The Zinoviev Letter: raking up the detritus of the Post-truth past; Let them not eat cake, sieg heil.

“Stated quite simply, this wider significance, as I call it, consists in the fact that this is one more proof that everything that looks like a forgery, or can credibly be alleged to be one, actually is one.” – Claud Cockburn

Clearing out my mother’s stuff, sifting it for clues to the past.

A lot of unsaleable old brown furniture, some antique glassware (mostly chipped) and C19th crockery (ill-matched, also mostly chipped), kitchen-stuff for the charity shop, ‘smokers requisites’, a large pile of 78 rpm gramophone dance records and three large wardrobes full of vintage and couture dresses, I find as well boxes and drawers and suitcases stuffed with:

An amazing collection of old playbills, theatre programmes, scripts and publicity photos, press reviews (mostly favourable), letters, postcards, holiday snaps of unknown places, maybe unsuspected menfriends – a hundred-and-one tiny photos of ancestors whose identities I can only guess at – my Greek family picnicking on the beach, circa 1920 – 30 years’ worth of bank statements, an entire shopping bag full of used-up chequebooks, everyone’s birth and death certificates, decrees absolute, photos of my grandfather aged 18 in 1916, in his RNVR uniform – his certificate of competence (he was a signaller) – my mother’s 1944 call-up papers, photos of her travels here and there as a child, my grandmother (Red Cross) and my grandfather (RAF by this time) in their uniforms, photos of me from about age six months, every school report (embarrassing, mostly) I ever got, my A-levels certificate, one of many targets I shot to win the boys vs parents 0.22 rifle-shooting competition (age 12) in the final against Major-General Wansborough-Jones, school photos and magazines, childhood holidays with my grandparents at Maenporth Beach in Cornwall, my wedding photos, my grandmother’s wedding photos, my other grandmother’s wedding photos, my children at various ages, my mother on stage with my father at Southport repertory theatre, c. 1947, where they first met, my mother and her lifelong friend Patty Jaggard, aged about 12 in Brownies uniform, my grandfather’s swimming certificate, posing proudly with his first car, his 1939 commission as an officer in the RAF signed by King George VI and Lord Portal, his earlier promotion to sergeant, a mysterious portly character with a walrus moustache labelled ‘Uncle Charles’ (the man, not the moustache…), dozens and dozens of receipts from Bonham’s and Christie’s auctioneers listing many items of jewellery and works of art she sold like a Russian emigrée to pay the rent, a drawerful of advices and accounts and lying blandishments and demands for huge sums from crooked Lloyds insurance syndicates – investment bonds (probably spent, but who knows?) – a divorce settlement from the High Court giving her two London houses she never seemingly got to own (along with my stepfather’s hamfisted confession to having sex with a Japanese masseuse) – surprises galore, trails all leading back on themselves, creating the mysterious, once glamorous entity that was my mother; a life she never fully shared with me, so that I am now left with the near-impossible task of untangling it, as there are no surviving witnesses – she would have been 93 the next week.

It seems she never threw a piece of paper away, that carried any meaningful information or signal to the future. And yet, the key elements are both missing and present.

Like Schrödinger’s Cat, according to the documentary record that I have so far pieced together my mother died simultaneously both relatively rich and/or deeply in debt: an unpredictably entangled superposition of the fundamental particles of her life.

And among the papers, in the bottom of a lever-arch file, I find a copy of Private Eye magazine, the satirical journal founded in 1962 by, among others, my uncle; a yellowing New Year issue dating from January 1967.

As we move across the invisible boundary between 2016 and 2017, exactly fifty years on, it’s this I want to write about now.

Lies, damned lies and history

Because through all the heavy-handed satire and wonderful jokes (the young writers had yet to find a consistent voice, which was part of its charm) my favourite Bill Tidy cartoon (where the ship’s captain bravely tells the giant Swedish cook who has gone berserk in the galley: ‘Give me that egg-whisk, Svensson!’), the brilliant Willie Rushton cartoon (Bucolic Tory grandee being served by clumsy topless waitress, pompously complains: ‘Waiter, there’s a mammary gland in my soup’), it is quite remarkable how nothing has changed in the past fifty years.

Nigel Farage Ambassador to Washington, with a peerage?

“Mr Reginald Paget, Socialist, QC, yachtsman, Old Etonian… has been a constant critic of Her Majesty’s (Labour) Government ever since it achieved power in October 1964. He has never been offered any post in that government, but he was on the original list for a high honour in this year’s New Year Honours. However, his attacks on Mr Wilson mounted in indignation and ferocity to such effect that the Prime Minister was forced to revise his honours list and remove the name of Reginald Paget.”

Southern Rail? Top Shop cleaners?

“The National Union of Railwaymen, led by suave, complacent, well-dressed, well-paid Sidney Greene (…recently given a fat pay rise…) employs a number of clerks, typists and secretaries at… its London HQ. …They do not belong to a union catering specifically for clerical staff… (but) are persuaded to join the NUR. So what happens when these unfortunates want a pay rise? Well, they approach their union (the NUR). And their union approaches their employers (the NUR). With somewhat predictable results.”

Thomas Cook’s holiday cockups?

A story about a villa hire company in London concerns a woman who pays £110 for a three-week holiday on Ibiza (in the days when you could still ‘holiday’ on Ibiza without being puked on by foul-mouthed yobbos) but finds she’s been double-booked and there’s no hire car. She and her husband are shoved into a grotty hotel for a week, complaining of ‘bad Spanish food’, before ending up in a different villa a mile from the beach, with broken furniture and contaminated salty drinking water, and the substitute hire car explodes. The travel firm of course refuses to pay compensation. (The joke being that Tory leader, Ted Heath has just booked his holiday with the same firm.)

And the ‘Post-truth’ politics of today? The Russian hacking interference possibly aiding Trump’s triumph?

I can do no more than refer you to a brilliantly ironic piece of writing in the issue by the incomparable Claud Cockburn. Forgive me for quoting at some length. I need, first of all, to explain the story of the ‘Zinoviev Letter’. Who better then than our friends at Wikipedia (to whom I have sent a generous donation of £10 for Christmas) to summarise (edited extract):

The “Zinoviev letter” was a controversial document published by the Daily Mail four days before the general election in 1924. It purported to be a directive from the Communist International in Moscow to the Communist Party of Great Britain. … The letter seemed authentic at the time but historians now believe it was a forgery. It called for intensified communist agitation in Britain. Historians now agree that the letter had little impact on the Labour vote. However, it aided the Conservative Party in hastening the collapse of the Liberal party that led to the Conservative landslide.  (

Cockburn’s piece concerns an interview in the Sunday Times with the widow of one of the men who forged the letter. “It is quite a tribute to something or other that it has taken only 42 years to find that what we knew all along was the case is, in fact, the case” writes Cockburn, acidly.

“But although a couple of weeks have passed since the widow Bellegarde’s bulletin was issued, very few people seem to have grasped its wider significance. Stated quite simply, this wider significance, as I call it, consists in the fact that this is one more proof that everything that looks like a forgery, or can credibly be alleged to be one, actually is one. Once get a firm grip on that, and much that has previously been obscure, bizarre-seeming, or plain stinking becomes crystal clear and susceptible of ready explanation.

“Already, as an all-too complacent public passes, like a doomed sleepwalker attempting to raid his mental refrigerator in search of yet more illusion, from 1966 to 1967, the sinister experts – gnawing like diseased beavers at the grassroots of our very society – are laying their plans for the year ahead. It very, very definitely behoves each and all of us here today (assuming we are not gone tomorrow) to be on the qui, as never before, vive. For already, in little known backrooms up and down the country, and also in towns and cities, the forgers and fabricators are forging and fabricating their monstrous wares.

“Fight, fight and fight again … For nothing could do more to undermine international confidence in our very being and future as a nation, than for these forgeries to be accepted as genuine; and thus spread abroad the destructive and disgraceful notion that the country is being led blindfold to the dogs by a herd of Gadarene swine.”

(©Pressdram Ltd, 1967)

Plus ça change, plus c’est le même chose, as the foreigners say. History evidently does repeat itself. What held for the dishonest interference of the ‘ur-Alt-right’ – the future Hitler-admiring Daily Mail of Lord Northcliffe – in a British election in 1924, and the ‘stinking’ corruption as Cockburn saw it of politics in 1964, the year that brought the slippery Labour technocrat Wilson to power, holds all too true today.

You’re being fucked over by liars of immense wealth, ambition and cunning, America.

Fight for your – and our – freedom.


07 January, and a story gone viral on the Alt-right Breitbart website that a mob of a thousand Muslim immigrants chanting allahu akbar! had set fire to Germany’s ‘oldest Christian church’ on New Year’s Eve has been dismissed by Dortmund police as a total fabrication, based on a report of a small fire started by a firework, that caused no damage to the church – which is not ‘Germany’s oldest’.

That might be something we could ignore if the founding editor of Breitbart, Mr Stephen K Bannon, had not just been appointed as Mr Trump’s chief policy adviser.

It ranks with the Pizzagate hoax, that ran with increasing hysteria over several sites including Reddit and 4chan falsely claiming the FBI had uncovered emails showing Hillary Clinton was part of a child sex ring based in a Washington pizza restaurant (for full account visit A gunman later arrested at the scene said he was just checking the story for himself.

To cheer you up, a (presumed genuine) Classified ad from the Eye of January 1967, of a kind we may never again see in our lifetimes:


PRIVATE SECRETARY. Crackpot inventor/writer living in nicer half of Lancs., offers post of personal assistant residential or otherwise, to some charming young lady, preferably skilled at driving and shorthand, interested in animals, swimming and witchcraft. Box No. 1932.

Just a Mo

The knighthood awarded to Mohammed Farah in the New Year Honours list has predictably attracted a stinking deluge of the most unutterable racist gutter-slime imaginable, even on The Guardian website.

It’s true, Farah is an immigrant. A refugee. Oh dear. He arrived here from wartorn, starving Somalia when he was eight. He’s now 31. Since then, draped extensively in British flags and fathering several British children, almost a caricature of the superpatriot, ‘the Mobot’ has gone on to make sporting history, winning both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at successive Olympic games.

Few will forget the Rio 10,000, when he tripped and fell but got up in true gritty British fashion and went on to win, despite the machinations of a bunch of Kenyan athletes who tried to force the pace and freeze him out. His emaciated physique attests to hundreds and thousands of hours of self-sacrifice and training. He dedicates his many victories to his adopted country. And now, having announced his impending retirement next year – he plans to concentrate on the Marathon – it is certainly appropriate that he should be honoured in this way, more than some Conservative party donor cunt.

True, he lives – one hopes only temporarily –  in the USA. That’s because UK training facilities for distance runners aren’t so great, especially in winter. And, we recall, the also newly ennobled Sir Andy Murray, 29, who has had the one really successful year as our leading tennis champion since Fred Perry, again winning at Wimbledon (still the only tennis championship in the world, as far as British journalism is concerned), a second Olympic gold and wrested the world Number One spot from an out-of-form Novak Djokovitch, not only lives and trains in Miami in the winter, but casually received his BBC ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ award relaxing at poolside, USA.

Personable, chirpy Farah didn’t even make it into the top three, being beaten to second and third places by an elderly dressage rider (white) who’d recovered from cancer to win gold in Rio, and a little-known triathlete (also white) who stopped while winning a race to rescue his brother, who had collapsed with exhaustion short of the finish line somewhere. Jolly brave efforts, but really?

“…he is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in both the 5000 m and 10,000 m. He is the second athlete in modern Olympic Games history, after Lasse Virén, to successfully defend the 5000 m and 10,000 m titles. Farah also completed the double at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships in (respectively, Moscow and Beijing). He was the second man in history to win long-distance doubles at successive Olympics and World Championships, and the first in history to do the quadruple-double…. Farah is the European record holder for the 1500 m, 10,000 m, half marathon and two miles, the British record holder for the 5000 m, the European indoor record holder for 5000 m, the British indoor record holder in the 3000 m and the current indoor world record holder for the two miles.

“He is the most decorated athlete in British athletics history.”

(Oh, and he won the Great North Run in 2016. Ed.) – Wikipedia entry

It seems to demonstrate that good ol’ British Value of not wanting to be too welcoming to foreigners, especially successful ones.

The year 2016 thus marked a watershed in British tolerance of multiculturalism and genuine talent. From now on, if you can self-identify as white working-class you can be complete crap at everything, as poorly educated, illiterate, ugly, useless, badly dressed, over-illustrated and hopeless as you like. You can live on State handouts and the proceeds of minor crime, trolling actual humans from your piss-stained, pay-nothing-now, sale-bargain sofa, drink massive quantities of cut-price Buckfast cider, jettison the contents of your car ashtray and a jumbo KFC chicken ‘bucket’ all over my driveway, get to the third round of X-Factor on no talent whatsoever, despise educated people, beat up foreigners in the streets, spend your holidays having semi-conscious public sex in a pool of vomit in a Balearic Island gutter, get a criminal record for affray and forty unpaid parking tickets; it doesn’t matter, you’re a member of a superior species today, buddy.

The age of the pallid, tattooed ignoramus – the British – has finally dawned.

The barbarians are inside the gates.


It’s fascism, Jim – and very much as we know it.

Yes folks, just as the Republican Congress has voted to abolish the independent ethics committee that provides oversight of minor things like government corruption and secret lobbying (vote later rescinded in the face of public outcry), so Donald’s Dirty Dozen can get away with any ripoff they damn well like, comes the news that dentists in the UK want Britain’s Bosses to ban cake in the office.

That’s right, apparently the traditional office birthday celebration is so immoral, antisocial and deleterious to well-being, leading to dental caries, gumboils, obesity, sexual antics in the stationery cupboard, banking collapse and, no doubt, death, that:

“People should cut down on eating cake and biscuits at work as it adds to obesity and poor oral health”, according to the Faculty of Dental Surgery (what that? Ed.)  ‘Professor Nigel Hunt said the UK needed “a culture change” at work’ (BBC News).

Not to be outdone, the rest of the Royal College of Surgeons – those who aren’t still off with a hangover – has weighed in with its New Year’s tuppence-worth:

Professor Hunt, dean of the faculty at the Royal College of Surgeons, said it may be a case of managers wanting to reward staff, colleagues wanting to celebrate or people bringing presents back from their holidays that sees sugary snacks going into the workplace.

But he said it was detrimental to employees’ health and they should make a New Year’s resolution to “combat cake culture” in 2017. (BBC News)

You know what, guys?

That’s right, you can take your certificates down off the wall and fuck the hell right off. We’re having cake, okay?

We’re The Resistance.


I just bought a pack of five chocolate-orange-filled donuts for lunch, so screw you, Hunt. But look… the Morrison’s own-brand ‘Market Street’ pack is now covered in a brightly coloured Union flag design!

Thus it begins.

The Pumpkin: Bumper Xmas Edition The British Way. Exclusive: Is Donald Trump Secretly a Woman? What is Fascism when it’s at home? And: Tell Santa, we’re losing the Arctic.

The Pumpkin

Bumper Xmas Edition


The British Way
From: Chief Political Editor, Laura Facebook ©2016. @laurasweeplace

Nigel Farage, Nigel Farage, Nigel fucking, fucking Farage. On and on he bloody goes, like a Victorian Christmas carol.

Can UKIP’s Uncle Arsehole not be discouraged from blowing off at table? It’s making the air in Spacepod Britain unbreathable. It can’t be the Brussels sprouts, can it? Surely?

Coming on top of days of importunate whingeing about not being appointed British ambassador to Washington, a job he feels fully entitled to be handed on a plate simply because he has twice pulled the cracker of the pumpkin-elect, Mr Trumpkin; and despite having no experience or qualification whatever to wear the red paper hat of the goose-greasy Whitehall ladder’s plum-pudding ambassadorship, the nation’s favourite publicity-sponge has made it onto the news not once, but twice today.

Thanks to the happy deaths of twelve innocent people, Mr Farage has seized the opportunity to intervene in German politics – yes, that’s the Germany still in the European Union he has renounced – on the side of the neo-Nazis (okay, the Alt-right, whatever), claiming that Mrs Merkel is responsible for a terrorist atrocity because she let in so many foreign refugees that one of them was statistically bound to hijack a Polish lorry, shoot the driver and accelerate mercilessly into a crowd of Christmas shoppers; some of whom might have been Muslim refugees themselves*.

Mr Farage, you see, disparages refugees. They’re foreign, slightly brown-coloured and should stay and die in their own countries rather than spread disease and funny religion and whatever else, disappointment, among the decent white working class, of which Mr Disparage is decidedly not a genuine member. Oh, but I’m not ‘getting it’, am I? Fuck off, Nigel. Minor public-school oik. Go back to your bank, if it’s still there.

From The Guardian report: “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise,” (‘Tweet’, by Faragé) he wrote. “Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.”

A different terrorist attack last year sadly may turn out to be the Farage legacy.

Thanks to the happy murder last June of 42-year-old mother of two and member of Parliament for Batley and Spem, Jo Cox, by a Nazi memorabilia-hoarding white native inflamed by her support for Britain’s remaining in the EU, the arch-Leaver Farage, who spent the campaign and the General Election before it whipping up fear and loathing of strangers, has again been cheerfully exploiting his notoriety. He’s been howling down her husband on a radio show.

The charmless Farage has claimed that Brendan Cox, who was being respectfully critical of his intemperate remarks about Mrs Merkel, promotes ‘violent extremism’ through the foundation he set up in memory of his late wife, that in turn supports a charity called Hope not Hate, which Mr Farage accuses of being, well, anti- his perfectly acceptable British views, but not in a good way; hate being so much more important in the current climate than hope.

The man is, frankly, unhinged by his overweening sense of unelected self-importance and the absurd respect accorded to it by lazy BBC producers. He’s certainly not fit to be anyone’s ambassador to Washington, however idiotically his putative boss, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, may behave on his own foreign junkets (the latest is, he’s been using them to heavily promote his new book,  another much-needed biography of his fantasy alter-ego, Winston Churchill, at taxpayers’ expense).

There is at the time of writing no evidence as to who carried out the Berlin truck attack**. A young man said to be a ‘Pakistani asylum-seeker’ arrested near the scene has been released after 24 hours of questioning, for lack of any proof of involvement (or of asylum-seeking). Luckily he was in Germany, in London he’d have been shot six times in the head at point-blank range and no questions asked, ever again.

The media, bored waiting, have spent the day winning gold medals at jumping to conclusions, wringing their hands over the overgenerous asylum policy in Germany, regardless of who really carried out the attack. It was bound to be a Muslim, anyway. It usually is. Inflaming Islamophobic sentiment among the Christian right, the ‘unifying President’  Mr Trump tweets so too. Mr Trump has tweets for brains.

The police, who seem to have wasted a whole day believing they had the right guy, have now put out an APB on a person or persons unknown. It all sounds pretty chaotic, but Frau Merkel is not chief of the Berlin police and all this happened on their watch, not hers.

Howsoever, Mr Farage’s lifelong mission has been to destabilise the postwar consensus in Europe. Engaging in dialogue with foreigners on equal terms is not the British way. Blaming Frau Merkel in an election year for anything unpleasant to do with slightly brown, violent non-Aryan people suits his purpose of flirting with extreme white nationalism, heedless of the danger. He can’t help himself, the cheeky monkey! He’s just being helpful.

Over in Ankara, an off-duty policeman has been videoed assassinating the Russian ambassador at an art-gallery reception, waving his gun around wild-eyed, as if on the Jeremy Kyle show, before himself being martyred by his colleagues. Has Mr Farage come forward to tar all Turkish policemen with the brush of violent Islamic extremism? Sure it’s only a matter of time before he lays the blame squarely at the door of Mr Erdogan; after all, are there not 3.7 million foreign, slightly brown-coloured refugees in Turkey, all queuing up to assassinate a foreign diplomat or two? Who let them in, eh?

And in France, still under military lockdown after the Paris attacks, is 7% of the population not ‘at war’ with M. Hollande, the French president, being Muslim and therefore, probably migrants? Has M. Farage not yet seized the moment to advise the French people in his best Branglais that M. Hulot’s lackadaisical approach to Islamic refugees was responsible for the atrocity at the Bataclan? No, because those responsible were petty criminals, born in France and known to the authorities; not refugees.

And, cowering behind them, step forward one Mr Abubakr al-Baghdadi, Caliph of Raqqa, who cannot possibly be mistaken for M. François Hollande of the Elysée palace, however unpopular he is; or for Frau Merkel, come to that.

Nigel can at least bathe in the warm glow of approbation from Mme le Pen over his triumph in the Brexit vote, as the faded blonde bombshell too would like to wreck the European experiment and remove all slightly brown-coloured people from the picture, to avoid more cultural contamination (have you tried the food over there lately? It could do with something). When she gets elected later this year, maybe Mr Farage can become our ambassador to Paris? With a bodyguard of Marines?

Racism and the promulgation of social division for one’s own political ends cannot depend on logic, facts or consistency of narrative; only on lies, innuendo and bombast.

And then murder.

As Christmas dinner approaches, I do so hope Mr Farage chokes on his fucking turkey. It’s the British way.

*Yes, they do. Everyone does, it’s compulsory.

**This was true until, more than 36 hours after the attack, police found the ID of a Tunisian man in the cab of the truck, where presumably they had not thought to look before.

So much for the myth of ruthless German efficiency, the pussies.

Midnight, the same day: Someone needs to tweet Messrs Trump and his British shitball, Farage to tell them the good news: 23 year old Tunisian Anis Amri has been named as the fugitive. A minor criminal and drifter, who’d served time in Italy for arson and was on the police radar in Germany, his asylum application had been TURNED DOWN. He was not a refugee.

Morning, and Mr Amri has apparently been shot dead by Italian police. Never return to the scene, is my motto.

Is Donald Trump Secretly a Woman?

By: the BogPo’s new Factual Corrections editor, Ruth Post ©2016. @breitbartnooze

(Warn_91500718_5eef05b4-b6a1-43f4-b63b-f5afc1fb19d7ing: grossly non-PC terminology may cause fainting)

Thinking about how Donald Trump looks.

“I did it my-ey-ey-ey way”

The small, delicate hands and feet. The wide hips. That rough-edged voice, as if coached down-pitch to sound more manly. The soft, floppy hair, the smooth complexion, the mincing gait…. Makes me think of acts like Vesta Tilley, the famous music-hall drag artist of the 1860s; Ella Shields, Hetty King (whose name once adorned tall buildings in New York – see YouTube video).

Famous male impersonators…

Women strutting the stage in business suits, heartily slapping their thighs…

An ageing drag artiste in orange slap.

His, or her, behavior. There’s the strange love-hate relationship with women, his/her attraction to and fondness for employing, even marrying (s/he approves same-sex marriage) iconic, tall blondes coming from different cultures, statuesque foreign women who might not twig that his American behavior seems peculiar until it is too late, out comes the strap-on and, later, the chequebook. Barbiedoll women who themselves it must be said look impossibly overfeminised, not unlike male drag artists – we may think about April Ashley, Danny la Rue, Lily Savage… er, Mrs Doubtfire. It’s all very queer.

The chronic bitchiness… Remember those ‘Miss Piggy’ insults to that Venezuelan beauty queen? (Indeed, did not Trump organise parades of sexy-lookin gals for entertainment?), her fondness for late-night gossipy tweeting, her imperviousness to criticism, her admiration for the equally butch Mr Putin, the curiously inverted logic and frequent changes of direction on every subject she read about in the Enquirer… the complete inability to reverse, apologise, or navigate to Mosul….

And then there’s the ‘Billy Bush’ tape… If you were a woman in a suit pretending to be a man, needing to act like a man, to be one of the boys, not to be found out or suspected, might you not boast grossly about your conquests, using obscene and vulgar language, ‘locker-room banter’ such as you might imagine the boys relaxing off-duty together to make? Sounding off loudly about women’s breasts, their sexual attributes and proclivities in front of them and other people?

Only, men don’t do that. Really, we don’t. Maybe when we’re being excessively ironic, or are very drunk. Or teenagers.

But you might, if you thought we did. And you’d heartily slap your thigh, wouldn’t you, while singing ‘I’m Burlington Bertie from Bow’….?

Nor do regular guys generally march up to a totally strange woman, push her up against the wall breathing heavily and grab her breasts, or any other part of her anatomy, making obscene overtures in public, unless we’re loveless party organisers at a political convention. Not in confined spaces, in front of mixed witnesses. Gangsta rappers might do that, Colombian drug barons, Liberal peers, but we don’t. We don’t generally nowadays show off in that crude, coarse, abrasive way, just to prove our power.

Sure, ass-pinching still goes on in parts of the world, but less. Not even much now in Italy where no woman was safe in the streets forty years ago. Non facciamo cosi allora. It was annoying, offensive, ignorant, crude pestering, but it was also intentional playfulness. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but the rest of us have been making an effort in recent years, you may have noticed.

A butch lesbian woman might think it was the thing to do, though, to prove her masculinity; to insult and show her secret contempt for the male race. Was there not obvious sexual predation in his (her?) prowling around behind Hillary in those debates, not in the priapic manner of a male rapist, perhaps, more with an air of  theatrical menace;  more like a pouting bull-dyke in heat? (Think: Coral Browne, Marlene.)

And you’d dodge the draft, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t want to be trapped in an all-male environment, no women (there were no women in Vietnam, except nurses and, obviously, Vietnamese women), where you’d have to shower with the guys, would you? You wouldn’t go in for organised team sports. You could hide in plain sight, though, as an entrepreneur, a lone wolf beholden to no-one, behaving as you like.

Trump’s louchely offensive behavior seems like an exaggerated way of showing supposed ‘manliness’, a caricature of macho posturing. But it might sit vesta-tilleylogically, coming from a butch, bull-dyke lesbian in a shiny blue Brioni’s suit. It all fits. Why else would s/he do it now, except s/he thinks it’s how real men carry on and needs to keep up the pretence?

I’m not buying this refreshing, anti-political-correctness shit. There’s nothing PC about regular good manners, which you’d expect anyone in her position to show in public. Anyone at all anywhere, for that matter.

Vesta Tilley

Anyone, that is, who was not a deeply conflicted personality.

Could it be? Could Trump secretly be a woman? Has the USA finally elected its first female President?

At this point Scrooge awoke, to realise it had all been a dream. The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come had departed from him.

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious.

`What’s to-day.’ cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

`Eh.’ returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

`What’s to-day, my fine fellow.’ said Scrooge.

`To-day.’ replied the boy. `Why, Christmas Day.’

‘And Trump. Putin. Brexit.’

‘Who, Sir. What?’

(After Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol.)


Dr Jim Mussolini

What’s Fascism when it’s at home?

In a guest article over on the BBC website, political correspondent Mark Mardell invites himself to speculate on whether there might be found any useful parallels between the rise in America of the so-called Alt-right and 1930s fascism?

By and large, he concludes, there aren’t.

The problem being, he writes, that there is no simple way of deciding what is meant by fascism.

Let’s unpick that.

The original fascists appeared in ancient Rome as legal office-holders bearing the ‘fasces’, a bundle of flogging-sticks wrapped around an executioner’s axe, a symbol of authority. How we got from there to Uncle Benito making the trains run on time (God, how we need him now!) is not explained, although the idea of power residing in the right to dispense arbitrary justice, the legitimacy of State-sanctioned violence, is attractive linkage.

One modern example might be that of the North Carolina state legislature. In the wake of the multi-level Presidential election that brought the bizarre character of Donald Trump to power, the Republican majority  in North Carolina, a notorious ‘swing state’, was overturned against the tide by the Democratic candidate for Governor, Roy Cooper.

Immediately following his election, but in the period before he was able to take office, the Republicans moved quickly to pass a large amount of legislation that makes it virtually impossible for him to govern, for instance preventing him from making political appointments to key boards already dominated by Republicans; bringing in new restrictions on voter registration to virtually guarantee a Republican win at the mid-term primaries.

As Ryan Cooper (Shome relation? Ed.) writes in The Week:

“Essentially, the Republican Party has used the power of the state to protect itself from the voters of the state”. And ominously, he warns: “This should be viewed as a potential test run for the nation as a whole.”

Now, as Mardell argues, you will not see the wing of the GOP that supports Mr Trump goose-stepping down Pennsylvania Avenue in fetching black uniforms, arms raised heroically in Roman salute. The militaristic fantasy of the old-time fascists seems to have gone, and we are left merely with the nastiness, the craving for power and reverence for ‘strong leadership’ that invariably throughout history has made life miserable; a disaster for minorities, immigrants and oppositional elements.

Writing in The Nation, Ari Berman concludes:

“The pattern in North Carolina is clear: when Republicans win, they suppress the Democratic vote to solidify power in future elections. And when they lose, they rig the rules to prevent their opponents from being able to fairly exercise and maintain power. This is what happens in a dictatorship, not a democracy. And it’s a preview of what’s to come in Trump’s America…

After the Nazis gained a majority in the Reichstag in 1932, Hitler’s first action on being confirmed by von Hindenburg as Reichschancellor was to push through the Enabling Act. From Wikipedia: “Hitler’s ‘rise’ can be considered to have ended in March 1933…. The Enabling Act—when used ruthlessly and with authority—virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection.”

It’s as easy as that.

But dictatorship – tyranny – is not of itself  ‘fascism’.

Lust for power and the willingness to subvert democracy in pursuit of one’s political ends – principally, to cling to office regardless of the express will of the majority – doesn’t constitute an actual ideology.

In Africa currently we have several leaders who, in the face of losses incurred through elections reluctantly held to demonstrate the modern, democratic face of their dictatorships, are refusing to leave office, claiming (along with Mr Trump, until he realised he’d won) that the ballot was rigged against them. They are not ideologues of any sort, just power-mad idiots.

In North Carolina the incumbent, McCrory, at first refused to concede defeat, alleging voting irregularities. In the end he was able to cite only one possible case involving a 101-year-old man who might have voted when he was supposed to be dead; at which point he decided to cheat and, like Hitler, rigged the system by passing legislation outlawing opposition to his party.

Fascism however does not only infect the leadership and the party machine. Fascism is a populist ideology that, granted licence from the top, grows from the bottom and exploits social and economic rivalries, fighting over the scraps, thriving on confusion, rumour and lies; relying on the atavistic instincts inherent in everyone who can be led to believe their survival depends on unity of purpose and the abandonment of discredited social norms and mores.

Growing out of military defeat, national humiliation and economic ruin, European fascism in the 1930s was the desire for a life dominated by simple certainties: the ‘greatness’ of one’s nation, the ‘purity’ of one’s race, the ‘cohesiveness’ of one’s tribe, the ‘dignity’ of one’s labour, the ‘primacy’ of one’s culture, the ‘truthfulness’ of one’s mythology, the ‘rectitude’ of one’s authority figures, the ‘strength’ of one’s currency, the ‘omnipotence’ of one’s version of the deity – the ‘perfidy’ of one’s enemies and the ‘Other-ness’ of one’s neighbours.

Combine these basic memes’ (in Richard Dawkins’ original meaning) with the desire to subordinate oneself to any sufficiently powerful authority figure proclaiming and projecting an ideal image of a coming society incorporating such elements, a belief in certainty that overrides the basic human rights of outsiders and opponents, a centrally directed capitalist economy (with an emphasis on strength through rearmament), a tolerance of (and willingness to personally implement) State violence against proscribed and dehumanised minorities, and you have fascism.

As yet, it is far from clear that Trump embodies anything other than hot air. He may be too politically naive to even have an ideology, beyond that of making money and issuing childish threats to those who criticise him. But he is buoyed up by a cabinet of all the evils; like Hitler, he has surrounded himself with a gang of ill-assorted malcontents: racists, psychopaths, religious fundamentalists, violent militarists, congenital cretins and intellectual dwarfs, his own children, all at the very least millionaires characterised by kleptocratic obsessions.

Beneath and beyond them, the Republican party, that has shown itself throughout US political history to be the party of patriarchal white authoritarianism with a strong belief in the eternal primacy of personal wealth; the least democratic, the most selfish, the least tolerant and most dishonest party of all, has achieved a majority position in all the key institutions of state (with the possible exception of the deeply mistrusted Intelligence community); and has frequently demonstrated a willingness to abuse its power out of sheer self-interest.

Just the sort of party the disappointed, disadvantaged working-class Joe would prefer to vote for? It’s one of life’s eternal mysteries.

As Berman concludes:

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the struggle to preserve what’s left of American democracy will be the defining fight of the Trump era.”

Does it matter who is, or is not, a ‘fascist’, if the outcome is the same?

The new normal

Will lazy BBC journalists please stop normalising Donald Trump as ‘the reality TV star who became President’?

They may think they’re being ironic, but the BBC is almost entirely made up of real reality TV stars it has created, none of whom is remotely like Mr Trump. (Well, Noel Edmonds, okay.)

Merely a sideline to his other amazing business achievements, ‘reality TV star’ surely comes way down the list of his many qualities and sterling attributes, which I’m sure I need not enumerate here unless well paid to do so.

And comedians, stop trying. Really. He’s beyond parody. And it’s not funny.


Amusingly, I am reminded of a prophetic ‘radio comic-strip’ I created and presented on-air many years ago, in the 1970s – long before we would have heard of The Donald and the hysterical abuse he heaped on poor Alex Salmond over siting a windfarm off the coast next to his Scottish golf course, that almost endears one to both of them as a pair of blithering fuckwits.

‘The Gold-Tinted Centre’ was a regular three-minutes’ sketch that went out during our half-hour weekly comedy show. The plot centred on a wealthy and corrupt Council leader, Sir Harry Plebs-Loather, battling to build a monument to himself: a golden tower designed to rise above the wasteland of the town he has personally flattened with the chauffeur-driven, gold-plated JCB digger he gets around in.

The chief obstacle to his ambitions being that he’s also trying to have his wicked way with the daughter of the embittered old man who refuses to leave his home, the last remaining property in the centre of the site.

Did I think to cut off his water supply and his electricity?

Possibly, like life on Earth it was a very long time ago and I can’t remember the detail. I do recall that the real leader of the Council was not amused – he later went to jail for corruption. But I don’t think I’d have had him grab her pussy; not for a family audience.

Tell Santa: we’re losing the Arctic

From: Science Correspondent,  Ron Frost ©2016 @theendsoftheearth

A story on the BBC Radio 4 news this morning echoes a remarkably similar news item on The Guardian website about two weeks ago, namely that temperatures in the Arctic this year have broken all previous records.

It’s just about freezing there now, but by this time of year it ought to be minus 30 C*. The picture is patchy, but sea ice is at its lowest December extent since the early 1980s when satellite measurements began, and what’s left is pitifully thin, typically less than a quarter of what it should be. ‘Old ice’, i.e. ice that hasn’t frozen recently but hangs around for centuries, is also at its lowest extent ever – according to the historical record found in core samples, the lowest for the last million years

The reason, said the BBC report reassuringly, is because of an unusual pattern of ‘warm air’ moving northwards from the Atlantic, thanks to the jinks in the jetstream, a ribbon of fast-moving wind high in the stratosphere, that plays an important part in controlling our weather in the northern hemisphere. It’s a once in 50 years thing. Only it’s happening every year.

There is, however, increasing consensus among climate scientists that the real reason is rather more disturbing.

‘Feedback loops’ are what happen when you get a runaway, self-reinforcing effect in any system. According to the controversial climatologist, Professor Dr Guy McPherson, late of Arizona U., some thirty feedback loops have been triggered by carbon emissions in very recent years and are threatening, literally, the imminent extinction of all life on the planet.

In a  much-quoted interview McPherson did with a New Zealand TV channel, he gave the human race ‘ten years’; alarmist talk, although immediately afterwards, he explained that he says that just to focus viewers’ minds as we are all in denial of the gravity of the problem; the end will certainly arrive within decades.

What can we do? asked the ashen-faced interviewer, paralysed by the barrage of terrifying statistics. Nothing, dummy, that’s why they’re feedback loops. They’re already running, and even if we brought global civilization to a shuddering halt now, stopped all the cars and turned off the lights forever, it’s already too late. We should have acted thirty years ago to reduce carbon emissions to zero, but now we may be headed for 10 deg. warming by 2030; we’re already at peak warming for the past 150,000 years.

Among the feedback loops removing the Arctic ice cover at a rate ten times faster than that predicted by the IPCC in 1997, is, er, the removing of the ice cover. The dark sea exposed by the melting ice absorbs more heat… causing more melting. Dilution of the saltiness of the North Atlantic (ice is freshwater, not salty) could already be causing the Gulf Stream current to fail. Cold water sinks. Warmer, CO2-rich waters rising will kill off the krill that form the basis of the ocean food-chain, causing fisheries to collapse. On land, vegetation cover is increasing, thanks to record levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, but that’s another feedback loop – sooner rather than later, plants (including food crops) will start to die off and release their stored carbon back to the atmosphere.

Worse, however, the warming ocean threatens to release billions of tonnes of stored methane; as does the Arctic tundra, permafrost which is also thawing, according to Russian researchers, at a terrifying rate, releasing not only methane but nasty diseases – an outbreak of anthrax in Siberia this year has been put down to spore release. Methane is 68 percent more efficient than CO2 at retaining solar radiation. The good news is, it doesn’t last long in the atmophere. The bad news is, it decays to CO2, which does – 100 years or more.

Of course, the BBC is not going to tell you this. a) it’s Christmas, which is lovely, and b) you wouldn’t understand anyway.

Prof. McPherson’s message? Be nice to one another while you can, get on with your life, for tomorrow we die.

*Instead in the second week in January, it’s -30 C in Latvia, snowing in Saudi Arabia and 0 deg C in Athens… failure of the jetstream.


Salad daze

“There has been a deluge of flooding in that part of Spain and they have got blocked roads, flooded dispatch facilities and mobile rigs for picking as well as crops that have been washed away,” said Anthony Gardiner of G’s, a major supplier to the supermarkets with operations in the UK and Spain.

He said the past week had been “incredibly challenging” and that supply difficulties could last for weeks.

 – Guardian report, 26 Dec, on why UK supermarkets are having to import salad vegetables from the USA. Flooding in Murcia is said to be the worst since the winter salad vegetables industry became established in the early 1980s.

Wishing a very merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all our Spammers, Likers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading This, Muh Li’l Bogl.

(Nadolig Llawen ac Blwythyn Newydd dda)

Let’s all move to… London (and why not).

Let’s all move to… London

London. Unlovely city of my birth.

I was born in 1949, at the old St George’s Hospital on the south side of Hyde Park Corner, that grand and busy roundabout dedicated to The Fallen, located at the very heart of Empire. The Second World War had been over for four years, yet I think I still remember the bomb sites, National Health orange juice, the great smogs; everywhere covered in wet soot. We lived in Maida Vale at first, before moving to the Gloucester Road, where between terms away at school and until my mother remarried I grew up, an only child – the only child – in a cobbled mews, living over a garage my grandmother had bought, ostensibly to stable her husband’s two Mercedes cars – in reality, because she knew my father well enough.

Colour had not yet been invented.

From dinner with my ex-sister-in-law in the rambling commuter-belt estates somewhere northwest of Kilburn, up by the North Circular, with some trepidation I drive south, up (down? South along) the Edgware Road, past Lauderdale Mansions; round Marble Arch and down Park Lane, then somehow negotiate frantic Hyde Park Corner on my way back to Knightsbridge, where we lived from 1965 until, a student, I left home and took a room in a shared flat in Chelsea, circa the Year of the Events, 1968.

Driving up this time was unavoidable in view of the amount of stuff I had to move back to Wales, and the family to whom I had to give lifts on this solemn occasion. Having no idea about the congestion charge, where it applied, how you paid it, I viewed the task with unease, not least because my car is powered by a modest diesel engine. Diesel has become the new dirty word among London planners and the medical lobbying group, Doctors Against Diesel, because of my very tiny contribution to the pall of NOx that is supposedly suffocating everyone – only the latest in a long line of palls down the years, that have borne away the surplus population of the city and made room for more incomers.

I despaired of public transport. On the surface heavily congested, barely moving, subject everywhere to seemingly purposeless road closures and never-completed works, buses offputtingly operated now only by obscure cards that, as a provincial still living in the 1980s, up for the day, I don’t happen to have about me; below-ground a place of airless, nightmarish horror, a multitudinous, silent grey horde of The Damned packed into groaning carriages from where escape in an emergency would be impossible, rapid mass suffocation inevitable; brutalised by random engineering works, and surprisingly expensive. Taxi drivers confide in me: they are all on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.

Driving is indeed nerve-racking: cars coming at you from any direction, changing lanes without warning; buses pulling out, taxis cutting in – streets seething with pedestrians, most seemingly of Middle Eastern or African origin. The traffic lights at the many junctions seem sadistically phased to ensure minimal progress. It takes an hour to travel what, a mile and a half? And it’s already half-past ten at night; by which time the roads at home are deserted.


I’d left London in 1985 and gone to live in the depths of the countryside: first working in, then owning a small advertising agency, sausaging our rare-breed pigs, moving ever-westwards by stages until five years ago, newly redundant, I arrived in the thunderous outskirts of ‘Boglington-on-Sea’, a busy university town and holiday resort, from where I seem to be unable to progress further without an Irish passport. Something I now wish I had. Would an Irish-American grandmother be sufficient qualification to escape from Camp Brexit, I wonder?

Thus impoverished, I seldom return to London; perhaps three or four times a year, to visit my old mum – or passing through. That’s over and done with now, she died in December, in a frenetic hospital ward where no more temporary rest was to be had. That first night, they managed to lose her teeth.

The flat was rented, the landlord somehow smelled death and turned up while we were sorting through her things, with a polite written request that we evacuate her 50 years’ worth of obsessively hoarded stuff ASAP or owe another month’s rent. It was Christmas. Having not lived in London for so many years, I had no idea: where would you even start looking for a removals firm?

The make-up bottles, brushes, tubes, compacts and sprays, hopeful anti-ageing remedies filled several large binbags; her vintage clothes and shoes, heaps of books, theatrical playbills, possibly saleable furniture and small curios, piles of remittance advices from a well-known firm of auctioneers who had kept her going financially for years, optimistic financial forecasts from an ultimately ruinous Lloyd’s of London agent, my old school reports filled yet more bags; her beds, unsaleable antiques, her piano, required the attendance of experts and burly men; and now the total number of  people I know living in the entire city was down to two, neither of them quite so conveniently and centrally located, it has to be said.

No-one lives in Knightsbridge anymore.


Hunzi and I tramp the lamplit streets for a late-night pee, around the old village between Holy Trinity and Kensington Gore, with its bijou Queen Anne cottages, cobbled mewses and glimpses of little town gardens, many ominously hidden behind builders’ hoardings. The photos in the posh estate agents’ windows offer a selection of virtually identical, anonymous, modernised interiors anyone can acquire for enough £millions – ‘price on request’ (I roomed in a flat on the King’s Road  for £4 a week). These pretty little investments are being snapped up as a wholesale commodity by billionaire kleptocrats and money-launderers, gutted like fish and ‘modernised’, expanded internally with floating ceilings, plate windows and recessed lighting, undercut with serial basements down to Hell for pools and ‘media rooms’, embellished with planters so improbably neat you might imagine the flora to be artificial; obsessively tended by contract window-box gardeners.

And by night maybe one in ten of the houses in Rutland Mews or Ennismore Gardens, the slightly grander abodes of Trevor Place and Montpellier Square might be showing a light indicating occupancy; perhaps below street level, where here and there a Philippino houseboy can be seen morosely ironing a shirt, TV flickering in the background. Otherwise the village is deserted, dead, except for the restaurants and gated compounds of Cheval Place where chauffeurs hang around with bored expressions next to their blacked-out SUVs and limousines. Glancing in the side window of one car, I see a prostitute giving her Arabic-looking client a vigorous blowjob in the front seat.

Yes, it’s dead posh in SW7.

Just around the corner, the Brompton Road heaves with late-night tourists and people of Middle Eastern appearance enjoying the dank night air, Turkish coffee and a smoke at pavement tables outside the many shisha cafes that have replaced the elegant couturiers, from where Arabian music blares out late into the night. I have come to re-christen London ‘Beirut on Thames’ – the civilised, cosmopolitan Beirut of course, before the war.

Across the road, that garish temple to the execrable taste of the ludicrously rich, Harrod’s continues to exert its magnetic attraction for the not-so-wealthy; the pavement outside virtually impassable for tourists gawking at the tawdry, overpriced junk in the overdressed Christmas windows. In the glaring lightpools of the dead of night rich kids in their Ferraris burn rubber up and down the Cromwell Road, the raucous snarl of over-revved Italian engines echoing through the canyons into the early hours; the police have given up chasing them.

Why on earth are all these people here, when all there is to see is more people?


Arriving from the North at Euston I observe a never-ending stream, a torrent of whey-faced commuters pouring into a hole in the ground: the Underground. I think immediately of the procession of the dead, and decide instead to take a taxi across town to the hospital and screw the cost (only £25… and it took an hour, including many detours to avoid the worst of the traffic). I stop off, and pay £5 for a small cake to take to the bewildered, toothless old lady, cut off from the world behind blue drapes. A harassed nurse brings morphine on demand. My mother explains, she has had to become an addict as the bastards won’t let her smoke. Back at the flat I sort through a time-vault of publicity stills, a promising actress of dark-eyed, vital beauty.

Next day, Hunzi and I seek refuge, space – air – in the Royal Parks. He remembers from year to year where the stray tennis balls are found along the fenced-off shrubbery behind the courts; and sure enough there are two inside the railings. With an eye out for park rangers I purloin the nearer, and we play chase and catch in the rain until the ball becomes caked with London’s tenacious brand of black dirt and an object of no further interest. It seems a measure of the impressive wealth of the city that the intensively coached players can’t be bothered to collect the balls they knock accidentally over the wire at £2 a time.

Avoiding speeding Boris Bikers, the morning phalanx of joggers, extended Arab families out for a stroll and the pretty boys of the Household Cavalry exercising their perfectly turned-out mounts on Rotten Row, helmets gleaming, swords jingling like distant goat bells across the plain, the sun striking fire from the newly regilded Albert Memorial, green parakeets whirring and screeching in the familiar London plane trees, the 09.35 Emirates Airlines flight from Abu Dhabi wheeling in towards distant Heathrow, I could almost imagine the life I once knew here.

Growing up then, marrying, moving ever-westwards: Chelsea, Putney, Hounslow – Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wales, I had thought perhaps one day I might return, to sit out in retirement at some quiet pavement cafe enjoying the passers-by, exchanging pleasantries with other villagers, smoking Gauloises, pottering about the little shops. The dream faded long ago. In the Fulham Road I feel underdressed, a poor refugee amid the elegantly attired, eminently tall young men and women striding purposefully in their Burberry and Dolce e Gabbana past decor shops filled with Babylonian luxuries, temptingly expensive patisserie; barking important messages about property deals into their iPhones; past knots of Ukrainian building workers in high-viz jackets awaiting pick-up to ferry them on to the next basemented development no-one will ever live in again.

In Thurloe Place I encounter a small man with a blue Macaw perched on either shoulder, with whom he seems to be enjoying an animated conversation. He glares defiantly back at my curious gaze. You probably know him. While here and there may be glimpsed an elderly, well-dressed individual, white-haired, knobbly with arthritis, looking as disorientated as I feel in this city, the village of my birth, abandoned and struggling as my mother did for years in defiant poverty, until the ever-changing yet somehow consistent story of London, the mist of its history swirls around them and swaddles them and bears them away into obscurity.

The Great Wen, as Cobbett sneeringly dismissed it, is and has always been a Darwinian habitat fit only for the young and the wealthy, the broker, the builder, the garbage man and the cleaner; an overcrowded and barely functional bazaar of scrabbling opportunism and excess, of smart prep schools and ludicrously tank-like cars; a place for tourists to see themselves, teeming humanity reflected in a shop window.

To be honest, I could grow to like it.

1936 ww

What is a ‘Leppo’?

Along with millions of others around the world, as Christmas approaches I am trying as hard as I possibly can to avert my gaze from what is happening in Aleppo.

Because there is absolutely not one fucking thing I can personally do or say to halt the medieval slaughter of innocent men, women and children; doctors, nurses and paramedics, dying for mercy in that ancient ruined city after four years of almost incessant bombardment; seige and starvation, their schools and hospitals deliberately targeted by the little arch-cunt of the Kremlin.

Someone, perhaps someone close to him, has to take out that psychotic war criminal, Assad, and now. A parasitic, enteric worm, he has surely forfeited any right to life.

But they won’t. The rotten, tyrannical scum of history seldom face justice in their gilded lifetimes.

Where’s the fucking money?

“Data from 98 of the 151 local authorities in England with statutory responsibility for social care show that they met only 218 (42%) of 515 targets to improve social care in their area and missed the other 297 (58%).” – The Observer, 11 December

By: Health correspondent Julian Sick ©2016 @holby.gen

The question that occurred to me while just now walking Hunzi in the dogshit-strewn exurban space that passes for our local park was this:

Where’s the money?

Slipsliding along a muddy part of the footpath by the river that sometimes floods leaving puddles people have tried getting around, trampling the grass, spreading the misery, I briefly thought it might be nice if the Council were someday to complete the paving and rustic-bridging of the whole length of the path.

Immediately the answer came: that’s absurd! They haven’t got any money for that sort of thing!

They can afford to pay PriceWaterhouse Cooper’s consultants hundreds of thousands of pounds for a generic report (only the names are changed) telling them how to save money, naturally.

They can close care homes and spend £1.5 million on a fully equipped day-centre for the elderly, only to pull it down again to make room for a Tesco development.

They can take pleasure in granting permission for a Pizza Express restaurant in a listed building, just across the way from Domino’s Pizza, in a town that already consists almost entirely of fast-food joints, pop-up hairdressers and charity shops; but whose only ethnic Welsh bookshop has closed.

But frivolities like cleaner streets and a couple of hundred yards of cinder track to keep people’s feet dry, no, sorry.

They’re not unique in these regards. I’m reading daily of care-home closures and abandoned support services, that have been brought about as a result of former Chancellor, George Osborne’s well-intentioned institution of the Living Wage, which he brought in without thought to what might happen to private care-giving businesses on fixed-price contracts to provide services to local authorities, who can no longer afford to pay their care workers at all.

I’m reading about the accelerating collapse of ‘care in the community’ as more and more elderly people are thrown onto the good offices of NHS hospitals already groaning at the seams with diabetics and cirrhotics, sclerotics and other lifestyle victims.

Amazingly, my mother’s local authority has voted her the unlimited funding required to put in place a palliative care package, so that she can go back to her virtually uninhabitable, top-floor city flat, where the landlords are just waiting for her to die before sending in the decorators. At present she is ‘blocking’ a hospital bed, alongside many identical chalk-faced, semi-conscious, moaning old ladies being wheeled in and out all night, and they’ve lost her dentures; but there’s nothing more the NHS can do for her, other than provide round-the-clock nursing care they need to free up beds for people they can cure, so she has to get out.

Age 91, she will get all the physical supports she needs: a special bed, a portable loo, a walking frame – anything; plus four one-hour visits a day, each with a team of two carers, who will cook and clean for her, shop for her and collect prescriptions, bed-wash and toilet her, provide pain relief, switch things on and off. (Although bizarrely they can’t provide any care at night, and will have to leave her alone and vulnerable in the building, armed only with a bedpan.) This, for a feisty woman who until this Autumn was still gamely independent. All her bedroom furniture will have to be moved out, only they don’t do that, I have to arrange it somehow myself in a strange city, on a busy street, living as I do 250 miles away.

Is it so wicked of me then to more than half-wish she might just not wake up tomorrow?

She might spare herself, the care teams, the local authority – and poor old me, six hours away on the train, hauling my protesting prostate across town through the dangerously overcrowded underground network to visit every week – the immense cost and difficulty of providing all this, a slow-motion existence of physical pain moderated by cigarettes and alcohol, just so she can have ‘one last Christmas’ at home – a dismal apartment from where, after 51 years, she was begging me only a few weeks ago to get her out – with me, her closest surviving relative and really poor company, when she could just go into a properly equipped nursing home, or better still a hospice, to enjoy a chat and maybe access to, or a view of, a garden, grass, trees, sky for her remaining weeks or possibly months?

And there’d still be turkey and a paper hat.

But she’s already ordered the food. Masses of it, more than I could eat in a month. Lobster! More than she can afford on her pension credit.

Naturally, M&S’ salespeople don’t ask telephone customers: ‘hang on a mo while we just run through some questions to determine if you’re a bit doolalli and haven’t really thought this through?’*

Who is going to cook it all? I suppose I shall have to cook it. Who is going to eat it all? I shall have to pretend to eat it, before throwing most of it in the bin. And then she will die anyway, as you do, and there will be the whole process of disposing of everything: the bureaucracy, the paperwork – telling her bank manager he was a fool to lend her the money she will never pay back – dealing with 50 years’ worth of junk, unburdening the fridge of its jars of furry things and arranging any obsequies. We don’t have money for a funeral, so she’s said she wants to leave her body to science. What the cancer leaves of it first. They won’t necessarily want her, however. Then what do we do?

And who will there be in the flat, to take delivery of the food? My mum can no longer walk as far as the door. Care workers will have to take delivery.

It’s that moment you’ve been dreading for the past ten years, and now wish you’d done more, anything, to plan for it before it arrived. She seems rational, although she’s not, she’s quite cognitively impaired and not making a lot of sense. Only I can tell!

But at least there appears to be a support service, liaison between the specialist nursing staff and the local authority social services, professionalism, outcomes – genuinely caring people – money.

I read about the tens of thousands of elderly patients elsewhere in the country left to rot in their own piss and shit, to go undernourished (some care services simply dump a fortnight’s worth of ready-meals in the fridge and then leave, where there used long ago to be daily ‘meals-on-wheels’), drug-addled and abused in so-called care, granted one ten-minute ‘hi-and-bye’ a day from a foreigner on sub-minimum wage, because their local authorities aren’t among the wealthiest in the country like the one where my mum has lived most of her adult life.

Why are other local authorities so strapped that they cannot provide this level of care everywhere? Have they spent it all on consultants? Where is the money?

It seems there is a huge mountain of money in our country.

The UK is about the fifth or the sixth largest economy in the world. British-based businesses are sitting on a pile of uninvested cash worth nearly a trillion (thousand billion) pounds. How much more is stashed in places like Panama we simply have no idea. UK house prices, rents and commercial offices are soaring out of reach of ordinary working people, which means even richer people are buying property, forcing up the value. Just the national private housing stock two years ago was estimated at over £5 trillion; commercial property added another £2.3 trillion.

The total value of financial assets in the UK, basically what’s in the bank vaults, is reportedly over £8 trillion. And another – wait for it – £4 quadrillion is traded annually (largely untaxed) through the City of London. Would half-a-penny in the pound really have been so burdensome that Goldman Sachs would have moved its office and junior money-baboons to Frankfurt?

‘Black Friday’ last week saw our so-called ‘Just About Managing’ lower-middle-class spend £2.9 billion on seasonal Chinese junk their kids can use to send each other pictures of their pubescent sexual organs. Employment – jobs – is at its fullest and highest since 1971. Wages are rising at 2.3% a year. Unemployment continues to fall. Consumer debt is said to be £1.5 trillion, equivalent to the entire annual GDP. VAT – purchase tax – continues to produce £105 billion a year for the Treasury. The DWP is spending half-a-billion pounds a year on French and US contractors profiting mightily from gouging the disabled.

The Government has over £100 billion in ‘infrastructure projects’ on the drawing board, including more ships for the navy, a polluting and destructive new runway at Heathrow, a pointless train-set that will gobble up half a million acres of land, homes and villages just to suck money from Birmingham to London 20 minutes faster than the perfectly adequate service there is already.

Replacing our four ageing Trident submarines with the already outmoded Successor-class submarines we could just buy from the Americans but instead have to build ourselves to retain a few thousand jobs in Scotland to keep them from leaving the UK will cost at least another £68 billion. There’s the cost of leaving the EU, probably another £59 billion (not to mention the unlimited bribes being offered to foreign investors to stay in Britain after Brexit, and the cost of replacing EU subsidies to farmers, regional development and the R&D sector).

All this shit is apparently funded out of cheap government debt; higher than ever. Even all those wasteful billions of project-pounds are barely a pimple compared with the trillions of pounds Britain is worth: yet 90% of the local authorities in the country can’t afford to provide decent basic care services to the elderly; while (apart from inworkers) the population is fast ageing. And the Government says, oh, sorry, there isn’t enough to go round, you’ll just have to cut back some more, or raise more taxes locally from the very people you need to help.

What they mean is, as with energy policy, they haven’t been planning for this, they plan only as far as the next election.

This is irresponsible governance, for which the Prime Minister should take responsibility – but she won’t.  She’s just splashed out a thousand quid on a pair of leather trousers. Having recently sold some more furniture, after 68 years as an Equity union member my mother left precisely £633.

So I’m going to ask you again, crapulous Treasury cunts, political tossers, Mr Carney and the private finance baboons:

Where’s the fucking money?

*And, as it turns out, it was a fantasy: she hadn’t actually placed the order after all.

Sad news

Monday, 5 December

My mother died in the hospital this morning, eight days short of her 93rd birthday.


A leap in the dark

We’ve been told 97% of the universe is ‘dark matter’, powered by ‘dark energy’. I have written before, speculating therefore about ‘dark time’, though as no-one reads this, my bogl, no-one has yet attempted to discover it.

Perhaps it’s time we thought about ‘dark money’, and what it is threatening to do to our world; our grandchildren.

Trump, egged-on by his pet British arselicker, Farage, a noisome, self-promoting political nonentity of whom he would never have heard before the publicity-starved succubus arrived in Mississippi to gatecrash his convention, between the latest of his 31 appearances on the BBC Question Time panel, has leaned heavily on Brexit as an example of how people are fed up with big government.

Yet he has shown no intention of honouring his campaign pledge to burst the Washington insider bubble in his stumbling appointments to his cabinet of some very scary insiders indeed, dismal hokey cretins from the southern swamps, white supremacists, bloodthirsty ‘Mad Dog’ militarists with fundamentalist Christian views, financed from the shadows by lobby groups acting for Fortune 500 companies opposed to all environmental, public health and human rights legislation, willing to risk extinction to promote the US arms and highly polluting energy industries.

In his approach to China, little Donald McRonald has already shown that he is a dangerously loose cannon, utterly ignorant of international affairs; a spoilt brat who has been told he can’t have a big red fire-engine for Christmas. But because he affects the charmless personality of a mercurial shapeshifter, it may be that he is deliberately provoking confrontation to please the Dumbfucks and the Pennsylvania coalminers, we can’t be sure. He’s not even been sworn-in yet.

In fact, it appears that while he has been pre-insulting the Chinese leadership and enjoying cosy chats with Taiwanese president Tsai, one of the few women whose pussy he has not yet grabbed, crossing one of the fattest and most vividly red diplomatic lines on the planet, he has been lobbying Taiwan privately behind the scenes to build more Trump hotels, confirming that a Trump presidency is designed entirely and absolutely to make Trump great again, and fuck you middle-America, you losers.

His unfortunate VP, the Christian fundamentalist (how similar Christian fundamentalists are to Islamic fundamentalists!) Mike Pence, has been struggling with the media, without a lot of conviction, to justify Trump’s infelicitous and, frankly, infantile outbursts on Twitter, a medium purpose-built for unreconstructed teenage baboons to put their cretinous views out into the twatosphere in the middle of the night in 124 characters or less; avoiding the need for extensive, thoughtful analysis.

I voted to remain in the EU – I’m 67, part of the age group blamed for voting to leave, although I know no-one here of my age who did vote to leave – not for boring economic reasons but because I prefer to remain part of what remains of human civilization.

Yeah, so what was that Brexit thing about, I hear you ask?

Imagine, reasoning Americans, you were part of a 43-years-old organization uniting you with all the autonomous states in somewhere we’ll call Canada, that gave you the right to trade freely, travel, live and work in Canada, full citizenship rights; but which involved paying a proportionate subscription according to your annual GDP to cover the costs of administering common consumer protections, cross-border policing, worker safety and product standardisation, umbrella trade deals with the rest of the world; and provided finance to support agriculture and development of your underperforming economic areas.

Following an election, some rightwing politicians on the make, people who don’t like business regulation, pressure your Congress into calling for an early referendum, claiming (falsely) that Canada is in effect ruling America through unelected and unaccountable institutions; and that millions of Canadians are pouring across the border to live and work in the USA because it’s so much better and they get free social benefits at taxpayers’ expense (actually, you need their labour to grow your economy – your population is ageing and underqualified).

So a bunch of disaffected miners in Pennsylvania, brainwashed by years of propaganda in a populist press dominated by corporate interests opposed to Canadian antitrust laws, voters facing the inevitable death of their hideously polluting, underinvested rustbelt industries, tip the balance of the vote in favour of abrogating the treaty, having no knowledge whatever of the technicalities and the consequences of getting out; regardless of whether or not Canada is responsible for their economic decline; heedless of the fact that Canada is actually providing funding for redevelopment in the stricken areas while resisting the onward march of the big tax-dodging corporations who have globalised their jobs.

They just want to ‘send a message’, that they want bigger TV screens and more sale-bargain sofas in their lives, and they don’t like politicians, although they cannot say what they would replace them with. So they throw their iPhones out of the pram.

That’s the actual situation we’re in with the EU. Any attempt to oppose this historically irresponsible and permanently binding vote, that threatens to destabilise the entire postwar political consensus, is howled down by the bully boys dominating a supine and craven media, that in turn whips up its phoney patriotism to ever greater excesses. Even our Supreme Court judges, who are merely being asked to consider a High Court ruling that the executive needs final Parliamentary approval to reverse the treaty, are being subjected in advance to a vicious smear campaign in the Brexit press; branded as ‘traitors’, their families receiving death threats on social media.

It smells horribly of fascism sponsored by powerful interests, the crony capitalism of the Bilderberg Group and the chummy billionaires who foregather in Davos every year to carve-up what remains of the world between themselves, and to hell with the rest of us. How easy it is to play the immigration card, to get everyone believing that ‘foreigners’ and obscure international institutions, the ‘worldwide conspiracy’ is responsible for all your economic woes!

As in America with Trump, opponents of Brexit are bullied and stigmatised; targeted for elimination. A pro-Remain MP, 42-year-old mother of two young children, Jo Cox, was shot and hacked to death by a crazed white supremacist in the street outside her office, only two weeks before the referendum last June; fifty thousand ugly, slobbering morons tweeted their joyous approval; Farage has accused her widower, who started a campaign for tolerance, of running a terrorist-sympathising organisation. The Government and the security services have since stood by and done nothing.

We live in increasingly dark times. Please understand that behind the rise of  the Brexit baboons are some very nasty, very wealthy – very greedy people indeed; and they will stop at nothing to continue raping our world until human civilization and all life on the planet (other than their own) is ended; which may not be very long now (Arctic temperatures are up to 33 deg C above normal for November).

Plagiarism corner

In a Christmas commercial for a credit card company, a couple of ordinary middle-aged women are fantasising about what they will do with the money, when one announces that she plans to buy another saxophone.

As readers of this, muh bogl, and of scabrous Comments I have made on The Guardian news pages, may recall, I have long been pointing out the silliness of Big Data-type advertising pop-ups on this, muh li’l laptop, offering me more saxophones, after I bought one online in September.

I wrote, how many saxophones can one person use, who doesn’t yet play the saxophone? It seems that in this post-truth era, it’s not a relevant question.


All’s well that ends well

If you’re still not certain about the place of 2016 as one of the weirdest years in history, consider the following story:

Shoppers in Carrickfergfus, Northern Ireland, panicked on Saturday morning as a stray goat rampaged through their shopping precinct, jumping onto cars and terrorising shop staff, principally by looking strangely at them. A pensioner, whose name was given as Billy, was butted in the rear and sought refuge in a shop, where the manager is quoted as follows:

“The manager described how the goat began eating flower baskets outside the shop on Victoria Road and then frightened staff and customers as they tried to get into the building.

“It was into the baskets eating all the plants and running round the car park, I thought: ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!'”

Oh, yeah? he said that? Really?

It just shows the Irish can still make hideous puns in the face of terrible adversity.

In the end, anticlimax: the capricious beast’s owner turned up, took it by the horns and led it peacefully away.

As you do, when you own a goat.

Which I have.