The Curmudgeon


Monday, December 31, 2012

From the Goodness of their Hearts

Well, here's a thing: the greenest government ever has been paying employees of the fossil fuel cartel to work at the Department for Energising Climate Catastrophe. The Green MP Caroline Lucas wrote last year to Daveybloke's then consigliere, Gussie O'Donnell, about the matter; but O'Donnell apparently thought it beneath him to reply. At the moment, there are twenty-three persons seconded to the Department, including employees of Centrica and Barclays (paid for by the taxpayer) and Shell and RWE (seconded "for free" or, in Standard English, for cash in hand, sexual favours or something even less savoury and slightly more pollutive). It's all quite fair and above-board, as their contracts require them to ensure "to the best of their ability that in the course of their duties for Decc there will be no conflict of interest or perception of such", and we all know how good the likes of Centrica and the Conservative Party are at avoiding conflicts of interest.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Some Conservatives Can't Be Trusted

The Deputy Conservatives, who pledged not to raise tuition fees and voted in favour of tripling tuition fees; the Deputy Conservatives, who drove a coach and horses through the coalition agreement in order to betray the National Health Service to the paymasters of Twizzler Lansley; the Deputy Conservatives, whose unique selling point was constitutional reform and who have failed at making the Commons more proportional just as they have failed at making the Lords less ridiculous; the Deputy Conservatives, who have shrugged off the political demise of hundreds of their own local councillors in Eric Pickles' bonfire of the communities; the Deputy Conservatives, who cried rah-rah with the Bullingdon Club for Triple-Dip George's granny-bashing budget; these very same Deputy Conservatives have suddenly discovered that they are all that prevents the Real Conservatives from "looking after the super rich who fund their party, while ignoring the needs of normal people who struggle to make ends meet", much as the Real Conservatives have in fact been doing in the present reality for two and a half years. Well, I am sure we all wish the Deputy Conservatives the very best of luck.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

29 December 1170

It was nearly the hour of closing at the Gallows and Glockenspiel. At the card-players' table Limbless Fred had just won most of somebody's internal organs, but an argument had broken out over whether he could legitimately collect his winnings when he owed somebody else his teeth. Pippa Twelve Toes had found a pair of pliers and was doing her best to confuse the issue, and Hooligan Motts was just about to announce, "Twenty-ninth of December, eleven seventy. Nearly closing time," when four figures in cloaks and chain-mail came clattering in. The cloaks were brightly coloured, but stained with blood and worse; as they swished past Granny Forbus she bared an appreciative gumscape.

The knights strode to the bar and leaned against it in four different attitudes of exhaustion, each according to his height and girth. The biggest knight removed his right gauntlet, clenched his hairy fist, and proceeded to communicate, in the universal argot of the hard-pressed would-be drinker, that he and his companions were ready to be served.

"Nearly closing time," said Hooligan Motts, once the bar had stopped vibrating.
"We are here on the king's business," said the biggest knight; "therefore give us drink, and be quick about it."
"King's business, indeed?" said Pippa Twelve Toes, who had wandered across with some vague idea that her pliers might be useful on chain mail; "it went well, I hope?"
"As well as can be expected," said the second biggest knight.
"Messy on the cloaks, I see," observed Malvolio Quabbage tactfully.
"Messy in a lot of ways," said the smallest knight, who was also the knight with the messiest cloak. "And it's far from certain that the king will stand by us when he learns what we have done. The Pope certainly will not like it. We'll probably spend the rest of our lives fighting Saracens on penitential pilgrimage."
"I don't think I would mind that so much," said the second smallest knight, who was also the second widest. "Chopping up infidels for God: that's something an honest man can understand. These royal commissions are such a complicated business."

Hooligan Motts served them four pints of Punter's Ghastly Pale Ale, and three of them immediately started gulping. The biggest knight bestowed a curt nod and a silver coin upon Hooligan Motts; bestowed a suspicious glare upon the glazed earthenware mug with its brand logo showing old Silas Punter rampant guardant; and started gulping with the rest.

Pippa Twelve Toes took her pliers to the smallest knight's chain mail while he wasn't looking. "I thought knights in armour were supposed to wear armour," she said. "Why have you got washers stuck all over yourself?"
The smallest knight saw what she was doing, choked on his drink and took a step backwards, squashing the foot of Malvolio Quabbage inadvertently but agonisingly. "You are too free with your attentions, lady," the smallest knight said.
"There's no need to be like that about it," sniffed Pippa Twelve Toes; "you'll need someone to get you out of your ironmongery, especially if you carry on drinking that stuff. You don't want to burst one of your pipes."
"We have our squires outside, thank you," said the smallest knight, and pulled away a little further, smiling as if the thought of fighting Saracens on a penitential pilgrimage was beginning to acquire a certain charm.

"So this commission of yours," said Melon Head Myrtle to the biggest knight; "a princess, was it?"
"Not exactly," said the second smallest knight.
"Shut up, Richie," said the biggest knight.
"Shut up yourself, Reggie," said the second smallest knight.
"Both of you shut up," said the second biggest knight. "What's done is done; there's nothing to be gained by chattering about it."
"Shut up yourself, Willie," said the second smallest knight. "You were the one that called it a noble and virtuous enterprise, so where's the harm in telling?"
"I never called it that," said the second biggest knight.
"You called it exactly that," said the second smallest knight. "You said it on the ship coming over. At least, I assume you were referring to the king's commission rather than to the activity you were engaged in at the time, namely bestowing the contents of your stomach upon the inhabitants of the English Channel."
The smallest knight laughed, but not in a small way. "Shut up, Hugh," said the other three, and Melon Head Myrtle decided that the repartee might be more sophisticated elsewhere and asked Pippa Twelve Toes where she had got her pliers.

"Anyway," the second biggest knight was saying to the second smallest knight, "if I said anything about noble and virtuous enterprises it was serving the king I meant, not slicing the craniums off clerics."
"I was aiming for his neck," said the second smallest knight irritably. "A nice clean beheading, so we'd have proof of our labours to take back for the king. Hardly my fault the idiot decided to duck his way out of the trophy business."
"Dashed messy business any way you look at it," grunted the second biggest knight.
"Especially if you look at Hugh's cloak," said the second smallest knight, and they both started giggling until the biggest knight glared at them.
"Anyway," said the second biggest knight, "at least we've rid the king of a turbulent priest and shown him we're not miserable drones and traitors, even if we are the kind of men who'll chop up an archbishop in his own cathedral. That must count for something."
"A penitential pilgrimage," said the smallest knight, taking a long pull on his Punter's Ghastly Pale, "or worse. Let's get out of here; I need my squire to open a trap-door for me."

"Give 'em hell," exhorted Granny Forbus as they went out.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reassuring Continuity

Apparently it is news that Margaret Thatcher wanted to destroy the NHS. Her cabinet discussed a proposal by the Central Policy Review Staff in 1982, which also included compulsory charges for schooling. Despite the old bag's having personally trounced the Argies a mere matter of weeks beforehand, there followed what George Osborne's father-in-sebacity Nigel Lawson called "the nearest thing to a cabinet riot in the history of the Thatcher administration". So assertive was the whimpering that Thatcher's then chum, Geoffrey Howe, continued to defend the proposals; whereupon one of the damper participants leaked them to the press, prompting the old bag to give her notorious comedy turn at the 1982 conference, proclaiming that the NHS is "safe with us". In her memoirs she claimed that the CPRS proposals were never seriously considered, either by herself or any of her eunuchs; and in the event the dismantling of the NHS, the public education system and social security were consigned to a more gradual process of attrition under her godson, the Reverend Blair, and his altar-boy Daveybloke. Indeed, and most reassuringly, Daveybloke's very own adviser on police privatisation, Gordon Wassermann, was a member of the CPRS at the time, and cheerfully proposed cutting the country's teaching staff by a demented twenty-five per cent. But that was just one of those peculiar coincidences that often happen in politics and, at least in this country, are almost never a sign of corruption.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Season's Greetings

With wassail and whine let the good cheer go out,
Your living-room windows as bright as the shops;
And lock all your doors lest the plebs be about,
And if you should see any, call out the cops.

Then ring out the Yuletide with holiday verve!
Here's hoping your gift-list demands were all met;
For good folk should always have what they deserve,
While poor folk must merely deserve what they get.

Buster Carroll

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

They Serve

A gentleman whose job is waiting for his mother to die must have hobbies, of course; and Mrs Windsor's eldest likes to write letters to Government ministers. The Government has overruled the judiciary to suppress publication of these letters: a freedom of information tribunal ruled that transparency would be "in the overall public interest", which is hardly the sort of language to use when persuading either New New Labour or the political wing of News Corporation. Publication, it seems, might cast doubt on the neutrality of the heir to the throne; non-publication, by contrast, ensures that the prince's reputation for dignified good sense remains about as intact as it ever was.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

25 December 597

It was past closing time at the Gallows and Glockenspiel, but the morbid Anglo-Saxon slumped over the bar showed no sign of preparing for departure, or for anything else. He was a middle-aged man, clean-shaven and with his hair cropped in what he called the patrician style and Melon Head Myrtle called a burst pudding-basin. Aside from the morbid Anglo-Saxon, Melon Head Myrtle was the only customer at the bar; the others had long since become bored and drifted off into their corners.

The morbid Anglo-Saxon sat perched on a stool with his elbows on the bar and his head in his hands. Every so often one of his elbows would begin to slide and he would blink blearily and stir, and put his head back a little or perhaps shift a buttock or two; but within a few minutes he would nod and return to his accustomed posture, except when both elbows gave way and he banged the bar with his chin.

"Twenty-fifth of December, five ninety-seven. Past closing time," said Hooligan Motts, wiping around the morbid Anglo-Saxon's elbows yet again with his tired washcloth.
"Don't remind me, please," the morbid Anglo-Saxon said. "Don't keep on saying the date. It is a date that will live in infamy for as long as time is reckoned."
"I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that," said Hooligan Motts.
"Don't you know what day it is?" demanded the morbid Anglo-Saxon. "It's the twenty-fifth of December, five ninety-seven."
"And past closing time," agreed Hooligan Motts.
"It is the day," continued the morbid Anglo-Saxon, "when we give up our sovereignty, our national identity, our very history. It is the day when time itself becomes something standardised, bureaucratised and foreign. It is the day when we are forced to bow to the will of Europe, and use their reckoning instead of our own."
"I'm sure it's not the end of the world," said Hooligan Motts. He knew what the end of the world looked like, having served last orders there more than once.
"It's worse than the end of the world," said the morbid Anglo-Saxon; "it's the end of Britannia. It's the end of our identity as a nation distinct from Rome. Do you understand that? We are no longer a nation distinct from Rome."
"Of course we're still a nation distinct from Rome," consoled Melon Head Myrtle; "you can tell by the lavatories. And there's France in the way, as well."

The morbid Anglo-Saxon rotated his glass and stared morbidly into the dregs. "Not that I have anything against the idea of Rome, you understand," he said.
"Of course not," said Melon Head Myrtle, who didn't.
"Much that is good and noble in this land has come from Rome, and our security was much improved through co-operation with the Imperium. It is not too much to say that the Roman empire in its day was one of Britannia's oldest and most trusted allies."
"That's what I say," said Melon Head Myrtle. "If you're going to conquer the world, make certain you're shoulder to shoulder with the Italians."
"It was in alliance with the Imperium that our calendar was forged. We have reckoned time by that calendar for six hundred and fifty years, and it has served us well."
"But it's buggered the equinoxes or something, hasn't it?" said Melon Head Myrtle. "You can't conquer the world if your equinoxes are buggered, can you? You'd never know where you were."
"From that point of view, this new calendar is hardly better," said the morbid Anglo-Saxon. "I have heard that it will develop exactly the same anomaly in four hundred years, or even less. And all at the price of adding ten days to the year and abolishing the mensis intercalaris. It scarcely seems worth the trouble."
"I know exactly what you mean, dearie," said Melon Head Myrtle sympathetically. "The trouble I have remembering when the clocks go back, and which direction they go in when they do - make your toes curdle, it would."
"And all because Pope Gregory has a thing for little blond boys," said the morbid Anglo-Saxon. His face creased in a sneer. "Not Angles but angels, Pope Gregory said, and sent that monkish meddler Augustine over here to interfere with the rest of us."
"Nothing wrong with Popes liking boys, though," said Melon Head Myrtle. "It's only natural, after all."

The morbid Anglo-Saxon's eyeballs rolled up into his head, though whether from exasperation or inebriation it was difficult to tell, even for Melon Head Myrtle who had seen plenty of both. The elbows of the morbid Anglo-Saxon skidded outwards, beginning at a stately pace and then picking up speed as the weight of the morbid Anglo-Saxon's head bore down upon them. The morbid Anglo-Saxon's chin hit the bar again, but this time he did not raise it. More or less of their own accord, the morbid Anglo-Saxon's arms folded themselves beneath the morbid Anglo-Saxon's head, and the morbid Anglo-Saxon began to snore.

"Past closing time," said Hooligan Motts, in case anyone else might be listening.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Inspection

A Christmas Tale

On the night before Christmas, the son of God appeared in the courtyard of St Paul's Cathedral. He stood still for a few minutes, trying to work out why the temple precincts contained so few Jews; then two armed policemen appeared and told him to move on. He proceeded to the Cathedral's front door, where a plump young canon greeted him politely. The Archbishop was somewhere in the vicinity, of course, but he was on the telephone at the moment, discussing another possible compromise over female bishops.

"I'm glad you've arrived," the young canon said. "It's been a most unfortunate year; we need someone to put things right."
"I did my best," said the son of God, holding out his scarred hands.
"Well, I realise that, of course," said the young canon; "but it was, after all, rather a long time ago, and some of us were sort of hoping you might return and help us out again. We can't talk properly here; let's walk about a bit."

Indeed, the grounds of the Cathedral were crowded with people, and there was a long queue at the front door. People chatted among themselves, or squabbled over their place in line, or waved at some television cameras which happened to be standing about the square; and it was quite easy for the young canon and the son of God to slip out unnoticed.

"This is our busiest time of the year," the young canon said as they walked; "there was some doubt as to whether we'd be able to make back our costs after the disruption a few weeks ago, but it seems to have been sorted out."
"What disruption?" asked the son of God.
"Oh, the poor camping on the steps," the young canon said; "we asked them to go away and told them quite politely that they were interfering with business, but they were very obstinate. In the end we had to bring in the soldiers to disperse them."
"I hope you took contributions first," said the son of God. "Remember the widow who gave her two mites. It's easy to take money from those who can spare it, but extracting tithes from people who can't spare anything is truly the work of a good and faithful servant."

The young canon nodded sagely; he had spent almost his entire career ministering to the spiritual needs of bankers and hedge-fund managers and their mothers, all of whom claimed to be permanently on the verge of destitution.

They reached the main street, which was festooned with flashing lights spelling out messages of peace on earth and goodwill to the sponsors' customers. In the bright shop windows, vast stockings full of bargains hung amid fake snow and glittering testicles. The shops were at least as crowded as the Cathedral, as the young canon pointed out indignantly to the son of God.

"This is one of our greatest problems," the young canon said; "the commercialisation of our society, which leads to misinterpretation of the Gospel message and the spread of unconstructive cynicism. Oh, excuse me," he said to a sleeping bag which he had nearly tripped over. "If you're homeless," he told the contents of the sleeping bag, "there's a kitchen with spiritual comfort a few streets away, but try to navigate around the Cathedral precincts otherwise you might be arrested.

"You see," the young canon went on, as he and the son of God resumed their promenade, "we've become so materialistic these days that the Church has to call on armed men to protect it from the poor, which means an unfortunate creature like that one can't get soup and a sermon without making an inconvenient diversion."
"Perhaps," said the son of God, "you yourself have allowed all these bright lights and loud noises to make you blind and deaf to the Gospel message. Whence comes this Judas-like preoccupation with the poor? They will always be with you, and at best they are nothing more than a means to an end, a convenient cess-pit in which to dispose of worldly dross. I thought I had made myself quite clear on that point."
"Well, of course the Gospel message has evolved and developed over time," said the young canon, a little huffed; "over the ages this particular festival has accrued various aspects of pagan abandon, Roman gluttony, Victorian sentiment and neoliberal boorishness; but the essential message has remained the same."
"And the essential message is what?"
"Peace on earth," the young canon said, "and goodwill toward men."
The son of God frowned. "I came not to bring peace, but a sword," he said; "and toward men I always recommended a more disinterested attitude, like that of your Father in heaven, who sends his floods to inundate the righteous and unrighteous alike."

They had arrived back at the Cathedral. The building was lit up like a shop-window, its dome glittering plastic in the rain. "Well, thank you for the tour," said the son of God; "it was most instructive, and now I have to be getting along."
"But wait a minute," protested the young canon; "have you nothing to say on the great issues of the moment? Have you no wisdom that could help us in our trials? Don't you want to give a broadcast with the Queen or anything?"
"I have spoken already," said the son of God, beginning to ascend; "let those hear who have ears to do so. This has been a purely routine inspection, so that I can let my Father in heaven know he is morally justified in continuing to sleep through the tribulations of his children."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Poor Old Thrasher

Daveybloke's former prefect, Andrew "The Patrician" Mitchell, has been squealing for justice in that profoundly scrupulous organ of truth, the Murdoch on Sunday. With hindsight, the matter seems so obvious. Mitchell, it will be remembered, is a politician, so of course he isn't a liar; he is a member of the Conservative Party, so of course he isn't a toxic lout; he was chief whip over three hundred braying oafs, slimy bigots and thrusting young incompetents and wanted to stay in the job, so of course he isn't a loud-mouthed bully. Acutely aware of the injustice of having been stitched up by the police despite his lack of melanin, Mitchell worries that his little misfortune may not be an isolated incident: "If this can happen to a senior government minister, then what chance does a youth in Brixton or Handsworth have?" Doubtless many such youths would rejoice at Mitchell's reinstatement, in the sure and certain knowledge that he would not forget their plight, or at any rate not for a minute or two.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Sentence is Invalid Unless Approved by the Criminals

Vincent Cable, the semi-official darling of whatever Liberal Democrats remain in the Deputy Conservative Party, has come over all uncompromising again. He wants no more arguing over whether high street banks should have their gambling arms chopped off, because any further debate would cause "massive uncertainty". Of course, thanks to Triple-Dip George's safe if sweaty pair of palms, massive uncertainty is a problem which we have so far been mercifully spared. An analyst at Shore Capital noted the banks' objection to being broken up if they fail to implement whatever new regulations the Government feels minded to caress them with; what, after all, was the rigging of interest rates if not an attempt to preserve stability? Someone else started a rumour that regulators might be given powers as draconian and arbitrary as those which the banks themselves have been exercising all this time; the value of various shares suffered the usual nervous breakdown, and many were the moral dilemmas in boardrooms as various tax-cut absorbers agonised over whether to use a bit more of their drug money or run squealing to the taxpayer once more.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Voluntary Redundancies

I am sure we all remember the cuddly community component of Daveybloke's Big Society thingy, whereby voluntary organisations were meant to take over those functions of the hated public sector which could not profitably be disposed of elsewhere. Charities which have taken over the running of public services have inherited pension liabilities and are also receiving less public funding, which means that up to a thousand could go bust despite being financially stable. This will leave the field clear for private companies and national organisations, which fits in rather neatly with the Ashcroft-Murdoch idea of public service and the Eric Pickles vision of localism. Hence, although to the homeless, the mentally ill and other shirkers the whole business may appear one more poisonous coalition fiasco, it seems that for the right people Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is going approximately as well as George the Progressively Osborne's economic recovery.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fair Profit, Fair Comment

Fury at parody horror

A report on reform of the copyright laws is expected to get a favourable reception from the Government, in part because its recommendations include relaxation of the laws on parody.

The report was presented to the business secretary, a parody of a Liberal Democrat, and recommended permitting caricature and pastiche provided they do not significantly interfere with the profits of multinational corporations.

Ministers from both the Conservative and Deputy Conservative parties are thought to support relaxing the parody laws.

Just as many music consumers have been uploading tracks from legally purchased CDs without being aware that it is actually illegal, many members of the coalition have been parodies for years without being aware of the legal issues involved.

"It's a difficult area," said coalition legal adviser Bradley Ichneumon. "The PM and Chancellor are parodies of their former selves from the Bullingdon Club, but their former selves never filed for a patent on themselves, so there shouldn't be any lawsuits even if the country passes them on its way back to the eighteenth century."

Others may not be so lucky, particularly those ministers who are parodies along even less recognizably human lines, such as Maria Miller, the parody of a motivational speaker, or Iain Duncan Smith, a parody of the Liam Byrne parody Chris Grayling.

"The patenting of the human genome could potentially mean that any Tory office boy could sue Nick Clegg for making him look bad, or that anyone with a functioning set of testicles could sue Michael Gove for defaming any single one of his or her spermatozoa," Dr Ichneumon said.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Perfectly Innocent Encounter

A couple of Murdoch flunkeys have had a lengthy conversation at a party for the tax-avoidance set. Daveybloke bumped into Rebekah Brooks at a Chipping Norton rah-rah and burbled with an intensity which at least one witness found surprising. Since Brooks is unemployed at the moment, it seems likely that Daveybloke was attempting to persuade her of the virtue of labour and the wonders of the Big Society thingy, although it is regrettably not recorded whether she wept listening to him. In any case, Daveybloke's eagerness to get back on the horse with Brooks stands in stark contrast to his brief and possibly fictitious exchange earlier this year with his ex-cuddly communications director, Honest Andy Coulson. It will be remembered that, lacking Brooks' favoured-foster-child status, Coulson had to sue Murdoch for help with his legal fees; so perhaps Daveybloke is simply trying to refine his own rather flatulent social graces by emulating the master's.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eminently Sane

The UK Independence Party has suffered a bit of a setback in its attempt to shrug off its image as the party even a Conservative leader can describe with a straight face as "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists". A certain Geoffrey Clark, who is campaigning for seats on councils in Kent and Gravesham, posted a "personal manifesto" including various constructive ideas for reducing the national debt, such as compulsory abortion for the disabled, re-writing of the Koran and free euthanasia advice for everyone over eighty, and poetry too. Various defenders of multiculturalist political correctitude raised a ruckus, against which UKIP initially defended their candidate; however, in honour of their position as the new Liberal Democrats, they later stabbed him in the back and branded his views "abhorrent". Apparently UKIP does not bother too much about its candidates' political opinions before allowing them to run under its name. Seeing which way the wind was blowing, Clark himself then disowned the views he had expressed, claiming that he was merely "throwing out matters" for consideration, since he wasn't qualified to consider them himself; so it is more than possible that his ejection from UKIP will result in nothing more than a move into the mainstream.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Those days are over now, of course,
When he was Rupert's favoured chum:
Those dear days when Rebekah's horse
Perspired beneath his chubby bum.

When chillaxing was on his mind,
With Heythrop Hunt he used to dash
For sport, on days he couldn't find
A proper restaurant to trash.

But now it seems they broke the law,
Dismembered foxes in their holes.
He's told them many times before:
It's far more fun to hunt the proles.

Pongo Fitzbiffo

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Whingeing and Whining About Care

Parents looking after their grown-up disabled offspring will be among the parasites targeted by the Government's benefit cap, which is intended to make work pay. Hard-working families who work hard and put their taxes in offshore accounts should not have to march off in the morning surrounded by the closed blinds of people who are having a nice relaxing time coping with the commercial requirements of a disabled adult. "The ridiculous thing is that the cap came in to incentivise people to go to work," wheedled one indignant scrounger, "but I cannot go to work because I am looking after my son full-time, and I am, in the process, saving the government money." This would, of course, be true if the Government had much interest in spending money on looking after the disabled, as opposed to looking after the likes of Serco and Southern Cross. In fact, the cap will be an important component of the economic recovery: house prices will rise as social cleansing takes effect, and profits will rise as disability consumers flock to private care homes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I'm Guided by the Beauty of our Weapons

Children die by violence all the time, of course; though fortunately most of them are considerate enough to do so in less morally significant places than Connecticut. The head of the Royal Air Force, Sir Stephen Dalton, has been waxing lyrical about the virtues of remotely-piloted drone aircraft: "their persistence, their sensors, the lethal precision of their weapons", all of which have done so much to ameliorate the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and all of which will continue to aid the RAF in its constant striving to make the skies safe for wog-bombing. Dalton enthused about the possibilities of militarising outer space on a commercial basis, and claimed that "a cluster of low earth orbit micro satellites launched in March 2011 would have given us unmatched understanding of what was going on in Libya during that critical early phase". Doubtless G4S or Serco, or someone of equally military efficiency, would be happy to pick up a contract. Dalton also announced the introduction of a special badge for drone pilots, who will be qualified aviators and commissioned officers so that the collateral damage can feel easier in its mind.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Millers of God Grind On

It appears that Maria "The Motivator" Miller was too busy totting up her expenses to consult the Established Church over the vexing issue of equal marriage rights. The Church of England and the Church in Wales have both expressed shock and horror at the Government's "quadruple lock", which means they are the only churches to have complete, super-condom protection against pollution from gay ceremonies. "There was no indication at all that, as a church, we would be completely exempt," said a spokesbeing; "it makes us look like we're exclusive and we're different to the other churches", all of which have the monarch as their titular head and free seats in the Lords.

As usual, the Church wants it both ways. It wants to keep its exclusive rights while being treated like everyone else. It wants to keep the gay portion of its shrivelling stock of believers, and it also wants to keep them in their place. It wants the law to deliver it from the evil of schism, and it also wants to be above the law; and, as with the infamous episode at St Paul's Cathedral, it wants to pose as a moral institution through having its dirty work done by others. Unfortunately, in this case the dirty work has fallen to the jumped-up saleswoman at the Ministry of Cultchah and Prolefeed, who is interested only in placating the chimps' tea party on the Conservative back benches. It remains to be seen whether the Church will settle for a token protest followed by resigned acquiescence and further bumbling towards oblivion; or whether it will realise that this is no mere question of God versus Mammon, and actually put up a fight.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Going Down Gracefully

When a man has just been dumped from his ministry, it concentrates his principles wonderfully. A pale orange leaf from Daveybloke's autumn bonfire has noted that maintaining continuous submarine patrols with weapons of mass destruction is not only insane even from the military point of view, but also costs too much. Nick Harvey said he hoped the Government would "descend the ladder of options", which hardly seems likely with Nick Clegg and Porker Hammond sawing away at the rungs. Harvey suggested expanding a different submarine programme, named Astute after Geoff Hoon, in order to protect jobs and dampen the squeals of BAE Systems; but he also pointed out that giving every worker a redundancy payment one-fifth the size of Rebekah Brooks' would be cheaper than continuing as we are. "I am very clear the government does have a moral responsibility to step in and make some kind of injection into the local economy," he said, "including a considerable financial commitment"; which, if nothing else, shows that Daveybloke was correct in his judgement of Harvey's unfitness to serve in a ministry once hallowed by the presence of Adam Werritty.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Big Guns and Little Guns

Meanwhile, in the greatest country on earth and World Cop by the grace of God, litigious immigrants are attempting to undermine the sacred right to bear arms. The brothers and father of a Czech-born murder victim are suing the website which illegally sold the killer his firearm; the merchant in the case enterprisingly raised the retail price by fifty per cent as compensation for his sacrificed legality. In other cases, dealers have exploited a loophole which classifies individuals as private sellers, thereby relieving them of any obligation to carry out background checks on the people who purchase their goods. This has resulted in at least one sale to a man under a restraining order for domestic violence, who then used his new toy to kill three people. Much the same conduct, of course, characterises many of the customers whom Daveybloke and his fellow salesmen have ushered towards democracy; but it seems that too many American civilians are making the mistake of not killing big enough.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

11 December 1688

It was nearly closing time at the Gallows and Glockenspiel. At the card-players' table, Limbless Fred was arguing feet with Pippa Twelve Toes, while Granny Forbus dozed and twitched near the entrance. In their enigmatic corner, Mr Blodgett and Mr Boggust hissed and mumbled, doubtless to their mutual profit. Hooligan Motts hung a cloth over the tap of Old Groveller's, and was just about to announce, "Eleventh of December, sixteen eighty-eight. Nearly closing time," when the doors slammed open and admitted several wealthy-looking persons, each of whom seemed to have a great deal of hair. The hair of the men was long and fell over their shoulders, while the hair of the women was piled high atop their heads. Awakened by the noise, Granny Forbus glared about and scratched her meagre scalp.

"Nearly closing time," repeated Hooligan Motts, as the party approached the bar.
"Never mind that, my good man," said the male whose hair hung lowest; "we may be in the grip of revolution, but you would do well to remember your place."
Pippa Twelve Toes pirouetted with fright. "Revolution?" she squeaked, revolving.
"A most great and glorious revolution," said one of the other males, "which will free us from the Stuart tyrant, James the Second and Seventh, and the so-called Sun King who shines from his fleeing fundament."
"And which, in freeing us, will place us in bondage to a Dutchman," said the first. "Was it for this that Admiral Blake swept Van Tromp from the seas?"
"I thought that was Nelson," said Pippa Twelve Toes, whereupon a temporal anomaly began to loom; but Malvolio Quabbage flicked a pistachio nut in her eye before any real damage was done. She pirouetted again, even less elegantly, and sat down rather hard.

"Anything but gin," the man with the low-hanging hair said to Hooligan Motts, "and spare the turpentine, if you please." Shrugging imperturbably, Hooligan Motts began serving pints of Old Groveller's, partly because that was the nearest tap and partly because the man with the low-hanging hair didn't look like a beer drinker.

"You are too harsh on King James," one of the women was saying. "True, he is the greatest ogler in the kingdom, but he is surely no tyrant."
"No tyrant to some, indeed," said someone else. "He grants tolerance to popish traitors and locks up English bishops in the Tower."
"Nothing wrong with a bit of tolerance here and there," said Pippa Twelve Toes, rubbing her eye. "And why James the Second and Seventh? Wouldn't it be simpler just to call him number nine?"
"Simpler still to crush the Scots and amalgamate the crowns into one," opined a large woman whose own coiffured crown appeared to include several emphatically dissenting factions. "But we can hardly expect such simplicity from a king who flees from an army smaller than his own."
"Size isn't everything, you know," said Limbless Fred.
"It is rumoured that even now he is sailing for France," said the large woman, peering and squinting at Limbless Fred's seductive wriggle, "and has thrown the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames, in order to confound the doings of government."
"Confoundedly clever of him," flirted Limbless Fred shamelessly; but the large woman turned and retreated to the other end of the bar, as people often did when Limbless Fred came into focus. Of course, the other end of the bar was not without its characters; notably Mr Boggust and Mr Blodgett, who flirted more quietly than Limbless Fred and had a subtler sense of humour, if not necessarily a pleasanter one.

"A glorious revolution, indeed," mourned the man with the low-hanging hair. "It will turn us into a nation of shopkeepers and gin-drinkers. It will alter the very nature of Englishness as we know it."
"What's wrong with gin?" demanded Granny Forbus.
"It is an unhealthy and distasteful beverage," replied the man with the low-hanging hair; "unsuited to the English temperament and, as I have observed before, prone to adulteration with turpentine and the like."
"What's wrong with turpentine?" demanded Granny Forbus, who had drunk worse whenever she could get it. "Keeps your insides clean, especially with paint."

"Past closing time," interposed Hooligan Motts hastily, "unless you want to dredge up that Great Seal of yours and change the law yourself."

The man with the low-hanging hair looked as if he might be about to argue, but he contented himself with gulping the last of his Old Groveller's and favouring Hooligan Motts with a patrician sneer, which expended most of its force in a futile frontal assault on the barman's small but infinitely experienced eyeballs before dropping away in defeat. Others of the company were making for the doors, and the man turned and followed them out.

"Great tulip," snarled Granny Forbus, who disliked long hair on men.

Monday, December 10, 2012

But Is It Art?

The British Board of Film Classification has done a focus group or two, and now reports that, while "much of the public believe that sexual and sadistic violence are legitimate areas for film-makers to explore", some of the public also believe that sometimes they aren't. There is acute concern over the risk to "young men without much life experience and other vulnerable viewers", though it is not clear how many such people were included in the focus groups so that the extent of the risk could be assessed. There is worry about content which "could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women" in people who regard, say, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) as a DIY documentary or a guide to sexual etiquette. Again, it is regrettably unclear how many such interesting folk exist in the general population, let alone in the BBFC's "carefully selected" focus groups. In any event, the Board's director has concluded that there are some things which aggravate a theme and others which mitigate it, and that drawing out and applying these aggravations and mitigations is helpful in arriving at a decision as to whether to classify in a censorious manner. In Standard English, this presumably means that the morally invulnerable adults at the BBFC will continue to exercise their little whims.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Dead Giveaway

What with the economy being so much on the right track, it is just possible that some may have forgotten Daveybloke's Big Society thingy, the much-relaunched panacea whereby charities were to take over the less saleable functions of the evil public sector. It appears that the Osborne economic miracle has had an unfortunate effect on the voluntary sector, with possibly forty per cent of organisations facing closure thanks to an obscure and unforeseen social mechanism whereby increasing poverty and insecurity has deterred people from giving their money away. We could hardly have expected a chancellor of Osborne's calibre to see that coming; however, all is not yet lost. Recognising that the essence of charitable giving consists in tax avoidance by propertied strivers, the fiscal genius of the Bullingdon Club has lowered inheritance tax by four per cent and expressed a hope; which of course will help matters no end.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Chinless Landlords, the Hope of our Nation

Britain's Head Boy has had his tuck-box monitors sneaking around behind his coalition partners' backs and promising to defeat plans which the Deputy Conservatives thought were still under negotiation. The Conservative treasurers, Lord Fink and Michael Farmer, sent a begging letter to donors and potential victims of the proposed mansion tax, which would have plunged anyone who owned property worth more than a couple of million into anti-entrepreneurial poverty. "A tax on property is a tax on ambition and aspiration," squealed the letter; one shudders to think of the rhetoric should anyone propose a tax on trust funds. The letter then offered a range of forums with dashing, ambitious, aspiring names, which cost up to £10,000 to join. This, no doubt, is a considerate measure to avert embarrassment at being seen to support the Conservative Party: the political equivalent of an internet porn distributor charging one's credit card to Discreet Billing Enterprises, Ltd. The president of the Deputy Conservatives had harsh words about the whole business, calling it "pretty incredible"; which shows that two and a half years with his head in the prefects' toilet has dulled neither Tim Farron's political edge nor his rapier wit. He also promised to continue making the case for a mansions tax, which doubtless set the Bullingdon Club quivering with something or other.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Truth, Justice and Semen-Destroying Maggots

The scourge of atheistic scientism has now let three hundred convicted criminals walk free from prison in the United States, and in the three hundredth case it has also deprived the Christian state of Louisiana of a nice, righteous execution. Damon Thibodeaux was sentenced to death for the murder and aggravated rape of a fourteen-year-old girl, on the traditional faith-based strength of an extorted confession and some hilarious testimony about "semen-destroying maggots" whose activity would explain the merely forensic finding that the victim had no sexual contact of any kind for at least a day before her death. Thibodeax's confession was inconsistent with the facts, but at the time of the trial Thibodeaux's defence lawyer was applying for a transfer to the same district attorney's office that was in charge of the prosecution, and seems to have decided that promotion was the better part of valour. Unfortunately for the Christian state of Louisiana, a lawyer assigned to the appeal was less rigorous in her pursuit of the American way and referred the case to the Innocence Project, a group devoted to overturning convictions through the use of mere evidence. A couple of commercial lawyers also became involved pro bono, which goes to show the danger of allowing the pure waters of enterprise to be corrupted with the Islamo-communist taint of profit-free legal representation. It remains to be seen whether anyone will speak out for the victim and her family, who have been cruelly and unusually deprived of the closure and comfort which inevitably results from seeing somebody executed.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Improving Services

Recent improvements in the NHS are such that the number of people waiting more than four hours for accident and emergency treatment has been rising steadily for eight years. Most people are also not told how long they will have to wait before being seen, in accordance with the attitude of both wings of the British Neoliberal Party towards freedom of information. However, three-quarters of health industry customers using the NHS still feel that staff are listening to them, so Daveybloke and his cuddly chums still have a bit more work to do providing the anecdotal evidence of institutional callousness which constitutes the necessary emotional muzak for their faith-based slashing and selling. Still, the Department for Workfare and Privation will undoubtedly take comfort from the fact that people are surviving longer and longer without medical attention, and thereby proving themselves fitter and fitter for the work of which the Chancellor is depriving them.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Seminal Study

Researchers in France have reported that it is becoming more and more difficult to commit the crime of parenthood. An apparent decline in average sperm counts, combined with delayed child-bearing, could signal a crisis for those hoping to do their bit for the environment by reducing the rarity of human beings. Many perils afflict our unfortunate planet, and the critically small size of the human population is, of course, one of the most urgent. Since George the Progressively Osborne was not among the researchers, the seminal decline has been blamed on tight underwear and environmental toxins, rather than on Labour and the Euro-wogs.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

4 December 1154

It was almost the hour of closing at the Gallows and Glockenspiel. Granny Forbus nodded over her gin, which for many years had been almost the only thing that agreed with her. Malvolio Quabbage was chewing matchsticks to improve his breath, and Pippa Twelve Toes was bothering the card-players. Hooligan Motts had just flushed out a leaky tap with Mudgett's Certified Ninety-Proof Malarial Delirium; its vapours hung heavy behind the bar, and Hooligan Motts was just wondering whether he could draw a deep breath without risk of thoracic scarring, when two cowled figures staggered in.

Hooligan Motts straightened his back and took a deep breath. "Fourth of December, eleven fifty-four," he announced. "Nearly closing time."

The cowled figures approached, each leaning on the other. Their faces were shrouded in shadow, and their voices mumbled indistinctly. They tripped over legs now and again: sometimes their own legs, sometimes one another's. Only when they reached the bar could they steady themselves sufficiently to unlink their elbows. They threw back their cowls, revealing pinkish monkish faces.

"Good evening, and blessings upon this house," said the elder one, whose face had little to distinguish it except a beard like a failed briar-bush. "We are friars, of the order of Saint Ethylbreth."
"That holy English saint," said the younger, whose face had the distinction of being even less distinguished than his companion's, "who is credited by tradition with inventing the plainsong chant for the watchers of games on the village green. We're English too. English, like the new Pope."
"Now, Cuthbert," said the elder friar, "don't tempt fate. We haven't yet heard the result of the election, and may not hear for many days."
"You want to bet against him?" demanded Cuthbert. Beneath his ragged tonsure his ears glowed maroon with indignation. "You think it'll be another Italian, do you?"
"I think Cardinal Brakespear has a very good chance," said the elder friar diplomatically.
"You think he'll win?"
"I wouldn't bet against it," said the elder friar, producing a purse of money from the irredeemable depths of his habit. "We are friars," he informed Hooligan Motts once again; "English friars, as my friend has pointed out. We are mendicants, travelling in pairs and sharing all we have, bed as well as board, in order to avoid bodily temptation."

He fished out a couple of coins and slapped them down on the bar. "Wine immediately, two," he ordered, "one with honey and one with water, and serve the water separately, to avoid any little miracles of dilution. An English man of God does not drink to a possible English pope in one part to three parts, but rather the reverse."
"And that's gospel," said Cuthbert, dissolving into giggles which dried up rather fast before the imperturbability of Hooligan Motts.
"An English Pope," said Melon Head Myrtle; "well, that'll make a nice change. They're usually foreign-made, I believe."
"There'll be hell to pay for Arnold," said Cuthbert, "that's for sure and certain."
"Arnold who?" asked Melon Head Myrtle.
"The villain of Brescia, of course," said Cuthbert. "The demagogue who preaches poverty for the church, against all doctrine, sense and reason."
"Poverty for the church?" said Melon Head Myrtle. "He sounds like one of those fanatical fundamentalist things that are always stirring up trouble. The sooner we have a proper English Pope who can sort it all out C of E fashion, the better we all shall be."
"See of where?" asked Cuthbert.
"Oh, you," said Melon Head Myrtle, and rammed her elbow into his midriff companionably.
"Arnold shall be dealt with, never fear," said the elder friar while Cuthbert wheezed. "Strung up and burned at the very least, unless he should recant. Cardinal Brakespear is a most active and holy person. He has spent much time and effort setting up schools in Scandinavia."
"Really," said Melon Head Myrtle, who liked a well-kippered troublemaker here and there but wasn't sure whether she held with Scandinavian schools. "Well, here's to many another English Pope."

She raised her glass and gulped the dregs. Cuthbert had recovered just enough to straighten up and finish his wine, and the two friars staggered off to continue their pilgrimage. "Just as long as doesn't call himself by one of those ungodly Roman names," muttered one of them as they went out.

"Closing time," said Hooligan Motts.

Monday, December 03, 2012

It's Me or the Kiddy-Fiddlers

We are all aware, no doubt, that Daveybloke's casual dismissal of the Leveson recommendations stems from a genuine and principled commitment to the ideal of free journalism, rather than from the mere wish to avoid a fight with a few scumbag press moguls just because he happened to crawl up their colons a few years ago. Undoubtedly a similar virtuous underpinning graces the motives of Daveybloke's mad old cat lady, who has displayed a characteristic predilection for mature debate on the subject of her plotted snoopers' charter by ranting away in what is almost certainly the most scumbag organ of that very same scumbag press. "It is absolutely not government wanting to read everybody's emails," she foamed; "we will not be looking at every webpage everybody has looked at", not least because no-one in the Bullingdon Club would be able to move his lips fast enough. But Daveybloke's diva of deportation wasn't finished: anyone who has qualms about giving police and spooks access to phone and internet records on the mere utterance of the magic words terrorist paedophile is putting politics before people's lives and flinging open the doors for serious criminals to walk free. In these post-political times, of course, it is difficult to separate the genuine lunacy from the statesbeinglike manoeuvring for clear blue water across which to exchange moist, tender glances with the Farage Falange and in which to drown the Liberal Democrats; nevertheless, even allowing for the colourful literary tastes of her presumed audience, the Home Secretary seems to have gone overboard a bit.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

For A' That Episode 6

The latest For A' That podcast features the regulars, Michael Greenwell and Andrew Tickell; the writer and journalist Peter Geoghegan; and some sniffly comic relief with an amusing accent who was hurriedly roped in when David Cameron suddenly discovered he had an urgent appointment elsewhere. Topics under discussion include the Leveson report, the march of Farage, the above-weight punchingness of the British state and the deplorable lack of cultural holidays as opposed to those which are religious, patriotic or otherwise objectionable.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Fresh Perspectives, Sparkling Insights

Last Thursday's by-elections have galvanised the Chancellor into radical action. If things continue as they are until 2015, Labour could probably gain a plurality just by displaying posters of Daveybloke's best next-door chum with the slogan Five More Years; so George the Progressively Osborne has done what any statesman of his calibre would do, and brought in some new sales staff. Neil O'Brien is the director of Policy Exchange, a yap factory which Britain's leading liberal newspaper describes as "centre-right". In a political discourse where the Reverend Blair is "centre-left", this apparently means O'Brien believes that you shouldn't demonise the unemployed while you're kicking them and that gay marriage is fine for those who can afford it. O'Brien wants to launch a "war on unemployment", by which he means a tax cut for employers; and he worries that, after only two and a half years of throwing money at the banks, pandering to press barons and cutting taxes for people on seven-figure salaries, the Real Conservatives are seen as the party of the rich. O'Brien was born in Huddersfield, which gives him an insight into the mind of the northern prole that complements his luminous perspicacity.