The Plastic Hippo

April 30, 2017

Un petit d`un petit

Filed under: Literature,Politics,Society,Uncategorized — theplastichippo @ 2:12 am
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Humpty

The debt of gratitude owed by the entire nation to the current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is as incalculable as it is profound. His unique blend of avuncular eccentricity, knockabout buffoonery, deep intellectualism and an uncanny grasp of populist opportunism mark him as not just an accomplished statesman but also as a national treasure. From flattening Chinese children in a game of touch rugby during a good will visit to Hong Kong to dangling on a motionless zip wire Boris, as he likes to be known, is quite willing to make a fool of himself in the national interest or, more accurately, in the interest of Boris Johnson. As London Mayor, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson cemented his reputation as a man of the people by closing down London Fire Stations and buying some second hand water canon presumably to assist unwashed Londoners with personal hygiene issues. As a journalist, he has been found to be with unfortunate regularity something of a fantasist when in come to accuracy, honesty and anything remotely resembling the truth. (more…)

January 12, 2017

Go compare

Filed under: Cooking,History,Literature,Music,Politics — theplastichippo @ 3:12 am
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Hello...goodbye

Hello…goodbye

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…)

November 25, 2016

Pride, prejudice and more prejudice

Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond

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…)

November 11, 2016

In Flanders Fields

Filed under: History,Literature,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 3:00 am
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poppies
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…)

September 11, 2016

Secondary but not modern

Via Peguin Books

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…)

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