Below is an excerpt from a piece in the Spectator by Peregrine Worsthorne. It’s a reminder that nothing changes and that we cannot trust the press. This was more damaging in the times to which the article refers, because there was no facility to comment or to quickly check the facts both of which we can now do thanks to the Internet.
I think it was the Hoover experience all over again. I had actually talked to Senator McCarthy — which is more than most of my Washington colleagues had done — and I wanted everyone to know that he had made much more sense than his detractors recognised. As a matter of fact I still think so. Once the Cold War against communism had begun in earnest, as it just had, it really was a bit of a scandal that the Truman establishment, in charge of prosecuting that war, continued to employ so many former communist sympathisers, just as it would have been a scandal in 1940, once America had come into the war against Germany, if the Washington establishment had gone on employing erstwhile Nazi sympathisers. In other words, Joe McCarthy had a trenchant point. Unfortunately for me, however, the point was not only unacceptable in the Oval Office; it was utterly unacceptable to the editor of the Times, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal called Sir William Haley who had formerly been director-general of the BBC, and who wrote to say that my job in Washington was not to find excuses for Senator McCarthy but to condemn him.
Germany is a highly regulated country. No one has ever denied that. In fact, many wry observations have been made concerning the level of bureaucracy and regulation in the Federal Republic. Not too long ago, a woman at my health insurance company told me a joke about Germany: “Germany, your bureaucrats”. Part of this is cultural. Germans tend to see things in black and white. Germans also tend to prefer said black and said white to be as clearly delineated as possible.
This is also reflected in the German legal system. Forms and contracts in Germany tend to be quite succinct, especially when compared to those written in Common Law countries. The German Civil Code is very detailed and covers virtually every aspect of commerce and legally binding agreements. There is little point in outlining terms and conditions because any agreement would be subject to established rules and regulations.
Today, however, I spotted something which simply went too far. It being a cool day, I found it necessary to go to a convenience. After paying my obligatory 50-cent fee, annoying but tolerable considering that in exchange the convenience is clean and well-maintained, I saw an illustrated guide to adhering to regulations concerning how men may use a toilet. Yes, there are now regulations concerning which position men can be in while using a toilet. I am not entirely sure how they intend to enforce these regulations, but they have illustrated guides showing how to obey these regulations. We men must sit when urinating, not stand. I wish them the very best of luck in their attempts to persuade men to comply with this.
here is the next photo competition – with apologies for my tardy response.
Please post a photo which focusses on some detail we may usually overlook.
The Hun is a strange creature indeed. The stray example abroad might prove to be amusing, if not quite charming. This charm, however, rarely extends to the invasive hordes seen in parts of Spain and Italy in August. Observed in their native habitat, Huns are some of the more confusing creatures on earth.
Let us start our discussion of the Hunnish character in the context of humour. The Hun has a reputation for being humourless – a reputation that most Huns are fully aware of. Please allow me to tell you of an instance when this was made clear to me. Last Sunday, through an act of mass spite by the Deutsche Bahn proletariat all trains for the hour were cancelled. Trying to bide my time, I returned to kiosk at Trier Hbf for a second cup of coffee. The attendant, slightly bored due to light traffic, was more than willing to stop and chat. Our discussion eventually touched on jokes. A female Hun, also desperate to stave off boredom, had joined our little conversation a few minutes before. Thinking of nothing better to do, I told them the joke about the world’s shortest book being The Complete Collection of German Jokes. The attendant, clearly of West African extraction, had a laugh. Surprisingly, the Hun laughed loudest and thanked me for telling her a joke to add to her collection. German humour, it seems, tends to be highly situational. Perhaps not the best joke tellers, Huns still find humour in daily situations and make sport of what they can.
Owing to (NB not ‘due to’) my sojourn in the olde countrie, the Oct pome contest will be open until 3rd Nov., Viking breakfast time.
Please muse the time creatively. ‘If we were…’ And all that.
No, it’s not going to be particularly cold in the salubrious suburb of East Acton. I refer to the day of commemoration of the Battle of Balaclava, 160 years ago today. The battle was the second major engagement fought by the British Army in the Crimean War and was fought because the British contingent of the Franco-British Army deployed in support of the Ottoman Empire had been given a position in the developing siege of the Russian fortress and port of Sevastopol. `The Russian general, Menshikov, had taken the bulk of his army out of the defences of Sevastopol to preserve operational mobility and attempt to sever the communication lines of the Allied Army and attacked the port of Balaclava in the early hours of the morning of the 25th October 1854. Read more…
Recently all three upstairs cold taps started to run slowly ( Yes, yes, I know, it’s the water that ran slowly and not the tap ). The flow gradually declined to a trickle ; something had to be done. The problem was unlikely to be with the taps, they were all of different types, and since the two downstairs cold taps were working normally I decided that the problem lay with the plumbing.
The prospect of lifting carpets and floors and cutting into walls in search of the blockage was not a happy one. And the expense !? Plumbers aren’t cheap, and although adept at basic plumbing myself this wasn’t something I felt competent to deal with.
Then inspiration. I took the pressure washer into the attic where lies the cold water tank and directed the jet down the outlet which feeds the upstairs cold taps. I had previously established two way communication with Mrs J via the intercom function on our cordless phones. She opened one tap at a time and I gave each a good 20 second blast of high pressure water. Problem solved. I bet the plumber wouldn’t have done that.
While sipping my second restorative mug of tea this morning, I chuckled quietly at the good-humoured badinage, subsequently removed, between Janus and Christopher on the subtleties of ‘council’ versus ‘counsel’.
But I almost spilt the scalding contents when I moved on to read Mr Mackie’s splendid gaffe ‘from whence’. And with relevance to Charterhouse, too. An old Kingstonian would never perpetrate such a solecism. :-)
If you need an explanation, there’s absolutely no hope for you.
Imagine I’m a ‘political’ migrant from outside the United States of Europe. I get my feet on USE soil in Greece by hook or by crook and then start my trek towards the promised lands in the north. I jump ship from Greece and get stopped in Italy. Italy refuses me entry.
OK so far? No. Italy has now infringed my yooman rites and has to give me asylum if I request it. As long as I am in transit to my chosen destination, I can continue my odyssey, even if I break the law as I go.
So that’s how we get so many wannabees here. Madness? Definitely
I’m reading Alms for Oblivion again and this is an excerpt from the second book1 ‘Sound The Retreat’. I was so impressed that in bed last night I read it aloud to Mrs J.
1 In story chronology – the books were published in a different order.
I sometimes think of writing, a couple of my neighbours have (and it’s rubbish); then I read something like this and decide not to bother.
Muscateer, Earl of: son of Lord and Lady Canteloupe q.v.; an
officer cadet at the O.T.S., Bangalore, 1945-6 (R)- ✝ 1946
And then one evening a few days later they heard that Muscateer was dead.
‘Dead, sir? Dead of jaundicel’
‘They say he had a dodgy liver,’ Captain Detterling said.
‘Funny, that. His old governor’s is made of brass.’