The strange case of the disappearing ink

July 12, 2017 8 comments


Maybe my wife is right and I have indeed finally lost my grip. Maybe I’m just having a funny half hour. Whatever the reason, I can’t escape the feeling that a recent thread, an entire thread, has disappeared from the Chariot.

I could, of course, be wrong – I frequently am – but the alternative is not pleasant to contemplate. Either some sort of technogremlin has crept into the system (electronic vampires from Dimension X?) or some sentient being has deliberately, with mallets aforethought, deleted the original posting along with all comments thereto appended.

Any such person should be aware that some of us may expend considerable time and effort in writing for public consumption. I myself take the greatest pains to make my points clearly (if not necessarily concisely) while, most importantly, avoiding anything that might be deemed offensive, sometimes going through several drafts in the process. To have all that work wasted is… well, troubling.

Categories: General

I Declare!

As they say South of the Mason Dixon line.

I Declare!  And that says it all.  I really don’t know how many more newspapers I can read without taking to the hills.

One appreciates that there is a decline in every facet of society, education, manners, violence, morals and of course suitable clothing.  First Parliament abandons ties and NOW the Cof E is abandoning vestments and it is suggested Bishops should fold their mitres for good!

Read more…

Categories: General

Question for CO

Some months ago the female-type parent announced her intention to relocate to Texas. She had been considering moving house for some time. She, like many others, has become disillusioned with life in California. Her decision is not a surprise. She has, however, done me no favours by moving up the date from late 2019 to late 2018.

Within the next year I will have to find a way to transport a number of items to the United Kingdom. There really is no practical way for me to go next year as I have commitments elsewhere. How should I manage this?

Categories: General

Interesting Times

July 7, 2017 10 comments

The cost of education

July 5, 2017 35 comments

Higher education in Britain has changed radically since I were a lad. Just so you know, in 1961 I went ‘up’ for four years, with the promise of free tuition and two contributions towards my annual living costs; they were a £100 ‘state scholarship’, awarded for A-level results and a £70 college scholarship, awarded after exams at the college. Total: £170 p.a., equivalent to £3,500 today. In case you’re wondering, my parents ‘kept’ me in the vacations – which amounted to more than half the year; and I did vac. jobs too. (I did not of course have a laptop/smart phone/ipad to pay for!)

Obviously today’s university students face a different future financially. On average they borrow £50,000 by the time they graduate and no doubt many, if not most, supplement their loans by working. So it is understandable that Corbyn can promise a brave new world of gubmint support for students and gain their approval. But the utopia I enjoyed will not return.

Categories: History, Politics


July 1, 2017 43 comments

Long before social media, long before Islamic terrorism, King Solomon noted that it’s not difficult to recruit people for violence:
“A violent person entices their neighbour
and leads them down a path that is not good.” (Proverbs 16:29)
There are many possible reasons for this. Violence is fun (if you’re not on the receiving end); violence gets quick results (e.g. mugging); violence wins you admiration. The temptation to jump onto the bandwagon is therefore strong – and without at least an equally strong cultural pull in the other direction, few can resist it.

Throughout human history, certain forms of violence have been legitimised, and all cultures have had their particular preferences. The inhabitants of the Roman Empire enjoyed gladiatorial battles (to the death) as a good afternoon’s entertainment; and for a bit of variety, one or two Christians might be eaten by wild beasts in front of an audience of thousands. We consider ourselves more ‘civilised’ now – but boxing and other martial arts continue to flourish, despite the constant stream of injuries that they produce. Violence in films seems if anything to be on the increase: at my local cinema this week, five out of the eight films being shown contain scenes of violence. Does the fact that it’s not ‘real’ somehow make it OK? We can enjoy watching murder, war and other forms of mayhem, knowing that nobody is actually getting seriously hurt. And most of us are not induced to copy what we see… but a few are.

But it is when violence is justified by an ideology that it becomes truly epidemic. Nations have often gone to war with terrifying cheerfulness, convinced that God was on their side. Mediaeval popes whipped up enthusiasm for their crusades by issuing free indulgences to participants. The guerrilla and the terrorist not only experience the ‘normal’ gratifications of violent behaviour, but also have the satisfaction of believing that they have contributed to a noble cause. Add in a sense of ‘belonging’ and comradeship, and you have a proven recipe for recruitment. The path is well-trodden here; the problem of radicalisation is not specific to Islam, but has its roots in our basic human nature.

Violence often looks like the ideal solution to a perceived problem. But what are the long-term results? The trouble is that neither life nor history come in self-contained episodes; we are always travelling “down a path”, and what we do now will inevitably have consequences later on (sometimes much later on). In our own culture, we have some shining examples of the good that can be achieved by non-violent protest (one thinks of the successful political campaigns led by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in the last century). Is there anything comparable in Islamic culture? “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) has proved difficult enough for Christians to put into practice; yet there is nothing that even comes close to it in the Qur’an. This makes the actions of Imam Mohammed Mahmoud (in defending a man who had just run a van into a group of Muslims leaving a prayer meeting) all the more noteworthy. Let us hope and pray that his example will lead many others down a good path.

Categories: General

Dear Christopher

June 29, 2017 12 comments

There’s bit of a vacuum here in your absence.

Please tick or cross as appropriate. Are you

  • busy with another degree/country/blog?
  • out of wifi range?
  • out of sorts?
  • in Dorset?
  • summat else? (please specify)

The spare

June 26, 2017 19 comments

One’s children cannot all have the Big Job. Since the cradle the Heir’s siblings have known they would be onlookers in history – although George VI had to step in from the bleachers when his brother succumbed to his flaws. And George was not a classic example of the more extravert, younger upstart – yet another of Fate’s ironies. Perhaps that epithet fits Margaret and Andrew better. And Harry, who clearly wishes to kick over the traces and feels frustrated by his obligations.

To misquote the NT: the royal family is in the world but not of it. But since WWII they have gradually accepted and even sought a more public rõle, to try to keep in step with other changes: the weakening class divisions, global travel, television, the internet, social media……and the cult of celebrity, with their total exposure and lack of privacy. And the Spares have naturally claimed more freedom to roam, attracted more media attention for their trouble and agonised over the ambiguity of it all.

No novelist could have invented Harry’s story. He ticks every psychological and social box and will probably continue to keep us enthralled. It’s what spares do.


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!


June 24, 2017 3 comments