there is a living to be made on the Old King Cole. The dole was never intended as a choice – it was a stop-gap measure, a genuine handout – to keep you alive between jobs. Because (and this is a basic human truth) nobody owes you a living. There are in fact no such things as ‘natural’ human rights. In nature, he who survives, wins.

Keep. It. Simple. That’s the key to success; all the best ideas have resulted from repeating simple formulae that work. The most complex systems are amalgamations of essentially simple, if numerous, principles. The biggest buildings are just pretty piles of bricks. To the socialists you’re just a brick; everybody is. Even the Prime Minister is just an enormous brick. So, to the ‘caring’ left we’re all better as bricks in a wall; as part of the great big human machine.

But somewhere, through a succession of administrations struggling to look effective, it became expedient to hide from sight those making no contribution to holding up the wall and set them adrift on a raft of welfare payments designed to conceal the truth and present a positive spin to the world… and to the dwindling turnout of voters. Some bricks are less equal than others. Of course, any metaphor runs out of steam at some point and I reckon we’ve reached it with the bricks, but you get my point. When we had the means to do it, it was simply cheaper to keep you doped up and docile, courtesy of the state, than to pay the ruinous cost of training you and containing you and creating work you were capable of. But now, after several generations, it is uncertain whether some of you will ever be capable of making your own living. What’s to be done?

Well the simple truth is that no politician, whatever their colour, wants anybody to suffer or die. In fact every politician would be delighted if everybody could be happy and rich. That is an absolute given. Anybody who believes otherwise should take a long, hard look at themselves, because they have fallen for a line of unhelpful propaganda. Both ‘sides’ want health and prosperity for all; they only differ in how to achieve it.

On the so-called right the belief is that everybody has the responsibility to make their own living, by any legal means and if we do so there should be enough left over to prop up the halt and lame when they need it. On the so-called left... well where do we start? Flying in the face of all evidence is the equality agenda, with its outright fictions about the parity of ‘worth’ of individuals. Then we have the potentially contradictory notion of diversity, making us all equally differentiated from everybody else, while maintaining the lie of equality. Then we have the absurd notion of a complex system of taxing you, giving you some back through tax credits and then giving you certain benefits and subsidies whether you need them or not.

On the right the exercise of choice seems fair – you can choose to use the schools, hospitals, housing, etc. that you wish and if you can afford to pay for it you can have the best. To the left, however, such privilege is seen as ugly and elitist and downright unfair, so everybody must use the services provided by the state. If, as they maintain, there is plenty of wealth to go around, these provisions would be the equal of anything the private sector has to offer, but as the news daily reveals the sacred NHS appears to be killing with its over-supply of caring kindness. And state schools have been under-educating for generations.

Today’s biggest news item is the ‘national crisis’ of obesity. It's an enormous problem, apparently. To the right it is a simple case of personal responsibility and a balance between eating and exercising. To the left, obesity is a modern-day ill, caused by a complex and impossibly intertwined set of influences for which costly science alone can provide an answer. The state must spend ever dwindling funds to deal with the issues of body image, life chances and the damage to self-esteem with consequent cost to the nation of these valuable human resources. Odd though, how when very little food was available the entire nation was slim. (Maybe we should get rid of those evil food banks?)

The good life?

It seems to me that whatever you think of left or right it is entirely up to you to make your own living with what wits you have. While you are wondering whether to opt for the simplicity of self-reliance or the complexity of the nanny state you might, by way of research, want to watch Benefits Street tonight and ask yourself if that’s what you really want.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Heart of oak

It's an oldie but a goodie - forwarded to me by a former shipmate and although originally written some time ago, it is a reminder of the sorry times we live in when the nation that once ruled the greatest empire the world has ever known is reduced to begging for Independence from an enemy we were never allowed to confront.
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The Royal Navy is proud to announce its new fleet of Type 45 destroyers

Having initially named the first two ships HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, the Naming Committee has, after intensive pressure from Brussels, renamed them: HMS Cautious and HMS Prudence. The next five ships are to be HMS Empathy, HMS Circumspect, HMS Nervous, HMS Timorous and HMS Apologist. Costing £850 million each, they comply with the very latest employment, equality, health & safety and human rights laws.

The Royal Navy fully expects any future enemy to be jolly decent and to comply with the same high standards of behaviour. The new user-friendly crow's nest has excellent wheelchair access. Live ammunition has been replaced with paintballs to reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt, and to cut down on the number of compensation claims.

Stress counsellors and lawyers will be on board, as will a full sympathetic industrial tribunal. The crew will be 50/50 men and women, and will contain the correct balance of race, gender, sexuality and disability. Sailors will only work a maximum of 37hrs per week as per Brussels Rules on Working Hours, even in wartime.

All the vessels are equipped with a maternity ward, a creche and a Gay Disco. Tobacco will be banned throughout the ship, but recreational cannabis will be allowed in wardrooms and messes.

The Royal Navy is eager to shed its traditional reputation for; "Rum, sodomy and the lash"; so out has gone the rum ration, replaced by sparkling water. Sodomy remains, now extended to include all ratings under 18. The lash will still be available on request.

Saluting of officers is now considered elitist and has been replaced by "Hello Sailor".


Oooh, 'ello sailor!

All information on notice boards will be in 37 different languages and Braille.

Ship's Company members will now no longer have to ask permission to grow beards and moustaches only will be allowed,in fact insisted upon during the month of Movember. 
This applies equally to female crew.

The MoD is inviting suggestions for a "non-specific" flag because the White Ensign may offend minorities. The Union Jack must never be seen.

The newly re-named HMS Cautious will be commissioned shortly by Captain Hook from the Finsbury Park Mosque, or indeed from any of the several thousand mosques that can readily supply a handless jihadi, who will break a petrol bomb over the hull. She will gently slide into the sea as the Royal Marines Band plays "In the Navy" by the Village People. Her first deployment will be to escort boatloads of illegal immigrants to ports on England 's south coast.

The Prime Minister said, "Our ships reflect the very latest in modern thinking and they will always be able to comply with any new legislation from Brussels ." His final words were, "Britannia waives the rules."

Oh my darling!

"In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine
Dwelt a miner forty-niner,
And his daughter Clementine"


Ah, the good old Forty-Niners. The great Gold Rush actually began in 1848 when California was a peculiarly lawless place. On the day gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, California was still technically part of Mexico, under American military occupation since the newly ended Mexican–American War. Gold diggers began to trickle in and stake claims in often remote places. Ramshackle new towns sprang up to serve the needs of these hard-living men.

One baking hot June morning a dusty prospector ambled into town, weighed down with his bags of gold which he exchanged for dollars at the heavily fortified bank. Then he made his way over to the only other substantial building, the saloon, sat himself on the barstool and waited impatiently to be served. Soon the bar tender attended him and asked what he’d like.

“Whisky!” demanded the grizzled mountain man, “Best you got. And get me a cee-gar!”

The barkeep un-stoppered a bottle and poured out a very large measure of the amber water of life, then took an enormous cigar from the humidor, trimmed the end and held out a light. The prospector downed the whisky, accepted a top up then sat back with a sigh to enjoy his cigar. The barman smiled, topped him up again and asked if there was anything else he could do for him.

“Can you get me a woman?” asked Grizzly. In those early days few cat-houses had been established and loose women had yet to be let loose in the Wild Wild West. The barman looked rueful, beckoned Grizzly to come closer and said, sotto voce, “I cain’t get y’a woman, stranger, but I can make arrangements for you to spend some time with Jake.” He indicated the scrawny pot-wash boy, leaning on a broom in the corner.

The slightly drunk prospector was enraged and drew himself up to full height to address the bartender. He leaned over the bar and said in angry, measured tones. “I ain’t that way!” before striding unsteadily out of the saloon and back up into the hills where he laboured away for three months straight. In late September he shambled into town and retraced his footsteps; bank then saloon. Settled with a large measure of rotgut whisky and nearing the end of a giant cigar he once again enquired after the availability of a woman. Still no joy, but the barman assured him a session with Jake could be arranged if he so wished. On the quiet.

“I told you before,” said Grizzly, “I ain’t that way!” And with that he left, but not before he’d given scrawny Jake a second glance.

January arrived and high in the hills the snows came from heavy skies, but down in the town the womenfolk were still nowhere to be seen. Our hero, bent-backed and bow-legged dragged his weary, cold bones over to the bank then trudged with no spring in his step towards the saloon. In the chilly midwinter he was surprised to see it almost empty. Many had made their fortunes and left for the coast; some had perished working their claims. He strode up to the bar.

“Whisky! Cigar! And god damn it, git me a woman!” He glanced nervously towards Jake as he said this.

The bartender finished polishing a glass, slung his towel over his arm and poured a stiff one. He procured his finest cigar, snipped and lit it. He watched Grizzly drink and puff for a minute before making a conspiratorial lean toward him. “Still no women, brother… you want me to fix you up with Jake?” The prospector paused a moment, then nodded almost imperceptibly. He reached out and grabbed the barman’s arm and whispered. “If, you know, if I go with Jake there, who will know about it? Because I have a reputation in these parts and I ain’t that way.”

See my pan handle!

The bartender reassured him, “Why, it’ll jest be you, me… and the other four guys.”

“What?” Grizzly gasped, “Four other guys? Why in the hell do they need to know?”

“You'll need the other four guys..." said the barkeep "because Jake ain’t that way, either.”