Saturday, 5 March 2011


There is not a lot to be said for death but at least it means I won't have to suffer another year of general electioneering. Pick your four favourite MPs? I couldn't pick four I would trust to take Taz, my long dog, for a walk. I don't just mean contemporary MPs. I mean since politicking started in the 17th century.

To digress: as a fully paid up Stoic, I have no fear of death because I won't know it has happened. Dying is a different matter and I am not looking forward to that. I just hope there is time for a witticism. There will never be a time when I have a more attentive audience. I think of the man who was dying surrounded by his family.

“Has he gone yet?” whispered one daughter.

“Feel his feet,” said another. “Nobody ever died with warm feet.”

At which point the dying man uttered his last whisper. “What about Joan of Arc?” he asked, and died with enormous satisfaction.

It is always of great value to have a nodding acquaintance with the past. Particularly useful as a CV for politicians. It would be difficult to argue against the execution of that poisonous dwarf King Charles One, which might with profit have been repeated on the priapic Charles Two, who wanted to sell us to the French. Forby that, the Cromwell parliament was a mistake. Very New Labour, banning plum pudding and Christmas.

Later on, giving America away was another error. They obviously long to have a king of their very own and I don't suppose black Americans and the Indian tribes welcomed an independent America. The French Revolution was a mess. Storming the Bastille was pure spin. There were only nine people in it at the time and the French couldn't wait to put a Bourbon back on the throne. The Russian Revolution was, perhaps, the greatest mistake. Most of the changes it sought to bring were already happening under the Czar, and the German High Command had to rush Lenin to Moscow in a special train or there would not have been any point in him making the journey. In the event, the peasants didn't lose the Czar: they just got Czars of a different dynasty. Josef Stalin versus Boris Godunov? No contest.

It is in the last two centuries that we see parliament at its very worst. The Great War, which began in 1914 and ended in 1945, dealt a death blow to Western Civilisation. Versailles has rightly been called the Peace that Passeth all Understanding. The present situation in the Middle East, which may yet turn into World War Three, was created by our betrayal of the Arabs. We promised them a homeland while at the same time signing the Sykes-Picot Agreement which carved up the Ottoman Empire between us and the French. The Balfour Declaration, which gave away Palestine (which we didn't own), has hardly brought harmony. The seeds of Nazism would never have flourished had we not insisted on reparations from Germany so excessive that the Weimar Republic collapsed and with it cultured Germany.

The postwar Labour Party had no sense of timing. They created the Welfare State at a time when Britain was bankrupt and fed the infant monster bureaucracy which has now gobbled us up.

A curse on both houses for their bellicosity. The ten-week war in Kosovo cost $100 million a day. The first Gulf War was even more expensive. It came in at $102 billion.

We were denied any advantage by refusing to join the Common Market at a time when we might have influenced it, at the same time gleefully handing over British proprietary rights. The Navy, humbled in 2007 when those 15 sailors surrendered to the Iranians and its subsequent failure to fight the rabble of Somali pirates, will soon be operating aircraft carriers devoid of aircraft. The diplomatic fall-out from the colonial adventure in Iraq will linger for generations. Nothing leaves a greater blot on our record that the genocide we launched in the partition of India.

I had high hopes of the Coalition, because I thought one party would keep an eye on the other. Some hopes. We send the prime of our youth to fight an unwinnable war in Afghanistan on behalf of a corrupt government and encourage them by promising that when the war is over they will have the holiday of their life - for the rest of their lives. One might set this threat of redundancy to music. Perhaps the World War One favourite which encouraged an earlier flowering of youth to fade: “We don't want to lose you but we think you ought to go.”

Meanwhile we are itching to help the rebels in the north Africa to usurp the leaders we have been propping up for years. Has no one noticed that fundamentalism already has Tunisia in its grip?

Most shaming of all. We cannot celebrate Trafalgar Day. It would upset
the French.

Efforts from the Establishment to destroy the English language proceed apace. Two news items from reader Ken Ashton:

“The coroner in charge of the 7/7 inquests criticised emergency services bosses today for using too much jargon.
Lady Justice Hallett said some terms were so cumbersome and complex that one 999 worker might not know what a counterpart did when arriving at an emergency scene. Lady Justice Hallett let fly at Gary Reason, assistant commissioner of London Fire Brigade. She spoke out as mention was made of "a conference demountable unit from a management centre" - which is a portable incident room. Ambulances took an hour to get to Tavistock Square because the officer in the control room couldn't reach the top of the whiteboard detailing operations.”

A 34 per cent turnout is a 'resounding success', says BBC Wales of the Celtic Referendum...Turnout, below 30% in some areas, was described by First Minister Carwyn Jones as "not brilliant, but then not apocalyptic, which some people predicted."
Deputy First Minister and Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "The rest of the world can now sit up and take notice of the fact that our small nation, here on the western edge of the continent of Europe, has demonstrated pride in who we are, and what we all stand for." (Well, almost three-quarters of the population didn't.)

studies variously showed between 5 and 30 percent of American and British babies to have been adulterously conceived. Again, the proportion of the tested couples of whom at least the wife had practiced adultery must have been higher for the same ... reasons as in Dr. X's study."

Author: Jared Diamond
Title: The Third Chimpanzee
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date: Copyright 1992 by Jared Diamond
Pages: 85-86

On the whole I wonder if I am doing the right thing in keeping Alzheimer's at bay? My doctor has already told me not to worry because I won't know I have got it. No use. I will not be deterred. I have others to consider.

'tis a far, far nobler thing that I do now than I have ever done before - but I Must Be Firm. My duty, however unpleasant, is clear. I will firmly tread the path of the martyr. Recent research has shown that 38 per cent of us will escape Alzheimer's if we drink a glass of wine a day.