Election Reporting At Its Best

The following actually happened on Channel four news:

Ann: In order to find out how people on the ground felt about Ed Miliband’s defeat, we went down to the Hendon Bagel Emporium where a number of his fellow Jews were happy to give us their views as to what went wrong.

Interviewee: You see the way he treated his brother? If he can treat his brother like that, then how will he treat the country?

I must admit this made me laugh a lot. I mean the sheer crassness of judging a putative Prime Minister by his ethnic background, rather than his policies and the similar concerns about his filial arrangements.

If this is really how our supposed leaders are to be elected, then we might as well pull the plug now.

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Thought For The Day

“As the lights in a penitentiary grow dim when the current is switched on for the electric chair, so we quiver in our hearts at a suicide, for there is no human life self-taken for which all society is not to blame.”
Cyril Connolly “The Unquiet Grave.”

There’s no arguing with that. Even if it did come from somebody who owned a Lemur called “Polyp”.

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From John Evelyn’s Diary

” August 1st 1672: I was at the marriage of Lord Arlington’s onely daughter (a swete child if ever there was any) to the Duke of Grafton, the King’s natural son by the Dutchesse of Cleaveland. The Archbishop of Canterbury officiating, the king and all the grandees being present. I had a favour given me by my Lady, but tooke no great joy at the thing for many reasons.”

A seemingly harmless entry. That is until you google up on it and discover that the bride here was only 4 or 5 and the groom 9 years old. Of course dynastic marriages like this were fairly common, but it bodes ill for the concept of there being some kind of eternal law that God has decreed for all time.

It also makes the current archbish’s opposition to same sex marriage even less tenable. A church that used to marry children incapable of understanding their situation is in no fit state to object to the marriage of rational adults only too aware of what it demands of them.

It would be interesting to know just how many other such weddings the man in the sky gave his blessing to.

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Intimations Of Mortality

Thursday marks the 3rd anniversary of the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer. I shall be observing my usual 24 hour online silence vigil in remembrance.

Three weeks ago we lost my grandmother to cancer. It was quite a shock. She had had a few tumours before, but the doctors took a scan and gave her the all clear after some operations. Less than a couple of weeks later she had another scan which showed it had returned in virulence and was pretty much inoperable. She died four days after being discharged from the hospital.

When I heard she had gone I immediately went around to her house to say my farewells. She was the last of her generation on that side of my family and, of particular meaning for me, the last link with Cornwall from where she came and where so many family holidays were spent doing the rounds of the Aunts and Uncles there.

She had lived (with my grandfather who died ten or so years ago) at her address for nigh on 40 years. A house packed full of memories for me. The house was council owned so now has to be stripped bare and the keys handed back in so as to allow for new tenants.

The morning she died I had to go into town to sort out some banking issues. I was struck by the (simple and obvious) fact that despite this personal tragedy, people still shopped for fish, the busses still ran to schedule etc. etc.

A point that also being made by the fact that the council want the keys back on Monday. All the years they lived there, the garden we played in, the back bedroom where my much loved and missed late Uncle used to fill the floor with his Hornby Train set and Scalextric racing cars ( with landscapes and tunnels he made himself out of papier mache).

All of this struck off by a mere piece of paper.

As with Jamey’s cry in the night three years ago, the sun continues to shine, the world continues to spin. What, on a local level, is of a profoundly jarring nature loses itself in the grand scheme of things. My memories of everything stopping at 4pm on a Saturday because Nan loved her wrestling, or my Grandfather and I sitting in the dining room every Friday evening listening to his records (that I now own myself, complete with the sherry and tobacco induced fingerprints all over them) mean nothing to either the council or the new people being moved in there.

Such is the nature of the world. No amount of appealing to any kind of divine authority, quoting from holy books, praying and singing is ever going to change that situation.

I guess this is where surrendering the ego plays its role.

Rest in Peace, Nan. You were a truly beautiful human being.

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“World Cup Frenzy” (2002)

(Excerpted from a longer script)

C.H: That’s really funky, but now for some really exciting football news it’s off live to Japan to see how England are faring up in the run up to their world cup victory over some bunch of rancid foreigners or other. And I understand there’s some doubt as to whether David Beckham will be playing owing to an outstanding injury problem.

A.P: Is that owing to the awful foul he sustained last week playing against the Shipton Under 13’s?

C.H: Yes, a pretty vicious tackle which led to his sustaining a nasty haircut injury.

A.P: I understand a whole section of his center parting was flattened out altogether. Pretty serious by anybodies standards.

C.H: Well we both know the damage such a hairline fracture can cause, though the £10,000,000 awarded him in damages against the club should do much to comfort him. As well as bankrupting the team and most of the village of Shipton as well.

A.P: Yes, Chris, but surely that’s a small price to pay for such a towering genius as Beckham’s agent says he is. Any other news?

C.H: Yes, well Michael Owen broke a nail during training so we don’t yet know whether he will be recovered enough to play either as yet. Apparently he’s been taking numerous baths in the very finest asses milk money can buy and having his every whim catered for by numerous vestal virgins, so it must be pretty serious. I don’t think we need worry too much however.

A.P: Why not, Chris?

C.H: Well rumor has it that Beckham was so impressed by the forthcoming opposing world cup team, that he’s bought the country.So whichever side wins we will still all have cause to go out, get pissed and behave like hooligans.

A.P: Which is pretty much what its all about? So what do you make of this new turn of events then? Sportsmen buying countries?

C.H: Well, they earn it, Al? Why not flaunt It?

A.P: I do recall there being a great deal of controversy some years back when Mike Tyson bought India forcing Lewis to buy Pakistan in the closing rounds of their last bout.

C.H: Hold on Al, we have a newsflash coming in from St Andrews. Tiger Woods has ( at the very last hole), for some reason, abandoned his plans to buy Israel and has opted for Palestine instead.

A.P. Pretty controversial move there. What does he propose to do with it?

C.H. I understand the plan is to level it to the ground and turn it into a luxury country for himself and his family.

A.P: And who can blame him?

C.H: Well, we’ll back with you if there is anymore news on this or the World Cup. But, for now, back to the studio.


Grams: Chopin Funeral March

A.P: Well, Chris, it seems a day of national mourning is in order. England’s World Cup dream is all over bar the rioting and the drunken brawling. A major tragedy.

C.H: Indeed so Al.

A.P: One to be ranked up there with 9/11, the Ethiopian famine and the nuclear threat hanging over Kashmir.

C.H: Except this will probably get more coverage.

A.P: So what do you think the long term effects of this defeat will be?

C.H: Well, in the short term, I understand it means that David Seaman may have to shelve his plans to buy Mauritius and settle for a small Pacific Island instead. An outcome which, I’m sure, he’ll be very disappointed by.

A.P: Hang on a minute. A bit of news just coming in. India has launched a nuclear attack on Pakistan. No reports of casualties just yet, though, by any means, quite a serious situation developing there. We’ll be keeping you posted on further developments. Anyway, Chris, you were saying?

C.H: Well, as you know, Seaman has had his eye on Mauritius for some time and the thought it might now be gobbled up by some greasy….

A.P: Sorry Chris, have to interrupt you there. Pakistan have now replied to India’s opening and have taken seven towns for four missiles. They still do have quite a bit of headway to make but with their strong generals they should easily make another 100 vanish before lunch.

C.H: Pakistan isn’t best known for making precision deliveries, so it will be interesting to see how many other countries find themselves involved before long.

A.P: And it seems one offside delivery has hit Israel, right in the center crease, and I don’t somehow think they were expecting that at this stage of the game. But they have made an excellent recovery and have bowled a dozen googlies at Palestine pretty much putting it out of the game before they even started. What an exciting turn of events.

Grams: “World of Sport” theme.

C.H: Well you seemed to have joined us at a rather interesting stage of this World War Cup Final.

A.P: Indeed you have, and with both Palestine and Pakistan eliminated at this early stage, who knows which way things will turn?

C.H: Indeed. Interesting game play from the Saudis now. Some super fast bowls at Israel in Pakistan. And the U.S. has let everything they have go and have wiped out half of Europe.

A.P: Possibly the most astonishing case of friendly fire I’ve certainly ever seen. Though I do remember a match in 1921 where……..

F.X: White noise

………………………………………………………………………………………….A.P: In other news. A sharp dip on the stock exchange caused by the recent nuclear war has seen the price of certain countries drop. With the fallout factor now entering the equation, the value of national investments looks to remain low for the foreseeable future. Our economics expert has more details.

C.H: Thanks Al. You are right to draw attention to the role the fallout factor has played. The fact that these countries now display a certain degree of inhabitability is having a very serious knock o effect indeed.

A.P: What other factors do you think could play a role? What about the rotting corpse rate?

C.H. Well that does have an effect but only a minor as many of the bodies were vaporized at the very start. Radiation sickness and survival rates are having a far more negative effect. Potential buyers seeking to invest are being discouraged by the number of people, covered in horrific burns, begging them for help. It puts them off their Martinis.

A.P: Like you mean the “black famine effect” that used to make people think twice before buying up parts of Africa?

C.H: Exactly. If you are having an especially fine G & T, you don’t want to have to look out of the window of your mansion to see such things.

A.P: What would you say the future holds for countries that have not been so badly affected?

C.H: Well, it could go one of two ways. Either demand is inversely proportional to the rateable value of the country in question, in which case the prices will be driven up.Or the sheer climatic extremes of places like Greenland will be a mitigating factor in keeping other countries’ prices in check or even lowering them.

A.P: So what do you recommend to those standing at the bottom of this particular property ladder?

C.H: Try somewhere small that is not immediately appealing. Say Iceland. Quite a small, but useful, population and acres for expansion. Then when one has turned it around sufficiently, one can put it back on the market and buy something perhaps a little higher grade.

A.P: Such as?

C.H: Well pretty much anywhere else on the planet. Have you been to Iceland?

A.P: A fair point, Chris, and thank you very much for it.

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Zachary Macaulay – A Case For Biography?

I have long been a “fan” (if that’s the proper word) of the ideas of Lord Macaulay. His speeches to Parliament on the Indian question, and other topics generally, I consider to be fine specimens of political thinking.

I was a little surprised, therefore, when a Facebook friend of mine posted a quotation from him to the effect that the best way to keep the Indians under the jackboot of British Empire rule was to deprive them of their native culture by teaching them English. That seemed so totally out of tune with Macaulay’s own position that I ran some checks and started reading Trevelyan’s “Life and Letters” to see if I had somehow misinterpreted the, what seemed, profoundly radical position Macaulay had actually taken on it. It did seem I was right and that the quotation was a complete fabrication being spread around by Hindu Nationalists.

My response has been to record a series of videos quoting Macaulay directly during his time in India and uploading them to You Tube (“Lord Macaulay In India- In His Own Words”). I hope that this will set the record straight as regards that.

However another thing I discovered in my reading was what an extraordinary father he had had. Young Zachary Macaulay, following family tradition, was sent to a plantation of some sort to look after the slaves. There, revolted by what was going on, he eventually threw in the job (much to his father’s chagrin) and became an ardent abolitionist and one of the main members of the so called “Clapham Sect”. In this position he traveled (as a slave) in a ship and recorded his experiences.

Later on he was to supervise a new colony of freed slaves in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He helped construct the town and, despite raids from French former slave owners demanding their slaves back, made quite a good job of it. He kept a detailed journal of the colonies ups and downs. Sadly his papers all seem to be in American hands at the moment which is a shame.

Though in later life he displayed the negative side of his evangelical faith ( at one point he berated Thomas for reportedly speaking out against the Peterloo Massacre, and was also very keen to stop his son from indulging in the sin of novel reading), he seems to have a been a great inspiration to his son and very pleased with what he was doing generally.

It would be fascinating to hear his story told, or even his journals published (or put in the public domain at least). Sadly, I guess he’s just too obscure now.

It certainly throws a fascinating light on T.B. Macaulay’s own radical outlook.

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Where The Western Faiths Have Got It Wrong…

It is not “sin” that prevents direct communion with the divine, merely ego. That is the only real barrier. What is more, it does not require a talking snake in a magical garden to demonstrate this simple fact.

It is ego that feeds sectarianism, it is ego that declares such and such a thing to be God’s will, it is ego that seeks incorruptible perfect authority in unlikely objects (Scriptures, Popes etc).

The desire for an afterlife is rooted in the ego, the part which deals with self-preservation. The idea that there is some being in the sky that considers some people more important and blessed than others is also ego. To posit such a being in a universe we can only observe through a telescope is the height of egocentrical arrogance. We cannot and do not know the number of planets there are out there and yet we pride ourselves on having some form of communion with the being that supposedly created it. We know exactly how this being operates, what its opinions are etc etc. This is all nothing but ego projection. Casting ones own psychological needs out among the stars.

It is this ego that leads to Catholic Bishops in Uganda into praising God for the efforts of those who are keeping Uganda gay free. It is the same ego that leads the same bishop to call upon the families of gay kids to hand them into the authorities as part of his Easter message. One ego calling to the others in fact, as he uses the promise of a blessed after life to goad them into this atrocity. The divine, who remains silent on genocides, famines, wars, church investments in usury and arms manufacturers, remains silent on the issue of gay and straight people. He causes the sun to shine on both equally, it is only human ego that argues differently.

I feel for every gay kid who has the dreadful misfortune to be born among such egotists. I await the day of when these vile, evil ego filled bullies are given a taste of their own medicine. It won’t be long now, I’m sure. They are already starting to squeal “persecution” in some quarters. Despite the fact that no laws have actually been passed against these people, no attempts are made to cure these shallow egotists of their intellectual arrogance.

“Do as you would be done by” is the golden rule. It is only ego that prevents it from being observed.

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