The Curmudgeon


Friday, July 31, 2009

When In Rome

The Italian Minister of Tourism Excluding Chez Berlusconi has offered a free holiday to a Japanese tourist who was charged seven hundred euros for a meal at a Rome restaurant. The restaurant is a hundred and fifty years old, and "counts Grace Kelly, Leonardo DiCaprio and Harrison Ford among its regulars", despite Grace Kelly having been dead almost twenty-seven years. Perhaps that is why health inspectors have closed the place. Be that as it may, the tourist, Yasuyuki Yamada, has politely turned down the offer, saying that it would be a "useless way to spend Italian taxpayers' money". It is all very civilised of him, no doubt; but he must have a very strange conception of what ministers are meant to do all day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Right Thing To Do

Faced with continuing economic borborhygmus, and the urgent political need to distance itself from the standard Conservative policy of being cheap and nasty with the poor and foreign, New New Labour has demonstrated once more its characteristic blend of brutal decisiveness in the face of the vulnerable and sphincter-wobbling deference in the face of the Daily Mail. The pittance already given to people claiming asylum in Britain will be cut or frozen in the autumn, on the sensible grounds that it is more prudent to take from someone who cannot hit back than to deny a little extra to someone who can. As an additional frisson for the righteous of the right, family values will be upheld thanks to the freezing of support for single parents and the cutting of support for unmarried adults; and the Government will continue to prevent asylum seekers from working and paying tax, in the hope that the indigenous labour force will thereby become reconciled to the necessary strictures soon to be imposed upon it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh How We Laughed

Whatever else Daveybloke's Cuddly Coulson may have disremembered about his stint as a scumbag press editor, he is certainly earning his pay as regards helping Daveybloke to engage with the proles. Last month Daveybloke made his jolly jest about certain people's idea of Britishness being a bit too close to the ideas of the beastly Hun, while planning to retain the database state which is the main cause of the concerns he was supposedly trying to allay. This month Daveybloke tried the wizard wheeze of arguing that his government will be nicer to carers than the government of Gordon Brown, on the self-evident grounds that the kind of bereaved parent who can use his dead son to score a few cheap political points is the kind of bereaved parent who will appeal to everyone's inner News of the World reader.

Today, Daveybloke has tried the super jape of utilising well-researched low-earner argot during a discussion of Conservative responses to the political, economic, environmental, demographic and humanitarian difficulties which face us at present. "What a top bloke," drooled a sycophantic interviewer for Absolute Radio as Daveybloke observed in humorous vein that "the trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it - too many twits might make a twat." Directly addressing the all-powerful C1s and C2s, with his and Coulson's no doubt characteristic respect for the intelligence and vocabulary of the British public, Daveybloke also said that the public were "pissed off" with politicians; and he did his bit for the dignity and character of the Houses of Parliament by holding forth on pop music, The A-Team and which end of the bath he sits in. How marvellously Daveybloke has matured since his Bullingdon days.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Owe Them So Much, But Not Quite That Much

Now that the war on Talibanism has been brought within measurable distance of its end, the Ministry for Nukes and Subs is naturally seeking to economise on some of its more deprioritisable expenses. Two injured soldiers were originally awarded more or less what a member of the House of Perks and Subs can claim in a year without producing a receipt; the high court increased the payments substantially, and the Ministry is now appealing against the ruling, on the grounds that the Government should not have to pay for long-term disabilities resulting from an injury, but only for the injury itself. No doubt the limbs grow back in time, so long as one takes plenty of exercise and refrains from asking the Government for money. Because the key principle of the scheme is "the most compensation for the most seriously injured", rather than anything silly like adequate compensation for everyone, the scheme also "does not allow benefits to be paid for injuries predominantly caused or made worse by tobacco, drugs and alcohol use, or for events occurring before the soldier entered the army". So if a soldier gets a limb blown off and then takes to drink because his friends died in the blast, the Ministry is presumably entitled to knock a few thousand off his payment in order that the taxpayer may be spared and the war on binge may be pursued with all due alacrity. If a soldier with athlete's foot should lose the afflicted appendage to a land mine, perhaps New New Labour will send the bailiffs round to collect a fee for "aggressive podiatry".

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Green Shoots

Gordon's little Darling has given the banks another jolly good talking-to, so that taxpayers can all sleep easy in their beds knowing that the banks won't do anything naughty with the recent redistribution of wealth. Gordon's little Darling and the sub-prime minister, Lord Mandelbrot the Infinitely Recurring, have had "robust" discussions with various oiled cogwheels and greased pigs amid concerns that, when lending to businesses, banks should not charge more than, in good conscience, they absolutely feel they can get away with. "I am concerned to make sure that banks do not charge any more than is absolutely necessary," said Gordon's little Darling. "The banks will say that because interest rates have come down, people are paying less now. I think that the advantage of low interest rates has to be passed on. Of course there are arrangement fees that need to be paid and so on, but I am concerned to make sure that banks do not charge any more than is absolutely necessary."

It seems that Gordon's little Darling is concerned to make sure that banks do not charge any more than absolutely necessary. On the other hand, it seems that if banks are charging more than absolutely necessary, Gordon's little Darling would not dream of interfering. "Really only banks can make that decision," he said. What the Government can do is "enter into agreements, which we have"; which is something, anyway; and having entered into agreements the Government can ensure that "where there is a commitment to make money available for mortgages or to make money available for businesses, the money is actually there", which sounds like a jolly good idea. Having ensured that the money being spent is actually there to be spent, the Government can ensure, by having a bit of a chat with the bankers once in a while, that loans are "reasonably priced and there is the availability of funds" and that "the agreements [the bankers] entered into are honoured"; which also sounds jolly sensible. I wonder why nobody thought of all this before.

Unfortunately, according to the chief executive of the British Bankers' Association, the recession which the bankers have helped to cause means that "there will be businesses out there which haven't got a lot of business left"; which means that the bankers who helped to get the businesses into trouble are now, in the flush of their new-found sense of responsibility, virtuously disinclined to help them get out. In addition, "the cost of money has gone up", though evidently not because bankers are charging more for it. Nevertheless, Gordon's little Darling is concerned to make sure that banks do not charge any more than absolutely necessary, and is doubtless prepared to give bankers a good, robust talking-to whenever they have nothing better to do than listen to him.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Clots at the Heart of Europe

The Observer has gone against the grain of modern journalism by doing some actual research, and has come up with some unsavoury titbits about the leader of Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition, Michal Kaminski. Despite Daveybloke's apparent belief that he is a statesman and a scholar, Kaminski appears to have said the thing that was not about an interview he gave to a "far-right Polish journal, Nasza Polska" (Our Poland), about the murder of several hundred Jews in the town of Jedwabne, in collaboration with the occupying Nazis, during July 1941. Kaminski denies that he did the interview and that he "tried to stop" the Polish president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, from apologising for the Jedwabne indiscretion. Unfortunately, the Observer has not only interviewed Jedwabne residents and Polish journalists who remember Kaminski's activities at the time, but has also found television footage of Kaminski saying: "I think that Mr President can apologise but for other things. He should withhold apologies for Jedwabne." The editor-in-chief of Nasza Polska has also been inconsiderate enough to confirm that Kaminski gave the interview which Kaminski says he never gave.

Kaminski writes in a letter to the Observer that he has "fought anti-semitism all his political life", despite "a lifetime of work supporting Israel", which has been persecuting selected Semites for more than forty years. Kaminski states that his position on the Jedwabne indiscretion has been misrepresented and regrets the ungentlemanly behaviour of his opponents, but remains silent on the lapse of memory which caused him to claim that the interview with Nasza Polska never took place.

Daveybloke himself, as Kaminski's subordinate in Europe, was apparently too busy being cuddly and regretting the ungentlemanly behaviour of his opponents in Norwich North to give any opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, Daveybloke's withdrawal from the mainstream right-wing bloc in Europe and subsequent cuddling up to beauties like Kaminski has irritated both the German and the French governments - a diplomatic coup to rival that of the Polish Law and Justice Party, which managed to annoy both Germany and Russia while cuddling up to George W Bush.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Ethical Dimension

The British government has abstained from voting Sri Lanka nearly one and a half thousand million pounds from the International Monetary Fund, having first taken the sensible precaution of waiting until the IMF's executive board decided to loan the money anyway. This shining example of Brownite courage was the Government's response to Sri Lanka's treatment of refugees, about which the Poodle Archipelago apparently has some moral qualms. The British government is always proud and happy to register its concern over some people's human rights abuses, provided that no untoward consequences are involved.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bloodsuckers Redux

The consummation of a certain bit of literary leechery by a sports coach and a "renowned screenwriter" has been scheduled for late September. Bram Stoker's descendant and his assistant from the Transylvanian Society of Dracula have got their sticky fingers on Stoker's original notes, and have plundered them for characters and plot threads which were excised from what will doubtless henceforth be known as The Official Dracula Saga - Episode 1. They have also included Stoker as a character, directing and producing the play Dracula at the Lyceum Theatre, where the offspring of Jonathan and Mina Harker is pursuing what Amazon's product description refers to as "a career in stage". All this delightful intertextuality is taking place with the approval of the Stoker estate, whose record of good taste in these matters is not the most encouraging. Stoker's widow registered strenuous legal objection to F W Murnau's film adaptation, Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horrors, and did her best to have every negative and print destroyed; for which karmic vindictiveness she was doubtless reincarnated as a Daily Mail film critic. A decade after Murnau's film, the Stoker estate gave its support to Universal's plodding and stagey version starring Bela Lugosi; but has apparently withheld its approbation from every other story featuring the character.

At the risk of becoming a Daily Mail critic myself, I don't think I shall lend my own approbation to this enterprise. I might even publish a vampire story in September myself, just to give this one a bit of competition. Whether mine will be better than The Official Dracula Saga - Episode 2.0 is of course debatable; but I believe I can guarantee that it will be slightly cheaper, considerably shorter, and decidedly weirder.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We Are All Guilty

The Lower Miliband has replied to a piece by Seumas Milne which has somehow succeeded in drawing the attention of the Minister of Climate Change Acceleration and Energy Profiteering to the likely closure of Britain's only major wind turbine factory. As one would expect in a global centre of wind and wave energy, the factory is owned by a Danish company and makes turbines for the Americans. To the Lower Miliband's credit, the need for government action appears to have penetrated far enough that the planning rules to which Vestas objects will be changed next April, and the Lower Miliband hopes to persuade Vestas to remain on the Isle of Wight long enough to profit by this sudden attack of market interventionism. Nevertheless, the Lower Miliband cannot resist wagging a New New Labour finger at the unimaginative British public, which has abused the power vested in it under the United Kingdom's system of strict accountability and direct democracy and has wielded its irresistible grass-roots political influence to prevent New New Labour investing in renewable resources rather than bailing out greedy speculators. The Lower Miliband wants to "grow the market" or, as a native English speaker might possibly express it, expand the market, for wave and wind power; but in order to do so the rules must be changed. "As we all know, the rules matter" says the Lower Miliband, oozing respect for the law; "but so does public opposition or support", so long as it is expressed in more civilised and ministerially convenient ways than the Drax hijacking, the Plane Stupid stunts, the Kingsnorth protest or pointing cameras at the more emotionally vulnerable elements of the Metropolitan Police. Meanwhile, "there must be a strategy for the Isle of Wight to do all we can to help and there is". How jolly decent of the Isle of Wight to do all we can to help. The strategy consists in considering an application from Vestas and throwing some numbers about with the blithe abandon of a minister who'll be working in the private sector by this time next year. No doubt the Lower Miliband is eager, desperate, panting, gasping, gagging to do more even than this, if only we would let him. It is simply too bad of us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Commercialitisational Constrictifiability, Protestabilitisational Permissifatality

The Government's Department for the Protection of White Elephants drew up a law three years ago in order to protect the sacred amateur status of the Olympics, thus ensuring that market forces do not unduly obtrude themselves and distract from the xenophobia. Civil rights campaigners, and even the shadow home secretary, have now noticed that the Act of Parliament bans advertising, particularly advertising of the non-profiteering sort; and, in case that seems a little too particular, "announcements or notices of any kind". Constables or "enforcement officers" hired by the rather ballistically-named Olympic Delivery Authority are empowered to "enter land or premises" where they find it convenient to believe that announcements or notices of any kind are being shown or produced, and to use "reasonable force" in seeking out and destroying the offending material.

A spokesbeing for the Department of Cultchah, Downdumbing and England Crash Out said that the provisions were meant to "prevent ambush marketing - not prevent or restrict lawful protests", and of course the Government's record on preventing marketing, as opposed to preventing or restricting lawful protest, speaks for itself. A senior security spokesbeing said that the powers would not be used to suppress protests since, as we all know, police and enforcement officers would never dream of restricting freedom of speech just because an Act of Parliament allows them to. The assistant commissioner of the Pallid Pachyderm Patrol said: "We are not going into people's houses to stop people protesting", which presumably means that the home front of the war on announcements and notices of any kind will be defended by the appointed enforcers of the Olympic Delivery Authority. By 2012, with a bit of luck, such people will also be empowered to make arrests, impose on-the-spot ASBOs and fines, and detain anyone within five miles of a computer printer for up to ninety days without charge.

Evidently concerned about the possibility of yet more New New Labour policy poaching, the shadow Minister of Snoopery, Chris Graybeing, said that "neither the police nor any other official should be invading people's homes for what appear to be commercial reasons" until after the Conservatives have won the general election. Graybeing also claimed that the Government "just doesn't understand civil liberties", which is probably doing the Government an injustice. The word liberties has three syllables, so it is almost certainly beyond the comprehension of such ex-luminaries as Agent Smith, John Reid, Geoff Hoon and Hazel Blears; but there are plenty of others yet to be disgraced who are perfectly capable of understanding civil liberties. They just don't like them very much.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bringing the BNP Into Disrepute

The Barking BNP councillor for Dagenham, Richard Barnbrook, has once more fallen victim to the forces of political correctness. A meeting of the standards committees for the Greater London Authority and for the Barking council in Dagenham has declined to try and condemn him in absentia over allegations that he brought the office of professional politician into more disrepute than absolutely necessary. Apparently Barnbrook claimed, in an interview posted on YouTube, that the level of knife crime in Barking and Dagenham was severe rather than substantial, and a local authority cabinet member said that he was trying to "whip up fears in the London community". Despite being a member of the Labour party, where whipping up fears in any available communities is almost as important as paying bankers and nearly as vital as claiming expenses, she seems to have found this objectionable. Barnbrook failed to appear at the meeting, or to submit written evidence, because his doctor has had an attack of wishy-washy political correctness and signed him off for stress. Well, really. Is this how we won the war? Are there no boot camps where a man can go and pull himself together - or have the asylum seekers and the racially non-indigenous jumped the queue again?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Get Up and Clap for Jesus

Eight years of pious propaganda about abstinence have left Teen America more ignorant, more pregnant and more chancred than before, according to a report by the Centre for Disease Control. Teenage pregnancies, which had been declining for fourteen years, have risen in most states since the single election won by George W Bush. The number of teenage girls with syphilis has risen by almost fifty per cent; the number of adolescent boys with AIDS has risen by almost a hundred per cent; and the gonorrhea rate, too, is making a healthy recovery after a period of negative growth. The southern states, where abstinence is preached the hardest, tend to have the highest rates of visits from the stork and subsequent little miracles.

Naturally, not everyone is convinced of the correlation. A spokesbeing for American Values, which supports traditional marriage, said that it was "ridiculous to say that a programme we nominally invest in has failed when it fails to overcome the most sexualised culture in world history". It is ridiculous to accuse a programme of failure just because the programme happens to have failed. Similarly, "it seems very bizarre that the sex education establishment rejects the idea that we should talk to kids about what is best for them"; a rejection so bizarre, in fact, that it does not appear to be taking place, at least on the present planet.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

All At Sea

Given that Great Britain is for the most part a fairly long, narrow island with some small access to such minor spots of dampness as the Irish Sea, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean, it should come as no surprise that New New Labour finds it impracticable to spend money on developing tidal and wave power. Before the Vicar of Downing Street's ascension unto Middle East peacekeeping and other ascetic pursuits, his administration set up a fund of fifty million pounds - about one-twentieth of the overspend on the superbly-named Astute-class project to deter underwater terrorists - and in its great wisdom and foresight made the rules so strict that none of the money has been paid out in the five years of the fund's existence. Accordingly, the remnants of the Glorious Successor's administration have promised to transform the situation by setting up another fund, nearly half the size of the first fund, which will fund companies' efforts to make themselves eligible for funding from the first fund. In order to be eligible for funding with which to make themselves thus eligible for funding (you are following this, I hope), companies will have to design, build and implement prototype systems and operate them for three months, with no help from the Government and in the middle of the biggest economic earthquake since the 1970s, the 1930s, the Great War or the Neolithic Revolution, depending on whom you believe. The idea, apparently, is to "establish Britain as a global centre for tidal and wave power" - an ambition to set alongside New New Labour's aspirations for the best health service, the best police force, the best education system and the greatest Parliament in the world.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Poor Little Chaps

The Minister for Snoopery and Domestically-Oriented Thuggery is worried that people who are unable to defend themselves may be subject to false accusations and hence to personal inconvenience that may rebound upon himself. Hence, he has been waxing lyrical about an underappreciated and deprived section of the community who do a marvellous job under difficult, dangerous and conveniently discreet circumstances: "In my six weeks in this job I am so reassured and so amazed at the work that is going on, on our behalf, by people who do not have a voice, who are not able to express their views ... I have nothing but admiration for them. As I am in effect their voice I will defend them and defend what they do, and it does worry me."

It is all deeply felt and pretty jolly moving, like a member of the House of Commons defending an expenses claim, or like Nick Griffin rhapsodising about Britain's plucky but under-privileged white folks. The Minister is not reassured and amazed for nothing: "I haven't sat around the last six weeks not looking into these things"; namely the alleged conniving in torture by the British intelligence services, with the knowledge of the British government. The allegations have been made by some Muslims, documented by Craig Murray and denied by New New Labour, which ought to be enough for anyone. Having not sat around not looking into it, the Minister has said what Ministers usually say when their hirelings commit an unavoidable but wholly excusable faux pas: "I just say this: we have one of the best counter-terrorism capabilities in the world and we diminish and dilute it at our peril"; or, in Standard English, we investigate it at the peril of people a dashed sight more important than a lot of scarcely-British men in beards.

Having recited his paean in the Torygraph, the Minister left it to a spokesbeing to give the bad news: "There cannot be exceptions for these intelligence officers. He does not have the power to intervene. But he wants the public to know that they operate to the highest standards", which speaks well for his impartial attitude and his disinclination to attempt intervention where he has no legal power to do so.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Take Your Supplement

(This Means You)

That most comprehensive and improving of dictionaries, the Satanic Supplement, is now available as a book. Most of it is also available in brief installments on this weblog; but as Rupert Murdoch and other internet modernisers will tell you, there is very little point in getting something for free on the web when you can pay to get it on paper. The book version of the Satanic Supplement will not add to your electricity bill or strain your eyes; reading it will not adversely affect your posture and will require only a few dozen restful page-turns to get through, instead of all that nasty clicking and scrolling. You will not need a laptop to read it on public transport, and it will serve as well as any other paper book of similar dimensions for filling a narrow but unsightly gap on your shelf or for swatting insects. Properly administered in appropriate quantities, it will stop creaky floorboards, silence noisy neighbours, fight terrorism with one hand and global warming with the other, and eliminate many garden pests and some Jehovah's Witnesses. Quite frankly, speaking as an ordinary British wife and mother, I really can't imagine how you've got this far without it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Even the Disabled Have Their Uses

Having, over the past few months, duly established his non-authoritarian, anti-snoopery, anti-corruption credentials, Daveybloke the Cuddly Conservative continues to develop his ever more polished New Labour image by exploiting the memory of his dead and disabled child in the interests of party politics. Even Gordon Brown, whose father, as you may possibly have heard, was a Christian minister, has not yet aspired to such high-minded tactics, although I doubt the Vicar of Downing Street would have let the opportunity pass him by had one of his own children been considerate enough to make the sacrifice. Indeed, it seems just possible that this press release about the Vicar's favourite sow might be an early symptom of his campaign for ordination as President of Europe.

Anyway, Daveybloke notes that politicians' exercise of power is influenced "in a number of ways. You take advice from experts" of the Murdoch and Deripaska persuasion; "you learn from history and you listen to what people tell you in your own constituency and as you travel around the country". But a lot of the time, the CBI and the White House permitting, you go with "what you believe to be right and what your experience tells you works". Daveybloke's experience of taking time off from his ambition to lead the country in order to look after his disabled child - rather than paying someone else to do it, as some other millionaires might - has taught him several important lessons. One is that "life for parents of disabled children is complicated enough without having to jump through hundreds of government hoops", such as might have been created by a loony-leftist policy of privatising benefit agencies. Having his child assessed and getting the benefits he so desperately needed meant that poor Daveybloke was "answering the same questions over and over again, being buried under snow drifts of forms, spending hours on hold in the phone queue", a particularly harrowing procedure for those sadly disadvantaged persons who cannot afford to pay a secretary or two. As a result, Daveybloke is "determined to make life simpler for parents" by shunting respite care into the voluntary sector so that the Government doesn't have to pay as much for it, and "through personal budgets and direct payments" so that the parents of disabled children can make better use of their copious free time by looking after their own budgets and being praised in the Daily Mail for making such good use of the taxpayers' money. Daveybloke also promises more special schools, more information and more choice; which, unless we are to imagine that Daveybloke is physically capable of holding beliefs that conflict with the interests of those hard-faced men who do so well out of the war on public services, presumably translates into Standard English as more contracts for the private sector and more opportunity for fun and games in the faith sector.

Daveybloke concludes with the thought that parents of disabled children are "doing a great, unsung service to our society" by "being strong and holding their families together". A single parent of a disabled child will, it appears, remain a parasite first and a carer second.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Breath of Clean Air

The attempt by Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, to form a Cuddly Coalition of those European parliamentarians for whom the likes of Silvio Berlusconi are too left-wing has run into a bit of bother after one of Daveybloke's MEPs sabotaged a back-stairs deal to get the Polish right-winger Michal Kaminski elected vice-president. Edward McMillan-Scott, who calls himself a loyal Conservative despite apparently having reservations about homophobia and racism, disobeyed Daveybloke's orders to give Kaminski a clear run; Kaminski failed to win the vice-presidency, and the Polish Law and Justice dignitaries threatened to pick up their marbles and leave unless he was given the leadership of Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition as a booby prize. Since the Polish delegation has only about three-fifths the number of seats held by the Conservatives, this arrangement doubtless appealed to Daveybloke's sense of fair play, which has not suffered noticeable pangs at the likelihood of his party gaining an absolute majority in the British parliament with less than forty per cent of the vote.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Labour to Win Historic Fourth Term on Gullible-Wrinkly Vote, Hopes Randy

After a mere twelve years in power, during which it has done everything it can to widen the gap between rich and poor, the Government has an inkling that all may not be well with Britain's senior citizens. The former Minister for Cultchah, Randy Burnham, has decided that a system of social care for the elderly which can be spun as "fair, simple and affordable" might be a good idea, and has been making lots of sympathetic noises about "the stealthiest tax of all", which places "people who have worked all their life and paid taxes all their life" in a "cruel lottery" which it has taken New New Labour only twelve years to notice. Perhaps they were distracted by all the squealing about approaching pensions apocalypse and the need for financial responsibility. Anyway, Randy has placed three options before the public for the purposes of "consultation" while the CBI advises him on which of them can best be utilised as a means of fast-tracking taxpayers' money into corporate pockets, and while the Department of Emissions, Flooding, Radiation and Allergies continues to arrange the heat-waves which will help to counteract the public's inconsiderate longevity.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Poverty, Obedience, Humility

Well, it appears that the General Synod may yet decide to take the Saviour's words about sparrows and lilies in the sense they were probably meant; namely that the priestly élite should not concern itself with planning ahead or earning a living, but should live as parasites on those who have the bad taste not to forsake parents, wife or children for His representatives' sake. The delightfully-christened Very Reverend Archimandrite Father Ephrem Lash responded to calls for greater economy by calling for the church to be made even more top-heavy than it already is. At present, the number of senior staff has remained virtually constant for half a century, while the number of ordinary clergy has been nearly cut in half; the Very Reverend Archimandrite Father Ephrem Lash evidently believes that this trend has not been carried far enough. The Very Reverend Archimandrite Father Ephrem Lash received "the loudest applause of the afternoon" as, with due regard for good sense and consistency, the Synod rejected a motion to "streamline" the church's departments and committees on the grounds that it would minimise the influence of potential deserters. The Archbishop of York did his best to put the masses in their place, noting that his own ideas of good and bad "are not matters of opinion or merely topics for debate", a fact of which we are all aware thanks to the famous non-divisiveness of faith schools. Perhaps as a precaution against the delusion of debate, the church hierarchs have decided to cut the whole mumble short by a day, much to the chagrin of those who believe obedience is a virtue; the Archbishop blithely rubbed it in by reminding his little lambs that "relationships should be based on more than who called the shots".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fun and Laughter on a Summer Holiday

The Glorious Successor has asserted his leadership with characteristic uncompromisicality, by banging his finger on the table and ordering his new, rejuvenated cabinet of sub-Blearses and third choices to be careful with their holidays. In so far as the Glorious Successor has succeeded in making himself understood to native English speakers, this apparently means that, since the Government is widely perceived as being dangerously out of touch with the people, ministers should not go far away from Westminster. Ministers will also be required to announce two "items of business", which presumably translates as press releases, every week from the end of July until the anniversary of the 11 September terrorist attacks on America - a day, like VE Day or the day of the Britain's Got Talent final, on which the press releases virtually write themselves.

By contrast, Daveybloke believes that his Cuddly Conservatives "deserve a good holiday" for being ahead by default in the polls; and of course many of the shadow cabinet still have real jobs which will require appropriate fiscal discretion strategies if they are to continue living and labouring for the public good in the style to which they are accustomed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Where Moth and Rust Doth Corrupt

The moral backbone of our nation, which has done such marvellous work protecting us from gay bishops and Wintervalism, is once again faced with a hard choice between God and Mammon. As one would expect given the Church of England's searingly honest claim that 72% of the population are Christians, the Church of England is so worried about the decline in membership that it is considering a reintroduction of the tithe in order to keep Mammon propitiated. A report by the diocese of Bradford recommends that priests emphasise the value of generosity to the right sort of people, and then ask churchgoers to contribute five per cent of their income directly to the church, and another five per cent to "other charities (sic) and mission organisations", so that the commandment at Matthew 6 xxxi-xxxiv may be obeyed in the customary Christian manner. Doubtless aware of the fall in the value of the Church's investment portfolio, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds notes in a foreword to the report that "A time of recession is also a time of opportunity. We need to reflect on how we can support those in our own society and throughout the world who have been savagely damaged by the credit crunch" by getting more money out of them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fast Breeder Reaction

A disturbingly large number of Britain's women are still too stupid to realise the financial advantages of childlessness, according to a report by the Fawcett Society. "It is critical that those mothers who choose or need to be in paid work should be able to do so without suffering a pay penalty," said the Society's director, Katherine Rake. In a world of diminishing resources and increased overcrowding, it might be cheaper and more prudent to ensure that men who choose or need to spread their genetic inheritance around suffer an equivalent pay penalty to that inflicted on spawning females; but this view of things does not appear to have occurred to the Fawcett Society. Instead, the report makes a denigrating comparison of Britishness with five sorts of foreignness - a blatant example of failing to compare like with like - and agitates for patent impossibilities like longer parental leave entitlements and interference with market forces in the interests of "affordable childcare".

Thursday, July 09, 2009

It's How You Play the Game

The seventh significant demise in Afghanistan this week had ambitions to compete in the 2012 Olympics, a fact which has prompted Britain's leading liberal newspaper to indulge in one of its all-too-frequent bouts of reality soap opera. Trooper Christopher Whiteside was "a talented swordsman who had hoped to begin training for a possible place in the British fencing team on his return from Afghanistan", rather than in the security forces who will no doubt be making the Olympic village and its unfortunate environs bomb-proof, gun-proof, nuke-proof, bioweapon-proof and protest-proof by mugging everyone in the vicinity who isn't voluntarily carrying an ID card. Whiteside had been taking part in Operation Panchai Palang ("panther's claw"), a name presumably designed to impress any remaining Decent Afghanis with the awesome nobility of our intentions. As long as it is strictly necessary to be collaterally detrimented in a military operation named after a B-movie native expendable, I suppose it may be marginally less annoying if the detrimentors are courteous enough to translate.

The Secretary for War and the Colonies expressed his deep sense of personal loss at the death of Trooper Whiteside, whom he appears to have known rather well: "He was a courageous soldier who fought back from injury to rejoin the army, and it is clear his fitness, determination and sense of humour were hugely admired by both his comrades and his commanders," he said. "Their thoughts, and mine, are with his grieving family at this difficult time." The other six soldiers killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the month include a lieutenant-colonel and five others whose lack of rank or Olympic ambition renders them unworthy of any but the most cursory attention.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Banking Phish

Date: Wed Jul 08 2009 4:00pm Europe/London
To: database-recipients::
Subject: Incraese Yuor Size |\|0 LIMIT

Dear Banker!!!!!!!!!!!

I am darlingbloke i am Darling bloke i am Chancerlor of teh Ex cheque er er of dymanic british Thrid Wrold no 10p taxbad rah rah economoney i am darling Bloke bloke. as yuo may be aware irrepsonsibile pay practicices made bakns bnaks tak too much R | S K laeding ot ot ot to iflnatioomn defflaiition rcessssion & BUST. bnaks abnks aslo had litltltlte aprecaprtion of waht was goigng omn isinide thier own businessinessesses laedig to flations of alllll srots & MORE BUST. Acccordigly in acordance with my accccord teh sz siz size of yuor busisinesiness wlil nott be rgleulated adn the zs zsiz zsis zszise of your salarily adn Broadroomm Bosnusnes wlill ALso Nnot be rgluttated. i am Darlingb loke bloke.

i hop soon to be Wroking in Pirvart Sector & i Lok frowardx to yr Appreciatton.

wram gregrards


(Darling Bloke)


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ignorantia Legis Excusat

The chief inspector of constabulary, Denis O'Connor, has reported on the violence at the remarkable success in April. Apparently some senior officers in the best police force in the world felt no particular urge to find out the legal ramifications of kettling before they used it, and not all officers on the ground had been apprised of the possibility that whacking people on the side of the head with a riot shield might do someone a mischief. O'Connor also made the rather baffling observation that the tactic of confining large numbers of people in small areas without food, water, toilet facilities or exit belongs to a "different era". Perhaps it was more effective during the good old days of warm beer, village cricket and the bobby on the beat. Now times have changed, and "we live in an age where public consent of policing cannot be assumed"; hence "policing, including public order policing, should be designed to win the consent of the public". As a matter of fact, the best police force in the world did quite a bit to win the consent of the public to its belligerent tactics during the remarkable success: they hyped the threats beforehand and lied about the casualties afterwards. However, given that officers are now working with the possibility of an "instant visual record of police conduct", O'Connor sensibly recommends "a presumption in favour of facilitating peaceful assembly", at least until the law against photographing policemen in the course of beating up a terrorist suspect can be enforced with sufficient instantaneity and utterness.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Record Profits

Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, has a policy advisor called Steve Hilton. Steve Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone. Rachel Whetstone is a senior executive at Google. By a remarkable coincidence, Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, has just decided that people should use services like Google Health as a means of storing their own medical records and ensuring that there is sufficient freedom of information for the health of the pharmaceutical companies. Health industry consumers would be "given the option" of storing their records with private companies or utilising Brand X, much as people are now given the option of gambling on private pension schemes or working until they drop. Medicino-surgical customers would also be given a choice of provider, ensuring that no single company would have a monopoly; there is every reason to believe that this would work at least nearly as well as the wide choice of whimsically-priced rail service providers which has made our transport infrastructure the wondrous cure for melancholy it is today.

A spokesbeing for Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives would not discuss the idea in detail, because there are still one or two problems to be ironed out; for instance, "Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault systems would need to be adapted for them to work in Britain"; or, more likely, Britain would be adapted so that Google and Microsoft HealthVault could work here without tripping over any inconvenient consumer protection laws. Apparently Daveybloke believes that this arrangement would be an "alternative" to the NHS database. Presumably, then, Daveybloke intends to abolish the database, erasing all records kept on it so that those who submit their medical records to the tender mercies of Google and Microsoft may receive an equal standard of care to those who choose otherwise; or else Daveybloke intends to keep the database as a parallel system, so that the NHS may save the money spent on it by spending money on the database.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Without Natural Affection

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who is due to hang up his skirts in a couple of months, has had one last bash at demonstrating the wonders of a secular society. As Daveybloke the Cuddly Conservative cuddles up to gay people while vaunting Family Values (only to be accused of "hypocritical moralising" by Harriet Harman - an indignity on a par with having one's honour impugned by Gordon Brown), the Bishop told the Sabbath Torygraph: "We want to uphold the traditional teaching of the Bible. We believe that God has revealed his purpose about how we are made." It is not clear whether we in this instance means the entire Anglican Civil War, its God, its Saviour, its head the Queen, the dithering politician in Lambeth Palace, its archbishops, bishops, deacons, deaconesses, vicars, blue-rinsers and choirboys; or whether it just means Dr Michael Nazir-Ali and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a right-wing splinter group which has no doubt allied itself with the African and American sodomy-smashers in much the same spirit as Daveybloke has jumped into bed with the East European gay-bashers. In any case, people who do not believe that homosexuals are morally inferior human beings (somewhere between women and Muslims, I take it) "don't share the same faith" as the Bishop of Rochester and the FCA. "They are acting in a way that is not normative according to what God has revealed in the Bible", rather like people who don't believe in killing witches, stoning adulterers, or executing people for breaking the Sabbath. Dr Michael Nazir-Ali and his chums "don't want to exclude people", but there are some people who cannot in good conscience be put up with unless they "repent and be changed"; otherwise the privilege of having Dr Michael Nazir-Ali and his chums as co-religionists must regretfully be withdrawn. Besides wanting to cling to the traditional teaching of the Church, the Bishop also wants "a movement for renewal", though without the bother of any culture or trends. A "reformation of the Church and the life of the Communion", presumably in the image of Dr Michael Nazir-Ali and his chums, is recommended - doubtless in all humility.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Gay Abandon

SIR ARTHUR STREEB-GREEBLING: I believe it was shortly after World War Two. Remember that - World War Two?
INTERVIEWER: Yes, indeed.
STREEB-GREEBLING: Absolutely ghastly business.
INTERVIEWER: Yes, indeed.
STREEB-GREEBLING: Absolutely ghastly business.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, yes, indeed.
STREEB-GREEBLING: I was completely against it.
INTERVIEWER: Well, I think we all were.
STREEB-GREEBLING: Yes, but I wrote a letter.
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, The Frog and Peach

The Foreign Office is to risk the wrath of homophobic regimes with which Britain does not have profitable business relations by writing letters to British diplomats. A newly-appointed underling of the Upper Miliband has been charged with a final desperate attempt to give some impression that New New Labour has some sort of interest in human rights by sending written messages of approbation to diplomats who show public support for gay rights, provided they are not in Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, the Vatican or three-fifths of the United States. The purpose of the letters, as noted in Chris Bryant's press release and verified by the Guardian's Journalistic Telepathy Unit, is "to spell out that the British Foreign Office policy of support for gay and lesbian rights is not just a formality, but instead a central part of the government's drive for human rights" which has had such brilliant results in Iraq, Afghanistan and Westminster. Bryant has written letters to British diplomats in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, noting that the home of the elected Member of the European Parliament, Nick Griffin, "is not just a tolerant country. We fully respect the rights of everyone, regardless of their sexuality", if not regardless of their asylumseekerdom. Bryant also plans to write letters to British high commissioners in the Commonwealth, "even though this will run contrary to the teachings of some local churches", such as the Church of Rome and the Church of England. Bryant's "determination" to write letters to British representatives within the Commonwealth, as noted in Bryant's press release and verified by the aforementioned JTU, "will be hugely controversial if he pushes the message and diplomatic pressure hard"; which handily explains why he probably won't.

Friday, July 03, 2009

And Was the Holy Lamb of God On England's Pleasant Pastures More or Less Important?

A national survey of Biblical literacy has found that, despite three-quarters of respondents owning a copy and despite the traditional British affection for sex and violence, most of us are as ignorant of the Bible as we are of anything else that might have a whiff of history, literature, mythology, poetry, culture or other kind of foreignness about it. Despite thirty years of Thatcherite government, a majority of respondents did not know the parable of the Good Samaritan; perhaps even more surprisingly, a similar majority did not know the story of Joseph and his brothers, despite the best efforts of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Perhaps the reputation of these stories can be salvaged once Dan Brown or a wannabe has constructed a suitable plot around them.

A Methodist preacher, the Reverend Brian Brown, said that he was "startled by the lack of knowledge and understanding among people questioned, despite a third of them saying that the Bible was important to them"; which shows that the Reverend Brian Brown has a good deal to learn about good old British honesty and straight talk. Most of the third probably considered the Bible important in repelling vampires and other undesirables of a similar nature, rather than for any qualities it may possess as reading matter. Still, it would be injudicious for the churches to be too concerned about this latest example of blessed ignorance, since actually reading the Bible can occasionally have unfortunate consequences. I can still remember the effect of an illustration depicting some victims of the Great Flood in a Bible for Children during my nonage. Somewhat later, the Gideons visited one of my schools and committed the indiscretion of handing out New Testaments in which the Saviour's callousness, vengefulness, self-pity and megalomania were thrown into sharp relief by a modern English translation.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Could Hun Invade Grief of Heroes' Families?

A new medal, the Elizabeth Cross, is to be given to the families of those military personnel who have been killed in combat since the Second World War. "Ever since Christopher died I have wondered what I will say to the children of his younger brother when they ask 'What did Uncle Christopher get from this country?'" said the mother of one non-collateral detrimentation. "I will now be able to point to the Elizabeth Cross and say 'That's what Christopher got'." A great comfort, no doubt. The Chief of the Defence Staff said he thought the medal would be worn with "immense pride" by those whose relatives paid the ultimate price in wars of liberation from Malaya to Aden to Kenya, and more recently for Halliburton's profits and the Vicar of Downing Street's echt-Churchillian posturings - matters to which the Chief of the Defence Staff tactfully referred as "our security and freedom". The Queen observed that we have an "enduring debt to those who are killed while actively protecting what is most dear to us all" and implied, rather offensively, that this kind of solemn hypocrisy is a facet of our "national character", whatever that may be.

Since the contract to manufacture the medals has to be tendered across the European Union, a headline writer at the Independent seized the occasion to flash his Britishness by practising his Daily Mail skills, highlighting the EU's inexcusable interference in a matter of exclusively British glory, and the possibility that the medals may end up being made in a country defeated in the two wars and one World Cup What We Won - issues which together occupy almost one-eleventh of the story's length.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Hard Nut to Crack

Officers in the Southend branch of the best police force in the world have been vindicated over their treatment of a darky type with a mental illness. While apparently suffering a psychotic episode, Faisal Al-Ani was pinned to the ground in a manner which even the Independent Police Complaints Commission thought carried a "high risk for injury to the upper spine", but which is nevertheless "in contravention to all guidance". Al-Ani was then taken to a patrol car, beaten senseless and placed in custody in a police station, where he apparently collapsed while attempting to escape and died despite the best efforts of numberless police medics who tried to save his life despite the inevitable hail of bottles from local anarchists. Perhaps because of the budget cuts necessary to equip every officer below the rank of superintendent with a taser, the closed-circuit television camera in the custody area happened not to be recording that day; but the police made up for this by writing their report of the incident with such meticulous care that they took twenty-four hours to finish it. In fact, they seem to have worked so hard to get it right that their memories were affected, since the initial investigator's report stated that Al-Ani had walked into the station by himself, for all the world like an innocent Brazilian going for a ride on the Tube.

The inquest jury found that Al-Ani posed a risk of injury to himself or to the sort of police officer who cannot tell walking from being carried, and that therefore the police acted appropriately in harming Al-Ani before he could do anything rash. The IPCC, after four months' intensive examination of CCTV footage showing Al-Ani being carried into the station, has decided that the story about his walking in under his own power must have been a mistake. Perhaps thanks to some recent errors by a different branch of the best police force in the world, Britain's leading liberal newspaper cannot conceive of any other explanation. After all, like so many other deaths in police custody, this one turns out to have been nobody's fault; and why should officers lie if they had nothing to hide?