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Oh damn, still in this dream. Below are the 50 most recent journal entries recorded in the "johnny9fingers" journal:

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November 13th, 2019
02:24 pm


Ah, Facesbuch.
Got to love them:


Now I may have a position on all this. I’ve been Johnny Ninefingers in various forms across the internet from the WWW’s burgeoning at the start of the milliennium. I was Johnny Ninefingers from the start of Facebook until someone told them that I wasn’t born Johnny Ninefingers, and my moniker was a nom de blues. I know who it was too. Rather than acquiesce to Facebook’s demands for all the relevant information about my life, I just left it without fuss. Many teachers, psychiatrists and other therapists, and musicians and other performers use pseudonyms or non-birth names on FB. So do Trans-folk. And some have fallen foul of FB’s rules of engagement. At least I find myself in good company.

But I am amused by how FB are prepared to turn a blind eye to considerably more egregious, nay fraudulent misrepresentations of themselves by people; well, as long as they have the correct political views, obvs.

Folk have allowed themselves to become self-sorters; of course they will have to come for the non-Facebook users first as they winnow the field. But the rest of you have graded yourselves, like turkeys awaiting Thanksgiving organising themselves into a line based on size, shape, and tastiness. Or likelihood of voting for Trump.

It’s not Ideal; but it is superb, unknowing, cultural self-satire.

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November 12th, 2019
03:33 pm


For a contemporary example of how a formerly civilised polity can devolve into civil war, we only have to look to Hong Kong. However, in Hong Kong’s case, the externalities the polity face are rather more apparent. China has decided, rather stupidly I think, to junk the notional self-determination of the former enclave. Ye gods, empires have always needed their free ports and access to other forms of governance. We all need our political formicarium, wherein we can examine the data presented.

I had thought the Chinese to be the brightest and most intelligent of all the major polities. Now I am not so sure. When we look at the bizarre, gradual-and-step evolution of history we can all see the general direction we are headed, baring accidents.

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November 10th, 2019
02:30 pm


This is becoming a repetitive riff
Like Whole Lotta Love, Layla, or Smoke on the Water:


Wherein we find that yet another award-winning academic has fallen foul of the Home Office.

The Home Office needs either root-and-branch reform, or the government must accept that the Home Office functionaries are only obeying the frankly nativist and racist policies of the last few governments. The Right Honourable Mrs T. May, when Home Secretary, instituted a lot of the unfortunate “Hostile Environment” policies which led to this pretty impasse. I suppose one can consider her prime-ministerial career to be some sort of instant karma.


As of 30 mins ago (about 16:30pm on Sun 10th November 2019) the article was trending in the top ten on the Grauniad’s website, and the Beeb hasn’t got anything about the case anywhere, though they do have lots of positive articles about “our” black folk, if you can bear me to characterise that sort of opinion. [shudder]

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12:17 pm


And now my car fails me
Not sure if user error or not. The AA are coming to check it over. I hope it’s not a fuel problem. I put the requisite £30 on Friday and drove for a bit. Pretty sure I didn’t misfuel it, but... and it has been not idling properly on and off for a while; normally after I have refuelled. I’m beginning to wonder if some supplies of petroleum spirit are slightly, er, um, adulterated. Of course if it turns out the fuel tank is full of diesel it is definitely user error, else it points to some other problem in the car, or externalities. I await the verdict of the experts. Of course if it is user error I will start thinking that cognitive decline is approaching; and double-checking myself on all accounts. Here’s hoping I’m not headed for dementia quite yet; that would have left me such a small window for intellectual activity of a level appropriate to my ego.

Oh well. That any of us lose our cognitive abilities at any time is a tragedy. Give me a couple of thousand years of existence and I will eventually understand how great Ramanujan was, or Gödel. I have an inkling of how great Wittgenstein was in a slightly different field; and Shakespeare in another; and Goethe, and Homer, et al ad infinitum. And we lost them without much fuss.

But when it comes to losing yourself while still living; I would not lose myself, given a choice. Indeed, if given a choice, in such circumstances, I would find the ideal balance between enjoying life, being independent within reason, and the descent into imbecility; with the option to end the process quickly and painlessly at any point along the paths, even on a whim; and fold myself into the embrace of the infinite before the drawing of a veil over my brief period of lucidity.

I’m not sure what any of the organised religions would say about that attitude. I suspect they would excommunicate me had I been a member of any of them. I was born into the Catholic faith but found it impossible to continue in it beyond my teens, though some of the church’s prejudices remained with me longer, to my shame.

Methinks Omega is of an order of magnitude only appreciable to the arithmeticians of infinity. So I guess Georg Cantor is a prophet who unlocked some of the secrets of the multiverse and the universe in which we find ourselves. Mapping the shape and size of the potential/possible god is such a presumptuous thing to do I’m surprised we are allowed to exist... mind you if I were god I’d have given Georg a handclap and merit-badge rather than the short existence he had, poor lad. I guess to make up for that, this universe did contain Bach, so Omega may not be entirely beyond redemption.

To be Manichæistic should be the default position of existence; for we should hold our gods to account.


According to the AA guy it is one of the car’s head gaskets. I didn’t misfuel. Not demented yet.

Tags: , ,

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November 7th, 2019
08:22 am


Mu has chicken pox, poor love. She’s off school for a week or so. Cara, the kids’ nanny, will be doing the daytime duties. I’ll go over and see Mu tonight.

When you no longer live with your kids and they get ill... that is when divorce and separation get really difficult.

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November 5th, 2019
01:14 pm


I’m going to go out on a limb here...
And state I think Jacob Rees-MoogMogg wasn’t at fault in what he said. The context of the quote: “...the more one’s read over the weekend, about the report and the chances of people surviving, if you just ignore what you’re told and leave, you are so much safer... and, I think if either of us are in a fire [present tense] whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems like a common sense thing to do.” seems to place it. But what do I know?

Post hoc it is always possible to see what to do, and this is what Rees-Mogg is pointing out. It is precisely because the fire brigade’s advice to stay put is counter-intuitive that it takes effort to accept it. And in buildings without cladding the advice is still sound if counter-intuitive.

I don’t like having to defend Rees-Mogg, however; but folk are reading this the wrong way. To use an old legal metaphor, let’s hang him for his actual crimes rather than the ones of our imagination.

I wonder if it’s a language problem. Rees-Mogg, for all his many faults, speaks a language which requires thinking about for those who have not been brought up in elite grammatical and linguistic forms; despite such linguistic forms being paraded on Radio 4 and various news outlets all the time. When I was brought up these grammatical and linguistic forms were commonplace and used by the upper, upper middle, professional, and lower middle classes - i.e. over half the population. But as the idea of the Queen’s English has declined various regional dialects prospered, and now we have telly programmes wherein we find that the linguistic forms of grime have extended to remotest Lancashire, but folk in London can’t parse Rees-Mogg’s latest pronouncement accurately given context.

What really gets my goat here is that I end up coming to Rees-Moggin the Mogg’s defence. I must now go and cleanse my soul.

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November 2nd, 2019
12:37 pm


The first thing to say is congratulations to the Springboks.

It was an absolutely stunning performance.

England didn’t really turn up. It was a match too far for us, as I had guessed it might be but rather hoped otherwise. S.A. Were immense. Congratters again.

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October 27th, 2019
08:23 am


More on the private school problem.
I’ve been writing and thinking about this for some time; because I have children who are in the private school system.

The problem is that there is no level playing field in education and never will be. Pupils who have had better opportunities do better. Parents who opt for state schools and additional private tutoring effectively game the system of Oxbridge entries.

Speaking to one academic I mentioned that 50 years ago a slender majority of Oxbridge admissions went to Grammar School pupils and now the majority are from private education; and I got the reply that the admissions are from the same strata of society as previously, it's just the professional classes tend to opt even more for private education nowadays, not having the contextual aspects of the post-war all-in-this-together solidarity of five decades ago. How true this is I don't know, but I suspect the whole question is vastly more complicated than any single simple Oxbridge admissions policy systemic update could manage.

It is not a surprise that pupils, having gone through an education system that puts them on average 12 months ahead in learning by the age of 11 in the the private system, should, by age 18, dominate and monopolise places at the most academically demanding and prestigious universities in the country. But you can't fix this by rationing the education of the wealthy or those who are so extremely clever that they achieve scholarships.

Another thing about private education is that a number of non-wealthy folk care enough about their kids' education that they make extreme sacrifices to enable their kids to attend such places. As a society we do not prioritise everything in the same way as we do as individuals or families when we have budgets. For folk paying their taxes and school fees on top they are contributing without taking.

(Doesn't stop the little blighters getting sacked from school though, which renders the investment somewhat bizarre - excepting the answer to that question being: "And which school would you like little Johnny to be expelled from?")

A private education is no guarantee of academic success despite the selective nature of the schools involved. At Winchester and Westminster they have 120 pupils a year each who are academically able enough to pass the entrance requirements - yet approximately half of their respective intakes fail to go on to Oxbridge. And Winchester and Westminster (along with St Paul’s) are about the most academically inclined boys schools in the country and are to some extent educational sausage factories attempting to get their pupils into Oxbridge. So even the best schools in the country fail half of their pupils in one sense. Good enough to get into the best selective academic schools with centuries of scholarship... and yet... that didn't develop into a natural progression to the best universities - this is a question which even the best schools can't answer because it is down to the individual pupil, but the environment certainly helps.

Education is trying to get knowledge and understanding into youngsters who would often rather be doing something else. Almost any success is a triumph.

(And some kids have other talents; e-gamers make a living in a way unimaginable to my father.)

Of course I'm rather of the opinion that all of our education systems fail our children, some just fail a lot worse. Thus far the private school system fails less badly than the other options. If anyone can come up with a better idea that doesn’t actually gamble with the kids education for ideological reasons, I’m up for examining it. But social experiments and dumbing down or saving tax dollars appear to be all that matters.

I suppose it’s only when folk like me actually start becoming inflexible extremists that others will even move halfway to even looking at our concerns. So, in the spirit of satire, I’m going start advocating the doubling of our taxes and compulsory education until 30. In my new system no-one will be allowed to marry or procreate without first having earned a PhD, the voting age to be raised and people’s social privileges dependent upon qualification, with tax-breaks for additional qualifications. I will turn us into an educational Gilead, because, obviously, that’s the sort of educational empire the knuckle-draggers really fear.

I can just imagine the Anglo-Saxon nations taking that manifesto to their hearts, but only when using vast amounts of hallucinogenics.

Alternatively we could fund our state education system properly, and not overwork our teachers. And maybe employ more of them too. Orwell said about Eton: “It also has one great virtue and that is a tolerant and civilized atmosphere which gives each boy a fair chance of developing his own individuality. The reason is perhaps that, being a very rich school, it can afford a large staff, which means that the masters are not overworked.”

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October 26th, 2019
04:08 pm


Ah Facesbuchriech!


Facebook has a new “High Quality” news tab that somehow or other manages to include Breitbart!

WTF? Double-plus WTF?

Reichsbuch does appear not to understand that anyone might have a problem with sieg-heiling fucking neo-Nazis. It’s about time Reichsbuch was shut down. But then again, I’m not on it anymore, having been kicked off for using a non birth name.

Reichsbuch does as Reichsbuch wants. But the rest of us now know what to think.

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11:02 am


That was some game of Rugby.

It could have been two tries more to England quite easily, and that might have been the right score.

The All-Blacks were beaten pretty comprehensively, which doesn’t seem right at all. The England team played out of their skins though. Maybe we have peaked just at the right time. We will see come the final.

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October 25th, 2019
12:17 pm


I’ve been sick abed; ‘flu settled on my head and vitals and left me semi-conscious and dependent on a completely different category of drug from my normal usage. However the timing of paracetamol ingestion is important; of course the maximum dose will only work for four hours, and can only be taken every six hours; so, though I am now on the mend I have hazy memories of sepia-tinted two hours or so of painful sweats etc recurring every four hours.

If nothing else was to make me sympathise with the male gender, in all of its privileged carelessness and tendency to violence, it would be man ‘flu. That deficient “Y” chromosome really does leave those humans in possession of it susceptible to the various strains of influenza in a grander fashion - more dramatic even.

Laid up yesterday, alternating between sweating into the bedding and hugging warm wheatbags I listened to Rigoletto on Radio 3.

Not a fave, it must be said. Some great arias, and some great music but... however, that central theme of the injustice of princes still rings true; whatever sphere of human endeavour those princes operate in.

Which brings me naturally to Harvey Weinstein. I wonder what would have happened if he had tried it on with a lass who had a black belt and the means to enforce her “No”? Adam’s apple, solar plexus, groin, shins then eyes. Even a bear can’t defend all of that. I’m making damn sure my kids can defend themselves completely in personal situations. Weapons training is another matter; they’ll need to enrol in the Cadets to get that. Weapons training needs rigorous structure, and proper discipline and oversight. I suppose I’ll have to encourage them both to learn the noble weapons; but in this modern world is there really much point to an épée? Or does one gain an edge from knowing each end of a sabre?

These are now irrelevancies in our modern age; it may not always be so - many writers of speculative fiction have given us scenarios where those old-fashioned weapons have acquired a new lease of life. But valorising the elegance of killing may be something we are finally growing out of. Even though as a culture we begin with Homer and slaughter and war (with bits of Gilgamesh and other epics as prototypes) we eventually get to, and beyond, Austen. Nevertheless even Austen references duelling quite a bit.

Almost all of our narratives give heroes the ability and licence to use extreme violence; it’s not just Achilles or Cuchulainn who can carve the opposition by the hundred, and leave piles of limbs stacked behind them. I’d rather re-read Austen or Wodehouse, where the heroes and villians, such as they are, are much more understandable to someone who doesn’t actually like violence that much.

I shall now return to my somewhat attenuated (and slowly recovering) delirium. As you were.

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October 23rd, 2019
09:29 am


What do you do...
What do you do when you find the great political genius of the age is on the opposing team?

Let’s be candid; Boris is the most talented political leader we have seen since Tony Blair. He has more imagination, energy, and political ability than any two or three members of his party and almost anyone on the opposition benches not marginalised by representing a minor, often nationalist/separatist, party. And he’s lost every damn vote and he’s still giving the impression of being in charge of events. Tenacity doesn’t come into it.

And the bastard is on the wrong side. The Tories really fucked this. Timing is everything in politics, and instead of having Boris leading us through a lesser austerity, we had Cameron and Osborne and a referendum.

Of course I will do my best to ensure Boris doesn’t win, but in doing so I will be contributing to his rather mediocre opponents. But they are in the right of it, as far as I can see, and for all Boris’s obvious political brilliance, he is still wrong.

He will walk the election with a majority close to a hundred. I’m putting a tenner on it. He is a different league of talent and ability to the folk opposing him, and it shows. Well, at age twelve he was one of the 30 cleverest young men in the country, measured by the extremely select benchmark of having his fees paid at Eton, Winchester, or Westminster via open scholarship.

It is all so depressing. I’ve been putting off getting an Irish passport until I knew which way it was all going. It may be, that even though I am more Irish by blood, my culture and education are very English; and I am wrestling with my identity, and trying to reconcile my Englishness with the Englishness of the Brexiters.

One part Ariel and two parts Caliban, the English slouch towards their collective Bethlehem.

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October 22nd, 2019
11:10 am


A first problem with abolishing the private school system.
When we look at the financial apartheid of English education we are made aware of certain structural problems. The first is that, because of the unique conditions of their environment, the list of the oldest schools in continual operation in the whole world is dominated by English establishments:


Of the 216 schools on that list, founded before the C17th, 139 of them by my count are English, with a few Scots, Welsh, and Irish establishments on top of the English ones. The King’s School, Canterbury dates to 597 CE. And the first seven places on that list go to English establishments.

Now all of these schools were founded at least three centuries before any idea of general education for everyone was received wisdom, and they all charged some sort of fees from foundation. There are very few state schools on that list. Beverley Grammar and the King’s School, Stratford-upon-Avon are the obvious ones.

In England, approximately 7% of the population attend private schools, and a disproportionate number of people in positions of power, influence, and wealth attended one of the more prestigious private schools. The Clarendon Schools, alongside the Catholic public schools and the relative newcomers of the Victorian expansion, and that expansion re-establishing some of the ancient schools like Sherborne and KS Canterbury, have the whole of the establishment sewn up.

Now that’s because the wealthy always have the establishment sewn up. In other nations it becomes who you are related to, or how much cash you have. Either are completely normal routes into the establishment. Some nations and cultures added school and university as qualifications to participate in the establishment, but none as thoroughly as the English. Send a middle-class boy to Eton at the turn of the 19th century and you might just get Beau Brummell; and in the C20th you might get George Orwell.

Private education in the UK is a generator of revenue internationally. Few Brits can afford £39K+ extras a year for an Eton education. It costs more than the average wage to educate a child privately. And that’s about half the per capita cost of banging up criminals in our state prisons. (But then again only 0.13% of the population are banged up in gaol.)

I guess private schools will have to be nationalised, but I can’t see how any government could legitimately sequester the school’s asserts. Eton had plans in the ‘60’s to relocate to France. Many schools now have international associates. International holding of charitable assets is allowed. I’d guess a lot of work for the lawyers, but I think most of the assets of these schools can be protected if they are forced abroad.

The story of Catholic education in England may give us clues. St Omer’s College and Douai educated English Catholics in the Lowlands, and the schools only relocated back to England after the French Revolution. Eton, Winchester, Harrow etc all have escape routes planned in the ‘60’s. Maybe those plans are in need of updating.

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October 20th, 2019
07:50 pm


Only in Rugby
... would a nation’s coach state unequivocally that “the better team lost”.


We salute Les Blues, though the Welsh among us will breathe a sigh of relief. Alas that the Irish lost to the All-Blacks. England were pretty good against Australia, but I’m rather of the opinion that the All-Blacks will be a different level of opponent.

Congratters to South Africa for demolishing the new stars of World Rugby. It was a match too far for the fitness levels of the Japanese team. When you are running and tackling that far above your normal play it will eventually take it’s toll. Ergo, Japan need regular tier-one Rugby.

Got to put a surreptitious tenner on England, even though I know it’s likely that NZ will do the usual. I’d back the ‘Boks to beat the Welsh though. If England can beat NZ, I guess they will be so drained they will lose the final. If NZ wins well... goodnight Vienna.

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October 19th, 2019
07:25 am


An amusing revelation...
...from David Cameron.

The thing about the greased piglet is that he manages to slip through other people’s hands where mere mortals fail.

Now I don’t know if “Greased Piglet” was Bojo’s nickname when he played the Field Game but it does seem to be a remarkably apt moniker.

Porcellae uncta,

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October 17th, 2019
10:52 am


So Boris has done the unthinkable
And instead of throwing the GFA under a bus, he is going to throw the Unionists out of the window, excepting that throws the GFA under a bus as well. The GFA guaranteed both communities a say in their futures.

The Unionists are going to kick up a stink.

Saturday’s sitting in Parliament is going to be quite a spectacle. I guess we are going to have a second confirmatory referendum with the option of staying.

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October 15th, 2019
11:01 am


You know...
The Home Office really hates foreign academics:


It does rather appear the Home Office would rather find any pretext to force those pesky furriners out of the country. When they’ve managed that, then I suppose they can root out the native undesirables.

But at the same time the blatant hypocrisy of our newspapers this morning is beyond all satire. When the Telegraph and Mail have headlines about racism the world has become a strange place indeed. And having spent years, nay decades, spewing forth a barely-disguised nativism and racism, this volte face is remarkable. I agree with the England player who suggested that the Bulgarian Captain was a bit of a hero in talking to the crowd at half time. Whatever else, he seems like a leader; it is such a shame that a man like that has to spend his time and effort on a few fans rather than devoting it to his and his team’s performance. Of course the Bulgarian side could not have performed to their best in the circumstances.

The Bulgarian players don’t deserve this, nor I would guess do the majority of Bulgarians.

But if the Bulgarians don’t deserve what’s happening to their football, I think we don’t deserve our reputation in higher education. In our case the problem is structural; the fascists in the home office have been given too much rope, and they are lynching our universities with it.

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October 13th, 2019
08:43 pm


So I’ve been prevaricating like mad...
...as you do when in a state of fugue. I cannot focus, I cannot analyse, I cannot think; all is Brexit and the colossal onset of situational depression.

Hearing Rees-Moog Mogg calling for the Tories to accept compromises was mirth-inducing. As was his Churchill quote.

The endgame approacheth. And then we shall see if Boris’s repackaged May deal will be enough to take the UKIP-ers and the Brexiteers with him.

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October 10th, 2019
02:05 pm


One of the surprises...
...about Boris’s premiership is despite losing every vote, and despite being between a rock and a hard place he is showing uncommon resilience and, actually, if it hadn’t been for the Brexit farrago, it appears he would have made a brilliant and capable premier. You need to have something of the lying toe-rag about you to lead any nation; but energy, enthusiasm, and imagination in government are rarer than rubies.

Boris gets on with folk; he’s charming and charismatic. He is a person who can bead Donald Trump in his den and get him to see Boris’s point-of-view. He can charm Leo Varadkar even if he can’t get Leo to agree with him. Boris would have been a brilliant PM if not for Brexit. One different choice - if the articles had been switched and he’d come out for remain, he might now be leading us into the sunny uplands of a united polity, and a stronger union with NI and Scotland, and a more powerful and coherent Europe taking it’s place in the new world.

The extent of this present fuck-up is tragic in so many unexpected ways.

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October 8th, 2019
02:37 pm


If I may just point out...
...That the EU isn’t against the Good Friday Agreement; Brexit is.

And the fact that the EU aren’t prepared to accept a fudge which either will doom the GFA, or the EU’s single market isn’t the EU’s fault; it is ours. We have been sold an impossibility. Now we have to pay for it and deal with the consequences. This is what happens when you proselytise the mob for decades. Boris is a master of the high demotic form, which speaks to the masses from an indulgent and mutually-agreed superiority. The Brexiters could not have done it without him; but now he has to own it as all his own work.

He’s 15% ahead in the polls. Jezza is a busted flush and the LibDem resurgence can’t be projected properly - it could be momentous; it could just be in three figures. Of course Boris wants an election now. Even if he’s forced into asking for an extension he’d still be massively ahead in the polls, especially if he can scoop up Brexit/UKIP voters.

So this is a political and national disaster playing out in ultra-slow-motion. Boris still has all the cards.

And Jeremy Corbyn, with able assistance from Seamus Milne, by not providing opposition to Brexit as an official opposition ought, has enabled this state of affairs. The two haven’t made good choices, poor loves. Neither has Boris. Nor has England and Wales; but there you go.

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October 6th, 2019
11:00 am


Things have rather moved on in politics over the last few days. The Anglosphere is agog at the creative imbecility of its leaders; and the respective meltdowns on both sides of the Atlantic appear to be reaching the classical fourth act dénouement required by such narratives.

Of course the problems are that even though Trump can be replaced at the ballot for 2020 the international damage is already done. And in the UK we will have to live with the stupidity for some time if we crash out, as seems likely.

The Tories are between 12% and 15% ahead of the Labour Party in the polls. Folk actually prefer a lying, fornicating, classics-quoting, Regency scoundrel to Jezza. And that’s Jezza and Seamus’s fault. And the fact that Jezza, like the Stalinist he once was, prevaricated over the Skripal poisoning, thereby showing his true colours to Middle England.

A hard Brexit looks to be the only way we can get sense into some folk, alas and alack. Such is.

The English electorate are like turkeys voting for Christmas, or maybe a more arable crop given that turkeys seem to have some small cognitive powers... now I have to find some way to monetise the stupidity of other people... oops, Boris and his chums got there first. And better, they tilled the soil and watered it over the years it grew, so they knew the nature of the harvest they had nurtured.

Fascists are farmers of hatred and bigotry. Which is why their ideas need to be countered and monitored even when dormant or politically neutered, lest they slip into the mainstream. 

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October 3rd, 2019
10:41 pm


More on the Beeb...
A week or so ago I mentioned the nativist clique in the BBC; and how every now and then it rears it’s ugly head:


Well, it seems some folk in the Beeb have had enough:


And folk who have been obviously biased will no doubt now be identified. Or, alternatively, it has thrown up a set of grey areas where folk may or may not be free to express personal opinions. But the original restriction never prevented John Humphrys on the Today programme on Radio4; it’s about how you frame the questions, obviously.

Racism is racism wherever it happens to find a nest to breed its hatchlings. Even in the hallowed Beeb. Transparency means we can measure things by many of the various metrics available; in the end it’s all about information and information processing.

Oh well.

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06:08 pm


So yesterday...
I went to Banksy’s pop-up shop in Croydon:


Today I read about Trump’s public nervous breakdowns over various problems:



Er... I’m not sure the Don’s physical and mental health will actually take impeachment proceedings. This could get embarrassing.

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October 2nd, 2019
02:07 pm


I make too many mistakes when posting from my phone or iPad. I’m going to have to try to get my iMac fixed. Copy editing is a nightmare for me at the best of times. 

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12:13 pm


After Boris’s conference speech I’d say if he can hold on until an election, he will walk it even if he hasn’t delivered Brexit.

The only hope is a no-confidence vote. But Dominic Grieve and Sir Nicholas Soames and their like, and Chuka Umanna and the Labour rebels won’t accept Jezza as interim leader.

Given the polls, interim Prime Minister is the best Corbyn will ever manage, and that’s not going to happen.

Boris really is the perfect snake-oil salesman. I acknowledge his brilliance at playing an audience - he always was the best comedian and raconteur, and an enthusiastic and inspirational speaker to his base; but I spent half the time shouting at the telly at his manifest inaccuracies, if that’s the euphemism I’m looking for.

So, I guess the buying public, having been sold impossibilities (there were a more than a few mutually exclusive ideas being embraced) need to know that the golden-egg-laying-goose doesn’t exist, by waiting for all the good things to happen... and waiting... and waiting until realisation eventually dawns.

I think, for the sake of the nation, and the need to get the stupid to recognise what they’ve done, we need a hard Brexit; and probably as punitive one as the EU can manage. And then I hope the Brexiters will take responsibility for trashing the Good Friday Agreement and restarting the Troubles.

Oh well. 

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October 1st, 2019
06:11 pm


This is just unreal

This is a fucking professor at Oxford. Some four-letter-persons in the Home Office need a damn good horsewhipping. This is beyond the limits of acceptability.

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September 30th, 2019
08:44 am


So it’s not just me...
...That thinks that a few folk have shorted GB PLC in the hope of a hard Brexit:


Ex chancellors-of-the-exchequer and their top aides also seem to think something similar.

Also some lass has accused Boris of touching her thigh or knee. But even Boris can’t make a lass preggers from touching their knee... I think, though given his track record maybe that thought is in error.

(Leave a comment)

September 27th, 2019
08:06 pm


Anyway... a day or so late.
Abbey Road was 50 yesterday.

It is my favourite Beatles album. To me it has the best guitar sounds ever recorded; and this is from a guy who adores good fuzz, and for whom Jimi and Jimmy were the most significant early influences on my playing (with a soupçon of Blackmore too - it was the early ‘70’s after all; Eric was so over by then).

I think it is the greatest guitar album they made, and one of the greatest guitar albums ever made by anyone. To me it is the sound of a perfect summer; where the air is liquid and the sounds are all golden, refracted through the sunlit air. Some experiences are impossible to convey- in fact all experience falls into this category; but we make approximations and construct parables to try to illustrate what we mean. I’d just say that god must have loved the Beatles almost as much as god loved Bach and Mozart and poor, great, deaf Ludwig.

I am probably wrong to believe Darwin said that first; that the Good Lord must love the Beatles very much, but it tickles my fancy rather.

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10:46 am


Ah, the BBC...
It seems that the nativist clique in the Beeb is being called out over the Naga Manchetty public sanction:


For the Beeb’s own take:


I may have suggested before that there is a nativist element in the Armed Forces, the Home Office, the Police, some elements of the intel community, and the Beeb. It’s not difficult to work out who they are if you work with them.

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September 26th, 2019
06:54 pm


Another day...
...another problem. My iMac has died. It was the 27” model and I didn’t update it when I could.  Now my finances won’t allow such indulgences. I do have an iPad Pro which I will continue to work on for the time being, but all my Helix patches etc... oh well. I’ll see if I can get it fixed.

And today I read that 41% of state-school pupils in London have additional private tuition, and nationwide the figure is around 27%.

Yeah, abolishing the private schools is really going to make a difference. The parents throwing £19k a year (or £39k for boarding) will just throw some of those resources at private tuition and double the au pair’s hours.

if Corbyn wins the next election because Boris has gambled the lot on the wrong horse, then I guess Eton will be abolished, and Cameron, Boris, and Rees-Mogg will have had a lot to do with it. How to make your alma mater proud, chaps.

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September 25th, 2019
09:53 am


Lots of writers in Newspapers don’t seem to know what Country they live in
Lots of writers in Newspapers don’t seem to know what Country they live in. “Who runs Britain?” Some of them scream.

That question was settled in the 17th century; parliament.

If some of these so-called Conservatives want to tear up that they should come out from their closets, don their armbands, and polish their jackboots. That way we will know them when we see them.

By the way, did anyone else, upon hearing Trump’s speech to the UN, detect echoes of the rhetoric of Mein Kampf?

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September 24th, 2019
11:02 am


The Supreme Court has rendered an unanimous decision.

I couple of weeks ago I opined that I was soon going to have to feel sorry for Boris.

I guess this is not the beginning of my sympathy, nor the end, but merely the beginning of the end...

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September 23rd, 2019
12:21 pm


Oh well.
And now I can't vote for the Labour Party in any way. Anti-Semitism, Brexit, and now Education. Oh well.

I'm voting LibDem. And Remain if I get the chance.

Interesting finding out how Cameron and Osborne have broken their united front. Osborne is happy to lay the blame for the Referendum squarely at the feet of Cameron. But I do wonder how much of a quid pro quo was involved in getting Osborne onside. If you were bought and paid to do so, I think you agreed with the policy. But who knew it would turn out quite the way it did? It is less important to apportion blame now, and more important to fix things as best as we can. Blame can be judged at a later and more leisurely date, with maybe some ameliorating circumstances (and co-operation in putting things right) taken into account.

Even Boris could redeem himself.

He could also get a deal which worked, which would do as well.

Of course we'd be better off remaining; but I don't have a platform to shout it to the population - and who ever listens to anything I say, anyway?

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September 21st, 2019
06:35 am


Maybe why the bankers all supported Brexit
And why they threw so much money at it:


Under the form of capitalism we operate in the moment, there is a duty to ensure that profits are maximised and costs and expenses cut to the bone. If folk can find an ingenious way of avoiding tax, they are honour-bound to do so as long as it’s legal. If it’s a grey area they will exploit it.

I wonder if the Crispian Odeys and maybe even the Jacob Rees-Moggs of this world have been sailing close to these waters? It would explain a lot. But, as is, even Bojo has said that European cooperation regarding crime will continue, so no escape there then, if Bojo means it. I doubt if most Englishfolk will shed a tear for the noble bankers incarcerated in German and Dutch gaols, they were only following capitalism’s orders, after all.

Arraign them all; every one of them that used such tactics - and put the lawyers that gave them that advice in the dock too... unless of course your executive drafted the legislation so badly that they can get away with it, obviously. And that’s down to government.

This is why we need legal and constitutional experts in government. Ordinary folk are all very well as part and parcel of our moral compass, but you need experts to actually build legislation that is fit for purpose. Now Germany (and the Netherlands) tend to elect competent folk rather than rabble-rousing populists. Let’s see if their legislation matches their car-building; I’m betting it will and lots of the London banking community are going to have their collars felt.

Good. And it seems the better sort of Bankers have been thinking about other ways of doing politics:


The world is changing. Capitalism does need resetting. The duty to shareholders should be better weighted to the duty to the development of the company; and the duties to workers, the customers, and society as a whole.

(Leave a comment)

September 18th, 2019
10:08 am


I've been spending a bit of time away from here and on The Gear Page as I am still a guitarist with slightly nerdy obsessions. And those afflicted spend half our lives exchanging stories about kit.

I'm quite poor at the moment, which isn't ideal.

A chum of mine, John Adlam, co-edited a couple of academic books which are really impressive; you can get copies on Amazon:



(I played guitar in a band with him, he is/was a bassist; not sure if he's still playing much anymore though. Music's loss is psychology's gain; though all of this is interdisciplinary stuff encompassing many fields.)

Of interest to politicos, artists, musicians, psychologists, sociologists, academic humanists, and informed laypersons. And maybe a few others.

Making obvious the structural violence in society; and how societies use various forms of coercion - and have always done so and will always do so - gives quite a telling picture. Anything which grows from such roots is also shaped by the soil it grows in. Which leads to the question; can any of our creativity be untainted by the structural violences of our societies? We start with the innovation of tools of which weapons are a subset. At base, our creativity depended on violence, or the escape from violence.

(One conclusion seems to be that the move from individual violence to creativity, either separating them and making them distinct, or alternatively subsuming the violent state within the creative state, is something we can work towards; and that seems unarguable. The mechanisms for doing so, and the feedback the data gives us, will give us a chance of retuning and modifying whatever mechanism we attempt. I imagine John and his co-editors/contributors have worked with folk trying to break free of cycles of violence, and I know John contributed to an earlier tome:  "Forensic Music Therapy: A Treatment for Men and Women in Secure Hospital Settings" led by Stella Compton Dickinson.)

Maybe there's a reason Leonardo covered his margins in devising weapons of war. I must think more on't.

(Leave a comment)

September 16th, 2019
09:11 pm


Of course Boris will drag us out on the 31st October. He will have to ask for an extension as the new law forces him to; and then either he, or maybe France (if he's managed to piss them off enough) will veto any further extension and therefore we will crash out.

Simples, as Mrs May said.

And no doubt there will be legal challenges as a smokescreen and the matter will happen and be challenged by the courts, but by then it will be too late.

That Dominic is a smart lad. Faits accompli can always be confused with leadership given the right spin. The opposition are all a bit slow on the uptake. For some reason or other they think they have tied Boris's hands. Let's see.

(Leave a comment)

04:25 pm


Now this really is news for the literary-minded.

John Milton's First Folio has been identified thanks to his marginal notes. The copy is in the possession of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Now we need facsimiles. With footnotes.

(Leave a comment)

September 14th, 2019
08:10 pm


I'm sitting down...
After putting the kids to bed and listening to and watching the Last Night of the Proms on telly and I've fallen in love with Jamie Barton. She is def the second hottest large woman I've ever seen, if not the hottest. Talent like that is so very rare. So very, very rare. I hope she has billionaires lining up to make her happy. And I'm normally the shallow sort of chap that finds Monica Bellucci the ideal. Someone who can do what Ms Barton does is actually sexier than any airbrushed model or even natural beauty. I suppose genius-levels of talent change the equation for attractiveness, but I can't exactly put my finger on why that should be the case; responding viscerally to an intellectual stimulus is a bit of a problem of category displacement.

Anyway, without being creepy about it; man, that lass has it... pretty much a grand slam in no trumps. Have I mentioned that she can sing? OMG can she sing.

(Leave a comment)

07:40 am


Now why don't more people listen when experts have their say?

So even a clean Brexit means constant ongoing negotiations with the EU from here on in. So the nightmare will continue for ever and ever. Or until we get another referendum, maybe.

I can't tell you how much I'm going to really enjoy telling folk "I told you so".

I will have even more fun telling them how they can fix things; because I'm guessing when realisation dawns on folk it won't be pretty. Maybe we need a hard Brexit and a ritual humiliation of the folk who led the 52% into making the biggest political mistake of the post-War years to heal the nation. The nation may need the catharsis of contrition on the part of those who led us into this mess in order to heal; but folk never admit they are wrong - and contrition demands acceptance of wrong and an attempt to put it right.

Oh well. I think that Christopher Booker's deathbed recantation had some purpose:

Even those few of us who have been trying to explain the unrecognised realities of our situation since long before the referendum could not have predicted quite what a catastrophic mess we would end up with … By ripping us out of the incredibly complex system that had so tightly integrated our economy with the rest of the EU we were putting at risk not just a large part of our currently frictionless export trade with the EU itself which provides an eighth of our national income, we were also risking much of our trade with other countries across the world.” (From his valedictory column, just before his death.)

So then, how do we put this right? Well the first step is a second referendum. After a rational explication of the situation, obvs.

(Leave a comment)

September 10th, 2019
08:42 am


Old friends.
I met up with e_compass_rosa from LiveJournal yesterday as she was in London for a couple of days. We had spoken on the phone last over a decade ago, but we seemed to pick up the conversation where we left off, which is always amusing.

Anyway, I had a simply delightful day and evening. Drank too much, obviously. Talked far too much, also obviously. We wandered around a few bits of London and ended up pottering about my old haunts in Soho where I pointed out all the places that used to have musical significance, doing my Rock 'n' Roll historian routine. And the shock of change was brought upon me. Crossrail has brought a hammer down on Denmark Street. I can't even place where Battistas was (on the opposite corner to Denmark Street) as the buildings have changed as if leftovers from the Doctor Strange special effects units had somehow bled onto the Charing Cross Road.

And the Gay Hussar is gone. I was going to take Madame there to eat, and talk about Soho's history, and the mix of politics, music, prostitution, and "drugula" activities which all had their London home in Soho. Instead we found a pub and I got questioned on Brexit, which immediately caused me to weep into my beer and tear my hair out in large chunks. Madame consoled me by buying supper; she's a sensitive lass. We wittered on about anger management, education, families and stuff until it was time to go home.

I had a lovely day out and I can really appreciate the changes London is going through; well you can't avoid noticing them really.

So while the mother of all parliaments was prorogued in "an act of executive fiat" and Bojo was losing his sixth vote in succession, which is why the prorogation happened no doubt, I was enjoying myself in good company. I too can fiddle while Rome burns.

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September 8th, 2019
03:29 pm


More Brexit mess

I don't suppose we can really blame the French for this. However, I rather wish they would let us sort out our mess this side of the channel. Boris isn't Britain; but Boris is holding up a mirror to a group of English folk who have never before actually had to face reality. They have existed in their fairytale land and have projected their fantasies onto the rest of us and the EU. I would beg France not to do the ERG's job for them; they can't take the country with them at present - do not give them the gift of what they want. It will be playing into Bojo's hands.

Come on, twist the knife; give us an extension. It will benefit you in the long-term, and benefit us: and a certain sort of Englishman will be forever grateful for you to have pulled our irons out of the fire.

The thing is, if Boris gets his way, we are out anyway - but, and this is crucial, it will be our nation's leadership and politicians at fault, not any external event, nor any other nation. The French are sensible and intelligent enough to understand the present constitutional crisis has to be played out without any additional externalities.

In fact, if the rest of the world would hold us in temporary suspension, with all of our treaties and contracts maintained in present stasis while we work out who and what we are in our new world, it might be for the best. Often when nations do this recalculation you get refugees and stuff. Let's see if the UK can avoid that particular outcome. Externalities will redraw battle-lines, and we really don't need that at the moment.

Tags: , ,

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September 7th, 2019
08:21 am


Gigging in Devon tonight.
The band will be staying overnight at a B&B and driving back tomorrow. It's quite a trek; but no doubt Rock 'n' Roll will happen, even if most of the music played will be for dancing rather than getting wasted to; if you are prepared to let that prepositional clause-ending pass.

I'm rather hoping my old LJ chum Elisa will contact me tomorrow if she is in town, but, if she isn't I hope things are going well.

(Leave a comment)

September 6th, 2019
10:30 pm


Did I mention the Comedians...
So it now appears our redoubtable PM called both his younger brother Joe, and David Cameron "Girly Swots" as if they were a brace of fotherington-tomases, and our Bojo was the terror of IIb. Bojo hav turned into Grabber Maj. (Winner of the mrs Joyful prize for raffia work etc.) but who think he is as cool as Molesworth. Let me disabuse him, ahem.

Girly swots get the firsts, old thing. Girly swots sweat their briefs and understand them (ooer, Matron; that could be misconstrued). Girly swots, even when they get caught like a rabbit in the headlights, stammering meaningless syllables, can recollect themselves, take a deep breath and croak on, trying to make sense and impart it too; rather than hope meaning can be extracted from the word cloud that issues from an unedited stream-of-consciousness, replete with the remnants of a classical education with which to adorn the nonsense, obvs.

You see Boris still has horsepower in that brain of his; but in life, learning and intelligence respond best to regular structured exercise. And the great offices of state need diligent folk rather than amusing mavericks, as for all that many folk have vaunting ambition, few of them are actually up to those particular jobs.

The odd thing is that Boris never loses his capacity to surprise us, and right now the most surprising thing would be for him to find a good way out of this pickle for us, and maybe even himself.

Never say never; but I reckon it would need a chap more diligent than Boris and with more than second helpings of good luck as well.

Let's see if Boris can prevail where the Girly Swots failed.

I'm going to form a new band called the Girly Swots. It will be ver rocknroll, as any fule kno. (Full drag or not, that is the question? Or is that like cultural appropriation unless I'm prepared to live like that? I'd like to cite Rock 'n' Roll tradition here, because there is a crossover; but at the same time I don't want folk thinking I'm mocking the wrong target.)

We are the Girly Swots... but do we really have to let "Dagenham" Dave Cameron into the band? I mean being fellated by a dead pig is pretty Rock 'n' Roll, even if he didn't get to join the Piers Gaveston club; but he can't play guitar for toffee, and even though he didn't peach on other folk, it's pretty damn obvious he didn't smoke enough weed himself.

The thing about the Gaveston club is they've all done the dick-in-a-dead-pig's-mouth thing. IIRC Hugh Grant was a member.

(Leave a comment)

08:24 am


And the comedy just keeps coming...
A chap in Morely, a suburb of Leeds, in Yorkshire, very politely asked Boris to "please leave my town". I believe Momentum, the left-wing pressure group at present running the Labour party, are distributing the video. That saves me the bother then; whether I agree with Momentum or not. (Not, but that's by the way.)

And then we come to a slightly more important issue:


Wherein we find that under Trump and Pence, this GOP/Trump administration has no understanding of the Irish base in the US, let alone an understanding of the complexities and nuances of the Irish question. Pence is supposed to be of Irish descent. When a West Brit, and I suppose a unionist (uncapitalised) like me appreciates Ireland's position better than an American of Irish descent there has to be something wrong with the world, the Trump administration, the Irish-American caucus, and my meagre understanding.

What has happened to the Irish in America? Or more appropriately; what has happened to Mike Pence that he is so divorced from Irish opinion?

Was it Leo and his husband?

Or was it something else? I mean if all the Anglo-Saxon right wing folk get their briefing from some general source, and those contributing to it about this particular issue are ERG/Right-wing Brexit types who have always ignored the Irish question because of a peculiar cultural blindspot, of course ones attitudes are going to be screwed. But Pence is meant to be of Irish descent, nevertheless; as is Bannon.

Having discounted expertise, intelligence, and all the paraphernalia of reason in favour of "positivity" and "energy", and other such nebulous concepts when applied to the body politic, we come to ignorance and prejudice as tools of governance. Why can't I see this as a good call? Is it just the cynic in me? Ignorance, prejudice, energy, positivity, and a can do mentality. What could possibly go wrong? No doubt hard work will free us, or somesuch. (Maybe I paraphrase to avoid invoking the demons of the past; inexact translations have such a cavalier poetry.)

The madness is showing further symptoms. It is obvious that the largest Anglo-Saxon cultures are senile; but I think in these cases the dementia is reversible with the right treatment.

I see Mugabe has died. There's a chap who makes Tony Blair, Ronnie Reagan, GWB, or Maggie Thatcher look like a saint; but who still liberated his nation and then destroyed it. He had few equals. In terms of politicians/dictators/whatevers he is one of the most successful. Only beaten to the top of the table by Uncle Vlad. Mugabe didn't actually die in power though. When it comes to the Mad Dictator Top Trump game, dying of natural causes while still in power has to be the absolute zenith.

More drugs please nurse; and I hope you have brought enough to share.

(Leave a comment)

September 5th, 2019
11:38 am


Boris’s brother, Joe, has done a Brutus and resigned, or as good as...


(Leave a comment)

September 4th, 2019
02:29 pm


After Dorian
I rather think the Bahamas are going to need lots of help.

These big hurricanes are going to become regular events. Given that, maybe we should be designing buildings that can stand 200mph+ winds.

Conditions change architecture and act as an editor to our notions of permanence or even longevity. One day the mountain will be little other than hummock on the plain; and its particles strewn to the wind. Time and climate change will destroy our architecture from Stonehenge and the Pyramids, through to the Taj Mahal, St Peter’s in Rome, or the Houses of Parliament.

Cultures born of humans are mortal and will fail unless they transform. Some caterpillars never manage to get to the butterfly stage.

(Leave a comment)

12:55 am


And in the Grauniad’s comments we find a solution.
I found this about the most likely route to avoid Boris and Dominic doing a “find the lady” on the rest of us.

Apparently it’s all fairly mechanistic, deterministic and clockwork:

MPs pass the Law blocking No Deal Brexit
Vote of No Confidence immediately called
Johnson demands General Election under Fixed Term Parliaments Act
Vote of No Confidence Passes
Vote for GE rejected, fails to get required two thirds of MPs
MPs select Caretaker PM commanding the support of majority the House
*** Prorogue Intermission ***
Johnson refuses to resign as PM
MPs send Humble Address to Queen
Queen sacks PM
Queen appoints Caretaker PM nominated by MPs
Caretaker PM moves Brexit Date out ahead of any General Election
Caretaker PM calls General Election

Thanks to LucianOfSamosata from the Graun.

(Leave a comment)

September 3rd, 2019
03:25 pm


And they're off!
The new term starts. Bojo now has to cope with rebellions, cross-party alliances and all the razzmatazz that accompanies such high-stakes constitutional gambling.

Having come across as Uncle Benito in a child's Winnie-the-Pooh costume, because Dominic told him he had to be strict-and-stern to stop the nasty splitters splitting, he now has to deal with a temporarily united opposition.

Of course, the Labour party have finally realised that Bojo still holds trump cards: he can be forced to go to the EU and beg for an extension period, but he can veto it too. (It's in the rules that any member can veto an extension and until we leave; Boris has that vote.) He can be forced to hold a general election, but he can always put back the election date to past our leaving date for a perfect fait accompli. His hands can't be tied. And he cannot be trusted. So he has to be forced out and replaced by a government of national unity for the remainder of the Fixed Term Parliament.

And that's not going to happen.

This is going right to the wire.

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September 2nd, 2019
11:17 am


Saw Tony Blair's speech.
And I have to agree with him completely.

His analysis was masterly.

If only there had been no Iraq war he could have been the greatest Premier we have ever had. And I include in that WLSC. Instead Blair is what he is; a political colossus with blood on his hands.

Oh what if; if only; if.

I am presently watching Jeremy Corbyn making a speech from Salford. Corbyn's speech is bland and doesn't stick to the point; he meanders and loses focus with individual examples. Blair, who has a good political brain almost on par with Lord Mandelson or Dominic Cummings, gets to the point with a scalpel. Corbyn is still electioneering as I listen.

Blair didn't accuse Johnson of anything, but his analysis was infinitely more devastating. The text to Blair's speech doesn't appear to be available. Shame, as it was rather good.

Maybe Blair can pull something out of the bag. He, Gordon Brown, and John Major together would be a formidable group of ex PMs. Maybe get Sir Nick Clegg onside; but whatever, I don't think David Cameron needs to be included, does he?

(Leave a comment)

August 30th, 2019
08:43 am


Today is a neighbour's funeral
So booted and suited in sombre dark-grey I shall attend.

But before that I breakfast and read, and this came across my screen:


And I wondered if the late C19th/C20th idea of family has to undergo a massive change. Families are now as vertical as they are horizontal. Three generations living together co-operatively will become the norm, and maybe we have to adapt our cultural narratives to reflect that fact. We could begin by explaining the advantages.  We don't all have a Dower House to retire to, in order that we may always be on hand; but surely that is the ideal? I know we all need our personal space, but I can't help but think that folk in big houses had it right; most space is communal between occupants, and communal between friends maybe, but communal nevertheless. Your library was often a private space, but the parlour, breakfast room, sitting rooms, gunrooms, tackrooms, stables etc were always communal. 

Native English and West Indian kids often live with grandparents. Asian kids often live with parents and grandparents. Maybe the cultural narrative about the nuclear family has to change completely. I think that America still believes in the nuclear family as an ideal. I think it is an intrinsically isolationist model dependent upon a belief in the efficacy of small units where every member had a specific function. Breadwinning, homemaking, etc.

I know if I'm still alive when my kids come to have kids, I'll be happy to have them live with me; someone will have to push my wheelchair around, after all. The ideal is of course to live long enough to see them established, and not worry about grandkids; which may happen if I get to 80, but unlikely otherwise.

For six generations now, by patrilineal descent, the chaps have married late. Second and third sons had to establish themselves as they weren't inheriting. Often they needed their commanding officer's permission to marry. Sometimes they were half a world away. I became a father in my fifties. My father became a father at thirty-nine. His father was in his late thirties when he became a father. My Dad was born in 1922. I am only five generations from Waterloo. If not for Chenobyl, I reckon I would have managed into my nineties. As is I reckon I'll be lucky to see out my sixties. The stats have gone from one in three to one in two, after all, and that upswing begins right about there. Nuclear testing and accidents certainly did wonders for our cancer stats. And I still smoke, despite having pulmonary lesions, dammit. It's always just one long suicide note, isn't it?

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