Sea Fever – by John Masefield

 
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
                                 And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
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Speechless

A female Labour politician has apologised, and resigned, because she wrote the truth about Muslim grooming gangs and the mass rape of little white girls.

When Kate Hoey expressed concern over this, several people supported her resignation on the grounds that they disapproved of the newspaper which published her article.

Anyone who believes that her voice should be silenced, is morally bankrupt.

The MP herself is a disgrace for apologising.

And Labour?  You are dead.

The Poisons That Lurk In The Mud

A vast mass of barely-distinguishable toxins have been milling about together in Virginia over the weekend.  Apparently, someone left the gates to the sewers open, and this lot spilled out.

But take a special look at the toxins flying the Nazi flag, as opposed to the toxins flying the Antifa flag (which was flown by the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby.)

These days, the insult “Nazi” is thrown at people for simply not wanting to be killed by lunatics, so spot the difference between the excrescences waving their Swastikas, and, for example, a Trump supporter who doesn’t want Mexican drug dealers swarming into his town, or, for another example, a UKIP supporter who doesn’t want Albanian Mafia lurking in alleys near his children’s play-park.

You get it? You see the difference? You on the far left there: now that you’ve seen what pro-Nazis actually look like, will you stop throwing the ‘N’ word about like confetti, belittling purest evil to the level of a meme of a smiling cat, in your attempts at social control?

I detest Antifa – a violent gaggle of shrieking fascists deluding themselves that they stand for social justice, while espousing most known malignancies – but they have, as an excuse (a small one, but real) that they have been told, and convince themselves, that they stand on the side of ‘good’ – at least, they do if ‘good’ is the deliberate destruction of all that stands between us and surrender to the barbarism Antifa romanticise. That delusion in itself is a by-product of those who flew the Swastika over Europe.

The toxins flying their Swastikas over Virginia have no such excuse. None whatsoever. They are wilfully channelling the lowest forms of western human life, and enjoying doing so, without any believable pretensions of ‘justice’ or ‘defence’.

Some no doubt claim otherwise – they would probably point to the months of whining provocation by ‘not-my-president’ snowflakes, who have been blowing snot-bubbles for the best part of a year because the old lady they supported wasn’t given the big job – but that’s just rubbish. They have no excuses.

The fact that they have dressed up as the most devastatingly putrid people in European history – in effect dressing as Satan, but with Zyklon B in place of hell-fire – presents one of the most sickening sights imaginable.

How dare they? How dare they fly that flag? How dare they besmirch decent people by claiming to represent them in any way? I don’t expect them to know anything of history – I doubt their collective average IQ is in triple figures – but under that flag marched Europe’s Nemesis: not only for the millions who were killed on grounds of race, or sexuality, or disability, but for the other millions who died tearing down that flag, for the children of my parents’ generation who went hungry while their fathers fought, for all those innocents who struggle, still, with a collective, unearned guilt.

Europe has never recovered from the last time that flag was followed. Germany, once seen as a romantic  land of musicians, writers and dreamers, is forever damned by it: generations later it still hangs like a vast, ugly, black-and-red shadow over them, which has led to them sacrificing their children to another brand of evil, in fear of being accused of Nazism if they resist.

Like invoking the devil, the name ‘Hitler’ is hissed at anyone who cherishes western culture – even though the pin-heads bellowing and strutting in Virginia know about as much about western culture as I know of nuclear physics.

Nazism is an unhealed wound, stitched together loosely, still an agony for Europe. How dare these little pseudo-warriors tear it open again, when the graves of half-a-million young Americans are scattered across the world, having died in the struggle to stem the flow of blood from the original cut?

Those who supported that flag – the various countries who sought justification to ride on it like parasites on a sheep’s rear – are forever condemned. How dare these creatures in Virginia, whose land doesn’t bear the scars of destroyed heritage, fly that flag now?

Looking at the clips of the toxins mingling together, claiming to oppose each other but actually unified in degrees of insanity under their differing banners of hatred, none of them speaking for anyone sane or good, I long for a brief moment of fantasy, a Game Of Thrones moment in which a mad Queen can swoop down on a CGI dragon and eviscerate the lot of them for the worthless fools they are.

Daenarys Targaryan – where are you now?

Inversion and Perversion

A funny thing happened during the late 1990s, which I remember as a fairly chilled-out decade, although that may be because I spent a lot of it wandering around the woods, or on the beach, with my children. There is a natural wisdom to children – being close to the beginning of things, they know a natural order, with its own morality.

But at some point, while our backs were turned, ‘natural’ was rejected by some beaming Common Purpose consensus, and morality was turned – quite literally – upside down.

I don’t mean sexual morality because what adult, fully consenting humans do to get happy has nothing to do with morals. I don’t happen to think a prerequisite of being a good person is to have nether regions so arid that they rattle like autumn leaves, nor do I believe some deity looms up like an angry angler-fish at a ship’s porthole the minute anyone gets their kit off.

I mean morality for life: the aspirations, and the requirements, of being a whole person, worth respecting, knowing how to love and when to fight.

I was a very young Mum, and hadn’t absorbed any theories, so I just had a general idea that if a person was kind and confident, they wouldn’t go far wrong, being good to themselves, and to others.
There are baby-steps, in teaching someone to be kind and confident.

In the first place, I wanted my kids to know that I loved them more than anything else on Earth, that they were exceptional and I was enormously proud of them.
But at no time should they demand that anyone else should feel that way about them: it was just me, for the very good reason that they were mine.
And I fully accepted that every mother at the school gate felt the same way about her own children – but not about mine. We love what is ours more than anything, and we should enjoy our pride in it, and our sense that it is exceptional.

Another accepted fact back then, was that it was a fine thing to be able to speak freely, with nobody to silence us or threaten us for saying things others maybe didn’t want to hear. That anyone should think to clip the wings of free speech was unquestionably terrible. We could and should use this free speech for defending the things we naturally loved and valued, and in doing so, we were the stuff of heroes.

While people were born equal, not all their practices were equal, and there were things which were bad, for the very good reason that they hurt people – practices which were unarguably wrong, which we should strive to eradicate, not embrace, because it’s not kind to allow people to be hurt. Compassion was to save people, not enable those who would harm them.

Courage was a virtue: the grit to stand your ground unless genuinely overwhelmed or in danger, the confidence to seek help when that was the case. And it was important to know when the time was right to seek help – because there were few things more despicable than the snitch, the tell-tale, the hated runt-kid who everyone had to habitually pussy-foot around because if not, he’d run blubbering to teacher, dripping crocodile tears, to destroy those he couldn’t compete with otherwise.

So – to recap, before we all booked our ‘Millennium do’, it was considered good to be personally confident, selectively loving, independent, honest, compassionate, and brave.
Now, for some years, those virtues have been despised, excluded, and – where possible – eradicated and criminalised, in an establishment-led, media-enabled campaign to force us to believe that wrong is right, and that those who hold fast to what is morally right, are dangerously Far Right and must, for the Common Good, be destroyed.

In fact, to destroy those pre-millennium virtues is to cripple, even kill, western civilisation. And if you think that can be done without destroying the light of the world, you are a triumph of the inversion of values.

This week, I read a long article in i paper by a journalist who will remain nameless, not because I want to hide his shame, but because I forgot to write it down before using his un-stirring words to line my cat’s litter tray. In it, he had decided, once and for all, to subdue all sense among anyone British, that we should do anything other than hang our heads in shame at the mere suggestion of any emotion other than abject self-loathing.

With the fervour of a demented spinster Puritan thrashing a pretty orphan for looking in a mirror, he ranged widely, dismissing any British achievement or notion of identity – from pride in farm produce to the music industry, claiming that Daft Punk (who’s name is inspired by a British musical phenomenon and an English
adjective) and Bjork are on a level pegging with the infinite list of British musical greats.

Bear in mind that the same people who deny us taking pride in our nation of birth, are those who demand to take pride in just about everything else from the bizarre to the banal. If I were an obese, cross-eyed kleptomaniac with tusks and a predilection for defecating on door-steps, they’d be able to find me a ‘pride’ group, and, no doubt, an emblem. But thousands of years of heritage? Shame, and clanging bells.

His point was that we are not exceptional in any way – because other countries are. Not only is he talking nonsense, but he misses the point entirely. Other countries are most certainly exceptional. But so are we. And we are all entitled to take pride in that without a bunch of pearl-clutching hand-wringers fearing it will drive us to war. War is born out of misery and resentment. But a feeling of self-worth, while acknowledging the worth of others to themselves, creates happiness and acceptance, ergo, peace. Confidence and kindness – you see?

And then, there is the Newcastle grooming scandal – yet another example of the industrial-scale rape of poor, white children by men who openly claim them as spoils of jihad. The male Muslim population of Britain is around 2% of the whole, and obviously, not all of them are of an age to be sexually active. And yet, 90% of all ‘grooming gang’ members self-identify as Muslim.

For some reason – and I am genuinely at a loss to know why, although no doubt there’s a whiff of oil money at the back of it – the authorities are on a mission to deny that any Muslim is other than the delightful and much loved Mr Shah, the Glasgow shop-keeper who was butchered outside his shop by a fellow Muslim, for the ‘crime’ of wishing his Christian customers a happy Easter.

To this end, in a glorious display of self-righteousness, sternly facing down those with a fondness for facts, the perpetrators of these disgusting crimes were described by MSM as “Asian” – thus neatly implicating men ranging from Native Americans to Koreans – in an effort to avoid dealing with the fact that, living among us, are men who take the ravings of a dead dark-age warlord (himself a DNA-identified mass rapist, who married a six-year-old child when he was fifty) as literal, and accept said war-lord as the perfect being.

Wildly deflecting in all directions, MSM accused realists of racism, while describing the rapists by race, which – of itself – is and always has been, irrelevant to people’s behaviour or value.

The campaign of white-washing Islam doesn’t confine it’s cruel, wilful blindness to the rape of white children, but extends to the mutilation of non-white children, nor does it stop at slandering all ‘Asian’ men, but deflects completely: the poster-girl chosen for Barnado’s anti-FGM campaign is white, the race least likely to have their clitorises removed by mad old women with razors. (The CEO of Barnados is a Muslim.)

Little girls whose parents inflict this horror on them are not protected – social workers decree that jailing the parents serves no purpose, thus ensuring the horror continues due to lack of any deterrent.
Little girls, no matter their ethnicity, are clearly considered expendable collateral damage in the war to convince the West that all cultures are equal.

Twenty years ago, we were allowed to speak freely and acknowledge that it was not so, and that barbarism must be defeated. But then, twenty years ago, we were allowed to take pride in our own lack of such barbarism.

And finally, we come to snitching – the venom of people incapable of refuting arguments, who seek to destroy the arguer.

This week, Country Squire Magazine, which hosts the most eclectic voices online, published an article which was derogatory about Ireland. Actually, the historical facts mentioned were all true. Ireland has quite a murky history, since independence, for a nation so small, powerless, and young.

Quite apart from being one of only three nations to maintain diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany, using ‘neutral’ status as an excuse to hand downed RAF pilots to German authorities while allowing Luftwaffe to drop in at shops and buy cigarettes, and then stripping those Irishmen who took up arms against Nazism of rights which were only restored in 2013, the full horror of the ‘Catholic Taliban’ which held sway there is only now coming to light with the discovery of the bodies of hundreds of ‘immoral’ mothers and their babies.

And the widespread hatred of Britain and the British, which for many Irish people is the key factor of their national identity, is also a fact.
The open loathing, and glee at the prospect of harm to us, as voiced in several Irish newspapers, including the Irish Times, is both pathetic and shameful, in particular as we have in recent years offered financial bail-outs in addition to the EU funding we provide, defended Ireland when they were pilloried by the EU, and even allow them to vote in our elections, including the referendum of 2016.

But we take this on the chin – as does every other nation. Brits, Americans, French and Germans don’t howl in hysterical outrage and make accusations of ‘racism’ if criticised. But this is precisely how Irish readers reacted to the horror of not actually being complimented. It was a ludicrous vomiting of bile, ironically confirming the opinions in the piece, as well as the historical facts, which nobody attempted to refute.

But what was most contemptible, was that one of them – Philip Boucher Hayes, who works for @rte – set himself up as a sort of crusader: not by attempting to argue with the piece, as you might expect from a representative of what purports to be a world-class broadcaster, but by whirling into a self-emasculating frenzy of bunny-boiler style vengeance by trying to remove non-existent advertising revenue from the magazine and by inciting a frenzy of histrionics including this demand from one representative of the nation which gave us Keats: “why do you have spastics writing for you??” – heavily embellished with Irish flags.

All Country Squire writers were targets for what was, in essence, the insane revenge of a sort of collective jilted tart. Jim Browne, a true gentleman, 76 years of age, resigned in order to keep the peace, in a dignified, humble letter which should – but no doubt will not – put the cry-bullies to shame. So many of these ‘heroes of the republic’ complained about me, that Twitter suspended my account: bravo, cry-bullies! I’m homeless, and all that stands between me and total destitution is what I earn by writing.

The extent of their petulant, childish fury is revealed to me by the stats on my blogs: I am being obsessively ‘stalked’ by several viewers in Ireland, who repeatedly trawl all my blogs and, presumably, the rest of the internet, no doubt looking for dirty linen to seize upon, howling like werewolves.

But what was even more tragic, and diminishing for them – not their targets – is that being a cowardly tell-tale-tit has become so normalised that among the many comments indicating contempt for those who turn bully while claiming victimhood, there were actually alleged men praising this employee of their national broadcaster for his Glenn Close impersonation, rather than demanding to know why he didn’t use his alleged journalistic skills to tear the article to shreds.

What is heartening is that after reaching a peak of awfulness a few years ago, the fad for being a hysterical, hypocritical, neutered coward is on the wane. This was actually underlined by the startling nature of the Irish reaction. Such shrill outbursts of witch-hunting are no longer the norm; the fad is being replaced by a restoration of common-sense, and clearly only lingers in its full ludicrousness in backwaters.

Likewise, the MSM who attempted to deflect from the horror of the grooming gangs are being overthrown from within, and even the self-hate brigade are on the retreat: the article in i was arguing against far bigger fish.

The forces of cowardice and hypocrisy won’t go down without a fight (or at least, without snitching on more people)  but we’ve got them on the run.

To the barricades, mes amis!

 

The Outstanding Irrelevance Of Philip Hammond

I’ve never really paid much attention to Philip Hammond, except to notice that he looks a lot like the love child of Nanny McPhee and Topo Gigio, a TV puppet mouse I was fond of in childhood.

No, I tell a lie, that’s not all: I’ve also noticed that, while he has been as omnipresent in recent governments as the proverbial fart in a space-suit, he never actually seems to achieve anything.

Oh – and one other thing I noticed, during the most profound expression of democracy this country has ever known, in 2016, was that Mr Hammond opposed what turned out to be the democratic choice.

Why, then, is he in any position to influence anything whatsoever about the manner of our parting from the EU?  And why has he, of all ineffective, unrepresentative people, been sent to speak to the Argentinians, who still circle the Falklands like wasps around a jam jar?

In fact, why is Philip Hammond? 

Is Theresa May – herself a Remainer, who recently led the worst election campaign, on the least relevant issues, in living memory – trying to provoke civil unrest?

Last week, with Mrs May safely on holiday, Hammond effectively informed the world that Brexit – the choice of more British people than have ever voted for anything in the entire history of the United Kingdom – would not happen.

Why? Because, Mr I-heart-EU Hammond said, there would be a ‘transitional period’ of three years following official Brexit in March 2019, during which we would be unable to conclude trade deals, would be constrained by the single market, would have free movement which would complete the destruction of the British working class and public services, and would have to continue to finance the whole sorry circus, at whatever rate set by the overlords we rejected last year.

Oh – but we wouldn’t have any say in anything.

In other words, a Remainiac’s dream-come-true, in which we are wilfully, permanently ruined for having the temerity to suggest that a country which has functioned magnificently as a sovereign entity since 1066 should be able to do quite nicely, thank you very much, without being involved in the declining years of the latest pyrrhic attempt to roll the glorious, diverse box of chocolates which is Europe, into a sort of dusty, puce-coloured blob of old Plasticine.

There was immediate backlash to this, of course, because nobody who can countenance Britain being so destroyed should have any role in government. And even those few who didn’t feel inspired to use Mr Hammond as a piñata at an Independence-Day street party could see, the transitional period he suggested, has already begun. It began the day Article 50 was triggered nine long, dithering months after we should have been able to rest – assured we would have the freedom we had chosen. It must end – for the sake of everyone’s sanity – in March 2019.

We don’t need another three years for weeping Remainers to endlessly say goodbye like doomed lovers on a railway platform. They must either pull themselves together, or go in search of the glowing opportunities they imagine are on offer in their beloved, tottering continental empire.

And anyone fretting about “cliff edges”, as if we may all plummet inadvertently off Beachy Head while distracted by an improperly bent banana, needs to get a grip.  There’s no need for such timidity. We are ending a brief social experiment in our nation’s long, illustrious history, not forging a new colony on the Moon.

But then, just as people might have been thinking that Philip Hammond was an actively malign entity rather than just an inconsequential person who is given jobs because he sharpens the pencils and makes a nice cup of tea, his moment of sinister triumph was over when “sources” at Downing Street – and, not least, Liam Fox, arch Brexiteer – basically confirmed that Operation Bugger-up Britain was just Hammond talking out of his arse again.

So what I ask again is, why is Philip Hammond?  What the hell is the point of such a man, in any role other than doing a bit of light housework, at this pivotal moment when we are in so many ways defining our place in the world for the rest of the century?

I admit, Brexit is a cause so close to my heart that I yearn for the impossible.  My personal Brexit Dream Team would be made up of sweet-natured trio Andrea Leadsome, Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey to erroneously convince Guy Verhofstadt that we give a toss about anything he or any other supporter of the Beige Brussels Beast has to say,  Priti Patel to lure Donald Tusk out of the haunted cave he hangs upside down in during daylight hours, David Davis and Liam Fox to handle the paperwork and look worryingly evasive, and Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan to point and laugh at Martin Schulz.

It would be led by Jacob Rees Mogg, a man so cool and clever he could reduce old Druncker Juncker to double incontinence by finding legal justification for holding all discussions in Latin.  In attendance, in an advisory role, would be Prince Philip, no longer constrained to reduce his use of the Anglo Saxon vernacular to only one word per sentence, and armed with a horse-whip.

I realise this is unlikely to happen, unless I find a silver lamp and feel compelled to polish it and a strange mist pours out of it and forms into the shape of a giant middle-eastern looking gentleman in a turban who grants me any wish I choose; and I realise that is even more unlikely than my dream team getting together in the real world, because I don’t take any drug stronger than coffee.

But it can’t be denied, with the Magnificent Ten on the case, we’d get whatever deal we wanted. And that – no ifs, buts, or maybes – should be our only consideration now.

What we certainly don’t need are Remainers to be involved in the process, because, frankly, they can’t be trusted. They don’t believe in Brexit Britain – they told us, before we hit the polling booths on 23rd June last year, that they didn’t believe in Brexit Britain  – and it’s not as if politicians ever lie, is it?

At this point in our history, those whose loyalties lie with the old order are not relevant to the burning questions of the day, and Philip Hammond, who manages to be irrelevant at the best of times, is certainly not the man of the hour.

We need people who passionately believe in Britain, who understand that heel dragging and an apologetic, sackcloth and ashes approach to negotiations will not be tolerated.

Above all, we don’t need Philip Hammond.  Did anyone, ever?

The Betrayal Of Passchendaele

The soldier made of Flanders mud, placed in Trafalgar Square to commemorate Passchendaele is, in my opinion, the most poignant work of war-art ever made. Watch him melt, destroyed by the weather of another wet summer, and to understand the 3rd Battle of Ypres, you hardly need Siegfried Sassoon’s chilling words: “I died in Hell.  They called it Passchendaele.”

de32w2

The First World War provided several images of the inferno – the one known as Passchendaele lasted ninety-nine days.

At 3.50am, on 31st July, 1917, the first British attack began, of a campaign intended to take the last ridge outside Ypres, finally break the German line, and end the war. It should have been dawn, but unbroken cloud, heralding the endless rain to come, and the windless, sunless days which would ensure the pulverised ground never dried, meant it was still dark. The day ended with three British brigades driven back with 70% losses. The campaign ended on 6th November, when the Canadians took Passchendaele.

It is a collective memory of countries who were considered family then, and to which we still feel bound by blood, language and culture:  British, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, South Africans, all drowned in the shell-holes in the endless liquid Flanders mud, alongside war horses, and men burned and blinded by the mustard gas released by the Germans.

With distance, it became fashionable to ignore historical record and label the First World War a meaningless blood-bath, a mere squabble between royal cousins, but nobody thought so at the time – because it wasn’t so.  Those floods of men who volunteered during the first two years of the war, before conscription was enforced for the first time in our history, supported the aims of the conflict because the integrity of nations was under threat, not because they were stupid.

There was no benefit to war, for any of the nations of Europe which had built empires and  alliances and were enjoying a golden age. German expansion within Europe was an aggressive aim, fuelled by resentment at having missed out on grabbing a ‘place in the sun’ during the years when Germany was a hotchpotch of argumentative Ruritanian mini-states.  Russia, with enviably vast ‘living space’ and France, with that long disputed border, were on the Kaiser’s shopping list long before shots rang out in Sarajevo.

The Von Schlieffen Plan – to violate Belgian neutrality in order to invade France, which is what brought Britain into the conflict – began to be put into practical action in 1905.  The building of railway stations with platforms a quarter of a mile long, ideal for embarkation of troops, in tiny border villages, was reported by our man on the ground – such an inept spy that he was nick-named ‘Mon General Rosbif’ by locals as he cycled around Alsace-Lorraine with his binoculars – but the Liberals were so keen to avoid war that they did nothing to nip it in the bud.

The bullying by the Kaiser of the doddering Austrian Emperor Franz Josef – so senile that in the end he declared war on Russia in a letter sent to the Tsar by ordinary post (“…gas….electricity….Rasputin’s bar-bill…oops, we’re at war with Austria-Hungary..”)  – was the act of a man crazed with power, but when he finally realised the magnitude of the impending doom, he was unable to stop things for the most Teutonic of reasons: his generals told him the train time-tables were fixed for the following six months.

It was a relentless German war-machine, not a royal hissy-fit, which pulled the pin on the grenade which detonated in Europe, and we insult those who were there, when we deny history.

My grandfather was a regular with the East Surreys, a standard-bearer for the Old Contemptibles, and Passchendaele was part of his war when he was twenty-three years old.  At the age of seventy-nine he would still sometimes, without warning, drop his head into his hands and rock.  Although he didn’t die in hell he certainly revisited it often – but he never thought it had been senseless, and, twenty-one years later, seeing how the wind was blowing, he volunteered for service again.

To truly respect those who fought, we must respect what they fought for. As you buy poppies and post memes honouring the dead, think how, if you were about to step on a train to hell, you would like to be assured that the things you loved were in safe hands.

After much bickering, the number of British and Commonwealth casualties during the Passchendaele campaign has been put at just over 275,000 killed or wounded, around 116 men down every hour of the campaign.  This means that, over the past century,  there were between three and four million babies who were never born, because the men who should have passed on the shape of their hands, the colour of their eyes and hair, and the talents they had inherited, instead became one with the mud of Flanders fields.

And that’s just one campaign.

And that means that those who were born, who carry on the lines which survived the inferno – you, me, even those men or women you pass in the street, who you think are thick, or annoying, or in need of cultural enrichment – are the progeny of men who survived hell, or who went to war leaving children who would grow to adulthood without them.  For the sake of those men, their descendants are infinitely precious.

Among the descendants are those who have inherited the military traditions which have guarded us for centuries, have already faced savagery many prefer to pretend is imaginary, and stand ready to defend us still – belittled, beleaguered and underfunded by the kind who were equally short-sighted a century ago – while we pour resources into some nations who have differing collective memories and may yearn to see us brought to our knees, and into others who avoid responsibility for their own stagnation by blaming us for their failures, like malcontent middle-aged children who won’t quite leave home.

Those men and boys who left the shires, kissed wives and children goodbye, were given packets of sandwiches and twists of tea and tobacco, wore scarves knitted by hands which they would never hold again, and are now names carved on plinths of sad memorials in villages which lost their hearts when they lost their sons and fathers -what would they think of us, if we don’t defend the land they died for, the homes they dreamed of, and the children who are their immortality?

The Man Who Would Be King

For a man who once claimed he would ‘hit the ground running’ Tony Blair actually proved in one respect remarkably lazy.  After all, instead of creating a party in his image from scratch, he simply latched onto ailing Labour, eviscerated it, and gave it a shiny new coat of paint.  He himself was shiny and new in 1997 – at forty-three, the youngest Prime Minister since 1812 – and with the gloss worn off Thatcherism, people were ready for the Caring Nineties.

A generation which had started adult life as technologically obsolete, jobless renters had created businesses and bought, renovated, sold and re-bought homes which were reduced to negative equity and tripled mortgage payments, impossible to pay when those businesses crashed because too many of them depended on a bubble which had burst.  It was a slow crawl out of the pit, we were all tired and disillusioned, and, with money proven to be a fickle God, it was time for a little kindness. New Age therapies were an antidote to feeling the burn, Britannia was cool, and things could only get better.

This was the horse Tony rode in on, and I suppose we can be forgiven for not realising that the object of the exercise was always the power of Tony Blair.

The problem with Tony Blair is, he doesn’t seem to understand, then is not now. He should be forced to watch the video of his arrival at Number Ten, adored by thousands – and his swift, silent departure.  Maybe then, he would understand that we know what he is about, now – but I doubt it, because his connection to reality is ever more threadbare; he’s preoccupied with his next fix, just as he was as we hailed new beginnings in 1997.

Power is a drug, and there, unbeknown to us – dangling just within reach – was the prospect of an EU presidency, power over hundreds of millions of people. To attain that, having sharpened his knife on the Labour party, Tony Blair convinced himself that the evisceration of Cool Britannia herself was surely not a step too far.

It’s normal for a Wunderkind to become a Bete Noir, but in the case of Blair, his betrayal is so shameful, his legacy so globally apocalyptic and permanent, that he has almost taken on aspects of the Anti-Christ in popular imagination.  Aside from figures of legend, or Hitler, who else is so universally loathed?

Where once his was the Midas Touch, now, whatever he lays his hand on turns to slime in the minds of those he once saw as obliging pawns, and so each time he argues, as he did last weekend, that it is imperative that we don’t leave the EU, vital that democracy is subverted, there is a sort of collective shiver, as if we all feel a draught from the crypt.

To agree with Tony Blair now is practically akin to demanding that Josef Mengele be called in to restructure the NHS.

Tony Blair represents a particular kind of corruption, of which he is somehow both source and symptom: only Blair, who called our forces to war more often than any other Prime Minister in our history, could have been made a peace envoy to the middle east he helped trigger, during a period in which a middle eastern nation which considers a public beheading as entertainment, was given the UN chair on Human Rights. That corruption is now written on his face – power and politics ages the best of people, but Blair looks like his own portrait in the attic.

We will not recover from the Blair years for generations, if ever. The gentle tolerance which informed the 1990s has stretched to snapping point. And Blair’s reach has been long: even David Cameron is rumoured to have employed him as an advisor, and George Osborne praised him as “the master.”  To see Cameron, Clegg and Miliband lined up together, was to see peas in a Blairite pod.

We don’t vote for cookie-cutter Blair-alikes now, but Tony will probably never accept that. He’s still crying for power, for the glory days when he was puppet-master to Dubya, a Forrest Gump of a president, and was adored by Americans even as he helped discredit the Republicans to the extent of paving the way for America’s own version of Tony Blair – fellow arch-Globalist and war-monger Barack Obama.

In 1913, a single square mile of Vienna was simultaneously home to Hitler, Tito, Trotsky and Stalin, whose co-existence on the world stage was devastating.

I suppose we must be grateful that the hey-days of Obama and Blair didn’t overlap quite so exactly.

Getting Real

They say you should never go back to where you were once happy because the changes you find may rob you of your memories. But what about when you’d like to go back but can’t because your memories have become fashionable?

There’s a new trend here in the UK and it’s depriving a whole crop of children of days which used to set the standard by which future happiness could be measured.

I’m talking about white pebbles underfoot, sea so cold it turns you blue, fish-and-chips eaten shivering under a towel (sand crunching between your teeth mixed with salt and vinegar), fair-ground lights a blur as you chase your brother on the dodgem-cars, then falling asleep, candy-floss in your hair, listening to Mum and Dad talking as they sit on the bleached wooden steps of the beach-hut. Sometimes you’d even catch them kissing and everything seemed right with the world.

Gran and Grandad would turn up next morning. Gran would bring squashed sandwiches and cousins (the thin asthmatic one who peeled his own sunburn, the fat one who smelled of pie and played ‘Dutch Ovens’ in your sleeping-bag so you had to whack him with wet seaweed.) And Grandad would bring blood-chilling ghost stories to terrify you all when babysitting while Mum and Dad had an evening on their own.

I’m talking about English seaside holidays, which will always remind me of unconditional love. And they were cheap as chips.

Trouble is, as of last summer those beach-huts now cost £300 per night to rent so there will be no more poor young families building their memories there.

Partly, I blame the Remain campaign. Many of the 48% confidently declared that if we left the EU we’d need visas to cross the Channel, as if freedom to travel was in the gift of Brussels and we haven’t really been able to leave this sceptred isle without let or hindrance since about the time of the Roman invasion. In the wake of the result of June 2016, as if to prove them right, the number of Brits staying at home for their holidays is at record levels.

It could be fear of terrorism: there are now travel features listing resorts according to the likelihood of being killed by lunatics.

But I believe it’s mostly linked to Recession Chic, an awareness for instance that there are people doing imaginative things with Tiny Homes, but a failure to understand that when people renovate a rotting hulk of a caravan, or make a storage-container into a home, it’s ingenuity born of necessity, not a game. There are now well-heeled people writing blogs about how ‘real’ it is to take a day or two each month from their glossy apartment and spend it in a professionally constructed Tiny Home which is oh-so-conveniently parked in their parent’s rambling garden estate.

Result: it’s now more expensive to buy a caravan built circa 1972 which needs rebuilding from the axles up, than to get one twenty years younger, ready to roll. What’s being bought is credibility, and some will pay a small fortune for it.

A similar thing has happened with camp-sites, where the most expensive now lack facilities other than fire-pits and a cold-water tap, boasting of their “back to nature” approach. Once the province of families who liked space and couldn’t afford hotels, it’s increasingly hard to find sites which welcome children and pets.

Many even stipulate that they don’t allow tents on grass: only hard-standing for motor-homes. Couples hire a motor home, pay premium prices for loan of a chimnea, sit in regimented lines awkwardly eating burned marshmallows from twigs, scurry home before lack of a shower becomes too evident: then write about their “rustic” experience on Trip Advisor.

I even know of one couple who park up by a site where homeless people pitch tents, then post intrusive photos with comments wistfully describing how wise and philosophical the destitute are. This apparently relieves them of any necessity to sympathise. They are not into social justice: they are explorers visiting an alien tribe.

Music festivals are now gentrified: tickets are beyond reach of all but a small minority, and those attending buy expensive ‘festival wear’ – floral headbands and all, fancy dress more than self-expression. On sale are products designed to insulate the user from crowds, dirty shoes and inferior coffee; even ear-plugs to ensure a good night’s sleep – at Glastonbury, for God’s sake!

Those vendors who gleefully quadruple their prices are simply responding to a trend by making a killing. And those who awkwardly rough it naturally have every right to be poseurs, even if they secretly yearn for faux poverty to go off-trend.

But Recession Chic has shades of Marie Antoinette, dressed as a silken milkmaid at Petit Trianon, collecting eggs pre-washed by peasants – and we all know what special hatred was reserved for her. It is cultural appropriation: bored people playing at being poor, pricing the genuinely poor out of the market, then claiming to be enriched by the experience. Were the affluent to spend their holidays blacked up and conversing entirely in the form of Gangsta Rap it could hardly be more offensive.

They need to get real fast – and I don’t mean by hiring a beach-hut and a chimnea.

The Common Sense Of Kindness

A long time ago, I began an Open University degree and was allocated to do a Social Sciences foundation course. For everything, the writers claimed, there is “…a common-sense explanation and a social sciences explanation.” As the course progressed, I was flabbergasted to learn that Common Sense solutions were always to be rejected in favour of answers derived from Social Sciences.

This baffled me at the time, but now it is one explanation for society itself. While we have been worrying about who is next going to attack us with a machete, the concept of common sense has too often been wiped from the mind-tanks of those who run what should be our caring services.

Something else which has too often been side-lined is kindness. Considering that with high levels of common sense and kindness, a society can’t go wrong, this is a tragedy.

In a caring society – the sort which the middle-classes rave about discovering when they wander off the beaten track in Mediterranean countries, for example – love and duty between young and old is a way of life. This isn’t just endearing – it provides hands-on care without depleting the state. It’s common sense, and those seeing it warm to the kindness of it. But when they get home, those tourists resume their habitual disparagement of the elderly and package their parents off to nursing homes out of sight.

Age is experience, wisdom, roots, witness. There is no kindly motive for eradicating those things, and it makes no sense. Eradicating accrued knowledge from society is like trying to run a factory with apprentices only.

We’re unlikely to restore common sense or kindness while the establishment employs the BBC as a mouthpiece. Last week, the BBC – so dedicated to the extermination of the British working class that I wonder whether some BBC apparatchiks dream of cruising around council estates with hand-guns taking pot-shots – broadcast a documentary about the poor of such blistering cruelty that it almost broke my heart. If the target were any other section of society – a belief or ethnicity – it could not have been screened. But the target was the poor, and the poor, unprotected by notions of Hate Speech, seem the accepted scapegoat for the rage which dare not speak its name. Panorama – The Benefits Cap: is it working? was little more than a crude hatchet job on people reduced from working class to sub-class.

The children the poor produce didn’t ask to be born, and must be fed, housed and clothed, which is apparently an affront to precisely the kind of people most likely to squeal in horror at the idea of Third World parents being given condoms and contraceptive implants.

In truth, there are not many jobs for unskilled people in the UK. Work which once created dignity and stability is often first advertised in EU countries where unemployment is at atrocious levels. This is both unkind to Brits and nonsensical. People who get a kick out of being served coffee or waited on by desperate foreign graduates have no right to complain when people who should be doing those jobs draw benefits.

Of those in the BBC hate-fest, a single mother of seven children was targeted for particular hatred. With benefits caps now applying, a poor person is effectively only allowed to keep two children. The rest are taken into ‘care’, which almost routinely enables abuse, and is more expensive than allowing a mother to bring up her own children. Removing them is senseless cruelty – merely a punishment for being poor, along the lines of the workhouse.

In the programme, this woman was told to choose which of her children she would keep or discard.

Ever watched ‘Sophie’s Choice’, the devastating film about the woman forced by an SS death-camp guard to choose between her children? Well, life has now imitated art in town halls across the UK.

95% of women arraigned for witch-craft during the 17th century were single mothers. The 17th century puritans who (like the current crop) were obsessed with sin in thought, word and deed, ended the centuries-old support of parish poor because the poor must have led imprudent lives and deserved to be fair game for a baying mob.

Centuries on, the single mother triggered a Twitter mob, largely comprised of childless men and ‘kept’ women, none appearing to realise that nurturing a new generation for peanuts is a more essential contribution to society than most of them are making. Many are personally diminished by giving their frenzied assent to cruelty.

We are living through a time when the lunatics seem too often to be running the asylum. Hopefully the phase will pass soon, but meanwhile we must make sure there are as few casualties as possible.

For that we must push hard for a restoration of common sense and kindness, because nothing else will do, unless we are all to fly over the cuckoo’s nest.

For The Love Of Dog

The ancient Britons believed that wounds healed best if licked by a dog. Possibly it was literally true for ancient Britons because a hearty slurp of dog saliva was the closest most of them ever got to having a wash. But what is true to this day, is that the lick of a dog heals emotional wounds.  In Britain we have no ancestral memory of driving dogs away for fear of rabies, or out of bizarre religious concepts of the unclean. This pact between species is practically in our DNA.

Dogs free the blind and the deaf; seek out drugs and explosives, run side by side with soldiers, attack armed criminals, lay down their lives under hails of bullets. They rescue us from drowning and avalanche, guard our children, are our first alert on a dark night, study our moods for clues to our whims.

Dogs are not just wolves who came to dinner.  They share a lot of DNA but a wolf doesn’t give a toss about your feelings, whereas scolding a dog will reduce him to misery.  You can have the personality of Genghis Khan and the looks of a wart-hog, but to your dog you are the joy of his days, the light of his nights, the love of his life.

In his poem ‘The Power Of The Dog’ Kipling wrote:

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching, which cannot lie;
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs, or a pat on the head.

It’s true.  Dogs give the kind of love we cannot ask – must never ask – of a fellow human.

Our dog when my children were growing up, inaptly named Prudence (Prudy for short,) was a Springer Spaniel, an amiable buffoon, always available to run, towing the children in a dingy, terrified of sheep.

Prudy yearned to catch a seagull, not understanding flight.  Taking off after a gull from the Harlyn cliffs, briefly outlined against the sky with her ears horizontal, Prudy learned the difference between wings and legs, and we thought we had lost her. Luckily, Prudy survived with no worse injury than a tail which wagged in a circular motion like a helicopter propeller, because her fall was broken by someone’s picnic.  We didn’t stay to find out what the picnickers thought about being hit by a low-flying spaniel.

Even nice-but-dim dogs know things we only wonder about.  One day good-natured Prudy took a violent dislike to a man who was trying to pass us in the street; she stood between him and the children, teeth bared, snarling, terrifying, until he turned and walked away.  I discovered he was a convicted paedophile.

We say dogs are our best friend, but when their short life-span is closing, taking a whole era of our own lives, and our heart, with it, sometimes we have to be what our dog always thought us to be: God, decider of life and death.

I now have a dog called Hemingway, who will walk miles with me or sit for hours as he is now, chin on my knee, watching my fingers on the keyboard. On mornings that I wake muttering “What fresh hell is this?” Hemingway is filled with joy just at the sight of my eyes opening. When I stand up, he is so overcome, he almost turns cartwheels – reminding me that, whatever else, it is indeed a new day.

The saying goes, ‘give a dog a bad name.’ But the funny thing is, we don’t know why Anglo Saxon hund’ became Early Modern English ‘dog’. What does the name matter, after all?  And if the name of the species doesn’t matter – if a hund was still all the things it had always been, even after becoming a dog –  then how much less the name of an individual dog matters!

And yet, in Scotland, there is an 87 year old man called Bob, who is – under heinous circumstances – being evicted from his care-home along with his little black dog, and although almost 300,000 people have signed a petition to keep the pair together, according to the lady who set up the petition, they can’t find any big names to take up cudgels because the little dog’s name is Darkie.

To some fragile plants, you see, ‘darkie’ is an unspeakable pejorative, and rather than use that particular string of six letters, they would cravenly see any number of hearts broken.

To Bob, Darkie means love, pride, care, company, fun – everything, in fact; and if the pair are separated, all those things will go, along with this last era of Bob’s life, and the rest of his heart. And for Darkie, naturally, Bob is the joy of his days, the light of his nights, the love of his life, and nobody can replace him.

Too often people think of a dog – of pets – as being accessories, disposable if life-style changes, but that is to misunderstand the nature of love itself.

When I hear it said that someone should discard their best friend for convenience sake, it raises my hackles and makes me want to snap at those who are so unknowing. Because if we nibble away at something as deep-rooted as the love given by dogs, then we tear a huge chunk out of what it means to be human.

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