The Curmudgeon


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Luke 17 xxvii-xxxvii; Luke 18 i-viii

After telling His disciples that the coming of the kingdom of Heaven will be a massacre along the lines of the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus tells a parable about a judge who neither fears God nor respects humanity. A widow importunes the judge about her case, and eventually he resolves to give her justice for the sake of a quiet life. Hearing the judge's decision, God boasts that He will quickly give justice to His elect, but nevertheless questions whether His avatar will find faith among the people of earth.

In the parable, assuming that right is on the widow's side, justice is done without recourse to either holiness or philanthropy, and is thereby shown to be a mere earthly luxury. The judge acts from pure self-interest, and would no doubt be undiscerning enough to give justice to anyone at all, whether or not they belonged to God's elect, from the same tawdry motive. Holy vengeance and holy favour, by contrast, are both purely arbitrary, as Jesus has just emphasised in His foregoing remarks about His Father's approaching kingdom of flood, fire and brimstone.

The Saviour's own attitude to the importunities of needy women is apparent from the episode of the Canaanite woman, whose cries for help He seems happy to tolerate indefinitely. Hence God's rhetorical question at the end of the parable: Jesus eventually helps the woman not out of a desire for peace and quiet, but as a reward for faith and flattery. It is these, and not mere earthly notions of what is just or unjust, that carry weight in the kingdom of heaven.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Not Quite His Sort of Latin

Having recently been sidelined over the Irish Question, the Imperial Haystack will soon be biffing off to Latin America which, although full of foreigners, has the indisputable advantage of being a very long way away. The Haystack will lay a wreath in Argentina, to commemorate the sainted Thatcher's famous victory over the forces of Michael Foot; and will also be visiting Peru and Chile, apparently in the hope of persuading their respective governments to throw money at British bankers once Her Majesty's Government runs out of taxpayers. The Haystack's accustomed humorous plain-speaking on such matters as the humane virtues of Augusto Pinochet and the hilarious racial characteristics of the dago species will no doubt go down a diplomatic treat.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Renewed Consolidation for Sustainable Pacification

Since the late Head Boy, with his famous good judgement and veracity, declared Victory in Afghanistan four years ago, it should come as no surprise that the Recrudescent Imperium has been called upon to double its military presence in that ever-fortunate country. Happily, thanks to the joined-up thinking which is nearly as common in Her Majesty's Government as joined-up writing, Britain's armed forces are shrinking while being simultaneously engaged in twenty-five separate bits of overseas liberation, peace-keeping and democratisation training. Despite the swingeing cuts initiated by the late Head Boy and his chums, and despite the inevitably entertaining combination of ministerial outsourcing and Capita's computer skills, they are also failing to recruit and suffering some little irregularity in the old moral fibre. Nevertheless, prompted by the megalomaniac squeakings of his hydrophobic head-tribble, the Trumpster keeps on ordering his subordinates in Downing Street to send reinforcements and help the Kabul democracy to prosper. It is to be hoped that the Ministry for Wog-Bombing can scrape together sufficient wherewithal to mount one final glorious crusade against those mad mullahs and their terroristic minions who, even after all these years of Western guidance, are still not civilised enough to realise that they've been beaten in a fair fight.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Woolly Thinking

City parks in Rome are becoming overgrown because, despite the past several years of fiscal discretion and technocratic efficiency in government, the authorities cannot afford to pay anyone to look after them. Lacking the entrepreneurial gumption to implement a British solution such as flogging off the good bits for development, walling off the rest and hiring a private security company to keep out the poor and incentivise "voluntary donations" from visitors, the ruling Five Star movement is considering the use of sheep and other animals to keep the grass under control. The proposal has been greeted with derision in some quarters: "What will we do with the faeces left by the sheep?" asked one worthy who is apparently unaware that animal faeces are biodegradable; while a political opponent asked if the mayor would also be providing geckoes to get rid of summer mosquitoes. All irreverence aside, it remains to be seen whether the Roman authorities will have sufficient vision to recruit assistance from the Vatican, and thus provide constructive employment at last for one of the world's most concentrated populations of shepherds and crooks.

Me at Poetry24:
Pharisee and Publican

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Many Are Called, But...

In an unfortunate reversal of the Saviour's sleight of hand with those loaves and fishes, the bounty of a Brazilian evangelist seems to have resulted in a paucity of dupes. A film about Edir Macedo, bishop, sometime jailbird and alleged money-launderer, has sold nine million tickets, but consistently plays to empty cinemas. Critics have also been unkind; according to one, Nada a Perder "leaves the impression that art was less important and the film was made to glorify the protagonist and his religion," not unlike the Gospels. Satan's minions are already putting about the fake news that large quantities of tickets have been purchased by the church itself; and this despite the church's setting up of an initiative on behalf of the needy, to which the needy have apparently responded by not attending the spiritual banquet. Since Macedo claims almost ten million followers, the church may also be wondering why the last million have failed to make due fiscal obeisance; particularly as the film was promoted and partly funded by Macedo's own TV channel and released, with superb self-effacement, on the Easter weekend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Blue Pencil Event Horizon

Let it not be thought, just because Her Majesty's Government has issued a belated though doubtless sincere apology for its complicity in kidnapping and torture, that genuine British values will be permitted to slacken any further. A request under the Freedom of Information Act, by a professor of international history at the notoriously subversive London School of Economics, is to be shrugged off as "vexatious" by the Cabinet Office at a hearing tomorrow. The information under restraint relates to the dewy-eyed bromance between a grinning, authoritarian torture fan and war criminal and the late Colonel Gaddafi; and Her Majesty's Government has so little to hide or to fear that the amount of space-time continuum necessary to redact the relevant papers would place the civil service at risk of gravitational collapse.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Compliantly Hostile

One reason why crime statistics keep rising, despite the nation's moral tenor leaping ever further into the empyrean castrato, is the fact that more crimes are being reported. With commendable initiative, various police forces have taken assertive action to deal with this trend, by looking up victims of crime on their national database and handing over anyone who seems a bit Windrush to the Ministry for Wog Control. A spokesbeing has proclaimed that "victims of crime must be treated first and foremost as victims," but the official guidelines stipulate that police can look up anyone they choose and make an arrest on swarming-horde grounds, provided only that there is "an immediate risk of harm to a specific individual". As a wog-hunting licence this could hardly be clearer, since each and every immigrant who remains at large in the Recrudescent Imperium self-evidently constitutes a real and immediate risk to the psychological well-being of the Prime Minister and much of the Conservative and Demagogic Unionist Party. Still, there may well be legitimate and understandable concerns over whether police forces are taking due care to ensure that whatever crimes against cockroaches they do condone are committed exclusively by genuine British nationals.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Matthew 7 xii; Luke 6 xxxi

Jesus proclaims that we should do to others as we would wish them to do to us. According to Matthew He ascribes this injunction to the law and the prophets; according to Luke He enunciates the rule moments after telling the wealthy, the well-fed and the mirthful of the sufferings which their loving Father has in store for them.

As to the law and the prophets, the law commands that those who act on certain wishes be stoned to death; while at least one of the prophets says that the human heart is deceitful, desperately wicked and unknowable except to God (Jeremiah 17 ix). Since we cannot know our own hearts, let alone those of other people, it is difficult to see how we can estimate anyone's wishes with sufficient accuracy to oblige them; particularly if their tastes and ours do not happen to coincide. As often with the teaching of Jesus, it is tempting to see this commandment as deliberately setting an impossible task, in order to ensure a steady supply of penitent dupes for His nascent blood cult.

What, according to Jesus, is the nature of our wishes? People are evil (Matthew 7 xi); the things of men are Satanic and opposed to the wishes of God (Matthew 16 xxiii); people deserve worse than the massacred Canaanites and the Cities of the Plain (Matthew 11 xx-xxiv). It is even conceivable that there are some people so unworthy as to prefer ploughshares to swords, who would rather not have their families set against them (Matthew 10 xxxiv-xxxvii). There seems little reason for Jesus to require us to tailor our actions to such depraved preferences, unless perhaps He wishes to spare Himself the bother of looking after too many sheep.

But let us not be uncharitable. Of course it must be admitted from the outset that the commandment is meaningless. Taken in itself, it is neither sane nor benign; taken in the context of the Saviour's consistently punitive and fundamentalist doctrine, it looks like the purest hypocrisy. Nevertheless, this in itself may provide a paradoxical clue to His real intentions. Jesus openly admitted His policy of deliberately confusing and misleading the chaff (Mark 4 xi-xii), and since on this occasion He was speaking in front of a large crowd rather than to His chosen disciples, the most charitable interpretation may be that His statement is a harmless political anodyne, much along the lines of a modern demagogue proclaiming a new and radical preference for prosperity, fair play and the survival of the species.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Drained of Much Blood

Despite the Windrush persecutions being All a Terrible Mistake, they seem to merge rather conveniently with the Government's long-term plans for the National Health Service. Medical staff of the piccaninny persuasion are being assertively incentivised to stay at home or, if they must steal jobs from bursary-deprived British nurses, to refrain from polluting the Recrudescent Imperium with their horribly extended tribal families. The effect on the staffing crisis, which currently runs to a deficit of forty-three thousand nurses, has been most salutary; so naturally Her Majesty's Government is plotting to extend its compliant approach to medical staff who have the temerity to be Euro-wogs. At the moment the NHS is incubating 140,000 such hostile aliens, who for the moment must build their lives upon the somewhat sandy foundation of a reassurance by Caroline Nokes, the hapless Minister for an Unbloodied River Tiber, that their fate will depend on a future agreement which Her Majesty's Government cannot even agree among itself, let alone with the Brusso-Strasbourgian jackboot. Yet still, astoundingly enough, the Stalinist malcontents at the Royal College of Nursing persist in defying the people's will.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Keeping the Enemy Closer

Now that the important lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire have been learned (viz. that the rehousing of victims, far from being a priority, should barely even count as a concern; and that unsafe cladding should continue to be used unless residents are prepared to pay for its replacement), Her Majesty's Government has made a small condescension to the expendables and their families. The inquiry panel is now to include "people with the skills to examine the cultural and community reasons" behind the disaster, something the Prime Minister had previously refused to countenance. Being something slightly other than a born diplomat, and possessing an authoritarian streak nearly as wide as the yellow stripe running up her back, Tin-Pot Tessie presumably lacked the subtlety to see their inclusion as anything other than a hindrance to her will (in Modern Standard Whitehall English, the Will of the People) and an unacceptable adulteration of Sir Martin Moore-Bick's anticipated whitewash with a subversive touch of the tar-brush. Given the absence of much in the way of mind, heart or policy, her change of position is no doubt an encouraging sign; at least for anyone who believes that anyone with an interest in the larger causes of the disaster should be cosily outvoted and democratically marginalised, rather than excluded outright.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Sorry State

We'd like to say without reserve, and with all due humility,
That we apologise without accepting liability;
For torture's isn't British, save when certain of our pals
Decide to share our liking for some laws of Bluff King Hal's.
Though Brexit, Windrush, Grenfell make quite tolerable looks,
It truly is a pity when we cannot trust our spooks.
You have our best assurance, as from all our little men:
We've learned the proper lessons, and will not be caught again.
It's taken far too long for us to say what we are saying;
We're glad to compensate you, as it isn't us who's paying;
We've done it now, and all is well, and things can stay the same;
And in a week or two we'll say that Corbyn was to blame.

Jack Warts

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

We Level the Playing Field with the Foreignness of our Unwanteds

Even at the Ministry for Wog Control, where knowledge of English is hardly a major requirement (see, for example, the persistent conflation of British citizen with illegal immigrant in ministerial excuses for the Windrush persecutions), a few of the boot-boys seem to have realised that ignorance of the language can be a bit of a handicap for some when trying to find employment. Accordingly, Syrian hordes have been sanctioned by the Idleness Police for debasing the tongue of Enoch Powell by sneaking off and learning it, rather than filling out applications in Arabic. In addition, and still further to the creation of a compliant environment for the kind of people who want British workers for British jobs, the swarming cockroaches are given only two days of "cultural orientation" to prepare them for their careers as job-stealers, welfare parasites and health tourists. After all, quite aside from the Ministry's moral obligations to the racist demographic, it would be a little insensitive to orient people very thoroughly towards a culture which wants nothing better than to kick them out as soon as possible.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Beelzebub's Birthday

Twenty years ago today, after the opening paragraph dictated itself to me out of nowhere in particular, I started writing Beelzebub. It wasn't my first attempt at a novel, or even the first completed attempt having been preceded by several miscarriages and at least two stillbirths; but for all its borrowings from William Hope Hodgson, James Blish and others, it was the first that didn't feel like a laboured imitation of one or more better writers. Being a genius at the time, I naturally jumped in with only the sketchiest excuse for a story; hence the birth-pangs of the first draft, which lasted until the end of August and which, when I had to stop inventing delightful details and start trying to pull everything into some sort of shape, very nearly killed me. Beelzebub remains the longest work I've ever written; longer even than my latest, which has two more point-of-view characters and a somewhat wider geographical scope. Anyway, if you need a better reason than VE Day to raise a glass or a devil, please feel free.

Monday, May 07, 2018

We Can Always Barter Dialysis For Marmite Elsewhere

Sixteen treacherous fifth-columnists for the ghastly Euro-wogs are seeking to overturn the will of the British people on the pretext of concern for the deserving unwell, who could face massive costs for necessary treatments should the Recrudescent Imperium gain too much independence from the bureaucratic assault on democracy that is the European Health Insurance Card. The effort by the sixteen MEPs to appear concerned for public health is somewhat undermined by their bizarre decision to appeal to Jeremy C Rhymes-with-Hunt, whose blithe indifference to anything but the will of Rupert Murdoch is a matter of long and fragrant record. As might be expected, the Minister for Profitable Healthcare did not deign to respond, instead extruding a spokesbeing to reiterate Her Majesty's Government's standard line on all negotiations with the ghastly Euro-wogs: namely that Britain has made perfectly clear that it wants to keep all the perks and the Continent will just have to fall in line with the mainland.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Mark 4 i-xx

In front of a large crowd, Jesus relates the parable of a sower whose seed is variously choked by God's thorns, scorched by God's sun, or devoured by the birds which cannot fall to earth without God. A small portion of the seed falls on soil which God has made fertile, and this seed grows and yields a good crop. Once the crowd has dispersed, Jesus explains to His disciples that He couches His message in parables so that only the elect will understand and be saved. He then explains the parable.

Since Jesus believed that those who missed His message deserved worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, His explanation to the disciples is a parable in itself. The disciples are saved because He has personally aided their understanding; the men, women and children in the crowd must all fend for themselves, and for the most part face hell-fire at their loving Father's whim. Willingness to listen is not enough; those non-disciples who listen and do not understand can expect neither help nor mercy. Only the Saviour's personal favour, arbitrarily bestowed (though He seems to have had a marked preference for people who cannot interpret a parable on their own), will bring salvation from eternal torment.

The parable of the sower admirably reflects this attitude of whimsical cruelty. Given the precious nature of his seed, and the hellish consequences for any place where it fails to flourish, the sower is astoundingly careless at his work. He has not cleared the ground of thorns and rocks; he does nothing to keep the birds away; and he makes no attempt to nurture or care for his crop once the seed has been scattered. Presumably we are to take it that the work of preparing the ground is the Father's; in which case the responsibility for the sower's abject performance rests largely with the crazed despot who creates thorns and rocks only to blame and punish them for not being flowers and vineyards, and whose régime Jesus aspired to fulfil and not to abolish.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Faithful Followers

Despite the recent Schlieffenesque pronunciamento by the strutting ex-Caudillo of the Farage Falange to the effect that Belgium is not a real nation, it appears that British values are thriving and metastasising among some beneficiaries from the legacy of King Leopold II. Following the sterling example set by the shale-fracking obsessives in Her Majesty's Government, the Democratic Republic of Congo plans to carve up a couple of national parks in order to provide sustenance for underprivileged oil companies. Whereas the British government's fracking plans would inconvenience few apart from some natives in the north of England, the DRC's national parks include Africa's largest tropical rain forest and are occupied, apparently rent-free, by a quarter of the world population of mountain gorillas; so laudable as its efforts may be, the Congolese government still has some distance to travel before it can aspire to true civilisation.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Purple Buboes, Yellow Pus

Now that the Farage Falange vote has been more or less completely absorbed by the Conservatives, the general secretary of the smaller racist rabble has tried to look on the bright side by comparing his party to one of the biggest disasters in human history. The Black Death, a fourteenth-century pandemic most likely caused by an ancestor of the present-day Yersinia pestis bacillus, "led to economic growth and the Renaissance" by the benign expedient of killing off between a quarter and a third of Europe's population, as well as a few non-whites. The plague was an Asian immigrant, but on the positive side it was spread by fleas that were parasitic on rats, which makes for a fair enough parallel with the doctrines of the Farage Falange. The bacillus has apparently not been approached for comment, so it remains as yet unclear whether Yersinia pestis plans to sue the Farage Falange for defamation.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Yet Another Victim

From the way Amber Rudd has presented herself since losing the Ministry for Wog Control, one might be forgiven for thinking that the only sufferer from the Windrush persecutions has been a certain Amber Rudd. Abetted by the London Evening Osborne and some braying sycophants in the House of Expenses Claimants, the race-baiting Clegg-pledger and sometime Parliamentary sayer of the thing that was not has vanished in a fog of self-righteousness, to be replaced by a courageous champion of immigrants and the NHS whose promising yet compassionate career was tragically cut short by a hidebound boss. Comprising roughly equal portions of Edith Cavell, Princess Diana and Albert Speer, the new Amber Rudd will doubtless be much surprised and hurt should its brazen and hollow likeness fail to get a plinth in Trafalgar Square by the end of the month.

Nevertheless, the Windrush crisis has affected one or two other people, notably a swarming horde of Afghans who worked as interpreters for British troops in Helmand. Her Majesty's Government has been treating them with expectable contempt, charging them £2,389 each to apply for leave to remain; but thanks to the Windrush fiasco something called Gavin at the Ministry for Wog-Bombing has been forced to go cap in hand to his rivals at the Ministry for Wog Control and request that the interpreters be reclassified as deserving wogs, at least until the Government's tattered credibility is resoundingly restored by the Home Office's investigation of itself. Whatever Amber Rudd may have suffered, for the refined sensibilities of the brave little chap who once told Russia to go away and shut up the pain of this humiliation must be acute.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

A Compliant Environment

Among the fascinating subtleties of the Ministry for Wog Control is the eternal question of where the border lies between the department's chronic incompetence and whatever happy commingling of Press-pleasing sadism and blithe indifference characterises any particular policy. In the case of the Windrush persecutions and the booting-out of the ghastly Euro-wogs, it seems clear that thuggery is the favoured option; in the case of the Home Office's ambitious strategy for dealing with modern slavery, it looks as if shruggery has prevailed. So ambitious was the Ministry's programme that nobody has bothered to implement the systems necessary to monitor its results, or managed to gather the data required to understand what kind of people are involved and where they come from. Of course, Her Majesty's Government has no real objections to modern slavery: the idea of forcing people to work for nothing, without being bothered by trade unions or heath and safety regulations, can hardly be unattractive to the modern Conservative Party. On the other hand, most associate it vaguely with dark-skinned migrant hordes, and many no doubt believe that human trafficking is the same thing as freedom of movement, and is thus obligatory under the monstrous EU constitution. Given that the first three years of effort led to prosecution in only six per cent of recorded cases, perhaps the lack of monitoring simply reflects a reluctance to get anyone into trouble.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

What Friends Are For

Approximately the only policy from which Tumbledown Tessie has neither retreated nor deviated, either during her six years as a vicious, skittish and authoritarian Home Secretary or during her two years as a skittish, authoritarian and vicious prime minister, is of course the instinctive, doctrinaire and unrelenting racism. Now that this particular British value has become a bit of an embarrassment even to the Parliamentary wing of UKIP, it is only to be expected that all the professional racists, opportunistic racists, casual racists and just-a-bit-of-fun racists in the Conservative Party will feel obliged to distance themselves from the ideological racist at the head of the trough. Unto which, it appears that the first to embrace the new and enlightened régime annunciated by Javid of Grenfell under the thrilling rubric of "compliant environment" has been the jobsworth racist Amber Rudd. Somebody or other, at any rate, has rushed to a glistening little chum of hers who happens to have a toy newspaper, and has accused Tumbledown Tessie of endangering the public's health by blocking the admission of immigrant doctors. Happy as always to drop a spider down the scolding Headmistress's knickers, the London Evening Osborne has gone full-splurge, conjuring poignant memories of better days when the NHS was in the care of the bursary-slashing, doctor-bashing Bullingdon Club and its much-missed Secretary of State for Privatisation, Jeremy Rhymes-with-Hunt. Still and all, it is encouraging to find that even in the modern Conservative Party one can still use a transparently feigned concern about public health to stab a colleague deeply and sincerely in the back.