The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Alphabetical Order

A was an Article filed by a hack;
B was a Blogger who wrote an attack;
C the Computer on which it was noted;
D was a Database horribly bloated;
E was the Evil with which he was charged;
F was his File which was hourly enlarged;
G was the Gaoler by whom he was scared;
H was the Hoody whose surname he shared;
I his Identity lost in the static;
J was the Judgement both harsh and emphatic;
K was the Knowledge from which he was kept;
L was the Law which was changed as he slept;
M was the Maze where they ordered him lost;
N was the Number by which he was bossed;
O was the Outbreak in which he escaped;
P was the Poncho in which he was draped;
Q was the Question they asked at the border;
R the Response as a guard yelled an order;
S was the Slip which he gave them when fleeing;
T was a Town where the spies were all-seeing;
U was the Unit to which he was led;
V was the Virus he faked for a bed;
W the Ward where he hid for a day;
X was the X-ray that gave him away;
Y was the Year that he spent in the maze;
Z was the Zone where he ended his days.

Golobom Hrutt

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ecumenical Ephebophilia

The Vatican's permanent observer at the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, has placed his church's paedophilia motes in due perspective by pointing out a few beams in other people's eyes. He quoted the Christian Science Monitor to the effect that most American churches with paedophilia scandals were Protestant, and that sexual abuse occurs within Jewish communities as well. He noted that "sexual abuse was far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbours", although he does not appear to have gone so far as to reiterate Christ's prophylactic commandments about the holy breakup of the family unit. The Archbishop also claimed that, at a maximum, only one-twentieth of Catholic clergy - oh, a mere trifle - were involved in sexually abusing children. Even among those involved, it appears that eighty to ninety per cent are afflicted not with paedophilia but with ephebophilia, a different and far less well-known Greek word meaning a sexual attraction to "adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17"; although, unless the Catholic church plans to balance its re-adoption of the Tridentine Mass by conceding the Jewish superstition as to the age of majority, it is difficult to see how much difference this makes. The Archbishop stated that the Vatican was "busy cleaning its own house", having found itself regrettably unable to keep the skeletons in the closet and the dirt under the carpet for ever and ever amen. Unfortunately he does not seem to have mentioned the Vatican's attitude to dippoldism, another very popular devotional activity; although I am sure many would welcome clarification as to whether Mother Church still disapproves of corporal punishment - as with homosexuality - only between consenting adults.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Handling of Protestors

A police sergeant with the tabloid-tempting surname of Smellie is to be charged with assaulting a woman during last spring's remarkable success for law, order and public surveillance.

Smellie was filmed "apparently hitting [Nicola] Fisher, 35, with the back of his arm" and also "appearing to strike her on her legs with a baton", in footage which eventually obtruded itself upon the attention of the mainstream news media.

Fisher was allegedly taking part in a vigil for a newspaper seller who at the time was waiting to enjoy the first and most politically convenient of his various autopsies.

The trial will seek to determine whether Smellie is a brave and noble man who was doing a difficult job in difficult circumstances, a well-meaning but headstrong lad who deserves a slap on the wrist, or a rotten apple whose indiscretion has calamitously diminished the barrel of derelictions which the Metropolitan Police can get away with.

If it is found expedient to utilise Smellie as a scapegoat for those who authorised the bash-'em-and-boil-'em tactics at the G20, the sergeant could face up to six months in prison.

Part of the prosecution's task will be to show that the allegedly incriminating footage was not faked by militant YouTube fanatics and that Fisher was not, in the words of the Met's standard operational manual, "fucking gagging for a bitch-slap".

Sunday, September 27, 2009


The Swiss authorities have detained Roman Polanski in connection with the arrest warrant issued by the United States over the statutory rape of a thirteen-year-old girl. The girl, who is now a middle-aged woman, has indicated that she does not think the case should be pursued, and in February this year an American judge agreed that the judge at the original proceedings was guilty of misconduct for reneging on a plea bargain. The futility of the entire business is underlined by the fact that, although Polanski has carefully avoided going to the US or to countries with which the US has an extradition treaty, he has been in Switzerland on a number of occasions. The Swiss justice ministry declined to say why he hadn't been arrested there before, despite their having "been aware for some years" of the existence of the warrant.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Technically and Legally Wrong

Amid all the hype about the latest Iranian plot to wipe us all off the map, Britain's leading liberal newspaper has published, with due discretion, this piece by Scott Ritter, the man who pre-emptively plagiarised all those revelations by sceptical mainstream journalists about Iraq's weapons of mass nonexistence. The piece deals with Obama's claim that "Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow" (it isn't), with Israel's claim that Iran's voluntaryish revelation of the existence of the Qom plant vindicates Israel's position (it doesn't), with the claim that Iran is now closer than ever before to constructing a nuclear weapon (it isn't), with the idea that Iran has run rings around the IAEA while diverting nuclear material for apocalyptic purposes (it hasn't), with the political and journalistic convention that the context of Western belligerence in both rhetoric and action over the past six years can be ignored in a proper appraisal of the situation (it can't) and with the claim, advanced elsewhere in today's edition of Britain's leading liberal newspaper, that "the difference this time is that the US wants diplomacy to work". Well, it must want that, of course. It has said so.

Friday, September 25, 2009

How Pleasant to Know Mr Dacre

How pleasant to know Mr Dacre,
Who edits our dear Daily Mail -
Scourge of that fiend Britishness-faker,
The MIGRANT with horns and a tail.

He hates Polacks working in Britain;
He hates British youngsters who can't.
All things that his hirelings have written
Are fact-checked, except when they aren't.

He hates all the rampant perversion
Afflicting society's dregs;
And yet he has no great aversion
To buttocks, and cleavage, and legs.

He hates those who darken the nation
With culture that's leftish in wing;
He despises that vile Corporation,
The Bolshevik Broadcasting thing.

Some think him an arrant piss-taker;
Some think him a pander to scum.
How pleasant to know Mr Dacre
And wait for his uppance to come!

with apologies to Edward Lear and thanks to the Watch

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Could This Be the Answer to the Financial Crisis?

A man with a metal detector in Staffordshire has made an archaeological discovery of spectacular significance, comprising over thirteen hundred items dating to the seventh or eighth century. It's the largest hoard of precious metal from the Anglo-Saxon period "by quite a large margin", according to the British Museum's head of portable antiquities and treasure, and the craftsmanship is of outstanding quality. Another expert compared it to "finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells", and said that it will "alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries". Fortunately for the Press Association, the British Museum's head of portable antiquities and treasure was also obliging enough to facilitate the headline-writer's task by giving an estimate of its value in hard cash.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Arab Burqa Crusade

The Arab needs a few directions
To find his way on Freedom's map.
If he could vote in some elections,
He would be such a jolly chap.

The beastly Burqa hides the features
Which weep beneath Muhammad's yoke;
These women are enslaved, poor creatures,
Like all too many brownish folk.

A new Crusade of brave and free men
Must drag them forth from moral night.
They'll thank us when at last they see, men,
That they were wrong and we are right.

We Democrats, upright yet humble,
Marching as one, shall never fall;
Yet if our valiant tread should stumble,
The terrorists will conquer all.

To be Embedded with the squaddies!
To show the war in brutal fact!
To ask about civilian bodies
Would show a dreadful want of tact.

A hood, or here and there a Fetter,
Can sometimes cause a bit of fuss,
Although we have done so much better
Than those we hood, had they been us.

Alas, our Goodness is resented
By those who are in Badness wrought;
And yet, when someone's detrimented,
'Tis said that we have fallen short.

The Holocaust must not be doubted,
And would be foolish to deny.
When we are crossed we gas about it,
Our actions to excuse thereby.

We Intervene with firm decision
And surgify the battlefield;
With awesome shock and dead precision,
Let freedom's sword slice human shield.

A thirst for Justice is our motive;
Free, fair elections are our game.
If natives now do not feel votive,
It's hardly we who are to blame.

This Killing is an ugly matter
Where agonies of horror lurk.
How fine to stay at home, and chatter,
While others do the dirty work.

Historic Lessons teach us truly
That human rights, so grimly won,
Must be bestowed on the unruly
From out the muzzle of a gun.

The Missile with its awful beauty
Gives healthy distance to our war,
Enabling us to do our duty
While watching safely from afar.

The use of Nukes is wrong and evil:
The sum of all rogue statesmen's hopes.
'Tis better far to spare upheaval
And use depleted isotopes.

What Oil? Oh, that! Well, by tarnation,
'Twas nought to us. And yet, methinks,
'Twould serve our cause, our God and nation
To keep it from the heathen Chinks.

In Prison-blocks occurred some hitting,
Some nasty bullying, and more.
Some bullies were locked up - omitting
The ones who sent them off to war.

The Question of the Palestinians
Is not undifficult, no doubt;
The more so, as it is our minions
Who've gone and kicked the beggars out.

Some Rebels 'gainst the old dictator
We firmly slapped down as they rose;
They may enjoy their freedom later,
When we can regulate the dose.

From out the Sands come buried treasures:
Shell casings turned to evil ends,
And bodies too, which fell to measures
Too harsh save when employed by friends.

Our Troops are cheaply fed and watered,
Cheaply equipped, and cheaply armed,
Cheaply protected, cheaply quartered,
And treated cheaply when they're harmed.

For things eternal, Universal,
Our brave boys fight in foreign parts;
And yet a fairly small reversal
Can lose so many minds and hearts.

Our Values British, firm and trendy,
By light of reason we bestow;
But keep them adequately bendy
To stand a million deaths or so.

We've bombed another Wedding party,
Which must be counted a defeat:
The press release will not be hearty;
The act was surely indiscreet.

With Xenophobes pray do not lump us;
They are not right, nor good, nor true.
Although this war's a nasty rumpus,
We have belief in what we do.

The birthright of each British fellow:
A golden thread that others lack.
A slightly duller streak of Yellow
Runs down our glorious leader's back.

For all our Zeal we take a beating.
They are not worthy; what a bore.
But even as we are retreating,
We try to help a little more.

Boggust Quabarle

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Compromisational Achievability, Commonsensical Flexibilitisation

The prime minister of the Righteous State and the Palestinian president - but mostly, no doubt, the latter - have caused frustration to President Obama by failing to recognise that it is time to move forward by beginning negotiations towards the achievement of the goals of permanent status. Even Mahmoud Abbas is reluctant to negotiate while the Israelis continue to inflame the injury of their illegal occupation with the insult of illegal settlements on the West Bank. Although the US supplies much of the wherewithal for the Righteous State's often spectacular acts of self-defence, and hence might be thought capable of exerting a certain moral leverage, Netanyahu "rebuffed a US call for a total freeze on Jewish settlement on the West Bank". Obama called on the Righteous State and the Palestinians - but mostly, no doubt, the latter - to show flexibility in their attitude to international law, common sense in recognising that the Middle East's only nuclear power has little need of flexibility, and thereby to achieve the necessary compromise to achieve the goals which the US shares with the Righteous State.

Monday, September 21, 2009

H G Wells

A very happy birthday to H G Wells, who is a hundred and forty-three. I first encountered his work when we were both considerably younger, most likely thanks to a film which he would probably have disliked: George Pal's engaging but half-baked version of The Time Machine. The scene in which Rod Taylor remains physically unscathed while a nuclear attack boils the paving stones around him is only slightly more ludicrous than the blue body-stockings which pass for Morlock make-up effects; but at my first viewing I was young enough not to register such details. The two scenes that made the greatest impression on me were the one at the beginning, where Taylor demonstrates his discovery to his friends with a miniature Time Machine which I made haste to try and reproduce in Lego; and the one where the Eloi show him their library, in which the crumbling of books into dust must have caused me considerable moral shock.

Wells is apparently under-rated in several of the many literary fields he explored (although the field that yielded the title The Bulpington of Blup might better have been left fallow); and writers of horror stories - including, of course, your correspondent - are under-rated by almost everyone. Wells wrote a number of fantastic, macabre and just-plain-horrific tales, and it is very likely that the next I heard of him was through a BBC television series called Spine Chillers. This was a sort of macabre Jackanory for the early evening, in which some suitably-voiced personality would read out a short ghostly tale, and which I believe I have to thank for introducing me to the work of Saki, via the wonderful "Sredni Vashtar". The Wells piece, which I think may have been the first of the series, was "The Red Room", a thoroughly effective ghost story well served by Freddie Jones' inimitable delivery. Wells' other weird tales range from the near-mystical ("Under the Knife") through the conte cruel ("The Cone") to the unrepentantly ghastly (the superb, and superbly titled, "Pollock and the Porroh Man").

During my teens I finally got around to reading the four great science fiction novels on which Wells' reputation still largely rests: The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. I like the first and second considerably more than the third and fourth, although it is probably time for me to give The War of the Worlds another look. I think I saw James Whale's delightful adaptation of The Invisible Man before I read the book; The Island of Doctor Moreau has been filmed at least three times, never quite satisfactorily. The first version, made in the thirties and called Isle of Lost Souls, starred Charles Laughton as a whip-wielding British sadist; Wells despised it and fully supported the British censor's efforts to keep it from polluting the silver screens of Albion. A version made in the 1970s had Burt Lancaster and Nigel Davenport nicely cast as Moreau and his drunken sidekick Montgomery (and spawned a tie-in paperback edition of which I owned a second-hand copy long before the film turned up on television); but it foundered in romantic clichés, happy endings and Michael York. The 1990s version starring Brando and Kilmer is not nearly as bad as its reputation, but does nothing that the other two films hadn't done already. It's regrettable that Richard Stanley, the brilliant director of Hardware and Dust Devil, who co-wrote the screenplay, contrived to get himself fired as director and replaced with the professional but uninspired John Frankenheimer.

One film based on his work of which Wells did approve was Alexander Korda's production Things to Come. I have never seen it, though I did read the book when I was about fourteen or fifteen; whatever impression it made seems to have been eclipsed by the intellectual supernova precipitated by my discovery of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men. During about the same period I also read such things as The Sleeper Wakes, A Story of the Days to Come and In the Days of the Comet, none of which has left any noticeable mark. I have never got around to Tono-Bungay, but I may yet.

The latest Wells book to come my way is the novella The Croquet Player, a brilliantly written, bleakly pessimistic horror fable published in the mid-thirties and never reprinted until Trent Editions brought it out again sixty years later. The narrator, the croquet player of the title - and indeed probably one of the best croquet players alive and not ashamed to admit it - has two disturbing encounters with two thoroughly unsettling men; even less settling for the fact that the first man is a doctor and the second is the psychiatrist of the first. I found The Croquet Player while waiting for a friend in a London bookshop, and bought it on nothing more than wilful whim; if you can get hold of a copy, I strongly suggest that you do so, or else go here and thank John Gibson in the comments. Wells' ineffectual young protagonist is at least as relevant in the age of climate change and virtual reality as he was in the age of Fascism: then as now, whatever the state of the world, one must play croquet with one's aunt.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Messengers of Mercy

The ex-BBC News correspondent Martin Sixsmith, who I recall being sniggered at by the Torygraph during the eighties for his degenerate idiosyncrasy of being a reporter based in Russia who could pronounce Russian names, has uncovered a heartwarming tale of Christian love and American tolerance which he chronicles in a book called The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. The child was an illegitimate son, borne by Lee in an Irish convent in 1952. Lee's own mother had died when she was six and a half, and her father had placed her in a convent school, which she left at eighteen having been prepared for the real world in the customary convent-school fashion, and was promptly impregnated. Her father forgave her trespasses by disowning and rejecting her, and she was imprisoned with her child in another convent, where she was put to work for the glory of God and the profit of the church for three years, while the Irish state paid the convent for its charity. After three years, with due and presumably legal process, Lee's child was taken away from her and sold to an American couple. He grew up to be a successful Republican lawyer, despite being homosexual in Reagan's America; but the sins of his mother were visited upon him in his sufferings as an adopted orphan, even as the vengeance of the Deity descended upon him for his objective disorder. He died of HIV-related illness in 1995, having attempted to find his mother and been prevented from doing so by the same nuns who were also refusing information to Philomena Lee in her own efforts to find him. But his mother blames herself, not the Church, and has started to go to Mass again; so that's all right.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In the House of the Righteous is Much Treasure

That pious fraud the Archbishop of Canterbury has stepped forth from his palace to pontificate upon the increasingly dysfunctional society which may soon result from the gap between rich and poor. The economic crisis, he proclaims, is a lesson that "economics is too important to be left to economists"; particularly given the catholicity of agreement among economists concerning the practical, ethical and social supremacy of the Thatcherite doctrine which has been in force these thirty years. Hence, the Archbishop feels it incumbent upon himself, as an awkward amateur and professional lily of the field, to take a bit of a holiday from his Church's holy agonies about what consenting adults do in private and give us the benefit of his wisdom on the matter. He noted the public's sense that "people are somehow getting away with a culture in which the connection between the worth of what you do and the reward you get becomes more obscure"; and, perhaps because of this encouraging evidence that the kingdom of heaven is upon us, he also worried that "there hasn't been what I would, as a Christian, call repentance. We haven't heard people saying: 'Well actually, no, we got it wrong and the whole fundamental principle on which we worked was unreal, was empty." It appears that he has failed to appreciate the nuanced, but very real, distinction between the economy of history and the economics of faith. On the other hand, the Government has intervened quite decisively to give more to those that have, while for those who have not, even what they have shall be taken away. The value of the Church's own investments may have fallen somewhat, leading to "diffused resentment" and "muted anger"; but provided one is sufficiently meek in submitting to the punishment of others, there are surely some grounds for optimism.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flying Phish

Date: Fri Sep 18 2009 9:00am Europe/London
To: database-recipients::
Subject: E X P A N D yuor big jet cy1inder

Dear Freinds!!!!!!!!

i am Lord Adenoid Admonis Adonis i am prefectly Credible TRansprot Lord in Major urpean Contry economoney rah rah. I am Prefftly Credibile Nunulabmin siter minster of Trabsnort. i am lord Ado i Argue for Ar;lines expansoin. Arlines Expnason dose Not maen mpre more Emissions i am Perfectly Crebidile on this. Arlines Exanspon Emisssons can be Offset by New Tecnolology adn Biofule emergence. teh Raeson why aviatone wlil acheive a higher porproproporton fo crabon mesons is thattitititttis Hrader Harder to repplace teh Crabon Imppact but thnaks to New Tchnololololgy adn Bioflue emergency our Airlens cnan Infinintly expandabable!!!!!!! Aslo tehere is Gorwing Cofnidence & we alll; knwow hat what Gorwing Confidnence mean End of booooom adn oSnic Bust rah rah. it is prefectly Credible we cnan heave haeve hav egorth gorwth in Passsnger nubmers at Snigningfincanant Levels tihs is Prefectly Credible i lrod airbus am Tarnspot LORD rah rah.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed...

The Christian state of Ohio is to make a second attempt on the life of one of its enemies, its minions having failed at the first attempt because they were unable to find a suitable blood vessel for the almost certainly painless lethal injection. Despite the co-operation of the injectee, for which the prison governor has expressed due gratitude, the forces of righteousness spent two hours failing to find a vein that shared its owner's obliging nature. When the injectee became distressed, a member of the disposal squad handed him a toilet roll; but humane gestures have their limits, even in the Christian state of Ohio, so they're going to try again next week.

Meanwhile, the God-fearing state of Texas has rejected an appeal by a man who was sentenced to death by his prosecutor's lover; and is also "grappling" with the possibility that a man executed five years ago for murdering his childen was innocent. We can but remember the state of Texas in our prayers, and hope that the struggle will not cause undue moral trauma.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Mask Slips

Last week there was Andy Lansley's clarification about real-terms spending versus actual spending; this week Daveybloke has been doing his international statesman thing, expelling from the party an MEP who sabotaged a grubby little deal to make Michal Kaminski vice-president of Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition in Europe. Despite claiming that "they can take me out of the Conservative party. But they cannot take the Conservative out of me", the MEP has tarnished his party's good name by claiming that Kaminski has "antisemitic, homophobic and racist links", and implying that such things are somehow objectionable. He believes that Daveybloke has "got it right on domestic policy" (austerity, family values, police rah rah); but feels that Daveybloke's European policy leaves something to be desired. Daveybloke's European policy so far has been to state that he will "not let matters rest" and then to let matters rest. Still, since New New Labour has been considerate enough to continue losing the next election, Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives are no doubt justified in their belief that they need not worry too much about whether their affably grinning, two-dimensional latex false face with optional dead-baby attachment is really doing all that good a job of protecting the true face of the party - sloping forehead, slavering jaws, beady little eyes and all - from the public gaze.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Voivode

The shocked silence which greeted my exposure of this bit of dirty work at the crossroads, as well as the approving hush which falls across my comments boxes whenever I mention my own literary labours, have joined in a danbrownish conspiracy with the end of the recession and consequent widespread increases in spending power to convince me that the time is now right to place this little oddity at the disposal of my public, and thus make my own small but hopefully significant contribution towards healing the horrendous disfigurement of the market which has resulted from the Gobiesque dearth of vampire tales which are set on mediaeval space expeditions in a geocentric universe. Thank you in advance for spending wisely, reading avidly and reviewing judiciously.

Update Tesco is flogging the "official sequel" to Dracula for £3.86. Aside from The Voivode's supreme virtue (that of not being a sequel to anything, "official" or otherwise), it is shorter, is not written in the style of a Dan Brown novel and is cheaper whether you download it or purchase the print version. Buy now, save your money from the indignity of being spent on the work of Dacre Stoker and a renowned screenwriter, and you'll still have up to £1.86 left over.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Spoonful of Sugar

The ideas of the gorgeous, pulsing Minister for Health Industry Privatisation, Randy Burnham, increasingly resemble the remaining denizens of the Glorious Successor's present, and presumably terminal, Cabinet. Ranging effortlessly between the murkily manipulative and the boorishly obnoxious, lurching the gamut between insignificance and inanity, they make up for what they lack in such trivialities as reason and utility thanks to their extraordinary endowments in the far more significant matter of sheer brute obstinacy. Randy, whose single major idea as Secretary for Cultchah was that libraries should not be the sort of places where potential consumers can sit around in silence all day doing nothing but read and think, has come up with another winner along much the same lines; namely, that hospitals should be rewarded for their public-relations skills as well as (we'll get to the instead of stage soon enough, no doubt) for tedious, uninnovationalistic things like alleviating people's illnesses. He plans, if that is the verb I want, to end the "get what you are given" culture in the health service by linking hospital budgets to "patient satisfaction" with regard to "the ease with which a patient can use clean toilets" and "the quality of food", neither of which is apparently a matter for concern at the moment and both of which Randy lumps in with such crying national needs as the manner of receptionists and the "attractiveness" of wards. Randy has been "inspired by practice in America, where private healthcare companies offer rewards to medical centres rated highly by their patients", and where the resulting system is working so well that even the pragmatic wing of the Republican Party (viz. the Democratic Party) seems to think somebody ought to do something about it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sinking Beneath the Azure Main

The Ministry for War and the Colonies, whose new U-boat project is named Astute in much the same spirit as one of America's early efforts to take the Cold War into space was christened Friendship, is experiencing some small difficulty in disposing of some outdated peacekeeping equipment. For the past eleven years, the Ministry has been trying to find ways of dismantling fifteen decommissioned nuclear submarines and storing their radioactive waste; and, as is the way of Ministries, has set up an acronym to look into the matter. The acronym's remit was to "look into what plans would be acceptable to the public", provided the public was prepared to accept low-level radiation, the involvement of the sort of private enterprise which has made our civilian nuclear industry the dread and envy of the world, the re-sale of contaminated material on the open market and the usual absence of any meaningful consultation about where the poisonous hulks would be taken apart and their more durable components preserved for future generations to marvel at. Eventually, the Ministry for War and the Colonies was moved to solve the problem in the usual way of New New Labour ministries, by employing the scientific acumen and social responsibility of a PR company. The PR company carried out a study which concluded that the services of two advisers from Lancaster University's Centre for the Study of Environmental Change were no longer required. According to a spokesbeing, the Ministry "reviewed membership of this MoD-funded group in order to ensure value for money," by bringing in a public-relations company, doubtless at no more expense to the taxpayer than strictly necessary. "In the area of communications, work was being duplicated", as one would expect when environmental experts are employed, "and the appropriate action was taken to reduce staff numbers". In Standard English, the Ministry obediently fired the environmental experts, and re-branded the acronym so as to brighten its initiativity. As a result, eight more consultants are considering a further and, from the Ministry's point of view, involuntary reduction in staff numbers. Perhaps the Ministry's aim, if it has one, is to ensure that by the time the whole business is settled the submarines will no longer be radioactive.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Bloody Scandal

Those bloodsucking fiends at Harper's have evidently got wind of my cunning plan to undercut the sales of their inch-thick gimmick, Dracula the Un-Dead, by publishing a vampire story of my own. The gimmick, as written by a great-grandnephew and a "renowned screenwriter", was scheduled for publication on 24 September, but is in stock at Amazon now and has already attained fifty-second place in the "Classic Horror" category. Although this places it behind a volume of Bulldog Drummond, and well to the rear of two renowned gobs of pulp by Dennis Wheatley, it is considerably ahead of Dracula's Guest, a very serviceable collection by the real Stoker; not to mention Graphic Classics: Horror Classics Volume 10, an anthology of comic-book ripoffs of real stories, in whose company Dracula the Un-Dead doubtless best belongs. Meditate, if you will, on the outrageousness of all this; and consider, as a pendant to that thought, the literary scandal that vampire novels set on fifteenth-century space expeditions are, as yet, so few and far between.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gordon and Alan

Since talk is cheap even in a recession, the Glorious Successor has apologised to the shade of Alan Turing for the Christian way in which Turing was treated for his homosexuality - a treatment involving arrest, humiliation and chemical castration, which led to his suicide at forty-one. The Glorious Successor notes that the present year has been one of "deep reflection", owing apparently to the fact that it ends in the same digit as the year in which "the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two", rather than merely declaring war on Germany as historians had previously thought. In similar vein, Britain's leading liberal newspaper today reports that the persecution of men like Turing was actually the fault of the evil Soviets, "provoked by the defection of the diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to Moscow", rather than by any supposed unpleasantness inherent in the law of Albion.

Be that as it may, the Glorious Successor regurgitates some choice chunks of his curriculum vitae and drops the names of Presidents Sarkozy and Obama before getting around to that of the "quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes". The Glorious Successor refers to him as Alan Turing, and then as Turing, and eventually, having mentioned the great man's homosexuality, with the sofa-cosy Alan. The Glorious Successor observes that "it is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different", which almost certainly qualifies as what could without an overly excessive degree of equivocation be called a fair approximation of the likely factual veracity. The Glorious Successor ends, bizarrely, by being "very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better". Even when the outstanding scientist and Fellow of King's College Cambridge is being thus directly addressed, the term Dr Turing is conspicuous by its absence. The Glorious Successor (whose father, as you may have heard, was a Christian minister) does not mention having got on Tony Blair's hotline to the Deity in order to check on the state of Alan's immortal soul; but then, as heir to the office of the man who declared the outbreak of World War Two he does, of course, have a fairly busy schedule.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Best Chance of Protecting Life

The raid to rescue a British citizen from the forces of darkness, in which one soldier, one expendable and a couple of nonentities were detrimented, has drawn from a western diplomat in Kabul the strongest possible condemnation: "It's playing very badly," the diplomat said. "They initially thought this would be a good news story"; but, as with so much that is regrettable about our involvement in justifying the Iranian government's wish for a nuclear deterrent, the all-important public-relations side of things was permitted to slide. The soldier, of course, was the usual paragon; another unfortunate aspect of the present crusade is the way in which the only soldiers who seem to make it back are the ones who take to drink or ask the Government for more money. The expendable was a fixer, a member of a superior class among the Untermenschen who are "well-paid" for the "considerable risks" they take, but who have a tendency to "complain of being treated as second-class journalists by western organisations when things go wrong". Had this particular expendable taken the trouble to keep up with the British government's attitude towards those who helped our boys in Iraq, he might have gained a more realistic perspective. It is not clear as yet whether the expendable was murdered by the Taliban or whether he underwent the less painful fate of being collaterally detrimented by brave men doing a splendid job in difficult circumstances; but a group of Afghan journalists has expressed irritation at a NATO press release which paid fulsome tribute to the martyred paragon whose corpse was deemed worth recovering but failed to mention the expendable whose second-class mortal remains were left for the natives to tidy up.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Not Quite the Sort of Increase We Had in Mind

Daveybloke's cuddly spokesbeing for health industry privatisation, the fifty-year mistake Andrew Lansley, has clarified Daveybloke's pledge to increase spending on the NHS by pointing out that the commitment is solely to "real-terms increases"; namely, the sort of increases which entail "a significantly reduced rate of expenditure". Lansley noted that "obesity, alcohol abuse, smoking, poor sexual health and long-term conditions are all on the up", all of which will have to stop once the party of Nicholas Soames, Kenneth Clarke, Nadine Dorries, Ann Widdecombe and all those other paragons of healthy living and proper sexual education re-takes its rightful place as a long-term condition of the British government. "A real-terms increase in expenditure", as opposed to a real increase, "has to go hand in hand with real savings", as opposed to savings in real terms, "which can be ploughed back into frontline services to meet the needs of an ageing population" which will have to be kept just about healthy enough to work until it drops in order to minimise the pensions crisis which New Labour policies, viz. Conservative policies, have done so much to engender.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cuddly Cuts

Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, has announced that he will cut ministers' pay by five per cent and end subsidies on food and drink for Members of Parliament. Since the population of the United Kingdom will probably have increased by the time his administration gets its chance to serve, Daveybloke also plans to make Parliament more representative by reducing the number of seats in the Commons. It is not clear whether ministers will earn the remaining 95% of their salaries by economising on such Tory-toys as the database state, the Private Finance Initiative or Britain's superahmadinejadian nuclear policy; the idea seems to be that this kind of leadership for the age of austerity will help a few more of the little people resign themselves to losing their livelihoods and look forward with a more positive attitude to whatever company directorships little people generally line up for their retirement.

Meanwhile, Daveybloke's Cuddly Minister for Incarceration and Deportation has made the party's image even more cuddly by announcing a policy of Real Wages for Real Work among the Conservatives' core vote in the realm of Archer, Aitken and Saunders. Inmates in British jails are being exploited as cheap labour by commercial companies, and Daveybloke's Cuddly Minister for Incarceration and Deportation wishes to improve things by "encourag[ing] more private companies and charities to offer work and training in jails", thus enabling prisoners to earn wages "that will incentivise them into seeing a connection between effort and reward". This perspective will doubtless prove useful on the outside where, as everyone knows, effort and reward are almost always commensurate for the civilised and law-abiding. Daveybloke's Cuddly Minister proposes that "under the supervision of the prison governor", doubtless an employee of a private company and thus duly incentivised to see the connection between effort and reward, "some of the money would go to support their dependents on the outside" and thus provide an excuse for cutting their welfare benefits; "some would be paid into a victims' fund", payouts to be strictly dependent on the merits of each case as reported in the Daily Mail; "and a small proportion would be kept by the governor to enable the prisoner to buy necessities in prison". This appears to translate into Standard English as permitting the governor to charge prisoners for food, clothing and hygiene, unless Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives believe that such things ought to be luxuries for criminals below a certain income bracket.

The new policy, or at least the cuddly rhetoric that passes for policy with Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, is in this case "the result of an unlikely partnership between the Conservatives and prison reformer Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform", whom Britain's leading liberal newspaper apparently did not find time to interview on the subject.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Selling the Barn Door After the Black Horse Has Eaten It

Now, here's a thing: the banks at which the Glorious Successor and his Darling threw thousands of millions of taxpayers' money in order to ensure that Britain's rich people were best placed to endure the economic recession which those same banks had helped to cause - those same banks are making fraudulent benefit claims by pricing toxic property loans at their values as of December last year, since which time their worth has fallen by more than ten per cent. The Liberal Democrat spokesman for the Treasury has written to Gordon's little Darling, suggesting that perhaps the loans ought to be subjected to the scrutiny of independent valuers before the Government commits yet more taxpayers' money to making the economy even better able to sustain even more of a recession than was previously thought. He also suggests that the Government "must not sweep this £500bn problem under the carpet until after the election" and leave the Daveybloke administration to take any shortfall out of the hides of the undeserving poor. Doubtless Gordon's little Darling will give the advice of the Liberal Democrat spokesman for the Treasury the careful consideration it deserves.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Family Fun

The case of two brothers who indulged in random torture before having attained the minimum age of recruitment for an employee of Blackwater, Serco or MI5 has prompted Barnardo's chief executive to promulgate the heresy that Family Values may not be the solution that fixes all broken Britons at all times. The brothers' mother apparently gave them cannabis as toddlers and made them forage for food in dustbins, while their father was "allegedly a violent alcoholic". Any question of curtailing the breeding rights of such people will doubtless be lost amid the moral clamour over whether their primary victims should be named, shamed and lynched, or hanged, drawn and quartered, or merely locked up for the rest of their lives.

The chief executive of Barnardo's gave it as his opinion that "we try too hard with birth parents. I have seen children sent back to homes that I certainly wouldn't have sent them back to", and that "if you can take a baby very young and get them quickly into a permanent adoptive home, then we know that is where we have success". The brothers, by contrast, were taken into care three weeks before the incidence of premature usage of assertive interrogative techniques, having been known to social services and the police for several years previously. Since it would be uncharitable to suggest, after so many decades of thinking of the children, that budgetary constraints or market forces were a factor, the brothers were presumably left with their delightful progenitors during those several years because of the sanctity of Family Values. Amid deafening silence from the Home Secretary, the Justice Minister, the Minister for Juvenile Resources, the Minister for Tiny Tots, the Minister of Telephoning to See if Susan Boyle is All Right and their shadows in Daveybloke's Cuddly Cabinet, someone from the Centre for Social Justice sat on the fence, endorsing earlier intervention but recommending "the model of the mother and baby going into care, filling that hole and giving the whole family a chance", as opposed to giving a chance to the individuals who compose it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Protecting the Vulnerable

Now that the Glorious Successor has signed a letter calling for "binding rules" to limit financial rewards for those who gamble incompetently with other people's money, Gordon's little Darling has clarified the position by refusing to contemplate binding rules to cap bonuses for bankers. The letter, you see, was a merely European initiative, backed by Sweden, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and co-signed by the leaders of Germany and France, none of which countries particularly helped us win the war. On the other hand, the idea of a cap on bonuses is firmly opposed by the international community, with which New New Labour and its predecessor, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Vicar of Downing Street, are allied through the most special, indissoluble and blood-sacred ties. In the words of Gordon's little Darling: "We are ready to work with other countries", or one country anyway; "but what are really focused on in this country are practical proposals that actually strike at the behaviour we would like to stop", and which we have so far tried to stop by asking the offenders nicely and striking them in the pocketbook with weighty bags of taxpayers' money. "The United States would take the same view as we do", so it is not just a matter of our taking the same view as the United States does, and shame on our uncharity for ever thinking otherwise. It is purely a matter of common sense: "if you cap a bonus, all the individual needs to do", not being in public health or education or some other unprofitable pursuit, "is either jack up their basic salary or get paid in some other way", like a member of the House of Commons.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Some People Can Overturn A Bandwagon Just By Jumping Onto It

The remnants of the Glorious Successor's cabinet, the Cuddly Club of twits, flits and shits which is Daveybloke's front bench, and the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick "Who?" Clegg, have all pledged to cut their personal greenhouse emissions by ten per cent in 2010. Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Bleached Quadrennial Pachyderms, has confessed to a sudden urge to replace her light bulbs at home, and says she will be "thinking very hard before booking more than one private international flight a year". Since Jowell is a New New Labour minister and sometime associate of David Mills, it would be rather surprising if she booked any private flights at all, as opposed to the kind for which expenses can be claimed; but her aspirations towards occasional cerebral activity are certainly to be welcomed. Meanwhile, the gorgeous Randy Burnham, perhaps as a result of a late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone call to Tessa Jowell, enthused that "everyone who signs up can be part of a big national effort – all of us pulling together to prevent global warming", though not all of us have sufficient pull to get new runways built at airports or get a few thousand people killed for oil. Various celebrities and organisations have also signed up, including "major multinationals with many thousands of people", who will doubtless also be thinking very hard about light bulbs as they sit alone in their four-seater automobiles and wait out the traffic jam while their latest meals of processed plastic leap playfully up to tickle their ulcerated duodena.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Electoropositive Commitmentality, Incentivisational Undisruptivity

Another rat has leapt overboard from the Good Ship Gordon; admittedly not a very big rat, being merely a parliamentary private secretary to a nonentity rather than a nonentity in itself, but nevertheless a deserter in time of crisis. The pretext for this latest evacuation is our mediocre showing in the Great Game in Afghanistan; and the fact that today is the seventieth anniversary of the spectacular victory by the Official Greatest Ever Number One Briton Ever over the appeasers whose work he had done so much to make necessary can hardly have salved the hurt.

Naturally, the rodent was at pains to make clear that its decision was based entirely on concern for the party's prospects at the next general election: apparently, despite everything it has done for Britain and the world, Labour will not win unless it gets a grip on defence. In a sort of stumbling, accidental, skidding-around-the-point-on-a-wheel-and-a-crutch-like-a-vehicle-out-of-Wacky Races way, this argument does have a certain merit. By no stretch of the imagination can a war waged half a planet away by a nuclear power against some of the poorest people in the world be considered defensive; therefore the case could be made that, having somehow attained the grip which has eluded it at least since the Visitation of God to the Reverend Tony at some time before 2003, New New Labour would do well to set a limit to its commitment in Afghanistan, viz. its commitment of British lives to the service of the United States, before the body count starts to arouse the sort of public emotion that normally follows the demise of a Big Brother contestant, a member of the royal family or any other soap opera character. Unfortunately, it is not immediately obvious that the departure of one political gofer with the same surname as Lord Haw Haw at what is, in the rodent's own estimation, the "least disruptive" time to flee squeaking for the lifeboats, constitutes a sufficiently traumatic stimulus for the said grip to be gained.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


When the shaman gave forth with the ancestors' wrath,
The tribe would cleave fast to the virtuous path.
When the prophets of Israel sang out their curse,
All Ahabs and Jezebels feared for the worse.
But the scourges of kings in the reasoning age
Could not sign their names to their work's title page;
And, since every heart is ripped publicly now,
Our fierce indignation is drowned in the row.

The artist who strives to give bad people hell
Will find that the bad bear up marvellous well;
Indeed, there are few under moral assault
Who don't draw the lesson: "Thy neighbour's at fault!"
With words etched in acid the rogues are accused;
They drink them in, belch and are mildly amused.
But once to the full of this circle we've raced,
May the sentence be sharp, may the Word lay them waste.

Futcher Gringleet

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Learning the Right Lessons

In the wake of an irritable spat between Russia and the Baltic states over whether Stalin contributed as much as Hitler towards the outbreak of the Battle of Britain, some people who wouldn't dream of falsifying history have invaded Poland to commemorate the start of the Second World War, the last great crusade against anti-semitism before the commencement of the Israelis' sixty-year war on terror in 1948. The Upper Miliband, Britain's Minister for Lesser Breeds, noted that "We have a duty to remember the sacrifices, including of Poles fighting in and alongside British forces, and to learn the right lessons - about confronting racism and xenophobia, about standing up against tyranny, and about building international co-operation". The Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, noted that "he who falsifies history, and has power or will assume power, will bring unhappiness again"; while the president, Lech Kaczynski, indicated his respect for historical truth by blathering about how glorious a thing it is to be shot, dismembered, lacerated, crushed, impaled, incinerated, pulverised or splattered in a good cause. Tusk did his bit for international reconciliation by remembering aloud the eternal distinction between Them and Us: "who started the war, who the culprit was, who the executioner in the war was, and who was the victim of this aggression", while sportingly leaving it to the Kremlin to point out the pre-war Polish government's contribution to peace in its time by helping Hitler and Neville Chamberlain carve up Czechoslovakia. It was no doubt all very salutary, and we can look forward with due confidence to the anniversary in two days' time of Britain's declaration of war on Germany and the glorious beginning of the actual business.