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Morrissey Spent the Day in Bed

Sunday, 19 November, 2017 0 Comments

Morrissey began the Twitter phase of his career two months ago. On 18 September, at 10.39 pm, he tweeted “Spent the Day in Bed.” Spent the Day in Bed is also the title of the first single from his new album Low In High School. In recent years, Moz has taken to saying things that people don’t want to hear and he’s not for turning now.

“Spent the day in bed
Very happy I did, yes
I spent the day in bed
As the workers stay enslaved
I spent the day in bed
I’m not my type, but
I love my bed
And I recommend that you

Stop watching the news!
Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone
To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own.”


Europe sans platforms

Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 0 Comments

Internet platforms are eating the world and the value of the top US platforms now exceeds $1.8 trillion. Europe, meanwhile, has no internet platform and neither does it have a single tech company in the list of the global top 50 firms. Martin Wolf of the FT examines this sad and humiliating state of affairs.

The platforms


Brexit and Jarndyce

Tuesday, 14 November, 2017 0 Comments

Like Jarndyce and Jarndyce the case of Brexit and Brexit drones on and on and on. Will it conclude with the British electorate being forced to the polls for an other referendum? Two referendums should do it, unless there’s a dispute about the correct English plural form of the word, that is. The singular, by the way, is a variant of the Latin word referre ‘to refer’ and it means ‘a thing that must be referred to the people’. And some things, such as the choice between freedom and enslavement, must be referred to the people.

This vexed question made news in June 1988, during a House of Commons debate, when the late Alan Clark, Tory MP for Kensington and Chelsea, asked for a ruling on the matter. He said he was prompted to do so because he had previously been called to order for “using the language of the common market.” His point, he said, was that he had “heard on many occasions colleagues refer to referendums — which is an exceedingly ugly term.” Clark, who was fond of the gerundive, wanted to know whether the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, would “prefer us to continue to use the Latin word, or whether you have no objection to the continued Anglicisation of this term.” Madam Speaker replied:

“I do notice on the Public Bill List that the word referendums for Scotland and Wales is used there. The word referendum was first used in English 150 years ago, according to the Oxford English dictionary which I’ve just been able to refer to. So I imagine after 150 years the House will be quite used to it now. I think the plural is a matter of taste but I’ve always preferred the use of the English language to any Latin form if that is of some guidance.”

Now’s the time to get agreement on the plural form of ‘referendum’ because we’re going to need it.


Gin of the week: Bulldog

Wednesday, 2 August, 2017 0 Comments

The expert’s nose will detect floral notes with hints of lavender, lime, orange and, of course, juniper, which is sourced from Tuscany, no less. The piney nature of that same juniper is pronounced on the palate and it’s complemented with an array of botanicals, including orris, cassia, liquorice and almonds. But so much for the ordinary. Bulldog adds the extraordinary in the form of the longan, a small fruit native to south-east Asia. It’s common in traditional medicine and in the soups of contemporary Asian cuisine.

This is an elegant gin. Global in structure, Bulldog is essentially British in substance. The subliminal connection with Churchill cannot be overlooked and Bulldog is an ideal base for a Churchill Martini. Ingredients: six parts Bulldog, one part dry vermouth. Method: Pour ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an olive or two. Legend has it that Sir Winston liked his martinis served without vermouth, and he’s quoted as saying of the cocktail, “Glance at the vermouth bottle briefly while pouring the juniper distillate freely.”

Bulldog

Note: Bulldog is the fourth in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5, was followed by Friedrichs and continued with Dingle.


Mrs May: The charisma of a carrot

Saturday, 10 June, 2017 0 Comments

Writing about what he calls “Britain’s Election Disaster”, Theodore Dalrymple, a contributing editor of City Journal, says “Theresa May’s political incompetence carries a high price.” His displeasure is such that he goes all ad hominem: “It did not help that she had the charisma of a carrot and the sparkle of a spade,” he notes. And then he gets political:

“Technically, she won the election, in the sense that she received more votes than anyone else, but few voted for her with enthusiasm rather than from fear of the alternative. Her disastrous campaign included repeated genuflections in the direction of social democracy. Even after her defeat, moral if not quite literal, she burbled about a society in which no one was left behind — never mind that it would entail a society in which no one would be out in front, that is to say, a society resting in the stagnant pool of its own mediocrity.”

Many great leaders discovered their greatness only in the wilderness of exile and the bitterness of defeat and although Mrs May is now the subject of ridicule, she might yet develop the “steel” that’s needed for surviving in times of adversity. The clock is ticking, however, and she has, at most, six months to prove that she’s got the stuff of Thatcher within her. If she cannot find it, she will have to live with those carrot comparisons and toast analogies and worse.


Binning Corbyn

Thursday, 8 June, 2017 0 Comments

Nick Cohen describes himself as “a passionate leftist and liberal,” but he won’t be voting for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in today’s United Kingdom general election. Writing in the Spectator’s Coffee House section, Cohen offers a list of facts about Corbyn “which have not previously been collated in one place” and orders them under three headings: “Ethics, Leadership & Electability, and Social Media & Activists.” Nick Cohen says, “The reader can make up their own mind, based on these facts.”

One heading is of particular interest here and is titled “Against peace in Ireland.” Cohen says that Corbyn supported the IRA, opposed the Northern Ireland peace process and aligned himself with terrorists. Sample:

“Corbyn was general secretary of the editorial board of the hard-left journal Labour Briefing which supported IRA violence and explicitly backed the Brighton Hotel Bombing, which killed 5 people and maimed 31 others. In its December 1984 leader, the editorial board ‘disassociated itself’ from an article criticising the Brighton bombing, saying the criticism was a ‘serious political misjudgement’. The board said it ‘reaffirmed its support for, and solidarity with, the Irish republican movement’, and added that ‘the British only sit up and take notice when they are bombed into it’. Alongside its editorial, the board reprinted a speech by Gerry Adams describing the bombing as a ‘blow for democracy’. The same edition carried a reader’s letter praising the ‘audacity’ of the IRA attack and stating: ‘What do you call four dead Tories? A start.'”

Jeremy Corbyn is unfit for high office and British voters should reject him today.

Gerry Adams


A cheery Spectator and a glum Prospect

Monday, 22 August, 2016 0 Comments

At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Great Britain won 15 medals, including a solitary gold. Team GB finished 36th in the medal table that year. This year, Great Britain finished second in the table, ahead of China, with 67 medals, 27 of which were gold. The greatest credit for this achievement is due to the athletes, but Sir John Major, whose Conservative government set up the National Lottery in 1994, is central to their success. The Lottery started funding athletes in 1997, the so they could train full-time and, by 2004, Team GB’s medal tally had doubled to 30, doubling again at London in 2012.

Andrew Marr credits John Major in his Spectator diary entry written in sunny Dubrovnik amid crowds of contented Croats and tourists. “Team GB is a near-perfect post-Brexit idea” says Marr, inspired by it all and hoping for happy days:

“Imagine a Britain which had seriously invested for the long term, focusing only on industries and technologies where we were likely to be world-class; and where ‘company’ was used in the old sense of being a tight, committed team of friends and allies working together for a goal many years in the future. It would be a Britain shorn of short-term political lurches in funding and direction, whose corporate leaders had a lively sense of how much they owed to their teams and didn’t treat themselves as Medici princelings.”

Prospect But all that is gold does not glisten. Well, not for the “remoaners”, anyway. With a most unfortunate sense of timing, Prospect depicts Team GB stuck on a self-imposed, starting line in its race for a place in the world. Jay Elwes, Deputy Editor of Prospect, argues: “…there is a strong case that Britain’s new settlement with the EU should be put to a further vote. As the economic threat posed by Brexit grows ever more apparent, so the need for parliamentary intervention will increase. Britain needs a new plan — in the end, a decision by the Commons not to proceed with Brexit might turn out to be the best plan of all.”

After a summer of gold for spectators, disgruntled remoaners are hoping for the prospect of a winter of discontent and an un-Brexit.


The Johnson Factor

Thursday, 14 July, 2016 1 Comment

The main point of The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, is that one person can make all the difference. Snippet:

“Churchill decides from very early on that he will create a political position that is somehow above left and right, embodying the best points of both sides and thereby incarnating the will of the nation. He thinks of himself as a gigantic keystone in the arch, with all the lesser stones logically induced to support his position. He has a kind of semi-ideology to go with it — a leftish Toryism: imperialist, romantic, but on the side of the working man.”

Boris Johnson The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History

The Churchill Factor


Brexit: The Big Decision

Friday, 8 July, 2016 0 Comments

The poem Che fece… il gran rifiuto has appeared in publications with the title translated simply as “The Big Decision.” C. P. Cavafy took the heading from Dante’s Inferno and the original couplet refers to the decision of Pope Celestine V to abdicate the Papacy in 1294 and allow Dante’s enemy, Pope Boniface VIII, to gain power:

Vidi e conobbi l’ombra di colui
che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto.

(I saw and I knew the soul of him,
who cowardly made the great refusal.)

A fortnight on from the historic Brexit referendum that resulted in an overall vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, that Big Decision has upended British politics and sent shockwaves around the globe. Deciding to declare “the great Yes or the great No” has consequences, whether in the 13th or the 21st century, says Cavafy.

Che fece… il gran rifiuto

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honour to honour, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say No. Yet that no — the right no —
drags him down all his life.

C. P. Cavafy (1863 — 1933)


Tyler Cowen: Why Brexit happened

Wednesday, 6 July, 2016 0 Comments

“This vote was the one lever the English were given for sending a message to their politicians,” says Tyler Cowen, the American economist, academic and writer. He describes himself as “pro Remain, and also generally pro immigration,” but he admits that the desire of the Leave voters to preserve the English nation “as English” was stronger than he had thought. Why Brexit happened and what it means is one of the more reasoned pieces written on the referendum and Cowen is to be credited for acknowledging a truth that many “Londonists” refuse to accept:

“Quite simply, the English want England to stay relatively English, and voting Leave was the instrument they were given. That specific cultural attachment is not for Irish-American me, no, I feel no sentiment, other than perhaps good humor, when someone offers me ‘a lovely biscuit,’ or when a small book shop devotes an entire section to gardening, but yes I do get it at some level. And some parts of the older England I do truly love and I am talking the Beatles and Monty Python and James Bond here, not just the ancients like Trollope or Edmund Spenser.”

Cowen is on the money when he notes that voting Leave was “the instrument” people were given for sending a message to the UK’s leaders, and many Americans, frustrated with their political system and how it has been corrupted by the political professionals, will have taken note, no doubt. Donald Trump is the instrument being offered to US voters in November for expressing their rage with Washington and some will choose it and use it despite many of the warnings being expressed by his opponents. Given the opportunity, those who feel excluded and ignored are sending the message.


The Adele Adkins effect: From coarse to callous

Tuesday, 5 July, 2016 0 Comments

If TIME had been of a mind to indulge itself in a little wordplay, it could have opted for “Coarse” instead of “Course” in its 27 June headline, but it didn’t so Ashley Hoffman’s story about the popular English singer was topped with: “Of Course Adele Couldn’t Stop Cursing During Her Glastonbury Set“. What did it sound like? Well, look and listen: Adele swearing at the Glastonbury Festival 2016.

Does it matter if people swear in public? A cursory look at social media reaction to the reaction to Adele’s swearing shows that those who object mildly are tarred with the brush of reactionary. It’s cool to curse now. But would the same fans of the f-word think it cool if teachers began using it in the classroom? Would they like doctors to add it to their bedside manners? The Welsh singer-songwriter Charlotte Church would not be upset, if her tweet yesterday in response to the retirement announcement of UKIP leader Nigel Farage is anything to go by:

Having witnessed first-hand the corrosive, brutalizing effects of persistent swearing, I am convinced that a coarse society will lead to a callous society. Adele Adkins and Charlotte Church might not be thrilled with that outcome.