The Curmudgeon


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ministerial Code

I will adjudicate this bid
(O Fred, you are the daddy, kid!)
In fine quasi-judicial fashion.
(O how shall I constrain my passion?)
I'll be impartial, I'll be fair.
(O Dave, you know how much I care!)
No favourites, no bribes, no cheating,
(O James, a memorable meeting!)
And so I'll nod it fairly through
(O darling Rupert, just for you!)
All fair, above-board and quite clear
(Oh, Adam - no-one wants you here).

Humpery Streynsham-Argent

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Incentivising Improvability

It will be remembered that, before he was called upon to replace Adam Werritty at the Ministry of Astuteness, Porker Hammond did a stint at the Department for Roads, Runways and Big Petrol, and that while there he manifested a bizarre delusion which prompted him to draw a fictitious distinction between fare-payers and taxpayers. The affliction appears to be spreading, as witness this piece about the Office of Rail Regulation scolding Network Rail for its lack of punctuality. The mention of "punctuality commitments which [passengers] and taxpayers have funded NR to deliver" is not a direct quote from the ORR's lecture, so it is possible that the reporter was suffering the effects of too many Whitehall press releases; but it is at least equally possible that the ORR has succumbed to Porker Hammond's complaint, and sees no incongruity in the idea that travel on public transport somehow puts one in the same club as Lord Ashcroft and the Barclay brothers. The ORR's solution to Network Rail's dilatoriness is to impose ever-larger fines which, in accordance with the genuine and all-important distinction between Network Rail executives and the rest of us, will be covered by the taxpayer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Distinguished Statesmen

I trust that the possible publication of Saddam Hussein's memoirs will elicit no snide and sniggering comparisons with the author of A Journey. Saddam Hussein may have been a faithful American ally, but he reformed after August 1990; Saddam Hussein may have had people imprisoned and tortured in Abu Ghraib, but he did it for fun and not profit; Saddam Hussein may have wasted thousands of lives in drawn-out and pointless wars, but those conflicts were crimes and not errors, apart from the one against Iran. As if all this were not contrast enough, Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, but he did have a moustache; and Saddam Hussein, along with Tony's former chum Colonel Gaddafi, received Christmas cards from Margaret Thatcher as long ago as 1981. Above all, Saddam Hussein may have written some insipid and pompously titled fiction, but he did have sufficient good taste not to market it as autobiography.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Prioritational Urgentification of Strengthifying Responsifibility

While Daveybloke gives François Hollande his marching orders over EU subsidies, the Government's special nuncio to Belize and saviour of Libya is to crack the whip over the Russian Bear to try and improve its lamentable response to the Syrian crisis. The unpleasant incident in Houla has brought forth much blather about a "strong response", which apparently would involve "Assad peacefully leaving power while leaving the structure of his government intact" on the eminently pragmatic and humanitarian grounds that it's the despotism and not the despot which counts. With impeccable comic timing, Willem den Haag's bluster about holding Assad to account for killing civilians emerged on the Sunday before the Reverend Blair was due to descend upon the Leveson inquiry. Anyway, much to den Haag's righteous annoyance, Russia is standing by its ally and continues to supply him with weapons as though he were Suharto or the Sultan of Bahrain or somebody equally respectable. Den Haag will also (as the superbly Stalinist style of his spokesbeings' communiqué clunketh it) be engaging various senior interlocutors about the furtherance of Werritty's War on Iran, another issue on which the Russians are proving recalcitrant. Britain, it appears, is once more punching above its weight on the international stage, and no doubt we may anticipate the usual dignified results.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Landlady

That irrepressible comedienne, Baroness Warsi, has admitted failing to declare the full income from a flat she rents out. Since there are few illegal immigrants in the Cabinet Office and Adam Smith has already resigned, Warsi herself took "full responsibility", and attributed the misdemeanour to an oversight. No further consequences are anticipated, though not necessarily just because Warsi is too dim to be genuinely crooked. Baroness Warsi may be a chairbeing of a political party which believes that employers should have the right to fire people whether or not they have done anything wrong; but it hardly follows from this that Conservative peers should be penalised for breaking the rules, especially if money is involved.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Keeping the Scapegoats Handy

After the disasters of the last few months, and with the bad-taste comedy of the jubilee and the Tony Olympics still to come, the Home Office has done what all brave British folk do at a time of crisis, and fled for the comfort zone. In the case of Daveybloke's mad old cat lady, as with most members of Britain's neoliberal party's two main right wings, the comfort zone is immigration. When blaming the nurses, the weather, the previous administration or the cancer patients doesn't work, one can always fall on the immigrants with one's hobnailed humanity and child detention centres, and be reasonably sure of a happy reception. Hence, Theresa May has been reassuring the Daily Torygraph that, despite Daveybloke officially cutting the Continent adrift, the Home Office has noticed that there may be a crisis in Europe and that immigrants may result. Contingency plans are apparently being worked upon even as we unfurl our Union Jacks, so that no matter what horrors the eurozone's meltdown may inflict upon us, and no matter how inefficient the UK Border Agency or how anarchistic the police, the great British public will be in no doubt who should be blamed.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Book of Gove

Chapter I
1. Now the children of Albion had forgot the commandments of the LORD, and were fallen in sinful ways.
2. And the LORD said, Let there be Gove, that my will may be done unto my creatures, and my name made a laughing-stock unto the nation.
3. And the LORD scraped the bottom of a barrel, and breathed life into the effluence which was within.
4. And behold, the Gove stood forth upon its spindles, and did gibber mightily, Praise unto the LORD that was so wise as to create me.
5. And the Gove said, Let us send forth into the cloisters of Albion this Book, which they all possess already.
6. And let the Book be decorated with the name and title of Gove, that the children of Albion may know whereof they possess.
7. For behold, this Book hath been published these four hundred years, yet never before been decorated with the name and title of Gove.
8. Let it therefore be printed and sent forth, that the children of Albion may learn that there is an Anglican in heaven.
9. And the Gove went forth unto the moneylenders, gibbering, Give me money to print this Book, that hath been hidden so long under a bushel.
10. And the moneylenders read in the Book, and saw that it proclaimed, The poor always ye have with you, and they saw that it was good.
11. And behold, the Book was printed, and decorated with the name and title of Gove,
12. And lay for a twelvemonth in the warehouses, because none had thought how to distribute it.
13. And the LORD saw that it was good.

Chapter II
1. Now the scribes in the cloisters of Albion were much perplexed, and said,
2. Have we not copies of this Book already, which we got for ourselves, without the intervention of a Gove?
3. And are our copies not clean and discreetly bound, and free from the markings of liars and usurers?
4. And hath not the great date passed a twelvemonth ago, which was the four hundredth year since this Book first appeared?
5. And the Gove was wroth.
6. And the Gove went unto the scribes, and said, I knew not, that my mark and signature would be upon this Book.
7. Although I rather like it.
8. And behold, hath not this Book influenced greatly the glorious history of our chosen people?
9. And hath it not inspired great massacres of the infidel, and brought much booty back to Albion?
10. And is it not full of war, and slave-holding, and adultery, and the beautiful doctrine that the earth moveth not?
11. And doth it not contain the story of Joshua, and the story of Esther, and the story of Onan, which are filled all three with every manner of propriety?
12. And doth it not contain also the story of Jesus the Christ, who taught that the rich should be allowed to keep their earthly reward?
13. And the scribes hearkened unto the gibbering of the Gove, and were silenced.

Chapter III
1. Now the Book had lain a twelvemonth in the warehouses, and it came to be the four hundred and first year since first it had appeared.
2. And the scribes and astrologers of Albion looked upon the Gove, and mocked it.
3. And the Gove was wroth, and gibbered.
4. And said, Are not more books than this worthy of the children of Albion?
5. And shall my mark and title not embellish the works of the infidel, as well as the work of the true God?
6. And are there not books of Persia and India and the other vassals of Albion, which may also serve to glorify the name of Gove?
7. And the LORD heard the Gove in its gibbering, and said, Thy name was not meant for glory.
8. For behold, thou art less wise than the stick insect which has the wisdom to conceal itself, and gibbers not from morn to night.
9. Thou art less beautiful than the stick insect which gains beauty from the tree where it rests, and intrudes itself not into the affairs of learned men.
10. Thou art less good than the stick insect which cometh not between the child and its teacher, and which taketh not from the poor to aid those who want for nothing.
11. I am the LORD thy creator, and thou art less than the stick insect, for such I created thee.
12. And the Gove gibbered mightily unto the end of its days, which were long and sordid, and filled with the mockery of the infidel.
13. And the LORD was pleased.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Summer Sun

The summer sun is well and truly out;
Your Londoner at last is free to bare
His pallid charms unto the outer air,
And let them wobble while he walks about.
Your London lady too, with pretty pout,
Will promenade, and marvel here and there
At those parboiling paunches, patched with hair
Like fungus on the belly of a trout.

O for a vulture's quill to draw this scene:
These carcasses well-smoked with traffic fumes,
This white and purple butcher's window-space!
Then, London, would I trace with pen-point keen
The dermal carcinoma as it blooms
Upon the sizzling rasher of your face.

Varlon Grutcher

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kick Your Habit Or We'll Kick You

Daveybloke's ever more regrettable Minister for Workfare Till you Drop, Iain Duncan Smith, has been allowed out again, presumably in an effort to make Adrian Beecroft look sensible. Duncan Smith has come up with another jolly way of doing what he does best, namely promoting social mobility by ensuring that our more vulnerable and troublesome citizens have nowhere to go but down. Staff at employability coercion centres will be empowered to cut the welfare benefits of any claimant whom their extensive but economically sound training leads them to suspect is a drug addict. Several charities have already registered concern, citing such quaintly outdated impedimenta as the constitution of the NHS; although the chief executive of DrugScope was sufficiently realistic to note the policy's obvious advantage from the Government's point of view: "people will disengage from support services, potentially worsening their dependency and the impacts on their families and communities." No doubt Daveybloke will be pleased that someone has finally realised what his Big Society thingy is meant to be all about.

Me at Poetry-24
Just Trying to Help

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nuisance Value

The Home Secretary, who did such a wonderful job persuading the police of the advantages of being privatised within an inch of their pensions, has announced, in the sober precincts of ITV's Daybreak, how the police will be expected to earn all the money they won't be getting. Cumbersome, bureaucratic New Labour measures such as asbos (antisocial behaviour orders), crasbos (criminal antisocial behaviour orders), isos (individual support orders) and ios (individual orders) will be replaced by sleek, summary Nasty Party measures such as CBOs (criminal behaviour orders), CPIs (crime prevention injunctions), CPOs (community protection orders) and PDPs (police direction powers). It is not as yet clear which of these will apply to gangs of overdressed bullies who smash up restaurants; but I am sure someone has the matter in hand. The old system, which favoured neighbours-from-hell who were persistently complained against, will be replaced by a new system which favours neighbours-from-hell who persistently complain against others. It appears that the new orders require a less rigorous standard of proof than was thought necessary by the likes of Charles Clarke and Agent Smith, which prompted Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to complain that Conservative authoritarianism was nothing more than a watering-down of Labour authoritarianism.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Appropriate Expectations

One of Jeremy C Hunt's less illustrious predecessors has been telling the Leveson inquiry what an awful experience it was to be treated the way New Labour thought fit to treat the public. Tessa Jowell, who hurriedly estranged herself from her husband while the latter was having his collar felt over some dealings with Tony's chum Silvio Berlusconi, said that she "kept on reading [newspaper] stories and could not understand where they had come from." Although she said this in reply to the question whether she thought there were stories which could only have come from phone hacking, Jowell made haste to tell the Evening Standard that she meant it in answer to "a more general question about other newspapers". She also told the Leveson inquiry that, as a secretary of state and a "very tough and seasoned elected politician", she did not wish to be a focus of public sympathy, before adding the characteristic New Labour note of sanctimonious self-pity: "you sort of have zero expectations of fair treatment." As a former minister in the snooping, renditionising, database-statist administrations of the Reverend Blair and his Glorious Successor, the fulfilment of those expectations is no more than she deserves.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Protecting Our Britishness

Those charming people in the UK Border Agency are still imprisoning children, but only for as long as is required before they can be deported as adults. Some are no doubt being returned to places like Afghanistan and Iraq, which Britain and its allies have done so much to civilise. Official guidelines, the flexible friends of so many hired Government thugs, state that estimates of asylum seekers' ages should err on the side of caution, and that in ambiguous cases people should not be detained unless "their physical appearance and/or demeanour very strongly indicates that they are significantly over eighteen". The war to protect British identity decrees otherwise, and UKBA's creative interpretation means that the number of unaccompanied child asylum seekers has dropped by almost two-thirds in the last four years. Of course, most days of the week the scumbag press will make it tolerably clear where the Home Office stands on the matter; but oddly enough, it appears that no Deputy Conservatives were available for comment.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Switched Off

Some of Daveybloke's best chums have taken the opportunity afforded by a new biography to indulge in a bit of discreet back-stabbing. It appears that Daveybloke has a Big Society approach to government: sit back, relax and let the servants get on with it. One so-called ally said that "he is capable of switching off in a way that almost no other politician I know of can", and went on to describe how Daveybloke will occasionally interrupt his leisure activities to answer the telephone, read a newspaper or tell Ed Llewellyn to do such and such. Daveybloke also likes to play tennis with a machine he has named the Clegger, after another little robot which gave away its balls to the Conservative Party. Surprisingly for those who have witnessed Daveybloke's recent purple-faced splutterings in the Commons, he also "maintains an even temper when infuriated by pen-clicking, phone checking and transport delays" and is quick to apologise when he loses his temper, which is jolly statesmanlike of him, I'm sure. The biography is being serialised in the Murdoch Times, where its editing and presentation in these Leveson-haunted days will doubtless serve as a friendly reminder of where Britain's interests really lie.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Available Now

My Lovecraftian novel, Providence Fell, is now available for purchase as a paperback or a PDF. For best results, it should be bought with alacrity, read with avidity and reviewed with approbation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

For They Are Not Men Under Authority

The trustees of a Catholic diocese have added another surreal twist to the Church's wrigglings over the antics of its more liberal-minded celibates. The high court has already ruled that the trustees are "vicariously liable" for sexual abuses allegedly perpetrated by a parish priest in Hampshire in the 1970s; the Church responded by proclaiming that it does not employ its priests, who do not draw salaries but are fed by ravens or else live entirely on the word of God. Although a priest owes his bishop "reverence and obedience", he is not subject to his bishop's control and exerts power over his parishioners "as co-operator and collaborator", rather than as a member of a rigid hierarchy. This John Lewis aspect of the Catholic church has until now been strangely under-publicised, presumably because of "the adverse publicity that has surrounded the Catholic church in relation to sexual abuse in recent times". Thanks to the pernicious propaganda of the Jewish-homosexual secular press, the high court has been led to associate the priesthood ipso facto with sexual abuse, despite the Church's consistently demonstrated concern with covering up the scandal, silencing the victims and allowing its wayward minority to continue in their depredations.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Coalition Missing Attic Insulation, Study Finds

Daveybloke, his little orange chum and the minister for British Nuclear Fuels have been briefed to the effect that the most cost-effective means of improving energy efficiency in the home are set to fall drastically under the Government's plans. It is possible that this may come as a surprise, although there are certain precedents: frontline services being savaged under plans intended to protect frontline services, tuition fees rising under plans intended to help students pay less, that sort of thing. Spokesbeings were hurriedly extruded to make clear that the Government's commitment to the green deal remains absolute; a commitment is, after all, a form of words like an electoral promise, and we all know how seriously Daveybloke and his little orange chum take those. It is only the implementation which is giving them difficulties; or, in Standard English, actually doing something about it. We can only thank our stars that we have Daveybloke's word about leading the greenest government ever. Without Daveybloke's word, and without the backing of the veteran truth-monger Nick Clegg, some of us might be tempted to take an uncharitable view.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

To Fit the Crime

The former Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone, who now plays Danny Alexander to Theresa May's George Osborne, has announced the Government's revenge on the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Like many people who don't get to vote their own salaries through, the commission's staff are paid too much; and some of them have recently been so indiscreet as to tell the Government off for failing to consider how its policies would affect women, the disabled, ethnic minorities and all those other unimportant things that many former Liberal Democrats used to pretend to care about. Accordingly, the commission's budget and workforce are to be cut by fifty per cent; and, doubtless in deference to Deputy Conservative sensitivities about the extent of their potency in the coalition, its duty to promote a more equal society will be abolished.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Less is More

Somebody in the near future will really have to do something about abolishing the Royal College of Nursing. Connoisseurs of ministerial excruciation will recall the incivilities suffered some years ago by the Blairette gargoyle Patsy Hackitt, who charmingly suggested that chronic understaffing might best be dealt with by a few minor adjustments to the rota. Last year, while the anti-NHS bill was still failing at public relations, the RCN passed a vote of no confidence in Twizzler Lansley by ninety-eight per cent; this year, with the anti-NHS act failing at patient care, the Twizzler has suffered yet more ingratitude.

His basic message, as usual, was that nothing is wrong that can't be fixed by cutting everything, and that any other problems are the fault of the NHS. However, being the Twizzler, he helped his case enormously by lecturing the nurses on their professional responsibilities, which must have sounded exceptionally fine coming from the health minister who tried to legislate away his own responsibility for the nation's health. "If any of you have a view that staffing levels are literally not safe for patients", as opposed to metaphorically not safe for patients, "your professional responsibility is to say that," the Twizzler informed. "Part of the responsibility of nursing directors and trust boards is to listen to what you are saying." How fortunate that such responsibilities do not extend to the Department of Health or the Twizzler himself; otherwise people outside the medical profession might imagine that the blame for the NHS' difficulties is doing what the Twizzler has been doing all this time, and lying with the Government.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Job Done

Britain's civilising mission in Afghanistan has taken another optimistic turn with the killing of two servicemen by people in Afghan police uniform. A spokesbeing for the local police said the killers had been members of the national police for a year, and the shadow Minister for War and the Colonies was prompted to recommend that "we should look at the recruitment processes again". No doubt it is surprising what can be accomplished with a proper human resources policy and an appropriately rigorous interview technique. Meanwhile Adam Werritty's replacement, still reeling from the Government's vertiginous flip-floppery over the Royal Navy's new toys, reverted to the Conservatives' comfort-zone blimpness: "Remember, this is a society where people traditionally settle grievances by violence." After ten years of glorious occupation, and at a cost of four hundred and fourteen attention-worthy lives plus one or two others, it is reassuring that Porker Hammond believes we have at last succeeded in turning Afghanistan into the new Greater Manchester.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Agree With Michael

Wee Nicky, you may remember, once described child imprisonment at places like Yarl's Wood as "morally indefensible", and it is possible that some Pavlovian drooling reflex has been stirred by Michael Gove's recent use of the same words with regard to child imprisonment at places like Eton. Suddenly noticing that the coalition is full of privileged, privately-educated bullies, Wee Nicky has decided that he agrees with Michael Gove and that the private education industry's grip on Britain's elite should be broken. To that end, Wee Nicky is launching a two-week drive on social mobility, which will be just the thing to counter a few centuries of entrenched privilege. He did publish an "initial social mobility strategy" a year ago, which nobody noticed; but Wee Nicky now wishes to underline it as the central theme of his ministerial career, possibly in order to counter any impression that he might once have had some interest in electoral reform, abolishing tuition fees, defending the National Health Service, pioneering a new politics, and so forth.

Wee Nicky's plan is this: at the moment, schools are compensated to the tune of £488 for every infantine resource to which they must dole out free meals. The money is not ringfenced, so the schools can spend it on worthier causes if they wish. Wee Nicky is perfectly happy with this arrangement and has no intention of changing it, but he does intend to make a speech. In order to inject energy into the process, Wee Nicky will be joining forces with Alan Milburn. Education in Britain may, just possibly, be quite the same again.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rough Justice

Lawyers for the Liberian war criminal Charles Taylor have argued that he should not be imprisoned in the United Kingdom, despite Britain's long and glorious experience of incarcerating black people. In defiance of the values upheld by a long and glorious succession of British Home Secretaries, the Hague court is not empowered to impose either life imprisonment or moral homicide; so the prosecution has demanded a sentence of eighty years. The defence contends that this is a little excessive given that Taylor is already in his mid-sixties, and claims that locking him up in Britain would interfere with the family values manifest in his fifteen biological children. There are also difficulties over the British conception of maximum security, which resulted in the stabbing of the former Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic two years ago. Taylor's lawyers request the court to consider "the fact that Mr Taylor will effectively serve his sentence in isolation from all culturally familiar circumstances and very far removed from family and friends." We must hope that the court will think the matter through carefully, and avoid setting any unhealthy precedent which might one day enable Tony Blair to slither out of serving his own time in Iraq.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Educational Distraction

With what some might consider questionable judgement, the Conservative Party has attempted to bury the headlines from Honest Andy Coulson's testimony at the Leveson inquiry by taking the gag off Michael Gove. The Bible-signing Secretary for Faith Schools had a blather before some independent school head teachers in Brighton about the predominance of privately-educated people in public life. Gove blathered out a list of famous persons who went to public school, including much of the Cabinet, the shadow cabinet and Gove himself; which certainly goes to show that a public-school education can be a step to success even for persons whose talents would, in a rational society, qualify them mainly for cleaning toilets under reasonable supervision. "More than almost any developed nation, ours is a country in which your parentage dictates your progress," blathered Gove. "For those of us who believe in social justice, this stratification and segregation are morally indefensible"; which, by some leap of higher logic comprehensible only to Michael Gove and Nick Clegg, explains the tuition-fee hike and the farming-out of the state education sector to profiteers and the God squad.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Coming Soon

My attempt at a Lovecraftian story - either a humble attempt or a hubristic one, according to your point of view. To forestall the literal-minded among you: no, it isn't set in Providence, Rhode Island; no, it doesn't pastiche Lovecraft's literary style; and no, none of the characters is a lamp-post. If any of that puts you off, then so be it; caveat venditor.

The cover photograph is not mine; it is by Giovanna Ceroni. I mentioned to her that I'd like to have a "Penguin Classics cover", a picture whose relation to the book was more atmospheric than literal; and she duly came up trumps.

I have received a printed proof, and hope to publish soon. In the meantime, my backlist is just as available as ever, and includes several shamefully under-purchased items.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Dodgy Dossier

When posh boys are in trouble, as Dennis Skinner recently observed, they sack the servants; when the more vulgar type of minister is at risk of embarrassment, the usual trick is to invoke the national interest. In an act of exemplary political courage, which is all the more glorious since the anti-NHS bill has already been passed, Twizzler Lansley and his chums have vetoed publication of the risk register on the grounds that civil servants in the future might be stricken with presentational inhibitions. The Labour MP John Healey, who has campaigned for the register's publication, said that it was "totally over the top to place NHS changes on the same footing as preparations for the Iraq war"; although, since both involve demolishing necessary infrastructure and killing people for profit, the parallel may not be altogether spurious.

"I am a firm believer in greater transparency," the Twizzler blathered, explaining why his plans for the NHS were so candidly placed before the public in his party's manifesto. "Had we not taken this decision," the Twizzler blathered further, "it is highly likely that future sensitive risk registers would turn into anodyne documents," and some of these might even be worded differently, to the incalculable detriment of British plain speaking. After all, what matters the mere rule of law if we are faced with the prospect of civil servants using words that even Michael Gove might find a bit tricky?

Me at Poetry-24
A Very British Victory

Monday, May 07, 2012

Selling History

As might be expected in a government with such profound respect for Britain's long and colourful history of fine British chaps doing great British deeds, the Ministry for War and the Colonies has been giving away chunks of our heritage to an American private company. The remains of HMS Victory, which was so British a vessel that it was considered the world's mightiest and then sank with all hands, were discovered at the bottom of the Channel in 2008. The Ministry shrugged off responsibility for the wreck onto a charitable trust, and has allowed Odyssey Marine Exploration, a commercial salvager, to undertake the excavation. In a superbly British piece of market-based idiocy, the negligence of the Ministry for War and the Colonies means that the National Museum of the Royal Navy has had to buy two bronze guns, for the profit of Odyssey Marine Exploration, using money from a grant by the Ministry for War and the Colonies. Of course there is nothing very new in disclaiming all responsibility for our Imperial history; but it's unusual to take it to such lengths.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Freely Have Ye Received

So long as there is suffering in the world, there is occasion for that uplifting Christian habit, conditional charity: eat, learn and be medicated, but leave your money in the plate, your mind in limbo and let your children not be spared the Father's rod. Doubtless in similar spirit, the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak has donated to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham a quarter of a million dollars which he apparently found down the back of a sofa and which was too dusty for the purposes of disinterested charity. The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, you see, is the instrument of the Vatican's bigot-rustling project - the office whereby Anglicans disaffected with their church's painful struggle between doctrine and common decency can strike a resounding blow for doctrine without quite going over to the Enemy. The sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak decreed three years ago that a special, right-footers-only wing of the Church would be set up to accommodate the misogynists and gay-bashers, and a number of vicars have duly defected. Many of their congregations have gone with them, being themselves Anglicans, and hence for the most part not very well up on that whole "believing" lark.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Local Difficulties

Rah rah for the local election,
When proles may display their affection!
Be sure we'll not shift
Or wobble or drift
From our predetermined direction.

Your elector is such a strange cuss,
And makes unpredictable fuss;
But on a bright note,
Two-thirds didn't vote -
They're learning to leave things to us!

Pseph Klunk

Friday, May 04, 2012


Rebuffed in his attempt to shift onto Lord Leveson the responsibility for establishing the blamelessness of Jeremy C Hunt, Daveybloke has applied for advance access to all the written evidence submitted to the inquiry. Next week is likely to be a particularly delicate one, with two of Daveybloke's very special chums, Rebekah Brooks and Honest Andy Coulson, scheduled to testify. The written evidence includes the hundred and sixty-four pages of emails sent by Hunt's casual acquaintance Fred Michel to James the Memory Hole, and it is just possible that Hunt would be glad of the chance to do a bit of redacting. With his usual courtesy to people who aren't accepted figures of Bullingdon fun, Daveybloke has made the application as the government rather than as Downing Street, so that all relevant departments will have a chance to determine in advance what they can and cannot recall.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Now that the British public has endured five years of penance under his two repulsive successors, the Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair has decided that the time for his second coming is at hand. Tony is prepared to forgive us for being nasty to him about Iraq, and is making noises about "re-engaging" in the UK, particularly now that his Olympics are drawing nigh. A spokesbeing for the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband said that Tony was "a very big, successful Labour figure who won three general elections" while losing only a few servicepersons, Labour party members and other matters of little consequence. Since leaving office, his reverence has mixed "charitable and business projects" (God-bothering and profiteering, in Standard English) and has occupied much of his time with bringing peace to the Middle East, which obviously has been working like a charm. Since Andy Coulson is otherwise engaged, his reverence has appointed a press agent so that he can play the elder statesman "without re-entering domestic politics and interfering with the Labour Party". An optimistic conclusion might be that Tony intends running for Archbishop of Canterbury or joining the Liberal Democrats.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

All Wet

Daveybloke's environmental token and failed forest salesbeing has been giving helpful advice to the millions of moisture consumers who wish to take advantage of the recent floods and thunderstorms by rushing for their hosepipes. Caroline Spelman "accepted the government needed to do more to make water companies reduce leakage", although precisely how much more than the present nothing much is as yet unclear. Employing the notorious prefix "We need to look at a whole range of ways" (in Standard English, "the profiteers are squealing for a bigger slice"), she advised councils making planning decisions to consider whether new developments could be supplied with water, which is certainly a thought.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


The latest issue of Mark Valentine's Tartarus Press journal Wormwood includes, amid some distinguished company, an article of mine on Robert Aickman's comparatively light-hearted but characteristically perverse late story, "Letters to the Postman". I wrote the piece four or five years ago, but it outlived the journal for which it was intended and there was insufficient space to house it in Akin to Poetry; so it's good to see it brought out of limbo at last.