I recommend Roger Scruton: I have been reading Roger Scruton, off and on, for years now but somehow, just recently, I seem to have missed him so it was a surprise and a pleasure to come across him writing for the BBC News on-line magazine. My computer opens to that page by default, not, I hasten to say that I ever read the detail because I wouldn't trust the BBC further than I can spit into a gale, but it does give me a quick overview of the headlines of the day. This morning, idly scrolling down, I spotted Roger Scruton's name on a side bar under the heading of 'Features'. It was the second of two articles by him on the age-old problem of the uneasy relationship between state and religion, or, at a more fundamental level, between God and government. This, of course, lies at the very heart of the troubles in which Turks, Syrians and Egyptians find themselves entangled. In his usual clear English, Scruton dissects the problem without, of course, offering any solution. You can read them in order, here and here.
Dave 'n' Barry ponder war and peace: It's enough to make you tremble! It's easy to imagine the telephone call between them yesterday; you can almost hear Barry's carefully contrived deep baritone voice issuing forth his ponderous sentences phrase (pause) by (pause) phrase (pause) as he wonders where his teleprompter has gone, and Dave listening intently, or trying to, with that furrowed brow of his and his little lips pursed to indicated that he is really, no, really-really, thinking jolly hard about the problem. God, or Allah, help Syria as these two buffoons continue their stumble towards . . . what? Are they going to war? 'Hey waitaminute!' and 'Oh, my dear chap, we didn't mean that exactly'. So are they going to keep well up-wind of the Syrian midden whilst clucking quietly from a distance? Or is Barry going to get his paint tin out and paint another red line? Who knows? Of course, deep down in the back of their underpants where they keep their brains, they both know that there is absolutely sod all they can do about it because a) the Great American Public doesn't want to know, and b) the equally Great British Public realises that we don't have a navy any more and quietly thanks God for it!
Another gem: From the excellent In Pursuit of Copiousness:
We are born, we eat, and learn, and die. We leave a tracery of messages in the lives of others, a little shifting of the soil, a stone moved from here to there, a word uttered, a song, a poem left behind. I was here, each of these declare. I was here.
- Michael O'Brien, Island of the World (p. 11)
In our overweening egocentricity, which is nevertheless essential for our survival, it does us good to be reminded that in the great scheme of things we are but minute specks "And that old common arbitrator Time/ Will one day end it"(*) leaving behind barely a trace. Well, er, not me, of course but you!
(*) Troilus & Cressida, IV.v.
Out of Africa: Well, Tim Newman is and, as he explains in a fascinating post on his blog The White Sun of the Desert, he is only too glad to say goodbye - to the bit they call Nigeria, anyway. If like me your knowledge of Nigeria is miniscule then do read his blog which very definitely tells it the way it is! My only question is, how much does our purblind government send them by way of aid? And if it's 'loadsa dosh' then should we close the British embassy given that they obviously are failing to report the facts!
Al 'sharp one' Sharpton: Should you be unfortunate enough to shake hands with Al Sharpton, the well known black American agitator, do please count your fingers after washing them. This character, straight out of the pages of a Tom Wolfe novel, was one of the cheer leaders in pursuit of George Zimmerman who shot a young black man in self-defence. Twenty five years ago he also led the baying hound-dogs after some white men who had been accused by a young black girl, Tawana Brawley, of multiple gang rape. It turned out - eventually but only after severe damage had been done to the accused - that the girl was a born again lying liar and the whole rape story was a hoax. Both she and her lawyer and Sharpton were all sued by one of the men. Sharpton and the other men had to pay up but the girl 'did a runner' and disappeared. Happily, 25 years later she has been found and from now on a court has decreed that her pay will be deducted in order to make restitution to the man she falsely accused. Idiots like Bill Cosby and Spike Lee were all part of the cause and I can't help wondering if now they will make a film telling the whole story? And, no, I shan't be holding my breath!
Kind friends have offered me dinner tonight to give me a break and when I return I might not be in a fit state to blog, so here endeth the rumbles for today.