the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Modo meets the challenge..

…and fails to meet it!

As I wrote yesterday, after the period of collective bizarreness that marked Liz’s death, suddenly being reacquainted with reality was always going to be something of a shock, but thankfully Chancer Modo eased us back into it gently. Much like a coma patient being introduced gradually to familiar sounds, smells and faces, so to has Modo used the tried and tested Conservative economic standards in his mini budget today by cutting corporation tax, increasing stamp duty ( a cut essentially), and cutting income tax by 1p.

Not everyone has their income tax cut by 1p however. We’re dealing with Conservatives here, after all, and much like leopards, they don’t change their spots. So Conservatives do what Conservatives always do and will always do, which is to look after their own. By cutting the tax rate of the highest earners from 45% to 40%.

How much this will do this and do that is essentially inconsequential when compared to the message it sends out.

But I’m off to the seaside. Where it’ll rain constantly, be cold and thus typically British!

Reginacide meets social necessity.

Well thank Darwin that’s over.

Ten days of endless wittering about the monarchy, the ‘service’ of the dead one and the challenges of the new one. Of nauseatingly banal opinions of the ‘royal watchers’, who conveniently gloss over the obvious fact that the subject of their trivia had had to die in order to grant them their fifteen minutes. The experiences of people who thought that just because they’d had a fleeting encounter with her as she was doing something or other, that that brief interaction was somehow an indication of her inner sel that they had to tearfully share. The obsequiousness of the print media and their online iterations as the churned out a seemingly inexhaustible supply of forelock tugging toadyism. The queues of the misguided, thinking that their spending hours in order that they might glance at her coffin meant something other than that they’d been deluded. The assumption that the entire nation was united in such a profound and abiding sense of grief that a return to ‘normal’ is unthinkable.

And from a certain view, it is. If one thinks about what constitutes a return to normality, what with its cost of existing crisis and a government both incapable and unwilling to do anything much about it, public sector workers discontent over their wages manifesting in strikes that make those services provide less of a service, a climate emergency that this government thinks will be helped by resuming fracking, increasing drilling for North Sea oil and signalling and end to some green initiatives. As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s the war in Ukraine and Vlad the Mads’ threat of nuclear war. I could go on, but I think the point is clear; normality sucks.

What should replace normality, is regicide on a scale commensurate such that Britain would be plunged headlong into endless repetition of the last fortnight, until Christmas at least. What better act of public service could the monarchy provide than by dying on a regular basis so we can all forget about normality and all the attendant misery that goes with it and instead focus on something else? After all we are constantly told that we live in a post truth world, one where reality is whatever we want it to be, so why ever not? Come on, who would really miss any of them, apart that is from their flunkeys, hangers on and lickspittles. Have any one of them made even a scintilla of a worthwhile contribution to anything? Done something that has made a real difference in the real world? Something of note as opposed to having their picture on the back of one?

One of them could die, there’d be a repeat of what just happened (albeit on not such a grand scale), a collective pause as the nation steadied itself and then repeat. Over and over and over. With judicious timing this could last well into the New Year, when the NHS winter crisis will be over and Englands ignominious early exit crashing out early from the World Cup will be forgotten. In fact, so many of them crawled out from their taxpayer funded privilege in recent days, we could keep this going until Easter. Then it’d be the slimmest of slim pickings, but needs must if we are to keep reality at bay. Given as how the country seems to love the monarchy, as the last few days have illustrated, I wouldn’t be all that shocked if Esme adopted regicide as a flagship government policy, in much the same way that Paul Daniels used Debbie McGee.

Winston Churchill meets the media moirologists.

In his speech to the House of Commons on 20th August 1940, paying tribute to the RAF for their heroic defence during the Battle of Britain which was still raging over the skies of England, Churchill uttered the words that encapsulated the feelings of all when he said, ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. The day that became known as Battle of Britain day, the 15 September 1940, was the day on which the RAF delivered what proved to be a decisive victory in that Battle, and ultimately lead to an Allied victory in the Second World War.

I know what follows may offend some, but the RAF were fighting for many things, one of which was a way of life that allowed for differing views. So on the anniversary of Battle of Britain day, the 15th September 2022, I think his words need updating, to more accurately describe the seemingly improbable events of the last week. ” Never in this nations history has so much been talked about so little by so few.”

Someone died. People are upset. Arrangements have been made for her funeral. More involved than is usually the case but what is a circumstance without the pomp? I’ve been absolutely staggered by the coverage from the broadcasters, as they cloak their increasingly fatuous comments with a facade of emotion that indicates a need to be seen to be expressing it lest they are deemed disrespectful by others. Worse, they have assumed the mantle of telling people that because the death of someone few have ever met is an important thing, that due deference should be given, and only they can show us how we ought behave. It’s the idea that everyone feels exactly the same thing, to exactly the same degree and therefore needs exactly the same help to do so.

Worse still, is the presumption that this is a perfectly normal response to something which in truth affects only those closet the dead woman but which is nevertheless elevated to something akin to a national tragedy, a notion that the media both promote and encourage. I don’t doubt that many people feel genuine sorrow over her death, but I doubt I’m alone in feeling nothing about it either. Actually, that’s not true. I do feel something. A confusing combination of alienation, cynicism, and disdain.

Alienation because the images of the crowds lining the streets along which her coffin passed were possessed with something I don’t have. Disdain for them having it and cynicism about the medias motives for the feeding of it.

UK media meets moirologist’s.

I can’t write that I’m particularly upset by the death of the Queen, but the death of Elizabeth Windsor is another matter. I feel for her children and her grandchildren who have suffered the loss in much the same way as I’d feel for any other family that has undergone a similar experience. That is, with a sense of curious detachment tinged with fascinated puzzlement which stems from the fact that no-one I’ve ever loved has died and therefore the feelings associated with grief are unknown to me. I can’t pretend otherwise. So yes, the death of Elizabeth Windsor is sad for her family and others who knew her, but how is it any sadder than any other 96 year old woman who has ever died?

When her uncles abdication made her father King, she was instantly transformed from a minor royal into a future Queen. The death of her father created Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth Windsor was gone, replaced instead by a kind of vessel through which assorted and often contradictory hopes and expectations, qualities and virtues, beliefs and motives could be interpreted. And because the royal family famously never responded to criticism – that is until Prince Harried decided to sue newspapers – the media were allowed to interpret her behaviour in any way they saw fit. Remember how the press were enthralled by her calm detachment, only for them to turn on her for the same in the week following the death of Di? Possibly then Emmanuel Macron might have had his tongue very firmly in his cheek when in a tweet expressing his sadness about the death of the Queen, he referred to her as ‘the Queen of Hearts’, something which Diana wanted to be, and a phrase the Queen reportedly derided.

But thankfully, given as how I’ve no emotional reference point upon which to focus, no idea of what the correct emotional responses should be, guidance was at hand in the form of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. In a near conformity of opinion that would make Kim Jong-un envious, she was afforded the sort of hagiography that was as bereft of much evidence to support it as it was ceaseless. Indeed, at the time of writing this ( 3pm on Saturday 10th September and two days after her death) the BBC is still at it. And if I hear one more oxygen thief witter about her tireless service, hard work or sense of duty, I might hit someone. Did she ever put in night shifts as a hospital porter, deliver meals-on-wheels or volunteer as a teaching assistant in an inner city school?

There are no dissenting voices, no room for anything other than fawning obsequiousness and anything that isn’t becomes a condemnatory news story. When I saw this tweet from Joe Politics I howled with laughter but The Daily Mail went full rabid. And the media insists on perpetuating the fiction that everyone is affected by her death, that people in England are as united in grief as those in Wales and Scotland. The thing that will be more unifying will be the Bank Holiday of the Coronation. That Commonwealth countries, far from mourning her passing will instead be working out to leave it. The only people affected by her death are, as I wrote earlier, are her family and those closest to her. Everyone else has their own reasons, as questionable as they are self-serving.

MC Hammer meets Victor Hugo.

Well, I’d been planning this for some time, ever since it was speculated that if she became Prime Minister she would appoint Modo as her Chancellor, therefore I’d have to rename her Esme. Basically, she made me do it and it seems somehow fitting that in these tumultuous times we now find ourselves, Esme seeks to reassure us all by pursing the traditional Conservative values we’ve come to know and loathe. Cutting things like taxes, public services and business regulations.

I don’t know exactly what the specifics will be, but I’m old enough to make an informed guess that the poorer one is, the greater the pain will be. That’s how it has always been under Conservative rule and will be again.

Two bits of news did make me wish that there was such a thing as the irony police and if there was, I’d have been calling 999.

The first was a No.10 spokesperson suggesting that the new Cabinet indicated ‘the breadth of talent’ that existed in the Conservative Party. I only read that and didn’t see them say it, so was unable to glimpse how straight they managed to keep their face as they said it it. ‘Breadth of talent’? Really? Appointing Chloe Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary just proves the very opposite of it. Who can forget her legendary ‘Newsnight’ interview with Paxman? She starts digging at 6.20 in but be warned, if you thought you could never feel sorry for a Conservative Minister, this might change your mind. It’s full on Paxman, withering condescension and clearly visible exasperation. ‘Dearth of talent’ morelike

The second 999 call I’d make was to report Mad Vlad, for his laughably absurd claim that electing Esme as PM was ‘far from democratic’. Yes it was, but for him of all people to say it, him who has been President of Russia since 2000, bans opposition parties from taking part in elections and arrests their leaders is taking the piss. Yes, someone else was notionally President between 2008-12, but they had been anointed by Mad Vlad, who kept him on a very short leash indeed.

No doubt more 999 calls will follow.

Extinction Rebellion meets ‘Father Ted’.

Yesterday some people from Extinction Rebellion, managed to breach security at the House of Commons and glued themselves to the speakers chair. Some of them had posters and photo’s were taken to record the protest for posterity.

It may be only me, but the posters they were holding demanding that someone somewhere institute a ‘Citizens assembly now’ to ‘Let the people decide’ reminded me of ‘Father Ted’. The one where Ted and Dougal are half-heartedly protesting outside a cinema showing what their bishop considers a blasphemous film, with placards screaming ‘Down with this sort of thing’ and Careful now’

Just me then.

MC Hammer meets her inner child.

MC Hammer is remarkable. Not, I hasten to add, in a good way, but rather she is promising to be a worthy successor to Boris’s Johnson. More specifically, his belief that if he puts his fingers in his ears and hands over his eyes so he can’t see or hear something, then it doesn’t exist. Which is fine if you happen to be eight years old, less so if you’re the PM, or soon to inherit it the job. For the purposes of this post I did a bit of research into Boris’s Johnson and found this on wikipedia, a page that documents all of the scandals, bad behaviours and general caddishness that have characterised his three years at No.10. Reading through it I was amazed at just how much of it he managed to cram in, although not having a vigorous legislative agenda to get in his way must’ve helped.

But out with the old and in with the new, as they say, except for the fact that MC Hammer shows every sign of picking up where he left office. The Guardian reported yesterday that at the final hustings event for the candidates to make a pitch to Conservative party members, she ruled out the possibility of energy rationing in the coming months to help mitigate the worst effects of the energy crisis, and instead promised, well not much. This despite the fact that government officials believe that without energy rationing, the UK could experience blackouts for several days in January if cold weather combines with gas shortages to leave the country short of power.

If one were a very callous individual, one might speculate that pitch that effectively causes power cuts made to some of the very people who are most at risk of health problems exacerbated by the cold is nothing more than deathly ironic. But then I was forgetting that the Conservative party membership is full of ‘Er’s’, precisely the sort of people who are insulated from having to make a choice between heating or eating, being older, richer and a likely to be southerner.

So it was imprudent of the i to print a story which points out that her campaign is under mounting pressure to unveil details of a package of support to help prevent the impending energy crisis but is unable to do so until “she has been able to look at all the information and data available”. It goes on to add that the reason MC Hammer hasn’t looked at the data is because she hasn’t had any meetings with the very officials drawing up the data.

Fingers in ears!

Grant Shats meets Lord Butler

Grant Shats, who when I write this is the Transport Secretary, but when you read this may not, given the increasingly strange and fluid nature of politics now. One where reality is an increasingly ephemeral notion, part of the current political orthodoxy whereby everything is soon forgettable – ‘a good day to bury bad news” as a spin doctor said on 911 -, opinions are both transitory and transactional and where hot air replaces cold fact. We are so used to politician saying one thing, but trying to convince us didn’t mean what we thought it meant but something else entirely different, that we take it as a given.

‘Clarification’ they call it, a delightful euphemism that treats language as something malleable, something open to interpretation and therefore negotiable. Shats is by no means the first to do this, because as we all know, politicians do this in the same instinctive way the rest of us draw breath, and he certainly won’t be the last, but he did tweet something a few days ago that makes me think he wants to be the Minister of Truth.

In response to the ongoing strike by members of the RMT union, Shats, never one to pour water on a fire when there’s some petrol handy, tweeted:

“We’ve announced an extra £130 million to protect vital bus services across the country. At a time when people are worried about rising costs, it’s crucial we save bus routes people rely on for everyday journeys.” Technically, this is true, as indeed an extra £130 million will help protect vital bus services, but will it offset the ceasation of around £2 billion emergency funding given during the pandemic? You know, the pandemic where older people were told to avoid public transport to protect their health. but against a setting where about 35% of people on a low income don’t have a car?

And as for saving bus routes? One thinks of the quote by an American major in Vietnam who said ‘In order to save the village we had to destroy it” Despite the end of emergency funding, the government is in the process of awarding more than £1.1bn to selected authorities under its bus service improvement plan (BSIP). All 79 local transport authorities rose to the challenge, which in effect meant they had to plead their case and prove they more worthy than others. So a typically Conservative strategy, as divisive as it is ideological. But in the end, only two in five of them received any of this funding at all, and even they received less than a quarter of what they asked for. The controversial competition eventually saw fewer than half of applicants receive BSIP funding, which cannot be used to sustain existing route networks.

So yes, what he tweeted was technically true, inasmuch as he didn’t outright lie because he was choosing his words very carefully, but we really do deserve better or do we get the politicians we deserve?

‘Half the picture can still be accurate‘, indeed.

ISIS meets the Earth Goddess.

I was going to title this post ‘ISIS comes to Cornwall, which might’ve been seen as a slight exaggeration, some might say a massive one but wanting to change or ultimately have removed a statue on the wholly fatuous grounds of it causing religious offence, is something ISIS would do. Granted, they wouldn’t write a letter to the council about it to complain about it, they’d just go right ahead and blow it up, but to me just because they are at the opposite end of a spectrum, doesn’t mean that one is right but the other is wrong.

They both are. And the recent attack on Salman Rushdie proves this. Sure, Rushdie was attacked by a nutter who thought that because Rushdie had written a book that was less than worshipping of his imaginary man in the sky, that he had somehow bought this on himself, but him doing so provided us with a stark reminder of exactly where this lunacy ends. It ends somewhere very dark indeed, but it also starts quite innocently.

The ‘Earth Goddess’ statue in St Austell town centre has garnered publicity for reasons wholly unrelated to its artistic merits because several religious leaders have written to the council to complain about it. The letter, ‘The Guardian’ reports that letter:

“Expressed concern that a statue of an “earth goddess” risked dividing the town and was “offensive to God”. One might imagine that issues such as the the cost of living crisis, which take place in in the real world be a tad more divisive than offending something with less evidential validity than either the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. But hey, that’s only my opinion.

It goes on: “The choice to erect a statue of an ‘earth goddess’ means that as the leaders of the town you are actively, though likely unknowingly, choosing to reject God and instead to bring the town under the spiritual influence of an ‘earth goddess’. Really? Are people suddenly in danger of going full ‘Wicker Man’ under some imagined spiritual influence? Or maybe its the wrong type of spiritual influence, not the fictitious nonsense of the bible where water becomes wine and Jesus not only created a zombie – Lazarus – but becomes one himself?

And there’s more: “However, as Christians we believe there is a spiritual reality to our world and so this is not an insignificant choice and has the potential to impact on the town in negative ways.” Anyone can believe anything they want, but believing in something doesn’t make it true. Delusional, yes. How the idea that having a belief system so utterly bereft of reason, logic, and evidence inexplicably gives people the right to act as moral guardians is both absurdly preposterous and hypocritical in the extreme. Have they read the old testament? God is fine with Adam and Eve populating the world by incest on a truly biblical scale, then wipes it all out, starts again with Noah, his wife, their sons and yet more incest, and eventually visits plagues, famine and bloodshed.

And they call it ‘The Good Book? How is any of that good? They either believe everything in the bible or they don’t. They can’t conveniently forget bits that don’t fit with a newer, more 21st Century interpretation of not just it, but of them. Just because you believe in something that was written thousands of years ago, that relies only on faith to make it true, doesn’t make you right. It makes you a fool and a dangerous fool, who if they sign a letter claiming a statue causes offence really needs to ask themselves some urgent questions about their life.

People are of course free to believe whatever they want to believe and my blog champions the right of people to exercise that freedom, but at the same time they should realise that only a minority share their belief and therefore it doesn’t give them some kind of moral authority.

Because if they do, then they’re no better than ISIS.

I meet a First World Problem.

I know that we in what is almost certainly the most terrifying, confusing and anxious time for any human to be alive. There are more things wrong in this world than at any other time in its history, and if the past is anything to go by, future generations will look back and on this time with incredulity and ask, “You only had climate change, droughts, floods heatwaves, famine, and wars to worry about? Was that all?”

But the thing that annoys me most is the never ending noise. I don’t mean noise in some allegorical or figurative sense, but in the literal sense. I know its a first world problem but a first world problem is still a problem and one that seems all the more problematic because there’s nothing I can do about it.

As recounted previously in this blog, about two years ago the landlords of my old house decided they wanted to take back possession of it, with predictable consequences for me. Fortunately, my good friend Nosferatu lives in a house with enough space and invited me to share. Fandabbidosy. The only downside to this offer was that she lives in a row of terraced houses in a part of North London, where it seems everyone either wants a loft conversion or an extension. And when they’re finished, sell it only for the new buyers to gut the entire property and start again. It’s like a game of endless domino’s. A loft conversion is started and within a couple of weeks of it being finished an extension will be started at someone else’s house and when that’s finished, another couple of weeks will pass before work starts repairing someone’s roof and well, you get the idea.

According to Nosreatu, to whom I have mentioned this problem repeatedly and at some length, part of the problem is that I haven’t lived in a terraced house for over 30 years. When she wants to wind me up she calls me ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ on account of the fact that, as she says ‘You’ve always lived in Victorian hunting lodges and now you’re slumming it’, which I is unfair, given only one my previous abodes had a servants entrance.

But having gotten really quite used to the idea of peace and quiet, it is something of a rude awakening – literally – to be woken up by scaffolders noisy drilling their erections together. And that annoys me, why is it only in the morning they seem to work? Come afternoon they are nowhere to be heard. I know that every council has different regulations as to what time work can start but do they also have rules as to when it stops.

In the hot weather, sleeping with the window open is essential but I have to endure the bothering of my ears caused by the neighbours noisy vermin every morning. Early, and by early I mean 6.30 am early. Saturdays too, their shouting and screaming remaining unfettered by any notion of parental responsibility because one mustn’t curtail their freedom of expression. I’ve suggested to Nosferatu that I find a recording of screaming children, looping it so it lasts for hours, and playing it through a speaker that I’ve hung out of my bedroom window. A call to go back to bed.

But that, I’m told, is anti-social. As I wrote earlier, I know my problem with noise is a first world problem but a first world problem is still a problem and one that seems all the more problematic because there’s nothing I can do about it