The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ladies' Night

The time is come around again
To chuck the gongs at sundry folk:
Reward the fillies and the men
Who've helped Big School and Daveybloke.

We Bullingdons are modern men;
Our attitudes are well-updated,
And yet it seems, now and again,
The ladies get a bit frustrated.

Dear charming girls, we share your grief;
Donors with tits, we are not blind.
We've worked to give you some relief,
And show our manners are refined.

The list is large, the list is fat,
The list's a rich and rancid mix;
And it's the first one ever that
Includes as many holes as pricks.

Calm down, dear; do not be a bore
About these gongs for spivs and phoneys;
For this year we have many more
Contented cunts among the cronies.

Podger Blimpling

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sick Wogs Go Home

The Government's wog-oriented witch-hunt is to be fired up to new levels, with charges for foreigners who come over here to be ill instead of paying taxes. Having pledged to cut red tape in the health service, and having consigned the said pledge to convenient oblivion, the Conservatives and their little orange fags now plan to compensate by bestowing upon the NHS some of the red tape left over from the UK Border Agency. Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other people with too much time on their hands will be ordered to act as immigration control officials; since their services in this area will of course be free, the Department for Health Profiteering calculates that up to £500 million a year could be saved. Naturally, the Government's own report states that the estimate derives from "incomplete data, sometimes of varying quality, and a large number of assumptions", in the best tradition of the faith-based community at Westminster; while the chair of the British Medical Association claimed that the system could end up costing more than it saves, in the best tradition of the faith-based community at Westminster.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Everything is Going Down

The token female wog from Daveybloke's long-departed Cuddly Conservative days has provoked much trembling of jowls and wagging of dewlaps thanks to speculation that she may be working on a memoir. Sayeeda Warsi was co-chair of the Conservative Party (Lord Feldman, a white male chum of Britain's Head Boy, took care of the important bits), before suffering the humiliation of being replaced by Michael Green. Apparently Warsi, who is now minister of state for "Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, faith and the UN" and whatever other wog-stuff the coalition doesn't really care about, has taken to scribbling in cabinet meetings, much to the surprise of uncharitable persons such as myself who would never have thought she could manage joined-up writing. Nobody has told her to take minutes, so there is concern that Warsi may be making notes towards an embarrassing exposé of the Bullingdon Club and its chums. For his own part, Michael Green has proved just as loud-mouthed, thick-headed and incompetent as Warsi ever was, but nevertheless retains his cardinal virtue of being a white male wideboy whose presence doesn't cause too much discomfort among the chimpanzees on the back benches.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Onward in Unfluffiness

There is, it appears, a think-tank called Bright Blue, which seeks to persuade people that not all Conservatives are so intellectually retarded as to be foiled by goalpost-moving badgers and the like. I am not sure if Bright Blue's motto is "We aren't all Michael Green", but that seems to be the spirit of the enterprise. The head of Bright Blue is one Ryan Shorthouse, who has worked for such refined intellects as the university salesman David Willetts and the culture secretary, Maria "Show us yer price tag" Miller. In the present political climate, this apparently qualifies him as a moderniser; and Shorthouse has been wagging the finger at Britain's Head Boy over the anti-immigrant witch-hunt. "We didn't come into politics to clamp down on vulnerable people and benefit claimants," Shorthouse proclaimed; which, given the present policy of welfare reform through assisted suicide, certainly speaks volumes about the hard-headed realism that prevails at Bright Blue. Even if Britain's Head Boy did feel inclined to go back to hugging huskies and waving his dead child around for the next seventeen months, why would anyone believe him?

Indeed, Shorthouse and his colleagues appear to have taken quite literally all those sweet nothings which Daveybloke burbled at the electorate in the run-up to May 2010, even including the Big Society thingy which, according to Shorthouse, isn't all fluffy or liberal after all: "it actually means a lot to people and it is of incredibly deep concern to people - things around the safety of their children, the opportunities for their children". Things around - well, how unfluffy can you get? Anyway, Bright Blue will be publishing a "liberal Conservative manifesto" in April, to demonstrate things around the sort of rhetoric Bright Blue thinks the party needs to adopt. It will call for an increase in the minimum wage, and there will be a non-fluffy focus on things around schools, childcare and dementia. As for things around food banks, housing bubbles, workfare and the green crap, they just need to be advertised a bit better.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Somewhat Disconnected

A poll showing the reasons why people do not vote has provided the Bullingdon Club with a bit of festive fun by opportunifying them to push the ridiculous Chloe Smith out into the traffic again. Once the Chancellor's human shield on Newsnight, a task for which she was inadequately briefed and in which she failed miserably, Smith has now been shunted into the post of minister for electoral reform; which, since her party is patently opposed to electoral reform, perfectly demonstrates just how seriously it takes her.

The poll in question shows that people are most likely to be put off voting by perceptions that politicians are likely to break their promises, and that they are crooks and liars. Imagine that. Perceptions that politicians are all the same, or that they fail to represent exactly the voters' own views, are somewhat less significant; and the number of people who are put off by the inconvenience of voting or registering is minuscule. Accordingly, Smith responded with the standard New Labour public-relations cant: "We have to demonstrate what politics is for", because that high and holy purpose has not yet been spelled out in big enough letters for the proles to see their masters in an appropriately worshipful light.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not What Churchill Fought For

Yet another foreigner with a funny name has attacked British sovereignty by criticising the coalition's witch-hunt against refugees and asylum seekers. The office of the UN high commissioner for refugees has expressed concern that attempts to deal with the phantom problem of benefits tourism will lead to discrimination against vulnerable people. It is not entirely obvious what fun or profit there is supposed to be in discriminating against non-vulnerable people; but evidently such profound ethical questions are of little concern to the treacherously twisted, funny-named foreigner mentality.

The Home Office, which generally refuses to comment on specific cases unless they make for good copy in the Daily Mail, extruded a spokesbeing to quote Mark Harper, the hapless flunkey last seen defending the farcical Powellite Pantechnicon Programme; which shows just how seriously the Home Office takes the UN high commissioner for refugees. For its own part, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition has no problem with bashing refugees or asylum seekers, but expressed mild concern in case British citizens should be mistaken for wogs. Doubtless some bright new idea (a one-nation national identity card scheme, perhaps) is in the offing to prevent such misfortunes. It is as yet unclear whether the Conservative Party has any plans to secede from the United Nations on the grounds of un-British human rights.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Good Homosexual

Chris Graybeing, the Minister for Justice and Heterosexual Hostelry, has announced a posthumous royal pardon for Alan Turing, who was convicted of "gross indecency" on traditional Christian grounds in 1952. Turing was a mathematician who contributed to the victory of Winston Churchill and the Conservative Party in the Second World War and who, as an afterthought, was a significant pioneer in computer science. Graybeing, of course, gets along nearly as well with gay people as his brilliant colleague Iain Duncan Smith does with mathematics and IT; and the gritted-teeth wording of the announcement, "a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory", sparkles with the coalition's customary generosity of spirit. Nevertheless, there is a bright side: fifty thousand lesser men, who were similarly persecuted during the twentieth century, will have to wait a little longer for the establishment to forgive them.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Purpled Sepulchre

Now that the shopping is more or less done, Britain's Head Boy has ordered Nick to root about a bit in Downing Street's copy of the Gove Bible, and has had a bit of a burble unto the proles about how much nicer it is to pay the bedroom tax than to receive social security. Daveybloke burbled about some nice things Isaiah said about Tony Blair, which were set to music by Handel because Cliff Richard wasn't available at the time: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." This past year, of course, Daveybloke himself aspired to that last title by flogging weapons in the Middle East and trying to bomb Syria; and his speech-writers took care not to forget the brave little chaps who have helped bring the nation of Afghanistan to its present elevated state.

Daveybloke also commended those who are being good neighbours by spying for the DWP; those who are running clubs and voluntary associations like the Taxpayers' Alliance and the Press Complaints Commission; and those who labour to support the weak so that the Bullingdon Club can trample them with ever more impunity. After half a dozen launches, each more abortive than the last, it appears that Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is finally taking shape: a major world economy in which refugees are reviled and where the Red Cross is needed to keep people fed.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Are You Happy In Your Work, Little Prole?

Britain's workplaces have become small paradises of equality and tolerance since the Government's introduction of fines for talking back. Claims against employers for unfair dismissal have fallen by 55%, thanks in large part to the price which the Government extracts from anyone who dares to complain. It now costs £160 to launch a basic claim and £230 to gain a tribunal hearing; and naturally, when the complaint is something trivial, time-wasting, red-tapey and European the price rises even further. Cases of unfair dismissal, sexual or racial discrimination, and sackings for whistleblowing are punishable by fines of £250 for launching a claim and £950 for requesting a tribunal hearing. According to the Government's Duncan Smith logic, it is self-evident that anyone who cannot afford to bring a case has no case; and if the number of complaints is dropping then conditions must clearly be improving. Of course, unions and lawyers and other troublemakers are making noises about the legality of the whole idea; but such petty mundane concerns are unlikely to bother Chris Graybeing, the Minister of Justice and Heterosexual Hostelry, or his glamorous new sidekick Simon Hughes.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Impudent Bulgar

Some foreigner has been lecturing Britain's Head Boy over Britain's immigration debate (or, in Standard English, Westminster's immigration hysteria). The president of Bulgaria also took it upon himself to lecture Daveybloke upon the lessons of history (the same Daveybloke who employs Michael Gove) and to tell the former public-relations office boy that "politicians are judged by what they do and not by what they say".

The president of Bulgaria seems to think Daveybloke has made an error of judgement by taking his policies from UKIP and the Daily Mail; he even seems to think the coalition's policies have something to do with Bulgarians. In fact, Bulgarians themselves are as relevant to the likes of Lynton Crosby and Theresa May as poor people are relevant to the brilliant Duncan Smith's welfare reforms: they may get chewed up in the machinery, but they would be naïvely arrogant to consider themselves the main focus of attention. The point of a good witch-hunt is not primarily to destroy the witches, but to unite the mob. Clearly the president of Bulgaria, who was elected to office on a mere fifty-two per cent of the vote, has little idea of the intricacies of British democracy, whereby the Bullingdon Club romped home on thirty-six per cent.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

She's got a gob to beat all gobs;
She's open with her goals.
She thinks four hundred thousand jobs
Can feed two million proles.
She's certain Art is very nice
Because it has a market price -
She's Tory and she's tawdry and she's gabby.

The orphans of the hacking storm
Were waiting in the cold;
Maria thought it rotten form,
And gave them all a scold:
What horrible destructiveness
To flout the Murdoch-Dacre Press!
She's barmy and she's batty and she's crabby.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
Just try it, and the best of British luck.
How do you find a term that means Maria?
As hobnailed boots? As two short planks? As muck?

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her;
Many a thing she ought to understand;
But how do you make it plain
Enough for her size of brain?
How do you fit the thought into the gland?

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you stop her head from going south?
O how do solve a problem like Maria?
How do you get that foot from out the mouth?

Bodgers and Hammersledge

Friday, December 20, 2013

Protecting Our Values

A Libyan dissident has been denied leave to sue Jack Straw and MI6 over his alleged abduction, along with his pregnant wife, and his torture by some employees of the Reverend Tony's former chum, Colonel Gaddafi. The judge said that the case was "potentially well-founded", which presumably is what counted most against it, since the grounds for dismissal were that the national interest might be damaged. Despite Daveybloke's recent grovel towards Beijing, damage to the national interest remains the favoured Newspeak term for embarrassing to the Americans; it seems that MI6 were acting in collaboration with the CIA, presumably because one or other of them had nothing more important to do. Fortunately, yesterday's decision to abandon a judge-led inquiry in favour of a whitewash by the ISC will very likely help to keep the special relationship as productive and reciprocal as ever.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Full and Honest and Open and Transparent

An official inquiry into Britain's connivance in rendition (or, in Standard English, kidnapping and torture) has raised twenty-seven questions over the involvement of ministers and intelligence officers. The heads of MI5 and MI6 have each been given a month to formulate their denials and decide which rotten apples will be removed and what lessons will be learned; whereupon their answers will be submitted to the intelligence and security committee, the Press Complaints Commission of the spook world, which censors its reports according to the whims of the agencies it supposedly investigates.

Britain's Head Boy proclaimed, within a few weeks of prancing into Downing Street, that "I do not think for a moment that we should believe that the ISC should be doing this piece of work. For public confidence, and for independence from parliament, party and government, it is right to have a judge-led inquiry." Naturally, the situation has changed since then; and pending the statement's exile unto the Dark Web along with all those other pledges, the ISC chairman and mercenary contractor Malcolm Rifkind duly pronounced the intelligence and security committee thoroughly effective and effectively thorough. Accordingly, Daveybloke wheeled out his Old Expendable, Ken Clarke, to belch forth a few words of praise for Jack Straw, who as Foreign Secretary wrote to David Blunkett asking about the possibility of setting up a few black sites in Britain itself. Doubtless mindful of the perils of torture tourism, Blunkett wrote back saying that the difficulties involved in undermining the law sufficiently were too great even for New Labour.

Strangely enough, the Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair and its acolyte, the Other Miliband, apparently could not be reached for comment about their approaching exoneration.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Justice for Simon

As the world mourns the death of the incompetent petty crook Ronnie Biggs, the Bank of England has announced plans to change paper banknotes for plastic ones. Among the new notes will be a five-pound one featuring one of the more inept British chancellors of the twentieth century; the Bank has been tactful enough to keep its release until the year after the centenary of the Dardanelles campaign, in which the future inept chancellor displayed his ineptitude at the Admiralty.

Today is also the day on which the Deputy Conservative nothing-in-particular Simon Hughes was appointed to the Ministry for Profitable Justice. Possibly Hughes was given his little red box in order to help further the tattered remnants of the Deputy Conservatives' civil liberties agenda; or possibly Hughes gave up those same tattered remnants to Chris Graybeing in return for the chance of a few months' fagging for the Bullingdon Club. Churchill was also a notorious political turncoat, defecting from the Conservatives to the Liberals and back again for high and exalted reasons of self-interest; but I'm sure that isn't even a coincidence.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Putting the Economy Back Off Track

The Office for National Statistics, whose literalist approach to figures has caused so much inconvenience for the faith-based community in Whitehall, has massively engorged the evil public sector by re-classifying Network Rail as a government body, just because the taxpayers are liable for its losses. Apparently the ONS has not yet caught up to the fact that the taxpayers' function in modern Britain is to prop up private companies as well as, if not in preference to, public assets. In the short term, the re-classification may annoy the Chancellor, at least until he sells the railway network back to the public or throws it in as a free gift when Chris Graybeing's spankingly profitable new McJustice system is floated on the stock exchange. An empty suit at the Ministry for Motoring welcomed the change through its gritted sphincter and emitted the usual blather about value for money, though it tactfully omitted to specify whose money and whose value. Then again, the Chancellor has never shown much sign before of being annoyed when mere sums don't add up; so perhaps this latest thirty thousand million will vanish in the grease along with all the rest.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mission Accomplished

Rah rah, rule Britannia, praise be!
Afghanistan cleansed and made free!
The Taliban bested,
World peace unmolested -
Thanks to a few others and me!

Democracy? Unfair to task us.
Perfection? For that you can't ask us.
We've helped these poor lands,
And the terrorist bands
Are all on the road to Damascus!

Rah rah! We need fear no attack,
And now our brave boys can come back!
They'll be happy, I know,
To help Britain grow -
How soon can we give them the sack?

Podger Blimpling

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Employment Theology

One of the most prominent and, no doubt, one of the most endearing characteristics of the Christian churches is their eternal holy war for having their cake and eating it. Virgin births and resurrections must be taken as literal events; instructions to pull out one's eyes are merely harmless hyperbole. An Iron Age Jewish fundamentalist's order to take his message to all nations is and must be genuine; quite unlike that unfortunate if purely apocryphal incident when the Son of God inflicted capital punishment on a fig tree for failing to feed him at a time when figs were not in season. The Saviour preached simplicity, humility and poverty; which was clearly entirely consistent with the Church's later enthusiastic leap into bed with the Roman Empire.

This radical intellectual honesty continues into the present day, notably in the Anglican church's attitude to Mammon and the Catholic church's attitude to sexual abuse. A Scottish priest, who says he has been trying for seventeen years to get action taken against a fellow priest who assaulted him and others, is now claiming unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. The Church authorities have responded that priests are not employees, although it seems they can be reprimanded and fired like any other striver turned scrounger. In 2005 the House of Lords upheld the case of a Church of Scotland minister against her superiors, who argued that she was employed by God; and a ruling was made this year that an employment tribunal could hear the case of a minister in the Church of England, whose contract is presumably shared between God and the Queen. Apparently there is some doubt as to whether the Bible's injunctions about the obedience of servants are entirely metaphorical.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Disturbing Discovery

One of Michael Gove's temples of worker-consumer training is to be closed next April, having been rated inadequate last May and shown no improvement since. The brilliant Gove policy of allowing schools to use unqualified teachers has apparently led to the school using unqualified teachers; which has somehow resulted in pupils not being properly taught. They'll be puzzling over that one for a while. Still, as a colleague of Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Green and suchlike entrepreneurs of creative counterfactuality, Gove will be proud that the school used the name of Montessori despite refusing to go through the accreditation process or commit itself to hiring accredited teachers. This was not illegal because the name Montessori is not a registered trademark, and therefore lacks the educative and moral weight that goes with Macdonald's, Centrica or News Corporation.

The New Schools Network, which supports groups in applying to join the Gove free-for-all, dismissed the closure as a rare one-off involving a rotten apple we would all be better off without; while a spokesbeing for the Department of Gove said that state-funded schools were subject to less rigorous standards. Everyone agreed that they were thinking of the children.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Universal Credit: The Next Stage

The basket case formerly known as the Celtic Tiger is suggesting that its more expendable citizens should become expat workers in Europe or immigrants in the United Kingdom. The Dublin government, which has sent letters to about six thousand people tactfully suggesting that their country might be better off without them, insists that the social cleansing is purely voluntary, and has emphasised that even badly-paid work can come with a Mediterranean climate. Should Britain's coalition choose to emulate this shining example of the art of the possible in economic policy-making, the tone will doubtless be less indulgent; perhaps vans can be driven through areas of high unemployment to name and shame selected shirkers, always assuming that there is no objection from the private companies running the probation service, the prison service and other profitable means of garbage disposal.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Feet First

Some underlings at the Department of Workfare and Privation have been making apologetic noises, presumably in the hope of distancing themselves from the political, intellectual and informational train wreck that is the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith. (An ethical train wreck too, of course; but to speak of ethics at this stage of the proceedings would be little more than an exercise in bad taste.) The benefits director at the DWP said that the business of making social security payments to terminally ill people had not been "up to scratch"; translated into Standard English, this means that claims which used to be processed in eight to ten days can now take eight to ten weeks. This is very convenient in weeding out the non-shirkers, who are occasionally considerate enough to die before any payments have been made; but it hasn't been very good for public relations, and the charitable sector has put in a few complaints on slightly different grounds to the standard Labour criticism that the régime isn't harsh enough.

Meanwhile Mike Penning, Daveybloke's afterthought for the disabled, has been having a bit of a bluster about kicking the bureaucrats into shape. Penning claims to want payments made to the deserving dying within seven days; indeed, Penning claims to be quite passionate and moral about the whole affair, though not quite passionate or moral enough to introduce official targets binding his department to the requisite time-scale. The Government does not care for targets when payments are being made; only when they are being cut. Still, Mike Penning says it's a moral position, and Mike Penning is a Conservative minister in a department run by the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith; so everything should be fixed in no time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Meaningful Sacrifice

"Now Tommy, do not fail or fear;
For should it happen that you die,
While greater men about you lie
Your memory will persevere."

"Over the top we go, my son,
With all the bravest British boys!
The King must have his pretty toys
Protected from the beastly Hun!"

Our British Tommy fights and dies
With England's glory in his death;
And gurgles, with his final breath:
"Three cheers for private enterprise!"

Huckster Blimp

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Go-Co A No-No

The empty suit which replaced Adam Werritty at the Ministry of Wog-Bombing has evidently decided against becoming the new Twizzler Lansley, at least for the moment. Philip Hammond had planned to privatise the armed services' procurement agency, bestowing responsibility for equipping our brave boys upon the sort of nice, reliable people who charge the taxpayer for tracking non-existent criminals and who had to be rescued from their commitments at the Olympics by employees of the evil public sector. Like Twizzler Lansley, the empty suit was prepared to push through the profiteers' agenda in defiance of all petty objections from those who actually knew anything about the problems involved; unlike Twizzler Lansley, the empty suit was prevented from carrying out a truly comprehensive act of vandalism by the withdrawal from the bidding process of all the willing providers save one. The empty suit has now decided that certain risks are too big to take, even when our brave boys are taking them for the likes of Philip Hammond; and he will instead content himself with "streamlining" the existing arrangement, presumably by sacking a few expendables to try and claw back the £7.4 million he admits to having wasted.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Devilish Doings

Certain pious folk in the Christian state of Oklahoma have placed a privately-funded monument in the grounds of the state's capitol building, and have thereby brought about some constitutional debate over how much the devil may be due. The monument is to the Ten Commandments, in case there is anyone in Oklahoma City who doesn't know about them; and given the continuing peril of Christianity it should come as no surprise that the godless communists of the American Civil Liberties Union have already filed a lawsuit seeking to have the sacred object removed. However, the Satanic Temple has taken a more constructive view, and has declared its intention to submit a design for another monument in "homage to the historic/literary Satan". At least one Oklahoma legislator has already reacted as one would expect from a Republican faced with the mention of history and literature in a single sentence: "I think these Satanists are a different group," said Bobby Cleveland, who presumably believes in a god who begot and then had crucified an Iron Age Palestinian apocalypse-monger with a penchant for circus tricks; "You put them under the nut category."

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Moral Restraint

The House of Claimants, having set up an independent authority to regulate the pay of MPs, is now reverberating with indignant eructations because that authority has awarded MPs an unpolitical pay rise. Before the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was set up, the usual practice was to avoid politically awkward pay increases in favour of inflated expenses claims, rather like publicity-conscious bankers refusing bonuses and then hiking up their salaries. As well as the pay increase, IPSA also proposes a reduction in pensions, which it claims will keep the net cost of our Mother of Parliaments within the present bargain-basement parameters. Naturally, all two and a bit of the main parties are frothing with indignation at the idea that an independent authority should have the gall to make an independent judgement, particularly when this same authority was set up by themselves for that very purpose. Pompous oafs like Philip Hammond and desperate pipsqueaks like Danny Alexander have already pledged to refuse the pay increase in solidarity with the proles they have been fleecing, much as Ronnie Biggs might refuse a complimentary rail ticket out of compassion for injured train drivers. Whether they also plan to refuse the concomitant pension restrictions is as yet unclear.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Colin Wilson

The death of Colin Wilson, as a spring chicken of eighty-two, will have surprised nobody more than himself. The basis of his philosophy, so far as I can discern it, was that optimism is truer than pessimism because it feels better; that the universe, having produced George Bernard Shaw and then, in relatively short order, Colin Henry Wilson, must be a rather jolly place; that human beings have vast reservoirs of as yet untapped psychic potential; and that, given sufficient mental discipline, a man might become anything he wanted and live as long as he wished.

Wilson wrote The Outsider at twenty-five, became a best-seller, and promptly stopped developing. In his preface to an anniversary edition of Religion and the Rebel decades later, he stated that the only possible improvements he could make to the latter would be in the vocabulary (the word "Outsider" came in a bit too much, he thought). He ascribed his lack of acceptance by British academia to the fact that he never attended a university; that may have been so, but it is also a fact that far too much of his massive output was sloppy, superficial and, from an alarmingly early stage, outright silly.

In The Strength to Dream Wilson took on modern literature, analysing various authors including Lovecraft, Graham Greene, Beckett, Nathanael West and others, and sometimes taking as many as five or six pages to discuss their entire career and then dismiss them for not being cheerful enough. Significantly, his analysis of Lovecraft proclaimed "The Shadow out of Time" a failure as a horror story because its alien civilisation is revealed as comparatively benign; Wilson missed completely the real horror in the novella, namely that (to put it in New Existentialist terms) the universe is rather bigger than Colin Wilson. Religion and the Rebel dealt with various thinkers, and in a fine example of psychological projection dismissed Bertrand Russell and Arthur Koestler as "clever schoolboys".

The Occult was an engaging look at mystical figures, including Blavatsky, Crowley and Gurdjieff; but its tendency to take such figures' achievements at their disciples' valuation led to the disaster of Mysteries. The thesis of Mysteries was that humanity is on the verge of a great evolutionary leap, anticipated in the present by the emergence of abilities such as precognition, telekinesis, thought-reading and so forth, which Wilson lumps in together as a hypothetical "Faculty X." The book as a whole is a massive catalogue of paranormal anecdote, but it offers no evidence on the reliability of its sources and explores no alternative explanations for the phenomena discussed. The incidents prove the presence of Faculty X, and the presence of Faculty X proves the truth of the incidents; and this from a man who preached that religious truth ought to be "glorified common sense" and whose childhood heroes were scientists.

This is all the more disheartening because Wilson was often a very good writer. If he lacks the social conscience of his idol Bernard Shaw, he is also mercifully free of the patronising waggishness which makes so many of Shaw's prefaces so worthy of being thrown across a room. Wilson's discussions of books he enjoys are perceptive and concise, and he deserves credit for his efforts to bring brilliant, eccentric writers like David Lindsay and E H Visiak to a wider audience. Any work of literature with a Wilson introduction is probably worth reading, and the edition of The Strength to Dream which I read was almost redeemed by a long and interesting essay on the work of Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Another long essay on Hermann Hesse is well worth a look; I think Wilson claimed to be the first to analyse Hesse in English, only to be ignored by respectable critics. Then again, he also claimed to have introduced Lovecraft to British readers, which S T Joshi has exposed as delusional at best.

Wilson's foolish comments on Lovecraft drew a response from the latter's friend and posthumous publisher, August Derleth, challenging Wilson to try writing something in the Lovecraftian vein. The result was The Mind Parasites, one of the few mythos books to play with the spirit of Lovecraft's work rather than the props. A later Lovecraftian novel, The Philosopher's Stone, is Wilson's modest attempt at "the definitive novel of time travel". Although highly readable, it is a ludicrous mish-mash, incorporating science fiction, disquisitions on positive thinking, and theories about the authorship of Shakespeare, who apparently is no great shakes in any case. The Philosopher's Stone does have a superb sequence near the end, about an ancient Lovecraftian civilisation, which is worth any hundred pages of the rest; a loosely connected novella, "The Return of the Lloigor", starts off well with an academic discovering that the Voynich manuscript is the Necronomicon, but loses its momentum and ends in anticlimax. Consciously or otherwise, it also echoes Lovecraft's racism, which in this case is applied not to blacks, Hispanics or Poles, but to the Welsh. In the non-fiction Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, incidentally, Wilson ascribed the lateness of the Russian Revolution to "laziness" in the Slavonic character.

Wilson interested himself in crime, particularly in sex-murders and serial killers (he compared Lovecraft to Peter Kürten, whose literary career seems to have eluded most people); and doubtless the tidal wave of true-crime books which he produced, introduced and edited helped keep the wolf from his door once serial killers became fashionable. Like a number of mystics, Wilson placed a certain importance on sex as a transcendent experience, at least for the male; Wilson's women divide quite neatly into the beddable and the non-beddable, with nothing much left over, and in Ritual in the Dark Wilson's mouthpiece asserts that women, like homosexuals, don't make very good thinkers. Sex and serial murder were the subjects of three of his best books, the "Sorme trilogy" comprising Ritual in the Dark (a fictionalised version of The Outsider with a bit of Jack the Ripper thrown in), The God of the Labyrinth (a literary detective story about Sorme's investigation of an eighteenth-century rake) and Man Without a Shadow (also regrettably known as Sex Diary of a Metaphysician, about Sorme's encounter with a Crowley-like religious leader). In addition, he wrote Lingard, also known as The Killer, a novel in which the serial murderer is the central figure, which may be the most unremittingly bleak thing he ever produced. I read it a long time ago and don't remember much about it, except that I was impressed.

These works were interspersed with pot-boilers in various genres, such as the bland detective story The Schoolgirl Murder Case, the daft science fiction novel The Space Vampires, and The Black Room, which starts as an intriguing look at the effects of sensory deprivation but ends up going nowhere much. I have not read Wilson's Spider World series of science fiction novels, or any of his later non-fiction; but it seems he became ever more stridently credulous, and one of his last books apparently speculated in all seriousness that the continent of Atlantis was inhabited by telepathic Neanderthals. He died, presumably, neither sadder nor wiser.

Friday, December 06, 2013

See This Elbow, Rubbed Upon Him

The global economy received a small but noticeable boost today as the speechwriter industry bubble expanded to the proportions of a fast-spinning gas giant. US President Obama, whose political ascent from Nobel peace laureate to common terrorist mirrors the career of Mandela, paid tribute to the great man's influence upon himself, and humbler spirits followed in his wake.

Our own Daveybloke, whose spiritual granny Margaret Thatcher was an assiduous supporter of P W Botha, had a bit of a burble about Mandela being "a legend in life and now in death," much like one of those rock stars whose names may usefully be dropped when one is posturing for the prole vote. At the very least, Mandela had the good grace never to apply for asylum in the United Kingdom; which will certainly help reconcile the Conservative Party to his memory and may one day even be thought to compensate for his consistent emphasis on national reconciliation rather than on blaming poor people. Gordon Brown paid tribute to Mandela's magnanimity, fortitude, courage and general lack of resemblance to Gordon Brown; while among Britain's religious leaders, the Reverend Blair praised Mandela for once having worked closely with the Reverend Blair.

As for me, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Mental Incapacity

Religious freedom is once again under attack: the court of appeal has ruled against the faith-based community at the Department of Workfare and Privation. The court upheld a previous ruling that the fitness-for-work test discriminates against people with learning difficulties, mental health problems and autism, despite such people being nearly as handy as immigrants for generating healthy debate in the scumbag press. A judicial review is also underway, but the Government has no intention of bothering its henchmen at ATOS Healthcare just when winter's coming on. The brilliant Iain Duncan Smith did not comment, being too busy sharing a smug with George Osborne, whose autumn statement of self-congratulation has kept the headlines away from both the court's judgement and the ongoing Universal Credit fiasco. Nevertheless, a spokesbeing was extruded to proclaim that "significant improvements" are being made, and that day-to-day persecution of the disabled will continue as usual because the judgement is a bit complicated.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

No News is Good News

It appears that the filthy old woman in Britain's Home Office is not the free world's only martyr to people who refuse to eat. The authorities at Guantánamo Bay have announced that they will no longer reveal how many prisoners are on hunger strike. As one would expect, Guantánamo's motto is "safe, humane, legal, transparent detention", and apparently there are worries that the prison's hard-earned reputation for humanity and legality may be undermined by too much transparency. With one PR man for every eight and one-fifth detainees, it might be thought that the honour of the institution was at least as safe as that of the British Conservative Party; but asymmetrical warfare is a perverse and unpredictable business. Navy Commander John Filostrat, who heads the prison's public-relations team, proclaimed that issuing bulletins on hunger strikes "serves no operational purpose and detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of detainees and the safety and security of our troops." It is as yet unclear how many American troops have been killed as a result of too much news about Guantánamo hunger strikers; let alone whether that number bears any resemblance to the number of hard-working families who have suffered as a result of the Home Office being soft on asylum seekers.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Law and Order

Among the many in whose human rights Daveybloke has no interest are three Chinese activists on trial for demanding government transparency. The Chinese government has made lots of noises about cracking down on corruption but, rather like Britain's Head Boy and his little orange chums, appears to believe that noises are enough. The main charge is "unlawful assembly"; the trial is being held in a secret court; and the daughter of one activist claims that a dozen or so witnesses for the defence were detained or arrested before the proceedings started. No doubt the Minister for Justice and Heterosexual Hostelry, Chris Graybeing, will be pumping Daveybloke thoroughly for all the juicy details as soon as Britain's Head Boy, a delightful day-glo puce with envy and admiration, returns from his little sales tour.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Davey's Chill Axing

Government advisers, of course, tend to be scientists and civil servants and other disreputable sorts; so it is predictable that the greenest government ever should be suffering calumny over its latest panic measures to stem the flow of green crap. The Deputy Conservative doormat at the Department for Energy Cartel Consolation has announced a tangle of measures whose exact details will not hit the back of an envelope until January, but which the Government evidently hopes will stop all talk of an energy price freeze by instead freezing those who pay. Excess deaths rose by nearly a third last winter, and the Government is trying to build on these encouraging results by backtracking on its home insulation policy. This will keep the energy companies happy (although the chief executive of one company has already complained because the wrong levies have been cut), and the happiness will doubtless be passed on to surviving consumers at the cartel's pleasure and discretion.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Thick and Thin

Despite being run by Theresa May, who on her best days rivals the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith in both intellectual eminence and compassionate Conservatism, the Home Office has botched the deportation of Ifa Muaza, a Nigerian asylum seeker who has been on hunger strike for a hundred days in a calculated and malicious attempt to embarrass the Government. Despite Muaza being ruled unfit for detention, let alone deportation, the minions of May bundled him into a private jet and flew him to Nigeria, only to be denied entry to the country's airspace. The plane diverted to Malta, where the minions of May had a squabble with the authorities over the use of the airstrip. Muaza is now back in Britain, the round trip having cost about a hundred thousand pounds which, to look on the bright side, is now forever safe from being spent on benefits or legal aid or qualified teachers or anything nasty like that.

It is of course virtually undisputed that Britain is full up, and has no more room even for the very thinnest dusky foreigner, who would in any case fatten up soon enough on health tourism and Jobseeker's Allowance. Nevertheless, the Home Office has handled the case with such blatant crudity that even some Liberal Democrats are raising objections; notably Sarah Teather, who is retiring at the next election and therefore has nothing to fear. The same cannot be said for Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, who have so far discreetly refrained from saying how much faster, cheaper and tougher they would have handled the matter.