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Archive for the ‘The Dark Side’ Category

Plebiscites are the problem

August 20, 2017 17 comments

I know one of our cherished colleagues currently resting in NW America would have us use referenda to run the country – like a township in God’s own country. Democracy at its purest.

Unfortunately last year’s vote on Britain’s EU membership has caused psephologists (and normal folk too) to question their real value. I mean, why not have another go if you don’t like result of the first? One particular guru who was one of our Dave’s teachers has written about it:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/19/british-voters-second-referendum-on-brexit

His justification is that the voters may have seen the error of their ways! Yeah, right! (Which being translated is ‘now agree with him’.) In fact that’s precisely the problem with the whole idea of asking people to vote on issues. They will change their minds and change them back again (etc. ad nauseam) – which ain’t no way to run a railroad. That’s why we have a Parliament, to even out the bumps in the road to decision-making. Or to try another analogy: videos provide more evidence than snapshots.

I’m afraid I can hardly credit the principle that if you don’t like an answer, you can always ask the question again!

Back to the future

August 11, 2017 5 comments

I have an awful feeling of dèja vu when I scan the headlines today. The so-called Cuban missile crisis in 1962 was similar, but in several key respects different.

First of all, the context was the Cold War, when fear and suspicion were the background to every international event. 2017 has been relatively calm diplomatically. Second, the protagonists were schooled in the politics of the time: fear and suspicion! Third, the media and even, one suspects, the leaders of the USA and the USSR were dependent on relatively primitive intelligence-gathering. Nothing was certain.

Lastly, the current leaders might both be classified as mentally defective. Both rely on a supreme sense of superiority and power, neither, it seems, relying on the support of their people.

I can only hope a peaceful solution can be found this time, as it was in 1962.

 

Life ain’t easy

August 6, 2017 11 comments

Prince Philip’s dignified withdrawal from public life last week is not mirrored by his counterpart in Denmark, for whom the rôle of second fiddle has long been a bone of contention with his Queen, Margrethe.

Charles+Camilla+visit+Queen+Denmark+-sm0NZ-x0THm

Prince Henrik (whose name was modified from the French, Henri) performed his duties as consort for several decades until 15 years ago when his son, Crown Prince Frederik, became first reserve whenever the Queen was unable to turn up. Henri saw it as a slight. More recently he made it known, rather forlornly, that he should be promoted to King; and only last week he announced his burial place would not be alongside his Queen in Roskilde, the traditional resting place of Danish monarchs. He no longer participates in royal events at all. (The above meeting was in March this year.)

Perhaps, if pressed, he would point out that his predicament could never happen to a female consort – witness his son’s Tasmanian spouse: eventually to be Queen Mary (not Maria!) when Frederik accedes. All I can say is, life ain’t easy, Henri.

Pardon?

August 2, 2017 27 comments

It can be dangerous to seize the moral or social high-ground. But it’s what institutions and their representatives do for a living.

Take the venerable Church of England. It gets its ecclesiastical underwear in a tangle every time a social norm is challenged, trying valiantly to remain relevant. Divorce, same-sex partnerships, gender-switching – and now women’s rights. Guess what! Equal pay is a distant dream for female staff at Head Office! Come on, Justin.

And on the day when British society’s top dog conducts his final public duty, the top people’s handbook flies in the face of decency and established principle. How? By declaring that the cognoscenti now accept the long-outlawed retort, ‘Pardon?’ when one mishears or seeks clarification. The Murican interrogative alternative, ‘Excuse me?’ has never gained acceptance in the face of the patrician, ‘What?’ and is now firmly removed from the contest by the plebeian and not-a-little-Gallic, ‘Pardon?’.

Both of these faux pas will acquire legs, I fear. Two referenda will be needed to help us decide what to do.

A royal dilemma?

July 28, 2017 24 comments

The anniversary of Diana’s demise has prompted public outpourings of emotion across the meeja and (for me surprisingly) from her family. Once again the Windsors find themselves dragged into a world where emotions are worn proudly on the sleeve while they continue to demand privacy and special treatment whenever it suits them. The Princes themselves were certainly the victims of the misconceived funeral display – but should they continue to parade their grief? Was their family less revered while Margaret’s tribulations were more discreetly exposed?

Vive the difference

July 17, 2017 7 comments

 

The recent cringe-worthy visit of the First Man to France demonstrated the qualities of Gallic behaviour. Larger than life, self-satisfied and fundamentally hypocritical. Excusez-moi? Did you say those adjectives describe their No. One Visitor? Oh, yes, I hadn’t noticed. By all accounts the French populace were less than impressed.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (London) his demands for a ‘better reception’ when he deigns to grace us with his ineffable presence, were met with a straightforward, ‘Well, you know the British press’. So he should not hold his presidential breathe.

Says it all really.

 

Tell me about it

July 15, 2017 17 comments

On my last visit to the Green and Pleasant Land in May, I had lunch with three cousins whom I see frequently – all oldies like me. One of them volunteers, in between some winding-down work projects, at a local food bank and had just finished a shift when we met.

I asked him what he saw and felt about the charitable work and received the following reply: ‘Well, five youngish claimants turned up in a taxi together and many of the ‘destitute’ people are obviously chain-smokers and stand outside using their smart-phones. That’s how I feel.’

So my hackles are still descending – very slowly.

The ties have it

July 13, 2017 8 comments

As a long-time tie-sporter, I invite you to spot every ‘tell’ revealed by the two bossmen’s neckwear.

The choice: Don’s says he’s the one. A faux-regimental or wannabe academic flourish? Vlad positively conservative.

The knot: A full Windsor each – the only way for any chief.

The length: Both afraid of a half-mast solution.

The tuck: Don letting it all hang out, Vlad avoiding any stray egg and soup.

The tie talk: Reticent smile vs. Brash bravado. Says it all.

Interesting Times

July 7, 2017 10 comments

Left Field

June 25, 2017 10 comments

Our favourite pop-star, Jagger Corbyn, is playing into the hands of right-thinking voters. His appearance at Glasto with Messrs Depp, Beckham and Balls (and no doubt many other wannabe undertakers) proves that his ambition far exceeds his judgement. Surrounded by young socialists and some old enough to know better, he gave himself a pat on the back and acquired an image as bizarre as his hero Mick’s. Er one two three four! Yeah!