The Curmudgeon


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Toughing It Out

Here is how Chris Graybeing, the Minister for Justice and Heterosexual Hostelry, is improving the prison system. According to his department's own figures, serious assaults, escapes and deaths in custody have all risen. A quarter of prisons have been given poor performance ratings, and the number of prisons where conditions are rated as being of official concern has risen by a hundred and thirty-three per cent. Graybeing is likely to be most concerned about the sixty-nine per cent rise in suicides, since he probably considers DIY death an unearned privilege, like reading or rehabilitation.

One aspect of the system has been doing consistently well: the probation trusts, which were all rated good or exceptional during the past year of operation. As of last month, Graybeing has abolished them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

We're Coming to Get You

Britain's Head Boy, having no more dead children to wave about, has been electioneering in equally tasteful fashion, by tagging along on a raid by the Wog Police. After the residents of a house had been removed, on suspicion of having failed to pay attention to Mark Harper's fragrant Powellite Pantechnicon programme, but before anything so quaint and old-fashioned as due process had occurred, Daveybloke and his best girl, Theresa May, toddled into the place and posed for a photo-op. Indignation resounded from several quarters, including Liberty, which denounced the stunt as "bad taste and constitutionally inappropriate"; Tom Watson MP, who wondered how far Britain's Head Boy had bothered adhering to the law; and the shadow Home Secretary, who joined her voice to UKIP's in complaining that the Government is still not being nasty enough to immigrants.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fury at Occult Boy Horror

In the confusion following the hacking scandal, News Corporation's brave warriors for truth have apparently misunderstood the sort of witch-hunt they are meant to be fomenting. The Sun, which is famously the most scumbag of Britain's numerous scumbag tabloids, was forced to defend itself today against charges that it has betrayed the clean-living legacy of Rebekah Brooks by publishing pictures of a semi-naked child alongside copy drawn equally from Cotton Mather and the Sunday Sport. In the absence of any real news (wars, immigrants, cricket, etc.), The Sun's front page screamed Boy, 4, has mark of devil, and featured unpixellated images of the unfortunate child and his doubtless concerned mother. A spokesbeing said that the story had already been published on Facebook and was provided by the boy's parents, which constitutes a self-evident justification under both Family Values and the snoopers' charter. Of course, it is just this kind of free speech and courageous investigative journalism that the fiend Leveson wishes to stamp out beneath his cloven hooves.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Reforming Characters

An NHS accounts worker has been convicted of funnelling money meant for cancer drugs into the hands of various smallish units of the private sector. Some of the money has been recovered, but the hospital in question is still more than three hundred thousand pounds short. It is fortunate that so many sick people these days are shirkers whose treatments can be cut back in the name of efficiency; otherwise the Minister for Health and News Corporation might very well be displeased. The fraudsters spent the money on such things as luxury shopping and mortgages, which epitomises their tragic underachievement. With a little less hedonism and a little more dead-eyed financial acquisitiveness, their scheme could probably have qualified as part of the Private Finance Initiative.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Behold Our Reproach

To what god shall we chant our little songs
Of penance? Put the little candles out,
Sing tragic little tunes, and do not doubt
To whom the role of moral guide belongs.

The Church that called on men to go and fight
For Kingdom, Empire and the holy cause
Now hopes to expiate our human flaws
By chanting words and blowing out a light.

We must adopt no narrative, no blame;
Repent, instead, the frailty which can lead
To scapegoating, to murder, to the need
For Him who made us frail enough for same.

Rev. Sorbus Malbarb

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Checks and Balances

Doubtless with November in mind, the US House of Representatives has voted through a resolution against the President's sending of military advisers to Iraq in a "sustained combat role" unless he can first cajole Congress into authorising it. Congress is a little concerned that, over the past few years, it has ceded too much of its authority to the executive branch on the matter of killing industrial quantities of brown people. Nevertheless, the resolution is purely symbolic and does not have the force of law; so the re-accomplishment of George and Tony's mission is safe from Congressional meddling should the oil companies decide once more to exert their democratic will. In our own Mother of Parliaments, of course, the system is a little more rigorous, requiring the Prime Minister to persuade a simple majority of vassals, seat-warmers and expenses claimants that Western Civilisation is once again in peril.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Closing Time at the Gallows and Glockenspiel


At any given time, there are any number of establishments which claim the title of oldest pub in England. Some optimistic reckonings put the number as low as fifty-seven, and even many of those can be discounted for one reason or another.

The commonest fallacy is to assume that, just because a pub is in an ancient building, it can therefore be considered an ancient pub. The building which is now the Fiddler’s Arms in Gloucestershire, for example, was probably completed as early as the sixteenth century; but it went through successive incarnations as a lodgehouse, a threshing barn, a debtors’ prison, a school, an emporium for gentlemen’s undergarments and a roller disco before finding its present calling.

There is also the equal and opposite fallacy of assuming that the survival of a pub’s name is the same as the survival of the pub itself; and this despite the recent discoveries of semioticians and other heavy drinkers that the sign is by no means the same as the signed. In one sense, the Old Game Leg in Yorkshire has “survived” since the year 1487; but only in the sense that the name has been bestowed on half a dozen successive establishments which were built and demolished on more or less the same premises, though arguably even one of these does not count, on the grounds that it is slightly on the other side of the Pennines.

The oldest pub in England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom and probably the world is, in fact, the Gallows and Glockenspiel; which, thanks to its unique time-travelling facility, is also often the newest.

Although the Gallows and Glockenspiel has been present at any number of different times and locations since first being built, this does not invalidate its claim to antiquity, since the building, the barman and the regular patrons always remain the same. In this sense, of course, they are much like England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom itself, whose essential character has remained constant through many centuries of glorious history. The fact that the Gallows and Glockenspiel can travel through so many centuries, past and future, without changing its external appearance or exciting much notice among the locals is a testament to the homely continuity of British life and the steadfast calmness of the natives.

The means by which the Gallows and Glockenspiel travels are obscure, thanks either to the natural taciturnity of the barman, the lack of expertise in advanced physics among the regulars, or the unconstructive influence upon scientific research of dubious alcoholic beverages in large quantity.

Nor have the causes or purposes of these travels been satisfactorily researched, if indeed there are any causes or purposes to research. One hypothesis mentions half a dozen barrels of Swigler’s Old Malarkey being left in the cellar past their sell-by date, with fungal and chemical consequences possibly beyond the conceptions of modern science. Another hypothesis proclaims that the Gallows and Glockenspiel was originally built at some point in our future, after the invention of time travel, and that the pub will be intended all along as a device for exploring the centuries in their ever-developing, ever-continuing Britishness.

This last idea seems a plausible one, but it must be admitted that there is next to no evidence to support it. We do not even know whether the Gallows and Glockenspiel’s chronological voyages are deliberately steered, according to the subtle calculations of some guiding influence; or whether they really are the random, uncoordinated lurches about the space-time continuum which they in fact appear to be.

In a way, of course, such questions are secondary, and even irrelevant. The Gallows and Glockenspiel is undoubtedly a licensed establishment run for legitimate profit, and its motions through history and the future are not our business to judge. It behoves us only to stand and observe as the magnificent pageant of British history reveals itself to us through the thoughts and observations of ordinary drinking people.

Available as paperback or as PDF

Extracts all over the place

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What's Excruciating

Following on from recent research in Ohio and Oklahoma, the Christian state of Arizona has carried out another human experiment, with results that are just and humane according to the state governor. The object of the exercise was injected with drugs so humane that the Christian state of Arizona won't tell anybody where they came from, and took just under two hours to die, gasping for breath the while. At least one American jurist has argued that the lethal-injection method as a whole is "doomed to failure" and that people should accept brutal methods for a brutal process: “I personally think we should go to the guillotine, but shooting is probably the right way to go,” he said. The guillotine, of course, has unfortunate political connotations, being bound up with notions of liberté, egalité, fraternité to which most of the United States has long ago stopped pretending to subscribe. Shooting, on the other hand, has the virtue of simplicity (any high-school kid can do it), and the advantage that America is not as yet a net importer of guns and ammo.

“What I saw today with him being executed, it is nothing compared to what happened on August 7, 1989,” said the sister of one of those whose murder was expiated in today's experiment in payback. “What's excruciating is seeing your father lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying in a pool of blood.” As long as America is committed to the Christian values of blood vengeance and a life for a life, perhaps the way to go is simply to take Big Government out of the equation altogether, and give surviving relatives the chance to polish off the condemned for themselves.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another Slant on British Values

As an island nation with a world-famous culture, an imperial history and a writing system which can be mastered only by native speakers and masochists, Japan is of course different in every significant way from the United Kingdom of Westminster, London and the Other Bits. Doubtless this explains how some Japanese people managed to misinterpret the Gove History idea of pride in one's island story. A public monument dedicated to Koreans who were brought to Japan as forced labour was erected by a friendly society ten years ago; the inscription reads, in part: "We hereby express our determination not to repeat the same mistake by remembering and reflecting on the historical fact that our country inflicted tremendous damage and suffering on Koreans in the past." This sort of lefty breast-beating has no place under the revisionist government of Shinzo Abe, who has about as much time for regrets about racism and "comfort women" as the Gove-Ferguson™ model of history has for qualms over Nagasaki or the Third Battle of Ypres; and the local authority has ordered the offending monument removed. It is certainly a great pity that the lesser breeds never seem to learn the proper lessons from history. Meanwhile, the deplorable situation in the Middle East continues to be entirely the fault of selected local residents.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

They're Just Not Like Normal Human Beings

Although several hundred human shields have been rendered permanently inoperable to the terrorists of Hamas, a complication has arisen which may cause a cease-fire to be delayed. One of the Righteous State's defenders has gone missing and may have been captured; this of course does not happen in normal war zones, but only in those where a nuclear-armed occupying power faces an existential threat from small-arms and hand-made rockets. Similarly, unlike normal humane military powers of the kind that use nail-bombs against civilians, the genocidal fanatics of Gaza are prone to using captured soldiers in prisoner exchanges. The Righteous State has already lost several dozen lives through this latest escalation of the peace process; if the terrorists cannot observe even the most basic rules and usages of war, what possible hope remains of the master race not being unduly inconvenienced far into the future?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Anthropocene Stratum

Those tribes who hunted mammoth on great plains,
And those whose game now runs on little screens,
And those beyond our own oblivion
Are gathered unto this memorial stone,
Outlasting their small horrors and small hopes:
Brief pyramids or long-lived isotopes.
Humanity, for what it's worth, is here
Become this stripe of sediment, this smear.

Cliff Chipper

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Doing a Bang-Up Job

The Minister for Profitable Incarceration, Chris Graybeing, has discovered, much to his surprise, that if you close lots of prisons and fire the staff while continuing to imprison people, certain problems may result. Two thousand prison officers who were made redundant have been invited back on nine-month contracts to help the Government with its warehousing difficulties. The invitation refers to "particular short-term pressures" such as, presumably, the need to avoid too many major riots between now and the election, a little more than nine months away; and states: "Your previous governor has indicated that, in their opinion and based on your past service, we would be happy for you to join the Reserve." It is very considerate of prison governors to indicate what Chris Graybeing and his part-time, unpaid and not very bright flunkey in charge of prisons would be happy about, although the governors themselves seem to have forgotten making the assertion. For his own part, Sadiq Khan for Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition said that the Government had brought the crisis on itself by implementing New Labour policy too fast.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Congratulations on Your Recent Promotion

One beneficiary of Daveybloke's reshuffle thingy was Mark Harper, the former Home Office thug who was in charge of the squalid and idiotic Powellite Pantechnicon Programme. Harper contributed further to the gaiety of the nation when it was discovered that his own cleaner had not been given leave to remain in the country. Harper resigned, but has now been given a post in the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith's Department of Workfare and Privation, where his compassion, competence and expenses claims will doubtless come in handy.

Meanwhile, the illegal Britishness-diluter herself has been carted away from her daughter's wedding by fifteen Home Office henchmen and "a small number of regular police". Perhaps they were afraid that a wheelchair user would ambush them; but be that as it may, this particular skirmish in the crusade for British values is interestingly timed: not only in the petty Home Office vindictiveness of invading the wedding ceremony, but in its coming so soon after the promotion of Mark Harper. Are some old, fond colleagues marking his return to government with the Conservative Party's equivalent of a congratulatory strippergram?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Serious Enough

Britain's Head Boy has been doing the statesmanship thingy over the disaster in Ukraine. He has chaired an emergency committee meeting, wherein he was evidently informed that the incident was serious enough for a quick strut on the international stage, and he has come out huffing and puffing with moral indignation. The air crash is "absolutely shocking" and has brought about an "absolutely dreadful loss of life", and if a missile was indeed involved, "those responsible must be held to account". Britain's Head Boy has even rescheduled a meeting with all the shiny new drones and fillies in his cabinet, in order that he may instruct his fellow prefects in global Big School as to what must be done.

Two things, even at this early stage, are self-evident. Firstly, the air crash in Ukraine was not self-defence, nor a security overreaction, nor even a regrettably disproportionate response to an existential threat; and secondly, as one would expect from the foregoing, the dead are not from Gaza.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stability, Actually

The British government, whose dedication to stability and certainty is particularly noticeable in its attitude towards Europe, has dispatched a minor flunkey to lecture the Australians upon their lack of business acumen. The Australian government has just repealed its carbon tax, and also keeps its asylum seekers in a concentration camp run by G4S; so to a certain extent it resembles the way the Conservative right see themselves in their dreams, often, no doubt, before waking up in a dank little puddle of foetid public-school pleasure. Still, the minister for trade and investment had a finger or two to wag at the uppity colonials, while using the word actually a good deal and presumably winning hearts and minds all the way from Darwin to Tasmania. Contrary to British government policy, which mostly consists in sweeping reforms enacted by people who know nothing and care less about the sectors they are reforming, the minister actually argued for "a framework that will actually go beyond the next election so people know if they are actually going to make this investment, that the goalposts won’t change." As a representative of the greenest government ever, the minister also criticised "governments doing handbrake turns", thereby warning future Australian administrations against bringing back any of that nasty green crap.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Female Trouble Again

All three branches of the British Neoliberal Party have been criticised for rushing the snoopers' charter into law under the pretext of emergency legislation. The UN high commissioner for human rights has followed in the disreputable footsteps of Raquel Rolnik and Radisha Manjoo by presuming to tell the British government what may or may not constitute legally sound policy. Navi Pillay is a woman and looks like an immigrant, which no doubt explains her self-evident desire for plucky little Westminster to be swamped by terrorists, criminals and paedophiles even more than it already is. Daveybloke's Minister for Beer, Bingo and Slapping Down Uppity Foreign Females, Michael Green, has so far had nothing to say on the matter; perhaps because the powers which helped him survive the reshuffle have yet to remove the precautionary ball gag.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Toughest Decision

When looms the democratic fight
The wise man lurches to the right;
And when the Party fortune's poor,
And ratings bump along the floor,
And every kind of evil thrives,
Why, then 'tis time we take the knives -
So long, so shiny - from the rack,
To stick in many a colleague's back.
In general, and in the main,
This rule of thumb serves to explain
Why Ministers must come and go
Whether or not they will it so.
The brainy ones are glad to leave;
The badger-busters get the heave.

There comes a point, to some surprise,
When even Tories realise
That somebody (it pains to note)
Has gone and given girls the vote.
Nor are they swayed by waving willies;
So we have need of token fillies.
Now Paterson, his game is bust;
Let's have the green crap tied and Trussed.
To keep our schools at present peak,
There's Morgan the religious freak;
Esther McVey we can't avoid,
So let her kick the unemployed;
The Treasury can have Patel,
Who ticks the darky-box as well.

Preliminaries out the way,
Now to the business of the day.
Clarke, Hague and Willetts to their cars,
And let the door not bruise their arse.
The legal specialists may leave,
So Grayling has no need to Grieve.
To FCO the Hammond flunkey,
And in his place the Fallon monkey.
Penning had charge of cripples' beds,
So he can help the Met crack heads;
The Racist Van Man's thuggery
Is suited to DWP;
And Letwin will not fuss or squeal
If he can have the Privy Seal.

Well, that was simple; there remains
The one to really tax the brains.
It's quite a cunning task indeed,
To neutralise a poison weed;
And find some work that may behove
A Tessie-baiting turd like Gove.
Respected not, yet hardly loved,
Where can the little oik be shoved?
There is temptation, it is true,
To flush him down the peerage flue -
But wait, that's it! A sewage pipe!
The epitome of Tory type!
If ever gutter needed shit,
The Bullingdons' Chief Whip is it!

Crosby Pannick

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lucrum Omnia Vincit

The Christian state of Oklahoma has experienced seven earthquakes in twice seven hours. Apparently the tremors were not severe enough to count as divine retribution for failing to carry out enough human experiments on Death Row; so residents are looking for more mundane explanations. Scientists, who are always ready to stir up trouble in such matters, have raised the possibility of a connection to fracking, and several deluded citizens are already agitating for the rumblings to be quelled with a dose of big government. Corporations screwing the little people may be what made America great; but now the earth has moved.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moschinosodium Glutamac

An Italian couturier is turning out mobile phone cases in the shape of a carton of French fries. Moschino has signed an agreement with McDonald's which graciously permits the use of an oxymoron called "McDonald's intellectual property", which in this case consists of a colour scheme and a couple of arches; although, since the cases are "made of thick, spongey, bright red and yellow plastic", there may be some concern that McDonald's has also inadvertently given away some of its best recipes. In return for providing the advertisement which McDonald's has been lacking so badly these past decades, Moschino will be allowed to make a donation to "Ronald McDonald House Charities". Nevertheless, there is already some concern that cheap, flavourless fake McDonald's phone cases are proliferating, thereby undermining the authentic cultural significance of the original fashion statement; it is not as yet clear how vindictively McDonald's intends to intervene for the protection of its intellectual property.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Uncommonly Decent

All credit to Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, about whom I have had unfriendly things to say on several previous occasions. Formerly an opponent of assisted dying in line with Church doctrine, Carey has now changed his mind, having been moved by the case of Tony Nicklinson who died two years ago after losing a high-court case over the issue. "The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering," Carey wrote. It is not clear exactly how he squares the concept of needless suffering with the idea of a loving god without whose consent a sparrow cannot fall; nevertheless, a cleric who favours compassion over orthodoxy is a rare and praiseworthy creature.

Friday, July 11, 2014

To A Fallen Church

Let listen and attend, who has the ears:
The road is hard, and narrow is the gate.
Live like the lilies in their nature-state,
Put off mere earthly goods and earthly fears;
Then see how fast the path to Heaven clears,
And drop your fare in the collection plate.
(Reluctant travellers may contemplate
The moral force behind our legion spears.)

With this your holy message, your good news,
What solemn saint could keep a smirk at bay?
What honest sinner take this deathly cup?
This basement bargain, who could not refuse:
Your Father's mansion, sold into decay,
A paradise the Devil fled, fed up.

Rev. Sorbus Malbarb

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bad Atmosphere

Yet more fiendish foreign skulduggery is afoot in Brussels and/or Strasbourg. Air pollution levels in several British cities are projected to exceed Europe's merely legal limits until after 2030, five or ten years longer than was expected before the advent of the greenest government ever. Meanwhile, the greenest government ever has just published its latest estimates for emissions of nitrogen dioxide, which is killing proles in Greater London and also in some other places, like Yorkshire and the Midlands, which are not really London at all. Despite this, lawyers for the Euro-wogs have described the UK's non-compliance as "perhaps the longest-running infringement of EU law in history", and are agitating for the Government to be fined. This could deprive the British taxpayer of some three hundred million a year, which might otherwise be spent on worthier causes, like shale-fracking subsidies or G4S-run nursery schools; so clearly the Euro-wogs are being very fiendish indeed.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Puddles on the Paper Trail

Documents relating to the British government's role in the CIA's secret kidnap and torture programme appear to have suffered some discreet mutilations of their own. The Ministry for Wogs, Frogs and Huns claims that records of flights to and from Diego Garcia are "incomplete due to water damage". Diego Garcia, of course, is the Indian Ocean territory which was stolen from its inhabitants by the British so they could give it to the Americans to play with; its use for rendition flights was the catalyst for one of the Other Milibeing's numerous moments of political abjection, when he was forced to apologise for the Reverend Blair's customary disregard for mere earthly notions of truth. The files' regrettable state of involuntary hydraulic redaction has emerged at a rather delicate point, given recent revelations that a hundred and fourteen Home Office files seem to have walked away or fallen down the back of someone's sofa or been eaten by badgers. Were it not for the manifest inability of either ministry to organise two hands and a flashlight into an arse-finding conspiracy, one might be inclined to suspect that something fishy was going on.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Enlightened Beings

A superb eructation of British values is surging forth from the Indian subcontinent. The Chancellor and Willem den Haag have been selling missiles and burbling about Gandhi, whom Osborne acknowledged as "father of the largest democracy in the world", though of course not quite the greatest. As a signal of its devout belief that religion and poverty are good enough for some people, the British government intends to put a statue of Gandhi in Parliament Square, sculpted by a man whose previous triumphs include the Queen Mother and Bomber Command. The Secretary for Wogs, Frogs and Huns gave assurances that all weapons sold by Britain are clearly marked Not to be used for internal repression and For self-defence only, and proclaimed that every nation had the right to defend itself, as the Mahatma himself undoubtedly would have believed had his assassination not cut short the path to full enlightenment in the form of membership of the British Neoliberal Party. That exalted state is claimed by Sajid Javid, the Bullingdon Club's pet bodhisattva for Cultchah, Equalities and Whatever, who said that the experience of India's partition, as undergone by a few million people, had contributed to his decision to take up public service by subsisting on a mere few million a year from Deutsche Bank.

Monday, July 07, 2014

In the Picture

Another mere expert has been mouthing heresies against accepted religious doctrine. The culprit this time is Sir Richard Dearlove, who was in charge of MI6 when the Reverend Tony and his American chums were making Iraq safe for al-Qaida. Being naturally possessed of the kind of razor-sharp intellect for which British military intelligence is renowned, Dearlove has just noticed that political and media hysteria over the threat from Muslim terrorists can be a bit overheated at times. Dearlove called for a "more proportionate approach to terrorism", which presumably means he has somehow failed to register the vows from all sides of the British Neoliberal Party to renew Britain's stock of weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Ape Divine

With fanfare shrieks, creation's flung
All in a fragrant privy heap;
Respectful gobs of praise and dung
Fly up from knuckle-dragging sheep.

His clergy whoop and celebrate
From ancient times to here and now
As, chattering, they calculate
The angle of his slanted brow.

The cosmic mysteries he mulls,
Well guarded by his grunting flocks,
Surrounded by the sceptic skulls
All holey from the faithful's rocks.

His holy grimace holds the meek
Obedient multitudes beneath
His Law, whose convolutions streak
The yellow tablets of his teeth.

The sports in evolution's race
And all their scientific kin
Due homage yield, when forced to face
The drooling wisdom of his grin.

Amid their daily ruts and runs,
His acolytes their tambours beat,
Applauding suffocated suns
Extinguished under hairy feet.

Rev. Sorbus Malbarb

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Suckers Welcome

As many of us know to our cost, the parliamentary Deputy Conservatives have been highly disciplined in their voting, so that rebellions from Daveybloke's back-bench baboons have caused far more trouble to the coalition than rebellions over anything the Liberal Democrats once claimed to believe in. Nevertheless, the Deputy Conservative MP for Manchester Withington has been brave enough to use unpaid interns in his office, and is now the subject of a complaint to HM Revenue and Customs. Wee Nicky announced a ban on unpaid internships three years ago; but like one or two other announcements by Wee Nicky it promised a bit more than he could deliver: he cannot force his MPs not to use them. The aptly-named John Leech, however, has been advertising for unpaid labour with "an excellent standard of written and verbal communication along with an energetic can-do attitude", despite his office claiming that the lucky candidate will in fact do no real work, and that the MP's motives in offering the position are purely charitable and altruistic. Of course, many people become reckless in the face of more or less certain doom; and with a majority of less than two thousand, Leech has evidently decided that he may as well make a show of principled defiance on a matter close to his heart.

Friday, July 04, 2014

No-One is Above the Law, But Some are Further Beneath it than Others

The appeal court has upheld a claim by some scroungers against the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith and his Department for Workfare and Privation. It will be remembered that the DWP's minions had sanctioned a young woman because she refused to work for free at a Poundland store. Her excuse, if one can call it such, was that she was already volunteering at a museum in order to gain experience for a paid career. This prompted much huffing and puffing about university-educated job-snobs who refused the dignity of unpaid labour, rather than falsifying their CVs and marrying money like good Christian souls. Having been informed that the sanctions were in fact illegal, the brilliant Duncan Smith rushed emergency legislation through Parliament to show that he had been right all along, with Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition naturally abstaining. The DWP will now, of course, spend more taxpayers' money appealing against today's ruling; but it is just possible that there are some actions whose consequences even the brilliant Duncan Smith cannot escape, even with all the cowardice of the Labour Party on his side.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Let Them Drink Beer

Diversity, as usual, is proving a bit of a problem. Such is Britain's geological confusion, resulting from millions of years of influx by alien minerals, that the Government's chums in the shale-fracking industry have been warned of likely difficulties. Many of these difficulties will be easily soluble, because they will only arise if the frackers should choose to bother themselves about such minor issues as the potability of local water supplies. The British Geological Survey, working in cahoots with the Government's religious adversaries in the Environment Agency, has also detected concentrations of methane, which is a far more powerful driver of climate change than carbon dioxide and may cause a certain credibility deficit in priestly claims that shale-fracking reduces greenhouse emissions. However, the major methane concentrations are nowhere near London, so that solves that. Still, it does seem a pity that Britain's geography is so uncongenial towards more sustainable sources of energy. If only we lived on some smallish islands in the North Atlantic, for example, the potential for exploiting wind and wave power might well be worth looking into.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Tony Helps Out Again

Now that his holy mission of bringing peace to the Middle East has turned out so well, the Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair has found himself a modest little niche giving spiritual advice to the Sisi régime in Egypt. The democratic paragons who rule the United Arab Emirates are funding an initiative to develop "business opportunities", and his reverence is being parachuted onto the Sisi sofa to discuss the kind of economic reform that could lead to an outcome with an appropriate ethical dimension. Although his reverence's spokesbeing claims that he will receive no payments to supplement his present pittance of four hundred thousand a week, the moral benefits of such labours are self-evident. A former political associate has even proclaimed that his reverence's sojourn in Egypt will cause "terrible damage" to New Labour's legacy, perhaps by miraculously resurrecting a few tens of thousands of Iraqi collateral-damagees. In any case Sisi, among his other virtues, has forthright methods of taming the feral beast of a non-embedded Press. His reverence has criticised these methods as unjustified and will undoubtedly do his best to reform them: why go to the trouble and expense of imprisoning journalists while drones and cruise missiles wait idly by?

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

To A Scar

Once there was blood or fire, or both. Your red
Erupted, flowed, was read across the street,
By shuffling eyeballs bowed beneath your heat
In faces that might burn, but rarely bled.
Was it to spare those blushes that you fled?
Was it for such spectators, your retreat
Beneath the glaze of skin that shines the meat
Wherein you carved and cooked your mark of dread?

The raw volcano cooled to itchy crust,
Your history of harm submerged and dumb,
In muffled moans you suffocated rage.
Your lava locked away beneath the dust,
Feeling forgotten, now you are become
A grey line on a liver-spotted page.

Punter Thrugg