Monday 30 January 2012

Only Fools...

I thought about a piece on the potential US remake of Only Fools & Horses, but I soon became alliteratively overwhelmed by the thought of trans-Atlanticly translating Trigger

Then I turned my attention to RBS, but I soon realised everybody is blogging about Stephen Hester’s bonus and I didn't want to sound like one of those envious left-wing drones, banging on about anybody who unfairly earns more than you can get on the dole.

No, for me the best news of the weekend is the brilliant story of Labour MP David “Spanker” Lammy. blaming last summer's riots on his own party's anti-smacking laws. I only hope he's going to shove a big textbook down the back of his trousers when he goes to see Ed "Deputy Head" Balls for his corrective caning. That'll learn 'im.

So, bring back smacking – there’s your answer. If smacking can stop riots – that and rubber bullets – then the same principle can surely be applied elsewhere. The principles of cause and effect cannot, must not, be denied.

We could solve the obesity epidemic by the simple expedient of ceasing to feed children. Once children are denied food for, say three or four months, studies have shown that they do not tend to develop obesity in later life. Admittedly because they rarely tend to develop a later life, but the boffins are working on that.

Studies also show that those children who are actually made to learn things early on in school, rather than being allowed to sit in sand pits until they hit puberty, invariably go on to be able to read and write. Now there is a skill-set we could sorely use in secondary school.

Back to law and order and why stop at smacking? How about castration, for instance? I bloody well bet that once a young offender is castrated he'll never need to be castrated again. He might think twice about offending too. It's all so obvious when you think about it.

Is there not also a lesson here for the banking sector? The problem with our economy stems from poor fiscal propriety and surely the roots of thrift lie in childhood discipline in saving and strict parental monetary control over pocket money inflation. I propose that pocket money is restricted to a national maximum scale and good husbanding of those meagre resources encouraged - by smacking if necessary.

I can see it now; It's all coming together Rodders. Save up your pocket money and this time next year we'll all be millionaires.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Dogs of War

So, "Occupy" are claiming a success in their latest stunt - the chaining up of wheelchairs in Oxford Circus to highlight the plight of those on disability living allowance. Interesting that they are willing to restrain the free movement of those who really need it; perhaps in support of benefits for single mothers they could set up a streetside abortion operation? Or they could organise a sit-in to demonstrate the ardent desires of those claiming Jobseekers Allowance. Irony is clearly not their strong point, especially when you see what anagrams can be made from their Twitter account, @UKuncut.

I have a dodgy crystal ball with which to predict the eventual outcome of this latest class war; dodgy in that it only shows the past, yet curiously reliable in its efficacy. You see, there will always be underdogs and they will always be at a disadvantage, so they will always want more - that's human nature - so they will agitate until those with the means give a little, dole out a few concessions and then carry on as before. The penny never really drops for these class war-yers (as they say in the States) that once they've got what they want they de-mob and leave the struggle to other have-nots in their turn. Of course we're all in it together, but it's a bit nippy out and I'm all right, Jack.

Naturally the hard-done-by can always rely on the support of their preferred political party, because there's no way any labour politician, a Miliband, say, would try and avoid paying his dues; that would be hypocritical. And you'd never ever see a die-hard trades unionist, a Prescott for example, ditching his comrades, taking ermine and sitting in the House of Lords. Soli-fucking-darity, brothers!

Class war is natural, it's a human instinct to do better, but therein lies the contradiction. It is never 'class' war, but merely the short-term, opportunistic banding together of the under-trodden until they get a bit of improvement. With few exceptions, those who move upwards also leave the field of battle. Thanks to Andy Mort for reminding me this morning of a quote from George Orwell's North and South"You cannot have an effective trade union of middle-class workers, because in times of strikes almost every middle-class wife would be egging her husband on to blackleg and get the other fellow’s job."

And you should thank goodness that it is this way because a true class war would always be won by the right-wing, the 'haves'. Sure, the left may have the 'moral high ground' and maybe even the weight of troops on the ground. But the right will be able to afford tanks.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Saturday 28 January 2012

The Only Way?

One of the less often heard but always pleasing joys of being English is listening to an American ‘doing’ an English accent - cue much hilarity over the never-gets-old “Murry Parpns” debacle. Dear old Dick Van Dyke; a true icon of Anglo-American linguistics.

More recently there have been some interesting and far more successful trans-Atlantic crossings, but you mean to tell me there wasn’t a single American actor who could have played House? Or a Brit who could have turned his hand to Jack Sparrow? Wow, really?

But, hey, I’m not knocking the ‘septic tanks’ today. To our ear the whole of the USA only has about four accents anyway – East, West, South and middle, but, tuned in as we are to the nuances of English dialect you only have to move a mile and there’s a whole different way of speaking to deal with.

Having said that, the ‘yoof’ of this country is doing its damnedest to emulate just one and in the interest of egalité has opted for one of the least literate and expressive versions of Shamaican. It doesn’t really matter; nobody is going to employ them anyway and they have nothing worthwhile to say, so who cares?

Once upon a time there was a notion of correct English speech known as Received Pronunciation. If you wanted to be taken seriously, RP was the only game in town. It gave us an international identity as well as a certain gravitas. Then along came the bloody sixties. Ta very much, Tommy Steele. All of a sudden, Cock-er-ney and its variations exploded in our ears and the rot set in. Before long the BBC was copying the commercial meeja and a regional accent became a prerequisite for any announcer.

But all accents carry baggage, some more than others. Hear a Scouser and it’s your own baggage you’ll be keeping a closer eye on. Encounter a Brummie and you involuntarily speak more slowly, avoiding long words. A Geordie twang makes you nod your head vigorously, ‘as if’ you understand, while a greeting in Mancunian immediately triggers a response to defend yourself.

Recently, one particular accent has gained more prominence and garnered greater prejudice than most, notably for the demonstrable horrors that are perpetrated by its practitioners. I don’t believe I could bear to watch a single episode (is that the right word? What is it, exactly? A documentary? A soap-opera?) and yet wherever I look I can’t escape the international diplomacy car crash that is TOWIE. Please tell me that isn't how we are perceived as a nation today? Oh.

So it’s a relief to hear that an Essex school is shoring up the breach and attempting a bit of pre-emptive damage control: Primary school elocution lessons.

I hope it succeeds. Can you imagine what it would be like if by simply doing nothing, Essex became the new RP? If you can’t see what an issue that would be, just imagine national treasure, dear old Jeremy Clarkson, announcing that the new Bugatti Veyron was the fastest production car… “In ve wewd”!

Friday 27 January 2012

Dixon of Blackberry Green

News, if it were indeed  news, that once again an unthinking investment in technology erodes critical functioning. Calculators made your kids innumerate, so the education system followed up with comprehensive systems such as interactive white boards which prevent, in most cases, teachers from teaching and children from learning, yada, yada, yada.

Well now, surprise surprise, technology prevents coppers from, er, 'coppering'.

What were they thinking? If you're going to arm the police with anything you should surely make it potentially lethal? You'd never have all this bother with a simple truncheon, some tear gas and a set of knuckle dusters.

"Hello 'ello, 'ello, what's all this 'ere then? I'm going to ask you all to calm down or else I'll be forced to use my Blackberry to DM the sergeant... Hang on a minute... How do you spell 'affray'...a-f-f-a-i-r... a-f-a-r-c-e...? Damned auto-correct..."

The crowd disperses, realising that - as Plod engages in the unequal combat between sausage-fingers and tiny keys - there is truly nothing to see here. Belatedly, PC PC attempts one last linguistic sally before stuffing the out-of-signal phone into an expensive leather pouch: "Well, let that be a lesson to you..." 

Exit, stage left, whistling the theme from 'The Bill'.

Something Funny

Bloody strewth, gor blimey and crow the stone roses! What a serious stream of consciousness in those last few posts! I'd hate you to wake up in the morning - you three, wot read this blog - and read yourself into a wrist-slashing frenzy at the bleakness and pointlessness of life.

So, apart from having another chuckle at Ed Millipede's chocolate orange disaster, I trawled t'Internet to try and find something funny for you. I wasn't all that successful...

Time for bed, I reckon. I've done enough damage tonight...

Andy Capp

I don't care that this report about incapacity benefits is in the Daily Mail. It might be out of date, it might be inaccurate, but it tells me what I want to hear and feeds my illiberal disposition towards those who scam a system designed to help the genuinely needy.

Everybody except the unquestioning left knows that whatever system is in place, whatever funds are available, some state-funded assistance is going to end up in undeserving hands. And, no matter how fair you try to be, some deserving of aid will be left out in the cold. It's a cruel, heartless world we live in, but that is because humans are essentially cruel and heartless, competitive animals and always, but always, operate on a me-first basis - even if some people manage to fool themselves that they are truly altruistic by nature and not by good fortune.

Anyway, back to that report. It essentially says what you taxpayers already know, that the majority of incapacity benefit claimants are capable of work, but being on that list helped former governments massage the jobless figures. I know there are genuine disabled, but why should they actually get more in cash terms than those on jobseekers allowance? If they're not looking for work it could be argued that they need even less money than jobseekers to get by - no fares to pay, no CVs to write, no letters to stamp, etc.

But, hey, if we're going to hell in a handcart anyway, let's support any disability you can come up with. Here's a starter list:

  • I have a lisp
  • My hair is the wrong colour
  • My tits are too small
  • I'm fat and it isn't my fault - I sleep on my back with my mouth open and food just falls in
  • I'm too stupid - it's genetic
  • I have a bad back - investigation revealed an armchair lodged up my crack
  • I'm too British to be capable of work 
  • I've got lazy bones, from lyin' in  the sun

Dole should be in stamps. Nobody should get more for sitting on their arse than for working and claiming state aid should revert to being a shameful thing to do.

Oh, by the way, the argument that public sector workers pay tax is ridiculous, isn't it? Their entire income is derived from tax paid by genuine wealth-creators. We can acknowledge the important work some of them do  to keep the state machine turning, but surely it's a fairy tale to imagine that the fact that they don't get to keep all of the top line of their tax-funded pay is the same thing as private sector workers paying IN to the system.

(PS: Still clearing the backblog of drafts)


Leave me alone.

Go away and get on with your own life.

I want to die... please let me.

Why do we - time and time again - assume that the elderly and the sick are incapable of making informed decisions about their fate? Why do we want to emphasize and attempt to bear their pain? Why, in fact, do we assume, more than they, what their suffering actually is?

As one who cannot entertain the company of others for very long at all, the very worst way I could end up would be in a home. I'd be better off dying alone, through starvation or disease, or whatever. The clearly demented denizens of the streets suffer their own partuicular hells yet they struggle on. And sometimes they die. And nobody really cares, but then again nobody really knows whether a different end would be better for them.

I have sometimes thought about how it would be to live on the streets and in some ways it may be a more natural way of "making a living" than going to work, struggling to pay bills, worrying about every last little thing then dying at an agonisingly extended old age, having long before lost the will to live or the means to end it all.

You're going to like me less - if that's possible - for saying this but maybe we need a bit LESS compassion in society to allow us to overcome the blindness caused by the Disneyfication of life itself - did Tennyson not write about nature red in tooth and claw? Why have we allowed ourselvs to over-sentimentalise everything?

After all, life is pretty ordinary for most people. Without anybody even asking, you're born, you struggle through, you get old or sick and then you die. All of you. Every last one. That's it. Whatever you achieve you take with you and except for a few great names who live on in history (thought never get to experience the reverence in which their memory is held) everybody who has ever existed has been forgotten.

So why the sentimentality? Why the hand-wringing and the moaning and the wailing? With an ageing population maybe now is the time to get less preoccupied with prolonging unsatisfying life and let folks name their own time? If your olds want to go, is it anything other than your own weaknesses you feed by pretending compassion?

Ruth? Don't talk to me about Ruth.

(PS: Don't panic. I'm not depressed. I wrote this ages ago and just decided to hit the 'publish' button to clear my 'backblog' of drafts!)

You couldn't make it up!

Why do I even bother with the Daily mail? I'll tell you why. It's so I can keep up to speed with what you little people regard as news. This morning I have been digging and delving and I've come up with this story to make you gasp, gape and admire the sheer tenacity of some fame-seekers. Beth Ditto, is famous for no other reason than that she's a fat bird who appears to enjoy being fat.

But, just because she projects a public image of happy, fulfilled, fuller-figure womanhood it doesn't mean she doesn't cry herself to sleep night after night. Genuinely eccentric people are delightfully unaware of how they are perceived, whilst exhibitionists are obsessed by it. Nasty though you may think me, I forecast an untimely, unattractive and grisly demise for the poor woman. Who does she most remind me of? Oh yes... Boy George.

What a horrible person I am then, to draw attention to this human car crash in the making. Me? Think again. It's you, the media-devouring public who are responsible. If you just stop looking and pointing and gossiping and buying they will have no option but to confront their inadequacies and sort themselves out.

You make me sick.

Thursday 26 January 2012

It's NOT Terry's!

I haven't blogged today.

I'm too bloody tired.

Not so tired, however, that I wasn't able to laugh my cock off at Millipede's last gasp attempt at humour and opposition:

The Great and Creatively Subversive Tactical Chocolate Orange Diversion

Given that he has absolutely fuck-all in his bag, you have to credit Red Ed with the possession of sufficient sheer brass neck to pull out such a non-story.

What a statesman! What a politician? What a tactician! What an utter tosser!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Raffles The Gentleman Tea-leaf

This charming young fellow has been shamefully impeded from going about his legitimate business by the bully-boy tactics of the local constabulary. But Ronnie "Raffles" Trenton is not about to be undone by Plod, egad! Oh no, this gentlemanly heister has not managed to notch up eighty-eight undetected and victimless crimes since 2003 without knowing a thing or two about evading capture. In an exciting, nine-year career he has skilfully outwitted the forces of law and ord....

... what's that you say? Oh, I see. Sorry, I do beg pardon, my information would appear to be in error.

Ahem. Correction. This scaly little toe-rag has, apparently 88 known offences, 25 of which involve theft. Yet, despite the clear ineptitude with which he plies his trade he has announced that when he's next at liberty he is going to go back 'on the rob' to recover what he thinks is his - that is, other people's money.

Well, think again, Sonny Jim. The British justice system is hardly likely to ever let you out of prison again is it, what with your record? I would imagine the sentence would have to be weighed out in decades at the very least... Excuse me? Come again? He's out on bail for at least another three weeks? No. That just can't be true, I mean...

What's the fucking point?

Okay, how about this? When he gets out after a few weeks of being kept warm and dry at Her Majesty's pleasure, why don't we organise a lynch mob, go down to Leigh-on-Sea, drag him into the street and kick the shit out of the little tossbag until we've broken every bone in his worthless fucking criminal body and then put the video on YouTube?

Anybody need a lift?

Tuesday 24 January 2012


Excellent article in the Telegraph by James Delingpole. Don't you just love that, after years of being hissed at, the majority voice is at last being heard? Because, get this, James' list of things he doesn't want his taxes spent on is pretty much the list you and I have been compiling for many aggrieved years. During those years the numinous rumblings of the self-righteous have drowned out the simple reason of the ordinary tax-payer struggling to pay the heavy bills of an unrealistic and unreasonable state behemoth.

But the worm is turning and the truth is oozing out of the putrid pores of the years of national socialism posing as notional salvation:

Tote that barge, lift that bale, 
You get a little drunk and you land in jail,
I get weary and so sick of tryin',
I'm tired of livin', and fraid of dyin',
But Ol' Man Welfare, he just keeps rollin' along
Ol' Man Welfare, he just keeps rollin' along...

So, after years in the chain gang called employment will we eventually get a chance to call the shots? Oh I hope I live to see it. As well as James' admirable lists of what should and should not be funded by taxation I have a few ideas of my own which may prove popular.

Things I would willingly pay taxes for
  • Village stocks and/or manacles on every street corner, available for the use of anybody found idling in a manner I don't like the look of.
  • Police to be issued with wet towels to flick at the low-slung arses of any brat wearing trousers below waist level. (They should be grateful for actually having a waist!)
  • All OAPs to be armed with lethal weapons and given free rein to police their locality.
  • Contraceptive-laced public water supplies to all sink estates.
  • All teachers to be issued with and trained in the use of the birch.
  • And -especially for @Miss_Ranty (off of that Twitter) - free chocolate and sunshine for all.
Have a lovely revolution.

Feel free to submit suggestions - go on, add a comment, below:

Monday 23 January 2012

The World according to...

Well, as per expectations the credulous old wankstains we call the clergy exercised their ludicrously influential powers of hand-wringing patheticry over the Lords, a house crammed full of Labour cronies and ne'er-do-wells, in order to postpone the inevitable. "What about the babies?" wailed the privileged primates as they contemplated the prospect of the welfare cap reducing the future number of prey-infants. The resulting government defeat on the inclusion of child benefit has only hardened the resolve of the tax-paying public to bring the travesty of welfare dependency to as swift an end as possible and Labour's poll results continue to plummet.

Same as it ever was...

Click the video link and read on...

A wave of energy ripples through the community as Biff and the other hunters return from the chase, exhausted but with fresh meat. As they step into the clearing a crowd quickly gathers and portions are neatly distributed. Each family takes their share and hurries off with their hunter to cook and eat.

"Me hungry." Bash, a frail tribal elder shuffles up the line. The butcher looks at Biff who scrutinises the old boy and nods. A hunk of meat is handed over.
"Me hungry." This from a younger man with a limp. Biff considers his needs and nods again. Soon the meat is distributed and what remains is carried away to the store.
"Me hungry" A fit young man, not from the tribe, moves in and attempts to take a hunk.
"Why me give you meat?" asks Biff, taking a defensive stance.
"Me have magic rock!" The younger man turns and gestures towards a circle of small stones, in the middle of which stands a vague obelisk.
"Show me magic of rock!" Biff is unmoved.
"Magic of rock only show to believer."
Biff is unimpressed "What use magic rock to me?"
"Magic rock make wishes come true!"

"How happen?" A delegation examines the circle.
The newcomer steps into the circle, "You just believe. It happen."
"Give him meat, Biff." urges an onlooker.

Biff is unconvinced, "It just rock. It not magic"
But by now a crowd has gathered and surrounds the stones. Some of them urge Biff to hand over the meat.
"But what he do for meat?" he queries.
The crowd shuffle and point "Magic rock"
"Rock just rock," says Biff, "pointy rock."

The newcomer stands in the circle and raise his arms to the skies, "Rock demand sacrifice!" he cries and points at Biff. The crowd turn as one and start to chant.
"Oh fuck." says Biff.

As the sacrificial pyre burns to embers in the encircling dark the newcomer, happily ensconsed on a thronal pile of furs, chews heartily on free, fresh meat.
"Me Bish," he declares, "me have magic rock."

"Me also like kiddies."

Sunday 22 January 2012

A Right Old Stew

A jolly good read here in today’s Observer by [probably] brilliant comedian, Stewart Lee.

I have enjoyed Stewart’s funniness from the easy, early days with Richard Herring up to the present when he sometimes demands a little more concentration. Still funny, but intelligent too. So what’s wrong with this article, decrying as it does David Cameron’s suggestion that the film industry aim for commercial success?

Well, here’s what’s wrong. He deploys the line - often used by the lovies - that art is as important as anything else, that life without it is denied its full potential and that financial constraints stifle art. Ipso facto, don’t tread on the poor artist, you Fascist pigs. Booo! Nasty Tories again – and to hammer home the point he introduces Margaret Thatcher in the certain knowledge that in the Observer he is playing to a particularly closed-minded gallery. (Why does ‘the left’ always resort to the argumentum ad hominem?)

But the truth is when the former Prime Minister described an Oxford student’s study of Norse literature as a luxury, she was dead right. Bang on the money, for money is what it always comes down to. Anything outside of necessity is, when you examine it, a luxury. And consumers – for art is consumed just like cornflakes – make decisions about how to spend what surplus they have after paying the bills.

Just as a producer of orange juice, a builder of ships, or a jobbing electrician has to work a viable commercial model, so do the arts and humanities have to serve their niche. Some choose to do it from their garrets, scraping by on a pittance or patronage. Others work to a business plan and schlep up and down the country playing to paying audiences. Talent will out, as they say and those who have something others wish to buy will succeed, while the chancers will die in obscurity.
Stewart wrote, “Good artists do what they believe in and don't merely court public approval.” He’s absolutely right, but, whether by spreadsheet or rough-guessing and whatever our political leanings, we all cost out our lives and make our choices. If the Conservatives recognise fiscal probity more readily than other parties, surely we should be thankful they’re in charge at the moment? To remind artists that art, too, must find and pay its way is surely no more than common sense?

I think Stewart Lee is a funny and intelligent man – this article alone demonstrates his talent and I read it three times just to see how clever it is. I just think it’s a shame that, original as he is, he felt the need to climb straight aboard the perpetual right-bashing express that comprises the sole weapon in the leftpolitik arsenal. Still, like us all, he’s just doing his job and as he has Richard Herring comment at the end, “It's a commercial idea. And so it is good."

Saturday 21 January 2012

Dat's Capital!

Much talk this past week about the nature of Capitalism.

When Labourists talk about Capitalism they endow the word with the sinister and underhand machinations of the evil right, represented in their rhetoric by thoroughly despicable Thatcherites stamping on the heads of babies and piling up the disabled into funeral pyres. Boo! Nasty Tories!

When Conservatives talk about Capitalism their words are received to a backing track of a million Marxists humming “nasssssty” with their fingers in their ears. Oh, those dastardly, undeserving rich people, with their grasping waysssss! This intelligent article by DanHannan will almost certainly be read to that soundtrack.

But see how the only audible noises are always the howls of rage puked out from the Left. Those with a right-of-centre disposition are quietly going about their business. Their business is, of course, the every day creation and distribution of the wealth which keeps our nation afloat and supports the freedoms and lifestyles of those who don’t or can’t sustain the economy*.

Now this is genuinely interesting. In so far as memetics can be understood, received wisdom is as powerful a meme as any. And the received wisdom is that those who lean to the left are cuddly and nice, while those on the right of centre are ugly, grasping, hate-filled monsters who would sell their grandparents for glue. It would seem that this ‘selfish meme’ is doing a good job of replicating itself without challenge. Maybe that’s because the ugliness is not, in fact on the right but resides with those who have the most to gain from continually stating that it is. Because people are lazy, they accept without question the widely broadcast social ‘understanding’ that left is lovely. But is it?

On the Right:
  • It is not racist to want to live among those who look like and think and speak like you do.
  •  It is not fascistic to want to protect your family first and support a society where people put in as well as take out.
  •  It is not unreasonable to means-test state largesse.
  • Wanting to limit unsustainable immigration is not incompatible with compassion.
  • Evicting criminals from illegal settlements is not the work of a police state.

On the Left:
  • Demanding high levels of unaffordable public spending is simply not reasonable.
  • It is not liberal to have state involvement in every area of everybody’s life
  • It is not nice to perpetually deride those who pay for your unearned benefits.
  • It's not liberal and enlightened to hold in spite anybody not agreeing with your view (in the real world that is just childish).
  • It is not at all fair to hijack peaceful protest to foment violent action.
  • It is not nice or caring to be a spitting, seething Marxist twat.

There are good people and bad people on both sides. But if you look at the way in which the left-wing promotes its views it has so much in common with the way far-right groups perpetuate their genuinely nasty and violent beliefs as to make all extremists almost indistinguishable from each other, yet those who call their extremism ‘left’ seem to get away with it. On the right hand side of the equation, many people are too busy keeping the country solvent to raise their voices in protest at a system which they recognise as inherently pretty fair already.

Of course I’m biased. I pay tax. So, you lefty twats, stop all this right-bashing rhetoric and deal with the world as it actually is, not as you’d like it to be in fairy la-la-land where everybody is equal, but some – as Napoleon said – are more equal than others.

(*Isn’t it remarkable how so many who espouse the left are young, unemployed and ‘artistic free spirits’, while older lefties are almost entirely either ex militant trades unionists or else comfortably well off liberals who have never known hardship? What happens to the young who end up having to work – the majority? Oh yes, they become the so-called ‘squeezed middle’ who quietly go about their business, etc…)

Friday 20 January 2012

Calm down dears...

A quick glance at the papers and you soon realise it's all gone way too far. A supermarket is described as "totally irresponsible" for "slashing" the price of a choccie bar by 20p. The reporter then goes on to describe Tesco as being "under siege". Okay, so it's only the Daily Mail, but this kind of over-inflated language is the staple of all newspapers and websites and even puts in regular appearances on the telly.

Regular reportage contains words like scandal, collapse and devastating, in reference to events so minor as to be barely worth a mention in the pages of diocesan newsletters. Anger is described as fury, raised voices as ranting and mediocrity as genius so often that we become inured to it.

This superlative inflation - superlation if you will - then denies us the language to describe persons, personalities and events that are truly deserving of high praise, high drama or true tragedy. If it's a devastating national tragedy that a minor soap star miscarries (an event so intensely personal that it shouldn't be selling newspapers for so many reasons) what words can possibly describe the events of warfare or, say, the sinking of a cruise liner with subsequent loss of life?

When the fridge art of a five-year old is described as awesome, what is left to appreciate the Sistine Chapel ceiling?

The British are famous for understatement. A vague sense of being underwhelmed used to be one of our defining national traits which, combined with our ironic outlook on life made us sound urbane, sophisticated and - dare I say it? - yes, a damned sight cleverer than everybody else.

But now, our modern patois, our slovenly McDrawl lacks so much to convey shades of meaning that it has to be peppered with the very antithesis of British speech - exaggeration and excitability. If you describe a taste to me, Gordon Ramsey, as "amazing" I expect to be amazed; I don't expect to taste "carrot" or "meat"... go on, amaze me. If a film is trailed as "remarkable" I don't expect that remark to be, "meh!". And if the headline screams "Tragedy, Crisis, Drama" I expect, nay demand slaughter, rivers of blood and a public wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So, buck up your ideas, broadcasters; use some nouse, newspapers and wise up, websites - go out and buy yourselves a good dictionary. Because your inability to use humble words to describe humble events is going to make me explode. I mean, literally explode, man! I'm going to freak out and go ape on your ass, because you've, like, you've ruined my life. It's a tragedy, I tell you.

Thursday 19 January 2012


Lots of fun yesterday as Wikipedia went offline for a day. Oh my; for the kids (ages 11-25) it must have been like a day without homework. How can you expect school pupils and college students to produce finely wrought work on their own without the assistance of this world-renowned source of opinion posing as fact?

Twitter seized on it with glee, hash-tagging "daywithoutwikipedia" and "wikiblackout" with some fine examples of how we would all just as easily waste our time unaided by the worldwide, do-it-yourself, collidge-of-knollidge. I reproduce a few tweets below:

Apparently it was all in protest about the potential for Internet censorship embedded in something called  SOPA - the Stop Online Piracy Act. The trouble is, the Internet is a copyright pirate's wet dream, with software, text, soundbites, video clips and the like all there for the taking. Protecting your original work has never been harder.

But haven't we always copied, albeit at a slower pace? Homework was always grafted from library books, they say there are only seven plots in the whole of literature and where would the world of music be be without imitation? I listen to a lot of radio and right now every female pop release sounds excruciatingly like the eternally plastic Katy-fuckin-Perry. (Grayson  Perry, now that would much be more interesting!)

Of course, there will always be those who earn their crust by unscrupulous graft, forgery and deception, all of which are aided by the anonymity of life on the web. We are not always who we say we are - who has never represented themselves online under an assumed name?

But for some of us a day without using the Internet was a chance to do something meaningful, something physical. I spent the day moving an electrical consumer unit for a colleague and friend and rediscovered the simple pleasure to be had in real, physical work. Such a shame that a goodly proportion of those kids copying their way to a worthless college quali-wiki-fication will forever be denied the chance of making their living via simple hard graft.

Talking of which, have you noticed the three principal meanings of the word 'graft' used in this post? Look it up in Wikipedia - it's back on now.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Help Yourself

 I am aware that not everybody loves to read and in particular, few people read instructions. Indeed the government has gone to great lengths to address that issue in its latest expensive and ill-conceived guide to feeding fat kids. But what happens after that? Shouldn't there be step-by-step, illustrated guides to the whole of life and all its opportunities?

With that in mind I present my comprehensive pictorial guide to all you need to know about life in the UK. Think of it as an easy-access, DIY guide to the welfare state...

First Steps

Moving on...

And finally.

Is that graphic enough for you?

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Suffer the children

I have repeatedly informed my mother that I didn't ask to be born.

This is actually true. I say it for no other reason than to point out a fact. I count myself fortunate that empathy is not a delusion I suffer from. Similarly, I find it hard to put myself in the mindset of people who have convinced themselves their lives have purpose; that life has purpose. The most thoughtless act than can be perpetrated against another human being is to bring them into existence without considering where they're going to end up. (Very J-P Sartre, non?)

You're born - without your permission - then you survive until you die. Along the way you may (or may not) experience many happy occasions; count yourself lucky. It is also extremely likely you will suffer loss, hardship and even disease*. The balance of good and bad is down to a number of things, some of them, but only some of them, within your control. It is no doubt true that those with a positive outlook seem to have happier lives but which came first? There's plenty of evidence that a happy, privileged, easy lifestyle, free of anxiety about putting food on the table is highly likely to engender stacks of positive jolly hockey-sticketry .

It's also highly likely that a slum upbringing with its consequent abuses in and around the margins of humanity might just impart an overall negative bias to your contemplation of the world and all its works. The life chances of those at the arse end of the social spectrum are well argued in this article by Deborah Orr.

So, what's to be done? Generations of government intervention has failed to address the problem, so it appears that the ruling classes are powerless to prevent us ultimately being outbred by under-class vermin. I despise these people but I have to confess that I accept my cheap and effective sniper solution is unlikely to be generally acceptable. (I have no idea why that is.)

In any case, various types of genocide have already been trialled around the world and look at all the paperwork that caused! We've tried mockery, pointing and laughing at shellsuits, Pat Butcher earrings and the Croydon facelift. (Fake tits! Hilarious! Why?) The Victorians even went so far as to organise 'slumming trips' to observe the sub-human phenomenon at close hand. Today we have Jeremy Kyle. But it seems they truly have no shame.

So, we can't exterminate them, they don't respond to humiliation; what next? We might, finally, have to resort to treating the scumbags as if they were actually fully human. It's long been observed that although they don't know how it happens, once babies arrive they do display many of the symptoms of almost human love.

Well, scum, if you do love your children stop having them! Cease fucking this instant, for the sake of the babies. There. That should do it.

(*Not colds and flu - they don't even count as a reason to take time off work, you slackers - anything less than Ebola is tolerable).

Monday 16 January 2012

Escape to Victory

The prisoners worked in darkness, their slight frames slick with the sweat of their labours, the sound of birdsong far away from their hearing. In the tunnel the only sounds were whispered reassurances and encouragement and harsh, rasping breath. Occasionally a deep rumble spoke of movement overhead and all work ceased, all breath was held until the danger moved away.

"Not far now Ginger, we'll get you out." The hut leader calculated that the international border was just a few miles away and although firmly in the occupied territory, the camp had been built close enough to the disputed regions for an escape attempt to have a chance of success. "Tomorrow night."

The mood in the hut was nervous as the sun slowly pushed the camp into the shadows. The guards retired to their comfortable billets while the escape squad donned stolen uniforms, checking out their papers and bundles of fake Deutsche Marks. This was it; break out, disperse and then every man for himself.

The advance had been swift and brutal. As soon as the last government had fallen and the currency failed, they had seized their chance to invade and expand the borders of Greater Germany. Since the Eurozone collapse of 2015, most of Europe had come under the control of the Fourth Reich and the English resistance was all that stood between them and the Atlantic Ocean.

"Now" The lead man broke through and the rush of cold, fresh air galvanised each man in turn to scramble for freedom. As they scattered then turned south they began their individual desperate races against time as sirens howled in the distance and searchlights scoured the earth.

Alone now, late in the February night, Ginger strode out across the land, exhilarated and terrified at the same time. He could make out a cluster of dim lights ahead and prayed that these marked the border. As he drew near the village he began to hear voices. Strange accents, but not German. Hope? A shout rang out, followed by a piercing beam of light. "Halt!"

He stopped in his tracks and suddenly the fatigue of months of internment dropped his shoulder and bent his legs. He slumped to his knees in the dirt, raised his hands and looked up at his captor, resigned to his fate. "Nationality?" the voice barked out. "English," said Ginger, too fatigued to stick to his cover. Rough hands were going through his forged papers and money. They stopped and instead pulled him to his feet.

"Welcome home, son" said the voice, "What in hell's name were you doing up there in the first place?"

Ginger felt foolish. "I only wanted to go to the Edinburgh Festival."

Sunday 15 January 2012

An Inconvenient Observation

Throughout history the great discoveries that have advanced the status of mankind from mere grubbing animals have been made by oddballs. And almost all of them solitary men. The misfits who labour away in sheds are responsible for virtually every kind of technology we have - engines, factories, bridges, ships, cars, aeroplanes, buildings, roads, railways, television, computers... few technically significant contributions have been made by anybody else. Even the creation of art, wealth and - ironically - social networks has  mostly been the work of socially inept men.

It seems to be an exclusive deal; have friends or be remembered in a hundred years.

In times past those inventors and visionaries would have had children as convention dictated they marry and procreate, sometimes prolifically, but little time was 'wasted' in family or social activities and much of that under duress. But at least by that arrangement there existed the mechanism for passing on any genetic tendencies toward genius.

I'm not sure that happens any more. Yes, the major finds are almost exclusively by solitary, misfit men, but those men are edged out of the gene pool by other notions of desirability exercised by the female prerogative of selection. Given an ability to survive, working or otherwise, outside of the traditional 'good' marriage, women are free to choose the pretty boys, the socialisers and those who prefer to poke around in places other than the workshop.

Maybe this is natural negative feedback putting the brakes on mass intellectual progress and curtailing, or at least delaying the possibility of flawed homo-super-sapiens genius spiralling out of control and the world being ended by one man at a keyboard.

But, I'm nothing if not utterly cynical. Men are not nurturing by nature; it really isn't our job and we only do it (if at all) because society expects it. But society no longer expects you to do what you don't want to and by the time you are far enough along the male autistic spectrum to have a crack at advancing the sum of mankind's knowledge you are generally too far along to care very much for the survival of the species.

So, what does this all mean? I have no idea*, but I do thank the god I definitely don't believe in that I won't be around long enough to find out.

(* Not true, but I have other things to do today.)

How to remain anonymous on Twitter

It's easy, really.

All you have to do is stay very quiet and don't make a move. On the other hand, if you have stuff to say, but don't want anybody to hear you, don't say anything funny, topical, or - and this is particularly important - controversial. Other people love to chatter about stuff and this would only fuel the flames.

Don't follow anybody else. Or, if you must, make sure they are the kind of person who rarely checks out their accounts; the last thing you need is somebody trying to engage you in any form of communication. If this happens you must block them as quickly as you can... then delete your account, wait a few weeks and set up another account in a different name.

If you have an interesting byline or an intriguing profile with a funny picture this may also cause trouble. Tweeters are inveterately nosey people and will find themselves drawn to discover more, so don't give them anything to spark their collective curiosity. And your profile picture should really just be an egg.

Follow these simple rules and you will have an interaction-free life on Twitter, arousing no suspicion and leaving you free to flit, unseen and unsuspected from account to account, gathering information about others but leaving no trace of yourself. On the Internet, nobody can hear you stalk.

I don't know why journalists even bother with phone hacking.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Spin City

Whatever happened to spinners? You know, those spinning hub caps that were so popular for about thirty seconds way back in the early noughties? Along with tattoos, jailhouse waistlines, hoodies and dodgy accents they were an easy way to identify somebody you could righteously despise at a moment's notice.

And that's important, right? No matter who you are, it's always good to have somebody to look down on. (As low as you are, there are always Scousers) Otherwise what imperative is there to better yourself?

People are easily led; that's how the economy works. As daft an idea as you can dream up can nevertheless become the big fad of the day, create employment for a time, make a few people very rich, entice a lot more to have a punt and a few to lose a packet. But for a while everybody looks posilutely ridonculous and a jolly good laugh is had by all.

Some wacky old crazes such as pogo sticks, spring heels and clackers were mostly just a way of causing character-building injury and embarrassment to kids, which is always hilarious and valuable lessons were learned.

The young Batsby's ticket to the moon!

But other crazes have become a cast-iron way of identifying aberrant behaviour and mental instability. I give you Teddy Boys, Goths, Emos, Skinheads, Rockabilly, Michael Jackson and Elvis... as these stylistic juvenile crimes are retained into adulthood so they prove a reliable guide to the worth of the individuals concerned. The more people spend on making themselves 'different' the better your chances of making a correct value judgement first time. Sod diversity, it's conformity that will see us through.

So, in the United Dingdom I will encourage the continuing development and marketing of highly visible, pointless and expensive, short-term trends. It will stimulate growth, give people plenty to talk about, encourage competitive idiocy and teach people the foolishness of fashion. As each new fad emerges there will be a natural tendency for the less well adapted individuals to hang onto the old and thus provide a target-rich environment for the snipers.

I think I'm on to something.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Digital Idolatry

The Groaning Hags (Guardian) think that digital literacy is the key. They're utterly wrong, of course; sold a pup by idealogues too intelligent to have any common sense whatsoever - much of that thinking from the 'creative', progressive left. That the Guardian thinks it deserves a campaign is illustrative enough of the sloppiness of thought involved.

In many ways these obsessions with teaching new tools almost before inculcating and certainly before consolidating basic skills is at the heart of the trouble we're all in. With too much time on its hands, our toy-rich, time-rich yet ignorant electorate does not engage with the crucial issues such as how we are going to actually survive the next century as populations outgrow available resources and consume at an ever greater per-capita rate .

We have a gadget-savvy, common-senseless population who have willingly bound themselves to materialistic pursuits with no vision beyond what they can get for themselves. Oh, so human and oh, so unrealistic and destructive. Give a man a fish and he'll eat today; give a man a computer and he'll eventually work out how to make fish extinct.

Without the imagination that comes with learning, code-writing kids will only create havoc and banality. Why will people simply not see that human ability spans an enormous range of competence and that the vast majority sit along the wide lappy shores of the shallow seas of that pool of talent. (We're all basically thick, is what I'm saying.)

Humans are tool users at heart but only a tiny minority are tool-makers. If you fill every child with aspirations way beyond its potential you end up with - oh look, you already did.

So let's forget about digital literacy until we've made at least an attempt at the real thing.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Turning Jockanese

So, here we go and full steam ahead for the great Jockland Referendum. Just think of all the culture we're going to miss. Er... me neither.

Better yet, we won't have to listen to the oh-so-whiny, slimy Salmond any more and the utterly fatuous Sean Connery can disappear all the way back up his scraggy old plaid-clad arsehole, taking his Jockanistic jingoism with him.

We can remove the saltire from the flag, which will have the benefit of making it easier to both draw and fly and if the sheep-shaggers want to stay onboard we could have a new national standard bearing the cross and emblem of St George and the Dragon. Which would look pretty cool.

But no backsliding now, if the Jockwegians really want to go their own way, they should all go. Get thee hence, sons of Caledonia, back over the wall with you. Och aye, I know it's cold and full of wee midges but you's asked for it. Most importantly, can we please ship north all the tartan terriers from Westminster and have our own parliament back? Thank you. Sorry? You liked it down south, did you? Well maybe you should have thought of that before you started all the bitching.

And it's our navy, so it's our oil, okay? Yes, you can hang on to the German windfarms... and good luck with the solar. (I hear peat is a reliable source of heat during those long, dark winters) And of course you may keep all the profits from whisky and shortbread. Er, I think that's the financial details sorted out. All the best, etc... I reckon you're making the right move; please shut the door behind you.

There is of course another option. You are invited to relinquish your British, Scottish, Welsh, English or Irish citizenship and join us in the United Dingdom, a benign dingtatorship and a haven of peace and tranquillity, where our enemies are vanquished with a hard stare, everybody works hard and retires early and we thrash our kids to sleep every night with a promise that one day it will be their turn. If they survive.

But, best of all, you get to have a proper passport:

It's late, I'm tired... I haven't seen any news

So, what's up with the world?

Are we still in Europe? Are we still in the United Kingdom, come to that? Who is the Prime Minister now? Really? No, go on, tell me the truth. Oh, still Cam-a-dam-a-ding-dong. So I haven't missed much - it seems such a long time since those lazy days of yule... yesterday.

Now back at work and still at my desk at 10pm, Monday, so stuff the politics and let's talk about life. Specifically how unfair it all is. I'll give you some examples:

When a man talks dirty to a woman it's sexual harassment. But when a woman talks dirty to a man it's £1.50 a minute. Networks may vary.

The opposite of flammable is not inflammable! That's outrageous; I'm non-furiated, non-candescent... non-censed!

And another: Anthony Worrall Thompson is done for shoplifting. If the world was fair he'd have been beheaded.

AWT's Head

Have a lovely week and don't go about nicking stuff.

Monday 9 January 2012

Risk and Reward

Am I alone in wondering how slim are the chances of the PM's latest headline-grabbing announcement coming to pass? DC is suggesting that shareholders of a company should have a say in deciding its executive salaries.

People buy shares to make more money than they would by more passive means such as leaving cash in the bank. That's pretty much the only reason.

And the value of a share in any company depends on how the market feels about that company; this is often unrelated to performance and almost certainly unaffected by the boss's pay package. Shares in a company with great products, full order books and long waiting lists can plummet simply because of the emotive power of a heavily publicised, yet otherwise insignificant incident. Shares in a worthless company can trade sky-high simply because of an enthusiastic Twitter trend. (Does nobody remember the dotcom boom?)

If I buy half the shares in a company I already have a big say in how that company is run and how much we pay the board. If I buy a hundred ordinary shares I do it for one reason only and that is to further my personal wealth. If that happens, I couldn't care less how enormous the CEO's package is. If it doesn't happen I ditch those shares soonest and cut my losses. Those with a conscience often make ethically-based investment decisions anyway... but I wouldn't know about that.

So, I've had a think and I reckon I've come up with a plan that might just work. To make it big in business you have to have balls, right? So maybe we should be addressing the cojones issue directly. Here's how it would work:

Members of the executive are strapped into a machine which attaches one ball to a clamp driven by share price and the other to a clamp driven by his pay package. These clamps have the ability to move closer together or further apart, thus: High share price, moderate pay = close together. Low share price, bigger pay = far apart. So a CEO can pay himself as much as he can bear.

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "cash-strapped" and we'll soon find out who has the biggest balls in business!

PS: Yes, yes, yes, I DO know that there are three or four women in positions of power in big business, but I reckoned they'd never read this anyway, so there's nothing to get upset about. But, if there are any women reading this - two sugars please, love.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Colourful Language

More racism in football it appears. Well, I'm sorry, but boo-fucking-hoo, what do you want me to do about it? Seriously, what should we do? Taking the piss out of the other side is the very stuff of the terraces, just as it was in the school playground. It is, after all, a game, even though for some it should be played to the death.

Taunting anybody and everybody outside the group is what you tribal humans do. (That's you - don't tar me with that brush!) It doesn't matter how the tribe is defined: social groups, age, politics, football team, musical taste, etc, you are either ‘in’ or infra dig. Despite differences in content, sophistication and subtlety of delivery, the aim is the same; if you cry you lose - that's sort of the whole point. Have you never watched BBC Parliament?

Talking of which, in the last few days, Diane Abbott has been spanked for being a bit racist, referring to ‘white people’ (how dare she?), Ed Miliballs made a colourful Freudian slip (he said one thing, but he meant his mother) and – this just in – David Cameron’s only gorn and done a Tourette’s gag (hilarious!).

In a world where few people display the linguistic prowess of a Churchill or a Wilde and almost nobody has the time to carefully phrase their every utterance, the easiest source of insult is to comment on the way people look and the way they behave. To wit: “Oi, you lanky twat!”, “Who ate all the pies, you fat Bastard?” and “Do what, you Speccy Gobshite?” all have the advantages of being pithy, direct, abusive and amusing… so long as you have a sense of humour. (You might need to be male to understand this, but don’t worry, love, we’ll explain it to you later. *wink* )

There's plenty of psychology about it - most of it under various inventive headings which really mean ‘bullying’. That’s obvious really, because most psychology aficionados will have been bullied at some point; that's why they are generally such miserable killjoys at the forefront of many ideological backlashes against base human nature. What a shame these mental physicians have failed the Socratic imperative to ‘know thyself’.

But all of these robust jibes turn bad when you insert the word 'black' in front of them. Suddenly, using an approved word to describe skin colour renders an utterance no longer a childish insult, but the work of a spittle-spreading, eugenics-loving, fascistic Brown Shirt who would bring back slavery at the drop of a hat.

If the offence-takers had their way you would not be allowed to pick Lenny Henry from a police line-up of David Cameron, Ed Balls, Nick Clegg and himself using ‘that’ word. (But I'd hazard it would be okay to differentiate David Bowie from Snoop Dog, Morgan Freeman and Eddie Murphy using the ‘other’ colour.)

So, what is offensive and what is merely descriptive? Is it racist if he’s your personal friend? Is it still racist if you're both 'that' colour? Is it offensive if nobody actually takes offence? And can you really eradicate the casual use of deliberately hurtful terminology on the spur of the moment? I know, let’s do the proper socialist thing and make a crime out of it. Let's criminalise everything we don't like the sound of! Whoops, too late! I think we already did.

Which is why, in the United Dingdom, we will bring back a proper respect for abuse and reintroduce some proper British swearing Flanders and Swann style. Go on, give your nostalgia nodes a little treat and click the link.

Saturday 7 January 2012

The not-so-Famous 5

It's laudable that Schools Minister Nick Gibb wants children to extend J K Rowlings (well-deserved) fortune still further but what are the chances of that happening in the age of instant gratification via the Internet?

Growing up in the nineteen sixties I read voraciously, but what I consumed depended very much on what was to hand and although I got my mitts on Enid Blyton, I had never heard of the likes of Arthur Ransome, CS Lewis or Roald Dahl until many years later. Weirdly, I distinctly recall wading through the turgid and incomprehensible Lorna Doone way before I was old enough to understand it. But it was there so I read it. Not that I didn't also read comics of every ilk as well and I recall that there were often dog-eared copies of Reader's Digest lying around. If it was in print, I'd pore over it. Reading was its own reward and without it I'd be lost.

But once again we come down to the real problem. Those parents who do read, those wholly literate families, are not part of today's problem. Just as they instil the work ethic, behavioural norms and a sensible morality, those parents - we used to use the term 'good' parents, but I expect that is now considered pejorative to those who aren't - don't need preaching to.

The ones Nick Gibb needs to reach are those for whom retreat into the pages of a brilliant book has never been an option. Those whose parents and grandparents and great-grandparents (probably in their mid-fifties now) have never read a book for pleasure. The chances of many of those kids being aware of anything other than Harry Potter are vanishingly slim and that awareness is likely to be only via the movie franchise.

I can't afford books! I bet that's what they say, isn't it? (Like I can't afford proper, locally sourced, real food - only stuff that I illogically pay other people to stuff full of sugar and salt and fat and preservatives, then can it, store it and ship it around the globe) I can't afford 'proper' books - only them ones wot you get on the telly... by Walt Disney and wossname. Arguments that don't hold water, presented by those who don't have the language to state their case.

The Story of Hal 5 and the Haywards was my first proper hardback book. I must have been about six or seven years old and this little volume, which I read and read and read, probably had as much to do with my life view as my love of reading. In one bookseller's synopsis it says "Hal 5 is a little car, with just room for four passengers. who was bought by the Hayward family because he was less fashionable, less shiny and less expensive than the other cars." Forget about privileged upbringings, mythical histories and sorcery, what is wrong with a story about the realistic ambitions and aspirations of ordinary people?

Hal 5 is long out of print now - it's the blue cover in the montage above - but I managed to find a second-hand copy online and I just ordered it. I'm going to read that little book one more time then pass it on to a family that might appreciate it - Hal 5 deserves to end up in a good home.

If you want it, let me know - first come, first served.

Friday 6 January 2012


I don't care if it was a spoof. This is too funny for words:

Coming just a day after Diane Abbott's unfortunate "divide and rule" comment it spawned an afternoon's Twitter fun along the theme of Ed Miliband gameshows, such as "It'll be all White on the Night" and "Play your cards White". I confess I couldn't help myself and contributed a dozen such inanities. Almost better than the Tweet is the perilously few followers he has, considering who he thinks he is.

But I'm worried now; what have we done? As far as I'm concerned Red Ed is the best possible Labour 'leader' for the times we're in, offering not one jot of resistance to the efforts of the incumbent government to sort out the mess his traitorous party left us. We should be doing all we can to keep him in place where he can't do any harm.

I'm not a betting man, but I don't belive he can last out the month of January and then we'll end up with one or other of the harridans - Harriet or Yvette - in charge and so desperate to make an impression they'll emulate the big movie of the month - The Iron Lady - and kick some arses in the shadow closet. If we must have another female Prime Minister, dear god don't make it a Leftie.

Update: This debacle was, of course, reported in the press, with the usual suspects, the Dailies Mail and Telegraph, having a field day. But sadly, although I made use of the search facility, The Guardian seems to have missed it. Shame.