Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Wondrous Social Engine

They assembled in a respectful hush before the monolith, draped in a shroud the dimensions of which defied the imagination. Up into the heavens the folds of concealing cloth towered, its loftiest heights disappearing into thin wisps of cloud. Clad in the armour of antiquity the steampunk shadow cabinet gathered to await the unveiling and Archibald P. McDonnell unstrapped his elastic-driven calculating engine to take the weight off his shoulders. It settled with a slight creak and sat there, smoking slightly, resembling an early accordion except one possessing of a bulbous screen and several antennae, there to harness the power of the ether.

“I hear” said a voice from the assembly, far too loud in the awed silence, then again, more measured, “I hear the machine will provide a universal service network, with high speed information delivery to even the remotest community.” The crowd murmured appreciative assent. “Better even than the miraculous telegraph?” asked another. “Better even, they say, than the telegraph, the delivery ponies and the carrier pigeon force combined.” A wag replied “And less shit all round!” A titter spread through the throng, as the anticipation built.

A new character joined them. The burly, leather corseted frame caused the crowd to part, dividing like parted waves as it strode, lumbered, to the front of the vast pedestal. With shiny gauntlet-clad hands it thrust its welding goggles to rest on a vast forehead crowned by a mighty helmet which, on closer inspection, turned out to be sculpted and black-lacquered hair. Sweat beads rolled down that mighty brow and pooled in a jowl crease as Diane Bathsheba Hortensia Abbott gradually wobbled to a halt, the ripples eventually subsiding and coming under the control of the network of scaffolding and corsetry that contained her bulk. “Open knowledge Libwawy!” She gasped for breath. “Platform Co-operwatives.”

A cheer went up, but more from fear than understanding. O brave new world, that has such people in ’t? More disturbance at the back heralded the arrival of increasingly outlandish figures garbed in costumes both exciting yet strangely antique. As each arrived, they intoned ever stranger incantations: Digital Citizen Passport! Programming for Everyone! A People’s Charter of Digital Liberty Rights! Each nebulous concept was greeted with awed gasps and small rounds of excited applause. But how was any of this possible?

Suddenly, on the dais, in front of the drapes the curious yet commanding figure of Jeremiah Isaiah Ishmael Leopold Corbyn IVth raised his hands and spoke through a large brass sounding horn “Massive Multi-person Online Deliberation!” he cried and with that he pulled a wooden lever to his side. Cogs creaked, a hiss of steam vented and ropes strained as acres of cloth fell away to reveal a fearsome machine, towering above them. “Behold, Deep Throat!” A cough, a whisper... ‘thought’. Jeremiah rephrased, “Behold, Deep Thought!”

“But what does it do?” cried the crowd. Corbyn flipped down a large brass monocle which was fitted to his stovepipe hat and declared, “Everything! It will solve the world’s problems and bring peace and equality to all!” The crowd were impressed. “But how does it work?” they asked. “It is powered by the collected hopes and dreams of humanity” said Corbyn. “This miracle of steam power and new-age cog-based engineering will deliver our digital democracy manifesto, bringing power to the people!”

Behold, the mighty Labour machine!

“But who will control the machine?” asked a small voice in the crowd. “The people will always be in charge,” said Corbyn, at which point a great rattling was heard and the whine of whirring wheels increased its pitch and volume. The machine rose off its haunches and a great maw opened up below gigantic eyes which glowed red. All the dials flashed, the mouth opened wide and a deafening roar, like the laughter of the devil himself, boomed out. The fearsome engine strode through the crowd, scattering bodies left and right, then gasped and puffed and clunked off into the distance.

“Bugger,” said Jeremiah, “back to the Edstone.”

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Last Taboo

A World War two evacuee recently spoke on the radio of the miserable two years he spent separated from his parents and sent, for his own safety, away from London where he and others were routinely groped and otherwise abused by a succession of foster parents and officials. In my own young life, although spared the fumbling, I encountered, second-hand, the phenomenon of the kiddy-fiddler  in the form of a school teacher and an assistant scout leader. And also an uncle who the family referred to as ‘you know, a bit that way inclined’.

The strange and unwanted attentions of weird ‘uncles’ seems to be a constant throughout history but only very recently has the use of the term paedophile become widespread and the problem been passed on to, you guessed it, der gubmint. Not so long ago the meddling fingers of the monster in your midst would have been discreetly ‘sorted out’ by a community lynch mob and sent packing with a few broken bones and a deep shame. I don’t expect or want you to feel sorry for them, but many such broken humans committed suicide, or else committed themselves to a life devoid of human contact lest they be tempted.

Following the commentary during a break in the Olympic tennis the BBC apologised cringingly for the ‘casual homophobia’ committed by the commentator during what came to be dubbed ‘kisscamgate’. When he suggested that it might be unfortunate should the camera linger specifically on a male couple he voiced what many would probably have thought. And although you are not allowed to have such feelings, millions of viewers may have been disquieted at the sight of two real men kissing; real, as opposed to the nightly parade of obligatory same sex public displays shoehorned into every episode of every soap opera, in order to reflect the approved version of reality foisted upon us by the mainstream media.

Fifty years ago, however, that behaviour could land you in jail; it would certainly have had you targeted and hounded out of town, if not lynched on the spot. Today, whether you actually feel it or not, you must overtly embrace the gay and repeat after the nice lady at the diversity class that there is nothing unusual or abnormal about a man sticking his cock up another man’s arse. It’s as natural as breastfeeding, apparently. And if some of the lovely gays are so excited they want to parade their man-love in pubic and in uniform well, who are we to tell them to stop?

So, here’s the thing; homosexuality, sado-masochism, shoe fetishes, auto-erotic asphyxiation, latex, leather, bondage and any of the hundreds of furtive private peccadilloes are all, to some degree or another accepted, tolerated, ignored or excused under the general heading of sexual preferences. Even paedophilia has had its attempt at reform under the aegis of PIE, painting sexual attraction towards the pre-pubescent as just another different-but-normal human urge. No doubt bestiality and necrophilia also have their champions.

What?

But there remains the orientation that dare not speak its name. Once referred to as ‘normal’, the tide has turned against those who dare utter their preferences out loud and woe betide the public figure who speaks out  against practices once considered perverse and unholy. What was formerly thought repulsive must now be defended, its practitioners’ rights upheld and the details promulgated to all. But if you are heterosexual, married and discreet about your love-play you should hang your head in shame.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Normal Service Resumed

I’ve had a week off. ... ... What do you mean, you didn’t notice? Anyway, it turned out that my blog is not the only thing keeping the world spinning, which is frankly a relief as I’m not sure how to cope with that kind of pressure. What am I saying, pressure? Pur-lease, that’s for the whiny inhabitants of All-about-me-Land, or as I have decided to call them, Menstrual Millennials – and lest you berate me for implied sexism, I include certain males in this description; how some of them haven’t grown clitorises through their desperate efforts to empathise defeats me.

In the meantime the fires of anguish have been stoked by the French Burkini Ban and the hilariously butthurt reaction to the #MakeAMovieIslamic hashtag on Twitter, which inventive productivity showed once again that when a community can’t take a joke, it has yet to earn respect in a civilised society. And Nigel Farage has managed to get Hillary Clinton to do the impossible and up her crying game after his very favourable reception at a Trump rally. It really doesn’t take a lot to get them going, does it?

Common sense seems to trigger spasms of shrieking, garment-rending misery in the growing proportion of the population that believes everybody should be shielded from all harm, from all directions. It’s as if decades of child-centred education and individual-focused social engineering has produced a generation of helpless, supposedly ‘empowered’, yet unemployable people who nevertheless believe that it is up to them to shape society in their image.

But what image are they going for? Once we had coopers and clockmakers, blacksmiths and bakers; people whose job title actually told you what they did; people whose purpose was clear, defined and necessary. Now, however, we harbour a growing army of nebulously monickered entitlement enablers. It is your human right to never be offended, to which end we have spawned an entire industry engaged in the antithesis of productivity. Arrived at the apotheosis of understandable enterprise? Then aim for the unintelligible...

If somebody can define what you do they can strive to it better, cheaper, faster. But if instead of leading the mob you are the distant voice which yells from the back “string him up!” and eggs on the dim to believe they are worthy you can name your price. There are, particularly, rich and easy pickings to be had by fanning the smouldering embers of the always easily combustible race issues and as we suffer the stabbing season also known as the Notting Hill Carnival (5 stabbings at the time of writing) I await with curious anticipation the cries of racism which inevitably accompany any attempt to suggest that ‘communities’ curb their more violent tendencies.

"Try not to block the pavement next time you get stabbed, sir..."
Vibrant Britain - business as usual

Amidst these bubbling pots of discontent, these spinning plates of neediness, somebody has to keep their head while everybody else is being taken in by the prestidigitator’s sleight of hand life goes on. When agitators are crying out for resources to tackle the ever-growing list of imaginary race and sex and inequality crimes somebody is needed to keep pointing out that the emperor’s bollocks are still fully visible and swaying in the wind. I’m back... and you’re welcome. 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Confessional

Nigel Farage stood on a stage with Donald Trump and the lefty world exploded into a frothing maelstrom of outrage. This is fascism, wrote Tom Peck in a fine example of the type of journalism that has Owen Jones fans salivating and self-flagellating as they express their love of all humanity via the medium of unbridled hatred. Quite a few of the usual suspects joined in to form their own little Nuremburg Rally of irony as they sought to rouse their army of compliant drones to retweet their righteous fury. It was hilarious.

Other things occupying the minds of the eternally offended were the French burkini ban, Jeremy Corbyn’s train journey shenanigans, bodies washing up at Camber Sands and the annual horrorshow of callow youth opening manilla envelopes to reveal their pointless exam results to a disinterested world. Odd then, in this sea of business as usual, that the tragic and catastrophic earthquake in central Italy got so little social media coverage. But maybe that was because it couldn’t be blamed on Brexit, islamophobia, climate change deniers, Tories... or Nigel Farage.

The prepossessions of the left are tantamount to religion; absolute faith in something that defies reality. Who am I to deny anybody their obsessions, just so long as it does nobody any harm? For many people religion offers a lifelong comfort and it would surely be wrong to deprive somebody of that security, but when following the creed starts to turn nasty, as many religions have, dissenting voices must be heard. For most people, however, religion is a mere cultural backdrop to their life, most falling out of touch with their church except for certain ritualised gatherings. And many happily do without any form of faith throughout their lives.

But, I’m guessing you can tell the atheist from the agnostic not so much by what they do with their time on earth but what they do as they near the end of it. On which thought I am reminded of the old man and the priest:

The old man entered a Catholic church, sought out the priest and requested access to the confessional. The priest escorted him to the booth and they both sat down. "I am 82 years old, Father,” he began “And I have been faithfully married to the same woman for almost sixty years.” The priest smiled from his side of the screen and asked “So, what of your confession?” The old man excitedly told him “Last night, I had full-on, lustful, extended sexual relations with a pair of twenty-three year old twins!”


The Priest was taken aback, but recovered his composure to ask "How long has it been since your last confession?" To which the old man replied “This is my first time. I'm Jewish." The priest was annoyed and demanded to know why on earth he was here, wasting the church’s time and telling him all about his sordid little adventure. The old man replied “Hey, I'm telling everybody!”

Saturday, 20 August 2016

You'd better believe it!

I sometimes think that Polly Toynbee exists purely to give taxpayers somebody to belly laugh about. The other day she went into a full on, straitjacket-required, anti-Tory rant about obesity. It seems that fat is a socialist issue. Odd, though, that in her diatribe she recommends that we should “offer a diet of self-esteem, good jobs and social status, and the pounds will fall away”, because this has been the Tory solution since forever, whereas the ragged-trousered remnants of the Labour Party would legislate people thin by passing laws which always end up punishing 'the most vulnerable in society'.

Meanwhile, Theresa May’s government are going on about tax and taking a leaf out of Labour’s good book to soak the rich, or more particularly those who manage to avoid giving more than a few million to the Exchequer. Thus do political movements symbiotically survive by each feeding off the other’s ideas until they come to resemble one another, or else spawn new offshoots such as the Social Democrats and New Labour. One step forwards, two steps backwards, like an evolutionary gavotte, spinning and wheeling and never leaving the spot. We can send man to the moon in a single generation of effort, yet after millennia we still don’t have answers to questions posed by Plato.

In some less well evolved parts of the world there appears to be a determination to reverse the process entirely and consign all of man’s achievements to the dusty archive of archaeology; will a newly-excavated ancient London be sacked like Palmyra in a few thousand years’ time? People in the enlightened west have been talking about atheism for centuries but there must be something hidden deep in the genetic code of mankind’s monkey brain that reflexively clings on to fable, rather than fact.

The responsibility lies with everybody to educate their children that life is theirs to make the most of and they should not blindly follow faiths without challenge nor accept explanation without question. So when young Jamie asked his father “Dad, how did we get here?” his father replied “Well, first there were Adam and Eve and one day they made a baby. Then their babies grew up and made more babies and so on and so forth until there were millions of humans, all making babies and well, here we are! But don’t just take my word for it, ask your mum.”

Jamie duly sought out his mother and asked her the same question. Mum, having a doctorate in evolutionary biology – for this is one of those modern stories where the women get the life affirming role while the man merely plays the part of a dullard father – said “Well, first there were inorganic compounds that became organic and began to replicate. Then there were bacteria and later more complex animals. Millions of years later, fish evolved that could leave the sea. From there we got small shrew-like animals and eventually the great apes arrived.”


“Great apes?” asked Jamie, eyes wide. “Yes” continued mum “our ancestors were primates, the same as those of the chimpanzees and the orangutans we see today. The fossil records prove that we all belong to the same ancestral line.” Jamie wasn’t sure how to reconcile these two very different answers so after some thought he returned to his father. “You lied!” he stated, “I asked mum and she told me we came from monkeys!” His father calmly replied “She was talking about her side of the family.”

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Benidormant

A considerable amount of press time is still being devoted to trying to put as cowardly a face on the prospect of Brexit as possible. Yesterday’s news - contrary to the Today programme’s pet economist commentator’s hopes and dreams – of lower unemployment and higher ages must have come as a hammer blow. Still, there was some consolation for those wishing for the worst by making a huge deal over holidays. The cost of a European holiday, they say, has increased by 20% because of the devaluation of the pound.

But the foreign holiday is an exotic, recent import into people’s lives and is far from being an essential component. It falls firmly in the category of discretionary spending and it’s up to you whether you do or you don’t. For many the costs are fixed anyway, if by ‘holiday’ you mean the all-inclusive package deal that you bought like so much discounted tat from a comparison site on the Internet. Lying like corpulent pink slugs around a pool full of other people’s kids, wearing wristbands to show which hotel you are the property of and spending the days getting pissed and burned seems to me less like a holiday than an ordeal.

The weather is oft cited as a reason for going away but we have weather in Britain; we’re famous for it. And because it isn’t as reliable as, say Spain’s relentless beating heat, we have lots more variety to enjoy. As they say, there is no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes. Maybe if you live a life of idleness on benefits, dossing about the house all day every day, a foreign escape is at least a change of scene, but sod you; your existence is one long holiday from the realities most people have to contend with.

But seriously, why go abroad, cattle class style, to be despised by those who wait on you and clean up your shit for a pittance, to wait in long queues at airport check-ins, to lose your luggage and then afterwards discover your teenage daughter has gained her own extra baggage via the local Latin Lotharios and Montezuma’s revenge has taken control of your lower bowel. The tan will fade and all you will be left with is a bit more gut overhang and those identikit selfies that you put on social media just because everybody else did and now you don’t know how to remove. Oh and you will be broke again. Call that a holiday?

But right here, in one of the rest of the world’s highly rated tourist destinations there is a ‘hotel’ where the beds are familiar and the food is up to your expectations. A place where everybody speaks your version of English and where the facilities are familiar and close at hand. Instead of all that Benidorm bollockry, close down that holiday browser, take your finger off the mouse and put your credit card back in your wallet. Instead of all that holiday hullaballoo – packing, parking, queueing and crap – take a deep breath, settle into your favourite chair and actually, you know, relax.

Go for a walk. Or if you live in a busy city, drive somewhere nice and then go for a walk. See some local sights, have a pub lunch and just talk bollocks for a few hours. Make the most of these balmy nights while you can – the clocks go back in a few weeks’ time, after all. Have you been to the local museum? Lazed in the local park; fed the ducks? With the money saved you could go on a shopping expedition (if that’s your thing) in real shops in a town centre, not just the local Tesco megastore. You could try that new restaurant in the high street, or just pig out on a takeaway in front of the telly.

Whale spotting...

Package holidays are for mugs; don’t play their game. The doom-mongers despise you and will happily use the possibly increased cost of your annual jaunt abroad to point out your ugly nationalism. Prove them wrong by choosing not to be that chav in Union Jack shorts being escorted from the plane on the SiX O’clock News at Malaga airport and be proud of Britain while actually being in Britain. Make the most of it though, because it’s forecast to piss down next week. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Weird World

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair! If you go into the forest the big, bad wolf will eat you up. Beware the trolls who hide under bridges ready to snatch the Billy goats gruff. A giant lives in the clouds and keeps a goose who lays golden eggs... and he will grind your bones to make his bread. No, not another allegory about what the Labour Party believes in, much as that blog rather tends to write itself these days, but the astonishing real life reminder in yesterday’s news that real life is truly stranger than fiction.

There we all were, celebrating the Olympic Games, where extraordinary feats are accomplished by determined humans, when along comes... well, this. A mother has been jailed for submitting her children to surgery in order to maintain the lie that they were disabled. Yesterday I wrote about the naked opportunism that propelled mankind from rock to slime to mudskipper and then on to what we regard as the pinnacle of the evolutionary race to the top, then this piece of unmitigated shit reminds us that the human race can also be run backwards.

It’s bad enough when people fake their own shortcomings to garner sympathy and riches, but at least they only hurt themselves and a few million taxpayers. And it is always amusing when they get caught on video ditching the limp or the wheelchair for a bout of football with the kids on holiday. Then there’s the risible spectacle of people who take a joke too far and turn themselves into unemployable scribbling books, covering themselves in disturbing tattoos, or displaying full-on mental instability like the Nevada cat man. For all that they are the architects of their own downfalls the worst they have to endure is living with their decisions to mutilate or make fools of themselves.

But, your own children? How sick do you need to be to deliberately cause suffering and potentially permanent mental damage to your own offspring? Hold up though, don’t all parents take that risk simply by having kids? The things that some people grow up believing are normal are beyond weird; imagine being born to the kind of narcissistic self-celebrants that Max Clifford created only to later discover your famous parent was only prominent for being ridiculous and all the money was pissed down the drain anyway.

Don't talk to me about muslims. They are mental!

Or worse; how much anguish is created by religious fundamentalists, passing on their warped beliefs to their innocent charges? Having such an absolute faith in an invented deity that you think no sacrifice is too great in spreading the word. Imagine dressing your kids up as suicide bombers and preparing them for martyrdom. Imagine teaching your diminutive replicants that the west must die in order for you to perpetuate a regressive existence with no prospects for enlightenment or joy. I take it back, compared to islam, surgically altering your children for money looks pretty harmless.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Getting on with the job?

Luke Johnson is one of a relatively small number of people who seem to have grasped what an opportunity Brexit presents for this country. Freed from the constraints imposed by the expensive European human engineering project it might be possible for British entrepreneurs to rediscover their inventive roots and show – if any morsel still remains – the spirit which once made this small, damp island the industrial hub of an empire. Luke cites Singapore as an inspiration; a country barely fifty years old yet with the highest GDP per capita of any nation on Earth.

Work, not welfare, is the key, because nothing in life except life itself comes for free. In the soft, over-developed west that free gift so often carries a curse, foisting existence on unsuspecting new citizens but then abandoning them to the fates decreed by the architects of the political system that has ‘yet to be properly tried’. Socialism itself is a prime example of the laws of unintended consequence – while the notion of a welfare safety net for all sounds good, the very foundation of human nature is a cool, calculating slab of opportunism that will milk the state dry.

End the ‘something for nothing’ culture, said David Cameron, just as others have said before him, only to learn the hard way that once given it is bloody difficult to claw back that largesse. Impossible, if you want to be re-elected, or leave a ‘legacy’. The welfare state, like any industry, would be nothing without its loyal customers and nothing buys loyalty like cold, hard cash and soothing words. Who dares call out our unsustainable bread and circuses charade for what it is? The greater the demand, the richer those who cater to it and under the ‘caring’ umbrella the west has allowed a system of unearned, unaffordable entitlement to creep and grow.

We don’t want a universal, no-questions-asked welfare system; not when it creates and perpetuates the very poverty it seeks to alieve. We don’t want a ‘comprehensive’ equality-driven education system; not when it denies bright but poor kids the chance to shine. We don’t want institutionalised kindness and compassion; not when it is so readily exploited by those who are bred into dependence. And we certainly neither want nor need faux diversity, shoe-horned into the cultural landscape; not when in reality, regardless of origins or leanings, black or pink, brown or yellow, there is anything but diversity of thought; not when the naïve advocates of the diverse palette are the Midwich cuckoos of cultural Marxism.

We need a country where the weak and needy are largely absent; bred out. Where single issue minority politics can’t enable legislation to hamper the majority. Where tolerance is freely given to those who work with us, but a stern face is presented to those who wish us harm. A place where everybody takes responsibility for their own journey through life and knows that while help is available should you occasionally falter, you’re on your own if you continually go off-piste. Fat, lazy, stupid, addicted, accidentally pregnant, self-or-selfie-obsessed? That’s your shit; you shovel it.

Fresh start... feel free to flush at any time.
Time to flush?

Britain needs to get its act together and make bolder decisions. Are we going to continue to pursue the EU model of a low wage, mass consumption economy, founded on ever greater numbers of lower and lower grade drones, forever passing the cost downwards to future generations? Or will we grasp the nettle and instead allow the economy, along with the population, to shrink back to a size which accommodates and rewards the brave and the busy but dissuades the third world from beating a path to our door? Isn’t it time to flush the dregs and clear the system; has anybody got the balls for the job?

Friday, 12 August 2016

Going Native

With only some ninety days to go the US presidential race is hotting-up as the rival camps do their level best to trash talk the opposition. There are anecdotal reports on social media of opinion poll rigging and lies about both candidates proliferate. So wild are some of these that you would not be at all surprised to see claims that Hillary Clinton has a secret army of ninja assassins to take out dissenting commentators and that Donald Trump plans to hide the national debt under his, er, ‘remarkable’ hair.

Trump supporters are hoping that Clinton’s much-speculated-upon health issues reveal themselves spectacularly in a live-TV meltdown ending in catatonia, while they frantically try to locate Catatonia on the map. Hillary’s supporters are expecting that just sitting back and giving him free reign will lead to the revelation that ‘The Donald’ is nothing more than a blast of hot air, the venting of which has much the same substance regardless of which major orifice it is vented from.

But until either candidate spectacularly self-destructs the hustings continue, to which end Hillary found herself in a Native American reservation in a barren mid-western state, courting the votes of whom Donald would undoubtedly refer to as immigrants from Red India. She made quite a speech: "I promise better education and better life opportunities for Native American children!" she declared.

The crowd went wild, shouting “Hoya! Hoya!” a few at the back smiled and began to ululate. Clinton was emboldened and continued. “I promise more social reforms and job opportunities for Native Americans!” And again the crowd responded with a cry of “Hoya! Hoya!” The Clinton aides smiled and took notes as photographers and documentary makers recorded the scenes as she made her closing statements. “This land is your land,” she said “and when I become president I will make it my duty to preserve forever your precious heritage and secure your rightful stake in governing this proud nation!”

She was cheered from the stage by a stamping of feet, the raising of arms and the resounding chorus of “Hoya! Hoya! Hoya!” This was surely in the bag. Next stop, a few reservation homestead visits, a tour of the casino and back to civilisation and a nice hot bath. The cameras recorded her glad-handing and well-rehearsed feigning of interest as she was shown around the modest homestead of a tribal elder and protector of the reservation’s buffalo herd.  


The herd in the distance looked impressive, grazing out on the prairie, but how much better would it look for Hillary to be photographed among these mighty symbols of the American story? She asked, would it be possible to see the impressive beasts up close? The chief nodded and said “Sure, but you should wear these.” He offered up a pair of ancient, beat-up moccasins. Hillary took them reverentially, assuming she had been entrusted with a gift of native craft of great value and was effusive in her thanks. “You are welcome,” said the chief, “I would hate if your shoes got covered in hoya...”  

Thursday, 11 August 2016

On the Social

Listen, you can hear the hum... it’s getting louder. That low whine, that hum, that meditative chorus of meemeemeemeemee permeates every space we inhabit these days and forms the sonic backdrop to all public life. The desperation not to offend, the eagerness to please and appease, the submission to a doctrine which says you must fight every instinct that made humans the planet’s top predator, its supreme survivor. The fittest will not forge ahead, it is writ, for the meek and feeble are more worthy and need an evolutionary assist to overcome the natural injustice which holds them back.

The unfortunately named Steve Rotheram (a constant reminder of the failure of the multicultural dream) is Labour’s candidate for the Mayor of Liverpool. He said “I will put social justice at the heart of my administration; something which I've been passionate about all of my political career.” Ah, I see, a fearless peddler of guilt and shame. How dare you not be female, gay, black, disabled or a bit slow? How dare you enjoy the undeserved advantages of your normality? How dare you even claim your numerical majority as evidence of your kind being winners in the game of genetic imperative? Make more copies of you? You sicken me.

Because, of course, even believing that you are ‘normal’ just because you fit the statistical definition of normativity is today considered to be a form of prejudice. You are a bigot without you having had to lift a finger. Think that fully-limbed athletes are ‘better’ at athletics? Bigot. Believe that the more usual pairing is one man, one woman? Homophobe! Notice that the suicide murders by people claiming allah for their own seem to be the exclusive preserve of those who identify as muslim? You sir, are an islamophobe and thus individually more dangerous for those fearful thoughts than the multitudes proposing death to the west.

How is it social justice to defend violent illegal immigrants, guilty of rape and assault and intent to kill, from deportation and insist they have more right to a decent life than those they have abused? How is it social justice to pillory christian bakers for refusal to bake a cake, yet defend the rights of others to demand the actual, bloody death of those denied that cake? One woman’s ‘justice’ is an affront to another woman’s belief system. The perpetrators of female genital mutilation are excused, even defended, on cultural grounds, yet wear a simple cross and the wrath of the system is visited on you. And why do black lives matter any more than any other?

Social Justice sounds like a noble desire. But where does it stop and more importantly, who pays for it? Because the punishment already falls on the shoulders of those deemed to be guilty; that is, keep your nose clean and dutifully pay your taxes into the public purse, year after year and then watch helplessly as those funds pour into the begging bowls of a thousand causes, each blind to the pettiness of their demands and the more urgent needs of others.


In a world with real social justice the simple libertarian principle of ‘do no harm’ should suffice. This, along with an acceptance that none of us is perfect might avoid the unedifying spectacle of the Olympic's ‘KisscamGate’ where people managed to be outraged by a simple, utterly harmless, off the cuff remark. As for the new push for 'equality' for women wearing a costume that tells the rest of us that they may want us dead, that can fuck off.  You call yourself a social justice warrior; why don’t you just grow up?

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Futurology

What a great job it must be, predicting the future. Unlike a normal job, where you are paid by results, guessing forecasting future events carries none of the anxiety-inducing stresses of meeting performance criteria. No sleepless nights, agonising over whether the decision you have to make tomorrow will end your career. No panic attacks that you will fail to hit your targets. No worries over being judged and found wanting... at least not until you are long dead. And unlike most Olympians, the best of your work is always ahead of you..

The near future? Pah, that’s a mug’s game. No, what you need to do is first amass sufficient credibility by loudly explaining recent past events. Not too recent that the outcomes are yet to be fully known; not so long ago that people gave forgotten the basics. Ideally you should bring in an unconnected but highly topical event and conflate the two in an imaginative headline-grabbing way and promote it widely enough that the mere momentum of its ubiquity gives it a certain élan. For instance, that global islamic jihad is a by-product of climate change - that was a corker.

A flamboyant delivery always helps – perhaps effect an overtly camp persona and maybe adopt a speech tick -  or possibly describe yourself as not being constrained by the traditionally rigid scientific disciplinary boundaries but offering a pan-socio-scientific vision which exceeds the normal confines of narrowly defined fields of study. You could be, for instance, a ‘chemo-physicist specialising in neural economics with an interest in the cyber-alignment of political narrative’, or some such concoction and say yes to any offer of media exposure.

Of course, it’s a fine line you tread; Mo Ansar’s mistake (remember him?) was adopting the mantle of wise representative of a faith while that faith was busily recruiting walking ordnance and declaring death to the west. It was all too close at hand and all too gloomy, yet not gloomy enough. And he was a twat. Credibility and hope is what you want to aim for, or credibility and doom. So, for instance, you could predict that in the future the long-awaited machine revolution will truly come and then you have a choice. You can either explain how this will let humans live in undreamed of luxury and indolence, or else you can portray an image of bonded slavery to mechanical masters.

Whatever you do say, should you live long enough to be wheeled out in fifty years’ time to reflect on the outcomes, you can blame the failure of the future to do as you expected on the fact that it was your own forecast that alerted people to change that future course, or else you can bask in the glory of a lucky guess. It’s a no-lose situation. Go on, give it a try; climate, the economy, population demographics, technology... all ripe for exploitation in the futures game.

My crystal balls tell me...
A bit thundery...

Of course, it’s getting to be a crowded market and maybe the opportunities for soothsayers are not so rosy as they once were. As Michael Gove suggested, we’re all getting a bit fed up of experts offering contradictory advice and opposing opinions. But, trust me, I’ve been around a bit and I have studied the runes and I’m pretty confident in predicting that the game of telling the future has a healthy, er, future ahead of it. Just you wait and see. That'll be five quid, thanks.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Fairy Tale

Gather round, you poor, you feeble, you beggars, you workers and let me tell you a story. One day it will be different. One day you will never have to fear growing old or huddle together against the deadly cold. For you are the noblest of mankind and one day the world will be yours. The barons in their strongholds will be deposed and their great wealth will become yours so each of you can live like nobles and nobody will rule over you. But you must have patience.

The fairy tale of the Labour Party began like this and slowly, nobly even, ordinary men and women began to organise in workplaces, in social clubs and made their voices heard. They began to stand up against poor working conditions and exploitation and collectively they realised they had power and that their will could put people into Parliament. From there the process should have been simple. The workers’ revolution would be no bloody coup, but a very British, civilised and gradual overthrow of dominance by the elites.

It never works out as planned though, does it? The ground troops of Labour socialism began mobilising antagonistically and during the sixties and seventies industrial action became the British Disease. Business and brains moved away and took with it much of the wealth that might fancifully have been redistributed. Union subscriptions were eaten up by paying the wages of officials and engaging lawyers to help them retain their hold on the party that had told them it would deliver. Power was slipping away because the masses would not behave as they were told. Labour lost its grip and disappeared into the wilderness.

During the eighties and into the nineties, however, the enterprising poor became businessmen. Tired of waiting for the revolution they reverted to human normality and struck out for themselves. The weak, of course, were left behind again, but now consigned to lives of dependency on the state. No longer of any use to the Labour dream, they were fed bread and circuses by governments who imported a new stock of, they hoped, less troublesome workers from former Eastern Bloc countries newly enrolled into the European Union and told the British they were racist to complain.

Removable, compliant workers, grafting away for a pittance? Isn’t this what Labour fought against all those years before? Meet the new elites; no longer wealthy landowners and business moguls but people brought up on the socialist myth and imagining that all they did, from their palace in Westminster, was for the furtherance of the masses. If only the masses would pipe down and be content. If only they had never been educated in the first place; if only the dumbing down could have been hastened. What we need is people who will never question what they are told.

Enter islam. Flood Britain, flood Europe with millions of people who unquestioningly adhere to every tenet of an obvious con. Almost no muslim has ever ever read the koran; it can say whatever the imams want it to say and look at them lap it up. Maybe this was the thinking behind the invasion. Import an already thoroughly brainwashed population and maybe they will, finally, do as they are told. How’s that working out for you? The attacks are reported daily across Europe and still nothing truly effective is done.

The wolf of islam is stalking...
Still think they all live happily ever after?

The last of the gullible seem to consist of the politicians desperate to cling onto power and bizarrely, the luvvies of the showbiz world. Curiously, it is now only the elites and the stupid who still seem to have some sort of faith in multiculturalism and the socialist dream. Make lots of money from the unthinking masses by playing pretend and dressing up, then somehow believe you know what is best for them? The only way I can account for it is that they are the only ones left who still believe the fairy tale.

Monday, 8 August 2016

The Discrimination Game

The United States Declaration of Independence states: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ Well, that’s a nice ambition but we all know it’s a crock of shit. Not only are all not starting out equal, it is an undesirable outcome anyway, as equality can only be achieved by pushing standards and expectations downwards, something which seems to be the purview of dictatorships and communism... and the British state education system.

It has done its job well, the National Union of Teachers, Jokers, Obfuscators and Bolsheviks. (NUTJOB) Raise the prospect of grammar schools as Theresa May has done and out come the placards and the angry condemnations of elitism and cries of “Unfair!” Nothing’s ever fair these days, is it? But what is fair anyway? A decent crack of the whip seems like fairness, so denying access to selective schooling for brighter kids looks manifestly unfair to me.

But the system has worked well to promote anything but excellence as a watchword. With the result that the following was a genuine exchange I watched on Twitter:

A: I oppose selective schools. As someone with a learning disability, I am not happy when my tax funds my own discrimination.
B: They do not discriminate but offer opportunity to all children
A: So they don't subject children to maths and English exams? How could a person like myself pass them?
B: So because you have learning problems all other children should be denied the opportunity of a grammar school?
A: No they can exist but they can not be allowed to discriminate.

Variations on that theme – you must never discriminate – popped up all over the commentariat but what do you do when you choose one pair of shoes over another? What do you do when you give the job to the best applicant? Discriminate is not a dirty word but its constant use as a pejorative has put it in the category of hate speech when in fact it is the basis of all choice. If one person is the same as another we may as well pair up with the first other human being we encounter. If we had never discriminated the human race might have ended up looking like the denizens of the island of Doctor Moreau. (Some say it already does)

Of course we need selection and streaming in schooling – that is far more ‘self-evident’ than equality to anybody who has actually thought about it. But it should be remembered that being academically gifted is not the only way pupils can excel. The soft bigotry of low expectations has led us to abandon those who fail under the current comprehensive nonsense to a life of drudge. What about also nurturing physical skills such as crafts, or the mental acuity of many who don’t achieve in exams but go on to become successful in business despite their education?

If you want a truly comprehensive system then you need to take one lesson from the grammar system and that is to discriminate. Only by selection and specialisation will you ever produce anything close to those so-called equalities you dream of. And of course if the state won’t do it the parents will; is it fair that only the offspring of parents who have the means to influence their child’s schooling? You would ban grammars because some parents are better able to prepare their kids for an entrance exam?

Hands up if you can spell... anything, really.

Life, unlike the Olympics, is one long bout of selection in which we all compete in different ways. The true equality of outcomes is that we all die in the end; nobody wins in the long run. But it’s not the winning; it’s the taking part. And some never participate to their full potential because they languish in mixed ability classes when they could be flying. If grammar schools are unfair then one-size-fits-all comprehensives are tantamount to child cruelty.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Indiana Bones

The rebuilding of civilisation has been a mammoth struggle, but here in the year 2216 the work is nearing completion. After two centuries in the wilderness the faithful, banished from the public gaze and abandoned by their followers have quietly worked in obscurity, gathering together the sacred relics and devotedly uttering the solemn mantras, lest they be forgotten. Meeting in secret for fear of ridicule and persecution, two hundred years have passed since last anybody spoke their name. Now, there is a palpable buzz among the faithful as word reaches them of a major discovery.

In a barren northern wasteland where little grows but thorn scrub and whose inhabitants are universally hostile – a forgotten race who once stood tall - an amateur archaeologist and explorer is heading up a quest. The ancient scrolls speak of an artefact without which the land of Albion can never be reunited. An icon of those halcyon times, so speaks the text, when the people hailed a common hero and cleaved to a vision of unity. The fragments of history are disjointed but running through them all is a reoccurring theme in their account of the end of days.

When the dissolution came the emblems of power were dispersed and hidden throughout the broken country. Faithful followers buried records and secreted away the symbolic trappings of a once mighty administration to keep them safe for the return of the kings. Then the purges and the banishment to the four corners of the confederates and... the silence. Nobody but a few vouchsafed the prophecy of the manifesto spoke of these matters again. Slowly, one by one, the records were reunited in secret. The promise of rebirth was passed down from father to son, mother to daughter and bit by bit the knowledge grew.

More were recruited, converted to the cause and in secret meetings the movement gathered momentum. Now they lacked but one piece to complete the jigsaw of enlightenment and restore the mighty power of their legendary forebears. None of the histories described the piece, as if it was beyond mere mortal words but down the years indirect references, hints and nods to its existence had variously referred to a sacred altar, a holy ark, or a totem, before which all would assemble to bow their heads in quiet contemplation of their common purpose.

The intrepid archaeologist and his enthusiastic young team had spent many months following leads, rumours and tantalising clues and now, finally, they stood before the mighty doors of an ancient crypt. Once a dark, satanic mill the whole building had been deliberately concealed from the world by a hill of coal slag, over which the grass had been allowed to grow. The locals spoke of a dark magic, of mysterious powers bestowed by those who wished upon the mighty green mound. Whatever the truth, there was genuine mystery here. The young Indigenous Jones, unlikely descendent of the legendary Owen, said a quiet prayer before the task ahead.

The door was prised open but, instead of darkness, a great light poured forth from the cavern beyond. A flock of birds rose into the air and blocked out the sun for a moment; a nervous excitement filled the hearts of the team. Here, at last, they had found the source of power and once again the Labour Party could rise from the ashes. They approached the source of the light and stood in solemn awe before... the Edstone.

The Edstone - never speak its name!
He's back... and he's blooming fwuwious!

Dark, forbidden whispers had told of this monolith but it was supposed the Edstone was a mere myth, a wild fabrication of overly active imaginations. But here it was. Indy felt a momentary unease. Suddenly the ground shook beneath their feet and dust fell from ancient beams above. The expeditionaries looked at one another and then back at the door which was beginning to close. They ran. As Indy squeezed through the gap a sudden gust took his hat, which landed inside. He snatched it back just in time as the vast doors slammed shut. The huge green mound turned black as it collapsed in on itself and in a matter of minutes all evidence that it had ever existed disappeared into the crater of an enormous sinkhole. Corbyn's Curse, the scourge of the Labour Party was awoken once more... and nobody holds a grudge quite like a left winger.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Monkey Business

During the build up to the referendum, Michael Gove warned of the prognostications of experts. He was pilloried for it because, after all, don’t we rely on the experts to inform us, advise us and generally teach us how we should behave? Should I take an umbrella? Is it the right time to buy, or should I keep renting? Should I invest in solar panels, or electric cars, or nuclear power? Is the planet warming or cooling, or both at the same time? Given that whenever the experts all agree it has proven wise to adopt a healthily sceptic stance, Gove’s much denigrated remarks were bang on the money.

We get good at something by repetition, but blind repetition of an ineffective action is the opposite of expertise; it makes us dumb followers. I seek to educate my trainees to be healthily sceptical of glib explanations and spurious reasoning. For instance, many electricians will tell you that the death of an MP’s daughter was the catalyst for a piece of legislation they despise, yet have never read. The truth is that legislation was already in place and scheduled to come into force before the tragedy and furthermore had been more than a decade in the planning.

Similarly, there a few common misconceptions around the science behind electrical installation design and I take a somewhat perverse delight in managing to illicit a predictable, yet wholly incorrect response from entire classes to some pet questions. It’s entertaining – for me at least – it gets them thinking and hopefully, it produces better educated technicians than might otherwise be the case. Monkey see, monkey do may work for digging holes, but red-to-red, black-to-black often results in ‘blew to bits’.

To drive the message home I tell them about the devout monk in a monastic order which takes vows of silence and celibacy so they can dedicate their lives to a pursuit of the holy truths. For many years the monk lived in seclusion until he was at peace with his soul and comfortable in his solitude. Later he worked in the monastery garden, silently tending the rows of carefully nurtured vegetables, mouthing psalms as he hoed and occasionally kissing the earth in tribute.

As he aged and his back grew bent he joined the rows of elders faithfully copying out ancient texts to the accompaniment of distant bird song and the scratching of goose quill on vellum. For many years he toiled diligently, assuming that, like his predecessors he trod in the Lord’s footsteps. But one day he released that he was not finding enlightenment by merely copying the last copy he had made. What if, way back, he or another had made a mistake and was now just passing it on. Familiar with the concept of Chinese Whispers he decided to go to the cool dry basement where the original manuscripts were kept and begin a new, pristine copy.

Oh, bollocks...

Some hours later, having been missed at evensong and at supper, his absence became cause for concern and his fellow supplicants set out to search for him. After a while they find him in the basement, weeping. He turns to them, tears streaking his cheeks and holds aloft an ancient, faded but beautifully decorated piece of parchment. The Abbott breaks the vow of silence to ask him what is wrong and the monk says “The word is CELEBRATE... not CELIBATE!”

Thursday, 4 August 2016

'Kipping on the Job

A cub reporter is sent out to review the local entertainment scene and happens across a pub talent show where he sits through the usual dreary melee of wannabe singers, comedians and hideous child/animal novelty acts. He is just about to leave when his attention is arrested by a strikingly featured man juggling heavy hammers. The crowd is mesmerised as he keeps the hardware spinning and dancing above his head; one mishap and serious harm could result. But it is the finale of the act which is truly novel. One by one, instead of merely catching the hammers, he opens his mouth and swallows them. Interviewing the act later the reporter asks if he earns a living doing this to which the man replies “No, I’m just an ‘ammer chewer.”

I frequently ask my classes the question “How do you get good at anything?” to which the clear favourite response is ‘practise’. Whatever the profession those at the top of the game make it look easy when in fact their actions, especially in times of stress, are the result of hard-won experience, preparation and sheer dogged determination to learn from mistakes and continue to improve. When politicians slickly dodge the bear traps that journalists set for them, concealing their allegiances and avoiding making promises to which they can later be held they are not merely busking; this is meat and drink to figures in public life. Politics is a brutal line of work, leaving many corpses by the wayside and it is no place for the amateur.

Enter the United Kingdom Independence Party, which, having become arguably the most successful political movement of modern times (which other single issue party can claim to have actually achieved their only purpose?) is now struggling for survival. Unseasoned but passionate political hobbyists in the main, they reached out to a dissatisfied populace and gave them a cause. But they also overreached their brief and became an alternative home for the many who had vowed to never again vote for the main two parties and in doing so sowed the seeds of their own demise.

There is an old adage that it is better to stay silent and let everybody think you’re stupid, rather than to open your mouth and prove it. Many of Ukip’s refreshingly direct and open spokes-thousands wear their hearts on their sleeves and are proud to display their thoughts for scrutiny; their National Executive Committee is no exception. Give a child a gun and leave the safety catch off and sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt. Despite all the best efforts of a partisan and hostile press, it now appears Nigel Farage was actually the man in charge of that safety catch.

It'll take more than that to re-vivify Ukip

I like the idea of UK Independence and I think that Ukip still has a role in keeping the government to its commitment - ‘Brexit means Brexit’ - but its determination to run before it can walk and become a fully-fledged administration-in-waiting puts it firmly in the glare of the spotlight and the tough crowd are not enjoying the act. Mind you, having started out as a club for disaffected Tories, Ukip has since come more to represent an alternative to old Labour. Whatever they think they want to be when they are grown up – and this is by no means clear - Ukip needs to get a grip and turn professional if it is to have any chance of survival.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

British Blue

Six weeks on from the referendum result and many of those who voted remain are still hurt and angry and lashing out. They accuse those of us who voted to leave of ‘wrecking the economy’ of lying to the electorate and then running away, of abandoning the future to fickle fate and having no plan to extricate ourselves from the EU in an amicable way, without sabotaging international relations or starting the third world war in Europe. They boo and hiss and jeer and do all the things themselves that they accuse us of doing, such as surrendering absolutely to confirmation bias.

Not all remainers, of course; many are quietly going about their business and for most of them that business has not changed. They still have their family homes and nobody has died or succumbed to life-changing illness as a result of the vote to Brexit. The same applies to the majority of those who voted to leave. Of course there are going to be, have already been, repercussions, but it’s how we deal with them that is the mark of our character, not how we continue to bemoan the result and berate those who brought it about.

A charge often levelled, as they flail about in their prams, going blue in the face and screaming the house down, is that had the result been the other way around, Brexiteers would be doing just the same. True, to an extent, but they forget an important thing. Joining the EU was never put to a vote and at the time of the first referendum the world was a very different place, there was no internet and nothing to counter the combined power of the media and the establishment and their message of doom should we leave.

Since then our time in the club has been one long litany of dissatisfactions, beginning with the loss of sovereignty and culminating in where we are now, with a world-wide distrust of those in office. Our collective vote to leave wasn’t because of any campaign of lies, it was because of the opportunity to call ourselves British once more and reject the slide towards becoming just another bunch of regional Europeans. Much as there can be no such thing as British muslims – the domineering ideology of islam being in direct confrontation with almost every aspect of Britishness – the British national character resists the idea that you can be truly loyal to two masters.

Yes, if the referendum had gone the other way we would have minded. And we would have pointed out every bit of creeping legislation which took further power out of our hands. But I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have maintained a barrage of insults in the way the bitter remainers are doing, locked into a loop of antipathy that has more in common with obsessive mental illness than rational thought. After all, we have been ignored for over forty years; we’re used to it. It’s still funny, though; for a bunch of illiterate, narrow-minded, xenophobic, low achievers we did pretty well against the slick, cosmopolitan, highbrow, rightful rulers of the world. I can see how that would smart.

I'm only wearing this to flush out the remainers...

And while, unlike many remainers, I hold no grudge – it is, after all, a free country – I can’t help being amused by how quickly these sophisticates are to revert to base emotion. So imagine the shade of puce they will turn if in the future they must travel the world clutching a solid, blue British passport. It was a thing of beauty, that document and should the Sun campaign be successful we might once again see a generation of young people becoming proud to possess one. But it would be worth it alone, just to see the swivel-eyed loonies in the Europhile ranks holding their noses as they apologetically presented 'ze papers' at the German border.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Stop the Press Barons

In days of old, when knights were bold and toilets weren’t invented, they dug a hole beside a wall and sat there, quite contented. The concept of titled gents having to do just as mere mortals tickled my ten-year old self. Having been born in the same year as the Life Peerages Act there were still plenty of hereditary peers about and anybody with a title was regarded as most definitely a higher rank of human being. In my father’s memory local workers would still tip their cap to the local squire.

My best friend’s father was awarded a CBE and I was once granted sight of the certificate, proudly framed but hanging in a non-prominent place; he was a modest man, but the document proclaimed that he had given long and noble service, in what cause I can’t remember. I do remember being deeply impressed and wondering whether this meant he was on speaking terms with the Queen. He was one of the ‘little people’ put forward by others and considered for the award by the honours committee.

Inspirational school teachers with fifty years’ service, selfless charity workers, volunteers who risked their lives in lifeboats; these people are given lesser honours that come with no title or grant and are seen as recognition for remarkable service to others. The unsung heroes, the types who roll up their sleeves and get on with it and suddenly discover that their whole lives have been devoted to the greater good. There is something quintessentially British about that visit to Buckingham Palace and the bestowing of what we modestly refer to as a gong.

But climb to higher rungs on the honours system and a different story emerges. As well as some universally approved recipients there is bewildering history of apparently strange choices; mediocre entertainers honoured while lifelong popular troupers ignored, athletes who have already earned other, shinier medals on the track and a long, long list of faceless civil servants who have simply done their jobs and with no great distinction. Every year the public ask who and why, when the list is published. And if him, why not her? The logic seems impenetrable. But then we get to the more cynical heights of pure cronyism; some would go so far as to label it corruption, and it isn’t even a recent phenomenon.

So blatant was Lloyd George’s industrial-grade sale of honours that he created the original press baron by ennobling the shyster Max Aitken – yes, ancestor to ‘Jailbird’ Aitken – as the first Baron Beaverbrook. If LG hoped to keep his corrupt auction of titles from the general notice of the public he paid a high price, indebting the government to the discretion of a fickle opportunist who seems to have made something of a hobby out of purchasing influence in Westminster. In his brief stint as the first Minister for Information towards the end of the Great War Aitken became uniquely positioned to wield that influence.

Hello. Who the fuck are you?

But at least he had influence to wield; compared to some of the supposed recipients of David Cameron’s resignation honours list, Beaverbrook was a political Titan. Call it business as usual, but being honoured merely for turning up makes a mockery of the whole show. When I meet somebody I ought to call Sir, or m’Lord I expect to be in the company of somebody of stature and sinew, not some chinless twerp who bunged the party a few quid or gave Mrs PM a nice blow wave. The honours system gets cheaper by the year; pretty soon they’ll be selling them by the pound. I want my knights and barons and earls to be better than me, but it seems we do all shit in the same pot after all.

Monday, 1 August 2016

On Gravity

Yesterday, for the first time in ages, I went to a hillside and tossed myself off. At an unfamiliar site and a in a crowd of unknown faces, I watched a while as more seasoned members took to the skies and novices trailing red ribbons tentatively made their first unaided launches. Once in the air a mixture of instinct and training and hopefully, good common sense, keeps you from dying. Oh yes, it’s a potentially fatal activity, paragliding and it isn’t for all.

But once you are riding the air it is much like all other solo, against-the-element sports and you sink or soar on your own decisions. Turn in lift, keep your sink rate low, watch for the signs and then, when mother nature turns against you, get out of there while you can; although you may defy it for a while, gravity always gets you in the end. I ended up too low on one flight and had to land-out, in a wheat field and walk back up. Hey, I need the exercise.

It’s a lot like life, or the stock exchange; greater forces than you command are always there, working away in the background. Cartels, ideologies, the law, the economy, society-at-large even; all are busily trying to change the world. Sometimes those forces align for good or ill and we get periods of calm or stress, but most of the time they are far from working in concert. Life throws up a bewildering backdrop of options, of paths to take, of ideas to follow, but when it comes to the shove the only one pushing should be you.

Advisors, experts guides, leaders, charlatan and honest fool alike, are rarely right about anything beyond their narrow expertise. Biased towards their own field they usually miss the bigger picture and the rarer big picture viewer often misses the detail. You want a mortgage, see a mortgage advisor, but don’t expect him to predict house prices. You want to know whether to take an umbrella tomorrow then check out the forecast but don’t rely on that for information about climate change.

Like gazers in an art gallery we stare at the old masters and each see slightly different detail. Move to the abstract gallery of media and we see totally different paintings. Events, people, images, words, both truth and lie, have impacts on our decisions in ways we may not fathom and responding to identical inspirations the same choices bring us different outcomes. It’s complicated out there and just when you think you’ve seen it all, when you think you have the measure of the thing, the establishment nominates, among others, Will Straw – a medicority in every walk of life – for a CBE... for failing, yet again. What are you gonna do?

Don't follow the crowd...

Life doesn’t have to make sense. There are few right and wrong choices. What matters is how you come to terms with the apparent madness all around you and more particularly, how you deal with the cards you are holding. You are not powerless; you don’t have to copy everybody else although you may want to moderate your differences. Just remember to live a little as you negotiate the flight of your life and never forget that in the end, gravity always wins.