The Curmudgeon


Saturday, August 01, 2015

The Wolf That Will Swallow the Sun

An extract

The Captain stood facing out to sea, one hand raised to shade his eyes, the other resting on the head of the great gaunt dog sitting at his right. The dog’s head was turned to face inland, its teeth bared; as a child Visner had never been entirely confident of the Captain's ability to control it. The traditional gloss on the statue was that the Captain was watching for invaders and the dog was summoning the citizens to repel them; given what was known of the historical Captain Scoller, it was at least equally likely that the man was staring after the longship which had just abandoned him while the dog snarled at the soldiers who were about to hack both man and dog to pieces. Visner could not remember what expression was on the Captain's face, and at this time of day the black stone showed nothing.

Visner turned away and went across the road to one of the restaurants, the one whose price list flew closest to the limits of reasonable expenditure without blatantly exceeding them. The place was called the Captain's Table, and the walls were decorated with historical photographs of the town, with a natural emphasis on its former function as a sea-port; but to Visner’s relief no effort had been made to conjure up a nautical atmosphere with oars, wheels and the like.

The waitress was young and blonde, and her smile was slightly better than professional. "Good evening," she said, and handed Visner a menu in a plastic folder.
"Thank you," Visner said.
"If you would prefer non-migrant service, just let a member of staff know," the waitress said.
"I beg your pardon?" Visner said.

The waitress stepped back from the table and pointed at her foot. A grey plastic ring encircled her leg just above the ankle, loosely fitted but impossible to slide off. It bore a serial number and a cuboid protrusion like a child's building brick with a small square hole. Inside the hole was a coppery glint.

"It's your statutory right as a consumer to be served by a non-migrant if you so wish," the waitress said. "You should be aware that if you choose that option when the restaurant is busy it can mean your meal may take longer to arrive. We're not all that busy now, though."
"You'll do fine,” Visner said. "But thanks anyway."

He glanced down the menu, which turned out to be two menus: one with smaller print, greater choice and larger prices, and a footnote which guaranteed that all ingredients were imported. Visner ordered from the cheaper list, which guaranteed only that the ingredients were of the best quality obtainable at such economical rates.

The portions were reasonably sized, but cauterised almost beyond the bounds of flavour; perhaps the kitchen staff knew too much about the best obtainable ingredients, or perhaps they had been ordered to motivate customers towards the more expensive menu. Scraping at the carbon with a knife, Visner looked around the half-dozen other occupied tables. To judge by the diners' display of appetite, most of them had opted for the cheaper meal as well; at the table nearest Visner's they had also requested the non-migrant service, and a youngish man whose voice reminded him of Gabend's was lamenting the times that made such choices necessary.

"It might be a bit slower than letting a plague virus loose or rounding us all up to be shot, but the end result is exactly the same: the disappearance of this nation. Worse than that, the deliberate extermination of this nation, because I refuse to believe that they don’t understand the consequences of what they do. It’s genocide, nothing more nor less."
"It's irresponsible, definitely," agreed the young man’s older companion as Visner’s waitress walked past. “I think just about everyone agrees that the penalties are far too lenient."
"Penalties? They practically reward them," the young man said. "They don't have to pay their repatriation fares, they don't have to pay fines, they probably don't have to eat dog-meat like this, and even the ones that work don't have to work very hard. All they have to do is wear an ankle bracelet for a while, and even that comes off after a couple of years so they can sail away for another little vacation. They ought to be tattooed, permanently marked somehow."
"Branded on the forehead," said the older man, leaning back in his chair and corseting his paunch with his fingers. "It's what used to be done with runaway slaves. Though I doubt it would work nowadays; it'd probably end up being a fashion statement."
"They could outlaw it," said the young man; "they could make that design of tattoo illegal for anyone else to have, like a copyright."
"They could do that," the older man agreed; "but they're afraid to, of course. They don't want to seem harsh. Meanwhile they spend millions on the repatriation initiative, and whenever part of the country sinks beneath the sea it turns out that they can’t afford the land reclamation."

Visner signalled to the waitress and asked for the bill. Coffee was available, but the price was bloated by the water tax on restaurants; it would be far cheaper to use the ration in his hotel room. He made a point of thanking the waitress rather too effusively, less from any profound gratitude than from an urge to spite the spirit of Gabend in the young man’s voice.

He walked all the way round the Square in search of a pleasanter exit than Scholar Street; but he was unable to find a route that led easily back to the hotel and he had no wish to explore Gullands for short-cuts in the dark. As he was inching past the hole in Scholar Street he heard a low, indeterminate growl that made him stop and strain his eyes; the source might have been a dog or a disturbed tramp or perhaps, Visner thought when it did not occur again, he was simply not fully awake. He had spent most of the day surrounded by the static whine of the car engine and the murmured exclamations of passing vehicles, which were doubtless now being echoed in the murmur and crash of the sea.

Visner walked to the end of Scholar Street, as quickly and quietly as he could manage without actually going on tiptoe or hurrying over the line between a brisk walk and a run. Nobody was trying to sleep on the pavement; and there were no dogs.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Thin on Evidence

Mere experts have been carping and cavilling over our lissom, slender Head Boy's proposed war on fatties. The Government intends to deprive people of social security payments if they have obesity or addiction problems and refuse to be coerced into surgery or brainwashing. However, the president of the British Psychological Society and the chief executive of the charity Addaction both apparently believe that there is some sort of medical ethic that transcends the only two human drives which are widely recognised at Westminster, namely the profit motive and the lynch-mob instinct. Their doubts are no doubt fully justified, but of course they miss the point. One does not make war on fatties in order to help fatties; one makes war on fatties in order to provide a nice, big, rounded, soft target at which the tabloids can aim the rabble.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Improving the Lesser Breeds

Britain's Head Boy has been giving the Malaysian prime minister a bit of a ticking off, burbling about the importance of a free press, the need for ethics in business, the fight against corruption and all the other things that are just about good enough for the kind of hard-working foreigners who don't come swarming over here. Semi-competent salesman that he is, Britain's Head Boy gave praise unto the impact on London of "Islamic finance", peace be upon it, because the species of Muslimity that throws up huge loony skyscrapers all over the place is obviously a much more constructive breed of Muslimity than the species which needs to watch its children constantly for signs of incomplete Britishness.

Meanwhile, the leader of Malaysia's political opposition is apparently a bit less accommodating than the very 'umble Randy Burnham, and is serving a five-year prison sentence on charges of behaving like a prefect in an English public school. Britain's Head Boy dispatched his chief spook for "discussions" with the unfortunate man's daughter, whose waterboarding and removal to a CIA black site have doubtless been postponed until her father's captors start displaying an appropriate degree of respect for Rupert Murdoch's idea of press freedom, transparent government and business ethics.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

His Balls to Gun-Stones

We are all aware that the Farage Falange wishes to propel the country back in time; but there has always been some controversy as to the precise degree of reaction it has in mind, if mind is the word I want. There are those who look back doe-eyed upon the nineteen-fifties and sixties, yearning for the days when it was legal to display a notice proclaiming No Blacks No Irish No Dogs; there are others who prefer the authentic British values of the Mosleyite thirties; and, naturally enough for a party composed largely of cast-off Conservatives, there is a sizeable contingent who share the Bullingdon Club's nostalgia for Regency corruption and the Victorian poor laws.

However, all such chronological timidity is anathema to the Caudillo himself, who has now so far recovered from the emotive effects of his Nick Clegg pledge to resign that he finally feels capable of toddling back on the national stage. Now that asylum seekers are going to the lengths of maliciously dying in the Channel Tunnel, the Caudillo has belched forth his personal decree that England must hop back at least as far as the mid-sixteenth century, dispatch an expeditionary force to France and reclaim our historic ownership of Calais. It is as yet unclear whether the Caudillo would accept the Duchy of Normandy for himself, should anyone happen to offer it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another Hysterectomy for the Mother of Democracies

Despite the obvious advantages of a system that can deliver an overall majority from a third of the vote, Britain is still too democratic for the Bullingdon Club. So robust is the Conservative Party's faith in the public's good sense that its chief salesman is already plotting to pack the upper chamber as well as the lower. Britain's Head Boy is anxious to ensure that the House of Donors "more accurately reflects the situation" in the House of Claimants: "That's been the position with prime ministers for a very, very long time and for very good and fair reason", namely that there isn't much point in having the lower house farctate with fat cats, placemen, time-servers and crooks if the upper house is just going to sit there and interfere. The Bullingdon Club has already been defeated on several of its more faith-based policies, and Britain's Head Boy wishes to ensure a more reliable system of checks and balances which will have more the character of a good, solid rubber stamp than anything so flighty and corruptible as a democratic legislature. It certainly says a good deal for the dignity and resilience of the British Conservative Party that it needs to gerrymander even the more blatantly unelected part of our nominal democracy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Welcome to the Free World

Despite the increasing openness of their country to American profiteering, it appears that some uppity Africans still have much to learn about the meaning of the word democracy. The Ethiopian government was elected with a hundred per cent of parliamentary seats, much as the two right wings of the US business party tend to do fairly well in the fledgling Dynastic Republic's quadrennial balloon-fests. Although the US registered concern during the election about restrictions on civil libertes and free speech, President Obama has now officially legitimised the Ethiopian government by conferring upon it the World Cop's merit badge, to the disgust of various far-left and backsliding persons who seem to think democracy has something to do with representation of the great unwashed or, worse yet, the numerous impecunious. Speaking at the palace of that great freedom fighter, Haile Selassie, the Ethiopian prime minister settled the matter by referring to his country as a "fledgling democracy", the term favoured by the Reagan administration for its pet death-squad polities in Central America.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fundamentally Decent

Some Islamic fundamentalist chums of the British Government have called a ceasefire in their ongoing attack on Yemen, with an option to resume bombing anything and everything should anyone suspected of being an evil terrorist put an eyebrow wrong. As with the British Government's other fundamentalist chums in Tel Aviv, the bombers have been "increasingly killing civilians as they continue to target rebels" which, assuming the civilians do not qualify as a price worth paying, puts the campaign firmly in the category of Good Intentions Gone Awry. The British Government is happy for weapons to be sold to the Islamic fundamentalists in question, provided the weapons are appropriately marked Not to be Used for Internal Repression or Other Nefarious Purposes. Accordingly, the ceasefire is humanitarian, without the scare quotes that would accompany a similar announcement from Hamas or Tehran; and although various human rights groups, the United Nations and other foreigners have shaken their heads a bit, neither the British Government nor the Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair has felt that the situation merits concern.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On the Origin of Species Loss by Means of Unnatural Selection

The roots of the Anthropocene Extinction Event may extend somewhat further back than had previously been thought. Archaeologists working on the shores of the Sea of Galilee have discovered the remains of a settlement dating from the recent glacial blip 23,000 years ago, and have found evidence that hunter-gatherer societies were already at the point of designating certain organisms pests, weeds or otherwise unworthy of existence. Although the Neolithic revolution only began 12,000 years later, it appears that the morality of myxomatosis and badger-busting was securely embedded in the programming of Homo sapiens ipsedixit from a much earlier stage. Good Christian folk who disapprove of interfering with God's creation will be relieved that the site is in Israel and the culprits, therefore, almost certainly Jews.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What Weight Should We Be Punching Above?

A mere twelve years after the Conservative Party gave the big rah-rah to the Reverend Blair's crusade in Iraq, and only four years after the wog-bombing of Libya, it appears that doubts are startng to creep in as to the general success of the whole civilisation-clashing enterprise, and whether the country can afford any more such gloriously accomplished missions. Crispin Blunt, who is chair of the foreign affairs select committee, has launched an inquiry into whether the results of the Libyan adventure - a failed state, a migrant crisis (refugee crisis, in Oldspeak), a lot more space for Islamic State to expand into, and the Russians growling from the sidelines about Western perfidy - really do constitute what might legitimately be considered a roaring success. It is quite probable that the recently-retired Willem den Haag, who was Minister for Wogs, Frogs and Huns at the time, believes that the enterprise was a spiffing job which has left the world a cleaner, safer place; but then den Haag was never really the stuff of which global statesmen are made. His glorious career began with losing a general election on a proto-UKIP save-the-pound campaign; progressed through years of jet-set smooching with Lord Ashcroft in Belize; and wound down with failure in a petty-minded coup attempt against that world-bestriding Great Satan, the Speaker of the House of Commons. Blunt, who was dethroned by his constituency executive committee two years ago for being too honest, and then voted back in by the membership, will doubtless be highly sympathetic.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Shirker Bees

The British beehive, do you see,
Reflects our Big Society:
Alas, according to report,
The British bee's a social sort.

A monarch heads the hive and nation,
According to her proper station:
The Queen exists to breed and fatten,
Just like our Granny von Mountbatten.

And then there are the drones, who form
The mighty backbone of the swarm:
Most worthy chaps, because they do
Nothing at all but eat and screw.

Deservedly beneath all these,
There are the common shirker bees,
Who simply fly around all day
And snort some nectar on their way.

Now, no hard-working family
Would tolerate a shirker bee
Dancing around the humble home
While migrants pinched the honeycomb.

And every scrounger has, we fear,
Concealed a weapon up its rear!
And so we need our pest controls
To help us deal with stinging proles.

To those who say, "O let them fly,
Or else the hive will starve and die,"
We answer: Merely theories!
Now pull your weight, or buzz off, please.

Amber Fudd