The Curmudgeon


Monday, October 31, 2011

Pointless Ministers

The public administration select committee, which monitors Whitehall for signs of efficiency, has just discovered that, despite the recent departure of Liam Fox, the Government is wasting public money on pointless ministers. Certainly no government which includes the likes of Michael Gove, Eric Pickles and Wee Nicky could be accused of an excess of justifiable expense; but it appears that Daveybloke and his fellow patronisers have taken matters a little further. The committee claims that Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition is appointing MPs to ministerial posts in order to ensure that they vote with the Government, and calls for cuts in the number of ministers proportionate to the proposed cut in the number of MPs at the Great Daveymander. The committee even went so far as to say that certain tasks now being carried out by ministers might be better performed by civil servants; and that parliamentary aides perform "few functions of real value" - a great sin in Whitehall, now as always. In order to help enhance the moral character of government, the coalition has even been appointing unpaid ministers, although the committee cynically dismisses this improving whiff of the Big Society thingy as an attempt to circumvent the legal limits on the number of ministers who can be appointed. In response, the Government has promised to keep things "under review"; which, as the chair of the committee observed, is parliamentary code for "Get stuffed".

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Resist Not Evil

Publication of a report by the St Paul's Institute into the moral character of bankers has been delayed by the cathedral authorities on the grounds that, what with all the public concern about the moral character of bankers these days, its light would be hidden under a bushel. Supposedly, the report raises "profound concerns about the banking sector's willingness to accept responsibility for the financial crisis" which, at a time when people are protesting about the banking sector's refusal to accept responsibility for the financial crisis, would clearly be too awful.

Meanwhile, the Independent on Sunday has been hard at work trying to get Anglican bishops to comment on the protest. One accused St Paul's of "hysterical over-reaction", another said he wasn't against capitalism but thought the cathedral's public relations could do with improvement, and the Bishop of London said that none of it was anything to do with him but he hoped that protesters would not be violent when the Metropolitan Firearms, Headbangers and Venus Trap Club shows up. While it would certainly be a very rash person who would feel able to say without hesitation that any of this was absolutely the right or the wrong thing to do, it would no doubt be even worse were the Church to give the impression that it favours one side or the other, particularly in a debate that isn't about sex.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Carrot for the Proles

Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, has evidently been informed by his handlers that he could do with a bit more of the common touch. Accordingly, he has whipped up the equine zombie that is the Big Society thingy and gone clippety-cloppety-squish to the graveyard to dig for souvenirs of the good old days. And what do you suppose he found there, boys and girls? A rusty old medal, named for a decades-extinct instrument of robbery, murder and mass immiseration - goshetty-poo, what larks! The British Empire Medal was established during the First World War so that the non-ranking cannon fodder could be given a gong without the monarch having to get their hands dirty, and was abolished nearly twenty years ago in unconvincing imitation of a classless society by an unconvincing imitation of a prime minister. Once some of the mould has been scraped off it, the medal will be doled out "in recognition of the dedication and hard work so many people devote to their communities"; presumably to help inspire those who cannot afford a direct contribution to Conservative Party funds but who are nonetheless happy to denounce a benefits fraudster or to help an asylum seeker onto an aeroplane.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How Green Was My Davey

As one would expect from the greenest government ever, Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition does not intend to stop at mild rebuke of consumers for failing to keep the energy cartel in line, or at giving BP a license to slick up the Shetlands. Oh, good heavens, no. A premature ejaculation, hastily wiped away, from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, sets out cuts of more than fifty per cent in subsidies for the solar industry, which means that those who can afford to install solar panels will have to wait twice as long before gaining any financial benefit. As one would expect from Daveybloke's purveyors of compassionate conservatism, it also means that poorer households, which might have benefited from deals where the industry takes the subsidy in return for supplying the household with free power, will have to suffer the common lot of the undeserving. No doubt the resulting fuel poverty will help incentivise them into the job market.

The official announcement of the cuts is expected on Monday from that nice Mr Huhne, to give the Conservatives a bit of snigger-time after a nasty couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy and Climate Change extruded a spokesbeing to state that the documentation inadvertently published was, like many a ministerial promise, "neither final nor accurate".

Me at Poetry-24
God Helps Those...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Blogosphere in Aboriginal Australia

Although the aboriginal peoples of Australia evolved and maintained what modern anthropologeeks widely classify as a form of blogosphere over the space of some twenty thousand years, Europeans were at first slow to recognise the fact. This cultural insensitivity can be blamed, at least in part, on the state of the European blogosphere at the time of the continent's discovery. English blogs in particular had fallen considerably from the heights achieved in the Middle Ages; they were notoriously bloated and corrupt in their data, while commenting facilities were severely curtailed during the Falklands crisis thanks to the machinations of Lord Sandwich. Indeed, the vocation of bloggery was held in such disdain that the crew of Cook's ship HMS Endeavour included only one half-pay nerd, among whose other duties was the lowly one of greasing the larboard knot-holes for the release of dirty tackle.

The origins of the Australian blogosphere are lost in the motherboards of prehistory, and much of what was present at Cook's arrival has been eaten by cane toads; but sufficient indications remain to show that the aborigines possessed a highly sophisticated if sparsely updated resource, even though posting probably entailed little more than the rearrangement of a few stones or the smearing of ochre on a rock face. Trolling appears to have been almost unknown, except when the swelling of the billabongs facilitated a special festival for the purpose.

As to the content of the Australian blogosphere, we can only speculate. Undoubtedly hunting and gathering were major concerns, and it is likely that religious themes were also prevalent. After episodes of tribal warfare prisoners were occasionally displayed for the entertainment of kinspersons and the humiliation of rivals; those taken for this purpose were known as video captures. Attempts by the convicts of Botany Bay to adapt this custom to their own purposes naturally resulted in disaster, and arguably delayed the adoption of the digital camera by the aborigines for nearly two and a half centuries.

The blogosphere's effects on the continent's wildlife have still not been properly assessed, but it is now considered virtually certain that the co-operation and sense of common purpose which bloggery induces in as much as three per cent of modern practitioners enabled a vast improvement in hunting techniques. Controversy still rages over how far the aborigines were responsible for the extinction of species such as the giant bandicoot and the sabre-toothed wombat; but in the case of the Woollamagonga Megabudgie there is concrete evidence, in the form of some still readable rock paintings signifying a call which may be roughly translated as, "Who's a pretty boy then?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

With Deepest Sympathy

With Remembrance Sunday a couple of weeks away, and with a desperate Treasury plunging into its last resort of printing money to keep the bankers' bonuses up to their accustomed standard, the Government has made clear its respect and gratitude towards those who die in its wars by clawing back money from the family of a soldier who was imprudent enough to be killed before the end of the month. The Ministry for War and the Colonies sent a letter, no doubt personalised as far as possible given the state of the Government's IT capabilities, informing the family that the man's refund for holiday time not taken had been overpaid by £433. A spokesbeing for the Ministry said that "we never ask families of those killed in service to pay money back", and then clarified in the next breath that there are, in fact, circumstances in which the families of those killed in service are asked to pay money back: "if there is an overpayment of salary and further payments are due to an estate, adjustments are made", just the same as when Members of Parliament over-claim on their expenses and have to pay back part of what they stole at their own convenience. We're all in it together.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

These Wounds I Had On Crispin's Day

Well, that didn't take long, did it? As rivers flow into the sea, and as hosepipe ban horrors give way to snowflake damage fury, and as dogs return to their vomit, so the modern Conservative Party reverts inevitably to its downhill, hysterical, barking self. The No Longer Nasty Party hasn't been much in evidence since May 2010; the Not Awfully Bright Party has made a spectacular resurgence via the Werritty affair and the ramblings of that mad old cat lady at ConFlabRahRah 2011; and now, after a mere year and a half in office, Daveybloke's retoxification of the Conservative brand has been brought to its glorious completion with a good old-fashioned eighty-strong rebellion over Europe. All the venerable symptoms were present, including the Daily Mail attitude to facts (one speaker claimed, along with much of our fearless Press, that the debate was taking place because of a nonexistent e-petition), right down to the plastic-doll-eyed presence of the noted Thatcherite pod-creature, John Redwood. Forsaking the casually contemptuous "fullest support and confidence" pose which worked such wonders in ridding him of the vole-brained Dr Fox, Daveybloke this time went for the nuclear option in the form of a three-line whip, and suddenly re-discovered his obligations under the coalition agreement which has been so conveniently set aside during the recent maniacal efforts to twizzlerise the NHS; and thus it came about that, in the midst of a severe economic crisis, a war or so abroad and the alienation of an entire generation at home, the party which is run from Belize, Washington and New York's Little Australia decided to have a good old Bullingdon punch-up with itself about "Britain's future as an independent country".

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Matter of Taste

Frankly, I think there's far too much sex and violence gets by in the name of entertainment. I mean, I go to the theatre to be taken out of myself. I don't want to see lust and rape and incest and sodomy! I can get all that at home.
Beyond the Fringe

People are walking out of a modern-dress revival of a 1963 stage play, citing "utter filth and depravity". I haven't seen the production, and for all I know it may very well have the kind of witless, bludgeoning sensibility so fashionable these days and known as "torture porn" or "situationist daring", depending on whether one is speaking of genre movies or of Michael Haneke's lesser works. Still, it may be noteworthy that the original 1964 production by Peter Brook elicited very similar reactions from those who expected more dignity and guile, and less sex, violence and screaming, in a play titled The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade and set, as the Guardian hath it, "in a mental asylum during the French revolution"; or during the First Empire, if one follows the mere playscript.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Medical Advice from the Rag Trade

The Conservative chair of the Commons select committee on health has proclaimed that the Government's protection of front-line NHS services will, in fact, involve the reduction of front-line NHS services, and has also noted with commendable honesty and more than a little understatement that "very little of the solution" to the Health Service's problems has to do with Twizzler Lansley's Health and Social Care bill.

Stephen Dorrell, a former draper and, presumably, future private health company director whose business ethics have been described as slightly inferior to those of the People's Republic of China, was Secretary of State for Health at the fag-end of the fag-end of the Conservative government which introduced the PFI boondoggle; and he seems a bit annoyed at having been left out of the Cabinet this time. The Twizzler's bill, he argues, "misses the central challenge facing the care system"; in Standard English, this means that the Twizzler's bill might have acquitted itself a good deal better, and might even been perceived by the public as a thing of beauty and a joy for ever, if only it had been the work of one Stephen Dorrell instead.

Speaking to the National Children and Adult Services Conference, Dorrell observed that the bulk of NHS care is for fifteen million people who suffer one or more long-term conditions but do not need regular hospital treatment, and that according to the National Audit Office thirty per cent of non-emergency hospital admissions could be avoided with better services in the community. "Just think about what we could do with the resources that would be freed if that 30% were avoided because we delivered more integrated, more effective, high-quality frontline community-based services," Dorrell fantasised. In Standard English, this appears to mean that another few million might be saved to pay off the Health Service's PFI debts if more proles can be made to look after themselves, or at least fall apart without complaining too much.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

To Eat With Unwashen Hands Defileth Not A Man

With characteristic Anglican eagerness to get on the wrong side of every debate, the dean of St Paul's Cathedral has requested the protesters occupying his front yard to vacate as quickly as possible, ostensibly on health and safety grounds. The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles stressed that the cathedral had maintained good relations with the protesters; but Christians are required to love their enemies, the tourists are getting away, and it is past time for St Paul's to resume its courting of Mammon. Asked whether he would be treating the protesters to a temple-cleansing scene in the style of Dale Farm, courtesy of the Metropolitan Firearms, Headbangers and Venus Trap Club, Knowles said that the legal issues are so complicated that he would be forced to bring in the scribes and moneychangers to help. Possibly this was a coded plea to Caesar to do the dirty work for him; in the meantime, no doubt, we may look forward to Daveybloke, his cat lady and the London Haystack fervently protesting the manner in which health and safety concerns have trumped the democratic right to protest.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tony Bounces Back

Well, isn't this comforting. The Reverend Blair has sufficiently recovered from the demise of his fellow pacifier in Libya to offer his services in helping to "cement the peace in Spain", now that ETA has announced an end to its armed campaign. Tony believes that the business of weapons decommissioning and detainee processing will require an expert's touch; and by the grace of Providence Tony himself, who did such a marvellous job of claiming credit for the outbreak of peace in Ireland, has not yet been called by his Father from this earthly plane and stands ever ready to help. As always, Tony's diction veers alarmingly between messianic tumescence and bureaucratic self-parody: "The last armed confrontation in Europe is finally over. We should all welcome this and work together to make peace irreversible", and this shall be done by "achieving security normalisation". I wonder if the Middle East is keeping Tony busy enough.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tony Loses a Chum

The Middle East's Peace Through Bombs envoy, Tony Blair, has requested that his grief at the death of Colonel Gaddafi be treated tactfully by the media.

"It's come as a great shock to him," said a source close to the family. "Up until now, bombing things has been a bit of a game to him, but for about a minute today it suddenly seemed he was taking it almost seriously."

Blair and Gaddafi grew close during the later part of Blair's ministry, although at first sight the two men had little in common except a mutual predilection for large sums of money.

"We were all amazed they hit it off so well," said a former Blair aide, speaking on condition of anonymity from Broadmoor.

"We were expecting fireworks when they met, because at least one of them was this tasteless, posturing authoritarian with a liking for extreme violence and imprisonment without trial.

"It must have been a case of opposites attracting, though they both wrote books of course. Perhaps it was literature that united them - that and outstaying their welcome."

Britain's recently resigned defence secretary, Adam Werritty, said that Gaddafi had done the right thing by getting killed, but that Libya would have been free much faster if the media had been less vindictive.

Me at Poetry-24
The Protection Racket

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cool Britannia

Barely four months after that nice Mr Huhne lectured energy consumers on their laziness, and only two days after Britain's Head Boy urged the energy cartel to write to its hostages so that prices won't have to be lowered, a report commissioned by the Government has warned of the dire consequences which may result from a casual attitude to shopping. By the end of the year, more than four million households, some of them quite possibly not yet on the Government's social cleansing agenda, are expected to be in fuel poverty. Thanks no doubt to the global economic situation, the pernicious legacy of New New Labour, or perhaps even the weather, somehow or other the Government has failed to make clear to the little people that they could be pulling themselves together, rejoicing in their market freedomisation and utility choicification, and joining the Big Society thingy to help Daveybloke and his chums help themselves. As a result, it is expected that almost three thousand people in the world's seventh biggest economy will, quite irresponsibly, die of cold.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Confused Priorities

Despite these few regrettable events,
I can't believe poor Foxy's crossed the line;
Foolish he may be, but he's not a swine -
Except, of course, when swinishness makes sense.
His reputation's bound to take some dents,
But certainly there hasn't been a sign
Of him and Adam acting over-fine,
Or fisting one another in the Gents.

While letting Adam sell him to Mossad
Was merely stupid, sackable and treason,
If 'twas for friendship, what a fool he's been.
Mere friendship in itself is rather bad:
A Tory ought to keep chaps for good reason,
Like Party, profiteering or the Queen.

Biffo Twittery

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Fairly Tolerable Outrage Under the Circumstances

Here, once again, is how Wee Nicky and his Deputy Conservatives have put an end to the moral outrage of child detention: they haven't. Between May and August this year, almost seven hundred children were imprisoned for up to a day at a time by the UK Border Agency, a third of them unaccompanied by an adult, and (in company with about fourteen and a half thousand other threats to our Britishness) in unsanitary, badly ventilated cells with no window to the outside. The independent monitoring board at Heathrow said that it had drawn attention to all this in its previous report, and that the lack of change "is unacceptable on grounds of humanity", which will cut very little ice with the dog-whistling cat lady at the Home Office. The Border Agency defended itself by invoking the altered definition of child imprisonment which has served Wee Nicky and his Deputy Conservatives since Daveybloke gave them their little red boxes: it isn't really imprisonment if it happens somewhere other than Yarl's Wood. The Press Association appears to have omitted to ask anyone in Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition for a quote; doubtless Wee Nicky's Deputy Conservatives will have much to say on the subject, one of these days.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fury at Observer Chilcot Horror

Exculpation expectation speculation inflation

The Ultimate Exoneration of the Reverend Blair may have been delayed until next summer, according to a non-story in the Observer today.

Relying entirely on speculation, an anonymous source and Private Eye, the Observer claims that a play by the wife of a Blair functionary may have influenced Sir John Chilcot to take another look at the evidence he has been examining for the past two years.

It is thought by the Observer that it is thought by Whitehall insiders that some of the play is "close to the truth", an advantage not always enjoyed by the testimony of people close to the Reverend Blair.

Chilcot is expected to put most of the blame on the safely retired head of MI6, who called the crusade to free Iraq into question by claiming that the US was fixing facts around policy.

It is expected that the Reverend Blair will be criticised, but speculated that he will not be criticised as strongly as expected in some speculations. It is thought by some at the Observer that this sort of thing is news.

It is speculated that, if before Operation Iraqi Liquidation the Observer had spent less time on fillers like this one and more on actual journalism, it might not have disgraced itself by adding its voice to the general media chorus baying for war.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A New Twigg on the Tory Oak

The Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband's new education spokesbeing, Stephen Twigg, has further demonstrated the intellectual rigour and moral fibre of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition by deciding not to oppose the Government's abolition of the state education system. It might be thought that shadowing the ridiculous Michael Gove, with his policy of allowing any willing provider to teach whatever to whomever, would be an opposition front-bencher's attack-puppy dream; but that would be reckoning without Labour's self-imposed mission of outflanking the Conservatives on the right, an ambition the party has pursued on all fronts since the days of the Reverend Blair with all the myopic obduracy of a Beckett character in a Hollywood screenplay. Accordingly, Twigg has only three questions about Gove's shambolic "free school" thingy: "will the school raise standards for pupils and parents, will it contribute to a narrowing of the achievement gap between rich and poor, and what is the wider impact of that school?" The answers, as Gove has undoubtedly pointed out in his best Murdoch leader-writer fashion, are yes, yes and tally-bally-ho; hence, no doubt, it will not be very long before the list of Gove's own qualifications is impressively extended with the Twigg seal of approval.

Me at Poetry-24
Farewell Then, Doctor Fox

Friday, October 14, 2011

Turning Up the Volume

Daveybloke's regrettable Secretary for Welfare Abolition, Iain Duncan Smith, has warned charities not to get any big-societal ideas about helping the poor. The Child Poverty Action Group launched a court action against the Government's cap on housing benefit, which action was accepted as valid and permitted to go to trial. The proceedings took all of a day and CPAG lost the case, so Duncan Smith has been celebrating with some tebbitous bluster about how they'd dashed well better not do it again: "CPAG's challenge to our housing benefit reforms was an ill-judged PR stunt, and amounts to nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayers' money and court time." The mention of ill-judged PR stunts and taxpayers' money is a particularly felicitous touch from a member of the Daveybloke cabinet, collective authors of the Health and Social Care Bill, the pause for pretended revision of the Health and Social Care Bill, the warmed-over and slightly-tinkered-with Health and Social Care Bill, and so forth. Exerting to the full that famously impressive personality of his, Duncan Smith blathered that he hoped CPAG would think twice before being so ridiculous and irresponsible as ever again to resort to law in defence of the undeserving. In the usual tabloid-honoured fashion, he also had a squeal about "the crazy excesses we have seen in recent years of people on benefits living in houses that those in work could not afford". Underlining the weakness of CPAG's case, the charity's chief executive responded with little more than mere facts: for instance, that four-fifths of housing benefit claimants in London are in work, and that the cap will not save money because of the costs of implementing the social cleansing programme behind it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Consumer Responsibilitisation Through Corporate Voluntarification

Well, here's a thing: Twizzler Lansley, who has spent his time as Health Secretary doing his best to abdicate all responsibility for the nation's health, has been wagging the finger at the proles for eating too much. Of course the Twizzler, who believes that companies like Mars and Nestlé are rivalled only by private health corporations when it comes to giving good advice on how to reform the NHS, has no intention of resorting to anything so crude and small-societal as protecting the public interest through legal regulation of the sugar delivery industry; oh, perish the thought. Instead, the Twizzler made his proposals under the exquisitely New Labour rubric of "national ambition", whereby the Government urgently urges the sugar delivery industry to get somebody to do something urgently, while lecturing the proles on the necessity of cutting down on sweets. The Twizzler modestly compared himself to Michelle Obama, who holds no official post in her country's government and therefore has some excuse for resorting to advertising rather than policy-making.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Safe for the Moment

A venerable and much-loved British institution was saved from significant and traumatic alteration today as two amendments to Twizzler Lansley's anti-NHS bill were voted down. One amendment, which would have stopped the bill, was defeated by a hundred and thirty-four votes; another, which would have kicked it into some medium-length grass, was defeated by sixty-eight votes. By coincidence, since the Bullingdon Club took over Downing Street Daveybloke and his cuddly chums have created a hundred and sixteen life peers. Wee Nicky's Deputy Conservatives, eighty of whom voted to preserve the Twizzler's wrecking bill in its present form, can sit back and congratulate themselves on perpetrating an even more superb demonstration of liberal values than last year's display of integrity over tuition fees; and that venerable and much-loved British institution, the House of Donors, can doubtless breathe a sigh of relief at having bought its way out of any significant reform during the present parliament.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Profitable Customs

The head of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Dave Hartnett, has apparently given away ten million pounds of taxpayers' money to Goldman Sachs, who obviously need it more than we do. The poor things were so plagued by demands that they pay national insurance on their hired gamblers' bonuses that they entered an elaborate tax-dodging conspiracy with twenty-one other firms, which was eventually exposed as illegitimate. Goldman Sachs' accomplices paid what they owed, but Goldman Sachs continued with five more years of delaying tactics. By July last year the Revenue's lawyer was confident that the Government would be able to collect its money; but four months later the insouciant Dave Hartnett came to a private agreement with Goldman Sachs that they could get away with paying only seventy-five per cent of what they owed, with no additional penalty for the five years of pointless obstruction. A Conservative MP who asked Hartnett about the matter last month was brushed off with the claim that revealing any information would be illegal, although the Revenue board had been advised two years ago that information could be given to parliamentary committees at Hartnett's own discretion. At the moment, aside from blaming the inevitable anonymous junior who did Hartnett's hand-shaking for him, HMRC are sheltering behind their own version of the famous MI5 defence, Everything's Fine But Asking Questions Could Endanger Our Boys: "the picture you have been given is incomplete and therefore fundamentally flawed but taxpayer confidentiality prevents us from correcting your story in detail". An uncharitable observer, if by chance there were any such hereabouts, might wonder why Dave Hartnett's obligations towards Goldman Sachs seem to outweigh his obligations to the taxpayer.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shop a Wog and Win a Merit Badge

Since that barmy old cat lady made such an idiot of herself at ConFlab Rah Rah 2011, and since the Secretary for Beer, Skittles and Justice duly dismissed her infantile blatherings as infantile blatherings, Britain's Head Boy has predictably taken the New Labour route and called upon the Big Society to join him in cleansing all the unauthorised wogs from the shores of Albion. Nor is Daveybloke by any means satisfied with the performance of the authorised wogs. For a start, in the interests of family values, Daveybloke intends to allow the UK Border Agency to extort baksheesh of several thousand pounds from immigrants' families. Also, Daveybloke was incredulous to discover that the citizenship test is cluttered with a lot of irrelevant nonsense about people's rights and duties as citizens, rather than with questions about our glorious past. In fact, many in the indigenous population whose education took place after the accession of the sainted Thatcher have a rather shaky grasp of British history; Daveybloke's own knowledge of the subject would do credit to Sarah Palin.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

View Halloo

Two upstanding chaps gave near-parity
To right-wing grandstanding and charity.
Alas, there were queries
And now the poor dearies
May be a re-shuffle fatality.

Amid times of gunboat austerity,
The foxy must take on the ferrety.
We must help, if we can,
Our one true best man -
And bugger the rules and the verity!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

But Can't the Nannies Help?

Small-societal and backsliding persons at Barnardo's have compiled a series of reports about the hundred and twenty thousand troubled families for which Daveybloke has pledged to do something or other before the next election comes around. Barnardo's has discovered what it calls, with studious politeness, a "tension between the government's drive to reduce the fiscal deficit as quickly as possible and the benefits of supporting children and their families with early intervention", although Barnardo's also claims that whatever money is spent on early intervention is repaid a dozen-fold. In fact, of course, the Government is not interested in saving money, still less in planning for the future of a few thousand feral yobs in the making, and certainly not in reducing the deficit which is the only real excuse it has for purging the country of its public sector. Daveybloke has made noises about getting five hundred workless families into employment - which, since all natural families comprise pater and mater and the little ones, and since any teenagers will of course be in jail, presumably translates as one thousand people, at least until the laws against child labour can be repealed. Unfortunately, the chief executive of Barnardo's let slip that she does not "think it's either you help families into work or it's nothing." Clearly, she still has a great deal of catching up to do before receiving Daveybloke's complete and labour-flexible super-size-societal satori.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Not Just Another Death in Lebanon

Syrian intervention quite unlike some, say decent folk

Syrian forces have crossed into Lebanon and shot dead a Syrian man in an incident completely unlike recent Allied victories in the war on terror in Pakistan and points elsewhere.

The individual had a name, Ali al-Khatib, and was killed by flesh and blood assassins rather than detrimented by a remote control toy. Both factors have led some Western commentators to brand the shooting "indiscreet".

The United Nations says that 2900 people have been killed in the crackdown by Syrian president and Bad Man Bashar al-Assad, who intends to prevent as many Arabs as possible from living the Blairite dream.

"If Assad goes on restricting his murders to this sort of scale, his continuing place in the international community is far from assured," said commentator Bradley Ichneumon, author of Manufacturing Indignation: Martin Amis, the Taxpayers Alliance and the Moral Majority Market.

In order to qualify for genuine statesmanship status, the Syrian leader should at least demolish a town once in a while, Dr Ichneumon said.

Unlike Britain and its allies, the Syrian authorities have blamed foreign-backed groups for the violence, and have claimed they are trying to prevent unauthorised weapons from doing somebody a mischief.

Almost 4000 Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, according to the United Nations, whose figures are not open to dispute when dealing with miseries which have not been inflicted by the Righteous State.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

In Touch

or, The Conference Season

Apolocolic humble stumble;
Difficultonic rumble bumble;
Economanic neurojangle;
Minimoronic gaffaclangle;
Sterilisuited vacuverbal;
Politicobblers masturburble.

Meron Eggiband

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Just Napalm: Export USA

At night, these visions of helicopters and the Decent Muslim Zone
Love as mediated through the prism of humanitarian interventionism. Purity of motivation through strength of belief led him up the cerebellar stairway to the final chat show. His mind filled with the lonely heroes of World War III, he advised his students to give up on being loved.

fused in Tony's mind with the spectre
He had always believed that politics was always about belief. He believed that belief in his beliefs would bring an end to this temporary absence of self-belief in their belief in what he believed they believed he believed in, and that rediscovery of their belief in self-belief would resurrect their belief in his belief for the future of their beliefs.

of his children's faces. The lanterns of their eyes
Children as a factor in political economy. Emotional response to images of bombed and starved children exceeded response to images of healthy and educated children by a factor of between three and fourteen in normal adults, and between twelve and twenty-seven in tabloid readers.

winked from a million emblazoned mugs.
Politics as a branch of advertising. Respondents scored images of children consistently high for selling power. In the case of Roman Catholics, the degree of response to images of juveniles sometimes exceeded the response to images of sex and violence.

Worshipping him, they summoned from his sight all the legions of the bereaved.
Elements of an apocalypse: (1) Party membership card, somewhat soiled; (2) Copy of Principles of Ingsoc by "B.B."; (3) Reproduction of Francisco Goya's Disasters of War Plate LXI, "Perhaps they are of another breed"; (4) genital organs of a male poodle, packed in second-best Texan blueberry preserve.

By day Israeli jets crossed the damned causeways of the peace process,
The psychopath as hero. Grinning, he bends to show them the scars on his back. Lanes of proud flesh cross and recross the dorsal jaundice, marking new routes towards the holy bunkers.

unique ciphers of currency and sainthood.
As he tried to delay the orgasm building at the base of his urethra, one of his eyes began to twitch and glitter like a demented nuclear warning light somewhere in Albania. Without thinking, Cherie murmured, "Herbert Lom."

with apologies to J G Ballard

Me at Poetry-24
Party Colours

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Much to the comfort of its flock, the Greek Orthodox Church has taken a defiantly Christian stance over the austerity measures which the government has imposed. The Orthodox Church is as poor as a bank mouse: there is, according to a spokesbeing for the archbishop of Athens, "no comparison between the riches of the Greek church and those of its Italian or Spanish counterpart", the Greek church being merely the second-largest landowner in the country and under no particular constraint to publish its accounts if it doesn't feel like it. The church also holds a one and a half per cent share in the National Bank of Greece, with a seat on the board for the bishop of Ioannina. "We refuse to foot the bill for other people's mistakes," said the bishop of Ioannina; evidently the Orthodox church has no more interest than the Catholic or Anglican churches in imitating its putative founder. Doubtless entirely unrelated to this matter is the fact that three years ago the bishop of Ioannina received a beggarly twenty-four thousand euros in fees, which have presumably sufficed ever since to keep him at the level of asceticism to which the priests of national churches generally aspire.

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Hoody Less Huggable

Things look set to become more difficult even for those of our boys whose bravery Daveybloke does not intend rewarding with a redundancy notice. Some legalistic pedants at the high court, doubtless fatally influenced by the European Act of Human Rights or some such thing, have handed down a callously small-societal judgement to the effect that hooding prisoners for "transit and security purposes" is unlawful even when it's done by decent people. Their excuse was the risk posed to physical and mental health; evidently they took no thought for the risk to our boys who must now transport and secure facially rampant terror suspects.

Reporting on the matter, the Press Association makes a rather sneaky reference to "the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein", thus implying that the decent people's goal was régime change all along, rather than the actual and (when viewed in the appropriate frame of mind) very nearly legal goal of ridding the world of the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass ethereality. It is all quite shameful.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

On Publishing

Because their noise was not to be escaped,
He sketched and let flame flicker near the beast;
Which reared and galloped as the children gaped -
It kept them quiet, for a while at least.

In twenty thousand years the critics came,
Dug splinters of the children's children's bones,
And argued that he'd sketched to draw the game
Toward the hunters and their sharpened stones.

Later a blogger wrote that we had done
With dead-tree books, with paper and with pen;
A brief magnetic belch escaped the sun,
And no-one saw a word of him again.

Knapper Brandbord

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Private Criticism

Willem den Haag, the Minister of Wogs, Frogs and Huns in a government which gave a big rah-rah to the imposition of prison sentences for offences such as writing silly things on Facebook, has registered mild disapproval at the Bahraini monarchy's "disproportionate" sentencing of twenty medical personnel for treating injured protestors. The sentences were "worrying developments that could undermine the Bahraini government's moves towards dialogue and the reform needed for long-term stability", in contrast to the more unacceptable behaviour of régimes to which Britain does not sell weapons. The British ambassador to Bahrain, who arrived a few months after the application of a British-made urban sharpshooter programme to the situation, has paid tribute to the warmth of the Crown Prince's welcoming hand; while the prince has declared the relationship very special indeed: "a model for relations between allied countries". Naturally, such diplomatic niceties are merely a front to disguise the British government's private criticism and deep moral concern: sales of spares for armoured personnel carriers have been officially banned, and three British trainers were withdrawn at the end of February when it became clear their work was done, while any other sales of military equipment have to be laundered through the Bahraini air force. The fact that the Bahraini monarchy seems to have withstood the pressure so far is nothing less than a tribute to its indefatigability.