Trains and bots and planes

Gag of the Day:

“Hey, if we have a Johnson in 10 Downing Street and a Trump in the White House, that’s a dick and a fart, right?”

 

The tracks of my tears

Owing to a 43 per cent increase in passenger traffic, Britain’s railway network is groaning at the seams. The problem being that the network cannot safely accommodate enough trains, all running at the same time.

Consequently Network Rail, the company that owns the infrastructure on which franchised operators run their cattle-truck services, is asking the government for money to digitise the still partly mid- 20th-century mechanical signalling system so more trains can be squeezed onto the tracks.

As any desperate commuter kno, fares have gone up every year on average by an allowable three per cent above the rate of inflation; one of the conditions under which the formerly State-owned network was broken up and sold off piecemeal in 1993.

The reason given for the above-inflation increases?

To provide money to invest in the railways.

Network Rail bosses in line for £5 million ‘double your money’ bonuses …

http://www.dailymail.co.uk. (18 Jul 2013)

 

Beating our breasts

I have in a cupboard somewhere a pot of Gorilla Glue. In a drawer is a roll of Gorilla Tape. It’s a reliably sticky brand. Four-year-old Baby Gregg joins ‘Canoe Man’, John Darwin, so-named after he staged his own death to claim the insurance by faking a canoeing accident, as the child now forever known to the British tabloid press as ‘Gorilla Boy’, following his adventures at Cincinnatti Zoo.

Gorilla Boy somehow slipped his parents’ attention and crawled into the moat of the gorilla enclosure, where, as we now know, a 17-year-old, critically endangered silverback Eastern Lowland gorilla called Harambe took a parental interest in him. Staff say Harambe dragged the boy up and down in the water for ten minutes, possibly playing with him until help arrived, which it didn’t, then standing over him protectively, before a decision was taken to shoot him dead – the gorilla (one of a few hundred left in the world) that is, not the boy (one of 7.4 billion humans), who is recovering uninjured.

As with Cecil the Lion, 300,000 people have signed a petition expressing outrage, demanding punishment and reparations from the boy’s parents. The only phone video of part of the incident seemed to suggest that the 400 lb gorilla did not harm, and appeared to have no intention of harming the boy. However, hysterically screaming bystanders might have tipped Harambe over into panic, and who knew what might have happened then?

The media immediately flashed back to 1986 and an incident at Gerald Durrell’s notoriously unsafe Jersey Zoo (Gerald didn’t give two hoots for humans) when a gorilla male protected an unconscious child, stroking his back gently until keepers arrived. After that, the ape became a star, even appearing on a postage stamp. The Director of Cincinnatti Zoo has made a number of highly reasonable justifications for their decision to kill the animal, however; notably that while young gorillas are designed to withstand tough love, human kids are more breakable.

Any suggestion that shooting suspects on sight is a peculiarly American preoccupation is, of course, unworthy. Police are investigating.

What do I think? It’s a tragedy, of course. Why did the Director of Cincinnatti Zoo not accept immediate responsibility for failing in his duty of care, both to the animals and to the public? No doubt an inquiry will establish how the kid got into the 20-year-old enclosure. No doubt too, lawyers will soon be rattling his cage. How – and why – the gorilla got there is more problematic.

Despite their close genetic relationship with us, gorillas are being hunted in Rwanda for bushmeat, and for body-part souvenirs, sold, often, to Chinese and US tourists. If they can only be saved by being specially bred and put on show as exhibits in badly run old zoos, where they have to be executed if they become a potential danger to the gawking public, maybe it’s better and more dignified to let them go into extinction in the wild.

We won’t be far behind.

When he grows up, I hope Baby Gregg (we don’t know his full name) comes to understand his unwitting responsibility for the death of this magnificent creature. I’d like to think of him becoming someone who works tirelessly for conservation, not just another fat slob slinging burgers, or working in a bank.

 

Purple passage

For only the second time ever, Dr Henry Heimlich has reportedly performed his own manouver (manoeuvre?) to save a person from choking to death.

The inventor of the famous method of forcing air from the lungs to expel chunks of food jammed in the trachaea now lives in an old folks’ home, where he sprang into action yesterday, beating off members of staff to rescue a fellow resident in the dining room who was trying unsuccessfully to swallow a piece of cheese.

Estimates suggest that over 100,00o people in the USA alone have been saved by Dr Heimlich’s famous ‘manouver’, whether they needed to be or not.

I wonder, what are the chances of retiring to an old folks’ home where you will subsequently have your life saved by the very man who invented an effective method of saving life, in the precise circumstances in which yours needed saving?

It would be like waking up with a sore throat and paralysis, to happily find that your elderly gardener is in fact Dr Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine. Or having your house burgled by the local chief of police.

And what are the chances that at the age of 96, you will for only the second, and possibly final, time in your career have the opportunity to demonstrate for yourself that your life’s work works?

Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone believe in Intelligent Design.

 

Just what the hell is going on?

President Trump’s famously bewildered rhetoric regarding the unwelcome tendency of foreign Muslims to visit Disneyland applies more than ever to the passing-on of weirdly obscure notes to The Boglington Post via the virtual gatekeeper known as ‘Akismet’, whose job is supposedlyto weed-out Spam messages sent to boglers bogling on this, the WordPress platform.

Virtually all such notes in my case quote their inspiration as a piece I Posted over four years ago, called ‘How to Live in a Stately Home’. While the detail of the messages changes, the format and the syntax are always recognisably similar, the relevance to living in stately homes questionable, and the URLs or whatever they are called, the IPs, are compound and probably untraceable via poxy servers. I suspect no human hand is involved.

Here is the latest example, received this morning (I have truncated the address to avoid the possibility of people contacting it and picking up some nasty disease such as botfly larvae, which have to be dug out of your anus):

Outstanding piece. I was happy to find this since I was also born in the big apple. furthermore, thank you for heading to Daytona Beach and aiding me to better have an understanding of grilling and cooking food. This assisted me with my entrance to University of georgia. Looking forward to seeing you in our apartment and catch up with our ping pong game.

Jere Saum
Irancrmblog.jimdo.comx…..

Now, readers of this, muh bogl, may not be aware, although I think I have mentioned it, that while I have some family roots in the USA, I have never actually been there. I was not born like a caterpillar in the ‘big apple’, but in the Great Wen; I have never visited Florida’s famous Daytona Beach (although I have shares in BP); I know as much as the next man about burning dinners; I know no-one at the University of georgia; I have never been to anyone’s ‘apartment’, nor have I played ping-pong, or ‘whiff-waff’ as Boris Johnson calls it, since I was 15 years old.

But I might have done all those things in the creative mind of a computer program, a bot that could have been set in motion to generate these messages automatically . Add them all together, and you might be looking at a virtual version, a kind of online romance, of… me!

The questions come thick and fast: who is this ‘Jere Saum’, what does he or she want of me? Why is he or she sending me messages about wholly non-existent connections between us? What has it got to do with Iran? What is the mysterious secret behind all these fake Comments, all written in pretty much the same surreal, non-sequiturial style, that could conceivably only have come from the algorithmic pen of a computer?

And how do these messages in particular manage to get past Akismet’s magic Net of Spam, that has already prevented me from seeing five thousand others; many of which might indeed have been welcome and valuable Comments, albeit some possibly abusive and murderous, with a wide-eyed offer to add them to my Posts as if they were genuine – which, quite obviously, they are not?

Naurally, I welcome Mr or Ms Saum’s view that the piece is ‘outstanding’. ‘How to Live in a Stately Home’ is still the most frequently visited of all my Posts, despite my attempts to get readers to come on board with the other 516 ‘outstanding’ articles I have published to date in this, frankly pretty thankless, pursuit.

I occasionally Post requests for money, but none arrives. If I had just two dollars for every Spam message in Akismet’s bulging sack, I could visit Disneyland before I die. Not being a Muslim, I reckon I’d stand a pretty good chance of getting in, despite being an elderly, single, white, bearded atheist in a cardigan and sandals, travelling on his own.

 

This Strange World

Char Wars

‘A vegan cafe in Tbilisi has appealed for public solidarity after being invaded by alleged ultra-nationalists wielding grilled meat and sausages.

‘More than a dozen men stormed into the Kiwi cafe in the Georgian capital on Sunday evening, the cafe said, shouting and throwing meat at patrons. A brawl erupted but the attackers fled before police arrived.’ (BBC News, 31 May)

(Have you tried throwing Kiwi fruit back at them? Wimps! Ed.)

 

When you gotta go…

‘A freedom-of-information request by the BBC has revealed that at least 1,782 public toilets have closed in the last decade, with some councils now offering none.’ (BBC News, 31 May.) NHS advice: ‘People suffering from urinary incontinence can undergo “bladder training”‘ – and should avoid drinking irritants such as alcohol or caffeine.

(In other words, the peeing public can just piss-off. What about elderly gentlemen with oversize prostates, eh? Fuck you. Ed.)

 

Globalisation news

German national airline Lufthansa is stopping flights to and from Caracas because Venezuela has become too poor to support its operations there.

The other reason given is that because of the plunging value of the Bolivar, Lufthansa is unable to expatriate any of the money it makes from ticket sales in Venezuela back to Germany.

Fresh assessment

Following his declaration that he would happily talk to their God, Kim Jong-un, about withdrawing US forces currently protecting one of America’s key trading allies and a democratic bulwark against Chinese expansionism, South Korea, from invasion, an influential North Korean ‘journalist’ has welcomed Donald Trump’s candidacy for the White House, calling him wise and sensible.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is dismissed as merely ‘dull’.

So that’s the Trump vs the Frump.

 

 

 

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Okay, time to go

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.

 

Neighbours

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.

Won’t they?

 

Cross-current

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.

 

Boxing Day

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?

 

Obituary corner

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men wearing cardigans

“Police have been training to spot tattoos, books and even clothing that could indicate someone is a paedophile. About 400 Durham officers were taught specialist skills developed by Texas police and Dr Joe Sullivan, an expert who has worked on the Madeleine McCann case.

“Dr Sullivan said he did not want to give more details to the public but that his knowledge had come from interviewing thousands of paedophiles.”

– Yahoo! News story.

It’s obviously a cause of great concern to most normal, sane folks that it’s virtually impossible to tell who is, and who is not, a dirty paedophiliac.

That elderly male, or female with an obvious moustache and facial warts, bearing a tattoo on their arm reading “Lend me your child!”, lurking evasively next to you in the bus queue or hanging from a strap in the crowded train carriage, sitting at the next table in the nursery or leering crookedly at your daughters outside the pharmacy, could be a paedo, or a Jesuit. You never knew. There was no sure way of telling. Until now.

The problem is, paedos don’t float on water, and neither do humans. So ducking them in ponds doesn’t help. Unlike vampires, for instance, paedos can be seen reflected in mirrors, even in daylight, and are able to cross running brooks with ease without melting. Many of them even use garlic in their cooking (cooking is, of course, one way to spot a paedo. Very few plain folks cook.) Hanging garlic around their little necks isn’t going to save the children either, my brethren. It certainly hasn’t saved the country. Any person having truck with garlic ought to be sent home, for the sake of our once great nation.

As for the Sign of the Cross… Well, how’re you going to tell the difference between a paedo and your local vicar? (No, don’t let’s go there. Ed.) The worst kind of paedo surely is your atheist, or apostate, paedo: some vile apology for a Godless human being, maybe even a Muslim, who has renounced The Way, to whom the symbol of the suffering of Our Lord means absolutely nothing, the brute. “Suffer little children to come unto me…”, indeed.

Thanks to the selfless work of Dr Joe, however, in exposing himself to the raw horror of interrogating, literally, like thousands of wit… sorry, paedo scumbags, we now have several surefire ways of telling who is, or is not, a paedo, before we burn the bastards at the stake.

Sure, we might make a few mistakes along the way. A few innocent people might suffer the pangs of eternity, for a short while. But with the law of averages on our side, muh brethren, the Lord’s Mercy can be brought to bear on ridding our fair land from the scourge of men wearing cardigans.

“PCSO Adam Grundy, 28, put his new skills to use just two weeks after the training, protecting a five-year-old girl. He became concerned when he spotted a condom and a Viagra pill at the property of a man in his 80s during a routine call.

Mr Grundy said: “This guy was very stand-offish and wanted me to leave. His personality had completely changed and that was something I referred back to in my training.”

– Yahoo! News story.

Hell, yes. Way to go, Adam. And only 28 years of Our Lord old. It takes a sharp-eyed, well-muscled young PCSO to spot something as deadly as a Viagra pill, as purely evil as a condom, as telling as a complete change of personality, from outside someone’s house. But if you know where an 80-something-year-old man lives, you know his personality and you’ve got the guts to go in and confront him with his evil old ways, well, that’s the place to start looking for a deviant, when you’ve had the Special Training from Dr Joe and his Texas Rangers.

I’d guess it was the sandals with socks that gave the game away. Adam must’ve spotted the old pervert coming out of the Oxfam shop and trailed him home. Maybe the elderly female shop volunteer person became suspicious and did her doody as a member of the normal heterosexual community and reported seeing the old man’s rippling tats in the changing booth, the sickening images of flowery hearts and the secret codeword ‘Mom’ stippled on his old pecs, as he tried on the suspicious garment and handed over a few telltale grimy coins. (One good way of catching paedos might be to place incriminating clothing on the racks in charity shops. Note to Dr Joe?)

Adam would’ve routinely called in without any stupid old warrant, as Community Policing officers are empowered to do, tricked his way in, ignoring the witch’s suspiciously standoffish manner and over-polite request to leave; ripped open the goat-horn buttons of its threadbare cardi – goat paraphernalia present is another sure way of telling a damned paedo Devil-worshipper from us folks with Godly fasteners – revealed the incriminating tats on the old man’s scrawny paedo chest, spotted the banned copy of Enid Blyton’s ‘Five go to Cornwall with Uncle Dick’ on his well-stocked bookshelf of evil, and protected that kid, right there and then.

God, when I think of her, cowering in the corner, that evil, priapic old goat, cooking-up garlic in his steaming cauldron, those socks, why, it makes you sick to your stomach.

This on-the-ball young PCSO surely deserves a medal for applying the Special Training in a clear situation. Dr Joe deserves – heck, I don’t know, making a saint or somesuch. I’d buy him a beer, but I’m wheat-allergic.

(Okay, Bogler, that’s enough satire. It isn’t funny. Ed.)

Comment of the Day:

“The girls were sold like meat to filthy perverts all over the north. Not all of them would have been Labour voters.”

– ‘Byron’, Yahoo! Homepage

Law and disorder

And speaking of police procedurals,

If you live in the north London borough of Edmonton, it appears, you are more likely to survive the arrival of the cops on the scene than if you live in posher Islington, slightly to the south-west.

Police were called yesterday to the scene in Edmonton of a horrific murder, witnessed by two traumatised children, of an octogenarian woman who had had her head cut off in her garden by a knife-wielding maniac.

Following reports of a man running amok in the road waving a machete and shouting ‘something about cats’, some 40 police arrived, including an armed SWAT squad, and ‘a 25-year-old man’ was challenged, tasered, disarmed and taken into custody. Later, he was reported to be in hospital, usually a sign of some mental disorder.

This morning we heard on the news that in a second incident, a knife-wielding man had taken a woman, ‘believed to be known to him’, hostage at a house in Islington.  This time the police were less charitable, and despite the presence on the scene of a hostage negotiator, shot him dead.

He was later described as ‘a 40-year-old black man’.

A police spokesman told reporters: ‘London continues to be a very safe city’.

I suppose that depends on where, and who, you are.

Breaking bad (habits)

One of those reports you read on public blogs with off-the-wall references to better-known and more trustworthy names in the world of journalism (I include The Boglington Post among them) claims that Boko Haram, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremist group proposing to create a caliphate in northern Nigeria, has executed two village policemen for smoking on duty.

It does seem somewhat perverse to outlaw a particular habit as a health hazard, only to prescribe an even greater health hazard as the punishment for failing to break the habit. There are gentler ways of encouraging people to stop smoking, but I suppose a dramatic demonstration of what can happen if you don’t is as good as a health warning on the pack, or banning advertising.

But why? Well, according to the article, certain dimly educated village mullahs have ruled that smoking is un-Islamic, because the Qu’ran frowns both on self-harming, and on wasting money.

Now, forgive me, but where does this fatwa leave a) suicide bombers, and b) the hopped-up young jihadis who like to shoot thousands of bullets playfully in the air at a dollar a time, to impress foreign journalists? Or does simultaneously shouting Allahu akbar! in lieu of more coherent rationalisations absolve them of guilt?

It’s a somewhat quixotic gesture to enforce a fatwa on smokers in the Developing World (now there’s an oxymoron), where approximately 96 per cent of men are hooked on the habit by the age of seven – women probably find it harder to smoke with their faces covered. So my guess is that Boko Haram see tobacco as a capitalist Crusader conspiracy, rather as in the nineteenth century we Brits forced the Chinese at gunpoint to take opium to protect the tea trade.

They might not be far wrong.

One of my wives had a cousin who married an Italian who (over 30 years ago) supplemented a precarious living as a fisherman by running American cigarettes to Albania, returning with human contraband – political refugees.

Now and then, his fast powerboats would be shot-up by police operating from helicopters, and need replacing with faster ones. My Italian and his English met less than halfway, but from what he was saying, I gathered that, in his opinion (not the author’s, I’m having nothing to do with it) the boats were ultimately paid for by a grant from the US tobacco company, the money being channeled via some deeply reputable business associates in Palermo.

It was an extreme, but no-doubt effective, form of product promotion.

As I should know, because, while working in an advertising agency, I was once briefed to find a way of getting more smokers in Scotland hooked on a certain brand of cigarette made, as far as I could tell, from whatever was left on the factory floor after the previous shift had gone home. Research suggested that if you could get someone to smoke a brand for seven weeks, that was it, loyal for life. I’m ashamed to admit, my campaign was hugely successful*.

So now, twenty-five years on, the world is a very different place. And getting more different by the day. How many socially aggravating habits might the Mayor of London, Mr Boris Johnson, in his eagerness to overcome Islamist militancy, not eradicate by the simple expedient of putting a bullet through the back of a few miscreants’ fuzzy heads? Is wine banned in Islam? In that case, I’m a dead man drinking.

And what about drivers of diesel cars? People who watch (a pointless TV quiz-show called) Pointless? Householders who deliberately try to sneak out the odd empty fishpaste-jar with their recycling, knowing that glass is an officially banned substance? Apostates!

Still, it’s good to know Boko Haram are taking the health of the nation to heart. Gives us all hope.

 

*Fans of the Mel Brooks’ film, The Producers, will be familiar with the plot wherein our eponymous heroes set out to fail, and collect the insurance money, only for their terrible show ‘Springtime for Hitler’ to succeed beyond their wildest nightmares. Disliking smoking, I intentionally created an advertising campaign of such desperate banality that no-one could possibly have been taken-in by it, only to obtain an unheard-of 16 per cent positive response. I may thus have killed more Scotsmen than the Duke of Cumberland. I’m very, truly, sorry.

Coming back to bite us

My son, a student of international politics, introduces me to an important textbook on the subject: Theories of International Politics and Zombies, by Daniel W Drezner*

Now, while this might sound like the Horrible History series, just a tongue-in-cheek out-take on world affairs, lightly based on fact, it is being hailed as a serious contribution to global analysis. Its chief value being in encouraging politicians and policy wonks to think not just outside the box, but beyond the grave, as it were, in terms of the Rumsfeldian ‘unknown unknowns’ that might rise out of the earth to scare us.

If you have read Jon Ronson’s hilarious book or seen the film The Men Who Stare at Goats, you will know that the US military in particular has seldom passed-up an opportunity to look ridiculous. Attempts during World War Two to render battleships invisible through r&d efforts in the field of ‘invisibility paint’ only prefigured the psy-ops of the 1960s, when remote viewing and telepathic assassination were the further field of research into the possible use of psychedelic drugs as a weapon of war.

And we do now have invisibility paint, and the invisibility ‘cloak’ is almost here, so anti-zombie measures inconveniently ignoring the fictional (or quasi-religious) basis of the cult of the zombie, were only a matter of time; and, indeed, it is rumoured that the US military has indeed been conducting training exercises in zombie control.

They of all people should know that dead guys don’t get up again, but the postmodern blurring in all sorts of ways of entertaining fiction and hard fact, the virtualisation of reality, is very possibly the first sign of the end of our epoch.

I don’t suppose Drezner had in mind the self-proclaimed Islamic State when he wrote his book, as the cult movement had not yet come to the attention of the media. Yet here, we have the perfect candidate for the zombie horde, an unexpected threat to which international politics has yet to formulate a coherent response.

Arising apparently spontaneously out of the desert sands, and now in control of a large swathe of Syrian and Iraqi territory, seizing key installations almost by the day, IS – the Islamic death cult formerly known as ISIS – is led by a grim-looking, dead-eyed Imam, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a charismatic figure attracting a growing number of disaffected young jihadis who, cutting themselves off from sometimes comfortable middle-class backgrounds in the West, consider themselves to be dead to their old life. Their willingness to inflict ultra-violence on whole communities is causing even other terrorist groups to shun them; to reinforce their ‘zombie’ image, in one reported instance, a group of them sliced the calf muscles off a living policeman, and ate them before killing him.

The image of the seven-year-old son of one of these ISIS ‘zombies’ – an Australian national – proudly holding up the severed head of an Iraqi soldier went viral and will have sent a shudder down the spine of the Western world, as was its intention. Here, they want us to believe, we are dealing not with men, but with the supernatural.

Let’s hope our political leaders have taken Theories of International Politics and Zombies to read on the beach this summer. Because there is no sign of a timely or coherent understanding of the depth of this crisis, no response to it (apart from a few American sorties flown against IS armoured convoys in defence of the oil town of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, and some half-hearted ‘humanitarian’ aid-drops), despite the increasingly urgent warnings coming now even from the Church of England about the million refugees on the move, and from those few military men and politicians who aren’t off sunning themselves, that we are looking at a paradigm shift in the old model of Middle Eastern relations.

Of course, it could all burn itself out, extended supply lines and so forth. It’s one thing to conquer territory, another to hold it, and to feed its people. Sooner or later the ‘Islamic State’ will have to engage somehow with the wider world, or enjoy similar status to that of North Korea.

Since Sykes-Picot and the great post World War One carve-up of the Middle East, the subsequent handing-over of the Palestine mandate to the Zionist settler movement, the bone-headed colonial arrogance and stupidity of the Western nations and the pursuit of policies entirely related to the control of global energy markets at the expense of the former Soviet Union, the hijacking of US foreign policy in the 1990s by neo-cons and the ill-considered invasions of Iraq, a vast head of resentment has built up in the region, that has led to the recrudescence of fundamentalist Islam.

Much of what is going on is the outcome of a proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran vying for influence in the region; which, in reality, is the old proxy war between the USA and Russia as backers or opponents of the two key players; a continuation of the ‘Great Game’.

The new ‘zombie Islam’ is not a new phenomenon – John Buchan wrote about it in his turgid but prophetic spy-thriller, Greenmantle, as long ago as 1909. Today, however, it has a disturbingly global dimension: young IS fighters massing in the new caliphate from all over the world, having a fun time cutting off everyone’s heads and starring in home videos, posing as heroic figures, carrying out mass executions, rapes, enslavement and worse, will presumably find it profitable one day to spread their nihilistic teenage mutant philosophy back to their home communities.

Our foreign policy has indeed come back from the dead to bite us.

 

* Princeton University Press.

Postscripta

1 the day after this Post, IS releases a snuff video in which a British jihadi, like the others too shy to show us his face, delivers a pompous diatribe about thus perishing all enemies of the caliphate. Following which, he proceeds to saw the head off a helpless American journalist, James Foley.

2 no truth in the rumour that Z-Mapp, the new and untested anti-Ebola drug designed by the Mapp corporation with US military funding, was originally commissioned as a prophylactic against Z-for Zombie bites? Doesn’t seem likely.