The Curmudgeon

YOU'LL COME FOR THE CURSES. YOU'LL STAY FOR THE MUDGEONRY.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Court Case Threat to Reckless Rat

If further proof were needed of the perils of unrestricted immigration, one of the recent migrants to the Farage Falange is being sued by his former compatriots in the Real Conservative Party. Mark Reckless, the Falange's Sub-caudillo for the white-van constituency of Rochester and Strood, defected along with his chief salesbeing without troubling to save his ex-colleagues the expense of printing propaganda with his name on it. This must be all the more galling since the pledges and policies would have been almost entirely indistinguishable; the major difference between a Real Conservative election leaflet and a screed from the Farage Falange is that the former uses more cyan and the latter more magenta. It's the toner, not the tone.

Anyway, the parlous financial position of the Real Conservative Party, with all those bankers and arms dealers still begging in the street and quite unable to help, means that indigenous Rochester and Strooders have been delving into their pockets to print propaganda for what turned out to be the wrong Mark Reckless. Accordingly, and in keeping with the principles of Osbornomic fiscal probity, the local party plans to spend more money on a lawsuit unless Reckless hands back £3000, or about one-fifth of the going price for sharing a trough with a cabinet minister. No doubt the Ministry of Justice will be more than happy to help: why, if not for such deserving cases as this, was Legal Aid ever invented?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Targeting Resources

The Bullingdon Club has managed the remarkable achievement of being too callous for Eric Pickles. A squabble has apparently broken out between the Treasury and Pickles' Ministry for Atomisation and Social Cleansing, over the former's proposed removal of local welfare assistance. Not only is this fund designed to provide emergency help for people on low incomes; it has the additional character flaw of being administered by local authorities. Evidently even Eric Pickles is not too thick-headed to be concerned for his place at the trough after the next general election; and Osborne's little orange fag Danny Alexander has been squeaking a bit as well. Both of them want to keep the fund going with £70 million of ringfenced money; but the chancellor has other ideas of how best to court the white working class. Along with the bingo and beer, he has pledged fifty million in an effort to make the England football team slightly less hopeless.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quintet

Robert Altman 1979

Quintet is a post-apocalyptic science fiction film in which futuristic style and advanced technology are distinguished by their absence; in fact, the beards, long clothes and large hats worn by many of the characters suggest the denizens of a corrupt and muddy mediaeval city-state. Appearing at the end of the decade in which Altman made his name with crowded, expansive satirical comedies like M*A*S*H and A Wedding, Quintet is slow, grim, taciturn and, for the most part, closed in not only by the walls of its crumbling citadel, but by misty-edged framing which makes the interior scenes appear as if through goggles imperfectly cleared of condensation. It is a film about a game, in which the wife of a losing player calmly and deliberately fries her own hand on a stove, and in which the only playful character becomes collateral damage thirty minutes in.

Essex (Paul Newman) and his young, pregnant wife Vivia (Brigitte Fossey) struggle across a frozen desert to the dying city, where a bullet train stands half buried in snow and where the dead are disposed of by leaving their bodies for packs of rottweilers. Society is dominated by the game of quintet, which seems to be popular everywhere since even Vivia, a seal-hunter's daughter who has never seen the city, knows how to play it. The game involves five players who sit around a pentagonal board, and a "sixth man" who sits out and manipulates the game before playing against the winner of the five. The board includes a region known as "limbo", and players who are knocked out are said to be "killed". It quickly becomes apparent that the city's elite quintet players, under the guidance of the affable adjudicator Grigor (Fernando Rey), have taken matters to an unpleasantly literal level.

One of the players, St Christopher (Vittorio Gassman) runs a charity mission where he delivers a sermon on the five ages of man, from the pain of birth to the finality of death, bounded by a sixth space which comprises the horror of nothingness. Humanity is dying out: Vivia is the youngest person and the only pregnant woman to appear in the city for as long as Essex' brother Francha and his friends can remember. She is promptly killed in a cowardly, indiscriminate bomb attack aimed at Francha, who has been selected for the regular quintet tournament in which the city is the game board and the killing is real. Although the film almost entirely avoids non-devious displays of emotion, Altman makes a poignant scene of Vivia's brief, wordless funeral in an icy, rushing river.

Taking on the identity of Redstone, another early loser in the tournament, Essex moves among the players and gradually comprehends the nature of what is possibly the last human society in the world. Confronting Grigor with the corpse of the runner-up, Essex discovers that, as St Christopher preached, the game is a reflection of the universe, in which the only possible prize is living to play again tomorrow. Like every other optimist before him, Grigor smiles and invites further play, while delicately shielding his nose from the stink of burning flesh.

Quintet was not a success either commercially or critically, and apparently remains largely unloved. I first saw it on television when I was far too young to understand it, and found it genuinely haunting. Between that first viewing and the next, many years later, I had few concrete recollections except for the opening sequence of Essex and Vivia tramping through the wilderness of the new ice age; but the chilly, murky atmosphere and the enigmatic game full of hidden, deadly meanings (although all the characters can play quintet, its rules are never fully explained to the viewer) have clung to me for decades.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Seventh Smackdown for Serial Offender

Chris Graybeing, the Lord Chancellor and Minister for Justice and Heterosexual Hostelry, has suffered a seventh defeat by the hotbed of wishy-washy leftism that is the British legal system. Graybeing's latest glory concerns legal aid funding for people fighting deportation; as we know, deportation is always justified because it is usually done to immigrants. Nevertheless, Graybeing's guidance on the matter has been ruled unlawful under the hated European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees fair trials, family life and other privileges of Britishness to billions upon billions of wogs, woggettes, woglings and wog-marriers. The palpable insanity of the situation would be enough to break a lesser man, granting the purely logical possibility that a lesser man than Graybeing exists; and Graybeing himself, of course, has also been victimised by a conspiracy of lawyers, charities, NGOs, the Labour Party and, by no means least, his own formidable depths of competence. Fortunately, it appears that his general intelligence is fully the equal of his legal expertise, so presumably he remains blissfully unaware of his abjection.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Traditional Values

As Daveybloke's Minister for Wog-Bombing dips another few toes into the Iraq quagmire, the Government's fellow warriors for democracy in the Middle East are having a bit of female trouble. A woman has been detained for car-driving, face-showing and generally undermining the social cohesion of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; normally these acts of justice last for a few days, but Loujain al-Halthloul's detention has been arbitrarily extended by nearly a month. She was participating in a campaign against some of the country's more ridiculous laws, and the spectacle of females driving automobiles has caused much the same sort of panic among Daveybloke's Saudi chums as the spectre of equal rights tends to cause in the British Conservative Party. No doubt the British Government will be having forthright words with the Saudi theocracy on how the UK's weapons exports might best be used in defence of those inclusive, tolerant and peaceful values which Britain's Head Boy learned at Auschwitz the other day.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Filaments

A Fairy-Tale

There was once a boy whose hair grew so fast that by the time he learned to walk his head seemed twice the width of his shoulders. His parents did their best to control it, with scissors and shears and eventually a lawn-mower; but the hair always grew back, forming a near-perfect sphere marred only by the boy's face beneath it, like a lump of grey meat thrown under a well-clipped hedge.

The boy's hair continued to grow, at a uniform if prodigious rate, and with every month that went by less and less of his face could be seen, until finally it disappeared completely. One day, when his father was chopping away at the undergrowth so that the boy could be fed, he discovered that the face seemed a bit smaller than before. At first the father thought that the face appeared smaller because of the massive shock of hair surrounding it; but further application of the lawn-mower left no doubt. The boy's face, which had once been normally proportioned, was now barely wider than the top of his neck. The boy's parents marvelled at this, but the hair soon grew back and covered the face again, and they quickly forgot about it.

A few months later, the boy began to have strange seizures, when he would suddenly fall to the floor and thrash about uncontrollably, flailing his limbs and emitting terrible cries. His parents took him to a doctor, who had to cut away half a mattress-full before he could examine the surface of the boy's head. What he discovered was rather interesting: as well as growing out, the hair was also growing inward. The inward growth had so far been inhibited by the hardness of the skull, but over the years a few strands had penetrated the cranium and were now tickling the surface of the boy's brain. Whenever the brain convulsed from the tickling, the boy would suffer a seizure, and the doctor warned that the seizures would happen more and more frequently now that the skull had been breached. He advised the parents to keep the boy confined until the head and brain had been entirely consumed, whereupon hopefully there would be no more trouble.

So the father pounded an iron stake into the middle of the lawn, and built a rockery around it so that the neighbours wouldn't complain. Then he locked an iron fetter around the boy's ankle, since his neck could not be found, and attached an iron chain to the fetter, and fastened the other end of the chain to the stake. Whenever the boy had a seizure, the chain would rattle and chips would fly from the rockery, but the neighbours never complained because their own children found it all very edifying.

Gradually the seizures became less severe and the noises less disturbing, but something new and strange began to happen instead. The boy became gradually thinner and less substantial, until sometimes the parents could have sworn he was so light as to float above the ground. Of course they had long since given up feeding him, since neither jaws nor teeth could be found within the great globe of hair; but they had not expected him to become airborne as a result. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened. Within a few weeks the boy would float above the house at the first sign of a moderately strong wind, and after three months the father could not haul him down for the night. The chain stretched and strained, creaking and nagging, and the boy floated in the sky like a mutant dandelion, whose seeds had somehow dragged their withered stem into the air with them.

One night the parents were woken by the sound of the chain falling onto the rockery. The boy was not on the end of it. The father said the links must have rusted, or the boy's leg must have become too thin for the fetter. The mother said the boy must have grown so light that the chain could not hold him; and through all her remaining years, every time a cloud paused above the house, she would swear it was shot through with fine filaments that grew ever longer, ever thinner, ever darker.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Other Incidental Costs

Three members of the energy cartel have been fined the equivalent of a week's power lunches for failing to meet their obligations in cutting household bills. The fines, totalling £4.6 million across three companies, will be paid to various worthy causes which the Government cannot be bothered to fund directly. The regulator's senior enforcer said that the fines send "a clear message to the energy industry that late delivery of obligations is unacceptable"; in fact, they send a clear message that late delivery of obligations can be paid off by dropping a few crumbs to charity. It is as yet unclear whether the energy cartel will recoup its costs by slashing salaries or sacking staff; but the power lunches are undoubtedly safe.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It Must Never Happen Again, Except to the Scroungers

Evidently Lynton Crosby has informed Britain's Head Boy that Little Ivan's corpse is looking a bit mouldy these days. In search of an alternative source of dead children to climb over, Daveybloke toddled off for a quick ninety minutes in Auschwitz yesterday, and no doubt learned some important lessons. Foremost among them, of course, will be the little matter of who won the war; but Daveybloke will certainly have drawn moral instruction on the need for tighter immigration controls and the deplorable excess of disposable income among the poor and disabled, because that is the sort of moral instruction which Daveybloke draws in most contexts. It is to be hoped that Daveybloke was tactful enough not to make an offer on behalf of Serco or G4S, and that somebody was on hand to translate the slogan Arbeit Macht Frei into a proper language and give him the chance of a quick snigger at the gates.

His conclusion, once he had lit a candle and had a bit of a simper in the book of remembrance, was that "the UK must fight against prejudice, persecution, anti-Semitism and tyranny wherever we find it and stand up for inclusiveness, tolerance and peace", presumably by cuddling up to the Latvian Waffen-SS fan club, helping dictators with their domestic problems and arming Israel to the teeth. A commission has already been set up to decide how Britain should remember the Holocaust and whether it is worth bothering to recall those who ended up in the camps simply because they were not wealthy enough to become legal immigrants elsewhere. The commission will announce its proposals to coincide with the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Winston Churchill and Lord Rothermere; it is unclear how much mention will be given to the minor contribution made by the Red Army.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fury at Muslim Horror

British taxpayer subsidises Nobel giveaway

All three of Britain's major political parties were incandescent with fury today as a female Muslim refugee deprived ordinary hard-working Britons of their share in the Nobel Peace Prize.

"I am incandescent with fury today," said Aubrey Whinge, prospective UKIP candidate for the Tory seat of Gusset and Fudgetunnel.

"Modern Britain is full of ordinary working people who work hard and want to get on, and yet nobody is allowed to say anything about it."

The Prime Minister was having a working brunch at Auschwitz with representatives of G4S and US intelligence, but a spokesbeing for 10 Downing Street said that he shared the incandescent fury of ordinary hard-working Britons.

Ed Milibeing was incandescent with fury, and said that his heart fibrillated with adoration whenever an ordinary hard-working Briton waved a flag.

Despite claiming to be fond of mathematical formulas, workfare-age Malala Yousafzai was unable to give any coherent explanation of why she is not yet putting something back into the British economy by working in a shop.

Yousafzai's attitude towards traditional educational values provoked use of enhanced chastisement methods by the Taliban in 2012.

Her hospital treatment at the expense of the British taxpayer provoked controversy, but in its own defence the Government has pointed out that she was taken to a Birmingham hospital rather than a real one in London.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Forgive, O Lord, Our Excess of Virtuous Contrition

Our nation, born of genocide,
In slaves and conquest takes its pride;
From then till now, warfare's the thing,
With due "enhancéd questioning" -
Unless the thought perchance occur
That it's American to err.

But now, thank God! we're done with such,
And swear henceforth, however much
Of baring tortured soul it takes,
We shall be kind to our mistakes.
Forgiveness now must be our text
When next we err, and next, and next.

Trapper Clapper