Sweet Sixteen –

October 17, 2019

At sixteen you can’t purchase a knife or cigarettes. You can’t buy alcohol or fireworks. You can’t get a tattoo – without parental consent. You can’t take your driving test for a car, nor can you joint the armed forces without parental consent. If you reside in Wales you can work full-time at sixteen, but in England you must stay in some kind of education or training until the age of 18. You can’t place a bet, and under-18s cannot usually claim benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support. Also, many DVDs and Video games can only be sold to persons aged 18 or over.

Oh, yes, you CAN register as a blood donor at sixteen, but you WON’T be called to give blood until you’re 17.

And yet some of our politicians want to give sixteen-year olds the VOTE?

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I’ve no axe to grind regarding sixteen-year-olds. I was one myself once. What concerns me is the huge inconsistencies in what a sixteen-year-old can and can’t do – under UK law.

I feel certain that there are MP’s sitting today who feel ‘democracy’ is a menace – outranked in villainy only by public protest, revolution and coup d’état. A lowering of the voting age would be anathema to such people. They would prefer voting to be scrapped altogether, or at the very least the voting age raised to fifty.

I would ask: why lower the age to sixteen? Why not thirteen? Or Twelve? Eleven, even?

Politicians could then market themselves to the new electorate accordingly.

I would take great delight in seeing eleven-year-olds placing their cross against Dennis the Menace’s name on the ballot paper. Or Roger the Dodger. Or, even better, the Fix-it Twins – can you imagine a general election where Boris the Beetle ran as prime minister?

Wonderful.

There are politicians, of course, whose quest for power within the UK is equal to, if not greater than, Ming the Merciless’, the ruthless tyrant who ruled planet Mongo. This is especially true north of the border. Where Mung the Mirthless grasps continuously at straws, talking the talk but never, NEVER walking the walk!

However, that may change. If the voting age could be lowered to cover all those thousands of potential nationalists in kindergarten. Then things would be different – wouldn’t they?

Alas, most political visions are Unicorns, perfect imaginary creatures we will chase and never find. Yet still we walk on, face lifted toward these remote, inaccessible objectives, these Chimeras, and believe all will be so much different if only we could just touch them…

“Jeremy Corbyn will quit if Labour loses the general election expected within months!”

Oh, JC, surely not? What will you do with your time? Your old Marxist soul – fed for so many years on such a rich diet of materialistic interpretations of historical development – will shrivel and die. It must not happen.

Imagine: no more of those amazing Private Eye front covers. You must remember the one that contained an image of JC behind a ship’s wheel. The speech bubble over his head declaring: “Full steam aground!”

Or the front cover that displayed JC in a floppy-brimmed hat, collarless shirt and vest, saying “I love Marx – it’s where I get my vests”

Wonderful stuff.

To lose all that, seems a loss too great for us mere mortals. No more newspaper exposés on JC’s lurid private life, on his class-war politics, his lies and deceit, bullying and intimidation, all while playing Mr. Nice Guy – it can’t be allowed to happen! JC declared he’d lead us to the promised land where public ownership of UK railways would ensure cheap fares and seats for all; where the utility companies would be taken back into state ownership which would lead to a fall in energy prices; free childcare and early years support; the abolition of student tuition fees and the reintroduction of maintenance grants; free lunches for school pupils. Oh, on and on went the promises. And now we are abruptly faced with his stepping down as Labour Messiah if he doesn’t win a general election – and the opinion polls, if they’re to be trusted, suggest he doesn’t have an ice cube in Hell’s chance of winning a majority.

I refuse to accept that a time could come when JC will not stand in Parliament at Prime Minister’s Questions and speak in that tone of strangely arresting innocence, bitter wisdom, and childlike whimsy, but with his peculiar intensity of focus. While all around the sitting MP’s in the house (including his own party) look on equally fascinated and baffled.

Our only hope now, is that the original statement about JC’s stepping down was made by John McDonnell – who promises to ‘follow him out the door’. Comrade McDonnell is not known for 100% veracity in the public statements he makes. So this could all be a load of ol’ bollox. To quote JC’s great hero, Lenin: ‘A lie told often enough, becomes the truth.’ We will see.

No more Public Schools

October 9, 2019

So the Labour Party wish to abolish public schools like Eton, Harrow and Rugby. My God! What will become of those like Reginald Baliol Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher, who had a (not so) secret obsession for Eton boys? Those ‘golden laddies’ provided the inspiration for Brett’s small book of verse, Foam.

With a single stroke of Comrade Corbyn’s legislative wand, these inspiring young men will be no more! Can such a move be anything other than catastrophic? Like the closure of Punch, that once famous but now defunct weekly periodical, these things are symbolical of what makes Britain Great. That and the much-demonized Trident nuclear deterrent…

Nothing in domestic or international law forbids border checks between the U.K. and Ireland. Nothing in the Good Friday Agreement prohibits economic checks taking place between the two sovereign states that jut up against each other on the island of Ireland. The question of erecting physical infrastructure along their border is NOT a legal one, but a political one rooted in history, identity, and violence. Indeed, the Good Friday Agreement reaffirmed Northern Ireland’s legitimate constitutional place within the U.K. and, by extension, the border that exists on the island of Ireland between North and South.

Wasn’t Jesus a Nazi?

October 5, 2019

“ARM THE GERMANS?” said the international munitions maker. “Arm the Germans again?” He was disgusted with the idea. He pulled at his cigar. It had gone out. There was a brief but intense little contest between several people to see who would get to light it for him. A banker from Berne won. Herr Fritz Mandel, presently of Buenos Aires, smoked in silence. Everybody watched him do this, waiting for the oracle to speak again. Finally it did. “If the Russians should march west to-day—they’d cross the Rhine tomorrow.”

In Germany you were almost blinded by the glare of that political reality. Still blinking from it, you’d journeyed down from Berlin, and, in a break in the journey, you’d come upon this real, live munitions maker. How it brought back melodramas of a pre-war pacifist past! There he was, with a flower in his button-hole, an Argentine girl at his side, a respectful ring of Swiss bankers all about him, smoking an Havana cigar on the borders of an Italian lake. The eyes in the sharply drawn, solid-looking head, are set in a questing expression. They are the eyes of a shrewd hunter, but you surprise in them a curious pallid emptiness—a dead spot. It is as though the centre of a target were painted white, or like the vacuum in the heart of a tornado. It makes him look dangerous.

“Wait and see what happens this time.” Mandel again. He took the cigar from its holder, carefully extinguished it, and sat back, staring across the Lake of Como at nothing. An Italian prince roared by in a speedboat towing an English mannequin on water-skis. Some Americans at the next table were wondering if their ‘plane reservations for home were soon enough. Shouldn’t they leave now—right now? I went down to the dock and hired a boat and put as much lake as possible between myself and Mr. Mandel.

I was still fresh from Germany. Things seen and heard there had given me a kind of indigestion. I’d brought on my trip as part of my baggage a viewpoint as out of date as Mandel’s. I had an open mind but it turned out to be open in the wrong places, at the wrong hours. I’d gone looking for answers and found I’d brought the wrong questions…

“Wasn’t Jesus a Nazi?” When somebody asked that question I noticed that it brought a little spasm of polite pain to the fairly frozen face of a Very High Official (British). This happened at a dinner table a few weeks before. We’d been talking about the Passion Play and somebody wanted to be told if it wasn’t true that many of the actors were formerly leading Nazis in Oberammergau. Clearly the VHO felt that it didn’t matter if they were or not; he regarded the question not merely unnecessary but old-fashioned.

I was beginning to realize about then just how much times have changed. The Germans themselves have changed from a problem to a hope. Most of the other people who were saying that Europe must be saved from a strong Germany were saying now that only a strong Germany can save Europe. One read that before coming there, but still one had gone to Germany expecting to learn something new about the Nazis. But all one heard about were the Communists. Nowadays in Mittel Europa, the question of resurgent Fascism is simply out of style as a topic of conversation. In Italy too.

Orson Welles
Thoughts on Germany

Another Rant

September 25, 2019

Like a scene from Alice’s adventures in Wonderland the political tangle around Brexit continues. The Liberal NOT-Democratic Party feel the answer is to pretend the referendum never took place. Cancel it. Game over. Goodnight Vienna…

The Labour (we’ll tax the wealthy, if they don’t bugger off after we win an election) party wish to win a general election (they recently voted against such a motion in parliament), renegotiate the Brexit agreement with the EU, then have another referendum –

Currently polls show the result of a 2nd referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU would be much the same as the first?!?

However, Labour are suggesting the vote will be between their ‘NEW DEAL’ and remain. That will probably equate to REMAIN WITHOUT A SAY AND JUST PAY OVER THE DOSH TO THE EU or simply REMAIN.

Anyway, Mr. Corbynisky suggests that Labour negotiate a new deal and then campaign in a referendum without taking sides. Remain sitting on the fence, in other words. However, many in his party feel they should negotiate this new deal with the EU then campaign for REMAIN?!?

Confused?

Bet you’re not as confused as the politicians within the EU.

Meanwhile Barmy Boris faces political extinction, stumbling about in the US and in the UK’s law courts in Churchillian oblivion, seemingly a willing sacrifice to the ravenous comments and criticisms of his many enemies, who react to him as if he were the Lord of Darkness himself, or the embodiment of a deadly retrovirus with no known cure.

Well, I guess we’ve all gone down the Rabbit Hole with Alice. We’ve had plenty of advice from the bloody Caterpillar, and are now at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Next will be…well, what else, but the Pool of Tears?! While the Queen of Hearts yells:

“Off with his head!”

Me, myself, and I

September 15, 2019

A helpless sigh evades
Wet lips.
For clammy fingertips
Fondle at my chest,
And my toes curl
As they brush past my stomach.
My lips part. I gasp.

I tremble at the sounds
Of my own dirty voices
And the three naked women
Hidden behind my eyelids
Whose touch I echo.

Ellen Dawson

Rant

September 9, 2019

When Noam Chomsky said, ‘The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum,’ he could easily have been predicting the Brexit debacle in the UK. For three years the country has gone to hell in a handcart and the only thing up for discussion is Brexit!

Pre the UK referendum on its membership of the EU, polls showed that internally the top six issues important to the UK electorate were:
1. NHS
2. Economy
3. Low Pay
4. Immigration
5. Housing
6. Education

Not a mention of our membership of the EU. It wasn’t very high on anyone’s agenda. Although the fourth important issue to voters, Immigration, was closely tied to EU immigration rules and ‘freedom of movement’.

With the launch of the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ campaigns, Ipsos MORI survey data showed that voters considered sovereignty and migration the most important issues by far, the economic impact of leaving the EU was only important to 27% of those polled.

My own view is that the decision to withdraw from the EU is a nonsense. It’s absurd. However, Parliament okayed a ‘people’s vote’ and the majority of the people voted to leave. It was the largest turnout of voters in the history of the UK.

Since then very little has happened. Cracks in the parliamentary party system have become chasms. Politicians on all sides who once claimed they would ‘Honour the result of the Referendum’ now don’t, and justify their actions with a variety of excuses, usually based around the economy, which is being seriously damaged by continuous uncertainty.

And the people on both sides of the great divide, Leave / Remain are increasingly angry. Everywhere there are angry people and confrontations. The government lacking a majority in Parliament is helpless to legislate to solve the nation’s problems; the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, a man with all the communication skills of a stale piece of bread, has spent the past three years demanding an election, but now doesn’t want one – because he might lose!

Boys & girls, this is the biggest feckin’ cock-up I’ve ever seen. It’s a mess. But worse, much of what’s happened is totally anti-democratic. Britain has stripped itself naked, leaving our economy, our society and our democracy exposed. And whatever happens next, there will be dire consequences in future for the politics of the UK. Just you wait and see.

Rant over.

Normal service will resume as soon as possible.

Lemons

September 8, 2019

I don’t have a cleavage.

If I stuff my boobs
in a push-up bra
all I achieve
is a rising dough effect.

My breasts have veined with time.

Shy tendrils have
eased across my flesh
and gravity has created
a bean bag consequence.

I remember reading
of a young girl’s breasts,
the writer (a male)
likened them to lemons,
the kind (I guess)
with teated ends.

No doubt he saw them
thrusting, impatient
with poking nipples permanently erect.

All I saw was thick rinded yellow
while my wry mouth filled
with a bitter after taste.

Joy Reid