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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

"Difficult social issues" said Mr. Bean, with typical British understatement

I let fly a snort of rage the other morning, thereby plastering my computer screen with quivering snot.

The cause was Mr Bean, deputy governor of the Bank of England, who had said "millions of families will be put under social strain because of the present economic crisis." How very perceptive. If all one of our leading financial experts can say is what anyone with an ounce of sense has known for months, why doesn't he find a job more fitted to his talents - like cleaning toilets?

What is putting millions of families under a lot of strain is the unbridled greed and incompetence of bank bosses paid million pound salaries plus million pound bonuses for doing a 125% shit job.

I think masked vigilantes should way-lay the creeps who run the banks as they chortle their chauffeur-driven way home, then empty their wallets before pushing them under passing buses.

Number one target should be Appleshite who screwed up Northern Rock and is still being paid hundreds of thousands for relaxing while he works out how to spend his million pound pension. After him should be "Sir" Fred Goodwin - famous for his love of firing lots of people, but markedly unwilling to quit himself. He should get a dose of the medicine he so relished pouring down others' throats.

If there were any justice (which I assure you after my experience with the divorce laws there isn't) every one of the slobs would have their homes repossessed and be put out on the streets, in somewhere appropriate - say, New Cross - to see how long they survived dealing drugs. Forget Big Brother. That's my idea of a reality TV show.

They only get away with their shit because of the craven attitude of those who should be exposing and punishing them. This includes the media. The other day the TV programme Despatches, normally excellent, did a good job on the current crisis, then fell at the crucial last fence.

The reporter had tried and failed to get any of the rogues responsible to talk to the cameras - including Hector Pants who runs, or rather failed to when it really mattered, the Financial Services Authority and like all the bankers got a fat bonus for causing the maximum possible misery to those he is paid to protect through sheer sloth.

In the end he - the reporter - was reduced to talking to a hatchet-faced cow who talks on the banks' behalf for The Central Bankers Lying Trust or something similar. When asked why none of these greedy toads had been fired she said, straight-faced, that we needed men with experience who know what they are doing in times like these. Experience of what? Financial masturbation?

Sheer, unalloyed, disgraceful bollocks - but the reporter said absolutely nothing. I mean on that basis we should let Mr. Pants run the economy ...

I know it's quite unreasonable, but what I sometimes wonder is:

1. If the government can retroactively tax oil firms because of their profits - which are, by the way no more nor less than they have ever been - prices are relatively lower now than 30 years ago...

2. Why can't they tax the banks for their obscene rapacity? And stop them paying silly money to overpaid incompetents?

Is that so impossible? If they can chase, however ineffectually, people who don't pay child maintenance, why not?

Mind you, since those who run things in the country couldn't locate their own arseholes without three coordinated SatNavs, fat chance.

Monday, 25 August 2008

The great Olympics heroics

“We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality," wrote the historian Macaulay.

Well, I think the British public in one of its periodical fits of Olympiamania takes a bit of beating. It’s hard to determine which is more tedious: the howls and lamentations when we get fewer medals than Bechuanaland or the torrent of nationalistic self-congratulation when we get lots – which seems to occur about once every 100 years.

Before any of you start sending poison pen e-mails in response to that, this is not to demean the achievement of those who won. The degree of self-sacrifice and determination required to get a medal hardly bears thinking about. But I think the great steaming torrents of slobbering praise bespattering all the national press trivialise those achievements.

Anyhow, I see some gormless Sun journalist thinks we must “pay tribute” for this to “a man who two years ago had the courage to stump up £500 million for our top athletes … Step forward, Gordon Brown.”

Just a couple of points of order here.

Does anyone with an ounce of brain think this success all came about suddenly within the last two years? I would imagine it takes a just a teeny little longer than that to become an outstanding athlete.

And how much courage does it take to “stump up” other people’s money. All Gordon had to do was wake up one morning and think “what can I do today to make myself marginally less unpopular? How about throwing a few million at the Olympics? Maybe the great British public will fail to notice these are their millions, silly buggers.”

Every winner of anything at the Olympics seems to have been described as a hero (or heroine). What is true heroism? I took time to think about this over the last weekend, when my partner arranged a surprise trip to Dorset for my birthday.

In a memorial outside the churchyard in Beaminster – a small county town – I saw engraved the names of those who died fighting in the First World War. Maybe there were 150 in all. But whole families had been near-wiped out. 10 members of just one family - the Pooles - died in battle. Two other families lost eight. Several lost five or six. God, what a price was paid to win that pointless war.

I think there were two V.C.s won by that small band of men. Amazing. Now they were heroes.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Finally revealed! The literary inspiration that drives our glorious leaders

It is said that Beethoven and Schubert were walking down a street one evening when they heard someone nearby playing Mozart.

“You and I will never write anything that good,” said Beethoven.

I recalled that anecdote when the other day I read this:

“Like all of us sinners, General Betrishchev was endowed with many virtues and many defects. Both the one and the other were scattered through him in a sort of picturesque disorder.”

Every time I read something that well written, it lifts my heart.

It is from “Dead Souls”, by Gogol, which I never read until now because the title sounds gloomy, when it is actually a comic novel.

I also found in the book a description of a ramshackle Russian village which was clearly the inspiration for something very familiar to anyone who lives in this country.

This village was owned by a mad colonel. Now I will quote:

“The village was scattered all over: construction sites, reconstruction sites, piles of lime, brick, and logs everywhere in the streets. There were some houses built that looked like institutions. On one there was written in gold letters: FARM IMPLEMENTS DEPOT, on another: MAIN ACCOUNTING OFFICE, on another: VILLAGE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE; SCHOOL OF NORMAL EDUCATION OF SETTLERS – in short devil knows what was not there!”

Anyhow, when the hero wanted to get something done, the colonel said:

“In that case, put it in writing. It will go to the commission for diverse petitions. The commission for diverse petitions, having made a note of it, will forward it to me. From me it will go on to the village affairs committee, where all sorts of decisions and revisions will be made concerning the matter. The steward in chief together with the whole office will give his decision as soon as possible, and the matter will be settled.”

The hero suggested that things would take too long that way.

“Ah!” the colonel said with a smile, “there’s the benefit of paperwork! It will indeed take longer, but nothing will escape: every little detail will be in view.”

Does this sound familiar? Gogol goes on to explain that:

“The commission for diverse petitions existed only on a signboard. Its chairman, a former valet, had been transferred to the newly formed village construction committee. He had been replaced by a clerk who had been dispatched on an investigation to sort out things between the drunken steward and the village headman, a crook and a cheat.”

The hero’s guide (an official for special missions) explained to him:

“Everything here is senseless. Here, you may be pleased to note, the building commission directs everything, disrupts people’s work, sends everyone wherever it likes. The only ones who profit from it are those on the building commission.”

And so it goes on, a small village bedevilled by bureaucratic bullshit and corruption, with high-sounding jobs for rogues and idiots. Clearly the model for our current government.

Please, dear reader, don’t imagine I think things will be better under the Conservatives. They will only improve when someone comes along who thinks less about policies, visions and photo-opportunities, and more about simple, sensible ways to get things done. Unfortunately very few of the people in politics today have had jobs where getting things mattered.

They are nearly all professional bullshitters and have either done nothing but politics - a sort of extended course in dishonesty - or worked in things like the law or teaching.

Success in the first mainly requires an ability to deal in half-truths and get overpaid for it; in the others, as we can see from the present state of education, there is no skill involved - just stunning incompetence and an intimate knowledge of the politically correct.

Cameron was in PR - which is a real worry. I rather miss Prescott, who may have been an illiterate drunk but did at least provide a little entertainment now and then.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Whenever you feel tempted to feel sorry for the wretch ….

Read what Steven Ashworth of Dumfries wrote about Brown in a recent letter to The Sunday Telegraph:

“This is the man who has wrecked the nation’s occupational pension system; this is the man who refused to implement a High Court ruling to compensate pensioners; this is the man who sold half the nation’s gold for $275 an ounce (current price $930); this is the man who callously abolished the 10p tax rate; this is the man who has mortgaged every citizen for decades to come, with his profligate borrowing and spending. And, this is the man will receive a pension of £95,000 a year at the end of his political career.”

I am only sorry Mr. Ashworth didn’t mention that this is also the man whose impeccable (and of course, prudent) judgement about where to spend and where to save money sent British soldiers to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he richly deserves to take early retirement. Let us hope his principal adviser, Prince Ballsup, joins him with a mission to teach reading and writing - but, not, we trust, arithmetic, as the locals would end up thinking 2 + 2 = 7.6, unless it's already been counted three times in an attempt to mislead people.

Monday, 11 August 2008

By their fruits ye shall know them

That little line from The Sermon on the Mount is a good way of saying never mind the waffle, look at what it produces.

In the case of our educational system, now under the caring, if utterly mendacious hand of Prince Ballsup, the rotten fruits come in the form of drivel like this:

"Specialist providers of Integrated Quality Management Systems, mhl offer a range of cost-effective and proactive route solutions from full on-site support to one-off consultancy projects."

I have no idea what a route solution is, but what they don't offer is English. They tend to be rather big on apostrophes, though.

That pile of poo was part of an e-mail I got from one of their "proactive" wankers the other afternoon. It is not his fault he can't write in his native language, as today's teaching produces people who have been urged to express themselves whether they can think and write or not.

That being so, I won't mention his name, but this is what he was trying to sell me:

MHL Support Ltd was setup to help Directors of company's with the ever increasing demands made on company's in the area's of employment law, health and safety law, and ever more relevant, environmental legislations , which are due to change in the next few months. Over the last 8 years MHL Support Ltd has grown to the UK leading outsourcing company. In 2006 we became part of the Bibby Line Group.

MHL Support ltd, as you will see in our demo work with some of the UK largest company, but also cater for small to medium company delivering outsourcing in both fields, from HR to training for Health & Safety etc. We are ISO certified and as are all companies and organisations contracted alongside MHL.

What a gormless twat! Don't they vet people before they hire them to see if they have some glancing acquaintance with their native tongue?

I replied:

Thank you, XXXX,

Here’s the deal.

How about if I offer lessons in English in exchange? Then you would know when to use the word “companies” as opposed to “company’s”, “areas” instead of “area’s” – and for that matter, “set up”, rather than “setup” and not “some of the UK largest company” but “some of the UK's largest companies”.

On second thoughts, it would be a bad deal. Why should I imagine your firm can advise on something really important if they can’t even cobble together a literate e-mail?

Good luck in your future career. If I were you, I would start by going out and shooting your teachers."

By the way, Bibby Lines who own mhl used to have ships, I think. They probably sank them all by accident and decided to go into selling bollocks to the gullible. And that's what's sad about all this. This bollocks will sell - to people as ignorant as those who sell it. The illiterate guiding the illiterate.

By the way, on the matter of route solutions, I was talking to some poor sod doing telemarketing for Lloyds, one of the useless banks I deal with, about what had happened to some money I thought was coming my way and he said (really) "I'll get our back-end investigation department to look into it."

Oooh, I'd love a few inches of that, dearie.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Yet more Ed Balls-ups

Some 30 odd years ago I met a lady who was a granddaughter of the Lion of Judah – the Emperor Haile Selassie.

She clearly inherited some of his courage, for she had survived 8 years being imprisoned and tortured by the Mengistu regime, a bunch of criminal Marxists who then ran that sad country.

(I sometimes wonder how Marx would feel if he could see the villainy and misery inflicted in his name - just as I do of Jesus Christ and Mohammed).

Anyhow this lady was living with a Dane, and was applying to stay in Denmark and become a citizen. One thing she had to do was learn Danish, which seemed reasonable to me, and is the only comment I going to make, if obliquely, on the subject of immigration here.

I was reminded of this requirement when reading that ETS, the consortium of American con-artists who caused the recent SATs marking cock-up, have been rewarded with a contract for English language tests for immigrants.

In the topsy-turvy world of "New" - strikingly like "Old" Labour - no qualification beats sheer incompetence. I can almost hear the dialogue now.

“Hello, I’m the Minister for Education, Ed Balls. I understand that besides being ace bullshitters you're fucking useless. Can you prove it? You can? Good show. I’m a fucking useless bullshitter too. We sound like perfect partners.

“How about sorting out who should be allowed to stay here under our latest set of insane regulations? Since you’re not English you should be perfect. We tried to get some Nigerians, but they’re too busy screwing their own people and sending our letters promising millions to idiots (Gordon's replied to three this week) and Mugabe’s printing banknotes night and day. Too tired, poor chap.”

An editorial in The Oldie which covered this subject, also points out that:

“Similar questions arise over the senior executives of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the ill-assorted body of academics and big businessmen who awarded the controversial marking contract to ETS in the first place.

The chairman of the QCA is Sir Anthony Greener, once in charge of the cigarette manufacturers Dunhill and a man knighted for his services to the drinks industry. They do not seem especially relevant for deciding what should be taught in our schools.

The QCA's chief executive is a man called Ken Boston, who is paid £328,000 a year after recently receiving a 15 per cent pay rise. Mr Boston is an Australian who, in addition to his generous salary, has the run of a nice flat in Chelsea and is allowed six business-class flights - costing between £3,000 and £7,000 - back to Australia every year.

It may be that there is no one in this country who could do the job as well as Boston. But we could save quite a lot of money in expenses if we hired a British citizen to take over.”

Ed Balls-up was the mastermind behind Gordon Brown’s management of the economy, which I see some fools among the “opinion-forming classes” still think was good.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

On turds - an apology

I am not the first person to comment on my stupidity, but I am often the last to notice it.

However, I noticed that half way through my last piece I mistakaenly changed the reptilian Adam Applegarth's name to Appleyard.

I aplogise to all Appleyards.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". The same principle applies to shit, I imagine.

So let's all stop work.That's bound to help

This chap is Derek Simpson who runs a big union called Unite.

As you can see from his glowing countenance, whoever else is suffering from the present troubles, it is not Derek. But he plans to make sure everyone else does.

In a newsletter headed "A striking difference" he is full of glee, saying:

"Under normal conditions, an edition of @ctivist might contain one or two reports of pay disputes. This one includes seven."

They are all making a similar point: a cut in living standards is unacceptable. And with inflation now touching 4.6% - the highest for 16 years - they are right to make that stand for decent pay.

They are also right to ignore the calls by employers organisations for pay restraint. Council workers must not pay the price for a crisis that big business has caused.

By bidding up the price of oil to $150 a barrel, speculators in the oil futures markets are doing far more to push up inflation than council workers in Hackney.

Yet little action or pressure is brought to bear on international traders.

Irresponsible lending by finance companies has created far more economic instability than any action by NHS physiotherapists.

Yet Adam Applegarth, the man whose disastrous business strategy brought Northern Rock to its knees and now threatens the jobs of thousands of Unite members walks away with a £1m pay off.

How can this be justified?"

Now I'm with you about Applegarth, Derek. And for that matter about the useless wretch who is walking away with a huge bonus for failing to sort out the railways. Not to mention the Great Bliar, who has done extremely well from promising everything and delivering nothing.

Not long ago The Economist ran a perceptive editorial about privatised profits, socialised debts. The vultures- e.g. Appleyard of Northern Rock - take the profits, we carry the can.

Unite's solution - strikes by public service people - has been tried before a few times, most spectacularly during the Callaghan administration.

It was public service unions that left us with unburied dead and so on. Unite's leaders are just another kind of vulture, sitting in their headquarters and between drinks arranging chaos that solves nothing. Strikes are the modern economic equivalent of the medieval practice of bloodletting; they solve nothing and eventually kill the patient. Unite's members may go on strike; Derek will still get his fat pension; he has nothing to lose.

What Unite and the other unions are fighting for is the right to secondary striking and all the other folly that brought Britain to chaos and were a Godsend to Mrs. Thatcher.

I resent furiously the fact that over the last 11 years nearly a million new people have entered public service, often in meaningless jobs - leaving those of us who work with higher taxes, lower pensions and more hours to work to pay for them all.

If Unite wants to fight for anything, it should be something that prevents the Appleyards and for that matter the directors of public bodies like Railtrack or great bureaucratic tangles like the Royal Mail from grabbing big money for incompetence.

But not for a return to misery.