Home » Apologies for everything » Burying goats at midnight

Burying goats at midnight

The only conclusion it is possible to come to, is that immigration is driving the current modest expansion of the British economy.

-Sterling Pound, Business Editor


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A colourful turnout

From: Our occasional soccer contributor and Portuguese midfield supremo, Boglinho (as told to Giles Hacke)

France 7, Albania 0. Not maybe the scoreline – their Euro 2016 match is still in progress as I write – but the number of black and North African footballers (including international stars Patrice Evra and Anthony Martial) who have started the game for either side.

And, mirabile dictu, they’re all French.

While UEFA deplores and national football associations penalise racism among the fans, the ‘elephant on the pitch’ is the squads. Not Russia, not Poland, not Ukraine, not Slovakia, not Albania, not the Czech Republic, not Croatia, not Hungary – no Eastern European country I’ve seen play so far, nor yet Iceland, Norway – seems to have a single black or ethnic minority footballer in its squad.

Perhaps they have more discriminating taste than to live there.


Q:  Why is there only one Albanian player in the free-kick wall?

A:  Because the others have all climbed over it and escaped.

*actually, plucky little Albania put up a decent show, holding an unconvincing French collection of ageing, overpaid celebrities at bay until the 89th minute. What they need now is a good striker. Call my agent, he’s not doing anything….



UK unemployment fell to 1.67 million in the February-to-April period, down 20,000 from the previous quarter.

The fall took the unemployment rate to 5%, the lowest since October 2005.

The number of people in work rose by 55,000, with the employment rate remaining at a record high of 74.2%.

Earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 2.3% compared with last year.

  • From the BBC News website, 15 June, 2016

Now, if these figures are to be believed, and we always do believe them because the National Audit Office is an independent authority, anything the Brexit campaign says about the evils of immigration must and can only be, complete bollocks.

You may want to stop your ears with wax, but what I am about to say is the obvious truth:

The only inference one can draw from these figures is that, even as all those immigrants arrive, ‘swamping’ our ‘culture’, etcetera, with their foreign faces and strong aroma of garlic, more jobs are being created at higher wages – totally contradicting the xenophobic nonsense-myth that ‘they’ are stealing our jobs so that there is no work for us poor Brits, and that ‘they’ are ‘driving down wages’. There are plenty of jobs all round, and to spare.

With the claimant count falling too (6,400 additional non-claimants were discounted, for some reason), it gives the lie to the lie that ‘they’ are only here to sponge off our ‘generous’ social benefits (GENEROUS? Writes the office teaboy. Have you ever tried living on benefits?)

You cannot statistically have record low unemployment, a record employment rate, more jobs and rising wages AND 300,000 more people arriving every year than are dying or getting the hell out of Britain, all at the same time, if you are going to try to claim that immigration is bad for jobs. It is simply not possible to draw that conclusion from the facts.

Can you, Andrew sodding Green? (Baron Green, of some little corner that is forever England – and sole Director of oft-quoted white supremacist wank-tank, MigrationWatch UK)

The only conclusion it is possible to come to, is that immigration is driving the current modest expansion of the British economy, and that without inworkers we would have continued to decline, with far greater austerity measures needed, since the banking crash of 2007/8.




Burying goats at midnight

I maintain that I have done, and continue to do, absolutely nothing valuable with my life.

I am listening on the radio to a guest on Libby Purves’ Midweek show, calmly recounting her extraordinarily adventurous life story. It’s not untypical of guests on this show, otherwise they wouldn’t be on it. They’ve almost always written books about themselves and their adventures; it’s how BBC programme researchers work, opening press handouts from publishers and going to lunch.

Brought up in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the west coast of… Canada, she subsequently moved to… New Zealand, and then somehow on to somewhere in… Africa, from where she drove a rally car and ended up in… London, where she worked for a diamond importer while getting a job at the… Foreign Office and having a diplomatic career.

Somehow on the way she acquired both… a light-aircraft AND a commercial pilot’s licence, and developed a passion for flying… pre-WW1 biplanes. So, as one does, she flew a biplane twelve thousand miles to… Australia, braving hostile deserts and shark-infested seas in the wake of… Amy Johnson. (And has mentioned Boeing several times, I imagine they sponsored her.)

Later, attempting to follow the routes of the flying postal delivery service across the… USA, she walked away from a terrible crash that destroyed the plane around her. Currently, having found a spare fuselage and commissioned some factory in… Hungary to build her a pair of wings and having tracked down a reconditioned 1943 engine in… Colorado, which is being delivered to…Vienna, she is constructing a new biplane hopefully in time to take part in the… Farnborough air show…

And she even sounded nice!

While I am sitting… here, frozen into immobility; contemplating with a sinking feeling the upcoming travel nightmare of a week in France in late July.

All I know of British Columbia is that my fellow alcoholic Malcolm Lowry wrote ‘Under the Volcano’, one of the greatest English novels of the 20th century, while drying-out romantically in a shack on the beach. All I know of me is that I write this stuff, drink coffee by the hour, wine by the night and go to choir once a week, before bed.

Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives: the longueurs, the ennuies, the do-nothing times, the frustrating going-nowhere periods, the thousand-and-one nights when you were asleep on your own, not even dreaming; the terrible, dreary office jobs, the driving to Norwich and back, the stuck-at-home marriages, the slow piling-up of rejection letters and unread bank statements; all the boring things you ever did or said; dreary hours of sitting politely in waiting rooms, not leaving the theatre in the interval of a stinker, queuing at the Post Office, doing the washing-up, fidgeting through trite sermons and Greek lessons, the agonising disability of piano practice – like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar in class; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?

When I look back, all the interesting lumpy bits I can remember; which are vanishingly few, both good and shameful, glorious and embarrassing, might add up to what some people might think of as an unusual and colourful life. Not everyone gets to be a failed farmer, burying a goat in a field at midnight (I thought I’d struck oil but it was only the village water main); a newsreader, anchoring an election night special; a 17-year-old, eluding the drug squad in a Turkish graveyard.

Mostly, though, it’s the long, jangling hiatuses inbetween, decades wasted doing nothing, getting nowhere; the knowledge that one is gradually closing up, as I have written before, like a daisy in the dark, so much left undone; the half-glimpsed, never-taken opportunities, the lazy knack of thinking of nothing to do that might help anything or anyone to be better, that fill the Bell jar with stale exhaust fumes.

To cheer myself up, trapped as I seem to be without much money in this tiny cottage on a thundering main road in the urban outskirts of a provincial seaside town, listening to my new neighbour shrieking all day at her bemused little dog; unable to sell, not wanting to move, waiting for something and nothing to happen, fearful of being found wanting at the end and plunged into futile rage and despair over my seemingly lost ability to act or create or bring about any change; abandoned apparently by the Fates, pushed back in my seat by the G-force of inertia, yet curiously still alive, I like to think that a glass-half-empty is always going to be topped-up by the waiter who anticipates a large tip; while the destiny of someone else’s optimistic glass-half-full is to be drained to the dregs.


Victims lash out

I spent much of the latter part of my teenage and early 20-something years in the 1960s and early ’70s trying without much success to have sex with various female acquaintances, to whom I now deeply and humbly apologise for any fear and distress I may have caused.

Having perhaps studied too much early 20th-century English Literature, and after a cloistered upbringing in all-male boarding-schools where the subject was never discussed, only furtively pursued, I thought in that time of innocence that sex was something normal people did automatically; and, being a perfectly presentable prospect with a job and well-developed abs, was somewhat puzzled at the reactions I got.

For, indeed, it is unfortunately the case that urgently wanting to have sex with someone attractive is the default mode of just about every living thing on the planet, fauna and flora – except my female acquaintances at the time.

And so it was that, after two marriages and any number (try three) of brief affairs with disinterested parties, I became this elderly eunuch you see before you.

Looking at the internet scene now, not a lot seems to have changed since my youth. Finding an experience for the night on certain well-known websites is still a major preoccupation among the young, driven to spread their genes by surging hormones over which they have little or no control; as well as by selfish desire for transient pleasures.

Which is why I’m a little dismayed that so many elderly women are piping up now from their retirement-home armchairs to complain that Sir Clement Freud MP, the popular author, TV chef, quizshow panellist and lugubrious co-star of a long-running dogfood commercial, may have propositioned them sometime back in the 1940s.

Who wouldn’t have? There was a war on, you know.

Freud, grandson of the famous old Viennese sex-maniac, died in 2009. The absence of any evidence or a confession hasn’t stopped the erstwhile pornographer, Richard Desmond, from using his UKIP-sponsoring Daily Express vehicle to brand him a ‘paedophile’ on the basis of an allegation that he might have abused girls as young as ten.

(How many under-age girls might be featuring on Asian Babes right now, inadvertently of course, I wonder?)

The Daily Mail, too, has weighed in with a daringly tentative piece in Mail Online suggesting ‘prime suspect’ Freud might even have abducted 4-year-old Madeleine McCann and abused her at his ‘£1 million villa’ near the Portuguese resort from where she disappeared, Playa del Mar. You have to admit, it’s a strange coincidence that someone lives there.

After all, was he not a nodding acquaintance of one of the early suspects, Robert Murat, a local expat who was cleared of any involvement? Did he not know Rolf Harris, the other popular TV entertainer and royal portraitist, convicted of sex crimes against underage girls? Did he not invite the McCanns to dine at his luxury villa, presumably to pump them for information about the inquiry and not at all because he might have felt sorry for them and wanted to make a neighbourly gesture?

Probably. Once you’re dead, it’s open season. But the lengthy sidebar next to the story, with its shots of long-legged nano-celebrity lovelies on beaches and its speculative come-on headlines concerning their wayward sex lives, should make up for the horror.

Let’s crack another tin of Winalot (Shomething in that name, shurely? Ed.) and wonder at the perverse ambiguity of human nature.

Except that something unprintable, unsayable, unspeakably awful occurs to this warped and diseased brain of mine. He didn’t, did he?

He couldn’t have, could he?

The TV chef, I mean?






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