Listening to the BBC news, the day after Mr Cameron received the now notorious letter from Mr Tusk offering concessions towards Britain’s shameful demands for yet more special treatment from the EU, I have heard not one word from any interviewee in favour of remaining in Europe.
I fear this ‘unconscious bias’ towards the Outers is the BBC’s craven way of keeping onside with the egregious cabal of power-hungry, self-seeking Eurosceptic politicians and unreconstructed empire-loyalists, who hate the idea of the BBC’s editorial independence just as much as they hate the idea of a wider and more plural democracy; and hate that foreigners are usefully doing all the jobs the drunken, poorly qualified and barely literate British can no longer be arsed to get off their piss-stained sale-bargain sofas to go and do themselves.
Terrified of his own isolationists, ‘Schweinsteiger’ Cameron has refused to acknowledge the request of Parliamentary colleagues from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who would like him to postpone a referendum on Britain’s membership until well after their own municipal elections in May. Instead, he proposes to press the button as soon as the ink is dry on the surrender document.
There has been almost zero media exposure for the vanishing minority of Inners, whose inept campaign is being almost invisibly led by Sir Stuart Rose, former CEO of Marks & Spencer, a billionaire accountant whose bloodless efforts so far to persuade the public that Brussels is not the antiChrist have focussed entirely on dry-as-dust, virtually incomprehensible economic speculation.
Following the relentless, 40-year barrage of anti-European propaganda in the rightwing press, now building to a howling crescendo, there seems therefore a realistic prospect that, come June, the nation will once more be proudly standing alone, waving our little flags – just the way we like it, until we have to ask the Yanks to come over and bail us out. (Only they won’t, this time it will have to be the Chinese, or the North Koreans. Anyone, that is, without a sense of smell.)
I have argued all my working life and long into enforced retirement that 23 miles of windswept grey sea is historically no longer sufficient to isolate the Continent from Great Britain.
But here we are, with a draft deal on the table that says Britain can opt out of any EU legislation we don’t like; we don’t have to take any notice of the European Court; we can expose our workforce once again to dangerous Victorian working practices; we can abolish human rights; we need never join the common currency; we needn’t even discuss closer political union; we won’t have to pay the Polish and French and Italian workers who are keeping the country’s economy afloat the benefits proper British people are entitled to; the wide boys in the City of London won’t ever have to pay a financially crippling one penny-in-a-thousand transaction tax on their gambling, and we can have total control of ‘our borders’ (whatever that ridiculous phrase actually means. How many borders have we got?) to defend our way of life against horrid scrounging refugee orphan children.
But we still want all the privileges of EU citizenship: duty-free fags and the right to an agreeable third home in Tuscany.
It’s a bit like saying to the golf club secretary, we’d like a free bar all night and you can get rid of the women, but surely you don’t expect us to play that weird game with the funny sticks? Can’t we just pick up the ball and drop it in the little hole?
I mean, what is the point of staying in the European Union if we persist in periodically making whining adolescent protests to be let off this and that household chore, merely because we think we’re too good for it? Oh mum, it’s not fair… I’d much rather sit in my room and wank over Taylor Swift.
We might as well leave, and take our shame with us. It’s a pitiful spectacle, nationally humiliating and just plain bad manners.
Somebody buy my house. Get me out of here.
May the Force be with you
I’ve been happy to sign several petitions demanding that the police shut down a series of planned presentations around the country by an unprepossessing American self-publicist calling himself RooshV, who apparently promotes the joy of non-consensual sex.
It now seems following attempts by concerned Australian authorities to ban Mr V. that he may just be a self-appointed comic genius, who has made up an organisation, Return of Kings, complete with outrageous misogynistic and anti-gay abuse, as a feeble publicity stunt. It is also now said that he was never intending to visit these shores; that was all the invention of the feminists.
I’m not sure that making up a spoof anti-feminist website pretending to advocate violent behaviour towards women is any better than the real thing, there are a lot of gullible cretins out there in Sofaville, but I’m willing to stand corrected. In the meantime, I’ve taken down the rest of this section as it was a waste of good outrage.
I am parked, as usual, somewhere along the side-road opposite my house.
My house does not have private off-road parking. Being on a blind bend, it is too dangerous to park on the main road. Across the road is a small estate, and a side-road lined on one side by a dozen or so 1970s link-detached houses with private driveways and garages.
There are always parking spaces along there.
The side-road is an unrestricted, council-adopted public highway as far as the end, where it turns into a footpath under the railway bridge. There are no yellow lines. Parking is free to all.
The owners of the linear estate houses are mostly early-retired, public-sector middle-manager types. They spend their days pottering about, obsessively polishing their retirement dream-cars, inside and out; mowing their neat suburban lawns, between weekend forays to visit relatives in their campervans.
Then they leave their cars and campers out on the road. Once, one of them told me, ‘I don’t like to look out of my living-room window and see other people’s cars.’
Opposite them, between the side-road and the main road, are just two bungalows, fifty yards apart. One contains a disabled lady, her family and health visitors; the other is owned by a gruff-looking tradesman in late middle-age, who has a white van. Then the houses on that side give way to fields.
Today, I have parked between the two bungalows, about three feet back from the white line the tradesman has painted in front of the gate to his own private drive, which leads to a garage and beyond it a private parking space, that he never uses. My car cannot be seen from either house and I have left three car-lengths behind me, not wanting to obstruct the disabled lady’s entrance in case she needs emergency attention.
As I prepare to drive off, on our way to the supermarket and Hunzi’s afternoon walk by the river, the tradesman is walking past. As he turns in at his gate, he gives me a glare.
When we return, the tradesman’s white van is very pointedly parked on the space I had legitimately occupied before, not obstructing his driveway, three feet back from the white line, outside his neighbour’s house.
His van is the only vehicle parked along the whole length of the road. He has moved it from where it was before, on the other side of the entrance to his house, and parked it where I was previously parked; telling me, this is my road and I will say where you can and can’t park, which is somewhere other than anywhere near my house, thank you.
As if I am not depressed enough, what with the leaden grey skies, the Student Loan Company and not getting the part I auditioned for.
I should pray for the souls of my miserable, selfish, stupid, greedy, dog-in-manger neighbours.
But I won’t. They can rot in hell.
Toeing the line
Nine years ago, as avid readers of this, muh bogl will recall from an earlier Post, I was hurrying one morning to get to my ex-wife’s place 18 miles away to pick up the children to chauffeur them somewhere, I forget where.
The route took me along one of our rutted farm tracks with livestock, that passes for the main A-road between here and C., another large town about 50 miles away.
I was heading up an incline out of a rural village, past the 40 mph limit (the general speed limit in Britain is 60 mph), when a white Transit van emerged from around a bend, coming downhill in the opposite direction.
As we comfortably passed each other, a salesman in an unseen Volvo travelling close behind the van suddenly nudged out from behind it, presumably to take a look-see if he could barge past before the village arrived. With cat-like reflexes I swerved to avoid him, and braked to slow, but ran out of room on the narrow road. My nearside wheels clipped the raised verge and the car bounced back towards the middle. Like Boudicca’s chariot mincing through the Roman legions, his sharpened Swedish wheel-nuts chewed through all four panels on the offside of my plastic Renault.
Another six inches and I would now be bogling through a straw, if I’d survived at all.
A tentative enquiry to the insurance company produced the interesting news that, as a result of there being no white line down the centre of the road, no determination of fault could be made.
With no white line, it could not be said that either of us was on the wrong side of the road, and thus had caused the accident, so both our insurers would have to cough up in equal measure, on what is known in the gritty world of the insurance racket as a ‘knock-for-knock’ basis.
Nor could it be determined that, had there been a white line, it would have deterred the oncoming driver from pulling out in the first place.
Thanks to the parsimony of the Highways Agency; or perhaps because, being so narrow, the road did not even qualify for a centre marking, in effect it was common space. And unfortunately, that meant there was only a few pounds’ difference between fifty per cent of the repair cost and the excess on my policy, that I would now have to forfeit.
To protect my no-claim bonus I dropped the claim, took the car to a backstreet garage for a gonzo repair that left me driving around in a petrol-blue car with two red doors, which my children christened ‘the Bruise’, and paid up.
But I am drawn now to the memory of a friend who, in a similar accident years ago on another rural road with no lane markings, ended up with a fractured skull, blind in one eye, and no compensation. That road was wider, straighter, but it had been resurfaced months earlier, and the white line had yet to be repainted.
That’s why I’ve been faintly horrified to read of an experiment in supposed road safety, whereby the central white lines are being removed from some UK roads in the belief that the added element of risk will encourage drivers to take more care.
Sowing landmines along the roads would in all probability improve the rash behaviour of the British motorist no end.
The inevitable uninsured deaths and injuries will be on the conscience of these meddlesome desk-cretins.
According to the latest poll, Americans are increasingly angry.
The reasons are vague: a feeling that politicians in the Washington bubble are only interested in themselves and their rich friends. That America no longer has the respect of the world. That things are going wrong.
It’s probably true, like everything else we suspect about the Universe, in part. But it’s said to be why white middle-Americans, never the brightest bulbs in the lampholder, are increasingly voting for meat-faced, bullying, ignorant, loudmouth demagogues and deranged, white-haired old men promising change they can’t articulate or possibly ever deliver.
In short, they are willing to believe in anyone who pledges sincerely enough with quivering hand on flag and crocodile tear in eye that they will change things for the better and make America great again. (Something of an oxymoron, I fear.) The detail is unimportant. (Without a party machine, for instance, how is Donald J Trump going to staff the State Department and the White House?)
But as readers of this, muh bogl, have detected, I am also increasingly angry, and I don’t know why. It must be the change in the climate, which has not ceased to rain on us for the past three months. I have quite a nice life, on the whole, squirrelled away in my tiny cottage under a heap of empty wine bottles in the thunderous outskirts of a busy provincial town, supported by the generosity of the Department of Work and Pensions, who seem to have mistaken me for an elderly man who has worked hard all his life and paid his dues.
The really interesting statistic to emerge from the NBC poll is that Republicans are twice as angry as African-Americans. That’s probably because Republicans were registered to vote for the politicians they’re so angry about.
You can fool some of the people most of the time.
It’s a privilege
Waiting in an office, next to a pile of magazines.
One is the magazine of the county where I was sent to school. It has a special 24-page educational supplement. I haven’t been back to the school for fifty years, except once when I drove some mates down from London to a party, where I failed miserably to cop-off with Janet, the local doctor’s pretty daughter. The sexual revolution had not yet arrived in the English Midlands.
It is what is known in Britain as a public school, which is to say in that peculiarly British way of never saying what you mean that it is actually a private school. Less for the really posh, who go to Eton, Winchester and Charterhouse, Shrewsbury is a school more for the graceless heirs of well-to-do provincial solicitors and the owners of manufacturing and retail businesses.
I never really fitted in.
And lo, here is a report of my school today. It seems they have these strange creatures called girls there now. You can tell that from the photograph of a blond-haired girl, padded-up as a batsman and pretending with a determined expression to be about to receive a ball, surrounded by a half-circle of embarrassed and sniggering boys posing as slip-catchers, amused at the very idea of a girly playing cricket. Why, she could be someone’s sister!
The creative imagination of the school photographer doesn’t look like it’s changed much, either.
The accompanying article appears to be an extract from the school’s annual report, rather than a piece of semi-objective journalism. It has clearly been written by the Headmaster’s secretary, with his approval. The stilted, classicist’s prose style has not changed in fifty years, either. Private Eye magazine brilliantly skewered it in their ‘St Cake’s’ column. ‘Fifty pupils lined up for the Bickerstaff cross-country run on April 8th’. ‘A school party visited Pyongyang in July, great fun was had by all’. ‘Trumpington-Smythe Minor was presented with the Philpott Prize’ for something or other. Masturbating, probably. There wasn’t much else to do there.
Something else it goes on to report is quite interesting, however. It says the school achieved a 100 per cent pass rate in A-level exams; 83 per cent at A* or AB grades.
Now you know why Mancunian solicitors are prepared to fork-out £35,000 a year – more than my highest-ever annual salary – for the privilege of sending their sons and daughters to a school where all I remember is misery and tedium, organised games played on frozen mud, the pervasive smell of boiled cabbage and borrowed jockstraps, terrible food, muscular Christianity and sub-lethal brutality.
Goody, my new computer has arrived.
I may be the last dimwit in history to purchase an old-fashioned desktop tower. But it feels like the right thing to do, after busting my back for years hovering over this little laptop-thing perched at ankle-height on a coffee-table. I do an awful lot of writing, or a lot of awful writing, depending on how you look at it. It’s time I sat up straight.
A large box arrives, spot-on time. Why any business wouldn’t use DPD I can’t imagine, they are the only courier who gives you a one-hour slot and arrives within five minutes of the start of the hour, every time. TNT, Yodel, UPS… they’re all rubbish and make you stay in all day, if they haven’t already delivered somewhere down the street on the wrong day when you were out and now you don’t know where your £2,000 guitar has got to.
I reach for a kitchen knife and start slitting. Inside the large box is a load of crumpled brown paper, under which is another, smaller box. Inside that is a load of crumpled brown paper, under which is another, smaller box.
Finally my new computer emerges like the last of a series of Russian dolls, and I text my pet expert to come over and get it going for me. Technophobia is one of the privileges of old age.
And he informs me that a rather crucial component is missing from the mysterious, seemingly empty hinterland within, so I have to send it back. Luckily, it is a fact of my sad OCD life that I cannot throw away a good cardboard box.
My poor little house. All its cupboards are stuffed with useful empty cardboard boxes, some as big as yer ‘ead. Four-foot-long guitar boxes, outer and inner. Amplifier boxes, ditto. Shreds of bubble wrap, carefully folded. The huge box I bought my big-screen TV in, five years ago, still on top of the wardrobe. Small, intricate boxes saved in case of the need to retransport small, intricate things. Collapsed boxes. Boxes with little shreddy nests in them. Boxes that have been gnawed by mice.
I am feeling boxed-in, to be honest.
When is moving day?
So, farewell then, Maurice White.
Earth, Wind and Fire. A curious choice of name for a funky soul band that provided much of the soundtrack to my early adult life. What happened to Water?
It’s not been a good start to the year for ’70s musicians. Lemmy, Bowie, Boulez…
After the love has gone, indeed. I check with YouTube.
It’s still there.