The Curmudgeon


Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Partibus Infidelium

For some Christians, I take it, Holy Week is a time to contemplate Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and their own modest hopes of resurrection into eternal life. For other Christians, such as Lord Carey of Blathering-in-the-Dotage, Holy Week is a time to lambast other people for failing to sacrifice enough on their behalf. Writing in that noted organ of forgiveness and goodwill to all mankind, the Daily Mail, Carey criticised Daveybloke for failing to pander sufficiently to the self-pity of those Christians who, like most Daily Mail readers, consider themselves part of a persecuted minority.

According to a poll cited by Carey, more than two-thirds of Christians have not only lost touch with reality to the extent that they regard themselves as persecuted, but have also forgotten their Bible so far as to be unaware of their Saviour's explicit instructions to greet persecution with exceeding gladness and masochistic relish. Carey made clear the extent of his own connection to reality by stating that he believed Daveybloke "genuinely sincere in his desire to make Britain a generous nation where we care for one another", presumably on the grounds that Daveybloke's government is the one which hired ATOS Healthcare so that the disabled might take up their beds and work. However, Carey is annoyed with Daveybloke for telling religious leaders to oppose "aggressive secularisation", whatever that may be, while supporting such things as equal marriage. Carey is concerned that the Government is risking "the alienation of a large minority of people who only a few years ago would have been considered pillars of society". It is jolly Christian of Lord Carey of Blathering-in-the-Dotage, who is no doubt a wholly disinterested party, to take such trouble on behalf of these disenfranchised unfortunates.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Eurocrat Defends Migrant Hordes

A Euro-wog with a funny name has expressed concern about the debate over immigration in Britain. Nils Muiznieks, who is the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner and therefore ranks somewhere between Abu Qatada and Nick Clegg in the esteem of the Bullingdon Club, is worried that depriving immigrants of education, housing, health care and social security will increase their social exclusion and fuel xenophobia. It is certainly a little disturbing that the Council of Europe is so far removed from British realities that its human rights commissioner can believe the Government has any interest in providing education, housing, health care or social security, or that the Government has the slightest objection to social exclusion or xenophobia. One would hope that the Latvian Muiznieks might at least be aware of the Conservatives' ties to the far right in eastern Europe, including a Latvian Waffen-SS fan club.

In any case, thanks in large part to Labour's famous political courage and the Liberal Democrats' noted strength of principle, the immigration debate in Britain has become increasingly mature in the sense of being increasingly polarised between the don't-let-'em-in faction and the kick-'em-all-out faction. At present, the former is in the ascendant thanks to the imminent threat of Bulgarians and Romanians arriving in their millions to enjoy a life of unearned luxury on Universal Credit. The Government is already planning to rope schools into the witch-hunt by turning them into outposts of the UK Border Agency and depriving the backlog's offspring of the admittedly dubious privilege of a Michael Gove education.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Piss and Windfarms

Britain's Head Boy has been having a bit of a tinker with the Department for Exacerbating Climate Change, a mere five months after one of the ticks there showed himself up as a very silly boy. John Hayes, a Daily Mail loudmouth of such troglodytic stupidity that he managed to scare off the investors he was meant to be courting, made such a fool of himself that the energy minister asked Daveybloke to remove him. Since the energy minister is only a Liberal Democrat, Daveybloke did a very decisive nothing; but now that rumours of a Putsch are in the air, he has taken Hayes into the prefects' rumpus room and sent a 1970s-vintage apparatchik into DECC to run the energy minister. Evidently Daveybloke is feeling the need to keep his incompetent right-wing idiots close and his idiotic right-wing incompetents closer. Let's hope he can tell them apart.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

To a Careers Adviser

I know now: unemployment's really just a state of mind,
And work that's rigorously sought is never hard to find.
The attitude's what matters when it's time to do or die:
Recession and depression merely opportunify.
Team players who can work alone, obedient yet inspired,
Can always find their dream job should they happen to get fired.
Don't talk too little or too much, and never try to fib;
Be the eternal salesman, but don't come across as glib;
Don't be boastful, don't be modest, don't be quiet and don't shout;
Do not presume success and don't allow yourself to doubt;
Be proactive, optimistic and keep marching forth to win;
And always be yourself while making sure you fit right in.
And now that you have taught all this, and now that I have learned it,
I'll treat myself and slash my wrists, because I think I've earned it.

Corpo Pepyap

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Great Parliamentarian and a Close Personal Friend

The leader of the Conservative Party's wets has been praising his main enemy, who has so far overcome his concern for the suffering people of South Shields as to resign from British politics and cross the Atlantic for the purpose of spending more time with his tax breaks. As befits a creature which has received a fawning eulogy from Jack Straw, which the Reverend Blair considers "one of the most capable progressive thinkers and leaders globally", and which it is easy to imagine as a nodding supernumerary to his reverence's adventures on the lecture circuit, the Other Miliband's political career ran the gamut from bland to sordid. From the failed Putsch against Gordon Brown, which dragged and sputtered to its ineffectual end slightly faster than Brown dragged and sputtered to his, Miliband emerged looking slightly less statesmanlike than the smirking wideboy James Purnell. The family heavyweight's most memorable achievement while in office was probably his use of the environment as an excuse to shaft the Chagossians; his other brilliant coup was being caught running to the Americans for help in containing the torture scandal. This is the kind of thing Miliband calls "making a difference to the disadvantaged and vulnerable", though some people with less of a modernising streak might prefer that the difference was towards less misery rather than more.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Put Out More Wogs

Daveybloke's mad old cat lady has decided to capitalise on her present national popularity and do a bit of empire-building at the expense of the hapless UK Border Agency. The agency is to be split in two, like the Home Office some years ago; the measure did the Home Office a world of good, as may be seen from the fact that its divorcé departments are being run by persons of the calibre of Theresa May and the Hero of Heterosexual Hostelry, Chris Graybeing. UKBA will be split into an immigration service, which will prevent immigration, and a law enforcement service, which will deny immigrants the protection of the law. It is to be hoped for Theresa May's sake that the differences between the two are slightly more obvious to the naked eye than the distinction between arse and elbow. Both services will be brought under ministerial control, in order to combat the "closed and defensive culture" and the attitude of continual crisis management which were characteristic of UKBA and from which ministers and their underlings are constitutionally immune.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Doing the Nigel

Britain's Head Boy has been dog-whistling for the UKIP vote, with the expectable result that his statistics have turned out redolent of a certain Faragean counterfactuality. Daveybloke blathered that Euro-wogs were stealing our NHS to the tune of ten to twenty million a year (a mere Gove in the bedpan from a budget of over a hundred thousand million), only for his Minister for Health and News Corporation to issue a prominent correction. Daveybloke blathered that immigration was "badly out of control" and that the taxpayer had been "endlessly paying for" Euro-wogs living it up on Jobseeker's Allowance while the bankers go hungry. As it turns out, net wog intake from eastern Europe since 2004 amounts to two million people, of whom only thirteen thousand have availed themselves of the DWP's generosity. Daveybloke blathered of a forty per cent increase in the number of social lettings taken up by wogs, but somehow neglected to mention that this represented an increase from six and a half per cent to a hardly tsunamic nine. Finally, Daveybloke blathered about the "global race", by which he doubtless meant the spherical pink breed (with an occasional hint of puce) to which all the best people belong; but the core vote had almost certainly got the message long before then.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Trivial Pursuit

Such is the looking-glass world we live in these days, that a major symptom of the trivialisation of politics has been whining about the trivialisation of politics. The London Haystack, who went for a BBC interview expecting to be asked some nice easy questions, like whether he agrees with the budget and whether he believes housing in London would be a rather jolly thing, instead found himself being interrogated over such trivial matters as making up quotes and conniving at having people beaten up. In a sense he may have been lucky that the interview took this direction, since the interviewer might have easily been tempted to adulterate any conversation about housing with the London Haystack's clearly trivial assertion that no social cleansing would take place on his watch.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Toxic Programme

Liam Smith's frère et semblable, Iain Duncan Byrne, has registered disapproval of targets and league tables as applied to depriving unemployed people of social security payments. Since Labour was unable to impose a similar régime while in office, Byrne approves of such deprivation only when it takes place in a context of incompetently drafted legislation retroactively amended to protect the DWP from having to pay what it owes. Having connived with the coalition to subvert the rule of law, Byrne is now claiming payback by demanding an independent investigation into the targets régime, which has reached new heights of Christian fervour at one West Midlands forced-labour mall with a promise of Easter eggs as a prize for the most zealous imposition of sanctions. Byrne is demanding the investigation, not because of anything so petty as the need for the Government to enforce its own rules, but as a quid pro quo for sharing in the coalition's iniquity; which indicates that Labour's concern is with nothing so trivial as the lives of a few poor people, but solely with the overriding moral issue of political point-scoring.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rotten Ratings

As is natural for a member of a government which gauges the value of a hospital mainly according to the price of its real estate, the Minister for Health and News Corporation has been trying to find a convenient way of summing up and doing down the NHS in a nice, simple, tabloid-headline fashion. Equally naturally, Jeremy C Hunt has hit upon the idea of league tables, as favoured by his Cabinet colleague and fellow Murdoch flunkey, Michael Gove. The Nuffield Trust, which was commissioned to look into the possibility of a rating system so crude that even Jeremy C Hunt could comprehend it without a surgical intervention, has reported back rather gently that hospitals are complicated institutions in which performances can vary widely over different departments. Hence, attempting to sum up an entire hospital in a single score would give an inaccurate impression of the hospital's performance, would do nothing to improve patient care and would fail to detect burgeoning problems. It would be rather like trying to gauge the collective wit and intelligence of the Cabinet by including meetings where nobody turned up, thereby leading to a radical overestimate of the quality of the dialogue. Anyway, having commissioned the report, Hunt will of course pay no attention to it whatsoever. As with Twizzler Lansley's Health and Social Cleansing Act, the medical profession is opposed and the BMA has warned of staff demoralisation and a detrimental effect on frontline services; so in the strange little world of Jeremy C Hunt, all is as it should be.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Polite Notices

Customers, your attention please. On behalf of Working Transport, I hope you had a pleasant journey. Please form an orderly queue. No loud talking or laughter. Loud talking and laughter causes disruption and may result in delays. Book your holiday now. Keep calm and carry on. No smoking. No alcohol. No ball games. Online dating for busy people. We all want the same thing: hard-working families in a prosperous nation. Your custom is important to us. If you have questions or aspirations, ask a member of staff. Please be civil at all times. We will not tolerate abusive behaviour. Move through the gates at an orderly pace. Keep your belongings with you at all times. We manage your share portfolio so you can manage your life. Members of staff will be happy to assist you. Please follow directions. We all have to make sacrifices. No running or shouting. Running and shouting causes disruption and may result in delays and loss of benefits. We are all in this together. If you see someone breaking the rules, inform a member of staff. Help to protect your community and earn more benefits. Follow the pointing finger. Obey instructions at all times and keep your family safe. Please move forward at an orderly pace. Deposit your belongings with members of staff. Please follow cleanliness routines as sponsored by Healthy Working plc. Freedom brings work. Owing to ongoing plumbing repairs, you may hear a slight hiss from the shower nozzle. Thank you for your custom.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On

It's Budget day once more, by golly!
My day for a jape and a jolly,
And kicking of prole,
And digging of hole,
While Beaker sweats joy at my folly!

Now, this one I'll burble with pride!
It's going to be a smooth ride:
No fuck-ups, no gambles,
No great omnishambles,
No grannies or pasties inside!

I want to help Britain aspire
At least to a shallower mire.
I'm the chappie to bet on
If you want to get on
And hire, and - especially - fire.

A Britain with freedom from fear
Of the State: that is my great idea!
With lower taxation
For each corporation,
And for proles, one whole pee off the beer!

It's Budget day, and I'll be fair,
And make tough decisions to spare,
And all due reward
Will go to - good Lord!
Look at Cyprus - just look over there!

Gideon Fatwick

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Public Health for the Deserving

Well, here's a thing: the Minister for Health and News Corporation has been allocating more money to rich areas than poor ones, and this despite having promised to do the exact opposite. Imagine that. When it comes to the fight against smoking and obesity, Kenneth Clarke's Cabinet colleague has favoured boroughs such as Kensington, Chelsea and the City, where life expectancy is among the highest in the country, at the expense of places like Liverpool, Manchester and Waltham Forest, which are full of proles and northerners. With superb Bullingdon Club reasoning, the allocations are based on what each area already spends on public health programmes, so that the councils which have least will get the smallest grants. Although one hesitates to accuse Jeremy C Hunt of anything so non-pondlife as actual calculation, the results are likely to be favourable, since the aforementioned proles and northerners will be all the more opportunified to die early. The savings on pensions should be considerable, to say nothing of the additional strain on the hated NHS while the undesirables are making their way out.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Catching Up

Ten years ago, the Reverend Blair arose in the House of Claimants and made a speech all about how nasty and evil and awful Saddam Hussein was, and particularly about Saddam Hussein's nasty and evil and awful programme for manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. These weapons, proclaimed his reverence, were chemical and biological and lots of other nasty and awful things which made them far more evil and far less sexy than Trident or depleted uranium or cluster bombs; and, said his reverence, somebody ought to do something about it. What is more, that somebody was none other than himself and his chum George, and wouldn't history be proud?

The press went into orgasm. The Reverend Blair's sermon was sincere and statesmanlike and Churchillian and Thatcherite and sincere and brave and profound and noble and sincere and wonderful and sincere and, as it later turned out, not entirely reality-based. Quite a few of us realised this at the time. Ten years ago, I knew that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations inspectors knew it; the non-decent Left knew it; the millions who had protested on the preceding 15 February knew it; the chimpanzee-trainers in the White House knew it; the French knew it; the CIA and MI6 knew it; and now at last, joy of joys, the BBC and the British Free Press know it too. Time has elapsed, lines have been drawn, and lessons have doubtless been learned. The Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair was asked if he would care to comment on the fictitiousness of his pretext for helping to destroy a country and kill a few hundred thousand of its people; but apparently he was too busy counting his morals.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Keeping Our Streets Safe

One of the rioters of August 2011 has paid the ultimate price, which ought to please those members of the House of Claimants who believe prison is too soft an option. A man with asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, Crohn's disease and a history of mental health problems was convicted of theft after taking a gingerbread man from a shop which had already been looted. He was sentenced, at the Government's behest, with no regard to the normal guidelines, and was remanded in Wandsworth, where the chief inspector of prisons had already found safety to be "a matter of serious concern". The gingerbread thief, having been cleared to use the gym in spite of his physical condition, collapsed and died of a heart attack after a strenuous workout: a rather poetic end for a sugar-stealing member of the idle poor. Inspectors had concluded that the "treatment and condition of simply too many prisoners at Wandsworth was demeaning, unsafe and fell below what could be classed as decent", and found "what appeared to be unwillingness among some prison managers and staff to acknowledge and take responsibility" for problems. Perhaps they blamed the snow or the Euro-wogs, or made points-saving arrangements with their wives.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Poor Little Davey

A teacher of disabled children - though doubtless hardly of Little Ivan's calibre - has been convicted and fined for using threatening words and behaviour to cause harassment, alarm and distress and for exposing a children's choir to the kind of language which is heard in most playgrounds any day of the week. Her crime was to clamber onto a barrier when Daveybloke was switching on the Christmas lights in his Witnit constituency, and to proclaim that Daveybloke has "blood on his hands" because of the harassment, alarm and distress which his government's policies have inflicted upon the disabled. She was manhandled away by the brave boys of Thames Valley police, one of whom stated that her demeanour was "angry, fixated, aggressive and very focused on her intentions", against all reasonable expectations of public protest in a free society. The judge said that her comments could "hardly be more insulting to anyone, whether a politician or not", and ordered her to pay a £225 fine and a "victim surcharge" of £22 to compensate the lying, purple-faced, poor-bashing, Murdoch-licking little squit for his hurt feelings.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Protecting Us From the Geologists

When the law disagrees with the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith, as we all know, the law must be wrong; particularly when it happens to be a law which originated with the brilliant Duncan Smith's own brilliant department. Last month the court of appeal ruled that the DWP's attempt to use the unemployed as a pretext for throwing money at profit-making companies was flawed, on the grounds that the DWP had not bothered to provide the said unemployed with sufficient information. As a result, the Government owes its victims something in the region of £550 each, which probably adds up to slightly less than the Government has thrown at the likes of Serco, ATOS Healthcare and Bob Diamond the Great and Powerful. Nevertheless, the brilliant Duncan Smith is introducing emergency legislation to protect the national economy by retroactively declaring himself to have been in the right all along, thereby following the Chancellor's example and forcing the costs of his incompetence onto the poor. Labour and the Liberal Democrats - the one-nation party and the party that takes the edge off Conservative nastiness - will be doing the expected thing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Say It With Cardboard

The European court of human rights has quashed the conviction of a Frenchman who held up a cardboard sign at Nicolas Sarkozy's presidential motorcade. The sign read "Casse-toi pov'con", which Britain's leading liberal newspaper translates as "Get lost, you prat". It was a quote from Sarkozy himself: he had used the line, though he did not immortalise it on cardboard, when somebody refused to shake his hand at an agricultural fair. The president was censured in the media for conduct unbecoming to the dignity of his office; the sign-wielder was arrested by the police, prosecuted and convicted on a charge of offence against a head of state, given a criminal record and made to pay the thirty euros which apparently was the going price of Nicolas Sarkozy's dignity in 2008. A court of appeal confirmed the verdict; but the European court of human rights found that, while the phrase may have offended Sarkozy's oh-so-delicate sensibilities, it constituted legitimate political criticism rather than gratuitous personal attack. The court declared the criminal conviction "disproportionate" and warned, in a superb eructation of eurocratese, of the "dissuasive effect on satirical interventions" which could result from such humourless prosecutions. It is as yet unclear what effect this judgement will have on the attitude towards the ECHR of our own malignant, mendacious, high-handed, hare-brained, overambitious frump of a Home Secretary.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bumbling Off

Daveybloke's badger-busting Minister for Barely Greenrinsing, Owen Paterson, seems set to take decisive action against Britain's bee problem which, like all other Bad Things, grew to epidemic proportions under the last Labour government. Although on a superficial level bees appear to be natural Conservative allies, in that they live in the country, tend towards royalism and have more than three legs, they also possess a number of less desirable characteristics which no doubt influenced Paterson's eminently rational decision. Most bees are female workers, hardly Daveybloke's most reliable constituency; and, as many Conservatives would expect of an organism whose bodily surface shows more than a hint of black, bees also carry sharp weapons and have a tendency to invade people's gardens. Like Muslims, Liverpudlians and other undesirables, bees are prone to clannishness and a hive mentality, in contrast to the healthy individualism which prevails on the Conservative back benches; and they dance not in order to obtain trophy wives, but in order to communicate coded information about possibly strategic food sources. Given all this, the fact that the European Commission wishes to protect the bees, while large chemical companies are squealing for help in continuing to poison them, must merely have provided Paterson with a handy political pretext for ridding the countryside of the apiform menace once and for all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Realist Politics

Delegation being the art of leadership, Daveybloke has dispatched headmaster Rupert's favourite swot to administer a ticking-off to the Home Secretary. Theresa May, who likes to deport people on the grounds of fictitious feline ownership, presented herself as a "realist" in a barnstorming blather on Saturday; and Daveybloke, despite his famous way with the ladies, has apparently not yet plucked up the courage to calm down the old dear's frustrations in person. By today's Buñuelian standards, May could indeed be counted a sort of realist: she wagged a finger at the Nasty Party in opposition before government metamorphosed her into one of the Nasty Party's most swivel-eyed embodiments. Nevertheless, it remains an open question whether Gove, the one-time Murdoch hack who lectured the Leveson inquiry on freedom of the press and who thinks British schoolchildren in the twenty-first century should be given an Empire Youth education, is more of a realist than she.

Anyway, now that Gove has exerted his gravitas, and presumably ordered May to mend her ways lest a couple of tame cyber-bullies start stalking her on Twitter, Daveybloke and his new best chum Lynton Crosby have started working up a list of Conservative achievements on which the party will be campaigning for the next two years, in case there aren't any more. Unsurprisingly, pulling Nick Clegg's arse out of the fire at Eastleigh is not prominent among them; although they do include such master-strokes of statesmanship as isolating the Continent from Britain by wielding a veto, and giving UKIP a veneer of near non-idiocy with the promise of a referendum.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Media Silence as Criminals Walk Free

Fury at lack of horror at lack of fury

The sentencing of economist Vicky Price and love cheat Chris Huhne has been greeted with a discreet lack of speculation on the causes of moral degeneracy in the wealthy middle classes.

Pundits did not rush to analyse the high percentage of criminals in the House of Commons as compared with the population at large, and almost no columns appeared immediately in the Daily Express comparing Pryce with Karen Matthews or Huhne with Nick Clegg.

Nor were many op-eds forthcoming about the damage caused to the Osborne economic miracle by economists who fail to properly calculate consequences before talking to the Press.

The Secretary of Forced Labour and CV rewrite specialist, Iain Duncan Smith, had nothing to say about well-off families in which up to three generations had grown up to be motorists.

The Ministry of Justice had nothing to say about the scandal of two convicted criminals possibly walking free in as little as eight weeks owing to the home curfew scheme.

Even the ex-Minister for Adam Werritty, during the course of a speech in which he proclaimed ten years of New Labour a socialist revolution, manifested little or no concern at the absence of the birch from the final judgement.

However, the lack of a sufficient punitive element in the couple's eight-month sentence is thought to be cause for concern among members of the public, who criticized the judge for not forcing the pair to share a cell.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

10 March 1801

It was shortly before closing time at the Gallows and Glockenspiel, and the bar was unusually quiet. This was partly because Limbless Fred had fallen asleep, which allowed the other card-players to play some remarkably bad hands on his behalf, but quietly so as not to disturb him. It was also partly because Granny Forbus was dozing lightly: had Granny Forbus been fully awake, she would have occupied herself and everyone else with improving advice and helpful instruction; and had Granny Forbus been fully asleep, the bar would have echoed with her snores and the carefree gambolling of her horrible conscience. Meanwhile, in their enigmatic corner, Mr Blodgett and Mr Boggust were engaged in some enigmatic business involving stains and floorboards, which they conducted with all due discretion.

"Tenth of March, eighteen hundred and one," announced Hooligan Motts. "Nearly closing time."

Even as he spoke, a person came in. Whether or not Hooligan Motts observed his entry was a matter impossible to judge. This of course was nothing unusual, so vast and profound was the imperturbability of Hooligan Motts; but neither did Granny Forbus stir, nor Melon Head Myrtle look up from the trimmings of her banana daiquiri. Pippa Twelve Toes did not glance in the person's direction, and Malvolio Quabbage's eyeballs no more strayed sidelong towards the person than did the eyeballs of Throaty Gubbins, who had passed out unconscious in the ladies' room half an hour ago.

For the newcomer was not only quiet, but nondescript to an ineffable degree. His unremarkable features barely interrupted the curvature of his understated head. The blandness of his build was rivalled by the mediocrity of his height, though admittedly to a degree barely worthy of attention. His general air of furtiveness might have attracted notice, had there been any indication that he had something worth being furtive about. Just as he reached the bar, the gaze of Melon Head Myrtle happened to fall upon him, and she immediately forgot he was there.

Having reached the bar, this insignificant person looked up timorously at the stolid expanse of Hooligan Motts and said, "I wish to hide."
"We serve what's on the blackboard," said Hooligan Motts. "Beer and wine, whisky and gin, mostly. Not places of concealment."
"I could hide in your cellars," said the insignificant person.
"You could," agreed Hooligan Motts; "but only if I let you, and only from whoever's been chasing you so far. There's things down there, you know."
"No-one is chasing me," said the insignificant person; "I merely wish to avoid a certain person, for a limited period of time, in the interests of English law and liberty." He fumbled in one of the less remarkable pockets of his generally unremarkable coat. "I should, of course, be prepared to offer you whatever recompense seems appropriate - "
"We serve what's on the blackboard," said Hooligan Motts.
"But, dash it all," squeaked the insignificant person, "do you not realise what is at stake? The horrors of Malthusianism? The triumph of Bonaparte? The reduction of God's very image, as embodied in myself and others, to a mere cipher in a scrivener's ledger?"
"That's as may be," said Hooligan Motts; "but whatever's at stake, you still wouldn't like it in the cellars. There's things down there. Barrels, and things."

The insignificant person might have expostulated further, had he been physiologically equipped for expostulation and had the door not banged open, drawing the eyes of everyone toward the vast and substantial cleric whose form was now manifest upon the threshold. Granny Forbus and Limbless Fred were startled into wakefulness; Malvolio Quabbage and Pippa Twelve Toes turned their heads; the doings of Mr Boggust and Mr Blodgett became subject to an enigmatic pause; and Melon Head Myrtle peered like a concealed surveillance device through the trimmings of her banana daiquiri.

"You," the substantial parson said, while his gaze descended avalanche-like upon the insignificant person and induced him to cringe a little further in the direction of total invisibility. The substantial parson strode across the bar, wielding a sheaf of papers. "It is my duty," he rumbled, "to render an account concerning the population of this parish, in accordance with the Parliamentary Act for enumerating the population of Great Britain, and the increase or diminution thereof. I have the authority, vested in me by God, the King and Parliament. I have the necessary forms. And you," he addressed the insignificant person, upon whose vicinity he now encroached with terrifying portent, "you are the last remaining soul left unaccounted for, because you won't keep still. You will now remain motionless until the census is completed, otherwise I promise it will go hard with you at the next Harvest Festival."
"But I'm not the last remaining soul," protested the insignificant person. "Just look about you, sir; do you not see that the souls in this room alone number a dozen and more, and every one of them an absentee from your bureaucratic brief?"
"Is this true?" the substantial parson demanded of Hooligan Motts. "Have the denizens of this public house been avoiding the lawful census?"
"A lawful expedient from the days of Herod, for tax purposes," put in the insignificant person, with an insubstantial sneer; "previously attempted in England by the Frenchman, King William the Conqueror, and soon to prove a great convenience to the Frenchman, King Napoleon."

The substantial parson ignored him, and addressed Hooligan Motts. "Are you, or any of your customers, resident in this parish?"
"Only until closing time," said Hooligan Motts.
"And what of your families and servants?"
"We serve what's on the blackboard," said Hooligan Motts.
"But you must have families, somewhere," asserted the substantial parson, looking from Melon Head Myrtle, who liked a pregnancy now and then as long as it wasn't hers; to Malvolio Quabbage, who thought fathers, mothers and children the three best arguments in favour of universal sterilisation; to Granny Forbus, who looked straight back at him with little respect and less charity.

"Anyway," said the substantial parson after a few moments, blinking, "as I mentioned before, it is my duty before God and King to carry out this census on all residents of this parish. Wherever the rest of you may have come from, this creature here," he waved some of his substance at the insignificant person, who staggered against the resulting breeze, "shall not escape documentation."
"It will be the last of England," said the insignificant one.
"Nonsense," boomed the parson. "If Boney should choose to invade, it will be necessary to know how many householders can be called upon to resist, and how many can be abandoned as a price worth paying for freedom. Similarly, if Malthus is correct in his projections of population growth, our great men must be informed as to how many little men they can afford to keep."
"It is a blasphemy against the image of God," said the insignificant person to the Gallows and Glockenspiel at large, though his voice was virtually drowned by the noise of Hooligan Motts polishing a glass and Granny Forbus sucking her teeth.

The substantial parson seized the insignificant person by his understated collar, and proceeded without undue noise or effort to drag him towards the door.

"If any of you be resident in my parish, now or hereinafter," he proclaimed, "I'll be back." The door slammed behind him.

"Who was that?" said Granny Forbus.
"Closing time," said Hooligan Motts.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Relationship Problems

Great Britain is one and united,
And such it has been since year Dot.
To dance with the wogs we're delighted;
To marry them, certainly not.

Sometimes we will happily enter,
And sometimes we'll sulk and be grim.
Sometimes we are right at the centre,
And sometimes we're left on the rim.

One day with the French we'll be playing;
The next, with the Germans we're mates.
But mostly we're yapping and spraying,
And making cow eyes at the States.

With glories of Empire we're rampant
And ever upon the attack:
Our ardour shall never be dampened,
Nor yet our tumescence grow slack.

With British endeavour unceasing,
We've brought off the neatest of tricks:
Inventing a form of prick-teasing
Where teasing is done by the pricks.

To the Hun we shall never be cleaving,
Nor jump into bed with the Frogs;
But still we're not sure we'll be leaving
With nowhere to go but the dogs.

Dave Kipperniggles

Friday, March 08, 2013

You Can Weed a Horticulture, But You Can't Slake the Stink

News Corporation's spokesbeing on public health, Jeremy C Hunt, has registered his annoyance at the persecution of Serco and the failure of Section 75 by denouncing mediocrity in the NHS. Hunt praised the NHS for its excellence in adding spice to the Olympic opening ceremony, from which, as News Corporation's spokesbeing on culture, he apparently tried to remove it. Hunt's own most notable contribution to the Olympics, of course, was the famous backstage knee-trembler with Rupert himself, at which Hunt was doubtless informed about his new post as official demolition agent for Twizzler Lansley's newly vandalised Health Service. Despite Lansley's crude obstinacy and the Deputy Conservatives' routine treachery over the Health and Social Care Act, it seems one or two obstacles to complete twizzlerisation still remain; so now Hunt is worried that "the weeds of failure grow more quickly in a garden of mediocrity". This seems a little unfair. Quite aside from his own natural talents, Hunt is a cabinet colleague of Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Chris Graybeing; so a preoccupation with mediocrity is hardly to be wondered at. Nevertheless, if Hunt's career proves anything, it is surely that the garden of mediocrity includes the path to the magic money tree of patronage, given a sufficient supply of manure.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Free at the Point of Abuse

Those nice people at Serco have been doing what they do best, increasing their pre-tax profits by twenty-seven per cent while lying to the NHS and swindling the taxpayer. Serco falsified data two hundred and fifty-two times in order to disguise gaps in their rotas for doctors, nurses and call centre staff, though it is as yet unclear whether the staff shortages were a symptom of normal private-sector efficiency (see Network Rail, G4S etc.) or a result of funds being diverted to more deserving causes.

In other, entirely unrelated news, more than a fifth of the adult population are being distracted from their responsibilities towards the Osborne economic miracle because of a bizarre inclination to pander to the kind of people ATOS Healthcare is always finding fit for work. More than two million human resources have left employment, and almost three million have reduced their working hours, in order to lurk behind closed blinds providing free services to the kind of people whom Daveybloke likes to snigger about when he's poking fun at Ed Balls, and whom Aidan Burley's playmates would presumably like to see gassed. Of course, Daveybloke is planning to withdraw benefits from those who have the temerity to occupy rooms in houses; but given the Government's well-known philanthropic zeal, that is doubtless merely the start of yet another wonderful journey.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Venezuelan Spring

Pentagon feels a little safer today

Vicious Venezuelan dictator and demonic pineapple god Hugo Chavez has died after a 21-month battle with capitalism of the pelvis, it was reported today.

Like Adolf Hitler, Chavez ran for office after an unsuccessful coup attempt. As president, he craftily short-circuited the democratic process by repeatedly getting people to vote him into office.

Though popular with some Venezuelans, he alienated Fox News and flirted with existential threats Cuba, Libya and Iran in an attempt to surround and overwhelm the United States with demands for negotiation.

Chavez once referred to the much-elected US president George W Bush as "Satan", thereby inadvertently confirming his own membership in the Axis of Evil.

Widely condemned as a strongman, a show-off and a populist, Chavez leaves behind a doubtful legacy of rotting infrastructure and dependence on oil.

This has horrified Western leaders, whose concern for the welfare of the Venezuelan people is exceeded only by their horror of fossil fuels.

According to Western liberals, his death represents a chance for Venezuela to re-engage with the outside world and establish better relations with more bankable economies.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Concessions Free

Some campaigners from Hacked Off have had a meeting with Oliver Letwin, the weird little man who advises Daveybloke on making pratfalls look like policies, and have been advised that "wholesale concessions" are necessary in order to persuade the press barons and their hirelings to continue self-regulating in the manner to which they are accustomed. The Leveson proposals, which are necessarily a compromise between what Rupert Murdoch wants and the various resignations, public humiliations and acts of seppuku which natural justice demands, are therefore being compromised yet further; rather as if one were to photocopy a human being too many times until they faded into Nick Clegg. Given that the Government contains a number of high-level cast-offs from the Murdoch empire, it seems likely that Letwin was understating the matter and that the concessions are not so much wholesale as free of charge. Hence, some uncharitable persons from Hacked Off have accused the Government of selling out to the press barons, which may be a little unjust. One does not accuse the monkey of selling out to the organ-grinder just because he has to jabber and grin a little in return for being allowed to keep his nuts.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Covered With Dignity

From out the Palace comes the Sound,
Which Trembles Trees and Shakes the Ground
As, with a Dreadful Animation,
A Mighty Rumble stirs the Nation.

John Bull, his Wife and Children too
Stand round and wonder, What to Do?
What Englishman can Play the Game
With No-one Visible to Blame?

What is the Cause? What can it Be?
More Ructions of Economy,
Or does a Final Migrant Boat
Mean England cannot stay Afloat?

At last there Comes an Awful Roar,
Which Batters down the Palace Door;
Out spills a Tidal Wave of Brown,
Which Bears aloft th'Imperial Crown.

Far off into the Fragrant Sea
It sweeps John Bull and Family;
It Batters Britain Passing sore,
And Drowns above a Million More.

The Press, assembled Hereabout,
Give Voice to Patriotic Shout:
"Gawbless her Heart and Other Bits:
Her Majesty has got the Shits!"

Regina Saxe-Gutzenbug

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Probably Not Future Strivers

Given the way Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition treats real children once their parents fall below a certain income bracket, it should come as no surprise that its promises on the treatment of problem children have been kept much in the manner of Daveybloke saving the NHS. Doubtless owing to the weather, the Euro-wogs or the last Labour government, children in custody are routinely being subjected to humiliation and, arguably, sexual abuse. During the lifetime of the coalition to December 2012, over forty thousand strip-searches were carried out, with contraband items being discovered in fully eight out of a thousand cases. The contraband in question was most commonly tobacco, which ought to please the former Minister of Justice, Kenneth Clarke; in no case were illegal drugs or knives found. Two years ago, the Youth Justice Board announced that the practice would stop, and gave out a press release full of sensitive noises about inmates' "feelings of anger, humiliation and anxiety"; but children in institutions don't own banks or newspapers.

Saturday, March 02, 2013


Richard Powell 2011

A twenty-three-minute short from Zach Green's production company Fatal Pictures, Familiar opens with a series of family scenes. John Dodd, a bejowled forty-five-year-old played superbly by Robert Nolan, is shown lying next to his wife, taking breakfast with wife and daughter, driving wife and daughter in the car, engaging in desultory supper-table conversation about his wife's unappreciative employers, and receiving some important family news in the marital bed. These scenes are riveting and nerve-racking, because over them we hear Dodd's thoughts about his family, his wife the prison warder and his daughter the parasite, his fantasy of escape, and the obsessive depths of his hatred and desperation.

The horror of Dodd's predicament is depicted very adroitly. The wife and daughter, played by Astrida Auza and Cathryn Hostick, are given no characterisation beyond the dowdy self-centredness which is all Dodd's merciless gaze detects in them; hence we empathise with his wish to be rid of them while becoming increasingly nervous about how he might manage it. When Dodd's wife tells him a baby is on the way, his plans for flight are ruined: tragically, he is too normal and middle-class (and perhaps, in his own convoluted way, too decent) to simply run out. With secrecy and ruthlessness, he deals with the problem; but an unforeseen complication arises, first signalled with admirable subtlety when the subject of his internal monologue changes from I to we.

There are many such touches. On a couple of occasions Dodd's corrosive glance flicks momentarily towards the camera, as if the viewer were just another of his psychological burdens. Appropriately, Familiar gains a good deal of mileage from subverting its audience's likely expectations of a familiar, family-values horror film. After an extraordinary scene in which Dodd suffers qualms, then confronts his second self in the bathroom mirror and is ordered to yield control, the screen blacks out and Dodd is next shown in bed with blood on his face. As it turns out, the blood is not that of his family, and he begins to discover that birth control is not necessarily a simple matter.

Finally, Dodd is driven physically to separate himself from his demon; but even here the gruesome visuals are abetted by the verbal wit of Richard Powell's script ("you don't understand what you've gotten yourself into") and Nolan's voiceover, whose tone shifts constantly between the worst aspects of fatherly, elder-brotherly and man-to-man: now snide, now patronising, now nagging, now bullying. The coda is restrained yet grim, suggesting that Dodd's attempt to rip the monster out of himself means only that it will continue to haunt the survivors from a new hiding-place.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Cavity Search

The narrow and misshapen emptiness which passes for the soul of the Conservative Party will doubtless be the subject of a long and arduous search in the wake of the Eastleigh fiasco, in which the hard-right vote was split between UKIP and a UKIP-manqué Conservative candidate whose handlers were, for the most part, afraid to let her out in case she went and said something. The achievement of second place by UKIP, the stupid party for the Stupid Party and the Nasty Party's nasty party, has caused such consternation that Eleanor Laing, an ally of the late Foreign Secretary Adam Werritty, is worried that Daveybloke's ever-more-decrepit moderniser's mask is starting to hurt people's feelings. "Social change should come about by evolution, not by diktat from the top of government," whined Laing on BBC Radio, barely a breath after gushing over such painlessly gradual social changes as the Bullingdon Club's unilateral abolition of Europe, their assault on immigrants and the poor, and the continuing project to kick education back into the 1950s. Meanwhile, Daniel Hannan noted that "the two right-of-centre parties between them got more than half the vote but the Lib Dems won the seat with less than a third of the vote". The problem is that "an essentially Eurosceptic electorate keeps returning essentially Europhile majorities to parliament", which may one day lead to a terrible irony and a terrible situation whereby the coveted referendum on seceding from the Euro-wogs fails to take place. It is unclear whether Hannan, the MEP who referred to the National Health Service as a sixty-year mistake, is equally concerned that an essentially pro-NHS electorate keeps returning essentially privatising majorities to parliament; but his new-found enthusiasm for coalition and proportional representation is intriguing.