M’Dad always flipped wi’ a farthin’ –
An old un, ‘e told us. ‘E knew,
‘Cos it ‘ad old Britannia on one side
And at t’botttom the year twenty-two. Continue reading “The politics of childhood”
In a couplahundrend million years or so, according to the DM, our soon-to-be-former-Euromates Spain will be cheek-by-jowl with Kenya, GB with Morocco, Alaska will be a lot warmer, penguins will overrun Chile, the Alps will be cosying up to the Himalayas – and OZ? Land-locked! No worries there then – except perhaps from China.
Only a couple of weeks ago I read A Legacy of Spies, published last year; as ever with le Carrè, having to concentrate hard on the intricacies of the plot while drooling with appreciation at the vibrancy of his descriptions, both of people and places. And now I have almost finished re-reading Smiley’s People – written 40 years ago and as intriguing as ever. Continue reading “The book is better”
The 1914/18 war was always in monochrome; and film footage always depicted armies marching in double time, gesticulating like robots. But all that has changed, thanks to the modern technology Peter Jackson has deployed to shocking effect. I cannot imagine the reality of blood and guts in the trenches when the whole picture is revealed. Lest we forget? After this we never will.
Yes, dear reader, it’s a tradition. A society wedding like tomorrow’s is larger-than-life, extravagant to a fault and (dare one say) more than a little vulgar. And that’s only the bride’s mother. At least our favourite iconoclast, Prince Philip, seems likely to avoid her altogether. Will he want to sit next to her? He’ll decide when he wakes up. Camilla has already made her choice – to stay away, citing other ‘duties’. Luckily for his new in-laws, the groom is able to keep them in the manner to which they have always aspired. Jolly good match, what, what?
It was picture-postcard romantic to live deep in the beechwoods in a thatched cottage built for the game-keeper in the mid 1800s, wood-smoke curling up from two tall chimneys every morning as the mist cleared in the Spring sunshine.
But these days our little friends Elf and Softy are daring to point out that even the newest, tightest, most efficient woodstoves pump invisible particles into the rooms they heat. And this time they are absolutely right! Much to the chagrin of the green wellie brigade and other country dwellers with a preference for traditional heating.
I acquired ‘solid’ evidence during the Viking years. First, a dripping nose which coincided exactly with winter sojourns at home; second, the state of the fly screens which we needed in the woods and which were yellow with smoke-dust after a few months’ use (there was no dust outside in the woods!).
So before you chuck another log on, you might want to think again.
I can’t help thinking I’m an egalitarian. The word seems to connote more or less what I stand for, morally speaking. It cements the aims of all those who want to lift our species out of the life old Hobbes described as natural: ”solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. But ever since the Americans crystallised the principle – ‘all men are created equal’ – plenty of gainsayers have ensured that some are more equal than others. They have used pseudo-science, pseudo-religion and pseudo-economics to justify their belief in the subjugation and humiliation of other races and creeds. Not to mention politics where we witness so-called social democrats identifying members of their clubs who have unsuitable views about equality.
Of course the best strategy for my opponents is to deny the principle – which in their book gives them licence to deny their hypocrisy, their dressed-up inhumanity, their sense of innate superiority. Their tribes just play their cards more skilfully, they’ll say; and devil take the hindmost. But I can’t hope St Peter will deal with them in the end; so many of his adherents agree with their flawed conclusions. I just want them to know they can’t fool everyone with their arguments.