The Curmudgeon


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Laws Are For Little People

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is suing the eight official nuclear-armed countries and one rogue state through the International Court of Justice. The Marshall Islands include Bikini Atoll and Eniwetok, where almost seventy nuclear weapons were detonated between 1946 and 1958. Far from being grateful for this level of protection against Soviet expansionism and the Heathen Chinee, the Marshallese claim they have suffered environmental and health problems as a result. Even more bizarrely, they claim that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is binding on the United Kingdom and its allies merely because they happen to have signed it. Ironically enough, the Republic of the Marshall Islands owes its very discovery to a British explorer, before whose arrival the islands were known only to Spaniards and Micronesians and suchlike inconsequential persons. Captain Marshall himself called the archipelago Lord Mulgrove's Range, but it was re-named in a rare act of Imperial clemency; which makes the natives' present ingratitude all the more galling.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Terror Suspect Deported

Fury at "dragon-slayer" removal horror

A Palestinian male was deported today in a process described by the Home Office as "pleasingly efficient", despite claims by the United Kingdom Independence Party that the man should never have been allowed into the country.

The man, known only as G, is believed to be of mixed Anatolian and Levantine parentage. According to Home Office sources, he claimed to be a Christian and a professional soldier, and was seeking employment in the pest control industry.

Officials would not confirm or deny reports that G claimed to be able to destroy the dragon which some experts believe may have contributed to prolonging the recession in Britain's fair-maiden industry.

The dragon has eaten four hundred and seventeen fair maidens to date, besides several dozen ministerial special advisers who served as "digestion proxies" for Westminster's more unwilling virgins.

A spokesbeing for UKIP derided the suggestion that G, or any other "mercenary Middle Eastern animal cruelty enthusiasts" might be qualified to solve the country's dracological difficulties.

The party ran into controversy on the subject of the dragon last year, when one of its knights, Sir Godfrey of Chelsea, said that the beast would fly away within weeks if Britain's gay men were "conscripted for defloration duty."

Sir Godfrey was expelled from the party, and now writes a regular column for the Guardian.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Big Shots and Narrow Bores

A Deputy Conservative doormat at the Home Office has been squealing about shotgun licences, for which the taxpayer provides an unwarranted subsidy. The police, who have to cover most of the cost of gun licences out of their own funds, are in favour of increasing users' fees, which have been frozen for thirteen years; Britain's Head Boy, as a fully-paid-up member of the Huntin', Shootin' and Jellyfish-Baitin' fraternity, has apparently blocked any action on the matter, having been alerted by his badger-busting Secretary for Sandbags, Owen Paterson. Remarkably enough, the Deputy Conservative doormat at the Home Office has taken only three and a half years to notice the problem, which has flopped into the public eye mere weeks before the local and European elections. It is possible that, like your correspondent, the Deputy Conservative doormat at the Home Office has received its polling card, and has thereby been reminded that the day is fast approaching when voters will be able to express their appreciation of Wee Nicky and his minions in an uncomfortably concrete and consequential fashion.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Unintended Consequences

Thousands of Britain-haters have responded with expectable psychopathic hostility to a public-spirited bit of investigative journalism by the Rothermere Stürmer on Sunday. Rather than waste time going after megalomaniac spooks or crooked politicians, the Stürmer on Sunday has decided to tackle the very core of the cancer eating away at British society; namely a Christian charity which runs food banks. Although Britain's Head Boy has had a bit of a simper on occasion about the contribution of food banks to the feudal system in general and to the Big Society thingy in particular, the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith has accused them of playing politics, while spokesbeings from Duncan Smith's Department for Workfare and Privation have faulted the Trussell Trust for "aggressive marketing" and for "misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking". That sort of thing is, of course, quite alien to the grown-up debate we need to have about whether strivers should pay for shirkers to live high on the hog and kill children, like Mick Philpott. Anyway, the Stürmer on Sunday sent one of its stormtroopers to a food bank, where he obtained three days' food under false pretences and where staff made no attempt to determine whether he was a deserving case or an asylum seeker. As a result, donations to the Trussell Trust have increased approximately sevenfold, which just goes to show how much hatred of British values there is out there. If you hate Britain too, the Trussell Trust's donations page is here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cosmic Horror and Economic Rationalism

The excellent J Sewell McEvoy, whose archive of too-little-knowns and too-soon-forgottens will amply reward your attention, has posted a review of my novella The Voivode. Besides being generous to the point of blasphemy, Mr McEvoy puts forward a reading of the book which had never even occurred to me. Not that I tend to think a great deal about the wider resonances of my fiction while I'm writing it; the nuts-and-bolts business of getting characters from here to there and keeping the prose more or less literate is usually more than enough, thank you very much. The possibility that I may accidentally have managed something extra is of course eminently pleasing, if a little unsettling; much like (I suppose) a parent waking up one day and discovering that their child has a life of its own.

The Voivode is available in paperback or as a PDF ebook; and an extract can be found here.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Freedom of Information

In the past, Goldman Sachs' favourite tax authority has mislaid personal information about child benefit scroungers and bank customers, and one must always be prepared to take advantage of marketable skills. Consequently, HMRC plc has decided to sell off the personal financial data of anyone who cannot afford to buy some confidentiality. The data would be "anonymised", like the medical records which the Government would like to share with third parties as soon as some way can be found of circumventing Whitehall's famous IT abilities, and which includes only postcodes, dates of birth, NHS numbers, ethnicity and gender. The tax information would be released wherever HMRC plc detects the possibility of a "public benefit"; a professor of security engineering has said that such data would also be "highly useful to credit rating agencies, advertisers, and retailers wanting to practise price discrimination", which certainly seems to fit the bill.

Friday, April 18, 2014

All Things Bright and Beautiful

(with apologies to Cecil Frances Alexander)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small;
All things puce and gluteal,
The Lord God made them all.

Each flabby fop that flounders,
Each jellyfish that stings,
He made their glowing colours
And sundry other things.

The purple-headed Tory,
Abroad in foreign land,
Laughs off the locals' story
And wobbles down the strand.

He splashes in the shallows
Whence all but he have fled;
While sundry foreign fellows
Stand by and shake their head.

But more of God's creation
Is lurking in the sea;
Creatures of lower station,
Less polypous than he.

A jellyfish, at leisure,
Greets him in proper style;
The squeaks of his displeasure
Are heard for mile on mile.

God gave us eyes to see them,
And keyboards, that we might
Give praise to the Almighty,
Who sometimes gets things right.

Rev. Sorbus Malbarb

Thursday, April 17, 2014

For God and My Moral Compass

Two men in the Christian nation of Uganda are scheduled for trial next month; one is charged with "having sexual knowledge of a person against the order of nature", and the other with being a consenting adult. Uganda's president is an Anglican, and hence the sort of Christian whom the moral contortions of Rowan Williams and Justin Welby are designed to appease; in February he signed the latest anti-gay legislation, which imposes a fourteen-year prison term for first-time offenders against the order of nature and a life sentence for "aggravated homosexuality". Perhaps it will reassure some that the present suspects have not been charged under the new legislation but under the 1950 penal code, which also prescribes life imprisonment for homosexuality and which originated with the same civilising influence that hounded Alan Turing to death eight years before Uganda gained independence.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Son of Tony

Prompted by the still, small voice of his personal Saviour, Lynton Crosby, Britain's Head Boy has had another Chocolate Egg Week bash at the religion thingy. Some six hundred church leaders have published a letter calling on all two and a half factions of the British Neoliberal Party to tackle the causes of food poverty, and the Caudillo of the Farage Falange has been blathering about Muscular Judaeo-Christianity; so Daveybloke had a bit of a simper about his moral code, which is just as flexible as the Church of England's and only slightly more ridiculous. He also pointed out that the destruction of state education and the welfare safety net leaves all the more room for the church to expand its interests: "I would like it to do more, not less, in terms of action to improve our society and the education of our children." It is as yet unclear whether the church's more worldly instincts will respond favourably to such subtle cajolery, or whether the continuing moral horror of equal marriage rights will cause the rift to widen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maintaining Good Relations with the Terror-Suspect Community

An anonymous, undated letter claims that a Muslim fifth column is indoctrinating British juvenile resources in Birmingham schools, as well as forcing out unco-operative teaching staff in a fashion more suited to a corporate boardroom than to an appropriately profitable learning emporium. The education secretary's response has been as considered and proportionate as one would expect from a retired Murdoch hack and sometime Bible signatory: once someone told him where Birmingham was, he dispatched the former head of the counter-terrorism unit at the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club to parachute in and sort things out. The local chief constable has already described the appointment as "desperately unfortunate", although it is still theoretically possible that the use of dawn raids, dum-dum bullets and water-cannon can be kept more or less to a minimum.