Me, MySelf and Will

I’m trying to think of something good to say about Brexit: meanwhile here is some light music.

The last couple of weeks or so, we’ve been buying a pro-Remain paper called the New European which this week thought it was a good idea to turn over an entire issue to Will Self’s Brexit diary for March.  Self does not suffer from low self-esteem: some people might struggle to fill 50 pages of a national newspaper with their own thoughts; some might wonder what right they had to do so.  Not Self: and in an issue entitled A Plague on all Your Houses we learn that Will is pissed off with everybody.  His scorn, like muck spread on a field, is scattered everywhere; it covers Brexiteers, Remainers, Kippers, the Far-Right, the far Left, Momentum, the undecided, the alienated, the aloof and anyone else I’ve forgotten to mention.  In fifty excoriating pages Will Self finds an unkind word for all of us which left me wondering, where’s the moral high ground Self inhabits and how do the rest of us get there?  Because although he admits he can ‘remoan for England’ his scorn attacks everyone but himself.  He is – or appears to be – above or at any rate beyond all this.

Yes, we’re in a mess and no, we can’t see any way out; but what possessed the New European to turn an entire edition over to a man who criticises everything while proposing nothing, I can’t fathom.  OK, full disclosure; I don’t like Will Self.  I never have: his monotone drawl (a bit like a flattened Clive James) irritates me and his show-off cleverness annoys me – but none of this would matter if he had something helpful to say.  He doesn’t.

In case you didn’t know, Will Self is clever.  His writing style makes this very clear; he never uses one word where several adjective-laden ones will do, and makes each phrase carry so much extra weight that it’s hard to get hold of the main point of the sentence.  You might think that, like Wilde (only less ironically) he has nothing to declare but his genius – except that he does have things to declare and my god, he declares them.  Here’s a couple of typical examples:

‘My collaborator [in the paper] Martin Rowson sent me satiric little cri de coeur along these lines first thing, along with his latest twisting of the human form in to Mobius strip of scato-suggestiveness.’

Here he is slagging off John Bercow for ‘subverting the constitution’ (commentators including Laura Kuenssberg disagree):

‘There he is, depriving the Prime Minister of her third baby vote, and leaping out under the quizzical eye of the lancet window behind the speaker’s chair, his geometrically-patterned skinny tie, hip in around 1996, flapping behind him along with his batman gown…’

Scorn is Self’s stock-in-trade and he really goes to town here.  The paper’s editorial talks of ‘uncomfortable, even painful truths’ and there are plenty of those (I fully accept responsibility as a Remainer for not realising how many people felt ignored, and for in that sense being elitist) but in the end who appointed him judge, jury and executioner and why?  In this daily diary of March (up to the 26th when the paper had to be put to bed) he attacks virtually everyone and everything.  He’s mean about Harry Potter (‘liberal solipsism’) he loathes Jeremy Corbyn (though he’s no Blairite) he’s thoroughly nasty about Comic Relief and his rudeness about Stephen Fry by way of quoting Julie Burchill is insulting on a number of levels (‘Stephen Fry is a stupid person’s idea of what an intelligent person looks like.’)

There’s more, much more along these lines: in commenting on the mosque murders he scorns ‘the telegenic and impeccably liberal Ardern, who’ll order all evil to quit the world with a simple cry of ‘Expelliarmus!” and several times makes unpleasant reference to Radio 4, ‘superannuated funny-man Steve Coogan’, ‘presenter of a Radio-programme-for-the-four-people-in-Britain-who-still-read-books, Mariella Frostrup’ and ‘the oscillating deputy leader of the Labour Party and world-class fat-shamer Tom Watson.’  Blimey.

There was so much of this that, whether I agreed with any of it or not, it was hard to take.  Of course this type of ridicule is the cut-and-thrust of ordinary political satire but Self goes so far beyond satire and into spite that it begins to look like misanthropy.  In fact the only time he approaches human sympathy is when he chats to ordinary people in Stoke, one of the highest leave-voting areas in the country.

But none of this would matter so much if out of the morass he had some sort of proposition arising from it: if not a solution then some sort of way forward; some means of uniting the opposed and healing the rift.  But unless this is some sort of backhanded way of uniting everyone against him by attacking us all, he doesn’t.  Not one word does he say about the future; which is why as well as irritating the paper is singularly unhelpful.

Still, those who like Self’s particular brand of ornate vitriol will probably love it.  And he’s here all week…

Kirk out






A Tale of Two Women

You don’t often get two blog posts out of me in one day but today my brain was just bursting with stuff and I felt compelled to share it.  This is the tale of two world leaders, one a model of calm, selfless efficiency and the other a robotic, bull-headed mulish person with no leadership skills and who wouldn’t know the word ‘consultation’ if it biffed her repeatedly in the face.  Seriously, what planet is Theresa May on????  She has ploughed forward through repeated defeats, made blunders which would have unseated most Prime Ministers and generally behaves like a two-ton tank driving out of control over a camp-site (hang on, that’s triggering a memory of some sort: I think there’s a film where a steam engine runs over a load of tents.  Or is it Dad’s Army?  Let’s see if Google knows.  Yes!  I was right on both fronts: it’s a scene from the film of Dad’s Army.  I can’t find a clip but there’s an image here.)

Just from memory alone, here are some of the things the MayRoller has ploughed through which would have unseated any other PM:

  1.  Calling a general election to consolidate her base and instead losing her majority
  2.  Following said general election, paying one billion pounds to the DUP to secure their support.  This was a straightforward bribe which, as well as being corrupt, threatened to totally derail the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
  3. Failing to consult with other parties on a national Brexit strategy
  4. Failing to exhibit any negotiating skills whatsoever
  5. Following said failure, bringing her defeated bill back to parliament and attempting to have essentially the same legislation voted on three times (the third time was quite rightly vetoed by the Speaker.)
  6. Offering bribes to Labour MPs in rundown constituencies in the shape of money for those constituencies if they supported her bill (they quite rightly refused)
  7. Having no personal skills whatsoever
  8. Insulting those members of parliament on whose votes she depended

Those are just off the top of my head: I’m sure there are others.

Her strategy seems to consist of shuttling back and forth between Brussels and London until she just wears everyone out.  But her opponents show no signs of relenting and even though Labour are not exactly coherent on Brexit we look positively resolute by comparison.

Now let’s consider Jacinda Ardern, PM of New Zealand, one of the youngest world leaders and one of the few to give birth while in office.  Following the Mosque attacks she:

  1.  Visited the site and expressed solidarity in the strongest terms
  2.  Took immediate action on gun control and announced legislation on assault weapons: an amnesty has already brought in thousands of these guns and as of now people will not be able to get a licence so although they are technically on sale there’s no point in buying one.
  3. Announced that since notoriety was one of the attacker’s aims, his name would never be mentioned by her

These strike me as measures which are both strong and compassionate: would that America did the same after a school massacre (incidentally, since Trump’s solution to these events is to arm the teachers, would he suggest that NZ arms the Imams?  I suspect not.)

Well there you go: two posts in one day.  I must be feeling better.

Kirk out



Should I Fast Faster?

Since I’ve not been well the last couple of weeks my fasting plan has been derailed.  No matter, things happen as they must; but the question is what to do with the remaining weeks.  I think I should make sure I’m fully recovered before I start so I’m going to leave any action till next week, but the question remains: should I fast faster or just begin at the beginning and go at the same pace?

I guess it partly depends how I feel.  If I’m animated I might enjoy doing the same plan on – ahem! – fast-forward; if not, maybe I should start slowly and see where I end up.  At the moment I’m feeling quite animated though, so if I went with the fast fast it’d go something like this:

Week 1 – 1st-5th April: Monday/Tuesday 10 am, Wed/Thur 11 am, Fri 12 am

Week 2 – 8th-12th April: Mon/Tues 3 pm, Wed/Thur 4 pm, Fri 5 pm

Week 3 – 22nd-26th April: Mon/Tues 6 pm, Wed/Thur 7 pm, Fri 24 hr fast.

This may be a tall order but we’ll see how it goes.

Kirk out

I’d Like to Report a Flat Battery

Unsurprisingly as I hadn’t driven the beast for a month, when I jumped in and turned the key Bertie refused to start: he coughed and spluttered and generally exhibited all the signs of a flat battery.  OH and I proceeded to wheel him out  onto the road but got stuck at the kerb; fortunately a helpful pair of passers-by helped out and pushed me at alarming speed back down the road and then up again, enabling Bertie to splutter into life.  Pausing only to give a jolly thumbs-up I took him for a long drive to charge him up and then to B&Q to stock up on seeds and compost for the impending growing season.

It was very heartening to see people stop and offer to help us, and the incident also reminded me of an incident years ago.  In the small town of Leigh, Lancashire I knew a guy known as Billy Keys, so called because he could get in anywhere.  Opinion was divided on Billy – to most people he was a character; to the police he was a serial offender.  Billy liked winding the police up and one day he went to the station and told the desk sergeant, ‘I’d like to report a flat battery.’

‘That’s not an offence, sir,’ replied the sergeant. 

‘No,’ said Billy.  ‘It’s flat.’  And he to show them a car which had been completely flattened (I forget how.)  They were not amused.

In case anyone’s interested I bought tomatoes (Gardener’s Delight) red peppers, chilli peppers, spinach, butter beans, runner beans and Maris Piper potatoes.  And three very heavy bags of compost which a very nice young man helped me to put into the boot.

Oo, young maaaaaaan!

Kirk out

Project Slow

Recovery from this thing that I’m calling post-viral fatigue is slow but sure.  Since everyone who’s had it says not to overdo things I’ve been not overdoing things, but when the brain is recovered and screaming like a toddler that it’s bored, it’s hard not to get busy.  This morning I went to see the nurse about my persistently blocked ears (‘keep up the good work and we’ll syringe them next week’ was the verdict) I found myself quite tired after walking there and back.  Yesterday I managed some Spring cleaning (at least that’s what I’m calling it) and some serious guerrilla war on the ivy which is strangling our hedge – these activities being spaced out with long rests in between, were manageable.  But today I reverted to my usual brisk walking pace to get to the doctor’s.  Result: fatigue.  As Mr Mickawber might have said: ‘Energy  rising, expenditure low – result, recovery.  Energy rising, expenditure high – result, fatigue.

Ah well.  Fortunately I have nothing on till next week and no employers phoning me up to ask when I’ll be back at work (I have managed to placate my inner gangmaster by simply telling him to eff off.)  In the meantime I’m listening to the excellent series A Terrible Country on radio 4.

Needless to say Project Fast has been postponed until I’m 100% better; it does not seem sensible to deplete my strength further by fasting, so it remains to be seen how much of Lent will be left by that time.

Kirk out




Do Not Adjust Your Mind-Set

Once upon a time when I was but a wee girl, your TV set would go wonky.  The picture would tip sideways or develop horizontal lines or a loud hiss would interfere with the sound, necessitating adjustment: fiddling with the aerial or finely adjusting the Horizontal and Vertical Holds, each interspersed with appropriate curses.  Like mantras in a ceremony it was important to get these right, viz: ‘Stupid bloody box – twiddle – why – bend – don’t – twiddle – you – sodding well – shove – work!  These occurrences were not infrequent but sometimes the problem would be at the Other End ie the TV company: at such times a sign would be displayed saying ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set.’  Then would follow the celebrated Test Card.  And some  music, usually of the plinky-plonk variety.

As a sort of hommage to this phenomenon a programme was made for children called Do Not Adjust Your Set.  I loved this, short-lived though it was, and only much later realised that it was proto-Python, being made by some of the same team:

 I had a serious point to make but my mind-set has gone all wonky now.  I’ll try giving it a  shove.

Nope, I’ve lost the picture.  And now the sound’s going.  Oh well, here’s some plinky-plonk music instead.

Kirk out

Dead Space for the Unexpected

Once upon a time, so I’m given to understand, it was popular in business to leave a ‘dead space for the unexpected’, an opening where time could be given to something unforeseen which might come up.  Great idea, you might think.  Very progressive.  Cogitating outside the container: well done that (wo)man.  But I couldn’t help thinking that it’s in the nature of the unexpected to be, well, unexpected.  You can no more schedule a space for it than the dinosaurs could pencil in the time of their own extinction.  The unexpected, when it comes, can be a tiny thing that fits into a margin or a tsunami-like event that overturns your entire schedule, your company and even your world.  It will almost certainly be something you never imagined, which is why no dead space could ever accommodate it.

I had a memory twingling away at the back of my head, that there was a short story I’d read years ago called Dead Space for the Unexpected.  I googled it and lo! one of the first things I found was this blog post, in reading which I learned…

…today’s new word, Novum, which means a plausible scientific invention in a work of SF; like Ray Bradbury’s hand-held communication devices or – well, anything in Black Mirror.

So that’s me done for today.  I can go back to bed now

Kirk out