Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Pie Squared

Forget Brexit, forget Trump, please please forget Bercow, Blair and others, let us pay attention to the important matters, those which most of us can understand and identify with. Football, of course.

Chewing over the implications of the TV coverage of the Sutton United v Arsenal FA Cup replay last night, there is to be a full investigation of the how's and why's of the United's reserve goalkeeper's decision to eat a pie while sitting on the bench.

Those of you who are mad enough to watch sport on TV will be aware from all the advert's, between parts of the games and around all the stadium, never mind the logo's on shirts, shorts, vests etc. that betting and gambling are integral to what is going on.

It is alleged that the urge to eat by the player wasn't because he was getting peckish as the night wore on but that odds were being offered as to whether he might tuck into something during the match and when. Well, I suppose it was better than the football.

He is, let us say, on the large size. Had he begun to choke on a bit of gristle I am glad I would not have to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation. But if someone did, I wonder what odds might have been offered for success or failure.

I might have had a bet on that one.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Voting And Boating

There is the by-election for Stoke Central on Thursday which is of current interest for all the wrong reasons. A few days ago BBC4 repeated the programme Love And Betrayal in India. The White Mughals about a Scotsman of the East India Company, James Kirkpatrick, becoming more Indian than Scots and Muslim in faith.

How might these connect is obscure. One reason is that contemporary with Kirkpatrick were men from the local Sneyd land owning family in Stoke and area, who were active in the Company military and connected at the highest levels to the Governors General in Calcutta.

More to the point was that they were involved with the Royal Asiatic Society and those with a real and close interest in the literature, languages and cultures of the sub Continent.

On Thursday in Stoke one major issue is which way the Muslim vote there might swing. There is a report that they are advised to vote Labour or face discipline from within their faith.

That Stoke, so long a stronghold for Labour, may now have to rely on that vote as opposed to what is left of the old working class, who are now voting for others is striking. It has lessons for the rest of the UK including Scotland, which is said to have a population of 5.3 million.

The SNP, hoping to have a win in the next referendum, at present has open doors policy. With an estimated 350 million people in the sub Continent being Muslim, if zero point two per cent of those see the social and welfare policies of Scotland being advantageous and move in whatever Scotland will be it will no longer be Scots, many of whom will have moved on.

If in England, the Labour party is shifting to a reliance on the Muslim vote in urban areas, this will reinforce those at present in favour of a UK open doors policy. But there are other faiths. So who might come? In India there are a billion and more. If many of them were to move will they join the Muslim vote, or would they vote for anything but Muslim?

We should add those from other continents, Africa, China, the Middle East where friendly bombing creates more friends to come, the Far East and other places.

If Australia gets much hotter and our cousins return where we will we fit them in?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Wedding Daze

The institution of marriage is on the decline as recent generations make other arrangements they regard as more suited to their lifestyle. But we should not think it was all easy long ago.

The Find My Past website has picked out from Press Reports some choice specimens where things went wrong from day one.

Banns Blunder from the Hartlepool Daily Mail, 2 June 1936

 Bumbling Best Man from the Nottingham Evening Post, 28 May 1933

Extreme Safe Keeping from the Nottingham Evening Post 20 July 1904

 The Old Ball And Chain from the South Wales Daily News 8 July1895

 In It For The Long Stretch from the Western Daily Express 16 April 1930

 The Show Must Go On from the Merthyr Telegraph 21 February 1879

There must have been more, many more. The picture at the top is "Call To Arms" by Leighton.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Off With His Euro

As the UK staggers towards one new form of contact with Europe or another there are no certainties only uncertainty. Whatever it is it will not be the same as in the past, because that is over and one of the main problems is that too few recognise it.

This article says the Euro is done for and it is by Tuomas Malinen of Finland a nation which may be first into the boats. It comes from Mish Talk via The Automatic Earth. Also it has turned up in Zero Hedge. It is with a deep sigh I read these articles.

Long long ago I was with some Swiss Bankers who seemed to think that the Euro was the Noble Idea whose day had come. Politely, I expressed the view that there were basic flaws, time would tell and literally don't bank on it.

They took the view I was a relic of the past who had ancient prejudice or too much of the wine we had enjoyed. Especially, my view that when the Euro went down, it could well take the EU with it.

There are reports that Greece is considering the option of moving to the US Dollar for its basic currency. In 1975 when the Onassis family yacht was moored at St. Tropez and hosting one of President Chirac's family there was a group of US Marines in town along with Kirk Douglas.

Buddy can you spare a dime, as the local urchins asked.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Shout Out Loud

It is just one of those things, perhaps age as well as inclination, that when a parade of luvvies and the rich and ripe of media and the arts etc. parade to heap scorn and hate on someone, one wonders if those at the receiving end are as bad as they are made out to be and indeed may deserve a smidgeon of sympathy.

So is Theresa May really a good egg and unlucky enough to be stuck with the job of sorting out the mess we have been left with? Is Donald Trump perhaps a scatty elderly gent who basically has all our interests at heart, but is not very good at dressing his ideas with the usual excuses?

Is it that these days in fact we have too much media and as a result an overload of excitable publicity seekers, who live or fail by their coverage and the viewers, link clickers and others they attract. The rule is the more extreme the railings and wailing the better they will do. And they have to do well or they are gone and forgotten in a week or two.

Just as many of the female participants in the media bun fights try to be the least dressed, those whose age or condition does not allow them to take part in this contest have to come up with something which will get the cameras, the reporters etc. interested. Given that almost if not all of them are on tax wheezes remember that at the end of the line, we the undeserving poor are paying for it.

In my working life I was someone who had to come up with the figures. This presented a dilemma. If the figures looked grim then it was likely I would carry the can on the shoot the messenger principle of governance. So should I make the figures look good and hope I would land another job soon enough to avoid the fall out that would inevitably follow?

Given that the job market was tight that left the option of fudge, bodge, hope that something would happen in time to get round it, or dress up the whole thing so that when it turned bad the blame could fairly and squarely be laid elsewhere and on someone else. Preferably, someone or some organisation up or over there somewhere, anywhere.

Which is the way that most of our government, and for that matter almost all governments seem to operate these days. The ordinary elector or taxpayer has this filtered down to him or her via the media that is around and in the digital world that media feeds on all the other media to be had. The result is confusion for all that worsens year by year.

So the noise increases and the ones who shout the loudest are the only ones we hear. 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Hunt The Speaker

The interest and excitement caused by Mr. Speaker of our House of Commons, John Bercow's verbal assault on President Truman, oops, Trump, continues unabated. As these days Parliament is televised (drama, documentary, news, comedy?) it is my view that John Boy is bidding for a BAFTA (British Academy of Film And Television Arts) award at the Royal Albert Hall tomorrow.

There he will be not only allowed but expected to join in the tirade of complaints about The President, who I suspect will not only enjoy it but be delighted that the cacophony will give him ample opportunities for the publicity he needs to get his message across, a gift, if not from heaven, but allowing him to give the celebrities hell.

The question of what might be going on in John's mind and what makes him the uppish, loud, posturing type he seems to be is interesting. He was born in 1963 which puts his teenage years between 1976 and 1983. This was the great age of Punk, Wikipedia and other sites have ample information about all this.

It is said that many adults never really lose some or all of the ideas, beliefs, attitudes or behaviour they adopt during these years. So it is possible that John can be explained as one of the many chaps who never quite grew up, or adjusted to adult society. If, like so many, he was attached to Punk then all is explained.

There is another possibility. John went to the University of Essex, one of the new universities of the 1960's, located at Colchester. This was the town in the time of Ancient Rome in which the Emperor Claudius was proclaimed a God. Rather later it was famed for being home to one of the hardest military prisons in the world.

Take your pick as to which might be a key influence. There is another one that we might consider. In 1975 Malcolm Bradbury published a book, "The History Man" based in 1972 about an ultra Marxist academic Howard Kirk, at a new English university, who both engaged the permissive society whole heartedly and had dedicated himself to The Revolution to come. The book went to BBC TV in 1985.

John, of course is a Tory, up to a point. His career has had its twists and turns and at times have had people wondering if he might switch to Labour, that is if it was worth his while.

One of the unknowns is how far the fact that he grew up in North London close to the heartland of Margaret Thatcher's constituency. Could the role of his family or John himself locally have helped him to get the nod when selected for the Buckingham constituency?

So what is John, a north London dealer in this and that? An ageing Punk? A Howard Kirk who strayed into politics and another party?

Or does he see himself as an Emperor Claudius?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Singing For Their Supper

The SNP members of The House of Commons are reported to have been humming a tune at one point during the Brexit business before The House. Sadly it was not the "Humming Chorus" from Puccini's "Madama Butterfly". This is when she is waiting for her American lover to come as his ship is back in port and she has had a son by him.

It ends badly of course, opera's often do, because he has come to tell her he has married another and worse he wants the child she bore him. His name is Pinkerton, a good old Scottish name, said to come from a Townland by Dunbar.

The tune hummed by the Scots in The House was the choral last movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony which has been taken by EU Brussels to be the anthem of the Union; the SNP could not manage the words, which are German.

It is a wonderful uplifting piece of music which we have heard many times, not least when standing in the Arena at the Royal Albert Hall. When Brussels decided to take it perhaps while realising that it was a great tune known to many they were not fully conversant of the actual history etc. behind it.

This too is probably beyond the SNP members and one is only sorry that they did not have the wit or imagination to hum something Scottish. "Will Ye No Come Back Again" would have been a good option.

If vocal and referring to President Trump we might have had "Donald Where's Your Trousers", a much loved song now little heard.

The great pity is that Brussels did not commission at some point an anthem that was new, modern and in keeping with the Europe of our time. The obvious man to ask was Pierre Boulez, a composer of authority, who once declared that any musician not conversant with Dodecaphonic music was useless.

His works in the form of electronics, total serialism and controlled chance would have allowed Brussels to insist on a Europe of new music issued from a limited groups of experts in these advanced forms.

It would have been very different but probably far more in accord with SNP policy than any of that old Beethoven, a jobbing composer from the backwoods of Germany earning his crust in the Vienna of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Habsburgs.

We could have had the barking of seals in the bass to refer to the EU fisheries policy. A soft lowing in the contralto would give us the cattle and milk matter. Hiccups in the tenor, the support for wine, castrato's for veal, the sopranos for poultry with baritone's chanting extracts from key regulations. At the very end all would sing loudly on one note for a full hour.

Brussels might then have issued regulations dictating which songs were top of the pops etc. and they would have allowed the new EU anthem a permanent place at Number One.

But we are stuck with the "Ode to Joy" the words from a poem by Friedrich Schiller, known to his friends as "Fritz". In that period of rising nationalism in Europe it was a call for Germans to have their own state of Germany.

It could have been worse, Merkel might well have gone for "Prussian Glory".