Thursday, 31 July 2014
Fish, reptiles, amphibians… cold, slimy unfeeling, primitive inhabitants of our planet’s thin, life-supporting layers breed like there is no tomorrow. For them there isn’t; at least in the sense of any notion of legacy. Their offspring burst forth and struggle for survival – like tiny baby turtles being picked off by a deadly Luftwaffe of gull-Stukas as they instinctively dash for the sea, in a literal race for their lives. The numbers game is the strategy of indifferent forebears who will have no interaction other than, perhaps, a fight for territory with their grown-up but unrecognised progeny. It works, but it epitomises the red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of, er, nature.
The cold-blooded appear to be from an earlier evolutionary strain, successful but with small brains and driven by pure instinct. Higher up the chain of life come the mammals and birds which, generally, invest rather more in raising their broods, the young needing protection until they can fend and fight for themselves. But still, when push comes to shove, certain animals will readily devour their own young… and then have some more. All playing the numbers game; the more you have the greater your species’ chances of multiplying and of dominating.
The higher primates however, have a different strategy. With bigger brains and therefore bigger heads, they drop their sprogs before the giant heads make natural birth impossible to survive and then, despite all that pain, they dedicate a huge part of their lives to rearing the young and schooling them in the ways of their societies in order that they may then go on to do the same. It appears to be more than just raw nature driving their actions and the survival of that revered infant is placed at the highest level of their priorities; in humans sometimes coming even before survival of themselves… which is a bit short-sighted, if you think about it, but that’s primal urges for you.
Still, there’s only so much love to go around and there is a limit to how many children can be given the best chances in life. The more you have the more thinly you spread their possibilities and the more you depend on levels of altruism that may not be available when resources are stretched. Breeding in numbers is a survival trait adopted by animals with lower cognitive functions; a trait that fish, reptiles and amphibians appear to share with the worst of welfare dependents, primitive societies driven by authoritarian religions… and certain strains of Labour voters.
Better to give than to receive?
You can almost forgive the chavs for they know what they do, but there’s only so much oxygen to go around. If you want to know who the enemies of human evolutionary progress are you only have to look at who in the world has the biggest families. I mean, for fuck’s sake, how many Kardashians does one planet need?
Monday, 28 July 2014
Are you a Useful Idiot? Are you unwittingly doing the bidding of an unseen master, banging the drum and flying the banner for an ideology that despises you even while it uses you as a foot soldier? For that matter, am I a useful idiot also? Am I swallowing a sinister, worldwide Zionist plot to rid the planet of islam by deliberately and cynically sacrificing thousands of its own innocent civilians in order to incite people to unite against Hamas while claiming to be the victim? Are they playing me? Then well played, I say… well fucking played.
It may be possible that, Matrix-like, the world I experience is just the world that some sinister conspiracy wants me to see but you know what, I’m more than happy with that; it’s a world that works for me. Why would I want to take the red pill and wake from the dream? Why would I want to even know about the pills at all if, as the likes of Owen Jones and Co like to insist, reality is that a cold hard puppet-master is twisting my mind to despise the little people? In the world of my experience most people – and I include myself - are enormous bell-ends anyway.
But wait. If those on the left, as they constantly tell us, believe the world is in the thrall of a massive capitalist conspiracy to enslave the masses to corporate ends, why do many not on the left see socialism as a massive plot to subjugate and enslave the masses to statist ends? Surely, if I was bound to the Matrix, I would see neither argument. And if I was in thrall to the Zionist master plan, why would I take a middle view that would happily see both sides expunged from existence… anything for a bit of peace and quiet?
Or is this all a clever – too clever by half – double bluff, whereby William of Ockham was induced, almost seven centuries ago, to develop a hypothesis of simplicity simply to persuade me, little old me, here today, that the more complicated things look, the less likely that explanation may be? In this way I can scoff at Owen’s People’s Assembly and their fervent belief in foul intent and dastardly doings, while remaining blinded by my partisan prejudices to the complexity of the other argument; believing instead that shit happens and it’s every man for himself. If that is how the supposed right-wing controls the affairs of man it is sheer genius.
Think about it – I do – to adopt a leftist stance I need to believe first of all that a species capable of the gross stupidity, recklessness and tribal loyalty that causes millions to be senselessly exterminated is also capable of a system of benign public stewardship of the planet’s resources. That such a system can fairly distribute to each according to his needs without favour or prejudice. If I believed THAT maybe I could also be persuaded to believe that the nasty people who make things and grow food and build factories and hospitals and schools and houses are all engaged in a bid to herd the rest of humanity into cruel servitude.
To me, that way of thinking is way too complicated and takes up far too much processing power that could be used for getting on with your life, but it turns out that there may be a natural explanation for socialism after all. There appear to be evolutionary origins for the morals we adopt and we may in fact be powerless after all; not to resist some big plot to gain our endorsement but powerless to engage in thinking beyond our biological imperatives. Left or right, it seems, we are at least partly victims of our genes. Given that nature tends towards greater efficiency it looks very much like those on the left are just not as highly evolved as the rest of us.
Saturday, 26 July 2014
So, this car pulls up, all the doors fall off and a funny-looking bloke with daft hair and ill-fitting clothes gets out and hilariously ‘soaks’ the audience with a bucket of glitter and a squirty flower on his lapel. Enter Ed Miliband to the rousing rendition of Entry of the Gladiators and all those in the audience look nervously at each other, unsure whether to laugh… or stampede for the exits. What fresh experimental, presentational hell is this?
The Labour Party is in panic; nine months to a general election and not a single credible policy in sight. Even in opposition, which ought to be easy, the rigid sticking to gimmicky cries of ‘flatlining’, ‘he just doesn’t get it’ and ‘cost of living crisis’ has failed to make a dent in support for the Conservatives, while any hanging onto Labour vote pledges is entirely accounted for by people who would vote for a month-old turd if it sported a red rosette. Labour is desperate and so desperate is it, it wants to give Ed one more chance.
So here it was, his bi-monthly, make-or-break speech where he would finally differentiate himself from the uni-dimensional portrayal of schoolboy Marxist so beloved of the tabloids. What did he do? He repeated all the usual, insubstantial, ineffectual, impotent, aphoristic, idealistic, unachievable juvenile gumpf about fixing things that are so far out of his compass as to be practically celestial and then, in order to distance himself from the beauty parade of politics he referred to himself as looking like Wallace and made light of ‘BaconGate’. What a fucking tool.
Ed thought that by making a joke about the pig buttie business he could become a self-deprecating, down to earth man of the people. No Ed, no matter that nobody believes you can achieve a single one of your wild visions, it was just possible that while you were off on your flight of fantasy, some people were engaged enough to forget about what an idiot you are… but then you reminded them. Send in the fucking clowns indeed; Mock the Week is unlikely to come calling any time soon.
His main point seemed to be that he couldn’t compete in Glamour Politics with the likes of David Cameron who, despite all you may think of him, looks the part. He certainly looks better IN the part than Miliband ever could. Neither would Ed engage in Gesture Politics, promising things that, while sounding like good ideas, were undeliverable. Maybe he hopes we will have forgotten his vote-winning intervention in the energy markets last year - mere empty words being enough to put everybody’s electricity bills up at a stroke.
“If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don’t vote for me,” says Ed, the man who posed with the Sun newspaper to the chagrin of the most intransigently tribal Labour voters in the land. He then went on to have publicity photos taken which may as well have been captioned: "Look at me with all the brown, lady people NOT exploiting a photo opportunity!” Desperation, thy name is Beaker and thou art a Muppet.
There's a reason you can't buy publicity like this.
Ed’s attempts to appear normal are painful. His attempts to explain how he understands that he doesn’t appear normal only make it so much worse. Whatever he thinks the people of Britain want, they definitely don’t want somebody who pretends to care about what he thinks they ought to care about… I think. What Miliband’s joke writers may have missed in their frenzied re-branding of the damaged goods their leader represents is that Send in the Clowns is a song about rejection.
Friday, 25 July 2014
Tattoos, eye patches, earrings, cutlasses, rum and parrots litter the folklore of the endeavouring Jolly Jack Tars of yore, roaming the seven seas in search of excitement, plunder and even more rum. Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest and yo-ho-ho, let’s raise a toast to them all. No, it’s not International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but my heart of oak was stirred today by the recollection of an old sea-farers tale to gladden the heart of a ship’s company during a Friday make-and-mend.
Following a run ashore in the Bahamas, the Chief Bosun’s mate of one of Her Majesty’s sleek grey messengers of death procured a wondrous bird. A bright macaw, sharp of beak and gifted of tongue, he taught his new companion to respond to the morning pipe with a traditional, “Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!” the Number Eights to which he referred being the traditional navy blue, day-working uniform but with the sleeves rolled up and no pullover to be worn. How the ship’s company roared with laughter to hear the squawk over the main broadcast and all turned to with a smile.
After a few days, however, the parrot began to get bored and would launch into the call without prompting, on some days, hands being called every half hour. The parrot was confined to the Chief Petty Officers’ mess but after two days of “SQUAWK! Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!” both the parrot and the Buffer were banished to the starboard waist paint store. It was no good. Even with all clips closed the penetrating cry could still be heard: “SQUAWK! Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!”
Soon the Jimmy heard the commotion and summoned the Buffer to a mini-tribunal in the wardroom flat. “It’s no good, Buffer” he ordered, “the bloody parrot has to go before we get alongside in Gib. The Captain will go mental if it’s still there for the cocktail party.” The Chief Bosun’s Mate sadly agreed and set about planning the creature’s demise. All attempts to shut it up or re-train it had so far failed so, with a heavy heart he went in search of the ship’s cat which he found lazing in the sun on the flight deck, quietly digesting the remains of the last albatross to get too close.
The cries of the embattled Buffer competed with the frenzied roar of the enraged moggy as, with claws gouging and teeth snapping the cat fought like a miniature tiger. Curious heads appeared around hatches and men began to line the route to the paint store, cheering on the struggling man as gouges appeared in his flesh and blood began to spatter. An advance party cleared the way and as man and furious cat approached the store a Killick drew back the clips and opened the door. From inside came the now hated refrain, “SQUAWK! Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!” The Buffer threw the spitting, hissing ball of fury into the store and slammed shut the weathertight door.
For a few seconds the cacophony from within was if all the denizens of Hades were clamouring to enter the world above and then, suddenly, all went quite… except for a low grumbling noise. The Buffer, recovering from his trauma, stood up and cautiously approached the door. He put his ear to the steel, but still he couldn’t make out what was happening, although there was no further noise of fighting. It was surely all over. Slowly he unclipped the door and carefully looked in.
Call the hands!
There in the middle of the store, surrounded by fur and feathers was a terrified, almost naked cat. The parrot was still tearing out the last remaining clumps of fur with his beak and growling under its breath. It stopped as the sunlight flooded the scene and rotating his head, cast his beady-eyed glare toward the Buffer. Spitting out the last tuft of cat fur the parrot declared, “When I SAY negative woolly pullies, I MEAN negative woolly pullies!”
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Radio Four is a minor miracle of the civilised world and one of the few benefits to a weary homeward commute is getting to listen to Eddie Mair presenting the news cornucopia that is PM. As well as hearing about the whole world turning to shit and who has taken what bribe from Putin, how many ‘Jarabs’ have pegged it in the Gaza bonanza and the miserable fact that public spending is on the rise again – oh yes it is – we also get some lighter-hearted pieces of reportage to brighten up the gloom, now that those nights are starting to draw in.
Today it was hearing about how the French socialist dream is at least as unaffordable as our own ill-fated attempts to ignore the simple economic facts of life. When you’re starving, bread and water will do. When a car costs too much to run, get on your bike, son. And if you have no money to spend on theatre tickets, you just have to make your own entertainment. But not, by all accounts, in France. While a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker has to work all year round to scratch a precarious living from the meagre soil of overstuffed competitive markets, French people working in the performing arts have their very own special welfare system.
In return for a minimum of 507 hours of work in a ten-month period (That’s less than 64, 8-hour days, or 13 weeks; a quarter of a year of ‘normal’ employment) arts workers – from clowns to choreographers, to camera operators – can enjoy a higher level of welfare benefits to tide them over the hard times while they are ‘resting’. Apparently, it saves them from the indignity of waiting at tables or sweeping the roads when they are not acting the goat in homage to Dionysus. (Or, should that be ‘Le’ Dionysus?)
But, of course, there’s a flaw in the logic, isn’t there? The world over, arts and theatrical entertainment flourish wherever there is an appetite for them and the lack of funding never seems to deter those who would make a spectacle of themselves. In fact the French form of favouritism is known as the ‘intermittents du spectacle’ system, reflecting the fact that they often do sweet FA for three-quarters of the year. Hilariously – some of them are clowns, after all – they are protesting their ‘rights’ by disrupting the performances of others who are, presumably, currently ‘between rests’.
Not dead' just resting - 'protresting'
You need a particular form of deep-rooted entitlement culture to create a system like this. This isn’t directs arts funding, as practised by much of the western world to preserve those forms which suffer from a low level of patronage; this is idleness funding. It’s a bit like Child Benefit; some people will have kids regardless of the fact they can’t afford to keep them so what’s the point of incentivising them for doing what comes naturally? Now don’t get me wrong; I’m all for the arts and I’d love for there to be more funding, but there's only so much money to around. We're all equal, but it seems that in the land of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité some people have more égalité than others. What a liberté!
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Who would have thought it? The ‘no-it-isn’t, yes-it-is’ affair of the so-called Trojan Horse plot to subvert Birmingham schools and prepare the way for nationwide anti-British propaganda and recruitment to a domestic jihad turns out to have solid foundations after all. If you have ever lived near an ‘islamic area’ you would not have needed the results of any form of inquiry to tell you what your gut screams out every time you leave England to enter any one of these little Pakistans. The sense of being in a foreign, primitive land is never worse when it is in your own country, in your own town.
Around the corner from me, the little mosque that raised a few eyebrows when it first appeared but otherwise caused no great fuss has suddenly sprouted an enormous steel frame adjacent to it that dwarfs the original structure. I fully expect, the next time I go home, it will be clad with an exterior that in no way blends in with the local architecture and for which, were it an extension to a long-established British family business premises, planning permission would not have been granted. The local property prices, still a long way behind their 2006 levels will begin to slide again and those who can do so will leave that foreign land to its invaders.
Years ago, the inheritors of large, landed properties sold off relatively small, prestige plots to individual builders in order to cover death duties and scale back on the staff. At least the new homes would be in keeping with the area and their inhabitants likely to make mostly positive contributions to the community. Nowadays, in the rush to cover Britain in concrete, the big house itself will be sold off to developers, flattened and thirty or more dwellings per acre will spring up, the only control on who lives in them being who can afford them. Money does not buy you class though, and as the local roads clog with commuters and the village school for the first time needs classroom assistants and special needs tutors, the bucolic past recedes into dim memory; another part of our precious culture gone forever.
Of course, the ex-owners of the big house are not here to see it. From their yacht in Cannes all they can see is a rosy-hued world from behind the optimistic spectacles of wealth. But for those left behind the only option is to suck it up or leave. From cities we call it white flight, as it’s the old working classes who are least able to fight back and most likely to be branded racists by the likes of Liam 'we spent all the money' Byrne, a member of the very government that accelerated the process. The Birmingham cabal openly spreads propaganda that the Lee Rigby murder didn’t happen, that 9/11 was a Zionist plot, that MI5 carried out the 7/7 attacks… and yet, from the big house in Westminster, Byrne calls the current administration ‘divisive’.
Board up a few windows, knock down that wing,
add a minaret or two and some loudspeakers...
We'll have the place fucked up in a jiffy
I’ll tell you, Liam, what I’d like to divide. I’d like to divide the ruling elites from the wealth that separates them from reality. I’d like to divide up their time in such a way that they are forced to daily confront the misery they have inflicted on their supposed constituents and I’d like to be there to see the day it dawns on them that those they have encouraged to ignore the civilised customs of this sceptred isle, this happy breed of men, this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, would happily see their heads divided from their bodies.
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Tony Blair. Anthony Charles Lynton "Bastard" Blair. The figurehead of New Labour, the movement that, by sleight of hand, made the anachronistic and spent Labour Party electable long enough to deliberately lay waste to British culture and lay the foundations for the demise of the most significant force for good the modern world has ever seen. (But don’t expect to ever read any of that in the rewritten history books, or hear it from the re-educated, post-national generation.)
Under the dictatorship of those who worked his strings – masked by that oafish smile and the slick practised gestures of humility and the faked bloke-u-like glottal stops – education headed ever downward and various anti-sovereign-state policies were pursued towards their sinister ends. We tolerant Brits all became racists overnight and the welfare state was imposed on everybody with a child. The issues of ruinous uncontrolled mass immigration became an untouchable sacred cow… and everything else just turned to shit. He retired the Royal Yacht, for pity’s sake!
Now Tony - £70-million - Blair is determined to do to the Middle East what he was so successful in doing to Britain and so eagerly seems to want for Europe… turn it over to muslim rule, by the look of things. In yesterday’s contrived ‘anniversary’ speech, despite being entirely absent from the Middle East peace process he is so handsomely rewarded for getting in the way of (although only via the corruption of the backsheesh door – charity, my arse) he has the gall to blame you, the British people and all your ancestors for all the evils of the world.
He also says "Just for the record, I read I'm supposed to be worth £100million - Cherie's kind of asked me where it is. I'm not worth half of that, a third of that, a quarter of that, a fifth of that - and I could go on.” Except he doesn’t, because £70m is actually 70% of that. The man is a walking lie, a manifestation of the old saw about selling yourself to the devil. Without an honest bone in his body, Blair is a well-paid puppet for hire because - and here’s the bit I don’t get – even though his appalling record is in the public domain people are yet in thrall to power and its public face.
The twisted picture of Dorian Blair...
He already fucked over the country once, yet he is tolerated while he attempts to bend it over and fuck it again. And again and again and again. Even Peter ‘snake’ Mandelson has largely retreated from public life and some of his former cabinet colleagues have even had the belated decency to almost apologise. What will it take for Blair to be unmasked for what he truly is and be sent into exile? Perhaps, since he seems to love it so much, he should embrace the religion of a thousand pieces and leave us all to struggle on without that
winning crooked smile.
Monday, 21 July 2014
It turns out that NICE or whatever they call themselves these days are no such thing. In a move that would draw admiration from many a totalitarian state, they are suggesting that practically everybody over fifty-five should be on statins. Well the nice people at NICE can go and fuck themselves. This is the healthcare equivalent of tax credits, signing you up to a dependency culture and using your own money to do it. No wonder the NHS is such a vast money pit, forever looking for ways to spend its astounding budget.
I know several people who have been put on the damned things, by GPs who are clearly – like concentration camp guards – just following orders. The reports are not good. In fact this story from a GP who took them himself is fairly typical. What a brilliant idea, eh? Let’s get people to do the costly drug research that Astra-Zeneca-Pfizer-Smithkline can’t be arsed to carry out by foisting unproven, unnecessary treatments on people too trusting or too stupid to realise what is going on. Mind you, it could do wonders for the jobs market as the flag bearers at the dawn of the Brave New Zombie Apocalypse shuffle off employment and stumble on to end their days on disability dole.
They could in time become willing participants in the big story taxing the minds of the House of Lords – the assisted dying bill. Worried about becoming a burden? Of course, many people worry about it, but this is hardly Logan’s Run, is it? This is an end of life measure that will be welcomed by many in pain who have simply had enough and are sane enough not to want to suffer any more. I don’t know why we don’t come equipped with an on/off switch.
And then, as if there isn’t enough doom and gloom in the world, what with the whole Arab/Jew thing kicking off yet again and Ukraine poised to kick off World War Three, we are treated to the whining of Twitter feminist Laurie Penny, drumming up sales of her book by bitching and moaning about all the things she bitches and moans about every day. I read the introduction (Free of charge, on Amazon – I’m certainly not paying for it.) and after two paragraphs I was already feeling quite stabby. I contended myself with an acerbic review instead.
I can’t help but feel all these ills are interlinked by a common problem; there are just too many human beings in a world that clearly isn’t big enough to contain them all without conflict. Arab on Jew, black on white, old against young, men versus women… PennyRed versus everybody; where will it end? The one certainty of life is death, so maybe that’s one bit of reasoning behind the big statin conspiracy – drive people insane with pain so that they voluntarily stagger towards the exit door.
Uh, yeah... feminism's the answer...
What was the question?
But this is a solution fraught with imprecision; what if some of them actually do experience an increase in quality of life? How long can we afford to keep paying out pensions if they don’t opt for the ‘easy’ way out? It strikes me we’re missing a trick here and a cheap one at that. We could, at a stroke[sic] solve the problem of overpopulation for at least half the humans on the planet. Just get all the men in the world to read a few chapters of Laurie Penny’s atrocious pile of crap.
Friday, 18 July 2014
Police forces across the country have arrested hundreds of suspected child sex-offenders including doctors, teachers and former police officers in the biggest operation for more than ten years. Those detained wouldn’t have raised suspicions in their communities, holding down normal jobs and in some cases being pillars of the community. The problem with this is it throws suspicions on the rest of us. For my part, despite being practically a model citizen I now go about my daily business with one eye over my shoulder.
Honestly, you go through life never realising how the most innocent of activities can be misconstrued. One off-colour joke, a tip of the hat to a pretty young lady and the next thing you know, people are crossing the road as you approach, the paperboy is boycotting your house and the postman is pushing parcels of shit through your letterbox. Luckily, I have an honest face and – touch wood – nobody has yet suspected me of anything, but it’s a fragile peace and it could be shattered at any time by the most insignificant of things.
Yesterday was a case in point. Sometimes you have to ask yourself if whatever you’re engaged in is actually appropriate at all, given the climate of fear and revulsion that stalks the land. Anyway, I was in the garden late in the afternoon. Luckily, our garden is not overlooked because I was standing there, my hands trembling, wife due home from work at any minute and I just knew she wouldn’t be happy... I reached for my youngest granddaughter's top - it came off with hardly any resistance.
Her training bra was my next big hurdle. I fumbled for it with hands shaking almost uncontrollably, gently unclipped it and unable to control myself, I watched as it fell to the floor. I thought about picking it up but it was pointless now, I was in big enough trouble as it was. Besides I hadn't much time and her short little skirt was next. A deft movement and it slid off quite easily. As I ran my hands quickly over her My Little Pony panties I could feel they were already really, really damp...
This isn't what it looks like...
I hesitated for a moment; what if I was being watched? Anyway, I thought, I'd better finish getting the rest of the washing in – it was already raining heavily and my Parkinsons really wasn't making it any easier.
Thursday, 17 July 2014
When it started cropping up all over my Twitter timeline I assumed the dreadful Barrowford Primary School letter to be an obvious touchy-feely spoof and I may have upset a number of re-Tweeters by “Bahaha-ing” rather prominently in response. But, bugger me if they weren’t falling for the saccharin-sweet antidote to harsh reality like ‘special’ kids at a petting zoo puppy-stroking session. Come on guys, this is not how we do things over here in the cradle of industrialised civilisation. Besides, it was obvious from the ‘really neat place’ phrasing that it wasn’t written by anybody familiar with ‘English’ English, although I can fully understand how a British-educated, state school head teacher might not have noticed.
Anyway, as viral as it was - some people just have no bullshit filter – the schmaltzy, twee transmission turns out to have been copied and pasted from an American blog and has been plagiarised extensively across the pond by many school-ma’am fans of the Disney studios, “It’s a wonderful” version of life. But, I have done my research and I’ve discovered that despite the teen-fiction naïveté and vomit-inducing flavour of the piece this wasn’t, as it appears, a cludgy first draft but the outcome of a lengthy piece of politically correct editing.
I hereby present to you the rather differently-hued first draft, recovered by the CIA from a waste basket in Wisconsin just a few hours after yet another playground massacre.
"Dear motherfucking assholes, here are your appalling SATs results; I hope you’re fucking happy. Despite the superhuman commitment and frankly mind-boggling number of hours we saps on the teaching staff put in on your behalf, it turns out that you have the loyalty, application and intelligence of June bugs and are unlikely to survive to sit another term, let alone to ever graduate High School.
Just as well because, as a direct result of your piss-crap-poor performance, you have managed to ensure this piece-of-shit hellhole we laughingly call a school will be closed down at the end of this term. The people who created these tests and scored them do not know each of you the way your soon-to-be-out-of-a-job teachers do, the way I do and certainly not the way your disappointed families do.
These tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you ‘special’ and ‘unique’. They do not know that many of you can barely speak intelligible English. They do not know that you can’t play a musical instrument for shit or that the only picture you are ever likely to paint will be rendered in your own excrement in a jail cell dirty protest.
They do not know that you and your friends can be counted onto become poster people for family planning or that your raucous and inopportune laughter could drive a Samaritan to slash his own wrists, or that three of your previous teachers can now only make it through the day under heavy sedation.
They do not know that you scrawl obscene graffiti on every surface or that you can barely write your own name, let alone compose poetry, or that sometimes you beat the crap out of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that the only 'really neat place' you are ever likely to occupy is the holding cell preceding your turn in the electric chair.
No matter how great the stories you tell yourselves, nobody in their right minds would trust you as far as they could throw you. You are thoughtless, greedy, selfish and demanding and no matter how hard we tried your personal development has only ever progressed in one direction – delinquency... the scores you get will tell you something, but as pitiful as they are likely to be, they will only paint half the picture.
So, as I say, I hope you’re fucking happy. Enjoy your results you selfish bastards… in the short time you have left..."
The original was reportedly signed in the blood of the head teacher who administered the coup de grace to himself after dispatching a good proportion of the offending year and setting fire to the gymnasium block.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Re-shuffle? I can barely be bothered to shuffle in the first place. Out go some personalities, some names we knew, in come some women to make the Tories look a little bit more like Labour. Is that the big plan behind Dave’s Dollies? Dear god, I hope it’s more cunning than that. Labour is spinning it as a shuffle to the right, even as Ed Miliband lurches to the left. What is this, The Timewarp? Strictly Come Dancing? Dancing on NICE? And the Eurosceptics are doing the Hokey-Cokey – in, out, in, out, shake it all about. That’s all we need.
But Michael Gove out of post and having to go on air to sound like he was happy about it? Come on, Cameron, have the decency to treat us like at least some of us are not products of socialist education policy? With the rabid old Marxist trout, Christine Blower, clapping her hands with glee that all she has to do now is hobble his replacement – play the sister card, comrade – and the temporary halt in the decline of educational standards will soon revert to its dumb, downward course. You do realise ‘The Tories’ that soft education yields Labour voters and future state dependents? All of which brings me to the real theme of this blog; the Pension Myth.
We’re in the state we’re in because of rampant, unchecked, naked, ugly, venal consumerism. “Buy, buy, buy!” we are enjoined. “Why, why, why?” we reply. Because the more you buy, the bigger the economy, the more people in work and the more tax we take. And despite whatever you may think about contributory National Insurance or ‘paying your stamp’, it’s out of current taxes that your pensions are paid. Therefore, goes the thinking, as the distribution of population by age becomes more and more top heavy, we need more and more workers paying tax to prop up the system.
Consumerism, by the way, isn’t the same as Capitalism; Capitalism is the way humans have always traded, consumerism is a cheap trick to make people believe in instant gratification. A car you can’t afford, a mortgage you can’t repay and every kind of useless frippery simply because you have been given access to obscene levels of cheap and unchecked credit. It suited all favours of government for a while and was especially highly valued by ‘things can only get better’ New Labour. They didn’t get better though, did they?
See, the whole point of technology is increased productivity. If one man can do the work of a hundred by using a combine-harvester, the whole village can be fed by all of us working far less. If computers allow instant multiple communications we don’t need armies of typists and publishers and postmen to deliver the word by ‘mandraulic’ means. If a nuclear missile can wipe out thousands at a stroke, what’s the point in a land army? In theory, as we get cleverer a smaller population of workers should be needed to keep the retired in adequate sufficiency.
Except where’s the incentive to be merely satisfied? If, instead of always preaching ‘jam today’ we preached ‘live within your means’ maybe there would actually be jam tomorrow. In a high productivity paradigm we should need fewer drones and more technicians, but the educational output of several generations of idealised, live-for-today low achievers with high aspirations means we can’t even grow our own drones successfully. And the immigrants we employ instead do NOT as a whole help to pay for the pensions, instead sending as much of their minimum wages home as they can, along with the benefits we insist on paying them.
It’s not a greater number of dumber kids we need, it’s a sustainable number of cleverer ones. Axing Gove may look like a cunning vote-gleaning plan but non-Tories are visceral in their hatred of all things blue and will never vote for Cameron anyway. Former Tory voters may, however, turn away from a party that appears to have tossed aside tomorrow in favour of today. Who’ll pay for our pensions in future? Hah! You think we'll still be able to afford pensions?
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
What’s the point of politicians, eh? No sooner have we got over one set of scandals – cash for questions, cash for honours, sexual impropriety, expenses, perjury, vote rigging, dirty tricks campaigns and the like – when along comes another. Or if not a brand-shiny-new one, the next best thing; the resurrection of yet more decades-old noncery and all the ‘who knew?’ prurience that goes along with it. The truth will never be wholly, justly and properly revealed and I have to wonder at the timing of it all just now, when rumours have surfaced regularly for years. Something else is going on, perhaps, but the attempt by the government to appear to act promptly is now looking tawdry as Baroness Butler-Sloss rightly steps down.
Times are a-changing. It’s not a revolution, it’s more of a gut feeling that people are starting to realise it’s no use expecting governments to do everything any more. And as that feeling grows, more and more will seek to extricate themselves from association with and contribution to a failing system of pseudo-democracy. Two generations ago there was a vague consensus that if the majority voted for a political party then that party was probably the right one to govern the country. Now the idea of a nanny state voted in by its burgeoning recipients is rapidly losing credibility, especially when it turns out that more and more of nanny’s little helpers are revealed to be crooks and perverts.
The NHS is a classic case of declining sympathy for state-run services. While diehards cling to the rock of this national religion, the more pragmatic are taking steps to survive outside its potentially deadly embrace. Heal thyself, goes the saying and these days, although the wilfully ignorant stalk the land, there is more information than ever about leading balanced lives of sub-gluttony and non-sloth… and a feeling that state-prescribed lifestyles are not the only option. It’s a fairly short step from that notion to believing that if I look after myself and keep working and pay taxes into the system, I expect the system to be there for me when I need it and not be run-down and exhausted by tending to the needy demands of those who, we all suspect, pay in rather less than we do.
But regardless of feelings of misanthropy or philanthropy, the simple fact is we can’t afford to keep pouring ever-increasing resources into the money pit it represents. Wait, say the powers that be, don’t panic; we’ll get all those health tourists to not only be grateful, but to pay for what they get. Do YOU believe that will happen? I don’t. Free at the point of use? As fair as it sounds this is a part of the problem – like food banks; if you build it they will come, especially when the ‘rich’ people are paying for it. In this context, ‘rich’ is anybody who earns more than you.
I listened to Radio Four’s The Infinite Monkey Cage last night, in which Ross Noble was asked to offer some of his ten bananas to Brian Cox. The catch was that if his offer was refused, neither would get any bananas. He offered five, which was accepted; further discussion revealed that three or less and they would both have starved. It illustrated the very human principles of both fairness and spite. Humans have a variable capacity for both. For my part, asked to do ever more for the state without equitable return on my investment, my inclination is to withdraw my contribution altogether. I’m not alone.
Not fireworks - distress flares!
What bang do I get for my buck anyway? Our borders are sold, our armed forces made toothless, terrorist imams recruit in our jails and our easy-going largesse with tax money is abused by hordes of freeloaders we are powerless to deny. The hospital ship of state is holed below the waterline yet the stewards still ply the takers with all-inclusive drink and drugs while the captain and officers squabble over the course. Meanwhile, at each port of call, the sober and self-reliant slip away quietly, their empty bunks taken up by ever more stowaways. Cruise Ship Britain; doomed to roam the polluted seas until every paying passenger has gone overboard and taken the lifeboats with them.
Monday, 14 July 2014
Hey, fucker, I’m a sexraceslamophobe or some such thing. I don’t care that you irrationally hate me for what I am, because I’m right, you’re wrong… and you smell. So there. My repulsive and abhorrent, inhuman beliefs include the idea that people should be encouraged to do what they are good at and as long as they don’t directly harm others their personal view of the world is no more in need of reform than is gravity. The Law of Gravity kills thousands every year, but nobody seeks to repeal its universal force. And just so, my preferences to associate with people who are more like me than different from me do not make me a subject for re-education.
Yesterday, on the Sunday Politics, the famous ugly, racist, white-ophobe, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and the rather more rational and easy-on-the-eye-and-ear Munira Mirza were discussing the thorny issue of gender quotas and suchlike. As a totally unbiased and non-partisan male, I have to say I agreed with the pretty one. There are reasons that some jobs are more male-dominated and others more female-dominated. One such area is heavy engineering. A female engineer on the same programme said it was important to get more women into engineering because there would be more diverse opinions. Opinions? I don’t want opinions, I want the bridges to stay up and the roads to last for decades… I couldn’t give a toss what colour they are.
Of course that’s sexist; that’s normal, it’s how we actually are. But hey, let’s deny our natural instincts and forcibly catapult any woman who shows a fleeting interest in a hitherto mostly-male job into a position of authority in that field. Let’s promote all-female shortlists and cram as many of those square pegs into all those round holes. Funny how there are no all-male shortlists, isn’t it? I know, let’s set a quota: by 2030 at least 30% of mothers must be men. What utter tosh that would be and no, it’s not a fallacial and facetious argument; quotas just don’t work.
Not only do quotas not work because artificially selecting applicants for what they are rather than what they can do is logically ridiculous, but they actually have a deleterious effect on those working populations afflicted by them. Brilliant women in 'male' roles will always be tainted by the suspicion that they got there by politically correct means and good men will always feel they have lost out as a result. Ever since ‘personnel’ departments staffed by people who understood their industry were replaced by ‘human resources’ staffed almost entirely by young female graduates, the strategic needs of some businesses have come second to the needs of the workforce. It’s a lovely, very female, idea to have happy, fulfilled workers, but quotas aren’t the way.
I genuinely don’t want 'balance', I want what works. In general I’d rather be nursed by a woman, have my roof fixed by a man and have my politics conducted by people who are genuinely engaged with politics. It so happens that more men than women are drawn to the corridors of power and artificially imposing gender quotas is always wrong; ideologically wrong, logically wrong. Far more important is getting our country back on track. And if that means men use their brute force to do the heavy lifting while women rear the kids, I fail to see what is so wrong in that.
Come on girls, there's dust to bust!
And talking of letting those with the aptitude do the job, is there some sort of connection behind the whole paedo-politicians business? Is paedophilia a power thing? Can women do it as well as men? I don’t see anybody calling for all-women shortlists for nonces.
Saturday, 12 July 2014
My timeline filled up last night with a debate on education to which I wasn’t really party, although I read most of the comments this morning and it was clear that the more literate contributor was all in favour of grammar schools, while the one with spelling issues bewailed his treatment as a second class citizen in what used to be called a secondary modern. I went to both, in that my ‘big school’ in a small northern market town was called Thirsk Grammar and Secondary Modern School, despite it being located in the village of Sowerby.
Anyhow, regardless of this quirk of geography, here we toiled at our desks with not a computer in sight, nor any form of what is now called edu-tech. The desks had inkwells and the teachers’ cupboards still contained stores of school ink, although we had by then progressed to cartridge pens. Biros, being the work of some form of handwriting destroying demon, were banned in order to save our souls. The teachers wrote with chalk on actual blackboards and had leather elbow patches on well-worn tweed jackets and not one of them attempted to be down with the kids.
Since then, of course, there have been many modifications to the education system, resulting in more and more spending, a progressively higher turnover of teachers and a steady decline in educational standards to the point where – if headlines are to be believed – British children without an academic bent are unemployable in the modern multicultural world, even as cleaners and hospital porters.
And yet, for all its modernity and high tech, flashing gadgetry, it is arguable that you can navigate life today far easier and with far less learning than it took a few decades ago. With all the world’s knowledge available via a smart phone, and goods and services searchable in seconds, all you need to make your way in the world is what the school leavers of half a century ago had in abundance; literacy, numeracy and good manners. Nobody needs degrees in David Beckham. Seriously, nobody.
As coincidence would have it, my old Royal Navy shipmate, Konrad, called last night and we ended up discussing apprentice training. He is writing courses for an engineering college and I am about to prep for a new class of electricians under training and we were both concerned that with each passing decade we seem to have to start further back. Once, an apprentice would start at fifteen and despite not being academically gifted could cope well enough with electrical science principles to pass the ‘mathsy’ part of the course with the aid of logarithm and trigonometry tables. Now, the calculator users turn up unable to explain a square root and somewhat resentful that we have to re-teach them elementary maths before we can get to the good stuff.
The teachers, well some of them, were striking last Thursday, out in support of other public sector workers against ‘the cuts’. They should have a good look at what we used to achieve with so much less and go on strike to demand even more cuts. Less really can be more. Cut out all the unnecessary crap – the costly electronic whiteboards, the iPads, the gimmicks and much of the pedagogic propaganda. Particularly cut out the notion that all must have prizes. As more and more qualifications are handed out like cheap sweets it’s no wonder we now have graduates who are grateful to find work in coffee shops.
Time to make more bricks...
None of this, by the way, is the fault of the kids themselves, but a two or three generational slide into apathy and mediocrity across society must surely shoulder the burden of the blame. You simply have to select and stream and yes, you have to condemn also. Those who will not or cannot meet higher academic standards must not be allowed to drag down those who can. And if you can’t achieve that in a single school then yes, segregated schooling may be necessary. Even then, it will take another two or three generations until we restore the standards we had in the nineteen fifties, but it will be worth the wait; all in all we need plenty more bricks in the wall.
Friday, 11 July 2014
Dave was a legend in these parts. Up for anything, he’d take any dare and over the years he had variously been arrested for public displays of nudity, assaulting a police officer by knocking off his helmet and any number of driving offences some of which later achieved viral status on YouTube. He’d taken on impromptu bush-tucker challenges at the Dog and Duck, spoofed numerous radio chat show hosts and appeared on television many, many times – usually by photo-bombing live reports. It was a foolish man who assumed Dave wouldn’t rise to a challenge.
He’d also turned his hand to many jobs but his natural exuberance caused him to be easily bored and distractions were always on hand. As a result he had been, briefly, a shop assistant, market stall trader, bin man, road sweeper, scaffolder and delivery driver – for one morning until the points-laden nature of his driving licence was discovered. Dave had picked potatoes, arranged roses, paved walkways and washed windows. He’d even once, on a lads holiday on a Mediterranean island, volunteered as a drugs mule for his mates. For a laugh.
His success with the ladies was littered with a long line of one-night stands; easy conquests and rapid disentanglements which made for an impressively notched bedpost but no lasting relationships. But lately Dave had become curious about the possibility of batting for the other side. He’d always been highly inquisitive when chatting with a gay couple he knew; what was it like? Did it hurt? Was it the same as…you know? But now he had hit on a career plan which necessitated he take his enquiries to the next level. Dave had hit on the notion of becoming a gay gigolo!
Over the next week his friends took him to a couple of gay clubs and Dave found his enthusiasm rising. He was up for the challenge and asked them to set him up with a no-strings, down-and-dirty, wham-bam-thank-you-Sam date. Partner selected, they all went back to Dave’s house for a drink. After a few libations Dave felt he had the courage to invite the new guy to the bedroom. A big, strapping fellow he was, muscles bulging from under a tight tee-shirt. Dave had a moment’s panic and took his friends to one side.
“What if I don’t like it? What if he hurts me? Will you come and rescue me?”
“We’ll be right outside. Just shout out and we’ll be there.”
“But if I shout he might hurt me more” said Dave.
“Then let’s have a safeword.”
“I might forget it!”
“Well what, then?”
After a moment, Dave had it. “I’ll make a farmyard noise! If you hear an animal noise; a horse, a chicken, a cow or something, come running.”
“Okay” they agreed, “but what if you’re enjoying it? Can you let us know somehow?”
“If it’s all good, I’ll burst into song!” said Dave, grinning.
They agreed and as Dave led the big guy into the bedroom, the two friends quietly climbed the stairs and waited, listening, on the landing. At first they heard some low voices then the sound of bedsprings and the less distinct noises of clothing being removed. Then it went quiet. For a few seconds, not a sound until it started. A low, deep noise, which slowly started to rise. It was a barnyard classic; from inside the bedroom, Dave was very clearly making a noise and the noise was “Mooooo…”
They charged into the room to see the muscled buttocks of the big man behind a stark-naked Dave, who was bent over the bed, the nois he was making was rising "Moooo... " and rising "..oooOO..." until he hit the crescendo and at the top of his voice yelled “...OOOON RIVER!”
Thursday, 10 July 2014
“I never!” Ah, the good old innocent days when a small child believed all he had to do was deny outright any wrongdoing and hope the trail of crumbs leading from the cooling cake all the way to his jammy lips would be ignored. But we all grow up and in doing so we either become models of propriety, realising that if we always tell the truth it’s easier to stick to the story, or else we become much better liars.
Of course, sometimes a white lie is kinder than the truth: “He wasn’t good enough for you”, “Business is down, we’re going to have to let you go”, “The judges were biased – you should have won!” but most of us know where to draw the line. And we also know that to repeat a lie in the face of all evidence to the contrary is borderline madness. And yet we’ve actually come to expect it from our ‘elected representatives’.
It always takes an expensive academic study to prove what people have known for years. And for years, parts of the country have been crying out for help because they have been inundated with aliens. The government’s response for over a decade? The accusatory, “You must be racist.” And even now, in the face of an official report that grudgingly admits some partial truths they still feel they have to maintain the simple lie that immigration is unremittingly good.
The report admits that the rise in immigration was largely due to deliberate Labour policies designed for political gain and has resulted in the no-skilled, low-skilled job market becoming 'saturated' by foreign workers. Wages in these sectors are now down considerably on their pre-millennial levels. Approaching ten percent of our population is now foreign-born, apparently, and many towns struggle to cope with housing, health and other public services. The truth is that low-skilled immigration has benefited some business disproportionately, but has had far greater impact on the nation as a whole.
Fit, working age, native Britons have been displaced to become entirely dependent on benefits. Many Brits in work are being kept afloat by tax credits, other benefits and costly public services that far exceed what they pay in taxation themselves. And benefits are paid to low-paid, thus minimal tax-paying migrant workers and their families who – quite rightly – take advantage of their EU rights and lap up the roast beef of Merry Olde England. This isn’t just a regional issue, as the Home Office likes to paint it, this is a national crisis.
And yet while, for years and years, ordinary people have pointed out these obvious truths the response of governments of all colours has been to maintain the lie that immigration into Britain is a net financial benefit. That’s like glibly pronouncing the climate of planet earth to be benign while people perish in floods, droughts, fires, earthquakes, tsunami and landslides.
What? No, it's always been like this...
When will the liars get it that this is not an economic issue, but a political one? Not a question of averaged-out figures but of specific, destructive, localised effects. Like the housing market; while the average numbers say there’s a boom, in many parts of the country there is the opposite. And talking of maintaining a lie; David Cameron still thinks we believe he will give us a fair referendum. The cheque’s in the post you say, Dave?
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
You lot are disgusting; sex mad you are. For a supposedly advanced species it is grossly disappointing how obsessed you all are with the manufacture of multiple-backed beasts. Quite frankly it’s a disgrace and if I was your maker I would be face-palming and boiling up the next batch of man wax from which to fashion Humans 2: The remake. If he has any sense, this time round he will settle for reproduction by simple agamogenesis, avoiding all necessity for the messy transfer of bodily secretions. A quick cell division and back to the job in hand… as it were.
Meanwhile, here on primitive planet 2014 intimate congress, bidden or otherwise, is (as ever) all over the airwaves and nothing has changed in my lifetime save for the focal point of the discussion. In the seventies it was ‘how often do you do it?’ the tabloids doing their utmost to undermine British manhood with the outrageous lies claiming the average married coupled engaged in, er, coupling three times a week. It was almost like you were being goaded into getting some. Today though, it’s “How in the hell was he allowed to get away with it?” Make your bloody minds up.
Under-age sex, five-times-a-night sex, three-in-a-bed sex, gay sex, straight sex, deviant sex, paedophilia, necrophilia, coprophilia, bondage, sadomasochism, auto-erotic asphyxiation, tea-bagging, double-bagging, dogging, shagging… gagging for it, you are. You can’t pick up a newspaper without somebody shoving it in your face or down your throat and I have to say it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. For as long as I can remember, other humans have delighted in revealing who did what with whom, to whom, in whom or even at whom. Yet all of a sudden, when attention turns to Westminster and the Leon Britton business, they wheel in a hundred-and-fifty-year old Baroness with Jimmy Savile’s face and a selective memory loss to cover it all up.
I wish they would cover up. I never did subscribe to the fascination the British have with public revelations of private goings-on. We should bring back the fictionalised Victorian attitudes, I reckon and put sex where it belongs – behind closed doors. No more ‘intimate’ s.i.g.i. movies on YouTube, no more public displays of animal rutting in drunken streets and chip shop queues, no more social media awash with penis pics, tit pics and Vines of summer festival coitus publicus; put that pecker away, I say!
The urge to shag anything that breathes may be a strong one but so is the tug of gold and the lure of privilege and power; where there’s a primal urge there’s a blackmail plot in the making. Honey traps have long been a modus operandi of those who would bring down an administration. So, far from praising manifest virility we should disdain those who succumb so readily to such base longings and instead laud those who can show restraint; it’s surely not too much to ask is it?
Pas devant les enfants!
Or maybe we should just fit public appointees with chastity belts? Until we manage to breed a better type of human – models of restraint, like me – it would seem unwise in the extreme to assume we can trust anybody in office to keep their pricks in their pants. I just don’t understand why it should be that hard. Oh…
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
So, I spent my weekend at my day job, teaching electricians to do what you should all hope electricians already know how to do. Once more I am struck by how un-British we are becoming. While the majority of my students are ready and willing to get on with the task, an increasing number seem to expect an easy ride and an assured outcome, regardless of their aptitude. They pay the price, they gets their ‘sustiffcits’. Whatever happened to the age old principle of matching square pegs with square holes and letting them settle into it? Maybe we need another war on home soil to resurrect some sense of unity, some sense of purpose?
Of course, it doesn’t help when we see politicians apparently making large via the trappings of office while selling our sovereignty down the river. Forget the blitz spirit, “All for me and you’re on your own,” might be the motto of today’s so-called leaders. In encouraging wanton individualism I really think there’s a danger we largely forget what it means to belong. David Cameron seems to want to dilute what we’ve got still further as he suggests ethnic quotas for Westminster. And the voice of the establishment, the BBC, long ago forsook appointing the right person for the job in favour of ticking boxes to meet some diversity target.
As for me, while I sometimes enjoy what I do (although work has only ever really been work for me; a way to pay the bills while I wait to retire and wither away) I have a vague unease that in making that living I may be contributing to the problem. Whatever happened to our technical industries? Apprenticeships that once took five years were reduced to four and then three and now you can take a fourteen-week course and be spat out of the sausage machine as a brand new electrician – live and dangerous. Years ago, the system took in school-leavers and gradually made tradesmen out of them, paid for by a combination of the state funded further education colleges and investment by employers in on-the-job training.
Similarly, in public office people used to pay their dues by getting involved and joining their party of choice, volunteering later to stand for election as councillors and working their way up until the prospect of a local parliamentary seat came their way, whereas now they are selectively bred by former cabinet ministers, expensively educated, schooled in the dark arts and parachuted into safe seats – instant arsehole; just add voters.
Across the spectrum the old demands for rigour would appear to be lost. We no longer train people for a lifetime of good service but merely to shore up the short-term labour demands. Gone are the days of secure jobs and the concomitant loyalty between employers and employees, to be replaced with a production line churning out the ‘that'll do’ as cheaply as possible. In the days of the gold rush the real money was made by the companies who sold blankets and shovels. Today those equivalents are the training organisations, registration bodies, insurance companies, health and safety inspectors and others wanting their slice… with all the costs borne by the trainees themselves.
Thomas Edison said “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Today he might well say that opportunities are missed because they are dressed in branded polo shirts and welcoming grins, wielding PowerPoint presentations... and don’t look like real work at all.
Sunday, 6 July 2014
So, Rolf Harris is put away and up rise the strident, angry voices demanding a harsher penalty. Stripped of all honours, likely to be the target of nonce-fuckers inside, reputation gone forever, no friends anywhere, 84 years old and very likely to die inside, but if he ever does get out he will die a miserable recluse. I’d say that’s a pretty tough and short future and an ignoble end to a lifetime of near-universal adoration. But if you think that’s not enough, what might it be saying about you? (I don’t have an opinion on that – I don’t know you – but you may wish to reflect.) Or did you want Rolf to pay the penalty that Savile neatly sidestepped?
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing him in any way at all; it’s you lot I’m concerned about. Because at times like this people begin to believe stuff such as the existence on earth of pure evil and the pundits rail against ‘dark forces’ and variously malevolent ‘Satanic’ agents at work to somehow pervert the otherwise pure motives of angelic humans. We use words like inhuman and beast and deviant in order to assure ourselves that we could never be capable of such heinous acts. There but for the grace of another imaginary deity…
But, you say, think of the victims! They have been given a life sentence from which they can never recover. While meaning in no way to diminish the hurt that some people have undoubtedly endured, others have recovered from truly horrific events; torture, witnessing genocide, being bombed, shot at, gang-raped, beaten or trafficked for sex-slavery; not everybody who goes to war suffers PTSD. Again, I’m not saying suffering isn’t very real and debilitating, but the pendulum swings…
Just as labelling a child dyslexic without real evidence, because it suits the equality agenda, surely allowing without query a victim mentality to flourish, can’t be always healthy. Again, before you start, I am not saying what some of you have already convinced yourselves I’m saying. I’m not a monster; I just can’t blame my present on my past. That isn’t to say I don’t have regrets, or wonder how things might have turned out differently had I been, say, a Rockefeller, but where we are is where we are. We can’t change the past but we absolutely can try to change our future.
Rolf is being punished, he really is. For a small number of people that in itself is a small balm, but why do the unaffected spectators get such a buzz from the misery of others? It’s not your fight; your fight is against your own limitations. You can choose to get swept up in the mob of pitchfork-toting peasants at the gates or you can choose to get on and make yourselves better people. It’s a bit like religion; if you need to cling onto a faith, if you need to believe a higher power controls your destiny, if that’s what you rely on for your moral guidance, maybe it’s because there isn’t enough of ‘you’ to save your own soul?
Saturday, 5 July 2014
What’s that I hear? The Labour Party is in disarray? Who would have thought it? Ten decades after its birth for all the honourable reasons this is now a party without a mission, except possibly a visceral desire to drag us back to their glory days of post-war euphoria and an end to… and end to what, exactly? For all the former might of the trades unions, the poor are still poor, at least partly as a result of thirteen years of Labour government from whose shadow we seem to be finally emerging. And by many measures the poor of today are far less satisfied with their lot than before they expected so very much. Such a cruel trick, to dangle aspirational baubles in front of people’s eyes only to snatch them back just as they come within reach.
So no wonder this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions seemed to be devoted entirely to the NHS. The only thing left in the boy Miliband’s armoury and it went down like a five-bob whore; a deeply uncommitted and unsatisfying performance, all over so quickly and leaving only the aftertaste of shame. The NHS is the fourth largest employer on the planet and so vast is it that its internal momentum is as incapable of reacting to one-term government quick-fixes as a super tanker is of performing an emergency stop.
And of course, despite the fanciful, bleeding heart imaginings, the NHS is far from broke. It consumes a vastly disproportionate amount of our national resources because of its cumbersome bulk. But for every confected sob-story of waiting lists and supposedly preventable deaths, for every genuine grievance brought to the dazzling glare of publicity, there are a thousand perfectly satisfied customers. And unlike many countries throughout the world nobody dies just because they can’t afford healthcare.
Labour did nothing to tame the monster, so what makes Ed think their sentimental worship of the sacred National Health cow will convince voters otherwise? As he spoke in the Commons his cabinet cringed behind him. Not a thing to say on the economy, the cost of living crisis forgotten, and employment figures making a laughing stock of their pretend-job guarantee, Ed was way out on his own, banging on about the NHS. Again. Meanwhile his party briefed against him in snippets of leaked reportage.
And then at the end of the week they let him talk about business – something he knows nothing about – to businessmen, who know quite a lot about it. Their verdict? Ed knows nothing about it. Forgetting, perhaps, that business people are also ordinary men and women with views on international trade and partnerships and exports and balances of payments and politically rigged marketplaces, he once again misjudged his audience and their interests. It is not just Unite who favour a referendum on the EU.
But wait, how did this happen at all? Wasn’t this supposed to be Labour’s NHS – the only thing we have left – week? Dan Hodges certainly thought so and rolled up a copy of his Telegraph blog with which to beat the errant Miliband from behind his own lines. The real horror though, is that as disorganised as they are, as poor a one-nation leader-figure as Ed is, there is still a chance that Labour have enough people too stupid to realise that if they vote Labour they’ll get a man they’ve already decided isn’t up to the job they would vote him into… and then what? A Miliband government would be torn to shreds in weeks and maybe they secretly admit to this.
Daddy was a Marxist so, yah,
I know all about business...
Could it be that Ed’s team is playing a longer game? A leadership challenge now gives too little time to regroup behind a new figurehead; besides which, who is there left? But putting Miliband in number 10 is too dreadful to contemplate unless you’re a big fan of collective bargaining and one out, all out. Also, the longer any government is in power, the less popular they become. So maybe the strategy of Labour’s real leaders is to sit this one out, let Ed lose and thus give themselves another six years from now to think up a policy. Let’s face it; it’s taken them four years to come up with absolutely fuck-all.
Friday, 4 July 2014
I visited Mike in hospital last night. He’d been in all the local papers - hero of the hour as he rescued a kitten from a burning outbuilding - but he paid a price for his bravery. Immediately after the rescue and as the fire crews fought the blaze he keeled over, asphyxiated by the smoke and hot gases and for a while it was touch and go as the paramedics revived him and stabilised his condition. He suffered some internal scarring of the lung tissues but as he’d been clad only in shorts and a tee-shirt, his skin had also been badly affected in places
Anyway, he was healing nicely – or at least I think he was. It was difficult to recognise him, swaddled in gauze and with parts of him concealed beneath tented bedclothes to avoid contact in the worst-affected areas. And although he has recovered full use of his lungs his voice has a raspy quality, as you might expect. At least he is now on the mend and finally able to tackle the mountain of grapes left by well-wishers and when I found him last night he was tucking in like a starving man. I laughed and made fun of how a formerly almost pure carnivore was now making like a manic vegan. He fixed me with a baleful stare and said:
“Don’t even joke about it, mate. The food here is terrible and always the same bloody thing.” It turned out that the staples were salty porridge for breakfast almost every day and most evenings he was served mushy boiled potatoes and turnips with some unappetising mince-like concoction, or else it was deep-fried pizza or an egg covered in sausage meat. When I looked suitably horrified he warmed to his theme. “This is the first fruit I’ve had in days!” he informed me. I began to console him but he stopped me in my tracks.
“And the bloody do-gooders!” he wailed, “They are driving me mental, I tell yer!” I asked him to explain and at first I have to say I was somewhat alarmed at his revelations. It turns out that a number of hospital visitors come in most days to recite uninspiring poetry in the early evenings. And wee matron McTaggert apparently encourages everybody to join in the singing of Auld Lang Syne to a bagpipe tape just before lights out “I tell you, mate” said Mike, “if I have to hear that bloody song one more time I’m not sure if I could be held responsible for my actions.”
Dear god, no more bagpipes!
Deep in my memory something stirred. A faint recollection which started to grow until suddenly the penny dropped. I asked Mike “This mincemeat stuff they give you… You don't think it could be… haggis?” Mike turned to me as if to question my sanity but in the same heartbeat he, too, realised the truth of the situation. All of a sudden it all made sense. After all, what else would you expect… in a Burns unit?
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Don’t have kids. Or, if you must, have thick ones. Trust me, you definitely don’t want a clever one. Quite apart from the risk of them becoming smart arses and trying your patience into the next Ice Age you will feel compelled, by whatever universal force drives good parents, to mortgage your very lives to have them schooled as expensively as possible, only to find that if this does indeed bring them huge success they then disown you and your parochial working ways. Or else they drop out, grow hippy beards, turn vegan and become objects of your own confused disdain. Or worse, they become politicians...
Of course, some of the bright ones have a chance of succeeding despite the forces ranged against them, even without family financial sacrifices – scholarships, natural intelligence, entrepreneurial curiosity and good old-fashioned serendipity may all play a part in pulling up their bootstraps. But don’t count on it. And don’t underestimate the potential resentment of a clever kid who doesn’t make a mark. There are plenty of examples of intelligent low-achievers who struggle to break out of the cycle of blaming their meagre origins for their failure to achieve all that they aspire to.
No, on the whole having a child genius is just as likely to result in misery and guilt as to be a source of pride. So maybe you think you’d be better off with an average kid? Progeny who can cope with the Three Rs, knuckle down and become good citizens, productive workers and eventually the source of adored grandchildren. Sadly no, because you are condemning them to a life of toil and drudge to pay for those squeaky wheels whose only instinct appears to be the belief that the world exists to be their despised plaything. Those drains on the public purse whose social bank balance will always remain overdrawn. If it’s inward investment you’re after, have one of those.
Pop out a real thug of a thicko. At nursery his demands will be legitimised by being identified as having special educational requirements. He (or she, but statistically it will be a he) will quickly learn that he doesn’t need to learn; all his whims will be catered for by a veritable army of social workers, home visitors, special needs teachers, classroom assistants, psychologists and sociologists and and and... They will toilet train him for you and do their best to keep him out of trouble and a higher than normal per-capita proportion of the nation’s wealth will be visited upon him with no demands for repayment in usefulness.
If he is especially sub-human the state will fork out ever greater sums to keep him in care, in various institutions, in prisons and rehabilitation centres, in hospitals for the criminally insane and eventually in an old folks home. He will be sent on holidays dressed up as developmental treatment along with state-funded lackeys who will be described as therapists because we have lost the will to hold people to account and instead reward their intolerance and selfish sense of entitlement with undue deference that only reinforces their loathsome behaviour. Oh and then they go on to have a multitude of thick kids of their own.
Apart from the biological urge – and urges can be overcome - I don’t know why anybody would ever have kids at all. It’s a bloody minefield, a coin-toss… a lottery. Maybe the world would just be better off with fewer children in it altogether. Two decades it take before you begin to see a material return on investment and then probably another two before a vanishingly small proportion of them start to turn a meagre profit. As a nation we’d be far better off breeding pigs.