Sunday, 19 December 2010

This is what gets on my wick about the assumptions of Guardian music writers (I have known one or two):

Par from Beefheart's obit:

'Captain Beefheart was also a visionary in one other, often overlooked, way: he hymned the natural world in his own inimitably odd way on songs such as My Human Gets Me Blues and Wild Life. He was an ecological warrior long before it was fashionable. His death, after a long period of self-enforced seclusion, comes at a time when it is difficult to imagine anyone as eccentric – and as eccentrically gifted – finding a place in contemporary pop culture. In the era of The X Factor the old-fashioned showbusiness values that the 1960s rock revolution was meant to have swept away have returned with a vengeance. There is no place now in pop for the madcap and the beautifully demented, but there is always Trout Mask Replica. Approach with caution.'

In the era of The X Factor the old-fashioned showbusiness values that the 1960s rock revolution was meant to have swept away have returned with a vengeance.

No, they haven't returned. Old fashioned showbiz values meant the performers you see on X Factor would have been booed off. Simple as that.
'The 60s rock revolution' was balanced on the despised 'old fashioned showbiz values' in the sense that you had to have a talent honed through discipline, you had to be 'good'. You don't anymore and that is more a result of 60s cultural relativism, digging a pony as Lennon had it, than Cowell's shit-peddling.
I was sad to hear of Beefheart's death. I've long been a fan, even though I think he was a bit of a charlatan.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Colour Study for That's Life, That's What All the People Say. Chalk.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Email to a pal re Melanie Phillips

THEY all slag her off but I read her book Londonistan and everything she says in it is borne out by current events - London and environs is the biggest breeding ground for Islamic terrorism outside the Orient* and the British public are paying for it with their taxes through benefits, grants and paying for the EU to build a legal system that gives protection to the radicals. No surprise the exploding dimwit in Sweden was radicalised here. She made the point that when the mullahs came here in the 80s, the Govt and MI5 made the basic error of thinking they would only cause trouble abroad so let 'em get on with it. For this reason I wrote to her and suggested she should use a George Orwell quote from his essay England, Your England, as an epigraph for the paperback edition:
'The insularity of the English, their refusal to take foreigners seriously, is a folly that has to be paid for very heavily from time to time.'
I thought of that line on the 7th July 2005.
Of course, Orwell's next line was: 'But it plays its part in the English mystique, and the intellectuals who have tried to break it down have generally done more harm than good.'
He goes on to say, rather wonderfully:

'The mentality of the English left-wing intelligentsia can be studied in half a dozen weekly and monthly papers. The immediately striking thing about all these papers is their generally negative, querulous attitude, their complete lack at all times of any constructive suggestion. There is little in them except the irresponsible carping of people who have never been and never expect to be in a position of power. Another marked characteristic is the emotional shallowness of people who live in a world of ideas and have little contact with physical reality. Many intellectuals of the Left were flabbily pacifist up to 1935, shrieked for war against Germany in the years 1935-9, and then promptly cooled off when the war started. It is broadly though not precisely true that the people who were most ‘anti-Fascist’ during the Spanish Civil War are most defeatist now. And underlying this is the really important fact about so many of the English intelligentsia – their severance from the common culture of the country.
In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box. All through the critical years many left-wingers were chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British.'

Still a recognisable picture, mutatis mutandis and accepting that they now have power, eh?

The essay can be read here.

*A word I have started to use again as it apparently offends both Islamic and Marxist mullahs. As a kid it was a word I enjoyed (Biggles in the Orient, for example and the whole mysterious Chinaman trend in adventure fiction). I even considered supporting Leyton Orient because of my liking for it.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Study for Hastings Pier After the Fire

Charcoal and chalk on brown packing paper, 4/12/10.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Philosophy of Losing

‘HABIT is stronger than reason.’ So said the philosopher George Santayana. The aphorism could well do with being posted in prominent positions everywhere bets are taken on horses.
I did not wish to burden you with a disquisition on horse-playing this early in my return to the online fold, but feel what I have to say will benefit me (by the action of writing it down) and you if you ever decide to gamble on racing yourself.
I had planned a little canter round the subject of what happens to revered American film directors once they’ve got their Oscar and have entered their seventh decade, but that can wait.
I don’t know if Santayana was a racing fan. It’s possible, I suppose. He knocked about Europe a fair bit and lived in Italy for years. He might possibly have had a few lire on the Palio. However, his little Christmas cracker motto nicely illustrates the primary error of the average punting mind.
Every punter has a bad habit. Indeed most punters simply have bad punting habits full stop. Mine is doing each-way trixies (A multiple bet consisting of three selections covered by three doubles and a treble – four bets. Each way makes eight bets. We’ll come back to trixies another time, for they are rivalled only by women as vehicles for inflicting joy and misery).
The first, foremost and worst punting habit is the one that ensures there is a profitable betting shop situated roughly between every pub and bank in England – the indiscriminate backing of favourites.
Happily it is not bad punting habit of mine. Though I have plenty.
If favourites won all the time there would be no racing and no betting. You cannot ‘buy money’ by lumping on short-priced favourites. OK, it can be done sometimes and is done, but as a strategy it is foolhardy and will send you to the poorhouse in short order. Yet the same people go back day after day to shove their hard-earned or not so hard-earned money at the cashiers for the ‘good thing’, the the jolly old favourite. Habit proving very much stronger than reason.
You are more likely to find me having unprotected sex with an African prostitute than putting a packet on a nag at evens or odds-on.
The following anecdote should prove nicely instructive about the folly of backing favourites.
I was walking to work in central London a couple of weeks ago when I remembered there was quite an interesting-looking race on the Newbury card that afternoon. That particular jumps meeting always has some class action and is usually worth getting involved in. I entered a betting shop in Camden Town a few minutes before the start of a novices' Chase.
The first thing I noticed was a young man gabbling into his mobile phone with a betting slip in front of him which had ‘Spirit River, £200 win’ written on it in an unsteady hand. Oh dear, I thought.
The place was full of Chinese and Poles plus the usual pensioners and builders. They were all lumping money on the favourite, a handsome, powerful-looking French beast, the aforementioned Spirit River, trained by the very clever Nicky Henderson (who trains the Queen's National Hunt prospects). With one eye I watched Spirit River cantering down to the start on the main tv set and with the other, so to speak, I had a glance at the form.
I’m not the greatest judge of equine physique but there was no doubt Spirit River was the best horse in the race and would win if he put in a clear round over fences. He looked as if he would have a high cruising speed and plenty in the tank.
It was a novice chase, so they were all hurdlers looking to score over fences for the first time. Hurdles are much different from fences. Fences are bigger and more of a challenge. If a horse is used to lifting his legs to a certain height he may find he has a surprise when going over fences in a race scenario. However, it was clear everyone in the shop and at the racecourse had elected to believe that a good hurdler will be a good chaser first time out despite plenty of historical evidence to the contrary.
Paul Nicholls’ well-regarded Celestial Halo was also making his chase debut but I didn’t fancy him over fences just yet. A tricky horse, he is.
My eye was taken by Cois Farraig, the only horse in the race with point-to-point experience. Point-to-points being amateur steeplechases.
At 10/1 and with some fence experience he looked like he might be worth a bet. I didn’t expect him to beat Spirit River in terms of racing, but in terms of jumping. If he could jump better than Spirit River – if the favourite fell, to be precise – then he was in with a serious chance I reckoned.
Meanwhile, money continued to pile on the favourite, Spirit River, which was 10/11. The young man approached the counter and pushed £200 under the window. Oh dear, I thought.
Off they went. Cois Farraig led until the fourth fence when Spirit River headed him. I felt a tad gloomy because Spirit River was doing OK. In fact I was on the verge of throwing my betting slip away. The Sporting Life’s report tells what happened to the favourite next with greater concision than I can hope to rival:
‘Led 4th, blundered and fell 11th. Opened 11/10 touched 11/10. £1000-£800 (x3) £500-£400 (x4) £1200-£1000 £1100-£1000 (x2) £550-£500 £473-£400 £1000-£1000 £500-£550’
The figures that follow the description are a record of some of the larger punts made with bookies in the betting ring at Newbury.
When poor old Spirit River fell a great oriental lamentation spread across the room, punctuated with Polish oaths. I simultaneously yelled, with a bit of mockery in my voice: ‘There’s no easy money in this game, fellas!’
The Poles regarded me sulkily for that. The Chinese said nothing. They simply shouted at each other and the screen. But I was busy watching my horse, which had looked as if its jockey, Dominic Elsworth, was easing it down for place money in the wake of the favourite. Now Spirit River was out of it every other jockey in the race suddenly realised they might be set fair for some of the £25,000 prize money. Cois Farraig picked up sharply, was
‘slightly hampered 11th, led 12th, driven after 2 out, stayed on well’
to win.
I did a little dance in front of screens as I sometimes do under those circumstances.
The race announcer, who’d said he’d backed Spirit River, sounded a bit gutted when talking the race over. No one but me was at the pay-out window. ‘Well done,’ the commentator said, ‘if you picked that one out.’
‘I did!’ I announced to the shop before toddling past them all – including the now dazed-looking youth who put £200 quid on Spirit River – back on to Camden High Street to continue my journey to work. A profitable little diversion.
But the nub is that the following day, the following race even, 90 per cent of the punters in the shop would be back on the favourite, lumping on short price certainty. Habit being stronger than reason.
Spirit River is once to keep an eye on. He’ll win a chase soon enough.
As I walked along chuckling a bit, another Santayana quote suggested itself as a betting shop legend, perhaps embossed on brass plaques above the main screen: ‘If pain could have cured us we should long ago have been saved.’

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Return

DEAR readers, I do apologise for cutting off like that back in May but I trust you won’t hold it against me. You did not have to be a psychologist to realise that the last government had started to annoy me a bit too much. I needed a rest quite frankly.
However, you have to keep your hand in where writing is concerned and so, I reasoned, what better way to discipline one’s thoughts than reviving the old blog? Andrew Marr doesn’t like them, so that’s a point in their favour straight away.

In the intervening six months some things have changed and some have not, as things in life tend to. I have moved to Highgate, North London, from Croydon, South London. I did not set out to live ‘up there with all them pop stars and celebrities’ as a cab driver recently put it, but by chance I did and I find it rather agreeable, far more so than Croydon, a town where the worst mistakes of capitalism and socialism meet and hold on tight to each other like comic drunks on ice.
I still work for a national tabloid and I still like to mouth off about politics and culture. But you will have noticed that this blog is no longer called Better Than a Dead Lion.
My circumstances and my approach have changed and I feel this demands a different title. Kolley Kibber is of course the nom de plume, so to speak, of Fred Hale, the Daily Messenger journalist who is murdered by Pinkie Brown at the beginning of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock for exposing a slot machine racket. The above picture shows Alan Wheatley playing Hale in the film version, a favourite of mine.
Hale is also a keen follower of the Turf, tipping Ida Arnold the winning Black Boy at 10/1. I myself have a interest in racing and I will write here occasionally on my punting adventures and reflections on form study. Racing, and gambling on racing, often has a way of illuminating, or rather complimenting, what the great writers and philosophers have had to say about existence.

Greene explains Kolley Kibber as a preface to the novel:
During the summer season in England certain
popular newspapers organize treasure hunts at
the seaside. They publish the photograph of a re-
porter and print his itinerary at the particular
town he is visiting. Anyone who, while carrying
a copy of the paper, addresses him, usually under
some fantastic name, in a set form of words, re-
ceives a money prize; he also distributes along his
route cards which can be exchanged for smaller
prizes. Next day in the paper the reporter de-
scribes the chase. Of course, the character of Hale
is not drawn from that of any actual newspaper-
This blog is a sort of Kolley Kibber route card left on the internet, if that is not too fanciful; reports from wherever my mind or body wanders. In the film of Brighton Rock, when Hale leaves a card on the magazine trolley at WHSmith's at Brighton Station, you can just spot 'Kolley Kibber Adventure Card' printed on it, so that gives me my title.
I think the blog will be more descriptive of a life led than just the old soapbox but you know me. This government is starting to look like it could end up as bigger disaster as Project Blair, and the boy Ed – whose £1.6million ex-National Trust house is not far away from where I live and Marx lies – shows no sign of bring sense to the Labour Party.
And to finish, the opening page of Brighton Rock, one of the great openings I reckon:

HALE knew they meant to murder him before
he had been in Brighton three hours. With his
inky fingers and his bitten nails, his manner
cynical and nervous, anybody could tell he didn't be-
long belong to the early summer sun, the cool Whit-
sun wind off the sea, the holiday crowd. They came in
by train from Victoria every five minutes, rocked down
Queen's Road standing on the tops of the little local
trams, stepped off in bewildered multitudes into fresh
and glittering air : the new silver paint sparkled on the
piers, the cream houses ran away into the west like a
pale Victorian water-colour; a race in miniature mo-
tors, a band playing, flower gardens in bloom below
the front, an aeroplane advertising something for the
health in pale vanishing clouds across the sky.
It had seemed quite easy to Hale to be lost in
Brighton. Fifty thousand people besides himself were
down for the day, and for quite a while he gave him-
self up to the good day, drinking gins and tonics wher-
ever his programme allowed. For he had to stick closely
to a programme : from ten till eleven Queen's Road and
Castle Square, from eleven till twelve the Aquarium
and Palace Pier, twelve till one the front between the
Old Ship and West Pier, back for lunch between one
and two in any restaurant he chose round the Castle
Square, and after that he had to make his way all down
the parade to West Pier and then to the station by the
Hove streets. These were the limits of his absurd and
widely advertised sentry go.
Advertised on every Messenger poster : "Kolley Kib-
ber in Brighton today."In his pocket he had a packet
of cards to distribute in hidden places along his route :
those who found them would receive ten shillings from
the Messenger, but the big prize was reserved for who-
ever challenged Hale in the proper form of words and
with a copy of the Messenger in his hand : "You are
Mr. Kolley Kibber. I claim the Daily Messenger prize."
I hope you few, you happy few, are still there to read this blog.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


'As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade...

Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.'

WH Auden, September 1, 1939

Monday, 10 May 2010

Brown Trousers Time

I said all along that Brown wouldn't go quietly. When he made his speech this afternoon outside No.10 I was in the newsroom of a national newspaper. Gasps and incredulous laughter swept across the room. Of course, this was mostly journalistic lipsmacking at the feast of nonsense to come and all the good copy to be derived from it. But there was also a genuine sense of disbelief.
Someone turned to me, a Labour supporter as it happens, and said: 'That's the most insane thing I've ever heard.'
But it was no surprise to me. What, did they really think an arch-control freak like Brown would just say ta-ta? The defining characteristic of the modern Labour Party is a total lack of respect for constitutional normality: the whole mechanism of civil governance is there to be raped as expedience demands.
Only the other week I'd had a conversation in the pub with the same colleague during which I'd advanced my theory that Brown is mentally ill and unstable, as well as being a Communist.
'In what way,' said someone drinking with us, who regards himself, with some good reason, as a political specialist, 'is Brown a Communist.'
'Emotionally,' I replied.
But they were not up for that.
It seems obvious to me that Clegg will side with Labour - a window of opportunity lies in that direction: a voting system that will keep the Tories permanently out of office. Clegg must know that the Tories will never give him anything much on voting reform; turkeys don't vote for Christmas.
In the background, Mandelson politicks - the ol intrigant engineering the last great rolls of the dice to build a thousand-year Blairite reich with Cleggy boy and finally dance on England's grave.

The Rat Parliament ii

I haven't written anything on here for a month or more because I was sick of politicians and related subjects. In fact I had resolved to close this blog down and put my efforts to more rewarding activities.
But the hung parliament is worth a few lines.
Cameron lost the election because he listened to Steve Hilton and Andy Coulson, the marketing men who called the shots on his campaign. They insisted he mouth liberal platitudes to capture the wavering Blairite vote. If Coulson and Hilton ever got their noses out of Notting Hill and saw how real people on average salaries are talking they would have known two things: one, the political attitudes of the young are created largely by 'Uni'. That is to say a decaff Marxoid reading of recent social history in which Margaret Thatcher is regarded as the antichrist. They will not vote Tory because of this and because of being spoonfed the same attitudes via BBC drama and others bits of pop culture. They cannot be wooed by boasting about gay marriages and black candidates.
Secondly, what Cameron lost by 'alienating' the youth and female vote in south by talking straight he could have won back with handsome interest in the North. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say he could have rampaged round the North on the issues that Gillian Duffy raised with Gordon Brown on that fateful afternoon. But these are politicians who only like to gamble with your money not their chance of power.
Cameron will now be firmly in the sights of the Tory Right-Wing.

The result of this election is that the Tories will never govern with a majority again. At least, not until the Union is broken up. Whatever farcical arrangments are announced today, the government will be weak, divided and vulnerable and will be disposed of in due course. Any concessions on voting reform will only bring about the Tories' end more swiftly. I am not overly troubled by the Tories going another step on their way to oblivion; but the fact is that if they now shrivel and make a Faustian pact with any sort of proportional representation then Mandelson's idea of perpetuating Project Blair/Brown through a 'progressive alliance' of LibDems and Blairites becomes a reality and that is not a government I wish to live under. The quickest way to see this country go the way of Greece, Spain and Portugal would be to have a Lib-Lab coalition. The IMF will be a frequent visitor to these shores.

As for Labour, well. I was quite shocked by my friends' sentimentality about them. There can be no doubt they are one of the worst British governments of the modern era, whose cv of folly, corruption, warmongering, incompetence, arrogance and criminality is breathtaking. And yet people, intelligent people, were blithely prepared to vote for them once again. Apart from self-interest - some of them work in the Public Sector - I am at a loss to understand the motivation. Concern for the poor? The working man has been shafted by 13 years of Labour quite as much as they were under 18 years of Toryism. So why this devotion? Because 'they mean well'?
This is the ultimate sentimentality, isn't it? Judging a government on its *intentions* and ignoring the results.
Unlike the Tories, Labour will win again. We live in an era of infantilised minds easily gratified and hostile to complicated ideas or arguments. Someone else will always pay; cake can be had and eaten always; nasty decisions need never be taken. This is the view that Blair triumphed on and Gordon Brown presents to his client base of civil servants and welfare claimants under the 'invesment' rhetoric. Anyone who publishes anything to the contrary is a stooge of the right-wing press.

Clegg. The less said the better, really. Blair redux. They say Cameron will offer him the job of Home Secretary. There's a thought to make you shudder. See my analysis of the LibDems' manifesto from last year for a taste of how well they'll fit into a Tory cabinet.

Let's hope things will be OK. Or, see you in the riots.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Rat Parliament 2005-10

Picture: Dead Rat in Croydon on a Midsummer Morn (c) William Gazy 2008

Saturday, 20 March 2010


In racing, the adage about the king is dead, long live the king is very acute. Kauto Star was expected to win the top prize in jump racing yesterday but I knew that his jumping could be dodgy. I’d tipped Imperial Commander for the Cheltenham Gold Cup to anyone who was asking and so was well pleased to see him win.
The only problem was that, apart from an ante-post yankee which had fallen apart in the course of the festival, I wasn’t on Imperial Commander; I was on Denman, though the old tank wasn’t carrying much of my money.
Myself, Ange and Mick were in one of those ale and pie pubs that are absurdly expensive and make their money out of corporate entertaining. We were there because they were showing Cheltenham on the telly. As I walked in a posh man was at the bar with his son; they were dressed like Princes Phillip and Charles visiting Gordonstoun in 1963, and sounded like it too.
There was a time when I would have sneered at them. But I have little class war left in my soul. The past 13 years of “social democracy” has made me realise we have a great deal more to lose than our aitches, to paraphrase my hero, George Orwell. Or as my mate Butch says: ‘I thought I hated Thatcher till I saw Ed Balls.’
Anyway. One useful thing about the wealthy is that they’re usually tight with money. This puts them in a sort of canary in a coalmine role in the marketplace. Thus, as I approached the bar I heard the older man say, with well-modulated incredulity, ‘I beg your pardon? Six pounds ten for a glass of wine?’
I felt like elbowing him in the ribs and saying in my best Alfred Doolittle, ‘aye, cap’n, a man can’t get himself drunk without laying out a fortune. Tax, captain, tax and brewery greed. It’s how socialism fucks you up the arse twice. Tax.’
The difference between conservatism and socialism, really. Once up the arse or twice.
I watched him shell out the money. It amused me. Perhaps I have got more class war left in my soul than I thought.
We settled down and watched Berties Dream hold off Najaf and win at 50/1 in the County Hurdle. Ange, who is a coincidence bettor, had it in a 25p trixie with Thousand Stars, which had won the previous race at 20/1. So she was £300 to the good already. If her third selection, Balthazar King, pulled it off in the conditional jockeys’ hurdle at 4.40 she would be in for over £7,000.
Both my bets in the previous two, Tito Bustillo, Fionnegas, had gone west. But I didn’t mind because my third top bet of the festival, Soldatino, had won the Triumph Hurdle at 6/1 with £50 quid of mine on its back.
If you’re into racing I think there is three different types of bet: a racing man’s bet, a punter’s bet and a mug’s bet. I mainly do the last two, but occasionally I’ll pull off the first type and it gives me a kick. I saw Soldatino win at Kempton a few weeks back – backed him as a well – and I thought: here’s class. French class as it happens.
The race was for me the best of the festival. Barizan had front run and was at one point 20-odd lengths ahead of the rest of the field. Soldatino was lost in mid-division. Then he came wide and started to slowly reel Barizan in, all the way up the hill, and won. I nearly put the whole lot on Tito Bustillo in the following race. But it was good that I didn’t, because he was beat halfway.
I’d had a racing man’s bet on Sizing Europe the first day and that had also won at 6s. During the week I’d had punter bets on Big Zeb, which won at 10s, Albertas Run at 14s. I couldn’t complain. I’d had a few losers and all my multiples had gone west but I’d made a profit, which I then dissipated with fermented liquor and its ancillary expenses.
As we sat in the pub – me drinking ESB, which is a hell of an ale – I suddenly looked at the screen and saw Denman had drifted to 5/1. I thought: McCoy, champion jump jockey and remorseless winning machine on *Denman*, the barrel-chested tank? At fives? So, even though I tipped Imperial Commander to everyone, including in my role as the tipster Flash Harry in a friend’s publication, I decided to back Denman. I was right in two ways. Kauto Star’s jumping let him down, Denman would be better value than Kauto and Imperial Commander would win it. Paddy Brennan is my favourite jumps jockey, so it was very cheering to see him chin Denman on the way up the hill.
We strolled up to the Ladbrokes to watch Ange’s race. Balthazar King looked good and was having some mighty money punted on him. He opened at 20s and was soon down to 10s. I had a small each way. Ange was nervous. ‘I just want to get this over with,’ she said.
Balthazar King had a talented three pound claimer on him but fell after about four fences. Ange picked her 300 up and we went to the nearby Wetherspoons for a bottle of competitively-priced veuve cliquot.
On our way out of the betting shop we saw Fat Boy and a rather sly Asian youth who is sometimes referred to as ‘p**i on the moon’, for reasons I will explain below.
They are a sort of double act. Fat Boy aged about forty-five, white, with the choleric face and massive waistline of a veteran form lager addict. Sanjif, to give him his proper name, is thin, about 30 and, if the rumours are true, slowly conning his crippled uncle out of his savings. They both only back favourites, to ‘buy money’, which is the most pathetic form of horse playing, in my opinion. They always look miserable when the big meetings come round because they lose their money as short-price favourites get turned over again and again.
They don’t like us, I feel, because we *gamble*, we have sport from it. They could never do this, the pain would be too great for them. They’d rather lose on a ‘certainty’ than win on a proper tilt. They feel more comfortable that way. They both employ ‘prison queue’ tactics in the betting shop towards people they don’t like – “accidental” shoving, barging in front at the betting window.
On my way out I smirked at them – they knew we’d had a win, but they didn’t know how much, so we acted like we’d picked a few grand up, just to annoy them.
The reason for the Asian man’s unpleasant nickname among the pub/bookie’s denizens is that he once borrowed ten pounds off Charlie, the fence and gambler and failed to pay the money back. Charlie said to him in a loud voice in the middle of the Corals: ‘If I don’t get that tenner by Friday, Sanjif, you’ll be the first p**i on the moon.’
Please don’t shoot the messenger; this is reportage.
I’d seen a mug bet that morning. Pigeon Island, in the Grand Annual at a massive price. I’ve always had a soft spot for that horse because it appears to have been named after the popular but unofficial name of that little area outside Tooting Broadway Tube where the statue of Edward VII is and which is home to hundreds of
Anyway, in all the to-ing and fro-ing I forgot to back it. Yes. It did.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Last Chance to Smash the Pigsty!

If you, like me, hate both parties and believe that the deadlock created by the current intellectually and morally bankrupt political class needs to be broken, then vote Labour.
A hung parliament will likely mean that the LibDems will shore up a Mandelson-dominated Labour Party. This would be bad as it could lead to a new centre left party with all the terrible assumptions and sense of entitlement the Political Class but hardened into a broader power base.
The coming general election could prove tumultuous. At present the Labour government is borrowing £500million a day to maintain the illusion of a functioning economy. If the Tories win they will stop it, allowing Gordon Brown and the Labour Party to blame the consequent hardship and misery on the Tories, even though he would have had to have stop the borrowing if he won. It would also allow Labour and its supporters to blame the consequences of the economy they wrecked on the Tories - a game they play every time they are voted out.
No, only an outright Labour victory will do. A Labour victory would destroy the party because its owners, the union Unite, would then expect preferential treatment in return for bankrolling the party. However, the money is all gone, the budget deficit as a wide as the jaws of hell and we're a year or so away from the I.M.F bailing us out so Labour won't be able to satisfy its client base and will consequently collapse into internecine warfare.
A Labour victory would also destroy the Conservative Party, because if they can't win against Gordon Brown in the current situation they'll never win again. This is also good.
Potentially, the deadlock created by the two utterly useless ruling parties taking turns to mess up Britain could BE BROKEN ONCE AND FOR ALL! So, Vote Labour and smash both of them to pieces! You know that removal of power or or the possibility of power is the best way to punish these people.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Save the Beeb

It’s interesting that the BBC has chosen to start throwing ballast - or what it thinks is ballast - out of the balloon. Reality must have penetrated Portland Place at long last. By reality I mean that the piss-taking of the upper echelons has now made the BBC the target of all parties and it is now a case of jump before you are pushed. It didn't need to be this way, but it was always going to happen after John Birt had control. He set the course for the micro-management membrane that has taken over the whole corporation.
Before its recent run of bad publicity I was fully in favour of abolishing the BBC on the grounds that it had moved from being the boldest experiment in public education in history to the boldest experiment in propaganda.
Ten years ago, when I started complaining about the BBC’s left/liberal bias, my intelligent friends – bar Butch – all thought I was mad. It struck them as a lunatic proposition, like accusing a maiden aunt of being an axe murderer. (Notice how nobody calls it Auntie anymore?)
These days, the same people get more exercised about the BBC than I do. The main complaint being that ‘it’s out of control’ and there are whole areas of news and culture it cannot approach objectively – you know, climate change, the Middle East, immigration etc.
I now annoy my friends by saying that in some small respects the BBC has improved. Which is why I don’t think it should be abolished. Its most intolerable phase, what I like to call the Africa Lives on the BBC*/Jonathan Ross years, may have passed.
I think it could be reformed and for once I agree with Jeremy Dear, the Chavez-loving Bennite dreamer who leads the union I used to be an official for, when he says that if executives at the very top had not arranged themselves vast salaries and perks then workers further down the pipe would not be facing redundancy. It’s one thing you see again and again with the liberal media class in its middle years – having spent all their youth acting as if concern with money was infra dig and morally shabby, they are now completely obsessed with getting vast amounts of it for themselves and sod the consequences. See Yentob, Mandelson, and many others.
But yes, the BBC needs to be saved and reformed. Which is why cutting the Asian network and the website is the wrong thing to do.
Cut all the frivolous crap like antiques and property shows and so on. BBC drama needs to be reformed and desperately needs fresh and radical approaches. By radical I mean telling stories about life in Britain from a non-Guardian feature viewpoint. Just think; the realities, tensions and consequences, good and bad – as opposed to the odd heavily deodorised, happy-clappy doc or drama – of the Labour government’s vast social engineering project 2000-10 has never really been accurately reflected on the BBC. That’s a bit like the BBC going from 1960 to 1970 without mentioning the Pill or the Beatles. Not really public service broadcasting after all.

My favourite bit of the BBC is Radio 3. Yesterday I listened to composer of the week – Chopin – as I did some yoga before going to work. There was some winter sunshine outside, a tiny herald of spring; and intelligent talk between the nocturnes and mazurkas. Chopin, like all great music, takes you beyond words and coherent thought. I lay in the corpse pose at the end, watching the dust spin in the sunbeams above me, thinking without words. You don’t get that from the One Show with Adrian Chiles.
I shaved as Lunchtime Concert came on and, as I occasionally do, I thought: this is it for the beeb – it’s not about Jonathan Ross and rap stations, it’s about civilisation; the best that has been thought and said; it’s about high art and, when it is middlebrow, it should be the best middlebrow. Keep following that disastrous mix of dumb-arse populism and media studies-level leftism and it’s a dead duck in the long scheme because anyone can do that.
Of course, the TV execs in Charlotte Street restaurants wouldn’t agree, but so what? If they knew anything television wouldn’t be as awful as it is.

*The actual catchphrase of a series of programmes that gave a smiley, decaffeinated Marxist, all-the-fault-of-white-men overview of the continent.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Extract from an email to a pal

'Yes the Tory slump is wonderful. I hate Cameron and Osborne, because they’re our generation and we know what they think and what they’ve done why they’re full of shit. As you say, they’ve spent the last eight years preparing for power on the mistaken idea that Blair © was the new reality. What people want is Billy Bigballs, not trendy vicar.
I want Labour to win because that will bankrupt the country fully and irrevocably. Some of the shit and vomit will get splashed on Obs readers finally and they won’t be able to be righteous when an axe wielded by a socialist humanitarian falls on public services. The Tories will be destroyed: good.
With the money all gone and the IMF knocking on the door all those little consumers who are living in la-la/ryanair land now will suddenly wake to find themselves in a sort of post war country with a lot of draughty shopping malls getting boarded up; Europe will end up having the bits of control it hasn’t already got; immigration would go on as it is now, causing further rent rises and pay slumps; queuing and overcrowding would get even worse; unemployment would soar; the country’s credit rating would be downgraded, there’d be no growth, massive budget deficit, tax hikes, super tax, race riots, a General Strike, militant Mohammadanism running amok (on taxpayers’ money, given to ‘promote non-radicalisation’), the extreme right boneheads fighting the Muslims and everyone else, barbed wire enclaves in Burnley, the handing back, by Miliband, of the Falklands to the Argies with a little smirk; mutinies in the armed services when Labour try and merge them with the French forces*, and possibly even a coup d’etat if we’re very lucky. And in the middle of it all that lying, autistic fucking dunce Brown. Someone will shoot him.
It would be such *fun* to watch, so much better than four years of Cameron and Osborne and with the added piquancy of seeing a proper bit of history: the swan dive to EU banana republic.

Exile: I doubt the doc will be done well, because Jagger will have control of it and he’s never had any idea about that sort of thing and doesn’t understand the appeal of the band or what makes it great and never has had. The Stones were just lucky that they could hire the hippest filmmakers in any given period – Godard, Robert Frank, Scorsese. As Keith Richards said when Watts asked him what he thought of Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil: ‘crap – but we look good in it.’
Jagger said when the record was released: ‘There’s a lot of rock and roll on it. Too much. I like to experiment, I don’t like to go over the same thing again and again.’
Trouble with that is that the reason the Stones were great, particularly on Exile, is because Richards DID like going over the same thing again and again. If he hadn’t liked jamming the same four chords around for hours on end with Taylor and co All Down the Line etc would never have got written. And the world would be worse off.
Experimentation, on the other hand, took the Stones to Their Satanic Majesties and Undercover of the Night.
I rest my case.

Punk will become the property, if it hasn’t already, of academia, which will distort it even further into a Marxist reading of 70s social history.

Reading wise: I read Roger Lewis’s Seasonal Suicide Notes. Funny stuff, if a little too in debt at times to Waugh’s later diaries. He can be very funny though. Do you remember that letter I got from him after I wrote how much I laughed at his Burgess book? Scruton’s new wine book is a very fine read, but I hardly ever drink wine these days.
I had another bash at Crime and Punishment recently but it’s such a monumental bore and the lack of style makes it ‘hard shoulder’. Bits of Conrad’s memoirs. I’ve been reading some Simon Raven. Ever tried him? Funny, half-queer, snobby, public school, cricket, cad, army, gambling, writing; sort of Captain Grimes with a bit of Stringham. Very clear stylist and fun on the train. He disgraced his regiment through his gambling on horses and was warned off. But at one point he had a yankee up for about five grand in the early fifties. Can you imagine? He bought a Bentley with some of the winnings.

*See left wing think tank’s proposals for the armed services. Reported on by the BBC’s website as A think tank. Have you noticed it doesn’t prefix left wing think tanks with ‘left wing’ but always does ‘right wing’ for right wing think tanks?'

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Dreamer in a Landscape

John Craxton. Dreamer in a Landscape, 1942. Ink with pen and chalk

Andrew Lambirth's Spectator tribute to the painter John Craxton, who died recently, is a lovely read:

An artist with a particular interest in the inhabited landscape, Craxton could summon up the spirit of place with a wit and ingenuity that left most painters of his generation standing. Aware from youth that there is no art without other art, he sought out essence rather than originality, but achieved an original vision by the depth of his understanding and interpretation. John detested labels and pigeonholes, principally because they encouraged unjustified assumptions and lazy thinking, and he is frequently quoted as disliking the term ‘neo-romantic’, which was attached to his own work of the 1940s. It was the ‘neo’ he objected to particularly, being proud to admit his indebtedness to the Romantic vision of William Blake and Samuel Palmer, just as he would be the first to claim the inspiring influence of Byzantine art.

I had nearly forgotten about Craxton. When I studied painting nearly 20 years ago I found his work intriguing. I was in those days a devotee of Caravaggio, Degas, Van Gogh, Freud, Bacon, Whistler, the impressionists, the fauves, Stanley Spencer and the Camden Town painters. I still am. But it was a few years before I discovered my taste for English Romanticism. I had a good working knowledge of Turner, Constable and Samuel Palmer, however it was some time - after much solipsism and many nights spend wandering under harvest moons that I fell truly under their spell and was properly awed by their achievements.
Constable is out of fashion now, but I always think of him when I walk in a betting shop during the Flat season and see evening racing from Salisbury: not having the BBC's budget, the SIS only has cameras for long shots and this is a boon; you get a complete picture: the gaily coloured jockeys galloping through a blue and gold dusk, lush green turf dappled by evening sunlight, trees and the cathedral behind them in the distance. I must paint that view one day.

Walking through a warren of dark wet streets the other night I turned a corner I don't normally turn and there stood a pub, a proper pub with a proper name, lit up from one end to another with coloured bulbs and glowing with friendly light. It's a good pub that myself and my friends have fallen out of the habit of using. It was like encountering a lit-up pleasure boat on a dark and wintry river. Just the sight of it was a pep without even buying a drink.
I hope we don't lose too many places like that as England disintegrates - they make winters in these bleak cities a bit more bearable - but of course we already have.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Some scattered opinions

A quick apology for saying in my last post that single parents and the welfare/social arrangments of the underclass produce the Doncaster Junior psychopaths. I was careless in my use of language. Obviously I ommitted 'can' from the sentence.
While we're on the subject, I haven't got carried away with the flock that says that the whole thing was a sort of freak thing that could have happened anywhere and at any time. In this country it is only in relatively recent years that small children could have been subjected to such prolonged exposure to violence, drug ingestion, hardcore pornography, horror films and alcoholism. Yes, yes, the medieval period and the workhouses and so on, yes I understand. But monkey see monkey do.
A friend of mine who is a hairdresser said a friend of hers came into work a few weeks ago and told her that she'd found her two sons, both under ten, naked and 'spitting on each other's anuses'.
Evidently she was more bemused than worried by her discovery. But when my friend told this story in the pub all those present - some of whom were parents themselves -immediately came to the same conclusion: her children had been watching and acting out hardcore pornography.

So, James Purnell, Blairite golden boy and model member of the Political Class leaves the circus to find a proper job. At first I was surprised and was almost tempted to say well done, son: these sort of people never like letting go of power, but then I thought again. An intrigant like Purnell, who did his indentures in power-gathering under Tony and Mandy, will always have a good analysis of his own chances: he obviously sees defeat and a lurch to the Left for Labour leaving him on paltry money - by political class standards anyway - and well out of power for years to come.
Merely doing his job as a backbench MP won't excite Purnell, which, when you contrast it with his cant about serving the public as a 'community organiser' rings the bullshit bell for me.
He is well mourned in the Murdoch press today as well he might be: my contacts at Wapping have seen him down there often, currying favour back when the going looked good. He is 'bright', he is 'brilliant', was a 'rising star' etc.
If only the journalists who reeled this stuff off had practical experience of being within the jurisdiction of Mr Purnell's power.
In the middle of last year I found myself in dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions, Purnell's responsibility at the time. The incompetence was breathtaking. I spent many weeks without being paid what was due me. The call centre staff at Stratford Benefit Delivery Centre always directed me back to the Job Centre and the Job Centre always directed me back to SBDC; its staff were mainly foreigners who had no colloquial English, which made explanations time consuming and next to impossible. Two months passed and still no payment.
I contacted my MP and wrote to Purnell. I never heard back from Purnell but I got a very swift reply from my MP, a Tory who had just been exposed as exploiting the additional costs allowance to get himself a second home even though his actual home was only half an hour from Westminster.
In a roundabout way I heard that my MP planned to raise the matter of maladministration at the DoWP and its satellites in Parliament because of the sheer number of complaints he was getting from his constituents.
Meanwhile a reporter friend of mine from Wapping made a study of the DoWP - when ringing it up she always asked - could never find - anyone who knew who James Purnell was.
I sent in a few FoIs asking the things one always asks in FoIs to government and civil service: how many staff are off long term with anxiety and depression, how many are in rehab on the taxpayers' nickel, how much have you spent on prayer rooms, religious toilets, interpreters and halal menus, and, important in this case, how many complaints and disputes about Benefit Delivery Centres are under way. You usually get evasive verbiage or a request to reframe the question. In the case of complaints I seem to remember it would cost them more than the justifiable allowance to find out.
But let me make it clear, I've been in and out of the benefit system over the years and I have never known such incompetence and faceless bureacracy. I couldn't help but think: modern socialism: be shit and be untouchable for being shit.
All under the benign aegis of the great white hope of centre-left politics, James Purnell. Anyone who now says that Ministers cannot be responsible for their departments - a common view now among political class apologists - is essentially playing into the hands of the hard-core libertarians, such as Dr Sean Gabb whose hilarious book on how the libertarian Right might capture England, proposes simply abolishing departments such as the DoWP and the Foreign Office at a stroke.
Incidentally, Gabb's book is a splendid read as long as you don't take it too seriously. I read it in 2007, on trams and buses while commuting through chaotic south London, which was going through the high watermark of the teenage cult of stabbing, skunk and violent disorder caused by Mayor Livingtone's and New Labour's interference in police work.
Can anyone disagree with the basic premise of Gabb's book?
We face a new ruling class made up of the student radicals of the 1960s and 70s. Now in power, they are creating in their own behaviour all the corruption and bigotry and hypocrisy that they falsely alleged against the liberal democratic rulers they have replaced.

Dr Gabb's solutions are far more debatable; and I took issue with him dismissing the BNP as a vehicle for change only because they were 'tainted', and not because they are modelled on the Nazi Party of 1933.
You can download a free pdf on that link.
As for Purnell, he'll be back in about five years with 'street cred' to fight a floundering Tory Party.

I saw a bit of Tarantino's Kill Bill Part 2 on the TV the other night. The last film I saw at the cinema was Kill Bill 1 nearly seven years ago. When I left the cinema with my then girlfriend - who was equally bored by it - I thought, in an obscure way, 'that's the last time they do that to me'. By 'them' I mean the American film industry in general.
Among self-styled hipsters you are not really allowed to dislike Tarantino. Or rather you are allowed to not like his films but you will be branded narrow-minded and provincial if you do. A friend at the time took this tack but I said that you could hardly call a man narrow-minded and provincial who has seen and found merit films such as, for example, Last Tango in Paris, Roma, Pasolini's Salo and The Devils.
I watched about an hour of Kill Bill 2 and I suddenly I remembered very clearly why I dislike his films so much: it isn't that they are comic strip silly, I don't mind that. What I don't like is that within the framework of silliness and comic strip plot is pretension, pomposity and self-indulgence. The dialogue scenes that go on and on - like the absurd death scene of Bill - and demonstrate to me that even though Tarantino boasts of his multi-million dollar masturbatory plagiarism, he wants to be taken very seriously as an artist. His sensibilities are really that of the, horror of horrors, graphic novel. I think he thinks he's a sort of new Sam Peckinpah. But the difference is that while Peckinpah was self-indulgent he had a soul and was an adult and you can see this in his work. No so Quentin.
The exploitation films he adores were rightly regarded as down-the-bill rubbish - sometimes enjoyable rubbish but rubbish nonetheless - but Quentin the video store nerd doesn't like that. He doesn't think they are getting 'nuff respeck. He wants to bring back the old rubbish, pump it full of 'clever' dialogue and adolescent cruelty, and place it at the centre of the culture and have the critical establishment genuflect and the kidults go bandy.
And he's done it, more's the pity.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Bonfire of the Economist's Vanity

Sorry for radio silence. I had a month off from blogging. As James Brown sang: I’m back!

A friend of this blog asked me to comment about this editorial from last week’s Economist. Its angle is that Cameron’s ‘Broken Britain’ doesn’t exist.

Stepping back from the glare of the latest appalling tale, it is clear that by most measures things have been getting better for a good decade and a half…The broken Britain of legend is one where danger stalks the streets as never before. In the real Britain, the police have just recorded the lowest number of murders for 19 years. In mythical broken Britain, children are especially at risk. Back in real life, child homicides have fallen by more than two-thirds since the 1970s. Britain used to be the third-biggest killer of children in the rich world; it is now the 17th. And more mundane crimes have fallen too: burglaries and car theft are about half as common now as they were 15 years ago. Even the onset of recession has not reversed that downward trend so far.
Comatose teenagers line every gutter in the boozy Britain of popular imagination. Yet after a long period of increase, there are tentative signs that Britons are drinking less alcohol. The overall consumption of drugs is dropping (though some narcotics, including cocaine, are becoming more popular) and rates of smoking are now among the lowest in Europe.
As for family breakdown, some commentators seem to think that sex really was invented in 1963. British grannies know differently. Teenage pregnancy is still too common, but it has been declining, with the odd hiccup, for ages. A girl aged between 15 and 19 today is about half as likely to have a baby in her teens as her grandmother was. Her partner will probably not marry her and he is less likely to stick with her than were men in previous generations, but he is also a lot less likely to beat her. In homing in on the cosier parts of the Britain of yesteryear, it is easy to ignore the horrors that have gone. Straight white men are especially vulnerable to this sort of amnesia.

As an aside, and as a betting man, I would bet that the person who wrote this article is under thirty, either female, Asian or gay (or all three), from a middle to upper middle class background; they are some sort of senior intern following up an Oxford degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics with a stint at the Ec while pondering which career to pursue in the Political Class. They pitched the editorial and got the gig. That’s why the piece is so redolent of the flippant intellects, shrivelled moral imaginations and brazen incuriosity of the graduate class of today.
Anyway, enough of the rhetoric.
To take it point by point:

Regarding the ‘crime is going down’ mantra. Yes, certain types of crime are going down. Mainly the crimes that are motivated by Mr Marx’s commodity fetishism – burglary and car theft. This is indubitably a good thing. But why has it happened? In my view because consumer goods have never been cheaper, welfare provision is generous and credit was plentiful. If DVD recorders, computers and the like were well out of the financial range of the criminal class they would come into your home and take them off you, as they did back in the days when video recorders were the ne plus ultra of consumer fetishism.
When the truth about this country’s financial situation is laid bare after the coming election and the borrowed money tap is turned off for the first time in years as well as a new austerity applied to welfare culture, the behaviour of criminals is likely to change. It’s always worth remembering that when people can get something easily they don’t bother with the hard way – until they decide they have to.
The crimes that have escalated over the past 15 years are crimes such as violence and the use of knives among the young. That has rocketed. Any comparison of teen-on-teen knife murder in the past five years and 20 years ago will show that violence has exploded in recent years. But Left/liberal commentators shamelessly hide this in the general statistics.
I have argued about this many times with a well-known Labour-supporting journalist and he airily refuses to engage with it. Many crimes, particularly petty violence and shoplifting simply go unreported. The police make it abundantly clear they are not interested in ‘minor’ crime. This is the result of a highly privileged, socially liberal judiciary and public administration thinking it social justice to not enforce the law on these crimes. They forget that honest people in poor areas are the people who have to pay for their big-hearted actions. It’s hard to see Hackney, Croydon and Lambeth and their drugs, knives and welfare problems from Hampstead Heath.

The middle par is a splendid example of Political Class doublethink. Yes, every provincial town is a mess of violence and vomit several nights a week – my town centre most definitely is – but ‘there are tentative signs that Britons are drinking less alcohol.’ What signs are these?
Drink isn’t the problem anyway. It’s the entire social and cultural orientation of people that’s becoming a problem. Drink just unleashes it. Drink is just a detonator for the morons our society creates.

More doublethink:

The overall consumption of drugs is dropping (though some narcotics, including cocaine, are becoming more popular).

Nothing to do there but titter.

The third par is also doublethink. Or, perhaps, no-think. Like many a flimsy argument blithely put, it contains the seeds of its own destruction:

As for family breakdown, some commentators seem to think that sex really was invented in 1963. British grannies know differently. Teenage pregnancy is still too common, but it has been declining, with the odd hiccup, for ages.’

A girl aged between 15 and 19 today is about half as likely to have a baby in her teens as her grandmother was. Her partner will probably not marry her and he is less likely to stick with her than were men in previous generations.

How quick that last sentence is rattled off and how much nuance it contains!
And why won’t the man stick around? Because often he will have had no father himself from which to learn moral responsibility and civilised behaviour from; because the stigma of fatherless children was abolished by ‘progressives’ and because he no longer has to because everyone else – via the state – is paying for his children. This ‘empowers’ women, according to the Labour Party. An extreme example of the sort people these arrangments produce is the recent case of two junior psychopaths in Doncaster.

…he is also a lot less likely to beat her.

Yes, well, you can’t beat someone if you’re no longer with them.

I will admit that I don’t like Cameron’s phrase ‘Broken Britain’. It’s as phoney as a newspaper campaign. Of course, most of the people currently objecting to the phrase were the very people who were forever screaming about ‘Thatcher’s Britain’ and blaming every last ill on her government. For example, within the past few years the late Richard Stott in the Daily Mirror was still blaming every violent crime that occurred in Britain on Mrs Thatcher, 15 and more years after she left office. Labour must be careful over this.
Having interviewed Cameron I know that he has the single-mother welfare industry created by Labour firmly in his sights. Personally I think he’ll bottle it when the time comes but we shall see.
The Economist has long been a magazine extolling the selfishness and hypocrisy of liberals in love with consumer capitalism: Blair’s old speechwriter, Neether, in his role as comment editor of the Standard, seemed always to be getting senior editorial staff from the magazine to pen the spurious from-business-class defences of Labour’s insane immigration levels. Defences that have subsequently been proved by the House of Lords report on the matter to be completely wrong. Still, cheap labour’s cheap labour – it’s not called The Economist for nothing.
The more people I meet who are involved in the Political Class at even lowly levels, the more I encounter this idea that somehow a mixture of the preeminence of pop culture, feminism, gay rights and ‘multiculturalism’ means that Progress Has Happened and It Is Not To Be Gainsaid in Any Way. Anyone who asks awkward questions is held to be opposed to gay rights, feminism etc and is liable to be called a ‘fascist’ or ‘rightwing’.
I am in favour of gay rights and feminism, but I stop short at surrendering to the ideological fantasy that the family is not THE building block of a civilised society but A block and that everyone can do exactly what they like and it's all for the best in the best possible world. I've seen enough of it going wrong to know that is the moonshine of the socially leftish middle class.

Then there’s this pearl:

The waning of the manufacturing jobs that used to be the mainstay of the working class has created a generation of young males, in particular, who don’t know what to do with themselves.

Could have been written Marie Antoinette, couldn’t it? What has created the generation of young males ‘who don’t know what to do with themselves’ is the impact of trendy and ‘progressive’ social developments in homes and schools. Where nobody can or is allowed to stand up to these children before the road to the underclass is taken. Meanwhile the middle classes get the glittering prizes. And they call this social justice. As I once said to an Oxbridge graduate journo who was extolling the virtues of decriminalising skunk: ‘It’s all right for you. You can get away with it. Thousands of kids round here won’t be so lucky.’

The editorialist mentions how Britons are sentimentally looking back on – vile expression – ‘yesteryear’.
I don’t. I like to think I have a level head about what we have lost and what we have gained. And we have gained much. But some things, some worthwhile things, have been or are being lost. To point this out is not to be a sentimentalist. In my opinion, children who grow up on nothing but telly, the net, computer games and porn on their phone will be less pleasant, less lovable, less use and enjoyment to themselves and to others than children who grew up using their imaginations through playing with each other and reading and drawing so on. I may be wrong but what I see so far makes me feel I am not that wide of the mark. The innocence and space of childhood is being stripped away, sexualised and, somehow, nationalised. It fills me with dread. To note this is not to be nostalgist, surely?

To conclude. If The Economist want to see the sharp end of the pluralism they are in love with, they should get out of Shoreditch and spend some time hanging round the sinks, where the crack and kicking-heads-like-footballs culture is. Broken Britain may be a cliché, but you could hardly say it was in full working order, what with nearly 10 million people economically inactive and/or in the welfare system and a government which still insists we need foreign labour. After 13 years of an enormous socialist spending spree, the current situation leaves Blairite capitalists with some very thorny questions to answer.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Amjem's March... being discussed in a waffly way at Harry's Place. The usual High Left response that it's all an illusion cooked up by the Press and if only we could have censorship nobody would ever need to consider religious extremism in Britain again.
I replied:

Islam4uk is just the tip of a massive iceberg. By which I mean there are a huge amount of young Muslims in Britain that think that killing in the name of religion is justified*, that a caliphate is good news and that this, their home country, is at war with their religion. Their demonstration, if it had gone ahead, would have caused the first major battle of a second English civil war which now looks unavoidable in any case. How decisive Brown and Johnson are on this for once, how unequivocal! That’s because they too know it would become the first battle – and also be nicely illustrative the logical end of doctrinal multiculturalism, something both men have backed for years. A street battle between bearded fanatics and respectable middle-Englanders in a country town like WB would demonstrate vividly the mess that modern socialism and its siren suicide note of moral relativism and cultural Marxism has got silly old England into. No, you bet your arse they don’t want that.

*Last year, a poll by the Centre for Social Cohesion** found that almost one in every three Muslim students in the UK said that killing in the name of religion was justified, with one third also in favour of a worldwide Islamic caliphate, or empire, based on Islamic sharia law.

** Started with money from Civitas, which probably means that the High Left will airily ignore its survey results as 'right-wing propaganda'.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Cheer yourself up with Butch

From Keep Thinking Butch,

'Gordon Brown, our Prime Minister, and his six-year-old chum David Miliband have said rude words on China for executing a drug smuggler according to their legal code. That’s right. A man who aimed to bring misery to thousands in order to enrich himself has been whacked by the world’s next superpower, and our [non] elected representatives have a problem with that. I wish I could live another hundred years, if only to see Guardian readers’ faces when China takes over the role of Great Satan from their hated America. Human Rights Act? Toilet paper to the Chinese, my liberal friends. Also, I love the fact that every Brit in chokey abroad these days has got a ‘psychological condition’. Yeah, they have. It’s called being British. From a court case in the near future:

DEFENCE LAWYER: M’lud, although it is indisputably true that my client was found in the same room as seven dismembered corpses, with a bloody axe in his hand and repeating the phrase “I am death”, we would move for a plea of mitigation due to a psychological condition suffered by my client.

JUDGE: And what is the medical term for this condition?

DEFENCE LAWYER: Britishness, m’lud.

JUDGE: Case dismissed!

In other news, we can’t stop telling Iran how to run their internal affairs, either. It has absolutely nothing to do with us if a bunch of theocratic spastics want to club opposition supporters, be they women or children, half to death for the unislamic activity of having an opinion. So why are we getting so wobbly lipped about it? These people have yet to enter the eighth century; why do we think they will suddenly respond to adult suggestions, even those made by Childe Miliband? The only concern we have with Iran is keeping nuclear weapons off the menu and, if we lack the courage to do that, Israel will do it for us and I, for one, will have a street party on the day the first mushroom cloud is spotted over Tehran.'

And if you didn't laugh at that, well, as Rod Stewart says on the Faces' live version of Maybe I'm Amazed, 'I dunno where yer bin.'