Thursday, 30 November 2006


The local council has just issued its new guidelines for rubbish collection. It is to be:

recycling weekly, non-recyclable rubbish in a wheelie bin half the size of the present ones, and collected once a fortnight.

While I appreciate, like most conservatives, the need to do something about our various environmental problems, this solution seems harsh and dangerous. Firstly, it is designed to make people suffer, a principle that is being ejected from the criminal justice system, but apparently alive and well in environmental circles. Where is the carrot, the benefits one could accrue from recycling? Secondly, it assumes that families of different sizes can be made to use the same amount of material. This will lead to people driving the 10 miles to the local tip, and dumping their crap there. you cannot just slice in half the stuff you use. Thirdly, leaving rubbish lying around, whether in kitchens, gardens, or wherever, for two weeks will present a health hazard. The collection of rubbish is one public service most conservatives are happy to have provided by the state or agents thereof: its introduction was primarily for public health reasons and it is those that are being completely ignored here. Over and above some putative threat to the earth the first priority of a government ("with limited resources" as we're always being told) should be the health of its citizens. But now they are using the threat of disease as another stick to beat people into changing what they see as outrageous "consumerist" lifestyles.

Naturally, as far as our council is concerned, it is just because of "targets" and you know us guv, our hands are tied.

I saw this quote on Samizdata today:

Despite the compelling evidence against recycling, Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth wants everyone to be forced to recycle. He attacks support for "the personal freedoms of citizens... this is a basic value that will need to be reviewed."

It's difficult to avoid the thought that for many on the green left, this already is being reviewed, and it can be done nice and easily as the first priority for anyone is the imminent destruction of earth. Unless we abandon everything that socialists have always hated (except when they were celebrating the latest pig iron and steel production figures from the socialist bloc), we will all die. As before, socialists dismiss the liberty of the individual. Then, it was in the service of releasing the proles from bondage. Now, it's saving the earth. Either way, the individual is of little consequence, although as a small reward, they can have as many orgasms as they like (why does the Green Party take the line that under 16s have a right to "satisfying physical relationships" as I saw in a letter to the Times recently, I wonder).

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Alan Freeman

Alan Freeman, legendary DJ, has died. My own tribute to the man is that when I was struggling for identity, and felt completely cast off from my generation, I found his programme "Thirty Years of Number Ones" on Radio 1 and it changed my approach to life, the purpose of life, and life itself, for me. His style was easily mocked in those later years, but his mission was to bring great music to people and he did it.

Alright? Not 'alf!

Monday, 27 November 2006

Apologizing for Things You Didn't Do

Dizzy has a post up about Blair's near apology for the slave trade.

I agree with Dizzy: an apology usually expresses a sense of responsibility for an action or event, which cannot be the case here. But Blair's near-apology is part of a political debate in which Blair (as the embodiment of the British state) is responsible, because we have accepted that people not involved in slavery by two hundred years or more, are nonetheless victims of it, hence anyone to do with the state is a perpetrator of it. The logic is twisted but understandable, even if it is nonsense. The problem is, it comes down to simple political axioms: all black people are de facto victims of slavery, whatever their personal situation, and all white people are de facto privileged at least in part because of it. Britain's role in slavery, as Dizzy did point out, and Blair didn't, extends to ending it - the British state realised the evil of it, and ended it as far as it could. But this is ignored, it has to be, otherwise the comforting simplicities of the narrative would be obscured. The article on the BBC quotes a few people, who, despite their privileged media and even governmental roles, seem to think they were victims directly involved in the slave trade and deserve greater apologies, up to and including reparations.

As an Irish descedent, whose living relatives were directly abused and discriminated against by the British state, I would object to having my taxes used, through reparations, to declare me responsible for slavery. Perhaps, though, we could insist on proper reparations from Germany for the two world wars in order to pay for it. Or we could trace everyone's origins so the money would have to come only from people whose ancestors have lived in Britain (excluding internal victims, like Irish people, some Scots and so on) since before 1807 would have their tax money used to pay the reparations. Of course, to qualify for reparations, you would have to trace your ancestry to the slave trade and have the research independently verified.

Handily, as we have an ethic that blithely declares blanket victimhood and blanket responsibility, such tricky little problems can be ignored. The politics of victimhood are endless: expressing sorrow for the slave trade and making it clear, as if it were really needed, that we're all against slavery, is, I suppose, fair enough. Making us morally responsible, or financially responsible, is not: because we had no choice in its direction or outcome. You can't get a conviction if your defendant had no role in the crime itself. And it will do nothing for race relations to institutionalise the view that white people are the root of all evil.

The New Model (Barmy) Army

Norm has posted a refutation of my refutation, on his blog.

Don't get me wrong - I am opposed to pointless and irritating noise. I enjoy the quiet life. And I can't comment directly on what Norm has experienced because I'm not there. But I have followed an Ashes tour with the Army and heard them, been in the middle of them, been part of them, sung and (been) drunk with them.

To blame the noise Norm has experienced on the Barmy Army and to describe them as an "infestation" still seems unfair to me. I've experienced drunkenness and aggression, and endless shouting of "cmon Aussie cmon" and so on, and I've been threatened, abused and had to listen to hours upon hours of rubbish from Aussie fans in cricket grounds in Australia, and it was a lot worse than singing; but the authorities and Australian fans really didn't seem half as interested in the problems we experienced as they do in a bit of noisy trumpeting and shouting. The kind of irritation Norm has experienced is not copyrighted, nor was invented by the Barmy Army. It is not essential to their existence, nor is it an inevitable part of their being anywhere.

I also believe that the Barmy Army, as I said before, whatever some pockets of it do, are by and large a force for good, which is why the Australians have tried, somewhat half heartedly, to imitate them.

Having said that, the Barmy Army is supposed to be an organisation for making friends and having a good time, so they should discourage the kind of shouting Norm objects to. I don't see anything wrong with chants or shouts; they are part of supporting teams, but they shouldn't go on for hours. I disagree with Norm's point that the good parts of the Army don't "mitigate" this - yes they do, as our good points always mitigate our bad, and the Barmy Army are just a bunch of sports fans, not criminals.

Norm also makes a wider point:

they periodically also set up what to many who aren't part of their chorus is an appalling din, intruding on the concentration, and on the pleasure of watching the game in peace.

TMS has had debates on this for the last year or so. Traditionally cricket has been a peaceful game to watch. But is it changing? Some TMSers, like Aggers, took Norm's position, but others thought that the way cricket is watched, just like the way it is played, is adapting to attract new generations. For good or bad, it might just be that your odds of watching cricket in peace are going to lengthen anyway. I enjoy both parts of it.

Why am I giving any effort to this? The world is falling to bits and an Englishman is arguing with an Australian fan over cricket, or matters pertaining to it. That, again, is why I love cricket. Even in its minor disputes, its niggles and its arguments, cricket seems to have encoded what we take to be good, ethical, sensitive and thoughtful, which is why we're conducting this discussion on a common assumption that pleasant things, like friendship and humour, peace and quiet, are good; and noise and aggression are bad.

ho ho

It must be April 1st.

The front page of the BBC website has a big plug for themselves, saying:

The BBC's Battles/Fighting for Editorial Independence.

When I had finished laughing, I realised they were serious. Do they cover their noted battle for independence over EU or multicultural issues? Do they cover their fight to get the racist murder of Kriss Donald recognised for what it was?

It's interesting that this arm of big government thinks it can play on the over-taxed public's sympathy for them against other arms of big government. As if the BBCs bias and incompetence today is somehow justified by whatever role they played in the General Strike. The BBC still does not realise that it is not a poor little victim, but a privileged taxation funded media enterprise which uses its advantage to squeeze genuine companies out of business and attempts to crush its rivals, not by making more money, but by begging the government for it.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Norm's Reply

I emailed Norm to apprise him of my criticism of his stance. He has replied thus:

..I'd like you to understand my point of view. I have no objection to people having fun, taking the mickey, supporting their team. I'm happy to listen to football songs and chants whenever I go to Old Trafford to watch ManUnited.

But the Barmy Army specialize in relentless noise - mainly with the "Barmy Army, Barmy Army, Barmy Army...." chant which they can sometimes keep up for extended periods. If you're sitting next to that, or even nearby, it can absolutely ruin your day at the Test. So I stand by what I wrote. I've seen many different sets of supporters - cricket and football - getting behind their team without doing what the Barmy Army do.

Fair enough. I don't agree, but I'll leave it here.

Sorry Norm, You're Wrong

I don't say this very often - indeed, never before, because Norm is a clever, humane, thoughtful person; but something he has written has got right up my nose.


The Barmy Army, I see from the press, are moaning: because their trumpet player has been prevented from playing; because they have not been able all to congregate in the same area of the ground. The conceit is that the Army are only supporters having a bit of fun, and I have to agree that the banning of their trumpet player is stupid. He disturbs nothing. But the Barmy Army, supporting the England team as may be, are an infestation. They intrude on the enjoyment of those (or at least many of those) who are not of their number, being an outfit dedicated to the pure production of noise - I mean, unpleasant noise. Not all supporters go in for that. And, by and large, watching cricket at the Gabba these last few days has been a more peaceful experience than some I've had.

By which I can only think that Norm objects to the noise because, by and large, it's taking the mickey out of the australians: which, to judge by the ridiculous seating and "security" policies at the Gabba, is what the Australian cricket authorities really can't stand. As a former trooper in the Barmy Army myself I can assure everyone that they are as friendly a bunch of drunken blokes as you'll meet; that their banter is generally funny and not threatening; that the Australian fans usually reply in kind and they end up in the bar together.

Describing paying supporters as an "infestation", just because they're noisy (I can't see any other complain against them here), is unfair and unjust. They are not yobs, or hooligans, they just suppport their team vociferously (like West Indian fans have been doing for 30 years).

Before I am accused of being a whinging pom, let's just run through the recent Australian whinges, shall we?

The Aussies lost in 2005 because of:

the weather
the ball
the umpires
the Barmy Army
extremely unlucky injuries (as if England have never had these before)
unfair sledging
unfair use of substitutes
England playing the game not in "the spirit of cricket" (a wholly fictitious entity created to ensure Australian dominance of a game they rose to supremacy in partly by intimidating and barracking opposing teams)

Apart from these, other whinges included:

insults to Jason Gillespie being "racist" (bzzzzt, you lose)
insults to Matthew Hayden being stage managed by the England team
constant barracking by home fans, even the non-Army elements
the English media being awful (er, and?)

I can't be bothered to find links for these, but I've heard them all. This time, by forcibly preventing England fans from being a group of fans, the Aussies have got their whinging in first. Well done, lads.

NOTE: Even after today's vaguely improved performance, England are still crap. No whinges on this score from me.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

The Bleedin' Obvious

If you go to this BBC page you see a link to an audio/video thingy called "Health Risks of Polonium 210".

May I respectfully suggest some future articles for the BBC's hard pressed health department:

"Abortion 'kills foetuses' study claims"
"Health Risks of knife in the heart examined"
"Death is a killer, scientist says"
"Boot in the bollocks - painful?"
"Playing sport is 'exercise' claims study"
"Health risks of smoking 90 a day examined"
"Sexual disease rates could be improved by changing behavour, claims stupid study by ridiculous fundamentalist"

Now that I put it like this, is there any link between the Daily Mail and the BBC's Health Department?

Things Never To Do

The meme I got tagged with yesterday by James Higham (and subsequently only managed to pass on to one individual, namely Tom Paine), has got me thinking about such vows and whether they are worth anything, inspire by reading Ian Kershaw, Martin Gilbert, Richard J Evans and a book called "A Strange Enemy People", about the British zone of Germany between 1945 and 1950.

These ideals tend to take one thing for granted: your ability to make those choices. Tom Paine, in his 10, gives voice to his fears for liberty in his homeland, which I avoided, but feel increasingly keenly. People talk and write of the lack of opposition in Nazi Germany, and only sometimes do the comfortable historians refer to the manufacturing of widespread consent in a dictatorship, by which I mean the way that moral values we take for granted in a free society don't apply to the same extent. If you have a set of beliefs but are consistently living in a state of terror, with death and torture your faithful companions, you lose the responsbility of someone with the freedom to exercise your choices, and others lose the right to bring you to account. Under oppression, real oppression, if you feel your duty is to survive in the face of bewildering violence and the meaninglessness of life it spreads, you are not to be judged. That doesn't mean that murder and terrorism automatically become justified; but it means collaboration with an evil government does not deserve the condemnation we seem inclined to give sometimes.

Martin Gilbert gives a harrowing account of the attempts of rabbis to formulate ethical codes for living in the ghetto - that it is even considered should be enough to make us weep. Even in a true "victim" position, to consider yourself an autonomous moral citizen with responsbilities to yourself and others, and even to some kind of ideal about human purposes - should put our society to shame. Perhaps it was just an attempt to survive by making their situation the subject of routine and hence to humanise it; still it shines to us across the bright lights of our shallow world.

What I mean is not that we are heading the same way as Nazi Germany or any other dictatorship; it is just a comment on the nature of responsibility and morality.

As it happens, I agree with Mr Paine's assumptions: I do think our rights are being infringed, despite the figleaf and lawyer's chequebook of the Human Rights Act, and I do think our government, out of sheer mistrust and misunderstanding of the people, are trying to bring us under ever more control. We are, at the moment at least, not really bothered - and so we are fiddling while our trousers are being eaten by a small but malicious dog.

Banks to withstand flu pandemic

Thank goodness for that. And here's me lying awake at night worrying how that bunch of grasping hypocrites was going to cope in the event that half of us are laid up with a life threatening virus.

Friday, 24 November 2006

Goddamm it

I can't even find email addresses for half the chaps below. I really am sad.

And worse than that - I dreamt about the England performance last night, woke up shivering, realised it was a dream, and when I switched on Radio 5 Live, it was much, much worse than my dream.

I hate it when the children write stories like that.

Oh thank goodness - Jilted John on the CD.

"He's more of a man than you'll ever be/here we go/two three four/"

Tag. I'm It

I've been tagged. I haven't responded until now because I've been squeezing blood out of the proverbial stone in my classroom. Bloody hellfire, even my student looks at me with contempt in her glance. Still. I've got Depeche Mode on the mp3, and I'm dicing with powercuts. So here we go.

Ten Things The Drummer Would Never Do:

1) Declare: "As a socialist, I..."
2) Procure/assist/advise in or for an abortion unless it were needed for survival
3) Wear gold or gold lame
4) Watch Lost
5) Give up on the power or importance of history
6) Give up on the people, or declare them a mob, like Polly
7) Declare: "As a republican, I..."
8) Vote Green/Socalist/Revolutionary Communist/Communist/Left Socialist/Left Revolutionary/Left Communist/Right Communist/Reform Communist/Communist Party of Britain/ British Communist Party/The Communist Party of Great Britain/Revolutionary Socialist Party/BNP.*
9) Read any more books by Richard Dawkins (I was only 21, ok???)
10) Refuse to watch Doctor Who, if it were broadcast on a tv channel I can receive.

*= Yes I know I've just made some of these up.

note: I have not put "Become an atheist". I don't wish to, goodness knows I don't; but I ain't gonna promise it.

I believe I'm required to pass this meme on (how Prof Dawkins would think I'm doing his work for him). Alas, I know few bloggers. So: Tom Paine, UK Daily Pundit, the Ranting Guttersnipe, Nanny Knows Best, The Pedant General

...and that will have to do. If anyone would like to be tagged by me, please let me know (, wink).

UPDATE (10.40pm): I was tagged by James Higham ( Sorry, forgot my manners.

Thursday, 23 November 2006


By the way, it's been awfully quiet around here lately. Have my readers deserted me? All I hear when I visit Sitemeter is the hushed whisper of the tumbleweed rolling ironically across my blog.


Well, one day in and it certainly looks like normal cricketing service is resumed. I have no idea whatsoever what Harmison is thinking but he must be the softest fast bowler ever. These guys are usually renowned for being snarling, aggressive anti-heroes, but Harmison is as easily put off his line as David Cameron. This would be fine if we had other ripsnorting shitbags we could call on, but alas there is only Freddie to carry the fire to the Aussies, while he has to soothe Harmison's troubled confidence at the same time. Truth be told, I only listened to the end of the day's play, as I was waking up; I had been seized by the dread I remembered from previous tours: in 1998-99, though, I had no choice but to watch the horror repeatedly unfold, while last night I could anticipate it and go to sleep.

When we look at such utterly pathetic performances, it should remind us that we do, as the rest of the world thinks, have a tendency to arrogance at the slightest success. While we rationalise it by saying that we lose so often it is fair enough for us to go overboard when we win, everyone else just thinks we are trying to reassert imperial dominance. Growing up watching England losing regularly in all sports, except maybe rugby, it has been difficult for me to appreciate that other countries see England sport as part of the old empire: it just makes me think that if that were true, the British Empire would never have got out of Portsmouth.

And we struggle to maintain aggression in sport: it is as if we think we don't have the right to assert ourselves (for what is it we are asserting when we play a game aggressively?), that we need to be timid and to play with some sense of guilt, almost. England - and Britain - is currently struggling to find a purpose and role for itself, as it has been since 1945. What makes this different is that now no-one really feels comfortable saying "British culture or English culture is....". The only thing anyone wants to say is that it is tolerant. Great. Not much good if you are trying to psych yourself up to bowl at 94mph to the world's best batsmen.

I've written before on the end of the UK. I'm aware that I'm heading for the same extreme I've just criticised England fans for (but the other end) - but would the end of the UK give the England cricket a purposeful and teleological boost?

Geez, cricket can be a depressing sport sometimes. That's why it is the greatest of all sports.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Ashes To Ashes, Funk to Funky, We Know....

So here it is. Almost. I've avoided commenting on the ashes, which begins tonight, for the simple reason that as far as I'm concerned, it's still September 2005 and we've only just won the ashes back after 16 years. The thought that the long years of anguish may just be about to begin again is too much for me, so I've tried to pretend that the taste of glorious victory is still fizzing on my tongue, and that KP only yesterday scorched the Oval turf with his 158.

Alas, this is not the case. I am afraid that I think England are going to go down in this series and this is why:

1) It's Australia. It's extremely hot, humid, or not humid, or dry, or the wind is blowing off the antarctic. England players just don't have enough time to grasp the fact that not only is Australia different, it's massive and they will not just be heading up the road to Headingly, but going the equivalent of London-Warsaw, Paris-Edinburgh and so on when they go between tests. With such a punishing schedule, I just don't think they will have enough time to acclimatise.

2) It's Australia. The Aussies have not lost a series at home since 1992-3.

3) It's Australia. The Aussie media and sporting public do not like poms, with this curious habit of complaining about England's sledging, tactics, sporting behaviour, media, and fans (who are racist of course) while simultaneously going on about whinging poms. Fine, except that when there are 100000 of these buggers at the MCG it's like going to the Bernabeu for a win - for five days on the bounce. I'd be surprised if England weren't worn down by this, as they have been on previous tours.

4) Duncan Fletcher. Yes good coach. But from media shy he seems to have become a media whore, with quotes everyday about something or other. And his judgement is suspect in the extreme. Read, with a couple of 50s in his last two tests, gets dropped for a player who hasn't scored more than about 20 for at least 18 months AND makes regular dropped catches. Wait for him to drop Ponting on 2 in the first test, and see what happens.

5)Marcus Trescothick. The partnerships between him and Strauss were instrumental to the 05 Ashes success. Cook is a good player, but not the same kind. Without Tres there to blast a few fours at the start of an innings, it'll fall to Strauss, who'll get out, caught at point cutting McGrath, for 6.

6) The bowling. Where to start? Panesar is brilliant but can't bat. Giles is ok. Why not go with Panesar? Well, because he might not take enough wickets....well, alright then, how many is Giles going to take? It doesn't matter because he might get 20 runs or so. The negativity surrounding England's selections is slap back in the mid 90s - something I thought we'd lost for ever. It seems not. Harmison? Can't be doing with it. Anderson? Hmmmm. Mahmood? dunno, mate. Who is going to smash those Aussie helmets? Fred? "Three jobs" Flintoff? I wouldn't be surprised if he was crocked again after the first test. I guess it'll have to be Hoggie then.

7)The last hurrah. This will almost certainly be the last Ashes series for many of the Aussie grandads, and by golly they are going to make sure that it's a good one. They are so psyched up and ready; they won't be taken by surprise this time, they're in front of their children and grandchildren, who will all be psyching them up even more. There'll be none of the mateyness of 05 - it'll be back to the big bad Aussies sledging and fighting and scrapping their way to victory.

If I seem a bit pessimistic it's because I am. I'd love England to put up a fight, but I can't see it. If there's one thing worse than a whinging Aussie it's a gloating Aussie, and I think there's going to be plenty of them.

Play up, play up and play the game.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

The Power of Polly

Further to the mention of Polly by Tim Worstall today, I found this concise and true comment on The Joy of Curmudgeonry, in response to Deogolwulf's post about the state. akaky writes:

One of the reasons that Ms Toynbee and others of her statist disposition do not fear the power of the state is because they intend to be on the commanding heights of that state, looking down on the poor helots they get to lord it over. If you intend to be a master, then, by definition, you are for increasing the power of masters, even if you tell yourself that what you are doing is for the helots' own good.

The Science of Viz

It seems that the "beer goggles" effect, well known to drinkers everywhere, in fact has a scientific basis and an equation.

The BBC report I've linked to here goes on to say:

Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester, said: "The beer goggles effect isn't solely dependent on how much alcohol a person consumes, there are other influencing factors at play too.
"For example, someone with normal vision, who has consumed five pints of beer and views a person 1.5 metres away in a fairly smoky and poorly lit room, will score 55, which means they would suffer from a moderate beer goggle effect."

Fair enough.

It concludes by saying:

A poll showed that 68% of people had regretted giving their phone number to someone to whom they later realised they were not attracted.
A formula rating of less than one means no effect. Between one and 50 the person you would normally find unattractive appears less "visually offensive".
Non-appealing people become suddenly attractive between 51 and 100. At more than 100, someone not considered attractive looks like a super model.

It really does read like a Viz spoof article, but without any of the swearing. I bet the research was fun and "cost effective".

Monday, 20 November 2006

Another Great Blog

Just discovered another cool blog: The Joy of Curmudgeonry

Any blog that quotes Old English in its header is good enough for me.

BA are a Bunch of Discriminatory Idiots

I have to admit, when I heard that the woman in this case was going to appeal, I thought that common sense might actually prevail.

Au contraire. BA are maintaining that crucifixes are to be hidden at all times.

So let's look at the logic, shall we? Again?

She said during Monday's meeting, British Airways told her it respected her faith and accepted the cross was not jewellery, but would be standing by its original decision.

"The policy does not ban staff from wearing a cross. It lays down that personal items of jewellery, including crosses may be worn - but underneath the uniform. Other airlines have the same policy."

Fine. She must be lying then, because BA cannot both recognise that the crucifx is not jewellery and insist that it is. If they do treat the cross as jewellery, why say this:

"The policy recognises that it is not practical for some religious symbols - such as turbans and hijabs - to be worn underneath the uniform. This is purely a question of practicality. There is no discrimination between faiths."

So. You do recognise that the crucifix is a religious symbol, you allow other faiths to wear visible symbols, but you do not allow Christians the same privilege. Either that or the above statement is totally irrelevant to this case.

Given that you do allow other faiths to wear visible symbols of faith, you cannot be offended by the appearance of religious symbols per se. Given that you have admitted that the crucifix is being treated as such, why is it to be hidden and other symbols are not? Just because they can't be hidden? What kind of spurious reasoning is that? Why would you need to hide one religous symbol anyway, if you are happy to see others?

As I and His Grace and many others pointed out first time round, if she came into work wearing a bishop's mitre, or priestly vestments, or a foot long crucifix, would she be allowed to wear them openly, because it would not be practicable to hide them?

BA's defence of their illogical position is non-existent, but relies solely on their authority as bosses. Why aren't the unions jumping up and down about this? They are not quoted in the BBC website report at all. Surely they should be in the forefront of fighting discrimination?

I'm pleased to say that I can give in to my fear, save the planet, and boycott BA -all without doing a stroke of work. Life can be extremely comfortable sometimes.

Sunday, 19 November 2006


I posted a little comment on Devil's Kitchen today boasting about my intake of Pol Roger over the weekend. The thing about that was that Ms Drummer and I did the drinking at home and it wasn't beer.

I tend to think that actually, the great centrepiece of English civilisation is the pub. It is the pub where most political chatter (however ill-informed) takes place, which is why Guardian columnists despise the kind of talk that goes on there - precisely because it is a real democratic forum. It is in the pub that communities find their soul, in homely, safe, environments with buildings that have lived through the wars, the unemployment, the dislocation of the last century and more. It is in the pub where we drink together, meet new people, disagree with friends, and fight. Yes, pubs can be aggressive and difficult places. We mind our manners, queue appropriately - sometimes under pain of a beating, which is fair enough - and help out fellow drinkers, as a chap I was profoundly scared of did for me tonight, just by calling the barman for me. The ethic of the queue is nowhere stronger than in the pub; and the last time I was physically threatened was when I attempted to challenge that, some years ago. The ethic of closing the door from the winter wind, out of sheer consideration, is nowhere stronger than in the pub, where unless you are lucky enough to sit by the fire, the biting chill can take your bones even when far from the window seats. We drink real beer, local beer, living beer, as well as Stella and good wines. We eat crappy crisps and chips with cheese; beef wellington and beefburgers; death by chocolate and the lightest sorbets.

The pub is not the bar: I have been in too many bars in Australia, or "cafes" in France, not to know the difference. French cafes have a reputation for philosophy, but only in the English pub have I heard philosophy, religion, politics, football, cricket, television, radio and the toad work being discussed. The French cafes that serve booze serve only crap lager or Stella, very little in the way of real, quality, small time local produce (for which the French are supposed to be famous) and there is nowhere to be social and unsociable at the same time. France is also uneasy with the concept of going to the bar and demanding service, often insisting that you wait until the waiter is ready, and then handing you a receipt for two halves of crap lager.

And the pint - glorious measure of perfection, oh you tribute to irrationality breeding success, you are the correct amount for beer and lager, for sustenance and not-yet-full bladders, you are reasonably priced and you come at excellent intervals.
The half - you imp, you cheeky devil, you promise of riches and glory, you temptress - you are just too sexy to be called "250ml" or whatever.

Crisps! Oh blessed accompaniment to the hungry work of drinking! You fill me with salt and make me regretfully need more drink. Peanuts, you slightly healthier and chunkier means to the same end!

Here's to the pub - whatever New Labour's health fascists think. Cheers!

Police and Paedophilia

I was kind of sympathetic to the police chief, linked to above, who said that young men who have sex with 13 year olds should not be treated as paedophiles automatically. The reason is that the maturity of 13 year old girls varies enormously. Some will actively look for relationships with older boys, and some will developmentally be 10 or 11. I know, I've taught plenty.

On the other hand, this statement:

He told the BBC the "grey area" related to situations where "the girl is 13, 14, 15 and the boy is 16, 17, 18, 19, possibly 20".

belies the seeming rationality of the view. 18-20 year olds are adults, in every possible sense of the word, and 13 year olds are not, in any sense of the word. A 20 year old having sex with a 13 year old is clearly doing it for a reason, ie that she is 13 and not 16 or 17, and is therefore a better boast, more pliable, more vulnerable, or whatever. There can be no excuse for an adult having sex with a 13 year old. A 16 year old might only be a class or so above a 14 year old, and they might both be confused teenagers, or whatever. But from 18 you acquire full legal rights, and therefore full legal responsibilities. It might be somewhat arbitrary, but then so are 30mph speed limits, and the police think people who drive at 33mph in these zones should be prosecuted. It doesn't help either that despite this great variety in mental and physical maturity, sex education and ethics education is aimed squarely at the "jocks", the ones with active sex lives, leaving everyone else to think that is what they should be doing, and there is something wrong with them if they aren't. It is causing the pressure that politicians think it will relieve.

Don't let us forget that among the many things Ian Huntley was ignored doing was having sex as a 22-23 year old with 14 and 15 year old girls.

For me at least, whole debate reminds me of where we have gone as a society:

And you say you’re protecting society and its way of life? You think this is a good way of life - your 13 year old daughter having intercourse, you friggin’ moron? So 13 is the new Barely Legal, is it? Tell me one thing a 13 year old could offer you which a hot 29 year old couldn’t? Tell me how she could sexually and socially satisfy you? Yes, exactly - no demands, does exactly what you want. And this is what we’ve come to. Stop the earth. I want to get off.
(James Higham today)

James is right that increasingly parents think they have no right to comment on their teenagers' sex lives. It is by no means unusual for teenagers to sleep together with parental consent. I am reminded of the "responsible" 16 year old interviewed a few months ago in (shock horror) the Daily Mail. she had had two abortions at 14, and for the life of her could not see she had done anything wrong, because there was no way she could be expected not to have sex given that she went to parties and met gorgeous boys. In those situations, it "just happened" - evenafter her first abortion, she still put herself in those same situations. Why? because she was a kid. And that is was kids do. So despite progressive authorities telling us teenagers can manage sex lives, in fact, all too often, they can't. She was now 16 years old and had only just started having sex again, with her new boyfriend. In tawdry, amoral stories like these, no-one emerges with any credit (least of all the boys who've had a consequence-free shag), and the child, with her postmodern ethics learned in school and through the media, has no guidance and no protection, not even from her parents. They are not encouraged to get involved, by schools, or "health authorities", and children are expected to behave like adults. Once again I make the point that I am not allowed to give a 13 year old curled up in a sick chair with a headache calpol without parental consent, but I can assist her in getting an abortion without it.

The trouble is, as James points out: when adults behave in such pathetic, cowardly ways, what else are children like the girl in that story supposed to do? Develop a protective and self-responsible ethic out of thin air?

Christian Unions

Don't get me wrong. I don't really have much time for University Christian Unions: I still remember the look on the guy's face who knocked on my door one evening in college when I told him I was not a Christian, just a Catholic. I know they can be intolerant and can veer towards fundamentalism: but I am opposed to this attempt to disaffiliate the CU at Exeter and indeed elsewhere (as noted today by Tom Paine).

The main reason given seems to be this:

The CU said it appeared that unless it disassociated itself from the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowships, and stopped asking committee members and speakers to sign a declaration, it could be permanently banned from the guild.
The declaration includes the phrase: "In joining this union, I declare my faith in Jesus Christ as my Saviour, my Lord and my God".
Guild of Students President Jemma Percy said the requirement to sign the declaration meant "participation in the society was not open to every student".

She said: "We have a duty to represent them and uphold equal opportunities."

I don't really know where to start with the intolerance and bigotry of this justification. The Guild of Students is saying that no organisation can exist under their umbrella which asks people to believe in something. So how do the Gay and Lesbian, Humanist, Islamic and Doctor Who socs get away with it then? They are suggesting that Christians should not be able to freely associate at the university or on its grounds, on the basis that it excludes people who are not Christians. Well, they don't have to join then. There are humanist societies too, which would not take kindly to Christian infiltration, where you can go if you wish.

In other words they want to proscribe the Union because people who would not want to join cannot join unless they sign a statement of belief in something they don't believe in. Meanwhile organisations do exist where they can go.

So how is anyone excluded here?

The Guild of Students representative, quoted above, neatly provides a fine instance of slavish adherence to an abstract principle, to the clear detriment of actual people. No suffering or harm is caused by the exclusion of people who do not want to join the CU from the CU. But the principle itself is offended, and that is enough. It is a good example of extremism, in fact.

It is in fact, example of people in power forcing their narrow views onto others, and abusing their position.

But I am not so naive as to think that the stated reason is the real one. The real one is "we hate the CU because we think they are a bunch of loudmouth ignorant bigots". Fine. So argue your point on that basis, instead of lying about it.

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Matthew Taylor

I realise I am slow on the uptake on this one, and that Mr Eugenides and Iain Dale among others have excellent posts up about it, but I can't resist having my twopennorth as well.

Here is a man - an unelected government advisor, no less - complaining about the baleful influence of blogs. Here is what he has to say on the subject of citizens of the United Kingdom saying what they wish to say:

But it [the web] was too often used to encourage the "shrill discourse of demands" that dominated modern politics.

But he said more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the internet to "solve problems" rather than simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them.

-incommensurate!!! I love it! This coming from a representative of an organisation which confiscates money and creates criminal offences! I, for one, think creating a criminal offence of "leaving the wrong stuff in a recycling box" is an incommensurate demand upon citizens; but we are instead guilty of actually expecting our rulers, our leaders, the guys who send men to their deaths, create or destroy jobs, and ration healthcare, to do their jobs properly.

Speaking at an e-democracy conference in central London, he said modern politics was all about "quality of life" and that voters had a "very complex set of needs".

Well, perhaps that is true. Not me though, I want to live in relative security, keep as much money of mine as is possible, and not be told what to do by crooks, swindlers, incompetent buffoons, and the purely malicious.

"We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," Mr Taylor told the audience.
Like "teenagers", people were demanding, but "conflicted" about what they actually wanted, he argued.
They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village.

If you would like to see a wonderful example of the contempt today's ruling class has for the people, there it is. We are all political adolescents, psychologically conflicted, selfish and unrealistic. I am interested as to how exactly the good Mr Taylor thinks that "sustainability" equals higher fuel prices. Well, for me at least, I would like a good and healthy world, but I don't agree that the way to achieve it is to punish and bully working class and other not-massively-well-off people out of using transport, leaving it exclusively for the likes of him, like it used to be.

But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or "mendacious" by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage".

How can a loose network of inidivually run and self supported blogs, with no power or hold over anyone, consitute a "conspiracy"? How can citizens getting together informally to discuss their views - with however much swearing - be on the same level as shadowy meetings of the powerful? I suppose the subtext is that of Hilary Clinton's "vast right wing conspiracy". Incidentally, politicians, especially the socialist or progressive kind, supply an excellent line in "self righteous rage" themselves, forever wanting to "smash", "destroy", or "break" things they see between themselves and power. And if Mr Taylor thinks that "self righteous rage" is not appropriate for the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Iraq, the destruction of our constitution, and corruption in the highest levels of government, then he is either as cynical as they are, or as irredeemably stupid as they are.

He went on: "At a time at which we need a richer relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had, to confront the shared challenges we face, arguably we have a more impoverished relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had. It seems to me this is something which is worth calling a crisis."

and I don't need to be the Devil, Iain Dale or Mr Eugenides to point out that it is the lying mendacious bastards you have been serving, Mr Taylor, who are wholly and utterly responsible for that crisis. Not the public.

"I want people to have more power, but I want them to have more power in the context of a more mature discourse about the responsibilities of government and the responsibilities of citizens," Mr Taylor told delegates.

Part of the problem, he added, was the "net-head" culture itself, which was rooted in libertarianism and "anti-establishment" attitudes.

Translation: I don't think there should be room for a vigorous, open debate without restriction, and certainly no room for serious and profound attacks on the people who have given me lots of work and money. It is particularly distressing that the most successful blogs often seem to be the right wing ones. I had nothing to say about media crucifixion of the last Tory government but the people attacking this one are beyond the pale.

Friday, 17 November 2006

Drummer's Birthday

I don't like to blow my own trumpet, being more accustomed to banging on a drum pointlessly to no-one in particular, but it is the tin drummer's 30th birthday today. It is something to be proud of in that I've made it this far, and I'm delighted to have done so. I don't like the thought of getting older, but it's infinitely preferable to the alternative. Lying awake in the dark this morning I tried to think of my achievements, but I gave up and thought of the future instead, and of the great line from one of Ian Dury's tracks: All I want for my birthday is another birthday.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Into The Mind of Evil

This post has nothing to do with the Doctor Who story of the same name; nor is it going to attempt to prove or explain the existence of evil. I'm just going to take it for granted for the moment that it exists, and that Hitler and Stalin are it.

It is simply that I'm reading Michael Dobbs's book "Churchill's Triumph", which is quite entertaining; but there is a page early on which seems to be inside Stalin's head, explaining his motivation. I was struck by this, because it seems to be a massive literary conceit (in both sense of the word). As someone who dabbles in verse in another side of his life, such an enterprise would always strike me as in terrible taste, invariably trite and inaccurate, and arrogant. I'm not accusing Dobbs of this - that is how I would feel attempting the same thing. Recently I've read Ron Rosenbaum's book (Explaining Hitler) which surveys with varying degrees of sympathy, the historians and psychologists who have tried to produce an explanation of Hitler's evil. Throughout the book he keeps returning to the fear that to explain is to excuse, and so the most vivid passages are those recounting his discussions with Claude Lanzmann, who makes the insistent point that resort to explanation is itself utterly inappropriate. Rosenbaum refuses to make a final judgment, perhaps dazed by the consequences of getting into that kind of mind.

To pass, in the course of a page, lightly through the mind of a man who committed such atrocities, whose behaviour was so inexplicable - in the Dobbs book at least, seems to render Stalin just a cheesed off bloke with an axe to grind, downplaying the intent-to-suffering-and-power that must have lurked - how? where? why? - in him. But even if this explanation accounted, in however exaggerated a form, for his actions; to skate so superficially across it is to me worse than pointless. A character like Stalin cannot be given depth or background by a page purporting to be in his head: he is only minimized, cariacatured, his victims dehumanized.

It returns me to my initial question: is this endeavour possible, let alone desirable? I say it seems in poor taste because it seems like a great reduction of suffering. Perhaps the minds of such people should be left to die with them. This is not to say that a work of history, say Ian Kershaw's Nemesis, cannot tease out threads of thought from events, speeches, diaries - to propose an overarching "motivation", like you would with a soap opera character, is to say more than that these are just humans (which we must say at every available moments) - it is to say there is an easily-acounted for continuum between everyday experience and great evil. A good but not really complex book like Churchill's Triumph cannot do this, even if it were possible. If it were, we would need a Tolstoy to attempt it. I am not sure I can see any.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006


The no comments policy is hereby lifted, for a trial period only!

But I'm using comment moderation.

Freedom and Whisky

Purely on the basis of this comment about the guy who runs it by Cllr Terry Kelly, I am adding a link to Freedom and Whisky:

When you write a political web page you expect feedback, some of it hostile, some supportive and some disturbing. I was told that some guy had written about me on his blog in a very uncomplimentary way, this complete eejit ( David Ferrens from memory ) writes very well which makes him even more sinister because he's a barking far right nutter. He uses Burns's phrase "whiskey & freedom gang the gither" as his title which I'm sure would have the second rate old Ayrshire plagiarist spinning in his grave, his views however and the views of the incestuous sycophants who write to him are capable of making your skin crawl. These people peddle very dangerous and disturbing views, they come across as being capable of almost anything which doesn't require courage, they describe themselves as libertarians of the right to which I have to say, I've never met or heard of a right wing libertarian who wasn't well off and self obsessed.

While I certainly wouldn't call myself a libertarian, I don't like bossy know-nothing politicians either. I do like the thought that idiots like the Cllr reckon right of centre bloggers "peddle very dangerous and disturbing views".

If no-one is going to take issue with your views, why bother blogging?

What sort of a post is:

Scratched My Jacksie Today

This morning I got a bit of an itch in the arris while playing Age of Empires. So I scratched it but I didn't smell it, instead I washed my hands.

I suppose the good Cllr thinks that actually only posts like:

Redistribute All Wealth Now

I think all wealth belongs to everyone, there is no such thing as wealth creation and people with more than nothing are purely lucky, it is just a myth that work and talent can bring anything to anyone.

...are valid.

At least the Cllr allows people to comment on his blog though, whereas I don't (though I may change this, encouraged by the great James Higham). So I am a hypocrite. There are worse things to be. Like Cllr Terry Kelly, for example.

"Merry Christmas" is not swearing

Normblog has a humane and amusing defence of Christmas. Some years ago I used to hang out on the Christian website Ship of Fools. They had some good discussion boards, but I came to realise that most people who posted there were white, middle class liberals (academics or social workers it seemed) - thjat was when they had a long discussion about the exclusivity and offensiveness of Christmas. It seemed that in the opinion of some that you should assume Christmas is offensive, unless told otherwise, like signing a sort of verbal pre-nup, when you greet someone in the street. I'd always believed it was only cynical secularists hijacking the "multiculti" agenda who went in for that kind of bullshit, but no. It's not as simple as that. It's much more like "Insofar as I am a white male striving to overcome my innate prejudices and to atone for the evils on which my privileges were built, I would like to ascertain whether you would be reminded of the heinous legacy of slavery, oppression and homophobia of the church, not forgetting the crusades of course,if I were to venture that I wished that in the event of your being of broadly Christian sympathies, or even simply a conscientious atheist who likes getting presents, whether you would enjoy a felicitous solstice..."

and so on. Lesson: when academic socialism is mixed with flannel-like Christianity, disaster inevitably ensues.

A final word on Elton John's recent thoughtful call for organised religion to be banned. This has been left hanging on the BBC website for days now, as if someone thinks it has something powerful to say. I'd like to ask Mr John how he proposes to achieve this. Presumably people holding services at home as their churches have been closed, would be subject to raids, as this is clearly "organisation". Presumably the great cathedrals would be left to rot, as they are remnants of this evil thing. Perhaps also people reading Bible stories to their children would also be subject to the full force of the law, pace the law drafted by someone on Harry's Place a while ago( it's in their archives for October). I am not quite sure why some people think that it would be a more tolerant and humane world if only their views were allowed in the public sphere, but there you have it. It's always indoctrination when it's someone you don't like, and education when it's someone you do. It's always intolerance when it's someone you don't agree with and ethical when it's someone you do. Other people's views always lead, naturally, to war and carnage, when you don't share them, and build harmony and peace when you do.
Update: I meant to say...."and I am no different" at the end here, but purely due the pressures of time, if not space, I didn't.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Dazzling Praise

As you can see on the sidebar, I have received some gratifying and ego boosting praise from a blogger who knows his stuff, James Higham (whose new blogfocus is now up). He slightly criticises me for the no comments policy, but I am rethinking this. There is only one reason for my not having one: and that is that setting this blog up, I was terrified of getting slated by my readers. Now I am not sure I care so much!

Iain Dowie Sacked as Palace Boss

I don't often post about football, but this got my attention today.

What Simon Jordan, Crystal Palace chairman, really meant to say was this: "I've always found Iain Dowie to be very professional and Charlton have treated him badly and ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha"

Beta Madness

Sorry if the blog looks a bit crap, or crapper than before, I've just moved to beta and I'm messing about with it. Any suggestions for improvements, do let me know.


What better to spend my 100th post for this blog than by mentioning Laban Tall's excellent recent form. As well as giving me a plug on his blog he has carried out a huge investigation into the BBC's lack of interest in the Kriss Donald murder until recently for Biased BBC, and pointed out some dazzling inconsistencies in justice for his own blog. I like the idea that a 66 year old man who has kept firearms for years without hurting anyone is a danger to the public and goes down, but a young man who attacks a boy in a toilet stays free.

As an aside on the above subject, why, given that the judge decided that the murder of Kriss Donald was racially motivated after all, did the 3 men receive tariffs of between 20 and 25 years, given that they'll be eligible to come out in their early to mid 40s after a crime whose callousness, brutality and cruelty is without peer in recent times? Surely a "hate crime" extra should have been tagged on? Maybe someone can enlighten me on this. It would surprise me greatly if the socialist republic of Scotland didn't have similar hate crime provision to England (where two men got 30 years for the murder of a gay man a few months ago).

More frankly indifferent news: instead of working, I've just noticed that Trescothick is to miss the Ashes series with "a recurrence of a stress related illness". I have no idea what is going on in his head, but Marcus is one of the most attacking and gifted openers in world cricket. Whatever he is going through, I hope he'll be back.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Living History

This should make you think.

The children I occasionally teach were astonished that these old boys are still alive all the way from a bit of ancient history.

I was as well.

Well done you old buffers, for making it this far after what you went through.

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Drummer Mentioned

Laban Tall has a post up introducing this blog, and is right about the swearing and need to reduce Devil-post intake. The thing is this: swearing is actually very difficult to do properly, and is usually best left to the experts. I learned everything I know about swearing from Viz, but I haven't really absorbed the lessons well. Good swearing is borne of anger but executed coldly with precision, rhythm and vivid imagery. Poor swearing is a bunch of rude words thrown together. So I ought to leave it alone.

My post on Polly as if she were keen on cricket has also been linked to by Tim Worstall. It is people like Polly who persuade me that I cannot stop swearing altogether.

The Hatreds of Elites

I've never understood why the people who work for the state, paid for by taxpayers, donations, or entrance fees, seem to hate this country so much. I picked this up from Nanny Knows Best:

English Heritage have been recently doing their bit to expunge history, they are working on a project to highlight the links between landmark buildings and slavery.

Researchers will scour the history of stately homes and other sites looking for connections to the slave trade, which was banned in Britain 200 years ago next year.

FYI, Britain was the first country in the world to ban the slave trade. Oddly enough, it still continues in some parts of Africa and has experienced something of a modern renaissance in the spawning of the sex slave industry in Eastern Europe and the Far East.

However, we must never allow facts to get in the way of one of Nanny's "bright ideas".

One of the English Heritage's commissioners, Maria Adebowale, claimed that the project would help people recognise how much of Britain's historical wealth was built on "human misery".

It isn't that I don't want to recognise Britain's past, but tell me a country whose wealth isn't based on the oppression, enslavement, or defeat in war of its enemies. What do EH think will happen when people "recognise" this truth? That no-one will go to the stately homes anymore? That people will shake their heads in contempt for Britain's past? How is that good?

In what way does this project have anything positive to contribute to the past? Why aren't EH studying how many of Britain's stately homes have connections to people who ended slavery?

Enough questions already. I wonder why we put up with constantly being told that our country's past (and therefore its present) is evil and why there are so many people willing to take the country's money to pursue this. Probably because people such as Maria Adebowale don't give a flying fuck what most people think, as long as the Guardian would approve; and as long as it brings their personal views into the public sphere.

Jon Snow is another one. Unashamed to wear a Make Poverty History band on tv(according to today's Torygraph), he feels that a poppy is too much..."making a statement" - more like making a statement that self-righteous, self-absorbed and utopian-minded lefties don't agree with.

I've just done the two minute silence by the way, and thought sadly of the terrible waste of life in war. Yeah, poppies and Remembrance Day really glorifies war, doesn't it? I mean, I'm just itching to get my head blown off hundreds of miles from home. And I bought a poppy so that the old buffers can be cared for with a little more, erm care. I am still unsure how white poppies actively support these old guys; far from being a statement of peace, they're primarily a statement of hatred and contempt, an adolsecent pacifist wank. Radio 5 Live interviewed one of the anti-poppy tossers on Friday morning and he made his case extremely well (ho ho). The main plank of his argument was that Britain has interfered too much in other countries' in 1939. Struggling to keep my car on the road, I waited for him to expound on this. Ncky Campbell asked him about the Holocaust. "Oh that only started later" - tell that to the Poles and Polish Jews being murdered and herded into ghettos in 1939-40.

I know the British Govt didn't act with honour in the 30s. But "interfering" on the invasion of Poland was the right thing to do. Obviously.

Of course, it's Iraq that has done so much to delegitimise Remembrance Day. But that doesn't mean we should forget the millions we sent to their deaths in the defence of France (1914-1918); or in the defence of anything that is civilised (1939-45). They were asked to accept filth, privation, blood, and death every day of their service. They were told to die. They did.

In 2001 I heard on Radio 5Live of an old boy who had just died in a mental hospital. He had been sectioned since 1921 and had dreams of explosions and murder and mayhem every night of his life, from 1917 to 2001.

That's why the red poppy is good and the white poppy is just a middle class moralistic group shag.

Friday, 10 November 2006

More Lickspittle from the Drummer

I've often asked myself these questions:

Who is going to take them on?
Who is going to expose for the self-righteous cunts they are?
Who is going to expose their lies and their manipulation of a compliant media?
Who is going to demonstrate their utter ignorance of anything but the mechanics of taking power?

The fact is, when confronted by power, or the lure of power, even people with stellar Oxbridge degrees (unlike stella degrees, like mine....mmmm...stella...)become brain-dead fuckwitted twats. If they are Labour, they say what they think academics want to hear (beause it guarantees another generation of students and another load of "reports" that just happen to recommend socialist happy remedies). If they are Conservative they say what they think anyone answering opinion polls wants to hear, and if they are Lib Dems, they spend their time accusing the Tories of racism while promoting some pretty nasty views themselves.

(Not to mention Menzies (("Ming" - how I love to hear the familiar version) Campbell giving Mohammad Khatami an honorary degree - an event which has, incidentally, caused zero comment in the MSM.)

So - erm, what was I saying?

Oh yes - the answer: the Devil. He's brighter, more daring, and, maybe, a week or two younger than me.

I Never Did Catch Fish

Four Tracks that made me think, at different times in my life, that "you do not need to live life that way; do it like this instead".

In chronological order (of my hearing them)

1. The Jam - Going Underground
2. XTC - Senses Working Overtime
3. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
4. Underworld - Jumbo

I know that No.3 makes me feel that life shouldn't be lived at all; but that is all part of being 18 and leaving home & friends.

No.2 just made me feel like there was so much wonder and beauty in the world, all of it utterly inexplicable and all the more valuable for that.

No.4 I just thought was cool in a way you sometimes think when you then end up playing the same track for weeks. And months.

No.1 actually did change my life, in a permanent way. I went from thinking: "Jesus, I really have to do what I'm told" to "Shit, I really have to do what I'm told but fuck me, I'm not going to like it very much". It set me apart from a generation and a class ( I mean - cover your ears - the middle class - yuk!) whose tastes were for shit with sugar on; it made me think that because something is from now it doesn't mean it's good and it made me think at a time when everyone I knew was saying "history is bunk", that history is in fact the dog's bollocks. It also made me have the piss taken out of me by a generation so arse fucking ignorant they actually thought Going Underground was a crap song.

Go and sit down, and then return after no less than 5 (five) minutes.

Even 13 year olds I've taken on school trips know it's a classic, even if they listen to that stupid parody ("You useless bunch of fucking cunts/I want my fucking money back/Going Underground" or something).

Attlee - Churchill- Eden - Macmillan - Home - Wilson - Heath - Wilson (again)- Callaghan - Thatcher

I learned about all of these from the Going Underground video (once I'd bought it on VHS) and learned to sweep them all away from the same video.

I had to deal with Major and Blair on my own terms. Major - fine. He was a twat*. Blair - how does satire account for 500 000 deaths in Iraq? How does satire really measure the extent to which he hates his own people?

Jeez - in the generation since Going Underground was #1 (I love the #) in 1980 we only have Major and Blair to deal with afterwards. At least the Americans have Reagan (elected Nov. 1980), Bush x2 and Clinton. Then again, the French only have Mitterand and Chirac.

So much mediocrity and so much time in which to endure it.

Bring back the Cold War and incipient nuclear destruction, I say.

* - Yes I know lefty historians write frighteningly about "Thatcher-Major" or "Thatcherism 1979-1997" as if it were some kind of monolithic genius for evil. Real people, however, know that Major was a gimp and not a master of a vast right wing conspiracy.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

How Polly Might See Things (If She Liked Cricket)

Giles plays in Ashes tour opener

England fans last saw Ashley Giles bowl in a Test 12 months ago
Ashley Giles will play for the first time in a year as England begin their Ashes tour in Canberra.

The spinner, who has played no cricket in 2006 after undergoing two hip operations, said: "We all want to impress and none more than me.

"I want to be playing in the Test team but we also play as a squad, so I'll back whoever is picked."

England face a Prime Minister's XI which features fast bowler Shaun Tait and leg-spin all-rounder Cameron White.

England captain Andrew Flintoff, who has bowled just five competitive overs since recovering from ankle surgery, will look to increase his workload in the one-day match.

Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones, Monty Panesar and Liam Plunkett - all of whom missed the Champions Trophy - are also set to play.

White, who will lead the invitational side, said he understood the significance of Tait's appearance as he is on the fringes of Australia's Test squad.

White said: "I'll be giving him as much freedom as he has in state cricket."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is a lifelong cricket fan and believes the Ashes series is set to be the most compelling he can remember.

"I think every cricket lover would like to see it close. I expect Australia to regain the Ashes. I'm not only hopeful, I'm confident," he told BBC Sport.

"But I don't take the view that it will be anything other than keenly fought and I hope it is."

The first Test is in Brisbane and begins on 23 November.

The discussions surrounding the selection for the first Test show the cricket world up for what it is: white middle class men making sure their own nests are feathered. What could be more outrageous than a privileged man like Ashley Giles actually claiming a spot back in the England side ahead of the courageous Monty Panesar? Some people say Giles can bat and Panesar can't: but that is just typical of the quality-obsessed world of cricket. It is a disgrace if Panesar doesn't play. Why is ability to bat more important than ethnic origin? And if Panesar does play it is a disgrace too: we have had more than enough religion in this benighted world of ours and to allow a man who actually flaunts his belief in public is offensive to the world's 5 billion atheists, who will be alienated from cricket as a result. For Giles to say that he will be "looking to impress" after his hip operation is a slur on the good men and women of the NHS - it should be obvious that his operation was impressive; unless he went private, in which case it is appalling that a man who betrayed his National Health Service should be representing England (an offensive enough concept as it is). The suggestion that the only working class man in the side, Andrew Flintoff, will be "looking to increase his workload" is another example of the rich exploiting the poor. In the end, as usual, it's all about class. And I am left speechless about the call to militarism expressed at the end: words like "fought" have a long history of being used as excuses for battle and inhumane treatment of fellow persons. It just shows the psychological state of these middle class white men, or it shows that they are just not examining their prejudices. Either way, I am disgusted.

(goes and lies down in a light-decreased room, until the absence of light makes her think of the dark days of Thatcherism/Majorism).

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Spot the Difference

Radio 1 apologies for race gaffe


Tory suspended over racist email

One is a sensitive portrayal of an innocent DJ who is never accused of being racist in the slightest, she just didn't know what she was saying; and the other is a series of damning indictments of a Conservative councillor from her political enemies, who is assumed to be racist (note the lack of scare quotes around the r word).

Something must account for this, sorry it's no use, I can't think of what it might be.

Whinging Aussies (part 42)

Bloody whinging poms, eh? They take one little punch on the head and have to start bloody whining about it, I mean, it's not as if it was a big punch, it just laid him out flat, that's all, and I was provoked, because he was sledging me. And it's not just me, lots of other people have done it.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Magnificent Post by Tom Paine

Linked to above is a superb post on the subject of faith by Tom Paine at The Last Ditch. He is an atheist, and discusses what he thinks is the legacy and value of religion in our society, together with a view of how this fits into a multicultural society.

In many ways he expresses things I agree with, except that I have failed to become an atheist: not because I am stupid, or because I can't see rational argument, but because I see it as a temptation that I really don't want to follow. It isn't that I want to go to heaven, or anything like that: it is that I want, like the Victorian agnostics, there to be purpose in the universe. I know that people can create purpose for themselves, but I find it difficult to rationalise the process of somehow inhering coherence ("injecting"? how do you describe the idea of creating inherency?)or meaning into an object which does not possess those qualities per se. As I have commented before, I want there to be more to creation than just what I can see, or what I can understand, because I am a limited, fallible being, and I am no basis for a theory of everything. This is why I've also long been interested in UFOs and the paranormal, although I've become more inclined towards total disbelief in these. It isn't because I don't want death to be the complete end, although I don't;more, perhaps, that I don't understand the process of becoming a non-existing thing, though I've seen it many times. I still don't truly know which is worse: judgment or annihilation. Elements of each are contained in the other. I understand the postmodern creation of value and life, I think, I just don't believe that it holds, either philosophically, or personally.

I know this makes me stuck somewhere in the 1870s, but I can live with that. The wonderful post I've linked to above shows that its author is stuck somewhere in the 1930s or 40s, before postmodern atheism, aggressive and intolerant, pretending to be civilised secularism, took root in our public institutions. Who really thinks, that when the Charities Bill becomes law, the religious charities will not be the first to be told to conform to that kind of secularism, or lose their status? How long before the Charities Commission becomes full of the kind of idiots who populate the Lottery fund, with wonderful records in progressive activism, and decides that the state cannot be seen to support financially any religious body at all?

Cheltenham Fireworks

I went to a pretty good fireworks display at my old school in Cheltenham on Saturday. There wasn't really any trouble apart from a few girls who insisted on swearing too close to me and didn't like my opinions of their language.

I was safely tucked up in bed early on Sunday night, so I missed all of this:


10:30 - 06 November 2006
Cheltenham erupted into chaos as 200 rioting thugs rampaged through the streets armed with thousands of fireworks last night.Yobs stormed through Hester's Way, throwing lit rockets at cars and passers-by.

Dozens of police in riot gear fought running battles with the rioting mob who tore through Princess Elizabeth Way in a six-hour orgy of violence.

The drama began at 6pm when the fire service was called to New Zealand House where a bonfire was too close to the flats.

After the blaze was put out, police turned up and seized a horde of fireworks in a shed.

After the police and fire crew left, teenagers took to the streets armed with hundreds of display fireworks.

full story: Gloucestershire Echo

Now I know the Echo is prone to overstating things, it's a sort of provincial Daily Mail (I think they own it in fact), but even so this is remarkable.

The full article, and the context of it, ie Princess Elizabeth Way, goes to back up a point about the town I've been making for years. It's a nice place,Cheltenham, built as a summer resort a couple of hundred years ago. But after the war the council estates and private estates had to be tacked onto the edge of the town, far from the tiny, clogged town centre. Familiar story, eh? No amenities, far from the town itself, and design which suggests the contempt the planners held for the people who were going to live there. It's even on the doorstep of GCHQ, so when the 2 1MT weapons fell on it (Peter Hennessy, The Secret State) in the event of war, it would have been utterly, utterly flattened, while some nice bits of the town might at least have had ruins.

Don't get me wrong here - I'm more of a water cannon bloke than a hand-wringer: but you get what you put in. And the planners put nothing at all into the design of postwar Cheltenham. Even now they're working around these cockups, except that now it suits the likes of Tesco and other huge companies to have massive stores built in the drab outskirts of the town, cutting it in half again. There are now two, distinct Cheltenhams: one is very nice and is mainly offices and flats; the other is huge, sprawling, ugly and is where people actually have to live and shop.

This isn't meant to be an explanation of Sunday's riot, only to say that I am not entirely surprised. I'd still like to have seen a water cannon shoot some of those arrogant tossers off the roofs though.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Justify All Surveillance

I stole this from Samizdata. It is the clearest, most articulate statement of the refusal of the Drummer and many others to be observed; whether in the name of "climate change", or "preventing crime", or "enabling access to services", or my personal favourite, "because it's about saving lives". Incidentally, how did "think of the children" become a leftist dog whistle, while "it's about saving lives" is still some kind of moral trump card?

Quote follows:

Tom Wright of wrote the following as a comment but it is simply too splendid to languish in the comment section...

I have said this before and in other venues:

I will support public [CCTV] cameras only if they are first placed in those areas where the worst and most egregious crimes occur:

In every room and every hallway of every police station in every nation.

In every room and every hallway of every legislative body in every nation.

In every room and every hallway of every executive and judicial branch of every nation.

And, as a condition of employment, upon taking the oath of office, permanently bolted to the head of every elected official, every appointed official, and every official authorized to carry arms in the course of duty.

Turned on, broadcasting, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in a manner I, and every one else, can monitor and record.

Then I will support cameras on me.

Not since "Eric Hobsbawm is a mendacious Stalinist" (myself) have I heard anything I more completely agree with. Let those fuckers be watched.

Let us watch Lord Goldsmith's abuse of the constitution to save his mate from justice over cash for peerages. Let us watch the meetings at which the Charities Commission is henceforth going to close down all civic charities and bodies that work selflessly for some, or all, of the population which don't fulfil the basic criteria of modern, secular organisations (ie all Christian bodies). Let us watch Madeleine Bunting while she writes her columns for the Guardian about the surfeit of personal freedom in the west, just so we can see the way a twisted conscience lives with itself. Let us watch the policemen who say they will target people who are acquitted of traffic offences.

We might find it illuminating.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Iraq, etc

Saddam is to hang: well I can't say I am surprised and I can't say I am too pleased either. It is politically stupid and will serve no interest other than the insurgency's. Apart from that I am still not sure about executing war criminals. Watching the BBC's Nuremburg series the other day I wondered if I would have been happy to see Himmler hang; the answer, probably, is yes. And I felt only relief when I first read of the execution of Rudolf Hoss, commandant of Auschwitz. Despite this I generally say I am against the death penalty. It's not consistent; but then I am large and contain multitudes.

I try to avoid commenting on Iraq, mainly because I don't know that much about it, but also because like a lot of people I am compromised by ambivalence about the original mission and horror at what has unfolded, or what seems to have unfolded.

Over at Nourishing Obscurity there's a huge and very thorough roundup of the blogosphere's views, including my own somewhat intemperate comment about John Kerry. I must have just got back from the pub.

Friday, 3 November 2006

Nick Pope Still Twat &c

I am gutted by the lack of net interest in my last post debunking Nick Pope of "I really don't know that much about UFOs" fame. I have received nearly 0 hits since that post.

Look (as the Rev ARP Blair would say). I don't give a monkey's dangleberry whether any of you think UFOs are a load of cock; maybe I do too. The fact is, it kind of interests me, and Nick Pope making piles of money out of it pisses me off especially given that I debunked the tosser a decade ago.

Graham Salisbury - where are you now? We - I - need your incisively sarcastic (but also drolly dry) sense of humour and knowledge to get rid of this waste of u-bend space.

Anyhoo: wuz're fookin off the poynt like.

I've initiated this post to say this: Simon Barnes of The Times fame is also a twat. Anyone who thinks that 1988 (when Ben Johnson tested positive for drugs) is when sport "lost its innocence" is either ignorant or is a wanker. What does he think that Heysel represented? Or Ibrox 1971, or even Peru 1964? What kind of idiot thinks that a guy with stuff in his veins is the end of sport, when people have been killed because of the club they support?

Also, much as I respect Roger Bannister, only a total fuckwit thinks that 1954 is important because it's when sport became about making the impossible possible, breaking the barriers of the physical, etc,etc.

What the fuck did he think Sherpa Tensing and Edmund Hillary were doing on the top of Everest in 1953? Swapping Association Football trading cards? Jeeee-sus!
What did he think the 1948 Olympics were for? Thrashing your poor pathetic opponent? Or showing that hard competition could co-exist with the ideals of liberal society and indeed were part of them - despite or because of the participation of the totalitarian states - then dragging itself out of the starving ashes?

And what kind of nob thinks that 1966 is important? You might as well ask an Italian fan whether 1934, 1938, 1982 have held Italian football back; or ask a (west) German fan whether winning against the odds in 1954 and 1974 and with the odds in 1990 have held back their sport? What the bloody hell does 1966 mean? Nothing, apart from a flukey world cup win and a lucky win (given the outlook) for Harold Wilson.

At least Wislon lost in 1970 (like England).

Anyway it's all fucked. I know this because all intelligent people have risen to the defence of John Kerry, who reckons that people who fail in school "get stuck in Iraq".

Oh, sorry - you meant Bush? You mean the guy who had a higher grade point average at Yale than you? Him? God, what a fuckwit!*

*This is not meant to be a defence of Bush per se.

I am not Norman Geras,
nor was meant to be;
just a Kamm on the net,
one that will do
to swell the failure of a scene or two.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Nick Pope is a Twat

I watched some programme or other last night on Five about UFOs and who do I see on it, leading the investigation, but Nick Pope!

I debunked this shameful excuse for a ufologist in a magazine article nearly a decade ago. Unfortunately only myself and the article's co-writer ever got to read it.

but briefly: here is a man who did a desk job for three years, ending in 1994 at the MOD, receiving ufo reports. That's it. He spent much of his time being ignored by people who matter and openly admits he didn't get all that much in. Yet he has written books and had appeared on loads of tv shows over the last 10 years. Now he is telling us about letters he received (or obtained - I wasn't listening carefully for obvious reasons) from high ups in the US government asking us about "black projects" we might be running, when we thought they were flying Aurora over our airspace.

Firstly, Nick, you ignorant tosser, the USA knows perfectly well we cannot afford black projects, which is why we've bought all our nuclear weapons off them for the last 45 years.

Secondly, Nick, you dickhead, a person high up in the US military or government is not going to let you, the guy behind the desk at Secretariat As(2a) or whatever it was, read about sensitive information. The same goes for UK generals, Air Marshals and so on. The reason is clear. It is because you were an office temp, while they had work to do.

Nick Pope had, and has, nothing to say that the likes of Jenny Randles cannot say more lucidly and knowledgeably and he is still trading on his own ignorance.

But I do have one question for this "serious" investigator:

Are you still motivated by "the desire to explain some anomalous events in my past", Nick?

Watch Me

A few people have picked up on this story on the BBC today, about Britain being heavily under surveillance (Samizdata being one). I don't doubt its truth; nor do I doubt the willingness of this particular government and the left generally to extend that surveillance: whether it is monitoring your rubbish, tagging your car to charge you by the mile, making huge fines payable if you refuse to let Council Tax inspectors see your conservatory to charge you more money, encouraging academics to spy on Muslim students, extending the CRB check system to encompass 1/3 of the population, or encouraging, even, vets to keep tabs on pet owners they think might be likely to abuse their pets.

To name a but a few.

I don't doubt either the sincerity with which the left believes we should be watched: we cannot be trusted because of our innate selfishness or our innate stupidity, and so therefore we must be watched by the agents of the state,who don't make mistakes.

I do worry that in some increasingly deep sense, we want to be watched. Years ago most of us relinquished the idea that we were being watched by an omnipresent divine spirit who could see every time you had one off the wrist, but instead of freeing us a la Dostoyevksy, we seem all the more to be wishing to be seen. Celebrity culture, the obsession with image and appearance (yes alright I'm bitter because I'm short, overweight and losing my hair), the desperation of governments to look as if they are doing things - even, sort of, the popularity of radio phone ins - we want to be noticed.

The point is this: we want to be approved. That isn't going to change, god or no god. We want to be validated. Submitting to surveillance is one easy way to achieve that.

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Lib Dems to Lose Election

Ming Campbell is on good form at the moment, presenting an honorary degree to Mohammad Khatami of Iran government fame and refusing to return the £2.4m donation from a "convicted criminal" as Stephen Pollard puts it.

At least the LibDems can say they stick up for equality, as their pretty nasty campaign to remove Ruth Kelly from office shows (oh so you don't mind if Catholics are in govt, as long as they don't act on their beliefs at all. Well I'd like to see you apply that rule to gay, socialist and atheist ministers then).

Get this - Khatami's degree is an honorary doctorate of laws. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

Harry's Placehas been spitting blood about it for a while.