re-Posted 31 December, 2015
Back again, and after a bout of hawking and spitting on a Chinese scale this morning while out walking with dogs under grim-looking skies in the brief interlude between Storm Frank and the next one – Freda? – I’ve managed to clear my lungs of some of their protective coating of grey phlegm brought on by three days in London.
I’ve been staying with my 90-year-old, chain-smoking mother; who, whenever I sneakily opened a window, would complain pointedly of feeling the cold, as she thinks my objection to inhaling secondhand Chesterfields day and night is just cissy; and now I can hopefully breathe again.
So, next my New Year’s resolution for 2016 is to take at least five minutes out, not ironically starting paragraphs with ‘So…’.
Actually, all resolutions to change anyone’s transatlantic verbal acquisitions are pretty futile. My campaign to get non-Americans to stop saying ‘re-search’ when they mean ‘research’ (with the Schwa) has been an abysmal failure; while supposed grownups continue to use ‘cool’ and ‘like’ indiscriminately, indeed ‘awesome’-ly, remindful of their glory days as teenage princelings and principessas at private prep schools in California.
I’ve even started to say things like ‘You guys’… especially when there are women present. I disgust myself sometimes.
Nor have I managed to convince anyone much during 2015 that refugees are not to be confused with useless, parasitic scum; a description I reserve for the so-called people who Comment in that vein from their prominent addresses in Sofaville.
For services to bogling
But the exciting news is that I am vastly indebted to Her Majesty the Queen and the Conservative Party Treasury for my Knighthood, which I have deservedly obtained this New Year in exchange for a very reasonable contribution.
Yes, it is ‘Arise, Sir Bogler, KFC and Bucket’, Editor Egregious of The Boglington Post: champion of consumer capitalism, fun-raiser extraordinaire and general contributor to the intellectual life of both my Followers!
Alongside muh gudfriends, the diminutive Dame ‘Boobs’ Windsor – no relation to HMQ, attagirl; that tax-woman who hasn’t managed to collect any and has just resigned; ‘sex-shop queen’, Goldie whatsername, and Dame Barker of Wimbledon; plus many old school-chums, like the brilliant election-winning Aussie PR supremo Lynton Crosby; and, er, Henry Bellingham MP (that’s enough obscure Tory backbenchers for one Post. Ed.), I can see no reason other than merely vindictive, crapulous, post-festive petulance for anyone to sneer at this year’s New Year’s Honours list.
Various so-called journalists have pig-ignorantly claimed that this thoughtful encomium to excellence trivialises what should be an occasion reserved for the genuinely Great and Good, rather than for the usual swarm of gong-hungry political, sporting and TV has-beens; and (of course) at least thirty formerly anonymous Tory donors, mainly longstanding members of White’s Club such as my newly ennobled self.
I beg to differ.
After all, who else counts as close friends of the Prime Minister, now that Sir Cliff and Klaxon, J. are no longer on the Christmas Card list? Would Citizen Corbyn have been elected to permanently scupper the Labour party’s chances of ever returning to power, without us and our humoresque three-quid donations? Would we not be overrun with cheating migrants, wearing white poppies to the Cenotaph and failing to mouth the national anthem? Would we continue to recognise the vital role the banking community plays in our fragile economic recovery, after years of Labour misrule?
I fear probably not.
And now it is time to see if I can book a table at a decent restaurant….
Rain, rain, go away
On the night of 8 June, 2012, our local river rose by what must have been about three meters, to overtop its levees. About a dozen houses across the road from me were flooded to a depth of at least a foot, after two days and nights of incessant rain. The owners were evacuated, loss-assessors descended and it was six months before they all had nice new kitchens and TV sets to go home to, just in time for Christmas.
It had never happened before, as far as anyone could remember, so most people presumed there had been a cock-up at the hydro-electric scheme further up the valley, a barrage from where the river level above the town is carefully regulated. The subsequent inquiry of course exonerated the power company, as the insurance companies would presumably otherwise have got together and sued them to death.
It has rained here every day for the past two months, the wettest (and warmest) November and December recorded in the past 100 years. Yet the river level has remained fairly constant, seldom even covering its shingle beaches; any managed overflow has easily been taken care of by the flood-pits excavated years ago upriver by sagacious and farsighted town burghers, and which even now in the wake of Storm Frank are not even half-full.
Not a single home here has flooded, unlike in the North-west, Yorkshire and Scotland; where, for weeks, TV news reporters have been sploshing around in their wellies, vying to find weeping householders and bankrupted traders to recount their tales of thrice-waterlogged woe, to the accompaniment of endlessly repeated shots of the same city streets unexpectedly turned to boiling torrents, and of those interesting men and women in high-vis. jackets and red plastic hats, towing old ladies in rubber dinghies off to rescue centres, who seem to emerge out of nowhere whenever disaster strikes.
Perhaps the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency should come and see how we do it in Boglington-on-Sea, now he is back tanned and refreshed from his holiday home in the Caribbean?
PS I was being ironic, but the poor chap has taken the b****** epithet to heart, and resigned. I feel a bit sorry for him. £100,000 a year is not a vast salary by modern standards, although he worked only a three-day week; and lo, on the fourth day it rained….
With a bang, not with a winter
Fabulous New Year’s fireworks, London guys. What, five, 10 million quidsworth? Good old Boris. We once had an Irish builder, we asked him, ‘could we turn this boxroom into a second bathroom?’ and I’ve never forgotten his reply: ‘If you’ve enough money, you can do anything you like.’
And Dubai? Masterstroke, setting fire to an entire 63-storey hotel. Upstaged all the rest! But a bit disconcerting to imagine you might have booked your wife and kids fatally into a giant Roman Candle for the holidays. What is the building made of, tallow? Were the sprinklers not working?
Anyway, no harm done. Happy New Year, possibly.
or, blwyddyn newydd dda, as they say in these parts. (There’s a New Year’s sale here on the letter ‘d’.)
- ‘Sir’ Uncle Bogler
Rules of engagement
Whenever an inquiry is held into allegations of political or institutional malpractice, the media finds it incredibly hard to get anyone in authority to comment. ‘We must not prejudice the outcome of the inquiry’ is the usual line. ‘Let the police do their job.’
Strange then, how politicians and generals have been queuing up to get on TV and into the papers to pre-trash the investigation by the Iraq Historic Allegations team (iHAT) into complaints of over a thousand instances of torture and unlawful killing of Iraqi civilians by British military personnel in the wake of the invasion in 2003, following the unwise announcement that prosecutions may be brought.
Oh, yes. Here’s our old friend, Defence Secretary The Hon. Michael Fallon MP, again. Mr ‘Why was I not told I was screwing my expenses?’ has commented in the Daily Torygraph that British soldiers could be rendered incapable of carrying out their duties on the battlefield, for fear of ‘being hauled in front of the courts’ by ‘ambulance-chasing British law firms’. Nice use of pejorative language, Mike. Right up the back-alley of the internet Commentariat.
But we are not talking about what happens on the battlefield. Mr Fallon’s big lie, seemingly a speciality of his, ignores that the alleged abuses are said to have taken place against unarmed prisoners, civilians and militia suspects in captivity. Stirring this particular hornet’s nest will only serve to help swing public opinion further in favour of the Tory party’s campaign to get rid of the inconvenient Human Rights Act, endorsed by the European Court and the UN. Bunch of cissy foreigners.
Many of the 1,500 alleged victims, including the relatives of the 280 dead, might have welcomed the timely arrival of an ambulance. The inquiry is estimated to be costing £57 million, and is not expected to report before at least the end of 2019 – bearing in mind that with a general election in 2020 it seems fanciful to expect delivery even then. It’s likely to become a performance comparable with the long-running inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland, when 14 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment.
For over 30 years the army had claimed the victims were all armed members of the IRA. Even after possibly the most exhaustive and expensive legal inquiry in history, the military and political establishment still complained of being ‘betrayed’ by the verdict. Is nothing able to shift this massive prejudice in support of ‘our heroes’, no matter what unholy messes they get themselves (and us) into?
Lord Saville’s report ran to 5,000-pages and resulted in one arrest, in 2015. His conclusion: there had been a breakdown of military discipline; something we are assured by Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, speaking on the Today programe, does not happen in the modern army. Or not very often: it is ‘inconceivable’, he said, that so many complaints should have arisen. They could not all be true.
Possibly the complainants are all liars. But should we not leave it to the investigators, led by a respected former senior police officer, to pose the questions, and to the courts subsequently to decide what is true and what isn’t, before issuing a prejudicial blanket denial?
Two inquiries have already accused the British military of systemic misconduct in specific cases, including that of the murder in custody of Iraqi hotel worker, father-of-two Baha Mousa, beaten to death by his interrogators. It is perfectly possible that this one will conclude that there are no further cases to answer. (While, of course, we are still awaiting the much-ridiculed Chilcott report on why we invaded Iraq so disastrously in the first place.) But if it doesn’t, might not the interests of justice be served? Or are our security services beyond justice? In which case, what are they for?
We should perhaps acknowledge the fact that frontline troops do not as a rule take part in prisoner interrogations in shithole dungeons behind the lines; so there is no suggestion, here or anywhere else, that they have not done, and do not continue to do where asked, a fantastic job; displaying skill, bravery and even selfless heroism beyond the best of most people’s ability.
There is nothing very brave or heroic, however, about other large men in uniform screaming at and manhandling hooded and shackled, sleep- deprived prisoners, as video footage has shown them doing. Even I could manage that, if I were so minded. And were the outcomes of interrogations not official secrets, we might question the success of such techniques at extracting any useful or timely intelligence.
It serves no one’s interests, least of all the interest of justice, to carelessly or dishonestly conflate the two spheres of activity, as Mr Fallon – and sometimes the media – are doing. BBC editors are guilty of extreme stupidity in that regard, overlaying a report of reaction to the iHAT investigation with pictures of frontline combat troops in action.
If we are going to have rules of war at all, or indeed any rules, we ought perhaps to remind ourselves that if we don’t follow them, we have no moral or legal case to make against the terrorists operating in our own countries.
World News: the crisis deepens
News arrives by cleft stick today that an expatriate Scottish mining engineer, Michael McFeat, has been arrested and is facing deportation from the feudal central Asian demesne of Kyrzgystan, after creating an international incident.
Mr McFeat unwisely facetweeted a photograph of a horsemeat sausage in a local shop, which he crudely compared to a horse’s penis. Unbeknown to him, the ‘chuchuk’ sausage is Kyrzgystan’s national dish.
According to the BBC report, insulting the national dish carries a possible five-year gaol sentence.
Lucky for him, in Saudi Arabia he might have suggested a pair of sheep’s eyes looked like testicles and been hanged.
Or is it hung?
I think I’ll just stay here. It’s hard to insult seaweed.