Unless you are considering a purchase of, say, car insurance, an aubergine, a refrigerator, a holiday or a selection of racy under garments, arbitrary comparison can sometimes be futile. Obviously a soft aubergine should be avoided as should a refrigerator that keeps things warm and a vacation to the Sahara should not be taken if one is heat averse. Similarly, in a northern European maritime temperate climate, nothing beats a pair of Damart Long Johns when the central heating is on the blink.
Comparing inanimate objects might be of some value but comparing subjective taste and preference can be a futile exercise especially when asked to name a favourite. It might be possible to make a binary choice between Judi Dench and Meryl Streep, the Beatles or the Stones, Oasis or Blur or (for younger viewers) Ed Sheeran or Jack Garratt but to prefer one to the other imposes an artificial hierarchy. Shakespeare is not necessarily “better” than Christopher Marlowe; Rod Hull and Emu are not necessarily funnier than Bernie Clifton and his comedy ostrich and Lobster Thermidor served with a chilled 2005 Coche-DuryCorton-Charlemagne Grande Cru does not necessarily taste nicer than egg and chips accompanied by a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. (more…)
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an MP in possession of a cabinet portfolio, must be in want of the ability to say anything even remotely resembling the truth.
As a first foray into the world of economics, Philip Hammond`s autumn statement did not disappoint connoisseurs of massive fibs. Sadly lacking the charisma and idiocy of his predecessor, the new chancellor even attempted to tell jokes in between the lies. He started by describing a robust, resilient and secure economy based on a wise conservative fiscal strategy. It is not quite clear if he stated this as a joke or a lie but he went on to say that the promise to reduce the deficit has been abandoned and the government will be borrowing another £122 billion. (more…)
On another Armistice Day and with another sorry line of politicians trying desperately to look earnest as they lay poppy wreaths at the cenotaph, the passage of time means that there are no surviving veterans of the Great War and increasingly fewer survivors of the Second World War.
There was a time when our politicians understood the consequence of war as some of them experienced the brutality of conflict at first hand. Now dead; they have been replaced by politicians who are happy to engage in war from a distance and only if their own children are definitely not sent away to fight and die or fight and be maimed both physically and mentally. The closest these new Whitehall warriors come to the carnage is signing the contract that furnishes dictators with cluster bombs and the delivery platforms to blow away women and children. Look into their eyes as they remember the fallen and look into their morality as they place profits from the arms trade above human life. (more…)
Via Peguin Books
Imagine inventing a new word to describe something undesirable only to find that the word quickly becomes part of common language but with its original usage completely reversed. Then consider the sorry experience of minor politician and sociologist Michael Young.
Credited with drafting large chunks of Labour`s 1945 manifesto, Young played a major part in securing a landslide victory for Clement Attlee and the almost unthinkable defeat of Sir Winston Churchill at the conclusion of the Second World War. The 1944 Butler Education Act established free and universal education and set the school leaving age at 15. It also introduced the tripartite system of education featuring grammar schools, secondary technical schools and secondary modern schools. In theory, comprehensive schools would combine features of all three streams. Allocation of school places was determined by academic examination when a child reached the age of 11. The results of a maths test, a general essay and a third test on general reasoning would define the child as a member of the elite, someone who could be trusted with expensive machinery or a basic manual labourer expected to be grateful for the chance at any education at all. (more…)
Duel between Onegin and Lenski – Ilya Repin 1899
In these enlightened times of character assassination by sound bite, gossip and actual defamation, it is interesting to look back at a more chivalrous age when aristocratic politicians desperate to wield power would demand satisfaction from opponents by taking up rapiers or by the challenge of pistols at dawn. The noble heritage of snotty-nosed inbred yet wealthy imbeciles nominating themselves for the Darwin Awards in the name of saving face or some misplaced notion of self-importance is an honour code that deserves revival given the arrant nonsense, cant, garbage, perfidy and unmitigated testicles currently being spouted by snotty-nosed inbred yet wealthy imbeciles on both sides of the European argument. (more…)