The Curmudgeon


Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Poodle Sniffs Its Vomit, And Finds It Good

As British troops hand over power to the sovereign, independent Iraqi government, and as Britain's leading liberal newspaper waxes tearful over the significant dead, just look who's popped up in the comments pages to tell us how swimmingly everything has gone for another beneficiary of the Vicar of Downing Street's commitment to universal values. It is "one of the untold success stories of recent years", so Tony is once again permitting his left hand to know that his right hand has been dispensing alms.

"Sierra Leone is thriving and tourists are returning". Tony says it, so it must be true. Tony has talked to entrepreneurs. Tony has been struck by their optimism. Tony has consulted Lonely Planet and found that Sierra Leone is "one of their top ten to visit in 2009". Better yet, you can fly there in six hours, thus helping to preserve Tony's paradigm-busting, kaleidoscope-smashing legacy of helping the little brown people while saving the little blue planet. Almost sixty per cent of the little brown folk live on less than a dollar a day, so "the challenge is immense. But so is the opportunity. From agriculture and fisheries to services and tourism, Sierra Leone has huge untapped potential" for an enterprise culture, for toughness on crime and toughness on the causes of crime, for education education education, for cheap labour and corporate profit, for all the things that Tony values most.

Sierra Leone "still needs to improve energy infrastructure and road networks ... and address skills shortages and corruption in the public sector", rather like Britain after Tony had finished with it. Sierra Leone must also "tackle appalling maternal and child-health indicators", rather like Iraq after Tony had finished with it. In order to facilitate appropriate indicator enhancement phenomena, the Africa Governance Initiative, which apparently belongs to Tony ("my Africa Governance Initiative", he sofa-cosily calls it), is "working side by side", or possibly shoulder to shoulder, with the natives. Sierra Leone, "with the commitment of its leaders, the determination of its people and the support of its friends", like God and Tony, "has every prospect of a bright future". Tony says it, so it must be true.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Almost A Fairly Proud Day For Democracy

Several dozen Labour MPs have joined with the Liberal Democrats and Daveybloke's Cuddly Opportunists to inflict a welcome, if largely symbolic, defeat upon the Glorious Successor and his repellent Minister for Mature Debate, Phil Woolas. Gordon and his nasty little sidekick claimed that an open-door policy for Gurkha veterans would lead to a vast wave of up to a hundred thousand culturally backward immigrants demanding benefits at the point of a kukri-knife; but the fact that the vote had no legislative power seems to have had an unexpectedly salutary effect on whatever the Parliamentary Labour Party uses for backbone. Hence, thanks to the Government's trademark meanness of spirit, Nick "Who?" Clegg has gained some welcome publicity, Daveybloke has had the chance to pose as a strict-but-fair Head Boy on immigration, and they've both had a photo-opportunity with Joanna Lumley. Daveybloke, whose party has made much of the Government's hasty and ill-thought-out policies (while offering, as the enticing alternative, no discernible policies at all), blathered that the Government "should come back with immediate proposals"; while Lumley spoke of a "sense of pride - pride in our country, pride in the democratic system and pride in our parliament", which may be a bit premature. Still, a sense of pleasant surprise that a narrow majority got it right this time is probably in order.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Personal is the Political

A Polish concert pianist named Krystian Zimerman, who said he would not return to the United States until the chimp was removed from the White House, has given a recital in Los Angeles only to announce that he won't be back again until Washington's military policies meet with his approval. Zimerman is apparently annoyed at the Obama administration's decision to maintain the missile defence shield boondoggle, which is designed to neutralise any threat to the United States from Iran by stationing missiles in central Europe and pointing them at Russia. Zimerman has also denounced the Guantánomaly, but Britain's leading liberal newspaper has traced the source of his indignation to a piano which was pre-emptively disassembled by zealous airport customs officials. He may also have been irritated at having to perform at a venue called Disney Hall. I certainly would have been.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Saint George, Thou Shouldst Be Living At This Hour

The head of a corrupt, authoritarian and thuggish government has been snubbed by his Pakistani counterpart over the latest Terror Apocalypse That Wasn't. The Glorious Successor proclaimed that the security forces had foiled a "very big plot" by arresting eleven Pakistanis and one person whom the British National Party would presumably consider chromatographically alien. All twelve men were released without charge after two weeks - half the time permitted for confessions to be beaten out of terrorism suspects - and nine of them were promptly deported, apparently for nothing worse than being inexpediently non-chargeable.

The Glorious Successor stated that he thinks "we have got to recognise that we have both got problems that are affecting both the security of our citizens and the sentiments in our country, with terrorist plots that have been planned and some people are trying to execute", and that "we want to work together with Pakistan to deal with these issues and to tackle terrorism at its roots": a statement of sixty-one words having precisely nothing to do with the arrest of a dozen innocent men, which Britain's leading liberal newspaper reports as a defence of the arrests. Gordon also reiterated tactfully that "three-quarters of Islamic terror threats originate in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan"; in other words, between a country of which Britain is co-occupier in the name of democracy and universal human values, and a country to which Britain sells weapons in the name of regional peace and ethical profiteering.

The Pakistani deputy high commissioner has complained about British "slurs" that his country is a hotbed of terrorism; an understandable reaction, given that the terror hotbed alert level in Britain is routinely cranked up to Severe: Hysterical whenever bad news needs burying. The Pakistani authorities have also complained that the British did not deign to consult them properly, and that greater co-operation would have prevented "embarrassing mistakes"; always assuming, a little optimistically in my view, that a government which contains Agent Smith, James Purnell, Harriet Harman and a brace of Milibands could be capable of so refined and civilised a reflex as embarrassment.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Darzi's Big Lotto Giveaway

The NHS will have to make "efficiency savings" of over two thousand million pounds this year, and will probably have its budget frozen before being finally and irrevocably privatised by Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives a year or two from now. What better time, then, for Lord Polyclinic to take twenty million from the depleted funds and promise to dole it out in "financial incentives" for any health worker who can come up with an idea for slashing the budgets further? "We want everyone to be thinking about innovation," said Lord Polyclinic, "because that is what will drive improvement", rather than anything silly like a rational allocation of resources. The Government claims (or "believes", as the Observer's Whitehall telepath hath it) that "healthcare standards can continue to improve in a recession only if the 1.3 million NHS staff think constantly about 'innovation'". The innovation in question must, of course, be innovation of the proper sort; namely the kind from which Britain's infrastructure, education, transport, building and energy industries have benefited for the past thirty years. It must not be the kind of backward-looking, stick-in-the-mud, Britishness-deficient innovation which could lead to the cancellation of the ID card scheme, the NHS database, the Afghan Crusade, the London Olympics or the Private Finance Initiative. It must be the sort of innovation which will enable the Government, at no extra expense, to police, poke, micromanage and bully such work-shy criminal underclasses as fat children, old people and those with long-term illnesses. According to Lord Polyclinic, "it is a case of changing the mindset" of those who still fail to see the issue of public health as a matter of simple profiteering: "the [financial] benefits for UK plc will be hundreds of percentages above the value of prizes".

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Titan Nicks Sunk

The empty suit at the Ministry of Incarceration and Deportation has dropped plans to build three Titan prisons, and has decided instead to build five supersized ones. From mythology to Macdonalds in less than eighteen months; such is the glory of British justice. The Ministry said that the decision was a result of "consulting widely and listening to all views", as all New New Labour decisions always are. Since Gordon's little Darling has predicted green shoots next year leading to full-blown economic recovery by 2011 and the overtaking of America, India and China by the middle of Labour's fifth term in office, it surely cannot have had anything to do with spending cuts. Certainly, given the miraculous effects of ID cards and the national database, there cannot have been any nasty, unconstructive thoughts at the Ministry that crime might rise as a result of the economic recession.

The original plan, in fact, was to sell off the sites of the old prisons for redevelopment and give the money to private corporations so that they could build cheap human warehouses miles from anywhere, thus aiding the permanent integration of offenders into the criminal community; the Guardian's home affairs editor suggests cynically that the viability of this plan may have been affected by the fall in property values. The shadow minister for keeping the rabble in line, Dominic Grieve, said that "warehousing offenders in hulks twice the size of Wembley was not going to address increased levels of reoffending"; but any comments he may have made on the perils of inadequate investment and private profiteering appear to have been lost amid the Guardian's liberal bias.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Recorded and transcribed by P Challinor and a domestic extremist

There was a time, you know, back in the olden days, when people trying to gather intelligence used to record their victims, instead of being recorded by them. And believe me, we had to work for a living in those days. You couldn't just put on a balaclava and slap a bit of duct tape on your shoulders and just steam in and kettle happily away. Or sit around all day watching television while your superiors told the press that the security cameras hadn't been working in that particular district. Or even just pop onto a tube train and blow someone's head off in broad daylight. You see, that isn't what intelligence is about. Intelligence is about gathering information, preferably without the information being displayed on nationwide television or the interthing within a few minutes of the cheese-in-charge toddling into Downing Street. Intelligence is about sort of finding things out, preferably without being found out yourself. There seem to be a few of our chaps who have it all a bit arse-about-face these days, if you ask me. In my day it was completely the other way round. I remember being approached at Cambridge - one of my tutors came up from behind and gave me a bit of a poke. Asked me if I wanted to serve my country or whether I'd prefer to have the photographs all over the Evening Standard. Well, naturally I said I was as patriotic as the next chap, and before I knew it I was a mole for the KGB, happily burrowing into the lesser functionaries of the Wilson politburo. But the point is, about those photographs, I didn't know they'd been taken. Not a peep did I hear about them until my tutor presented me with the blow-ups, if that's the word I'm after, and gave me that moral dilemma. It's all a matter of education, you see. Education and intelligence sort of go together, always provided the good breeding is there to start with, of course. Can't expect some oik who's been grown in the laboratories of the social sciences to make the best of a proper schooling. And as for the boys in blue, well really. Don't they realise that the whole point of a cover-up is that you're supposed to do it before the embarrassment becomes public? It isn't much good covering up if you're standing in the headlights with your trousers round your ankles, your foot in your mouth and your shame spattered across all fifty billion lanes of the information superhighway, now is it? No point sticking a cork in your rectum after the condom's split, I mean. I say, that thing is turned off, isn't it?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Real People Suffering Too

The chairman of Barclays has apologised to shareholders for the fact that the value of shares can go down as well as up.

Marcus Agius told a packed AGM that the Barclays board felt "sincere regret" for the hardship which can result from an uncontrolled, societally endorsed gambling habit.

The price of shares in Barclays has dropped to one ninth of their value a year ago, causing many shareholders to question the probity of a chairman and board who failed to inform them that unregulated profiteering and the spending of fictitious money might one day have undesirable consequences.

The chief executive, John Varley, said that Barclays was determined to display "responsible corporate citizenship" with a rapid return to traditional usury and bailiff opportunification strategies.

"We must behave constructively to help our customers and clients as they cope with the economic downturn," Varley said.

The Government is likely to be pleased by the promise that Barclays will continue to lend money at a profit to people who may have difficulty paying it back because of the recession Barclays has helped to cause.

Shareholders are also angry because Barclays cancelled its final dividend for last year, causing an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe as millions of speculators moved into cardboard boxes and sent their children out to beg.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Innocent Have Almost Nothing to Fear

All twelve of the terror suspects in the Very Big Plot against the Poodle Archipelago have now been released without charge because there was insufficient evidence to detain them for further questioning, let alone try them. Nine were "given their freedom" or, in Standard English, handed over to the Border Agency for discreet disposal. Ten of the twelve had student visas, which has led to an outcry over the fact that the visa system contains loopholes which allow abuse by vicious foreign fiends who enter the country to be found not guilty of illegal activities. The Government reacted as usual, introducing "tougher measures" which will doubtless tighten the loopholes into a noose for the neck of any education tourist who thinks he can just come over here and be taught things. One of the twelve is British, which may possibly stand in the way of his deportation even though the British government has asked the Pakistani government nicely for reassurances that none of the others will be tortured. Still, it is very considerate of Gordon's little Darling to announce his latest round of cooked figures and half-measures today, thus saving British law and justice from further embarrassment until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Bozza and the Rozzer

The London Haystack has done the public's confidence in the police the great honour of placing it on a par with his own. While the chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, noted that the public had been kept "largely safe", aside from those who were assaulted, and promised to investigate "concerning images" if not deplorable incidents, the London Haystack said that he personally "would not necessarily accept" that confidence in the police had been damaged, any more than public confidence in anti-capitalist protesters would have been damaged if the demonstrators had taken sticks to random passers-by. On the contrary, "I think the overwhelming majority of people in this city and this country understand the particularly difficult situation [the police] face when being asked to provide security in a demonstration such as the G20". Self-evidently, the inability to deal competently with a difficult situation is not something that would cause a lack of confidence in a police force; especially a police force with the Met's fortunate combination of crippling allergy to the truth and catastrophic ineptitude when lying.

Stephenson also said that it was "absolutely unacceptable for any police officer who should have identification numbers on not to have those identification numbers on"; however, "there needs to be a context here. That operation was one of the most complex policing operations that's ever been undertaken – protecting multiple heads of state". It is not clear whether this is intended to mean that what is absolutely unacceptable in one context may be pretty much acceptable in a more complex context, or whether the two statements were simply thrown together because they sounded nicer that way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler

That gifted entertainer, the President of Iran, has commemorated Hitler's hundred and twentieth birthday in fine style, by causing the British ambassador to the UN in Geneva to flee from the room in order to avoid moral contamination. Representatives from several European countries joined the mainland in making a strategic retreat for the triumph of truth, democracy and the Righteous State; so it appears that lessons have been learned from the Second World War after all. Ahmadinejad alleged that the state of Israel, which has used the Holocaust as an excuse for every atrocity committed since its inception, was created "on the pretext of Jewish suffering"; and further claimed that the Jewish state, in which non-Jews are second-class citizens, was a "racist regime". He also foamed that the Righteous State, which has turned Gaza into a concentration camp and launched massive armed attacks on Lebanon, is in some way "cruel and oppressive".

Meanwhile, Britain's leading liberal newspaper happily regurgitates the mistranslation of Ahmadinejad's quote from Khomeini that the "regime occupying [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the page of time" - a statement more or less on a par with anti-apartheid campaigners in the 1980s saying that the regime in Pretoria was not sustainable, and thus a statement gleefully paraded by Tel Aviv and sanctimoniously condemned by the international community at every opportunity. To say that a state should be got rid of is not the same thing as saying that a country should be wiped off the map or a people exterminated. The apartheid South African state has vanished from the page of history, and the Afrikaners are still with us. The French state founded in 1946 was eliminated in 1958 and replaced with a new one; to the best of my knowledge, it was not found necessary to drive anyone into the English Channel in the process.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Beast

A foolish article in the Observer shows once more that, even with the greatest research tool in the history of mankind at his disposal, the great British journalist cannot dispense with his traditional recourse to smirking sensationalism and schoolboy inaccuracy. The subject of the article is Aleister Crowley, admittedly a flamboyant figure and not a man over-addicted to letting the truth take the place of a good scandal. But in referring to him, without the least hint of scepticism, as a "satanist" who, with his "devil-worshipping followers", offered "sacrifices to Satan" and engaged in "debauched rituals", it appears that the Observer's intrepid reporter has copied and pasted accounts from contemporary scandal sheets rather than done anything worthy of the holy name of reportage. In fact, Crowley was a far more interesting figure than the Wheatleyesque bogeyman conjured up by Paul Kelbie and the romantics of Boleskine Bay. He had a genuine and sizeable religious talent, which he seems to have pursued with a good deal of honesty and dedication (and self-publicity and crankery). He was an accomplished mountaineer and, when not blowing raspberries at the establishment or indulging his not inconsiderable ego, a talented writer. I have not read much of his voluminous output: a book on yoga, which may have been Book Four and was written with great verve and surprising clarity; the novel Moonchild, which is enjoyable enough if one can forgive the incessant showing off; and Crowley on Christ, a superb demolition of one of George Bernard Shaw's sillier essays, the preface to Androcles and the Lion. A Crowley-like character is among the major figures in one of Colin Wilson's better novels, Man Without a Shadow (also known, regrettably, as The Sex Diary of Gerard Sorme and The Sex Diary of a Metaphysician), and there is a biography, Do What Thou Wilt, by Lawrence Sutin, who also wrote a life of Philip K Dick.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Agent of Chaos

I'm glad I did it, says man who wrecked confidence in Britain's anarchist containment industry

The financial meltdown inducement resource who breached anti-terrorism guidelines by filming the police handling of Ian Tomlinson has been gloating from the safety of his New York spider-hole.

The terror potential visualisation perpetrator, whose extradition Gordon Brown is understood to lack the guts to ask for, said he was "glad" he came forward to help destroy the reputation of the finest police force in the world.

"It's possible Mr Tomlinson's death would have been swept under the rug otherwise," he said, displaying a suspicious knowledge of the workings of the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The credit crunchability exacerbation manager's comments are likely to further inflame public opinion against barrels of good apples doing a difficult job under considerable circumstances, besides undermining the idea that the camera never lies.

Scotland Yard said its thoughts were with the family of Ian Tomlinson. The Metropolitan Police tried to protect the family from undue grief by attacking the Guardian for publishing evidence which contradicted their account of Tomlinson's attack of cardiac coincidentalism.

The officer responsible for turning Mr Tomlinson into an incident has been interviewed by investigators from the IPCC. The officer is on sick leave at the moment, though it is not clear whether this is because of the bottles which were not thrown at him or the violence which was not inflicted on him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Old Reliable

Britain's vibrant political culture is still alive and vibrating, according to another of those pointless polls. A third of Britons "do not trust any politician at all"; while the Glorious Successor is trusted by twelve per cent, and Daveybloke and the London Haystack rate a fifth each. In an intelligent and well-informed society, this might be accounted for by the fact that Daveybloke is not in power and therefore has relatively few opportunities to show how untrustworthy he really is; while the London Haystack doesn't have the basic equipment for making promises (foresight, ethical faculty, language faculty, higher cerebral functions, etc.) and therefore can hardly be said to break any. In a society of Sun and Mail readers, unfortunately, we are left with little alternative but to assume that a fifth of respondents really do believe that Daveybloke and the London Haystack are more trustworthy than Gordon Brown. If confirmation were needed, fifty-three per cent of respondents said that the Queen was the public figure they trusted most. The Queen's most significant political function is to sit in Parliament once a year and read out a speech written by the party in power. The party in power is that of Gordon Brown.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Naughty Nurse

Recession-weary health industry customers were gladdened today by reports that at least one excessive public-sector wage will be paid no more.

A nurse, Margaret Haywood, has been struck off the register for helping BBC's Panorama to expose neglect of elderly patients at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton.

The panel which found Haywood guilty of misconduct admitted that "conditions on the ward were dreadful", but noted that patients' confidentiality should be kept sacred, especially "in circumstances where their dignity was most compromised" by those entrusted with preserving it.

Haywood claimed that she had raised her concerns with two unnamed managers, "but nothing was really taken on board".

In what many will see as another sign of NHS failure to adapt to market forces, Haywood has been a nurse for twenty years, rather than being Damian Green. It is thought to be at least arguable that many whistleblowers have contributed substantially to their own downfall by not being highly influential and well-heeled Members of Parliament.

Since the Israeli government did not choose to interpret it as an adverse comment on conditions in the occupied territories, the Panorama programme was aired in July 2005.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Heavy Water

The Lower Miliband has decreed that "nuclear power is part of the low-carbon future for Britain", and he wants people to log onto the Government's website so that they can explain why the new generation of Sellafields should be in somebody else's backyard. Among the proposed sites are two which are close to the Lake District National Park, evidently because there is so much more room for them since Malcolm Wicks ruled that the landscape might suffer if it were clogged up with a lot of noisy, unsightly, pollutive, dangerous, wasteful and unsustainable windmills.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Candid Camera

Well, here's a thing: the Independent Police Complaints Commission has discovered that its chair, Nick Hardwick, said the thing that was not when he claimed that there were no CCTV cameras in the area where Ian Tomlinson was assaulted. The IPCC became acquainted with the existence of the cameras after pictures of them were published, which speaks well for its openness to new evidence if not for its investigative talents. The IPCC said that Hardwick "believed he was correct in [his] assertion", despite the apparent fact that the IPCC had spent a week looking at "many hours of CCTV" in order to prove, if not the innocence, then at least the solitarily-isolational rotten-applitude of the zealous boy in blue who did the usual splendid job under highly stressful circumstances. It appears, then, since lying is out of the question, that Hardwick belongs either to the Boris Johnson school of hands-off (or "oblivious", as it is also known) management, or to the Cressida Dick school of operational competence.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Normal Service Will Be Resumed

Those of you who notice things may possibly have noticed that posting has been, of late, less daily than usual. There is an excuse: I have been in the throes of fiction-writing once more - since 28 February to be exact - and I am not the kind of lazy, superficial writer who can rattle off hundreds of words of fibs and then go on to complain about the news on a weblog. Not every day, anyhow.

I should finish the first draft over the weekend, depending on whether bloody-mindedness conquers laziness or the other way around. There will be no further bloggery until I get the little bastard done. Meanwhile, since there's a recession, you might consider buying a copy of my previous opus. Though short, it has virtually everything the discerning reader might wish for, including ghosts, Nazis and the London Tube. It takes place in April 1989, so if you hurry you might receive your copy by the twentieth anniversary of the climax; and if you download it you could be reading it on the twentieth anniversary of something that took place a bit earlier.

Not only that, but I have other opera, too. Go ahead and treat yourself. It's Easter, after all.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Lord Blessed the Latter End of Job

The sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak and his brother in Christ, Silvio Berlusconi, have joined to comfort those afflicted by the L'Aquila earthquake. Berlusconi said that those made homeless by the disaster should view their temporary accommodation as "like a weekend of camping". After all, "They have medicaments. They have hot food. They have shelter for the night", and therefore lack for nothing, except some real estate whose value was probably dropping anyway. Meanwhile, the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak has been good enough to give the seal of his moral approval to the relief operations, despite the earthquake and its consequences being presumably the result of God's will; and he has promised to visit the area, doubtless to the ineffable comfort of all those who lack for nothing, once Easter Sunday and the aftershocks are over. Evidently he has more important things to do at the moment.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Economic Hole Not Yet Black Enough to Swallow Advertising Industry

Well, the world's banking system may have seized up; the Government may be plotting to cut benefits and public sector pay while ministers rent out the houses the taxpayer has kindly bought them; the middle classes may not be able to keep up their mortgage payments and the Daily Maul may very soon start spattering its pages with single-syllable word pictures of hard-working families being fed their own dogs by uncaring social workers; but happily there is some good news to brighten the horizon of our economic black hole and aid us in our quest to muddle through to the other side, British fashion, once again. Yes, the advertising industry sees a glimmer of confidence. Forty-five per cent of companies have reduced their marketing budgets in the first quarter of this year, but they have not reduced them by quite as much as they did in the last quarter of last year, according to a marketing research firm called, cutely enough, Markit. So, while we may not have enough jobs, homes, energy, food, water or credit, it appears that we will continue for the foreseeable future to have a plentiful supply of advertising. Sing heigh-ho and keep your chin up for the noose.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Police Apologise Over Death of Non-Protester

City of London Police and the journalists who transcribe their press releases have issued "a full and unreserved apology for any distress that may have been caused" by inaccurate reports about the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests.

Although police initially claimed that protesters threw bottles at them while they were trying to aid and comfort the dying man, it turned out that this was either a perceptual error or a pious untruth of the kind popularised by Sir Michael Wright.

Eyewitnesses are now claiming that Tomlinson was caught between the protesters and the police who were attempting to prevent them lynching the entire suit population of the City.

One witness stated that Tomlinson "was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed". This witness is an experienced press photographer, rather than a protester, but her statement is suspiciously similar to statements made by protesters.

The photographer noted that Tomlinson "was not a mouthy kid or causing problems", although it is not clear whether he was wearing a bulky jacket, performing unauthorised leaps or otherwise inviting death.

A spokesbeing for the IPCC said: "It would really make our job easier if the police and the press could co-operate a bit more on cobbling their stories together. Then perhaps they wouldn't fall apart in less than a day or two."

Friday, April 03, 2009

Where There's Ass There's Brass

The chairbeing of the Other Party for Business and Immigrant Control has undergone a Damascene conversion following a performance on the BBC's Question Time that caused embarrassment even to the chairbeing of the party that includes George Osborne, Chris Graybeing and the London Haystack. Responding to a question about MPs' taxpayer-funded second homes, Eric Pickles went from self-pity ("hang-an-MP week") through self-righteousness (he has to get up early and sometimes gets home late, unlike single-residence commuters) and back to self-pity again ("I'm an MP and therefore I'm guilty"), while leaving himself open to demolition by, in succession, David Dimbleby, Caroline Lucas and a member of the audience who advised him to try, of all things, rational argument.

Pickles, who is MP for Ongar in Essex, an astounding thirty-seven miles from his place of work, echoes the echt-Texan pronuncifications of George W Bush with a would-be-populist twinkle that "as we say up north, 'I buy me own bed'," even though it may be in a taxpayer-funded house. Pickles now believes that the point he made was "trivial"; or, in Standard English, not advantageous. He now says he "cannot justify members of parliament claiming flat-screen televisions, buying beds, buying three-piece suites, buying cookers, buying microwaves", which he did not, to my knowledge, try to justify on Question Time but which apparently constitutes a change of mind anyway. Since he has "never done that and would never dream of doing that", presumably Eric Pickles can oppose such heinous practices without causing too much inconvenience in the life of Eric Pickles, beyond the nearly insurmountable but courageously faced one of doing his job.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sense and Absence

The photographs displayed here are deeply moving, brilliantly conceived and superbly executed. They are part of an exhibition called Absences, by an Argentine photographer named Gustavo Germano, and each of them is worth a good deal more than any thousand words I could produce.

I confess to a certain discomfort at the idea that the Argentine dictators' war on their critics has "been described as genocide; the calculated extermination of dissidents". Genocide is the extermination of a people, a nation or a culture, as attempted by the Hutu against the Tutsi, the Nazis against the Jews, the Turks against the Armenians, the Europeans against the native Americans and the British against the Tasmanians. Dissidents are not a people, a nation or a culture. The calculated extermination of dissidents is not genocide. It's tyranny, oppression, state terrorism, state kidnapping, torture and murder. Is that not enough? I suppose it is possible that Jacqui Smith believes in a dissident genome, but unless its existence can be demonstrated by more reliable sources I fail to see why anyone should find it necessary to describe a crime by referring to it as a different crime. Even as a metaphor, such as might be thought clever by certain postmodernist commentators and their groupies, the proposition is inane; one might just as sensibly describe burglary as bank robbery. They're both species of theft, and all honest taxpayers are bankers now.