Monday 30 April 2012

Evolutionary Voting Tactics

Charles Darwin knew a thing or two about niches. His seminal study of the Galápagos finches explained how each species had evolved a means of exploiting the scarce resources of their harsh environment. Beaks. That was the secret.

Humans are a species of many beaks and can exploit almost any environment given, as Barnum observed, enough suckers. And we’re all suckers for one thing or another, aren’t we? Even the beleaguered Yosser was just a finch in search of the right kind of seed.

Here’s a great example. Set up a monitoring body for education and watch the finches flock. The creation of an inspectorate in turn creates inspectors, who then probe and point and write reports. “Something must be done!” They say, so things are done. Principally, resources are diverted to the task; food for finches. As the forerunner of Ofsted was founded almost 200 years ago they’ve had plenty of time to get really good at it.

“New slates!” they demanded and manufacturers sprang up to service that demand. Today, we have a slavering over all things electronic and pointless £gazillions are spent feeding the biggest, dumbest birds you ever did see, with remarkably little impact on the preparedness of the young chicks to take flight. But think of the jobs at stake if we suddenly came to our senses. The education industry is a behemoth and we should be grateful to watchdogs like Andrew Old for keeping a eye on its inanities.

The same happens in medicine; collusion between health authorities, doctors, drug companies, newspapers, television and Uncle Tom Cobley and all conspire to create both the habitats and the denizens to inhabit them. Made-up diseases, made-up cures and made up ‘ologies’ keep millions in employment. Shocked? Don’t be. It’s the economy, stupid.

People have a way of sniffing out an opportunity. And people have a way of doing what little they can to improve their own chances. Entrepreneurs need no government help, but will naturally vote for the side least likely to tax their endeavours into dust. The less able will opt for the side most likely to try to buy their allegiance. And the good people in the middle will recognise that without trade there will be no jobs, no dole and not enough nuts to go round.

Which kind of explains why the latest opinion polls show Labour with a convincing lead against the Conservatives and yet more people (36% to 28%) still trust the Tories with the economy. It isn’t nonsensical, it is entirely consistent with human behaviour.

Which is also why, despite the utterly untenable notion of Ken Livingstone regaining the title of London Mayor, some tits are still going to vote for him.

Tit-for-twat. Don't be a Tit. Don't vote for a Twat.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Viva la Revolution!

“Pass the port, brother.” The port was duly passed and dispensed and glasses raised by wizened old hands. The hands of giants. At last the dream was realised and centuries of subjugation ended. The old union lions had finally brought about the crushing defeat of the political elite. Power to the people.

The Lords Spiritual now banished, the Lords Temporal mostly in prison or in exile, the magisterial upper chamber silently awaited the common tongue and an end to unearned privilege. But first, the important issue of lunch. Waste was clearly wrong, of course, so until supplies of beer and pasties could be brought in, the assembled politburo would have to grudgingly make do with the contents of the Lords’ kitchens.

“You know, you could get used to this.” declared Dennis Skinner, as he snarfed up a quail’s egg and took a sip of vintage Bollinger.

“Agreed.” agreed John Prescott. As a member of the advance guard he had developed an impressive palate. “You should try the Chateau Margaux with the fillet” he added, with a satisfied belch and proposed a toast to Leveson, the start of the revolution. “Leveson!” they cried in Unison. “That should be UNISON!” shouted Dave Prentis, before passing out on a red leather bench.

As the afternoon wore on and the wine cellar wore down, the order of business turned to how the assembly should proceed, Len McCluskey proposed they elect a leader, to which Bob Crow objected that they had not torn down one elite to build up another… but offered to take on the role himself. There followed a heated discussion on the purpose and nature of government. By the people, for the people, was the consensus.

In the end it was agreed that the country needed an elected house of representatives of the common people and that, for want of a better title “The House of Commons” would serve well enough. But, lest those people become power-crazed it was essential that another body, shall we call it an upper house, would be necessary to curb their excesses. “That’ll be us then.” said Christine Blower, “We’ll teach them a lesson!”

“Well, now we’re here we need to stay here,” said big John P “so that lot down there don’t get above their station.” The statement was met with hearty agreement and another round of drinks was ordered. The poor house servants eyed each other nervously; this was all looking horribly familiar. “So, appointed, not elected, right?” continued John, “and we’ll need to think up a name.”

“How about, The Upper House?” asked a crusty relic from the TGWU. More vintage port was quaffed as debate raged. A few bread rolls were thrown and a fist-fight broke out in the aisle. To counter the servants’ concerns the members of the club offered to pay for any damages. Bob Crow peeled off a few fifties from a fat bankroll and threw it loftily at one of the stewards. “Plenty more where that came from.” In the end it was proposed, to murmurs of approval, that the title House of Lords was retained until something more grand was suggested.

“But, that’s what the last lot called it!” objected Len.

Man of the People

“True,” said John, donning an ermine cloak, “but they’re gone now… and besides, we’re better than them.”

Friday 27 April 2012

How naïve can you get?

This week I encountered a grizzled old class warrior, a red book waving, card-carrying Marxist firebrand, who regaled me with stories of the most extraordinary deviousness and back-room dealings, secret pacts and international plots to supress the aspirations of the working man. This swivel-eyed mentalist had dates and names going back to the glory days of the seventies, charting how the wicked capitalists had systematically emasculated the unions to bring us to the current state of affairs.

Well, I’ve met, you know, “people” and I have yet to see any evidence that mankind possesses the wit or intelligence to pull off any such prolonged and above all, coordinated, scheme. More often than not, as Rab said, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an' men gang aft agley.”

BBC Question Time last night – always a rich seam of unintentional humour – presented the usual rag bag of apologists for Socialism, apologists for the present administration and the cattle-prod herded, demented loons of the audience. As per expectations, at times it descended into the familiar tit-for-tat squabbling about whose fault everything is.

The only panellist who stood out, who presented clear, unbiased-sounding arguments, who actually voiced the opinions of a good many viewers, whatever their socio-political allegiance, was Nigel Farage of UKIP. Farage consistently performs well in Brussels, he’s not afraid of a fight and he seems to be one of the few politicians with a genuine love of this country and the balls to question orthodoxy.

Subsequent Twitter-chatter revolved around the fact that neither of the two main parties really have a clue and nobody in their right minds would trust the perpetually confused Libdems, so er, what about giving UKIP a go? The main argument against was UKIP’s inexperience in government. As compared to the vast experience and impeccable credentials of the current mob of career politi-children on both sides of the house, you mean?

When Tim Martin was at school, a teacher named J D Wetherspoon told him he would never make it in business. When he started the pub chain that now bears his old teacher’s name he knew nothing about running a pub. Tim’s also a renowned Eurosceptic, on record as saying he believes the euro will collapse. I’m inclined to believe him far more readily than I am to trust the opinion of any one of the ‘experts’ who failed to prevent the global financial crisis and are currently pouring €billions into shoring up the hated Euro-fiasco.
Europe in pictures

 Conventional political wisdom says, effectively, do nothing, tinker at the margins and keep your fingers crossed that a global upswing will save us. Farage says, to hell with Europe, let’s get out and take our chances. Naïve, some say and I agree. But isn’t now exactly the right time for some naive politics? Time to disregard the complex myths of entrenched political dogma, throw away the rule book and do what feels right.

History is liberally peppered with self-made heroes who had absolutely no business going and getting successful, but did it anyway. So why not, next Thursday, give the tired old parties a bloody nose and give UKIP a chance to step up? How hard can it be, after all and what's the worst that could happen?

Wednesday 25 April 2012

A Few Good Men

In a follow-up to yesterday's housing benefit story I offer another view, from The Daily Mail's Stephen Glover. Of course there's a problem right there. As soon as I cite the Daily Mail, there will be a visceral reaction from certain quarters that the DM is only capable of biased reporting which, ironically enough, is exactly what that article is complaining about.

I got into a small twitter-spat last night on similar lines; that from one perspective another's viewpoint will be biased. In this case I was 'chatting' to a lawyer, in my opinion a profession with no more sense of right and wrong than many of the villains it often represents. (Nothing personal, Jane.) It came down to a simple choice - given a vote would you put to the sword all the tradesmen (such as electricians) or could you suffer to live without lawyers?

Survey: Given a choice, who would you put up against the wall?

          A) Bent, scum-sucking, parasitic lawyers, or
          B)  Good, honest, down to earth tradesmen

Do you see what I did there? I deftly employed a certain amount of barely discernible spin to influence your vote, just like the politicos do. (Although in this case there was no need; the lawyers every time, right?)

In the movie, Colonel Jessup said "You can't handle the truth!" But what IS the truth? I know what I think - and so do you - but there is always more than one way of looking at any issue, to wit:

  • Did the government just generously increase pensions or viciously slash them?
  • Did they cut their wealthy chums a nice tax break, or will the 45% rate actually increase the overall tax take, which is far more important for the country? (The reaction of wealthy Français to proposals to increase theirs to 45% suggests the latter but only time will tell.)
  • Have we actually had any real cuts in public spending yet, or is everybody just reacting the way The Guardian and the BBC tells them they should?
  • Living standards falling is not the same thing as true, harsh austerity - many people live beyond their real means anyway. For the greater majority, life continues pretty much the same with a bit of added thrift. Sounds sensible to me, but to some it's like stamping on the heads of babies.

Both sides let their political affiliations affect their judgement, which makes rational discussion and debate almost impossible. To the left any reductions in public spending are a calculated assault on the very poor. To the right, those in work cannot be expected to forever pay for more and more poor - they breed, you know.

But worse than that, it makes it nigh-on impossible to even know what the truth is because those who deliver this important information may often be biased themselves. (Take a bow, the popular news media.) Then it all comes down to perception and acceptability. While the last government were spending every penny they could to buy acceptance, riding the wave of worldwide fiscal madness and impropriety, nobody cared because the world looked like they thought it ought to look.

Truth or Beauty?

I have a feeling that what we are experiencing right now is nothing more or less than naked reality. And while the truth doesn't have to be ugly, it often falls short of what you might want to be told. But, as Paloma Faith asks, "Do you want the truth or something beautiful?"

Please feel free to vote on the lawyer thing by casting your vote in comments, below.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

News Blindness

I suffer an affliction, a cross I've had to bear for many years. I am partially news-sighted and cannot see what others see. So-called news items which engage the British public often leave me cold and disinterested. I also have a compassion-gap, for which I am extremely grateful. So those two ‘qualities’ make me react rather differently at times to the great unwashed out there. Here are a few of the kind of news stories that regularly fail to move me either way:

I am largely unmoved by stories of babies with ghastly diseases. First, it is not national news. It’s sad, it may even be tragic, I’m happy when they pull through, but I’d rather not hear about it at all, and the overuse of the adjective ‘brave’ devalues the whole story.

Similarly, animals. Animals do things out of blind instinct, not through any humanistic sense of nobility or justice... or bravery, for that matter. The same lack of nobility and justice also applies to many humans. Why then, is everybody mock-surprised when people in positions of responsibility and power and driven by natural human acquisitive instincts turn out to be corrupt, venal or just downright dishonest? So, I really don’t give much of a toss about the Leveson enquiry.

Not all foreign news is of any interest either and this especially applies to American primary elections. Why Twitter glows red-hot with indignation when one religious nut-job wins over a gun-toting redneck in a three-way competition with a climate-change apologist when none of us will ever hear of any of them ever again is beyond me. I bet the Yanks don’t follow the Lickhill ward bye-election.

In the UK we get a lot of weather. We’re bound to, plonked betwixt some pretty disparate confluent air masses and the vagaries of the Gulf Stream gyre. Sometimes it's cold. Sometimes it's hot. Often it’s wet and windy and sometimes you’ll get lots of different weather in the same day. But it’s not news for goodness’ sake and if you can't cope with that maybe you should just leave. Which sort of brings me to the only bit of news I could manage to give a stuff about today

Nobody is struggling with 'grinding poverty' in the UK, no matter how desperately some people yearn for that to be the case. Sure, you might need to reconsider replacing your telly or taking a holiday this year, but you won’t starve. Neither will you be put out of house and home. But if working people can’t afford to live exactly where they want, why should you be able to remain in accommodation those same working people could never afford? I don’t see why poor old benighted Stoke should suffer you, but the principle of moving your unproductive flesh somewhere cheaper is sound enough.

The Hanley Hillbillies - There goes the neighbourhood

Whatever else it is it is not ethnic or social cleansing as this article claims. it is simply the husbanding of scarce resources The working give enough to the unwaged as it is and nobody owes you a living. If you are over here on a benefits raid then maybe it’s time we opened the door so you can return to your former life. Pay for you forever or pay your airfare home? If I were you I’d shut the fuck up, before somebody puts it to a vote.  

Monday 23 April 2012

Euro Scepticaemia

I heard a rumour the other day that the Labour Party was considering offering an in-out referendum on Europe should they win at the next national apathy competition we call a general election. As the number of disenfranchised and thus voting-averse indigenous Brits grows in comparison with the rising tide of politicised incomers, whose presence here is gifted by the EU’s interference in our right to determine our own demography, there’s a good chance of that idea backfiring on them.

We’ll see. I think it a fair bet that nobody other than UKIP will dare offer that option and support for UKIP will dangerously damage not-so-Shiny-now Dave’s chance of getting back in for a second term. Something even his own side seem to be determined to prevent; Nadine Dorries courting popular opinion in a daring attempt to... what? Claim a scalp before she crosses the floor? It was certainly a brave resignation speech!

Whatever happens, however, I am resolutely for ‘out’ in the same way I was resolutely against ‘in’ in 1975, when they wouldn’t even let me vote. And here’s why. (You should note that, in the absence of any concrete figures, I’ll be making up my own, picking and choosing my ‘facts’ as I please, just as any government or opposition does. My numbers might not be accurate, but they ‘feel’ about right and until anybody actually tells us the truth – and they haven’t in knocking-on forty years – my numbers are just as good as anybody else’s.)

Based on this accurate set of statistics and my estimated inflation factor, the annual cost of being in with the in crowd is about £70bn.

In return we receive ‘inward investment’ of about, oh, I don’t know, let’s say £75million, mostly in the form of sports halls, ‘multicultural’ community centres, council tax brochures printed in Urdu, a few floral clocks and the VAT on MEP’s expenses spent over here on imported foie gras, caviar and champagne.

Membership of the EU creates minus-200 jobs each day for British kids and allows a million non-English speakers to run our hospitality and health industries, sending an invigorating £10bn per year back home to fund sex and drugs based crime academies in eastern Europe, its practitioners to be illegally re-imported into Britain in the backs of Norbert Dentresangle trucks. Or by simply walking through our border controls, brandishing unchallenged false passports.

So, taking all of this undeniably fact-based data into account, on balance not only would we be better off out, but we’d return to surplus in under ten years, drive our population down to a sustainable 50 million and build a powerhouse economy while Europe staggers under the weight of its malignant hypocrisy. Go on. Prove me wrong.

Do we want a referendum? Do we bollocks. Do we want to negotiate an undignified, shambolic, apologetic, shuffling retreat? No, sod all that. Sack all the traitorous human rights lawyers, who are at the heart of much of what is wrong with Europe and then march into Brussels, pull up our tent pegs, pack up our kit bags and in the wise, wise words of Malcolm Tucker, fuck the fuck right off. United Kingdom, I dare you to grow a set.

Sunday 22 April 2012

In the heat of the night

She lay in the dark, barely breathing. His breath was harsh and ragged and stank of drink. She was terrified, but if she stayed still, she reasoned, if she made no fuss, maybe he wouldn’t hurt her. She shut her eyes and concentrated on fighting the fear, controlling the tremors that threatened to engulf her body. She did not even sob.

He was drunk. Of course he was. Wasn’t that always the way? It wasn’t right, he knew that. He knew if he was caught he’d end up in prison. And worse; he would lose his reputation, his job. Everything would come crashing down in one enormous shit storm.

But that wouldn’t happen, would it? Not with this one. He picked his victims with care, knowing that his enforced attentions would be a mere blip in her life’s emotional journey. Tonight would hardly register, compared to what she had experienced.

Because Jamelia had undergone genital mutilation as a child. This abhorrent practice is utterly alien to British sensibilities yet is regarded as normal by an unacceptably large portion of our unnaturally diverse population. But, according to the doctrine of multiculturalism, it is entirely wrong to expect people who dwell in these isles to abide by our laws.

We’re not talking about just the provision of halal chapatti facilities or allowing people wearing masks to take driving tests here. We’re talking about the intimate physical mutilation of terrified young girls, Girls who will later go on to be effectively sold into sexual slavery as brides of men literally ten times their age.

There is no such thing as successful multiculturalism. Monoculturalism is what makes a nation. That and tolerance for a certain amount of diversity and difference and recognition of other cultural norms. But, if you go to parts of Birmingham, Bradford, Leicester or London, it's like taking a trip back in time. In MY country, certain cultures have been allowed to create third-world shitholes with no civilised rules at all. It's tribal, it's stone-age, it's primitive and it has no place in what used to be the most enlightened country in the world.

From the Islamification of Britain, to the adoption of crippling EU constraints on our freedom, we appear to have lost the very simple battle to keep Britain British. Becry the plethora of anti-British claptrap we have to put up with and we are branded racist.

Well, fuck right off with your knee-jerk labels, you fucking lefty idiots. You're the racists for wanting to deny me any rights in my own birthplace. Whilst I’m wary of the motives of any group appropriating the precious flag of my country, today is St George’s Day and groups such as the EDL are absolutely entitled to hold their peaceful March for England, as they did yesterday in Brighton. Of course it would have been peaceful, except for the blatant provocation of the Union Against Fascism, doing their best to provoke violence and turn the event into a hate-fest.

So, what do you want? A common national identity, with allowance for differences, as espoused by all right-thinking people, some of whom revere our flag? Or the multiculturalist agenda for total control over your thoughts and deeds, who would criminalise you for being afraid of a black man, but would turn a blind eye to the routine mutilation of his sisters?

 Be fucking careful what you wish for, you traitors.

Believe it or not...

It turns out I have super powers. Able to detect and deflect bullshit with a single withering glance, I have grown armour impervious to hoo-doo, voodoo and how do you do, Mr Huhne? (Wind farms, my arse, you big, daft, green eejit.)

Fortunate to have been educated, rather than indoctrinated, I laughed at the follies of Russia and America and their counter-cultural myths about each other. I knew then what all the commentators in the world didn’t. Both sides were lying. How did I know they were lying? They were politicians and ‘intellectuals’ and their mouths were moving.

At times I have doubted my powers but I have rarely been wrong because I employ simple logic to solve conundra. Will people with the ability and drive to grow rich use that power to feed poor people? Why would they? So any attempt at social reform will be met with resistance. Push them hard enough and they’ll take their money away. If I can see it, why can’t everybody else? The real question with the bankers et al, is why did the last government freely allow them to gamble?

Determination of right and wrong should be predicated on fact, rather than on faith or fiction, but all too often reaction to any sort of news appears to be based on which church you belong to. Worship at the altar of socialism and any attempt to generate wealth is seen as almost literally prying open the jaws of starving children to snatch out a morsel of nourishment. Pray to Mammon and the world appears to be teeming with undeserving masses ready to slit your throat for your iPhone.

So, the world according to Batsby is pretty much black and white, based not on belief, but on observable reality, with any shades of grey consigned to the margins under the heading Make Your Bloody Mind Up. Here, for your Sunday discussion group is a cornucopia of fact and fiction to get wound up about.

Fiction - all men are created equal.
Fact – the world is largely populated by gurning, jut-jawed imbeciles dependent on the endeavours of a tiny number of genuinely superior beings for any form of prosperity beyond grubbing for roots and skinning rabbits.

Fiction - this equality imbalance (which you don’t sign up to- all created equal, right?) can all be solved by yet more laws and controls, otherwise known as social engineering.
Fact - we, all of us, will try to avoid paying tax in any form whatsoever if we see it being used in ways we don't support. Those who pay the most tax are the most able to exercise the prerogative not to.

Fiction – there once were unicorns.
Fact - a unicorn is fiction. Grow up.

Fiction – The evil ‘Fatcher’ (Socialists can’t pronounce the ‘th’ sound) would creep into your homes at night to eat your babies and she single-handedly consigned poor people to the gutter forever.
Fact - Margaret Thatcher was instrumental in bringing economic success to Britain. Without her, the welfare state itself would have collapsed long ago as the unions drove investment away from Britain. This wasn’t achieved without casualties, but it was a long time ago and you can’t just blame her for everything, forever.

Fact - work hard, behave and learn your lessons and you will get a job.
Fiction - we just have to be nice to the kiddies and they'll become geniuses all by themselves

Fiction - we can redistribute our way to equality.
Fact –wealth will then immediately begin the migration back to where it came from..

Finally, for the greenies:
Fiction - we can be green and save the planet

Who IS this masked man?

Have a lovely Sunday and if you are running in the London Marathon…. Are you mad?

Friday 20 April 2012

The Human Race

So, last night’s BBC Question Time was a hoot. Baroness Warsi ably swinging the handbag for the Conservatives against the feebly flapping hands of Labour’s plain old Miss Cooper (double-entendre intended), who had the temerity to engage in a tit-for-tat battle over the respective performances of this and the last government.

When the last administration was under Gordon Brown’s leadership, the best you can do is apologise, surely? But maybe she has something in her arsenal, something to deploy to land a knockout blow? Wait for it, wait for it… here it comes… And there it is, the emotive but tired and ultimately meaningless statistic that the 5% reduction in top rate tax means a £40,000 tax rebate for somebody earning a million pounds a year.

Meaningless? Of course it is. Is that the only thing Labour has? It must be; it’s the only thing I ever hear from them. Again and again and again. Steal from the rich to feed the poor. It won’t work and you should really read this excellent article to see why. Squeezing the rich is an utterly futile exercise which demonstrates that those who propose it really don’t understand either money, or human motivation.

Everybody should pay their share, of course, but nobody should be taxed at a higher rate in return for their industry or their good fortune. It’s called the human race and at a million squids per annum I would most definitely be winning (or at least I’d be through to the play-offs). Trying to take my prize off me is envious and stupid and anyway, you’d have to catch me first. And I’m winning, remember?

Which gets me on to the other big race, the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix. I have no idea what’s happening. I don’t care. I don’t follow the sport and I have no real interest in whatever the Bahrainistas are up to, but I do know that it will make not one iota of difference to the prosperity of Britain whether the race goes ahead or not. For all the bleating and whining hot air that whooshed out of George Galloway's lying, hypocritical gob I'm sure that not a single B'rainie of influence lost a moment's sleep.

 You see, the Grand Prix is about rich people. And rich people really don’t care what you or I think about them. If we think too hard and get cross about them being rich they’ll just move – to Bahrain perhaps – and then we’ll never see another penny of their tax money again. Who will pay for everything then?

Thursday 19 April 2012

Tell it how it is.

Remember the story of the emperor's new clothes?

Well, today, I'm the little boy in the crowd... and I'm this is what I gleaned from this morning's papers:


  • Michele Obama does not possess even a single super power. Stop pretending otherwise.
  • Being a 'celebrity' does not automatically make you beautiful and a bikini doesn't change any of that.
  • Just because Demi Moore did it more 20 years ago not many people actually want to see women naked and pregnant. That is not art, it's a fetish.
  • Nobody cares about anybody else's 'bikini body'. What is wrong with you?


  • You're fat because you're lazy and eat too much. It's been proved.
  • No, you can't eat yourself thin.
  • You're unattractive because you're fat and lazy.
  • You are on your own because you're unattractive...
  • ...because you're fat and lazy.
  • Oh and it is probably all your own fault.

In other news

  • The Euro is fucked.
  • Michael Hesletine is NOT Tarzan and just because he's always been wrong it doesn't mean that all of a sudden he's going to be right.
  • A Liberal Democrat is neither one thing nor another.
  • You cannot get addicted to 'apps' It's not even a proper word.
  • No public information project is ever cost effective. The only ones who take heed didn't need telling.

And some random thoughts to send you on your way:

  • Stereotypes are almost always true.
  • Drunken, shouting, swearing women with tits out and tattoos? You may as well tear up any qualifications you have - you completely blew it there, love.
  • After a certain age you can no longer blame your parents.
  • Pop psychology is mostly utter tosh

And you're so not 'worth it'

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Whoops! Abu-Banana!

Question: A bad man. Who we know to be really bad. Who has has done bad things. That we can prove... and wants to kill us all, right? Well, we'd like to send this bad man away. So he can't kill us. That's okay, isn't it?

Answer: Well, as a bad man his rights are much more important than yours, so there's nothing you can do. Wouldn't it be so much less fuss to just move away from him?

What? All (quickly counts on fingers) sixty-two million of us?

Yes. Far easier in the long run to relocate the entire UK population to, er.. I hear Jordan's very nice this time of year.

Question: The, er, 'golf club' we are a member of keeps putting up the fees. But whenever we try and book a tee-time they tell us there are other members who pay nothing at all who need to use the course. Can we have a refund please?

Answer: You inhuman monsters! How dare you be so ungrateful? Now see what you did. Everybody is getting upset. By the way, we need another £10billion by next Tuesday, or you're out.

We'll just leave then.

You can't.

Why not?

You can't leave until you've paid your subscriptions.

Question: Suppose you have a bunch of people who have robbed you of your every freedom, who bleed you dry and work you to death and won't let you leave. What can you do?

Answer: The only solution is to kill them. Kill them all.

"Hello, is that Royal Jordanian? Yes, a change of plan. Not Amman. Brussels."

PS: Before somebody complains that Abu Banana doesn't have a hook, all hairy-faced hate mongers look the same to me. Every last one of them.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

In memory of the north-south divide

They say, if you want to see what Hull was like in the nineteen eighties... go to Hull.

I grew up in the frozen north during the sixties and seventies when we heard with some alarm of all the 'modern' developments down south. Still using farthings and furlongs, we resisted the terrible changes as long as we could, but sooner or later we knew we’d have to deal with “new-pence”, “centigrade” and them there “milometers”. And it was only a matter of time before we’d no longer be able to buy a pound of sausages and would have to make do with a pound of kilos instead[1].

In darkened corners of public bars (men only) we heard how proper grammar schools were being replaced by comprehensives, how, in ‘That London’, you would hardly ever hear an English accent in the street any more... And anybody who’d actually been and survived Down South would regale you with stories about this new-fangled ‘lager’, costing anything up to three bob a pint. The horror.

Perpetually, it seemed, ten years behind, my generation benefitted from the cane long after it had been banned by the southern softies and we got to wear flared jeans well into the punk era. In fact, while punk was happening in the King’s Road we were still chuckling over that David Bowie. “Is it a lass or what?” we’d ask, “A what, you say? A bloke in makeup?” And then we’d shake our heads sadly and sigh, “Nay lad. It’s not reet.”

Oh how we laughed at the liberal folly of progressives and regaled our whippets with the daft ideas we’d heard of but hoped never to suffer. Not that we were xenophobic, mind. Oh no…We knew all about foreigners; very worldly wise we were. Once we had a visitor from – ooh I forget – but somewhere south of Pontefract at any rate. And we treated him like one of our own - food, beer and all that - and chatted into the early hours. To this day nobody has a clue what he was talking about, but we were too polite to say.

Up there in our lazy northern backwater there was little that couldn’t be settled by the application of the Good-hiding, Thrashing and Fettling laws of 1383, which we’d never got around to repealing. We never had the benefit of deferred achievement and had to learn stuff the old-fashioned way – practice, practice and more practice. And we knew that to get ahead you had to work hard, keep out of trouble and bide your time.

Yorkshire bookkeeping

The creeping liberal disease of instant gratification without effort was never going to bring us to our knees. Or so we thought. I visited God’s own country not long ago and not only do they have violent crime, hatred, distrust and pressure-cooker multiculturalism, just like everywhere else, they’ve even got t’Internet. Where will it end?

Today, if you go to Hull, the only prehistoric relic you’ll find is… John Prescott.

[1] Tommy Cooper, Gawd rest ‘is soul!

Monday 16 April 2012

Race to the Bottom

It might not be apparent – I go to great lengths to disguise it – but my political sympathies lie to the right of centre. That used to mean that I was broadly in favour of the general views of most British tax-payers (whether they understood it or not, the majority of British people were natural Conservatives). Nowadays it makes me a frothing loon, hell-bent on bringing back slavery, feudal tenure and systematic racist, sexist and sectist discrimination.

So frenziedly has the centre ground been fought over that successive governments have managed to shuffle sufficiently far to the left that it no longer resembles a fair, British government after all. The left wing’s propaganda war to create the brand “Nasty Tory” has successfully left the Conservatives with no mandate to speak up for the ordinary citizens it truly wants to represent.

So, it falls to Frank Field [link] to voice a concern that has been obvious to all who suffer the deprivations of living under the sinister social experiment of multi-culturalism.

Migrants to a country go for a number of reasons. The first and foremost is usually to make a quick buck – Brits have worked as ex-pats for years to build up nest-eggs, supplying expertise lacking in the host country – then returning home because, well, it’s usually been a better option. That type of ex-pat usually lives in a working, mono-cultural ghetto, taking care not to intrude, or offend and is there on a strict contractual basis, leaving behind only what was paid for.

Those who emigrate permanently tend to want to integrate, learning the host language and generally doing their best to fit in. Taking, taking and taking more would be frowned on; it’s not very British, after all, is it? While trying to fit in we’d stick out like sore thumbs; queuing would be a big clue. Brits tend to avoid mass gatherings of Brits abroad because when it happens it gets ugly quickly – football fans and the Costas spring immediately to mind. In numbers, normally reticent Brits become invading armies and we’ve spent the last forty years apologising for all that.

So, if the true immigration picture was what the last government wanted us to believe, we would see the occasional oddly-dressed (to our eyes) ‘exotic’ alongside the others doing their best to blend in. But that’s not what we see at all, those of us with eyes. Schools bent-backed under the weight of coping with dozens of languages, whole estates teeming with an apparent attempt to out-breed the natives and a broad rejection of our native formalities, customs and dress.

In-your-face immigration is an invasion by another name and whole towns have been overwhelmed by a blind refusal to accept the evidence. To all intents and purposes Bradford has been a Muslim city for years. Now, with Ayatollah Galloway, it’s official. And the sinister Ken Livingstone appears to say he wants the same thing for London.

Miss Haringey finalists 2012

There’s only so much natural British tolerance and decency to go around and successive governments have done their best to stretch it to its limits. Even our nastier crime is now run by foreigners, Britons lacking the stomach for some of the more extreme practices. We can continue to look the other way, but surely there has to come a time when somebody, somewhere resurrects the words of a certain politician in 1968. “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Taxing my brains out

Every now and then the idea of choosing where your tax money goes bubbles to the surface. It sounds like a bloody good idea, actually. I don’t get ill – seriously, hardly ever – so maybe I’d be better off paying into a private health plan, rather than funding the NHS for all you malingerers? I drive my own car and pay all the necessary taxes including the hefty wack the government takes every time I fill up. So there goes my sympathy for public transport.

I don’t buy much packaged stuff, there is no such thing as food waste in my household and I compost anything I can. So, I would be quite happy to dispose of my one black bag every three weeks at the same time as I recycle stuff like glass and plastic, which I already do myself anyway (as I have no idea when the ‘binnies’ actually collect that stuff - it seems to vary). My night vision is pretty good too – probably all that sniper practice – so with bin-day and streetlights out of the equation, I reckon there’s a big chunk of my council tax accounted for. I should get a much bigger rebate than the meagre single occupancy discount. (The Poll Tax was an eminently fair idea.)

So, if people like me could influence where tax goes, it’s fairly predictable that we’d end up with large armed forces, millions of police, impenetrable border controls, massive jails and (for the long-term unemployed) workhouses. There would be no local ‘government’, merely the necessary admin staff and the NHS would consist of emergency treatment only, following aggressive triage. (Self-inflicted? – back of the queue.)

If I proposed all this the Labour twonks would be up in arms. There would be bloody hell to pay because in a responsible society the high earners should pay the bulk of the tax, they’d say. But they already do. “Yeah?” they’d challenge.  Well, yeah, actually, by a considerable margin. Without the tax take from the people you consider wealthy your socialist experiment would have foundered long ago.

And it would be unthinkable under a socialist administration for high earners to influence how their tax is spent – they should just put up and shut up. But, of course, they already have a way to do just that. If I could afford to pay a big chunk to charity instead I could choose where it goes. Under Labour’s own tax exemptions, I can say, “To hell with society!” and effectively opt out of general taxation, preferring instead to benefit the causes I decide are deserving.

So, Labour, you are opposing the coalition’s proposals to stop that?

For what it’s worth, as charity is elective taxation, which does allow the wealthy to avoid general taxation, I actually think the government’s proposals are a practical, social and a public relations disaster, but I do wish the opposition would make up its mind what it wants.

Saturday 14 April 2012

To whose benefit?

Sometimes I think to myself, "What should I write about today?" Sometimes it's hard to get wound up by much and it's always good to take a day off... which is what I'd planned, until I read what this rabid Marxist twonk has been saying. The comments were made some time ago, but apparently, he stands by them.

Serwotka says:

"I ain't condemning anyone who has to take a second job because they can't pay the bills because of the crap levels of benefits in this country." On the subject of taxing the higher earners he says: "They are the scroungers, they are the people we should chase for every last penny." And he urges that, "Strikes are inevitable. Mass strikes are the best way to lead this movement, to resist and to defend our communities."

Well, it's so refreshing to see it all out in the open. Let me get this straight. By this sort of logic it would be fine to turn to burglary if the benefits you get paid merely for breathing won't stretch to the home cinema set-up you covet. Similarly, squatting is absolutely okay because it is so difficult for people without a purpose in life to save enough out of their benefits to buy a nice big house. And the solution to the abhorrent practice of the higher earners directly funding our literally incredible welfare system is to do your best to wreck their livelihoods?

And there, laid bare, is the entire economic argument on the left. Nobody should be allowed to profit from superior abilities or outstanding work ethic, or even, it would seem their thrift. No, instead they must continue to graft to generate wealth, pay a far higher than fair share of their income in taxes and then stand up to be regularly vilified as the villains of the piece. Orwell's two-minute hate has become a continuous background whine of envy - lurid green-noise - and a more irritating sound you'd be hard pressed to find.

So what will we see in Utopian Socialist Britain in fifty years time? Nobody able to read above the level of the lowest. Nobody allowed to run faster than the very slowest. Everybody enjoying exactly the same level of health - asthmatic, bow-legged and cancer-ridden, presumably?

So, this is what we should do. If you have a job, if you want to pay your own way, if you believe in the freedom to decide how your tax is spent, follow me to the United Dingdom and leave the real scroungers to starve. Because, I believe it's been shown many times over, that is exactly what happens to communists.

And then, back in Blighty, Ken Livingstone will be the only 'rich bastard' left to be harangued for avoiding taxes. (Because he certainly isn't welcome over here.)

Friday 13 April 2012

Stamp this out!

Around the world today people have died in armed conflict, people have been beaten to death and many more have suffered privation and loss due to a lack of food, lack of care or lack of an adequate  system to maintain normal, decent standards.

Here at home it’s been revealed that the numbers of children taken into care have risen dramatically following the disastrous and disturbing ‘Baby P’ business of last year. Education is, as ever, in turmoil. ‘The rich’ is getting richer while ‘the poor’ is getting drunk and the NHS can’t cope. Civil servants are quitting in record numbers due to low morale and the inexorable and sinister rise of Islam-UK is getting ever closer to precipitating the civil war they clearly relish.

On top of all that it’s Friday 13th.

The labour party - the official opposition - should be… well, they should be saying, “Down with this sort of thing!” They should be putting their foot down and making hay while the coalition appears to stumble into one disaster after another. It’s almost as if the script has been written especially for them. Time and opportunity to really stamp home your poorly-constructed, uncosted lefty point!

So it is risible, no, downright hilarious, that Ian Murray, the shadow postal affairs minister (I know! Me neither!) has told the Guardian that he intends to write to Ofcom, urging it to investigate “shameless profiteering at the public’s expense” by Royal Mail.

Labour's can't-lose election campaign stamp

Way to go Labour! That’ll get the capitalist running dogs quaking in their boots. That'll increase your turnout at the next election you lose. Murray says that the most disadvantaged in our society will be worst hit by this move. For fuck’s sake, the most disadvantaged – your supposed core vote - barely know how to lick a stamp, let alone understand what they are supposed to be used for.

Is the labour party so out of touch with ordinary people that this really is the best it can do? Or is it so distressed by the extraordinary hypocrisy of one of their favourite sons, Red Ken, that they will grasp at any desperate straw to draw attention away from him. Read this: Ken’s crocodile tears.

It has to be the latter. Vote for Ken - if you want lies, corruption, tax evasion... and a beacon of Islam for the capital of our once proud country.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Sod the Zeitgeist!

English is often declared to be the most expressive language in the world. The dominance of English as the language of commerce and technology and science and music means it's one of the most dynamic languages too, as new words are coined at a furious rate. It's also a good evolutionary model, with new mutations forming by the minute, survival depending on their ability to gain a toehold in the zeitgeist.

Woah there, boy... just run that past me again. Zeitgeist? Really, English, really?

Surely there must be a single English word to express all that zeitgeist does? It seems not. Luckily, that's the only example I can think of where English is inadequate to express an idea. In every other case, English will always supply le mot juste. In fact... pardon? French, you say? It's like deja vu again. Merde. I'll start over.

Okay, so, as I was saying, English is the de facto linguistic tool, the lingua franca when two disparate tongues meet and without its rich vocabulary it would be almost impossible to manage harmonious international relations, to maintain the status quo.

Who am I kidding here? A cursory shufti reveals a veritable bonanza of wordy fifth columnists such as haute cuisine, chic, hamburger, muesli, carburettor... even okay is a foreigner.

Don't you just hate foreigners? I mean, they come over here with their suspicious alien ways and their nasty, grating accents. In true British style we can't wait for them to come a cropper and slink off home with their tails between their legs. They lack the spirit, see? They don't have our true British ability to always fear the worst then welcome it when it arrives - especially when it happens to others.

Yes indeed, foreigners will never manage to integrate properly into our society until they manage to acquire the one national characteristic that unites us all and keeps us sane and level-headed. The quality that forged an empire. Good old British schadenfreude.

Adios amigos!

Wednesday 11 April 2012


Alan Davies got into trouble yesterday for questioning Liverpool FC's refusal to play on anniversary of Hillsborough. He's dead right (pun intended) of course. Twenty-three years ago a bunch of fans died in what was undoubtedly a disaster for their friends and families and in a much smaller way, for the club itself. Liverpool wept and wailed and whipped it up into a national tragedy and scandal, which continues to be resurrected at regular intervals. "Inquiry!" they demand and "We want closure!" they chant, like demented disciples of some long-forgotten Californian psychotherapy-sect.

Get over yourselves, Scousers. Seriously. You're just embarrassing everybody now. Public mourning is a dire, foreign weakness, which has no place in British society. We used to pride ourselves on our unmatched ability to bottle it all up while less-civilised races took to self-flagellation in the streets. We watched, amused and superior, as unwashed aliens rended their garments and ululated. And we congratulated ourselves with a wry smile and barely a twitch of our moustachioed upper lip, in the knowledge that when it all got too much we had a bottle of decent Scotch and a service revolver in the top drawer of the bureau. ("I am just going outside and may be some time.")

We already have a national day of mourning, which has stood for almost a century. On Armistice day this nation (and many others) honours the millions who knowingly volunteered their lives in the cause of freedom. There is no separate, national  commemoration for the Second World War, nor for any other conflict and rightly so. If we continue - and we have started - to demand two minutes of silence for every inconsequential localised mishap we would spend our entire lives standing to meaningless attention, grizzling to ourselves and bewailing our lot.

The way a nation mourns is a measure of its character. I cannot possibly know the grief of the survivors of Hillsborough, but neither do I want to know, or to share it. It has no meaning for me and millions of others except, like the thousands of scruffy, pathetic ad-hoc roadside shrines, to illustrate how far this country has slipped from its former majesty. So, Liverpool, if you really want to do the right thing by the Hillsborough ninety-six, you should show a bit of dignity and a bit of backbone and lick your wounds in private.

Postscript: In a hilarious encore, the people of Liverpool gave the world this story: CLICK "Merseyside Police told the community on Monday to "stop grieving, it's only a chicken"."

You really couldn't make it up!

Tuesday 10 April 2012

That'll teach 'em

So, spring. When a young teacher’s fancy turns to thoughts of industrial action... or in the absence of any actual industry, striking. Something to do with rejecting the idea that a teacher battling armed, gansta-rap ‘urban[1]’ warriors in a multicultural, inner city hell-hole should get paid more than the same grade of teacher in a pleasant and bosky, bucolic backwater. They might have a point, after all, teaching is teaching is teaching and those who can... And anyway, private companies don’t pay more to those employees who graft in strange foreign lands, suffering the triple perils of dengue fever, homesickness and illicit local hooch, do they now? Oh, wait.

But come on, teaching’s a tough career choice and the dedicated, vocationally motivated teacher ends up being pilloried in the press at the same time as being expected to take up the woefully inadequate parental slack. They confront desocialised kids, mucky kids, nasty kids, kids with a bewildering array of invented learning and behavioural difficulties. And downright thick kids. Who wouldn’t feel oppressed, especially when they also have to put up with constant tinkering at the margins as straight-out-of-the-box ministers try to put right decades of sliding standards with kwik-fix, Elastoplast remedies?

At one end they have lunatic hand-woven-lentil dressed ‘learning facilitators’ with degrees in pedagogic psychology, who have never set foot on a child, telling them what’s best for the little proto-sociopaths. At another end they have demented hardened Marxist union officials baying for the slightest drop of blue blood they can draw to enhance their status in comparison with the ‘proper’ trades unions who fight for actual downtrodden workers. And somehow, with whatever end they have left, they are expected in loco parentis to handle the conflicting demands of both educating and controlling their little bastards charges.

So here’s my master plan. It’s short-sharp-shock time. Remember that rule book you all tore up in the sixties? Well grab the sticky tape and let’s get this education thing sorted once and for all. This summer - no holidays. None. Cancel everything and listen up. Six weeks residential summer school. Everybody, every school. Makeshift accommodation can be knocked up – bunk beds in corridors, tents in the school grounds, catering by HM Prison Service. High security setup; nobody enters or leaves. Inside the barbed wire (there will also be watchtowers and machine guns, obviously) will be a technology-free zone. No phones, no PCs, no internet access of any kind; until we’ve broken them, nobody gets to communicate with the outside.

We’ll impose rigid, no-nonsense, Borstal-style conditions. Lessons only in the absolute fundamentals of reading, writing and Aramaic arithmetic, all enforced by iron discipline and interspersed with lots of hard physical exercise overseen by Royal Marines physical training instructors. Topped off by cold showers, standing detentions (wearing dunces caps) and no supper until all four hours of daily homework are completed. No arguments, no exceptions.

Then, when we've sorted out the teachers, we can turn our attention to what to do with the kids.

[1] (or is it ‘street’ now, which means antisocial, white-wannabe-black kids? I forget.)

Monday 9 April 2012

The cutting edge of white heat, blue sky durch Technik

Now, when it comes to computers and suchlike I’m no expert, yet I ain’t no slouch either, but have you ever noticed how all this progress is weighing us down? Yesterday, for example, I spent pretty much the whole day transferring files and programmes from one computer to another. Yes, yes, I know, local storage is so ‘noughties’, dude. Like, get with the cloud, man. Put your life on the cloud and you can access it from anywhere via any platform.

Yes and so can anybody else, or – more likely – you’ll have no access when you actually need it. And besides, if a workaday hacker can get at your cloudy inner secrets, so could the government, which is a sobering thought. Whoa there boy, back up a bit. “What are you hiding?” you’re all thinking now. (See? That’s what the government wants you to think!)

Nothing! Nothing, but… it’s a bit like writing down everything about your life in a diary and handing it to a ‘homeless’ for safekeeping. He might try to sell your secrets or your identity. Or he might just browse through it. No problem, you’ve got security on it, right? Or he might just lose it. Or. More likely you’ll never find that tramp again.

Am I likening the government to a tramp? Yes, I believe I am. A dirty, smelly vagrant, whose very existence repulses you, yet you can’t let out of your sight because otherwise he’ll be into your pockets for your keys. Then he and his mates will steal your car and squat in your property before you can say George Osborne. The point is, you can’t just tell the world everything about yourself and not expect consequences. You need a bit of security.

So, passwords. You’re not supposed to use a memorable password – you know, anything you might actually remember? Nor should you write it down, or use it for more than one site… and then you should change it every few weeks. But, it’s not like you need many passwords, is it? After your online banking, there’s not much to worry about is there? Okay, so you might have more than one bank account and maybe a share account, an ISA, or SIPP.

And maybe you have online accounts for gas, electric, water, council tax. Oh yes, there’s also Google, Amazon, eBay, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook… and your multiple email accounts, or instant messaging… and Skype, of course. Still, that’s not too many to remember, is it? Ah but, what about every online merchant you’ve ever bought from? They all want you to register your fake email address so they can bombard you with spam, don’t they?

Right then, multiple log-ins, each with a different password – not written down – that you change every few weeks. Quite a task, but I have a great system. All my dozens of passwords are generated for me by a script I wrote to spew out randomised strong combinations at irregular intervals for each and every account. Now all I have to do is call up that program every time I need to log in and it does it for me!

It’s so secure even I don’t know the log-in details. You could waterboard me for hours and I could never tell. The only thing I’ll ever need is the password to access my programme. Now, if I ever forgot that, boy I’d be in real trouble… which is why I’ve written it down on a Post-it note and stuck it to my screen.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Long short story...

June 1999 - Poetic Justice

In a recent news report I read that a convicted rapist was to be given Viagra because he had no regular sexual partner. Psychiatrists argued that if he were capable of sustaining an erection he would be capable of forming a normal relationship. No mention that with a more effective weapon, so to speak, the essential means-motive-opportunity triangle behind his offences would be complete. Is this the therapy culture gone mad or am I hopelessly behind the times? What other obvious solutions to society’s problems am I missing here?


Pete wearily plodded to the front door in his silk dressing gown and embroidered slippers. It was half past ten in the morning for Christ’s sake, how was a person to catch up on essential sleep? Didn’t these people realise that he had been kept up until the early hours with the twins? Mandy and Jane had only driven off a couple of hours before and here was Pete being disturbed again.
“Your car, sir.” The liveried chauffeur saluted as Pete blinked in the sunlight.
“Yeah, right. Very nice, thanks but I’ve already got one.” He indicated the silver-grey Jag on the drive.
“No sir, you misunderstand. I’m here to get you to your appointment.” These people, would they never leave him alone? Last month he had forgotten to go into the unemployment office and sign on so now what had they done? Only gone and sent a driver to collect him. How humiliating! He would have to see about this, his caseworker was going to get a real earful over this one, no messing.

He stormed into the plush foyer of the Benefits Agency and barked at the terrified receptionist, “Get Janet down here, now!” He lit a new cigarette from the remains of the last and stubbed out the butt on the carpet. His fingers trembled – see the state he was in? No bloody wonder. How dare they? Janet appeared nervous as she descended the last few steps.
“Good morning Mr Smith, perhaps you would like to step this way. Coffee?” Pete gruffly nodded assent and he indicated ‘two sugars’ to the girl who had appeared with a tray. Janet led him into a large, airy office and motioned to a leather couch. As he sank into its embrace she positioned herself on a subservient stool at his feet. She fumbled with her papers for a moment before making what seemed to be quite an effort to summon up the courage to speak...
“I, er… how is everything going?”
“It was fine until I was summoned here at the crack of dawn.” Pete was testy, as well he might be. Another couple of hours and he might have got around to sitting at his desk for a while. Who knows, he may have even managed to turn on the computer, which had sat unemployed, like himself, since its acquisition three months previously. Did these people want to help him… or what?

“You do understand that the Benefits Agency has a right to review its, er, its investments from time to time. Since we set the terms of your deal you have failed to attend eight of your monthly reviews in the last year. We believe we have been fair but in accordance with our charter we must ask you if there is anything else we can do to help.” Janet looked over the top of her glasses at him and tried to look as if she wasn’t really floundering. “You see, once we have completed our end of the bargain then you must complete yours. After all, it is the public’s money we are using to get you back on your feet and they are entitled to value for their money.”
“Well, it’s hardly fair is it? I mean, I just get the creative juices flowing and the next thing you know I’m being badgered to produce reams of paper. Poetry isn’t like that. It’s quality that counts, not quantity. Give me a chance for Christ’s sake.”
Janet glanced quickly down at her file, she hadn’t meant to provoke an outburst and she could never forgive herself if Smith’s delicate psyche had been unbalanced.

Peter Smith – Poet

That was how the report was headed. It went on to detail his case history; Under the government’s ‘New Initiatives For the Future’  (NIFF, even the acronyms were getting desperate, an old military joke taken too far) he was entitled to a lengthy series of benefits to enable him to get back to work. Because Pete had never actually raised an angry finger in employment the criteria allowed him to decide for himself what kind of work he wanted to perform. Poet had been accepted - by a committee of social workers - as useful in an age when thirty percent of the workforce was admitted to hospital with a stress-related disability each year. So, poet it was. That’s what it said on Pete’s ID card and that, therefore was what he was. Under the NIFF terms it was illegal for the state or any individual to force him to earn money by any other means. Only via an appeal to the highest level of labour courts in the land, or at Pete’s whim, could this designation be changed.

“So. Let’s’ start at the beginning shall we?” Janet smiled cautiously at the hunched figure opposite.
            Pete found the next twenty minutes tedious in the extreme. Okay so the state had moved him from the bed-sit flat he had lived in under the old basic welfare system to the country cottage he now occupied overlooking the river. But the setting was entirely in keeping with the need to have a calm and inspirational environment in which to create. Admittedly he had yet to put pen to paper, in fact his phobia about fountain pens was what had prompted the provision of the idle computer, but he still didn’t see why she had to go in detail through the list of things the government had provided. Was she trying to apply pressure?

            “Now I hope you don’t feel I’m putting you under pressure here Mr Smith. I just want to make sure we have done all we possibly can. So, as I was saying; the furniture, satisfactory?” Pete nodded that it was indeed satisfactory, especially the deep leather recliner which looked as if it might also be perfect in a more upright posture against the desk. Certainly he was in no danger of getting a bad back.
            “The car, so you would be able to communicate one-on-one with your relatives and friends without the humiliation of being seen on public transport, should you become famous; satisfactory?” Commensurate with his status, should he become famous, the Jag was understated, elegant and did very nicely. Pete decided that one day he would learn to drive it himself instead of always having to rely on the woman they had provided. She was there in an attempt to pre-empt lonely, self-destructive poetic angst and so far had performed her function admirably. Last night she had easily earned whatever they were paying her. The chauffeur and the twins. Now that had been very nice indeed. He was brought back to earth by Janet’s summing up. Shit he was going to be in trouble now; she seemed to be awaiting an answer.

            “So, do you think that there is anything else we could possibly do to facilitate your creative re-awakening?”
            “I’m sorry?”
            “When you applied for the reclassification as poet, let’s see, er… yes three years ago, you stated that you needed to undergo a complete change of environment and lifestyle in order to go through what you described as a creative re-awakening. Has it happened yet?”
            “I don’t think so…” Had it hell! Since he’d had the digital satellite system installed – to help him unwind and avoid the anxiety of writers’ block – he had scarcely moved from in front of the flickering screen. So this was it, the day of reckoning. What could they do to him? Would he go back to the bed-sit? Or worse, be written out of the social contract altogether and end his days on bad cider, viewing the world from a park bench? Oh well, it had been a good… was it really three years?… how time flies…

            “So we can take it that, despite being given all possible assistance to allow you to pursue a new career as a poet, this project has failed? Is there anything you’d like to say?”
            “Right then, that’s the end of that.” She carefully scored diagonal line across the front page of his file, “That marks the official demise of Peter Smith – Poet.”
            My god, she had written him off! What would he do, who could he turn to? Through his panic he realised that she was talking again, asking again.
            “So what are you going to do?”
            “Well, I hardly know where to start, I, er…” Would they send him to a labour camp to pay back the…? It must be thousands they’d spent on him. Punishment? My god, he hadn’t even considered what they might be able to legally do to him. “I just don’t know.” He hung his head in despair in front of his inquisitor.

            “Oh dear, I hope I haven’t upset you. Look, just go away and think about it. In fact get right away, I’ll provide you with travel vouchers for two weeks anywhere in the world,” (whispering now and looking up at the ceiling microphone – all interviews were taped.) “Please don’t get upset, my boss would be furious.”
            “Eh?” Pete was now completely confused; he’d obviously missed something, “could you just go over that again, please?”
            “Er, ahem…” (she glanced quickly at the microphone and seemed to gather herself together, sitting more upright and enunciating loudly and clearly.) “You have a choice, Mr Smith, we can offer you either artist or philosopher, given that your first choice hasn’t worked out quite as planned. Either of them comes with a month’s free trial, in fact you can even try both of them and you don’t need to make a firm decision for another three months. To help you with your decision we can provide a holiday, on the state of course, as a means of getting over your recent trauma, and on your return you are welcome to take advantage of our free counselling service.” She sat for a moment before gathering her papers together, then stood up and nodded formally to Pete and turned for the door. “My secretary will prepare all the necessary paperwork and she will ring you at home later to ask if you have made a decision about your holiday destination. Thank you for coming in.”

            Janet hovered at the door, she thought she had covered everything. He didn’t seem too traumatised by her approach and in time she felt sure he could settle into a new life as an artist… or a philosopher. Society needed philosophers. And therapists. And trauma counsellors. She was sure she had made the right decision about Mr Smith and mentally ticked off all the features of the interview as she opened the door. She had been polite, helpful, courteous, generous with her time and - she felt sure - helpful. Only one thing remained. As she began to close the door she turned to face Mr Smith and smiled beatifically at him.

            “Just One last thing Mr Smith”

            Pete almost felt relieved. She had been teasing, torturing him. Here at last was the deserved denouement. The axe hovered. “Yes?” he responded, weakly.

“Have a nice day.”