Wednesday, 30 April 2008

This Is My...Four Leafed Clover

Aha! I found the way to carry on nicking post titles off of Tears for Fears!

Well anyway, I was going to call it "Change pt 94" because I _didn't_ change cricket club and that was a terrible idea because I had 10 seven year olds running around in the mud loving the mess more than the batting. I was far more tempted by, er, other entertainments. What I mean is this. I had been at another teacher's house last night (we'll call him Mr C) and I drank all his beers. I mean all of them, except the ones he drank, and his partner. She knocked back a couple too. I decided to buy Mr C a load more and so I stored them in the staffroom but then I was gasping, utterly desperate for a drink at 4.30 so I...left them alone.

You see...stories don't need progression or endings. Though they do need problems. Without problems they are blogs. Or diaries.

You also need the confessional element. Even the most amazing political blogs are rarely without the personal element. In fact, these are sometimes informed more by the author's loathings and generalisations of his opponents than by his actual views. It is merely a miracle when he finds a Department of Bullshit graph to support his argument on bottom habits or whatever. I mean "merely" in its original sense of "solely" of course. A blog without an author whose ego is the size of six pints of Stella made into a wobbly tower is no blog at all. It is a history book, and a poor one at that. It is also tiresomely obvious when he presents the latest "report" or statement or just lie from whichever party he hates the least to support views he has held since he was 8 and so he can say "Ah, but the research shows..."

God how I loathe that clause.

And I capitalise "god" because it is the start of the sentence. Otherwise I'd join all the radicals who can't be arsed. "god", hey wow this like fucking magic. What about "mr (or even mrs) smith" - wooooow, how cool is that. Get in.

Bloody hell how I hate the way everyone wants to rule the world (c - you know who). Why does everyone want to be in charge? Want their views to be enforced at the point of a prison cell? Why do they want everyone who doesn't agree to be officially labelled "cunt"? Why are we such damned intolerant fuckwits? And the worst of it it's our brightest and best who are the most fanatical, who cleave to ideologies with the most desperation, seeking out all and any references to support them and using Google like a pistol to demolish anyone who disagrees? Why is it down to tenth rate minds like mine to say "actually I don't know...there might be something to be"? And hence prevent the bitterness of revolution and the spread of the gibbet, which seems to be onrushing at the same speed as firsts from crap universities in marxist subjects?

And before anyone emails me with bucket loads of quotes from this very blog showing my own intolerance...where did I except myself, apart from the bit about the tenth rate minds? All I mean is that, yes, I am a cunt, but that in real life,when I really think, and really want to be sensible, I think like the quotation above.

So does writing make fanatics of us all. The diffusion of printed material and all that.

So too does alcohol make bastards and lackwits of us all. So I did turn out to be violent after a few jars after all. And there was me thinking I just got emotional and cried.

Never mind.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Loss of YouTube Virginity

Well I've joined the c21 with a mobile broadband connection and I've already used up a good proportion of my download limit looking up stuff I thought I'd never see again on Youtube. Here's a selection

1) Heysel as it happened.
2) The death of JFK as told by news bulletins
3) XTC performing senses working overtime
4) Announcement of Princess Diana's death
5) 1999 Champions League final
6) the cancellation of the Late Late Breakfast Show (oddly enough I had this announcement on Betamax for years as it came after an episode of Doctor Who)
7) News reports of the Miner's Strike
8) Threads (!)
9) 1981 European Cup Final
10) 1984 "
11) Joy Division and Love Will Tear Us Apart

This is amazing but 3g a month is no way enough!

All Credit to the Lads

Incredibly, unbelievably, Carshalton Athletic have escaped relegation on the final day of the season. With one round of matches to go they were 2nd from bottom of the Ryman Premier Division and with 4 going down it was looking pretty dicey. Amazingly though they have finished 5th from bottom on 50 points and escape relegation by (to my delirious calculations) a +4 goal difference on the team below them.

Carshalton is the Drummer ancestral seat. Whereas I may be exiled elsewhere, the Robins are the drummer's natural team.

The Joy of Blogging

Some time ago I would read the debates over at In Search of High Places, occasionally dip my oar in the deep waters, and generally marvel and the intelligence and humanity of Matt and Alex, two young bloggers from whom I have learned vast amounts (though I've forgotten most of it now). I still visit there often though I don't really comment much as I feel I have little to contribute.

There is a magnificent instance of blogging over at Deogolwulf's place: he has written an amazing critique of AC Grayling and the man himself has responded in the comments. I really hope it becomes an ongoing debate but I don't know if it will. Deogolwulf often posts brilliant stuff, but this is a real tour de force, and the prospect of Grayling himself debating Deogolwulf in the comments box is exciting.

So it's not all vitriol and alcohol, you know.

In Which TD Goes a Bit Soft in the Head

My previous post was, as you can easily imagine, written while heavily refreshed. Reading it, I see a lot I'd like to have changed and a lot I probably should not have put: but its message is essentially sound and it is this.

Brace yourselves for a post devoid of hatred or self pity. Yes, it's true.

I was at mass this morning, as usual, with a slight hangover, as is also usual, and some lingering regrets about blogging while tipsy. Then I realised that the idea of my post, and of many previous ones over the last few days or even weeks was simply to try and recognise the fact that, for want of a better turn of phrase, my heart is opening up and is reaching out to people as it has hardly ever done before: that I care about so many people, that I want them to be happy and safe and well, that they are in my thoughts, that thinking of them is wonderful: in short, that I love them. Perhaps not many. I don't know that many people. A few, then: far more than before.

This is quite difficult for an old raging soak like me to understand. It doesn't, after all, depend on what they think of or feel for me, it is wholly independent of requital or interest, devoid of expectation and is nothing to do with any kind of possession, just of a joy in another's existence.

It's also a difficult sensation to understand. Years of introspection and closing off, of hiding myself away, these have left me unprotected for such genuine feelings.

I should not really be writing this post any more than the previous ones: but it is true, and sober, and explains some of what has gone before it in the sense that it has been germinating here without my really understanding it until now.

You strip away the layers of protection and disguise, the masks you have built and you find that, after all, there might be something there, that really does exist and is positive.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Some Beautiful Women actually like the drummer and admit the pre-eminence of alcohol in their liking. This is no bad thing. Alcohol is a truth serum. It works especially well after a week's disappointing, indeed piss-poor, work. It works even better faced with decades old hatreds and loves. All women are beautiful by virtue of not being men, some women are even more beautiful by virtue of being known to TTD. Some, especially unlucky women, are exceptionally weird by virtue of being specifically close to TTD at a given moment in time (ie are somewhere near).

For example: people I hated are dead. People I loved are dead. I visit the grave of someone I hated three times a year: that's because he died aged 19. People I loved are selfish old cunts and they leave nothing and nowhere to go. I wish they would just go and fuck off out of memory. And, doubtless, they will: and by then, so will go my life, my memory and my self. I visit someone else's grave: "Woody something[can't remember]Pecker" out of the nation's chess magazine, who died aged 28, and who I played so much snooker with and drank with and kept score with at cricket matches. We got so pissed and we played so much cider-fuelled snooker at the Oxford Union. We are old, we die, we decay and the hair falls out of our booze-headed follicles. And he told me he had cancer and I--I--forgot, I mis-remembered, I mis-took, I mis-spoke.

I forgot.

I forgot.

I forgot he was dying.

He died.

I will die.

I think his resting place is too cold and too dark.

I don't think he will mind. His father might, as he is there with him. They might appreciate the shade but then again they will be chilly and will need to wrap up.

So does family decay and die.

Fucking bastards: why are living beings such utter cunts?? Why do they go and die when you want to go & love them the most? Why do they fuck off out of your life and survive when you want them to survive with you against the floods so much you'd rather die?

*In My Mind's Eye*

There are women who love me and who I sort of love in different ways. Here goes a recent chat:

The conversation in question went something like this. Let a be the woman and let t be TD. Let x be the moment that TD realised that a did not want to sleep with him. Let z be the moment she realised her utter distaste for him.

a: I like you quite a lot, I find you bright and thoughtful.
t: Oh you're too kind. I mean, really. Actually I'm a wanker.
a: That's just the alcohol talking.
t: Well, you'd like to think so. Actually it's completely true.
a: Oh I'm sure it isn't.
t: It is.


a: How do you live with yourself?
t: With Stella, with sleep and with Tears for Fears.
a: you're joking.
t: No.
a: So you're telling me you're an alcoholic conservative with suicidal tendencies?
t: Apart from the suicidal tendencies, yes.


a: I have to....go and have a shit now.
t: Aha, shit! One of the joys of living! have you ever thought-
[TD gets his remaining light punched out]

Actually the above conversation is invented and is a lie, by all accounts and on all measures of truth. I do become animated upon talk of egestion but that is entirely satiric, and is intended to demonstrate my linking lavatorial desires with sexual ones, and hence to prove the ultimate futility and disgusting-ness of the human body. Many people do not understand this, which is why I have few friends, but with any luck the message will start to get through soon (heh heh).

So they go....

So I go....

So goes time and hair and heartbeats and blood pressure.

*Oi! John! Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps!*


** My dear first love,who I don't even know if she is still alive, she would tell me she loved my eccentricities and my weirdnesses, but above all she loved my hair...she loved my hair....

On the Sobering Effects of Alcohol

I don't even like calling beer "alcohol" because it's mainly water but anyway...long term readers of this blog will know that I frequently post when greatly refreshed and that is because it is easier and fun. Being a narcissist I don't really mind if it annoys or inconveniences anyone else. To my mind I think I have only deleted one post that I wrote under the influence - something about religion I think. Oh no, I tell a lie. I think I also outed myself once. That was more of a stealth edit though.

A trawl through some of these old posts reveal the same points being made over and over again (so what's new - it's a blog after all!) as well as a number of loathings and hatreds. This is normal and healthy. One of our modern pathologies is not anger itself but the desperate attempts to delegitimise it, to cure it, to squeeze it out of the personality. Our interest in suppression of this very natural emotion is interesting - I wonder what it's for?

Intriguingly for me there are also hints & guesses that I clearly keep leaving lying around on the pages of this blog. I ought to go through and delete them all, but I haven't the dishonesty. There are things (not evil things or owt like that - just normal stuff) which I just cannot bring myself to face or admit, even to myself, and the blog helps me to valve them out slowly without even knowing it. A diary would not offer me the same protection: I would be a lot more open. Writing a blog is therefore an exercise in social skills for me, as well as in self-absorption, which is maybe not so positive.

That point might seem counter intuitive, given all we hear about the eeeevil rightwing blogosphere - but it's true, for me at least.

This post, for the sake of clarity, was written with absolute sobriety moments before it was published.

Final Body Image Update

For the avoidance of any doubt, the other chap who resembles me physically and more importantly emotionally (and intellectually) is this fellow:

Friday, 25 April 2008

Self Portrait (Body Image Update II)

He is so cool, isn't he? And just cop the size of his brekkers. For me that's just not enough food. And his utterly innocent delight in food remains, despite his humbling at the hands of the giant. The morality of this book is superior and more nuanced than that of many grown up publications, including almost all newspapers. Maybe not The Daily Sport. You see: he realises that it's wrong to eat so much, but he still loves food because eating is a wonderful and beautiful experience, and that in itself is not wrong, indeed it is a pleasure of living which should be extended to all, by natural right. He doesn't really talk of poverty or famine but I like to think that is implicit in his recognition of the immorality of gluttony.

Anyway, for those of you who've been wondering, the resemblance is remarkable, except my skin is more pinkish. I have only a little more hair than he does. My legs are about the same size. I guess my smile isn't as broad as his.

Spot the References

At the risk of outing myself (small, I am sure, as few people are actually interested in the contents of this blog, but then again I don't really mind as I am a narcissist anyway), here are a few quotes from my favourite film (well, "film" is stretching it a bit):

"I need at least an extra six PSUs...I'm using traffic wardens already."
"Yeah but when...yeah but where?"


"There's something going on, I tell you."
"There'll be something going on tonight when I've had a few pints."


"We don't want the whole street blowing up while you're away."


and many other classic lines. I mention it only because I read in today's Times about a US ship firing warning shots in the Persian Gulf, and I was immediately transported sideways and back to that wholly fictional 1983 where the world ended on Thursday May 26th, bringing a swift closure to the Great & Super Powers.

And all that was left was vomiting into water butts; turning over to die in the inner refuge; collecting water drops in a collander; watching people have their arms sawn off; swapping tabs for whisky; hoarding an old book of birds for ten years to remind yourself of what you had loved.

"Skeletons and skulls. Of different creatures."

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Body Image Update

See the post or two below. Bodies are odd things, most human bodies, of whatever sex, being of comic misshapenness, my own foremost among these. I have praised female bodies in one of today's posts, and the praise is entirely genuine. I do, however, think that pornography as we conceive it proves the lie of my adoration and conviction. The truth is we adore only certain bodies, and some bodies identify powerful desires, giving us the need for touch and warmth, while others don't (ie mine). whether this is societal or genetic or cultural I have, literally, no idea. Pornography really struggles to provide comedy or irony, though it tries: hence I think it means something, really tries to be modern rather than post-modern, and latches onto very real perceptions and dreams. Possibly it is the techonological working out of Freudian dreams and even subconscious fantasies ( big tits? milf?). I do think there's a distinction to be made between pornography and fashion. The two, at times, seem to be working in opposing directions. Whatever the truth of it, I think there is a lot more to come (ho ho) from pornography, both as a leisure activity and as a major source of release, as well as an increasingly powerful driver of body image. I speak here only of heterosexual pornography, which seems to have few problems with bald, ugly or overweight male performers, provided they have the requisite equipment. Or stamina. Or whatever. It needs someone rather more specialised than myself properly to conjecture whether or not pornography sets trends or works from them. What, exactly, is the extent of its influence? Judging from the number of playboy pencil cases, diaries, and other accessories I have seen in school (owned, with a crushing degree of inevitability, by girls) it's reasonably extensive.

Anyhow, I wanted to mention that there are only two working bits of my body left. 1) My brain. In fact this is not working, and only seems to be because it is keeping my heart beating. It has not really worked since 1998, when it was in pretty sharp condition. 2) My arse. In fact this doesn't work well either, but I find more satisfaction in its movements and ideas.

One might also argue that my spleen is working. I couldn't possibly comment. Also my liver is probably doing a good job. I daren't ask it, however...

Woman In Chains

So the nicking from Tears for Fears continues....

This is more of a thought than a post, really, which comes from a convesation I had yesterday with a very beautiful woman, who thinks she needs to lose weight. She does not. Her daughter, she says, suffers from real self-image problems for the same reason. Why does this happen in our "civilisation"? Why do young (and not so young) women seem to have such problems so often? I have yet to meet a heterosexual man who does not adore the curves and softnesses of a woman's mysterious, delightful body. I have curves myself of course, but then again they _shouldn't_ be there. I understand that sometimes these issues are caused by health concerns. Fair enough. That's the root of mine, as well as the fact that breasts are attractive on women and not on men. But otherwise - straight men love female bodies that move and undulate, that press against clothing, that can enfold them.

I guess I understand some of the myriad reasons for the problems that women have (including, probably, a male dominated world of media and pornography), but I ask, in all naivety and innocence: what is there not to love in a beautiful, curvy woman?


Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I have been going back and adding labels to loads of my posts. I've sort of been working backwards so it currently covers about 100 of the most recent.

What _is_ interesting is that in PtI of my existence (which ended around june of last year) I was, if anything, even more drunken and rhetorically violent than I am now, whereas I thought my alcoholic incontinence and middle aged rage were a new phenomenon.


The excellent David Thompson has this post about the pathology of self-criticism. He means it geopolitically, of course (the kind of drivel-question to which every answer is "it's the West's fault" - the ideological equivalent of the Friday night "Are you looking at my bird" to which every possible answer is wrong, and results in a beating).

Of interest to me is the way in which modesty, or fragile self confidence, call it what you will, slips easily into a kind of self-regarding masochism. You start off, reasonably, by refusing to arrogate too much praise to yourself: there are, after all, many factors including luck in your success. Then you begin to wonder whether or not what you have done is successful or not and once you are absorbed in this train of thought all sorts of possibilities open up: how does one really assess any given criteria, how can one be certain that a seemingly obvious criterion (ie publishing a poem) actually involves success; and so on. It is a short and fatal step from there to an utterly disproportionate but enfolding and comforting sense that, as nothing you have done can be counted as good, you cannot possibly survive or undertake any kind of challenge. Hence you must sit at home and, er, blog. Or something.

A side effect, much desired, of this kind of self-criticism is that well meaning persons continually try to reassure one. This is now slimy and nasty: not the persons, but the masochistic individual, who becomes accustomed to hearing people say nice things and wants more of it, but in order to do that needs to keep, simultaneously, doing things well and believing that they are doing them badly. The regression into early childhood becomes complete at the point at which the individual realises what he likes most is having nice women put their arms round him.

In other words, it is all too easy, especially in a society which values and esteems victimhood, to make oneself a victim - of oneself. To be, in a sense, the tortured individual whose own blindness to his success is in fact a symptom of the most ghastly self-love - a kind of psychological masturbation.

It is extremely difficult to break out of this: its corrosive effects soon begin to affect relationships and then really begin to affect work, and then you are left with little to show for years of self-regard but a permanent sense of worthlessness that is, in reality, a fault of too much self rather than too little.

This post, of course, in a recursive way, being a symptom in itself.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A criminal record?

For a bin lid that doesn't quite shut? How, exactly, is that proportionate? How, exactly, does having a permanent CRB problem reflect the scale of his offence? Why are we letting the people who claim to be our servants revel in ever increased punishments: while we teachers are told by experts that children do not learn through punishment, the theory is being pursued with genuine enthusiasm when it comes to adults by those who claim to be working for us. The extremity of this treatment, and the blank faced assumption of moral superiority by the enforcers of draconian punishments fills me with horror. And I really would be proud of being called a purple faced Daily Mail reader by those who should know better - the Guardian readers don't seem to give a monkey's about the harsher treatment of citizens by its so-called "public services". Yes, the scare quotes are completely necessary.

Assuming that the BBC website and Radio 5 reports are correct, I don't think I am alone in finding this kind of case frightening: minor infractions being treated in a way that means you can never escape them; spying; the deliberate conflation of a minor misdemeanour with putative global tragedies; the cynical application of power in the name of service. It is, surely, taking us places we don't want to go.

But obviously enough people do want to go there, because they're taking us. And I'm not sure we're going to have any choice in whether to join the ride or not.

_Please_ someone find me a link or some evidence to show that I am overreacting and this man does not have a criminal record for leaving his bin open.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Ruddy Hell

...I would like to swear but just don't see the reason, at the moment: I've just had my tea, and I am full to the brim with red wine and Stella. So, understandably, I feel pretty cheered right now. Except the government....grrrr...bastads...gggrrrr...

I love people, some people, love them more than they will ever know: in some cases, if they did know, they'd never speak to me again: and in others, they'd be mildly disappointed: and in others, they'd say "ok, well, so? And-?" Love is a really strange thing, especially after booze, when it becomes easier and weirder than when you are sober.


hmm, total lack of ideas today. Odd, isn't it. I can think of almost literally nothing worth posting. I suppose I could liveblog my lack of inspiration but it wouldn't make for very interesting reading. On the other hand, here's TD's NuLab inspired guide to being in government.

1) Slip an unpopular policy change in under the radar, while you give important policy speeches about more (possibly) popular stuff.

2) Sit back and watch the firestorm erupt.

3) Slag off people who don't like your new, not-exactly-publicised policy.

4) Point out that only people who don't matter will suffer.

5) Read opinion polls (although I wouldn't bother checking the BBC for them).

6) Rush out a "leaked" statement denying that you're thinking of reversing the policy, so that people automatically assume you are.

7) Wait for the storm to die down a bit.

8) Continue with your original crap policy.

Fiddling With the Order of Things

I've taken jmb's advice and bumped my post on Alec Douglas-Home from 3rd April to today, I could have put it under Thursday, which would have been right&proper, but I didn't. Thanks, jmb.

UPDATE: Actually I did. Oh well I can't be bothered to change it again.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Where Does The End Of Me Become The Start Of You?

Somewhere at the end of my sentence, is the answer. Then, you take what I've said and you mulch it through your prejudices, be they right or left, then you add your assumptions of what I am and you conclude the brief encounter with an idea of what you think I have said, and worse, what you think I think. All of this is rather nastily mashed in social mores and the end result is that you almost certainly think that I'm a cunt. I don't mind that, per se, it is probably true, I just "feel" that it's a touch unfair. And some people's feelings count for a good deal more than many others, so depending on your ethnic or sexual characteristics, this could well be enough to earn me a "cunt" certificate from the government itself. For example, if you scream and shout and say "cunt" but you happen to be a leftist, then you're not so bad, you were just provoked; if I do it, then I am full of rage and anger and I need therapy or a prison sentence, or worse. Or I'm defending my privileges, despite owning nothing at all, or whatever, but by looking at the colour of my skin you nonetheless know what I've been through or not, so you are qualified to comment by the presence of the Guardian under your flabby arm. And if I complain then I am yet another privileged white fucker against equality, or whatever justification for discrimination you've come up with this week after too long spent in the saloon bar of one of London's rather more fashionable establishments. And the comment threads at Harry's Place will go on and on about how easy I've had it and how I've never sat on an Equality Committee in my life, and how, after all, "cunt" is fair enough comment on me.

Where you begin is where my voice ends, and where I begin is where I turn what you say into whatever I want it to be: where I see memories of myself when you speak, and where I think of what you've made me think of myself when you've spoken of your life, even though it's taken me months to make you open up such that I now know something, a very small something, of the real you, and I've immediately reinterpreted it in the light of my bizarre assumptions about life and ethics.

Where you begin is where I've thought for a long time my words end, in gentle and soft landings somewhere in your outer consciousness; that's where I think I end but whether you see me there or not, is, frankly, up to you - and I guess that the answer is that I am a shell on the seashore, glinting in the occasional sunlight, but for the most part occluded by polluted waters or industrial skies.

And it all comes back to the end of the sentence: the suggestion of irony, the lifting lilt, the downbeat self-mockery, the absence of an actual full stop. I suggest by my insecurity that you might like to know more about me, and that I would like to know more about you: but you have other things to do, and your phone is ringing in your pocket, and the tea will be getting cold in an hour or so, so I am faded to black, which is where I should be.

The end of the sentence is no more interesting than the beginning, or the endless dullness of the middle with all its subordinate clauses and hesitations. The end of the sentence goes nowhere and says nothing.

You Hear Laughter Cracking Through the Walls

Spellbound by Siouxsie and the Banshees(look it up on YouTube) is one of those genuinely unsettling songs, a piece of art that makes me shiver, only very slightly, but enough to prmopt me to think of the recesses of the imagination. I also think it captures neatly an imaginative or rhetorical violence in music that had been going for some years but which had lacked a register to become anything more than loud and aggressive. Here, the implied violence is given the cloaking of Grimm's Fairy Tales or of a hundred traditional stories about fairy circles and spirits. Its negative spirituality and bursting irrationality is invasive and caught me when I first heard it as a somewhat isolated teenager in 1989 (I still have my tape recording of it made off the tv from the BBC programme "Boxpops" which used to do tracks and news from previous years on a any given subject). I don't know whether you can read it as Freudian or not, I guess you probably could. I read it as a cultural symbol: out of the depths of recession and near-economic despair, of real street violence and alienation, comes this primal elaboration of fear and uncontrol. It's a metaphor, in word, rhythm and structure: this song is reaching into human experience for a very specific cultural problem.

But anything which goes in that direction can have unexpected and haunting effects. Even this vocabulary makes my point harder to communicate: "haunting", "primal", "fear" - you could add "ghostly" and "piercing" to that list. What it's all saying is that humanity fears determinism as contradicting its most basic day-to-day assumptions; and that it fears annihilation, being made unphysical or unplaced. You could make this mean death only, or you could, a la Paul Tillich and existentialism, say that it means any radical form of challenging (of the kind that was certainly underway in 1981) which dislocates and threatens to undermine you.

Whether we exist in any meaningful sense or not, we have fears of the shadowy and the ungrasped or ungraspable: I think it's straightforward to see that it all refers to the fear of otherness, which, by its very definition, means we will not be as we are. That is hard to imagine, and it means we, as we are, will be negated. We always strive against negation, create order and physicality, but we know we are going to be negated and that in steps along the way things will happen to negate what we are and what we understand on many occasions. Those things might produce something better and finer, more worthwhile, but the process is terrifying. Hence we write songs that try to show something of the nothingness that surrounds us and we shiver for a bit, or it won't leave our heads for a while: we watch horror films and are unsettled: we tell ghost stories and are thoughtful: we emphasise our bodiedness by fucking everything in sight and inventing ethics to justify our desperation.

High Speed Vass Gets Things Done

Private Eye's nickname for Sir Alec Douglas-Home was "Baillie Vass" owing to an early photographic mix up in a local newspaper(I think - it might just have been a lookalike*). It was savage to him from the beginning of his brief premiership (63-64) and blamed Macmillan for selecting him as a two fingers to the other candidates for the leadership after Mac's doctors told him to quit. In those days the Conservative Party took "soundings" - suggestions, informal votes, expressions of support - from senior members and the leader made his recommendation to HM The Queen. Ted Heath was the first Tory leader to be voted to the leadership. The Eye said of the Home selection: "...The Party wanted Butler. The People as a Whole Wanted Butler. Why Wasn't Butler Chosen?" and gives Mac a speech bubble replying: "Because I hate bloody Butler's guts". The Eye were particularly vicious towards Home, mainly on the basis of his lack of legitimacy as a leader (they sent Willie Rushton as a rival candidate when he had to fight for a Commons seat) but also because they felt that urgent action was needed to save Britain from a long drawn out decay, as well as from the odour of corruption and taint that had become such a marked aspect of the Macmillan premiership. There was also a sense that as a noble he was out of touch with both the people and political reality. The long needed action was eventually promised by Wilson, who won the 1964 election by 4 seats ( and thus provided a kind of retrospective justification for Macmillan's decision - it was much narrow than had been expected during '63). This close election frustrated Wilson's desire to forge a new Britain out of the heats of the technological revolution (though the Eye would also lampoon Anthony Wedgewood Benn and his enthusiasm for technology during this government). So Britain was not revolutionised: the Tories were less unelectable after Heath, Grammar School & no peerage, was more of a man of the people than either Mac or Home or Eden, even if his manner and lack of an apparent family did him few favours. The long period in office and the scandal and the failure really to kick-start the economy did not stop the Tories from unexpectedly winning in 1970.

Baillie Vass did more for the Conservatives by not doing much than Mac or Butler would probably have done (Mac was ok, it turned out). Wilson promised far more than he could deliver and so his government is remembered more for its social legislation than its extremely dodgy economic record and failure to address the increasing problem of union militancy (In Place of Strife got absolutely nowhere, facing too much opposition from within Labour) - hence it gets a much easier ride from modern commentators than it perhaps deserves. What did Vass do for the country? Not much, he didn't set out to - he set out to hold the political fort against Labour's fierce Commons operator Wilson and against the increasingly cynical public view of the Tories. Did he put party before country? Probably - show me a politician who doesn't and I'll show you a failed candidate. But he also struck a small blow against corruption and against the creed of "action" - the belief that it will all be fine if we sweep through and turn everything upside down; or that if we have a "vision", just a vision, that will somehow turn into competence or become inspiring to others. He struck, or rather, tapped out, a blow for reality, in its dullness.

He kind of succeeded. Quite an epitaph for any of us, I'm sure.

*Douglas-Home's wikipedia entry gives the story.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

High Speed Vass Gets Things Done (Ages Ago)

I've just published a post about Alec Douglas-Home but because it's been in draft for weeks it's been published under April 3rd, so no-one can see it. Bloody Blogger!
Oh well, if you're interested it's somewhere on the previous page.

Children's Books

...are excellent, at the moment. Their morality is striking and confident, their approach to the big issues intriguing and daring, and their lack of easy cop outs unexpected.

I'm not talking about _all_ children's books, of course; it just seems on my recent reading that they are prepared to say and imply things that a lot of adult fiction doesn't want to: it's sort of hidden itself in political certainty, drink, sex, and light comedy. Novels which tackle big subjects often seem to have their author's prejudices barely disguised at all (ie the numerous books I've read where the priest turns out to be evil/loses his faith/dies horribly). By contrast, children's books such as Catcall by Linda Newbery approach family structures (say) with depth and insight and an acknowledgement that the modern cliches we use to make ourselves feel better about what are self-centred choices ("it would be much harder on the kids if we didn't split up...") don't carry the explanatory power we think they do. In this book the agonies of two young boys are examined in depth and without the simplicity of worldview that I would now expect from a lot of adult books (ie the children are just fine).

One thing I will say: the grammar and sentence structure of many modern children's books is much simpler than the grammar of even, say, Enid Blyton books. It is really telling that very bright children often have trouble reading classic children's novels ("When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit" for example): they find the sentences very hard to follow. They don't deal well with multiple subclauses and trains of thought or description that cascade through independent clauses - semi colons, especially. The lengthy, thoughtful or continuous sentence that was a staple of literature is hard for modern children to understand. Is that a flaw of teaching, or a movement of language? I think it goes a little further. Although children's books are excellent, the "young adult" fiction sub-genre is a little bit more inconsistent: too many authors seem to view "shopping&fucking" as a synonym for "adult" - leaving genuine explorations of the depth that intelligent teenagers might be expected to understand somewhat squeezed. It's also here that I think political certainties undermine otherwise well written stories (on occasion - such as The H-Bomb Girl, discussed last week).

Writing generally and impressionistically like this is problematic and I've added almost no examples to support my case - but hey, it's what I do.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

These Are The Things I Could Do Without

1) The government
2) Any other government
3) Sobriety
4) Work
5) Death
6) Dr Evan Harris MP
7) Fanaticism
8) Change
9) Stability
10) Consistency
11) Logic
12) Finity
13) The EU
14) Star Trek
15) Glasgow Rangers FC
16) Yorkshire CCC
17) Cricket Australia
18) Tattoos over the arse
19) Terrorism
20) Manky Feet

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Welcome to Someone Else's Life

sorry for the recent string of Tears for Fears misappropriations. They just keep springing to mind.

Also apologies for the stream of personal-related posts. The making of resolutions is often just a temporary method of holding back floods of other things. so it is.

Anyhow, odd morning. Mass, as usual. Late on, a well-known local woman keels over, ever so gently, ever so slowly, supported by friends. Some people to go her aid, by now she is laid out over 4 or 5 seats while the blessings and hymns go on as usual. My normal job is the second collection so I hold out the bowl, just inside the door, because it is raining. Right before my eyes is someone I would swear was dead: no movement, no colour, no nothing. The same expressionless face I have seen only once before. Terror beginning to grip me, and winding its cloak around the remaining congregation (most of it). The priest gives the sacrament of the sick and slowly, imperceptibly at first, parishioners join in his prayers until by the end of the Lord's Prayer a group of people are standing around praying. An ambulance arrives, and she opens her eyes and sits up. She talks. I had felt about to give way and collapse myself, partly out of fear, out of shame, out of sheer dislocation - in trying to do normal things while this is going on.

I don't know how things are with her now - I can just hope, and pray.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Has She Gone Away?

Well, the answer is "yes". I am trying to write, and think, in the style of Betsy Byars's "The Midnight Fox" but this is really, really, hard. It requires, firstly, an infinite adaption of an adult mind, and a remarkable ability to think like an innocent, but intelligent, and moreover, fictional, character. A fictional character. Someone who winks in and out of existence when the pages are opened and closed. But someone you'd want to exist. Tom is one of life's, and fiction's, really darn good guys. The odd thing is: he doesn't exist: but having read, studied, and taught the book over and over I find this really hard to believe. So, is it more important that you're brilliant and not real, or that you're flawed and somehow exist, against all chance and change and desire? Aha- well, you fall for the ontological argument, of a kind, in assuming your existence predicates some kind of betterness than non-existence. The "X" (why not call you Bob?), the "Bob" of someone else's imagining is always and everywhere better, deeper, more original, than the "Bob" that you actually are, because it is more perfect and more coherent. You're a collaboration of ideas and organs, and things-always-tempted-to-switch-off and so your being here could be said to affirm St Anselm, but then again it doesn't because the versions of you in your mind or someone else's are always so much better: more evil, more intelligent, sexier, more good, whatever. You reach your perfections as someone else's fantasy.

What happens if you are no-one's fantasy? If you just have to blog your way through the greyness of streets and life? The answer is nothing. Nothing happens. You just are, and, worse, you just have to _be_. For example, I am currently nursing my copy of "Viz: The Turtle's Head" through its final stages of collapse. This comic book has sustained me over 12 years of fart and poo jokes, and also some jokes about wanking. Now it is succumbing to entropy and I will lose 12 years of comfort and assurance: the bastard world is in fact full of incoherence and ridiculousness (as I've pointed out in previous posts, taking the human body seriously is stupid - but somehow there are legions of people po-facedly talking about sex, while refusing to acknowledge poo). You are, with Viz, with drink, with news, with blogging, with whatever, even work: and you leave a trail of some kind, you make a brief indentation, like your fat arse on a sofa, then it's all over and you're gone and no-one gives a toss.

Still, never mind, "Bob". Why not just piss off down the pub and leave everything else, which is just management bollock-speak, to sort itself out? After all, no-one will remember, after things have changed, after things have moved on and gone forward: after you've fucked off, which is what everyone's really waiting for.

"You were a photograph" - of the worst, unsuspecting, short-necked, fat-gutted kind. With a head of hair that would rather be down the drain than on your head.

So it goes.

I never did catch Betsy Byars' style.


1) the character in the previous post, Mr C Smith, is a creation of my fevered imagination and bears no resemblance to anything. It is this kind of bizarre randomness that makes my blog so unlikely to gain a regular readership but then who cares, it's my blog!

2) The book I was waxing lyrical about yesterday, "The H Bomb Girl", is very good up to the end, although it falls into a bit of kneejerk leftism: do you have to put party affiliation on any manuscript to get published these days?

3) Boozeblogging is back, as you will have noticed. Meh. I'm sober this morning, by the way.

Friday, 11 April 2008

The Not-So-Nameless One

In a previous post (see Dec 07) I named a Mr C Smith as the one responsible for leading me into my, ultimately, ill-fated, alcohol experiments. These tests, it is now known, are responsible for all manner of psychological and physiological problems. Mr C Smith, whose name is known to be a pseudonym, is a singularly unscrupulous individual whose appearances in my life are associated, with a depressing degree of inevitability, with drunkenness and instability. He has, I am sorry to say, appeared again and has led me into a spiral of criminal (or at least outside government advice) behaviour. Today, for example, I _drove my car_ (heedless of the savage effect on the planet this would have) and then later I had _loads of booze_ (heedless of the disastrous effect on my blogging this would have). Mr C Smith is a shadow-figure, a metaphor: he is a vague character who lives in the sidelines and who prevents any serious activity from actually occurring. Instead he just snipes away at real endeavour and entices one into substitute activities (ie drinking, or listening to Tears for Fears, or both). He thinks that he can lure innocent humans to a timely end (all ends are timely to him, and he isn't even death) through asking them "Is it worth it? Is it really worth it?" and, do you know, eleven times out of ten, it isn't. He told me one late stormy night, while the December winds were pounding at the double glazing, that I should just jack it all in and go to Uttoxeter. Uttoxeter! I don't even know where that is, or what I would do if I got there. Nothing, I guess. Or not very much. Or maybe I was supposed to rent a room in a ghastly B&B and then walk the streets until I literally topped myself out of boredom. Probably that was it: Mr C Smith is a funny old guy, with a bizarre sense of humour: he wants you to laugh but doesn't really give a toss who you are or if he's met you. He often comes to me during a dull day at work, or rather, I go to him, as he's far too cool to approach me. He says encouraging things but you know he wants you to die, I think. Or maybe he doesn't; perhaps I've misjudged the stupid old bugger and he just wants you to do something, I mean really _do_ something, that'd give you validity for just a second at least.

I don't even know what the C stands for.

John Smith and the Common Men

".is the stage name of the honourable Aubrey Waite..."

is how I believe the line goes......

Fucking Bastard Writers

Some cunts are really good at what they do, leaving twats like me marooned in the shit-strewn seas of mediocrity. One of these is Stephen Baxter, who has written "The H-Bomb Girl", a novel for teenagers, which, by a staggeringly unfortunate co-incidence, is the novel I've been trying to write for over ten years. What a fuckwit. So: is it any good, well yes of course it is fucking amazing, I mean it references SuperMac, Civil Defence, Jack Kennedy's speeches and John Smith and the Common Men* so of course it is ace. Alas it _does_ conflate 1960s civil defence stuff with Protect and Survive, and some pages round about p150 look as if they were copied out of Threads, but overall it is the fucking buggering bastard novel I've been trying to write for so damn long. What a cunt. Never mind. Nowt I can do about that, except recommend it to all 11+ people I've ever met, which I am about to do, with the proviso that some bits are nicked out of "Casualties" (see drummer posts passim) and hence look as if Mac's govt was doing Wislon's, Ted's, Sunny Jim's, and Thatch's dirty work for them, which it wasn't. Supermac may have been a twat and a cuckold but he did not want the world to end: he'd spent enough time lying in the mud at the Somme for that. Supermac went to his grave with nightmares about Cuba, which I guess this novel is writing about. But I won't hear any criticism of Mac over Cuba - so any cunt who thinks Supermac fucked it up can just come over here and see if he's hard enough. And he _did not_ piss off down the A4 to Turnstile, nor did any other fucker, nor would it have been any bastard good, because the Russians knew exactly where it was (not that I'm suggesting Baxter claims this, I haven't finished the book yet). "Casualties" (not to be confused with "Casualty") is the final work of art of western civilisation, the last statement, the big two fingers: "Casualty" is just a piss-poor tv show. What a fabulous piece of art (is "Casualties"): more challenging than a cow in a tank, more controversial than paintings made of menstrual fluids, more damn scary anything else. "Casualties" is what we end up with, or used to end up, or,perhaps, should of ended up with. And don't accuse me of hate, I'm an artist, I'm just thinking. Er.. anyway, You don't want to go around writing stuff out of Threads like that, in case it comes true. Also the narrator -nearly- quotes the kid with the earring out of Threads: "they've started fighting, mum... the Americans and the's just been on the news."

Well I guess Baxter is a bright guy and knows what he's doing and he probably doesn't reckon Supermac was going to do any of that shit he says he does, but just in case...step outside, mate, if you don't mind....

I wonder if this world is a parallel world gone wrong: as if it was supposed to end in 1984 and we cocked it all up: so everything seems a bit crap now. Sort of, a bit millennial, a bit further than it should be. Shock horror headline: Conservative thinks world "a bit more" than can cope with! Hmmm, seems likely to me. "Casualties" is so perfect, so clean, so well written that it surely _supposed_ to be the last document of our culture. Anything else is just bullshit. And that includes installation videos of people vomiting. Or cows, for that matter.


ps I wonder if this author "Stephen Baxter" is in fact Bullet Baxter out of early 80s Grange Hill. If so, it would explain a lot....

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Not The End of Bel

Thank Goodness.

Sorry. Couldn't resist it. Am very glad to see her again tho'.

Change p 42

People often want change because they are full of hate: they loathe what exists, so they want to replace it with what has never existed, on the basis of some damnfool theory, or on the basis precisely that it has never existed and they wish it to. People sometimes want change because they loathe the idea that the world does not encompass their worldview, and they want it encoded in all legal apparatus that they think x and that to not think x is downright offensive, indeed, an incitement to hatred. Which brings us back to our starting point. People think that because x is offensive to y, that the law ought to be changed for z too, and that anyone else who happens to exist, or yet to be created, out of a whim or whatever, must conform to it also because to be offensive to y is an offence, whereas to be offensive to t is alright. I love this idea: x does not affirm my worldview hence you, y, or whoever you are, need to bear this in mind whenever you make any kind of statement that may or may not be taken as public. If only we all had access to this: I'd make disapproval of Doctor Who an incitement to hatred on the basis that if someone said it in my earshot I'd deck the fucker. And be immune from prosection, because the twat "q" had incited me. What a cool legal principle. What I also love about thought-crime legislation is that opposition to it is, de facto, hatred, so just not agreeing with the law might end you with chokey. Indeed, stating any kind of opposition to anything a liberal doesn't like is in itself a vile act of provocation and hate. I _so_ wish I was in government, I'd ban everything just for a laugh. Plus I'd just one day say "well a has been the case for thousands of years, so now I'm abolishing it as any kind of principle and replacing it with b for no better reason than that this shows my power plus it makes me look good with people who matter". That would be ace. And even better, if I could then say "well the peer-reviewed science shows that anyone who disagrees with me is a fuckwitted twat".

I also love the idea of "peer review". As things stand, my peers think I am a) as clever as fuck; b)a twat; c)lazy; d) an arse, e) an idiot and f) a lunatic. Which of these peer reviews do we take as "truth"? (c Pontius Pilate) Well, b), c) and e), at a guess. But then again the writer of b) is a cunt; of c) an idiot who I haven't seen for years and of e) a dickhead who once didn't like the fact that I wowed the women more than him. The writer of a) is currently in prison. How cool is that: you self-select a group who agree with your assumptions, then you say that they agree with you hence you are right. What a fantastic example of recursion. Having said that, the writer of b) is an expert in twats, so it is inappropriate to disagree with him, even though I don't think I am a twat. Also the writer of e) is a linguist who knows the detailed etymology of the word "dickhead" and has written several treatises on why I am one. However, I _am not_ and so the sub-thesis fails, however well the peer review process appears to work. So not quite so self-selected, but still bloody incestuous, the bunch of arseholes.

But then, no bastard would vote for me in the first place, so I'd be fucked. Oh wait, I might be able to ban everything under some European law or other so I might not need to worry about those twat voters. Everything must be banned. We are all untrustworthy so we must start from the premise that we need to redouble our efforts to win the trust of our government (c Brecht); and therefore we must prove identities, prove suitabilities, prove the lack of murderous, sexually deviant intentions. We must prove. We must prove. We must improve.

Which brings us, once again to our starting point: I hate the government. I'm sure there's a law against that.

SoberBlogging (Still)

Still off the booze as far as posting is concerned (not as far as real life is concerned, mind); it doesn't half make blogging tough work. Blimey I'm literally breaking out into a mild episode of writer's block trying to think up stuff to write - a problem I never have after a few Stellas and some crisps, and maybe a few nuts or pork scratchings or a kebab or something.

Making Yourself Invisible

*warning* This is a post about weird stuff, not science, as such, and I thought, essentially, that I'd plagiarise Dizzy's post on ayahuasca type drugs. Incidentally I wonder if he has read Graham Hancock?

This idea came up in a conversation at the weekend (I was sober, so were my interlocutors). My friend said that someone they knew had actually made themselves invisible: through power of thought, or through some other process, and had avoided her friends looking for her. As if she had been watching the scene unfold on a television, or so it seemed to me. I wasn't sure if it was intentional or not, but the implication was that it had just happened, there and then, like a thought coming to you out of nowhere. Crime & Punishment aside, the question is, not how (we'll leave that for a moment) but why? In the context of the story it was not as though the person had ceased to exist: they were thinking, and standing, and watching. They just had no corporeal existence. They couldn't influence or change anything ("it's all too late," etc etc - see TD posts passim) but were somehow there and not there. So it's not really being Godlike - more like being Christlike I suppose - but a momentary fact, one you accept and enter into. I don't remember in the story the person being scared or wishing to return to sight although they did, eventually. I can see it or read it (hmmm, visual metaphors for an auditory experience) as a kind of death-wish: as one of those ghastly Joy Division loving teenagers I would stare into a mirror for minutes at a time and imagine that I was flipping or zipping out of existence for a moment; sometimes it seemed real enough until I moved, or coughed, or something. but it was something to be desired - not to not be noticed, or anything so shallow, but to be literally unphysical: soul, maybe. So perhaps it's not a death-wish after all but a desire to return to religious or spiritual roots - a satire on materialism, even (what would happen if I divested myself of all belongings, including my body, but continued to exist? aha, but you can't...).

Unfortunately at the time of the conversation I was able only to nod and hmmm a bit. It has been too long since I've actually had real conversations with real human beings about things other than work, mathematics and New Labour.

None of this post is to be taken as "uh ho, TD has gone off the deep end", if you don't mind, dear reader. I haven't gone off the deep end, though anyone who has regularly read this blog should know that I stand on it by my own volition, unable to believe that the limited perceptions of a flawed and inconsistent being can be in any way true to what I hope is the infinite majesty of creation.

Back To Blog

Well, the conference is over, the new term is about to begin and so I'm available to blog again. TBH, the best thing about the conference was the heroic amount of booze I was able to consume, all for free. Well, I guess the quad biking was pretty cool too, although I wouldn't mind someone (preferably attractive and female though not necessarily young) to massage my thighs. I would like that anyway, but I need it a bit more this week. Applications via email please. Er.. where was I...Oh yes. A new, fascinating, well written contribution to the global hyper intelligent conversation we call the blogosphere. So. Here it is.

Uh...I'll get back to you later.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Return to the Unbearable Lightness of Blogging

I've a conference (oh yes, very grand) for the next few days so I won't be posting much between now and the middle of next week. Plus only a week or so of heavy blogging soon drains my creativity. I really don't know how some people keep it up. I was beginning to think I might have to post about the state of my pants, or the holes in my socks, or my favourite kind of tea. These things, like many others, are best left to the shores of silence, where the gentle lapping of the waves soothes and calms them, before sweeping them out to watery graves. I have tried as much as possible to keep my boring personal life out of my blog, although perusing posts this year I see there are plenty which whinge and moan: well, it is my blog so my rules, etc. And blogging is cathartic as well as narcisstic so that is, really, only to be expected. However few things are duller than the personal problems of someone one has never met, doesn't want to meet, and merely wants to be entertained by for a few moments before clicking onto some pornography. So I try to do it as minimally as possible, and I'll try to continue this. The other issue is drink-sodden ranting and raving, or boozeblogging as it might be called. Well, see the previous justifications, really, because I often feel more creative, as one does, after a few jars, and I like to engage in flights of rather vicious political and ethical fancy. But again, one realises that this is neither attractive nor interesting, per se, unless the writing somehow holds up through the haze of drunkenness.

A general rule of the thumb for the reader of TTD is that any post written after 8.30pm is generally written under the influence, to a greater or even greater extent. This week, being largely on holiday, I've been experimenting with sober blogging and I suppose it's worked, although it's much harder work and one worries more about making it actually good.

Finally a word about the design on the blog. As you've probably guessed I'm messing around with it at the moment. I'm not techie, much to my shame, and I'm _still_ on a 1970s internet connection, so everything is a bit rubbish and very slow. But I'm still going to muck about with it because I like doing it. And if I didn't I wouldn't bother.

Enjoy Doctor Who this weekend, I have my reservations about Catherine Tate but Doctor Who, is, frankly, Doctor Who.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

That Time of Year Again (Spring)

I thought I would post a little on two of my favourite quotations in all literature. Being a simple fellow I have simple tastes, and you've probably guessed them already:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote



April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers

(TS Eliot)

Everyone knows the first line of The Waste Land, but we often forget the lines which follow, whose distate and even disgust at the shifting, fertile soil are not only vivid but also quite strange. Why would springing life go into such a negative description? Well, for anyone reading in 1922 it might have snapped certain memory-tendons: "dead land", "forgetful snow" and the participles at the end of the lines, all suggesting movement and energy, which might have recalled the movement of troops and the churning of land with engines and explosions and bodies it created. You can also read the quotation psychologically, as meaning turnings and mixings of the mind in a much more private sense, not really related to the changing of seasons, but then again possibly stimulated by them: it's not so counter-intuitive to think that light, warmth, mud, messy growth, perhaps slow, frustrating growth, could create problems through allusion and connotation in someone, especially if they have staved off problems by focusing on keeping warm throughout the winter. It's also intended as a reference to Chaucer of course and as a marker of the borrowings and mixings and stirrings which this poem intends to keep up throughout its 5 parts. It's a warning, or a prophecy, of the changing nature of poetry and poetic forms. Chaucer's version is more straightforward but I often read it as if it were intended to refer to Eliot, so much are the two intertwined for me. Chaucer's view of the burgeoning year with its refreshing rains speaks to me of the kind of weather I love - as I've posted before, rain -of the non-torrential form we generally get here- is lifegiving and soothing and enriching. Burning sun or drought is not. There are other things you could say about Chaucer's versification here (ie "perced" - reference to Easter, crucifixion and resurrection) but it's easier to let it speak for itself and to suggest you go and read The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, in the original Middle English. It's not that hard if you have a decent edition and it really is excellent. In fact I wonder if it wasn't Chaucer, rather than Shakespeare, who created character in English...

And so here we are, at this time of year again, and the tv talk turns to whether we're having more floods or more droughts and it seems as though in fact we're longing for extremes, perhaps to make up for our dull lives. I must beware of pathologising the country, though, so I'll stop that train of thought and urge all of my readers to read Chaucer and TS Eliot.

Before climate change floods all the libraries/causes all the books to wizen and shrivel up in the heat.

Stat (Soft) Pron

As there is quite a barney going on at DK's place about stats, I thought I'd chip in and discuss some of my own for March.

So: unique visitors: Not very many.
page visits: hmmm, a few. But still not many.

top referrer: CBI (97.8%)

other top referrers:

1. er
2. that's it

Number of visitors who arrived here googling "fuck me hard": 1. (I hope they weren't disappointed)

Number of visitors who got here googling something deep and meaningful: 0.

Number of visitors who got here and offered me money of one kind or another: 0.

Number of visitors who, I suspect, thought this blog was about music: lots.

Number of visitors who are either robots or who left immediately: quite a few. In fact, there are an awful lot of these, but I prefer not to think about it.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Messing Around

I've found a nice piccy to spice up the blog with, at the cost of losing my title. well I guess I'll figure it out soon.

update: hmmm, it's a bit narrow though. I don't know why I can't extend it, as the bishop blah blah. Oh well I can't be arsed now, it's pub time.

PMQ Shock

Well I didn't think that Harriet Harman was all that bad at PMQs today. She had some obviously prepared gags but she gave as good as she got from Hague and he was unable to pin her down. She did try to pin a feminist jibe on the Tories (why was the Shadow Leader of the Opposition not asking the question) and she sounded pretty aggressive. I don't know what the rules for PMQs are now but the PM (or whoever's on facing the house duty that day) never seems to answer any question. Hague asked the same q 3 times on poor families being worse off this weekend but she never answered it, nor attempted to. And the Speaker? Is it his job to enforce answering or questions or not? He certainly stopped Vince Cable from asking a question involving the Queen and, if I remember rightly, did not call him for his second question which confused him somewhat. But Hague, like Cameron, did not press her with enough force, as opposed to rhetoric, of which he had plenty. He could only force a sense of outrage or disgust at the very end of his questions. Why was he not putting the government on the rack from the beginning? He just did not, to me, seem to argue with enough conviction - and I think this is still one of the problems of the modern opposition: they don't have enough conviction and they are holding back for fear of seeming to be "the nasty party" again. They don't want to be seen to be too aggressive. But they will need to be: one of those ideology-turning moments is coming, like 1979 and 1997 (possibly in 2010, more likely 2015) and it will be time for tough arguments and rolling-the-sleeves-up defences of liberty, trust in citizens and the rule of common law against Labour's ideology of written rights and victimhood. There will be hard days ahead and timidity of this sort will be no use.

Zimbabwe LiveBlogging/Comment

MDC Press Conference live on Radio 5

The MDC in what they say is their last press conference at this stage of the election are complaining about the delay in reporting the election results. The spokesman makes a low-key joke about getting the results themselves from elsewhere. He complains that the election is not "free, fair or credible". He says that the "political environment is not capable of producing a free and fair election". He says the results MDC have collected indicate that given an error margin of 2.4% in the presidential election Mugabe has 42.1% and Tsvangirai 49.4% He says therefore that Morgan Tsvangirai has won the election, in respect of "attaining the majority that is required" - ie no run off is needed.

Phew. I'm no good at this liveblogging business.

Last night, watching the 6 O Clock News, was perhaps the most positive political experience I have had in years - it reminded me, for a while, before the obfuscations and the ambiguities became evident - of those glorious days of 89 (1989 that is, not 1789). The sense of popular movement, democracy in a so much purer form than we are used to, of a bloodless uprising for freedom: wonderful. I think that the point the MDC were making in the press conference above is that the votes, the papers, are generally reliable: it's the counting and the collating and the organisation of voting that is bent. If so it means that the people have voted in spite of intimidation for an idea of freedom. I just hope, without trace of cynicism or negativity on my part, for once, that it really happens and that the people of Zimbabwe really have spoken for freedom and that they can now start to rebuild their country.

I don't know if you should pray for the results of elections...

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


DK mentioned this a while ago and they sent me an email a month or so back inviting me to join their wosname thingy. I've now signed up but that isn't a promise or a guarantee that I'll do anything, though I am having a look around to see if I fancy anything. Remember: I am a filthy capitalist so it should come as no surprise that I'm intending to sell out.

Budget Statement

Since we're approaching the start of the new financial year I thought I'd make a budget statement of my own to demonstrate to my reader the application of prudent fiscal management.

Firstly, GDP (Gross Drummer Product) is set to rise this year by whatever the bastards decide, not to exceed 2%. Probably about 1%. Debt, as a proportion of the GDP, will fall from 42% to 35%, as the laptop has just about been paid off but there is an expensive insurance claim yet to be settled. Exports are in their usual parlous state (the traditional drummer-favourable markets have been withdrawing their interest during the last two quarters) but imports, notably of alcoholic beverages originating in Belgium, are set to rise by 10%.

So to the changes in fiscal policy. Firstly spending on fuel will rise in line with the chancellor's rises in taxation. Spending on books has been hit recently by a disinclination to read: however to encourage greater growth in the studying of texts, spending on books will rise by 42%. Spending on alcohol will increase by inflation plus an additional 8% (see above); this is to offset the hectoring self-righteousness and nannying of the chancellor of the exchequer. Spending on crisps and other snacks is a difficult area of expenditure and it is with considerable thought that I have decided the following: crisps (cheese and onion): to remain static at 2 packets per 3 pints; nuts to fall by 5% (representing a real terms increase of 12% since 1997); chocolate: to fall by 20% to reflect the changing tastes of the market (ie it does not go well with Stella).

Gym membership expenditure will increase by 2%. This is, I am sure we can all agree, a major step towards making the drummer carbon neutral by 2042. It should offset 1% of the increase in alcohol expenditure. By 2009 gym expenditure will increase by a further 2% and by 5% in the three years after 2009. This will make considerable progress towards our EU target of "not being a fat bastard".

There will be a one off expenditure of 35% of GDP on hair transplants in this fiscal year. This will be offset by an increase in interest from other markets from 2009 onwards. (jeers from opposition benches) Yes, we can all complain can't we, but under the previous government interest from other markets was static at 0%. Only this government has brought sustained and effective interest - until recently - from desirable bodies located near the drummer. The loss of hair has been a global phenomenon for which this government cannot be held responsible. (more jeers)

I commend this Budget to the House as an example of stability and strength in these...zzzzzzzzzzzz....