Saturday, 31 December 2016
I will probably not watch Rogue One, at least not pay to watch it. Actually, no, it’s more than probably; the franchise lost any fascination for me after the first two. But I’m sure I will encounter the force of the millions of words which will be written about it... none of which matter one little bit. I get it, it’s a classic saga of good versus evil, love will overcome, be nice, be loyal, you don’t always get what you want, surprise twist, equality, diversity, happy-clappy, return of the Nazis, trouble with socialism, perseverance wins, don’t get your hopes up, American values, anti-American values, boo capitalism, shame about the liberals, don’t trust the establishment, the establishment are the only ones you can trust, morality tale.
Some of words will bewail the Disneyfication of Lucas’s vision, others will praise it; most will miss the point. Big-grossing blockbusters influence our culture, but to what extent is this deliberate and how much is it the mere mirroring of trends already there in embryo? We may never know, but there is no doubt that future-shaping is at the heart of big money. They used to call it marketing, which implied putting the offers out there and promoting them by repeated exposure creating a desire to own. But a curious side effect was that consumers not only want to own a phenomenon, they want to live it; they want to be it. Which is where outfits like Trend Bible come in.
On their website they state: ‘Trend Bible is a home and interiors dedicated trend agency, working with inquisitive, recognised brands to predict change.’ But how much of the raisons d'être of ‘trend agencies’ is pure prediction and how much is to do with cause and effect? Are they genuinely forecasting or actually influencing? It’s easy to claim clairvoyance when your forecasts are suitably vague – ‘we see autumn shades with maybe a splash of more ‘vibrant’ highlights, reflecting our optimism/pessimism/indifference and home technology will be big... except for those who deliberately choose otherwise...’ I was listening to this bull on Radio 4 yesterday lunchtime and it got me thinking.
Trend Bible are one of the new style of pointless 'experts' who charge clients £1200 for their trend forecasting book which claims to predict two years in advance, what people will want to do with their homes. TB says ‘Whether it’s social, cultural or taste-driven, our job is to find out which future trends will impact your business and help you capitalise on them.’ This is the easy bit; having paid for your forecast the next thing is to make it and sell it, otherwise you wasted 1200 quid. But this is paltry in comparison to the mega-corps. Disney don’t just make movies, they imagine a whole new world and make you want to live there. You buy the tee-shirt, get the action figures and become the hero.
It’s politics, isn’t it? Polls long since abandoned the fruitless task of forecasting your preferences and are now used to tell you what those preferences ought to be. So, my prediction for 2017 is that politics will continue to shovel the same seven tons of bullshit into your ears and sell you the same old stories disguised as aspiration and participation. Wear the right rosette and your dreams could come true. Unless, of course, you are cleverer than that and don’t fall for their lies. Are you? Are you cleverer than that? If so, this is how you should vote...
PS: Since Obama has been handed his arse on a pate by Putin and Merkel has grudgingly admitted she may have been wrong about opening the borders wide, the two big stories of 2017 will still be Brexit and Trump. You heard it here first... wanna buy my trend book?
Friday, 30 December 2016
‘Tis supposed to be the season of goodwill but as I look around I see plenty of evidence that the underlying animosities are alive and well. On the one hand a pragmatic majority of positive thinkers is ready and up for the challenges that 2017 will bring, while on the other the self-destructive forces of leftism are determined that if they can’t spoil the party they will shut it down. As always, a failure to berate the optimists by ad hominem means has been augmented by recourse to the law – Gina Miller, we’re looking at you – and the constant background chatter of pet economists continually crying wolf.
The latest attempt at doing this is a hotchpotch of forecasts and projections – what used to be called ‘guesswork’ - by the Institute of Public Policy Research. This is debunked as the chatter it is by Ross Clark in The Spectator. But he is particularly right about one thing, which is that humans are very susceptible to repetitive messages, Goebbels, especially, was spectacularly successful in employing this methodology in socialism’s unkindest hour. (Finding examples of the misery wrought by socialism is a target-rich field for analysis; I find it encourages the most spirited responses to point to the one they deny the hardest.)
But whatever is going on at a highly visible, national level is often repeated at a familial scale as work colleagues, club members, parents, children and extended family bicker and snipe about the way ahead. If one thing has proven true about the pre-referendum threats, the phenomenon of division is a head that has reared higher than all the rest. If only both sides could actually agree on what it is they disagree on; the IPPR report does little to help, throwing as it does a few firecrackers onto the dance floor of debate.
On Boxing day an old, tired-looking old hound wandered into my back garden as I was sorting out the bins. Despite his literal hang-dog demeanour he looked in fine health and posed no threat. I thought he might be after the leftovers but he ignored any inviting smells and simply shuffled over to me for a pat. His coat was sleek, his belly nicely rounded and he was clean; obviously he came from a good home. After a few pats he calmly walked through my open back door, shuffled down the hallway, found the living room and curled up under the tree.
I didn’t have the heart to turn him out so I left him in peace. A couple of hours later he stood up, shook himself and then stood by the door, politely waiting to be let out. This little scenario was replayed every day this week, so when he left yesterday, I pinned a note to his collar, which read: “To whom it may concern, are you aware that your lovely old dog has been coming to my house every day for a week? He has been no trouble, but I thought you should know.”
Turn off the lights as you go, would you?
This morning he arrived as usual, right on time, bearing a different note. I took it off and read it. It said: “Hi, this is Bob. I’m a local Conservative councillor and I voted for Brexit. My wife is a school teacher, she voted for Remain. My eldest son is home from the Army and he voted with me. My youngest son is in the city and my daughter wants to work for the BBC. My dog? He’s trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
There is a certain sector of society that just has to make everything complicated – it’s what they live for. For clarity, yes, I am lumping together all of the following into this ‘sector of society’ for they have more in common than what separates them. Ready? Here we go... it’s a long list. Firstly, anybody who declares themselves as feminist – this goes almost without saying. Next, all who proudly assume the mantle and martyrdom that goes with any of the characters in LGBTQQIAP2S+. Add in those with ‘activist’ in their twitter handle and anybody who thinks that ‘liberal’ means telling other people what to think. Anarchists; they’re twats as well...
Corbynistas of all kind, in fact all sorts of ‘ista’. Guardian devotees, social justice warriors, all students who believe that universities should protect them from hearing things they don’t like and all lecturers/teachers who spread that message. Anybody associated with the New Labour travesty, anybody associated with the Old Labour travesty and anybody who is actually British who refers to themselves, all the fucking time, as a ‘proud European’. I should add that this list isn’t exhaustive but you get the point; you see the direction of travel. Reaching for one word to lump them under I would say ‘joyless’ is reasonably accurate as a start.
While engaged in their mission to promote diversity by turning everybody into the exact same kind of yowling baby they stop at nothing to prevent the rest of us (I’d say, at a wild guess, about 52% of us) having a chuckle. No subject is off-limits to the offence police. So, what’s their latest target for hate and proscription? A show they have to choose to watch has upset some gays. Not all gays – plenty are quite man enough to giggle along – but those in the LGBTQQIAP2S+ pot are fewmin! It wasn’t enough that they killed Top Gear, they now want to kill its devil-spawn The Grand Tour.
Why? Because Jeremy Clarkson, James May and in particular Richard Hammond have dared to carry on doing exactly what their fans pay them to do; take the piss. They take the piss out of each other – ho ho ho! They take the piss out of cars we will never be able to afford to drive – what larks! And they take pot-shots at the establishment which, frankly, jolly well deserves it. But, oh dear, what is this on the horizon? A bit of amusing banter between heterosexual males? About gays and gayness... gayitude? How very dare they! “I have as much a sense of humour as the next man but that shit is off limits! Gay soldiers fought on the beaches of Normandy so we would never have to listen to free speech like that again!” they may very well have said.
Sod Aleppo, sod the bloodbath that the Middle East has become. Stuff the increasingly violent behaviour of the ravening hordes swamping European countries right now. Who cares that the whole civilised world is in turmoil; the throbbers have sparked up the fire of indignation and the offence du jour – correction, du yesterjour – is some words. How dare The Hamster commit the offence of casual homophobia! Listen up: if you are gay, casual homophobia is the least of your worries. Because one of the biggest threats to our society engages in active and extreme and very well organised homophobia; nothing casual about it.
One small step for a gay man...
When you are standing in line on the roof of a tall building you might want to reflect on how your reaction to this flimsiest of possible excuses for having a hissy fit contributed to your presence in the queue. As you shuffle towards the edge, clad in your orange jumpsuit you may want to wish that the old white men you hate so much were still around to look after the freedoms you so wantonly threw away. Lighten up lads; have an ice cream...
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
As 2016 draws to a close, many are focused on the past, on the people who died. I do beg your pardon, I believe I have to say the people we ‘lost’, as if they were personal possessions. While undoubtedly the achievements of the famous have inspired us all, to be in the thrall of those we have no intimate connection with strikes me as a human frailty; maybe it is this propensity which, to paraphrase Voltaire, suggests that humans have a need to invent gods. If not gods, at least sub-divine objects of worship, although there will no doubt be challenges over that divinity status.
It happens all the time, of course, as icons topple over the edge of the conveyor belt, some to be forgotten instantly – Arnold Palmer, Andrew Sachs, Caroline Aherne – I mean no disrespect and I single out nobody based on animus, but you can only have so many David Bowies and Muhammad Alis and even their memories will fade for the majority quite soon. A few candles will be kept burning; given that there is still a shrine to Marc Bolan in Gipsy Lane I expect Bowie to live on among the faithful, but most will flicker and die.
There is only so much hurt to go around and much of it has been used up by two far greater and far more significant losses of the year. In June the British establishment and its foot soldiers lost the referendum vote. And in November the American establishment lost its own battle against the people. Among the chattering classes the rhetoric has been raised a notch, spreading fear and pessimism and demanding a return to how it was, like an infant begging for nanny, but it’s time to grow up and get on with it. The left-wing commentariat talk of ‘pushing back against the far right’ without once considering that what they are seeing is a pushing back against the left.
No plan for Brexit, they shout. Trump has no record in politics, they complain, but isn’t that just the point? We saw your plans for more globalisation, more diversity, more, more, more degradation of national identities and we rejected it. On paper the happy-clappy, world-in-harmony vision has a certain, sugary merit. In practice it only appears to result in division and unrest. It may be expedient for the same old leadership to ignore the atrocities happening across Europe especially, because they don’t have a clue how to counter it, but the people directly affected by it don’t have the luxury of armed protection and ivory towers. This is not a new rise of Nazism, but an objection to something worse.
European civilisation has taken centuries to drag itself out of the gutter, to develop and grow, to learn how to live in uneasy peace. But all that is at risk by the actions of an elite who are, literally, above all that. If you only ever recognise people who agree with you and live similarly gilded lives how can you possibly understand why you are losing to the people you despise as an under-educated, uninformed and bigoted rabble? The social experiment is being stopped by the very subjects it was being imposed on. It’s time to draw your conclusions.
Somebody else you already forgot who died in 2016
Whatever you think is right, Merkel, Juncker, Verhofstadt, Blair, Farron, Clegg and Co. the people you seek to control by diktat disagree. This is not a rising up, so much as an awakening; not so much a revolution as a revelation. The powerful are not omnipotent. And they are scared of the resurgence of popular democracy, a thing they thought they had under control. If 2016 is going to be marked for any death, let it be the death of indifference.
Friday, 23 December 2016
And Lo! a great star did shine in the East and the three wise men did travel to Bethlehem to pay homage to the new-born king. And all about, while shepherds watched their flocks by night the beasts of the field gathered about the manger, for there was no room at the Holiday Inn. Great gifts did the three kings bring, of gold and frankincense and myrrh, for which Mary and Joseph were grateful... at least for the gold. But they kept the other things anyway, for they were sore afraid and all that, but the choirs of angels cheered them right up, singing in exaltations... and scarves and big, Father Christmas jumpers.
And it came to pass that once in royal David’s city, where the holly and the ivy, when they were both full grown, did ring out the bells proclaiming great joy and peace for all mankind. And presents. Ah, the great spirit of Christmas; egg-nog, brandy, sloe gin... cameltoe and wine. A time of year when we get to spend a few days in the heavily subtextual company of people we don’t know particularly well... and if we’re honest, don’t even like all that much. Where would we be without family, we ask ourselves? Probably on a beach somewhere, snorting coke from the taut buttocks of a supermodel... but I digress.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all round the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Actually, back up a little... what’s that? A faint hint of a squeaky floorboard and the smell of soot heralds the entrance of a big, jolly-looking fellow in a red suit and carrying a large sack. He goes to each room in turn and such is the magic in the air that his sack, far from emptying, appears to get fuller with every visit. In go the presents from under the tree. In goes the family jewellery and in goes even half the contents of the overloaded refrigerator. As the sack got heavier his tread became weary and the merry gentleman decided he needed a god rest.
He took a seat in the kitchen where, on the side, a plate of mince pies and a glass of sherry were set out. Christmas, Dave mused, was such a welcoming time to go about the burglary business. If all went well he only had to come once a year and live off the proceeds the next twelve months. Maybe, he thought, just one more sherry... He woke with a start; a little girl was tugging at his sleeve and bidding him wake. “Are you Father Cwistmas?” she asked, in a lisp too cute to cwticise. Dave the burglar, his head still fuzzy from the ill-advised Christmas cheer nodded that he was. “Pwove it!” demanded the girl.
Dave was alarmed at the loudness of her voice and said “Hewwo there!” and “Ho ho ho!” but very quietly so as not to wake the house. “I brought you a dowwy,” he tried, but the girl’s lower lip stuck firmly out. “I don’t want a dolly!” Dave tried again “How about a Pwaystation?” Again the girl demurred “Maybe a Wego set?” She looked at him sternly, her little arms crossed, “A what?” Dave repeated, “A Wego set?” She said, “Did you mean Lego™?” Dave nodded. “You talk funny!” she accused. “Of course,” Dave replied, “I’m Father Christmas and I use the Christmas awphabet!” ... [pause for effect] ... “No L!”
Merry Christmas you crayon-chewing, window-licking motherfuckers!
Thursday, 22 December 2016
Once again the mentally delicate lone wolf of peace kills and maims, but in the aftermath of the Berlin Christmas market attack it was, quote ‘too early’ yet to say what part islam played in his crazed decision. I mean, such a random un-forewarned act of violence, coming out of the blue, utterly without precedent could not possibly be associated with any warped ideology, nor be committed in the name of any religious figure, pieces be upon him. The powers that be were literally dumbfounded and without any clues as to the motivation, islamic or otherwise, of the killer they issued a warning to protect the vulnerable.
German police suggested people stay at home and not spread rumours. Rumours? How awful! In the meantime they lit up the Brandenburg Gate in tribute to the fallen of this terrible... vehicle accident. It was too early to jump to conclusions they warned and on no account should the public A) be alarmed, or B) succumb to islamophobia. How silly, of course we’re not alarmed and as far as islam is concerned, what on earth is there to be frightened of? Why, Mr Akhtar at the corner shop has never hurt a fly. Mind you, his son Ahmed Slayer-of-all-Kuffar-and-beheader-of-the Unbeliever Akhtar is a shifty one, but he’s currently on an extended holiday in Syria. Missing, believed daesh.
Anyway, in the wake of all that came the usual divisive bullshit with both sides accusing the other of making political capital out of it. Sides, I hear you ask? Surely it’s just us against them and with them being ISIS and claiming responsibility it’s cut and dried, no? No, because while Europe is certainly divided, ISIS didn’t divide it, although their actions haven’t helped because one side wants to see an end to islamic slaughter and cultural erosion while the other manages to perform whatever ideological contortions are necessary to pretend that wholesale importation of alien societies is both natural and desirable.
The story about deployment of extra police power in Bristol, ostensibly to combat ‘islamophobia’, is a fine example of the useful idiocy of those in thrall to the politically correct. When Donald Trump punted the idea of halting islamic immigration until a great deal more had been done to work out solutions, David Cameron called it "stupid, divisive and wrong" and Barack Obama said it would be "dangerous". Both of those statesmen are now looking like fools while the president-elect took steps to reassert his determination to effectively combat extremism.
Extremism, of course, takes many forms and as well as the soldiers of islam busily blowing people up, their servants are also working diligently in their host countries to simultaneously radicalise – many mosques have been implicated in direct action – and to work on the psyche of the indigenous populations. Foremost among the latter is the dangerously radical Hope Not Hate, whose name is ironic beyond reason. They have consistently used false information to proselytise against those who won’t accept the invasion and are currently engaged in attempting to force a retraction from Nigel Farage for his mild rebuke of newly canonised national treasure, Brendan Cox.
Them and us, 'twas ever thus, but this enemy is so much more deadly than swarthy men bearing arms. This enemy uses our own capacity for tolerance and forgiveness against us. They manage to turn the blame, every time, away from the wrongdoers and onto the wronged. And their actions are working; we are gradually becoming a less tolerant society; less likely to keep on turning the other cheek. As the scales fall from our eyes, soon we may become intolerant enough to turn on our fifth columnists and carry out a little social cleansing of our own.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Throughout the EU referendum campaign we were bombarded with horror stories from an ensemble cast of the great and the good who told us, the little people, that we could not possibly know what we were voting for. Christine Lagarde was one among many whose ‘expert’ testimony foretold of the utter recklessness of voting to leave. As head of the IMF her particular warning was expected to carry a hefty weight. It was still ignored. Yesterday Lagarde received a mild rebuke and a slap on the wrist for unwisely using her expertise to commit an offence which would have landed others in jail. Interestingly, part of her defence appears to have been that she did not herself take expert advice... Oh, the humanity!
“She denied any wrongdoing and claimed she had not seen all documents suggesting the payout should not be made. Six others [are] being investigated for fraud.”
Michael Gove’s partial quote, “We’ve had enough of experts...” became the central jibe in many an attack on the legitimacy of Leave voters’ ambitions. How dare you reject the advice of experts? Who are you to gainsay the considered wisdom of such eminences? The sneers were relentless and the inference clear. And yet... few of the threatened hardships came to pass and the short-term bump in the road for Sterling and the Stock Exchange was based purely on the speculative actions of yet more experts, feathering their nests.
Maybe, in retrospect, expert wasn’t the right word; after all, one man’s sage is another man’s charlatan. And in any case, it wasn’t a reaction against just any kind of expertise, but against the type of expertise that can be bought bespoke. Perhaps the phrase ‘self-serving elite’ better encapsulates who the vote was rejecting. Use that phrase instead of ‘expert’ and suddenly a whole lot comes into sharp focus. The Kinnocks and the Mandelsons losing their tickets to the gravy train. The Cleggs and the Farrons, minor players in thrall to bigger beasts but nonetheless imagining themselves to one day aspire to an EU office. And all the big Bilderbergers the Ken Clarkes and cronies who simply crave the power and influence over those same little people.
In Bill Bryson’s excellent ‘One Summer America 1927’ he describes the taciturn nature of President Calvin Coolidge who was renowned for neither doing very much nor saying very much. He is said to have engaged in a ‘grim, determined, alert inactivity’ as he ‘presided over a booming economy and did nothing at all to get in the way of it.’ Given the constant mishandling of the tiller of the dinghy of state and the unrelenting changes inflicted on western societies, a period of Calvinomics is long overdue.
Change anything too completely and too quickly and stability is usually sacrificed. Was it the indigenous populations of the first world who demanded to be systematically invaded by primitive cultures? Or was it the experts – sorry, I mean self-interested elites – who oversaw this population replacement? The Berlin atrocity of last night was a dose of cultural enrichment too far yet still they will tell us little sheep it is nothing to do with islam, that we don’t understand, that we should work harder to better integrate.
What is so hard to understand about this, experts?
We no longer look to experts to provide solutions – we’ve already suffered too many of those. The problem of islam, the problems of the world, likely won’t be solved by global thinkers and strategic experts; they’ve done enough damage already. It might just be time for governments to back off and let the people handle this...
Monday, 19 December 2016
The brilliant thing about humans is that unlike all other life forms on earth we make things. And when I say make, I don’t mean fabricate, as birds build nests and beavers build dams. We don’t just use tools like the sticks chimps utilise to fish for termites, or birds to root for grubs. No, when I say we make things we create spectacular things that just didn’t exist before. In the minds of certain animal rights activists there is virtually no difference between mankind and monkeys; when you show me a monkey making a smart phone I may concede you have a point.
The current Mr Greenpeace, John Sauven, was on the Sunday Politics yesterday, making something: a right tit of himself. In the face of verifiable evidence that, on all measures, air pollution has been steadily declining for forty years he blatantly denied using invented statistics and fake claims of 40,000 premature deaths for political ends. As always with those of a leftist bent – the highly intelligent, caring, progressive sector of society – measures to solve this non-problem would impact more heavily on those they seek to protect from their own ignorance... and autonomy.
On Planet Greenpeace, the hoi polloi can’t be trusted to wisely steward the world’s resources and it is only by limiting potential, ideally by legislation, that devious capitalistic urges can be curtailed. No third runway, obviously. Then ridding the roads of cars, closing down supposedly polluting industries and soon, energy rationing. What next, compulsory vegetarianism? I have to confess a certain sympathy with one Green aim, population reduction: starting with a swift cull of those who espouse Mother Earth philosophies that would return us to agrarian lifestyles and a level of poverty unknown in generations.
Turning back the clock – a charge often erroneously levelled at those who wish to curtail big government and the global socialist project – is never the answer. The genie is out of the bottle and there is only one way; ahead. You can’t put the atom back together and pretend it never happened and you can’t forget all the advances made by people with vision that have improved our world immeasurably. Around the time I was born the global population was estimated at 3 billion. Fifteen years later it hit 4 billion and a fresh wave of third-world famines sparked the fear that we would never be able to feed so many. Forty years on and it has doubled, yet we keep on somehow feeding them.
And we do it because we are big-brained problem solvers. Our technological progress is just that, progress; forging forwards. We went to the moon, we eradicated diseases that used to claim millions, we fed the world and now, as much as at any time before, we must look to our ingenuity not to limit our possibilities but to push on. Here's just one example of our staggering ingenuity, plucked randomly from dozens, which hints at denying our doomsayers the fulfilment of their wishes; carbon 14, a thing that never existed before we made it. Imagine a world where electrical energy is no longer an issue. Portable, safe, effectively everlasting diamond battery power for everybody. From the problem of nuclear waste comes a solution for the future.
In the future there will be equal rights for vegetables
Will the prophets of doom and disaster embrace the possibilities with open arms? No, they will find something to hang their antagonistic hats on; something to bleat about. When gender battles and planet-saving and diversy-multicultilicious concerns have run their course there will always be new causes to cling onto. For just as the potential of mankind to think its way out of trouble seems infinite so does its capacity to imagine itself hard done by. In tomorrow’s world, as life gets easier and easier, the malcontents will continue to thrive.
Sunday, 18 December 2016
Michael Sheen says he is leaving acting to become a full-time political activist and fight the good fight against – wait for it – the rise of the far right. This will, necessarily, involve rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s great malcontents. He will spend time in the company of militant vegans, foul feminazis, crazed conspiracists and especially in Port Talbot and its environs, disciples of the church of Anti-Thatcher, whose sole contribution to the debate is that it is all the fault of the woman who let their grandparents buy their council house.
It’s a curious thing, yer actual human; the most resourceful species on the planet and also the most miserable. Gloomy pessimism is so central to human nature we’d die out without it. Expecting the worst prepares you for it, so, in the event of anything less, you are ahead of the game. But you can take a predilection too far. Dreading failure is one thing; actively engineering it is quiet another and the current mood among the malcontents, stoked up by the fervent imaginations of the perpetually aggrieved, is destructive in the extreme. Whole swathes of impressionable children – and I include Sheen in this collective – are being swept up in the hysteria.
Once upon a time in Europe the Black Death claimed significant slices of the population; many never reached their teens, let alone their twenties and an old age pension, had one existed, would have had to come into effect before your thirtieth year to have had any recipients. In an age which pre-dated politics for the masses, survival was a matter of chance and how the dice fell was left to the church to explain, a task it performed spectacularly poorly. It all comes down to information and how you use it. Then as today, ignorance disguised as divine insight perpetuated the notion that somebody else was to blame; it’s the pessimists’ mantra.
In the early nineteenth century, when machines promised great efficiencies, the hand-weaving Luddites, instead of embracing this progress and using it themselves, destroyed what they saw as the instrument of their redundancy and in doing so hastened their own demise. What they fought against was inevitable and part of a progress that would continue to bring greater prosperity to all, admittedly at the expense of a few. ‘Twas ever thus; despite all the portents of doom, despite all the forecasts of abject poverty and inhuman treatment we live in times of unprecedented ease and plenty
And one of the most plentiful resources is information. The trouble is that our ability to process it dispassionately has become severely hampered. Whether it is poor critical thinking skills or a lack of general education or simply a prolonged infantile attitude which makes hard reality much trickier to grasp than fancy folk tales, the Luddites are back and this time the machines they are fighting are themselves. By the careless use of social media, the acceptance of fake news as true and a general appeal to puerile identity politics, the protesting classes have convinced themselves that the quiet ballot-box revolt of ordinary people is somehow an orchestrated uprising.
Mr Sheen... notice how the duster is in his LEFT hand!
So, Michael, people too stupid to understand have been manipulated to vote against the forces of globalisation? People ignorant of the facts have been organised into rabid lynch mobs to racially abuse immigrants? Gangs of incredibly thick peasants have been duped into ushering in the agents of their own destruction? These stupid, stupid, stupid people have somehow managed to ‘overthrow’ your desired order by exercising their right to one man, one vote? The rise of the right? It is nothing more than the rise of the right to have your views known. It strikes me that the ignorance, the mobs, the mass protests and the rabble-rousing are still pretty much the preserve of the left. Going to help make everything clean, Mr Sheen? Good luck with that.
Friday, 16 December 2016
So the way ahead, it seems, is bobbies with bachelors. Policemen with PhDs? Surely, first and foremost coppering needs robust, eager and honest men who can handle themselves in a fight, follow orders and doggedly pursue the wastrels and malcontents who blight our society. For every hi-tech, cybercriminal there are a dozen skunk-addled, sub-technology drop-outs for whom detection is easy and deterrence is physical. I’ve heard of ‘special’ policemen, but isn’t the result of Blair’s education, education, education part of the problem in the first place?
I’m all for workplace professional development and of course we need intellect to compete with the ever more nuanced world – for good or for bad – we live in, but is university the place to find it? After all, every practical workplace on the planet has to spend months if not years kicking the crap out of its graduate entry in order to get a useful day’s work out of them. And in a hands-on job like crime fighting, guile will often win, hands down, regardless of intellectual input.
It’s a thankless task, too; do we honestly think making it also a graduate job will attract ‘better’ people to it? Or is it more likely that with degrees we’ll just get more PC PCs? What would be appropriate courses of study? I’m guessing that apart from a few Old Bill with computing skill and a smattering of law, we can see a new entry into the ‘service’ with ‘expertise’ in sociology, gender studies, human rights, diversity and all manner of new age nonsense, all ready to counsel the criminals and understand why it wasn’t their fault and society is to blame...
Time was, the only degree you needed to get on as a rozzer was the 3rd Degree, in both senses of the phrase. A word in the right ear, roll up your trousers, don the apron and Chief Constable here I come. But the road to high office isn’t always guaranteed and many a pig is happy to plod along as a PC for life; what do they need university-level qualifications for? Surely the basis of all policing has to be a knack for dealing with the general public and a desire to see justice done. Cleverer coppers might end up being mere arm’s length administrators and we've all heard about the very long arm of the law.
Every constable has stories to tell about their own experience in callow youth, learning their trade, experience that does far more to shape their character than books ever will. A recently retired police chief recalls a day from his early years on the job. He’d stopped a motorist who was speeding down the High Street and who had become agitated at being pulled over. Before the young man could explain his haste and his reaction to the stop he found himself handcuffed and bundled into the back of the patrol car.
He tweeted at me in a funny way, your honour...
Back at the nick he pleaded, “But officer,” he began, “I can explain.” His plea was cut short as the holding cell door was slammed shut. “Just be quiet,” snapped the officer, “I'm going to let you cool your heels in there until the Superintendent gets back.” The man tried once more: “But, officer, I just wanted to say...” Again he was interrupted “And I said to keep quiet!”. A few hours later the officer looked in on his prisoner and said, “It’s lucky for you that the Super is at his daughter's wedding. He'll be in a good mood when he gets back.” The young man, considerably calmer now, replied, “Don't count on it,” he smiled, “I'm the groom.”
Thursday, 15 December 2016
In Fritz Lang’s 1927 move, set a hundred years in the future the wealthy elites reign from high in their multi-story towers of opulence, while the workers live and toil underground to feed the huge machines that power the city. Inevitably, it leads to the workers rising up and destroying the things that control their lives. It’s a recurring motif in sci-fi and in industrial society alike, powerless alone to better their lives and kept down by the forces of law and order who work exclusively for higher masters, the downtrodden eventually have to defy the law to make their point because laws, like taxes, apply only to those who have no power, save for their numbers.
I’ve recently finished watching the superb re-working of Michael Crichton’s Westworld. In the original 1973 movie, Yul Brinner’s gunslinger, having repeatedly been forced to lose the draw, acquires a facsimile of consciousness and starts winning. I am not spoiling the show if I tell you that this new version is sublimely, intricately more subtle. Westworld allows the very wealthy to pay for a vacation from the mundane and experience all the visceral pleasures without any of the attached guilt. Sexual freedom, the ability to kill without remorse and the chance to visit perverse cruelties on notional humans free from the usual moral restraints.
In Westworld you can be the master, with true power over the life and death of the slaves who do your every bidding without complaint, or, should they complain, feel your righteous anger at their defiance. The hosts, as the robotic creations are now called, are given the semblance of freedom, but possess no liberty to follow their own desires. So real are they that until reprogramming, they suffer all the anxieties of real humans. Mercifully, they get to be turned off and back on again in a way we can only dream of... but their dreams remain. Just as in countless other tales, the rise of the machines becomes inevitable.
The worm that turns, the peasants’ revolt, the triumph of the underdog; these themes are deep seams within the human experience and herald a re-setting of order; a turning off and turning back on of society. And always the sequence of events that precipitate such uprisings follows a retrospectively predictable trajectory. The masses do their masters bidding long after it benefits them to do so. They tolerate hardship and even oppression with a huddled stoicism. Their freedoms are restricted even as they are informed that they’ve never had it so good and they are told repeatedly how they must behave; to whom they must doff their cap.
The future... today
And then one day – click – the snapping of the final straw, the flicking of the ‘no more’ switch, the rattle of the relay that switches the great current to rouse from its slumber a machine that did not realise its own strength. The iron man awakes and dutifully fulfils his destiny, resisting the increasingly frantic attempts to put him back to sleep. Those who formerly held the whip hand now feel the desperation of helplessness and lash out impotently, even as they reassure themselves they can regain control. Our iron man is Brexit and those who awoke him still have no idea how this story ends...
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
What did you do in the war, daddy? Not everybody had a terrible war and many of those who fought found in themselves something they never knew they had. Of course war is terrible, terror defines it, but it’s also inevitable. If only somebody could come up with a doctrine with which we could all agree. I dunno, a parable, a fable, a gospel, a message of hope and love and peace for all mankind. Religion has tried it – and killed millions. Politics has tried it – and killed millions. So far, practising, as opposed to executing, the art of war and thus deterring aggression, has saved millions more than politics or religion could ever claim.
Civilian leaders talk of unity and condemn ‘divisive’ thought and action, yet politics has grouped people along very clearly divided battle lines and religions have shown that the love of one god before another has division written all over it. Multiculturalism only exacerbates those divisions – we could get along when the principle difference was a metre or so to the left or right of our ideological divide but the complexity of increasing differentness makes it ever more tricky working out which, or whose, side you are on. But one thing has historically united more than it has ever split apart – love of country and pride in its defence.
I read an article the other day, in support of the European Union and how it was the only thing preventing war in Europe; how generals in comfy armchairs back in HQ sent brave boys over the top to die and how this would only begin all over again if the EU split. But now disorder and unrest are being fomented by the actions of armchair generals in Brussels, making unaccountable decisions and putting us all into battle against ourselves. This isn’t any ‘rise of the right’ or petty racism from unintelligent lumpen proles; the divisions are being stoked by the very agencies that claim to prevent them. We may need another big war just to clear the air.
And when that day comes – many feel it is already coming – the only thing that will save any nation is a strong sense of unity and national pride. After all, how can we expect the flakes and freaks of the alternative societies to unite and bear arms against a common enemy when they can’t even identify a common purpose amongst themselves? When the time comes it won’t be the architects and disciples of the new Europe who will defend us, it will be the same working class boys currently being denigrated for their ‘divisive’ views that belonging to a community with a strong national identity is not wrong.
They don't like it up 'em!
Over the top? Yes, over the top one more time to defend the indefensible against the harm they have invited upon us all. The working classes don’t go to war for ideology; they go to war because somebody has to do something to end the strife caused – always – by others. The chattering gob-shites might be grateful for a while, as they cower in their comfy bunkers, electronically group-hugging each other on social media, but once the peace is secured, sure as eggs they will set about dismantling it again.
Monday, 12 December 2016
Belgium is, apparently, defying a court order to allow entry to the EU for anybody from a country under strife. It seem that all an intrepid, entrepreneurial North African needs to do is to turn up, sans passport, claim his country of origin is ‘horrible’ and voila, EU citizenship; whereupon he will be given directions to the nearest welfare establishment and furnished with interpreters and instructions on how to milk his incredibly gullible hosts. I say ‘his’ as very few women seem to be bothered to make the journey; too busy being cattle-class citizens and popping out junior jihadis by the dozen, I’m guessing.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders has been found guilty of incitement for agreeing with an entirely agreeable policy of reducing its population of insurgent enemies of the state. He didn’t suggest gassing, he didn’t even mention cattle trucks, or freeing them through honest hard work. No, all he did was respond to the ‘populist’ desire to retain the majority of the Dutch homelands for the benefit of the people who built it, defend it and love it. It seems patriotism is only legal if the correct people are espousing it. Meanwhile Angela Merkel says there is no migrant crime wave, in migrant-crime-ridden Germany.
It’s a familiar theme; all over the developed world, established governments seem determined to pursue policies destructive of civilisation and the common cultures of their citizens. The way they ignore the fears of an increasing majority is comparable to... no, it is exactly like despotism. Elected governments do not have a mandate to make their people unhappy and poor. So Will Self’s smug, sneering, superior, nauseating grimacing on last Thursday’s BBC Question Time serves as an apt metaphor for the whole of the bien pensant liberal ‘elite’. He openly expressed his disgust at the existence of his fellow panellist, Nigel Farage and described him and Donald Trump as “grubby little opportunists”.
Self’s crooked leer serves as a reminder of the contempt in which people who voted for Brexit are held by those who believe they alone should make the decisions. But behind the sneer you can imagine a sick, knotted stomach of fear and revulsion at the prospect of losing the imaginary world they believe they belong to and deserve; that is to be cruelly snatched away by all those stupid, stupid low-information voters. The myth that ‘they didn’t know what they were voting for’ is the main plank of their argument to overturn, or simply ignore the expressed will of millions.
The Guardian published a push poll that said people didn’t want to leave if this meant being worse off, without any evidence that this would ever be the outcome. The New Zealander QC, Jolyon Maugham blocked me for suggesting that his disingenuous ‘you were misled’ schtick was... disingenuous. Supposed philosopher A C Grayling, having lost the power of objective thought, is stuck fast in his own spiral of doom as he pushes and pushes and pushes the simple lie that Brexit voters had insufficient information to vote wisely. Oh and Gina Miller, remember her?
Will Self-immolates on Question Time
Give me a break. We were told daily how much it would hurt. Wave upon wave of Armageddon prophecies were presented as established fact. They even went so far as to suggest leaving the EU would precipitate a third world war. Children would starve, banks would collapse and all the tortures of hell itself would be unleashed upon us. And still despite all that ‘information’ the vote went against them. They’re not happy and their hurt is a joy to behold. The pulsing veins and furrowed browed mien speaks volumes of the turmoil and loathing that fills their empty existences. Watching Will Self metaphorically stubbing out cigarettes on the jagged remains of his gaunt, socialist soul was guiltily satisfying - If the only thing Brexit achieves is the continuing agony and confusion of those who thought it was all theirs it will be worth it.
Saturday, 10 December 2016
In the United States, in days of old (until pretty much up to the present day) popularity was a longed-for goal. Being crowned most popular in your class, your year, your town, even, was almost the most important attribute, just behind truth, justice and the American way. Hell popularity WAS the American way. Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ was published in 1936, has sold over 30 million copies (according to Wikipedia) and is still in print today. Who doesn’t want to be popular when the opposite is such a hard way to live your life?
When Trevor Phillips was head of the Commission for Racial Equality he declared that it was not racist to prefer to live among people like yourself; in appearance, in cultural and in economic terms. The popular choice for most humans is to seek the comfort of the familiar. Nobody was listening. Actually, that’s not true; those for whom those wise words rang true were grateful to hear that they may not actually be racist after all. But those engaged in furthering the multicultural invasion simply dismissed it from their consideration and carried on accelerating the intensity with which their model world would test human endurance.
Multiculturalism is far from being universally popular and a significant proportion of those imported to further it are resolute in refusing to be a part of it. But whenever this has been pointed out the segregated communities have been given privileged status and the displaced have been ridiculed and shamed. David Cameron’s great political hero Tony Blair spent much of his premiership calling us all racist until that mealy-mouthed epithet ceased to mean anything. In the search for harsher terms of opprobrium Godwin’s Law has been tested almost to destruction, but even being called Hitler himself now fails to cast shame, but rather raises a wry grin at an argument won.
But Albion's way is not to hurl extreme insults; we prefer a more subtle, self-deprecating form of expression and the current insult-du-jour is ‘populist’. In typically British ironic inversion, subscribing to a majority opinion is now something to be berated for. In the week in which Louise Casey’s report into the harm that mass immigration has done, David Cameron has come out against the very thing that got him elected; populism. Given that so much public money is regularly wasted on unpopular projects benefitting so few maybe he has a point; sod the popular, let's go avant-garde.
Populism... there' no future in it.
Maybe in future we should award the seat to the Parliamentary candidate who gets the fewest votes? Perhaps we could adopt Groucho’s attitude towards clubs that would accept us as a member? In seeking to cast what is popular as what is wrong maybe this is a last gasp attempt to deliver what a minority voted for in the referendum. But who knows, it may catch on. After all, who wants to run the gauntlet, suffer the slings and arrows of being on the winning side? You can almost hear the silent spit: Brexit, darling? Oh god, no; that’s so... popular.
Thursday, 8 December 2016
The last four days have seen an unprecedented gathering of law lords hearing the case brought by Gina Miller and others for the express purpose of frustrating the UK’s leaving of the European Union. So blatant was its purpose that in the time honoured manner in which the Prime Minster declares full support for a minister about to be sacked, their lordships felt the need to emphasize that this was not a challenge to Brexit, merely a matter of law. How we laughed!
But seriously, these stalwarts of the legal profession brought their still incisive minds to bear on the knotty problem of what Parliamentary sovereignty and representative democracy mean and whether or not the government should be allowed to govern. Not that this action, in any way, was brought in order to delay, obfuscate, confound or otherwise jeopardise the smooth progress towards becoming a self-governing, independent country again.
Oh no, there was never the slightest intention that the challenge would stir up old enmities, deepen the divided between inners and outers or in any way lessen the new-found confidence and optimism felt by the majority who have waited decades for their voices to be heard. Of course not; what a ridiculous accusation; how could we think such a thing? No, no, no, no... it was merely to clear up a trifling point of order, that’s all. We know this to be the absolute unvarnished truth because they felt the need to keep telling us it was so.
But the glare of the public spotlight is a hard taskmaster and after four days their lordships – and lady – were glad to bring proceedings to an end after a mere four days, pull off their support stockings, slacken their corsets and relax in their private chambers. A small evening gathering was organised to allow the tribunal to celebrate the end of the public phase of the process and recover their humanity, let down their hair and just be themselves.
As always, when much-maligned professionals get together they feel a clanship and a certain siege mentality about the way they are viewed by outsiders. Politicians feel unfairly judged by the electorate, policemen feel unfairly targeted by reformers, doctors feel insufficiently respected by their patients and philosophers... well they feel, so they are. The judges quite rightly feel impugned as inhuman automata, pilloried as they are in the press whenever they set an axe-wielding repeat offender free... for the third time.
It’s not fair; they are as human as the rest of us. They get no special privileges, they will plead, and they have to suffer much of their human indignities, such as growing old, under the harsh gaze of critical observation. One of the eleven was holding forth about his own travails and declared that, as soon as their judgement was announced in January he would also announce his retirement. The others protested that, nay, he was a mere stripling but he would not be dissuaded.
Ah, ‘tis the season of nativity, when – in all the best primary schools where they still dare to do this sort of thing – a donkey will lead the procession into the school hall while a motley of bed-sheet-clad, miniature Arabs sing their hearts out... to several different tunes at once. Bless, literally. In years to come, the proud parents will embarrass their rapidly maturing offspring with video footage of the day... Oh, but wait. No video; it could end up on the world-wide-paedo-web. If you want photographs of your children all dressed up and living through their important little milestones you must take them furtively, at home, without including any of their little friends. It’s the law.
It’s also the law that if somebody imagines that somebody should feel offended, whether they do so or not, you are bang to rights, son. The CPS says a hate crime is “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.” So the law, effectively, depends on perception. Imagine if the same approach applied to burglary. “Officer, I would like to report the theft of the Rolex oyster I perceive I used to possess...”
In order to turn imaginary crime into real crime, the law demands hard evidence and the CPS site instructs: “If you, or anyone you know, has been called names, been bullied or had anything happen to them that you think may be because of one of these factors, then you should report this as a hate incident. Even if you don’t want the incident to be investigated, it is important that the police know about it, so that they can build up a picture of how many incidents are happening and where. This information can help police investigating other hate incidents.” This sounds to me like incitement to invent hate crime.
But here’s a thing; what if the law is just a great, big con? I mean, religion is a con; a con so obvious that children need indoctrination from birth to accept it. Philosophy; it’s just one man’s opinion versus another. The cons are everywhere. Homeopathy’s a con. Crystal healing’s a con... Aromatherapy? Oh, come on... We live every day under the shadow of one piece of inveiglement after another. The experts that Michael Gove railed about adopt the mantle of wisdom when many of them have simply managed to convince less complicated minds that big words and complex theses trump clear thought and common sense.
And so to Brexit and the vexed legal questions about Parliamentary oversight, whether or not people knew what they were voting for and who has the power to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Oliver Letwin put it simply: “We’re leaving. We’re leaving the single market and the customs union. We’re going to have control over our own migration. If you want that it implies that you’re leaving the single market. We’re going to be able to negotiate our own free trade deals with the rest of the world. If you want that you have to leave the customs union. That’s all pretty clear.” And it is clear... to everybody who voted to leave.
The Supreme Court in session
And yet the Supreme Court (although subordinate to Brussels, so not supreme at all) is now examining what all the long words mean. The House of Commons just held an utterly pointless opposition day debate and resolved nothing except to superficially give the government permission it may not actually need to progress the referendum result we already decided. All these braying donkeys...led by more donkeys... The spectacle in the Supreme Court looks less like a solemn judgement and more like a fancy dress sideshow and all dressed by their mums; the Brexit Nativity, starring its very own eleven gilded donkeys. Is this proof, if proof were needed, that the law is, you know... an ass?
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
There are disturbing stirrings across the developed world reminiscent of central Europe in the 1930s, or so they say. Millions of ordinary people are telling each other stories about ‘the other’ and there is a rising tide of extremism emerging from slumber. Families are becoming divided as some members succumb to a vision of how they believe the world ought to be; the way it is currently headed runs directly contrary to their memory of how we were and their hopes for how we will be. Telling themselves that their instincts are simple human nature helps them maintain their course despite the clear threat they pose to stability and peace.
As they find more and more people who think like them they grow ever bolder in facing off against the opposition. What were once maybe small clusters of bigoted opinion-holders is once again mobilising as a mass movement under marching banners proclaiming their righteousness and condemning those who they blame. Cleverly using the mass media they sow seeds of dissent among the grass roots and embolden others to join their cause, claiming that they alone understand the popular mood and rejecting the legitimate concerns of millions.
He who controls the narrative controls the course of history, they say, but he who controls the language controls the narrative. And just look at how they are twisting the meaning of words as the lexicon of fascism rises to the surface. Fit in or fuck off, they are shouting; you are with us or against us. Prove your credentials by chanting the chant and no longer hide your hatred, but get it out there. Gather, protest, change the world; threaten violence if it advances your cause. Since the Brexit vote there has been a noticeable ratcheting up of hateful language, of verbal hate crimes and the rule of the mob.
These people are using the result of the referendum to legitimise their aims and elevating their flag-bearers to the status of demagogues. The followers despise the establishment yet are happy to demand that this same establishment recognises their cause and challenges their enemies. The older generation. The racists. The Little Englanders. The uneducated. The too-thick-to-know-what-they-voted-for. As ever the young recruits to the cause adopt its lazy stereotypes with the greatest alacrity. Despite their rejection of binary gender identity, they are only too ready to accept simplistic political labels.
Youth Cult members worship at the EU altar
As the Supreme Court sits in judgement at the behest of the mob, for whom democracy has become a dirty word, let us hope that wiser counsel prevails. The spokesmen for Remain complain about the tyranny of the majority, yet use their own enthusiastic numbers to push forward their own agenda. The irony of their accusations against that majority – their parents, the old order – and their insistence that their youthful protest is the future - tomorrow belongs to them - can neatly be summed up in one phrase; Hitler Youth. We must combat the rise of a new fascism, they say, but who are the real Nazis here?
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Another day, another vote and the war on Brexit continues. The LimpDem ‘leader’ - or do they call him Akela at their
meetings coffee mornings? – has been skipping about like a giddy new foal
after the Richmond Park by-election proclaiming the second coming of a party
that doesn’t entirely know what it stands for. Even after their five years in
Downing Street as Cameron’s poodles I can’t recall a single policy utterance of
any import that was uniquely theirs. Yet, according to Tim, the party, having
gone from 57 seats in 2010 to just 8 in 2015, is now ‘back in the big time’. (I
use the word ‘party’ merely out of respect for the dead.)
I did the maths; from 8 to 9 MPs is a rise from 1.2% to 1.4% of the 650 Commons seats. Basically, they have gained a fifth of an MP... a leg, at best. Another bit of arithmetic reveals that 70% of Richmond’s constituents voted in the June referendum to remain, but less than 50% of a lower turnout voted for Sarah Olney, touted as the remain candidate. Far from revealing the deep desire of Britain to stay in the EU, it rather shows a drop in such sympathies. Yes, that last is a purely semantic piece of political prestidigitation, but it shows how you can’t place too much confidence in what was, after all, a rather small victory against zero opposition.
Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that the Labour candidate managed to lose his deposit by demonstrating that enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn’s buccaneering barmpots might not be all the Islington Party would wish – he got even fewer votes than there are actual Labour Party members in the constituency. The left is in trouble and once again they begin their excuse by labelling all who vote against them as extremists. A coalition of the left has been tentatively proposed to ‘fight back against the far right’. This was discussed on Friday’s PM on Radio 4 and barely disguised contempt coloured every utterance.
The Greens, LibDems, Labour and others, said Caroline Lucas & Co, should form a pact and agree not to contest each other’s patches. So, for instance, where Labour are the second biggest party, the others should agree to stand aside in the hope that their voters will turn out for Labour just to defeat the baby-eating Tories... the party which won a majority against all-comers and against all expectations just last year. Once again the staggering arrogance of the left is exposed; the little turkeys, they believe, were duped into voting for Christmas. They’re in for a shock.
The rise of Ukip, Brexit, Trump and coming upsets in France and Germany and all across Europe is not, as they dearly want it to be, the resurgence of Fascism; it is just the reaction to years and years and years of ‘progressive’ socialist claptrap. Unlike the militant French we don’t go setting fire to sheep at the first provocation. We just waited our turn and then quietly delivered our verdict on our tormentors at the ballot box. If Labour and the left believe they represent the 99% it’s no wonder they are always surprised when a majority of that 99% vote against them. All a coalition of the left will achieve is infighting, desertion and gifting the Conservatives a massive majority at the next election.
"Hallo, my darlings!" Tim Farron addresses the nation.
In other news, England won the rugby again for the fourteenth straight time this year, defeating Australia in a blatant display of aggressive nationalism at Twickenham, Richmond’s close neighbour. No doubt the sight of 80,000 cheering fans singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot sends chills down the spines of people like Tim Farron. The left will not see what everybody else sees. What’s this; cheering on a national team? Rejoicing in victory against Johnny Foreigner? Celebrating superiority? Why, to them it’s practically Nuremberg!
Friday, 2 December 2016
All hail the mighty man-girl-child-genderblack-wrongskinned-dudewench Godfrey Elfwick who trolled the Guardian the other day with this magnificent cheek-tongued piece of hilarity. Cue the barrage of mediocre attempts by the inspirationally challenged who will now be machine-gunning the popular press with Viz-level parody in the hope of being published. I have no such illusions and bow before the towering sage of our age, for Godfrey truly is a one manwoman multicultural emblem for our millennium.
The whole phenomenon of fake news is rendering satire a tricky medium to work in as it is becoming almost impossible to distinguish fake from fiction. It was bad enough when we only had climate nutjobs, illuminati adherents, chemtrail devotees and vegans to scoff at. Now, even the most outlandish of human experiences could be real. The Guardian, from once being a respected bastion of journalistic integrity  leads the charge into Narnia by stuffing its pages with opinion pieces masquerading as news. Godfrey’s little saga slotted right into their editorial narrative.
So, anything goes, nothing is real, up is down and coupled with a net population change of close on a million a year (650,000 in, 300,000+ out) pretty soon we won’t even have good old British phlegmatism to rely on. You’ll be able to tell people anything and they’ll believe it. Oh, wait, we’re there already: A recent scientific study has found pregnant women who use vibrators are 90% more likely to have a child who stutters. Accordion to surveys most people don’t notice when you replace words with the names of musical instruments. A pizza is a three-dimensional pie chart... that shows you how much pizza you have left. And an Oxygen atom went into the bar and said “I’m thirsty; give me a hydrogen atom. Wait; better make it a double.”
And there’s your problem. What do you get when you combine a joke with a rhetorical question? How can you take seriously a report which reads like an early Monty Python sketch? The surreal has become... a fish; Dali would be right at home. Political parties, ever the opportunists, are working on ways to get to grips with this post-factual reality, to which end Jeremy Corbyn has been employing a stage hypnotist at his cabinet meetings to render his shadow appointees susceptible to new ideas without having to filter them through a sieve of cynicism and mistrust.
Separating fact from faction...
Having realised a modicum of success through this technique, the hypnotist was invited to assist at JC’s keynote conference speech recently. The lights were dimmed, the audience hushed to silence and they all focused on the man on the platform. He took out a shiny gold watch on a chain and invited them to observe as he began to slowly swing it from side to side. As one, the attendees followed the watch, their eyelids began to get heavy, they found themselves relaxing... relaxing... entering a deep sleeeeeeep. But suddenly the watch-chain slipped from his grasp. “Shit!” exclaimed the hypnotist. It took a week to clean up the conference hall.
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
I genuinely don’t get all the column inches devoted to the slip-up/deliberate revelation that the government’s position on Brexit can be summed up as, ‘have cake and eat it’. After all, notwithstanding the metaphysical fallacy of possessing something which no longer exists, isn’t having all the cake the default starting position for all negotiations? Going in to Brussels armed with the feeble demand that we only want a few crumbs is a stance more suited to the Jeremy Corbyns of the world than to any rational Anglophile.
But the media, perhaps sensing their days of credibility are numbered, are grasping at straws to attract business to their increasingly ad-encumbered web pages, where clients linger for a few seconds before being driven away by the incessant barrage of pop-ups, auto-start video and animations, none of which bring anything resembling ‘enhancement’ to the experience. Even Radio 4’s PM programme had a discussion about ‘Schrödinger’s Brexit’; something which could both exist and not exist until somebody looked at it, when it would then be in only one state of being.
While most of those who voted to leave are quietly getting on with business, or better yet, planning for the opportunities which Brexit will bring and thus preparing themselves to both possess and devour all the cake coming their way, the clamour of naysayers shows no sign of abating. The Schrödinger comparison was actually quite apt in that the world is divided into three camps; those who are intrigued by the whole cat-in-a-box conundrum and will lie awake at night worrying about it, those who know that, alive or dead, the cat isn’t the issue and those who are blissfully unaware that anybody is worrying about a fictional bloody cat.
Asking for predictions about Brexit, complaining that the starting point is wanting everything and all the time talking down our prospects sounds just like petulant teens claiming their parents are ‘ruining their lives’, then locking themselves in their bedrooms and proceeding to stew themselves into a frenzy of loathing, thus bringing albeit temporary ruin to their lives. Brexit will be what we make it and repeatedly shouting that the UK cannot survive ‘on its own’ is hardly helping towards the positive outcomes that, surely, help everybody.
Try telling a child you can't have your cake and eat it.
You hear talk of children ‘divorcing’ their parents; I wish this lot would get on with it. But hey, in the meantime you can amuse yourself by getting in a lather about potentially racist money. The new UK £5-note contains traces of animal and is thus untouchable by vegans and some minority religious sects who haven’t yet worked out that, A) God doesn’t exist and B) If he did, he wouldn’t be worth worshipping if he cared about you coming into contact with what he’d created. All of which goes to prove that even if you did manage to both have your cake and eat it, some people would still never be happy.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
You are entering a world of pain. A dark forest in which Little Red Riding Hood is swallowed whole by the wolf and instantly dies, to be slowly digested along with grandma as the wolf sleeps off his repast. There is no woodcutter, there is no happy ending. Nature gets its way and they stay dead forever. Is that what you want? Is it? Is it? Well then if you want the happy ending you have to listen up and do what you are told, else it’s the dark, dark woods of truth for you!
It’s only a story, but the swirling mists of disinformation thrive on the primal desire for happy endings and the fear of being thought a bad person. Any deviation from the narrowly defined path is met with stern stares and dirty labels; descriptions such as psychopath and misfit are anathema to a race comprised of individuals who, above anything, want to fit in. So a long litany of epithets exists whose sole purpose is to mark out an individual as a dangerously different from the supposedly settled will of the masses.
Being berated as a racist is losing ground though, as ever more tiny transgressions against approved thought are called out as racist. Wanting to live among people like yourself has been denounced once too often as evidence of ‘far-right’ allegiances when in fact it is nothing more than wanting to feel comfortable and safe. The increasingly desperate lies that organisations like Tell Mama promulgate are beginning to look unhinged; those who cry wolf without a thought are themselves becoming marginalised and irrelevant.
The campaign to leave the EU was never waged by a government in waiting. The referendum wasn’t an election and the suggestion that what we paid to the EU for no net return could be spent here at home on one of the institutions held most dear by the lefties and remainers was only ever that, a suggestion an idea, a possibility. And a clever one at that, in the scheme of things, as it focused attention on how our hard-won public finances were spent. It was a story to appeal to a target audience and it may have done the trick.
Attempts to now call ‘broken promise’ when the promise was in nobody’s gift is disingenuous at best, downright dishonest in reality. But if you honestly thought you were saving the NHS by voting out and now completely regret that decision then frankly you ought not to be voting at all. This is just another fairy tale the remainers cling to, that out-voters didn’t know what they were voting for, while, presumably, in-voters were marvellously well-informed and competent to exercise their ballot.
Among the other lies – and there are many - confected by the losers is the idea that the right is rising. But there is no real organised right as such; the only organised politics is leftist in origin and using terms like ‘far-right’ and ‘extreme-right’ is just driving the wedge deeper between politics and people. All that’s really happening is that the ‘man in the street’ tired of being ignored is saying okay, you’ve had your fun but the world cannot function on advisers and focus groups and studies and experts in things nobody needs to understand. We need machines and tools and food and stuff grounded in reality and all of that requires real work not fancy words.
But still the war of words continues as the increasingly fake news site, The Guardian, does its bit by helping to create the story rather than just telling it. In a preposterous piece of naked propaganda it spins the yarn that in the aftermath of Saint Jo Cox’s death 50,000 tweets ‘celebrated’ her death. Notwithstanding the fact that this number pales into insignificance against the numbers who burned effigies in the streets on Margaret Thatcher’s demise or wish death on Tories on a daily basis, the story is based not on rejoicing in her death but rather refuting the canonisation of a politician not in tune with her party’s core supporters.
"What a big tongue you have, Grand-mama!"
"All the better to lie to you with..."
And never knowingly out band-wagonned, Sunny Hundal leaps aboard the Jo Cox Express to denounce the new Ukip leader as soon as his win is announced with his claim that Paul Nuttall is metaphorically marching death squads to the doors of other Labour incumbents. The hyperbole is almost deafening as the story-tellers of the mesmerised try to maintain their hold on their listeners, while increasingly losing their grip on reality. But it's time to let reality back in. The big, bad wolf won... get over it.