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.