In which, during the course of the day, I will emit sundry burps and belches on anything that catches my beady eyes.
'Swivel-eyed plebs': By their unguarded, flabby-mouthed remarks shall you know them! And actually, I am rather pleased when it happens because suddenly in the fog and mists of PC-speak you catch a rare glimpse of the truth, or at least, the truth as perceived by the "swivel-eyed loons" who run this country of ours. In this latest case it was some Tory toff referring to the grass-roots suckers workers who volunteer their time and efforts to get these oily rascals up the greasy pole, however, it is an attitude of mind that stretches effortlessly to encompass all of us "plebs" who actually vote. Even as they grovel, they despise us. But you should not think that this attitude is confined to Tory toffs; the grandees of, say, the Trade Unions who swill their champagne in the best hotels and restaurants in the land think the same way about the real-life "plebs" who are daft enough to volunteer their union dues every week in order to keep the champagne flowing.
A poem: An old and dear friend gave me a rather beautiful book of war poems for my birthday last week. Very nicely produced in folio size, it contains war poems from all ages not just the usual and well-rehearsed WWI poems. Here is one that struck me as I was flicking through the book. It is reminiscent of Rupert Brooke's famous "That there's some corner of a foreign field/ That is forever England" but this was written by Thomas Hardy who lived and wrote in Dorset just a few miles south of here and the particular "corner of a foreign field" to which he refers is somewhere on the veldt in South Africa.
Drummer Hodge by Thomas Hardy
They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined – just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around;
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.
Young Hodge the Drummer never knew –
Fresh from his Wessex home –
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.
Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge forever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellation reign
His stars eternally.
Oliver Kamm misses the point: A week ago on his Times blog Oliver Kamm (you can read it via my link or something called 'Tumblr', whatever that is!) took issue with Nigel Lawson over Lawson's urging that we leave the EU. In his usual concise and logical manner he laid out the economic advantages of us remaining in, although he admitted that we would instantly be £8bn a year better off for no longer having to pay into the EU budget. As an economist/banker by trade (before he fell into Grub Street) it is not too surprising that he sticks to economic arguments but 'the dismal science' is not the primary one in this particular and fractious matter. It's politics, innit? We, that is the royal 'we', in case you're wondering, simply do not wish to be ruled by European politicans and bureaucrats - it's as simple as that! I don't care if our standard of living drops 0.75% or whatever, or even if it goes up by the same amount, I just want the United Kingdom to run itself, make its own laws, make its own mistakes, make its own way - c' est tout! (See, bloody French get everywhere!)
Albert Finney's Big Fail: I have just had lunch in my kitchen and the 'Memsahib' was watching Murder on the Orient Express with Albert Finney playing Hercule Poirot. I nearly murdered Albert Finney! That has to have been his worst performance - ever. He shouted his lines from somewhere at the back of his throat because in his effort to look plump, which he was not at the time, he kept his chin buried in his neck in an effort to show a double chin. I have admired Finney for years, for just one example, his performance as Sir Donald Wolfit in The Dresser was superb. I suppose from time to time even the best get it wrong - the worst do so constantly as my past performances bear witness! Anyway, no-one does Poirot better than David Suchet.
The Bookaholic's Tale: I got lucky last week. I wrestled with my conscience, with which I had sworn never, not ever, to buy another book until I had reduced the pile of 'waiting-to-be-read' books - and lost! So in I went to Waterstones without even a pang of regret and ended up in front of the American History section which was surprisingly small. I am still waiting to come across a book on Lincoln which is biography and not hagiography. There was one on the shelves but reading the reviews my suspicions were aroused. However, when I replaced it I noticed The American Civil War written, I was re-assured to notice, by a Brit and a damned good historian at that - the late Sir John Keegan. It was half the size of Lincoln's biography so that helped, too! Anyway, a warning to my American e-pals, sometime in the next 10 years I will be an expert on your civil war about which, at the moment, I know next to nothing.
But my good fortune did not end there. Going to the Pay Desk I noticed a bookcase of books at knock-down sale prices. Amongst them was The Information by James Gleik. I have two of his books on my shelf, one on Richard Feynman and the other on chaos theory. Gleik is excellent at writing science for dummies without actually insulting our intelligence. The book had a tear in the cover and slight damage to the spine but was only reduced by £2. My second-hand car dealer persona took over and I asked the man at the desk if that was the best he could do given the damage. Not only did he sell it to me for a fiver, he noticed a very slight tear in the cover of the American Civil War book and knocked two quid off that, too! Well done, Waterstones!
That's my lot for today.