Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Sunday 31 March 2013

Friday 22 March 2013

A (Very) Brief Word on the Budget

For my foreign readers, I should explain that the title refers to one of the two financial statements we have here in the United Kingdom each year from the Chancellor of the Exchequer ("Finance Minister") currently the Rt Hon. George Osborne M.P.

Included in the budget was the news that excise duty on beer is to be reduced by one penny (£0.01) per pint (560ml).

Given that my local pub has recently increased its price of a pint of beer from a greedy £3.80 per pint to an outrageous £4.00 per pint, Mr Osborne's news has not caused my heart to flutter.  Please note that the current price of a pint of beer is now about 40 times what it was in the 1960s...

Pubs in England/UK are very expensive; recently in another one I decided that I would like to have a bag of crisps ("chips") to accompany my pint of beer.  I ordered them from the barmaid who then asked me for - a pound! Yes, £1 for a bag of crisps that probably cost the pub less than 10p.  I gave them back to her.

With the fascist smoking ban introduced here in 2007, and the outrageous - indeed exorbitant prices demanded - is it any wonder that hundreds of pubs are closing every week in the UK?

No it isn't!

Until the next time.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Cyprus II

Just a brief one this time.

Well as I'm sure you all know the Cypriot parliament raised two fingers (or just one if you're a continental) to the EU in regard to the proposed €10 billions bail-out; not one MP voted in favour.  This of course because of the fear of bank depositors receiving what is popularly known as a "haircut."

Of course the blundering EU can only blame itself.

Meanwhile there's a lovely little story about a very wise granny, who beat the threat,

Please read it - it's great!

Until the next time.

Monday 18 March 2013

She's Still At It

President Kirchner of Argentina has lost no time in pressing her misguided suit on the newly-elected (Argentinian) Pope.

Presiding over an economy that is not far from the knacker's yard she is desperately trying to keep the Falkland Islands in the news.   She is quoted as saying "I asked for his intervention to avoid problems that could emerge from the militarization of Great Britain in the south Atlantic," 

Well she can piss off.  The will be no problems at all if she keeps her nose out of it. The Falkland Islands are sovereign British territory which we are free to operate as we please; none of her damned business.  Of course she wants to keep the populace distracted as did her repellent predecessor Galtieri.  Tough.

Until the next time

Cyprus - That is The Greek Bit

I feel obliged to comment on current events in Cyprus, since my hostility to the Euro project is long-established and probably well known here.

However, it's tricky.  I've been following discussion forums and there is a great deal of hysteria to wade through - and a lot of opprobrium directed at Germany.

It is true that there is a general election looming in Germany, which must be a consideration, but I suppose since that since Germany is more-or-less keeping the stupid Euro afloat then Frau Merkel is entitled to have a say.

Just recently Latvia signed up to the Euro; these people must be barking mad.

And Cyprus is a sort of Iceland writ large.  Iceland's recovery is progressing because they simply said "piss-off" to their creditors - or at least to their banks' creditors; when you're not in the EU you can do that sort of thing.  Cyprus's economy has been running a large deficit whilst the bloated banking sector is about eight times the size of the national GDP; worse, it is stuffed with Russian money about which there is said to be the whiff of the laundry.

All I can say is that I'm glad that I do not have the job of sorting out the mess; if Russia (i.e. Putin) is upset because the bank accounts of some of the president's pals have received a haircut, perhaps they'll turn off the gas tap?

A € for the meter anyone?

Until the next time

Saturday 16 March 2013


The case of Sergeant Nightingale of the SAS tells us quite a lot about what is wrong in modern Britain.

In a military gaol, for possessing a trophy - a Glock pistol and some ammunition - which was apparently to be "disabled" and mounted" we have the ludicrous situation where a decent man is in what my mother likes to refer to as "the slammer."

Meanwhile some bearded English Muslim twat - sorry I meant "traitor," who reportedly believes in "sharia law" is up before the beak.

Who would YOU trust?

Barking mad.

Until the next time.


Frank Davis is a sound man; sound that is on smoking and so-called "global warming"  the latter as is well known, being total balls.

You'll find a link at the side of this page - when I get around to it I'll update it, but meanwhile this link is the correct one. (I've updated the link).

As for the other links, "Underdogs Bite Upwards" is always worth a look.

Until the next time

No More Einstein

Some of you might have enjoyed reading the Einstein quotes that appeared on these pages.

Sadly I have been obliged to remove the "gadget."  Whilst it is reasonable that such a "gadget" carry advertising I absolutely draw the line at publicity for that evil, Machiavellian, bastard, L. Ron Hubbard and his horrible, brain-washing, Scientology bollocks.

I was extremely offended to see his name on MY blog.

Until the next time.

Infinity + 1

Rupert Brooke's the man right now for me - or so it seems. Here he writes about eternal love.

"One mote of all the dust that's I
   Shall meet one atom that was you. "



When the white flame in us is gone,
   And we that lost the world's delight
Stiffen in darkness, left alone

   To crumble in our separate night; 

When your swift hair is quiet in death,
   And through the lips corruption thrust
Has stilled the labour of my breath---
   When we are dust, when we are dust!--- 

Not dead, not undesirous yet,
   Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
We'll ride the air, and shine, and flit,
   Around the places where we died, 

And dance as dust before the sun,
   And light of foot, and unconfined,
Hurry from road to road, and run
   About the errands of the wind. 

And every mote, on earth or air,
   Will speed and gleam, down later days,
And like a secret pilgrim fare
   By eager and invisible ways, 

Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,
   Till, beyond thinking, out of view,
One mote of all the dust that's I
   Shall meet one atom that was you. 

Then in some garden hushed from wind,
   Warm in a sunset's afterglow,
The lovers in the flowers will find
   A sweet and strange unquiet grow 

Upon the peace; and, past desiring,
   So high a beauty in the air,
And such a light, and such a quiring,
   And such a radiant ecstasy there, 

They'll know not if it's fire, or dew,
   Or out of earth, or in the height,
Singing, or flame, or scent, or hue,
   Or two that pass, in light, to light, 

Out of the garden, higher, higher. . . .
   But in that instant they shall learn
The shattering ecstasy of our fire,
   And the weak passionless hearts will burn 

And faint in that amazing glow,
   Until the darkness close above;
And they will know---poor fools, they'll know!---
   One moment, what it is to love.

Those damned poets; they really do understand don't they?

Until the next time 

Friday 15 March 2013

The USA Responds

The New York Times today reported that substantially increased anti-missile defences are to be deployed on the Pacific Coast of the USA.

The deployments are in response to the rattling of what are arguably slightly rusty sabres in Pyonyang, by that unappealing and rather bulky young berk who is the current "Dear Leader" - the third in the dynasty.

I have read somewhere that the US has "stealthy" drone aircraft. Would it not be possible to arrange for one of these near undetectable aircraft to drop a large cow-pat on the fat head of that deranged idiot?

Hardly a war-crime I should say, but a salutary lesson with the possible benefit of adding to the Dear Leader's limited brains.

Should this idea present practical difficulties, I suppose that the US could send another dim basketball player over - to confuse the fellow.

Until the next time

Nothing New Under The Sun/Styx

Apology for the corny title this time; once seated at the computer, inspiration deserts me.

The Hill

Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said "Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, and birds sing still,
When we are old, are old...." "And when we die
All's over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips" said I,
"Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!"

"We are Earth's best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!" we said;
"We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!".... Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
—And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

Rupert Brooke

It's just that the damned poets have that infuriating knack, talent, ability; but not always only the poets; she was much more succinct:  "Infinity +1"  she said.

Until the next time

Thursday 14 March 2013

The New Pope

The New Argentinian Pope has apparently made his views clear about what he calls "Las Malvinas," that is The Falkland Islands.  He has made statements regretting the loss of the lives of the Argentinian soldiers, sailors and airmen many of them conscripts, who perished during General Galtieri's misguided attempt forcibly to annex the islands to Argentina.

For a catholic, newly-elected Pope it might be a bit better if he were to apologise for Galtieri's appalling dictatorship and to the families of the "disappeared" ones - those thousands brutally executed or simply dropped from helicopters.  And also for Galtieri's cynical exploitation of the issue to distract attention at home - just as that idiot woman Kirchner is attempting at present.

Meanwhile I suggest that he keeps his Jesuitical nose firmly to the church grindstone (it is in need of urgent attention) and out of the affairs of Great Britain and the Falkland Islands.

Until the next time.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Characters in Books (Again)

The classics: something everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.
Mark Twain

As will become obvious, Mr Twain was referring to more ancient works than the ones to which I shall refer in this piece.  However, attempting to ignore the warning implicit in his dictum, I recently acquired a copy of Henry James's Portrait of a Lady; it cost only a pound, and after reading the first page or two I decided to give it a chance.

I have managed about 40% of the novel and am starting to weary of it.  Mr James created a splendidly simpatico character in old Mr Touchett, but then - naturally for good plot reasons - decided to kill him off; I was disappointed to read of his decease.  Then there is Miss Isabel Archer, the 22-year old upper-middle-class American female to whom he refers from time to time as "our heroine."  I'm afraid that in my view this epithet is quite undeserved.

It is true that Miss Archer started well, but by page 200 or thereabouts I started to get fed up with her; in fact, so annoyed did I become that I decided that perhaps the book should have been named Portrait of a Silly Bitch whose Formidable Intelligence was only Exceeded by her Selfishness and Naïveté.  In other words, she started to get on my tits.  And there's another one - Miss Archer's friend, Henrietta Stacpole, meddling "democratic" American journalist who certainly by page 180 has earned if not a smack in the mouth, certainly a one-way ticket back to the U.S.A.  And there's another meddler, the elegant Madame Merle; curiously I took no exception to the rather cold and stiff Mrs Touchett, though I had the suspicion that I was supposed to.  Really it is all too much.

Reflecting on this dismal situation this evening whilst eating a hamburger, brought to mind some other silly women I have come  across in "the classics."  Consider Anthony Trollope's infuriating Lady Eustace (The Eustace Diamonds) or Thomas Hardy's Bathsheba Everdene.  The latter of course appeared in Far from the Madding Crowd, annoying silly woman - she did NOT deserve Gabriel Oak I'm afraid - and that was in Hardy's first novel.  In his last, Jude the Obscure he created a 24-carat, ocean-going cow in the form of Jude's wife, Susan - and this opinion is based on my reading the book over thirty years ago.  Perhaps I am wrong, but I won't go back there.

By contrast, Rosamond Lehmann's heroines, Olivia and Kate Curtis in Invitation to the Waltz are really quite delightful (Olivia rather lets her standards drop I think in the sequel The Weather in the Streets); Miss Lehmann's heroines in her other novels (with the exception of Dusty Answer) are more difficult in this regard, and several are pretty bloody, although I believe that we are supposed to sympathise with them.  Despite  Miss Lehmann's superb writing I usually, as one might expect, find this pretty hard - if not impossible - to do.

Rose Macaulay created a complex though not unsympathetic character in The World my Wilderness: Madame Michel; she is however finally redeemed - at least in my eyes.  Her daughter is difficult, but understandably so.  Her female characters in Told by an Idiot are largely attractive - especially Rome (yes, that was the name).  Sadly Miss Macaulay's books are not so easy to find.

For the time being, Henry James having brought  me to this summit of annoyance, I shall return to the relaxed and cultivated English of one of his (many) admirers: Sir Max Beerbohm, where I shall be soothed; equally I know that there will be no silly bitches in Sir Max's writings to wind me up - oops!!  I had momentarily forgotten his infuriating charcter, Zuleika Dobson; I'll give HER a miss.

Re-reading the foregoing, I have concluded that anyone who can be bothered to read my scribblings will assume that I expect perfection in an imperfect world; perhaps I do and am thus a disappointed man.

I rather think that I am.

Until the next time.

Friday 8 March 2013

All-Purpose Poetry - Nearly

Today I found an excellent little book by one W.S.Scott, published in 1946.  It has the slightly curious title a Clowder of Cats.  A clowder is one of a number of names for a group of cats, another being a "glaring."

As a cat-lover of course I snapped it up.  So far I have had only limited opportunity to examine the book (being currently busy reading Max Beerbohm's Seven Men and Two Others for about the fifth time).

There are several pieces lamenting the passing of beloved feline pets; the following example, apart from a reference to a paw, could well apply to other circumstances and indeed to other relationships:

To a Siamese Cat

"I shall walk in the sun alone
Whose golden light you loved:
I shall sleep alone
And, stirring, touch an empty place:
I shall write uninterrupted
(Would that your gentle paw
Could stay my moving pen once again!)

I shall see beauty
But none to match your living grace:
I shall hear music:
But not so sweet as the droning song
With which you loved me.

I shall fill my days
But I shall not, cannot forget:
Sleep soft dear friend
For while I live, you shall not die."
 Michael Joseph

I am no poetry critic, but must say that I find the final line if not entirely original, incredibly moving.

Until the next time

Tuesday 5 March 2013

De Mortuis nil nisi Bonum? Probably Not

So President Chavez is dead; no more "raspberry beret" then.

I shall, in a way, miss his absurd - indeed sometimes almost surreal - rants; I suppose every stage needs a comedian sometimes.

For the Cubans' sake I hope that whichever of his socialist henchmen takes his place will be as generous as the late-lamented one; and for the Venezuelans' sake that the replacement might have at least a minimum understanding of economics or even a basic education.

There's an old joke:
"What would happen if the Sahara desert was taken over by communists?"
Nothing for a few years and then there'd be a shortage of sand."

With arguably the world's largest oil reserves, these socialist goons have a country with crumbling infrastructure and have had even to devalue their currency.  Typical left-wing balls-up - and remember that they have nationalised everything - normally the kiss of death it is true.  If a real lefty takes over I suppose they'll start making an atom bomb like that clown in North Korea.

Sic transit gloria - or perhaps not.

Until the next time

Monday 4 March 2013

Culture & The Detective Novel

They do best who if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter, and sever it  from their serious affairs and actions of life; for if it check once with business it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh men that they can no ways be true to their own words.*


Literary commentators are apt from time to time to refer to "The Golden Age" of detective fiction.  This spans a period from the late 1920s and runs through to the 1950s.  English authors mentioned in connexion with this genre include Margery Allingham, Edmund Crispin, Ngaio Marsh, Michael Innes, John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.

I have read all of these writers - not all their works of course, except those of Miss Sayers, who was by far and away the finest of them, at least in regard to depth of characterisation and literary quality.  Consequent to this was her exceptional writing on emotions within a relationship, this of course being the famous  relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane that was developed over four novels.  The fact that her plots were implausible (except perhaps for the Nine Tailors) or shall we say more kindly, a little fabulous, and sometimes including a fundamental flaw (e.g. in Murder must Advertise) for me in no way detracts from her wonderful writing.  

Revisionist lefty critics like to point to Sayers' snobbery and even racism, but of course this is bollocks, since every revisionist is axiomatically anachronistic; these books were written in the 1930s.

Here's an example of the quality of Miss Sayers' writing from Gaudy Night:  Harriet Vane, an alumna of Oxford University is at her old college having been asked by the dons to investigate some strange goings-on there.  She has not been there for ten years and finds herself deeply attracted to academe and the calm of the "City of Dreaming Spires."  Thus inspired she sits down and composes a sonnet:

Here, then, at home, by no more storms distrest,
Folding laborious hands we sit, wings furled;
Here in close perfume lies the rose-leaf curled,
Here the sun stands and knows not east or west,
Here no tide runs; we have come, last and best,
From the wide zone through dizzying circles hurled,
To that still centre where the spinning world
Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.

This is followed by a short critique...  I challenge any of you to find any other detective writer who could compose such a poem or indeed has done.  There are I daresay, those who will ask "what has a sonnet to do with a detective story?" but that would perhaps be to misunderstand the "golden age" wouldn't it?

(Ironically that poem has strange relevance to me since the feeling it describes was known to me for just a few short months at the end of 2011 after nearly two years of misery; I shall never know such peace again I fear.)

But Miss Sayers has not finished!

Later in the book, her hero Lord Peter (every bit as erudite as his true love) completes the sonnet in a rather clever and off-beat way thus:

Lay on thy whips, O Love, that me upright,
Poised on the perilous point, in no lax bed
May sleep, as tension at the verberant core
Of music sleeps; for, if thou spare to smite,
Staggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumb and dead,
And dying so, sleep our sweet sleep no more.

Again Miss Sayers follows this with a nice critique (in Harriet's thoughts of course).  This is I insist, elegant stuff and heartily recommended to lovers of good English everywhere.

And the elegant quotation from Francis Bacon, at the top of this article appears at the beginning of chapter 3 of Gaudy Night.   

Dorothy L. Sayers eventually had had enough of writing detective fiction, and moved off in other directions including a religious play and a translation of Dante, uncompleted at her death in 1957.  Jill Paton Walsh has completed an unfinished (by Sayers) Lord Peter Wimsey (and Harriet!) story, Thrones Dominations, and has also written another from scratch, The Attenbury Emeralds.

I should like to add in closing this piece that there are just two other detective writers from whom I am able to derive an equal degree of pleasure: Raymond Chandler and Georges Simenon, both very able observers of the human condition but neither of course English!

Until the next time.

*Throughout my life I have failed in this regard

Sunday 3 March 2013

The Elgin Marbles

It is not really a very good time for prime minister Mr David Cameron, with the embarrassment at Eastleigh on Thursday with the burgeoning UK Independence Party beating the Conservatives into third place.

How anyone in Eastleigh could have voted for the useless, corrupt and pathetic Liberal Democrats is beyond my imagination, but that as they say is democracy - i.e. what we have to put up with from our brilliant fellow-subjects.

Anyway Cameron has redeemed himself a little in my eyes upon my discovering that he does not intend that the Elgin Marbles (now known by the politically-correct as "The Parthenon Marbles") be returned.  Good.

Does it annoy any of you that names and pronunciations are constantly changed?

So to make myself clear:

"Mumbai" is Bombay
"Myanmar" is Burma
"Innuits" are Eskimos - or more properly Esquimaux
"Romania" is Roumania - that's how my Roumanian ex-girlfriend spelled it.
And Kenya is pronounced "Keenya" as I was taught
I can just about stand "Tanzania" and Zimbabwe, but they are horrible names.

Until the next time