. . . I'm away Tuesday and Wednesday, off on a sort of 'round Robin' trip to touch base with sundry old friends in and around SW London. Back in business on Thursday.
Now before I begin I just know that some of my crustier Brit readers having read my title will be nodding vigorously and muttering ‘bring it on’ or words to that effect. My answer to them is grow up! Yes, America, like every Super Power including us ‘back in the day’ has blundered about and made some big mistakes but in the truly great events of the 20th century they have, more or less and not without considerable self-interest, been there on the side of western democracies. However, if that fails to impress you then consider what now appears to be the increasing likelihood that the mighty US of A will simply disappear as a global power, that’s if, first of all, it doesn’t just implode and fragment. How does a world run by a powerful, rampant and unopposed China grab you?
Let me begin by urging you to visit the site of my American e-pal, Malcom Pollack, who is in despair over the state of his country. He points to a devastating summary by Victor Davis Hansen who spells out the horrid truth that the progressive Left have already won the battle for America. The so-called political Right are mostly ‘sock-puppets’ going through the motions of opposition but secretly happy to see the inexorable rise and rise of the state, in which they can grab their share (for the moment) even if it leads to the crushing of once dearly-held beliefs in the idea of individual freedom.
My forecasting record is not, shall we say, without its blemishes but I would remind you that years ago I warned that Obama’s apparat was Marxist to its core and that it would ram through measures likely to end in confusion, panic and, America being America, violence. There is nothing the Left likes better than a really good crisis! From those circumstances, emergency regulations can be rushed through and once passed, of course, they remain for ever to be added to and expanded as required. Thus will the iron grip of totalitarianism grip the so-called ‘Land of the Free’. Does this matter, you may ask? Well, consider where that will leave the idea of liberty and democracy. It will be limited to a small island off the north-west coast of Europe and in a few Anglophile ex-Dominions.
I am further provoked to these gloomy ruminations by a recent article in The Telegraph by Peter Foster who interviewed the geo-political guru, Ian Bremmer. The opening lines provide the flavour of the piece:
After six decades serving as the global policeman, the United States is now signalling its retreat from the world.
With the Middle East engulfed by the flames of sectarian conflict, Europe’s borders menaced by the threat of war and China starting to flex its muscles in Asia-Pacific, it is clear the world has entered a new period of volatility.
That uncertainty begs tough questions for Britain: how should we respond to this new American pragmatism? And as our traditional ally turns inward, what should that mean for British foreign policy?
Indeed, that last question is crucial and, I suspect, not given a minute’s thought by ‘Dim Dave’ and his Tory cohorts or even by the so-called ‘mandarins’ of Whitehall who are paid to do their ministers’ thinking for them! Happily, Mr. Bremmer supports what I would like to call the ‘Duff Doctrine’, except that my unfortunate surname somewhat reduces its, er, importance and accuracy. Anyway, it is what I have written before ‘many a time and oft’’:
Invest in relations with America, but not at the expense of relations with China, India, Germany, the Saudis and other emerging players. Embrace your relationship with the Saudis because they're wealthy and they don't have any friends. What else can you do to differentiate yourself? Stop doing geopolitics. You're not building your military, you're not going to project force any more. Be much more like the Germans. Say, 'we're not going to talk about the Dalai Lama, let's have a special relationship with the Chinese so we can focus on where our industrial and commercial relations can be more aligned’. Do the same thing with the Indians while you're at it. That's a very different choice for the Brits. But given what we are seeing right now in the United States I think it's a smart play.
The world it is a-changin’. The post-American era is upon us. Better watch out!
Well, just in case you were feeling slightly depressed by my 'Monday Funnies' - hard to believe, I know - but it is Monday morning so you need all the cheering up I can provide. So in that spirit of generosity for which this blog is famed, I give you absolutely free of charge - although the usual contributions in a plain brown envelope are always welcome -
Martini in the Morning
Positively, definitely and absolutely the very best music radio station in the world! It plays, almost non-stop, mostly 'golden oldies' sung by the very best vocalists of the 20th century. I say "almost non-stop" because they only seem to feature 3 or 4 minutes of ads per hour. There seem to be a bewildering number of ways of tuning in via the internet but if you just google-up the name you will find your way in.
"If music be the food of love" then you will love Martini in the Morning - and not just for its delicious name!
OK, so what passes for normal service has been resumed and here is a fine selection of side-splitters or groan-inducers - whatever!
I was standing at the bar of Terminal 3 International Airport when this small Chinese guy comes in, stands next to me and starts drinking a beer.
I asked him, "Do you know any of those martial arts things, like Kung-Fu, Karate or Ju-Jitsu?"
He says "No, why the fuck you ask me that? Is it because I am Chinese?"
"No", I said, "It's because you're drinking my beer, you little prick."
'Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl'.
The priest asks, 'Is that you, little Joey Pagano?
'Yes, Father, it is.'
'And who was the girl you were with?'
'I can't tell you, Father. I don't want to ruin her reputation'.
"Well, Joey, I'm sure to find out her name sooner or later so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?
'I cannot say.'
'Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?'
'I'll never tell.'
'Was it Nina Capelli?'
'I'm sorry, but I cannot name her.'
'Was it Cathy Piriano?'
'My lips are sealed.'
'Was it Rosa DiAngelo, then?'
'Please, Father, I cannot tell you.'
The priest sighs in frustration.
'You're very tight lipped, and I admire that. But you've sinned and have to atone. You cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself.'
Joey walks back to his pew, and his friend Franco slides over and whispers, 'What'd you get?'
'Four months vacation and five good leads.'
An elderly man on a Moped, Looking about 100 years old, pulls up next to a doctor at a street light. The old man looks over at the sleek shiny car and asks, "What kind of car ya got there, sonny?"
The doctor replies, "A Ferrari GTO. It cost half a million dollars ! "
"That's a lot of money," says the old man, " Why does it cost so much?"
"Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!" states the doctor proudly.
The Moped driver asks, "Mind if I take a look inside?"
"No problem," replies the doctor.
So the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around. Then, sitting back on his Moped, the old man says, "That's a pretty nice car, all right... but I'll stick with my Moped !"
Just then the light changes, so the doctor decides to show the old man just what his car can do. He floors it and within 30 seconds the speedometer reads 160 mph.
Suddenly, he notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer!
He slows down to see what it could be and suddenly WHOOOOSSSHHH !
Something whips by him going much faster!
"What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari ?" the doctor asks himself.
He presses harder on the accelerator and takes the Ferrari up to 250 mph.
Then, up ahead of him, he sees that it's the old man on the Moped!
Amazed that the Moped could pass his Ferrari, he gives it more gas and passes the Moped at 275 mph and he's feeling pretty good until he looks in his Mirror and sees the old man gaining on him AGAIN !
Astounded by the speed of this old guy, he floors the gas pedal and takes the Ferrari all the way up to 320 mph.
Not ten seconds later, he sees the Moped bearing down on him again! The Ferrari is flat out, and there's nothing he can do !
Suddenly, the Moped plows into the back of his Ferrari, demolishing the rear end.
The doctor stops and jumps out and unbelievably the old man is still alive.
He runs up to the banged-up old guy and says, "I'm a doctor .. is there anything I can do for you ?"
The old man whispers, "Unhook my braces from your side view mirror.”
Gosh, it was hard campaigning over the past fortnight. The first week I plodded along with the Duke of Marlborough’s musketeers all the way south from the Low Countries before his Lordship told us to turn left and march along the Danube. The poor old ‘Froggies’ were totally bemused by his artful manoeuvring but soon realised he meant business when we assaulted the Schellenburg Fortress. Ferocious fighting but we carried the day. Then it was on to some piss-pot village called Blenheim where we formed up with the gallant, but perhaps more importantly, brilliant Prince Eugene and his forces to face the might (heh! heh! heh!) of the French army. Result? Total and utter defeat of French forces, tens of thousands of prisoners taken and the first truly shattering defeat suffered by that ridiculous but evil popinjay, Louis XIV. What I do not understand is why Marlborough’s genius is not hoorahed as loudly as Wellington’s. In my ex-corporal’s view he was far the greater soldier.
But no sooner had I brushed off the detritus of Blenheim than I was back to Flanders, but some 200-odd years later. Here, my guide was Gordon Corrigan, a man I admire tremendously because he has, almost single-handedly, blown to bits all the soppy, sentimentality and the gross lies that have disguised the truth concerning the British army in WWI. In particular, he has resurrected the honour and the reputation of Gen. Douglas Haig, a man traduced by a mixed bag of villains, fools and those with something to hide and a need for a scapegoat. I include in this ragbag collection, Winston Churchill, the odious Lloyd George, the ‘war poets’ (or to be precise, their promoters) and the despicable Joan Littlewood and her production of “Oh! What a Lovely War”.
I know a fair bit about the beginnings of WWI but I confess to abject ignorance about much of what followed because it seemed to me to be one great, long slug-fest. The essence of the problem facing the generals on all sides was, again to my ex-corporal’s eyes, quite obvious. How do you get an infantryman made of fragile bones and soft tissue across 500 yards of open ground against machine-guns firing 600 rounds a minute? Well, there was no answer which is why zillions of them died or were wounded until they invented the tank. And as Corrigan reminds us forcibly, it was Gen Haig who threw his weight behind the idea of the tank because he was shrewd enough to see its advantages. Alas, in those days the mechanicals were poor and unreliable and it wasn’t until WWII that the tank came into its own.
For many years now I have moaned and groaned at the absolute nonsense spouted about WWI and the Western Front in general, and General Haig in particular. Corrigan’s book rights a massive wrong.
ADDITIONAL: Lost in what passes for my archives I came across this essay by Simon Heffer written a year ago for The New Statesman in which he summarises the historiography of WWI. Well worth a read not least because it reminds us amateur history lovers to read both widely and wisely!
Well, to be honest, I’m not quite sure what a “mojo” is so let me put it more bluntly, the Riviera is dying if it isn’t dead already! When I first saw it some 35 to 40 years ago, of course, I was younger and more easily impressed. Today, through my more elderly and jaundiced eyes it appears to be tired, scruffy, boring and, my dears, worst of all, it has no class, as the cousins would put it. On second thoughts, perhaps the worst thing is that it doesn’t appear to have any money, by which I mean truly BIG, money-spending, high-rollers to buy up huge swanky apartments and villas. I can’t say I blame them given that the entire coastline between, say, Nice and Cannes is already over-built. The word is that today you can’t give away properties down there. When the mega-rich have not only the entire Mediterranean from which to choose a preferred location but also the entire world, who wants to live in a dead-beat, over-built and deadly boring bit of southern France?
I’m sure several years of ‘Hollande-ism’ have done their socialist worst but having spoken to one or two residents down there I can’t help wondering if there is not another factor driving people away – the French judicial system. Mr friend, with whom I stayed, rents a sea-front apartment from a man who is not only related to some senior local politicians but is also a European politician in his own right. He has blatantly broken specific undertakings to do with the property which are covered in detail in the lease agreement. My friend’s lawyer has told him not even to try and sue because given the man’s influence and that fact that my friend is a Brit means he will never win. Before we left it transpired that the man owes money to a variety of local traders and businesses none of whom he ever pays and they appear to be unable to get the law to take their part.
It’s no good crying, “Vive La France!”, it’s beyond recovery!
Oh well, alright then, the old buzzard has just flopped back in! I thought I had better let you know that I was back safe and sound because I know how much you all worry about me - who said that? Anyway, what passes for normal service around here will be resumed tomorrow - I know, I know, all good things come to an end!
Alas, 'I have dined not wisely but too well', courtesy of mine host, so the old brain is touch addled which is hardly surprising given that down here in the Mediterranean warmth 'vin rose' which normally I wouldn't even use for gargling just seems to flow effortlessly down my gullet leaving me with that pleasing delusion that everything I say, or as in this case, I write, is exceptionally witty and wise. Fortunately there is a cure to hand for my delusions in the form of Andra who brings me down to earth in a single sentence.
Now where was I?
Oh yes, of course, the menace in America! Actually I have alluded to my worries about America before but having, by means of stupendous intellectual and technical leap, managed to find The American Thinker website (sorry can't do links on this i-poddie-do-flicker-thingie) I found an American writer with similar misgivings to mine. He, being proper writer and all that, found exactly the right image as a heading to his post: "Like cattle before a thunder storm". Now, dammit, I'm no farmer but instantly I could envisage a great herd apparently grazing peacefully but gradually becoming increasingly unsettled and uneasy by things they sense but cannot see clearly.
That, I think, is America today.
Anyway, must go, my 'vin rose' is getting warm!
A small but highly select choice of one liners:
I bought one of those anti-bullying wristbands the other day, well, I didn't actual buy it, I stole it off a short, fat, ginger kid!
As a kid I was made to walk the plank, well, we couldn't afford a dog!
Dave drowned so at the funeral we gave him a wreath shaped like a life-belt. Well, it's what he would have wanted!
Being an England supporter is like being the over-enthusiastic parent of the fat kid at a school sports day!
That's your lot. And when I get home to my proper computer I will provide the source link.
Sorry to have been absent for so long but what with having to accompany George baby and his new wife (my dears, simply far too thin!) to the film festival and then have Lewis Hamilton ring me for advice on the best line to take through the chicane just outside the tunnel ('SoD' and I sat in the stand just above it back in, well, whenever), life has been anything but a holiday. However, I am delighted to see that the weather back in England is typical for a Bank holiday weekend - atrocious! - so I can feel a bit better about the fact that it isn't too good here, either - French bastards! I have picked up a bit of a tan but, dammit, nothing that is going to knock out the old ladies at my local swimming pool when I return. Incidentally, I am due back late next Friday, so normal service, or what passes for it here at D&N, will resume next Saturday - who groaned?
I have been following the news as best I can from The Daily Telegraph via this infernal 'do-flicker-thingie' but it's just not the same as slumping in my comfortable office chair in my jimjams and my faithful, threadbare dressing gown bearing the encrusted detritus of a thousand ancient breakfasts spread down the front, and with my big screen, my faithful mouse and a bloody big 'box-thingie' under the desk that does all the work and, more-over, does it in a way I am used to - which is more than I can say for this fancy-dancy do-flicker-thingie!
Not mind you, that there is that much in the news as far as I can tell. The Great National Bore-athon, that is our renegotiation/surrender with the Berlin-Brussels axis, has begun and already the BS is seeping under the conference-room doors. "This one will run and run".
I will try and keep the odd post going during the week although I confess to a certain degree of Mediterranean lethargy. Down here, somehow, nothing seems that important anymore. Perhaps that's why they're all going broke!
Well, not literally because I'm still here in Cannes where, incidentally, it pissed down with rain last night - who sniggered? No, I am about to follow my hero, the first great Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, on his amazing march from the Low Countries down and along the Danube that culminated in the great victory at the battle of Blenheim.
I first read about him and his exploits some 30-odd years ago when I read an abridged version of Winston's colossal, and admiring, biography of his ancestor. Even abridged it is still a huge volume which would have cost me a fortune in extra weight charges on the aircraft so I settled for Charles Spencer's excellently slim book on the subject which fitted weightlessly into my Kindle! I do understand all the fuss and kerfuffle over 'the dear old Duke of Boot' given that this is the 200th anniversary of Waterloo but in my (ex-corporal's) opinion Marlborough was the greatest soldier-statesman Britain ever produced.
I am also delighted to renew my knowledge of Prince Eugene, a soldier of equal capability and in whom Marlborough had no hesitation in placing the utmost trust during the battle. The close and instinctive trust that these two Great Captains of history had for each other was remarkable given their disparate backgrounds. You only have to think back to WWII and the vicious internecine squabbles between the allied generals to see how rare the relationship between Marlborough and Eugene was.
If Marlborough's life and times are a mystery to you then I recommend Charles Spencer's history of the battle of Blenheim as an excellent introduction. Clear prose and narrative history of the highest order.
And today he's writing in The Telegraph - you'll have to look it up for yourselves because I can't cope with links on this 'tablet-thingie'. When he worked for Cameron in the early days of the last government I thought he was a bit of a middle-aged hippy with his casual style. When he resigned because he was pissed off with the soppy Lib-Dems blocking any sensible policies, he went up in my estimation but, alas, off he went to California and who could blame him. Now he's back, temporarily, and offering Dave some advice.
Mostly it is to urge Dave to go all out on devolution of Westminster powers to local authorities, beginning with city mayors but devolving more and more further down the line to the village level. Now, I ask myself why my immediate re-action to that is one of deep suspicion laced with cynicism? The mayoral system in America, it seems to me, lends itself to cronyism and corruption. And with the death of local newspapers who is going to watch the bastards? Then there is the question of competence! As we have seen with the Greens and Ukip, being a mouthy politician is not the same as being competent administrator or a thoughtful politician.
I will write more on this when I am in the comfort of my garret before my trusty desktop machine and mouse! Sorry for any typos.
Yes, for the time being it is only dripping but as the leadership fight gets underway it is only a matter of time before an artery is opened and the blood gushes forth. Such fun! Whoever wins will die over the next five years, er, politically speaking, of course!
So far there appear to be only three serious contenders. A smoothie-looking operator who has shrewdly hung on to his accent from 'oooop North' which maintains his working-class credentials. Then there is the 'Poisonous Dwarf', Yvette Balls, forever cursed by her married name because Ed, of course, is loathed by Right, Left and Centre. Then there is some lady who is more 'Blairite' than Blair - dread thought! - and I don't think, somehow, that Commissar McCluskey will allow any of the MPs he has in his pocket to vote for her!
In any event, without Trade Union money the Labour party will go 'tits up' but I am restraining my good cheer because then the political class will start agitating big time for state funds and that, of course, will include the 'Scots Nuts' - over my dead body!
Anyway, sufficient unto the day and all that sort of thing, in the meantime, sit back and enjoy the blood-bath inside Labour.
Well, see, there was this scrawny old English geezer in the south of France loaded up with all the latest 'do-flicker-techie-thingies' kindly given to him by his ever-lovin' swottish son but when he went use them he couldn't remember exactly how they all worked and consequently he could not find his store of hilarious jokes to amuse the millions of wage slaves who depend on them. So the jokes on you, I suppose! Personally, I blame S.o.D!
It has only taken me 36 hours get this far so by the time I'm due to come home I should have mastered it! I'm off shortly for a birthday lunch at the smartest restaurant on the Riviera, so that should reduce their social standing. Let's hope that by the time I get back this afternoon I will not have forgotten how to work this machine!
I'm off at the crack of dawn. I don't quite know when I will be able reach this blog or even if I ever will. So, I will either 'see' you in a fortnight or sometime over the weekend if the god of 'do-flicker-thingies' smiles upon me. A bientot and all that sort of thing . . .
As the Labour party heads for the surface of the earth at an incredible rate of knots I cannot help but recall the famous message of those astronauts spinning out of control up in space. For the benefit of my foreign readers who - shock-horror! - may not have heard of Cleckheaton let me explain that for the benefit of my title I required a town with a suitably gritty - no, not grotty, behave! - northern feel to it, the sort of place one could imagine t'coal miners and t'mill workers trudging home slowly after a 14-hour day at the behest of rich Tory owners. Needless to say, I have no idea what Cleckheaton is like these days, for all I know it might have been gentrified and voted solidly Tory for two generations but to a soppy southerner like me the very name reeks of 'ooop north', disused factories and Labour to its core.
Thus, the disorganised gaggle of wannabe leaders of the Labour party, plus those who wouldn't touch the job with a barge pole, will, I suspect, have something of a problem explaining to the sturdy burghers of Cleckheaton (and their ilk) what is going on with the buggers' muddle that is the party's search for a new leader. First thing this morning, with yet another hopeless hopeful chucking her hat in the ring, it looked as though everyone who held a Labour party membership card was going to have a go. Well, you can't blame them, if a total prat like Ed Miliband can win it then everyone's in with chances. But then, midmorning, just as I was swallowing my special brew coffee - 30% acorns, 30% bark and 30% coffee, yes, it's disgusting but it's cheap! - I hear that one of the front-runners, Mr. Chuka Ummuna, has, er, chucked it in! Apparently, this 'got-rich-quick' merchant did not like the sudden and fierce scrutiny to which he was subjected. No, I don't know what has been discovered nor by whom but this Sunday's papers might make for interesting reading!
Mind you, I never thought he stood a chance anyway because I couldn't see him winning over the hearts and minds of those horny-handed sons of the factory floor in Cleckheaton let alone the union bosses who tell them how to vote! For the benefit of my foreign readers it has nothing to do with his colour, being black has long ceased to be a disadvantage in England, but being rich and London-based can be, especially in the Labour party.
Well, let them thresh on in the Labour party, it all adds to the gaiety of nations!
Yes, it's holiday time for your over-worked - and under-paid! - host. Tomorrow, we're off to the French seaside for two weeks. Well, "French seaside" hardly describes the elegant sophistication of Cannes on the Riviera but that's where we're going and, of course, I deserve no less. There will be some irritation for me because the International Film Festival is on and, darlings, you have no idea how irritating the paparazzi and the fans can be! It may be that I shall have to remain cloistered on the private terrace of my wealthy friend's private apartment on the seafront. I do think everyone should have a wealthy friend, don't you? Without him, it would be Clacton not Cannes - again!
Lest some of you are reaching for the pills to help you get through a fortnight without D&N, let me assure you that there is Good News and Bad News. The Good News is that 'SoD' provided his mother with one of those 'i-pod-pad-pud-tablet-do-flicker-thingies' which, I am assured, will work out there because my friend has 'wi-fi' - whatever that is! So the machine will work but the Bad News is that the operator - moi! - may not! You may imagine me to be like one of those SOE operators dropped into wartime France, crouched over my wireless set desperately trying to get through to London. On the other hand, you may imagine me as a bad-tempered, grumpy, old sod hurling his 'i-pad-pid-pud-tablet-do-flicker-thingie' into the sea when it disobeys orders. We shall see!
As a special request for my birthday - not until Sunday so you still have plenty of time to send me those priceless gifts - the 'Memsahib' bought me the box-set of "Breaking Bad". I can remember reading the general synopsis of the story-line in which a respectable High School chemistry teacher runs into a shit-storm of problems including financial ones and by an accidental stroke of fate bumps into the fringes of the amphetamine drug trade. This naïve 'Mr. Everyman' decides to utilise his chemistry skills in making drugs. By the way, I have deliberately not linked to the Wiki page for this series because it is better to come to it cold - and let it warm you!
So far, so intriguing, but alas I missed the first few episodes and such were the rave reviews I determined not to watch any of them unless I could start at the beginning. Well, I have just watched the first and I am hooked. It is cruel and funny and I can barely wait to see the next episode. I have crossed everything I can in the hope that the standard remains high. On the basis of just one single episode - and there is a total of five series - I am already placing it, temporarily, up alongside The Wire, than which etc, etc.
Dammit, they churn out a tsunami of crap from those Los Angeles studios but every once in a while they produce a five star winner.
A fascinating article in this week's Spectator by Dan Hodges in which he describes what went on behind the scenes during the last few nights of the Labour party's very own 'Rocky Horror Show'! It was a sort of mixture of the 'Three Stooges' (although there were more than three of them!) and the 'Massacre of the Innocents'. In fact, by Hodges' account, it seems to me that there was also more than a touch of Hitler's final days and nights in his bunker. Put simply, the campaign leadership stuck their heads in the sand, their hands over their ears and shouted "La-la-la-la" as loud as they could. The ones shouting loudest, of course, were those who knew the truth! That is, they knew that Labour was headed not just for defeat but for Gotterdammerung.
True to his word, Miliband stayed in his Zen-like state to the end. As one insider put it: ‘When he was working on his victory speech with Greg Beales [his speech writer] the exit poll was announced. They stopped, and someone came in and said, “Don’t worry, that poll’s wrong.” So they carried on writing.’
This is a tale of Labour’s downfall: the inside story of the party’s most catastrophic election campaign since the war. It’s a story of chaos, dysfunction and hubris.
We all, I think, including hardened Labour supporters, had an inkling as to the utter uselessness of Ed Miliband as a political leader long before the election began. But as it went on, what I can only call his 'weirdosity' became ever clearer. The infamous 'Ed-stone' was, of course, his headstone and became the monument to his other-worldly fatuousness. His late night visit to, of all the people in Britain to chose, Russell Brand, demonstrated that for all his university education, his father's Marxist philosophy and his alleged knowledge of economics, he was in fact, a capering idiot!
This sometimes battered and bashed old nation of ours has just enjoyed a miraculous escape. Yes, between the 'Scots Nuts' on the one hand, and McCluskey's union muppets on the other, we are, alas, shortly to live "in interesting times" but if so, console yourselves with the thought that it could have been so much worse!
I refer, of course, to the heir to the throne, Prince Charles. In contemplating this ineffably silly man actually becoming King I feel like popping over to my local church and praying for Her Maj to go on for at least another twenty years and thereby outlive him! His hitherto secret letters written to various ministers over the years have been published today, following a hideously expensive legal case. I really can't be bothered to read them, it is sufficient to know that this regal prat lacked the common-sense to know that any attempt by him to secretly influence government policy was bound to bite him in the bum more painfully than even a Patagonian Toothfish, one of his major concerns but don't ask me why!
Surely the silly man must have known that in this day and age, by fair means or foul, it would only be a matter of time before his interference in governmental affairs would be publicised. On the whole, the English love their Royal family but that is on the basis that they play absolutely no part in the day-to-day political or administrative business of running the country, even in the fairly paltry matters with which Charles concerned himself. The only suitable reply a minister should have made to these bumbling, ineffectual complaints is an old saying of, I believe, Australian origin:
"Ya Royal Highness, why don't you stick your nose up a dead bear's bum!"
Parliament hasn't even re-opened and yet already the 'Kippers' are in a shark-like fighting frenzy - with each other! The high-minded, and highly intelligent, Douglas Carswell MP, their only success in the election, refuses to take the full amount of £650k provided to the party to run their Westminster operation based on the national total of votes. The fact that they are to receive this money despite only managing to gain one seat offends the sensibilities, and the integrity, of Mr. Carswell MP who says it is a ridiculously large amount to cover the costs of running a one-man office.
Needless to say, 'our Nige', the man who resigned and then broke the world record for un-resigning, is furious and like many of the other third-rate chancers who constitute the UKIP hierarchy, insists that this money be accepted in full. So there you are, my fellow tax-payers, now you know how the 'Kippers' think of you - as one great, fat milch-cow! The only question that remains is how long will it be before Mr. Carswell leaves the 'Dad's Army' of UKIP and stands as an independent.
A very useful reminder from Quentin Letts in today's Daily Mail reminding us that the House of Lords, as currently constructed, is likely to prove an A1 embuggerence factor in Dave's plans. Apart from anything else, the Tories are in a small minority amongst a shower of ex-Labourites, Lib-Dems and other assorted Lefties.
Although the country has just given a clear vote for David Cameron, the Conservatives are very much in a minority in the Lords.
There are at present 779 sitting peers, and the Tories have only 224 of them. Labour has 213, the allegedly neutral Crossbenchers have 179 and — mark this, voters of Britain — the Liberal Democrats have 101.
Yes, the Lib Dems, who have just received the most amazing spanking from the voters of this kingdom and have been reduced to a risible eight MPs, have more than 100 parliamentarians tucked away in the Lords. I doubt you would recognise more than a handful of them. As Life Peers, they are untouchable. Isn’t it maddening?
Of course, they will all conspire to pull every procedural trick in the book to thwart Dave and his policies. There is an unwritten Salisbury Convention that opposition Lords will not thwart any policy which an incoming government has listed in its manifesto but that still leaves them plenty of room for mischief. Let us hope 'Devious Dave' lives up to my soubriquet!
I have always believed that when a man is down - that is the time to kick him! Well, as a very tough pal of mine from army days advised me, it was essential never to let your opponent get back up again. Good advice for a pub fight situation but not really applicable to my remote 'relationship' with Sally and John Bercow, not least because I do not have any 'relationship' with them. I am merely a grumpy old blogger viewing those set above me with a beady eye and armed with a caustic - oh alright then - a rude, crude keyboard. And the Bercows have been such an easy target. No need for sophisticated wit, of which I do not possess a huge store, just pick up the bludgeon and let 'em have it. Easy-peasy! And such fun, plus of course, the irresistibly warm feeling that by contrast I, personally, am so much better a person than either of them.
So given the cataclysmic disaster that has ended their marriage you would expect me to be breaking open the 'champers'. I mean, I want to, I feel I ought to, in an odd sense I deserve to - but I can't! Yes, they're ghastly, stupid people - but they're people. No one has died (except, perhaps, inwardly) but somehow viewing the wreckage of their lives it feels like a funeral. They both share the same characteristic of incredible stupidity but I assumed they would bimble on through their daft lives just being silly and providing amusement to the world. But as Shakespeare demonstrated over and over in his tragedies, when the fates conspire to apply pressure to the fault-lines in human nature the result is destructive in the extreme. Also, and it's worth bearing in mind, the collateral damage can be extensive.
So this will be my last word on the Bercows. As they search pathetically amongst the detritus of their marriage and family life, I really do wish them the best of whatever meagre pickings the fates allow them.
George Osborne has been anointed. 'Devious Dave', by keeping him on as Chancellor has, in effect, told the Tory party that George is his successor. Lucky little Georgie, you might think, but - yes, there's always a 'but' especially in politics - being anointed isn't quite the same as being crowned! After all, in the last government he failed in his main aim - some would suggest that it should have been his sole aim - of returning the nation to financial probity by eliminating our annual deficit. However, he can claim(!) that he was partly ham-strung by the Lib-Dems. Thus, the deficit - the amount of money the government spends beyond its means - whilst it has been halved, it still exists and therefore our national debt has increased year on year on year.
Today there are no excuses for little Georgie. He has five testing years to hack away at government spending. No doubt he will tell us, like my old headmaster used to say before giving me the cane, that this is going to hurt him more than us but don't believe him! There will be pain!
The absolutely essential thing is that George applies the pain in the very best areas possible that will have the People - dread word! - cheering. Surely, one feels, he can afford a box of matches and finally get around to lighting Dave's "bonfire of the Quangos". Then there is all that government dosh - or my dosh as I fondly think of it - going on useless windmills and the like. Yes, I know that's all small beer but those sorts of cuts give you a warm feeling which will be needed when he starts the serious amputations. I doubt very much whether, despite the howls from the Tory Right, that there will be any increase in defence spending unless, of course, Georgie can persuade Dave to duck 'n' dive with the overseas aid budget.
An immediate 'Big Ticket' item that is looming is the HS2 train to the so-called 'powerhouse of the north'. I doubt that will be touched because Dave is after squeezing Labour out of its few remaining strongholds. But on the other hand, there is an even 'Bigger Ticket' looming in the form of an increase to airport capacity in the south which, depending on where it goes is certain to upset Tory voters. And looming over all them is the monstrous and irreversible costs of the NHS - 'the envy of the world' which no-one copies!
So little Georgie has his work cut out if he is to slip easily into his leader's regalia in five years time. Rather him than me!
A pictorial 'Funnie' for a change:
Towards the end of a round of golf, Dave hit his ball into the woods and found it in a patch of pretty, yellow buttercups. Trying to get his ball back in play, he ended up thrashing just about every buttercup in the patch.
All of a sudden, POOF! In a flash and puff of smoke, a little old woman appeared.
She said, 'I'm Mother Nature! Do you know how long it took me to make those buttercups? Just for doing what you have done, you won't have any butter for your popcorn for the rest of your life ...
... better still, you won't have any butter for your toast for the rest of your life ...
... As a matter of fact, you'll never have any butter for anything for the rest of your life!!!'
Then POOF!. she was gone!
After Dave recovered from the shock, he hollered for his friend, 'Fred, where are you?'
Fred yells back 'I'm over here in the pussy willows.'
Dave shouts back, 'DON'T SWING, Fred' FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T SWING!
A couple of English tourists were driving through Wales.
They stopped for lunch at the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogoch
A very blonde waitress came to the table and one of the tourists said; “Before we order, would you be good enough to settle an argument please? Can you pronounce where we are, very, very, very slowly?”
The blonde waitress leaned over and said,
“Burrr........ Gurrr........ King.
It was the funeral of a former Parking Officer.
As the coffin was being lowered into the ground at a
Parking Officers funeral, a voice from inside screams "I'm not dead, I'm
not dead. Let me out!"
The vicar smiles, leans forward sucking air through his teeth and mutters,
"Too f**king late, pal, I've already done the paperwork"
I can't say I have given a great deal of thought to Labour's problems but it seems to me that their average mental age appears to be 171/2. I was struck by the photos of the mob that kicked off a rampage outside Downing Street yesterday. They were all student age kids. Like their demi-god, Russell Brand, the were incapable of coherent thought and were thus reduced to shouting gobbledegook slogans. (Incidentally, one of the minor but delicious results of this election has been the total squidging of the ridiculous Russell Brand of whom I hope we see and hear no more.) There, in one scrofulous, moo-like herd was the future of the Labour party - unless they do something about it.
Most of the people around Ed Miliband learned (if that is quite the word!) their politics at 'Uni'. They didn't do this via Socratean debate and analysis but by simply regurgitating whatever was the current mantra in Left-wing circles. Perhaps one might have a twinge of sympathy for Ed given that he was fed this pap by his Marxist father but on the other hand so was his brother, David, and he managed to think his way out of it. Anyway, by the time 'Team Miliband' was formed, after Ed's act of fratricidal assassination, they were all 30-40-something university students who had spent their formative years agreeing with each other and brooking no dissent. In fact, such was their state of indoctrination that they couldn't even conceive of anyone holding an opinion different to theirs. It was a situation not dissimilar to that old Scottish joke in which St. Peter, in welcoming a newcomer to heaven, warns him to tiptoe past a stockade with very high walls because the 'Wee Frees' are inside and they think they are the only people in heaven!
Needless to say, this truly stupid myopia was encouraged by other 30-40-something 'uni-robots' who infest the BBC, the media and now, we realise, the polling organisations, too. None of them, never having listened to an opposing argument because they always shouted them down, let alone seriously considered them, could conceive that millions of people thought that they, and their boss, were a bunch of total wankers inhabiting a parallel universe! The crushing decision of the English is that they should all go away and grow up before coming back to try and run this country.
Or at least, it will not be a problem so long as 'Devious Dave' lives up to my soubriquet. The first major 'MacGlitch' the 'Scots Nuts' will trip over is the undoubted fact that shortly, probably very shortly, they will fall out with each other. They have a situation where their Party leader is based in Edinburgh but the parliamentary party leader is in Westminster.
Nicola Sturgeon Alex Salmond
He can 'smile and smile and murder as he smiles', and she can just 'murder' without any expression at all! As always with a pub fight I am happy to hold the coats - and pub fights don't come much more vicious than Scottish ones! In essence though, Dave's policy is straightforward - remain awfully polite and simply give the 'Scots Nuts' most of what they want whilst insisting that they must pay for it and that in future Scottish citizens will receive no more per head from the Treasury in the way of grants than the rest of Britain receives - and then leave them to get on with it. It is quite obvious from even a glance at most of their MPs that, just like UKIP, they couldn't run the proverbial piss up in a brewery. It will only be a matter of time before they're tearing each other's throats out.
The example of Wales is instructive. That has been a Socialist 'nirvana' for the past few years with the Labour party running the local NHS. The service provided has deteriorated to such an extent that people are leaving Wales to seek treatment in England. Also, the Tories won three extra seats in Wales on Thursday!
And yes, before you all start, I know that it should be "sorrows" not "troubles" but I'm sure 'our Will', a staunch small-c conservative, will allow me the slight alteration in order to make my point.
Undoubtedly, Europe is going to be a really big 'trouble'! You will not be able to believe a word that emanates from either London or Berlin-Brussels (B-B) over the next two years as both sides dance the diplomatic minuet. The absolutely believable fact is that it will be a classic example of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. There is no way, in my view, that B-B can give us Brits anything serious in the way of opt-outs, certainly not anything entailing a change to the existing treaty, because instantly everyone else in Europe will want their own version and such changes will entail referenda in several of the European states. Such an outcome would probably lead to a colossal collapse of the house of cards.
So what we will see is a few paltry pieces of chicken-feed, re-painted, wrapped up and displayed as gifts from heaven when in fact they will amount to zilch. At this point, enter the anti-EU lip-foamers on the Tory Right who can upset Dave's majority with ease, and whilst their lips might be spittle-encrusted, they have people like John Redwood MP, a serious political swot, to articulate the anti-EU case. He's started already:
Conservatives also strongly believe that Europe is our continent, not our country[My emphasis]. The EU should be a set of agreements with other European countries, not an override on our democratic government. We do not wish the EU to have the power to prevent the will of the British people being implemented by a UK government on matters as diverse as borders, migration, tax, benefits and the other important issues which the EU increasingly controls or influences.
The 'Kaiserin' and 'Juncker the Drunker' are in an equally hard place. They are desperate to keep Britain in but cannot do so at the risk of encouraging several other European 'colleagues' kicking off with their own demands. For them, it is an existential problem. The great edifice that has been erected in the name of European unity could crash to earth and the "German racket", as the late Lord Ridley described it, would end. Thus, I do not believe for a second that 'Devious Dave' will achieve anything like enough to satisfy his Right-wing. He will then face the problem of taking an evidently flawed package to the people of Britain in our referendum and either endorsing the 'IN' vote or the 'OUT' vote whilst simultaneously keeping his party together. To do that he will need to be seriously devious!
First of all, my apologies for failing to take part in the long and interesting conversation that occurred in these hallowed columns yesterday. I am always very grateful to my commenters and normally I try to join in but yesterday "was just one of those days". Also, the result of the election can only be described by deploying that much over-used word - stunning! I still can't quite get my head round it and the ramifications for the future are immense. At odd quiet moments during the past couple of days I gave been trying to think through what 'Devious Dave' should do and how he should do it.
Yes, as the last line, plus my title above, indicate, it is no longer appropriate to describe Dave as 'dim'. It's not that it was an entirely inaccurate but sometimes dim perseverance pays off as it did during this election period when Dave stuck gamely - and courageously - to the plan devised by Lynton Crosby his Australian election guru. A more intelligent, cerebral man would have panicked. Sometimes fortune favours not only the brave but the plodding, too! Anyway, my new soubriquet for our prime minister is 'Devious Dave' but I should make clear that it is not so much a description as a hope. Oddly enough, escaping from the 'il-Lib-non-Dem' prison in which he has been shackled for the last five years is going to test him in ways he has never experienced before. Now, there are no excuses. No-one to blame. The responsibility is his and his alone. In my reading of history, it is the devious leaders who fare best and so I hope he has plenty of it.
But, before I begin the long - and tedious! - business of trying to plot a course for him to follow - well, I know this blog is the first thing he reads every morning - I think a little celebration is in order. I like to think that in the privacy of his shower inside No. 10, 'Devious Dave' is singing this great song loud and clear:
Back to being free again
Back to being me again
With all my precious freedom, my precious, precious freedom
On my own
Back to being on my own
Back to live the life I'd known
Before I ever knew him, before I ever knew him
Free again, independent me, free again
Time to call up all the crowd
Raise the roof and shout out loud
Time to have a party, a party
Lucky me, take a look at lucky, lucky me
Take a look and you can see
How much I love my freedom, my precious, precious freedom
Simple me, complicated, simple me
Back to where I used to be before I ever knew him
Before I ever knew him...
Free again, lucky, lucky me
Back in circulation, now,
Time for celebration, now
Time to have a party, a party...
Free again, independent me free again
Time to call up all the crowd
Raise the roof and shout out loud
Time to have a party!
Lucky me, take a look at lucky, lucky me
Back to where I used to be! back to where I used to be !
Free again... free again...
Read more: Barbra Streisand - Free Again Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Time for me to go and shower, too, so I will return later and offer you my 'grunt-grumbles' on the way ahead for 'this, our septic Isle'!
I am writing this in my capacity as ex-Corporal (substantive) now Field Marshal (acting) Duff, Chief of the General Staff. You may not have heard of this promotion yet but I am assured that it will be announced next week along with other government appointments. This well-deserved (and overdue) promotion is entirely due to my keen strategic insight demonstrated only a few weeks ago (I can't be arsed to look for the post but my resident archivist, JK, will find it, I'm sure) in which I pointed out that in an age of mass drone attacks aircraft carriers were about as much use as galleons! Courtesy of Drudge, I found the details confirming my shrewd strategic insight at The Free Beacon:
China’s military plans to produce nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based unmanned weapons and sensor platforms as part of its continuing, large-scale military buildup, the Pentagon’s annual report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) disclosed Friday.
China currently operates several armed and unarmed drone aircraft and is developing long-range range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both intelligence gathering and bombing attacks.
As I never cease reminding you all, 20th century history teaches us that you ignore ex-corporals at your peril! Mind you, being right all the time is a terrible burden, you've no idea how I suffer.
In between doing this, that and the other today, I have been pondering on the extraordinary result of our election. Alas, I cannot write a beautifully crafted essay filled with subtle insights into the political miasma of the sort you might read in, say, The Telegraph or The Spectator so you will have to make do with my inelegant grunts and grumbles. Not that I have many grumbles, the result just about met my hopes with a Tory majority of ten. With his anti-EU wing this will be enough to keep Dave honest when it comes to the renegotiation with Berlin-Brussels but equally it will keep the hot-heads in check because they will be surrounded by pro-European parties eager to leap in to any Tory gap. As far as I am concerned, Europe is the be all and end all of this forthcoming parliament. We will get our referendum and it will be fascinating to see this massive game of poker developing. I very much doubt whether Dave will produce too much in the way of an improvement even with his Right-wingers hounding him. Will they have what it takes to bring down a Tory government? I doubt it! But on the other hand Dave dare not take too many chances. In Berlin-Brussels, of course, they will be weighing up just how little they need to give Dave to keep him and his party sweet. Hanging over it all like a dark cloud over a picnic will be the ramifications of a 'Grexit'! It is all absolutely fascinating, well, it is to political nerds like me.
The other dark cloud, of course, has a tartan hue! It is an irony of almost orgasmic proportions that the very success of the 'Scots Nuts' has ruined their main aim of independence. By decimating Labour in Scotland they let the Tories stroll into a Westminster majority so they now have a party in government over whom they have precisely nil influence. Yes, they can shout and holler and even play the bagpipes but equally Dave can, if he wishes, simply ignore them. Actually, I suspect he will do the opposite. He will act like the Eton-educated gent that he is, remaining at all times polite and reasonable whilst giving the 'Scots Nuts' the one thing they will not know what to do with - responsibility! Yes, he will grant them the 'freedom' to raise their own taxes and spend them as they see fit and then sit back whilst everything in bonny Scotland goes 'MacTits up'! If he is shrewd he will get the Tory party to increase their financial support to the Scottish wing of their party and encourage them to start now at ground level pointing out all the mistakes and stupidities that nutty Lefties always make. For example, in Wales under Labour, the NHS is in a total mess and people are moving to England in order to get treatment. The result - the Tories won three seats inside Wales! It will take time because the Jocks tend to be not just stupid but stubbornly stupid. This is a help in war but a disadvantage in politics!
As to the rest, Dave needs to reinforce the efforts Alan Duncan-Smith and his team as they press home their changes to our corrupting welfare system. It was their efforts which, I suspect, brought in a lot of non-Tory sympathisers inside the privacy of the voting booths. He needs to get rid of that silly woman who took over from the excellent Michael Gove at Education. She is half-hearted at best and seems incapable of taking on the educational 'blob' made up of unions and bureaucrats. I would like to see Said Javid moved in there. He, I believe, or at least I hope, will be a future leader of the Tory party. Immigration will also require a tough operator capable of ramming things down the civil servants' throats and with a team beneath him who can ensure that orders are actually carried out! This, of course, will be a key part of the negotiations with Berlin-Brussels where free movement of labour is sacrosanct. I suspect that Dave will lack the balls to insist on radical changes to the existing treaty but that might be an area where his Right-wingers can exert pressure on him! Finally, on the NHS he needs a man or woman of great subtlety, someone who can make all the right noises - there, there, my little NHS, keep taking the pills and you'll feel better in the morning - whilst at the same time privatising as much of it as possible!
Well, there you are, Prime Minister, that's my advice ... er, sorry -... did you say something? Well, that's not very Etonian!
Oooops, I almost forgot! Please be charitable and in this, his hour of dreadful anguish, please spare a thought for poor Len McCluskey of the UNITE union, although it might not be quite so united given the 'ga-zillions' of his members' dosh that he handed over to Ed Miliband. Sorry to repeat an old favourite but really, 'it would take a heart of stone not to burst out laughing'!
As all my regulars will know this blog does not pride itself on the accuracy of its forecasting skills. This is very simply explained because on the whole, by and large and taken in the round, as it were, I'm crap at forecasting! But, and here you will excuse me indulging in some deep philosophical insights, every once in a while the toast does NOT land marmalade down!
Here are some random thoughts and re-actions as the remaining results come in. The English people, on the whole, demonstrated sound common-sense. The Scots went nuts with their home-grown Nats. There is a God and he has answered my prayers by smoting the il-Lib-non-Dems - mightily! And you only need to recite the names of the losers to rejoice - David Laws (expenses cheat), Vince Cable (untrustworthy and nasty), Simon Hughes (at last!) and best of all the ineffably stupid Ed Davey who is greener and loonier than a real-life green loony!
Finally, I turn to the biggest loser of the lot - no, not the so-called 'opinion polls' who were hopelessly and uselessly wrong - but Ed Miliband. A few days ago I suggested we bury him under that ridiculous stone tablet that some uber-idiot inside the Labour team had suggested as a gimmick. Well, now the GBP have done just that and given his despicable behaviour towards his brother, good riddance and let's cement it down. Perhaps as an added reward to the good sense of the English we could bury that pig-ignorant Russell Brand with him!
I'm off downstairs to test my falling toast theory and bask in the warm glow of an accurate forecast!
ADDITIONAL: Ed Balls out - there is a god!
Well, at least Marie Antoinette told us plebs that we could have cake but our current collection of 'world leaders' have cut the rations. According to James Taylor in The American Spectator, 'His Royal Highness', the former General Secretary of the United Nations, 'His Excellency', Kofi Annan, has let it be known that in his opinion (which is worth a zillion of yours!) people in the developed West should eat insects! Well, OK, I thought, perhaps we are all putting on a bit too much weight these days, I mean, the queue at my local Sainsburys is twice as long as it used to be because there are so many fatties in it taking up to twice the space! Ah, but then I read further and realised that the Great ex-Leader of the Globe was not worried about the fatties, no, no, the reason for insisting that we in the West stick to a diet of fried ants, boiled cockroaches and the odd dung beetle for flavouring, was to ensure that global warming was stopped. And yes, you read that right, it's all to stop global warming!
Complaining about a “rapidly growing middle class,” Annan told the Guardian [of course, where else?!] that more people being able to afford beef and chicken is causing “a major threat to the climate” because raising livestock produces global warming emissions. “There are alternative sources of protein,” said Annan. “Insects have a very good conversion rate from feed to meat.”
Well, to be fair, I have read elsewhere that a great deal of the carbon dioxide that causes (allegedly!) global warming is emitted by all those farting cows, although when I mentioned this theory to the 'Memsahib' she rather unkindly suggested that I had contributed more than my fair share over the years. (What can she mean?) Anyway, there is no arguing with a man of Kofi Annan's immense intellect so just get used to the idea. I would advise against grass-hoppers, the damned things are just too difficult to catch, and ants are no good because you can spend all day catching them and end up with only a handful!
Of course, as regulars will remember, my collective name for Swedes is 'Yerdi-durbals', courtesy of the Muppets and that dopey Swedish chef whose approximation to the Swedish language was an endlessly repeated series of "Yerdi-derbal-derbal-yerdi-derbal-derbal"! Anyway, I was reminded of it by an article at The Coffee House by Fraser Nelson attempting to explain the inexplicable. Apparently, for the last eight years the 'Yerdidurbals' have been ruled by a, dare one say, 'Thatcherite' prime minister called Fredrik Reinfeldt. This magnificent 'Viking' hero cut taxes by such an extent that the low paid received, in effect, an extra month's salary. ('Dim Dave's boast of tax-cutting actually amounts to only about ten days extra pay - and that was gobbled up by the VAT increase!)
After eight years in office, much of Reinfeldt’s tax-cutting work was done. “A lot of the taxes that were annoying a lot of Swedes, going back to the nineties, are not there anymore, he said. “Wealth tax has been abandoned. We don’t have an inheritance tax. The property tax that had been annoying a lot of people was taken away. Incomes taxes are quite lower. Corporation tax has been lowered from 28 per cent down to 22 per cent. Tax deductions that for home care, work assistance – everything is now in place.”
Well, apropos my previous idea of emigrating to Albania, after reading that summary I thought perhaps 'Yerdi-derbal-land' might be a better idea not least because the chicks are hotter! But alas, the only reward this Superman received from his ungrateful and thick-beyond-belief electorate was to be booted out! You will have to read Nelson's article for the reasons why but part of it was the Swedish tradition of open frontiers to immigrants which led to the formation of a party to the Right of Reinfeldt which sapped his party's strength. Now they are ruled by a soft-soppy-Left coalition.
Ah well, back to Albania!
That, according to my e-pal, 'BOE', is what we should all do in the polling booths today. He is encouraged to this action by no less a worthy than Peter Hitchens in The Mail whose hatred of the Tory party is assuming megalomaniac proportions. Well, it's a policy, I suppose, but I would remind both 'BOE' and Hitchens of Samson's sorry end as told in Judges 16: 28-30:
28 Then he called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.”
29 Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.
'Apocalypse now' is, well, apocalyptic and frankly, chaps, we true, blue Englishmen don't do 'apocalypse', it's all far too Wagnerian and anyway it never ends well for the 'apocalyptees', so to speak.
So today, 'England expects' and all that sort of thing, that you get down to your voting station and vote for 'Dim Dave'. Yes, he's not the brightest light shining from No. 10's windows but slowly and steadily he is beginning to get the hang of the job. But above and beyond all other things, only he will provide a chance for us to vote IN or OUT of the EUSSR.
"Do it, England!"
I sniggered the other day. Well, I mention it because any signs of good humour from me are rare these days - waddya mean ya noticed! But, as dear Oscar (such a darling boy!) once said, 'it would take a heart of stone not to laugh' ... at Baltimore! Yes, indeed, that miserable heap of slum iniquity which has been run by a Democrat party apparat for fifty years and which today has not a single Republican elected official. All a bit embarrassing, you would have thought, to a Democrat president who has been in power for six years but not a bit of it, according to freebeacon.com:
President Obama claimed last Tuesday that if the Republican-controlled Congress would implement his policies to make “massive investments in urban communities,” they could “make a difference right now” in the city, currently in upheaval following the death of Freddie Gray.
See, it was all the fault of those beastly conservatives stopping Father Christmas President Obama from dishing out the 'freebies'. Well, if you didn't already know that Obama is the lying liar's lying liar you do now:
The city of Baltimore received over $1.8 billion [my emphasis] from President Barack Obama’s stimulus law, including $467.1 million to invest in education and $26.5 million for crime prevention. [...]
According to Recovery.gov, one of Baltimore’s central ZIP codes, 21201, received the most stimulus funding in the city, a total of $837,955,866. The amount included funding for 276 awards, and the website reports that the spending had created 290 jobs in the fourth quarter in 2013.
Bless my soul, 290 jobs created! Fantastic! That works out at, er, well, ahem, roughly $2,880,503 per job! Well done, Mr. President, awfully good show and I'm glad your socialism is working so well for you. Of course, there will be a lot more work to do now repairing all the damage done by the, um, grateful residents of Baltimore!
According to Anthony Watts at his superb site, WUWT, the sun has virtually rid itself of spots. Waddya mean ya didn't know it had any spots?! It's had spots since, well, whenever, but the number of them goes up and down over time. Now at this point I must be careful because whenever the sun and it's spotty eruptions come up as a subject on WUWT because of their supposed link to our climate on earth then a fearful, and fearsome, swot by the name of Prof. Svalsgaard leaps in in a most un-professorial way and gives you a right kicking if you fail to provide at least a PhD dissertation of proof to back your claims! I, of course, write on scientific matters having failed 'O'-level maths, physics and chemistry. However, that was only because at the time my mind was concentrated not so much on the expanding universe as the expanding bosoms of Josie B who used to sit next to me in the classroom!
And talking of expanding universes, I do wish sometimes that these swots would keep certain things to themselves. According Anthony Watts the sun constitutes 99.86% of everything that exists in our solar system! 99.86%!!!! But ... but ... that makes me feel really, well, speck-like! And, dammit, I'm not a speck, I'm me ... as in me, me, me! Where was I? Oh yes, the damned sun and the fact that its high energy spots have faded away. Of course, it's happened before and usually (fingers crossed) they come back after a few years. But the thing of it is that usually these 'minima', as they are called seem to coincide with long periods really cold weather - and yes, yes, Prof. Svalgaard, I know, correlation is not causation and all that. Even so, my advice is treat yourself to some Long Johns and mittens! And don't say I didn't warn you! Still, there's always some good news, at least the Big Freeze, when it comes, will finally shut up those idiot 'warmers'!
The thought of being ruled by a coalition of the current Labour party (the Westminster branch of the UNITE union) and the 'Scots Nuts' has made me contemplate seriously the idea of emigrating. The problem is - where?! Alas, at my age I am European bound, I can't be doing with all that youthful vigour stuff they require 'over there' or in the Dominions. On the other hand, all the attractive parts of Europe are already filled with British ex-pats and they are, without doubt, the most eye-stabbingly boring collection of people you could ever wish to avoid.
However, in the last few days I have received not one but two massive nudges in the direction of, well, er, Albania, actually. Hitherto, I must confess, in so far as I ever thought about Albania it was in connection with their #1 export - Albanian gangsters! This, I admit, has coloured my view of the place. But just the other day my eyes were opened by a chapter in Margaret MacMillan's history of the Versailles peace conference - yes, I'm still working my way through it, it's not difficult but 'comprehensive' hardly describes it! In 1919 both Italy and Greece were circling the place looking for pickings:
Poor little Albania, with such powerful enemies and so few friends. And it had almost no industry, little trade, no railways at all and only about 200-miles of paved roads. It emerged out of obscurity just before the war, created out of four districts of the Ottoman empire. [...] History and geography - the tangle of mountains and valleys that stretched inland from the coast - had produced a myriad of tribes, equally suspicious of outsiders and each other. The Gregs of the north and the Tosks of the south spoke different dialects and had different customs. As elsewhere in the Balkans, the past had left in its wake religious divisions; the 70% of the population that was Muslim was part Sunni, part Shia, and a minority were dervishes. The Christian minority was Catholic in the north and Orthodox in the south. Rules about honour and shame, of a dazzling complexity, governed daily life. In some areas, one man in five died in a blood feud.
But then, this very morning, I read an article at The American Thinker telling of Albania's truly magnificent record in saving Jews during WWII. Not one single Jew was killed in Albania even though hundreds were secretly hidden.
The practice among Albanians during WWII was to hide Jews in their cellars, and give them fake names and false documents. Someone with the name Solomon became Suleiman, Isaac became Esau. Jewish men would grow beards like the Muslims and Jewish women would wear traditional Muslim garb. There were a lot of strategies implemented to cover up Jewish identity. Today, the older people in Albania still remember what happened during those times.
According to Edmond Panariti whose family was involved in hiding Jews during the war, Albania has an almost unique record in smoothing religious differences:
Edmond said it not only has to do with Albania’s tradition and culture. “We are the only country in the region that has a religious tolerance. This is not the case with our neighbors. The most amazing thing, and we are taking pride in it, is that we have coexistence between religions.”
Edmond explained that tolerance between religious groups happens because the communities accept each other, and respect one another’s beliefs and their history. “We are trying to do our utmost to preserve this. We’ve seen, recently, attempts to radicalize this situation; especially from fundamentalists who are trying to interfere with these favorable ties that exists between different religions… Christians and Muslims.”
According to Edmond, Moslems attend Christian celebrations and vice versa. “I have not seen it elsewhere. It is happening in Albania. We are not doing enough to promote this.”
He thinks it was the hospitality towards the Jews, with this climate of understanding and living together with these other communities, that helped protect the Jewish community in Albania during WWII.
So let's hear it for 'plucky little Albania'! If I can work my way up those valleys and into the mountains and find a suitable wooden hut then 'Mili' and 'MacNutter' can do what the hell they like!
Sometimes, just sometimes, I almost find myself at a complete loss for words - like now, for instance, but before you cheer despair, don't worry, the feeling is only momentary! Having managed finally to lift my jaw from my chest let me begin with a question. Was it a collection of grown-up men, senior politicians and their advisors, men who seek to hold the future of our nation in their hands, who dreamed up the idea of an 8-foot stone monolith to be mounted in the garden of No. 10 and on which is carved the Labour party policy aims, or was it Class 2 from Hackney Kindergarten School for children with, er, 'learning difficulties', or 'thickoes' as we used to call them?
Anyone with half an eye and reasonable hearing realised years ago that Ed Miliband is a gawping, gurning, grinning idiot who should have spent the rest of his life at the Hackney Kindergarten School from where, presumably, he 'graduated'. This man seriously believes he is prime minister material, up there with the likes of Winston Churchill! A prime minister, incidentally, who had no need for tablets of stone to immortalise his words, he just composed them and then delivered them and in one electrifying moment they passed into unforgettable history.
If any of you have even the slightest inclination to vote Ed Miliband in as prime minister this infantile, pathetic, insult to your intelligence is reason enough not just to keep him out of office but to utterly humiliate him. After all, he and his stupid public relations advisors think you're all retarded and will take this pathetic stunt seriously. On Thursday, show him what you really think and bury him under his own ludicrous monument to folly and hubris.
"Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad."
You don't really deserve any Funnies today because it's a Bank Holiday Monday but on the other hand you may have the Mother-in-Law coming for a visit so perhaps these will cheer you up:
Two little old ladies, Connie & Evelyn, were sitting on a park bench outside the local town hall where a flower show was in progress. The short one, Connie, leaned over and said, 'Life is so boring. We never have any fun anymore. For £10.00 I'd take my clothes off and streak through that stupid, boring flower show!'
'You're on!' said Evelyn, holding up a £10.00 note.
So Connie slowly fumbled her way out of her clothes. She grabbed a dried flower from a nearby display and held it between her teeth. Then, completely naked, streaked (as fast as an old lady can) through the front door of the flower show.
Waiting outside, her friend soon heard a huge commotion inside the hall, followed by loud applause and shrill whistling. Finally, the smiling Connie came through the exit door surrounded by a cheering, clapping crowd.
'What happened?' asked Evelyn.
'I won £100 as 1st prize for 'Best Dried Arrangement!'
From now on, I'll believe in The Prophet Muhammad ....
I decided to go to the local Mosque for the first time, to see what it was all about.
I sat down and the Imam came up to me, laid his hands on my hand and said:
"By the will of Allah the All Mighty, and the Prophet Muhammad, you will walk today."
I told him I was not paralyzed.
He came back and laid his hands on me and repeated the same thing.
Once again, I told him there is nothing wrong with me.
After the prayers, I stepped outside - and fuck me - my car was gone!
I'm not sure if my American friends are on holiday or not but here are some jokes from way down south:
From down south Georgia:
The owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about
paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for
some mathematical help.
He called her into his office and said, "Y'all graduated
from the University of Georgia and I need some help.
If I wuz to give yew $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you
The secretary thought a moment, and then replied,
"Everthang but my earrings."
A Tennessee State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-65.
The trooper asked, "Got any ID?"
The driver replied, "Bout whut?"
Y'all kin say whut y'all want 'about the South, but
y'all never heard o' nobody retirin' an' movin' North.
Right, that's your lot and I think I just heard the
Mother-in-Law's car pull up outside and - goody -
she's brought her doggie-woggies with her - such fun!!
Yes, you're right, I'm practicing my excuses before tonight's inspection of my spring-cleaning exercise up here in the garret. But honestly, what's a man to do when surrounded by all these damn books most of which I have never got around to reading? And of course, as I dust the them and the shelves I can't help reading the titles and that old insidious temptation takes hold.
Now be honest, in my position could you just pass by a book called "Thinker, Failure, Soldier, Jailer" without pausing to have a quick look? It's an anthology of Telegraph obits from the past with one entry for each day of the year. So, sitting down quietly - er, very quietly! - I opened it up at random and came face to face (so to speak) with James 'Jimmy the Gent' Burke, b. 1931 - died 1996. He was, apparently, a notorious 'Noo Yawk' gangster who was used as the basis of Martin Scorsese's film Goodfellas.
Amongst his exploits was the $5 million highjack of Lufthansa's cargo terminal. 'What the hell, dey're Nazis, right?, so like, who gives a rat's ass?' was not what he said but I like to think he might have thought it! Anyway, the FBI failed to find a penny of it (or if they did they're not telling!) Nor could they pin the crime to Burke even though they were certain he was behind it. Six men took part in the robbery but apparently there was a falling out amongst thieves and very quickly after that several of them became ex-gangsters, if you follow my Pythonese! They couldn't pin that on Burke either but eventually they got him for something minor and that was good enough to lock him up and throw away the key.
Ah well, I can't spin this out any longer so it's back to the hoover and the duster, honestly, you have no idea what I have to put up with!
For me it's a weekend of servitude. Yes, the 'Memsahib' has spoken and, truth be told, she was right, this garret of mine is a disgrace. Anyway, despite my twinges and twangs (agony, I tell you, agony!) I have been down on hands and knees beneath the bloody-bloody computer desk - how can one simple piece of furniture have so many sharp corners on which to bump your head? - armed with the hoover extension and a duster. Goodness me, the things you find! However, my entire, er, 'computer centre' is now immaculate. Alas, however, that only constitutes one fifth of the space up here and as I gaze about me I can see hours more work to be done so don't expect anything too erudite from me today - and I heard that!
Since these days nationalism seems to be all the rage, or perhaps just en-raged, here is a very rare piece discussing English nationalism. Very calm, very self-effacing - yes, I'm afraid we don't do nationalism awfully well - but it's worth reading:
To Kill a Mockingbird is a book you need never read and a film you need never watch for the simple reason that because of its popularity the essence of it has passed into American, and thereby British, folk-lore. Needless to say, ignorant fellow that I am, I haven’t read it or seen it! Even so, I am aware that Atticus Finch is the brave and principled lawyer (who sniggered?) who stands up tall for ‘Truth ‘n’ Justice’ and protects a black man from being convicted of a heinous crime he did not commit.
Alas, Atticus Finch cannot be with us today but that’s not a problem because we have his real-life embodiment, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, a true pink, soppy Leftie but, amazingly, one who does not allow dogma to over-ride his legal training and philosophy. He has just turned his intellectual guns on Mrs. Marylin Mosby, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore who set a new world record for speed in filing charges, including murder, against six police officers alleged to have been party to the death of Mr. Freddie Gray when he was in police custody. In effect, Prof. Dershowitz accuses her of allowing mob rule to run the (so-called) justice system in Baltimore.
Of course, Mrs. Mosby will claim to be acting in a strictly fair and judicial manner despite the mobs running riot on the streets – and the fact that her husband is a City councillor who presumably will one day be seeking re-election. Yeeeeees, quite! The ‘Prof’, however, will have none of it.
“This is a very sad day for justice in the United States, in Baltimore and in Maryland,” Dershowitz said. “Today had nothing to do with justice. Today was crowd control. Everything was motivated by a threat of riot and a desire to prevent riots.”
“There is no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder under the facts as we now know them. You might say conceivably, there is a case for manslaughter,” he continued
He added, “My prediction—they have overplayed their hand. It is unlikely they’ll get any convictions in this case as a result of this and if they do there is a good possibility they will get reversed on appeal.”
I cannot stress strongly enough, not least because it causes my Left-wing American chums enormous discomfort, but Baltimore has been a Democrat fiefdom for nearly 50 years. Everything, and that includes the police force, is in the hands of Democrat politicians. Today there is not a single Republican holding elected office in Baltimore. So who can they blame?
'Oh, the horror, the horror', as Brando muttered in that war film years ago and which I re-iterated when I switched on Sky News to see Kay Burley, microphone in hand, and several thousand hacks all lined up opposite a maternity clinic in London to await the arrival of the latest royal 'bay-bee'. Poor Kay was reduced to interviewing other hacks, there being no room for ordinary plebs on the crowded street. Actually, talking of poor Kay I can't help thinking that someone on Wiki has got it in for our leading anchor lady because this is the photo of her they chose to put on her Wiki entry:
I bet it was chosen by some disgruntled female colleague in Sky News whose toe had been firmly stamped on by the redoubtable Kay during some quarrel.
Anyway, perhaps I shouldn't complain too hard about the 'bay-bee' because at least it will drive the bloody election off the front-pages and the news bulletins. So come along, dear readers, let's all join in the jollity by choosing some names for him or her. Let me offer up:
King Latifah if it's a boy or Halybutt if it's a girl.
Anyway, 'here's a health unto Latifa or Halybut'. Jolly good show!
ADDITIONAL: It's a girlie - oh God, double the horror!
Well, it's Saturday morning and the beginning of the Bank Holiday weekend so you have the time to sip your tea, munch your toast and reflect on the haunting mysteries of this truly great poem:
The Listeners by Walter de La Mare 1873–1956
If as me and Dan Hodges and more and more of the 'commentariat' believe, that Dave will lead the Tories into a small but workable majority after the election, then I hope the Tory leadership are already turning their minds towards the one truly serious, strategic question which will face them from the day after the election: Are they prepared to fight the Scots for a united Kingdom? There is no doubt in my mind that if the 'Scots Nuts' are thwarted in the slightest with regard to their claims then it will only be a matter of time before the 'Provisional Wing of the SRA' (Scottish Republican Army)' is formed and operational. They are likely to prove as deadly as their Irish 'cousins'.
At this moment in time I am inclined not to fight. The cost in blood and treasure to keep people tied to our purse strings does not seem worth it. If by their vote in this election they show an overwhelming majority in favour of their nasty nationalism, then so be it. Give 'em a groat and show 'em the door!
For the first time last night I actually sat and watched an entire electioneering programme, er, well, I didn’t bother watching ‘the Kleggeron’ - who would? - he’s totally irrelevant. But I did watch Dave and Ed as each of them in turn and alone faced questions from a studio audience for half an hour. I have deliberately avoided reading any of the political commentary before writing this so as not to colour my opinion.
First of all it was an excellent format, much better than those tedious ‘debates’. The audience, for a change, were fairly well versed and asked some penetrating questions eliciting, in one case, a truly newsworthy item. When asked about his future relations with Mrs. ‘MacNatsy’ and the ‘Scots Nuts’, Ed Miliband threw caution into Loch Lomond and adamantly refused to have any sort of dealings with her or her party either up front or behind closed doors. In fact he was more than adamant, he almost stamped his little foot in passion and told the audience there would be absolutely no deal or understanding between the two parties even at the cost of a Labour government. Amazingly he allowed not an inch of wriggle room! Ed did well even if it became increasingly clear that his actual policies were a sort of wish fulfilment list. His last minute trip off the stage will no doubt be seized upon by the ‘commentariat’ which is a pity because if you believe in the sort of socialist ‘pie in the sky’ philosophy he espouses then you will have been rightly pleased at his performance. However, I’m not sure he will have convinced too many of the ‘don’t knows’.
Dave, on the other hand, was amazing! Where has he been hiding for the last few weeks? There, ‘before our very eyes’, was a passionate man basing himself firmly on five years of experience ‘up the sharp end’ of politics, admitting that he had failed to achieve all that he wanted but reminding the audience – and the ‘don’t knows’ – that he knew precisely what was needed for the next five years and that now was definitely not the time to change course. If there had been some failures then they must be set against the many successes and to jeopardise them now by changing course would be exceedingly dangerous. He emphasised the point that only a Tory government would offer an in/out vote on the EU which, of course, at the moment is the real controller of our immigration. A terrific, galvanising performance!
Yesterday, Dan Hodges, a real Leftie, wrote a piece in The Telegraph confidently predicting an outright Tory win. Obviously I was pleased but I remained doubtful. After last night I think he may be right. But now I must see if the 'experts' agree with my assessment.
Bernard Buffet's "Clown" hangs on my sitting-room wall immediately opposite my chair. Thus, we spend a great deal of time staring at each other. And yes, you're right, my social life is not overwhelming! I bought it when I was a teen-ager in the late '50s for my Mum but like virtually all gifts teenagers give their parents it was really for me, as in me, me, me, because I just loved that painting. I still do.
I'm not suggesting that it's a great masterpiece. After all, the counter-point between a clown's smiley make-up and the unhappiness that might lie beneath it is as old as, well, Lear's Fool. But when you look at this man's face beneath the make-up it isn't actually unhappiness that you see, merely seriousness. And what's wrong with seriousness, I demand to know, speaking, or writing, as a man who has problems smiling myself and who detests people who smile at me. The 'Memsahib' has threatened to throw me out of our sitting-room because of my constant grumpy eruptions during the adverts on TV when all these bloody people come on and smile and smile and smile and then smile some more before giving you one last smile. I hate them all and I hate their products even if I can't quite remember what they are!
So you can see why me and my serious friend on the wall spend a lot of time looking at each other. I find him restful as I am sure he does me although, to be honest, it might just be that after all these years he finds me a bit, well, boring - yes, hard to believe, I know! Anyway, I think when I die he might as well come in the box with me because nobody else is going to look at him the way I have over all these decades.
I wonder if, in times to come, our successors will look back on this era of hysterical child abuse accusations and liken it to the era in which we burned helpless, cranky but innocent old ladies and called them witches? Today it is impossible as an outsider to take on board the myriad details of all these child abuse accusations which are flying around like snowflakes in a storm - and producing much the same level of visibility! I have tried, on an occasional basis anyway, to concentrate on the Duncroft Home for girls with emotional problems of which Ms. Raccoon writes with considerable passion but, and this is critical, a passion strictly bound by a legal and evidential framework. She, at least, knows where-of she writes in regard to Duncroft Home because she was, for a time, a resident there. The fact that she has helped to destroy some of the false accusations made against the late Jimmy Savile and has remained consistently doubtful about the others, not out of any feelings for Mr. Savile but simply because there did not appear to be any conclusive evidence, indicates considerable courage on her part given the tide of hysteria on the subject.
In a recent post which is definitely worth reading, along with its comments thread, she points out that the police in:
Operation Yewtree recorded 11 ‘accounts of crimes’ said to have been committed by Savile at Duncroft. 5 of which were reported to have happened in the years 1970 – 1973. [My emphasis]
However, a subsequent police investigation:
Operation Outreach has now conclusively decided that Savile didn’t set foot in Duncroft before the 21st January 1974. [My emphasis]
In my bewilderment I am forced to wonder whether the old-fashioned habit of asking a policeman the time is worth the effort given that any two policemen are likely to give you three different times!