Napolean Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David
What`s the time Mr Wolf?
Suffused with a comforting aroma of lavender and loose leaf tea, my dear old and now long gone Grandma was as kind and loving and gentle and as reassuring as only Grandmas can be. She could also, when necessary, become absolutely bloody terrifying.
Like many women of her generation, having lost brothers in the First World War and watched sons march off to the Second World War, she was never likely to tolerate the random slapstick buffoonery of little five-year-old me. A genius at contradiction, her word was unbreakable law and she would defend her “own” against any threat real or imagined. It seems that of her many grandchildren, I was something of a favourite. I have no idea why I should be so blessed but it was always a treat to stay with Grandma as she made the best bread and butter pudding in the world and had a piano in the parlour. For years, I thought the phrase “you little buggeroo” was a term of affection that only applied to me and when Grandma said it was bedtime it was definitely bedtime. (more…)
Enjoying yet another holiday in Portugal pointing at fish, David Cameron will be delighted that Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has picked her moment to jump overboard just as the nets of moral outrage snag the truly awful coalition government. In the strange world inhabited by Cameron, every silver lining frames a huge, black cloud and Warsi`s resignation might give him short-term relief but the storm is about to break.
In 2007, Cameron appointed an unelected, failed parliamentary candidate hastily elevated to the House of Lords to his shadow cabinet. Promoted not due to any actual ability but because she ticked various electoral boxes, Baroness Warsi became a rare thing in British politics and something of a paradox worthy of Nietzsche. In short, she quickly became unsackable. As a token woman suitably northern and, more importantly, as a token Muslim, her seat at the cabinet table was assured as long as her electoral value remained viable. (more…)
Today, the beginning of the First World War will be marked with solemn remembrance of the soldiers who fell and the civilians who perished; there is little point in commemorating the 1918 Armistice.
On 3 August 1914, the then Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey delivered a rousing speech intended to prepare the nation for war. Filled with tub-thumping patriotism extolling honour and courage and sacrifice, the Viscount Grey of Fallodon`s call to arms displayed the time-honoured and continuing skill of a politician to say one thing and know the exact opposite. On the evening before war was declared, safely in the privacy of the Foreign Office, Sir Edward Grey is reported to have looked out of the window at the gathering dusk and said; “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.”
Now that his time has long gone, the lamps are still going out and not just all over Europe but all over the planet. The only light in this terrible history are candles lit to the memories of lives lost in Guernica, Coventry, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Hanoi, Halabja, Basra, Vukovar, Kosovo and so many other attacks on civilian populations. (more…)
Winston Churchill v. Bessie Braddock
When a leader of the opposition feels that it is necessary to give speeches and interviews to apologise for being physically unattractive, the tipping point between reality and abject absurdity has been reached.
In the past, this blog has unashamedly likened Ed Miliband to a whining, adenoidal schoolboy constantly bleating “it`s not fair” after coming last again in the sixth form debating society. This comparison has nothing to do with his physical appearance or even with the tone and timbre of his voice but has everything to do with his unwillingness or inability to effectively challenge the subterfuge, distraction, illegality and whopping great big lies puked out by the Prime Minister and the government front bench. Miliband has consistently missed open goals even after failing to notice that the goal posts have been moved to off-shore tax havens favoured by discerning cabinet ministers. If he had been born with the face of George Clooney, the wit of Stephen Fry, the mind of Stephen Hawking and the toned, perfect body of a plastic hippo, Miliband would still be outflanked by a shallow shyster called Cameron. (more…)
Shave and a haircut
It was no less a visionary than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who allegedly said that an eye for an eye leaves the world blind. It is not certain when the Mahatma offered this rather sensible advice or in what context he intended it to be used but it is tempting to imagine that this call for sanity was made during the partition of India in 1947. If it was true then, then it is true now and was equally true in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel.
The mindless horror once again unfolding in Gaza does not have its root cause in the end of the British mandate in Palestine or even in the British Balfour Declaration of 1917. Although those events have unquestionably contributed to the current madness, we need to consider a more ancient time when Jerusalem was the centre of a much smaller universe, London was a swamp and the followers of Abraham decided to go their separate ways. When Abraham laid the foundations for three of the great world religions; Christianity, Islam and Judaism, even his great wisdom could not have imagined that God`s vengeance would promote the schism and be delivered by suicide vest or laser guided from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. (more…)