the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Britain meets schadenfreude.

Well, no-one saw that coming. Of course by no-one I mean anyone who is over the age of 18 and hasn’t been living under a rock that entire time, knows that the Conservative party didn’t become the most successful political party ever by tolerating what they perceive as lame duck leaders. It is as sentimental as a colonic irrigation and does much the same thing when it needs to.

When I write successful I mean successful in the very narrowest of political senses, that of winning elections. Not trivialities such as helping to create opportunity and wealth for all, facilitating a shift in social values such that this country properly rewards those whom we can’t do without – NHS doctors and nurses, teachers and firefighters – and rejects those we can do without – hedge fund managers, estate agents and homeopaths. But there is little chance of that happening when a political party that has been in power either alone or in coalition for 72 of the last 100 years clings to power.

If ever Britain looked like a banana republic it is now. One can almost hear the laughing in the Kremlin. For centuries Britain has loftily boasted about being the ‘mother of all democracies’ except now we’re the mutha of them. Although this presents Sir Not with a conundrum. He can call for a general election, with all the paralysis and uncertainty that would inevitably unleash, or he can be statesmanlike. Put country before party and all that, the whole ‘it’s a far far better thing than I have ever done’ vibe.

He could issue a statement saying that he could call for a general election, of course he could but he won’t because what the country needs right now is a sense that the adults are in charge. Announce that he’ll give the new PM his full support and in return for that he wants a general election in February 2023. That he doesn’t want to add yet another crisis onto the rash of them that has been 2022, but rather just get though this one and start the New Year with a new PM.

Unlikely, I know, but if people aren’t whispering that in his ear, then they aren’t serving him well, they’re serving him up

Meanwhile, in a parrallel world…

People who are a lot cleverer than me and whom I would hate to get seated next to at a dinner party or sat next to on flight to Australia, have for a long time suggested that the existence of parallel worlds isn’y science fiction but science fact. A world that is the the same as ours, but different.

Its theoretically possible anyway and in the same way that ‘compassionate Conservatism’ is theoretically possible, we just nod our heads and distance ourselves from whoever is making such outlandish claims. But it is a nice fantasy to imagine that all the travails and catastrophes that have beset our time on this planet could simply be erased by creating another earth. A new improved earth, Earth 2.0, the updated version, free from all calamity’s and mistakes of this one. No religion, no wars, no capitalism, no climate crisis.Bliss.

I was thinking of Earth 2.0 this morning and thought ‘what if..’, as I considered the two ‘protesters’ who are currently holding up traffic from crossing the Dartford Crossing for the second day, by scaling 100ft up it and staying there. The police seem incapable of doing anything, other than basically waiting for them to come down and and preventing traffic from using it. Anyone who was ever on a protest up until say 2010, and was either kettled, arrested or charged by baton wielding riot police in full body armour – and at a few I got all three – can’t begin to understand what’s going on with the police these days. They used to say that you were getting older when the police started looking younger than you, but I wasn’t prepared for when the police didn’t act like the police anymore. But I digress.

Back on Earth 2.0, the protesters have scaled up the bridge, but as there’s no climate crisis, they’re protesting about something else. The cancellation of their favourite T.V programme, that a new colour hasn’t been created, or simply that there isn’t anything to protest about. Anyway, they’re up there and whilst everyone agree’s they have a right to protest, everyone also agree’s we have a right to ignore them and simply carry on, which in this case would involve using the crossing to cross something. Of course the police would be on hand to ensure the safe and steady flow of traffic. They’d also direct traffic away from any potential impact site, so if one of the protesters did fall, it’d be on a nice clear patch of bridge, so the camera’s could get a nice clear shot of it.

And if the police let it be known that from here on in, they’d be adopting a rights based policy – yours to protest and ours to ignore you and carry on – then we’d see exactly how many of ‘protesters’ were serious and how many were nothing more than entitled attention seeking Jeremy Hunts.

Outsourcing meets senselessness.

A few days ago I was returning to London from Swanage by train, and whilst waiting on the platform for my escape back to civilisation, suffered the kind of aural assault that has become both normalised and emblematic of modern Britain.

Superficially, it was an announcement alerting passengers that there were rail strikes planned for tomorrow and that disruption to the service offered would ensue. Because of this, it continued, it recommended that only if it was essential should people travel and only then after first checking if it were even possible so to do.

Was it helpful and informative, or was it the kind of deductive reasoning that any sentient adult could work out for themselves upon learning of proposed rail strikes? ‘What, you mean that a rail strike will cause disruption? There was me thinking things would be just the same. And you say that I should check first before travel? Whatever for?’. If people were so utterly devoid of basic common sense that they needed to be told what do do, then they deserved whatever fate awaited them. Preferably a long and miserable one, if I had my way, because no announcement would have been made and therefore anyone who turned up expecting the 13. 47 to Southhampton would be revealed to be the inspiration for some of the more controversial ideas of Sir Francis Galton.

We now live in an age where the notion of anyone possessing the basic capability to engage in a critical analysis of any given situation, to weigh up and evaluate competing solutions and on the basis of these considerations, act appropriate to their own best interests, has seemingly been lost. Replaced, it appears, if the platform announcement is any indication, by an outsourcing of responsibility, in this instance a train operating company, but in others a faceless bureaucratic quango. Last summers hot spell was a case in point.

One could be forgiven for thinking the advice given was for how best to care for for some pot plants rather than for how best to cope with warmer weather. Stay in the shade and keep hydrated was basic gist as far as I could make out. It was as if the people giving out the advice assumed that no-one in the UK had ever holidayed in a hot climate and were the kind of simpletons who would turn up expecting a normal train service during a train strike.

I foresee more of this outsourcing in the coming months, what with ways to combat the energy crisis – wear more clothes to keep warm, turn off radiators in unused rooms, use candles and torches for light – and strikes by nursing staff plunging the NHS into greater crisis – only go to hospital if you really need to. That sort of thing, the bloody obvious seeming to be not that bloody obvious until it is approved and sanctioned by somebody official.

I think of the old saying ‘the problem with common sense is that it isn’t all that common.’ and it is becoming even less so with every passing day.

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!