Friday 29 November 2013

Paws for thought

The Happy Paws Veterinary Clinic and Bide-a-wee ‘rest’ home for retired furry friends is a bustling place most days, but on a Friday there is a sense of foreboding in the air when pets are left with the clinic as weeping children are lead away and fed stories about how old Fluffy is going to retire, down on the farm.

It’s getting late in the afternoon now and the last three patients are waiting quietly in their holding pens on Doggie Death Row at the back of the surgery. As old lags will, they give up their stories to each other and make their peace:

“Hi fellas, my name’s Tyson” announces the Pit Bull “I suppose it was only a matter of time before I landed myself here. There should be warnings, there really should. I mean everybody knows we’re an excitable breed but we were intended for one thing and one thing only. Once we get the blood pumping there’s no stopping us. And you know how excitable kids are. So there I am, running about the garden after this stupid ball and the next thing you know I’ve got little Tommy’s leg clamped in my jaws and I’m biting and biting and the red mist is coming down. Apparently they had to beat me unconscious and well, here I am…”

“So, in for the, you know, the lethal injection?” asked the Rottweiler.

“Yep, ‘fraid so. What did they expect? How about you?”

The Rotty takes over. “Hi, I’m Rocky and I’m a bit pissed off, to be honest. After all, I was only doing my job. I’ve lived in that scrapyard since the day I was born and I’ve always known the rules. Sleep and loll about all day and if the boss is about I can be as daft as I want. But once that gate is locked up and I’m off the chain the yard is mine. Up until now I’ve just made plenty of noise and bared my teeth, but last night the pikeys came over the fence and started on me with sticks. Well, I wasn’t having it and I was only just getting started when the Old Bill shows up. I was caught, bang to rights, drawing blood. So…”

The pit bull mimes a knife across the throat. “Yep” agrees Rocky, “but what can you do? Rules is rules.” The pair look towards the Alsatian, forlornly sitting in the last cage. “What’s your story, pal?” asks Tyson.

“First off, it wasn’t my fault.” The other two dogs pass a knowing look; they all say that. “Well – my name’s Rex by the way – I used to live with a good looking young couple…”

“Oh and they want kids, right?” asked Rocky

“No, quite the opposite. They had a row, he moved out, so there I was alone in the house with a cracking fit mistress. Gawd, she was lovely- used to drive me to distraction. Now, we have a downstairs bathroom and yesterday she’d left the door open as she was running a bath. I was just sitting on the hall rug, panting a bit when she turned to me, smiled, dropped her robe then got down on her knees and bent over the tub.”

“Bloody hell” said Tyson, echoed by Rocky’s “Strewth!”

“Yeah, so I took it as an invitation and, you know, I was like a stick of rock down there, so I was in like Flynn! She was well-shocked; it turns out she was only testing the water temperature.”

“Bloody hell!” repeated Tyson “And you’re getting the injection for that?”

“Nope” said Rex

“Oh, so they’re chopping your balls off?” asked Rocky.

“Neither” said Rex, “I’m having my nails clipped.”

Thursday 28 November 2013

The song of the Bulgar Votemen

Another week closer to January 1st and another frenzied attempt to close the empty stable door. Sadly, it’s been banging to and fro in the Westminster wind for far too long and its hinges are close to being ‘un’. Still nobody in government or opposition knows anything at all about what will happen: There won’t be a dangerously numerous Bulgar/Roma influx because they are already here; to take the sting from UKIP's mass influx scares, we have been quietly letting them in for years… or… There will be a massive brain drain of their best-qualified graduates leaving Bulgaria perilously short of expertise… or… All immigrants come here to work and even on their sub-minimum wage jobs will apparently contribute more in tax than they will use in benefits and services... or… There is a horde of barbarians at the gates and they are coming to rob our welfare state. What’s the truth? We will never know because we haven’t the means to find out.

One very simple thing could overcome all of this uncertainty and as an island state it is something we could do and used to do, quite easily. But of course it is now racist to have border controls; to check that those arriving here have the right to remain and that we can – as we seem to be able to do very easily with UK citizens – track their movements. It’s a mess, isn’t it, and the thorny issue of who is to blame is impossible to untangle, mired as it is in years of duplicity and head-burying by all flavours of government.

We knew scores of years ago ago that machines would displace more and more manual work and yet we still bred uncontrolled – practically encouraged it - from labouring stock. At least they occasionally came in handy as cannon fodder for Tony Blair’s wars. We’ve known for decades that an educated workforce would be needed to acquire skills beyond the ability to develop callouses and yet education has let them down. Or is it, as Boris has said, that some don’t have the IQ to compete. And given the abundance of cheap foreign labour the knuckle draggers can’t even compete for manual work now.

In a desperate attempt to pacify the public mood (And at this late hour, what possible other motive could there be?) David Cameron is trying to restrict access to out of work benefits for three months. Three months, seriously? For somebody arriving from an impoverished country, still emerging from communism that’s just like a queue for bread. As somebody on my Twitter timeline said, look out for Big Issue sellers every ten feet. Bizarrely the migrant self-employed can claim straight away – something that British self-employed cannot. And how will local authorities react to homelessness on their streets – theenk of ze cheeldren – we know they’ll be a soft touch and once they’re in, they’re in; our record on deportations, even of violent, convicted, incarcerated criminals is laughable.

So if you have lived and worked here all your life, as many have found it is quite difficult to claim sufficient benefits when you need to, to maintain a lifestyle even close to that of some of your neighbours who have never contributed. But come to Britain and cram three families to a house for a few weeks and the welfare banquet is all yours; why we’ll even bring in an army of interpreters and lawyers to ensure you get every mouthful.

The Volga Boatmen by Ilia Efimovich Repin

The EU is an avowedly socialist project – why else would they be forever piling on the taxes to ‘reach out’ to poorer countries? Mass unemployment is also unfairly shared out across the EU – we hear daily about the problems in Spain and Greece. As good socialists the EU knows that the fair thing is to take from those who have to give to others – to level down - and it applies just as much to unemployment as to anything else. Where there is abundance, goes their mantra, we must redistribute it. So, effectively, we are importing Eastern European unemployment to Britain, Germany and France. The Eastern Bloc countries feared their Soviet masters but now, as they journey west to the land of milk and honey their cry is “The rations are coming!” 

Wednesday 27 November 2013

He's quite white!

So now we know what’s at the root of it all. Me. And my kind; we are the scourge of humanity and it must be so because no less a luminary than a ‘progressive’ Professor has said so. Among all the experts in all the world, the very apotheosis of expertise has to be a progressive who has nevertheless persuaded his handlers that despite all the restraints and the medication it takes to maintain their world view, he is worthy of tenure.

Professor Noel Ignatiev delivered a final lecture on his recent retirement, reported in the hilariously titled "Diversity Chronicle", which included this passage:

“If you are a white male, you don’t deserve to live. You are a cancer, you’re a disease. White males have never contributed anything positive to the world! They only murder, exploit and oppress non-whites! At least a white woman can have sex with a black man and make a brown baby but what can a white male do? He’s good for nothing. Slavery, genocides against aboriginal peoples and massive land confiscation, the inquisition, the holocaust, white males are all to blame! You maintain your white male privilege only by oppressing, discriminating against and enslaving others!” 

So Diane Abbo was right after all. You dirty, rotten, lying, cheating mankind-impoverishing white bastards. You should top yourselves, every last one of you. And until every trace of white history and influence is eradicated, presumably the world cannot be the pure shade of coffee the mad professor yearns for. So, I reckon all we hideous white male ghosts should do a John Galt and take ourselves and all our toys off into the hills to die. The rest of you should prepare for the future.

To do the job properly we’ll need to remove from your experience all of the following: The Industrial Revolution. Space travel. The Renaissance. Maps and exploration – oh and satnav.  Every significant piece of heavy engineering you can imagine, such as bridges, aquaducts, airports, railways, roads and of course, along with them all the planes, trains and automobiles.  Say goodbye also to electricity, surgery, money, communications, printing, efficient agriculture, parliament, the law and the Internet. We’re going to need a bigger U-Haul.

So, when the lights go out and silence returns and you all go back to live in caves on your little old flat earth, wondering what all the twinkling little lights in the sky are you’ll be able to ask yourselves, what did the white males ever do for us? We’ll also be taking the wine and spirits, so you’ll be doing your wondering in stark, cold sobriety.

That's the last you'll see of all that!

It’ll be quiet, at least. And I’m sure given enough time you’ll eventually be able to rediscover all that horrible, nasty oppressive stuff for yourselves. I wonder which flavour coffee will rise up to do all the subjugating next time around? Anyway, good wishes and good luck. Given that the good professor has a healthy whitey pallor himself I expect I can assume it’s only a matter of time before he leads by example.


My thanks to two Tweeters who have pointed out that this report is a spoof. The good prof  has, however, views which verge on being perilously close to what was stated here. He has, indeed, called for the abolition of the white race - although to be fair, not by extermination - and has been associated with enough left-wing political movements to be considered at best a bloody nuisance and potentially a dangerous influence on his students. His Wikipedia entry can be read here.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

The Death of Honour

Oh, I know what you're going to say, it died a long time ago and I think you are probably quite correct but here’s the thing; its rotting corpse is really starting to stink up the place. You would think by now they’d have at least given it a decent burial but sadly no, it is not to be.

Of course, when the Vikings came over at the end of the first millennium it was not with their own benefit or honour in mind. Oh no. They had seen that we were lagging behind in the essential rape and pillage industries and we needing a damn good dose of looting, slaughtering, burning and general ransacking to put us back on the straight and narrow. Thankfully, their helpful intervention came at just the right time to inject a bit of important stoicism to the burgeoning British character.

Similarly by the time we got to the fourteenth century it was clear that we had lapsed once more and our moral character was in grave danger as a result of a sloppy assumption that we would lead long and happy, healthy lives. Luckily on that occasion it was from Asia that our salvation came and thanks to the importation of sufficient oriental rat fleas, the Black Death put paid to our weaknesses in a trice, cut a swathe through our populations and made us buck our ideas up a bit.

Oh yes, Britain simply would not exist in our present form were it not for immigration. It is only thanks to immigration that we have a nation at all; if not for invading hordes of Angles, Saxons and ‘Juts’ according to Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah, who travelled to this land from his native Birmingham over half a century ago, why we would have no nation to speak of. God bless you, Benjamin, for reminding us ‘juts’ how pivotal to our isolated island history rampant immigration has been. Thank god we ‘aksed’ you over.

He who controls the present, they say, controls the past. But in the Internet age anybody with access to a computer can have a stab and Labour have been busy stabbing away at history in front of our very eyes. Everywhere you look and on every subject you will find that Labour now have all the answers that were cruelly withheld from them in power. Watch any news programme or follow any political discourse in any newspapers, online or in the airwaves and you will hear and see it for yourself.

On welfare, immigration, education, defence, foreign policy, the NHS, HS2 and even on the economy Labour can deliver. As you listen to the mellifluous tones of confident young men and women, delivering their messianic messages you can only marvel at what trickery was deployed at the last election to deny them their rightful place in power. Why, even as we speak, the monstrosity that is the whole Paul Flowers, rent-boy, corruption, mendacity, rent-boy, coke, rent-boy, incompetence debacle is slowly being crafted to join history as a failing of the Conservative administration…

As was the borrowing, the overspending, the disaster of multiculturalism, the house price crash and and the inflation of the welfare state to exceed the tax take… the dirty, rotten Tory bastards. And only now can we see the truth of how it was that the wicked Conservatives, in an act of truly audacious sabotage, attempted to bring down the Labour Party by enlisting the nasty Tory bully boys of Unite to rig the vote and employ Aardman Animations to elect The Wrong Miliband. The utter shits.

A word of warning now. If you are ‘A Left’, as a result of which you will have no functioning irony glands, it must be explained that the preceding 600 words have all been deliberate lies. Don’t worry; they are the kind of lovely, caring lies that the Labour Party can be proud to uphold. I tell you this only so that one day when you start to speak and somebody slaps you so hard across the mouth that it nearly breaks your festering, lying jaw, you shouldn't take it as an act of aggression alone; it is merely the sound of reality being vigorously reinstated.

Monday 25 November 2013

Hobby Horse

Owen Jones wouldn’t like it if he got what he wanted. The very press freedoms and freedoms of speech and commentary that give him a soap box and a decent living would just not be available to him under the system he says he wants, unless of course he was of the ‘more equal than others’ variety. He thinks it would be different if the People’s Assembly were in charge but it wouldn’t be – it would proscribe and limit, restrain and control and ultimately constrain human nature to behave in a way that is simply unnatural.

And the ultimate irony of the well-meaning actions of Labour and the unions is that they are ALWAYS hijacked and brought low by simple human nature, which they think they can change. On Friday I tweeted: “I am fucking LOVING this Paul Flowers business - Labour, the party of corruption and greed. Every single time.” Because that’s how I see it. If you are going to be the party of loving kindness you have to be whiter than white. Not ideologically derelict, as Britain’s left-of-centre thinkers inevitably are.

For instance, if you ever hear or read the word 'ethical' in a company mission statement you KNOW, sure as eggs is eggs, that they  are conmen. The true purpose and the only true purpose of a business is to make a profit. Whether it’s me, a one-man band with an odd, portfolio income of physical labour, consulting and a tiny amount through selling my literary wares or whether you are a multi-national conglomerate selling anything from military tanks to washing powder your existence is only justified if at the end of the day your outgoings are exceeded by your income.

There is no such thing as a non-profit-making business – we call that a hobby. Not making a profit simply means you’re either not very good and are destined to fail, or you are very good indeed at balancing your books so you don’t have to pay the tax man, perhaps by donating to charities who in their turn might further the causes of political parties, etc. Corrupt? Of course it’s corrupt; it’s human. So, in a way the Tories are far more honest by making no pretence that they are doing it for the good of mankind. I just wish they’d stop believing every single vote relies on trying to look as if they are.

To deny the proclivity of our species to exploit every little advantage is to deny humanity itself; a thesis I took to over the weekend. Commencing at about quarter-to-four on Friday afternoon I began to write a stream of consciousness account of the world according to me. For no particular reason I decided to write 15,000 words (About 30 times as long as this) to describe the ascent of man. Jacob Bronowski  eat yer heart out!

The Prophet motive

So, yeah, this blog is really about nothing more than me plugging my novella-length outpouring with which I expect to earn literally hundreds of pence. You can find it here on Amazon, where you can also, for the miserly outlay of mere pennies, gorge yourself on my other scribbles. I’m not begging but, you know, Christmas coming up and all and charity begins at home… Gawd 'elp you, every one! :o) 

Friday 22 November 2013

The Great Escape

The searchlights swept the waste ground outside the perimeter as the siren wailed, raising the alarm. Four pig-dog Englischermenschen had escaped and the Commandant of Stammlager Luft III, deep in occupied Poland, was extremely displeased. He ordered the dogs unleashed and search parties set out in pursuit as fifty of the remaining prisoners were rounded up and made to stand in the exercise yard, stripped to their underwear in the freezing blast of easterly air which swept across the steppes from the Urals. Some would not survive the night.

In the distance the dogs were becoming frenzied as they scented their quarry and shortly afterwards shots were heard in the distant woodland. Soon the noises of chaos gave way to order and minutes later the headlights of a returning vehicle threw the barbed wire coils into stark relief against the deadly night. One escapee recaptured, the others still at large seeking destinations unknown. The bedraggled prisoner was brought before the Commandant in a bare interrogation room.

The harsh light cast deep shadows and bleached out all colour as Colonel Fuchs paced back and forth, causing Flight Lieutenant Atkins to blink as he tried to fix his captor with a challenging stare. Fuchs stopped pacing and positioned himself so that Atkins had no option but to squint against the cold beam directed in his face. For long seconds both men regarded the other with cool disdain. Eventually, Colonel Fuchs spoke, in quiet measured tones.

“So, Tommy, you vill not talk. But it iss no matter . Vhile you sit here, silent, ve are rounding up ze last of your men and if you do not talk, ve have vays of making zem tell us everysink ve need to know.” He began to pace again as he delivered his well-rehearsed lines. “You sink ve vill tortue you? Vell don’t you vorry, Atkins, ve von’t.” He snapped his fingers and a junior officer clicked his heels to attention and marched out of the door, returning seconds later with a bound, half-naked prisoner flanked by two burly guards. They proceeded to beat him to his knees. “Ve vill torture him, instead.”

Atkins flinched but the prisoner, shivering violently and with fear in his eyes caught his gaze and with an almost imperceptible shake of his head indicated he would not break and Atkins should say nothing also. He nodded back; Colonel Fuchs noticed the gesture.

“Oh, you English, you sink you are so clever. Say fuck-nothing, yah?” he took a backhanded swipe at the prisoner as the guards held him upright. “Und don’t sink zat I do not know vhat you say behind my back. You take ze Mickey Mices out of my name. ‘Fuchs zis’, you say and ‘Fuchs zat’. You sink zis iss funny, hein? Vell let me tell you Britischer; my name, it means Fox, you see. I am a vily old fox and you – you are just my rabbit. Und now it is I who haff you in my headlights.”

Atkins looked at the colonel, trying to discern what he already knew and whether he understood the bizarre mixing of metaphors which conjured up the image of an intrepid fox driving a Bentley along Wardour Street. If they had been overheard mocking his name maybe, just maybe, they also knew that this escape had been a mere decoy to dilute the garrison strength. Right now, if all had gone according to plan, a hundred more allied airmen would be preparing to storm the weakened perimeter defences and escape to victory. If Fuchs knew, then Atkins had to give the signal to cancel.

I see nothing!

“Oh yes, “ the colonel continued, his pace quickening as his tone of voice became more strident. “Oh yes, you English think that ve Germans know fuck-nothing. Vell, let me tell you, Flight Lieutenant…” Atkins felt a panic rising in his breast as the Commandant lowered his glowering face to within an inch of his own. If the Germans knew the plan they would be ready with machine guns. If the Germans knew, he had but one chance to shout the abort command and save their lives. A moment’s silence, Atkins tensing, ready to cry out… the colonel continued. “Let me tell you, Flight Lieutenant Tommy Atkins. We Germans do not know fuck-nothing.

Ve know fuck-ALL!”

Thursday 21 November 2013

Of Pies and Men: John Prescott’s Diary - 1st January 2017

Dear Diary,

Well, today’s the day they said could never ‘appen. It’s seven in the morning and still dark - the sun never rises on the glorious People’s Republic of Kingston upon Hull – or Ull, as it is properly known - as she embarks on a whole year as European City of Culture. And what a culture it is. I am dead proud to be cutting the ribbon on the inaugural wife-beating ceremony down the docks. Pauline is 'aving her ‘air done just now and as soon as she’s finished, about half-eleven, a fleet of Jags is on standby to escort 'er for wobbly coffees wi’t’ladies wot lunch… then it's us dinner time.

Just time to put the finishing touches to my big speech:

‘Friends, Ronan, people of Ull. Unaccustomed has I am, it is your great pleasure to ‘ave me back on terra cotta in my ‘ome town. Actually, it’s not – I’m as Welsh as they come, really – but you ‘ave took me to your ‘eart and that’ll do. As I said a few years ago “the city of York already is a city, as is my own city of Hull is a city, and that I think is the definition of city and town." And I think that's pretty clear,really.

First off, I must say a big thank you to t'caterers for that magnificent blow-out. I have to be careful with my bulimia nervosa and all that, but the pork pie was magnificent, As were t’mushy peas – now you don’t get food like that in the ‘Ouse of Lords, which ennoblement I only ever accepted against my better judgement for the good of you all, which fact is well known and noted in t’committee minutes. Ta.

I’m known for my plain speaking and I’m not going to stop now. No, I’ve only just started, so you might as well get comfy. Now, when I first come ‘ere, Ull were a shit’ole. But look at it now. There used to be green fields over there, but now; concrete as far as you can see. The Green Belt was a Labour achievement… and we built on it. The schools were rubbish too, but as I said a few years ago, “the trouble is, if you build a good school, they all want to go to it" so we stuck to us guns and what ‘ave we got now? The people of Ull stay ‘ere and loyally ‘elp to build this strong community. They ‘ave to; nobody else wants ‘em.

But it works both ways, see. As immigration swamps other cities in the country, thanks to those Tory bastards, trying to rub us noses in diversity, ‘ere in Ull the only bloody foreigners we see are them on t’ferries from Rotterdam. And they come ‘ere, tekk one look and go straight back ‘ome, no bother. And them others, ‘oo come in via Dover, they can never find us. Nobody else in Britain knows where Ull is… and that’s ‘ow we like it.

In Ull we are proud of our working class roots. My roots, my background and the way I act is working class, but it would be hypsocritical to say I'm anything else than middle class now. And a lord, think on. So, as I unveil this statue to Ull’s greatest son – me - I thank you for the council taxes that paid for it. But there’s more than that and I bring you today, one of my former flagship policies, one that will help to preserve the purity of Ull’s culture for decades to come.

'Oo's laffing now?

For them who’s worried about this City of Culture award raising our profile and bringing more strangers to Ull and trying to change us ways. For those concerned at the possible influx of teams of documentary makers and anthropologists, probing our foibles and spending in our shops. For those anticipating a rapid change in our fortunes I say don’t worry, prepare for history. I give you, the new M62 bus lane! 

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The Glass See-Saw

Nobody would look to this blog to provide balance. Why would you? If you want ‘balance’ you simply queue up at the EU admin counter and get your card stamped to say you’ve achieved it having paid the appropriate fee. As long as the quotas have been filled and the paperwork has been completed that all-important equality objective has been ticked off and whether or not anything has actually been achieved, social justice is seen to be done. Or not. Whatever – as always in politics it’s the perception not the real outcome that matters, which is why those of us who live outside the political vacuum can see things that the apparatchiks cannot.

Take gender balance. Yesterday, although I was dimly aware that such moves were afoot, I became aware of the utterly deluded ambitions of the EU to impose gender quotas on the membership of company boards when it cropped up on the Daily Politics. Now this is not some report that points out the positive effects of diversity – real or imagined – on society. Nor is it merely the promotion of the desirable and sensible British government policy to have equality of gender representation in government departments such as health, education, law enforcement, social services and the like. No, once again and without meaningful consultation it is the direct imposition of EU political will on private companies, whatever their business.

Whether you are in the arms trade, heavy industry, engineering, football or space exploration you will, by mandate have to have 40% of your non-executive board made up of women – like it or lump it. Before you even begin to call me a bigot in this regard, let me state that I believe that who makes up a company’s board is the business of that company alone and it should be comprised of the best people for the job. If that results in a board of ALL women or ALL men so be it, but it is a matter for the shareholders to decide and I don’t know a single sensible person who believes otherwise.

Shortly after I joined the Royal Navy, Britannia Waived the Rules and not only allowed what were formerly called Wrens to serve at sea, but also brought to an end the long and proud history of the WRNS. In order to push through a policy that the navy hadn’t asked for – and neither had a majority of serving Wrens – a lot of young women were advanced beyond their capabilities in order to make up the numbers, with consequent resentment from longer serving and better suited male candidates. Those who did not want to volunteer for sea service (why should they, this wasn’t what they had joined up to do?) suffered a consequent lowering of their prospects. Many of both types, disappointed, opted for PVR (Premature Voluntary Retirement).

Stock market listed engineering firms – I was with one for a while before it disappeared up its own backside (not my fault, honest) – applied the same positive discrimination so that organisations of almost wholly male population were managed by a disproportionate number of young women, often with little understanding of the work. I’ve been there and seen just how difficult it is for a pretty, young female graduate from an entirely different discipline to motivate a hairy-arsed team of forty-year old, deep engineering specialists. It is ugly and demoralising and just plain wrong.

The usual escape route for said young graduate of the politically-correct gender when the project founders is promotion out of trouble.  Each according to their abilities? From an avowedly socialist European Union surely the notion of forever hammering square pegs into round holes must sit uneasily? But no, for the projekt has dictated we must be equal by decree even if we’re not equal to the task and it provokes nothing but an uneasy tension between unwilling participants.

What next? Enforced equal participation of men in aromatherapy, nails, feet and Avon? At least 30% of births by 2020 to be to male mothers? A major newspaper investigation to reveal the horrifying reality that almost all NHS breast enhancement surgery has been carried out on women? Women to be compelled to grow moustaches every November? All schoolgirls to attend compulsory arm-wrestling and farting classes? And operation Yewtree officers to be deployed to investigate just why it is that so few men are inclined to take up careers in childcare?

Let companies choose, for goodness’ sake. And let the life choices of men and women affect their careers, proportionately. The ceiling isn’t glass at all; it is built from the resentment and bitter frustrations of private companies just trying to turn a profit. The equality see-saw will forever be canted one way or the other; why not let it find its own preferred position without the interference of all the cants in Brussels? Mind you, having said all that let’s give total equality in all areas a go – bring on the heavyweight boxing.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Goodbye bar t’at*

The old certainties are gone.

Nobody now expects a youthful marriage to last beyond a few short years, the outrageous cost of the big day rising in inverse proportion to its expected longevity. And as it gets rarer it obeys the laws of supply and demand and becomes more expensive still. Consequently many just don’t bother and go ahead to raise unconsidered quantities of children (the misguided commitment to a current partner being measured in procreation) who will grow up to not know what a family life could mean. Their life chances are limited and they go on in turn to repeat the mistakes of their parents.

I have always considered it an act of supreme arrogance to bring, kicking and screaming into the world, a child who has not been given that most basic of human rights – choice - and then to cast its fortunes adrift on the rocky ship of state. Of course there are good parents to which none of this applies (still the majority I dearly hope) but even their careful ministrations are wont to go astray if they do not have the means to pass on privilege to their offspring. If you can’t afford private education, or you don’t have wealth to confer, or at least a stake in the family business, your children may have opportunities barely better than the guttersnipes.

But it wasn’t always that way. A mere half a century ago it was possible for a dull but assiduous child to enter a trade, learn skills for life and have a reasonable expectation of being able to rely on those skills until such time as the state repaid all those years of taxes by providing for a basic but comfortable old age. Even a drone by nature could have a fulfilling life and a gentle retirement, provided for by a system in a state of balance. Once graded and sorted, your part of the bargain was that you could dream but not expect too much, living your life in your allotted place. It wasn’t as bad as some would have you believe.

There were always opportunities of course, as there are now, for the bright and the beautiful, the gifted, talented, special and just downright lucky to break out and scale the dizzy heights of material success or widespread acclaim, but just as before, such bright-burning stars are the exception. If your sprint for the tape fell short you could always fall back on what you knew, eat humble pie and get your old job back; we always needed your skills or your graft.

But all of that has gone now. The world doesn’t actually owe you the living that a few short decades ago you had a reasonable expectation of having; a stable foundation on which to build a modest family and lead a useful if unexciting life. There is no longer a permanent local industry in which to stake your place, because the world is different and the globalisation that makes it so cannot be reversed except by you becoming parochial and diminished; giving up your iPads and living off the land. I can’t see that happening any time soon.

I was thinking all this as I sat in my car at the little gravel car park below White Well Spa Cottage on Ilkley Moor, as the rain poured from the grey veil of clouds shrouding that totemic slab of gritty Yorkshire landscape. And as I watched the rain slick the short moorland grass I realised I may not get many opportunities to see my home county again. Don’t panic; I haven’t been diagnosed with anything nasty and terminal, but rather than eke out a miserly retirement, watching the once greatest nation on Earth rapidly and ignobly sink into the dreary sludge of mediocrity, I plan instead on embarking on one last big adventure. And what greater adventure could there be than to leave these blighted shores and settle in a far-off land?

Goodbye to all that 

Rather than feel a stranger in my own country, as I have for many years now, I feel there’s more honesty in becoming a real foreigner in a proper foreign country. Instead of watching the news with anguish and bemoaning the demise of donkey strangling, or joining protest at the lack of facilities for public wife-restraint, I’ll be able instead to just sit back on the sidelines, pointing at the quaint locals going about their incomprehensible business. In some ways it will make more sense than watching the death throes of a nation I used to understand all too well.

So over the next twelve months I will be making my preparations to say farewell to Yorkshire and farewell to England. And when I go I will definitely be taking a hat.

(For Americans, southerners and those of a southerly disposition, the title is derived from the well-known Yorkshire folk ditty "Ilkley Moor bar T'at", which translates as "without a hat". If you don't believe me, go here.)

Monday 18 November 2013

Rubbing Noses

What is the Labour Party up to, eh? Are they working on the selective-memory principle that voters will forget what they did ten years ago yet still blame Thatcher for what happens today? Is the succession of garment-rending non-apologists their attempt to say, “Hey guys it happened, nobody could help it but now the coalition need to have a grown-up discussion about it.”? What they should be saying - Mandelson, Straw, Blunkett, Johnson et al, is, “Wow! We really did fuck it up, didn’t we?” then quietly falling on their swords.

So, all this lovely, vibrant, colourful, thrilling diversity – how’s that working out for you Sheffield? And Leeds, and Manchester… Bradford, Birmingham, Burnley, Oldham, Luton, Leicester, London… every last city in the land? While the Guardian is still pathetically fighting a rear-guard, you’re-all-racists action, the rest of the country – especially Labour’s traditional working class strongholds – has been dealing with life at immigration ground-zero. And of course the latest ‘revelation’ has been the un-British ways of Sheffield’s Roma.

Overcrowding, antisocial behaviour, littering, loitering, noise. This is not refugeeism; these people are not fleeing bombed-out villages; if anything they bring their wrecking ways with them, along with the fears of imported disease: George Orwell died prematurely in 1950 of tuberculosis but over the next thirty years it was all but eradicated. Now it is on the rise, apparently, along with other diseases long absent from these isles. And only recently Defra has been urged to increase the rabies risk status of the UK.

Talking about this is not racism it's real, yet still the debate is stifled with soundbites. Over the weekend the boy wonder, Owen Jones was on the radio touting his ‘owen’ particular brand of jaw-jaw polemic. Frequently citing the flawed conclusion of the recent study that found exactly what it had been tasked to find he repeated “immigration is a net benefit to this country” whenever he was challenged, oblivious to the simple truth that this says nothing useful. A company with loss-making departments doesn’t accept their failure on the basis that, overall, the company limps along and scrapes a tiny profit.

Owen’s other, principal argument plank was that some people cried that immigrants took their jobs while others blamed them for living off benefits. “Which is it?” demanded the ferocious fighter for social justice,  ”you can’t have it both ways!”. Well actually, Owen old chum, you can. You see, some immigrants are imported to be cheap labour for Britain’s large-scale employers; they come, they work, they go home again. Bully for them. But others undeniably come over with no intention of working, simply seeking a generous benefit system they don’t have at home.  

And of course under New Labour’s glorious project the borrowing in ‘boom’ times to extend the welfare state to workers too means that you can - at one and the same time - be both a tax payer and a net recipient of benefits. And the importation of cut-price workers has had a big hand to play in that.

One argument that Labour used in favour of mass immigration was the state-dependent pensioner-heavy balance of the population. They had a point. With more and more elderly becoming economically inactive and with successive governments raiding National Insurance as just another tax pot for current spending, where indeed was the money to come from? As always, they argued, by squeezing current tax payers, so the more the merrier. I’d be very keen to know how that situation is going to be improved by the free movement of people with giant families who have no intention of ever working. Perhaps Owen has an answer?

Once again, I saw the documentary “Cold War, Hot Jets” at the weekend and watched, misty-eyed , at the world I was brought up in. A Britain that had won the last war, was winning the cold one and looked very much like the envy of the world. But now it’s as if you spent your whole life building something – a nice, modest house with a well-tended garden amongst contented neighbours – only to find that the government has spent your savings and the only option you have is to open your doors to lodgers. Soon, you have a family of six living in the shed, helping themselves to the contents of your fridge and garden, selling off your possessions and making your life hell. Fuck your huddled masses – it’s every man for himself now.

It's vibrant multiculturalism, innit?

And the worst of it - whatever Miliband, Straw and uncle Tom Blunkett and all are now saying – whatever mumbled excuses they are spouting we know that this was their intention all along. Blair and Brown set out to deliberately destroy the very notion of Britishness and simply refused to listen to the ‘ignorant’ fears of those who would have to live with the consequences. And the current coalition has no power to turn the tide, the next influx of which is expected in a few weeks.  A tiny part of me wants to see a massive influx of Roma in January to rub the LEFT's noses in diversity!

Friday 15 November 2013

Mind how you go...

As we approach whatever it is politically correct to call our mid-winter celebrations these days I thought it prudent to bring you this timely reminder of one of the dangers of these dark times. Yes, there are the obvious hazards associated with icy roads, frosted windows and low winter sun. Also, as we near the longest nights of mid-December there is an increasing risk of snowdrifts and the attendant dangers of becoming stranded and managing to stay alive while waiting for help. But on top of that beware the risk to your livelihood that losing your driving licence will present.

Yes, the annual party season is almost upon us and along with reports of local authorities clamping down on ‘Winterval’ and fearing the abhorrent racism and outrageous offence in deploying the hateful word ‘Christmas’, you are soon be bombarded with advice on how to avoid enjoying yourself to anywhere near the traditional level. Principle among these will be the entreaties to make a formal abjuration of all merriment, or take a taxi, or persuade one of your number to forego the festive cup altogether and assume the dreaded role of ‘designated driver’.

Police experience shows, however, a grim determination to ignore such advice and risk it all anyway. In warning, I bring you the account of an incident recorded by one patrol this time last year, as they waited patiently outside an out-of-town public house. A local company had descended on the hostelry and the sounds of merriment reached the officers as they waited, patiently, in an unmarked car at the edge of the brimming car park. They were aghast at the thought of ordinary people enjoying themselves with such abandon, but even more frustrated that out here, away from residences, this was not (yet) a crime. No matter, the remote location presented them with the potential for rich pickings anyway; everybody had to drive to get here.

The pub had been granted an extended licence, so their wait was going to be a long one. As midnight approached, one or two revellers left the pub and walked, far too soberly, to their cars. The young constable was eager to challenge them immediately, but the wise old sergeant he accompanied cautioned him to wait and watch. Those leaving early, he advised, were likely to be teetotal killjoys; confronting them would be a waste of time and besides, it might alert others to the police presence. Far better to wait until nearer the end.

Time passed slowly and the officers took it in turns to doze lightly until suddenly, at around two in the morning, the pub door was flung exuberantly open and to loud shouts of “Good night!” and “Merry Crimbo!” accompanied by the sound of party trumpets and the beat of the disco music, a heavily decorated figure lurched from the steamy interior and out into the cold night air. Wearing a Father Christmas hat and bedecked liberally with tinsel, he stood, unsteadily on the pub doorstep as he struggled to light a cigarette, swaying as he squinted at the flame and trying at length to coordinate the meeting of smoking material and source of combustion.

As he stood there in fierce concentration one or two other revellers left the venue, started up their cars and drove into the night. But the police, now alert, were not to be distracted and had the drunk squarely in their sights. They watched as he began to stagger around the carpark, looking carefully and quizzically at each car for a while before changing direction and searching another area. It was clear the party was winding up and as others waved their goodbyes and drove off into the night, the hapless victim dropped his keys repeatedly as he fumbled and searched fruitlessly for his car.

His task became easier as the car park gradually emptied and at last he managed to locate his vehicle, laboriously heave open the door and slump before the wheel. The young constable was cautioned to wait until he put the vehicle in motion – they were still on private property after all. Long minutes went by when it seemed they were never to get their man until finally, the driver seemed to make a decision, sat bolt upright, started the car and weaved unsteadily across the car park and out into the empty early-hours roads. He had only travelled a hundred yards before the blue lights of the police car appeared behind him. Pulling into a layby and winding down the window he greeted the officers with a cheery “Happy Christival, hofficers!

The police were not amused and swiftly confiscating his keys, escorted him into the back of their own car where the constable ordered him to take a breath test. It came up negative. They tried again, with strict instructions to keep blowing, keep blowing, keep blowing…  the breathalyser indicated no evidence that the man consumed alcohol at all! Frustrated, the sergeant took over and repeated the process, with the same, negative result.

I'm not as think as you drunk I am!

Dumbfounded, the sergeant said "I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the police station. This breathalyser equipment must be broken." 

"I doubt it, Sergeant," said the driver. "Tonight I'm the designated decoy."

Thursday 14 November 2013

Messages in bottles...

Now, we all know about ‘experts’; gawd knows I bang on about them enough. You know, the feted economists who never predicted the big crashes; the historians who forget that it’s supposed to be an accurate narrative of events and not a fictional rewrite to match their ideology and of course the climatologists who fidget with their forecasts and spend a disproportionate amount of time telling us that although it FEELS warmer, it is in fact colder… and vice versa… and it’s far too complicated for you little people to understand (wind turbines, goddammit!).

But why should we care what they say at all? Because no matter how earnestly they spew their guff they have absolutely no power to influence anything (except, of course, for the £gazillions that governments shower them with). The subjects they deal with are fluffy, indistinct nebulae whose exact nature simply cannot be clearly defined and can never be held to the frequently changing rules they devise, which means what the experts say would be immaterial, were it not for the crippling costs they impose on us mere plebs.

Then there are the politicians of all colours who we sort of think should have a say in all this, so we ought to vote for them so they can influence things in our favour… but then another election comes and goes and we confirm what we really knew all along – meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Because they too are dealing with an enormous system consisting of so many interconnected variables with such unseen and delicate balancing links that it is almost inconceivable that any changes can be made anywhere without somebody losing out.

In order to look busy they tinker ineffectually at the margins and concentrate on pissing off either the people who can choose to pay up or leave, or those who have so little influence or attract so little sympathy their reactions can be ignored altogether. The evidence of the efficacy of experts in explaining big, complicated subjects should tell us that big, complicated government is way too tricky to be left in the hands of people who themselves are in the thrall of experts. All we can do is watch from the sidelines and shrug.

But woe betide the ‘expert’ who pronounces on stuff that’s closer to our hearts and experiences. Get down to the nitty gritty of life and the intuitively graspable bits of our daily grind and we are the experts. And we get pissed off when some twat in a stovepipe hat tries to tell us what we should think and do.

On immigration, welfare, fecklessness, law and order and many more subjects if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and walks like a duck – it is, no matter what you say, hat-man, a fucking duck. Which brings me to the arrogance of a class of experts who purport to tell me what I like, or should like; the wine expert. In an article in the Daily Mail they tell us that our preference for cheaper brands is simply wrong. Here, have a couple of quotes:

the amateur’s perception of a good wine is based on the notion of ‘smoothness…” whereas, experts  “...look for complex flavours, the balance between them and how long flavours linger.”

But don’t worry, with a bit of training you can be educated and “as [your] understanding and sense of taste grow [you will] tend to gravitate to pricier wines that display more complexity

So, let me get this straight. As an amateur you can enjoy a drink for a moderate price and go to bed happy and still in pocket, but do as the experts say and you too can become a gullible wine snob, paying through the nose for some meretricious plonk that nobody else enjoyed and look down your nose at your former friends' unsophisticated ignorance. Do me a flavour!

A government advisor... advises

And of course, all of this ignores the REAL reason most wine drinkers drink the bloody stuff. There may be wisdom in that there bottle and possibly a little touch of veritas, but most of all there’s a wee bit of oblivion to get you to the end of the day… those so-called experts are alcoholics just like the rest of us, dressing up their denial by forking out fortunes to feed their habit and give it the air of respectability. Well, bollocks to that, give me the Vino Collapso every time.

Wednesday 13 November 2013


So, I’m sitting here at my desk engaged in a curious endeavour. It’s most odd in a world where we pay some people to do absolutely nothing that I have to actually produce something that somebody else is prepared to shell out for in order to earn a crust. It’s not a novel idea, really, it’s the way things have been for millennia – you exchange your money for my time and skills – but I wonder if there are people in the world who truly don’t get it. Actually, I don’t wonder at all; I see it every day.

The latest manifestation of our bizarre system of reward without productive effort is the idea of payment for breastfeeding. Yes, I know there’s a wider argument about creating less dependency on public services down the line, but it’s a curious way of going about it, reinforcing the belief that your living is the responsibility of government and therefore your entitlement. The simple fact is that state-dependent parents tend to produce state-dependent children almost whatever efforts are poured in from an empty public purse.

The removal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance caused an element of protest, but it too was a largely meaningless gesture; those kids with the wit and enthusiasm and ability to gain from further education didn’t need bribing to stay in college and those who would only do so because of the EMA probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I challenge anybody to prove it genuinely changed outcomes in all but a tiny number of marginal cases.

The same applies with the misnamed Job Seekers Allowance – if you want to work you’ll go out to seek a job but if you make a living working cash-in-hand, on the rob, working scams, etc, it’s just another state handout to help you carry on regardless. Admittedly the government is talking tough about applying sanctions but for years this misnamed payment has effectively reduced the value of subsistence available for those who genuinely need short-term dole, while paying others to make a career out of idleness.

And of course, the always sensitive Child Benefit – a payment to people for doing what they would do anyway. In fact it’s another payment which disproportionately benefits those with a lower value to society because while those in useful work tend to ration their family sizes by necessity, if you can claim the right combination of benefits – for which having children is pivotal -  it is perfectly possible to raise a family and support a succession of undeclared feral males of breeding age without ever lifting a finger to give anything back.

We genuinely live in a world of The Haves and The Have Nots. But where we used to believe in supporting those who could not support themselves we now take from those who work to produce things that we need and we give it not to those whose need is greater, but to those of whom we have no need. It’s no wonder people are saying that our society is broken – for every pound some get that they don’t earn somebody else has to earn a pound that they don’t get.

You looking at me?

So, back to the point. EMA paid out to kids who didn’t actually go to college. JSA is paid to many who have no intention of seeking work and now they are going to pay BFA – Breast Feeders Allowance – without any idea of how they are going to monitor it. As I sit here contemplating my fine set of moobs I’m wondering if I can’t take up a second career and claim BFA just for making a tit of myself.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Crisis? What crisis?

In the assault on our intelligence which is all that politics is, Ed Miliband has chosen his weapons in this war of words and foremost in his arsenal is a vacuous but deadly phrase. The most important thing about sound-bite ordnance is that it conveys voter appeal, yet has no substance and provides the enemy with no counter attack. How can the Tories respond to the howitzer of the ‘cost of living crisis’ without being seen as downright nasty? Well they might like to compare ‘poverty-stricken’ Britain with the Philippines right now in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, except to do so would be crass. It’s worth a thought though, because most of us will never know true crisis.

On the African plains, herds of wildebeest make their meagre living by moving as the seasons change. At times of plenty life is good for a brief while and everybody benefits, yet the predators still pick off the weak and detached; those living on the fringes. When the great herds migrate, their whole society changes its shape and the fringes are no longer occupied only by the feckless or stupid, but the turmoil of motion pushes even strong individuals to the outside where the lions wait… And then there are the crocodiles.

In life people move from job to job, circumstance to circumstance. Some by choice, some by folly and some by sheer misfortune. At the centre of the human herd are the greater mass of working or welfared classes; on the fringes those with a more adventurous or unfortunate disposition and some thrust there by the forces of nature.  But all of them are engaged in ‘making a living’; that’s what we do. Other than survival there are no genuine higher purposes to life itself but humans have sought to fabricate them and a bloody good job we’ve done of it.

Beyond the strive for mere survival, when the bellies are filled, humans engage in remarkable flights of fantasy and fancy – diversions of art, sport, literature, technology and for children of all ages, tales of gingerbread houses and wolves in the woods. All of this represents a surplus above and beyond the mere cost of living which, after all, is simply a combination of food and warmth and shelter. And if you think we value so highly those great works, consider how many former civilisations have set about destroying their own culture as ravaged populations have turned on the non-edible architecture in frustration or, in despair, simply walked away.

The Roma are coming – if the Filipinos could they would – they are a herd on the move. Until now their borders have been constrained but there are no crocodiles in the English Channel and to them the grass is very much greener over here. When Miliband talks about a cost of living crisis he is doing it to make you believe a lie; that your livelihoods are under intolerable strain. They might be harder than they were five years ago but for the vast majority of ordinary people little has changed apart from the perception of the size of the surplus.

"...and in England, people live in gingerbread palaces!"

When you watch your big television as the kids use their own computers and you all gorge on pizza and fiddle with smart phones, complaining all the while about your miserable lives,  subsisting on the bread line you might want to take a moment to ask yourselves a question. If life here is so bad, if we truly have a cost of living ‘crisis’ why would anybody, let alone tens of thousands, want to abandon their homes and their culture to come to Britain?

Sunday 10 November 2013

Tolerating Fools Badly

I’m not a particularly angry person. Yes, I get exercised when the stupid are given platforms from which to demonstrate just exactly how very stupid they are, but that’s more despair than anger. In the main, I sail on through my unremarkable life trying really hard to not be a burden on others. I expect nothing, so I rarely get disappointed when nothing turns out to be exactly what the world dishes out. When all the big promises turn out to be empty these days, why do so many set such great store by them? Why is everybody [else] so helpless?

So, not angry, nor hateful, although I will put my hand up to being a bit of a curmudgeon. I’ve been trying to place my finger on quite when that happened. When did this optimistic young lad of the mid-twentieth century, setting out to explore a world of exciting possibilities turn into an old duffer, harbouring a low, seething antipathy towards almost everything that identifies the Britain I feel less and less connected to each day?

I watched the first part of the BBC documentary ‘Cold War, Hot Jets’ the other night; a fascinating celebration of the world I was born into. Stirring stuff, straight from the pages of Boy’s Own Paper and that curious homonym (Boyzone) made me wonder: do today’s young lads want to grow into men, explore the world, fly fast jets and serve their country, or do they just want to be groomed by manipulative Cowells and garner instant fame and fortune for five minutes? Go out in a blaze of guts and glory shooting for the stars, or have your own star snuffed out by the fickle flame of celebrity?

A Royal Air Force ten times the size of today’s. An actual fleet of huge, ocean-going warships. An army still capable of taking on anybody, anywhere. And we’d not long emerged from the last world war. As small boys we would parade round the school yard, arms over each other’s shoulders, proudly singing “We won the war, in nineteen forty-four!” over and over again. It was close enough; it rhymed and we were kids… and schools had yet to commence the re-positioning of impressionable heads with regard to ante bellum politics. Goodies and baddies: it worked well enough to instil a morality seemingly absent today.

I think that’s where it started to end. The Empire was already gone, of course; there was still pride in what we had achieved over the previous two-hundred years, but the new, progressive generation wanted none of it. As they sought to distance themselves from the horrors of a war they had no hand in fighting, a new rhetoric was developed and national pride was rebadged as ‘nationalism’ and deemed reprehensible. Most of my life, therefore, I have felt out of step, with one foot in the majesty of the past and one in the mediocrity of the here and now.

Predicated on lies around the concepts of equality and collectivism, the touchy-feely world of caring by diktat has allowed people to abrogate their personal responsibilities towards one another and rely not on this band of brothers but on an increasingly all-powerful state to bind society together. And it hasn’t worked, has it? Next year will be the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of The Great War, but whoever put the cult in multiculturalism will gleefully point out that what was never achieved by war in a thousand years has been done by stealth as the zealots applaud the smothering of our own culture and the minoritisation of our own ethnicity in our own major cities.

We WILL remember.

But on Remembrance Sunday and today, the Eleventh Day, days on which I can scarcely breathe for the catch in my throat that every word, every note of the last post and every second of the two-minute silence brings, I am proud to be an Englishman and damned proud of our long and yes, noble past. And part of that hard-won British character is the tolerance of fools who would see us condemned to the backwaters of history. I’m talking to the likes of you, Anjem Choudary. Today, this one day of the year when Britons dare to celebrate being British, I have only one thing to say to those who come here, drink deep from our generosity then reward it with hatred. If you don’t like it, just fuck off.

Friday 8 November 2013

The Golden Years

Every now and then as you pick between the nuggets of despair and bitter disappointment served up daily and gleefully in the press, on the Internet, on the radio and on the evening news, you happen across a story which fills you with hope and joy. Such stories are rare and often hidden away, unseen, among the more numerous tales of philandering footballers and political corruptions of such breath-taking arrogance it takes away the very appetite to read a single word more.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled across this heart-warming account of the happy octogenarians about to celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Ethel and George are in their twilight years but still have a spring in their step and a sparkle in their eyes. On the eve of the big family celebration they took an evening stroll around the village where they were wed and have lived blissfully ever since.

They took a turn up the church path, the graves of their family and friends lined up on each side, not a place of sadness but of remembrance. “Remember, Ethel?” said George, pointing with his stick at the church portal, flanked by lancet windows and guarded by lofty, improbable gargoyles, “Remember how happy we were, that day?” Ethel took his hand in both of hers, “How could I ever forget, George? And you are as handsome today as you have always been.” They stayed a while, remembering the succession of family weddings and christenings they had attended at that very church. It made them smile.

Past the church and along the main street they wandered and presently came to the old stone pack-horse bridge close by the long-closed flour mill where Ethel had worked for a short time after leaving school. They paused a while and gazed into the tinkling stream below, recalling how during their childhood days they had played Pooh Sticks there and held buttercups under each other’s chins. The long summer days of those post-war years had quickly run their course and by the time George went away to do his National Service they had promised themselves to each other.

Along the little stream they strolled, the orange glow of the sun settling on the horizon. Every step brought a happy moment as they passed the place where they shared their first, fumbled kiss and the tree they had climbed, giddy with excitement, to hide their passion from the world. Here the stile where they had first allowed their hands to stray onto bare flesh and there the deep, sweet meadow where they had first made love as a skylark sang high overhead. As they happily remembered their long life together they each felt a little younger and despite the darkening sky and the evening chill they quickened their pace.

Turning for home their route cut across the common and made its way along the snicket at the side of the leisure centre. Although the building was an impressive, modern structure with all the latest fitness machines, the old tennis courts were in a forlorn condition, a sign affixed to the rusting perimeter fence declaring to all that the land had been acquired for development. George stopped and turning to Ethel whispered, “Remember the time we made love up against that wire fence?” She nodded that she did and as the delicious memory came flooding back they decided, for old time’s sake, to relive that stolen pleasure.

Clasping Ethel to him George fumbled to undo his flies as they stumbled, giggling, towards the courts. Ethel pulled up her dress and they quickly checked that nobody was about before he entered her and backed her against the fence in one hard-remembered moment. As she gasped he spread his hands out to grip the fence and proceeded to make love to her as he had never done before, his frenzied jack-hammering quickly bringing her to a fulfilment the like of which she had scarcely imagined possible. Finally he collapsed and clung to her, their bodies trembling and fizzing in the moment. “Oh George,” she cried, exhilarated, her cheeks flushed and her gaze admiring, “you were never such an animal back then!”

George struggled to gain his breath. The sweat stuck his shirt to his back as he fought to get out the words. “Aye pet,” he said, “but back then that bloody fence wasn’t electrified!”

Thursday 7 November 2013

Writers'... oh, it was on the tip of my tongue...

Some days blogging comes less easily than others. The words are slow to arrive at Typing Central and only sluggishly imprint themselves on the page. It’s as if the tunnels in my brain that get the thoughts and memories and vocabulary from one place to another are obstructed in some way, like those underground waste channels that can’t flow because of the years of accretion of tons of solidified fats. Yes, I guess I’m saying my mind is like a sewer. A fatty sewer.

Where to start? And more importantly, where will it end up? All it takes is the merest nugget of a notion, a gobbet of gossip to get you going, then the snowball starts rolling and you’re away, mixing metaphors like a grain of sand in an oyster that gradually ends up a pearl one, knit one. But not today; it’s like the barricades in my bonce are impeding the ideas and clotting up the creative flow. If only there was term for this… this mental blockage that affects writers. Damn this writer’s block. Hmm… ‘block’… I wonder?

I got blocked by Owen Jones ages ago simply for re-tweeting a challenge to his pontifications on class, poverty, the role of government and the nasty, nasty Tories. Most of the people I know on Twitter have been blocked by Owen; he blocks so often, so readily and on such flimsy grounds that he probably employs a school-leaver on sub-minimum wages to do his menial blocking duties for him, leaving Owen free to wring his hands in despair at the cruel plight of his fellows in the downtrodden working class. Just like his Aunty Polly no doubt rails against the pitiful wages she pays her Tuscan pool boy.

So it’s little wonder that when Dan Hodges had the effrontery to express surprise at @OwenJOnes84 outing himself as probably middle class, the self-proclaimed champion of the oppressed immediately blocked him. Blocking, on Twitter, simply means you no longer see that person’s tweets and they can no longer follow yours, but there are plenty of simple ways around it. It’s like turning your back on somebody in the middle of an argument, but not as bold as actually walking away. Owen Jones loves to denounce people as being unable to debate but every time I’ve ever seen him encounter dissent, as he refuses to deviate from his well-worn script, he reaches for the Block button without breaking his stride.

He just doesn’t want to hear anything that detracts from his entrenched ideas about the nobility of the people who made him a best-selling author and launched his no doubt lucrative career on television and in print. Fortunately he’s chosen his ideology wisely: as a lefty he can employ doublethink and ignore all the evidence to carve out success while decrying those who do likewise. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s planning on buying shares in Twitter’s IPO with a view to making big bucks now, rather than waiting for his reward in the socialist utopia he hopes to one day bring about.

That’s the problem with ideology and shit – it’s a lot like religion. With no apparent benefits but plenty of opportunities to donate, you illogically deprive yourself of various pleasures in the hope that you will get your reward in the fullness of time, i.e. when you’re dead. Whether your fantasy reward is a stash of sultanas, a gaggle of giggling virgins, a diet of milk and honey or peace on earth and goodwill to all men it isn’t going to happen any time soon, so you have to go out and grab it while you can in the here and now. Owen’s great hero, Karl Marx, must spin nightly in his grave as he waits for eternity for Marxism to one day NOT create destitution.

If you REALLY loved me, Owen, you'd grow a beard.

I mentioned there were ways around blocking? One way is to get somebody else to re-tweet your message to the blocker. Another is to generate a hashtag that trends. So if you get a chance, have a gander at the hashtag #OwenJonesSongs originated yesterday by @nby83 to see the imaginative ways in which Twitter's many OJ blockees can still get their point across. Yes, when you’re stuck for a blog subject, Owen Jones is the gift that keeps on blocking giving.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Now go and tidy your room

What short memories people have and what propensity to believe soothing lies. People will still tend to select their supposed local representative based on tribal loyalty to those lies rather than on any firm factual or observational basis and some will abstain altogether from the democratic process, further entrenching the stale, safe-seat stasis which means the lies will keep on coming. Lies such as the Living Wage campaign.

If you’re going to lie to people you might as well go for big ones. And one of the biggest category of lie available to politicians and individuals alike is the fantasy that you know how the economy works or will work. For instance, Cameron and Co have stuck with Plan A throughout all the time the Eds urged more of the borrowing that has cumulatively resulted in a national debt which will never be repaid. Now that growth is suddenly, conveniently, being seen, both sides are claiming victory; one that we got there in the end, the other that we could have got there quicker.

The living wage – it sounds such a noble idea, doesn’t it? – is just another way to draw the battle lines. On the one hand increasing wages will cause a spiral of inflatory prices rises, force businesses to close or employ more illegals, putting more people out of work and adding to the welfare bill. On the other hand people will be gloriously lifted out of poverty, making ends meet for the first time in years, creating magical prosperity which will fuel higher individual spending, thus creating more jobs and reducing the welfare bill.

Neither side knows what would really happen and both sides will claim evidence, whether or not living wage proposals go ahead, that they were right and more importantly, that the other side was wrong. Who you support, no matter what you like to think, will depend on your beliefs more than your unique insight into the mysterious workings of man and money. Thus the fiscally thrifty will align themselves with the worthies on the right and the profligate will join the queues for more pocket money on the left. The net result will be, as it always is, that those who can adapt to circumstances will get by and those who can’t will fall by the wayside; no amount of manipulation of the figures will disguise the reality that we will never all thrive. It’s never happened yet.

So, no wonder the kids are confused. Some adopt the tribal loyalty of their parents’ clan while others utterly reject it and make a dash to join the enemy. Some are so confused they end up in the LibDem camp, forever wondering what they stand for and still more will flock to join the incoherent ranks of Russell Brand and his Million Mask March cronies, peddling a rambling narrative of emotive, fluffy bullshit.

Hilariously contradictory, this rag-taggle army of evangelical, revolutionary, hippy, libertarian anarchists demand the government does something to make it all better, just so long as they don’t have to vote for it. I suppose when you’ve done as many pharmaceuticals as Brand it really is as simple as dragons and unicorns, pirates and princesses and oh look – a squirrel!

He's not the Messiah - he's a very naughty boy!

The trouble is, they don’t know what it is they really want; just, like children everywhere, that it’s not what they’ve got. So having made a bit of noise - stick it to the man, power to the people, blah, blah, blah - and kicked up a fuss they will shuffle off home to mummy and daddy when it gets cold or they’ve run out of booze. Meantime the majority of their peers are busy making themselves employable and bothering with neither the manipulative lies of politicians nor the na├»ve rabble-rousing, incontinent fictions of a nob in tight trousers. The winner, as ever, the status quo.  Politics is no place for kids.